Norbert’s invention

I’m sure there must be a moral to this story, but I can’t for the life of me think what it is…

Norbert’s passion for inventing had made him an object of ridicule among the bucks in his neighbourhood.

‘Hey, Norbert! Whatcha gonna set on fire today? Want to know where to stick those berries?’.

Norbert ignored their childish remarks. Besides, he didn’t need their suggestions. He knew exactly what he was going to do with the berries.

Hauling them up to a branch across from his drey, he set about washing and squeezing the juice from them. His wife Nancy, while supportive of her husband’s dreams, didn’t approve of his experimental equipment within the confines of the home. And who could blame her? Norbert’s success rate to date was pitiful. Who in the forest could forget his sorry attempt at squirrel-sized nut crackers? Poor Nana was still nursing her wounds from the after effects of that experiment. Yet Norbert, ever enterprising, refused to give up on his dream. He thought of fame and fortune as he extracted the last of the juice from the berries and began to tinker. A little ground bark here and essence of mushroom there. Three days later, Norbert shouted ‘Eureka!’ in his best squirreleze and summoned Nancy to his side.

Nancy, who had no love for guinea pigs, offered to be one for Norbert’s sake. She had three or four distant guinea pig relations whom she just couldn’t warm to. They talked way too much and their wacky hair-do’s disturbed her.

Norbert lathered Nancy’s body in the lotion he had created and waited. Moments later all signs of grey disappeared, and Nancy found herself modelling a stunning coat of red. Overcome with emotion over Norbert’s first successful invention and finally becoming the redhead she had dreamed of, she kissed him and declared him a genius. It was a moment that Norbert wished could last forever.

Not surprisingly, Norbert became an overnight celebrity in his neck of the woods. And a hard working one too. It appeared every doe in the neighbourhood wished to eliminate all traces of grey from her coat. It was a struggle keeping up with demand for the fiery-red fur colourant, yet Norbert accepted the challenge as a pleasant side-effect of fame. One evening, weary but happy, he held Nancy close and said, ‘I told you to have faith in me, didn’t I?’

‘Yes, dear. Things can only go upwards from here.’

Sadly, unbeknown to Norbert, his sworn enemy Nigel had stolen a pot of fur colourant from his sister Nora, stashed it about his person and travelled up to Scotland with intent to cause trouble. Understandably, the red squirrel cousins were highly offended by Norbert’s invention.

‘They’re stealing our identities!’ they cried. ‘We won’t take this lying down!’

***

Norbert’s celebrity status lasted all of two months. A lawsuit is now pending and Norbert is currently residing with Nancy’s guinea pig relatives in Worthing.

Written for this week’s Picture it & Write challenge.

The forgiving storms

In the distance dark clouds huddle together adding menace to the growing wind that rouses leaves and petals from their midday slumber. Far off rolling rumbles summon me, and with open arms I welcome the oncoming storm, standing firm as gentle kisses soon escalate to savage blows, the ensuing battering a reprimand that whips my body with fearsome disregard for its fragility. Not to be left out, rain soon adds to this ridicule, thrashing my skin until it smarts and reddens in objection, my tears deftly masked as if in consolation. Time seems to have no limits as I weather the storm, my body becoming more beaten and weary with each passing minute until eventually the disturbance passes. I haul my battered body back inside the house, dry my tears and nurse my wounds in preparation for round two, because I am sorely aware that my sins have not yet been forgiven.

 

Written for Five Sentence Fiction prompt Rain.

 

 

Extending a hand

Photo Credit - Lyssa Medana

Photo Credit – Lyssa Medana

“Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways, it can change someone else’s life forever.”

Margaret Cho. Weblog 03.11.04

Every Thursday I would find him there. A dishevelled heap propped up against overflowing municipality dustbins. To the untrained eye he was merely a bundle of clothes, discarded garments awaiting removal. In reality he was flesh and blood, a wandering soul of misfortune.

He watched as I trailed the day’s garbage from shop door to dustbin. As I hauled the clumsy load into the large metal container his eyes briefly met mine – tiny brown, glassy balls set deep within hollowed alcoves. From afar I had him down as middle-aged. Now our eyes had connected, I realised he was just a kid. I wanted to ask him so many questions but the brevity of his eye contact indicated his reluctance to talk.

