Tag Archives: Words

The Eyes of the Cat

In response to Ken Broad’s “Octo’boo’er” challenge: Sarahann’s Shoppe of Earthbound Souls.

I first saw the Cat on the back of a shelf, in the back of a little curio shop whose name I have forgotten, in the back of a little strip-mall in back of the dim sum place where I used to like to eat. I almost passed it by, but a glint of something green caught my eye and I turned to see where it came from. There was the Cat, half hidden behind a box of incense holders and a little jade elephant. I was instantly drawn to it.

It was, like many of it’s kind, one of those little statues depicting a cat sitting upright, with one paw raised. Sort of a Buddha like pose, again typical of the sort. Most of the Lucky Cats I had seen before had been white with some black markings, but this one was was different. This one was entirely black, entirely black except for the eyes which looked like emerald. I assumed, at the time, that they were actually green glass. I know better now. I assumed, at the time, that since it was in a Chinatown curio shop, that it was made by the Chinese. I know better now. I assumed, at the time, that my wife would think it was really cute. I…

… was right about that one.

She squeed when I showed her the Cat. On the chance you’re unaware of Internet culture, to ‘squee’ is to squeal in delight, preferably while making tiny little clapping motions with your hands in the ‘prayer’ position. I have to explain this sort of thing for obvious reasons.

I wanted to put the Cat in the living room where it could be admired by visitors and relatives. She wanted it in the bedroom where it would give us Luck in our endeavors there. No, I won’t explain what I mean by that other than to say we had recently begun to wonder if we had wasted all the money we spent redecorating the spare room as a nursery, and leave it at that.

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Red Crescent

Moved into the Unseen

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High Bridge Blues

In answer to Sonia G Medeiros‘ June flash writing challenge: Creature Feature.

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I can always tell how a first date is going to go with a broad when I tell her I work for the New York Department of Parks and Recreation. If her face falls and she suddenly starts looking for excuses to call the evening early, I know she’s just one of the rabble out there that thinks all we do is walk around Central Park in jumpsuits picking up trash. What most people don’t know is that DPR is also in charge of several of the bridges around the city. That’s my job. I’m in charge of High Bridge.

As all you mooks know, High Bridge has been closed since the 70s, ever since it became a troll bridge.

Now, High Bridge is hardly the only troll bridge in New York, obviously. They’re so common, people in a hurry tend to slur the word and thus you end up with ‘toll bridge’ but we all know what’s really going on. The problem is that the particular family of trolls that live under HB are from the Olde Country, and they refuse to give up their ways.

See, while most trolls have adapted to the changes in the times and are willing to take money in exchange for safe passage, these clowns still demand a goat. Who carries goats with them wherever they go anymore? No one, right? So that’s the problem. Back in the 70s, some guy thought he could get away with crossing the bridge with just cash, and he got eaten. Actually, it’s probably happened more than just that one time, but that one made the headlines because the trolls tossed the skull away when they were done stripping the flesh and sucking out the brains, and the skull hit a passing boat. Some passengers freaked out and files complaints with the city, yadda yadda. Next thing you know, bam. The bridge is closed.

Which is fine with me, honestly. As the High Bridge Maintenance Overseer, this meant my job for the last 30-some years has mostly consisted of making sure the ‘Bridge out, no trespassing’ signs are still in place. Yeah sure, the City is talking about renovating the bridge, chasing out the trolls and reopening the bridge in a few years, but I’m retiring in September so what do I care?

What are they going to do with the trolls? Well, I imagine they’ll put them on the reservation like usual. Oh, you didn’t know we had a troll reservation in the city? Yeah, what do you think all them ‘disused tunnels’ are all about?

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The Gun on the Mantelpiece

Or Table, as the case may be.

These days the most common usages of the rule of Chekhov’s Gun can be seen in television and movies where the time constraints of the medium prevent extraneous details, and since most people believe the origin of the famous quote comes from Hitchcock and not Chekhov, it is often assumed to be directly relevant to movies. People forget, or do not realize, that the origin of the rule was literary rather than cinematic.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, Chekhov’s Gun is the name of the rule described in his famous quote which I paraphrase: “If you show a gun on the mantelpiece in the first chapter, you’d bloody well better have someone fire it before the epilogue.” As I said, I’m paraphrasing, but the bit about the mantelpiece is more or less correct, causing this rule of writing to sometimes also be known as the ‘gun on the mantelpiece’ rule. In a nutshell, the rule says that if you introduce an element into your story in some way, it should be used. Obviously things like background decoration in a description of a room do not apply (imagine if Tolkien tried to find a use for every single thing he described in Bilbo’s house in the Hobbit), but things that will SEEM relevant to the reader (such as, say, a gun) should end up being used.

