Stitch Up

donmatthewspoetry.com

The UPS driver had a lot of explaining to do. His livelihood counted on it. He had been doing his deliveries, and as was his practice turned off the engine and applied the handbreak before jumping out to leave the package in an inaccessible corner of the customers’ garden shed.

When he returned to the street, he found his van missing, and it didn’t take long to discover that it had rolled from his stopping place, down the road, and eventually off a hill. The police arrived soon after and sought his credentials and started to ask ackward questions about his parking procedure.

Little did the unfortunate driver know that he was but the latest victim of Abernathy Clarke, “The Stitch-Up Artist.” Be sure to see it all on Thursday’s episode on Channel 6.


Padre

Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #138

Life’s Little Rewards

Sebastian Czubachowski at ephotozine.com

Danny and Scruff waited patiently with their noses pressed to the panes. They each knew that the highpoint of their daily routine was about to occur.

Any minute now, Scruff though, and he braced himself for the exact moment to get most satisfaction from the experience.

Danny too was sure that it was only a matter of time.

Then, there it was, the red van stopped across the street. The postman stepped from the vehicle and angled to the neighbours’ house.

Our turn next, Scruff mused as the tension grew.

Then it happened!

Danny let out an excited giggle as the mail slot in the front door “pooped” envelopes onto the floor.

At the same instant, Scruff let out his best bark in the certainty that he will have made the letter carrier jump.

Life’s little rewards! They could hardly wait until tomorrow.


Padre

Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #136

The Dune Wars Lesser Tales

After a long delay, one of the Dune Wars Lesser Tales will soon be coming out as an ebook on Amazon. While parts of this work have previously found their way to this platform, the complete story will tie together loose ends and hopefully make for some enjoyable reading.

Though thought to have been extinct for hundreds of years, reports of a dragon have been circulating in a remote and secretive kingdom. Heroes from the great kingdoms of the age have tried and failed to battle the beast. Now an unlikely champion has emerged. He is the Dragon Hunter.


Padre

Mystic Encounter

Campfire, Ash, Wood Ash, Grilling, Firewood, Hot
Pixabay

The pair entered through glade into a clearing that was obscured by fog. At the centre there was a fire, the source of the the light that had led them that way. Seated at the fireside was a crone, tending the flames and occasionally tossing pinches of some herb into a boiling pot.

“Welcome Jan. Oh, and Oskar too,” she said with a gravelly voice.

The brothers stared at each other and then back to the mystic figure before them.

“Are you surprised that I know your names? Why, I have known who you were since you were lads. Your identity is no secret to me. In fact, I have been waiting for you. You certainly have taken your time to arrive,” she said with a low cackle.

“How . . .. Who?” Oskar stammered.

“That’s no interesting tale,” the crone responded. “Let us just say I knew your mother, and her mother as well.”

“And have we met you before? I am sorry, but I don’t recognise you,” Jan said.

“You have indeed, but you were but babes.”

“And you say you have been waiting for us?” Oskar asked.

“Why yes, for days now.” You really were rather foolish with that chest, if you you don’t mind me saying. It is a greedy guts, that one. But good to see you didn’t waste too much time on trying to get your coins back.”

“How . . .?” Jan began.

“It’s all in the pot, Lad. It’s all in the pot,” she said throwing another pinch into the bubbles. “Now, you are running late my dears, so you can’t dally. You need to go north to Ringstead, and look beneath the bridge. You will know what to do then,” she said emotionlessly.

“North?” Jan repeated with a puzzled tone. “We have just come from the north.”

“North,” the crone said again, and threw a handful of red powder into her pot. Suddenly their was a bust of steam, and then the clearing was bathed in sunlight and all that remained of the crone and her fire was a cold ring of ash.”

“North?” Oskar asked.

“North,” Jan said with a resigned tone.


