Storytime: Where the were?

Taking advantage of a creative moment here, more Rory Story Cube fun.

O’Hare shivered naked in the chill of the moonlit winter night, but not for long. His body soon stretched and twisted with familiar agony as his arms and hands turned to legs and paws and a pelt of heavy wolf fur rippled over his bare skin. Contorted into a new shape, he dropped on all fours and sniffed the air with his improved sense of smell, ears twitching expectantly. Yes, he thought. She’s close. O’Hare howled a greeting.

Another howl answered his call. A roar followed, one O’Hare was less impressed to hear. He wasn’t worried; the dorkasaurus seemed to be new to the were game and still finding his literal feet. Another call and response from him to her and soon he caught Maisre’s scent on the wind and joined her on a scrubby hill overlooking the poorly lit village. The dork hadn’t made it as far as the village yet, by the look of things: nothing obviously broken and nobody in the streets screaming.

Maisre licked his cheek and tilted her head downhill. Ready? her throaty growl implied. O’Hare sneezed in assent and down they trotted, staying low through the bushes, quiet and unseen on their way into town. Gordie and Stu were to join them north of the church, the four of them to meet their contact by the graveyard’s only mausoleum.

The contact was late. So were Gordie and Stu. Maisre hunkered down by a tombstone shaped like an angel playing baseball. She didn’t look worried. O’Hare, on the other paw, was filled with a nervous energy. Whatever quest they were supposed to be prepping for — well, he didn’t have all the clues. Stu was the knowledge carrier and Gordie their guide. And only they knew what the contact was supposed to bring to the game.

A light suddenly came on outside the church, illuminating them. Gordie and Stu stepped out of the church, man shaped and heavily dressed in furs and sturdy boots against the winter cold. “Change of plans, you two,” Gordie said without preamble. “Contact is in the yew trees waiting for us.”

The four ran through the graveyard and hopped the short wall separating the consecrated ground from the unconsecrated. O’Hare was dismayed to see who the contact turned out to be. It was the so-called dorkasaurus.

“I am Ebbron,” it stated quietly, although “quiet” still seemed loud enough to wake the nearby dead. Hackles raised, O’Hare looked around nervously, but the yew trees were tall and dense enough to conceal the noise and size of the Cerasinops.

Stu scratched his shaggy beard and consulted his time piece. “We don’t have all night, Cherry Face. Make this quick.”

“You have what I asked for?”

Stu threw a bag he was holding at the sauropod. Ebbron tore the bag open with its beak and inspected the contents in the low light, shuffling bits around with its toes, while waving its tiny arms with apparent excitement. O’Hare couldn’t make out what Stu had given him but Ebbron seemed pleased. “This will do nicely.”

“So, we’re in agreement?” Gordie nearly snarled. “You give for what we give.”

“Yes, yes,” Ebbron said, somewhat distracted. Was that a glint of gold? O’Hare wished he could get a better look. He also wondered why he and Maisre were commanded to attend this meet and greet in the first place. Their teeth could hardly make a dent in the skin of the dino if they’d been expected to be defenders of the men.

“A shimmer in the air, a glean,
a sparkle and a sheen,
and a ring upon
the toe of Ebbron

Past the graveyard,
past the church,
down the stairs
by the canal’s lock,
you’ll find the key
to fit the box.”

It seemed to O’Hare to be the makings of a spell. Sure enough, something bright glistened on the foot of the Cerasinops. Stu and Gordie wasted no time in making a run back to the wall they’d crossed before. With haste, and without looking back, the pair of werewolves followed them through the church yard and down to the water’s edge. Stu and Gordie hurried down the stairs to the lock controls. The men searched the space frantically, seeking the key, O’Hare surmised. Once again, he felt he had less than half the story to work with, but couldn’t change back to a man now to ask for details. He and Maisre traded glances. They put their superior noses to work, trying to sniff out anything that might be metallic in nature.

