Wednesday May 9th, 2012

The exercise:

Show me what you've got for: the offer.

T-minus six months until baby is due to arrive. Goodness me.

Kat's dad and I got the final beam constructed and installed tonight. The plan is to pick up the joists tomorrow and try to figure out what we're doing with them. Once that's sorted out we'll get them all attached and then we get to explore our options for the decking.

Can't wait to get this thing finished.


The stink of the open-air sewers hung heavily in the air, assaulting us from every angle. Every surface seemed coated in it, greasy with the castoffs of a society too vainglorious to ever be seen in such a place. I may have belonged there but I should have gone alone.

I should never have brought my daughter.

We wound our way through the crowd of lost souls and diminishing futures, hand in hand. I did my best to shield her from contact, to keep her pure and untainted. There was no real hope for either though, not once we set foot in the market.

The stall I sought was at the far end of a narrow alley lined with snoring drunks. My daughter squeezed my fingers a little more tightly as we approached the three-toothed vendor but gave away no other indication that she might be scared. Such a brave one, my little girl.

"What you want, Rogers?" the vendor asked, cleaning the dirt out from beneath his fingernails with a rusting knife.

"The same as always, Oliver." It was difficult by then to not sound as resigned as I felt. "Food or work. Work or food. You got either?"

"No jobs today," Oliver said. He took a moment to hock a wad of dark saliva on the ground before continuing. "A bit of food though, if you can afford it."

"What's your price?" Some questions you ask even though you don't want to know the answer.

"That depends," he replied, running a discolored tongue across his lips as he gazed at my daughter, "what you're willing to offer."


Greg said...

I think you should stand the joists all upright and build a Canadian Stonehenge, only out of wood :)
There's a lot of atmosphere in your piece today, from the stink of the sewers to the low-lives inhabiting your market. I really liked the line about 'lost souls and diminishing futures'.

The offer
Graffiti was scrawled across the walls of the castle, it seemed like there hadn't been a stone that wasn't now tagged with some name or other. 'Red 5' seemed quite popular, and Littlejim wondered if perhaps if was a gang of some kind. He looked at it all, dismayed that he'd spent three weeks traipsing here to find what was obviously a ruin. Then the postern-gate creaked open, puffs of mould and dust shooting out from it like some booby-trap, and he panicked and tried to run away so fast he fell over.
"And what do we have here?" said an amused voice, deep and vibrant, almost musical. A boot connected heavily with his ribs, flipping him over onto his back and knocking the wind out of him. "A ragamuffin?"
"I'm Littlejim," wheezed Littlejim. "I'm looking for Queen Beauty."
"Oh ho? Oh-ho-ho!" said the voice. Littlejim could see now that it belonged to a man with red paint on his hands and an ill-fitting uniform of the castle guard. And an expression of amusement that suggested he knew lots of things that Littlejim didn't. "Queen Beauty is sleeping, as she has been for thirty years," said the man. "While she sleeps no harm can befall the kingdom, though obviously it can go to wrack and ruin since there's no-one to administer it. Why do want to see her?"
"I want to wake her," said Littlejim. "I want to offer her my service and be a Knight of the Kingdom."
The man with red hands laughed so loudly at that the birds in the trees took flight, and as they flew over the castle Beauty's spell took effect and they fell asleep in mid-flap and plummeted to the ground.

Morrigan Aoife said...

I shuffled to the bedside table and lowered the wick on a dingy oil lamp before returning to bed. The flame sputtered causing the shadows cast from it to prance along the wall; an ominous face appeared before me and smiled. Pulling the covers up to my neck, I squeezed my eyes tight, and whispered a prayer. Witlessly promising devout servitude to whichever deity might be willing to take pity on me in exchange for protection against my conjured foe.

Nine o’clock came as it always did. Bleary eyed from lack of sleep, I dressed and left the cramped attic, walking down the rickety staircase, out the door, and into the snow. It took only seconds to reach the bookstore, but I had no desire to go in. The heat from the fire inside had begun to melt the frost from the windows and I could just make out the form of Milo Macabre stirring the contents of a cooking cauldron. The smell of rabbit stew wafted through the panes whenever he lifted the lid.

