Scrabble story

We played Scrabble a while ago and I noted the words created with the idea that I’d make a story out of them as a challenge (not that I need writing challenges. Writing at all is its own challenge, but I whine). Here are the words:
leap, den, peon, dog, zen, dewy
rye, rune, nag, glad, don, don
atones, toil, leaf, if, broils, quit
exit, chic, ark, three, is, now, yurt
pit, ice, tinge, bath, sap, cane
ebony, lax, is, jar, tomes, strum

One morning early, a man took his dog for a walk. They cut across the street, still damp from the overnight rain. They went a long a manicured lawn, smelling the fresh smell of dewy cut grass mixed with the salty scent of the ocean. They descended the wooden stairs to the sand. Few people were on the beach at this hour, just one other dog walker and a dedicated health enthusiast out jogging. The seagulls were not even up yet, but rested, heads tucked under wings, along the cliff. The man reflected that he had once been a jogger, but had quit three years ago due to his new job. Now his fitness regimen had become lax and the only exercise he got was walking old Buffy.

They walked along firm sand along the edge of the tide. The man checked his watch, noting he had twenty minutes before he had to get ready for work and the hour and ten minute commute to the office. He considered his job. A peon, he thought, that’s all I am. I toil away crunching numbers for making useless widgets when I could be perusing dusty tomes in Marrakesh and living like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Buffy pulled on her leash, and the man looked around. No one was in sight, so he freed his dog to run into the surf. She found a floating leaf and plunged into the water after it. Then she retreated to his side, wagging her tail and spattering him with water. She watched the surf, barking at it as it started to crawl up the sand toward him. A woman in a chic jogging suit blew past them and Buffy raced after.

“Buffy, no!” He ran after his dog, who glanced back and saw him running and, with a mischievous doggy grin, continued ran on after the woman. The woman appeared oblivious to the dog chasing after her until Buffy caught up and with a flying leap, took her to the ground, where she proceeded to lick the woman’s face with enthusiasm.

“Oh my god, oh god, I’m so sorry,” the man said, panting. He pulled the big Labrador off her and clipping the leash back on. “Are you okay?”

To his surprise, the woman laughed, and continued to laugh until tears ran from her eyes. “That was awesome,” she said, climbing to her feet and dusting the sand off. “What a ferocious hunter you are,” she said to the dog. Buffy barked agreement. “That’ll teach me to take a bath in ‘forest scent,'” she said, and looked at the man. “I’m Ashira.”

She offered her hand. He introduced himself and shook her soft hand, noting her stunning golden eyes and long lashes. Her ebony skin had a tinge of gold on it and he couldn’t help but notice that she did smell very earthy. He also noted that she checked him out in return.

“This is Buffy. Buffy, sit. Buffy, shake.” His dog performed those commands readily. He dug a dog treat out of his pocket and thought, I’m glad I didn’t don my ratty workout shorts. Ashira shook hands with Buffy.

“When I pulled my daily rune this morning, I had no idea that it’d be so literal.”

“Rune?” he asked, keeping his excitement for having found a fellow fantasist hidden.

“I select a daily rune as inspiration and as part of my search for zen,” she explained and started to walk. He and the dog walked with her.

“Isn’t Zen a different culture?”

She shrugged. “It’s my zen, if you know what I mean. I’m trying to live in the now.”

“Of course. I have to remind myself of that frequently.”

They walked for a moment longer and then his conscience began to nag. “I don’t mean to interrupt your run.”

“Oh, it’s okay. I needed a break anyway. I’ve been stuck in my den for too long. It’s good to feel the sunshine.” Saying so, she turned her face to the sun like sunflower, closed her eyes, and basked.

“What would you do, Don, if you had all the money you needed and didn’t have to work?”

“Right now?”

“Right now.” Her golden eyes met his.

“I’d be here.” As he said it, he didn’t know if he was half joking or half serious.

“Really?”

“Really. Normally I’d say that I’d live in a yurt on the edge of the Siberian ice fields, living off of tree sap and peeing in a frozen pit, but no. I think right now, if I had all the money in the world and didn’t have to work, I’d be right here. With you, and Buffy, in the sun on the beach in Southern California.”

She laughed, “Does the sap come in a jar or do you have to get it directly from the tree?”

“Oh, from a jar. I’m civilized you know.”

Is that so?” Her teasing tone made him smile.

“Where would you be, Ashira, if you didn’t have to work and had all the money you needed?”

She laughed again. He decided he liked the sound. “I’d be living in a yurt on the edge of the Siberian ice fields, living off of tree sap and peeing in a frozen pit.”

It was his turn to laugh. Then he thought a moment, and said, “What? Really?”

“I’d have to atone for my sins somehow.” The look she gave him made put is libido on broil.

He almost said three or four things related to sin and sinning, which his top brain thought might be too forward and misconstrued but which his bottom brain thought would be perfect. And in giving into being a polite man, he waited too long to answer. She raised her eyebrows and shook her head.

“So, ah,” he said, feeling lame, “wanna have some coffee?”

“No, thanks. It was nice meeting you, Don and Buffy.” With a little wave, she made her exit. The man felt the urge to cane himself for being something – too polite, too afraid to offend, too geeky to live?

“Buffy, why am I such a loser?” As he asked that, his alarm for work went off. Buffy whined, tugging at her leash in the direction that Ashira gone. “No, honey, we need to get you home so that you’re in time to hang out with Mrs. Sanchez and her gazillion chihuahuas. And I have to go be a drone.”

They made it home. The man changed into his hot monkey suit and forced his mind into widget mode. He choked down some rye toast and feed the Buffster some kibble, then he took her off to the neighbor and her yappy friends. He watched Mrs. Sanchez welcome his dog and all the runt dogs swirl around his yellow friend. She seemed so relaxed and happy, as did his dog. Maybe being a dog sitter paid well enough to live, he thought. Maybe I’d be better off as a dog. He wondered what Ashira’s runes would tell him. He told himself to stop thinking about missed chances and go process some numbers.

Halfway to work, someone had an accident on the freeway. Traffic snarled up, reduced to sit and creep and sit and creep. He could see an exit up ahead. He took a chance and glanced at his phone to see if that road would take him somewhere closer to work. It seemed like it might, if he wanted to chance it. Lots of surface streets there. The exit creeped closer and the minutes passed by. As a dutiful employee, he called the hag at the front desk, to tell his employer about his delay.

“That is the third time this quarter, Mr. Mooney,” the hag reminded him. “You may want to consider leaving a little early or moving closer to work.” He thanked her for her suggestion and hung up. Move? he thought, only if its to the ice fields with Ashira.

The exit arrived. A moment of wild hope had him flipping on his turn signal and forcing his way over to the exit. He sped up the ramp, feeling a great sense of relief. The right turn, which would eventually take him to his work, was closed for construction, so he went left. I’ll just take the next right and the one after that to get going in the right direction.

That next right took him on some road that wound around a ritzy looking neighborhood and deposited him at the coast again. He almost took it as a sign to go home, pick up that dog, find that jogger, and see where the right response would have taken him.

“I don’t believe in signs,” he muttered.

He took the next available right, anything to get him inland, and that took him over the jam-packed freeway and into a poor neighborhood. One where many of its residents hung out on their ramshackle stoops and eyed his moderately priced car as if it would be worth taking. He sped up a little bit. The road took him inland for several miles but then dead ended with only a right turn option.

That turn took him to a toll road, which he took with reluctance. It took him south and then curved again and the next available exit took him back to the coast.

The clock on his Kia told him that he had passed from late into the territory of absent.

He found himself in a restaurant district with a smattering of small businesses, such as coffee shops, dress shops, and a book store. He passed a man, dressed as a troubadour, complete with floppy, befeathered hat and lute, strolling along the sidewalk. That’s a job, his mind told him. He rolled down the window to hear the man strum his instrument.

Then he spotted it, Ashira Holistic Healing. He slowed and peered at the shop’s window display, advertising Yoga, Tai Chi, Acupuncture, Massage, and Chiropractic services. As he looked for a place to park, his phone beeped, indicating an incoming call. He fussed with the Bluetooth and finally got the call just as the caller was about to hang up.

“Mooney. Where are you?” The gravely voice of his boss barked out at him through his car speakers.

“Stuck in traffic, Mr. Chan.”

“Well, Felicia tells me this is your third time being late. You were told, weren’t you, that three is the limit?”

“Uh…”

“Three is the limit. Don’t bother coming in. Felicia will send your final check and all that. Goodbye.” The phone went dead. He stared in stunned stillness out the windshield at the back of the Audi in front of him. An annoyed honk made him blink and pull into the nearest parking spot.

Fired. I’ve been fired. He wasn’t sure what he felt. Panic? Fear? Relief?

A knock on the window made him jerk. Ashira looked in at him. “Don?”

He rolled down the window.

“What are you doing here?”

Words escaped him. He held out his hands and said, “Fired.”

“What?”

“Just now. Just like that.”

“Why don’t you come in. I’ll get you a tea and you can tell me about it.” When he didn’t answer, she walked around and opened his door and helped him out of the car. She reached in and turned it off, and then escorted him into her business.

“What am I going to do?”

He absently noted the cozy waiting room with plants and couches and soft music playing. She gestured to a seat and he sank into the cushions with a sigh.

“Have some tea. “

“Tea?”

“Yes, with me. Isn’t that what you asked me this morning?”

“Coffee?”

“No, sorry. Just tea. You’ll like it.” She returned a moment later with a sweet smelling cup of something warm. She settled into the seat next to him. He took a sip, expecting something weak, but this drink opened his eyes. His brain caught up with where and what he was doing. He thanked her and said, “And here I am interrupting your day again. I hope you don’t think I’m some sort of stalker.”

“Did you follow me after we parted on the beach?”

“No.”

“And you’ve never been here before?”

“No.”

“Then it is providence, just as my rune this morning indicated. As I seek to live in the moment I also seek to accept what comes my way. Perhaps the fates sent you to me so that I can help you with that also.”

