Unfinished Stories – Colors, by Dawn Locklear & Redzuan Abdul Rahim

No one is spared when computers rise up, including myself.  However, all is well again here are Sword & Quill, and so we conclude this series of Unfinished Stories; slightly later than originally thought, but finished just the same.  Tonight, an unconventional, and yet spectacular, ending to our adventure is brought to you by Dawn and Red.  Another story of ElizaMay, Dawn’s heroine from last time, and very nice way to end our Series.  Thank you for coming along.
ElizaMay dances when the rainbows explode onto the sky.  Colours bright and alive in the meadow of the forest where her folks decided to camp for the night.  The rainstorm came on quick, drench her and the rainbow of flowers that surround her.
And as fast as the rain came it stopped, leaving the sky alit with arches of vibrancy.  Dancing with joy and picking flowers as she romps, the little girl is giddy with the smells of rain, earth, the pungent array of flowers and even her smelly wool sweater.
As the sun begins to set, the sky answers in its festival of colour.  Streaks of magenta and orange fill the vastness as if flavours of sherbets dominate her world.  Yellow and green splashes with bits of purple decide to take their turn.  The sky is changing quickly now, so ElizaMay figures she’d better head back.
Keeping watch above, the planets peek their alignment, and watching her steps too, she reaches the edge of the forest.  And looks back over her shoulder at the miracle unfolding.  Although the colours in the clouds continue their dance, they began to subdue to welcome the next thing.
“Hello Mam and Da!  I’m back, what a sky!  It’s as if I painted it myself!”  ElizaMay exclaimed excitedly.
“Well good for you Lit’lOne!”  Da bent down to hug her.  “We will eat in celebration then!”
He took her hand and led her to the table where Mam had decorated with wild flowers and place settings as colourful as the meadow and sky ElizaMay left.  After eating, the delicious meal of green beans, fried pork chops and homemade applesauce, all were quite sated indeed.  They smiled at each other as if a secret was being revealed and then looked about as the next show began.
And so on cue, it did.  Fireflies danced slowly at first, fluttering, a bit shy.  Then more came to the party and it really got going.  Dive bombing the audience, zooming in and out of the trees and ferns.  The light spinning into ribbons, connecting into a web of gold all around them tickled the happy family with delight.  “This is incredible!”  Mam marveled with tears.
“Oh is sure is,” ElizaMay giggled uncontrollably.
Da got up to pull Mam into his arms and began to dance.  ElizaMay joined in with her jig.  The fireflies liked it because they swirled around them creating a beautiful canopy of sparkling lights.  Then in an instant they stopped, and all went black.
The Fam quite startled, held onto each other because they couldn’t see, it was so dark.  As their eyes adjusted however, the treetops began to glow in that ever knowing aura of the moon.  This was their signal to move out into the meadow.  So Da pulled out little flashlights from his pocket to give to his girls and Mam picked up the blanket, they strolled out to the field.  And there it was for their extended delight.  Big, round and beautiful, the BlueFullMoon just above the horizon showing off its splendour.
They stretched out the blanket and laid down to watch the moon rising to catch up with the aligning planets, beginning the next show.

(Upstage ELIZA MAY, DA and MAM are laying stretched out on a blanket.  The stage is lit to mimic the night. Enter MOON and SKY)

MOON

It is sad to say but this family is a rarity amongst humans.

SKY

Oh?  Moon, are we sentimental tonight?

MOON

When am I not, Sky?  I long for simpler times.  Every night I pass, this world becomes brighter.  Humans have lost the need for the night with their advances in technology.  I fear for the humans of this age.

SKY

Are we jealous that they have turned their sights beyond you, brother?

MOON

Jealous?  No.  Saddened?  Yes.  Only because they have outgrown me.

SKY

It is only natural for them to look beyond you.  They are a curious species indeed.

MOON

They are curious at the cost of their true being.  Remember the Shamans of old?  The ones who regaled their people with stories of us?  Remember the wonder and excitement that filled their eyes?  In that moment, they were one with us much like this family.  This is what living is about.  Now look at the rest of the world.  You’ve seen it.  Every day is a rush towards an inevitable end.  They are not living.  They are debris circling an inevitable end; only hungry and never sated.

SKY

Not all humans are as hopeless as you make them out to be.  Give them time.  We are here to observe the wonders that these tiny beings can accomplish.

MOON

But at what cost?  Sky, you’re nothing but a shadow of your former self.  Human ingenuity at its finest.

SKY

Yes, I have been better but I hold out with hope that they will learn.  I’m not concerned for myself for I will heal with time and I will be here long after they have left Terra.  We all have our parts to play very much like now.

MOON

All too true.  I digress sister Sky, I let my emotions get the best of me.

SKY

It is quite all right.  We are here now.  Let us give this family a performance they have never seen.

(A swirl of colors populates the stage mesmerizing the family orchestrated by MOON and SKY)

Dawn Locklear – SparkleSpins

Redzuan Abdul Rahim

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Unfinished Stories – The Volunteer, by Jeffery Crow & Robin Nyström

Well folks, instead of a regular post, it will be another Unfinished Story.  Too many great stories this week to stop.  This week’s entry was started by myself, and it seemed like the perfect way to welcome Robin.  Keep dreaming folks, and see you tomorrow.

It was such a good party. New Year’s Eve. Champagne. Music. A really, really good time.

It’s no longer New Year’s Eve. It’s the next morning. And I feel every single ounce of champagne. And the 25-year old Scotch.  And the first, third, and fourth Jello-O shot. Possibly the second, as well.

