Arrogance, October 7, 2022

Happy First Anniversary! During the last year, we collected a wide assortment of stories, essays, and poetry that reflect the deep wells of imagination and creativity Writers Co-op authors draw from. Some of you have contributed an anthology’s worth of pieces you might rightly consider publishing. Even better, the comments by readers and writers have become respectful, often laugh-out-loud funny, conversations about writing, reading, and critiquing. Friendships have grown and blossomed. All of you have made this project a Writers Co-op success. Here’s to our second year!

This Show Case features seven pieces submitted in response to our twenty-seventh Writing Prompt: Arrogance. You can see responses to each prompt in the drop down menu for the Show Case page. Try an item. They are all delicious. We hope they stimulate your mind, spirit, and urge to write. Maybe they will motivate you to submit a piece for our next prompt, which you can find on the Show Case home page.

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The Inquisition

by John Correll

I held the J-Window in both hands and faced the Keeper. 

“Jenny, save me a couple of brownies. I want to take them back to I-City.” 

She blushed. “I always keep a batch for you, Brother of I.”

I turned and addressed her assembled constituents, “The Challenge begins with an accusation of witchcraft…”

Jenny interrupted, “But, Brother of I, sister Isabel must have made a mistake. I don’t think…” I stopped her conjecture with a wave of my hand.

“Where is this witch?”

Jenny gawked at the oversized birdcage next to her. It hung empty. She slapped her forehead, laughed in a this-isn’t-funny-at-all sort of way, and ran into the rabble like a troubled bumblebee. There, she threatened an I-servant, who galloped down the street like a freshly-stung electric witch-hunter.

“Sorry, your I-brother-ship,” she said.

I shrugged my shoulders. “Who are the witnesses?” 

“Rob!” she shouted at the masses. Rob sauntered out with a flawed smile.

“Brother of I, I saw an apple atop the sacred Window on the witches’ kitchen table,” he said.

Before I could continue, Jenny’s boisterous servant dragged the screaming witch towards us. After much yelling, shoving, and assistance from the villagers, he tossed her into the cage. 

When the crowd settled, I continued, “Did you see her lay the apple, Rob?” 

“Yes, Brother.” He studied his manicured fingernails without breaking his disturbing smile.

“Of I,” I corrected.

“That’s a lie.” The witch shook her cage, which began to spin.

“Did anyone else see this blasphemy?”

“I did, Brother of I. It was a rotting apple that only a witch would…” a plump farmer started, but I raised the J-Window.

“Thank you, FredericK.” I stopped the twirling cage. “Witch, two witnesses speak against you. Further, it has come to my attention that you told sister Phyllis about a demon stabbing you in the back?”

“Not a ‘demon’ demon, a pain. It felt like the devil. Did you… Did Phyllis…”

“How do you plead, witch?”

“I’m not a witch. It’s that arrogant frog-faced Fred. He did this. They’re lying. I’m not that stupid.” She shook the cage again, but I held it tight.

“Uh-um,” I prompted.

She squeezed the bars and hissed, “bother of i.”

“Can anyone vouch for you, witch?”

A handsome woman stepped forward. “What of her husband, Brother of I.”

Agnes, I-Sister. You are correct. Where is this husband?”

“He’s plowing, but my grandson’s fetching him.”

“It seems I’ve taken this village by surprise.” The multitude gazed skyward, hoping the I-Spirit would speak on their behalf. 

Their silence amplified Jenny’s whisper, “I’d say so, i-bro.”

I’m not sure why villagers get so excited about Challenges. It’s not like I burned witches at the stake or dunked them in water. No torture, no hanging, and no stoning. The I-Spirit practiced kindness — and a brief meeting with the I-Flame. Absolutely no pain. 

As we waited for the errant husband, I amazed the townsfolk with my knowledge of the I-Almanac. I explained titbits about harvesting turnips, parsnips, and radishes. I finished with a warning to check for leaf-blight and the dreaded dry-dust-fungus. The people shouted their praise. Oddly, they all faced down the street. When I glanced over the back of their heads, I spied a farmer with a six-year-old boy racing for us.

At the same time, a slender woman snuck unnoticed into the crowd. I noticed. She wrapped one arm around FredericK’s and shook the straw out of her red hair as if she had jumped off an e-harvester. Then she elbowed FredericK. “Why didn’t you say there’s a Challenge, sweetums?”

FredericK inspected his boots, “Anni, the Inquisitor… Most unexpected…” 

I cleared my throat and re-established my sense of authority. “Brother John, I have summoned you to testify against your wife. Two witnesses claim she laid an apple on the sacred Window in your kitchen.”

John stared, and I feared he would panic, but then he ran to the cage. “Issy?”

“Witch or not, brother John?”

John grabbed the witches’ hand. “I love her.” The villagers murmured agreement. “It was me. I placed the apple by mistake. I didn’t notice the Window. My heart kept missing a beat, and I was upset, and Issy… She made it right. She brewed me a tea that fixed my heart. I am the witch.”

“Tea? From a witch?” 

“Wait an I-hound minute!” Anni jumped at me. “That’s not so, Bro.” She pointed her finger.

I stumbled back. Her accent howled in my head; a headstrong highland Highpenner — BEWARE. But I safely managed, “Who are you?”

“I’m Fred’s cousin-in-law, soon-to-be fiancée. We walked by John’s window, and I saw it, like that light on your forehead.”

“And, there was no apple?”

“There was, you bet. But I told you Fred, that was a v-window, not I, bless the Spirit.”

I stepped closer to FredericK. “Perhaps, brother, you were mistaken.”

“Anni!” FredericK scampered around like a cornered hamster. He stopped. “Yes, Brother of I, perhaps I saw too hastily.”

“Rob, an interface.” I motioned for the servant to step up.

“I, Brother of I, I may also have been…”

I raised my hand. “You are the servant of FredericK?”

He nodded.

“A servant can guide his master in small ways. See that your master listens to his…” I studied Anni and then the glaring horde. “You know what I mean. Then I’ll pass on praise to the council.”

He bowed. 

“Are there any more Challenges?”

A freckled five-year-old girl shouted, “Peter peed on a tree of aye.”

“Is that so, Penelope? Step forward, child.”

“Yes. Bro of aye.” She pointed at the boy who fetched John.

Peter poked his tongue out. “Wasn’t an I-tree.”

“Was so.” Penelope placed her hands fiercely on her hips.

“Was not. My gran says so.”

I stepped between the children. “Peter, who is your gran?”

He pointed to Agnes, who winked at me. She was more like his great-great-great-gran or greater, and she knew it.

“Penelope, perhaps you‘re mistaken. An I-tree is difficult to distinguish from any old tree.”

“I wasn’t miss-taken. My mom swears it’s the biggest.”

A robust, equally freckled woman pushed through the group and grabbed the girl’s arm. “Penelope, that’s enough.”

“Yours, sister?” She nodded and dragged Penelope back into the crowd.

I knelt next to Peter. “Next time, check that no one sees you pee, aye or…” I whispered, but he ran to his grandmother before I finished.

I stood up and addressed the villagers, “Any more Challenges?” The mob glared at the ground. “Thank the I-Spirit for that. Penelope, considering Peter’s very young age…”

“He’s a year older…” Penelope started, but her mother slapped a hand over her mouth.

I faced John. “Brother, your devotion is endearing, but I must consider the issue of demon summoning — and tea.”

“You said nothing about demons.” John lunged at me, but the witch snatched his arm. 

“John, the pain in my back. Remember?”

He shook his head. “That’s not right.”

I raised my hand for a minute until the audience grew silent. “Considering the nature of all the evidence, it is my verdict, which is, I will remind my brothers and sisters, final as the I-Flame — it is that this witch, sitting in this cage, is indeed…” I paused with centuries of well-polished melodrama. “Truly… Oh, pardon. Keeper, hold this.” I handed her the J-Window, so I could swear by it. “Where was I — Yes, my esteemed decision finds that she, the witch, is indeed under the great Spirit of I — a true sister. Keeper, you may release her.” At this point, the cascade of cheering made it impossible to finish my well-practiced sermon. I closed the Challenge instead. “Just in time for tea.”

Blasted Arrogance

by John Correll

Woodie and I hid behind the not-high enough concrete sea wall. Bullets blazed like banzai blades pitched by a berserk Brooklyn butcher on Benzedrine. Bang, bang, bang. 

Rock chips clanked against my helmet, and in between mumbling to himself and kissing his little wooden cross, Woodie coughed in the dust. The cutting menace knocked off hours in only twenty seconds. Then silence, followed by the drum of gunfire somewhere else. Peace, shaking hands, and fumbling with a cigarette I couldn’t light. So, Woodie steadied my hand, and we shared puffs. Alone with smoke. A haze of safety. Refuge, until an arrogant sergeant we’d never seen jumped on the wall above us. Our own sarge disappeared in the surf forty minutes before. 