He’d lost track of what she meant, as he had been enjoying the sound of her voice and the bounce of her dark curls. “Huh?”

“Drink your tea, Don.” Her smile reminded him of the light reflected off ice. He smiled back and took the first breath of the rest of his life.

Party Crasher

Today’s writing prompt brought to you by 700+ Creative Writing Prompts. I chose
Write your story about two characters tidying up after a party.

“You made it,” Julie’s voice called out through the crowd. She appeared before Adair a moment later and gave her a big hug. “It’s so good to see you.”

Adair returned the hug for a moment and reminded herself to be grateful to her friend. “You saw me this afternoon.”

“I know. But here you are, not only dressed but dressed up, at a party, being social and stuff.”

Adair looked down at her red Starfleet uniform and shook her head. When Julie had informed her that the annual costume party would be happening despite all that was going on in her life, Adair had thought she’d lost her mind. But Greg wanted to keep up appearances, so a party they would have. Adair had informed her that she would be hiding out in her bedroom or maybe she’d go camping if the night was nice, but Julie badgered her into attending, and in costume. Good thing she’d had the costume hanging in her closet already.

“I worry about you,” Julie added before turning to others to say hello.

“I worry about me too,” Adair commented and looked around her friend’s expansive luxury home turned haunted castle. The Mitchell House Halloween Hootenanny, as this year’s event had been termed, teamed with people in costume. Nigel the Stickler manned the front door, verifying that all attendees had made some sort of costume, for “It’s a drag for the rest of us who put in effort to be brought down by those who are lazy and just want free booze.” Nigel had a very proper gentleman’s steampunk butler outfit on, complete with silver face paint and gears attached to his temples. His robot movements in welcoming people were not that far off from his stuffy normal persona. He’d even arranged for loaner costumes, “of lower quality,” he said in an aside to her, taken from the vast collection of reenactment clothing that the Mitchells owned.

Adair moved through the various rooms, looking at the decorations and the decorated people. She found a couple, who had apparently pre-partied, already cuddled up on a love seat in the fully lit theater room, having their own entertainment. The movie hadn’t even been started yet. In the library, a group of junior accountants, dressed as the crew of the most recent Doctor Who series, discussed the possible cost of travel by TARDIS. She listened in for a moment, until one of them looked up, noticed her, and said, “OMG, everyone, it’s Addie!” Everyone gathered around her and told her stories of the horrible things that had been happening at the office and asked where she was working now.

“I’m waiting for the IRS to get back to me,” she lied, adding, “I’ll probably be moving to DC.” Everyone seemed excited by that, so she smiled and moved on.

“Did you see those odd lights over the mountain earlier?” A vampire she didn’t recognize asked a girl dressed as the dragon queen from GOT. The girl petted her stuffed dragon and said, “I thought it was the air force or something. Wouldn’t it be cool if it were actually a UFO?”

Greg Mitchell, or Julie’s Bane as Adair privately called him, held court on the patio that looked down on the pool. His toadies gathered around him, laughing at his jokes, drinking his whiskey, and generally supporting his bad behavior. Julie looked on, a slight frown on her face, from the kitchen. Adair joined her and looked out at the group.

“There she is,” Julie said in a low voice. “He told me she wouldn’t be coming but there she is.” The she in view, slinking up to the table in a skimpy belly dancer costume, was the most recent contestant to try to topple the Mitchell marriage, Sara.

“Skank,” Adair commented to be supportive. “Maybe Nigel will kick her out.”

“Oh, Nigel loves her. Everyone loves her. ‘Oh Sara’s so nice. She’s so sweet.'”

“Who told you that?”

“Everett’s wife…”

“Connie.”

“Everett’s wife Connie.”

“What’d you say?”

“I didn’t. I just smiled and gave her a bar shot.”

Adair laughed. A bar shot at the Mitchell House contained whatever mix of alcohol came to the bartender’s hand from under the bar, without the bartender looking at it. Adair glanced at the bar and found no one attending it.

“Look, I’ll tend bar for a bit and then come back after things die down and help you clean up.”

“You don’t have to work the bar. Go mingle.”

“I don’t really feel like it.”

“Oh Addie.” Julie gave her a one armed hug and said, “Okay. I appreciate the help cleaning up.” She grabbed a bottle of cheap white wine and her camera off the counter and, squaring her shoulders, stepped out into the crowd to take pictures of her husband’s bad behavior. She’d started taking pictures after the first contender to her title. If Greg ever wanted to divorce her, or she him–Gods why doesn’t she divorce him?— she’d have photographic proof. She passed it off as recording the wonderful costumes. And it was true, there were some wonderful costumes and everyone loved having their pictures taken, even those in the loaner costumes. The white wine bottle gave her an excuse to spill some on Sara.

Adair set herself up at the bar, making sure all the required items, like lemon juice and bitters, were at hand. “Who wants Gin bombs?” she asked, not very loudly. The bar instantly had a line.

Several hours later it seemed, she’d collected many keys, handed out many of Mike’s cab company cards, and gone through most of the gin, whiskey, vodka, and tequila at the bar. She glanced at clock on the microwave and it told her she’d spent way too many hours on her feet and her plan of sneaking off to her room to avoid most the party was void, as most of the party now seemed to be over. She pulled a bar stool around, poured herself a fresh ice tea, and sat to watch people leave. She hadn’t seen Julie in a while, but she could hear Greg’s hearty laugh and the splash of someone going into the pool. She hoped they were sober enough not to drown. The scent of cooking bacon wafted in from the patio kitchen.

“Midnight bacon!” Sybella said, as she flounced past in her Queen of Hearts costume into the full kitchen where she helped herself to the serving utensils and a platter. Sybella had been a former contender but somehow had weathered the wrath of Julie to become a frenemy. She was currently shacked up with Mike and running his life. Someone sat next to her at the bar.

“Getcha something?” Adair asked, rising.

“Undetermined,” a somewhat robotic sounding voice said. She looked up and immediately noted a few things: his eyes were crystal blue, he was tall and lanky, he had a nice smile, and if she’d been drinking, which she’d given up a few months ago, she’d totally take him to bed. He was dressed as an alien of some sort. He had on a bodysuit similar to her’s but his was armored, with shiny blue-gray between the plates. He had tubes running up from the chest peace to his throat that looked like they went into the jugular. He had a diamond-shaped piece attached to the center of his forehead. It glowed with a blue-white light that complemented his eyes. His dark skin, where it showed, had a sheen to it.

“You’re costume is amazing. Has Julie taken a picture yet?”

“Negative.”

“Why? You look amazing. Sorry, repeating myself. Are you sure I can’t get you a beer?”

“Beer. Affirmative.”

Adair found a beer in the back of the fridge, out of the last six-pack it seemed. Someone would either have to go get more or, more likely, Greg would break into the special booze and the expensive drinking would commence.

The man took the bottle and a ray of light came out of the diamond on his head and ran over the label. He nodded after a moment and took a sip and then sighed in apparent contentment.

“How did you do that?”

He tilted his head and the beam of light ran over her. She laughed. “Neat trick. I’m Adair, by the way.”

“Designation ZB23.”

“Nice to meet you. I don’t recognize you from the office. Are you a friend of Greg’s or Julie’s?”

He paused and his eyes shifted from side to side for a brief moment. “Negative.”

“Oh really?” Nigel missed another party crasher, ha! “How did you end up here?”

“Explain.”

“At this party?”

“This location has a pool of water sufficient for my needs. Explain party.”

“This is the party for the hip judicial crowd of Vail, Arizona.” She gave him props for staying in character.

“Are you employed by hip judicial crowd of Vail, Arizona?”

“No. I live here. In the pool house. I’m actually an accountant. On sabbatical, extended sabbatical.”

“More information.”

What the hell, he’s a stranger. “I was laid off during the pandemic and haven’t found a job yet. Julie, my friend and owner of this establishment, is also an accountant. We worked at the same company. Her husband, Greg, is the lawyer and source of the hip judicial crowd.”

“Of Vail, Arizona.”

“Yep. Do you want another beer?”

“Negative. Do you have an owner?”

“Owner?”

He blinked a few times and said, “Husband. Do you have a husband owner?”

“Fuck no. I mean, no. Sorry. I had a husband but the bastard dumped me for his 20-year-old research assistant. I lost my house, then I lost my Mom to the pandemic, and then I lost my job and now I live in a make-shift bedroom of my friend’s pool house.”

“Anger.”

“Yeah, I guess I’m still a little angry.”

“More information.”

“Are you sure? I mean, I don’t want to bore you.”

“Affirmative.”

So she told him about how hard it was to get out of bed, to get dressed, to do anything; about lying in bed and being tired all the time but not sleeping; about her growing fascination with the concept of the void.

“Depression,” ZB23 said when she finished.

“Yeah. I guess you’re right.” She sipped her tea and said, “I really should do something about that.”

“Affirmative.”

They sat in comfortable silence for a moment, then Adair smiled at her companion. “Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself, ZB23?”

He didn’t answer immediately, but looked at her without blinking for a long moment.

“Please tell me about ZB23,” she said.

“That is my designation.”

“And what are you?”

“Operant I.S. Zergob.”

She sipped her iced tea and wondered how far this guy would go. “Okay, I’ll play. What is I.S. Zergob?”

“Interstellar Sphere designated Zergob.”

“Who or what is Zergob?” She felt like she was playing one of those computer word-driven choose-your-own-adventure games. At least his wooden answers were delivered with a charming smile and flashing eyes. Occasionally his head beam would run over her face and body.

“Zergob. A historical figure of martial origin.” He paused, ran his beam over her and said, “No input detected.”

“Huh?”

Just then Julie called for her. “Someone’s put a funky glowing globe in the hot tub. It’s heavy. Can you help me get it out?”

“Excuse me ZB23. I will return.” She put her tea behind the counter and went outside to help her friend.

“Who was that cute guy you were talking to?” Julie asked.

