Barbara Forte Abate

The Octopus Knows – part 7

Today it’s my turn to write an installment of the progressive story, The Octopus Knows, another creation of Laird Sapir. I’ll admit I’ve been panicking er contemplating this over past couple of days… There have been six very creative installments to-date (links to all can be found on Laird’s round robin page) and they’re a lot to live up to! But I will do my very best…

The story so far:

Simon has been lured out of a year of slothfullness by Marguerite, whom he’s not seen in all that time. But while she’s been keeping him busy in the cafe, Simon’s pet octopus Ninja — who appears to have special abilities — has been abducted by Braden, the erstwhile henchman of Mr Jones, who reportedly wants the octopus back!

The Octopus Knows Installment #7

Meanwhile, back in his own bathroom, Simon got up off the toilet, took a deep breath, and went to change clothes and gather his wand and other equipment. He wasn’t sure that Braden was truly on his side, and wanted to be ready for anything.

After all, why would Braden abduct Ninja, only to give him back again right away? It didn’t make any sense.

Simon’s sigh of relief as he peeled off the bad-idea white leather pants turned swiftly to horror. A gaping hole showed in the seat where the seam had split. Dizzied, he pulled his feet out, stomped on the offending pants several times, and kicked them under the bed. Never ever again, he avowed.

Or, at least, not until he’d lost a few pounds. He crouched, stretched out an arm. His questing fingers shied away from something cold and slimy under the bed, endured the endless dust and grit, until they reached the soft warmth of the leather. He shook the pants out, carressed them once and laid them on the bed to deal with later.

The track pants he’d worn every day for the past year seemed a much safer bet for a spot of espionage. Their mottled colour would help him blend in. Once the sequinned shirt and jacket were exchanged for his old-and-familiar hooded sweater, Simon felt almost himself again. For a few moments he debated where to store his newly reclaimed wand, then shrugged and stuffed it up his sleeve.

He dragged his bag of equipment out of the bottom of the wardrobe and dusted it off. Coughing, he hefted it onto his shoulder and stumbled. Damn, he’d forgotten how heavy that stuff was! Could he really be so out of shape after a mere year? No wonder Marguerite had looked at him as though he had food smeared all over his face. He wiped at his chin uneasily.

A quick check of the time showed he only had half an hour before Braden had told him to meet. His pulse increased. He wanted to get there early to stake out the place before he went in — wherever ‘there’ was. Where was that card with the address on it? He dug in his pockets reflexively, screwed up his face at the half-eaten pringles he drew out, then scrabbled at the pocketless white leather pants on the bed.

He remembered where he’d last seen it and bolted into the bathroom. He’d been standing . . . here, beside the toilet, and he’d . . . Oh, no, $hit. Filled more with hope than conviction, he searched the floor surrounding the toilet bowl, but was rewarded only with matted hair and empty toilet-paper rolls.

Heat rose inside him as he gingerly lifted the toilet lid and peered inside. He stared for long moments at the brown-smeared white address card stuck against the sides of the grime-darkened bowl. When this was over, he was definitely getting a cleaner.

Struggling to keep down the contents of his stomach, he tried to read the address on the card without touching it. No use. It had fallen address-side down. Could he flip it over with something? The closest thing to hand was an old toilet roll. After a few moments of ineffectual prodding, he grabbed his toothbrush, making a mental note to buy a new one.

He was running out of time. No way was he going to let Ninja back into the clutches of that mad scientist Jones. They’d been through too much together. He owed it to the octupus.

It happened in slow-motion. As he reached down into the toilet bowl, something cool and smooth slid against the skin on his arm, down towards the back of his wrist, past the back of his hand. It wasn’t until the object plopped into the water that his mind clicked into gear and he realised what it was.

He cursed. He was too out of practice. Time was he wouldn’t have needed to think twice about using it for such a poxy task as this. But a year on the sofa had mushed his mind and now, less than an hour since he’d reclaimed it, he’d just just dropped his beloved wand into the stinking toilet.

With a groan born of frustration and gritted teeth, he reached in and peeled off the address card. He rubbed at the writing with his thumb, but that only smeared more brown across its face. Running water, he decided.

A minute later, staring at the soggy card covered with illegible watery blue ink, Simon reflected this wasn’t his finest hour. The address couldn’t be read, his wand was in the toilet, Braden had Ninja and Mr Jones was on his way to claim him.


Oooh, it’s hard to stop once you get going, but I think I’ll leave it there, and the tale will be resumed some time in the next week by Barbara Forte Abate on her blog.

That was a really interesting experience — and rather fun. I found it particularly challenging to try to adapt my style to something that melds with the installments written by the previous authors. It will be interesting to see where the next lot take it.

What do you think is going to happen next???

Spreading blog love

A quick post to acknowledge two things that happened in my blog world this week:

WikiRandom Writers Challenge

A creation of the irrepressible Laird Sapir, the WikiRandom Writers Challenge is a flashfiction competition involving the creation of a three-sentence story using a phrase generated by hitting the Wikipedia random button. Sara Walpert Foster won the right to host the March competition after winning the first challenge in February. It was a lot of fun, and I managed to joint-win the right to host the April challenge. (Stay tuned — this will happen later in the month.)

Sara’s WikiRandom prompt was “an organic reaction”. Traumatised by the death of my mother’s dog, Jeddah, earlier in the week, I wrote the following:

The sheet looked like one of my mother’s, pale with a flower pattern, wrapped round and round with neatly folded edges and strips of blue fabric securing the bundle. Too small; too impossibly small for such a vibrant spirit. A few toys, no-longer needed, formed splashes of colour against the dirt raining down and down, until only three hastily picked geraniums marked the place where our little friend was now fuel for an organic reaction.

Thanks very much to Sara for the nod, and congratulations to Cheryl Byrne, the other March winner.

Liebster Blog

I enjoy receiving the various blog ‘awards’ as they come around, mainly because they celebrate our blog community. Laird Sapir has thrown the Liebster Blog nod in my direction this week. Thanks, Laird!

To explain, I’m going to quote Laird, who quoted Mike Schulenberg:

According to legends that come to us from antiquity, the Liebster is meant for blogs that motivate, inspire, and have 200 followers or less.  Its apparent purpose is to summon new followers like some sort of mystical talisman, increasing the power of those of us who are just beginning. — Mike Schulenberg

The Liebster Blog rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you on your blog and link back to them.
  2. Nominate up to 5 others for the award.
  3. Let them know by commenting on your blog.
  4. Post the award on your blog.

So without further ado, I select the following five to spread the Liebster love:

Barbara Forte Abate — Scribbling outside the lines

April Plummer — Heart of the world

Elizabeth Fais — Where the awesome begins…

Jennifer L Oliver — World beneath the evening star

Alvarado Frazier — Strong women grow here: writing while living life

That’s it for now. Until next post…