Toil and Trouble—Monday Flash Fics for August 14, 2017

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: Didn’t have a lot of time so I tried another drabble this week. Actually influenced by a dream from years ago that may be turned into a longer story. Until then, enjoy! ——- Jeff

Toil and Trouble

By Jeff Baker

 

 

“Four customers flew out the window?” Mr. Hedley asked.

“Uh, yeah,” Skip said. “Towards the mountain.”

“What happened?”

“Well, they were toasting something, some team and then they just rose up. I mean, they rose up and flew away!” Skip said.

“What did they order?” Hedley asked.

“The House Special. Four mugs.” Skip said.

“You make it the usual way? Green beer and tequila?”

“Nah,” Skip said. “I used the stuff in the keg downstairs.”

“Downstairs?” Hedley asked.

“Yeah,” Skip said. That big barrel labeled Witches’ Brew. You know, the House Special.”

Mr. Hedley rolled his eyes.

 

—end—

 

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“Dog Run.” Monday Flash Fic for August 7, 2017.

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Author’s Note: I hadn’t tried a drabble before. That’s a story 100 words, no more, no less (counting the title.) So, I tried one.

                                                 Dog Run

                                               By Jeff Baker

 

            “Okay,” I said. “We’d better head back.”

            Ralph, being a dog, didn’t say anything, jogging right ahead of me.

            “It’d be easier if we were the last survivors of World War Three,” I said as we headed back home along the beach. “Or if we were on the run from the law or the mob or from space aliens. But no, I have to go back to work tomorrow. Nine to five. Office. But you know something? I think we got it pretty good.”

            Ahead, Ralph looked back, seeming to smile as his tail gave a joyful wag.

 

                                                 —end—

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“The Devil’s Bride.” Monday Flash Fics” for July 31, 2017.

20264941_10155498927174787_4997893962836463904_n                                             Author’s Note: This may owe a little to a story by E. Nesbit.

                                            The Devil’s Bride

                                                By Jeff Baker

 

            “You ever hear about the Devil’s Bride?” Burt asked.

            “Naaah,” Colin said.

            “It goes back about 250 years,” Burt said. “Back to Colonial days.”

            “Yeah?” Colin said, cracking open another beer and looking up at the stars.

            “There was this girl,” Burt said. “Her father was a rich landowner who wanted to get richer, so he betrothed his daughter to a Prince From Across the Sea.”

            “And?” Colin asked. This was getting good.

            “The Prince showed up,” Burt said. “He was handsome, charming and threw gold around like it was dandruff. He and his new fiancée decided to get married at her father’s estate. But then the bride-to-be started to get a bad feeling about the whole thing.”

            “How so?” Colin said, sipping his beer.

            “The prospective groom made some changes to the ceremony. He intended to perform the ceremony himself; he wanted the bride to wear a wedding gown of his own design, a design which included being draped with a mourning veil with a crown of steel spikes. And, instead of rice, he wanted everyone to toss pinches of dirt he said were from an unconsecrated burial ground in Europe.”

            “Woah!” Colin said.

            “The bride pulled out of the wedding…” Burt said.

            “Smart girl,” Colin said.

            “…but the story is, you still see her wandering through these woods in her gown searching…for…her…lost…groom!” Burt’s voice had gotten creepy with a cackle. “Of course, I never believed that part,” he said in a normal voice. “After all if she didn’t want to marry this Prince 250 years ago she probably wouldn’t change her mind.”

            The wind began to whip up.

            “It’s the groom you have to feel sorry for,” Burt said.

            “How so?” Colin said finishing his beer.

            A mist began to creep across the ground.

            “The Prince was the one who got dumped,” Burt said.

            It was beginning to get cooler.

            “He’s more likely the one still waiting, still searching.” Burt said. “After two-and-a-half centuries…”

            A distant bell began to toll.

            Colin looked up; there were no clouds but the stars were somehow gone. Burt towered over him, the fog wrapping around him like a veil, a shadowy tower of spikes crowning his head.

Colin dropped his beer, his jaw slack as Burt reached towards him, a low voice emanating from where his face had been.

            “After all, there are many ways to find a bride…”

 

                                                –end—

           

 

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Maybe part of a serial novel for Monday Flash Fics, July 24, 2017

20139623_10155474210544787_2117646309121556011_n Note: This is a continuation of “The Forest” which I posted Nov. 21, 2016. The story extended a bit after what I posted, including the introduction of the guarding Treekeepers and the Messengers as well as The Place of Owls, the structure in the Great Tree where the Caretaker stays. Ezidiah is told to wait as the strangers enter the Great Tree.

