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Allusionary Assembly

The Writing of Kerry E.B. Black

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Charli Mills at https://carrotranch.com issued her newest challenge (write a story in 99 words about sea mist) while bringing a bit of information to her readers.

The US Veteran Crisis Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (press 1). You can also text 838255, or open access help for those hard of hearing (and most combat veterans suffer hearing loss) 1-800-799-4889.

To participate, Respond by February 5, 2019.

 

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Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

Mist floated above the water, ghostly aspirations undulating as the river swelled and dipped like lovers’ sighs. Transient by nature, it fettered fine tendrils around Erin’s poetic heart.

 

She plopped to the moist ground and beckoned the cloud. Perhaps within its obscuring she could find clarity.

 

Waves lapped the shore with the steadiness of a heartbeat. Erin’s own inner workings joined the pace as though engaging a dance. Delicate as dew, fog surrounded her until all she could see was the problem at hand.

 

Thoughts thick with worry, she stared into a luminous blank and surrendered.

 

“I need help.”  

Games Omniverse – Epic Workplace

You have to read Charli Mills’ latest piece at Carrot Ranch. What a fabulous campus! I must visit sometime. Her challenge is to create a 99 word piece about another Epic Workplace, so I mentioned Games Omniverse. http://www.gamesomniverse.com/  I love writing for them! (There are folks closer to my age but so much “hipper” and “with it” at Games Omniverse. They seamlessly blend in with the young culture.)

September 6: Flash Fiction Challenge

 

 

Games Omniverse – Epic Workplace

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

They’re all so much younger than me, but I find their Millenial energy invigorating. I know they look on me as the Grandma of the bunch. They turn eye-rolls when I’ve fouled another computer task and hide their smiles when I say something about “me me’s” instead of saying “memes.”

Yet somehow, I bring something to the group. I’d never be so vain as call it wisdom, and my experiences aren’t always helpful. However, it works. When they need copy, I pound on the keyboard until some small magic occurs, and the Angel in charge nods. “This’s good. Thanks.”

Nativity Play

Charli Mills at https://carrotranch.com challenges us to “present a performance in 99 words.” Mine is based on a true story which still makes me smile. I hope it will bring you a giggle, too.

Nativity Play

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

In the church nativity play, Matthew portrayed Shepherd Two, though preferred staying close to his best friend, Buddy, who was cast as Joseph.

The boys fidgeted.

Matthew chewed his headrail. “Who’s Baby Jesus?” Their Sunday School teacher remained sketchy on casting details.

Buddy shrugged. He stepped into the lead of the procession with the girl cast as Mary.

 Matthew took his position behind shepherd one and three sheep. As the choir sung, curiosity overtook him, and he ignored the stage blocking. He edged closer to Buddy. “Who’s Jesus?”

They leaned over the manger and giggled. “Jesus is a doll?”

manger scene

Like a Friendly Spider

In answer to Charli Mills and the good folks at https://carrotranch.com ‘s weekly 99 word challenge, I present my take on “mesh.”

Like a Friendly Spider

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

When as a child I didn’t get along with someone, my mom would say we didn’t “mesh.” An optimistic humanist, I had a hard time accepting this. I’d re-work my approach toward friendship, hoping to integrate into their lives. I’d learn a sport, watch popular films, read trending books. Still, the “mesh” eluded me.

As I grew, classmates changed to fit into intricate webs of friendship.

So I weaved a new fabric, one accepting others’ diverse contributions. Not everyone would want to be a part of my web, and that was okay. I could mesh with those who did.

spiderweb quilt-pinterest

*Image of a spider web patterned quilt from Pinterest.

Crinkling

Charli Mills challenged visitors to her excellent https://carrotranch.com to write a story in 99 words that incorporates sound as an integral element.

Unfortunately, mine is based on a true story.

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Crinkling

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Crinkling, like anxious mice in an autumn woodland, woke Wendy from a sound sleep. She wrinkled her nose around a musty smell. The insidious crinkling crept deeper. She lit a bedside flashlight and shone it on the ground. She gasped. “No.” Water crept into her room, surrounding her as though she were Thumbellina asleep on a lilypad. Her feet splashed on sopping carpet as she rushed to gather the most valuable of her belongings. Tears splashed into the rising tide. The water rose above her ankles, collecting items to ruin, crinkling like a voracious wolf gnawing an ancient bone.