“I don’t know his real name. He’s very into play acting though, and his costume has cool features like a light that shines out of his head.”

“Is he a friend of Greg’s?”

“No, actually I think he’s a party crasher.”

“By himself?”

She hadn’t thought of that. She told herself she’d dump her tea when she got back to the bar, just in case. She didn’t want any sort of ruffle incident. She looked around for Greg, whose big ego was backed up by the fact that he was the size of a linebacker. For all that he had his issues, Greg would back her up. He and his toadies were splashing about in the pool. Little miss Sara belly dancer had lost even more clothing and was slapping her toes in the water and throwing come hither looks at him, but he wasn’t paying attention. Kind of pathetic.

“Should I shove Sara in and hold her under?” Adair whispered to her friend.

Julie laughed and said, “Rohit, of all people, said he’d be taking her home soon.”

“Rohit is a wingman.”

“I’ll clip his wings if he doesn’t,” Julie commented and then gestured at the Jacuzzi. A round object that looked like crystal glowed with a blue-white light occupied the center of the pool, taking up most of the space. The color reminded her of ZB23.

“Ideas?” Julie asked. “I’ve already tried to get under it and roll it out, but it is super heavy. I don’t know how they got it in here with no one noticing.” She noticed that Julie looked a little damp.

“Did you ask Greg?”

“He looked and said, in his best lawyerese, ‘Huh.'”

“Helpful. Maybe we should just leave it.”

“Affirmative,” ZB23 said from behind her.

“Oh, hello. Addie tells me you are a party crasher.”

He frowned. “I.S. Zergob is not crashed. It is recharging.”

“You mean this thing in my hot tub is yours? Who the hell invited you and what made you think you could…” Julie paused when his beam shot out at her.

“Come on, ZB23, I think it’s time you broke character…” Adair stopped when she noticed Julie wasn’t moving. “Julie?” She shook her. Julie didn’t move. Adair checked her pulse and it still beat. She turned to the man.

“Did you freeze her?”

“Affirmative.”

“Well unfreeze her. Now.”

“I.S. Zergob is almost recharged.”

“I don’t care. She’s important to me and you froze her.”

He pushed his lips together and then tapped his headpiece. A red beam shot out at Julie, who took a big breath and stepped back, saying “Get the fuck out of my house.”

“Negative. Must recharge first.”

“Honey!” Julie called.

“Hold on, Julie. ZB23, how long until your sphere is charged?”

Sanq brendip.”

“English, please.”

“Five Earth minutes.”

“See, five more minutes and ZB23 and his weirdness will be out of our hair. Right ZB23? You’re leaving once your sphere is charged?”

“Affirmative.”

“It better not be ruining my Jacuzzi. I just got it fixed.”

“Anger,” ZB23 said.

“Yeah, she’s angry.”

“Oh fuck this, I’m done,” Julie said and stormed off to the pool, shouting, “Everyone out. Party’s over. Get the hell out. Now.”

“What the fuck Jules?” Greg asked.

“This is my fucking house, dickhead. My money, my house, my decision. Rohit, get that skank out of here.”

“But…” Greg said.

“You’re lucky I’m not booting you to the curb too. As it is, you can sleep in your fucking man cave. Now get your fucking friends moving.”

“Okay, okay…” Greg got everyone out of the pool and apologized for his wife’s rude behavior.

The sphere flashed a variety of lights and rose into the air, hovering just above the hot tub.

“It is ready,” ZB23 said.

“So, uh, you’re not from around here, are you?” Adair said.

“Affirmative.”

“Is there room in there for two?”

Thoros part 1

Magic can be fickle. On the days that it likes you, you can do almost anything. On the days that it hates you, watch yourself because chances are high you will end up injured or worse. Store magic in an item, such as a gem or a book, and depending on the day, the magic will remain either friendly or unfriendly. Sometimes it comes to you, sometimes it doesn’t. So you have to romance it, make it like you, make it dependable. I had an instructor once who told me, “Love your magic and your magic will love you.” He’d been a follower of Taylor, Goddess of Romance, so everything was explained that way.
Magic is also like fine chocolate. Once you have a taste, it is hard to turn down more. Some prudes call it an addiction, but really, especially in my family, it’s a calling.
Another calling in my family is our tendency to be procurers of rare and wonderful magic items. Oh we can infuse items with our own magic, but we prefer to obtain magic items created by others; the older and more powerful the better. Which brings me to the start of my current situation.
The mark is a large ruby, filled with the power from a temple full of Mayer worshipers. See, magic is not only secular, it is also divine. Some say it is only divine and we beings have sullied it by taking it from the temples to use in daily or mundane affairs. While I agree that magic probably originates as divine, I know that most magic I find (and that’s my job to find magic) is devoid of any particular god’s influence. It’ll work for the faithful or unfaithful, so in that way, its more of a natural neutral element (excepting of course its fickleness).
My fence thinks that going after a Mayer artifact could be dangerous. My cousin Cherish is the best forger I know. She can create authentic-looking documents of any age, including those techno-generated. She’s beautiful, smart, sassy. Her only two blemishes are a weal along her cheek that she received from a magic pen on a day when the magic was not her friend and the fact that she’s my first cousin. In magical families like mine, first cousins are not allowed to breed. Inbred magic is stronger yet stupider magic. The kind of magic that can’t be wooed.
Cherish is also the family fence. She could sell ice charms to the northerners. She has a respectable job in a respectable business that is not a part of our family. In fact, if she sees one of us in public, she doesn’t know us. This isn’t acting; she’s charmed herself to not know us, so that each time we interact, if we interact in a public manner, she has to be introduced. After work hours, in a private setting, the spell she uses for that fades and she works her fingers off to produce provenance for our liberated goods. Then when we sell them to her in the morning at her antiquities shop, she has no idea that the item’s origin is not what its papers say and can claim that in front of a jury.
My other cousin Otto, he’s a second cousin on my mother’s side, he’s gotta touch of that inbred magic (or, as a baby, he was dropped on his head a few times. No one is entirely sure). Otto is like a rock physically and like a puppy otherwise – a big solid puppy. Although he has moments of lesser comprehension, he’s just so cheerful its hard to hold anything against him. He’s a part of the family’s brute force team. Otto, like most of the males in the family, has a crush on Cherish and wants to impress her, so he invited himself to come along to the temple to be a spotter.
What does this have to do with the magic ruby I am chasing? Mayer is the God of Smooth: smooth talkers, smooth surfaces, smooth sailing. A magic item infused with power derived from the god and his worshipers could allow a user to smooth things over with someone or smooth the path to getting into a certain someone’s bedroom, which was what I wanted it for. The big ruby was a tool and I needed it for my real job, which was to liberate a chalice of great power from the Duke of Milagro. Word had come down that his rival, the Duke of Vilanova, would pay extravagantly for the Milagro chalice and a chance to get back at the Duke, who had stolen the love of his life (no one ever asked the Duchess of Milagro what she thought of this).
Another thing about my family, we enjoy wealth. We’re not greedy or anything, but wealth gotten through nefarious means is almost as attractive as magic gotten from through nefarious means, and the combination of both is sweet. The Duke of Vilanova pays really well.
So I needed that ruby so that I could talk my way into the court of the Duke of Milagro and in to a position where I could access the Duke’s bedroom, where it was said he used the chalice as a regular cup, rinsing his mouth out with it in the bathroom and such. The chalice was rumored to provide eternal youth to those who drank from it. The Dukes Milagro and Vilanova had grown up together and as young men had vied for the hand of the same woman. This was 30 years ago. The Duke of Vilanova, of course, married someone else, produced an heir, and time moved on for him. The Duke of Milagro, and presumably his wife, remained twenty-years old. Otto has already established himself in the Duke of Milagro’s guard. I just need to get the ruby, be introduced to the court with my papers that Cherish was working on, and the job will practically do itself.

Changes and nonsense

I am disappointed with WordPress (which I may have mentioned before). It no longer allows free accounts to install widgets or tools, such as a tool to make a backup of the site. So this site is not backed up. I have exported it, but that’s not the same. I don’t know how much as WordPress paid site is and I don’t really care. I have other websites that I pay for. So – I’ll be moving this website to one of them. I’m not sure if I’m going to purchase a PongoWu domain or if it’ll just fall under one of my existing domains. I’ll let you know when this site (pongowu.wordpress.com) moves to its new home.

I thought of some rhyming nonsense.
Noel the gnoll lives in Knoll, which is a small village at the noll of the river.

book rant

So I just read The House That Walked Between Worlds. I liked it. And kudos to the author for getting it and its too sequels published. However, it was a marketing trick and that irritates me.

The story goes from the beginning to somewhere around the first turning point/doorway of no return/or whatever you want to call it. And then it ends, on a meh cliffhanger. So if you want to find out, you have to buy book two and book three. I totally get why someone would do that. It generates three times as much sales as a single complete book would do. But holy bells, people, not fair. No warning was given to the purchaser that this story is not complete. And if all the books parts were complete, why not put out a complete book and charge a little more?

The Box of Frogs series does the same thing. I read the first story of that group and got to the end and thought – WTF? Where’s the rest of the story. I purchased the other two, but have not gotten back to read them. I’m not purchasing the other two House stories because, damn it, no warning given to the consumer.

I mean blogs – totally okay with serial stories on a blog. Kinda fun actually. But purchasing a story from Amazon? Yes, they’re not expensive and its Kindle and all that… I find it annoying. I wonder if the authors think, “Hey, not only have I got one story published, I have three. I have a series published!” And maybe they use that to try to get more books published?

When I publish something on Amazon, it will be complete.

Rant complete.

The house that is hidden or moves through dimensions made me think of the TARDIS. I totally want a TARDIS, or even a house with legs that moves around, but mostly a house that has as much room as I could possibly need. Not that I am unhappy with my current home, but just think – a room for everything. Even when I was a tween and hung out with my friends, we had images of the “perfect house,” which of course had a huge library and a swimming pool (or three) that had passages you could swim through to get to other swimming pools (with pockets for air in between) and secret passages. I’ve always wanted a pool with a waterfall and grotto. Or maybe I just wanted the Playboy Mansion.