                                          The Keeper of the Owl

By Jeff Baker

 

 

 

            I stood there for a few minutes after the strangers followed the Messengers into the Great Tree. I stared up at the top branches, then at the ground. Then I hopped over to one of the connecting trees and debated waiting on the strangers return or on heading over to the shop to see if I could buy a bag of nuts and get back to the Great Tree before the strangers finished their audience with the caretaker. But, I had been instructed to wait. I sat down on the branch where I could watch the sunlight move through the branches of the Great Tree. I wrapped my arm around the trunk of the tree I was sitting in as I was feeling drowsy.

            I glanced up with a start; something was moving in the branches near me! I glanced to my side, the side opposite the Great Tree. There, swinging and leaping from branch to branch, tree to tree was a group of lithe young men and women in blue garb—The River! No one was held in higher esteem than these Messengers charged with supplying the community with water.

            I stared as they swiftly maneuvered through the trees, each one with a jug of water strapped to their backs, some carrying sealed globes filled with water. I would more likely be made Caretaker than to be trusted with precious water for a swing through the trees. I was still using both hands. And, wonder of wonders, they regularly left the Forest and walked on the ground!

            The River bounded out of my sight. I sighed and leaned back against the trunk, closing my eyes.

            Not much time had passed, judging from the movement of the shadows on the ground, when I heard a voice call my name. I quickly moved to one of the branches of the Great Tree and found, not a Messenger, but a Treekeeper. I stared at his uniform; at the thick leather belt draped with rope, a slingshot and a large knife which hung low at his side.

            I asked him if he’d called me.

            “Your presence is requested,” the Treekeeper said. I must have just stared, for he made his request more formal.

            “In the name of the Caretaker, I am called to usher you into the Great Tree to be under the gaze of the Owl.”

 

                                    —end—

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“Night Class.” Monday Flash Fics for July 17, 2017.

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                                                 Night Class

                                                 By Jeff Baker

                                               

           

            Feb. 1.

            Dear Mom and Dad:

            Hi! Greetings from your college boy! The football season is now over and Coach wants us to knuckle down this semester. He gave us a list of extra classes we could take and I picked one. Coach says we have to show up but it’s no sweat. We will pass as long as we show up. I’ve never been in a class in McAdoo Hall before, I don’t think I’ve ever been inside. We used to jog around it in the morning. It’s on the north corner of the campus. Big stone building next to the graveyard. Kind of spooky! (Ha-Ha!)

            This class is in the evening, and I showed up a couple of minutes late, just as they were sitting down and the teacher, Professor Lucien was rolling up this flag so I guess they were saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Nice to see that people still do that! They keep the room kind of dark (saving money for Football! Yay!) And the flag looked kind of red and black.

            I apologized for being late, and Professor Lucien said I could sign my name in blood later (Funny guy!). He also said that most of the work was going to be in-class anyway. He pointed me out to the class and said “Now we have someone on the football team.” The class applauded and I felt proud.

            Well, I’m up late! Better get to sleep, got more classes tomorrow!

            Your Son,

            Bruno.

            February 19.

            Dear Mom and Dad:

            Well, I missed my night class last week. I fell asleep after dinner. The thing was, the class was going to meet after midnight for, I guess, a field trip. Professor Lucien had said we were going to “Summon ball.” I’d never heard it called that before, but I was all for playing ball. The basketball team does a midnight practice but this was going to be off-campus. I apologized to Professor Lucien (who is never on campus during the day) He said we needed the whole class plus him. (Did I tell you the class is small, only twelve students plus Professor Lucien?) He said we would do it next month when the moon was right. This class must be getting into astronomy too.

            Professor Lucien said something familiar; that we were all going to be making sacrifices. That sounds like what Coach always tells us!

            I better let you go! Gotta study!

            Your Son,

            Bruno 

 

            March 10.

            Dear Mom and Dad:

            By now you heard about the mess with the football program. They fired Coach and disbanded the program and a lot of us transferred out. That is why this letter is coming to you from Keller College and not Argo State. Luckily my scholarship transferred too. I’ll have to redshirt next year, but I will be on the team my senior year! Go team!