“You worthless maggots. Get up and advance to position,” he screamed down. 

Woodie stopped coughing. “But sergeant,  the pillbox…” Crack, crack. The sergeant’s blood showered us. “…right there. Jesus.”

The sergeant tumbled at our feet, spasmed, and bled in the sand for a tortured thirty lifeless minutes. Woodie heaved and puked. I pissed myself and reflected on the lieutenant’s claim about worthless yellow-bellied little lizards. 

Welcome to Tarawa.

A Surprise Visit

by Boris Glikman

Photo credit: Chris Hosking, (License/ CC-BY 3.0 (Int)

An Eastern Water Dragon crawls up really close, while I am sitting at a small, folding table next to the camping tent. 

Billions of years of evolution separate us; I arrived into this world more or less fully formed, while it arrived as a gelatinous mass inside an egg, and its lineage stretches back to the time of the dinosaurs, innumerably many eggs ago.

I see its little chest expanding, the loose thin skin lifting up and falling down. Despite its bizarreness, it too needs to breathe, and that is an intimate connection between us. Despite our unbridgeable, irreconcilable differences, we both are living beings existing at the same time in the same place, and we both need the same air in order to survive. It wants to go on living and so do I, and so we both keep on breathing. 

The imperious look in its eyes, the way it carries itself with such serenity and poise, the way it deliberately slithered up so near to me, the way it just sits there, imperturbably calm, stuck in the same pose like a rock, lost in its own weighty contemplations and haughtily ignoring my presence – all this is so different from the instinctive fear and panicky fleeing that most wild birds and mammals exhibit when they find themselves in man’s presence. 

This must be how dinosaurs conducted themselves when they ruled the world, and now this little lizard is mirroring the behaviour of its ancient ancestors, as if millions of years have not passed and this is still the Age of the Reptiles, as if it is this lizard that is towering over me rather than me that is towering over it. It may be small now but in its mind it is still a dinosaur, for one can never forget or let go of one’s glory days, no matter how long ago they were. 

After studiously disregarding me for what seems like an hour, it crawls up a short  distance and positions its body so that its head is exactly in line with mine. Slowly it lifts its head and looks directly into my eyes, and, as our eyes meet, that inconceivable evolutionary distance between us is erased in an instant. 

It stares at me searchingly – how must I appear in its eyes? How strange must my bodily construction seem to it? Perhaps it is trying to get a better look at this curious, grotesque creature which is in front of it? Or maybe it is trying to better show off its alien beauty to me, for it can sense how much in awe of it I am?

Questions Answered, Problems Solved.

by Mimi Speike

What does this image have to do with the story? Nothing, now. I couldn’t make that bit work. I’ll continue to fiddle; you’ll have it by and by. (Image credit: Mimi Speike)

Sly is face to face with John Dee, the ground-breaking mathematician and inventor of the navigational tools that set England on the path to being the greatest sea power the world had ever seen, his childhood hero on a par with Raleigh and Drake. You might think he would have been tongue-tied. No, he’s the opposite of tongue-tied. And his excitement trumps his common sense.

“Doctor Dee! I’ve admired you since I was a tyke in Cumbria. Sir! I had your Perfect Art of Navigation. I poured over it. It whetted my appetite for striving scholarship. I borrowed it off the bookshelf of my schoolmaster. Never returned it, I’m afraid. But I’m convinced I treasured it far more than Dumfries ever did. 

“Sir! You gave me a glimpse of the future available to one with a brain. I did not have to spend my allotted span running down rodents on a piss-poor farm in far-northern England. I had a superior brain. It was within my power to do something fine with my life.”

Damn! Sly’s blowing it. The Cacodemon O-ek did not chase mice on a hard-luck farm outside Borrowtown, Cumbria. Cat! Get your act together, hey?

Hallelujah! The critter seems to have caught a break.

“With all respect, Your Honor,” says Dee. “I didn’t get a word of that, not a blessed word. Can’t you speak to me directly, no middleman? This one’s jabber leaves much to be desired.”

Previously: Sly had introduced himself as the Cacodemon O-ek, seeing it as the easiest way to forge a solid connection. Dee was known to dabble in the spirit realm, he would accept a demon-infused cat before he’d buy an against-all-natural-laws cat conversationalist.

“Impossible!” says O-ek. “You are not a receptive. You tolerate Kelley because you have had no viable alternative, until now. This cat has the gift. I promise you this–no one surpasses him as a sensitive. He has my complete confidence. I refuse to deal with a scoundrel, such as you seem to be drawn to in the misguided belief that low-lifes have superior ability. Wake up and smell the cocoa!1 Kelley’s building his future at the expense of your own. He’s a blood-sucking parasite! The cat’s an arrogant jackass, but he’s not scheming against you.

“He is, however, annoying as hell. We bicker over matters large and small. Last night I wanted lamb for my dinner. This jerk demanded fish. I got my lamb, but we had a battle royal over the mint jelly. I gave in on the jelly. We must coddle this idiot best we may or he’ll take off, and then where will we be? Bear with his dismal articulation for now. I’ll work with him until he gets the hang of it. O-ek sighs. He’s our boy, unless you want to stick with Kelley. Crap! Hold on, eh?” 

Here’s where Sly’s dramatic training kicks in.2 His eyes open comically wide, then shut into equally comical slits. The nostrils flare. The brow furrows. The cranium vibrates, as if to expel an intruder into his personal space. He emits a stream of snarls and hisses.

O-ek chastises the co-inhabitant of a shared corpus in a stately cadence at odd with a jumble of sounds. “Sure, have your tantrum, for all the good it does you. Look, my friend, I’m in charge here. Live with it.”

“Ye’r no friend o’ mine,” snarls Sly.

“You dance to my tune,” lectures O-ek. “The sooner we get that straight, the easier this is going to be on both of us.”

This exchange moves quickly on the page, but it took a good deal of time for Sly to put it across. On the O-ek side: he spoke slowly and carefully. On the Sly side: he compounded that merriment with scowls and grimaces advertising his fury at no longer being master of his fate. (Cats are notoriously independent creatures.)

Dee’s ear is not yet accustomed to the cat’s style of speech, but Sly’s English is peppered with Enochian sufficient to bolster his woo-woo legitimacy. 

Hmmm. Where did the animal get hold of his Enochian? For, you see, during his–for lack of a better word–séances (the term implies a hefty portion of hoke, does it not?), Dee had conjured the language, with the assistance of Edward Kelley. 

Kelley’s a tippler. Had he run his mouth in a public house? Had he, sloshed, boasted of putting one over on the great John Dee? Had he invented zany words, trying them out on drinking companions, providing his circle of hooligans hours of raucous fun? Had Sly, in the right place at the right time, overheard? Let’s go with that, for now.

So! That problem’s solved. What’s up with Dee?

The post of Astrologer Royal pays poorly. Dee’s side hustle is, he caters to pleasure parties afloat on the Thames, stopping at his pier for a picnic lunch, followed by a staged séance. (Dee believes heart-and-soul in the spirit world, but he keeps the serious delving his secret obsession.)

Despite his lengthy list of accomplishments, he lives a hand-to-mouth existence. A prosperous patina is essential to his business model, but he can justify artfully shabby surroundings as a feature of scholarly eccentricity. He owns a stupendous library. His money goes for books, not a new dining-room set.

He’s saddled with a wife and seven bambinos. His influence at court is greatly diminished. He’s failed to win several clerical livings he’s sought. He’s not unlike Edward Kelley in that he’s ever on the lookout for financial opportunity. 

He’d always been a mystically-minded man, but bitterness has plunged him farther down a rabbit hole than he might otherwise have gone. He’s like the QAnons, wedded to patently absurd ideas, believing in them absolutely, but he’s not trying to overthrow a government, he’s trying to save one.  

__________________________________________

Zooks!”3 screams Sly. “Do I spy a fiddle up there?” He’s just noticed what appears to be a violin case in an overhead rack.4 

“You do indeed,” says Dee.

“I play that thing!” The cat is overjoyed. (First John Dee … now a fiddle! His cup runneth over!)

“Do you!” Dee is amused.

“I made my living off the instrument at one time. I must have a go at it tonight.”

Dee is perplexed. Who made a living? Not O-ek, surely. No matter, neither of them touches his violin. 

“I do not recall inviting you to join me at our monthly gathering, accomplished musicians all.”

I’m accomplished. Highly accomplished, I promise.”

“Out of the question, I promise. Let’s have no more of this nonsense, please.”