Shifting restlessly from foot to foot I danced about in what was left of the slushy drift, trying to decide if the contents of the pot were worth seeing Milo again. The decision was not mine to make however because just as I had made up my mind to make a hasty departure, the door to the bookshop creaked open. Lost in thought I hadn’t seen Milo leave the fire and now he was standing inches away, watching me, with those, those hypnotic eyes!

“Won’t you come in Master Knox?”

Though the offer was extended, it was only a formality. We both knew I was going inside one way or another. After all I had seen him the previous night, I knew what he was capable of and I could only imagine what he might do to me if I didn’t comply. I’d sealed my own fate and now I had no choice but to come to terms with it. With an audible sigh, I allowed myself be guided into dusty bookstore.


Ah yes, The name change. I was going to explain that. I'll be making a number of short trips deeper into the woods this summer (camping w/ the kids) and i'll be leaving the computer behind but taking the phone. Trying to set everything up to come to one account and will post in as time allows and when I can find electricity and cell towers.

Cathryn Leigh said...

The offer

“And what is it you have to offer?” The aristocratic clerk looked down his nose at the paper before him. “Sex?”

Rachael chuckled slightly to herself. “Well that would depend on what you can offer in return.” She smiled and leaned forward until his eyes found her cleavage. “But you’re boss might not want the good spoiled first.”

The clerk snorted and tried not to look at her as she moved back to lounge upon the chair. “Your goods are already spoiled, just like every born spacer.”

Laughing, Rachael stood. “Oh I’m not at all spoiled. Not one bit.” She stepped forward to peer down at the clerk. “Nor am I a born spacer.”

She turned on her heal and began to leave. “Don’t worry I’ll give you a free lay when I see you at the ‘Cinco’ tonight.” She looked over the shoulder at the spluttering man.“Because that’s where I’ll be should your boss want to find me, or,” Rachael walked out the door, “if he fires you.”

Some days I wonder where Rachael gets all of this stuff... Can confidence like that really work, and such overt references to sexual favors? IS that really how I’m imagining things to work in the future... because there certainly seems to be a lot of it where Rachael is concerned. Plus, given her reputation as a pilot, there’s no way she’s as anonymous as she thinks she is. I just have no idea with this woman any more. :}

Heather Banschbach said...

Marc- Good lord man, get some sleep! That ended very creepy. It made me shutter.
It's not much of a story or entry, but I am hoping that writing something on it will actually make it easier to ignore it!

Wisconsin is still at political war. Things are not very pretty here and I wonder if there will ever be peace in this state or if we are permanently divided. The primaries are over and the election is in less than a month. Even before this, the airwaves were saturated in negative campaign ads. Its so much worse now that the candidates know who they are attacking. It's kind of how I feel about the election itself. It's not much of an offer, really. Either there is a change in the position of governor and little will change for a long while OR there will be no change in the person who is the governor and things will get so much worse so much faster. I'm not sure I can handle the stress!

(Very sadly, I will be out of the country and it does not look like the absentee ballots will be available until the day after I leave! Even if I have it mailed to me, I can't get it returned in time to count.)

Marc said...

Greg - glad you liked that one, as I fiddled with it for a long time.

Sigh, Tagged. Anyway. 'Oh ho ho' indeed. Love the ending :)

Morrigan - I guess I'll just have to get used to calling you that then!

Really enjoying this tale you're spinning. Great atmosphere and descriptions.

Cathryn - ah, the joys of seeing the world through your character's eyes. Fun to imagine doing some of those things yourself, especially the stuff you'd never dare to :)

Heather - yay, you've managed to log in again!

And yes, I do need more sleep. I suspect it's only going to get worse though, sorry.

Ugh. So much nonsense going on in the world.

That's ridiculous about the absentee voting - I don't see why it should matter when you get your ballot if the candidates are already decided.

You have my complete sympathy, and wishes for the best possible resolution.

Or should that be revolution?