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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

AND THEN YOU AREN'T--Sci Fi Short Story

This is a short story I wrote yesterday. It came up out of my dreams like from a baptism, whole and complete. It's sort of cathartic thinking about something so final, such a juggernaut that you can't do a single thing to fix it. You know exactly where you're headed and why. You're just there, observing, like watching a roller coaster ride until it's your turn and you can't get off. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Or not.


AND THEN YOU AREN’T
by Indigo Chase




They absorbed Grandma like a blue-tinged dream. One minute she was regular old cantankerous grandma from whom I got my “sight” and the next, a copy. She sat there in that ratty old chair on the porch with a dorky smile pasted on the pleats of her face. Like Grandma, but completely not. As soon as I opened my mouth to tell Dad, the words IF YOU TELL ANYONE, THEY GO AWAY formed on the age-spotted skin of her hands. The words skittered so quickly away into the cracks in my vision, I doubted I’d seen anything. I hadn’t, had I? A trick of the light? Just the right bend in the spectrum?
I had to know.
Well I wasn’t going to test the theory on anyone I liked. What if they were bluffing—those words? How did I know I wasn’t going stark bonkers?
So I told my terminally grumpy Econ teacher, Mr. Axtell. Before my eyes his skin turned the teensiest tint more blue, so slight the average person would never have noticed. A millisecond of kicking, jerking, contorting, drowning. His face smoothed out. He smiled at me, winked even. Then I knew. That thing with his lips barely tilted up at me was not my Econ teacher any more.
At first they were subtle. Benign. Things went missing, then reappeared, fixed. Whole. Who wouldn’t like that? “Where are my old broken glasses?” you’d ask. “Oh look! Someone replaced them with brand new glasses. Love that.” Only then they’d fix your eyesight and you wouldn’t need those glasses anymore.
Everywhere I saw the flicker of blue as the little monsters ate my world. Coach Tunstall who never gave out Attaboys told me my hurdle times were finally improving. That girl on the cheer squad who always made fun of my clothes—replaced. A shrill of alarm, a tiny choke, their eyes went wide, then that sunny face—that smiley-faced sign that said, “There. We’ve made your life better. You’re welcome.”
And they had. Patchy lawns suddenly grew lush and green, with nary a weed to poke up its unwanted head. Dishes did themselves to a sparkling shine, just like in the ads. Like the sea coming in, the tiny creepy beings washed over everything, making it better, more vibrant, like new.
Somebody finally learned their name. Then it was Lingons are doing this for us. Lingons are taking care of that. All hale the Lingons. They’ve begun to absorb the trash from the oceans. Yay! We’ve made a deal with the Lingons to absorb all our waste. Aren’t they magnificent? They’ve solved the peace problem in the Middle East. No more global warming. They’ll take care of strengthening your house for that hurricane coming up. Wait! Suddenly no more hurricanes to worry about. And the Lingons will take care of that dirty diaper for you. In fact, they’ll replace diapers and clean up your baby so you don’t have to.
They didn’t tell you they would also replace your baby. But that’s what happened. You’d just wake up one morning and your baby, instead of screaming to be picked up, greeted you with a cheerful chirrup and a wave of her little arms and legs.
What’s not to like about that?
Pretty soon everyone loved those crazy little Lingons. “Best thing since buttered bread,” Mom said as she kicked back on the couch and turned on the TV. No more advertisements. Lingons just washed up and took care of all your problems. They congregated around your car exhaust and cleaned the air while their friends washed your windows and repaired that window spider you got from following a truck too closely. Then they replaced your paint job with the one you actually wanted, pulled out all the dents, and juiced up your engine to like new. Wait. It was a new engine. And a new car.
When you drove up to a fast food place, the nutritious food tasted fantastic. You didn’t have to pay for it. You lost weight. And your new Lingon-produced clothes fit well, felt great, and looked fabulous on you.
Every now and then someone I knew winked out. Ceased to be. Plowed under by the conquering wave of happy little Lingons. What popped up like a bobber on a fishing line was a new, improved version, not so untidy with weirdness sticking out all over. So what? Everybody liked them better. Everyone got along so much easier. No one wanted that old, broken person back. They never even knew what hit them.
The thing was, I knew. And I couldn’t say anything. When would my time come to disappear beneath a nearly invisible wave of blueish Lingons? And where did those messy people go? Dead? Taken apart down to the molecules and absorbed into the wave? Why hadn’t they taken me under once they noticed the worry lines I saw on my face when I looked in a mirror? Why hadn’t someone noticed how quiet I’d gotten, and how I retreated into my room so often. That should have been a clear tip-off to those things. Who would rat me out? Or had they tried? What if the Lingons couldn’t replace me?
