Laird Sapir

Lather: The Twinkle Jackson Story ~ Chapter Four

It’s becoming something of a tradition among one of my writing and blogging circles to hold a blogfest that takes the form of a Round Robin Tale. Basically each blogger contributes a progressive chapter to the story — it ends up a completely crazy mashup of styles and genres, but is loads of fun to participate in.

The current story has unfolded on the following blogs so far:

and the whole story will be housed on the blog of Laird Sapir — who inspired the activity and also created the fantastic graphic to represent the story. It’s my turn to contribute chapter four — but first I strongly encourage you to read the first three installments if you haven’t already.

SparkleSudz

LATHER: THE TWINKLE JACKSON STORY

Chapter four

After his initial shock faded, Twinkle gulped and stared at the hooded figure. Grass brushed the hem of her cloak and she cast a very real and somewhat slinky shadow; yet Twinkle knew she was connected with the Golden Goddess who had commandeered his television the previous evening.

He quaked at the thought of what the Golden Goddess wanted him to do.

The newcomer stepped closer, her hood falling back to reveal a cascade of ginger curls and a wide smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “Hi, Twinkle,” she said, thrusting out a hand adorned with a twisted gold ring.

Something tugged at his memory and Twinkle retreated a step, his gaze darting between her youthful face and the ring. His heart thudded as he tried to make sense of it. “I’m not coming with you,” he said.

A vibration in his back pocket signalled the receipt of a message – probably the one he’d been waiting for – but he didn’t dare retrieve it while his dad might be watching from inside the house. His dad would probably burn his favourite toy if he knew about the illicit smart phone.

“Sure you are,” the woman said, and began humming the tune to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Upon completion of the main melody, she looked at Twinkle expectantly.

He shook his mop of unruly hair. The woman was crazy… and he was just about to say so when his phone vibrated again. He clenched his fist. “Look, I have somewhere I need to be.” A revving in the distance sounded like Gary’s motorbike. Dammit. He was early.

“Yes. You do.” The woman’s smile collapsed into a frown. “I thought this had all been explained to you? Didn’t she say I’d be coming? My name is Jupernia.”

“Doesn’t mean I agreed to anything.” The revving grew louder and Twinkle threw a glance towards the bottom of the empty driveway.

Jupernia inhaled sharply as she detected the motorbike’s approach. “Look, we need to hurry. How can I persuade you?” She grabbed a fistful of his hair and tugged. “What about conditioner? You could have hair all glossy and shiny like mine… or like the Golden Goddess’s!”

Twinkle was unprepared for the yearning which overtook him at the word ‘conditioner’. He remembered his once shiny long golden locks and – just for a moment – he wavered. But if his musical plans came to fruition, he would have all the conditioner he wanted without ever having to use Sparkle Sudz Soap again. “No – conditioner is not enough,” he declared. “Not to do that.”

But in his moment of indecision, Jupernia clamped some sort of manacle around his wrist and started dragging him away from his dad’s house.

“Hey!” yelled Twinkle, pressing his fingers into her arm. But now that she was so close, the scent of her hair product was playing havoc with his conviction. “What kind of conditioner‽”

The revving filled the air now and belatedly Twinkle realised it was far too loud and of too deep a pitch to be Gary’s motorbike. A wind seemed to rush up out of nowhere and an immense shadow fell upon Twinkle and his would-be abductor.

“Shit!” mouthed Jupernia, the word grabbed by the wind or drowned out by the roar. Or both. Twinkle followed her gaze upwards to behold a flying… thing. The jagged edges of its disk-shaped hold, from which ten knobbly appendages protruded, blinked with lights. The appendages curved down to squash his dad’s vegetable patch as the vessel landed like a moon vehicle. “It’s one of Lobstink’s cursed crustaships!” Jupernia shouted. “Run!”

The crustaship engine cut and the world lapsed into silence. Then the haunting notes of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star filled the air.

A shudder ran through Twinkle’s body as, powerless to resist this particular tune played properly, he stood transfixed by the giant space crab. The music continued, sounding like a child at an electronic keyboard, and he hummed his favourite harmony.

