A Monster Red and Rumbling

GA 18 by RegalShave

Original image by RegalShave; altered by CP

Out of the door Klukelunnen dived and dodged to the back of Night-shift Louisa’s squeaky shod feet. No time to punch the air in celebration, he raced down the long narrowness that Daisy had called a corridor. He had rounded the corner at its far end before the alarm sounded. Annoyingly loud in his ears, its rising, falling, piercing wail shook his body and filled his head as if with needles. He crumpled into a ball. But that gave no relief and he hadn’t time for it; Daisy had stressed how he must leave the building ASAP. “Down the stairs,” she’d said. “Down the stairs, don’t use the lifts.” Well, he’d not be using one of those contraptions, as if he could reach the buttons.

Stairs! He reached them just before the lighting failed. But he’d already seen them, cut into the corridor wall; down, down, down, they flowed, granite-hard with not a carpet on them, each with a riser that reached to his groin. In utter darkness he turned around, fell to his knees and knee-shuffled backwards until he felt an absence of granite beneath his toes. Another diddy push backwards. Then to lower himself down. And so he descended: down, lower, down, lower, landing on his feet only to kneel yet again and again shuffle back and all the while feel his way. His overworked legs trembled more with each step taken. And that wretched siren! What’s more he was getting unquestionably wet. At first a fine mist, rather refreshing after his desperate race down the corridor, it had started just as the lights failed and his first negotiation of the first flight of stairs in all-encompassing concentration. But that mist had become a shower of notable strength. It was making him slippery. Worse, the tiny trickles that slicked his back and his chest had found a way to seep beneath his padded pants and that padding could only absorb so much. His padded pants grew rapidly heavy and rapidly slipped from his hips to hitch back up with every slither-down step.

He wasted long ticking seconds staring up at the stairs he’d just descended. Why hadn’t he seen Night-shift Louisa in a panicked flight zip passed him? She must be able to run faster than him, she had longer legs. Yet he hadn’t heard as much as a squeak from her.

Oh, Grandma’s Drawers, don’t say she’d been burned? Ought he to return, to see, to help? And to find himself snatched up again and again imprisoned? Nix!

Down, lower, down, lower, he continued to descend the dark stairs, his ability to think severely hampered by the din around him. It rattled through him leaving not a pinch of a pocket in which to think—which saved him the worry of how he’d escape the building once he gained the ground.

Down … down … And now a new ear-piercing wail joined with the other, muffled at first but growing louder. And an eerie blue light swept the stairwell. The heavy rumble of a vehicular engine verbed through the shiny hard floor beneath him. Metallic doors slammed. Sturdy clad feet slapped on metalled pavement. Voices sounded, deep and beefy. There were other noises, too, that he couldn’t distinguish. But he’d no time for puzzling them: several more stair-flights stood between him and his freedom.

A formless hulk, all aglow with yellow stripes, and trailing an oddly-patterned lengthy snake hammered past him at unlikely speed to disappear into the darkness. Another followed. Caught in the sweep of the blue light, he saw that beast was a man. They took no notice of him; they probably thought him an hallucination.

Down … down … His foot skidded from him. Splat. That stung. He crawled to the edge of the muddy patch and pushed himself up.

Down … down … Splat! Not again! And this time he couldn’t find purchase to push himself up. He scooted back on his belly.

Down … down … Slip, slither, skid and tumble. Ouch! Crack, thump, crack, his head and his bum caught on every step.

He recovered his senses at the next turn in the stairs. Naked now, he sat on the cold granite-hard floor, a flood of water sluicing around him. He’d lost his padded pants, finally saturated beyond their holding. But at least now he was clean, the mud he’d picked up rinsed off him. He refused to think of the damage done; what did it matter when set against what he intended? And at least he had only one flight left to descend.