“Have it your way then.”

“Thank you, I intend to.”

Sly accepts the rebuff, or seems to. “That boy there,” he nods in Jack’s direction. “My body servant Jack Daw must not sit on your stoop all evening. Tell your wife, rustle him up a good dinner and find him a bed. Do me that favor, at least.”

Dee exits the coach, goes in search of his wife. When he reclaims his seat, the cat is vanished. Where’s the booger got to? Ah! He’s with Daw, who’s relocated to a lawn chair. The pair are cozily settled, and appear to have nodded off. 

Dee taps the ceiling of the cab with his cane, the signal to depart. As the vehicle pulls away, Sly races to the rear of the car, claws up the tarp-clad baggage bin, and slithers inside. 

__________________________________________

  1. Coffee did not make it to England until the early seventeenth century. Cocoa was known a century earlier.
  2. Years earlier, he’d been (briefly) a member of Lord Strange’s Men, a theater troupe mounting plays in noble households outside London. (The first public playhouses were not built for another dozen years.) He’d worked hard at his craft, acting whatever role he was assigned (generally a witch’s familiar) fully and generously. 
  3. Zooks: Sly’s contraction of Gadzooks. (God’s hooks, a reference to the nails of the crucifixion of Christ.) An exclamation of surprise. First known use: mid-seventeenth century. (Maybe a bit earlier?)
  4. This was my longstanding problem: where to work in a fiddle. (Sly’s gotta play a fiddle.) My original idea will not work. (I was never certain that it would.) That entire section must be rewritten because of my introduction of an additional major character, John Dee.

Stranded

by SL Randall

Jump Device by SL Randall

Wavy strands of gray hair framed the heavily bearded face. As he looked at the sleeping man, a wisp of irritation resolved to bemusement. Dunia stroked the beard under his chin, chuckling softly. Bepé had chided him mercilessly for his youthful looks and energy. He wondered what the man would make of him now.

“Bepé,” said Dunia sternly, “It’s time to wake up.” Bepé sleepily muttered something unintelligible, so Dunia nudged him with a foot.

Grunting, Bepé yawned. He squinted up at Dunia. “Who are you?” he asked gruffly.

Dunia smirked. “Who else would you expect to find here?” 

Bepé stared at Dunia, eyes widening. “Dunia!” he groaned as he tried to get up. 

Dunia watched but did not help him. “Why now?” he asked instead.

Panting from the exertion, Bepé sat up with his back against the hut wall. He stared up at Dunia with confusion and shook his head. “I don’t understand.” 

Anger flared from long, dormant coals. “You don’t understand? I’ve been stranded for thirty years! What took you so long?” His voice ragged, with emotion, “I gave up hope of rescue. I thought I was going to die here.” 

Indignant, Bepé retorted, “What took me so long? Where are we? Why are you so old? You’re not the only one with questions! I’m not sure how I survived my first meeting with a dinosaur. I know I didn’t imagine that.” he winced as he shifted on the pallet.

Dunia sighed, then frowned suspiciously. “How did you get here if you don’t know where we are?”

“The same way you did. With your malfunctioning verse jump device.” grunted Bepé.

Dunia squinted. “My device?”

Bepé pointed at his pack laying on the floor. “Your device is in there. I don’t know what shape it’s in,” he winced considering his own state of disrepair, “If it took the beating I did, it’s likely in pieces now.”

Dunia shook his head. “That’s not possible. I have my device. It was in my pocket when I arrived here.”

“Then why are you still here?” exploded Bepé. 

“Because my spare batteries were in my pack. You didn’t happen to bring that with you?” he looked around hopefully.

Bepé sighed. “I had precious little time to contemplate what happened to you. You disappeared in an explosion that knocked me down. I searched the site for you, but all I found was what I thought, was your device.  When I examined it, I had ten seconds to discover its malfunction in the worst way possible. If I had known, I was going to jump I definitely would have grabbed your pack.”

“There was an explosion?” he asked incredulously.

Bepé nodded. “Perhaps more of a concussion. The only damage was to me being thrown to the ground. There was no charring or burning to the ground or nearby bushes.” he added, “And, I only have my pack because it was on my back when I jumped.”

“Where’s your device?”

“Before I became a dino toy, it was in my breast pocket. Now?” Bepé shrugged, “No idea.” 

They sat in silence, each contemplating the other’s story. Dunia broke the stillness, “For years, I was certain you abandoned me. Yet you jumped shortly after I did. That’s incredible!”

Bepé shook his head. “I still don’t understand. I have never experienced a verse jump that violent or unpredictable.”

Dunia frowned. “I have, and that little nugget has bothered me for the last thirty years.”

“When would you have done a jump like that?”

Dunia scrutinized Bepé and wondered if he really was that innocent. He sighed. “It was before you and I met. When I worked in Adventravia’s R&D division, we experimented with various jump devices. Some of them provided less than ideal jump experiences. You know Darren Winston, I assume?”

“Yeah, I know Darren. He and his wife have been over for dinner many times. Why?”

“You know, I always wondered why Sophia married you and not Darren. Anyhow…”

“Oh, come on! He’s much too old for her!” protested Bepé.

“How is it you are married to the owner of the largest travel company in the world and not know anything?” Dunia stared at Bepé, momentarily unsure if he was acting or seriously ignorant of his wife’s machinations. He decided to accept Bepé’s ignorance was honest, for now.

Bepé interrupted Dunia’s thoughts. “Why did you ask about Darren? If you want my opinion, I think he’s nothing more than a blowhard.”

“I asked, because I’ve known him for a long time. We worked together in Utah as raft guides for Adventravia’s adventure tours division. I hired on during the government’s investigation of the company’s science division, when the owners suddenly retired, leaving the whole thing to Sophia. Darren had been reassigned because of the investigation.

“I was hired during those years as well,” said Bepé. I finished my doctorate in anthropological studies shortly before we got the go ahead to resume multiverse travel.”

Dunia nodded. “When that happened, they pulled Darren back to the development team, and he took me with him. We worked well together for several years. Eventually, I noticed I was getting blamed for anything that went wrong, like accidents, or over budget expenses, or miscalculations. Those were all Darren. He didn’t want to hear problems, nor report them to the board. I can’t tell you how many times I reported questionable or unsafe jumps and Darren would gloss over my report embellishing the successes and deleting the failures. Do you remember the Explosion on Verse E068?” asked Dunia.

“How could I forget? The entire jump team was vaporized.” Bepé shuddered. “I was supposed to be on that jump, but Sophia wanted me to go away with her that weekend.”

“And in hindsight, you don’t find that suspicious?” asked Dunia.

“No I don’t!” Bepé shot back.

Dunia crossed his arms and shook his head. “Do you remember when they assigned me to your missions?”

 “Yeah I do. Was that a demotion for you?” he asked sourly. “ I remember when you joined my team, I began to lose team members to the archeologists and suddenly I’m no longer on advance missions, I’m trailing the crack brain mud diggers. Come to think of it, having you on my team has been a downhill slide!” He waved his arm, indicating the little hut. “Now look where we are. You tell me my wife is responsible, but I was fine until you came along!”

“Calm down.” said Dunia. “It’s not my fault.”

“Prove it!” challenged Bepé.

“Did you ever ask Sophia why your assignments changed?”

Bepé frowned, “Hmrpf” he mumbled.

Dunia’s mirthless laugh caught Bepé off-guard, “You didn’t ask her, did you? You simply go where you’re told!” Dunia wagged his head in disbelief. “How could you not wonder? If I had been the legendary Garai Bepeigian, I would have been angry. I would have demanded to know why.”

“You do not know what its like being married to Sophia.” said Bepé petulantly. 

“I can only imagine,” retorted Dunia. “I’m surprised you’re still married.” Curiously, he said, “When’s the last time you saw your wife?” 

Bepé glared at him momentarily, then sighed. “About a week ago, maybe?”

“Bepé, your wife is ambitious and up to no good. She is neck deep in schemes with Darren. I’m not sure how involved the board is or if they are scamming them, too.”

“That makes no sense at all!” exasperated, Bepé tried to get up. He needed to pace, but he felt bruised to his core. He fell back onto the pallet and leaned on the wall. He held up a hand to stop Dunia from speaking. He couldn’t quite accept the fact the man had surpassed him in age, despite his looks. “Let me get this straight. You think my wife and Darren are up to some sort of shenanigans, and you and I are in the way? You seem to know something, but me? I just do my job, go home and complain like any regular employee. How am I in the way?”

Dunia shrugged. “You have the potential to get in the way? If something happens to Sophia, I would assume you stand to inherit the company, or at least her share?”

Bepé frowned. “Sophia knows I’m not interested in that.”