Maisre soon yipped and pawed at a piece of the brickwork, working some mortar loose with her claws. Stu finished the job with a penknife he’d pulled from his boot and had the brick loose, revealing a small recess. Inside that was something wrapped in a piece of leather. Stu pocketed it without a glance.

“You’re free to go.” He gestured at the pair of werewolves, dismissing them. Maisre turned to head back the way they came but O’Hare stood and whined for a moment; he thought they deserved an explanation. Dead stares from both men seemed to answer his question. There are no explanations. No payment either, apparently. Except their own continued lives. Annoyed but resigned, O’Hare followed Maisre’s lead back to the church and hill where they met that night, parting ways as usual. Game over, man.

O’Hare tapped his nose with his tongue to indicate he was done with the game session. The progress screen lit up in front of his eyes to record progress and awards (little, none) and booted his digital body out of the wolf world into the real one. He sighed and looked over at his wife and her terminal. “Points for finding the key, I see.”

Maisre O’Hare grinned. “You know it’s not a contest, Dennis.” She leaned over in her chair to kiss his stubbled cheek. “I’ve been playing longer than you, but you’re coming along. I’m sure Stu or Gordie will tell us what was in the mystery box at some point. Their part of the quest won’t finish tonight. We can ask them at the pub on Sunday. And Ebbron’s magic ring might make him human for a while but I think he’ll have to pay a high price for the privilege in the end. I suspect we can arrange to be around to see his downfall.”

“I kind of wish you hadn’t hooked me on this game, dear.”

“You don’t mean it, honey.”

“No, I don’t.”

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I’m bored, and I had some beer, so let’s do a story

Sure. I just got a new set of Rory Story Cubes, the action series. Let’s see what they can do. I split my sets into two small bags for self limiting reasons (also because I’m too lazy to buy a bag big enough for all the dice…)

Georgie Wynn was speechless. He’d been randomly wandering the streets of his home town on a Saturday morning, only to find a pop star window shopping a few doors away from where he stood. Flummoxed, he reached for his cell phone and tapped the camera app to snap a shot of B’trice, hoping her security detail never heard him shriek in shock at the random sight of her.

It wasn’t typical for him to be visiting the town; his parents were both dead, but a close cousin was getting married that afternoon and had insisted he be part of the wedding party. Georgie was only on Mill Street because he’d left his tie at home for some stupid reason and hoped one of the fancier tailor shops in the pricy district would have something puce, the colour his cousin, Dean, had been forced into finding for his half of the wedding party. (Georgie had always assumed it was a gross green. So wrong.)

B’trice turned and smiled at him suddenly. Georgie nearly fell off his feet with shock. Good lord, woman, you have fans around the world. Why in the seven hells would you be looking at me!? He was rooted in place as B’trice kept smiling at him and walked purposefully in his direction. The security retinue followed behind. “Do you live here?” she asked, as husky toned at 9:30 in the morning as she must sound at 1:00 am during a long show.

“Not these days, but did do, yah,” he said, stumbling over the answer. “Are you looking for something in particular?”

“I’d gone into that coffee shop yesterday afternoon,” she pointed toward a locally owned cafe across the street, “and had mentioned I was wanting to find a gym for a morning workout while I was here. Another customer turned out to own one and gave me the address to look for but I haven’t managed to find it yet.” B’trice called out to her main security dude, who recited the street and building number; Georgie recognized it as opposite the cinema and a street over from where they were currently standing and said as much. B’trice thanked him profusely and gestured for her crew to follow as she hurried through the empty intersection on her way to Werk-It!

While tempted to find a way to spend more time with the star, Georgie turned back to his original purpose with some regret; he still needed to buy a replacement tie for the wedding at three o’clock that afternoon. He checked his phone against the times on the tailor sign and saw the store had opened moments earlier. With faint hope, Georgie stepped in to explain his purpose. Mere moments later, he exited the small shop triumphant. He took this as a sign to take the long walk back to his cousin’s house, via the Werk-It! gym.