I retraced my steps, glancing back in his direction when I reached the door. As if sensing I had something to say, his eyes once again met mine before settling on the keys I jangled in the lock. I’m sure his lips lifted at the edges, his face relaxed for sure, before he rose to his feet and walked off into the distance without a backwards glance.

For a month or more, I have placed those keys in the outside lock and kept the coffee pot simmering. To date, he hasn’t turned them. Yet I know one day he will, and when he does, I’ll respect his decision to talk. I’ll fill the guest mug, dig out the biscuits and listen.

Written for the Light and Shade Challenge.

 

 

 

Comeuppance

I dropped the shopping bags on the porch and fumbled with the front door key. The chill evening air had numbed my fingers, and I cursed myself quietly for leaving my thermal gloves on the hall table. The church bell tolled mournfully in the distance – it was an eerie death knell I had never heard before.

It was then that I noticed him, out the corner of my eye. A fast moving figure approaching from the right with arms flailing wildly and a face white as chalk.

‘Run friend, run!’ he cried breathlessly.

Beneath the street lamp’s luminous energy he appeared deathlike. His ghostly pallor glistened unhealthily and his balding pate shone like highly polished marble.

‘From what?’ I inquired in bemusement.

‘Can’t you see it?’ he screamed, his voice quivering with fear. As he moved closer I saw his face was coated in an oily sheen and sweat rolled freely from enlarged pores.

I scanned the street behind him. Aside from a black cat leaping a wall with envied agility, the pavement was clear. I told him as much when he eventually came to a stop outside my door and, rather oddly, he no longer seemed intent on running. It was as if he had finally accepted his fate, whatever that may be. An unexpected gust of wind tousled the few remaining wisps of hair around his ears and it was then that I witnessed the madness in his eyes, glassy and unfocused, darting this way and that as he murmured, ‘there’s a sting in its tail.’

They were to be his last words before looking heavenwards and falling heavily at my feet. I stood cemented to the spot, my mind unable to register what my eyes had just seen, my nostrils insulted by orange juice and egg as they scattered across the grim pavement slabs under his dead weight.

It was some time before I realised silence had replaced the dull tone of the church bell. The freak wind, too, had gone. I glanced down at the man I had known for just a fleeting moment, his lifeless form crumpled on the path outside my house. I knew I should call for help but my body was firmly rooted to the spot, governed by a mixture of fear and intense cold.

As the minutes passed and the shock subsided, my body kicked back into action. I willed myself to examine him, a morbid curiosity that I would later regret. I turned his body onto its side and saw upon his neck an angry wound and within it an opening approximately a quarter of an inch in length. Trembling, I pressed the skin at the side of the wound with my cold hand, recoiling quickly at the clicking sound which emanated from it, throwing my body backwards into the debris of groceries around me.

As I sat there stunned, the clicking morphed into speech I could comprehend – the spoken words a recital of my sins delivered with great fervour. All I could think of was escape, but my attempts failed miserably as my hands slipped comically in the surrounding egg wash. The repetitive ringing of a single church bell in the distance eventually stopped me in my tracks – twice in one night could not be a coincidence. I turned slowly to face my peer’s dead body and was presented with the vision that had caused his strange madness, the vision I had failed to perceive when pointed out to me by the stranger. With bulging eyes and a heightened heart rate I knew there was no longer any point in trying to run, and as the wind spiralled around me I succumbed willingly to my fate.

Betrayal

He said he would love her forever. She believed him.

Cupid’s arrow had unwittingly pierced her heart, scattering her emotions and plunging all reason into turmoil until one month on, reality returned with a bang, relocating and scooping up the damaged and fragile parts before painstakingly fitting them back into place.

And now she knows he lied, the sadness that wallows where love once resided is rapidly turning to a bitter resentment. Day upon day this indignation adds a brick to the wall which safely cocoons her heart.

She won’t be hurt again. Love is the devil. It has no place in her heart or in her soul.

As the weeks progress, a loyal friend urges her to let kindness flow once again through her veins, to break down the barrier she has so meticulously built and allow love to seep back through.

For love is what she will need to nurture the child she carries within her.

Written for Picture It & Write.

Guard Dog

‘There’s something in the wardrobe!’

I flapped at the clothes and poked my head inside the wardrobe door, but even when I listened carefully I couldn’t hear a thing. ‘There’s nothing here. You imagined it.’