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There By Candlelight May Writing Challenge

Since it seems to be the thing to do, I figure I’ll go ahead and post my own writing challenge. May’s challenge:

The Long Pun.

I don’t mean a pun that takes up half a page in length by itself (such as somehow managing to make ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ a pun), nor do I mean any sort of Piers Anthony dispoable two line type thing. I mean a pun where the author begins establishing the pun early on, but continues the narrative with no indication of the groan-inducing atrocity about to be unleashed on his unsuspecting reader.

The undisputed (as far as I know) master of this was Roger Zelazny who, in Lord of Light, spent something like half a chapter setting up a truly terrible pun and no one saw it comming. He did shorter, easier ones also, such as the one in the Merlin Chronicles with the two demons racing across the twisted hellish landscape raised a ruckus that had the hero out of bed to check it out only to end up dismissing it as trivial  (yep, it was just one damned thing after another).

So here is my challenge: In 400 words or more, create a story that stands on it’s own merits, and then deliver a real stinker of a pun at the very end that ties in to the story itself.  I’ll start us off.

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Love At First Sight – May Writing Challenge

It was love at first sight. How could it not be? He was everything she had ever wanted in a man. He was tall, handsome, strong. He looked like he could carry the weight of the world on his shoulders and remain unbroken by the ordeal. He was perfect, and in that first glance she felt her heart flutter.

They met for the first time shortly after her transfer from Chicago to the New York main office of her firm. She was late and flustered. After a short weekend in the city mostly spent dealing with moving in and getting the heat and power turned on, she hadn’t had time to learn the subway system yet and it was far more confusing than the CTA. She fumbled with her briefcase, attempting to fish out her letter of introduction which explained which floor she was to meet her contact on, and a gust of wind caught and scattered her papers. She scurried to fetch them back, and that’s when she met him for the first time. A photocopy of her birth certificate blew up against his leg and was trapped there for a moment.

He smiled faintly at her as she apologized and retrieved her errant document, and she felt her heart melt. She was even later getting in to work on her first day, but it was worth it. They met for coffee later that day.

Coffee became a regular event with them. On lunch breaks, she would head downstairs to the Starbucks and pick up a latte then meet him out in front by the fountain and they would spend the hour together. Although he never said it himself, she could tell he had feelings for her too. He always had that shy little smile for her, no matter how bad their days had been up until that point.

He was a very good listener. She told him everything about herself. About her family back in Ohio, and what it was like growing up in a small town. She told him about her first boyfriend in high school, and how he broke her heart when he dumped her just before prom so he could go with Susie Reynolds instead. She told him about moving away to college, and how hard it was to be away from her family for the first time, and about how strange it was to see them again a year later. She had changed while they were exactly the same. She told him about going to work for the firm, and her fast rise to on the corporate track. It helped, she admitted, not having a boyfriend.

And finally, after several weeks, she told him of her fears. That she was growing too old to find a husband, that she would die a spinster. And all the while he smiled his faint smile. She told him she loved him, and she didn’t care what anyone else thought about that. She was happy dating a statue.

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In response to Sonia MedeirosMay Writing Challenge

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Humor in Serious Writing

The Portal series shows us how its done.

There is a commonly held misconception that a serious story needs to be entirely serious. This is strange to me, for many people understand that you can have serious moments in an otherwise silly or humorous story, so why can’t you have humor, even perhaps a lot of humor, in an otherwise serious story?

Take the Portal games, from Valve for example. In both games, the player takes control of a character who finds herself in a strange underground testing facility while the computer AI in charge of the place puts her through various “tests,” each of which gets increasingly more dangerous until eventually the AI  outright starts trying to attempt to kill the character, forcing the character to attempt to find ways to either escape the facility, or fight back and destroy the AI first in self defense. While quite different in the details, the idea is not entirely unlike that of the movie Cube. Pretty serious stuff.

And yet, both games are so funny you’ll find yourself laughing out loud as you play them, even as the AIs try to kill you. This in no way detracts from the seriousness of the story though. Never once do you think “Well, the AI is just a yuck-a-minute, maybe I should just relax and be friends with that crazy cat.” The seriousness of your character’s plight is heightened by the use of humor, not detracted from.

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