The Goddess Blesses

wildflowers

© Sue Vincent

Hadad took Ellil’s hand as they walked down the trail flanked by great fields of yellow wildflowers.

“It’s so pretty here, don’t you think, Hadad?” She squeezed his hand as she looked up at him. He turned his head and she could see his large, deep brown eyes. They looked so beautiful, so romantic.

“Yes, it’s very nice here.” He didn’t always know what to say to her although he was known as a “smooth operator” at school, or at least that’s what his friend Utu called him. He said he got the term from one of those old movies they show on TV late at night. Hadad thought Utu secretly pretended to be an American gangster from the 1940s instead of a fifteen-year-old culture geek too shy to even look at a girl.

He could hear the “crunch” of their footsteps on the gravel and sand as they walked nearer to the copse of trees ahead. Spring had begun only hours ago, but thanks to the Goddess, the world around them was green and growing with life.

“Did you really see them? I mean, you’re not just making it up, are you Hadad?”

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Haaninin’s Friend

crow

© Sue Vincent

For many years, Franklin Long took morning walks along the river. When he was young, his walks were runs, even in the winter when it snowed. As he got older, the runs slowed to walks. Finally, in his twilight years, he started using a long stick to support himself and he rarely walks alone anymore.

“What’s that over there, Grandpa?” Franklin’s youngest grandson, twelve-year-old Foster pointed away from the river bank, just a few hundred feet ahead of them.

“We must wait, Foster. This is a solemn ceremony.”

“But Grandpa, they’re birds.”

“No, Foster. They are crows.”

They both watched with interest, though Foster’s hands and feet were starting to get cold.

“There must be a hundred of them in that circle. Aren’t groups of crows called a ‘murder’?”

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Grandmother Spider

spider web

© Victor and Sarah Potter

“Grandfather, you let that creepy spider build her web in your kitchen?”

“Charlotte, don’t be unkind. Grandmother Spider is very important here.”

“But Grandfather, what if the spider tries to crawl on me?” The nine-year-old girl hadn’t visited Grandfather in years and didn’t remember spiders being in his house.

“She is very kind and keeps all manner of pests out of my house. Besides, she’s very old.”

“Will she die soon?”

“I hope not. She brings a very warm light into my house and into my world, just like you do. Now let’s see what we can make for dinner.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge for 12 January 2018 (although she put “2017” in the title). The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

The spider and vintage lighting fixtures reminded me both of an older person’s home and “house spider” myths. Supposedly, you’re not supposed to kill the house spider (though my wife has me do so on a regular basis), but a quick Google search didn’t yield any specifics. Finally, I looked up Spider Mythology and Folklore.

There are any number of legends that depict spiders in a positive light including this one:

Cherokee (Native American): A popular Cherokee tale credits Grandmother Spider with bringing light to the world. According to legend, in the early times everything was dark and no one could see at all because the sun was on the other side of the world. The animals agreed that someone must go and steal some light and bring the sun back so people could see. Possum and Buzzard both gave it a shot, but failed – and ended up with a burned tail and burned feathers, respectively. Finally, Grandmother Spider said she would try to capture the light. She made a bowl of clay, and using her eight legs, rolled it to where the sun sat, weaving a web as she traveled. Gently, she took the sun and placed it in the clay bowl, and rolled it home, following her web. She traveled from east to west, bringing light with her as she came, and brought the sun to the people.

The Hopi legends also attribute the creation of humanity to the Spider Woman and Sun god.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Troublesome Princess

princess in a tree

Created by Warwick Goble (1862-1943)

“I will not marry you, Prince Abo. Go away.”

“You cannot stay in your tree forever, Princess Yasuko. You are of age now and our parents betrothed us to each other in our seventh year.”

“I don’t care. You are a pig. I will stay in the Empress Tree until I die if you don’t go away.”

“Oh my dear Yasuko. I have called the wood-cutter. Look, he approaches.”

It was true. Tradition required that once they were bonded by the arrangement of both their parents, Yasuko must marry Abo upon reaching her eighteenth year. She had been dreading this day since her Mother the Queen gave her the news eleven years ago.

She had grown up with Abo and knew him all too well. He was pampered and spoiled, demanded that his every whim be catered to immediately. Worse, he was cruel to animals, catching birds only to deprive them of their feathers and then freeing them in the courtyard as helpless prey for the cats.

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The Raven Queen

snow white huntman queen

© Jeff Simpson

The Raven Queen was ancient, perhaps as old as the Flood of Noah or even older. She had possessed many names and many guises over the long millennia depending on which people she chose to bless or curse, their languages, traditions, and the like. She had her favorite identities so when apart from the places of men, she would adopt one that pleased her.

She was also very moody. She could create, deceive, protect whole nations, or murder Kings. It was just a matter of which side of the celestial and metaphorical bed she woke up on in any given age.

“What shall we do today, Kutkh?”

“Call me Ishmael,” the archetype perched upon her shoulder replied.

“You jest certainly. Quoting a work of man again? Melville won’t write that line for centuries.”

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Double Take

Gemini

A representation of the constellation Gemini

“Who are you?” Kas hated that the first thought that popped into his head when he answered the door had to do with looking into a mirror.