OK, definitely the second.

All this before I even open my eyes. I don’t want to open my eyes.

I open my first eye. Nope. Try the other eye. Well, that one opens, but the room moves with that eye. Bad eye. Bad day.  Happy freaking New Year.

Is that my phone? I think it was my phone. It also could have been an air-raid siren. Make that stop. Crack open an eye.  Don’t like that, but the pain of the ringing is worse. Maybe.  Don’t move my head, the room just settled. Don’t want to disturb that. What the hell was in that Jell-O? Right…vodka.

Let’s see, in the living room, on the sofa. Television isn’t on.  Water glass, empty, next to me. Good thinking. No phone though.  Time. What time is it? Look at wrist. Oh! My arm moves, that good. And there goes the room, again. Stop. Where is that sound coming from? Man I have to pee. Oh! My pocket seems to be vibrating.

“Hello.” My voice sounds terrible.

“Hey buddy! You sound terrible.” It was Dave. Usually Dave is my best friend. But today is not usual. Today, I hate Dave.

“Mmmmph.”

“You must be feeling lousy. You were showing no mercy last night. Reminded me of college. Whew! You were on fire!” Dave is chipper. I hate Dave.

“What’s up Dave.” It wasn’t a question. I was dying, and dying people have no time for questions.

“I’m on my way over, just wanted to make sure you were ready.  Glad I did. I really appreciate this, by the way.”  What?  “I was so nervous about it, and then after you talked to me last night, man…” Far too much admiration in his voice. I really must have been convincing. About something. “And then to volunteer to do it with me! That’s just a whole new level of…” He was still talking. Why was he still talking? What was he saying? “…and then we should be back by about 10 tonight. Sound good?”

Just enough time to pull on jeans and a T-shirt. A thousand lightbulbs go off when I open the door. Dave tries to give me a hug, but I won’t let him.

“I gotta pee,” I say and wave him off. “Bladder’s about to explode.”

I do my business. Have to lean against the wall while I piss. Decide to close my eyes, for a moment. A car horn blares nearby.

Dave has a silver Mercedes. I sit in the passenger’s seat. Pop three Ibuprofens, gulp them down without water. Dave drives. Still no idea where we’re going or why. Don’t care.

Dave thanks me again for whatever promise I must have made.

“You know, we’ve always been more like brothers, you and I,” he says. “Not friends, but brothers, man. People even say we look alike. You’ve heard that, right?”

I look out the window. Airbrushed colors rush by. I feel nauseous. Everything is too vivid and unreal.

“Mmmmph.”

My grunts do not shut him up.

We drive for forty-five minutes. By the end of it, I feel like I could retch up all of yesterday. Dave instructs the car to parallel park, and it does, all by itself. Show-off.

We walk into a warp station. Dave buys a round-trip for two at the booth. We have to sign waivers, and we get our retinas scanned. Further ahead, an old woman stamps our tickets. She has tiny, black teeth. Nasty habit that, teeth coloring.

I look at my ticket stub.

‘July 12, 2012. 8:00PM.’

Now I know when we’re going. Still not where. Still not why.

Dave is going off about something again, jabbering. I try to drown out his words somewhere in my headache. We wait in a crowded room, seated next to a Japanese family that plays hologram chess.

Our names are called out. We are let into our cabin by a TSA agent. At least it’s quiet in there.

Dave is standing next to me, holding an old photograph. He stares at the picture, wordless.

There is a loud, pulsating thrum. Sliding doors open wide.

“Let’s do this,” says Dave. He smiles.

We step through the portal, and I sober up real quick.

* * * *

On the eve of July 12, 2012, we walk into a diner on the corner of Thomas Lane and Blueclock Road. The hostess seats us at an orange, plastic table. We’re given a leather-encased menu, each page sticky with a day’s worth of fingerprints. We’re told that our server will be with us shortly.

I know when we are, and where. But still not why.

“There she is,” says Dave, and he nods towards our approaching waitress.

I look at her. It’s the woman from Dave’s photograph. Her name tag, pinned to her red dress, says Margaret.

Dave orders a club sandwich. He almost manages to keep his voice steady. I order blueberry pie. The waitress locks her eyes with mine for a long while as she repeats our order back to us. I nod. Dave clears his throat.

As she walks off, I can see that Dave’s eyes are welling up. I understand, at last, why we’re here. Dave had to see her, for real. He had to see who she was before he was born.

His tears are spilling onto the orange tabletop.

“You can’t tell her who you are,” I say.

“I know,” says Dave. “But I feel like I owe her something.”

“Of course you do,” I say. “You owe her your life. But you didn’t choose to be her son, and she didn’t choose to die. Nothing we say or do can change that.”

He wipes his tears and breathes heavily.

The woman who will one day become Dave’s mom serves us the pie and the sandwich. We eat in silence.

This is what I volunteered for. I let my big mouth run wild on a drunken New Year’s Eve. Boom. Next you know, here we are, trying to reconnect with time forever lost. I’m such a shit-head.

I look over at the waitress again. She sure is beautiful. Short-cut chestnut hair. Skin pale as porcelain. Maybe too pale, on the verge of sickly. Long-nailed, slender hands.

Dave is ready to leave. He pays with a generous tip and gets to his feet. He motions to the door.

“I have to pee,” I say. “I’ll be right out.”

“Okay,” he says. “Hurry up, though. I promised to have you back by 10.”

“Back to what?” I say.

