Happy Halloween with some snarling apples

Happy Halloween!

It was a strange, unrushed day today. My kids went to bed on time and now I am writing. What could be better? Our prompt for today was a "choose your own adventure," type of prompt. Four to choose from. I chose this one:
And you thought apples were so innocent and edible. Silly. I chose it because it was different than the one Leah chose, and because I thought I could use it to continue a story I started with my very first writing prompt. You can read it here.  I like how it turned out. What do you think?

Mittle tapped his foot.  He and Lany leaned against the trunk of the tree that the High Mother sent them to.
“What’s taking them so long,” Lany asked.
“I don’t know. They’re never in a hurry, but …” He looked up into the tree. He couldn’t see the top from where he stood.  The pinsprites would be higher than he could possibly climb, which is why he sent them up there. But if he climbed up a little, maybe he could see what was keeping them.
“Help me up,” he said, putting a hand on the lowest branch and lifting up his foot that was nearest Lany.
“Why do you get to go up? I’m a better climber.”
Mittle tried not to roll his eyes. Lany thought everything was a competition. Mittle wished he could just ask the tree to help him up, but he wasn’t supposed to tell Lany about that. Besides, this tree was refusing to talk to him. Not even a name or a “How d’you do?” Perhaps trees in this forest were wilder than the ones near his house. Maybe they couldn’t hear him as well.
“Because the pinsprites are afraid of you. If you go up there and scare them, it’ll take even longer to get ‘em down.”
Lany sighed. He was annoyed, but he began lacing his fingers together to form a foothold for Mittle. He put his foot in place and was pushed up high enough to swing a leg over the branch. From there, it was pretty easy climbing. It was a large, old tree with lots of branching stemming out from the trunk.
Mittle didn’t have to climb very far before he heard a strange hissing noise. He moved his head around trying to pinpoint where the sound was coming from.
There. In the branches above him were a handful of apples. Above them, the pinsprites hovered as a group, bobbing up and down. Each time one got close to an apple, the apple would open up, revealing a mouthful of sharp teeth, and snap at the poor sprites.
What in the world? Mittle had never seen anything like it. As he watched, one of the pinsprites broke away from the group and dove toward Mittle. Mittle yelled to it, “No, stop!” but it was too late. One of the apples snapped it up.
The rest of the pinsprites screamed, their high-pitched voices sounding like Mohma’s kettle when it was hot.
Angry now, Mittle climbed higher. “Don’t come down,” he told them, hoping for once they would listen to him. Finally he was high enough to reach the applet that had eaten the pinsprite. He reached up and grabbed it, pulling it from the tree.
A sharp pain shot through his hand. The apple had bitten him! Mittle threw it down, yelling for Lany to watch out.
“What’s going on up there?” Lany yelled back.
Mittle didn’t answer. He stuck his bleeding finger in his mouth and sucked on it instead.
What was going on? Mittle’s mind raced. This couldn’t be a new breed of tree—the apples were only on these branches.
Something the High Mother said popped into his head. “The darkness is creeping in, changing things, spreading malice and pain throughout Verden.”
Mittle looked down once more.  The tree trunk, the side away from where he and Lany had been waiting had a streak that crept up it like a dark vein. He followed it up the tree. It stopped on the branches that held the vicious apples.  He followed it down and found that it didn’t start at the tree. Mittle could see the dark vein arcing away from the tree through the underbrush.
Mittle’s stomach dropped. He knew High Mother had spoken the truth, but it had been so distant. Far away near the sea, or by the Kukinta Mountains. Not a day’s walk from his home.
Clenching his jaw, Mittle looked back up at the apples. The darkness would not win this battle.

Dappa and the Sea

This prompt was from yesterday, but I didn't have time to do it yesterday, so here I am now. Leah and Julie also wrote.

