Trip of a Lifetime

Hobbiton, Door, Fence, Movie Set

Image by Emma Farley from Pixabay

Howard could hardly believe his eyes when he saw the advertisement for “the ultimate Tolkien experience.”  The holiday package was being offered by a company called Gandalf Excursions based in Australia, and it featured an all-inclusive deal at an incredibly reasonable price.

With images of vacationing in some ideal Hobbit Hole in New Zealand, Howard rang the number and booked the very next opening with the agent.

The flight to Christ Church was long and tiring, and it may have been the fatigue of the first leg of the journey that made it so he didn’t wonder why his connecting flight was on a seaplane.  Although he didn’t want to miss a single moment of the experience, exhaustion got the better of him once the transfer was made, and he quickly fell asleep.

He woke to the revving of the plane’s engines, and he felt the shutter as the aircraft bounced on the waves as it landed.  It maneuvered into its moorings and the Tolkien fans were ushered onto a rickety wooden dock.  As they looked on in disbelief, clouds of thick yellow-green sulfurous smoke drifted across the bleak volcanic landscape.  Black sand and pumice ash covered the pathway to the rusty World War Two vintage Quonset huts that would serve as their accommodation during their stay.  A badly painted sign at the end of the dock read, “Welcome to Mordor.”


Travel Thursday #1: Your challenge today is to conjure up the best or worst trip imaginable and write a story or poem sharing it with the world.

Bird of Knowing

Idiophone: Bird of Prophecy (ahianmwen-oro)
16th–19th century (CC0)

Ahianmwen-oro – Messenger Bird,

The sound of you shaken –

Brings prophetic word.

In ritual acts, you bring from the sky,

Glimpses of the fate – empowering the king –

His people to bond, and even time – to defy.

With ceremony and trust –

The rhythmic bronze bird –

Helps shape history –

As its people are stirred.




Daily Writing Prompt: Ahianmwen-oro

Museum Link




The Find

The team at the Institute of Hellenistic Studies marveled at the tiny shard.  It was typical of the terracotta fragments within their collection, though the micro crystals of silicon within it were finer, and more evenly distributed than in most samples.  The decoration pigments were also nothing outstanding, but the piece had brought together experts, as well as the curious, from around the world.

“Doctor Patel, can you tell us more about the discovery?” Professor Johnson of the Institute asked, as the assembled scholars and academics viewed the overhead projection on the vast screen.

“Ah, yes, It was found on the second day of our survey in Sector Twenty.  It was found in what was by all indicators dry stream bed.  My support geologist came across it while taking sedimentation samples.  It is purely serendipity that it was found.”

The room erupted into muttered conversations, and not for the first time since the discovery had been announced.

Oxford’s Professor Browning called out, “Doctor Patel, can you clarify for us exactly where Sector Twenty is?”

“Yes, it is located in the Isidis Basin, not far from our ISRO* Mars 2 landing site,” Doctor Pavel replied.



Daily Writing Prompt Feb. #2

* Indian Space Research Organisation


The Arrival


Image result for sears catalogue 1880 stoves

It was the talk of the entire community.  Sam Welkes was getting a new cook stove all the way from Chicago, Illinois.   For Sam and his wife, Lottie, there was not going to be any more of that hit and miss cooking over open flame at the hearth.  No they were going to have balanced baking, and even winter heat.  Yes Sir, it was going to be the best thirteen dollars Sam ever spent.  Only problem was he had to go to the railroad station in Missoula to get it.  Oh well, what’s another five days by wagon when you have already been waiting since April?




Daily Writing Prompt #16: Prairie Settlement 


Image result for nigiri

Image: Yo Sushi

Fuji Ishikawa was the most renowned sushi chef in the prefecture.  His recipes were innovative, and yet key tenets of tradition always featured as well   His eatery, F’ishikawa was frequented by important businessmen and foreign celebrities.

It was therefore a headline worthy event when the head of Yamato Motors convulsed and collapsed while eating some sea bream nigiri.  The autopsy found that the tycoon had died of fugu poisoning.   Further investigation showed that the wasabi on Yamato’s plate was adulterated with the deadly blow fish toxin. The results were immediate.  Ishikawa’s reputation was is tatters, and he was arrested for negligence.

“We are very saddened by the untimely death of our founder and friend Yamato San,” Vice President Aito Tanaka said at the press conference following his appointment as Yamato’s successor.  “I will humbly attempt to fill the shoes of the great man.  May Yamato Motors, live on as his legacy.”

Later Tanaka visited his favourite sushi bar, Hansuke’s.  Since the disgrace of F’ishikawa’s, the restaurant had come to top the charts.  Despite the new prestige and bustle of the venue, few people noticed the envelope of cash that was passed from Tanaka to Hansuke Edo bearing the simple inscription, Win win!



Daily Writing Prompt #6: Culinary Mystery


Care, Human, Old, Love, Seniors, Health, Disease, Age


It was the big annual promotion drive at the Eucalyptus Acres Retirement Community.  The open house event featured spry elderly residents playing tennis, taking Salsa dance lessons, and having a lively and highly social life.   Visitors, and especially the media and perspective future patrons, were shown what a quality life old age could be in facilities like Sydney’s Eucalyptus Acres.

An anonymous note had been passed to a journalist at the close of the previous year’s event.  It suggested that not all was as it seemed in the complex.  With that in mind, the investigative reporter, Nancy Howard kept her eyes open and her cameraman close as she attended this year’s do.

