Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 2.42

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Year 2, Week 42.

This is a flash fiction challenge. The prompt is a song. You are not required to write about or even mention the song. It’s there only to get the ideas moving around in your brain pan. If you want to write about the song (or the video- it’s all good here) go for it but don’t feel like you have to.

The rules;
500 words, but it’s a slushy 500, meaning you can go up to 700 or as low as 300.
Post your entry right in the comments section of this post.

MAKE SURE TO PUT YOUR TWITTER HANDLE NEXT TO YOUR WORD COUNT AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POST. IF YOU’RE NOT ON TWITTER GIVE ME AN EMAIL ADDRESS OR SOME OTHER WAY TO GET A HOLD OF YOU!

The challenge starts whenever I post this on Tuesday and ends at MIDNIGHT PACIFIC TIME on Friday. You read that right. Pacific Time.

This week’s song prompt is a bit of a departure for us. Every so often I like to throw something unusual at our talented writers– an instrumental, or a something in a language other than English.

It’s the latter this week… You won’t understand a word of this tune, unless you speak Farsi, in which case you’ll be in like Flint.

The band is Niyaz.

The song is, “Ishq (Love and the Veil). Here’s the link; https://youtu.be/USV_C0CaNTI

This week’s Judge is editor & all around rock star of writing support and encouragement… Karmin Dahl.

The challenge opens the moment you read this post and runs through MIDNIGHT PACIFIC TIME on Friday March 20th.

Now… Go write!!!

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Posted on March 17, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. It would be sunrise in twenty minutes. It was time to set up my tent and prepare for another day of survival in a virtual oven. I dropped my backpack, pulled out my tiny tent, an a-frame tent, with lightweight aluminum poles, not fiberglass. The aluminum worked better for me. Made the tent easier to set up.

    After my tent was ready, I grabbed my camera from the pack, then tossed the pack in the tent, sleeping bag and all. Soon, I’d have to hide inside for what would feel like endless hours. I adjusted the rain fly to block as much sand as possible. I knew it would be as much as twenty degrees cooler in the tent than outside.

    It was day six of ten. I’d planned my trip for a year. A year of physical torture, walking miles in the heat of summer, learning to find water where I could, learning to set up water capture netting. Learning to eat what I could find. How to live off the desert. I’d even had to spend three days and nights in Death Valley solo to earn the right for my trip.

    I walked along the netting. I’d set it up at the first sign of fog. You can taste the water in the air. I threw the netting up, and prayed I’d catch enough water to fill a glass or two. Enough to get through the next day.

    I’d reversed the entire schedule. Walk at night, hide in the tent during the day. During the night I needed less water. At night it was cold as hell, but in a jacket, hauling 50 pounds of gear, I burned enough energy the cold didn’t bother me so much. And it certainly beat walking beneath a sun that could fry an egg in minutes on sand that could melt car tires.

    Yeah. I know. “Why would anyone want to cross the desert?” You ask, ‘cause you ain’t me. You don’t know what I go through, working five days a week, in a job that’s trying to kill my soul. You don’t know what it’s like when you can’t say what you feel, what you think, because what you feel and think are wrong, and you’ll get told again, “You can’t be that way.” Or, “That’s wrong! You’re wrong!”

    Daily life kills me. One bit at a time. One thread at a time, my rope frays away. Until I have no choice and have to escape. I have to escape everything. Phones. Radios. TV. News papers. The internet. The civilized world we’ve made. I have to escape it all.

    This year, I escaped to the desert. Where no one could reach me. No one could tell me what to feel. What to think. How to live. In the desert, I was alone. All the voices that haunted me every day were gone. All the rights and wrongs were gone. All the good and evil, gone. All that mattered was survival. All that mattered was my next breath, my next heartbeat, my next swallow of water, my next meal. All the lies, the myths, the artificial things made by mortal men, fell away. The veil of civilization was cast aside.

    And I was free.

    And I was alive.