I tried to school my face each time someone flashed me a new smile and I knew it wasn’t them anymore. I tried not to clench my fists and tense my core when one by one the people in my life betrayed themselves and Lingons took them under.
I felt so helpless.
Alone.
Powerless.
What would happen when they’d cleaned up all the messes?
Why were they here?
What did they want?
And then I saw him. Another imperfect person. He watched me from across the hall at school, he and his black haystack hair and his glasses and Holey Cheese, that zit on his chin. It had been so long since I’d seen a real pimple that it called to me like a fat red siren. I couldn’t look away from it for anything.
It’s not like I didn’t try. I didn’t want to be in charge of another person getting replaced by a spiffed up, flavorless copy. I kind of liked messy. It seemed real and truthful. And human.
He ducked around the corner and I had to follow, like my head and his shared the same stretchy rubber band.
“You know,” he said in my mind. Even his mental voice lacked that terrible perfection.
Yes? How are we doing this? I shook my head, but couldn’t free myself from his grip. Maybe I didn’t want to. Maybe I stared straight at my answer.
Maybe you’ve The Sight like I do. Anyway, you need to say something and walk away or it’ll be obvious.
“You’re in my first hour, aren’t you?” It was all I could think to say out loud.
“If it’s Econ, yes. Did you do the homework?”
“I don’t see why we need to anymore, thanks to the Lingons.” Is that good?
You didn’t walk away. “You’ve got a point. See you in class.”
“Bye.” I jerked my chin, tore my stare from that thing on his chin, and lurched down the hall. How had he noticed me? Who was I kidding. I knew. I never had good hair days. And though I ran hurdles in track, I ran dead last in every practice due to a few extra pounds of unwanted chub. Last especially because the Lingons had come and ‘fixed’ everybody else.
Why hadn’t they fixed me? No clue. Just like I had no idea why they hadn’t just bulldozed me under and gotten a new version all set up in my place.
Actually, I love you. I love that you aren’t a replica. I love all those things about you that you just complained about in your head. And thanks for stressing the zit. That’s a mental picture that won’t stop.”
So we had range, at least while at school. I grinned at his complaint, but squashed it so people wouldn’t think I had another flaw to point out to the Lingons. Any time. I aim to please, Volcano Face. Wait. Did I just say that so you could hear me? Crap. I’m sorry. Not thinking about that elephant in my head. La la la la la la la. What’s your name, anyway?
His voice almost sounded a little hurt. “Stop worrying about my zit. I’m over it. And I’m not telling you my real name. Make one up.” A laugh in my mind to show me he really was over it.
Still, I wasn’t that girl. I wished I could unthink it, so I concentrated on his name. That terrible? What, Elmer? Floyd? Boyd? Aethelmerk? I had to stop and stare at a funny poster on the wall to keep people from seeing me laugh to myself.
“Keep it up, Eunice. I never tell anyone. Just nicknames. And don’t try and ask at the front desk. They don’t know either.”
I snorted, then turned into my fourth hour class. So glad I could entertain you, Kurgan.
“Call me that. Just not out loud.”
Okay, Kurgan. I hope it’s nothing to do with your namesake—that there can be only one, ‘cause I’d be that one, and I’d go back to being really lonely. Anyway, I’ve got to do this fast because there’s a Spanish test. Questions. Why can you hear me? Why aren’t you perfect, like I’m not? Why do you know about ‘them’? What can we do about it all? And why are we still alive? There. You can call me Flame. It’s their opposite on the color wheel. I got out a pencil and started marking boxes. Silly, when you came to think about it. Why did we need Spanish in this new Lingon-infested world? We would probably all speak the same language any day now.
“Ha. Highlander references. I knew I’d like you. Anyway, I think we’re both psychic. I don’t know why they’ve left us alone while they’ve killed most of the people I know. I know about the murdering Lingons because they said something to me about how ‘it wouldn’t hurt much.’ When they started to re-do me, they spat me back out, like a bad taste. Same with you?”
Nope. I’d have noticed. I caught them replicating my granny. I couldn’t even tell anyone until you. So I’m not sure how to get rid of them. I sighed and went on to another test question. So far I could do them in my sleep. Tengo albondigas. I have meatballs. Id definitely use that information in my anti-world-wrecker scheme. Not.
Kurgan laughed.
Weird having someone that far inside my head. It wouldn’t have worked except I’d been so lonely since the dang Lingons took over, that I’d welcome any non-replicant, deep inside my head or not. Were there curtains you could pull over the embarrassing bits you didn’t want him to see/hear/read?
“Don’t worry. I won’t look. Anyway, your thoughts aren’t anything spectacularly bad or abnormal. For a real person, that is. I’ve seen it all, you might say.”
How come I’ve never met you before? When did you come here? I would have spotted you coming if you went here before. Now the exam questions were getting harder. Essay vs. multiple guess.
“You ask a lot of questions, Heather Flame.”
And you said you wouldn’t look. No fair you know my real name and I don’t know yours.
His laughter echoed through my head.