So, I’m trying to work a magic house into a story. I have a story started with that in mind and the story is veering away from the house bit. So we’ll see how that shakes out.

Woofle

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She received the gift of a puppy. She hadn’t wanted a puppy, but when Lord MacGowan presented her with the little ball of fur, who sat on her feet and looked up at her out of its golden eyes and wagged its fuzzy little tail, she might have fallen a little in love. He’d presented it to her in front of their peers at the Hibernian Society, which gave added pressure to her acceptance of the gift. She objected none the less.

“I don’t have room for a dog,” she protested. She lived in a thin, two-story townhouse with no yard at all.
“You’ll just have to walk him,” he said.
“You just want me to get out more.” She knew she’d been reclusive lately, only going out to the market and rarely to the their social club.
“That’s an added bonus.” His smile, when it showed, added a certain attractiveness to his face. “We just can’t send this cute fellow to the pound, Lady J.”
“Why don’t you keep him?”
“It’s hard to add to the pack. Besides, my staff would skin me alive if I came home with another pet.”
She couldn’t help herself, she had to feel that soft fur. “He looks like a wolf. Where did you find him?”
“Down by the Liffey. He was all wet and miserable. I think someone dumped him there.”
She knew that people sometimes drowned kittens in the river, but a puppy? “People are deplorable.”
“That they are. So you’ll take him then.”
God help her, she would.

As the new owner of a 20 pound puppy, and having never owned a puppy before, she set forth to be a conscientious new owner. Based on advice from a neighbor who had many children, who told her that having a puppy was very much like having a child, which she also had never had, she decided to take the puppy to a veterinarian to determine the condition of its health. Finding a veterinarian turned out to be a slight challenge. No one she knew in Dublinia seemed to know of one. She resorted to hiring one of those self-driving carriages and traveling about to the various stables, figuring that person familiar with horses may be familiar with dogs (they were linked in her mind from the enthusiasm her recently deceased husband had shown for hunting foxes).

She chanced upon a stable at last that had a veterinarian in residence. The puppy, who had found all the running about to be exciting at first but now seemed too tired to care, did not like the veterinarian particularly and whined when poked and prodded. The veterinarian proclaimed it to be healthy. When asked as to what type of canine she had acquired, he said, “A strange one. Did you notice he has five toes on each paw? Dogs usually have two dewclaws and four toes on the front paws. This one has five toes and no dewclaws.” She peered at the puppy’s paws and nodded. The veterinarian continued, “He looks like a wolf, but I’ll note it down for the magistrate as a mix-breed seeing as there are no wolves in Eyre.”
She hadn’t known the magistrate had an interest in dogs. He explained the city ordinance, adding, “It’s due to all those social club types who have lap dogs. Why would you go drink in a private club when you can drink in a pub? Anyone’s allowed in a pub. Social club’s a Englo thing. Next thing you know, we’ll be having those secret societies like they’ve got in Londinium.”
She listened to his rant and put it down to an issue of social standing, but this new topic interested her. “Secret societies?”
“Oh yeah, haven’t you heard? Londinium’s got so many secret societies getting up to unholy rituals, such as animal killings, sex parties, what have you, the city magistrate had to ban them. Now those poor nobles gotta drink in the pubs with the rest of us.” He let out a bark of a laugh.
“How outlandish,” she commented. He didn’t catch her sarcastic tone. She changed the subject back to her new charge.
When asked as to the age of the animal, the veterinarian gave her one of those looks that implied she was daft. “It’s a puppy. Probably less than a year old. Buy it something to chew on if you value your furniture.” She paid him and he said, “Bring him back in a few months and I’ll neuter him.”

She called him Wooflepup, because when he napped, he blew air out of his cheeks, making kind of a whooshing sound. He had sharp puppy teeth and long claws that clicked on the tile of the kitchen. He smelled of that wonderful strange scent that all babies, canine, feline, or human, seemed to have. The coloring on his face made him look as if he wore a mask, with black fur around his eyes and on his nose. His fur had two layers; the top one consisting of long hairs with black bases and brown or gray tips and the lower layer all gray short hair. He’d be hot in the summer and she’d have to sweep a lot more, but she didn’t mind, smart boy that he was. He never intentionally messed in the house, he didn’t chew her shoes or furniture, and he listened when she talked to him, which she found herself doing more and more.

Wooflepup grew quickly and after almost a year, appeared to be full grown – over 100 pounds, three-feet tall at the shoulder, gorgeous. People on the street took him to be a real wolf, and stepped widely around them, which was fine by her. She’d started to socialize a little more, including meeting people with other dogs for long walks in the woods outside of town. She often took Woofle, no longer pup, to her club. The club accepted this with good humor and even brought him leftover soup bones to chew on. He’d lie under a table, chewing his bone, watching her while she danced.

One night, after a fancy dress ball, she and Woofle returned home. She had had a wonderful time at the party, had gotten a little too drunk, and just couldn’t get out of the dress she had on. She considered just sleeping in her clothes, but her corset had been digging into her side for the past hour. The dress she wore had cute little pearl buttons down the spine and a puffy bustle. She’d had a girlfriend help her dress, but that friend had gone home with someone else. She had a moment of self-pity, thinking of Abigail, her maid, who had helped her dress, cleaned for her, done the shopping and basically pampered her. “Well, Lady J had been lazy,” she said to Woofle, who thumped his tail in response. She supposed she could use brute force on the buttons, but didn’t want to ruin the dress. After reaching as many buttons behind her back as she could, half joking she asked Woofle to get the rest.
“I’m bushed,” she said, “I just might pass out here on the couch.” When unseen hands undid the buttons that she couldn’t reach, she didn’t take much notice of them.
“Thank you, darling.” She undid her corset and collapsed face-down on the couch. She felt Woofle’s warm body curl up behind her legs and she fell asleep.

Time passed with more parties, more outings. Her heartbreak scabbed over so that it hardly mattered that she walked along the edge of her previous life. She noted the staff had let the vines grow along the iron fencing. She found a hole in the fence and told Woofle to go do his business on the lawn. It wasn’t as if the staff would notice it, so unattended its appearance. Woofle woofed and raced about for a bit, did his business, and returned to her to be sedately clipped to his leash again. A polite clearing of a throat alerted her that she hadn’t been as circumspect as she may have wanted. She looked up to see Mr. Hollingsworth, the manor’s driver, standing a few feet away smoking and reading a broadsheet.

He tipped his cap to her, “Ma’am. Lovely day for a walk, eh?”
“Oh, Mr. Hollingsworth, such a pleasure to see you.” They chatted for a while and watched a self-driving carriage with a matched set of pearl-colored robotic horses roll past.
“Can you believe that?” Mr. Hollingsworth asked.
“The carriage? They are quite useful but the mechanical horses are slightly disturbing. Too lifelike if you ask me.”
“Oh aye. But I meant the bodies.”
“What bodies?”
“Found in the woods just down there. Wolves, they’re saying. No wolves in Dublinia as far as I know.”
“Quite. How awful. We go walking there on occasion.”
“Best be careful, ma’am. But you’ve a fine man with you, I see,” Mr. Hollingsworth said.
“Oh, you mean Woofle. Yes, he is very fine.” Woofle, not paying attention before then, gave Mr. Hollingsworth a toothy smile.
“Ah yes, well. The master will be heading off to the greens soon. Good to see you, ma’am.” He turned to the dog and said, “And you take care of her, see. She’s mighty precious to the lot of us.”
Woofle huffed at him. She thought it slightly odd that the driver would speak so to her pet, but she also found it charming. They continued their walk.

Woofle turned aggressive over time. He didn’t seem to mind females, but males bothered him for some reason. The season had started and she noticed the difference after she’d started having more girlfriends over to help her dress. She took Woofle to the parties. He wouldn’t watch her if she danced with women but if a man asked her to dance, he sat up and watched closely. When she brought a girlfriend or girlfriends home to continue the party in a more intimate setting, he always thumped his tale and smiled a toothy smile. Her girlfriends loved him, giving him treats stolen from the table, throwing a toy for him to chase or chew on, and giving him lots of belly rubs. When the difficult dresses and corsets came off, Woofle liked to stick his nose where it wasn’t necessary wanted. He’d howl when put into the other room.

When Lord MacGowan asked her for tea at the club, she’d thought nothing of it. She brought Woofle along and he settled as normal under the table.
“It’s been a year, dear lady. Surely you can set your widow’s weeds aside?” Lord MacGowan gestured toward her black dress. She hadn’t even thought about it. All of her clothing seemed to be black. “Did the police ever come to a conclusion about the death of your husband, God rest his soul?”
She looked out the window at the club’s green lawn and watched a gardener trim a bush with a mechanical contraption. Everything had to be mechanical it seemed. The whole world was taken with it. She brought her attention back to her companion. “Conclusion? Why would they?”
“Well surely they investigated his death. It was so unexpected, so unusual.” He looked down his nose through his wire-rimmed spectacles at her.
“I have no idea,” she said, slipping her shoe off and rubbing her bare foot over Woofle’s back.
“Well surely Baron Ardee kept you informed?”
“Baron Ardee and I do not speak.”
He did not appear to take the hint from her frosty reply. “Really? Do tell.”
“This is not gossip, my lord.”
“Of course not,” he said, fanning the thought away with his long fingers. “I merely wish to know what has been happening in your life. You’ve been so distant, dear Baroness.”
“Don’t call me that. The Baroness is Ardee’s wife.” Woofle raised his head under the table, knocking her knee. She rubbed his ears.
Lord MacGowan waited for her to speak. After a long sip of tea, she said softly, “I just do not wish to relive the embarrassment. When my husband died so unexpectedly, his brother moved in almost immediately. He declared that no Keltoi would live at Raglan Road. He set me on the curb and that was the end of it.”
“Baron Ardee gave you the boot? How preposterous.” He lowered his voice, “Damn Englos. I wish they’d never come here to our island.”
She nodded and changed the subject.