    Once I knew the net was right, and was collecting what water it could from the ground fog, I turned Eastward, and waited. Soon, the sun would rise. And the colors of the world would come to life once more. The black sky, and black sand would light up with color. Golds, reds, oranges, pinks, yellows. High, thin, wispy, pink and orange cirrus clouds painted against a pale pink sky.

    It was stunning. Just like life, without that veil we hide it behind.

    628 Words
    @LurchMunster

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  2. He choked on dust.

    This was an awful place.

    The life Terra once had was sucked dry. T.H.E.p.Y. came and went. Bastards. Travelers Hired for Extra-Planetary Yardwork. The P is silent. T.H.E.p.Y. were hired by the Greys you always hear about from the Andromeda Galaxy. They didn’t like the way our galaxy looked. They had been surveying for years. Plotting. The bastards.

    Men in suits arrived. He showed them to his baby. Well, baby grand. They were the same to him. He had no family, just the piano, and he saw no cause to look back. The men lifted. One muttered something about having two PhDs in astrophysics and biochemistry. Sam didn’t care. “Piano don’t come, I don’t. Captain goes down with his ship.”

    NASA was not happy. “Pianos do not belong on spaceships,” Director Griffin would periodically mutter throughout the day.

    He approached the rocket that would take the remainder of humanity to the station, the biggest in Earth’s history. His new home world was about 12 degrees below the horizon. He stared at the ground pretending he could see it.

    T.H.E.p.Y had caused quite a stir upon arrival. The world froze. Everything stopped. Communication was made. Parties were had. Humanity’s view of their place in the universe changed. He even wrote a symphony in five days. The London Symphony Orchestra represented humanity’s welcome by playing it the next day, an outstanding human achievement. Everyone was quite disappointed to find that T.H.E.p.Y. not only disliked his music, T.H.E.p.Y added insult to injury by announcing the destruction of the planet at the end of the performance. He was not as concerned with this last comment as he was with the galaxy-scapers opinion: “We only listen to the music of Sting. You sure have come a long way since Bach.”

    He sat in the rocket. He was sleepy. Bored. The countdown finished. He closed his eyes. The pressure of acceleration gave him the push he needed to fall asleep. Somewhere in his mind, the rocket was heard, but quickly formed a new sound. One of trumpets, horns, strings, choirs, and the constant pulsing rhythm of a distant engine failure alarm.

    380 words
    @tylerthetuner

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  3. The Elementals

    Out of desperation and hunger, I snatched the loaf of bread from the vendor. I tore down the twisted and narrow street, my naked feet carrying me as fast as they could. I heard the newest rip in my tattered pants as they caught on a jewelry merchant’s table. The vibrant colors from the displayed clothing became wild streaks as I dodged carts and twisted between buildings. The scent of spices was so heavy I could taste them on my tongue as my breathing labored. I ducked into a doorway and willed my heartbeat to calm. I closed my eyes and rested the back of my head against the frame, working hard to slow my breathing. I could hear no one following. Confident I had escaped, I peered around the corner of the framing. I was met face to face with a woman in turquoise. Her bright blue eyes were in stark contrast with her dark coloring. They blinked playfully. “Sleep now,” she enticed. She opened her palm in front of her full lips and gave a soft puff. Her rich voice rang over and over like rippled water in my ears as everything went dark.

    When I woke up, the woman was perched on a chair near me. The straw pallet where I rested was clean and dry. It was a step up from the stables I generally retired to for sleep. My head was fuzzy and I struggled to remember how I had gotten here. I jolted to full attention when I realized my clothes were taken from me. They were rags, but they were mine. “Who do you think you are stealing my clothes?” I spat at her.

    “You’re no boy. Why do you wear such rags?” she asked plainly.

    Incredibly self conscious suddenly, I pulled the linen sheet up to my chin. “Because they’re all I have. Now give them back!”

    She rose from her chair and glided effortlessly across the room. With the gauzy veils of her dress trailing behind her, she resembled an angel floating across the floor. She ran her hand over a small wrapped parcel on a shelf near the tiny window. “These are yours if you wish. The Master needs a Fire Woman.”

