Friday, September 26, 2014

Royal Puppet – Part Two

Image by Richard Schofield via Wikimedia Commons


They had taken him in the night, and thrown him in an old well. His bare feet slipped in the mud and loose gravel, so the young prince had to brace his elbows against the crumbling stonework to keep himself up. He hurled threats and insults up at his captors, who laughed and dropped offal on his head. Rotten slops found ways down his clothes, slid into his ears, and threatened to slide into his mouth.

“What do you want?” he cried.

The faces pulled away, and a man in black came to the well’s edge.

The man asked questions that the prince had no answers for, and at each failure, more refuse was tossed down the well. Within an hour, the prince was shoulder-deep. He tried pushing himself higher by bracing against the walls, but his limbs found no purchase on the slick rock. The questions continued from the man in black and the garbage was replaced with loose mud, weighing down his arms.

He was going to die. His lungs would fill with mud and rot. He would never rule. He would choke and gag and die alone in a pit. He screamed.

“Oh, your’re no use to us like this,” the man in black said.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Royal Puppet

Image by Richard Schofield via Wikimedia Commons


Lord Turlough twisted at a golden signet ring. Across from him, behind a heavy desk sat Adrian Sigmund, the Master of the Wardrobe, who smiled blandly as Lord Turlough stuttered on.

“I just cannot see His Majesty agreeing to such a move,” Turlough said. “He is, after all, Vorali on his maternal side, fostered in King Mathis’ court up until–“ he looked up at the Master of the Wardrobe, who indicated for the man to go on.

“Well, up until the unfortunate events,” Turlough said.

“Yes,” the Master of the Wardrobe said, brushing a piece of invisible lint from a diamond pin at his jacket collar, “I am familiar with that fact.”

Lord Turlough reddened. “Of course, of course. My point, Master Adrian, is that I have suffered for supporting you in the past with the railroad tax, conscript levy, and procuring repeating rifles from foreign interests. My position in parliament would be in utter ruin, not to mention my own personal investments should this gambit fail.”

Master Adrian let the silence stretch for uncomfortable moments before speaking.

“My Lord,” he said, “We are caught between two great powers and war is inevitable. Our kingdom will be swallowed up by one or the other if we keep to this so-called path of neutrality. Our only hope of survival is to ally ourselves with the winning side.”

“The Sandurians, you mean.”

Master Adrian brought his palms together. “It is within our power to tip the balance between the Sandurians and Vorali. We have secured certain concessions that will put your investments at ease should we throw our support behind the Sandurian Empire, my Lord.”

“And yet we are set to host both powers across the courtyard, in the motions of peace. Moreover, His Majesty seems quite serious in his pledge for a diplomatic solution. Forgive me if I find your ability to speak for His Majesty suspect.”

Master Adrian leaned forward, pinning Lord Turlough to the chair with his gaze.

“His Majesty and I have differing opinions on domestic issues of late, but when it comes to looking outside our borders, he and I are of one vision.”

Friday, September 12, 2014

Snapshots

Image by Mohylek via WikiMedia

By Bettyann Moore

Snapshot #1: Ichabod, who begins and ends this story.

It’s the only shot we have of him from that summer. From ever. He’s in the galvanized tub we rigged up as a bathtub, his bony knees drawn up to his chin, one long arm dangling over the side. His hair is wet and water sluices down his face as if he’d just dunked his head. He opened his eyes as I clicked the shutter, his look not quite surprised and not quite angry, even though no one ever touched his camera. Ichabod never got angry. Maybe he should have.

Friday, September 5, 2014

All Jokes Aside

Image by Traci Hall via Wikimedia Commons


Dan hadn’t been listening much to Sara and Teri’s discussion, but he took an interest when Teri blurted, “I’m so horny.”

“Oh, you can have Dan.” Sara replied. “I’m done with him for now.”

Both girls began laughing. Dan raised his eyebrows and looked up over his textbook. They stopped laughing for a split second, and then began laughing even harder. He looked from one girl to the next, then his eyebrows shot back down. Dan gently put down his textbook and mid-term notes, then got up from the ratty couch he had been studying on. He held out his hand to Teri. “Well, you heard her, let’s go.”

Friday, August 29, 2014

Memory's Keeper

By Bettyann Moore

Libby read the same paragraph three times before she realized that George’s snoring was interfering with her concentration. She knew, though, that trying to slip out of bed and move into the living room would be impossible. He was a notoriously light sleeper. He could sleep anywhere, it was true, but at the smallest sound, he’d jolt awake, have a devil of a time falling back to sleep and be crabby all day. It wasn’t worth it.

He was drooling again. A long string of saliva hung from the corner of his mouth and pooled on the pillow. Libby sighed, quietly. George had ruined numerous pillows with his drooling until she doubled up on the pillow protectors, and added two old pillowcases beneath the good one on top. It added to her wash load – she bleached them like crazy, but they were a lot easier to clean than a pillow.

Friday, August 22, 2014

President of the Board

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Miles got the call at 6:25 in the morning, five minutes before his alarm was set to go off. He checked the number, and considered tossing his phone across the room, except that would just bring the caller to his front door. His wife, Katlin, stirred beside him but did not wake. A buzzing phone she could sleep through, but a doorbell? Miles chose the lesser of two evils and answered.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Trading Up

By Bettyann Moore

This was how it was supposed to go:

To Richard, it would be like any other Friday evening. He would come home from a long day at the office doing whatever it was that he did there, and JoAnne would have martinis waiting. She, of course, would be dressed to the nines; she always was. They would chit chat a bit while they drank one or two cocktails, then Richard would go in to shower. Ava, their housekeeper (JoAnne hated the word “maid”) would have Richard’s clothing laid out for him, though JoAnne had picked them out, choosing something a tad less casual than usual. Richard wouldn’t notice.