17-07-21.

Metaphor Salad. Strained and mixed.

Prompt: Yellow. Bathroom. Dancing.

###

Yellow petaled wall-flower, anything but a shrinking daffodil. Busy navel gazing about the ships rolling by. Built to last, sleek and shiny, the way they moved about the bulk gliding through water. Cocksure, all kinds of fancy flags fluttering, topped off with unnecessary embellishment.
Not sure the best way to respond she signals back, shrouding up against the back wall. Stiff drum of electronic music and the feeling it’d all be better if they could drink.
They watch the ships too, careful to spy where the hands end up. Dancing about with no real concern, laughing and sighing and pretending they weren’t being gazed upon. Ships.
School dances were the worst form of torture, where the wall-flower hangs about and looks like they don’t envy the ships as they sail. The friends were all amongst the others, lost at sea and drowning.
It was depressing to realise at such a young age that happiness is a drug, intoxicating until the mind was numb and all you wanted was some more. So strange it was, even a single taste drew her deeper. She didn’t have as many qualms or hang-ups though, she had already picked the lone vessel she set out to board.
Born with a scowl on his face and a brain between his ears. Darkly sarcastic and deliriously awake. Her yellow petals fluttered as she saw him, the sole reason she bothered coming. The sole reason either of them had come. They met out at sea, the waters rising overhead. A swallow broke the swell, her hand met his with a smile and she took him away to a private place – she was not much for sailing. Or the committee’s music. Or the eyes watching them as talked. Sitting on the steps outside the bathroom, miles inland where the quiet calmed.
It dawned on him, that ships often sunk and that they ran aground more often still. A ship is safest without feet firmly on the ground, but adrift.
Still, she kissed him.
“Fuck the ocean. I’d rather fly.”

17-07-19.

Prompt: Surgeon. Glass. Egg.

###

“What is broken can be fixed.”
The thick, noxious scent of sulphur powder has yet to numb his nostrils. He watches immobile, eyes wide as the surgeon prowls about.
“Do not worry about the pain,” they chided, shuffling their feet in the yellowish powder across the floor.
His eyes rose to the lamp hanging overhead, a bright flame flickered amongst an array of glass that illuminated the entire room.
Meanwhile the Surgeon sat upon their stool, beside their table. Upon it, a mystery, but they poured some clear liquid over it – then took a swig from the bottle.
“I have ways to dull the blade.”
The surgeon tied back their long blonde hair and pulled their rag-cloth mask up over their face. Very carefully the world was sterilised in the darkness.
In the room above two young women work sitting at a kitchen table. One carefully fills glass bottles as the other damps rags made from their old clothes and stuffs it roughly into each freshly filled bottle.
At the kitchen counter not far from them, their aunt cooks eggs and one of the dead roosters to cover up the scent of rot filling up the entire house.
The surgeon makes the first cut, and he feels nothing as the blade glides across his skin. He is numb, he is bleeding, he can only look into the surgeon’s eyes as they slice just below his own.
“When I am done, you will be safe. It takes only a few hours.”
The surgeon stepped away, realising for a moment – they pulled over a glass bottle full of deep red and stuck a needle into his vein.
“Almost forgot, we don’t want you dying on me.”
They grinned beneath their mask.
Upstairs, the youngest daughter ate chicken and eggs as she filled the bottles. The aunt packed their completed work into small wooden boxes and carried them downstairs into the cellar for storage. Down there the smell of rot was stronger, mixed with sulphur and alcohol. Against the back wall, far from the surgery she placed the box amongst the rest – a dozen boxes filled with a dozen bottles each.
She stepped back upstairs, there was nothing to see. Together the three women finished their breakfast and went upstairs into the master bedroom to stand about a table for hours and listen to a tiny radio providing them news.
Eventually the blood-soaked surgeon emerged to wash themselves down in the bathroom sink with a bottle of alcohol and a bucket of water taken from their reserve.
The aunt descended the stairs into the cellar to help clean up the mess, stopping for a moment to pity the poor soul still faintly breathing on the surgeon’s bench.
Then, she returned upstairs again and slept through the night as her nieces watched the Surgeon sharpen their blades and care for their handiwork.
“See girls, what is broken, can be fixed.”
Three women emerged from the cellar late into the morning, going upstairs to rest.

17-07-18.

Soffee.

Prompt: Rotation. Pocket Change. Soda Can.