I walk to the other side of the diner and lock myself in the bathroom. I stare into the mirror. I don’t really need to pee. I just need to breathe for a second. Something feels wrong. It’s as if the whole world is out of focus. As if I’m walking wide-eyed but blind.

When I unlock the door and exit the restroom, I bump into someone who is standing in the hallway. It’s her. Margaret. She puts a hand on my chest and pushes me back into the bathroom.

“What did you think of my pie?” she asks.

“Um,” I say. “Tasty.”

Her lips move to my throat as she whispers. “There’s more where that came from.”

I am defenseless. It is too raw, too real. Inescapable.

We make love in that bathroom stall. She hikes up her dress, and I drop my jeans, and I press her up hard against a white-tiled wall spattered with graffiti.

The same thoughts run through my head, over and over, like a chant:

Today is not usual. Today, we made Dave.

Jeffery Crow – Sword And Quill

Robin Nyström – NicoLife

Unfinished Stories – Greenway Gothic, by Robin Nyström & Laurel Degutis

Welcome Back!  We have another new contributor this week; Robin Nyström has started a perfect story for series regular, Laurel, to finish.  Robin has been working very hard on a web-series called Nicolife, and I encourage all of you to go check it out.  Hope you enjoy today’s entry, and be sure to check back tomorrow for another!
Every year my parents would wave their goodbyes in the damp summer heat of late July and send me off on a train from Pittsburgh to Boalsburg. I was picked up at the station by Grandma and Grandpa Greenway, who drove me to their lodge deep within Rothrock Forest, where I spent two weeks under their supervision.
I remember the small pond that nested in a bed of tall grass on their property. Grandpa and I kneeled next to it and watched the tadpoles swim around in the mucky water. I remember when Grandma and I took a bike ride to the old limestone quarry. I remember dinner time on the porch, when we looked over the towering pine trees as their shadows grew and the sun set. I remember the laughter-filled evenings with card games and charades and homemade kettle corn.
But there is one memory that stands out like a razor blade in a box of cereal.
Around supper time, on that particular day, I was reading a comic book at the kitchen table, when Grandpa called my name and pointed to a steaming bowl on the countertop, filled to the brim with a red-and-green soup.
”Will you bring that out to your Grandmother?” he said. “I bet she’s mighty hungry right about now.”
“What is it?“ I said, eyeing the bowl with a wrinkled nose.
“Curry lentil soup,” said Grandpa.
My whole face scrunched up like crinkled paper.
“I know you don’t like curry,” said Grandpa with a chuckle, “so I’m making you tomato soup with a side of cheese toast.”
My facial muscles relaxed again.
“Go on now,” said Grandpa. “And be careful.”
When I stepped onto the porch, I noticed that Grandma had fallen asleep in a sun chair. I didn’t want to let go of the bowl with either one of my hands, so I nudged her cheek with my nose. She blinked and looked at me.
“Hey,” she said.
“I brought you dinner,” I said.
Grandma smiled. She cupped her hands around the curry lentil soup bowl and leaned forward, letting the steams envelop her face.
“My, oh my,” she mumbled.
Grandma took a deep breath, inhaling the aromas. Then she sort of jerked back as if taken by surprise. Without another word, she raised the soup above her head and tossed it into the yard—bowl and spoon and everything.
I stared at Grandma, slack-jawed and shell-shocked.
“Aconite!” she shrieked, jumping out of the sun chair like a scorched wildcat. “You’re trying to poison me with fucking aconite!”
She stormed back into the house, and I followed at a distance.
“You didn’t think I could smell the wolfsbane with all that curry?” Grandma screamed as she pounced into the kitchen. “You pathetic old bastard! How dare you drag Eliza into this?”
Grandpa whipped around, armed with a slice of toast in one hand and a block of cheese in the other.
“Be quiet, you old crone,” he hissed with fiery contempt. “Spare me your righteousness! You know damn well the promise that I made: in sickness and in health, ’til…”
“Shut your mouth!” said Grandma, and she made her fists into little balls. “You never knew how to play fair, Oswald, did you? It’s just like that time you tried to push me off a cliff in the quarry!”
“Oh, yeah?” said Grandpa. “Well, Petunia, dear, what about the time you knocked me into the pond and tried to drown me?”
“You think that’s bad?” roared Grandma. “How about the time when you gave me an overdose of sedatives and tried to bury me alive in a coffin beneath the apple tree?”
“So what?” snorted Grandpa. “Remember when you tricked me into picking up your wedding ring from the kitchen sink while you turned on the garbage disposal? You were gonna bleed me dry, you witch!”
“Bah!” said Grandma, and her body shook with rage. “This has gone on for far too long.”
Grandpa let go of the toast and the cheese, letting them tumble to the counter. “I couldn’t agree more.”
“I say we settle this, right now, once and for all.”
“Fine by me,” said Grandpa with a shrug.
Grandma Greenway stomped forward and reached for an 8-inch cleaver from a stainless steel knife rack. She turned to her husband with a feline grin.