When Lord MacGowan asked her to dinner, she agreed and remembered to wear something other than black. She chose dark blue. Woofle, not invited, did his best to leave large amounts of hair on her skirt. The next date, for Lord MacGowan appeared to be courting her, Woofle stood at the door, all 120 pounds of him, and refused to let her out of the house. She had to bribe him away with a treat. The day Lord MacGowan came into the house for a tea, Woofle greeted him with a growl.
“Now Woofle, you know Lord MacGowan. He’s the reason you’re here after all.”
Woofle didn’t care. Lord MacGowan cut the visit short and the next afternoon, when she let Woofle run off-leash in the woods, he refused to come when she called. In fact, she lost sight of him all together. She had an appointment with a lawyer Lord MacGowan had insisted she get in order to pursue the topic of her lost money and status at the death of her husband. Tempted as she was to not show up at that appointment, she had promised his lordship she’d go, and so she left Woofle running alone in the woods. He’ll return to me, she thought. He’s just hunting.
But Woofle did not return.

A week or more later, after posting notices around town and looking all over, with the assistance of Lord MacGowan and her girlfriends, she found his collar hanging from the iron fence of her old house on Raglan Road. She worried that something terrible had happened to her Woofle.

Another week passed and she realized how terribly lonely her little house had become with out her pet. She walked every day in the woods and when the nights were too lonely, she’d spend them in the club. Her girlfriends were all sympathetic; however, Lord MacGowan seemed less so. One evening after briefly describing her day, he puffed up. “Don’t go walking in those woods alone. Those woods are dangerous. Don’t you read the broadsheets? And besides, it’s just a dog. I’ll run down the pound and get you a new one tomorrow.”
“I don’t want a new dog. I want my dog.”
He fiddled with his ascot for a moment and cleaned his glasses in annoyed silence.
“I forbid you to go to the woods,” he announced.
“You’re not my husband,” she said with a hiss. “You will never be my husband.” She felt lighter after saying it. She gathered her things and gave him a prim “Good night,” and left him there, mouth agape like a grotesque.

She fumed all the way back to her modest townhouse. “Didn’t want that puppy. Didn’t want to be courted by you. Well, by Jove, I will not be treated like a child.” Her muttered rant stopped briefly when she heard a step behind her. She looked back, only to see a man dodge into the alley.
“Have me followed will you?” She sped her step and found herself at her house. She looked around before going up, but no sign of the man appeared. She made sure that all of her locks were locked before going to bed, where she lay awake missing her dog and dreading the repercussions of her temper.

The next day when she went to the market, she saw the same man. Moderate height, dark hair that showed a reddish highlight in the light, odd golden eyes. He didn’t approach her, just watched. She took a self-driving carriage home, only to find him across the street. Watching. She hurried inside. When she went to the club that night, she found Lord MacGowan sitting with some of her girlfriends.
“Are you having me followed?” She asked without preamble.
“Why would I?” He answered.
Why indeed. She nodded coolly to him, shot her girlfriends a glare, and went to the bar to have a sherry. One of the women who had been sitting with the insufferable Lord MacGowan sat next to her.
“He’s a real catch, you know. A proper Keltoi lord.”
“I don’t care what his nationality is. He is inconsiderate.”
The girlfriend shrugged. “You should be more careful with your discards.”
“He wasn’t mine to discard.”
“If it’s like that…”
“It is.”
“Then you won’t mind if I go with him to the theater.”
“Please feel free. I hope you enjoy it.”
The girlfriend, who seemed to have been trying to get a more animated reaction, huffed and went off.
She finished her sherry and went home, noting that her stalker was there, waiting to follow. She ignored him.

A week later, at the club, gossip abounded about the missing woman who had been her girlfriend until Lord MacGowan had come along. Some indicated she had run off with a lover, abandoning her husband (whom she considered useless) and others indicated she had become a victim of what the broadsheets were now calling The Phoenix Park Monster. She suspected the truth lay somewhere in between, yet she added worry about her friend to her bed of worries, which included the incessant stalking by the dark haired young man. The man never did speak to her or offer her overt harm, but he followed her about every night or stood under the teslalight across the street watching her house if she didn’t go out. Didn’t he have something better to be doing with his evenings? She’d even gone so far as to turn and run toward him the other night, hoping to catch him. He’d stepped into the shadows and slipped away. She determined that they would have a lively conversation if she ever got close enough to have a conversation.

When Lord MacGowan approached her after an official inquiry into her missing friend had been announced, she expected him to somehow manipulate her worry for her lost friend in some manner. He did not. Instead, he stood at a proper distance from where she stood at the bar and gave her a little bow.
“Let us have peace between us. I apologize for treating you like a child.”
She considered his offered hand and recalled that he had brought Woofle to her. She also considered her somewhat flat bank account.
“I accept your apology and will have peace between us. I apologize for acting like a child.”
They shook hands.
“To make it up to you, I’d like to invite you to attend a lecture. Doctor Edward Van Sloan, a prominent authority on astronomy, will be talking about the moon two nights hence. He promised to show us the moon in all her glory through his telescope.”
Her late husband had actually funded some of Doctor Van Sloan’s research, but she didn’t mention that to Lord MacGowan. She checked the empty social calendar in her head. “Yes, thank you. I would enjoy that.”
“Then I shall pick you at your home two nights hence, at 9 p.m.” He bowed and retreated.

Later that night the man who had been following her waited at her gate.
“Do not trust MacGowan,” he said in a gruff voice as soon as she got out of her carriage.
“Who are you?” She asked his retreating back. She soon lost sight of him in the dark.

At the appointed time, Lord MacGowan promptly arrived in a self-driving carriage, complete with a matched set of glossy mechanical black horses. The teslalights had just come on, so she noted how he was dressed. Lord MacGowan wore a long black cloak over something robe like, which seemed unusual for him as she’d only seen him in dark suits and ascots. She had spent some time on her choice of clothing and wore a maroon double-breasted velvet coat with a sable collar and a matching velvet hat, so his choice of cloak and robe were disconcerting. She’s sold most of her jewelry to finance her style of living, and only wore one small cameo, a face in crescent moon, which she thought would go with the night’s events. Lord MacGowan had on a ring that looked like a wolf’s head. Other than greeting her and helping her into the carriage, he didn’t speak. She looked out the window as they drove, noticing that the night had turned partly cloudy. When they turned on the road to the club, she asked, “Where will this lecture and viewing take place?”
“You’ll see.”

They arrived at the club, but pulled around to the side, where attendants met them and took the carriage away.
“But we’re at the club…” she started to say, but Lord MacGowan waved a hand for her silence. He took her to a part of the building she hadn’t been before and up a fancy lift decorated with brass swirls to one of the upper floors. The lift emptied out into the small entryway of a tower room. The room had a dome made of metal that looked as if it might open, which she supposed would be good for viewing the moon. Most of the walls were windowed doors that looked out on the darkness of the lawn and the lights of Dublinia. A round table, decked out with a red velvet table cloth, sat in the center of the room, directly under the dome. On it sat a strange contraption of mirrors and magnifying glasses, which did not look like any telescope she’d ever seen. There were no chairs in the room, which she thought odd for a lecture. To the left, near the lift, she saw a partially covered animal cage.

She turned to Lord MacGowan and found that he had removed his cloak, displaying the fancy crimson and gold robe underneath. He took her coat and asked her to stand next to the table. He then rang a bell and all of the doors opened. In came eleven more people in similar fancy robes with wolf-face masks on. One gave her a little wave that seemed familiar. Another man arrived on the lift. She recognized him as Doctor Van Sloan, a small, hunched over man with wild slate gray hair and scraggly goatee. He smiled, showing horrible teeth, when he joined her at the table.

“Vell, now, shall ve get started?” Doctor Van Sloan said in an odd accent. He took the bell from Lord MacGowan and rang it again. At this, someone turned out the lights, leaving only a faint glow from the candles scattered about the perimeter of the room. the robed group formed a circle about the table and started chanting in Latin. Some, she realized, spinning around to look at them, were women, including, she was certain from the mole just to the right of her chin, her missing girlfriend.
The chanting finished and the doctor rang the bell again. A group of men, who had come up the lift she presumed, brought in Baron Ardee, dressed in a nightshirt, and her dog. Baron Ardee had been gagged and her dog muzzled.
“Woofle!” She ran to him and he whined at her.
“Why is he muzzled? Where’d you find him?” she asked the men. The man on the right was Mr. Hollingsworth, she realized. He winked. Baron Ardee glared at her and his gag muted the horrible words he spewed.
“What’s going on?” She asked, turning to Lord MacGowan.
He smirked.
The doctor did something on the table that made the dome above open up like a fan collapsing. Just then the moon peaked out of the clouds, the group turned to look up at it. The doctor directed the men holding her dog to stand in a specific spot. He fiddled with the mirrors and caught a beam of moonlight, which he directed at Woofle. Woofle yelped and then suddenly turned into her mysterious stalker, only naked.
“Woofle?”
The man nodded and then shook the muzzle off of his face. Lord MacGowan covered the man’s hairy body with his cloak.
Other yelps and cries went up as the doctor turned the moon’s beam upon the group of followers. Wolf-faced masks were replaced with actual wolf faces on human bodies. Even her girlfriend morphed from human to human-wolf. The woman next to her, Abigail, turned into a full wolf. Lord MacGowan and the doctor remained human. Everyone else, save Baron Ardee and the human-looking Woofle, had turned into creatures.
Lord MacGowan directed the men to bring the struggling Baron to the table.