    “What do you mean?” I pried cautiously.

    “I am His Water Woman. He has looked for you for many lifetimes. Come see what He has chosen for you.”

    I pulled the sheet up with me as I rose from the pallet, blocking her from seeing skin she’d already viewed. As I crossed the room, she unfolded the parcel to reveal a dress and veils that matched hers. The only difference was the beautiful red color of the fabric. As it shimmered in the sun, I could see the undertones of yellow and orange. It was stunning.

    “What if I say no?”

    She tossed her head back with throaty laughter. “It matters not, Sister. Your heart has already decided. Look and see.”

    She brought both palms up, and I looked down at them. She created a mirrored pool in the cradle of her hands. I saw my reflection clearly. Everything about my face was the same.

    Except my irises blazed red.

    532 words
    @KJCollard

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  4. “You slut,” my brother called out and standing threateningly, hovered above me, his hand raised.

    I sat in the shadow, and had just adjusted my veil appropriately, but a thin strand of hair had slipped out and brushed my face, before I caught it.

    “Relax, little brother, you have to take it easy,” I whispered, while glancing around furtively and readjusting my scarves and clothing, wrapping all the layers around me twice, just to be sure. I could hardly breathe, with the humidity and the layers of silk, but I was safe and protected after all.

    It was the second time he had called me a slut and many a time he had raised his hand as if to hit me. I knew he did it with love, as he knew that I accepted his protection willingly.

    The first time had been earlier that day, when we got off the plane and the wind had momentarily whipped my robes up, exposing my naked ankles.

    It wasn’t going to be easy adjusting to this new reality, alone, without our parents to protect us.

    Our classmates had campaigned for us, politicians had debated on national TV, but in the end, the laws of the land prevailed and we were sent away.

    I didn’t know the language I was supposed to speak. I didn’t know it could be so hot here. I didn’t know where we would sleep that night, or when we might eat. My brother, who I used to boss around, and tell to get off his computer and go to bed, or help out with the dishes was now my ‘boss,’ and my protector.

    Everything was turned around; nothing made sense any more. All I knew is that I was supposed to keep quiet, keep covered and that somehow we might survive.
    We had been sent ‘back’ to this land that the others called our ‘home.’

    “Take it,” said a kind voice, and a pair of dark friendly eyes, rimmed with black, peeked into mine, through a thin mesh layer. Her hand extended towards mine – held a warm wrapped pita bread, filled with labaneh.

    My brother edged closer, and I patted the ground close to me. “Sit down, my brother, let’s share this gift.”

    Word count: 372
    @studyleaks

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  5. SHIVA

    699 words by Alicia VanNoy Call
    @callthewriter

    “The gods came on swift feet,
    to fold the scroll of their creation.”
    ~ Shariq Tahar, Poet, Colony Trimurti, 3841

    A falcon swooped before our craft that morning – silhouetted black for an instant, outstretched wings against the expanse of dunes and sky. Alia yelped, startling me, but I gripped the wheel with barely a wobble. The bird veered aside, missing the viewport shield by fingerwidths. Alia swung around in her seat to see if it had fallen into our wake.

    “Bad luck, Ebrahim,” she said.

    “Only bad if we hit it,” I said.

    “I dreamed of Shiva,” she said, sitting back. The words were quiet, almost to herself.

    It was just after sunsrise, the triad climbing fast; soon the sky would be taut and bright as hammered bronze. We zipped over the sand.

    “Busy today,” said Alia. We could already see the bright canopies of the bazaar in the distance. The crowds of buyers and sellers, packed into the narrow avenue between stone buildings.

    We set down in the port across from the bazaar. Alia raised her veil while I gathered supplies, water skins, slinging everything over my shoulders.

    She stopped me at the bottom of the ramp.

    “Ebrahim,” she said. Her kohl-rimmed eyes darted across the shadowed hanger bay. One hand clutched my sleeve.

    “Forget the hawk,” I told her. “It’s a day like any other.”