He’d just turned the corner when an ambulance roared past him, sirens wailing. The ambulance stopped at the curb in front of the gym and two attendants hurried around to grab the stretcher from the back and rolled it through the gym entrance. Someone worked themselves a little too hard? Georgie wondered. He was tempted to remain by the gym to see who’d roll out but it seemed a bit morbid. He continued his walk to Dean’s place to reassure the nervous young man that he’d be wedding ready and so would all his party.

That afternoon, flute music led the ladies in the wedding party down the aisle to the church altar to stand opposite the men. The audience turned in their seats to watch the lovely golden bridesmaids, then stood as the white-dressed bride herself made her appearance, nearly running down the aisle to eagerly join her future husband by the priest. Georgie smiled as the ceremony started for Dean and Mara, then strained to seem interested as it dragged on, as Catholic shows tended to do. Finally over he, and the rest of the fellows he barely knew, got the photo shoots finished with the girls and happy couple and was able to at last join the guests at the reception.

“Before we begin serving the meal,” Mr. Lanigan, Mara’s father, announced, “we sadly have to deliver a bit of bad news. Mara’s best friend from high school, Trish Marshall, will be unable to attend the evening reception. She was eager to provide us with musical accompaniment for today’s celebration but was unexpectedly taken to hospital this morning.” Murmurs from the audience. Georgie looked around. Hang on..Trish…

“Fortunately, it’s only turned out to be appendicitis, so we’re glad for that. The team at Werk-It! recognized her symptoms and called 911 immediately. She’ll be up and around in a few days and should still be able to honor any B’Trice ticket holders for the show on Thursday.” Applause. Georgie blinked several times, belated applauding as well. He’d had no idea B’trice was a home grown girl. Then he remembered; his sister, Suzanne, used to babysit for a Marshall family in town, and they had at least one daughter…wild. He’d been away from town so long, he’d had no idea whoever grew up to do what. He smiled then and called out to Mr. Lanigan. “If you can give me about twenty minutes, I can round up the rest of the old Wynn Ginbirds and fill in for your missing star. We’re a little out of practice as a group, but I still know my way around a set of drums…”

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Story time – the haunted house

Got a writing compliment at work today.. wasn’t for this story, but I like this story — date in my notebook is Feb 2016, and I still throw stories into it as I get creative.

The house had been boarded up a decade ago, maybe two. Most of the neighbouring houses were owned by young fixer upper couples who never knew the original owners of any homes on their streets so knew no history of it.

Kids had stories that it was haunted. Kids always do.

Tim and Kenny thought it would be cool to spend a night in the haunted house but, being twelve and seven, it was an adventure they’d never get to have, thanks to their parents.

“I’m sick of playing Trouble,” grumbled Tim as his younger brother won his third game. “I’d rather cause some.”

“Yeah,” Kenny laughed. “Like that’s gonna happen. Dad would kick your behind.” Kenny reset the coloured game pieces in the matching home spaces and boxed up the board to put away.

Tim rolled over onto his back and stared at the ceiling. He found his mind drifting to the school assignment he was supposed to finish on Christmas break but hadn’t started yet. The assignment had to do with the history of First Nations and he didn’t have a clue what to write about. He said as much to Kenny.

“What kind of games did those kids play with their little brothers?” Kenny asked.

“I don’t know.”

“If you found out, you could write about it.”

Sometimes Kenny seemed smarter than Tim and in those moments Tim just scowled at Kenny like he was a doofus.

As Kenny tried to balance the Trouble board on his head and walk around the living room, Tim left him to it and wandered into the kitchen. Mom and Dad had gone to some kind of soupy-goupy romance movie that afternoon and were taking themselves out for supper, leaving Tim in charge of feeding Kenny and himself. Being winter, the days were short and the sun was already down before he finished cooking the hotdogs.

Kenny chatted his way through supper but Tim barely paid attention. Their dining room window opened out on the curved road and down the hill a ways, where the one dark house still seemed to stand out beside all the cheery, festive lit ones. But tonight it looked like the house was a bit lit, too. Like with a flashlight, maybe.

Tim tapped Kenny’s shoulder and pointed out the window. “Get your coat,” said Tim. “There may be trouble.”