A tiny little automat, just outside the alkali sands. Salt lingers in the air, he can taste it on the tip of his tongue as he waits for his last meal.
A stack of pancakes, bacon on the side and an unhealthy amount of coffee.
A box with a counter and a dozen vending machines, the automat has no workers, no life about it at all. And why should it? The middle of the desert, on the road to no-where. A completely automatic pitstop on the long road through Oregon.
He sits at the counter, lining up his pocket change. Left to right, lowest denomination to highest. He has more to his name than he realised.
Before him on the other side of the counter, slamming her fist against one of the machines, his companion on his trip. Each of the vending machines has a dozen little doors, three across and four down, that are opened by a little plastic handle – locked until you put in the money.
He rotates his little line of coins until each of the heads are perfectly straight. She curses and slams her boot against the bottom of the machine.
“What’s wrong?”
She turns her head to glare at him, “Won’t open!”
“You remember we’re in Deseret?”
“Shit.”
“You’re short like a dollar twenty.”
She rummages through the pockets of her torn jeans and fishes out some more coins. This time the door pops right open and she can grab her food.
He carefully takes his own coins over, examines the food and carefully deliberates.
Coffee comes in a can here. She sits down and watches him muse. Amused, she idly turns his coins about, flips them over and waits patiently.
The pancakes come out looking a little burnt, greasy from the fat and covered in syrup. The bacon is processed, pressed together from some kind of paste, but it smells alright and looks pretty good.
The coffee comes in a can…
“How can anyone be expected to drink this shit?”
His companion glances at him curiously, “It’s probs the realest thing in this place.”
“Real? It’s fucking carbonated.”
“Soda coffee? Coffee sofa… Cofoda.”
He sits down, his plastic bowls slapping flimsy against the counter and the horrid clunk of metal from the can irks him.
“Soffee,” she decides, taking the first bite of her doughnut.
“Soffee, he agrees, rearranging his coins back to their proper order.

17-07-17

A bit more, unconventional.
Words given: Metro, Theatre, Velvet.


Velvet smooth and the way it takes her mind. Amplified to the state of transcending all realities, buzzed down into a self-inflective depression spiral.
The way it stains her veins, long ruby tendrils that coarse through her blood. Ecstasy. Contempt. Born from the same place, from the same needling – that transcendental angst that only a shot could provide.
Velvet.
The bright lights of a metro train station. She sits on the dirty ground with her back against grimy tiled walls. False sterility fills the place, even as the gas seeps in.
Others have gathered, sleeping in the broken down trains and trying to survive on the scraps.
Blue fingers fumble with her injector, the rush leaves her numb. Most of the rest of them sleep with their gas masks on and pay her no mind as she slips from consciousness. She paid her way, no-one followed her and in the morning she’ll be gone.
“Is she?”
She wakes, but doesn’t open her eyes, the voices of two men discussing her bristles along her spine.
“Shhh, she’ll hear you.”
“Should we just-?”
“Shut up!”
They step a little closer.
“What’s the reward these days?”, she asks them.
They run.
She opens her eyes, it is midnight. As good a time as any to go. She picks up her injector and packs it away into a pouch on her belt. The acid swimming through her veins has died down a little. No-one bats an eye as she leaves the Metro.
The way out is through three different airlocks, yet people still sleep with their gas masks on. The air is thicker in each one, breathing boulders by the last. She pulls a scrap of cloth over her mouth, pulls down her goggles so her eyes stop stinging in the thick yellow air of the city.
Lifeless, machines prowl the ruins, scuttling spiders patching up uninhabited spaces. Alerts, the constant harmony of a wartime leader biting at her ears.
The few humans that do still wander about are soldiers, invaders, occupiers, they breath recycled fumes and peer through thick glass helmets wearing dark black hazmat suits and carrying light rifles. They watch her as she passes down the street, towards the Theatre.
She wades through the air, unable to see her feet. The soldiers give her strange looks, concerned about how she is able to even breath. Not for her own safety of course. From a distance they aim their rifles at her briefly, then lower them without second thought.
The Theatre, an air-tight fortress market. Sealed up with grimy yellow plastic and the ungodly roar of generators and fans. The main reception hall swarms with soldiers and their robotic pets. The array of machines she must pass through, gleaming metal and wires, is of no concern. The metal bars that cordon off the entire area, is of little consequence. Each step she takes brings her under a new biometric scanner, the radiation washing over her.
Only once they have scrutinised her do they let her through, past the airlocks and into an oxygen rich Theatre, where upon the stage a man in uniform stands and calls out in a thick foreign accent demanding for prices.
Beside him stands a woman, she is what is for sale. The crowd stands in the seating and screams out their entire life savings. The man on the stage will be rich in just a moment, and the woman will be the poorest soul in all of the motherland.
She takes her place amongst the crowd, and pretends to bid. The others take no notice of her until she starts to cough. It takes a moment, it takes her screaming and calling to waste away her lungs. Her body burns. Her lungs fill, the bright clean air is refreshing, and yet…
Ruby red tendrils snake from her, invisible to the crowd around her. She laughs out her last breaths, before her body chokes up on her, before her lungs are emptied and her blood fills the room – a fine particle that cannot be cleansed, cannot be washed away. A velvet.
A rope with which to hang them all.
She collapses in her chair, transcendence and fear that soon they’ll all know. Liberty.