Now I know there’s no real hiding place and you are at least a little bit mean. You’ve probably already rummaged through the entire contents of my mental underwear drawer.
More ghostly laughter. “I’ll talk later. And I was serious. I do love you. You’re my island of sanity in this freaking ocean of madness. Don’t stop talking to me. And don’t learn to shut me out. I’ll behave. Really. I promise. I need you more than you can possibly know.
You’ve made my day. Make that year. And it’s the same for me, Kurgan-there-can-be-only-one-more.
“I know.”
That’s how I got my End-of-the-world buddy. Together we watched as, except for us, the Lingons ate the last of the imperfections. The skies cleared up, the water ran sparkling clean. Even the dirt seemed less dirty. Then we watched as they stopped pretending to be the replicants. They’d split apart into their devilish little demon selves and eat up everything the replicant had left behind—their car, their house, clothes, pets, paperwork, everything. Gone in the time it took to say “Holy Erasers, Batman.” I say that like it was kind of funny, but it wasn’t. At all.
Terrifying to watch Mrs. Kagel from down the street, who I knew had become a replicant weeks previous, simply disappear. Her yappy little chihuahua went first. Then her prized begonias. Then her Datsun. Next the Cape Cod house with the yellow trim. Then, in a stunning display right in front of my eyes, the woman herself. Gone beneath a wave of blue, each tiny bit of her dispersing to other places, other tasks. Every building block another Lingon pretending to have been Mrs. Kagel’s thumb cell or something. Flaunting the Lingon power over my inability to stop them.
The worst night was when I lost my parents. The second time. Mom sat there on the couch eating an artichoke popper, then suddenly collapsed into a wash of blue, as if she’d fallen into a vat of extremely volatile acid. Dad and Moxie, our lovely mutt went next. Like that. Like I’d only dreamed them, once. Like TV characters after you changed the channel and then broken the TV. It almost felt worse than when I first noticed they’d fallen to the Lingons. At least then I could close my eyes and pretend my parents still lived and loved me. Now? Gone.
Only the house remained.
Kurgan lurked there in my head, taking me in his arms, patting me on the mental back. I even felt a feathery light kiss to my hair, a couple of times. He was there as each replicant fell, domino-like, until nothing remained of the things they’d owned or been. The school? Gone. All our old hang-outs? Gone, along with the rest of the buildings. All except my house and Kurgan’s, apparently.
Hey, I said two futile hours later. I don’t think we need to stay apart anymore. I think I need your real arms around me now.
“Yeah. Meet where the school used to be?”
Unless we’re closer. My house is on Elm. It would have been easier to navigate had any buildings remained. Or any landmarks.
Mine’s across town on Pierce. So meet where that fifties diner used to be on Main.
I turned, then, and watched as my house dissolved in a sea of blue. No going back now. It was all starting to be too real. I had no ground to retreat to. Nothing to clench on to when it all winked out.
Nothing but Kurgan.
It was a long walk, made longer by that horrible flood of blue entities that watched, and waited, hungry for more. Always more. And for what? What were the dang things waiting for?
I finally spotted him clear down by where the First National Bank used to be. Now? Just an empty field full of brilliant green grass punctuated with tiny pink flowers and butterflies all the colors of the rainbow. How gorgeous it all would be if the saffron brick walls hadn’t just disappeared beneath a blanket of nearly-clear blue. I ran to Kurgan, collapsing into his arms—arms not quite strong enough to be perfectly muscled, but strong enough for me. He smelled of fear sweat. I probably did too.
“Come on,” he said, out in the real world where the Lingons could hear him. His illusions had died fiery deaths like mine had. “Let’s find a good place to watch it all go down.”
So we did.
“What’s your real name?” I asked. You have to know the guy’s name if you’re the only two left on Earth. That’s a given.
He took my hand and swung it while we climbed to the top of a brand new nearby hill. “Walter. But apparently I can choose whatever name I want, now that it’s a moot point.”
“I guess.” We sat on the bluff overlooking what used to be our town. Now it featured rolling hills and a new river chuckling through the grass. A soft breeze picked up and ran its fingers through the lank strands of my hair. The sunshine warmed our heads. The silence almost complete. “Don’t let go of me. Please. If we go, we go together.”
He nodded and pulled me tighter to his side. “Maybe you should give me a name.”
“Depends on what happens next, I guess. Same with me. Only not some stupid name like Ethel.”
“I like how we’re here at the end of the world and you’re worried over what I’m going to call you.”
And it was the end of the world. One minute an amazing new Eden, the next, bits of bright new ‘paint’ flaked away, leaving dead brown rock beneath. The Lingons left their lives as camouflage and streamed into the sky, slowly at first, then in a mass migration that lasted until they’d scoured the Earth of all color and life, except the two of us, standing there at the end.
“I like how there’s still someone to call me something.” I hid my face in his chest. He found my lips.
I loved that last glorious kiss.