The blue of his eyes was my favorite part.
But I would enjoy visiting Dappa whether he had blue eyes or not.
He sat on a barrel, one leg tossed over the other, leaning on his hand. His knit cap pulled down over his grey hair was brown like the wharf he sat on. I smiled as I came over the hill and saw him sitting there, hand smooshing up the multitude of wrinkles lining his face. He was staring out to see like it was talking to him. Sometimes, I thought it did.
He didn't hear me until I was standing next to him. His wise blue eyes turned up at me when he realized I was there.
"Hi, Dappa."
"Ahh, my sweet Meira," he lilted, his accent so thick anyone who didn't know him wouldn't recognize his words. "Comin' on the boat?"
"Of, course, Dappa."
"Oh good. The sea is sleepy. Company is good." He stood up pulling his waterproof jacket tighter. He leaned and picked up his lunch, his heavy coat and scarf. His lunch would be ham and cheese on homemade bread with an apple. He had eaten the same thing every day for forty three years.
"What will we catch today, Dappa?" I ask as I climb in the boat with my own coat and lunch.
Dappa smiles his missing-tooth smile. "Perhaps some dab, perhaps some cod. Maybe a treasure for you to take home."
"Mum would like that." She asked me to bring some of our catch home for supper.
I unwrap the rope from the dock and Dappa pushes off with the oars. Soon we are far enough out in the bay that the dock is almost out of sight. The enormity of the ocean always awes me.
Dappa and I spend the rest of the morning mostly concentrating on casting the nets and pulling them in. He was right as always, the sea was sleepy—we didn't catch much.
When the sun was arcing back down toward the sea, Dappa decided to call it a day. I took the oars and started rowing toward home.
"No more fishing soon for you," he says.
I nod. I will be getting married soon and moving away from the sea. It is strange to me that my heart can be so light and so heavy at the same time.
"You will be missed."
"I will miss you, too, Dappa," I say.
When we arrive back at the dock, Dappa starts cleaning the fish, his knife strokes quick and sure. After a dozen or so, he pulls out a dab and holds it up between us. "Aha," he says. He slices the belly and pulls it open, sticking his fingers inside.
His bright blue eyes light up as he sticks his hand out toward me, palm up. Shining there in the evening sun is a gold ring. "A gift from the sea."
I gasp and take it seeing the beautiful swirls carved along it's side.
He shakes his head, taking the ring from me. Picking up my hand he slips it onto my ring finger. It fits perfectly.
He pats my hand, looking supremely happy. The sun-darkened skin feels leathery on my own. Then he stands and kisses my forehead and turns back toward the sea.


The city in the darkness

This is a continuation of the prompt I did yesterday. I'm copying Leah. She continued her story and I loved it, so I tried it too.

The light was dying even faster than usual. The grass fires sent up billows of smoke that turned the sun into a small bright dot, tinted by the ash. This would be to our advantage.
I  slowed Nieku and dismounted before he came to a complete stop. Holding the reigns tight so they wouldn’t jingle, I guided him into what was left of a merchant shop, a boulder having been thrown through the roof, one wall leaning over so far, we had to stoop to walk under it.
I quieted my breathing and spoke softly to Nieku to calm him. He would be still and quiet. This was how we survived.
Keja’s call pierced the silence once more. She would stay with whatever she had found until I came to her, continuing to call so I could locate her.
I gritted my teeth. I did not want whoever was following me to find her first. They may not go looking for her. But they may.
For nearly ten minutes, I waited, crouched and cramped in the building. No one came. I heard no footfalls, no chain mail jangling. Was it just a warning shot? Or were they waiting until I came back out. That would be foolish. Though Myndunes were not known for their common sense.
Leaving Nieku, I peered around the door frame. I still saw nothing.
The light was getting very low. If we did not go now, we would not be able to see to find Keja.
I slowly backed Nieku out, deciding to walk him. I would be able to see the ground better if I was closer to it. Speed would not be an advantage now.
Keja called again and I adjusted our course, ears tuned to any small sound.
Finding the hawk was more difficult than I anticipated. It sounded like Keja was near, but with the stone walls of wrecked buildings tumbling all around us, sounds could not always be trusted. Her call could be echoing  or bouncing off the stone any number of ways confusing my senses. We could be traveling in circles and I would never know. There was not enough light to tell anything apart and I dared not light a torch.
 Nieku stumbled, his hoof catching on something. Sighing, I stopped. There was a way I could find Keja, but I promised myself I would not use that power again. The moment I thought of it, the ache to use it pulled at my gut. I pushed the desire aside.
No. I would not do it. We could find her without giving in.
A screech cut through the air. She was on the other side of this square. I could barely make out the rustling of her white underfeathers.
Nieku and I moved quickly toward her, glad to have found her, glad I did not give in.
As we neared, I could tell that whatever she had found was small. It moved when it heard us.
A small voice rang out. “Hi!”
I nearly stumbled. A tuft of blond hair bobbed as the child stood up and toddled toward me. “Hi!” it said again, a smile spread across its face.
A child? No. A babe. This was not the help I had hoped for.
Deciding what to do, I raised my arm to call Keja, when another voice rang out.
“Don’t go any closer!”
My head snapped in the direction of the sound.
Just beyond the closest building, stood a boy holding a bow, an arrow knocked and aimed at my heart. 

The world is darker than I am.

Our prompt for today from the amazing Leah. You can read hers if you click on her name. If you like mine, you'll like hers even more. Check it out.