11/07.

20 mins.
Geometry, Gallery, Longing.


An aisle, the strange kind of landscape found only in tamed places. Sort of like cages, but with a facade of culture. Along the walls, half-built and made purely to allow the hanging of art, gaps form where the bright white pools of light ebb into a dark tide that flows along the floor guiding the path. Step not into the light, lest ye be judged.
The symbols of the various paintings stood out amongst the dimly vivid colours, the forms of various geometries that no apostate could understand. It all seemed like such a mess until you stepped too close, but then the light would be violated and the silent crowds would murmur. Lazily they progressed down the aisles, turning the bend and leaving the lone plebeian behind to admire a work that caught their eye. In the air he traced over shapes with a finger and made rough mental notes to himself. The next painting he gazed upon, the sacred cow, had a certain sloppiness to it that seemed to provide charm. It gave him a headache to follow the contours, the blending together of figures into an eclectic assault on his eyes.
His companion returned to him, and watched him work, slowly trying to trace out the drawing in his mind-scape, to imitate what they saw. The dim halls were filling up again, the clergy led about their congregations and he was roused from his reverie by a sudden impolite jostle. Their apology meant nothing, he had to start over again once they had all left – standing awkwardly as they all went about.
His companion sat on the floor as the aisle once again cleared. Her interest in this matter had less academia behind it. He studied and she examined, but neither had a similar conclusion. The flow was most important, but the mechanics made them flow.
He almost moved, his phone buzzed and stirred him, then he went back to his task. Then he moved on.
She remained sitting and looking at the painting, the sacred cow, begging of it questions. Why does a sacred cow not moo? Does the colour mean it is happy or sad? Is it meant to make me feel that way?
The shapes on the canvas had deeper meaning, she was sure of it. Everyone else just seemed to know it, and she longed to know it too. She cocked her head, wondering idly if the scene would change with a different perspective. It was a strange thing, because it didn’t. The new crowd didn’t stir her or make her stand, in fact she closed her eyes and pictured the sacred cow as it looked while they rudely stepped around her careful not to disturb her.
What did that part of the image mean? What part of the image meant the least? It beguiled thought, then she stood up with the crowd and went to look at the next picture.
The two of them sat down in the cafeteria, and spoke briefly about other things – never about art, while the other patrons broke bread and buzzed noisily about the gallery.

10/07.

Any excuse to work on awkward dialogues and organic character interactions.

Stern, Cafe, Over-time.

I could have incorporated stern a bit more obviously – I tried to give the PoV character a stern sort of personality but I think that’s a miss.
Cafe is the location.
Over-time is the motivation for the characters being there.


When the rains come, even the soft sort, the town turns sleepy. We would sit together in the cafe and watch the people working there, and order coffee occasionally. You’d never admit it but you’ve got a crush on one of the baristas – I know because you turn to rubber when she’s around. I wonder idly how to broach the subject every time we’re here.
You don’t even drink coffee.
Today is a little different.
We sit together in our usual seats, the soft leather ones along the back wall where there is a beautiful view of the display cases. Food we’d never touch, because there is so much better just down the road. The manager doesn’t even worry that we bring outside food in, as long as we buy coffee.
The coffee you get is typical, three-thirds sugar with whipped cream on top. I prefer mine strong and black. Then you see her, smile and lose track of what I asked you. It doesn’t matter, it was important.
Vicky, as orthodox as her name, dressed in her uniform with no flairs or personality to it. The slightest hint of a tattoo is just a trick of the shadows in the dim night-light.
I often wonder what’s the appeal to a chain-smoking, walking art-gallery with a buzz-cut. I do judge, but whatever makes you happy.
“She’ll never go out with a girl like you,” I often sound sterner than I expect, as if I’m stating a fact.
“What?”
“Cut it,” today is the day, “we’ve been coming here for two years, you’re just lucky she hasn’t found a better job.”
Thank fuck for the economy, it’d get awkward sitting around in an office building all day.
“Why’d you even thing she’s into chicks?”
You’ve got no response, you just try to pretend I have no clue what I’m talking about. Then she brings us our coffees.
“Hey, Vicky.”
She brushes a stray strand of blonde hair behind her ear and blushes, “Uh, hey.”
“You ever get off work? Feels like you’re here every night.”
She smiles, “I could say the same about you two.”
“We just finished work, what’s your excuse?”
“Over-time’s good.”
You laugh, a little too hard.
“Cool,” I try to cover, “guess I don’t see it that way. Gotta spend your nights doing something, though.”
She smiles again, she wants to escape a little, you’ve made it awkward.
“Hey, on the chance you’ll say no – if you ever wanna get a drink with us.”
I grab a serviette and write down your number, “Give us a call.”
“Oh,” she blushes, playing with her hair again, “cool, I better get back to work.”
I sip my coffee as you hyper-ventilate.
“I gave her your number by the way.”