Just in sight, beneath the overhang of the floor above him, was what could have been the Dooley’s lounge (same size, similarly furnished). It was intermittently lit by that now familiar sweeping blue light. The muffled vehicular rumble was louder here. Sharper. And there was an increasingly strong smell, unnatural and worse than the most putrid of Grandma’s Caverns. Yellow-striped men stood in pairs, talking, others stood with arms wrapped around a huge tube. Tubes, not snakes, he now realised. All very interesting. He regretted he’d never be able to ask Daisy the meaning of this.

He assessed his next move.

One more granite-hard flight for him to knee-shuffle, slither and lower himself down, and hope he didn’t slip as he landed. Then across that lounge. By the feel of the blast hitting his wet naked body, he guessed there was an open door somewhere there, a door that gave onto the chilly, summer night air. That would also explain why everything sounded louder here.

So, down the stairs, and race to the door (note where the sofa and chairs are in case he needed to hide). Then, once outside … once outside?

*

His heart was a carbuncle wedged in his throat as he slithered and dropped his naked body down the last of the glassy-wet stairs. One eye to the black bulky yellow-striped men beyond the glass door, the other to the chairs that, if those men spied and set up a call, would hide him. He raced across the lounge-like foyer, feet splashing and slipping on the sprinkler-soaked carpet. And out of the one open door.

But he wasn’t yet safe. He no longer feared those men would see him; those men were busy with their hoses and ladders. No, it was their feet he now feared. He needed to negotiate the hectic space between building and angrily-humming colossal red vehicle—without choking his last on the fumes it emitted, and those men weren’t looking at where their heavy shod feet were treading. Imagine one of those boots come collushing down on him. Better to hug the building, stay in its shadows till far beyond the danger. Except there were lights everywhere blazing, not only that blue sweep from the bulb atop the red vehicle.

He looked left. He looked right. The right seemed the busiest with bodies. He’d go left.

He stayed close to the building but not so close he had to run on the gravel-filled gutter that squeezed between the dirt-grey concrete sectioned wall and the lawn that swept down to the road. That grass was sweet on his feet as he ran—ran his absolute fastest. Zoom! There. Gone! If one of those men did see him they wouldn’t believe it. A diminutive chap, naked and running in the night, no taller than a two-year infant. Ha! And what had he been smoking?

Klukelunnen didn’t slow down till he’d cleared his former prison, the Admin Building, and had left all that kerfuffle and commotion behind. Then he stopped. And he turned. And he saw Night-shift Louisa in animated conversation with one of the black-coated men.

Granny’s Knickers, no! What if she told the man her charge was missing?

Too late to worry. He turned and ran.

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The Writer’s Fungi?

By popular request, two photos from yesterday’s walk. And as you can see, yesterday the sky rained.

Inkcap x1

An inkcap, beginning to ‘ink’: photo 15th Oct 2018

Inkcaps x3

Three mucky versions of the above: photo 15th October 2018

 

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Cracked Colour

I make no excuse for posting another fungi photo. The contrasting colours of the clustered fungi and the flint-like flakes of the pine stump rushed at my eyes and grabbed me.

Cracked Colour

Fungi, pine and heather at Waveney Forest: Photo 8th October 2018

Waveney Forest rises above the extensive Haddiscoe-Fritton grazing marshes. Even so, an unexpected view of abandoned windmills (I can count three, plus the C20th replacement).

Mills on the Waveney

Abandoned mills on the Waveney; Photo 8th October 2018

Also unexpected was this inlet of silver birches, all lopped off, looking like upstanding pencils, with their inner red bark ghosting through.

Pencil-like Birches

Pencil-like birches: Photo 8th October 2018

And the unexpected star of the day …

Earth Stars

Earth Stars: Photo 8th October 2018

The first time I’d seen an earthstar.

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Into the Woods

No, not the Sondheim musical that cleverly combines plots from fairy tales by Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. And neither the book by John Yorke that explores ‘How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them’. Though I recommend both of those. No, I mean Tyrrels Wood.