‘I didn’t. Rufus did.’

‘Rufus shouldn’t be in here!’ I shouted angrily while hauling his furry butt out the back door and into his kennel. ‘Now stay!’ I cried.

None of us got much sleep that night. Rufus’ whimpering howl prevented any shut-eye. But that was his intention. For Rufus knew that if we slept, the creature with the high-pitched whistle would exit the wardrobe.

Written for 100 Word Challenge using the phrase,

…but even when I listened carefully…

Soaring

As the floating sensation fails to subside, I tug at the outer reaches of my mind for an answer. Is this reality or fantasy?  Little do I realise, I’ll probably never know. I’d swear I was alone, floating aimlessly through a inky blue sky on a trip to nowhere – but for the voice. Occasionally it dims, drowned out by the intermittent roar of the burners as they propel me higher into the murky void above. Then as the noise peters out, the voice with no face returns. Its words are becoming jumbled, less coherent, sound gradually decreasing like a depressed finger on a volume control. The higher I soar the darker it becomes, the remnants of inky blue finally washing into blackness until all colour is drained and the burners no longer need to drown out the voice inside my head.

Written for the Picture It & Write challenge. 

 

 

Bed of thorns

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The wall, an aged slate and stone structure rose unassumingly amid the masses of tangled brambles and coarse bracken. Beyond, beds of thorns complete with thick prickly blankets shrouded the parents who had never truly understood him.

Jack, his only friend, knew nothing of his past; Bill carried the weighty secret well and, heavy as the burden was, he was reluctant to share it; even after hearing Jack’s forest walks proposition. Inevitably, their friendship soon hit a wall.

Bill knew the blood spatters would fade soon enough, aided by the rapid regrowth of woodland greenery. His secret was still safe.

Written for the Light and Shade challenge.

Innocence

The balding, middle-aged copper rubbed his fat doughnut-filled belly, openly salivating over his desk like a drooling dog waiting patiently for the optimum moment to pounce. Naturally she was lapping it up, giggling like a five-year-old, twirling her glossy blonde hair repeatedly round her index finger while saturating the room with her musky perfume, the scent of which acted like some form of human pheromone, ensnaring the men and drawing them on to her side.

‘I don’t know how it happened, officer, one minute he was eating dinner, the next thing I knew, he had a knife in his front.’

‘Ah, yes, it happens all the time, Miss,’ the Inspectors eyes were becoming glazed, ‘you’re happily chewing on a piece of pork and before you know it, you’ve lurched forward onto a kitchen knife,’

‘Oh, officer, you’re so understanding,’ her fingers caressing the wispy tufts on his head, ‘now tell me, sweetie, have you considered life insurance?’

Written for the Five Sentence Fiction prompt – Innocence

The little fluff of happiness

Lucy kicked off her shoes with such ferocity they left black scuff marks where they hit the wall. Yanking her jacket from her arms, she cast it abruptly aside snagging a cuff on her gold bracelet along the way.

‘Darn it!

The damage to her jacket was beyond repair, the bracelet unscathed. ‘Bloody typical’ she murmured. The bracelet, a gift from her ex-boyfriend was her least favourite possession, she only continued to wear it so she could taunt him by jingling it inches from his face across the works’ photo copier. It was equivalent to giving him the middle finger, the closest she could get to letting Dave know how she felt about him without actually being rude. All the ooh’s and ahh’s she had exclaimed when he presented her with it soon counted for nothing when she discovered the impromptu gift belonged to his wife – and she wanted it back. She wasn’t sure what had upset her most, discovering she was only worth a second-hand gift or that Dave had a wife.

She headed for the kitchen and reached into her cupboard of delights; its contents were designed for days like this. Selecting a bag of paprika chips, she poured herself a large glass of Chardonnay and flicked on the TV. The day was definitely improving. There was just one delight missing and it didn’t reside in a cupboard or the fridge. Sweeping aside the patio door, she smiled as Basil pounced through the opening, welcoming her with a loud purr and a leg rub. ‘Come here, Basil. I need a cuddle,’ she cooed.

Moments later, glass in hand, chips at her side, Lucy concluded life really wasn’t all bad as she watched Basil, her little fluff of happiness, paw heartlessly at the bracelet around her wrist.

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Written for the Studio 30+ prompt – fluff of happiness.