“This here is my weapon of choice,” she said with a snarl. “Now pick yours, old man, and let’s fight ’til death do us part.”
Grandpa paused and produced a hard stare that settled first on Grandma, then drifted toward me.
He lifted his hand and wagged his crooked finger in my direction, “The girl. She’s my weapon.”
“You’re sick! I told you to leave her out of this!” Grandma belted back the cat within her growing more savage.
I did nothing. I remember that quite clearly. I was waiting for them to have a good laugh. For Grandpa to pinch my shoulder, and Grandma to poke fun at how frightened I looked. What a stunt! We’d all reminisce about it when we were with my parents for the winter holidays.
“Gah! Have it your way you wretch. You always have.” Grandpa dropped his finger and gaze and picked up the cast iron skillet he had just browned my toast on. The pan seemed to give off a quiet cackle, it must have been the butter and crumbs sliding over it’s hot surface.
They circled each other for a moment, like wild dogs approaching one another in a abandoned parking lot. They we’re moving clockwise, Grandma nearing me as Grandpa tried to maintain North to her South.
“Out of the way Eliza!” Grandma Greenway pushed me hard with her free hand, never once taking her eyes of Grandpa.
I fell backward onto my butt and hands. My body forgot to take a breath. I choked for a minute, then gasped and swallowed all the oxygen I could.
When I stood I saw Grandma inhale a deep breath and upon releasing it explode at Grandpa, lunging at a speed I’d never seen her approach. She held the knife out directly over her head.
Grandpa blocked her attack, using the skillet like a shield. I heard the blade screech down the surface of the cast iron. I set of chills crawled over my skin and creeped into my ears, tickling me in the most disgusting way.
With a forceful grunt Grandpa swung the skillet from one side of his body to the other, just barely missing the side of Grandma’s face. As Grandma flung her body back to dodge the swing her arms had lurched forward, and though unintentional, Grandma made her first cut just above Grandpa’s knee.
“You fucking HAG!” The words fell from Grandpa’s mouth, but hey didn’t sound quite like him. It almost sounded like a younger man. Then I saw the blood gathering in his khaki colored pants. It colonized the fabric then moved on, dripping to the floor.
The three of us were watching the blood for what felt like a small eternity. Then Grandpa sprang forward, but he must of over estimated the strength of his newly wounded leg. It collapsed under his weight and he tumbled on top of Grandma, pinning her to the ground under his body.
The cleaver had fallen from her grip and spun out on the tiled kitchen floor.
Grandma stretched her arm out in a desperate reach for her weapon. She was sweating and heaving under Grandpa.
Straddling her, he lifted his torso with the skillet still in hand. The skillet that made my toast. He pulled it back over his shoulder, winding up again, this time for a blow that would surely make contact.
I jerked forward as if hooked on a line controlled by Grandpa’s flailing cast iron arm. I plowed into him just as he made a sharp wince, dropped the skillet and grabbed his left shoulder. He collapsed onto his side, legs still draped over Grandma, my body draped over his.
Grandma shimmied out from under us with a rodents urgency. She grabbed the cleaver and held it up over her head again, waiting, threatening.
“Get up you sonuvabitch!” She was half way between a screech and a dry pant.  “Get away from him, Eliza! Back up girl!”
I scrambled away, in a kind of crab walk, falling over my own feet and Grandpa Greenway’s.
He wasn’t moving.
I felt my stomach tighten up like a massive fist had suddenly taken hold of my organs and squeezed hard. I wretched for a moment, or forever. This part is what’s kind of unclear.
Grandma nudged Grandpa with the bottom of her slipper. He still didn’t move. She kneeled, and I couldn’t quite see what she was doing, but it seemed like she was poking and prodding at his face and eyes and neck.
She stood. Her shoulders dropped, as did the cleaver. “Good riddance.” She sounded sweet again, like she did on our bike rides, and ushered me into the sitting room.
“What a gift Eliza. You’re such a help.” She touched my hair and squeezed the top of my knee.
It took time for the ambulance and the police to arrive. We were so deep in the woods. All that time in the house with the man Grandma and I killed.
“The poor girl,” Grandma told the handsome officer, “She was in the kitchen when it happened. I just heard the ruckus. He must have collapse when he had the heart attack and tried to grab onto to knife rack to steady himself. OH, THE BLOOD. Poor Eliza, hasn’t said a thing since it all happened.”
The medics wheeled Grandpa out to the narrow, pebbled driveway under the sublime white of a sheet. Grandma and I watched from the doorway, the pond water to our left dancing under the setting sun.
“How about that soup and cheese toast?” Grandma asked as the flashing cars pulled away, the pebbles crunching and grumbling under their wheels.
I nodded and we went back inside.
Robin Nyström – Nicolife Web-Series
Laurel Degutis – oscarordinary.com