    Dawn had burned into an early heat, the air dense with dust and sacrificial soot, the smells of saffron, ginger. We weaved through the press of bodies draped in burgundy and orange and black and the layers of sound to our normal spot. Alia spread our blanket. I unpacked our wares.

    We specialized in charms – pendants woven into patterns of meaning. I lined the necklets in rows according to color. Love, loss, protection, happiness.

    “Three chits,” I said to a woman fingering a marigold piece. She passed me the money and I laced it into my pouch. Alia sat cross-legged and began to weave a new pendant: blue for might and courage – the color of the gods. Her fingers flashed between the skeins of thread. People stopped to watch. I sold necklets and the chits gathered.

    We’d sold almost all our stock by lunchtime.

    Alia pocketed her weaving to eat naan and curried yams. We were sitting in our neighbor’s shade and sucking on sesame snaps when we heard the first rumble.

    It carried under the ground, like something burrowing.

    Alia and I looked at each other. We stood.

    Another rumble. The hard-packed street trembled underneath our boots. The entire bazaar seemed frozen for an instant. I pushed through the throng, shielded my eyes to peer down the thoroughfare.

    A great black cloud was inking it’s way up from the horizon. Thick and massive, forked with blue lightning. Impossibly fast.

    “Haboob?” called Alia from under the canopy.

    Her voice seemed to galvanize the crowd. People began pushing, shouting. Another rumble, this one knocking people off their feet. Booths fell sideways.

    “Ebrahim!” Alia shrieked.

    I leaped up, stepping on shocked and fallen bodies to get to her.

    The bazaar began to surge with panic.

    My sister’s fingers slid into my hand and I pulled her with me into the narrow alley between two buildings.

    We ran for the port. The black sky rolled over us, roaring; the bank of clouds looked close enough to brush the rooftops. Lightning scorched the air. We ducked into a shrine to fasten our goggles.

    I could hear Alia sobbing, her breath ragged as we stumbled into the hangar bay. I dragged her up the ramp, quick-started the engines. We fell into our seats.

    “Strap in,” I shouted as the craft lurched.

    We rocketed away from the city, bumpy over the dunes.

    “What is it?” screamed Alia. Her veil was torn, her face stained with tears. She rocked back and forth.

    Behind us, the city burned with azure fire. The buildings looked made of paper. Massive ships breached the clouds, black and bristling with armaments.

    Sweat dripped into my eyes.

    “Shiva,” I said.

    Alia, fingers tangled with blue thread, began to pray.

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  6. Balance

    It was early. Talli always preferred to do her practice at dawn. It gave her a way to welcome the day and to bring her body and mind into alignment. Lately Becka had taken to showing up and watching. Talli didn’t mind. If she was honest with herself she more than didn’t mind. Becka had a sweet sunny spirit and was a beautiful dancer. In the early morning sunlight her brown hair was shot through with burnished gold and deep red, her warm brown eyes fringed with thick dark lashes that always rested on her golden cheeks as she joined Talli in her breathing exercises.

    Usually when Talli rose to begin the fighting routine with her staff Becka would open her eyes and watch, but today Becka rose at the same instant as Talli. She took a step to place herself directly in front of Talli with a small distance between them. Becka brought her hands together over her heart and nodded her head to Talli. Then she dropped her hands loosely to her sides and waited. Talli quirked an eyebrow but then nodded her head once to Becka before she simply flowed into her usual routine as though Becka were not standing there.

    ***
    Sophie stepped around to the back side of the various wagons and tents with her tea in hand only to come to an abrupt halt at the sight in front of her. Becka and Talli spinning and jumping, pulled kicks and hits…one dancing, one fighting…but both in perfect harmony, Sophie could almost see the moves before they happened. Talli swinging her staff at Becka’s feet, Becka jumping straight up in the air and coming down after the staff passed, bouncing up again into a front flip placing her right next to Talli’s vulnerable side, Talli continuing her swing of the staff but sweeping it up where Becka’s head was, but now Becka was rolling on the ground away from Talli as they both kept circling each other. It was both beautiful and frightening, the tension was exciting and almost…sexual. Sophie’s eyebrows shot up suddenly in surprised realization. She almost laughed out loud when she realized what she was seeing. Instead she grinned to herself and went back the way she came leaving the two women to make their own discovery.