            I’m doing okay in my classes here, and I have one souvenir. Professor Lucien just up and left, I guess they were investigating some of the professors too, so I still have one thing he gave me for the midnight field trip we never did. Cute little fella, I guess he was going to be the class mascot. I don’t know where the Professor went, so I have no way to send him anything, so I guess I have a pet now. They said his name is Nicky, and I’ll send you pictures. Like I said, he’s a cute little fella.

            I’ve never seen a black goat before!

            Your son,

            Bruno.

 

                                                   —end—

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Monday Flash Fics for July 10, 2017; “Whose Woods These Are.”

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                                 Whose Woods These Are

                                           By Jeff Baker

 

            I remember the chill in the air, I remember it being refreshing. I remember the orange surrounding us, like painted walls of a room. I remember the trees standing on either side of us, like they’d parted to make way.

            And I remember my Father standing as tall as one of those trees, walking by my side.

            I must have been about three, and I assume I’m remembering it now because my Father, now gone these many years, is about to become a Grandfather. I do not know how he would react, let alone what he would think of this world of cellphones and interconnectivity but I know one thing; when my son or daughter is old enough, we will come here for a walk among the trees, emblazoning the golden leaves into memory.

 

                                                           —end—

                                   

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“On Board the Ghannidor-Ra,” Monday Flash Fics for July 3, 2017

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On Board the Ghannidor Ra

                                             By Jeff Baker

                                        

 

            I never found out whether I had been apprenticed or sold, but at the time it didn’t matter. I had just turned sixteen and my Great Uncle (who was the Patriarch of our family) took me in to The Holy Sword. I had been in the tavern before, usually with my Father for a meal, but I thought my Great Uncle was going to share the traditional celebratory glass as I had reached the Age of Ascension. Not that Ascension would do me much good as I was the younger son of the youngest son, and my future, as I imagined it, involved nothing loftier than being apprenticed to a merchant or working in the fields. Perhaps betrothals to the younger daughter or son of a family more prosperous than my own parents were.

            I did not notice the stir when Besseron entered the tavern, and my life for that matter. I had reciting the tribute in answer to the one my Great Uncle had recited to me and had drank the small glass or the cool, sweet liquid somehow warming me when I realized that there was a quiet which suddenly swept over the room. My Great Uncle was talking and so I had to give him my full attention but I caught a glimpse of a tall, powerful figure out of the corner of my eye. I suddenly realized I could see behind me in the mirror.

            The first thing I noticed was the sword. That and the tattoo on his powerfully-muscled arm. His garb looked like the usual attire favored by merchants and tradesmen but with a hodgepodge of styles from various regions. His ears were long and tapered, not trimmed and filed like mine and most city or town dwellers. He was leaning against the doorway of The Holy Sword, smoking the sort of thin pipe that I had seen sailors smoke. His own sword was in a long, leather scabbard at his side. I had trained myself to notice things and I saw the man’s eyes looking about the room.

            My Great-Uncle raised a hand and for a moment I wondered why he would need to signal for one of the serving-people when we were actually sitting at the bar when, to my surprise, the man with the sword walked in to the Tavern and up to where we were sitting. My Great-Uncle introduced him as Besseron and he had the attitude of someone whose name was widely known. But I had spent my sixteen years mainly among my family, so I was not as familiar as I should have been with the outside world. Besseron, I noticed, smelled of spices and smoke and he and my Great-Uncle began to talk with him in low tones and I became distracted by the sight of a cat in the open doorway, its eyes yellow and gleaming.

            It’s done, then,” Besseron said in a firm voice. “Have you a name, Boy?” This was the first time he had addressed me directly.

            “Aris, Sir,” I said cautiously.

            “Aris,” my Great-Uncle said. “Your future has been arranged. You will go with him now.”

            “Yes, Patriarch,” I said, realizing that my life was changing fast.

            “But we must go quickly, young Aris,” Besseron said. “My vessel is docked near here, and we must be off before the Night Watch gets a close look at the Ghannidor-Ra.”

            That should have been my first clue, but I did not grasp it at the time. Through the offices of my Great-Uncle and Patriarch, I had fallen in with pirates!

 

                                                     —end—

 

This one swelled up again—I have about another page and it will probably become a novelette or novella sometime. This version is a condensed version. (I don’t even bring the pirate ship on stage in this version!)

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