The world is darker than I am.
I never thought that possible.
Keja has just flown to check for life in the city below. I do not think she will find it. The battle here raged long and the people were proud. They would not have let themselves live to be slaves. Especially not to the Myndunes.
Thefarmers must have burnt their crops in anticipation of the incursion. I will have to travel far to find grass on which Nieku can graze. Hopefully I will be able to find water or we both may succumb to the death that is overtaking our world.
As Keja sails in and out of spires, occasionally swooping down for closer inspection, Nieku and I patrol the ridge, hoping for and dreading movement. From below, it would be welcome, from the blackened tree-line it would likely mean death.
A sharp hawk cry pierces the silence. Once. Twice. Three times.
Keja has found something.
I turn Nieku to descend into the valley and urge him to a trot. Reaching decimated outer wall, I stop. It will be difficult for Nieku to make his way through the rubble, but if Keja found a survivor, I will need him to carry them out. I could go through the main gate, but if the Myndunes left a unit behind to watch for stragglers, they would surely be watching the gates.
It only takes a moment to decide. It cannot be helped. I will have to go through the gates to bring Nieku and for some reason, I have hope that Keja has found something or someone worth bringing out of this desolation.
Keeping to the shadows as much as possible, I make my way to the once-grand arch that once held the city gate.
Nieku shudders underneath me as we make our way through the open space. He doesn’t like being out in the open any more than I do. We have been living in the shadows for far too long to be comfortable here. “Just a few more steps,” I reassure him, patting his neck.
He shakes his head and suddenly rears up, almost throwing me from the saddle.
An arrow narrowly misses my shoulder and bounces off the crumbling rock of the wall to my left.
Damn those Myndunes!
I whack Nieku with my heels, jolting him to a run. They would only be able to kill us if they could find us. And I didn’t plan on letting that happen.



Writing prompt for today, October 14: Write about an ink stain, real or imagined. My humble efforts:

Josiah’s hand was shaking. He put it into his coat pocket, not wanting Tamsin to see.
Efridah sat behind her desk, her crow at her shoulder, his feathers shining like oil in candlelight. Her features showed no hint of the blackness In her heart. Her high cheek-bones, full lips and wide green eyes had drawn scores of men and women into her dark circle for ten years, but Josiah had never been fooled. He knew she was one to stay away from the moment she stepped off the river boat that day.
If only Tamsin had known it, too.
“What do you want from me?” he asked.
The full lips pulled back to show perfect, white teeth. “Why Josiah, what would make you think I want something from you?” she drawled, her southern accent still strong after ten years.
Josiah pinched his lips together. He wasn’t going to play games. Instead he looked at Tamsin, so small and frail in that form.
“Oh. I see!” Efridah feigned surprise. “You’re interested in my new little friend, here.”  She stood and walked to the cage hanging from the ceiling in front of the window.  Her movement startled the crow, his feathers rustling a murmur as he hopped to her chair.
Opening the cage, Efridah put her hand in, palm up. Josiah could see a stain of blue on the tip of her writing finger. He had heard of signing deals with the devil. Was that to be his fate? Signing away his soul to save his sweetheart from endless servitude?
He watched as Tamsin jumped to Efridah’s palm.  When she was seated, Efridah took her hand out of the cage.
With her out of the cage, Josiah could see Tamsin’s beautiful features and his heart leapt. She was alive, and she wasn’t hurt from what he could see. But she was different somehow.  Of course, she was smaller. Much smaller.  But her dark skin was lighter—not paler, necessarily. Just lighter.  Like she was glowing with a faint blue haze. Her limbs were elongated, and her facial features were…what? Pointy.  That was the only word he could think of.  Her ears were pointy, too.
Josiah wanted to grab her and run, but he didn’t dare. Instead he stood very still and tried to keep his face placid, like Orchard Lake on a spring morning.
Efridah watched him for a moment, then brought her hand to her face. “Now isn’t she just so adorable? I do love getting a new pet.” She patted Tamsin’s head with her bejeweled forefinger and turned her gaze back to Josiah.
“I’ve only just acquired this little dear,” she said, her smile even wider somehow. She put Tamsin back in the cage and shut the door.  “If you’re going to…adopt…her so soon, it is going to cost you.”
She said it sweetly, but it shot a arrow of fear into Josiah’s heart.
“I know,” he said. And he did.

The bridge is controlled by me

The prompt for today is the picture below. Leah is amazing and is doing these even though she is on vacation.  Here is Deb's. It's fun and will make you want to read more of her stuff. Check it out.

I sit in my house in the middle of the lake.
The bridge is controlled by me.
I sit in my house in the middle of the lake.
The bridge is controlled by me.

Looking up, I have clocks on the wall. Hundreds of them. And I’m not sure how they all fit in here. This is not a large house. They tell time: my time, my kids’ time, publisher’s time, school’s time, my family’s time and more. I can never seem to keep them all ticking at the same pace.