Padre

Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge: Use fire, mystic, and identity in prose or poetry

The Chest

brown wooden box
Jouwen Wang

It couldn’t really be called light.  It was more of a glow of energy, but its presence was real.  Oskar gestured to Jan to sweep around the chest, and the two would approach it from opposite sides at the same time. 

“On three,” Oskar mouthed, a command Jan acknowledged with nod.

At the count of three, Jan jerked the chest open from behind while Oskar steadied an arrow should something untoward emerge from the chest.

Nothing – there was nothing in the chest.  Its interior was dark and vacuous, yet the exterior of container continued to glow.

“What do you think?”  Jan asked.

“I’m not sure,” Oskar responded.  “It looks empty.”

Jan rifled through a pouch on his belt and withdrew a silver coin and tossed it into the chest.  It rolled around the bottom of the chest and came to a stop and fell over.  Suddenly a second silver coin appeared next to it.

“Hmm, try again,” Oskar instructed.

Jan dropped in a copper coin, and brass token.  These behaved much as the silver coin and again multiplied.

“I think we are on to something,” Oskar said with excitement in his voice.  “Throw in your gold.”

As Jan loosened his coin pouch from his belt, Oskar did the same.

“On three,” Jan said. “One, two, three.”

Both brothers tossed their pouches into the chest at the same time, and they landed with a heavy thud.

The chest shuddered and then the lid slammed shut.  A couple of seconds later the lid opened only wide enough to expel the brass token and the empty pouches before closing again with a firm click.

Try as they might the siblings could not open the chest. 

As they stood back to consider their options, Jan could swear he could hear the chest chuckling to itself.


Padre

Siblings

Knights, Warriors, Axe, Sword, Armor
Pixabay

Jan and Oskar entered the chamber and found the room empty except for a large chest in the centre of the space.  It had an eerie glow to it, but there was no indication that it was enchanted as Jan’s talisman did not glow in response to the chest’s sheen.

“Is this the one we are looking for?” Oskar asked.

“There is only one way to find out,” Jan replied.

“I hate this part,” Oskar said making a disapproving face.

“You only say that because it’s your turn.”

“Are you sure it’s mine?”

“Absolutely!”


Padre

Weekend Writing Prompt #222 – Glow in 94 Words

Quest

CCC144

Oskar and Jan stood where the pathway dead-ended and opened the scroll. Jan began to translate the ancient text aloud:

“Brave Adventurer, 

If you are at this point, it must be the 12th of August.  Leave the woodland and pass through the screen of tall grass and enter the field beyond.  At the centre of the field you will find a standing stone.  At precisely 2PM walk to the end of the stone’s shadow and dig two metres down.  You will find a clay jar which contains a key.  On the opposite side of the field you will find three gates.  Open the lefthand gate with the key and you will find a stone chest.  Open this chest and remove a further key from it.  Return to the stone and at 3:30PM dig at the limit of its shadow.  There you will find a chest, open it with the key and all will be revealed. 

Good luck, Adventurer.”

The pair followed the instructions, and in the chest they found a note:

“Return all to the way you found it, and place your quest scroll under a table at the nearest inn.  Well done brave Adventurer.  You will receive your reward from the barman.”

The pair again followed the instructions, and at the inn they received a voucher for 10% off their next quest.  The fantasy world isn’t what it used to be.


Padre

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #144

 

Dragon Scourge ( Part 10 )

Menacing Monstrous Wall Mounted Iridescent Dragon Head Wall Sculpture  Trophy NEW | eBay

In the aftermath of the Dragon scourge, Althonyr’s body was excavated from under the rubble and his head and wings mounted and used to adorn the wall behind the Viceroy’s throne. Soon after, representatives from several magical and alchemical guilds arrived to haggle over the great beast’s bones, nearly compensating the Viceroy for the fee he had paid to Wilfred and his company of Dwarves.

A few people made any comment on the seeming differences from Althonyr’s heart and those in the jars, however.

“Now that mind,” Runny quickly announced, “be on account that they be different species. The whole beast bein’ a Purple Cavecrawler, and the others be Reds.”