“Does she? Bepé are you really that ignorant?” 

Bepé exploded, “I’ve had enough of your insults, you, you …” he trailed off as he stared at the bemused old man.

“Can’t call me a young punk anymore, can you?” chuckled Dunia. “Bepé, we’re in trouble here. Thirty years have given me plenty of time to contemplate my predicament. I wouldn’t be here if my device worked. I admit, when Siti brought me news of a ‘yewichi’ man, their word for alien, I was in shock. I had given up hope of every leaving Tawīyedai. Your arrival gives me hope.”

“Tawīyedai?’ Bepé rolled the word around his mouth a couple of times, “that’s their name for Earth?” the anthropologist in him was intrigued.

“Yeah,” said Dunia. “Ever hear of it in all of your travels?”

“No, but I seem to remember…” he tapped his chin for a moment, thinking. “Ah, yes. There was a recent report from one of the junior archeologists about dinosaurs and primitive humans. I only saw the title. It’s sitting on my stack of ‘to be read’ papers.” 

Dunia huffed. “Useless information at the moment.” He reached for Bepé’s pack, and drug it toward him. “This is ridiculously heavy,” he muttered.

“Weak old man,” chided Bepé.

Dunia ignored him and started unbuckling the outer flap. Aside from the broken arm straps, the pack looked unharmed. He dug through Bepé’s spare clothing, bag of tools, a pad of paper, a small leatherbound notebook, an assortment of gloves and a small stuffed Yoda. He held that up with a questioning look. Bepé grinned and shrugged. He finally found the jump device. Smooth black metal, in the shape of a halved avocado, with a small LED screen on one side. It was designed to fit comfortably in the users hand. Receded buttons arrayed on the device, at the fingertips of the user. Dunia noted right away it was a prototype model. There were no logo markings on the device. Unlike the devices distributed to the company users, this one had the rough quality of being hand assembled in the R&D lab. His suspicion that Darren was behind his banishment, deepened. So did his anger. 

“Well?” asked Bepé. “Does it work? Can we use it?”

“I don’t trust it.” muttered Dunia. From inside his animal hide robe, he withdrew a sleeker, yet well worn version of the device. “Here’s hoping the batteries will work in mine and that mine will work at all.”

Bepé watched carefully as Dunia transferred the batteries from the suspect device to his. “Now, before I turn this on. We should decide where we are going, and when. We may only get one chance.” 

“I vote for home.” Bepé said immediately.

“I don’t.” said Dunia, “We have no idea what’s waiting for us at home. Besides, we also have the problem of when. We both know the rules of verse jumping won’t allow us to return to any point of our timelines we’ve already lived on Earth.”

“Since the typical return point is one hour post departure, perhaps we can return a week later? Maybe whatever they planned to do won’t be implemented yet? Then maybe we can do something about it?” offered Bepé

“Do you remember what happened to Sophia’s parents?” asked Dunia.

“Sure, they retired to another verse when they handed the company to Sophia.”

A skeptical look crossed Dunia’s face as he sarcastically asked, “And you really believe that’s what happened?”

“Oh give me a break! It’s bad enough you expect me to believe my wife is conspiring with Darren. Now you want me to think she exiled her parents?” 

Dunia provided him with a flat stare.

“What?” said Bepé harshly.

Dunia snorted. “Ok, It’s going to take awhile and likely some hard evidence to convince you of your wife’s ‘shenanigans’ as you so aptly put it.” He laughed as Bepé glared at him. His mirth subsided. “We should probably wait until you heal before we jump. You aren’t in any shape to defend yourself.” 

Bepé continued to glare at Dunia. Pain, affront and disagreeable information soured his mood. Not that he had been cheerful, but to be confronted with so much bad news didn’t help. Dunia was right on several counts, but Bepé was not prepared to admit it to his junior colleague, especially where his wife was concerned. He looked up at the old man, “Fine, if we’re not going to jump right away, then leave me alone. I need some sleep.”

Dunia nodded and shuffled toward the door. He stopped and said, “Bepé, I’m not the arrogant punk you thought you knew two days ago. I’ve had years to think about all of this. Now get your rest. We have work to do. I know I sprang a lot of information on you. But we don’t have the luxury of denying the truth. Your wife is involved in something secret, and we are here because of it. Tawīyedai is not a bad place to be stranded, but if I had wanted to disappear from my old life, I would have. Someone is going to pay for my missing thirty years, and I prefer it to be the person responsible for sending me here.” He ducked out of the hut without looking back.

Bepé, collapsed back on the pallet. He stared up at the ceiling and marveled at the primitive work. His thoughts turned to Sophia. Little things added up. Small unobtrusive things, easy to overlook or explain away. Dunia was right. She was up to something. He turned his head and looked at his pack. He stared at the small front pocket, still neatly zippered shut. He could still picture the note inside, carefully folded. She had left it on his desk. At the time it seemed so simple. Now he knew the depth of her betrayal.

Generals, Pigmies and the Comedian

by GD Deckard

Al stood back courteously as the hospital elevator door opened on the first floor and the two ranking generals of the war, U.S.’s Westmoreland and South Vietnam’s Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, got on with comedian Bob Hope. Before the door could close, a gurney careened around the corner. On it lay a pregnant Negrito woman propelled by her family into the elevator, crowding the generals together into one corner with the comedian. The generals smiled and nodded. But distantly. They wore their arrogance like body armor. Bob Hope’s smile was genuine. It was a sight to remember.

The Negritos’ of Clark were a primitive tribe of pigmies who had served the Allies as scouts during World War Two. One story of their fierce bravery told how they would creep up on Japanese guards during the night, and, either slit the guard’s throat, or chalk a white “x” on the toe of his boot. Both created fears come dawn. McArthur rewarded them with land on the base and gave them a choice of hospital care or retail privileges at the base exchange. They wisely chose hospital care.

On the intensive care ward, Al watched the trio of VIPs moving from bed to bed as they greeted each wounded soldier. The aloof generals maintained a general’s distance when talking to the men. Bob Hope related to people in real time. He was famous for touring the front lines and for being funny, and every soldier knew of him. When he approached a bedside, he knelt and leaned in to talk, it was personal. It was electric.

These guys will remember this for the rest for their lives, Al told himself.

Embouchure

by S.T. Ranscht

Photo credit: Fifi La Fume

Family dinner. Three elementary school kids and two parents at the table. Baby in the highchair nearby. Dad was getting ready to ask each of the kids at the table what they’d done in school today.

Normally, fourth-grader Cynthia hated it when her turn came. There was always some criticism, some embarrassing judgment, some indication that whatever she said, it only showed she hadn’t tried hard enough to do well or to choose her friends wisely or to think for herself. But tonight, she could hardly wait for her turn to speak.

Finally.

“Cynthia?”

Her answer sprang from her grin and raced across the table. “Today we had an assembly and they’re gonna start an orchestra that fourth, fifth, and sixth graders can be in and I wanna learn to play the violin!”

Her father’s words slowly flowed over hers like an oil slick. “You don’t want to learn to play the violin.”

A little whirlwind blew away her grin and confused her thoughts. Hadn’t she just said she did? Wasn’t that her voice?

“What instrument do I want to learn to play?”

“You want to learn to play the cornet,” Dad decided.

“What’s a cornet?” she asked.

“It’s like a small trumpet,” he informed her.

“Why do I want to learn to play the cornet?” she wondered.

“Because when you are in high school and college, you will be in the marching band and get into all the football games for free,” he proclaimed.

The idea of being with all those kids she didn’t know sounded lonely. “When I am in high school and college and I go to the football games, I will want to sit with my friends.”

“Your friends will be in the band,” he announced.

Her brain whispered, “Not my friends.”

But it was settled.

~~~

For three and a half years, Cynthia played the cornet.

She liked polishing the brass to a mirror-clear shine. She loved oiling the valves and the sound they made when she played them quickly to spread the oil, without blowing in the mouthpiece. The spit valve was amusing, and the wah-wah mute was kind of fun.

But she hated the sound the horn made. She hated the way she had to buzz her lips together to play it. And she knew she wasn’t very good at it even though she sat in the seventh grade orchestra’s first trumpet chair.

At the end of the first semester, she quit band.

That night at dinner, she dreaded her turn.

“Cynthia?”

Looking at her plate and inhaling slowly, she confessed. “I quit band.” She braced herself against the coming storm. But a few silent moments later, it still hadn’t arrived.

“What are you taking instead?” Dad asked.

“Art.” She looked at him. He was frowning, but nodding.

“Art is good,” he allowed.

~~~

Forty years later, She sat in his hospital room as he tried to fight an unbeatable cancer. The television was tuned to some symphony orchestra’s concert on PBS.