 

 

Blocked Way

Blocked Way

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 Insurmountable as a mountain, a boulder blocked the trail. Cindy’s mount snorted a cloud of displeasure into the winter air as Cindy considered other paths. Ice made the left impassable, and thick, snow-covered branches provided an impenetrable barrier into the woods.

She sighed into her mount’s neck. “My life.” An overbearing ex, condescending family, and unpleasable boss filled her existence with self-doubt. Only riding healed her.

She dismounted and pushed, but the stone remained. She rounded it and began breaking branches. Blood trickled from scrapes from the effort, but she forced a path, determined not to be stymied again.

horse-in-snow

Until the Bitter End

Charli Mills at https://carrotranch.com presented this November 9, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pivots around an unexpected ending. This is my response. What do you think?

 

Until the Bitter End

A story of 99 words Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 Candy grew into her name, sweet and eager to please.

She was young when she married a widower and took his children into her heart. She lavished attention and care, sacrificing for her family and believing in happily-ever-after. No treats for herself. Instead, she provided trinkets to please them. She attended and applauded their school performances. She encouraged their every success.

Neighbors whispered and pointed, accusing Candy of neglect and abuse. Her stepchildren portrayed her as negligent, and others somehow believed them. Candy grew bitter and withdrawn. When was she cast as the evil stepmother in the fairy tale?

evil-stepmother-cocktail*Thanks to Cocktails by Cody. *Substitute raspberry or cherry juice if you don’t like pomegranate. 🙂

 

Wicked Witches and Flying Monkeys

Wicked Witches and Flying Monkeys

A story written in 99 words for Carrot Ranch’s @Charli_Mills

by Kerry E.B. Black 

(Check out Charli’s great weekly flash fiction challenges at https://carrotranch.com/ )

 

When her husband branded her “wicked witch” before company, Amanda filed for divorce. Name calling in public was the newest humiliation and abuses.

The court awarded child support and alimony, and Amanda invested in a business, a bar. The hours allowed her to care for her children during the day, and the building’s upstairs apartment kept them in proximity through last call.

She devised bewitching drinks and hired a cook. With care, she hung stained glass and fine stemware.

A mutual friend asked, “What will you call the place?”

A fan of irony, Amanda smiled. “Flying Monkeys, of course.”

 

wicked-witch-of-the-west-flying-monkey

(photo – Margaret Hamilton as Wicked Witch of the West in 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz.”)

 

Buback

best-free-read-award-best

Buback

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

Chill air rustled through the field, reviving Boo. She struggled against twine cutting into her wrists and wrested herself free of the post where the bullies had left her. As she fell to the ground, her overalls ripped. With a sigh, a golden haze fell like lint from the tear and disappeared into the nutrient-depleted earth. Boo scrambled to catch its threads, but they slipped through her fingers like youthful regret. She punched the earth where it disappeared and cursed. “Damn!”

As she examined the damage to the motley patchwork, a storm of anger flooded through her. She raised aching arms toward obscured stars, shaking a fist. She pulled her trembling hands through her straw-coarse hair, plotting. “Fools tied me to a post instead of setting me on a throne as I deserve.”

Clouds raced through the sky, revealing an amber moon sunk low on the horizon. A bonfire on the next hill sent sparks heaven-ward, giving her a beacon. She’d find people there, people who might know who did this to her, people crouching like Neanderthals as they shared roasted meats, mugs of warmed cider, and spine-tingling tales.

Her nostrils flared, and her stomach rumbled. She licked lips cracked from wind exposure and set off across the field of shorn maize. Dried husks crunched like autumn leaves as she made her way. She scooped up a discarded harvesting scythe. When rested upright, it stood taller than her, but its wood felt substantive as decision in her hands.