“Welcome to The Morrigan Society. I know you have questions, my dear,” he said to her, “but I think a demonstration would be more instructive.”
She gathered her scattered wits and said, “Surely a brief introduction could aid in my instruction. You did offer me a lecture, after all.”
Lord MacGowan let out a bark of laughter and gestured to the doctor. “Doctor Van Sloan, if you please.”
“Of courz, of courz,” the doctor said. “You see, Baronness. May I call you Baroness?”
“Please don’t.”
“As you vish–“
“A brief summary, doctor, if you please,” Lord MacGowan added.
The doctor thought for a moment, rubbing his goatee with his hand. “Ah, Dee Morrigan Society is made up of like-minded individuals of Keltoi heritage who have discovered dee power of dee moon. Deir goal is to influence politics and society by introducing an agonist into prominent leaders that either influences the nobility to deir cause or, well, destroys dem. I can go into dee scientific details if you vish, Lady.”
After a moment of absorbing this information, she looked at Lord MacGowan and said, “You’re a revolutionary.”
“Yes.”
She turned to the doctor, “Yes, please, doctor, if you could please explain how this metamorphosis occurs and what it has to do with my pet?”
The doctor gestured, metaphorically passing the ball to Lord MacGowan.
“Ah, the demonstration.” He gestured for the wolfmen to hold Baron Ardee tightly. He rolled the Baron’s sleeve up. He retrieved a box from the table and took a syringe from it.
“This is the agonist that the good doctor mentioned. As you know, I have a great interest in chemistry and we developed it together. One dose small dose causes slight hallucinations and changes to personality. A larger dose causes actual physical changes.”
“With dee addition of moonlight,” The doctor added.
“Yes, yes. The light of a full moon is essential for the change to occur.”
He turned to the Baron and said, “You threw this lovely lady to the wolves and now the wolves are getting even.” Lord MacGowan’s smile looked feral. The Baron objected loudly through his gag.
Lord MacGowan injected Baron Ardee with the concoction and the doctor focused the beam of moonlight on his face. The Baron went from struggling to frozen, his face shocked.
“It takes a few minutes,” Lord MacGowan said softly.
“What’s supposed to happen?” she asked after a moment. Baron Ardee was not her best friend by any means, but she didn’t want him to suffer, too much.
“His body will either accept the agonist and change into one of these lovely creatures you see about you, or he will go briefly insane and die.”
The Baron started to twitch and shake uncontrollably. A bit of foam escaped from his clinched mouth. He started to shrink inward. Hair sprouted from his face and his nose elongated. One could hear the popping of bones.
“Oh dear. Well, lads, put him into the cage.”
The foaming Baron was shoved into a cage.
“Some times, Lady J, the mix is not quite right and we get a rabid wolf-hybrid. Luckily, it only lasts until the moon sets and then the subject moves on to meet the Goddess.”
“All praise The Morrigan,” the group of wolfpeople said, along with the doctor and Lord MacGowan. The wolfpeople’s voices were like howls.
“Those bodies reported in the woods, they were your failed experiments.”
“Yes.”
“And Woofle?”

“Woofle was an early experiment. You see, we had to do some reverse engineering. Woofle is a wolf who turns into a human for short periods of time.”
Woofle growled, a deep and very menacing growl.
“Hush you,” Lord MacGowan said, “If you’d just done your job, we wouldn’t be in this predicament.”
“His job?”
“He was supposed to bite you and transfer the agonist in a natural manner. Ideally you would have turned into a wolflady and I would be there to sort things out for you. But the cur did not bite you.” He directed the last sentence at Woofle, who snarled, while he pulled out another syringe.
“Oh but he did bite me. Several times in fact.”
“Oh?”
“You gave me a puppy. Puppies bite; it’s part of their nature.”
“Did he draw blood?” The doctor asked.
“Yes.”
“But you haven’t turned into a wolflady.”
She smiled.
“Have you turned into a wolflady?”
The doctor changed the mirrors and a beam of light struck her face.

Woofle broke free of his captors at that moment and leapt at Lord MacGowan. Mr. Hollingsworth, although a wolfman himself, attacked the contraption. Her maid Abigail attacked her former girlfriend. The rest of the wolfpeople watched with interest. She watched for a while as well and then called a halt to the ruckus.
“Ho there. There now. Good boy, Woofle. Thank you Mr. Hollingsworth. Could please close the roof.”
Mr. Hollingworth nodded the moonlight disappeared from the room. Someone turned on the teslalights and the room brightened.
She looked down at Lord MacGowan, noting the blood dripping from multiple parts of his body. He looked at her with wide eyes. Doctor Van Sloan crawled out from under the table.
“How did you not turn into a volf?” He asked. Woofle gave the doctor a warning growl when he made a move toward her.
“I am a good dog owner. I made sure he had his inoculations the first day I had him.”
Lord MacGowan howled, whether in frustration or pain she couldn’t tell. She guessed that the bites and scratches from Woofle had added more agonist into the man’s system. He didn’t need the moonlight to turn into a pile of furry goo.

“Doctor, is there an antidote?”
“Well, ve were vorking on…”
“Is there an antidote? The Baron Ardee is in need of it.”
“Of courz, Lady.”

So she saved her nemesis and regained her pet that night. Lord MacGowan had disappeared, according to the broadsheets. Baron Ardee, in a rare gesture of generosity, gave her back her title and money. Shortly there after, he moved to Londinium, vowing never to set foot in Eyre again. Doctor Van Sloan, at her insistence, scurried off to Europa. The others took the antidote and kept their mouths shut. Only Woofle refused the dose. They moved from her townhouse to back into the manor on Raglan Road, where Mr. Hollingsworth and Abigail resumed their roles. They had lovely parties and were very social, still attending the club. However, when the moon shown full, they stayed locked in the house and played like the two love puppies they were.

Just passing time

MS 365 or the Azure service or whatever is currently malfunctioning and my work is reliant on at software. What’s a writer to do?
Write on the blog and hang until the workday completes.
Random Generation time! There seem to be a lot of nice random generators coming out of the UK (or at least with .uk URLs). Here’s RanGen for a random plot device generator with Fantasy and random sub-genre.

Sub-Genre: Dark

Person: A person of noble birth
Threat: An abomination
Item: A corpse
Location: A dodgy tavern
Event: Demonic possession
Feeling: Faith

It also has a fun Awkward Moments Generator:
The character accidentally spills food on someone else’s clothes.

And here’s the full plot generator:

Just when everything was going great, the main character’s loyalty is tested when they learn of the dark lord that steadily grows in power; it results in the queen being murdered, and an unpopular replacement being put on the throne.

Brave enough to go forward, the main character, with the help of their mentor struggles to find anyone they can trust.

In the end, after managing to steal a crucial piece of information, the main character now has the strength to deal with other problems in their life.

Under the Motive generator:
5 – An uncontrollable urge to kill. Their goal is to be popular.

So we have a guy who wants to be popular but has an uncontrollable urge to kill (things? people? inanimate objects? plants? endless possibilities). He looks like:
Standing 6′ 0″ tall, this aquamarine skinned man has an unforgettable feel about him. A particularly notable feature is his sense of style.
He has a narrow face with a pointed chin, a small nose, thin lips, and his bright pink eyes are hooded.
He has hip length, wavy, dark blue hair that is thinning.
He has narrow shoulders, short arms, a lean torso, and long legs.

Or he might look like:
Standing 5′ 10″ tall, this caramel skinned man has a dominant feel about him. A particularly notable feature is his large amount of body hair.
He has a round face, a small nose, full lips, and his brown eyes are narrow.
He is bald (clean-shaven, but can grow hair which is normally grey and thick).
He wears pale blush, light eyeshadow and an unnatural-looking foundation.
He has slanted shoulders, strong arms, a powerful torso with chiseled abs, a straight waist, and toned legs.

Hairy yet bald.

—-

That was yesterday. Today things are back to normal. Tomorrow I think I should write about the character with the goal to be popular who has an uncontrollable urge to kill, because that character is interesting. But, it’s St. Patrick’s Day and every year when this day rolls around, I think, I should finish that Kiss Me I’m Irish story (some of which may be found in the archives of this website). I really should. I mean, I’ve gotten 20k words into it (or something like that). I have a plot outline-ish (or at least know where I was going). Maybe it’ll happen this year. Or maybe you’ll find nothing on this blog tomorrow.

Regardless, have a lovely and safe St. Patrick’s Day.

Lucky Charm

In which a nuclear scientist, fed up with government bureaucracy, blows off steam in the wilds of Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1953.

By every aspect considered, it had been a bad day. Looking back, it’d actually been bad for a while, but today the badness had reached its apex. Someone, his Oma probably, had told him that bad days were just a step away from being a lucky day, all he had to do was preserver. With that in mind, after the intolerable workday finished, he packed an overnight bag, signed himself out on 24-hour leave, and sped off down Highway 91 south in his new Mercury Monterey convertible with the top down although it was mid-March and the evening cool.

When the cop pulled him over for speeding just before entering Las Vegas, he smothered his panic and smiled at the non-military officer. He reminded himself that it wasn’t bad luck, it was bad luck getting out of the way for good luck. Despite his attempts to be sociable with the police officer, he got a ticket.

He pulled into the “exotic” Hotel Sahara right at about 9 p.m. The Friday night crowd had not fully descended, but it was busy enough that he eschewed the line for the valet and parked himself out in the far reaches of the parking lot. Inside the casino, amid the African-themed d├ęcor, he found the rows of slot machines dinging away and the first few tables filled. He found a craps table and joined in.

His first roll gave him a six and a three. The lady next to him, wearing a blue dress that emphasized her ample bosom, cheered. She leaned on him, wobbling a little, and said, “Do that again, sugar. You can be my lucky charm.” He hid a cringe from her alcohol-tinged breath and flashed an indulgent smile at her. He rolled a seven. She pouted and turned her back on him. He repeated that poor performance at a different table and with a different lady, as well. Ten bucks down, he thought maybe he’d take his bad-day-soon-to-be-a-lucky-night to a different casino.