Dad sighed. “Every time I see one of these things, I think of you. Do you still want to learn to play the violin?”

Not something she ever even thought she’d hear. “That was a long time ago, Dad.”

Not the answer to his question. He asked again. Insistently. “Do you still want to learn to play the violin?”

“Sure,” Cynthia conceded.

~~~

A month later, two weeks before her father died, she received a violin in the mail. All she could do was thank him. He didn’t ask her to play it, and she was grateful for that.

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127 responses to “Arrogance, October 7, 2022”

  1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Thanks to everyone who participates by writing, reading, or commenting. You guys are the best!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Boris Avatar

    Happy Anniversary!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. mimispeike Avatar
    mimispeike

    Boris: a beautiful, thought-provoking, complete moment. Lovely.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Boris Avatar

      Thank you Mimi! This piece is based on a real-life event that I experienced in tropical Australia.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Carl E. Reed Avatar

    Hey gang! Congrats to all who contributed to this showcase.

    I don’t have time to contribute to these anymore. (Perhaps in the future. At present I find myself racing against time to finish a book-length manuscript whilst dealing with numerous personal issues too . . . err . . . personal and numerous to recount here.)

    All of which is to say: I still wish to help, in some way. (Writers helping writers, right?)

    Therefore: I’d like to offer some criticism I hope will be of some use to some of you. I can’t do everyone at once; I will try to review/critique one piece a day over the course of the next week.

    Having said that, I wish to state some things up front:

    —Who the hell am I? Just another writer—like you. If I say something that helps you, great! If I say something that offends you please know that that is the LAST thing I intended to do–hand-over-heart swear. (But I will not patronize you, either. What an insult!)

    Consider: Why in the world would I use my precious time to critique you if I didn’t care?! Think about it: the amount of time put into a review solely to . . .stroke one’s ego? Are ya kiddin’ me?!

    So please let me say just this once and never again (as I said to Sue): “Skip the buttering up; get right to the brutality. Saves time.” I do not intend to be “brutal” with you—just direct. Okay? Know that I honor everyone who faced down the blank screen to create something of note where there was naught but a void of words before. Truly!

    And if what I say is useless, wrong-headed or otherwise of little or no value to you—ignore it! It’s just an opinion, after all.

    Okay—let’s get to it.
    …………………………

    I’d like to start with STRANDED, by SL Randall. Why? The piece jumped out at me.
    ………………………….

    In the passage reviewed you have almost one adverb per sentence! Any one—or two—or three of these would be fine, but six in three paragraphs?! I do believe in one of the rules re: revision: Look to kill as many adverbs as you can. Why? First of all, that repeated “ly” ending calls attention to itself. Secondly, adverbs oftentimes “try too hard” to get a point across that the reader has already gotten, unlike picturesque vivid adjective + concrete noun + strong action verb grammatical constructions. In other words: adverbs slow the reading down and therefore inject a “muddying” quality into the prose that can—when used in over-kill—insult a reader’s intelligence. Use sparingly!

    If I were editor what would I blue-pencil in the following passage? This:
    ……………..

    Wavy (this adjective is okay but do we need to know this detail?) strands of gray hair framed the heavily bearded face. As he looked at the sleeping man (Pro tip: cut as many “character looked at . . .” descriptions as you can and simply describe the object), a wisp of irritation resolved to bemusement (Err . . . what? What is a “wisp of irritation”?) Dunia stroked the beard under his chin (wordy + where else would a beard be?! Did you mean to say: “he stroked his bearded chin”? What I’m trying to point out is: You can lose the word “under”), chuckling softly. Bepé had chided him mercilessly for his youthful looks and energy. He wondered what the man would make of him now.

    (Who are these people? I’m confused! And who has the gray hair—Bepe, or Dunia? I had to read this opening paragraph eight times and I’m still a little confused! Yes, we learn a bit about them later but why not clarify and sharpen things better? Your opening para is muddied and unclear. Dangerous—if you want the reader to continue reading . . .)

    “Bepé,” said Dunia sternly, “It’s time to wake up.” Bepé sleepily muttered something unintelligible, so Dunia nudged him with a foot. (Eh? He muttered unintelligibly which CAUSED Dunia to nudge him with a foot?)

    Grunting, Bepé yawned. (He did both simultaneously?) He squinted up at Dunia. “Who are you?” he asked gruffly.

    Dunia smirked. “Who else would you expect to find here?”

    Bepé stared (LOOKING again!) at Dunia, eyes widening. “Dunia!” he groaned as he tried to get up.

    Dunia watched (LOOKING again! You don’t have to tell the reader “he or she looked” every time they looked at something: simply describe it! Save “he or she looked” to UNDERLINE or inject especial DRAMA into a visual. I would not do this every other sentence.) but did not help him. “Why now?” he asked instead.
    ……………………………
    Here’s my suggested rewrite:
    ……………………………..

    Bepe was sprawled out on the dirt floor of the hut, fast asleep.

    Gray-haired Dunia stroked his beard and chuckled as he regarded the (insert short descriptive phrase) man. His colleague had once chided him for his youthful looks and energy. What would he make of him now?

    “Bepé,” barked Dunia, “time to get up!”

    Bepé muttered something unintelligible and rolled over.

    Dunia nudged him with his (booted? slippered? bare?) foot.

    Bepé yawned and sat up. “Who are you?” He squinted at the man standing before him.

    “Who else would you expect to find here?” Dunia asked. A small smile played about his lips.

    Bepé’s eyes widened. “Dunia!” he groaned and struggled to rise.
    …………..

    I’ll stop because I don’t want to pile on.

    Please understand: Your characters are interesting, their situation more so. As the scenario plays out and both characters realize the depth of Sophia’s betrayal we wish to know more. I did not critique plot, theme, pacing, character or any other bit of the craft here but those elements I felt—if honed—would improve (clarify and sharpen) your writing the fastest.

    It’s a lot to take in. I hope some of this helps, in some way. Truly!

    And again: Know that I honor and respect you for having written. (Writers write. You are a writer—which leapfrogs you over 90% of the idle “someday-I-will” daydreamers.)

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      Thank you so much Carl! I totally appreciate your feedback.
      I’m dying to dig in and savor this… unfortunately at this moment my dad has decided to recount some of his memories and Dadisms and I must listen… he’s getting old and I don’t want to miss this… he returns to Wichita tomorrow and I can go back to indulging myself in my writing.
      Again thank you for taking the time. This is so valuable to me!

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Ah, Carl Unleashed, Episode 1. I’m hooked. He may be offering “just an opinion” — but it is carefully considered and derived over time. Pay attention. Critique styles differ, but the message is the same — as writing improves, it gains clarity. So if a critique points out language and structure that are not sharp and clear, when the author fixes them, their writing will improve. As Carl says, that’s the fastest fix. Anything more substantial requires a deeper dive.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. Carl E. Reed Avatar

    Oh, you poor thing–having to listen to TWO old men prattle on, heh!

    Seriously though: I salute you! The thing that used to irritate me about criticism I received from so-called pros is that it was too generic: Lots of “thou shalt nots” w/o reasons WHY; tons of generic generalizations and little to no SPECIFIC suggestions for how to improve MY prose. I used to wonder: Are you just repeating what someone else told you whether or not it applies here–now–in this specific instance? Are you afraid/incapable of demonstrating to me why and how–if I incorporate your criticisms into my text–the resulting draft will be “better”? Do you really want me to improve or are you hoping I’ll just give up and go away leaving the field to you? (After all, technique can be taught in simple, easily-digestible bits–one issue/one technique at a time. It isn’t rocket science but simply pointing out how art conceals art, till the writer goes “Ah-ha! NOW I see how they do that!” and bingo! excitement and confidence level rises as they learn the “trick” and do it themselves.)

    But all this only takes place if the reviewer (a) truly wants to help and can illustrate points with concrete examples drawn from the writer’s own text, (b) respects the time and effort invested by the writer–after all, the writer started with NOTHING, so . . . a little empathy and acknowledgment of work done, please! (c) confesses to their own plethora of literary sins (for instance, I am blind to my own errors and see what I INTENDED to say, not what I have actually said in failing instances of arrrgh! prose, (d) admits there are no 100% “must-dos” or “thou shalt nots”–everything depends on textual circumstance/ author intention/sympathy for the reader and/or effect which leads to affect–or no, (e) regardless of how august, monied or critically lauded admits that all that is going on here is that they simply have an opinion of another’s text. That’s it! A review/critique is nothing more than a written opinion of another’s writing. (And do I really need to point out how often even the most respected literary critics got it WRONG regarding writers–great and small, pro and amateur alike?)

    At the end of the day please know this: Roughly half the criticisms thrown your way by ANY reviewer will be “wrong” to some degree: over-emphasis on a particular point, misunderstanding of your authorial intentions, a knee-jerk recitation of a “thou shalt not” or a “thou must do” in wrong/inappropriate instances, a garbled and/or unclear explanation of a technique they themselves do not fully understand, a bad suggestion to fix an actual problem. If you can use 10-20%% of what any given reviewer says to you re: your prose, understand that that is priceless feedback! Ignore and/or discard the rest until (a) you find yourself agreeing with the point made–later, or (b) you recognize the reviewer had a point but that perhaps it did not apply here, now, in this particular instance.