She checked that her change purse remained in her pocket. Moonlight reflected off of the silvered metals of needles and sharp scissors. She fingered a spool of crimson thread in the bottom of the bag. Necessary items to repair her oft-patched garments. A cold breeze stole the word, “perfect” from her lips.

Something warm and furry brushed against her legs, and she startled. A huge black tom cat bumped his head against her again, as though begging for attention. Boo greeted the feline. “Oh, aren’t you a beauty?”

He purred his approval. With tail held high, he scampered toward a fence, pausing to look over his shoulder and meow.

“Follow you? But my friend, I have a busy evening before me and must use night well.”

The cat yowled again, insistent.

Her laugh rustled the night breezes, causing the revelers atop the next hill to shiver. “Fine, for but a moment. I haven’t time to waste.”

Beneath a goat cart parked by the fence, a dozen cats, all black as pitch, huddled around a fallen nest. With noisy gulps, they feasted on two large crows. When Boo approached the birds, they reached their talons as though to ward her away. They opened their pointed beaks in fear, but the gloss in their beady eyes dulled as the cats tore into their meat. The cats lapped up the blood and purred at their work.

The tom worked a figure eight through Boo’s legs, pausing to swat at a stray bit of straw dragging from her hem. She stooped and scratched behind his ears. “You and your friends are a clever lot. I could use your help this evening, if you’re willing.”

Thirteen cats licked gore from their whiskers as she fashioned a loose harness about their chests and bellies. “You’ll have more to eat this evening, I promise. I’ll scare some more crows your way.” She grabbed the reaping sythe and stepped into the cart. The cats leapt over one another, eager for their feast.

The people at the bonfire atop the next hill laughed with the abandon only intoxicated people can manage. They clung to one another without regard for personal space, or perhaps because their own legs need assistance holding them upright.

When Boo entered the glow from the fire, the group blinked with slow-dawning dread. The praise leader pointed and screamed, “The devil’s come!” Her husband backed away into the cover of a stand of trees, abandoning his wife and the others as tactical war-remembrances flashed through his subconscious. Several people stumbled away from Boo and her strange conveyance team, but the farmer stepped forward, scratching his head. “Wait, you’re my scarecrow, aren’t you?”

A smile streched across her canvas face as she hoisted the scythe. “How nice of you to admit your guilt,” she said, swinging the blade into his flesh, relishing his look of slack-jawed incomprehension. “Should like to hang you on a post for a season. See how you like it.” Blood sizzled as it splashed into the fire. Boo licked a splattering that colored her cheek. She savored its metallic tang. Reaching into the farmer’s chest, Boo cut his soul free and formed it into a patch. She slipped the patch into her front pocket and stepped over the farmer’s corpse. “This will replace the one I lost. Let’s see what else I can collect.”

With another swing of the scythe, she freed the cats from their harness. They fell upon the farmer with gusto.

The farmer’s wife threw a bottle at Boo, but it missed. Boo stepped forward like a ballplayer and cut the woman’s soul free. The body slumped at her husband’s feet, a look of shock frozen upon her features.

Two young men leapt at her, sons hoping to avenge their parents, but with ease, the blade passed through them. Their intestines bloomed from their severed abdomens, spilling into the stone ring meant to contain the fire. Flames singed them, browning the intestines like a string of fresh sausages.

The parish praise leader trembled under an unblessed wooden cross. “Get behind me, Satan.”

Boo admired the tarnish that mottled the woman’s soul. To comply with the request, Boo stepped to the side and sliced her open along her spine.

The rest of the bonfire company fled, but Boo had collected enough souls.

She licked chunks of flesh from her fingers, enjoying every mouthful as she considered placement of her new acquisitions. She flattened her newest patch and decided on irony. She chose the back of the overalls near the base of her spine. “Get behind me, praise leader with the tarnished soul,” she chuckled. She threaded the needle, stripped off her garment, and sewed. When finished, she held the newly repaired overalls at arm’s length to admire her handiwork. “This will do nicely. Don’t see how any farmer could resist asking me to guard their field when I’m such a well-dressed Buback.”

She patted the cats fondly. “Thank you, my friends. We’ll do this again next year. After all, every harvest some fool unwittingly sets me free.”

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