“Why yes,” the Viceroy’s chief alchemist piped in, in his own bid to seem authoritative. “Quite different creatures, I assure you,” he said to the assembled gainsayers.

The result, of course, was that the matter was laid to rest by such an “official” declaration.

Later, on the Viceroy’s recommendation Wilfred was knighted, as was Runny, being dubbed Sir Runnyreer Roundbottom. The now Lady Plucky, was thrilled by the honour, though it was all seen as a nonsense to Runny himself.

Wilfred was inundated by offers from cities as far afield as Nordland and the Sultanate to come and reenact the epic Battle of the Worms. These performances netted Wilfred and the Dwarves quite lucrative honoraria.

The Dragon Hunter’s reputation was now firmly set, and he and his team were summoned by rulers and officials for all manner of mysterious dealings, most of which their distinct talents transformed into profit.

That was until they received a desperate missive from the Sealands about a sea monster plaguing that nation’s coasts. That, however, is a tale for another day.


Padre

Dragon Scourge (Part 9)

As it neared five o’clock, Shortwhisker was preparing to light the fuse of another flame effect. It was then that he caught the glimpse of movement inside the cave. His jaw dropped and he involuntarily dropped his taper as he backed away from the apparition of an eight metre purple Dragon.

Runny caught glimpse of it at about the same instant. “It’s, it’s . . . ,” he stammered.

“A ‘reality’ Dragon,” Wilfred said completing his friend’s sentence, and against his better judgement drawing his sword.

“Really?” Althonyr asked incredulously.

Wilfred looked at his sword and then back at the dragon.

“Um, yes, I suppose so,” the Dragon Hunter replied.

Althonyr’s first inclination was to dispatch these nuisances and get back to his nap, but it had been all too long since he had the opportunity to manipulate a human.

“I see you are with Dwarves,” the great beast observed. “I hate Dwarves,” he then muttered giving a side glance at Runny. “So, what do you intend to do, Sir Knight? Or is it My Lord?” the Dragon asked cooly.

“Um, it’s neither. You see I am a, ah, kind of a showman,” Wilfred tried to explain.

“How interesting,” Althonyr almost purred. “What might your performance entail, might I ask?”

“I – I, we . . . we travel about where there are reports of, um, Dragons and we put on a show of riding the place of them.”

“So, you kill dragons?” Althonyr asked accusingly.

“Ah, no, ah, to be honest you are the first we have actually encountered. As I said it’s a show.”

“How do convince your audience you have completed this monumental feat?”

“With props,” Wilfred said, backing away slightly as Althonyr stepped fully into the cave mouth.

“Props? How intriguing.”

“The Dwarves fashion things like Dragon heads and we pass them off to the guilable.” Wilfred said quietly.

“I suppose there is a market for such theatrics. After all business is business; and speaking of business, I guess it is time for me to kill you now,” the Dragon observed.

What had gone unnoticed at this point was that Shortwhiskers’ taper had continued to burn and its flame had now inched its way to the fuse of the main charge which had been designed to bring the cave down. Suddenly there was a tremendous blast which threw Wildred and Runny ten metres and caused the entire upper chamber of the cavern to collapse.

When the smoke and dust cleared the cart that had carried the props was overturned and weapons were strewn all over. At the former cave mouth, Althonyr lay trapped under tons of stone with only his left shoulder and head exposed.

“Showman, what have you done?” the Dragon gasped. “My back is in agony, and I can’t feel my legs. Dig me out, and I will spare you.”

It was obvious however that the great worm was going nowhere. One of the prop harpoons had pierced his neck with the force of the blast, and his back and wings were broken.

Wilfred rose and dusting himself off he approached the disabled beast.

“Showman?” Wilfred asked. “I’m no showman. I’m the Dragon Hunter,” he announced.

“I will pay you handsomely,” Althonyr pleaded.