    All of which is to say: Congrats for having written!

    PS. You should see some of the godawful atrocities I’ve perpetrated in my prose. Come to think of it, you have! (Remember: We’re all blind to our own “mistakes”–or as a wise TV sage would rather have us put it: “happy accidents”. Cheers!)

    PPS. This kind of thing–honest critique–will help separate and distinguish our contributing members from the mess (morass? morons?
    merry mayhemers?) out there blathering vaguely about vanishingly little, often and at length. (I’ve been guilty of this. No, really! Why are you laughing?)

    PPPS. I cap because slowing down to italicize takes too long when I’m pressed for time; mea culpa.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Boris Avatar

      Carl, I did advanced physics at university. Rocket science is easier than writing – it is just a straightforward application of some equations.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. GD Deckard Avatar

    Carl said it all: “Writers write. You are a writer — which leapfrogs you over 90% of the idle ‘someday-I-will’ daydreamers.” This Showcase is a treasure of validation. There are lines to remember in every story here and to me that is the mark of, um, making your mark as a writer. Seriously. I was once inordinately proud to see a line of mine show up as a meme on Pinterest. Here’s some lines that I enjoyed from this Showcase.

    John Correll
    The Inquisition
    …she threatened an I-servant, who galloped down the street like a freshly-stung electric witch-hunter.
    Now, that’s an energetic image!

    Blasted Arrogance
    The sergeant tumbled at our feet, spasmed, and bled in the sand for a tortured thirty lifeless minutes.
    Some images linger deep because they mirror a reality that the reader would not otherwise experience. Having watched sergeants bleed out and die, I know this one to be real.

    Let me add, John, that your piece on writing musically -I think of it as the mathematical beauty of good writing- will be posted for this coming week. Hurricane Ian delayed it by blowing me off the grid. Sue was unaware of our discussion when she continued our string of continuous weekly postings since April of 2016. Writers Co-op is fortunate to have her, as we are fortunate to have your post, and MAMASQUID’s “How Not to Fix Your Writing Problems in 1,289 Easy Lessons.”
    This is a great group of writers.

    Boris Glikman
    A Surprise Visit
    Slowly it lifts its head and looks directly into my eyes, and, as our eyes meet, that inconceivable evolutionary distance between us is erased in an instant.
    I never thought of it before, but that is exactly what happens to any of us who share life with a pet. This line speaks a universal truth.

    Mimi Speike
    Questions Answered, Problems Solved.
    Dee was known to dabble in the spirit realm, he would accept a demon-infused cat before he’d buy an against-all-natural-laws cat conversationalist.
    Both are preposterous: Demon-possessed cats? A talking cat? That people could accept one over the other is an insight echoing Swift’s irony and Voltaire’s satire.

    SL Randall
    Anger flared from long, dormant coals. “You don’t understand? I’ve been stranded for thirty years! What took you so long?” His voice ragged, with emotion, “I gave up hope of rescue. I thought I was going to die here.”
    Yes! Ordinary human emotion caused by an unlikely event stands out. This made me remember Douglas Adam’s robot, Marvin, who became perpetually depressed because our heroes stranded him for 27 million years in a coal mine.

    (Mine)
    Generals, Pigmies and the Comedian
    I remember this, not for its plain lines of course, but because it’s a true story. I’m the PoV character.

    S.T. Ranscht
    Embouchure
    The idea of being with all those kids she didn’t know sounded lonely.
    I love this observation because the last word brings it all together. It’s snappy writing.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      Thanks GD … you picked the one paragraph I was able to spend some time on.

      The month of September has been ridiculously busy for me. The amount of people wanting my time tripled! And always in the middle of trying to work on this chapter.
      I’m grateful for Carls feedback. Which I hope I will be left alone on Monday to really unpack and use. My first perusal and I am relieved that he pointed to everything I already knew needed work.
      It could be that the next showcase will be a revision of this one. Lol 😂 transformation “before your eyes”.
      But absolutely glad I conveyed somewhat in the lines you chose what I wanted to … the anguish of losing thirty years, losing hope anyone cared you were stranded and someone showing up so late just adds salt to the wound when they don’t seem to respect your loss.
      What threw me, aside from my destractors ( I think I made that up my phone says it’s not a word… eff my phone it makes up more words than I do)
      What threw me … was the research I needed to write multiverse stuff… and figuring jump rules. I shared with Sue my jump diagram… if you think my piece is a rough draft … that is worse lol. For diagram and graph people like John and Sue … it’s painful for them to look at 😂
      In other words this story is now in the deep work phase… the meat of the concept. Carl will earn inside cover acknowledgment if I ever publish it.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. GD Deckard Avatar

        Carl also helped me, years ago when we were on Penguin’s website, Bookcountry. He sees things I miss and has the knack of explaining them to me in ways I’d not have thought of. I never felt insulted. Just delighted to “get it.”

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Carl E. Reed Avatar

          Kind of you to say, GD. It was fun to work together!

          Liked by 3 people

      2. Carl E. Reed Avatar

        Both the work and the credit are yours, not mine! Critique is easy; writing is hard.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Sandy Randall Avatar

          Aye but well delivered critique is an art unto itself.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. GD Deckard Avatar

            I agree with Sandy. Useful critique is hard to do.

            Liked by 2 people

    2. Boris Avatar

      GD, thank you for pointing out which lines appealed to you. Regarding the line from my story, in my mind that line applied to wild animals but I can see now that it applies to pets too.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. mimispeike Avatar
    mimispeike

    “Swift’s irony and Voltaire’s satire.”

    Thanks, GD. But John Dee did absolutely believe in the spirit world and did absolutely believe he could communicate with angels, demons, and whatever else might lurk there. In my fanciful world, he might be my least fanciful figure.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. mimispeike Avatar
    mimispeike

    GD: I enjoyed your piece and suspected it was true.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. mimispeike Avatar
    mimispeike

    Sue: This is painful for me because it’s true to the dinner table conversation I sat through as a child. Dinner was something to eat quickly and escape as soon as you could. I see that dynamic continuing for years, the violin a meaningless peace offering, no apology put into words, ever. Bleak!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. GD Deckard Avatar

      Yup, Sue & Mimi. I grew up a skinny kid for the same reasons.

      It was only later that I (maybe) understood. We were raised by people who survived the Great Depression and WWII. Perhaps they used every minute of our attention they could get to warn us away from everything bad that had happened to them, to make us think like they thought because they were survivors, and to not create the world their parents had. Maybe they had our best interests in mind but were poor communicators who had no answers.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

        I think you’re right, GD. And the way their parents raised them tended to be far more hands-off than those of us who raised kids from the ’80s on. (Which might have been our reaction to craving more demonstrative relationships with our parents.) In addition to wanting us to be survivors, they wanted us to value financial security. And then the Sixties happened. Sorry, Dad, but there are more important things in life than money.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      From an autobiographical point of view, I didn’t see his offer as meaningless — he had spent the rest of his life regretting what he’d apparently come to see as his mistake. True, he never apologized in words, which I began to understand as I became a teenager, was a consequence of the relationship he’d had with his father. Not because he made excuses for his behavior, because he never did that, either.

      I don’t know why or how I seemed able, from the very young age of 4, to see who people are inside, as well as how they see themselves. I could see who Dad was inside, but I learned about his past from his stories and his mother’s stories, and random comments he would make when he had me work on projects with him. He would talk and I would listen because being silent and having him think I had no initiative was better than saying something and being told it was unimportant or stupid or uninteresting or worthless.

      So I learned to be strong. To see what was really within myself that I valued, and stubbornly, secretly, keep it alive. I believed/believe my dad and everyone else — including me — deserved/deserves the dignity of being accepted for who they were/are. I knew I would never be in charge of how anyone else treated me, only how I treated them.

      Our father/daughter relationship was complex, as I would guess most parent/child relationships are. But we managed to maintain a peace, or at least a truce. Mostly, I guess, because I demanded that of myself.

      The violin wasn’t a peace offering — it was his apology.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. mimispeike Avatar
        mimispeike

        I have thought that I might have understood my father better if I had known about his relationship with his father. He never talked about it except to say one thing: he’d fled the family farm during the depression and ridden the rails (one of them hobos we read about!) because he and his father didn’t get along. That’s all he ever said.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Sandy Randall Avatar