(Alternate Ending:) !$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!
“Heather. Step forward. You’re holding up the line. Hey, Heather. Snap out of it. Swallow your pills. Come on. Lift your tongue up so I know they’re gone.” Miss Smith, the charge nurse, smiled at me. A great big shiny plastic smile.
That’s how those blasted little Lingons took me down.
©2020 by H. Linn Murphy

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Since We Last Spoke

I know. It's getting echo-y in here. And dusty. You should see the dust. Picture me wafting a feather duster as we speak.

So it's been quite a year. My father is rapidly losing his mind. I doubt he'll remember me by the time Mom gets them moved down here (he doesn't remember people he talked to five minutes ago, let alone someone he hasn't seen since November). She comes for support from me and my brother. I don't envy her the job one bit. She has to take care of a giant one-year-old who forgets to put on his pants, while sifting through all their stuff and deciding which to take in the move, which to entrust to kids and grand kids, and which she'll send out on little rafts into the world to be someone else's stuff. I think I'm the one who appreciates age and heritage the most. My children don't even consider my things ballast. They're from the Chuck-it generation. But I can't be the repository for everything. I've got my own stuff crowding me out--stuff my children blithely jettisoned that mean nothing to them and memories to me.

I went to ANWA book conference. Those so totally re-energize me and remind me why I write. I learn so much about my craft every time, and network like there is no tomorrow. I got a nibble for my science fiction book (later that really sweet trout got off my hook) that I wasn't expecting. I wish it had panned out. But it made me feel great. I also found out that my publisher is dumping most of their other authors, but keeping me. That made me feel GREAT.

Last November, I went up to my sister's house to watch her kids and my father while Mom and my sister took a much-needed vacation in Hawaii. Unfortunately for them, it was the vacation to the Underworld complete with sickness, a lost night out, worry, a newly broken hand (while surfing) and lots of pain.
On my end, it was an exercise in trying to entertain a one-year-old man who still thinks he can drive himself home to another state, when in reality he can't remember the way to the bathroom across the hall. I prided myself on writing most of a book and making sure he couldn't break free, only to be brought home by policemen (that happened, but not to me). He didn't appreciate the locked door, by the way. I had to distract him with walks with the dog--Dad stopping in the middle of the road to wave at passing planes--the dog pulling me toward every interesting stench. I gladly made the house look great and cleaned up much of the back yard.
Unfortunately when I left, I forgot to take some very important clothes I wear all the time. I still haven't managed to get them back, and it's driving me nuts.

Christmas is always difficult. Most of the magic wears off when it's me doing most of the shopping by myself for everyone, then wrapping everything by myself, then finding out they're not taking most of it with them. Or having to return it for them. Or they won't use it. I begin to wonder if it wouldn't be better just to celebrate Christ's birthday with a cake like anybody else and leave the shopping juggernaut to someone else. Certainly the wrapping is the first thing I'm dumping. I'm going to get an assortment of bags and plop them inside and if they don't like it, tough. They don't even come to our house much to notice the presents under the tree anyway. Huge pain in the rump for nothing.