“I don’t think you could match what I will get from this,” Wilfred said. “‘After all business is business; and speaking of business, I guess it is time for me to kill you now.” With that Wilfred and Runny drove the harpoon deeper into Althonyr’s neck. Thick blood spewed forth and the light went fron the Dragon’s eyes.

“I am of the mind that this looks about perfect,” Runny said. “A few details here and there, but it will do the treat.”

One of the heart jars was broken beyond use, but the red heart in it was transfered to the jar that had contained the purple one. That heart was in turn buried and a large rock slid by all of the Dwarves over its location. Meanwhile, Plucky was sent to the palace to invite the Viceroy and his retainers to “the site of battle.”

By the time the officials arrived the four red-heart jars were arranged two on either side of Althonyr’s head. Wilfred was seated on the overturned cart, and all signs of pyrotechnic equipment had spirited away by Digger, Breaker, and Shortwhisker. Runny and Wetwhistle wandered about the site drawing a diagram which detailed the epic battle, the death of the four Reds in the bowels of the cavern, and the final confrontation of Wilfred and the “Great Purple Worm.”


Padre

Dragon Scourge (Part Eight)

Explosion, Fire, Forest, Nature
Pixabay

Digger, Breaker, and Shortwhisker spent a good part of the evening cutting charge holes and setting explosives. They then exited the cave to prepare the pyrotechnics display that was to be viewed from the town and palace. About midnight they made their way back to the forge to get some much needed rest.

“You lads all finished?” Runny asked as they entered.

“Aye, but you didn’t but half find the hardest stone my old bones ever had to drive a rod through,” Breaker complained.

“It were as if it be tempered,” Digger added. “It be done though.”

“Good, good,” Runny said. “Now get yourselves some shut eye.”

Runny ticked a few items of his list and then went to go cuddle down with Plucky who was already fast asleep.

“Only me, My Lovely,” he said as she started. “Go back to sleep. Busy day morrow.”

The Dwarves were up a little after dawn, and spent an hour after breakfast reviewing timings for the “big show” which was to begin at about three in the afternoon. The plan called for the three pyrotechnic Dwarves to take a circuitous route to the cave to avoid detection as Wilfred decked out in shining armour would again visit the palace to announce that the operation was beginning, and again stress the need for observers to keep their distance. Then he would ride boldly towards the cave followed by Runny and Wetwhistle and the cart of weapons.

Plucky stationed herself on the path leading to the cave site and added the jars of “Dragon hearts” to Runny’s cart as it passed. All was going according to plan and at five minutes past three, Shortwhisker launched a flare that gave the appearance of a stream of flame against the back drop of the dark hills.

These pyrotechnic effects were repeated at different angles according to Runny’s detailed time table, and on three occasions during the afternoon a white illumination charge was set off to create a bright enough flash as to project the shadow of a paper cut-out of a dragon through a lens against the hillside.

In the meantime, Runny helped to spread soot in patches across Wildred’s horse, while Wilfred himself singed his cape and applied soot to his armour and surcoat.

He then settled down to enjoy a pork pie and watch the fireworks.

* * *

Althonyr woke and opened a sleepy eyelid. What is that infernal banging?

It wasn’t that he hadn’t heard noise in the upper cavern before, humans occasionally entered to shelter from a storm or to have a look about. None stayed long, nor did they ever venture deep into the interior. In fact, it must have been twenty years since Althonyr’s slumber had been thus interrupted. This was different. The banging, no hammering, was getting annoying.

Althonyr stretched and scratched under his left wing. Then pushing his great mass upright, he retreated down a tunnel to an underground stream and had a drink. He then moved down to a deeper chamber and tried to resume his nap.

Some hours later, he was once again disturbed by the ringing cracks of some kind of explosion, and by bright flashes of light which stabbed at his eyes that had become accustomed to decades of darkness. This will never do, the great purple serpent thought, and once again roused himself to investigate.


R. V. Mitchell aka Padre