        “To see what was really within myself that I valued, and stubbornly, secretly, keep it alive.” That is my entire childhood. You mentioned that at age four you knew who people were inside. I knew at age four that I wanted to craft stories. The ones no one else told. Dad wasn’t able to squash that out of me, he simply pushed it away from his relationship with me. Basically, “oh you’re not interested in understanding that part of me. Ok then you no longer have access to that part of me.” I got really good at compartmentalizing myself. Recognize my audience and only bring out the parts that apply. Definitely an exhausting dance. Now everyone gets what they get. Don’t like it. You don’t have to interact with me. lol I’m working on my curmudgeon status … back off.🤣😂😁😎

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

          The first time I heard the word “compartmentalize” I recognized that’s what I’d always thought of as that “great separation thing” I did. It sounds like we would have been very effective CIA agents, lol!

          I still don’t share everything with anyone. I might mention that I write, but most people aren’t interested. So unless they ask when I mention it, I spare them that side show.

          As for working on a curmudgeon status, I just want to grow old gracefully and go out with a sense of humor.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Sandy Randall Avatar

            Same here Sue, I figure if someone isn’t interested in what I write, why waste my time and theirs boring them. Even if they do ask, I have the quick commercial jingle ready. The one or two liners that keep the conversation moving politely. It takes a serious story lover to get me to open up, and possibly a couple of margaritas…

            Liked by 3 people

      3. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

        It was clear to me that the violin was a wordless apology and that having no words was for the best. A words-only apology could come across as smarmy polspeak (like “thoughts and prayers” for mass shooting victims and their families). Adding words to the deed would either belabor the obvious or risk saying something later regretted.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Carl E. Reed Avatar

    A couple of other thoughts (in no particular order):

    —I don’t think I’ll be able to critique one showcase entry a day like I had originally planned. I simply don’t have the time. (My own work is behind schedule.)

    —I think it was Mike Hagan (some other?) writer who once wondered aloud here: “Are we too nice? Where are the ‘this didn’t work for me and here’s why’ critiques? Are we just a mutual admiration society?” I answered no—but I take his point. No one wants to be ‘the bad guy or gal of the Co-Op’. And I have noticed a seeming reluctance on the part of many to voice the slightest mild ‘this confused me’ criticism which might be perceived as ‘negative’. Which brings me to . . .

    —. . . remind everyone that if four people gush over your piece and the fifth one doesn’t, that does not make the fifth reviewer ‘the bad guy or gal’ who’s out to crap all over your dreams/talent/hopes for a better future! They simply have a differing opinion. They may be right; they may be wrong—but a person holding a differing opinion does not equal “ the enemy”.

    —I’m as hypercritical of my own writing as I am of others–in fact, more so. I can’t turn off the internal editor when I’m creating which is why I’ll never “write in flow”. The trait of hypercriticality doesn’t automatically make me a curmudgeon (not that anyone accused of me that; just noting here that I’m as hypersensitive to others’ feelings as I am to their words) but merely . . . well . . . as I stated, hypercritical!

    —Personal update: For those of you who don’t follow me on FB: Serious car troubles of late. ‘Nuff said. Landlord still trying to sell the building I live in. (Actually, she sold the building three weeks ago—but the bank denied financing to the buyer. New people are being escorted through the building today even as I type these words.) I am in a race against time to finish a book-length manuscript before I face eviction. So that manuscript must—MUST!—be my primary focus right now. I ask for your indulgence, best wishes and understanding. And good luck–better writing—better days–to us all. Cheers!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Better days to you, too, Carl!

      Liked by 4 people

  11. mimispeike Avatar
    mimispeike

    Sandy: You do a lot here that I admire – the banter, some nice dialogue, random mentions of this or that associate/relation, which is often missing from alien-world works.

    What I’m missing is an understanding of this world. Your company provides recreational time travel? And is a tool for academic investigation?

    I would wish to have a better sense of where I am, and a reason to care about these people. Dunia has been alone with his thoughts for thirty years. I’d like to hear more of that.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      Thank you Mimi. You have an aptitude for reading my thoughts. The passage GD picked out, was the one where I danced close to expressing Dunia’s experience and conveying what it meant to go through of thirty years of losing hope of rescue. I had hoped to get to the next episode/chapter, but Carl is correct on so many aspects. In order to do this story justice, it’s time for dig deep work. I am toying with the idea of missing the next showcase (Though I am still using the prompt in the next episode) and really craft this story. It’s one I have been wanting to write for years. No time like the present.
      Your questions about Adventravia are extremely valid. I have asked the same myself. The only difference, I have the answers. I just need to convey them differently/better.
      A short answer for your questions:
      Dunia is a tech guy for Adventravia. He started out as a 19 year old kid fresh out of high school, completely uninterested in going to college/university. He and his buddies went white river rafting in Utah. They all went home after the trip, Dunia stuck around and got a job. From there he found himself tinkering with tech gadgets on the cutting edge of multiverse travel.
      That’s Dunia. He’s a brash, smart, adventurous guy. Bepé is the measured, scientific, study it first before you step in it guy. He went the scholar route. Bepé is also a non-confrontational sort, but also a ladies man. Which attracts Sophia.
      Sophia I need to delve into more. She has redeeming qualities. I’m just not sure where she hid them.
      Adventravia. It was a small tour based company founded by the Gola family (Sophia’s parents). They procured some classified government tech, in a less than legal way ( I think peddled by some guy name Roy off Ebay …. hahah JK). They found out if they continued to develop the tech they could offer adventure tours to “alternate Earths” (as referenced by Dunia in the failed E068 jump) and make a huge profit. Sophia, ‘helped her parents ‘retire’ to another verse. She wanted to cross yet another line and exploit other verses for their resources for an even bigger profit. She realized this behavior is frowned upon, so like any self respecting grifter, she has to have a façade to her grift. Bring on the science teams of Anthropologists and Archeologists. They legitimize the verse jumps in the name of science. Then Sophia can send the resource procurement teams out to gather precious materials for her profit.
      Dunia finds out what’s happening … Then my story begins …
      How’s that for a synopsis? yeah it’s wordy. But hopefully it helps you understand where I’m trying to get to … I appreciate you (and everyone else) slogging through the roughness and offering insight. I love the questions. If I can’t answer them … I then know I’m off the rails completely.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Carl E. Reed Avatar

        Sandy: or . . . since people can time-travel in the future and can therefore make as much money/profit as they wish on betting the stock market/sporting events/commodities–money is now meaningless. From a medium-of-exchange POV, everyone now has “enough”. The government sees to that (for those who can’t afford to time travel.) A bit utopian, ala Star Trek? Sure–but now you have answered in advance a possible objection to your story world’s logic leaving you (and your characters) free to concentrate on the “adventure” part. (Or making a profit is outlawed. Or every jump into the future–given a multiverse–means that a return to the past is a return to an entirely different universe with entirely different outcomes. Or . . .)

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Sandy Randall Avatar

          Aye Carl, I am currently mapping the time travel rules … One of the rules … You can verse jump to any other “earth verse” your personal timeline does not originate in. And you can jump to any time within the other verses, but they are completely different worlds than your personal timeline originates from.
          So to clear away the mud:
          You can go to any (other than your own) verse you like at any time you like. You can only return to your own verse at the point you left or later. Adventravia policy is to return a minimum of 1 hour post jump to avoid “the bump” effect. Bumping into your departure.
          You cannot travel in your own verse before you were born, nor can you travel along your own timeline.
          I need a visual aid … but imagine your timeline is an elastic tether around your ankle. Once you return to your timeline, it snaps taught (sp?) again.
          Time travel has long fascinated me. For my particular universe, verse travel is the first step to discovering time travel. They’re not there yet …
          I’m sure I am missing more anomalies … but you all have been helpful with the observations and questions.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Sandy Randall Avatar

            A bit of a PS:

            while multiverse and time travel are similar, they are different animals. In my head they are apples and oranges, though they do share similar traits.
            For instance, Bepé arrives albeit 30 years later for Dunia, why no return to where he left, reset the device date and collect Dunia seconds after, rather than thirty years later. (And collect Dunia’s pack as well)
            There is something in the multiverse travel that prevents this and Dunia is now a seventy year old guy, bent on revenge. He can’t get that thirty years back. Why? I’ll let you know when that question is definitively answered.

            Liked by 3 people

            1. Carl E. Reed Avatar

              I know what PKD would do. He would tell us Bepe didn’t take the time-jump drug that allows . . .

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Sandy Randall Avatar

                🤣
                I think Bepé might be suspicious of drugs … I’ll be sure to ask him.

                Liked by 2 people

          2. Sue Ranscht Avatar