So. What to look forward to this year? Great things, my friend.
I'm getting HEART OF THE ENEMY published soon. Right now we're in final edits and working on the cover design. Was due last year at this time but they've put off and put off, so I'm not setting a date until I see the final right before my eyes (which really makes book launches and general marketing difficult).
I'm also expecting a visit from my publisher (at my house) sometime this spring. We plan to go rock-hounding before it gets hot enough to bake cookies on the car seat. Don't want the poor woman getting heat stroke along with her rocks.
The Fam eagerly expects a new baby in March. The Mom is being rather close-mouthed about the flavor of said baby, so it'll have nothing but gray clothes and accessories, poor thing. No other such news is evident yet.
I'm 70K words into HEART OF THE SEA SPRITE, my most-researched book yet about a girl who disguises herself as her dead brother and goes to sea in the Royal Navy against Napoleon. I'm hoping ENEMY sells well enough they'll publish SPRITE too. Then I'm thinking about doing a dictionary of Regency words using all of Jane Austen's works and letters, plus other Regency era authors. It'll be for enthusiasts and writers. I plan to have pictures, and references and maybe even quotes.
Also, my parents are moving down here. I may go up to help them pack and load and move. And certainly I'll be spending some time with Dad so Mom can rejuvenate.
The kids are sending my husband and I on some kind of vacation (they added in last year's failed staycation money into this year's Christmas present to pay part). Not sure when, where, or how, but a trip away is at least more likely to come to fruition than the husband taking me to a hotel in town (something he'd never do).
I'm hoping we get some repairs done to the outside of the house (including finishing the termite protection). The wooden board thingies under the roof need to be replaced and we've GOT to paint it something other than baby poop and despair colored. Pretty sure the siding has decades of gecko poop beneath it, which is causing some discoloration, so that's gotta go as well. I'm so sick of dirt colored houses, so I'm hoping it'll be blue and white or grey and blue. I want to dump lots of that trash in the back yard and shed. Not sure how it'll work since at least one of us is a pack rat and the other likes to hoard things. But I see a lightening of the load of rust in our future.
I'm hoping to start a garden of more than just pumpkins this year. I've been tenderly nursing a sprouting onion in my fridge (and several kinds of mold) so hopefully we'll have at least pumpkin. and onions. Who knows if the rest will sprout?
There'll be ANWA in September and perhaps a visit to the grands in Indiana at some point.
My friend Cindi and I want to go crew on a tall ship this year sometime. Or at least passenger. That would be magnificent. I can't wait.
And sometime late this year or next year, Mom said she wants to take me to Bulgaria. I know. Kind of random, but what an adventure! I'm going to have to learn at least enough Bulgarian to navigate and eat and go to the bathroom...;o) And I want to get some of their fantastic lace and a vial of rose water to replace mine that vanished into thin air. They're famous for it.

So. That's a breakdown of what may come to pass this year. The crystal ball is all dusted now and back on the shelf. See you later.

Monday, September 9, 2019

A Little Taste of Gamer Geek Romance

This is a small snatch of my book Everlost:

Chapter 1—Chubb Takes a Beating
Issana Windwalker died for the ninth time at the hands of an ogre named Chubb.
Bits of her spattered the trees and rocks in a tacky, wide swathe.
Her death cry tore from her, sounding much more like frustration than demise. At least to her own, make that Senara's ears.
It really ticked her off that she spawned into the forest and Chubb always seemed to be camping on the exact spot, waiting for her, every time. Fat tub of smelly lard. “Go find someone else to PK, you son of a fatherless goat,” she yelled, banging the keyboard with her fist. Then she hit the talk button and yelled it again so Chubb could actually hear it while he scampered around picking up the magical items she'd dropped.
“It's what you get when you sign up to be Guardian of Kofur, Issy Baby. If you wanna dump the Seal of Kofur and do something less violent, it can be arranged. Then we can hang out and make cute little half ogre babies,” said the piece of yak stool who'd targeted her.
“Lard Butt can actually talk,” muttered Senara. She pressed talk. “Oh please. The stench of your unwashed body would kill me for reals. I'd no sooner hang with you than eat my own foot, let alone bear you babies. I'm going to end you, you bucket of—“ she eased off the talk button to continue the rant in private since her thirty seconds of grace period was almost up. And since her southern mother would pop a vein if she heard such trash going out over the airwaves. Not that she would, since Mom was thousands of miles away, now, on a buying trip.
Senara took a few sanity moments to break away from the game and fetch a can of soda from the fridge. The sound of the lid popping broke the silence left by the ending of her Celtic podcast music. She dragged the frosty can across her cheeks and forehead and plunked herself back in her desk chair.
She had a whole lot of other things she wanted to say to Chubb the Grub but couldn't while she was a ghost. She would have to re-spawn and, armor-less, kick Chubb clear to Offenheim if she was ever going to get any of her stuff back. She jammed her thumb on the talk button anyway. “With pleasure, you boot-licking toadstool,” she ground out. “Let the bloodbath begin.” She wiped her hands against her My Little Ponies pajama pants, cracked her knuckles, and hit the button that would start the carnage.
Issana Windwalker was normally a vision to behold. Massive power packed into a well-muscled, very buxom, gorgeous blond elf, wearing silver armor etched with Celtic knot work, a silver, egret-plumed helm, and tall, silver-embossed boots. For “at home,” she wore flowing blue, purple and indigo harem pants, an indigo top, and no shoes. She could still trash people and take names if she was attacked in her woodland fastness. It happened.
Senara took great pains to make sure Issana's description and that of her hold, Cloudcroft, was something visually stunning and commanding respect. Dudes took a girl seriously if she looked the part and could show some imagination. At least that's what she always told herself.
Gamer eejits were clueless about two things: One, Issana Windwalker might look like a harem girl but she was actually a 102nd -level elf paladin mage who could kick a demi-god's butt with one foot nailed to the floor and no healing potions. And two, she was, in real life, a twenty-one year old brown-haired, bespectacled bookstore clerk named Senara O'Brian, who had trouble killing ants. That last fact she told no one on the game. Who knows, anyway? Maybe half of those buff knights were actually pencil-thin, all-elbows cross dressers or sitting in prison for peeping, she thought as she ran through the Everlost landscape.
Now, after spawning, and dressed only in a light shift, she avoided traps and bad situations like a pro. She had a date with a certain shopkeeper to get the prized Player Killer sword of in-cluing better known as PK Swansong. There wouldn't be time to run to the Morningstar Mountains to fight for her normal enchanted armor.
She passed two hills, a large lake, a couple of villages and a small castle before she got to Berkilflot, the village where Fomor Bob had his store. She had a great rapport with Bob old boy. He saved all his good stuff for her in return for taking out the trash. It made her chuckle every time she took out a noob who was making himself a nuisance. She'd walk in just like an NPC or non-player character and do “boot-to-the-butt” and the kid would find himself sprawling on the ground outside the store. She'd laugh insanely when he ID'd her and found out what level she was.
“What can I get you?” the good Bob asked.
Issana batted her eyelashes and asked for Swansong. “Got some Chubb clubbing to do.”
Bob grinned. “That dude's got it coming. I'm guessing you want a health potion or two.”
Issana glowered at him. “Um, no. Don't need it. But I do need to know if Chubb's got some kind of a donation buff that lets him kill far above his level.”
“I'll look.” Bob disappeared into the “back” while Issana cooled her heals checking out the merchandise. She had just enough money to buy back the Crystal Gauntlets and pay for Amalice the Seamstress to imbue them with special pounding powers.
Bob brought out the sword and tested the edge with a grin. “Swansong with a special edge. I think you'll like her. And Chubb does have a donation item. He payed twenty five Euros for an amulet of PK-ing. He wears it on his breech clout.”
“Real money? Brother. The little weasel! I knew he had something good. It's how he killed me nine times in a row. He must be selling my armor at the Ba'along Bazaar. Those losers will take anything, lost, stolen, or hocked.” She examined the sword and deemed it sweet. “Thanks Bob.” She tossed him a bag of coins and ran off to the Seamstress' shop. Hopefully it would take Chubb enough time to sell her stuff, that she'd get where she needed to be and fully prepared.
Just as the Seamstress had finished with the Imbuing and Issana was paying for her services, the Seal called her back. Chubb, of course. She was already under attack when she wielded the Crystal Gauntlets. Her health had dropped to next to nothing as the pounding began.
“What the—?” Chubb yelled as she smashed him a couple of inches into the solid rock.
Issana grinned. “Taste the rainbow.” Bam! Bam! Crash!
He tried to hit her again and missed, due to losing several centimeters of aching height. An arm went flying across the meadow and it wasn't hers.
Issana said, “Run away if you want to live.” It would be her only suggestion. Most guys wouldn't bolt, and found themselves flitting back to their spawn point as wispy ghosts. Chubb was no different. When he croaked, he dropped a smelly breech clout, a large club and three copper coins, and fluttered away, yelling about cheaters.
Happy dirt nap, Nasty, Senara thought as she fingered the buttons to dispose of the breech clout so Chubb couldn't immediately come back and arm himself in it. The fly-ridden thing probably had magical powers since he wore nothing else but that freaking amulet. Just the thought of that icky ogre running around naked makes me want to hurl.
Issana pocketed the coppers, tossed the club into a nearby pond, and went to meditate for a couple of minutes in her Cloudcroft hideout. That was the only thing she'd forked over real money for. It really paid off to have somewhere to relax in and store her plunder. Too bad she didn't have closets full of the Silver-chased Armor suits, like Batman and his uniforms. Those she had to win in battle.
She was just about to the middle of her meditation, and thus half healthy, when the Seal pulled her back. “Unbelievable!” Senara screamed, pounding the keyboard. Crumbs bounded up and resettled in the cracks between the keys. One of them must have lodged beneath the “hit” button she'd macro'ed, because she pressed and pressed and couldn't engage.
Just as her health neared red-line and she was going to actually wield her fancy sword, something big plowed into the hapless ogre. Almost instantly Chubb found himself with no remaining limbs of any sort. “Why for you kill Chubb?” he whined at the massive, shining knight standing over him.
Muscle Man ignored him, favoring Issana with a grin after taking off his helm. The guy was mountain-sized and his helmet hadn't even mussed up his glorious golden hair. You could probably see the gleam of his flashing white teeth in the depths of the Gorfingel Gold Mines. He swept into a deep bow. “Are you well, my lady?”
“Um...quite.” Issana polished the blood off her gauntlets as the last of Chubb's health fled, leaving him a wraith. “Chubb was just dying.”
©2017 by H. Linn Murphy