Unfinished Stories – The Field, by Laurel Degutis & Esdras Tirado

Welcome back to Unfinished Stories.  We have a new writer with us, Esdras Tirado.  He finished Laurel’s latest entry this week.  Hope you enjoy!  And check back tomorrow for another entry!

Morgan and I went to The Field after school. We often did. It was different and isolated, a place to get away I guess. It wasn’t a secret spot or anything; I think most people didn’t really like it there. Honestly, if Morgan weren’t there, I don’t know if I’d really like it either. 

Basically it was overgrown grass and foxtails, just a field behind this broken down fence. Like a chainlink fence; someone had cut through it decades ago I guess, and no one bothered to fix it up. It was green and sort of out of control and then a ways away, through another set of fences, was the Yoo-hoo factory. 

Morgan thought this place was awesome: “Isn’t it awesome! I mean in the true sense of the word. I mean here you have this oppressive structure—this factory pumping out chocolate milk…” she held up her hands and made quotation marks out of her fingers. “Then you have these wild flowers… In this field no one will touch!” She had to yell because she wandered away from me through The Field.

She was right, there were flowers. I hadn’t noticed them before.  I liked when she talked like this. I mean it was sort of stupid, sometimes I felt like she wanted to feel more grown-up, but mostly she was excited. 

If she got excited enough when she was talking like that, she’d come up to me and put her hands on my shoulders and shake me around. You know, like she was going to wake me up with her words and I’d see things her way. 

Honestly, I wish I could, but mostly I just saw her. 

When she shook me like that, I always wanted to shake her back. Or something. I wanted to grab onto her. In some way I thought it might be like completing a circuit. Like if I touched her while she was shaking me then she’d know how I felt, and I’d know how she felt. For a moment we could feel the same. 

I never did though. I never grabbed her back. I was afraid to I guess. 

Morgan turned away from me, toward the factory, and held her hands up high and wide. Then she spun around laughing, the length of her skirt trying to keep up with her rotations. 

It was so pretty.

I wanted to tell her that. I wanted to tell her that the factory and the flowers, The Field wasn’t awesome. It was her, in it, she had it all wrong. It sort of hurt how wrong she was.

“Cut it out Sid!” She had stopped spinning and barreled toward me.

“What?” I looked at her, then I realized I was looking a little too hard, then looked away. She was still running hard at me. 

She wasn’t slowing down. I didn’t move. 

“You’re getting that sad look again!” 

Then SMACK.

When I came to, I was laying head first on the ground. Morgan was hunched over me. Her small, lean muscular arms were wrapped around me. “She was yelling stop! Stop! Like a bird protecting her chicks she was flailing her arms up and down. “Clyde, go away! You ruin. Everything!” She yelled. I looked up and right above me  beyond Morgan’s firm, resolute body stood Clyde. He was Morgan’s ex boyfriend. Morgan had gone out with Clyde twice two summers ago. Ever since then, even after being rejected over and over again he had a disturbing obsession with her. I wouldn’t blame him. She was absolutely marvelous in everything she did. Morgan was the type of girl you’d want to marry, the type of girl who’d drive a man crazy. In this case the latter was a closer representation of the situation I was in.

Except instead of me protecting her she was the one huddled over me pushing back the assault and standing up for me.

My head hurt like a mother fucker. My head was throbbing, I reached to assess the damage and to my suspicion I was welcomed with a bloody hand from a gapping gash on my forehead.

He stood there. I got up.

You should have seen it.  The scene was like it’d been pulled straight out of the bible. Me, Syd Carson, standing 5’5″ on a good day. And Clyde Thomas all 6’7″ inches of him, towering over me like Goliath.

“What do you want? I told you we were just friends. Why the fuck you do that? I’m not trying to fight.”

“No, you’re trying to fuck my girl…”

“Clyde”, said Morgan softly, she raised both her hands and stood between the both of us.” You know I’m not interested in you. Clyde.  This is exactly why I left you…” She looked at me with her clear blue eyes, she had the kind of eyes that only a few people have, perpetual innocence and eternity all at once.

Clyde gave me a stinging stare dead and full of anger. I don’t know what I was thinking. I still don’t till this day. All I know is I ran toward him. His lumbering body now one on my shoulders all I could do was push. I kept moving my legs. Then suddenly I couldn’t move. I heard a screech from behind me. Clyde fell impaled on the chain link fence that’d been there for so long. Blood ran down his chest. He was hemmoreaging, his eyes rolled back. His head sunk in.

I stepped back. Shock took over my body and Morgan took my hand.  “Let’s go.” She said. “No one has to know.”

Laurel Degutis – oscarordinary.com

Esdras Tirado – Instagram Food Blog

Unfinished Stories – Dream, by Redzuan Abdul Rahim & Dawn Locklear

Good afternoon friends.  Redzuan, or Red to his friends, is another fresh face to Unfinished Stories this week.  His entry, finished by a returning Dawn Locklear, is a fantastic tale that will leave you thinking about it long after.  Enjoy and see you tomorrow.

“Welcome, welcome!” barked the lanky man as he stood atop his makeshift wooden stage.  Within the dark, his shadow flitted about the crowd against light of the torches.  He could see the lights of of his captive audiences’ eyes and he smiled from his perch.

“Today is a special day.  Today is your birthday!”

The crowd stood motionless.  The silence of the room only broken by the sound of the light.  He broke forward towards the crowd, a silhouette of stars, stripes and a top hat.  Around him trailed his shadow; its tendrils fading from the faces of the crowd and centering upon His person.

“I know you’re confused but have no fear!  I am here to guide you.” cooed the lanky man.  “You are all here because your people brought you here.  They came looking for a better life.  I am here to provide a better life for you!”

Languidly he paced across the stage addressing his audience in a choreographed fashion.

“This is a time of transition.  You may see my traditions and customs as odd.  I may say that about yours but that is neither here nor there.”

He gestured with his arms, marking this moment that the still audience should take note of.

“You are here to make something of yourselves.  That’s what your people want.  To make new legends of yourselves!  You can forget the tragedies of your previous lives.  Here, your potential is limitless.  It doesn’t matter if you were a pauper, a broken egg or an eyeless witch.  With hard work and a little luck, you can achieve anything!”

With a smile he stopped back at the center of the stage.  With his right hand, gloved in white, He removed his striped top hat revealing a young clean shaven man.  His smile beaming across the audience.

“You may call me Dream!” He boomed,” And I welcome you Ellis!”

In a jolt, his shadow erupted across the ground snuffing out the torches.  A slow whirr of carnival music began to play and brightly colored lights began to flicker into existence.  What was dark slowly became a silhouette of a city in the distant horizon.  Stairs were revealed leading its way from the ground to the same stage Dream stood upon.  Behind the stage sat a locked gilded fence that looked to keep people in more than out.