After getting the usual shots, and taping the chief executive’s promotional speech, Nancy slipped quietly down a side corridor.   There she found that the hallway was shorter than its twin in the other direction, and in fact seemed to end abruptly with heavy curtains blocking the way.  Nancy, cameraman in tow, pulled back the drapes to find a day room filled with the most feeble and emaciated people she had ever seen.  Yes, behind the curtain were the Wizened of Aus.



Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: The Wizard of Oz


Abs, Arms, Biceps, Body, Body Builder


Irving Bellard was the kind of guy you couldn’t help but like.  He was amiable and never had an ill word to say about anyone.  On top of this, he was generous to a T, and was kind to animals and small children.  In short he has a heart of gold.

Yes, he was just one heck of a guy, unless of course you lived in one of the buildings recently acquired by the hedge fund which employed him.  All of his charm and appealing qualities paled in comparison to his proficiency with a wrecking ball or bulldozer.  Irving you see was a demolitions man par excellence.  A homewrecker without compare.



Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge: home wrecker with a heart of gold”

Beware of Hospitality Betrayed



Dear Gruoch, good lady – your ear I beseech

Beware ambitions that seem just within reach

For though vile murder seems so simple to enact

The consequences that follow – your foes will exact


Bloody hands will become the least of your woes

For Macbeth and Thee – moving forests will bring low

Stick close to your virtue, let not greed stain your way

And long life you may enjoy – if good advice you relay


Your fortune requires no crown on husband’s head

Only grief will come of hands that are red

Be you then wise and wily, and full of insight

And shy from murder, and treachery by night




This poem is an edited version of one written in response to a call for submissions of “letters” to Shakespearean female characters.

*The name of the historical “Lady Macbeth was Gruoch ingen Boite.



The Marina

Margery had butterflies in her belly.  She couldn’t believe how well things were going with Aston.  She was surprised to have met someone on a dating app that shared so many interests with her.  He seemed instinctively to know exactly what to say; and he worked “in the City.”

At first she listened to her friend Eloise who warned to be careful of anything that was “too good to be true.”  But that was three weeks ago.   Then there was the Skype call, and he looked just like the online photo from the app.  It wasn’t an old shot, in fact she was impressed by the sheer number of books behind him during the call.

Then they met at the wine bar “of her choosing.”  He was witty, charming, and though casually dressed, he “had style.”

Now as she parked at the marina, wearing the sailing outfit she had bought for the occasion, she was ready for their second date – “on his boat.”  He waved to her from an adjoining cafe.  As they embraced, he noted he was wearing waterproofs.

She was surprised to then be led from the marina to a sand-spit where Aston, the librarian, had his kayak.

(200 words)





No one had been here for hundreds of years. The narrow mountain road that had once wound its way up to the top of the peak now had wide and unstable gaps. He had taken the path as far as he could, but to get to the entrance of the ancient castle, the only way up was a grueling climb. The doorway he was trying to reach was still some distance upward, and he’d barely made it to the ledge he was on. His muscles were weak, and he was cold and incredibly hungry. The final leg of his climb would have to wait for morning.

He had no idea what would be waiting for him inside the structure once he got to it. The people who had once lived here were mysterious and reclusive. Rumors swirled about the strange powers and abilities they were said to have possessed. The greatest mystery was what had become of them. What would he find once he made his way inside? And could he manage to get the answers he sought without sharing their fate?

He had an uneasy night.  Despite the fact that no one could have followed his from below without making a terrific racket in the dark, and that the path ahead seemed even more treacherous, he could not get past the sensation that he was being watched.

When morning dawned, he was bone weary having not managed more than two hours sleep in the night.  But the castle lay before him, and it would take most of the day to make the gate.  He did not want to spend another night outside the walls!

The first hour was a torturous climb using what ever hand holds he could manage.  The next three were even more difficult as there were few places to grip or to affix rope.  But by three in the afternoon, bloody fingered and with bruised knees, he stood before a wicket gate.

Bronze, he mused.  The main gates were a milky green, and yet the wicket still held some vestiges of a copper sheen.  Were they some other material?  Or have they been maintained and used more recently than the others?  He inwardly hoped for the former, though he feared the latter.

There was a large ring on the wicket, which he attempted to turn.  It twisted just a little too easily, and there was a metallic click as the mechanism engaged, and he could feel the door release pressure.  He pushed gently and it began to open inwards.

He stepped into a paved passageway.  Above him he could see corroded bronze hatches which were intended to pour death down upon any would be invaders.  They did not open, however, and he cautiously exited the passageway into a paved courtyard.

He stopped suddenly.  The stones.  What is it about the stones?  then it occurred to him.  Most all of the courtyard had a thick covering of moss and lichen.  But there were two distinct pathways in which the stonework was bare apparently from recent wear.

He stepped onto the clear path on his left, and as nonchalantly as possible loosened his dagger in its sheath.  He proceeded along the path and stopped again before his progress would expose him to a window which overlooked the worn trail.  It slowly drew his dagger and stooped down to slowly duck walk under the aperture, so that he might not be observed by anyone who might be within.

Just as he began to stand again on the far side, he heard a clear voice from a rampart overhead.

“That was a very clever move, I ‘m impressed,” a man of about sixty observed.  “I am glad you’ve come, and I am even happier you have a dagger.  My tin opener broke last August, and I waste so much food trying to crack cans open with rocks.   I am Owen, buy the way, are you hungry?  If you lend me your dagger we can have hash.  The warehouses her are still full of stuff.  Yes, its a century or more old, but really quite tasty.”

The adventurer just stood in amazement.

“Oh don’t worry, the ‘Old Ones,’  abandoned the castle after an earthquake collapsed the road,” the old man said.   My great great grandparents, grandparents, or something like that were left behind to care for the place until the others return.  Seems they’re a little late.”