By this time, the strip was antsville. The neon and flashing lights lured the curious, social, and seedy in to the casinos, which bedazzled and befuddled the unwary and took their money. He found himself comparing the flashing lights to the after image of the explosion in which he’d recently participated. Work, he reminded himself, does not belong here among the fancy people in their fancy clothes trying to claim winnings to fund more fancy clothes. He pulled into the Fabulous Flamingo hotel and waited in the line of other dupes to hand over their cars to the valets and their wallets to the tables.

Inside, the air conditioning relieved some of the stress caused by the color of the interior. There seemed to be an unusual amount of people in robes wandering about. A sign in the lobby read “Welcome Cardinal McIntyre,” which was just what he didn’t need. Not that he was against religion in theory, but he was a scientist. Science and the atom and primal power held much more interest for him than the followers of a Jew who’d been dead for almost two thousand years. He turned on his heal and went back outside to have the valet retrieve his car before one of the followers could talk to him.

He’d try the Sands Hotel, which he’d passed by to get to the not-so-fabulous Flamingo. He’d hadn’t been there before. He’d heard that the Copa Room brought the best entertainers. At this point, he needed some entertainment.

The Sands, he decided when he stepped into the lobby, would be his final destination for the night and a good place to plan his next steps, so he got a room. He dropped his overnight bag off in the room, appreciating the modern look and space, which was bigger than his bunk at the proving ground and gloriously private. He considered discarding his tie, but straightened it instead. He did take his military ID out of his wallet – no one in the casino would ask for it. No one, in fact, would even look at him twice. He gave himself a glance in the mirror, approved of the professional yet cool look, and took himself to the bar.

The Silver Queen Bar and Lounge, having been open for four months or so, still had a fresh smell to it. A cigarette girl, with copper hair and curves like a Formula-1 racetrack, smiled at him and offered him a pack of cigarettes, saying “You can’t go wrong with Luckies.” He declined and found a seat at the bar next to a pair of women, both blonde, both dressed in satin and furs. The bartender offered him an Atomic Cocktail. He ordered a scotch instead and sipped it slowly, savoring the smoky burn. He couldn’t help but listen in on the gossip happening next to him.

“You’d think,” the one closest to him said, “that Meyer would just have him perform for free.”
The lady to her left nearly choked on her drink, “For free? How would Meyer get his money back if he didn’t charge for the show?”
“No. I mean, charge for the show, but don’t pay ol’ Blue Eyes.”
“I’m not sure Frankie C would go for that. You gotta run these things through the books ya know.”
They both drank to that, then the one on the right said, “Did Frankie C tell you about his latest ‘atomic’ plan?”
The one of the left groaned. “Tell me it’s not another all-night bash.”

No more atomic plans, he thought, finishing his drink. He headed out to face the tables again. The cigarette girl said to him as he went by, “Maybe you’ll get lucky this time, Cookie. Bet on red for me.” He nodded, not really paying attention, and landed at the nearest craps table. While he was waiting to place a bet, he glanced up and saw the cigarette girl watching him in a way that made his face feel hot. He looked down at the dice rolling and hitting the wall and the whip pulling them back only to have them spin down the row again. It reminded him of the way the ground bucked when the shock wave passed over.

He moved away to a roulette table. When asked to place his bet, he almost put it on his favorite black 13, but he changed his mind and went for an outside bet of red, 3, and 21. He won. And then he won again. And then a third time. Another thing his Oma used to tell him popped into his mind. “Don’t you be greedy you little der bengel.” Of course she was speaking of his stealing cookies, but it stuck in his head. He took his chit to the teller and gathered his winnings. He found the cigarette girl.

“Thanks for the tip,” he said, offering her a dollar. She looked scared for a moment and hissed, “Are you psycho? Don’t say that.”
“No, I mean. I just won some money betting on red. I wanted to thank you for wishing me luck.”
She took his money after watching him for a moment.
“So what’s your name?” he asked while almost simultaneously wondering why he asked. He didn’t want to get involved with the locals, did he?
“They call me Las Vegas Red.” She pointed to her hair and shrugged. “What’s your name, Cookie?”
“Rudolph. It’s nice to make your acquaintance.” He shook her hand, noting that her hands felt like the leather in his new car.
“Where you from Rudy? Do you mind if I call you Rudy?” No one had ever called him that before and he thought he kind of liked it. Rudy, who won money at the roulette table after talking with Las Vegas Red.
“Rochester by way of Berlin.”
“You’re German? That’s fab. I’m from New Jersey originally, but now I’m a westerner.” She made her fingers into guns and made funny shooting sounds. He laughed and then he laughed at himself laughing.
She laughed with him for a while and then said, “Rudy, what’s so funny?”
He just smiled. “When you get off work, Miss Red?”
“Miss Red, ha, misread. I’m off in twenty minutes, why?”
“I want to see a show.”
“So go see a show. The Copa’s got something going on almost all night.”
“No, no, I mean I want to see a show with you.”
“I don’t know, Rudy. We just met, see, and I’m not supposed to socialize with customers, you know, outside of selling them cigarettes. You sure you don’t want a cigarette?”
“No thank you. I don’t smoke. Is that strange?”
“A little, but then again, you’re a little strange man. Cute, but a little strange. Must be the foreign influence.”
“If you say so.”
Miss Red turned away and offered a passing couple some cigarettes. Two of the casino hefty security guards approached them.
“How you doing there, little red riding hood?” one asked. The other stood at parade rest and looked around.
“Good Bernie. How you doing tonight?”
“This bad news bothering you, Red?”
“Bad news? This guy? Don’t flip your wig; he’s just asking directions. He’s German.”
Rudolph took that to be his cue to act like a tourist.
“You direct me to Copa, yes?” He said in his heaviest accent.
“Yeah. Just down that hallway,” Bernie said, pointing away.
Vielen dank,” he said and turned to Miss Red, “Danke, danke.” He hurried off in the direction the guard had pointed and turned after a moment. The security goons hung around Miss Red for a moment and then moved away. She looked to where he was waiting and gave a little wave. He pointed to the Copa Room sign and she nodded.
He hoped that meant she’d be joining him there soon. He went in to secure seating.

He found a seat at a table in the middle of the Copa Room with two couples from Milwaukee, tourists. One of the wives asked “Were you here for the atomic bomb? We missed it.”
“You could say that,” he answered after a moment.
“Was it amazing? The news footage made it seem scary, but the announcer said it was safe.”
“Let me assure you, Mrs…”
“Dunbar, Fred and Dorothy Dunbar, and our friends Patty and George Stephanio.”
“Rudy. Nice to meet you. Let me assure you, Mrs. Dunbar, friends. The atomic bomb is not safe. It is not a toy or an amusement. When the news tells you its safe, they’re lying. So you’re actually very lucky to have missed the explosion.”
“Well aren’t you wet rag,” Mrs. Stephanio said and turned her back to him to look at the stage. Mrs. Dunbar made a face and followed her friend’s lead. The lights flickered a moment later. Miss Red had not joined him.

The showgirls came on stage. The third one out was Miss Red. She sang and danced. How talented she was. How attractive. Did all the showgirls sell cigarettes and give betting advice? After the showgirls performed, the band played a few numbers and the showgirls went out between the tables to sell raffle tickets before the main attraction. Miss Red made her way to his table.
“Raffle ticket sir? Ma’am?” Mr. Stephanio bought one. Mrs. Dunbar bought one. Miss Red just handed Rudy a ticket with a wink and then moved off.
“Those showgirls are just stunning,” Mrs. Dunbar said. Rudy agreed.

There were three prizes for this raffle. Third prize was a bottle of champagne and a meal at the Garden Room. Second prize was an exclusive Atomic City gift package, including hotel room and atomic-themed lunchbox (breakfast) with chauffeured drive to the viewing site to see the next blast. The first prize was a trip to Cancun, Mexico. The announcer pulled the tickets. At a table near the stage, a young woman won the third prize. She giggled and blushed when she accepted it. Her date shook the announcer’s hand. The second prize, which gave Rudy a stomachache just thinking about, was won by a gentleman sitting over on the side of the room. He toasted the announcer and the room with his Atomic Cocktail. Mrs. Dunbar pouted. The final prize ticket number had to be read twice. It wasn’t until Mrs. Stephanio leaned over and tapped his ticket did he realize that he’d won.

He stood up and waved at the announcer. A trip to Mexico, he supposed, was a good next step. His table mates oohed and aahed over his luck. He looked for Miss Red, and found her talking with her hands to Bernie the security guard. Dread pulled at him as he watched Bernie grab Miss Red’s arm and take her backstage. Rudy excused himself from his table to Mrs. Dunbar’s “But you’ll miss the show,” comment and went to see if he could save Miss Red.

Instead he found the two blonde women from the bar bearing down on him.
“Hi there,” the one wearing a tight shimmering pink dress said, “I’m Helen. This is Ruth. We’re from The Sands’ hospitality corps. You’ve been pretty lucky tonight, so we want to make sure you’re having a good time. Lucky customers make The Sands lucky.” Helen latched herself to his right side.
“Yeah, Cookie. Let’s have some champagne and hit the tables,” Ruth said, latching herself to his left side. They dragged him off to the tables, fed him booze, and made him bet a lot of money he wouldn’t have normally. The more booze he drank, including the dreaded Atomic Cocktail, which tasted like like an orange-scented cleaner with bubbles, the more trouble he had getting away from the women and finding Miss Red.

“So you’ve won at craps, you’ve won at roulette, you’ve won at the slot machine. Let’s see if you can win at poker,” Helen said. She dragged him to a roped-off area with a guard, who almost bowed when opening the velvet rope, “Miss Helen.”
“Thanks, James. Could you please tell Mr. C. that we’re almost done?”
“Sure thing, Miss Helen.”
“Wha?” he asked, curious. His mouth and thinking were starting to malfunction.
“Don’t you worry, Cookie. We’ve gotcha,” Ruth said, tightening her grip on his arm.
He played Blackjack, and although he could win on any pair that had a red card, he couldn’t hit the Blackjack.
“Interesting, don’t you think Helen?”
“Very. I think we should go report, don’t you Ruth?”
The blondes exchanged similar somewhat sinister smiles and dragged him away from the table. In the lobby, as they waited for an elevator, he heard his name called.