Kenny’s footprints trailed Tim’s in the new snow and he wished he could keep up easier. They hadn’t bundled up the way Mom always insisted before going out and he hadn’t remembered mitts or a toque. Tim was in too big a hurry to remind him, too.

“What if Mom and Dad come home and we’re not there?” Kenny’s breath puffed out in small clouds as he asked.

“They won’t.”

“You don’t know!”

“I’ll tell them we saw a stray cat in Mrs. Alberton’s flowerbed and chased it away. Now hurry up!”

The windows of the old house were too high for Kenny to look into and they were boarded up anyway. It was hard to see how anyone would have seen a light in there, but Tim shushed him when he brought that up.

“This isn’t a fairy story, Kenny. I didn’t make it up. I saw a light in there.”

Tim scurried around to the side of the house where an old tree had tipped its roots. It was leaning toward the house and tall enough that branches were scraping the shingles and siding each time the wind picked up. Kenny followed. He could see Tim’s thinking, but no branches were low enough to grab and swing up on like they would on monkey bars at school.

Tim took off behind the house but Kenny didn’t follow any further, choosing instead to perch on the rickety stairs out front and wait. He tried to curl up into his battered hand-me-down coat like a frozen turtle. He was shivering and his teeth were chattering something awful.

Tim came around to the front again moments later, looking dejected. “Let’s go home,” he said.

Kenny was too cold to cheer. They hurried back up the street and as Tim opened the door they could hear the phone ringing. Tim launched himself across the doorway and scampered to answer it before the ringing stopped. Kenny could hear Mom’s voice clear through the handset, chewing Tim out for not being close to the phone.

Kenny took off his boots, hung up his coat and gladly sat down on the kitchen floor register which had just started blowing warm air.

“I don’t think she bought the cat story,” said Tim a few minutes later. They both stared at the muddy tracks Tim had made over the living room rug on his way to the land line.

“I don’t think she’ll be glad you ran to get the phone, either,” stated Kenny.

Tim scowled at Kenny like he was a doofus.

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Not a damned thing. Just never get around to adding more content…

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A Question of Atheist Scruples – kids and their friends

Apologies for blur; too lazy to find the card again and reshoot.

Your 10-year-old son’s best friend is neglected by his single parent. Your house has become his second home. Do you ask his parent to assume more responsibility?

It can be rough to be a single parent. Without dragging actual family history into this, I can at least say that shit gets in the way of getting other shit done, sometimes.

The Young one is 9 and the Hubs and I have been together/married for half his life, give or take. (edit – I’ve been informed by the Hubs that it’s more like 2/3) But his mom’s still single and while she’s had a few relationship attempts, nothing’s been quality and long term stable. Without specific details, we’ll just say “stuff” happened and it was good the boy has had our house and love as a reliable cushion for his life’s other stresses.

He’s yet to bring friends over, though we’re willing to accommodate them should the request be put forward. (Perhaps he’s thinking I’d say no? No to that..)

I’ve said to the Hubs previously that it’d be cool with me if our house became the friend hangout, and not just so we’d know what kind of kids he’s hanging with. Maybe as he gets a bit older that’ll be more likely on a Friday after school or something…

As a bit of an aside, but still somewhat relevant, who in the audience grew up reading Baby Sitter Club books? I sure as hell didn’t, but the three of us have devoured every graphic novel copy available so far (five of them, four of which are illustrated by the fabulous and heartily recommended Raina Telgemeier). I’m quite tempted to find the originals now. Anyway, in the fifth GN (done by artist Gale Galligan and also good), Dawn’s been tasked with sitting for the Barretts, three kids whose mother is far busier with her career crap to focus on the kids and has Dawn filling in a lot more than Dawn likes. She’s stuck cleaning the whole house, checking homework, and basically momming things up while the actual mom is off and running. Things come to a head the day the boy, who’s outside playing, goes missing. Dawn and the rest of the club and neighbours pitch in to look for the kid. Police are called and everything. Turns out Mrs. Barrett had her calendar wrong and it was supposed to be the ex’s day with the kids, so Dad (thinking the mrs was home) took the boy to “teach her a lesson.” Great lesson. But, Dawn got through to Mrs. Barrett, and the kids, too, that some things are things Mom needs to be around to handle. Happy ending.