“There is only one rule in Ellis,” Dream stated as he placed the top hat back upon his head.  His smile faded into a stern stare fixated towards the audience.

“I am the Mayor.”

“Are you the Messiah?”  Someone called out seriously. The first voice from the audience.
“Those the pearly gates?”  A man snickered and caught the crowd in laughter.
“Great questions my dear folks.”  Dream announced as he took off his high hat again and in a grand and elaborate bow, waved his arms down to accentuate his glistening bald head.
But then he abruptly he stood up straight, demanding silence.  “I am the Mayor,” he simply said.
All was still dark in the audience and the hush he demanded trembled throughout the people.  Movement in the crowd caught attention to a woman that made her way to the wooden stage.  Dream did not move as she approached him.  When she turned to face the frightened faces, they stirred and murmured, for she only had one eye.
Dream put his arm on her shoulder, “this is Treenchess.  She has lived among you, yet you probably didn’t know she’s a witch.  Her people have asked her to reinvent herself, her Transition is NOW!!!”  He boomed.
Treenchess, an old woman, wearing a tattered dress of dismal grey, stood very still with no expression.  She was the poor creature, people ignored and children made fun of because of her crooked nose, wart and all.  But now seeing her up there, the crowd shuffled their feet as if to get away but could not.  It was as if they were glued to the floor.  Fear bellowed among them as the tendrils of Dream’s shadows invaded toward them.
“I AM THE MAYOR.  I AM THE MAYOR.  I AM THE MAYOR.”  He shouted at them.  And Treenchess was a gilded site to behold.  She transformed before their eyes into a shinning beauty.  Her hair and dress gleamed gold as she twirled around, smiling, free of the ugly version of herself but a moment ago.
Dream smiled his beam across the audience again, marking this other moment the now awed crowd should take note of.
And oh they did.
Redzuan Abdul Rahim –
Dawn Locklear – SparkleSpins.com

Unfinished Stories – Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Dawn Locklear & Laurel Degutis

Dawn and Laurel created this fanciful entry.  Please enjoy and share!

Give a Mouse a Cookie

“Give a mouse a cookie…why would I do that?”  She asked the man in her dream.  “What the hell?” jarred awake and terrified as lightning struck the tree above her.  Cascading leaves and branches creating a soft cave over her.  ElizaMay sat stunned and shivered in the panic. 

After her thunderously wicked start, she began to calm because it was so quiet and there was such a sweetness in the air of cedar and vanilla.  Unfolding her knees from her chest, she felt the tingle that her arms had fallen asleep. She must have dozed off in that position and obviously stayed in her own clutch during the attack.  With hands dropped to the ground, she surveyed her encapsulated space.
It was cool and barely lit though the leaves.  Yet there was a dance and flutter of light that sparkled upon her in the tiny alcove.  As she started to relax, colours floated around her, small ones at first.  This made ElizaMay giggle.  Then ribbons of the rainbow spectrum swam in the area like the aurora borealis, and this tickled her into laughter.
Like magic, a tiny little man appeared and offered her a cookie.  Startled, she looked him up and down and took stock of just how dinky the cookie was in his hand.  Stunned and immoble, he offered it to her again.  So she took it and marveled as it grew in her hand.  When she looked back to him, he was gone, replaced with a very sweet poka-dotted mouse that stood at attention to her.
Bewildered and amazed, she indeed gave the mouse the cookie.  As the mouse nibbled, she noticed the eyes twinkled and this made her happy.  With this, ElizaMay was content.  She leaned against the tree, looked up in time to see a hole opening in the roof.  Standing up, she could look about and see that other than the broken huge branch, all was well.  With a tear of gratitude she bent back down, hoping to see the little man or mouse, only to find but a chunk of cookie.
ElizaMay cleared the roof away, stood admiring the incredibly massive tree before her.  It was always her favorite place to rest and now even more it would hold a most amazing splendor for her.
With her left over cookie in hand, she walked home.
The sun was warm in just the right ways, an occasional breeze lifting and carrying the heat if it ever dared to become uncomfortable. Though ElizaMay felt so comfortable, in fact, that she thought to herself about how one would never have guessed lightening had struck just moments earlier. As the cool breeze was about to lift that thought off her breath, ElizaMay turned around to look back upon tree. It’s leaves danced in the light, like flecks of sun bouncing off the sea, as if performing a ritual for their fallen brothers and sisters. ElizaMay smiled to herself, allowed the lightness of it all of fill her up and continued on the path home.
She felt so chipper that her arms swung a bit more freely with her steps and she rather absentmindedly ate the bit of cookie still poised between her fingers. With home in sight, and possibly the extra little kick the cookie provided, ElizaMay skipped the rest of the way to her backdoor.
The day carried on into the evening with a lingering kind of pleasantness, straight up until ElizaMay was tucked into her bed. She sleepily spoke of magic to her parents as they turned out the lights and left her door just barely ajar. She smiled and recalled the smell of cedar and vanilla.
ElizaMay was about to turn on her side when a tiny flicker in the doorway caught her eye. She sat up, but it must have been nothing. She moved to settle into bed once again and as she turned to rest her head—She gasped! It took a moment to catch her breath and focus. The polka-dotted mouse appeared on her pillow, at attention, just as before.
ElizaMay suddenly remembered her walk home—the cookie. What had she done with that cookie? Her stomach gave a small rumble as if responding to her question, and ElizaMay’s spirit sunk just a little. The mouse ran it’s paws over it’s head and ears then stretched them out toward ElizaMay, then back to its small snout. It did this a few times, gesturing for a snack it seemed.
There was only one thing to do. ElizaMay offered her hand out to the mouse; it stepped onto her fingers and found a comfortable grove in her palm to rest. The two slipped out of bed and made their way down to the kitchen. ElizaMay set her friend gently on the counter, she too then climbed up and rose to her feet reaching for the cabinet.
Even on her tiptoes, on the kitchen counter, the hidden box of cookies was still just out of reach. She was about to give up when the box started to inch forward on its own. ElizaMay grabbed hold of the box and realized with it came her polka-dotted companion, suddenly swept off his feet when he no longer had to push. She giggled, then caught her herself, before she made too much noise.
The box now torn open revealed what they had come for. ElizaMay reached in and pinched a cookie between her finger tips. She pulled it out and offered it to the mouse, but in a blink the tiny man had appeared! He swiped the cookie which immediately shrunk to a laughably dinky size and darted a judging glance at ElizaMay.
“What are you thinking?” he squeaked in a voice as dinky as the cookie. “Give a mouse a cookie…” he trailed off shaking his head then—POP! The tiny man vanished followed by—POP! The mouse was gone to with a shake of its fist. ElizaMay couldn’t help it: she laughed.
She laughed all the way back up to bed, and through her dreams. She may have even woken the next morning still laughing.
Dawn Locklear
Laurel Degutis – http://www.oscarordinary.com