    ***
    Talli reached the end of her routine just as Becka performed one last flip that landed her directly in front of Talli. Both were breathing hard and sheened with sweat after the challenging work out. Their eyes met, Talli’s almost black and Becka’s chocolate brown. Becka smiled as she went up on tip toe to place a quick kiss on the taller woman’s lips. Then she stepped back quickly, brought her hands together in front of her heart and dipped into a slight bow before turning and running off.

    ***
    Sophie chanced a quick look towards Talli when she saw Becka run off to the chow wagon. Talli stood motionless with her staff hanging loosely in her left hand, her right hand on her lips and a stunned look on her face. Sophie smiled and turned happily towards the chow wagon herself. Sophie knew in that one instant that Talli would be alright. Oh she’d still be haunted by her demons but she wouldn’t be carrying them alone or fighting them alone any longer. Becka and Talli would bring exactly the right balance to each other and their balance would to settle the whole company.

    @MissBliss
    Words: 581 not including title

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  7. Eastern Promise.

    Iona could feel the ropes on her wrists, the abrasive thick thread cutting in. She wriggled them, but although there was some movement she knew she couldn’t get loose. The jeep jolted causing the hood on her head to move. A glimpse of light cut into the darkness, but it was too fleeting to show anything other than her own bare midriff. The man opposite her shouted at the driver.

    She gathered they were taking her out into the desert – there wasn’t any where else to go. She wondered who wanted her. It had to be somebody quite high up for them to have snatched from under Saeid’s nose. Not many would risk it.

    Iona knew she should be scared, she had heard tales of girls being used for all sorts of tortuous things to satisfy the blood lust of the elite, but she couldn’t help feel a little excited.

    After being sold into Saied’s service at the age of twelve, she was tired of satisfying his fat sweaty needs. She had been lucky that he had waited until she was fourteen before taking her, giving her a chance to get to know him and understand what was expected of her. But three years on she was struggling to keep up the pretence, especially since he seemed to have lost the desire to wash as often, instead spending more time gorging himself and increasing his already bulky frame.

    Iona could feel the inside of the car warm up, and the blackness inside her hood fade a little. The sun was rising and she hoped that meant they would reach their destination soon. The man opposite had started talking to the driver again, but his dialect was one that was unknown to her and she struggled to make sense of his words, only understanding that they weren’t to waste time, and something about a ceremony.

    She felt the jeep slow and swing round to a stop. She heard voices as they came round to the back and helped her out. But no one took off the hood.

    She felt sand push between her toes as she walked; a hand on her arm to guide her. She could see the detail of the weave in the hood now she was out in sunlight. Then it went dark. She heard the movement of material as though in a breeze and felt thick carpet under foot, indicating they had entered a large tent.

    There were noises and movement all around her, and voices all saying different things, many that didn’t make sense to her. But then one stood out, the sound of it causing her stomach to lift in a rush of adrenaline and increase her heart rate. The hairs on her body prickled in response to the low, silken tone as it spoke three words. “She is here.” A voice she had only dreamt of hearing again.

    There was movement in front of her, and her hood was removed revealing two bright blue eyes gazing into hers. They captivated her again, just as they had done the night he had come to the party.

    “Tamir, you came for me.”

    “I couldn’t leave you there under that fat pig!”

    Tamir almost spat the last word, his hand coming up to Iona’s face and cupping it.

    “But he will come after you. I am not worth his wrath.”

    “I am not scared of him. He can not touch me. He knows that.”

    “But Tamir, he was to take me as his bride at the next full moon.”

    “Then he will be too late, as I am going to take you as mine right now.”

    Tamir clapped his hands and people rushed round them. Someone freed Iona’s hands while several women dressed her in the finest cloth, grooming and cleansing her as they went. Iona could only watch in amazement as Tamir was also dressed in fine white silk robes, highlighting his dark sleek features, and striking eyes. Then he took her hand and stepped towards the Bedouin priest that had just appeared at the far end of the tent.