Long aside there. Point is, presuming we’d know the parent of this kid, perhaps we already know why our house has become the second home. Maybe the parent is working two jobs just to afford a nice house to live in. Maybe the parent just has really long hours at the one job for the same reason. But maybe there are other problems at home for why the friend would rather hang with us than Mom or Dad. Maybe it’s drugs/alcohol? Maybe it’s abuse? For either of those, I don’t think we’d want to let it slide, but I don’t know how much we’d be able to do about it. I wouldn’t want to kick him off the sofa if that’s what’s waiting at home for him…

Another one I don’t really have a solid answer for. Obviously if we can get through to that parent to say, hey, Ricky’s spending a lot of time over here. What’s going on with this? Maybe it’s just been a short term work issue that’s taking him/her out of the house so much, and things will settle soon. If it turned out to be something more serious, then I guess we would need to get official professionals involved. Best I can do here.

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Storytime- page 1

In an effort to be more creative, I’m pulling out my Rory’s Storycubes. No guarantees on story quality, but I’m going to roll a few cubes and see what happens in my brain for idea sparks as I roll each one. Here goes…

The padlock was old and rusted; the key missing. Amber Ross stood and stared at the beat-up steamer trunk, oblivious to the jostling crowd and chatter of serious antique hunters around her. She pinched and pulled on her lip with her fingers, thinking. She looked around for the seller. He was busy with an elderly woman bartering over the price of a rickety three legged table. Amber stared at the trunk again. What were the chances?

Gordy Ross finished explaining tattoo maintenance to his new customer who now sported a lightning bolt above one eye. The girl settled her bill and left the shop with a smile. He was mildly baffled why someone would set out to permanently mark herself to look like Harry Potter. Fandom got crazy, he supposed, but money was money.

Gordy’s mobile rang out the theme to Jurassic Park on melodica. He pulled it from his hip pocket and answered. “What up, twin?”

“Remember that story Granna Barker used to tell us? About her childhood? That boat trip from England?”

“Not this again” Gordy sighed. He sagged against the counter and rubbed his forehead with his free hand. He could hear the din of the flea market in the background and knew what she was going to say next. She’d found another trunk.

When they were children, they’d often been told the story by their great-grandmother. At a young age she’d been orphaned in London and sent abroad to live with whatever new family would take her. She was not the only child deported on that trip and belongings were mixed up and everything she had ever owned was lost in the shuffle and so on.

They were forty-four and Amber had been working the mystery for more than twenty years with little success. Amber had made it her life’s mission to somehow track down this missing trunk and contents. He adored his sister and understood the importance of family but Gordy never understood why the search possessed her so much. She was obsessed with their genealogy to the point of mania.

“You do realize I’d have better luck finding a dwarf mining gold; than you’ll ever have finding that damned trunk.”

“I’m buying it anyway. Come over after work and watch me open it.” She ended the call. He swore.

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A Question of Atheist Scruples – is this my business? edition

The only other person waiting at your bus stop is visibly upset and in tears. Do you say anything?

There are definitely some factors to think about here.

Is this a bus route I’m taking daily at the same time and used to seeing this person waiting at the stop with me every day? If that’s the case, perhaps I’d want to ask what’s wrong. But I don’t tend to be one who pries, so I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable interacting with a sobbing stranger, no matter how friendly we may have become as bus stop buddies.

Is this a teenager or someone even younger who’s clearly in serious distress or pain? Or elderly? Is there evidence of injury, or “just” sadness? I’d feel just as weird ignoring their obvious suffering, though, too. Yikes. I don’t know. I really don’t know with this one. Hopefully I won’t be heartless but I really don’t know if I’d want to get involved.

I don’t have a nice, pat answer to this question. Until I’m in this situation, I truly have no idea how I’d react in it.

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