A moment for confession.

A moment for confession.

I used to be fairly good at rap, and I guess I grew out of that.
And I was never amazing at free-versing, so I suppose I wasn’t really good at rap.

But I’ve always had a bit of a penchant for writing poetry.

Not that most even notice, nor do they notice the symmetry of the lines. Not in rhyming scheme, though I’m fairly deft at turning phrases. Because it’s mostly all about the rhythm and the cadence. Sort of like you read it in phases.

I guess not practicing my talents is a waste of my mind. And they say it’s a shame to waste a mind, but the waste of mine would be spending time on trying to form a rhyme that works.

Daily. 10/04.

506 words, as written in 22 minutes.

###

The crisp mountain air fills my lungs, the same scent as vanilla – the way the flowers bloom. Lush green grass unrolls before me as the train comes to a stop at a small station deep in the heartlands.

Spring blooms pop up amongst the sea of yellow-green, bright pops of pink and purple, a scattering of blue like a modern art piece. I imbibe my energy drink and make my way from the carriage onto the concrete platform. Behind me a small grey town with brightly coloured tiled roofs rises up from the steppes.

Tonight the skies will be clear enough to see the stars. I slowly look upwards at the deep blue horizon, the almost navy above me. It filters through with streaks of cloud that leaves a powder-blue aurora hanging over the fields.

In the distance, a single tree rises up from a single stand-alone hill. It’s thick branches reach out to vein the horizon with the skeletal white of its bark. A brief wind kicks up, rustling the grass and grazing through the leaf-less limbs of the tree. It catches me unready, the sharp ice of it draws away my breath.

I step from the platform, into the grass. The tips of each blade caresses me about my knees, a few flowers scatter before my advance as I make the long walk towards the tree. The sea parts around me, the wind kicking up against my skin. The closer I get, the harder it fights me. Land, air and over-head sea push back.

The aurora shifts with the drifting atmosphere, the floral scent changes to rain and lightning. A small drop splashes on my nose, a dozen more follow against my arms and chest. I pull over my hood to protect my face, though it is only cotton. The rain is only light, a drizzle that is washed away by the breeze. It comes from behind, pattering against my back with gentle but noticeable prods.

The tree looms up ahead of me, its skeletal arms outstretched in an embrace. I mimic it, stepping closer. The bark peels at its base, the crack of lightning overhead makes me wary of approaching it. Looking backwards I see a sheet of rain, thick white around us in all directions.

I approach, the face of it, the eyes in the wood. The branches seem to close around above me, the knots in them follow my movement. One hand against the bark, the smooth paper of its skin surprises me. I lean in closer, it smiles and the branches no longer seem so menacing. They’re shaking in the wind, the eyes in them looking out in random directions.

I sit at the trunk, looking out over the field the tree surveys. The rain is moving away from us, washing over the grey and colourful town. Ancient protectors of this steppe, lost in the fade. My head rests against the wood, arms wrapped around my chest. I dream beneath the tree for the second life in a row.

Daily. 05.04.

Want to help me out? Tell me what information of a larger story you glean from this chapter fragment from a novel I’m working on. I’d appreciate it.