“Doctor Eisner!”
The room spun a little when he looked around. It was Mitch, his accomplice, hurrying toward him followed by two military policemen.
“You’re needed back at the base. It’s urgent.” Mitch said as he arrived.
“I’m on leave,” he announced. It came out slurred.
“Doctor is it?” Helen asked, running a possessive hand up is arm.
“Not according to the colonel.”
“Doctor Eisner,” One of the police officer’s said, “You need to come with us.” The other one put his meaty hand on his gun. The elevator dinged and the doors opened and Helen and Ruth started to direct him inside.
“They think you stole–” Whatever Mitch was about to say was drowned out by Ruth saying something to Helen. Suddenly the alcohol, the MPs, the clingy women, and worry about Miss Red galvanized him to action. He pushed away from the women and spun out of the elevator, rebounded against one of the MPs, and sprinted toward the lobby door. He got maybe two yards and someone hit him on the back of the neck and he blacked out.

He awoke with a terrible headache. He appeared to be tied to a chair. The light from outside dimly illuminated the otherwise dark room. A soft hiss alerted him that he wasn’t alone. Looking around, he saw the sparkles on the person next to him and a strip of yellow light coming from under a door behind them.
“Miss Red?”
“Rudy?”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m okay. You?”
“Other than being tied up and having a headache, I appear to be well.”
“That’s good. When they dragged you in here all limp I was worried.”
They spoke softly and in the pause while each of them tried to figure out how to get out of their bounds so they could help the other, they heard part of the conversation coming from the next room.

“Who’s that talking with the Texas accent?” Miss Red asked.
“That’s Private Mitchell. Who has the thick Italian accent?”
“That’s Frankie C. He’s the owner of this casino.”
Still in The Sands, he thought. That’s good.
“Who’s that deep voice?”
“One of the MPs I think.”
They listened for a moment more.
“What’s all that about a car?” Miss Red asked.
He let out a soft laugh. “Mitch and I liberated a car. But I didn’t expect them to come after me so quickly.”
“You stole a car, Rudy? You don’t seem the type.”
“I’m not, in general. It’s a long story, but to summarize, I was mad because my coworkers were making more money than I. Then the local car dealership offered up all these beautiful new cars to be blown up by Annie…”
“I heard about that. What a waste.”
“Truly.”
“They keep talking about a doctor. Is that you?”
“Yes. I’m a radiobiologist.”
“And whatever that is, you do it at the proving grounds, right?”
“Yes, it’s all classified, but I work at the proving grounds trying to prove that radiation from nuclear weapons is harmful.”
“And did you?”
“Prove that it is harmful? Yes, but none of my so-called superiors wanted to hear that.”
They listened to the conversation again.
“What’s the Italian saying about a lucky charm?”
“That’s me, Lucky Las Vegas Red. Ever since the bomb dropped, five days ago now, I’ve been able to, you know, grant people good luck. Frankie wanted me to test it out on someone new.”
“So you picked me? Why?”
“You looked so, I don’t know, twitchy or upset. I thought you could use some luck. Really, I didn’t think it’d get you in any trouble. I just wanted to make your day better.”
“So the owner asked you to give me luck.”
“No, I was supposed to pick someone one Frankie knew. When they realized I’d picked you, Frankie sent his girls to watch over you to make sure you didn’t take their money away or tell anyone of your special luck.”
He thought that over for a bit.
“So this is a sham? I didn’t really win?”
“Oh you totally–“

The door opened and the light came on, making him wince. A short dark-haired man in an expensive suit came in, followed by Bernie the guard and meaty-handed MP. The blonde women followed by Mitch, in handcuffs, and the other MP walked past and out the door behind them.
“Doctor Eisner, I have to apologize for this inconvenience,” Frankie C. said. Bernie untied him and Miss Red.
“I really wanted to extend our experiment and take you to other casinos to see if the luck Red here gave you lasted outside of The Sands, but, time, as you can see,” he gestured to the window, “has run out. His excellency Cardinal McIntyre is giving a private Mass over at the Flamingo at dawn, so I must be going. Your military police friends insist that you return to the base. Some sort of nuclear emergency.” The MP helped him stand. Bernie tried to help Miss Red up, but she stepped away from him.
“Oh, just out of curiosity, where is the car you stole?”
“Ask your valet. It’s easy to find – it’s a red Mercury with a big 42 painted on the side.”
Frankie C chuckled.
“Bernie and Officer Bonnetti will escort you to your room. Red, why don’t you go with our good doctor here and see him off? Then get some beauty rest. I’ll expect you in my office at four.”

Frankie C walked out. One the ride down the elevator and the back up the next elevator, he wondered about what nuclear emergency could be happening. He expected that Dr. Hobart wanted to argue about radiation readings again. Well, he’d just have to argue with him through the cell door he expected he’d be behind as soon as he got to the base.

Bernie and the MP stood at the door while he and Miss Red went inside the hotel room. Miss Red looked around, glancing in the open closet and the bathroom.
“I really don’t have much to pack.” He paused, feeling awkward. “Miss Red, I don’t know why I’m embarrassed. I guess I didn’t expect to have a woman in my hotel room. May I ask your real name?”
“Oh, sorry. So many people call me Red I just got used to it. I’m Jenny O’Connell.”
“Doctor Rudolph Eisner. A real pleasure.” They shook hands and exchanged grins.
Miss Red, Jenny, went to look out the window while he gathered his things.
“Rudy,” she said, her voice sounding worried, “What’s that?”
He looked out the window. An object flew through the air, the sunrise just catching its vapor trail, from the direction of the proving grounds.
“That’s a…Jenny get in the tub, quick!” he said, pulling her with him. They hid in the tub just as a blinding bright light flashed. A terrible loud rumble and a shaking, like an earthquake, happened a moment later.
“Keep your head down,” he said from his position on top of her in the bathtub. Terrible heat, worse than opening an oven, followed by the sound of breaking glass, cracking walls, and screaming swirled away as they were blown from the room.

A moment later, they landed in water. He had enough thought to pull Jenny up to the surface with him, when he found it. A quick glance around showed that they landed in the deep end of the pool and their life-saving tub had landed behind them on the edge. Jenny sputtered, blowing water out of her face.
“Under here.” He pulled her along to hide under the space the tub made over the edge of the pool. Ash and debris fell around them. “We’ll be safe as long as we stay in the water. The metal from the tub should protect us from the radiation.”
“What happened?” Jenny’s voice shook with fear and shock.
“Atomic bomb. From the amount of devastation I see, I’d say more than 16 kilotons of force.”
“Is that bad?”
“Oh, it’s very bad.” He laughed, adding, “but I’m very lucky.”
“We’re lucky to be alive.”
“That too. But I’m the lucky one.”
“Oh yeah?” she said with a faint laugh.
“Yes. Not only did I win big at the casino, I met you.”
“Ah Rudy.” They kissed.

After:
He had them wait for nearly an hour, in the water, to make sure the fallout had passed. When they got out and looked around at the hollowed out building, ashy remains of people, and piles of debris, he said, “Do you want to go Mexico?”
“I sure as hell don’t want to stay here.”
With Jenny’s uncanny ability to give luck, they found a functioning car and drove south. Other bombs had fallen, including one at the Hoover Dam. They had to backtrack to get around it.
They met other survivors, even some with other strange gifts. Eventually they made it to Mexico – not to Cancun, as was promised by the winning lottery ticket, but to Copper Canyon, which had water, food, shelter, and not much radiation, which suited Rudy and his Lucky Las Vegas Red just fine.



more foresight thoughts

Other occupations that rely on forecasting: weather jobs. Someone from the family could branch out and work at a local TV station, providing “the city’s most accurate forecast.”

At the research company, a younger distant cousin is hired on. She starts at the lowest rung, doing secretarial work such as filing reports, doing internet searches, filling in the customer database. She notices her relatives in senior management going to “management meetings” that happen in the basement conference room. Only the senior management are allowed in that conference room and there is speculation among the worker group (which includes non-family members) that something mysterious or at least more interesting happens there.

In reality, that’s where the senior management members go to do their rituals for the deity (Apollo?) and to sniff the replicated fumes of the fissure at Delphi (which the company made in its chemistry department) – which allows them to see into the future more accurately.

The younger cousin wants to know what’s happening. She’s curious. She’s family. She has a right to know and when she finds out its not what she imagined and not everything is as ethically cool as she wanted, she freaks. She leaves the company perhaps and vows to take it down. Or maybe she stays in the company, still vowing to take it down or change its ways. To save her family. To honor her god. Do to the right thing.

Foresight

So here’s the premise:
If you had foreknowledge that someone is going to do something that would kill someone else, what would you do? Would you address party A and ask them to stop? Would you warn party B? Would you ask them if they believed in fate or chance?

And here’s an attitude:
I’m just selling information (gained illegally?). It’s not my fault that the information was used for bad things. I have no control over what the information is used for.

Situation:
Modern world. A research company with owners/leadership descended from the Oracles of Delphi, who’ve grown up in a religion that worships (whomever the Oracles of Delphi worshiped) an entity that provides them powers of foresight. The religion used to offer this foreknowledge for free to anyone who asked. Times changed, the religion’s followers dispersed. Only a few left – a core family and some extended family members and a few friends. This group created a research company to sell its knowledge – because why not? It’s the modern world and the information, especially in the stock markets of the world, could make them rich. They could influence governments with the information their entity/deity provides them. And why not? It’s not like they are doing anything wrong. They just provide information, for a price. A company such as Strategic Planning Consulting Company – Proactive Worldwide (not that this company in any way has anything to do with anything related to this post – its just a company that provides research.)

So what if one of the scions of this family wants to do something else or to use the information for good – beyond the stock market and selling information. What if this person finds out something is going to happen and wants to change the outcome?