Unfinished Stories – Daughter/Mother, by Laurel Degutis & Jeffery Crow

Laurel started it.  I finished it.  We both hope you enjoy.

Daughter/Mother

Mom was home. She knew not so much because of the sound of the door opening, like a vacuum seal peeled back from the edges of a prepackaged snack. And not so much because of the sound of keys jangling and clacking against too many tacky keychains. And not even so much because of the dart of light let in to the dark and cool apartment. She knew because she suddenly felt tired. She knew because Mom’s exhaustion hung and clung to all the crevices she passed, and the nature of an apartment two sizes too small meant that there were a thousand million crevices for exhaustion to crawl into and breed, and then for a girl to fall into like a field of Poppies.

She didn’t know it at the time, but all this made her sad, and so she didn’t look up or turn toward the door.  She continued to watch DuckTails with her legs stretched out, straight ahead, under the coffee table and her back posted up against the seat of the couch. She always preferred the floor. Mom left her things, including the clacking mess of keys, by the door in a clay dish the girl had made and painted at school. Mom came and sat on the couch behind the girl, a leg on either side of her shoulders, and touched her fine blonde hair.

“This is my favorite one. With the druids,” Mom whispered sweetly to the girl, “but it’s scary, don’t you think?”

The girl shrugged, pretending to be in rapture with the program, though she’d seen this one a thousand million times. It was a tape after all, and if she was honest, her favorite thing about the tapes was putting them in and out of the tape player they had.

“I brought you some chicken fingers from work,” Mom continued as she pulled her fingers through the blonde tangles, gently undoing the thousand million knots the girl had worked in on the windy playground.

Finally something peaked her interest. She turned toward Mom, ready to receive dinner, to participate in the necessary exchange of words in order to earn her feast. She looked into Mom’s face, hopeful.

“Can I have milk with them?” the girl managed to squeak, her voice breaking with an homage to the prior hour she spent in silence.

She watched her mother look towards the dark kitchen.  “Of course you can.  Why don’t you go get plates and forks and we can have a little picnic right here in the living room.”

The girl dragged herself out from under the coffee table and walked into the kitchen, her mother still sitting on the sofa.

– – –

Her daughter was home.  She could tell, not because of the lights turned off, or the sound of DuckTails through the thin door.  Really, it was the sense of relief she felt when she walked through the door.  She could breathe easy, knowing that her only daughter was safe, and that she had made it home safe to her.

The dim apartment had the smell of a small space closed up for too long.  She resisted the urge to open a window, hoping to keep the outside world separate for a few minutes more.  She placed her keys in the clay dish that was the product of a kindergarten project, presented proudly to her by her daughter.  The keys made a reassuring clacking, the handful of keys against a collection of key-rings, each a reminder of happier times and trips.

She walked into the living room, her daughter in her usual spot on the floor, legs stretched under the coffee table, back against the couch.  DuckTails played on the TV, an old VHS.  She secretly knew that her daughter really just enjoyed putting the tapes into the old player, but that was ok. DuckTails was one of her favorites anyways.

“This is my favorite one.  With the druids, but it’s a little scary isn’t it?” she asked, hoping that perhaps she wasn’t growing up as quickly as it seemed like.  The girl shrugged, seemingly taken by the animated characters on the screen.

Working through the tangles in the girl’s blonde hair, she said, “I brought you some chicken fingers from work.”  The girl turned quickly, at last that smiling face.
“Can I have milk with them?”

The mother looked at the kitchen, thinking about the last real meal she had eaten.  Of the last time she had been able to go to the store.  “Of course you can.”  She felt the day catching up to her.  “Why don’t you go get plates and forks and we can have a little picnic right here in the living room,” she said, hoping the excitement she tried to inject into her voice would cover her desperation.
As her daughter got up and bounced into the kitchen, she felt her throat closing with emotion.  Once she knew her daughter had walked into the kitchen, she allowed the tears to fall.