###

Gentle waves of blue, rolling in against the soft sands – washing it away. The red sky bleeds down across the horizon, paint mixing with the sea into a tide pf pink and orange. Sand sticks to my skin, the weight of salt clings to my lungs.
You sit next to me on the beach as we watch our fathers standing waist deep in the surf. Fishing lines in hand, a strange kind of a feeling to know their fun is a life or death struggle.
“You think we’ll ever come back here?”
You ask me.
“Yeah.”
I lean in a little closer, your red skin peels back from me, raw and unengaging. I lean a little harder.
“I hope not.”
I glance down at the sand, “Why?”
“It’s boring.”
“But, I’m here.”
You shrug, “Yeah.”
I sit back, plant my hand in the sand to keep my balance and watch the sea-gulls swoop deep red water. The tiniest specks of blue glimmer out at sea, jewels as bright as the setting sun.
“But it’s still boring.”
Your hand slips down along mine, coming to rest against my forehand, fingers curling around my palm.
I glance at you, my skin turning violet. You look at me, and smile. I look away, your squeeze my hand tighter. All the blue in the ocean has stained red, the gulls have flown away, full bellied and satisfied. A shift in the wind stirs the waves in at odd angles and our fathers are starting to haul up from their wading. Neither of them have fish, for that I’m thankful.
Sand scrapes against my legs as I shift uncomfortably, the wind blows it against my face but not enough to even make me blink. The salt in the air lightens, the heat of the day shifts tolerably into the heat of the night.
Your fingers uncurl from around me, you jerk your hand from mine as our fathers approach with fishing rods and bait boxes.
“Come on girls, we better stop by the chip-shop on the way home.”
We get up and follow my Dad to the car, they talk as they pack up their gear and we sit in the car next to each other in the back seat.
You hold my hand until our father’s rush to the car.
“You’ll be right mate,” my Dad tells your’s, “We’ve got a proper kit at the house.”
We both try to sneak glances around the sides of the front car-seat. You see something, “Dad?”
“It’s alright honey, I just pricked me’self with a hook.”
“Don’t worry girls,” Dad reassures us, “A little blood, he’ll be right.”
Your father chuckles, “Easy for you, John, you’re the one who forgot to pack the clippers.”
Your father holds his hand the whole way back to the vacation house. A nice little home someone has rented out to us for the summer.
I head into our bedroom and crash against the bottom bunk, it smells like you. Salt, sand and skin. The red sheets curl up around me like your fingers, dragging me in. I shut my eyes and hold my breath. I know what is happening, but I’d rather just let it take me. There is no point in struggling.
I was damned the moment I met you.
I roll onto my back and look up at the wall, a tiny man on a cross stares down with pity in his eyes. At least he isn’t real, I wonder if you know that.

Daily. 28/03.

Departure.

###

From the ground it seemed unbelievable. Floating overhead lost in the blue of the sky. A slight glimmer of light reflecting off of a white painted hull. A pillar of white clouds rose up from the sea, carrying upon it a rocket soaring for the light – reaching up to caress the soft powder blue before disappearing entirely as it pierced the void.

It was as though time stood still, because for that briefest moment it did. It was a memory that she wanted to keep in mind as she stepped into the shuttle a month from then. It was a memory she wanted to keep in mind as she slipped into deep cryostatic sleep for a six century voyage.

Truth be told, she could have stayed awake. For her only a year would pass if even that. Her destination was a meagre two million lightyears from home, and from the moment they engaged the initial interstellar jump and skipped across the dead space between galaxies, only six centuries would pass back home. But time was a strange thing – had she been awake she could have watched decades disappear in a day. What would have been a year to her, would be six centuries to everyone outside.

And then, she woke irrevocably separated from everything she could have ever known. Everything she had once seen, was no doubt gone, washed away by time. She woke not even knowing if Humanity still existed outside this tiny cluster of a new and alien galaxy.

Doctors woke first, then the engineers needed to resume maintenance, then essential military personnel. A new galaxy meant a new series of potential threats, but it almost meant there was plenty out there to explore. She woke as one of the Pathfinders – a group of people who would help find a new home amongst these distant, cold stars.

It wasn’t until a minor disaster had been averted that she finally got the chance to look out at those new stars. The familiar sparkle of nebulae and the deep boding abyss of black holes. It seemed so familiar, a constant reminder that no matter how far she travelled – everything is made of star dust.

She wondered idly what music the cosmos played out here, if it would be a different tune, or if the entire orchestra was connected even through the dark space between galaxies. And if when Andromeda where she stood and the Milky Way coalesced together, would it bring the music together, or simply change it entirely. The strings of the universe were plucking along all around her as she watched the gentle radiation of a star through her shielded bedroom window. Aboard her ship, out in the middle of a new, unexplored star system.

If these new colonies succeeded, would they ever make contact with home again? Or would they just reunite one day in billions of years once the galaxies became one? If so, she hoped it was in peace.