    Never did she imagine feeling such joy on her wedding day.

    695 Words
    @PurpleQueenNL

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  8. True Blue Heart

    The sun is edging over the horizon as Frank McCabe parked behind the squad cars.

    Lupe Antonini meets him at the curb. “Morning. Got a disturbance -”

    He glares at her. “You know the rules.”

    A man in a blue suit joins them, smiles at Antonini, and hands her a mug of coffee. “Black, as requested.”

    Without so much as a ‘thank you,’ she takes the coffee and hands the coffee to McCabe. “There. Rule two can officially kiss my ass.”

    The suit frowns. Over the coffee or over the language, it’s hard to say.

    McCabe take a drink.

    Antonini resumes her conversation. “Okay, boss. This is a simple child neglect call.”

    McCabe looks over the brim of the cup. “Then why am I here?”

    “You want to be here. Trust me.”

    “And why are the uniformed officers standing around outside?”

    “You don’t want them in there. Not yet.”

    He hands the empty cup to the suit and says to Antonini, “Am I going to need my gun?”

    “Hard to say. Gonna need a lot of tact, at the very least.”

    He nods. “Gun it is.”

    *****

    He gets to the door, sees its open, sees beyond into a room littered with dirty clothes and trash. “Hello?” No answer, so he steps inside, lets his eyes adjust to the dimly lit interior.

    He hears the splashing of water and moves towards it, palm on the butt of his gun. Antonini wouldn’t send him in without clearing the premises beforehand but best to be safe.

    Rounding a doorway, he finds himself in a kitchen occupied by a woman washing dishes while a new baby sleeps in the sling on her shoulder.

    He keeps his voice calm, even. “Ma’am?”

    She continues scrubbing a frying pan. “You can kill the negotiator voice.”

    He leans against the fridge. “Didn’t want to startle you. Care to tell me what’s going on?”

    “This is Kip and Jensen’s place. Neighbor called me at two this morning to say they left yesterday afternoon and haven’t been back. Baby’s been crying off and since.”

    He lets his gaze skim the curves of her hips. “Why did you get the call instead of Kip’s mom?”

    She shuts off the water, reaches for a towel and turns to face him. “She’s in rehab again. Kip just got out last week. Swore to his counselor, the court, and to me that he was going to stay clean this time.”

    He waits a few beats, before saying, “You know Social Services is outside, right?”

    She shakes her head. “Little Lucas isn’t going anywhere. I’m his legal guardian. Had to take car of that before he was born because Jensen was on probation and Kip was still messed up.”

    “Come on. I need to get the team in here. Let me take you home and we can sort things out after you’ve had some rest.”

    She hesitates. “I think they’re in trouble, Frank. Serious trouble.”

    He nods. “I’m afraid you’re right. I’m so grateful that John … you did a great job with him, Morgan.”

    She heads down the hall. “He was happy you made it to the game this week.”

    “Are you kidding? First varsity game? Wouldn’t have missed it.”

    She pauses at the door. “Truth is, Frank, I didn’t raise John alone. You never give yourself enough credit. If you’re still coming to dinner tomorrow night, I’d be happy to remind you about one or two good things in your favor.”

    “I look forward to it,” he says, chuckling and opening the door for her.

    When they get to the street, he eyes the social work in the blue suit and says, “You’ll have to go back to the office empty-handed.”

    “But sir -”

    He waves off the protest. “Ms. Phillips will bring the baby to your office for an examination this afternoon, at her convenience.”

    *****

    Antonini elbows the blue suit, preventing further argument. “And that is why he never made Captain, Mr. Perkins. Rule number one. His family comes first.”

    “Family?”

    She pats the suit on the back. “Buy me another cup of coffee and I’ll explain the complicated ways of love to you, my friend.”

    – – – – –
    @bullishink / 694 words

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  1. Pingback: #MWBB Week 2.42 – Ishq Love and the Veil | My Soul's Tears

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