“May I come in?” The man looked exactly like Kas except for the clothes which were a hell of a lot more expensive than he could possibly afford.

“What do you want?” Kas had just moved from Newport News, Virginia to Seattle a month ago for a new job and he knew almost no one except a few people at work. He expected to spend Christmas alone but now he had to face it with his doppelgänger.

“My name is Pol. I promise I mean you no harm. I’ll only stay a minute, but I have some presents for you. May I come in please?”

Kas looked down at Pol’s gloved hands and saw he was holding two small wrapped boxes each with a tiny red bow on top.

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Time is the Fire

kala

Cover for the digital music album Aporia​:​Kāla​:​Ananta by Wolvserpent

Los Alamitos, California – Friday, 3 November 2017 – 8:01 a.m.

He knew she had been terrified, desperate, but that was no excuse. Without balance the universe couldn’t exist, well except for that imbalance called entropy. The universe was moving slowly, inexorably from order to disorder, but Yama couldn’t let the breakers accelerate that process. Damn Kāla for the mess she’s created, that is if one can damn a goddess.

She is here, the breaker, he could sense her presence, her non-conformity, her being out of place and time. He would find her in this strange country with its paved roads and automobiles, this land hardly populated in the time she came from. But then from her point of view, this place was far better than the one from which she escaped.

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The Wrong Temple

columns

The Rostral Columns at Vasilyevsky Island, St. Petersburg

“This isn’t how I remembered it, husband.”

“I believe we’ve lost our way. Come.”

“No!” She shook off her brother’s hand. “Something’s familiar here, yet alien. This can’t be my temple.”

“It’s been thousands of years.”

“Take your hands off of me, philanderer. Which slut were you with last night? Artemis? Circe? That whore Aphrodite?”

“Sister…”

“Don’t you sister me, Zeus!”

“Olympus awaits, Hera. You shouldn’t have returned. We’re forgotten.”

Tears formed in the eyes of the goddess of women and marriage. “I suppose you’re right.”

Then she turned on him in anger. “I still think you want to get back to Olympus because you’re screwing another immortal harlot.”

“Please, wife.”

Hera consented allowing Zeus to escort her back to Olympus, missing the gleam in his eye as he gazed at the fetching St. Petersburg lass admiring one of the Rostral columns. After Hera was settled down, he’d be back.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to take a Google street view image of the location presented and use it as the inspiration for crafting a story of no more than 150 words. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to St. Petersburg, Russia. I had to do quite a bit of searching and clicking around, and I even changed my story idea completely before settling on what you’ve read above. Go to Wikipedia to read about the Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange and Rostral Columns. I drew my inspiration from the columns being styled after the Temple of Hera at Paestum. Hera was the Greek goddess of women and marriage who married her brother Zeus, and has always been jealous of Zeus’s other lovers. Here, I had Hera getting a little lost, mistaking these columns for her temple. On the other hand, Zeus seems to know exactly what he’s looking for.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com. Don’t be shy. If an image of St. Petersburg inspires you, contribute a wee story of your own.

Shuǐmǔ

bike

© Dorothy

“Bai. don’t give up now. She must be nearby. I can feel it.”

“We’ve pedaled long enough my brother Heng. It’s a hoax.”

“No. If we find her, we’ll be rich.”

“There is no ‘her’, Heng. We are being manipulated by a wealthy eccentric.”

“Send 68 pairs of contestants on tandem bicycles to search for the Shuǐmǔ? Why would anyone do such a thing if she wasn’t real?”

“Who knows? Boredom? Proving that people are basically stupid? Maybe he’s right.”

“The Shuǐmǔ is supposed to be a priceless treasure. The indicator, Bai. We’re close.”

Heng suddenly jumped off the bike and ran toward a building surrounded by dozens of identical bicycles. He ran inside.

“Heng, wait.” Bai’s shorter legs were pumping as fast as they could.

“Statues. Nothing but statues.”

“Heng, I recognize these statues. Our competition.”

“Hello, boys. I guess you found me,” she smirked.

Shuǐmǔ

Shuǐmǔ

Heng turned to stone before Bai’s eyes. Then Bai too became unmoving.

“When will that old fool stop sending his pawns after me? Money cannot buy the services of Medusa.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW writing Challenge for the week of August 8th. The idea is to use the image above to craft a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long, with 150 being the ideal. My word count is 175 exactly.

I started writing with no clear end in mind, not even a real story. I just thought of two brothers being part of a competition, not a race so much as a scavenger hunt to find something valuable. I needed a tragic end which is when I wondered if the name “Medusa” has a Chinese counterpart. As it turns out, it does.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

K is for Kangaroo

k is for kangaroo

© James Pyles

There was nothing but darkness, and then there was light.

Daniel woke up with a headache surprised to be alive. The last thing he remembered was Gerald the Rooster expanding to fantastic proportions, growing to become a prehistoric nightmare, and engulfing the ten year old in its ebony wings.

Then he was here, wherever “here” was.

“The farm?”

It sort of looked like the farm, but not really. There were structures in the right places, the farmhouse, the chicken coop, the barn, but they all had an air of unreality to them, as if they were just “bookmarks” for other objects.

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