Into The Woods

A wooden bridge in Tyrrels Wood; Photo 10 Sept 2018

#2018picoftheweek: Wooden

Tyrrels Wood, two miles south of Long Stratton (a tiny town that straddles the old Roman  road to London, now the A140) was first recorded in 1251. Today it belongs to the Woodland Trust and is open to all.

I visited the woods back in September. Too early for fungi, though I did find some. And too early for autumnal colours. If time permits I’ll visit again, perhaps in November.

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Fire Raiser

GA17 by rConceptz

Original image by Conceptz; altered by CP

Klukelunnen looked up at the clock. Not yet an hour since Night-shift Louisa came on duty. She didn’t usually need to ‘spend a penny’ so soon. Still, the wise stone misses no opportunity.

As soon as the door closed behind her he threw back his covers, threw his legs around the red fire-stick, manoeuvred it erect between his legs and, nipping tight with his knees, dragged the ribbed wheel over the flint (which, from this position, he couldn’t see). The wheel moved but slowly, and not enough to draw a spark. He tried again, applying more pressure. O Yay, he saw the spark! But … he sniffed. That wasn’t him, he hadn’t gassed. Ah, it was the fire-stick. Daisy had warned him not to press the black metal pad till he was ready to make fire else he’d release all the fuel. He must have caught it.

He tried again.

Wowzah, wowzah! A veritable volcano, fierce in its heat, shot high.

But how-how-how … how to get rid of it? He was afraid if he let go of the red-stick he’d lose control of the fire and … and his hands were beginning to burn. Ouch! He pushed the fire-making contraption away from him, aimed at the floor where it might be safe.

It was safe. As soon as he released that black lever the flame died.

Oops, the door beep-beep-beeped.

He leapt from his bed and across the floor to retrieve the red fire-stick. He shoved it beneath his covers and scrambled back onto his bed. He wasn’t yet beneath his covers when Night-shift Louisa opened the door.

She stopped. Sniffed. Frowned. Then with a shrugged shoulder and a quirked mouth, she retrieved her magazine and sat down. The paper rustled as she flicked to a new page. In less than a sweep of the clock’s long hand, she was fully engrossed.

Klukelunnen reviewed his practice run. What had he learned? That the black metal lever released the gas which fuelled the flame. And that flame wasn’t enough to spark the fire alarm. He needed to create smoke as well. Loads of smoke, that’s what Daisy had said. He looked at his bedding. That should do it. Except the bedding wouldn’t readily take the fire. No, but Louisa’s magazine would. Content he knew what to do, he waited for Louisa’s next trip to the ‘spend-a-pennery’.

The clock’s short arm pointed to between eleven and twelve when Louisa abruptly stood, slapped her magazine on the chair, muttered of ‘spending a penny—again’, and left the room.

Nearly half-past eleven; not exactly twelve o’clock. But better to make his escape now than to leave it late and miss his slot to be picked up.

He hurriedly fetched Louisa’s magazine to place it beside him as he again sat on the edge of his bed, his legs wrapped around the red fire-stick. Ten pairs of miners whacked with their hammers against his chest while slithery somethings squirmed around his throat. He didn’t want to do this. But what if he didn’t? He was certain now this was no ‘Home Office’ anything. It was all a scam pulled together by the professor. Klukelunnen didn’t know what the professor intended to do with him, but he could guess it wouldn’t be nice. The professor was the Usurper’s servitor, sworn against everything in Grandma’s Original Creation, and that included him. So, could Klukelunnen do this, or could he not?

He could. And would. And now!

He dragged the wheel with all his might, firmly depressing the lever while the fire jetted out. But now what?