Books are piled up on the desks and tables. They’re on the shelves and on the floor. Some of them are huge and thick, like Things I Didn’t Do, but Think I Should Have or How to Fail at Parenting. Some of them are small, some well-loved, some falling apart. I wish sometimes that Fearfully and Wonderfully Made was pocket size and I could have it with me if I ever left. Sometimes I think I should get rid of some of the clutter, but my motivation is sapped by my desire to sit and read.

Out the window, the lake is beautiful. The green trees and mountains reflected in its stillness. But I stay here. Even the bridge is treacherous, and I would rather be safe. There are things that lurk beneath the stillness of the water. Terrible and frightful things that no one wants to talk about. So I stay here.

Sometimes I wish someone would be brave and cross the bridge anyway. Bring a sword and slay the beasts so I could leave. I’m not sure anyone even knows I am here. But it would be nice to know there are brave knights or even not-so-brave ones with laser guns that would come and do a good deed.  It would be nice to be found and be taken out of the clutter and ticking.

But I've been here for a long time. Days and days and days. And perhaps no one is coming. Perhaps, I need to be brave. I think, maybe, I have to save myself. 



Writing prompt for today, October 6: Write a scene where the crumb on the table has particular significance.

Mercedes wrung her hands.  She didn’t know why she was here. And they made her sit in this chair. Without sanitizing it first.
“Mrs. Young, did you hear me?”
Mercedes looked up at the police officer sitting across the table. His face was nice enough, but his nose was crooked.  Undoubtedly broken sometime in the past. She hadn’t heard him.  She shook her head.
“Where were you last night at 9:45?”  He wiped his nose with his hand and Mercedes almost threw up.  Those hands had touched her arm. She shuddered.
“Mrs. Young!” The cop was getting angry, but she couldn’t seem to concentrate on his words.
She shook her head, trying to clear the image of millions of germs crawling up her arm. “I…I was at home, reading a book.”
“Was there anyone else there?”
“Do you know where your husband was?”
Mercedes looked down at the table.  She didn’t know where her husband had been. She was about to say this when she noticed a crumb on the table. It was on the officer’s side and it was white and powdery.
It could be powdered sugar. Cops eat donuts, right? It must be powdered sugar. But her mind wouldn’t let it go. What if it was anthrax? What if it was anthrax and the police officer breathed one of his angry germ-filled breaths and it flew over the table and she breathed it in? She would die.
She would die.
Mercedes’ breath came faster, she couldn’t seem to slow down her heart.
Suddenly the angry, germy cop was behind her, yanking her up.  She pushed him away, not wanting his germs to crawl up her arm again. She struggled and kicked and writhed, but it was no use. He ended up sitting on her handcuffing her hands behind her back.
As he hauled her out of the room, saying something about remaining silent, she could barely walk, barely think, for trying to get all the germs off. 


Silly Snails

It is late and I am feeling silly. I hope you enjoy my silly snail story. Leah's inspiring picture:

“Why hasn’t anyone inquired?”
“What do you mean, ‘why?’ It’s a used house!”
“People sell used houses all the time.”
“You are not a person, Carl, you are a snail.”
“So are you.”
“But I’m not trying to sell my old shell.”
“I am.”
“I know, Carl.”
Janet inched closer to a nearby bush. “Are you coming?”
“What if somebody comes by and sees the sign?”
“Then they will stop and look at it and you can shout at them.”
“Shout at them? You don’t think that would be bad manners? ‘Hey, you! That’s my house!’ They would run away for sure.  I had better stay here.”
If Janet could have shrugged, she would have, but she didn’t have shoulders. Or bones. So she just turned her head and went back to inching. “Suit yourself.”
“You’re going to leave without me?”
“We have to eat, Carl. There aren’t any leaves near your sign.”
“But that’s the point. Who would see it if there were a bunch of leaves around?”
Janet decided not to answer this question.
“What if I shined it a little bit?”
“With what?”
“My slime.”
“Then it would be slimy, not shiney.”
“Well what would you suggest?”
“Coming with me to eat.”
“I meant, ‘How would you shine the shell?”
“I wouldn’t.”
“You’re being grumpy, Janet. You should eat something. Your blood sugar is getting low.”
Janet stuck her eyes into the top of her head in annoyance. “I’m trying, dear.”
“Well I’m trying to sell a house.”
“Why don’t you wander around while you wait and try to sell the slime trail as art while you’re at it?”
Carl’s gaze jerked up to Janet, who was now half-way up a stem.
“Brilliant, dear.  You are so brilliant!”
Janet shook her head and took a bite of crunchy, green dinner, hoping no one would come by before it got dark.

You can read Leah's and Deb's, too. Please do. Because they are awesome.