Friday, September 6, 2019

Traveller's Wishlist Blues



Boy. It's been a while. But two recent things happened to show me someone still reads this thing. A good friend from high school wrote to say he missed my posts. And I've made another friend of someone who read my chimney sweep article. Great things are coming from that thing, so I shall endeavor to soldier on.

So. Talking about traveling today. I've got a serious case of itchy feet and a longing to take my backpack out and brush off the dust.

I enjoy getting on that airplane and shooting off into the wide blue yonder. I love seeing all the land spread below me like a giant quilt with the batting coming out--flying through castles and mountains of cloud. I love meeting new people and the anticipation of being in a fresh place for a while--getting away from the dusty, staid hole of a life I've shoved myself into, where all my expectations are regularly met in a way they've always arrived. I enjoy the idea of waking up in one place and going to bed in another, having successfully navigated around airports and security conga lines.

I love getting in our van and setting off into the sunset for parts unknown, listening to the engine whine as we negotiate mountains and avoid deer. I used to love camping and still kind of do except that my trick knee makes it rough. And it makes hiking a chore, though I still do it. I enjoy learning the history of a place and wondering about the people who live(d) there. The light is different in different places. Here it bludgeons a person with an oppressive heat until they can barely walk or breathe. In Oregon it's a watery quality that tastes of moss and ferns. In Switzerland it's a clear blue sharpness that allows you to see the mastiffs marching away into the purpling haze of distance. In Ireland it was a peat-y damp that filled me with yearning for stories and great music.

I itch for the possibility of going sailing again, the wind bellying out the sails and raising spin-drift, the water slipping past the boat, all deep blue-green and mysterious. I'm dying to sail on a tall ship and climb the rat lines and stand in the crow's nest. It would be so interesting to crew for a ship like that for a while.


Mostly I really LOVE the idea of owning the experience and making it part of me. Owning the sight of new people, wondrous new places, the taste of the air on my tongue, the feel of a cool wind ruffling my hair. Of the food and the people offering wares. Owning it all in my head.

I recently talked to a young Navy sailor. I begged him for stories of his travels. He had so little to say about the wonderful places he'd been. He said he would be just as happy to have never gone most of those places and simply plopped on his couch with the remote. To me, that's a crying shame. Why close yourself off to the richness of a new tapestry? Why insist on eating macaroni and cheese when you have the opportunity to taste Bangers and Mash? Or Lutefisk?

This is why when I was heading off to Ireland with my mom and sisters, I made a list of all the things I could think of that I wanted to do in that country. I made it as varied and wacky as possible. I didn't even do half of the things I wanted to do (no time to since we had Murt the drill sergeant for a bus driver) but it made the experiences I did have so much richer.

So do I have a bucket list a mile long? YES. I want to go everywhere and see everything.

*I want to go back to Ireland and go in that huge cave under Pol na Broine dolmen. It's all karst there and the ranger assured me I'm right. There IS a big cave you can even go in under there.
*I want to do research at Carrigafoyle Castle for a book I'm writing.
*I want to see Northern Ireland.
*I want to swim in the sea though it's freezing.
*I want to find the drunk guy I pretty much swiped my favorite shirt from and give him a better shirt than I gave him.
*I want to play bodhran and tin whistle in pubs (must practice much more, first).
*I want to do research in Trinity college, not just tour it. Go back in the stacks and look at those ancient books.
 And that's just in Ireland.
*I really really want to go to England and look up where my Welsh forebears lived.
*I want to see Grayfriars bridge and the Thames.
*I want to see the Crown Jewels and the Tower and Shakespeare's home and the Globe Theater.
*I want to take a bazillion pictures and eat fish and chips. 
*I want to see Jane Austen's house and a hundred other wonderful sights.
I want to go to Scotland and see if I can hunt down my McKusick line.
*Must eat haggis at least once.
*Must see the places Robert the Bruce went to ground. (Last time I checked I'm related to him.)
*I want to swim in Loch Ness.
*I want to go back to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland especially.
*I want to order lunch in Ge
rman.
*I want to sleep in dozens of castles (or at least crawl around in them).
*I want to go back to the massively cool museum in Munich and spend two days in there.
*I want to go back to the Pergamon museum in East Berlin that I didn't enjoy the first time because I was so barfing sick. I'm NOT going to eat their ice cream beforehand since that's what made me so sick in the first place.
*I want to go back to the tower in Goslar (sp?) and put my husband in thumbscrews so he can know how it feels...rofl
*I want to stroll the streets of a thousand little towns and eat in their open air restaurants and sing in their cathedrals.
*So much more.