Laurel Degutis’ blog – http://www.oscarordinary.com/
Jeffery Crow’s blog –  http://www.swordnquill.com

Unfinished Stories – The Headache, by Laurel Degutis & Dawn Locklear

Editor’s Note – I wouldn’t normally do this, but I felt it would only be right to warn: there is some adult language ahead.  Excellent, expertly crafted, adult language.  Proceed accordingly.  No bitching, you’ve been warned.

The Headache

The florescent light clashes with the sun streaming through small and high windows over the office kitchenette. That’s about the most interesting thing in the place, the rest is sort of painfully typical–disappointing. It’s a tight space. Secondhand appliances crowded the counter, and passive-agressive, coffee-stained notes about cleaning up after oneself are Scotch Taped about. We’re all hiding. Well, I’m not. I’m rifling through the first-aid kit that hangs from the wall opposite the microwave, searching, but it’s growing more futile.  Dan and Jen are hiding. Dan’s gaze is buried in his phone, but he still manages to match Jen’s fervency and disdain. They’re whispering loudly. Too loudly, but I don’t care enough anymore to suggest they keep it down.
Jen’s tote is slung over her shoulder, it looks uncomfortable, but she also doesn’t care. Her voice seems strained; she’s whispering so goddamn loud, “The upside to this is that she’s such a cunt she’s convinced me to go out to lunch. Either of you want to come?” Jen punctuates her request with a quick, tight-lipped smile.
I’m giving up on the triage through the first-aid kit, tossing pill packets aside when I blurt out, “This is all fucking expired. Do either of you have any aspirin?”
“Yeah,” Jen starts as she relaxes her shoulder to let her tote slide down. She’s digging through the special kind of abyss that is a woman’s bag, “I think I have some Midol in here.”
I must look some kind of way because Dan has actually allowed his attention to stray from his Galaxy and is eyeing me with concern. Or pity. Jesus, I think Dan pities me right now. God, he’s opening his mouth. I’m dreading this. “Are you OK?” That’s all he says and I’m kind of relieved. His attention quickly strays, which usually annoys me, but this time I’m grateful he doesn’t bother to wait for an answer. Aiming his question at Jen, Dan asks somewhere between a plea and a whine, “If I go, will you drink with me? To spite Cunty McCunterson.”
I shoot a hard glance at Dan, “You can’t say that.” He can’t say that. I don’t care how much of a cunt this woman’s being, he can’t say that.
“What? It’s true. You hate her too.” Dan doesn’t get it. Dan never fucking gets it.
“You can’t say ‘cunt’.” I try to simplify things.
“That’s bullshit. Jen just said it.”
Jen finally shakes out a few pills into my hand and I crane my neck under the faucet of the kitchen sink and turn the water on. The sink itself is tiny, like a water fountain and my hair touches the bottom on the basin. It grosses me out. I take a swig, get my head out of there and throw the pills back to wash them down with the water. As I’m wiping my mouth I reiterate to Dan that it doesn’t matter, he can’t say that.
“Yes, Dan I’ll surely be drinking.” Jen is trying to cut our tension and she turns toward me rather impatiently, “Are you coming?”
Dan shoves his phone in his pocket and they’re both squared up facing me, poised to get the hell out of this fucking kitchenette. But something doesn’t feel right. Maybe I’m just lightheaded from whipping my head out from under the faucet. I can’t tell, but something’s a little off.
Of course it’s all off, my head feels like it’s going to break off.   “You two go on, I need to sit down.”
They both roll their eyes at me and spin on their heels in unison to leave.  As my eyes close, I jump at the slamming door.  They are both the worst fucks, I gotta leave this place.   Eyes close again to still the headache.
What fucking dumb shits…BOOM, CRASH.
Horns blaring and cars collide jar me up and on my feet to the window.  All I can see looking down at the street is Jen’s stupid pink coat.  Oh geeze, they look dead.  Are they dead?  Sirens blare and my head is suddenly clear.  Do I go down there, do I stay?  Do I hide like them?
I hurry down the several flights of stairs and the first thing I see is blood draining from under cars and that awful pink coat.  Police are just at the scene to take charge and back people up.
I just stand there, staring.  I’m not hiding now.  As a matter of fact, I start to wonder how I can change the apartment around.  How getting rid of all their disgusting shit will be so good, even freeing.  Is that evil for me to think?  Especially now?
Damn it.  It is.  But I really hate them and I didn’t cause their demise.  Or did I?  Constantly fed up with them and pissed off…did I save myself from this crash on purpose?  Did my head really hurt that bad to stop me from going or was that feeling of something wrong making my head feel like it was going to fall off?
Panic sets in as I stumble up the stairs and my body starts to shake while bolting the door.
I barely make it to the window to look down again, WHAT THE FUCK?
They’re gone.  No blood, no bodies, no police, no commotion.   SHIT-FUCK…
Laurel Degutis’ blog – http://www.oscarordinary.com/
Dawn Locklear –

#UnfinishedStories

Hello Everyone.
So often we have stories that we leave unfinished; whether we lose interest, or run out of time, or the story just doesn’t go anywhere else for us.  These stories just sit, languishing in our subconscious or our hard drives (which sometimes are the same thing).  What if we could finish each other’s stories?
It was this question that inspired a little project; a little writing challenge.  And I have invited a couple of friends to join in.
On week one, we will write a Part 1, a beginning.  Then we will switch, and for the next week, we will finish each other’s stories with our own Part 2.  This will carry on for eight weeks, giving each of us 4 complete stories, each with 2 authors.
I will include links to everyone’s blogs, and I want to ask and encourage everyone to visit.  I have some incredibly talented friends.
Thank you, and I can’t wait to share this with all of you!