Challenge Accepted!

A friend posted this to my private Facebook wall: 

She then challenged me to actually write such books. 

Well, I won’t write books… but I will attempt some short stories! Once I wrap up this “phase” of Barrelbottom, I’ll start posting some of these! 

(Incidentally, I didn’t post this last week… because I didn’t get around to posting. The stories are written; I’ll just post them next week on the “old” schedule of Monday-Wednesday-Friday.)  

I invite you to come along on this challenge. Can you write GOOD stories with the titles offered here? Good luck! 

 

 

Special Delivery to Melville

Bertha Ryder zoomed low over the Asphalt Sea, her nurse-white biplane Madame Stork rattling in the wind. She whipped off her cap, letting her short blond hair cool in the breeze. In the distance, the town of Melville loomed.

She checked her flaps, her speed, the wind, everything. Those whiteout cannons the town employed had taken down many a plane, and they didn’t always differentiate between friend and foe. She had to get in under fire, deliver her payload, and zoom away before anyone could stop her.

She was the only one in the entire corps that had ever successfully completed this mission.

The town rose over the edge of the horizon. Bertha noted that not a single boat was out fishing for glass bottles. No one scurried on the watchtowers.

Bertha groaned. Smoke rose from the bottling plant. Continue reading

Triune Artistry

Before there was time, there was God, existing in perfect unity as three distinct persons, a mystery no mortal mind can understand. In perfect harmony they wove the foundations of the earth, established the great expanse of the universe, designed all creatures great and small, and fashioned their most wondrous creation – man. The picture painted by Scripture is that of the three working together to bring forth all that is.

It is a humbling notion that this great Triune Artist would allow man, now fallen, to reflect his own creative quality and participate in the process of art. But in so doing, God expresses the beauty of his creation through the artist (or poet or wordsmith or sculptor, whatever you like; and all too often, he does so unknowing who works in him), and the viewer, in turn, gains a greater understanding of God’s creation through the artist’s work. In a way, this process reflect the Triune nature of God, for without the viewer, the art lacks purpose; without the artist, the art lacks form; without God, the art lacks meaning. The three work together to bring forth beauty.

Blizzard’s Mission

Vast expanses of the prairie faded into blazing white as the blizzard raged on. The man on the polar bear didn’t seem to mind. He kept his cowboy hat low over his face. He cradled a rifle in one hand and held the reins to his mount in the other. Behind him trudged a horse bearing several heavy packs of gold. The horse also pulled a litter made from the boughs of pine trees. Atop that litter lay a man swaddled in blankets.

Tawny Yates was greatly displeased in his position.

As Elvira, his horse, kept plodding into the fierce wind, Yates worked at his bonds. He couldn’t move too quickly, though. Sure, the bounty hunter had treated the wound in his shoulder, but he’d still been shot.

Twice.

How did that hunter move so fast?

Anyway, he had to get away. If this fellow brought him back to town, he was a dead man no matter what. Folks didn’t usually survive hangin’. At least out here on the prairie he’d die free. Continue reading

The Conversion of Wasteful Armed Robert

Wasteful Armed Robert crumbled to the shining onyx floor, gasping for breath. Velociraptor Ninja bowed toward a bloodruby throne and paced backwards a few steps, keeping its head low.

A form swathed in milky-white robes, a hood shadowing its face, sat upon the throne. Long, delicate fingers gripped ornately-carved arms on the seat. The form leaned forward and a whispered voice asked, “Now, Wasteful Armed Robert, prove worthy of the salvation my agent has visited upon you. Tell me all you know of the plans of Big King Violent Llama.”

The man climbed off the floor to his knees, keeping his eyes on the dark floor. He gasped a few times, letting the cool air fill his lungs. His ribs ached. “She Who Resides on the Throne of Parched Lips, I can tell you little. Big Kong Veelunt Wamba glar nik drama degund.”

The form on the throne raised a hand. The fingers worked an ornate pattern in the air, tracing infernal shapes. Finally, the fingers pressed their tips together before releasing them in a burst. “The fool llama thinks his magicks can resist me?”

Wasteful Armed Robert blinked. “I can talk! I can talk!” He smiled and bowed low. “You have my allegiance, great Queen of Thirst.”

“Then… tell me.” Continue reading

Brahaman’s Emporium of Cakes and Tobacco

Sam braced herself before entering Brahaman’s Emporium of Cakes and Tobacco. The place smelled of used cigarettes, but she wanted a cake for Si. Not too many authors rejected a good cake, so her options were limited. It was this or Al’s Erotic Cake Barn. And that was just a no-go.

The door chimed a catcall as she entered. A man with thick glasses and thin mustache stood behind the counter. “Ah! Welcome! Are you here to explore the wonderful world of cigars, or perhaps to order a cake for a special someone? Ah! You have the glow of someone who is in love. We have heart-shaped cakes as well as the traditional circle and octahedron cakes!”

Sam smiled, breathing through her mouth. “Can I special order a cake?”

“Of course! Let me take out an order sheet.” The man ducked under the counter and began rummaging around. Continue reading

Crowns on a Date, Sort Of

Sparrows darted through the narrow alley, their dark eyes taking in every dark corner, every bit of refuse, every shining scrap of foil, every crumbling brick. Someone with a quick eye might notice that each clutched a tiny barbed spear in its talons. They flapped from the tops of light fixtures to windowsills to rooftops to the edges of fetid puddles. Dozens of them circled the alley, chirping to one another, until one lapped the alley one last time and out again.

It flapped out onto the grand streets of Barrelbottom. It dodged through the legs of a girafftaur and over the head of a wrinkled dwarf, through a gaggle of giggling geisha and at last to a table at a French café.

It landed lightly on the glass tabletop and bowed. “Mah Lady Sparrowsong, the alleyway is free of mice. We find none of the enemy. The way, it is safe.”

The young woman with the short, dark hair and the dark, dark eyes regarded him. “Sentinel Behri, your service has been noted. Continue surveillance.”

“Yes, mah princess.” The sparrow darted away as quickly as he had come.

Rathair watched him go. “Should we follow? I mean, we don’t want them to think they’re doing something for nothing.”

A smile sprouted on Sparrowsong’s lips. “Come on. This is the first time I’ve been away from my subjects in so long. And this? This coffee thing? It really is nice.” She sipped at her cardboard cup. “It makes me a little tingly.” Continue reading