There are a thousand thousand other places and things I want to breathe in and make a part of me.
Too bad I'm not independently wealthy or have a gig to report on those places like on WorldTrekker or something. My lucky sister is making this dream come true for herself and her kids. I'm so jealous. I guess I just need to sell books. Anyone want to buy a few million dollars worth of books? I could make it worth your while...;o)






Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Day 30--National Poetry Month--ABAB Poem--War of Darkness and Light

This is the last poem of the month. It's been interesting learning new forms. I hope some of these are more than rubbish. I also appreciate those who actually read them and would welcome new subscribers to the blog. I'll be working on doing a better job of keeping current--more like the first few years. For one last trip to Stephanie's site, go here. Anyway, here's an ABAB poem:



WAR OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT


The Dark Adversary, he smirks in glee
As he throws a pall over the land
"They'll never know why they feel closer to me
When greed, envy, and selfishness stand."

He uses discouragement, vane pride, and hate
To shackle the Father's offspring
For he wants misery to mark all and make late
The hosts of the Heavenly King

I lift lantern and search for a possible guard
To stand at my side and fight
Who'll keep their chin up though the going is hard
And won't quail at Satan's dread might. 

Get loose from your chains of ennui and self doubt
Let Christ's words in your fainting hearts sing
Look to your quarry, be strong, give a shout
And follow your Commander, your King. 

Let us march to the battle, both steady and true
With our hearts and our minds knit with love
Bringing our kin, with hard work imbued
A place at Christ's side, our great trove.
 
I stand at your shoulder, shiv'ring with dread
I've seen our host scanty at most
So easy t'would be, to let fear fill my head
I can't flee and abandon my post

We're girded, arrayed at the battle's fore
Our talents and skill sets to hand
Our armor intact as we open the door 
It's shoulder to shoulder we stand 

So we lock in our shields, help those at our side
To remember the God at our front
To recall the bright home where our Parents abide
For God will we gratefully hunt.

 If you shine a great light o'er the enemy's camp  
He can do naught but cower and flee
He can't withstand the bright light of your lamp
Once you lift up your head and break free

Come join this dread fight tho we tremble with flaws
Though we've mistakes too many to number
Let us wake and come forth and remember the laws
No longer in darkness to slumber 

Until at the end we kneel bloody but free
There at the feet of our King
He lifts us to stand, and He clasps us gently
"Well done, faithful servant," He'll sing.   


©2019 by H. Linn Murphy

Monday, April 29, 2019

Day 29--National Poetry Month--Bio Poem--

Today we're doing Bio Poems. If you'd like to know more about the poetry form, go here. Otherwise, my poem:


I'm the one in the veil.


H. Linn Murphy
Dented, chubby, and flawed
I love doing evil things to book characters and seeing them rise above the chaos, because it gives me hope for slaying my own dragons.
I can almost dance, hike, swim, and a host of other things I once did well. Mostly I live in my head, now.
I hate sitting on the sidelines, watching other people do what I used to do, mostly because I feel like I didn't have enough time in my lithe body. Dang knees.
Will I ever dance like I've always wanted? Will people ever applaud my rendition of a fire bird? My pas de deux with an amazing danseur? Will anyone ever be impressed with my chocolatey tenor voice, spritely tinwhistle renditions or bodhran solos?
I fear they won't. In fact, I think I won't have a niche anywhere. Not fully athlete, not fully wife, mother or grandmother, not fully spiritual giant, musician, artist, amazing intellect or writer. Just an also ran no one remembers for anything besides being slightly tactless.
I'm not strong enough, yet, not to care about finding that place, that square hole for the square peg.
Someday I want to know I belong somewhere and am loved for it.


©2019 by H. Linn Murphy
 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Day 28--National Poetry Month--Couplets--Primary Teacher

Here's my Done-before-Sunday post:



PRIMARY TEACHER
I don't remember all you said
Your primary lessons have left my head

But I recall the way you shared
The love you showed, the way you cared

You had the softest wrinkled hands
Your hair drawn back in velvet bands

But most of all I loved your eyes
They showed how kind you were, and wise

And the most important part?
We had a place inside your heart

©2019 by H. Linn Murphy