“Don’t listen to it!” Jupernia screamed. She clapped her hands over Twinkle’s ears, but the music resounded through his bones and would not be quashed. She moaned. “How the hell did he know?”

As the music continued, a ramp lowered from the suspended body of the crustaship. Out swarmed an army of shrimp-creatures, who surrounded Twinkle and Jupernia with guns raised.

A moment later, the shrimp-creatures flung themselves prostrate to the ground as an immense metallic lobster-shaped figure creaked and jerked down the ramp. Long red eyestalks protruded from behind a visor; the eyestalks swivelled towards Twinkle, twitched and refocused on Jupernia. “The boy looks perfect, councillor!” The booming voice silenced the music. “My Shrimperators told me it would be so. He’s exactly what I need to activate my most fiendish scheme ever!”

“M-my lord?” Jupernia stiffened and seemed ready to bolt. Her hand squeezed Twinkle’s wrist.

“Get up, oh, faceless minions!” he roared and the Shrimperators scrambled to their, er… feet. The lobster-monster’s puffy red claw beckoned. “Bring the boy to me.”

 ***

Want to know what happens next? Me too! We’ll all have to tune in to Richard M0nro‘s blog sometime in the next week or so.

Thanks for reading!

 

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???

Wikirandom winner!

Last Monday I launched the April Wikirandom 3-sentence writers challenge and visitors to this blog have had five days to channel their inner flash-fiction self and come up with an entry to impress me.

It’s been such a blast! We’ve had 15 entries inspired by the prompt ‘wooden wings’ and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading them all. There’s been humour, death, discoveries, breaks for freedom and more besides.

It’s amazing how much can be achieved in three sentences — I was really impressed by how many entries made me feel something and how many transported me instantly into a distinct place.

In choosing a winner, I was also looking for a couple of distinct things: 1) a sense of a story with a beginning, middle and an end, 2) imaginative interpretation of the prompt.

**Drumroll**

And the winner is Jodi Lea Stewart!

Jodi wrote:

The ice-cold water pricked his skin like a million needles seeking revenge. He struggled against his fate, feeling the morbid suction of the bottomless ocean welcoming him to an eternity of subterranean solitude. His fingers grasped uselessly for his earthy life as his mouth, that traitorous orifice, released his last gurgle of exquisite air into the melody of currents softly escorting him to his watery cradle amongst the wooden wings of the angelic figurehead of the wrecked bow.

This entry stood out for me on all counts mentioned above. Congratulations, Jodi!

I’d also like to shout-out to Kim Griffin’s 11-year old daughter, who showed budding promise as a poet with the entry:

The boy sat in his room
carving wooden wings
to remind himself to fly free.

Judging from the ensuing comments, her entry impressed more than just me.

So there you have it. Thanks to everybody who participated in this extremely fun event created by Laird Sapir, which I hope will continue to gather momentum.

Over to Jodi for the May challenge, which I’m extremely looking forward to!

Wikirandom Writers Challenge – April

And now for a bit of fun and creative engagement! As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, it’s my privilege to host the April Wikirandom Writers Challenge, created in February by the Shabby-Chic and Sarcastic Laird Sapir. Thanks to the talented Sara Walpert Foster for passing the baton onto me after the March Challenge.

The Wikirandom Challenge basically involves writing a 3-sentence piece of flash fiction incorporating a phrase I’ve picked out after hitting Wikipedia’s ‘random article’ button. Fun, huh?

The Rules: You must use the prompt in a sentence. Post your three-sentence story below in the comments area by the end of Friday 20 April. (If you’re in Australia, you have until Saturday afternoon…). I will announce the winner on Saturday.

The Prompt: Wooden Wings

I’ve been looking forward to this, because the first two challenges have resulted in some fabulous entertainment. It’s amazing how many different ways you can interpret a single phrase. Can’t wait to read all the responses!

(If you are curious, the Wikipedia article to inspire the prompt was Avro 549 Aldershot.)

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…