He needed the magazine to catch the fire. But he needed both hands to hold the lever. Without the lever depressed the gas wouldn’t jet, and without that the flame would fail. He looked from magazine to flame, and up to the clock. The long hand was sweeping, the minutes ticking. How to …? And his fingers were beginning to burn. He tilted the fire-stick. But that didn’t work. The flame gushed out a clear finger-space above the paper. He pulled on the edge of the page and arched it over the flame—not easily done with only one hand and the paper so shiny-slippery. The edge of the paper began to darken. It turned a tea-stain brown. It wrinkled, curled and … yes! It burst into flame.

But time was ticking alone fast. He had to make enough smoke to spark the alarm before Louisa came back.

He wasn’t a brainless gnole; he knew if he piled his bedding atop the flame the fire would putter out. But if he held his duvet above the flame … so the flame, unable to escape, licked along it … and if he held it there until the duvet cover began to smoulder, until flames began to peck at the fabric … and then if he lifted it slightly and wafted it. Oh, yes, that was the way to do it.

Smoke billowed out from beneath the duvet. Flames licked along the lead edge of the cover. Time to take his position. As soon as that door bleeped open, he had to run.

He stationed himself beside the door, ready to make his dash.

Drats! The map? Where was it? Oh no! He’d left it under the covers, and those covers now were burning, smouldering, producing smoke that stung his eyes and made them water.

And the alarm hadn’t yet sounded. Why hadn’t it sounded? The door hadn’t yet bleeped open. Why hadn’t it opened? He waited, poised to run.

He heard the soft tumpity-squeak of Night-shift Louisa’s shoes as she returned from the ‘spend-a-pennery’. He heard the sequenced bleeps of the chip-filled lock. He watched as the door cracked open …

The sudden draught caught the smouldering fire and swept it up the walls and across the ceiling. Louisa slammed shut the door before the flames could hit her full frontal.

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Asaric Tales e-book update #11

Asaric Tales update11

Another month over. But am I another step nearer to e-publication? Yes. And no.

Asaric Axis (Asaric Tales Book Two)

At last I can say that all comments are in from the beta readers and critiquers. I have read them, considered them, and made a list headed To Amend. The main amendment … no, best call that a rewrite … concerns the Uissids’ dreams. Dreams are notoriously difficult to handle. And when you have nine characters in different combinations dreaming, that is a recipe for confusion. I’ve lost count of the number of rewrites to this section. What I offered my readers was my best attempt to date. Generally, they were able to understand the dreams and, with Kerrid’s help, understand their symbolism. But there were comments that the dream and exposition passages wore on (and on). And yes, I was aware of it but didn’t yet know how to change them. For that I must thank Lauren, my critique partner. She’s a brilliant ideas person. I looked at her idea, at how I could incorporate it; would it work? The result won’t be quite how she’d thought it, but I do thank her tons for it.

But the amendment and rewrite to Asaric Axis must wait at least another month.

Asaric Skies (Asaric Tales Book Three)

The revision of Asaric Skies is taking longer than anticipated. Too many distractions, I’ve been unable to devote much time to it. Still, I’m now about two-thirds the way through. My main concern here is to whittle away at the wordcount by the savage excision of unneeded material. Oh, my babies, I cry!

I hope to have the process complete in time for the next update. At which point I’ll again put out the call for beta-readers.

And while Book Three, Asaric Skies, goes through the beta-read process, I’ll return to Book Two, Asaric Axis, for what I hope will be the final amendments.

Meantime, I’d like to thank all those who have offered to read these books and to comment, and by those comments to support and encourage me. Their input is invaluable.

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Festive Colours

One of the #2018picoftheweek titles is Fall Colours. But do I display photos taken at the beginning of the season? Hawthorn and dogwood have been presenting their full colours since mid August. Or ought I to wait until late December to catch the last of the trees? Of course, if I’m not quick enough then it’ll be winter.

Or why not, I thought, ignore the trees and go for something … other? Something that, to me at least, shouts of the autumn?

autumn colors

Beefsteak fungus, found in a woods in Swardeston, near Norwich: Photo 24th September 2018

 

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