            If you can’t travel along your own timeline, whose timeline are you traveling in? If you get stock tips from a timeline that does not include you (except as a temporary guest) will those stock tips be valid when you return to your timeline or is it only a possibility they will be valid?

            If Dunia has been somewhere for 30 years that Bepe did not experience, hasn’t at least one of them time travelled, by definition? Dunia to a time 30 years in Bepe’s past or Bepe 30 years into his own future even considering now they are both in a different verse. Likewise, if you jump back to your own verse to 1 hour after you last left, but you’ve been gone for 30 years, you have also time travelled.

            I suppose you could postulate a verse with non-linear time, but you’d really have some serious ‘splainin’ to do as they spend time there. How do you determine which verse you will jump to? Is there a directory, compiled through the random jumps of early jumpers?

            It sounds like you’re trying to define a situation in which time travel is a subset of verse jumping. You can jump verses without time traveling, but you can’t time travel without jumping verses first.

            Right now, I have a hard time seeing the logic in those conditions.

            Liked by 4 people

            1. Sandy Randall Avatar

              I love it! You have impeccable logic, Sue. You also asked some questions I have yet to contemplate. Today I finally get to sit at my desk and tackle Multiverse travel. Which means lots of research, reading and answering questions. For me this is fun. My husband gives me the raised eyebrow as he settles into his own fun (heating ducts, boiler pumps, sheet metal etc)
              We all have our loves! 😂
              Again much gratitude for your insights. I also found my graph paper… so I can draw straight lines as I work ot my diagrams…

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

                I’m looking forward to your vision’s version. Time travel is a subject near and dear to me, also. For a while there, almost every short story I wrote evolved into a time travel story, lol.

                Accepting up front that there is no definitively correct method of time travel because, as far as we know, it can’t really happen (at least not traveling into the future), the Back to the Future version is fun and dangerous, but I have a great affinity for the LOST version. The best time travel story I’ve ever read is The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold (who may be best known for writing The Trouble with Tribbles.)

                Anyway, I’m eager to see what you come up with. I’ll willingly suspend my disbelief for any story you want to tell me as long as it makes sense.

                Liked by 2 people

                1. Sandy Randall Avatar

                  I promise to do my best, Sue.
                  I found an interesting mathematical formula in the middle of my research. Though you and John my find it useful somewhere … I decided it was beyond my patience …
                  It ‘s The Drake Equation
                  The Drake equation is an idea, proposed by the American astronomer Frank Drake in 1961, that the number of potential civilizations in the universe can be calculated if we know a few key variables.
                  N = R* x 𝑓p x ne x 𝑓1 x 𝑓i x 𝑓c x L
                  I found it here:
                  https://www.livescience.com/fermi-paradox

                  Liked by 2 people

              2. Sue Ranscht Avatar

                So many of those variables are currently and perhaps forever unknowable, we won’t need to worry about trying to figure it out for a very long time.

                I’m kind of partial to the idea that alien beings visited this planet and others long before humanity evolved, but it was their momentary visit that initiated the divergence between apes and humans.

                Perhaps we are the descendants of the aliens.

                Muahahahaha!

                Liked by 2 people

                1. Sandy Randall Avatar

                  I’m with you Sue. Some of them may still be with us … or we are a colony of aliens. Noahs Ark was actually a spaceship from a dying world? Yes, let the fantasy authors go … I am willing to bet the bible is the first fantasy anthology .. oooohhh sorry, religious heretic here!

                  Liked by 2 people

      2. GD Deckard Avatar

        np. When it comes to patriotism, Roy is nondenominational.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Carl E. Reed Avatar

    Yes, Mimi! Recreational time travel–what a fascinating, terrifying, fraught concept.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. GD Deckard Avatar

      Well, that explains the UFOs.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sandy Randall Avatar

        From an article by writer Catharine Buchaniec

        “On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced that it renamed and expanded the authority of the government’s chief UFO office. Formerly known as the Airborne Object Identification and Management Group, the office will now be known as the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, or AARO.”
        This stuff is what makes research so difficult … UFO is now UAP … I speak gibberish as my first language, but I’m still weak in ‘acronymology’ (Yeah there I go making up words again … UAP however is real it means unidentified aerial phenomena)

        Another twist to the MvA? we’ll see…

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Sandy Randall Avatar

        As I continue my research on MvA travel … I ran across more ‘alien’ info … which I feel is leading off the track of my research, but very informative indeed …
        consider this article in your UFO musings GD …
        https://www.seti.org/fermi-paradox-0

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

          Very amusing, yet thought provoking. What if it’s just taken everybody else as long as it’s taken us to evolve to the point of space exploration? What if we’re close to the cutting edge? What if the Others have been better caretakers of their home worlds than we have? What if nobody feels a need to colonize until their own planet is close to dead?

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Sandy Randall Avatar

            Thought provoking indeed. A rabbit hole I can easily jump down and start wondering what stories I can tell, but it also takes me away from my research purpose … so a note in the side margin for me as I continue my quest for Dunia’s MvA jump rules.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Sandy Randall Avatar

              And what I am finding is there is an entire of MV nerds out there. Plenty of fodder to sift through. I might be awhile lol.

              Liked by 2 people

    2. Sandy Randall Avatar

      I’m glad you think so … this just adds fuel to the bonfire you’ve stoked under me … I’ll either write an amazing tale or be I-Flamed by I Brother!

      Liked by 3 people

  13. mimispeike Avatar
    mimispeike

    Why build a travel business when you and a small number of partners (who financed R&D) can leap ahead, study the history of the stock market, fall back, and make a killing that way? Okay, for the adventure. But maybe you’d want to do both.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Sandy Randall Avatar

    You all are awesome… I love the questions.
    On Monday I will get the chance to focus and really respond… my family is taking priority this weekend, so I am soaking in all the feedback, questions and comments.
    The short answer is this piece is very rough. In the writing I started over twice. This iteration is closer to where I want to go with this story, but I’m still not on the mark.
    Mimi your questions are so spot on with what I have been researching in the middle of writing. And completely clear to me that I am nowhere near making sense… yet.

    I appreciate all of your insight’s… for me they are validation that my own assessment is not far off.

    Now it’s bedtime… up since 430am and nonstop running around today… I’m beat… more busy tomorrow!
    Monday… back to writing!
    And indulging in the stories of this weeks showcase. I love reading them all.
    Until Monday… have a great weekend all, and Carl… yikes… i hope you won’t be on the curb!

    Liked by 3 people

  15. GD Deckard Avatar

    How to Avoid Criticism

    In the spirit of dark matter and dark energy, I propose dark writing. Similar to dark matter, which doesn’t radiate light, dark writing doesn’t radiate meaning. Dark matter does not interact with the electromagnetic force and dark writing does not engage the reader. This is not as difficult as it sounds.

    Science points the way. The existence of dark matter is inferred from the gravitational effect it seems to have on visible matter. It implies there is more matter than is seen. The existence of dark writing can be inferred from the effect it has on Amazon book listings. It implies there are more books than are sold.

    To write dark, begin by thinking only of yourself. You are the author. Your thoughts are what matter. Consider only what you want to say and how you want to say it. Do not interact with critics. Use your own imagination to imagine your meaning. And you, too, can write a book that does not interact with Amazon book sales.
    You can be a dark writer!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. mimispeike Avatar
      mimispeike

      “You are the author. Consider only what you want to say and how you want to say it.”

      That’s me, all right. Que será, será.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. John Correll Avatar

      I have a collection of dark writing in Google Docs that doesn’t take up any space, so it should have a minimal effect on galactic behavior, I assume.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

        What about the kilobytes of memory it takes up where nothing else can be stored?

        Liked by 3 people

        1. John Correll Avatar

          I thought Google pays for that with some sort of anti-dark writing, since they get plenty of revenue from me watching their ads.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

            Haha! But paid for or not, it still takes up space, right?

            Liked by 2 people

            1. John Correll Avatar

              But it’s only an itsy-teeny-weeny-tinzi-winzi-little space, hardly nothing at all. Most of my writing is entirely vacuous, lacking any weight at all, which I suspect is a property of most dark writing, so there’s nothing to fear about Google storing all that stuff. Mine and everybody else’s. Therefore, the chance of a dark writing gravitational implosion seems relatively remote. Furthermore, I would theorize that dark writing has a habit of decaying (with a half-life of the average human generation, say 30 years) into a void of meaninglessness from which it can never return. Which, consequently, frees space for the next generation’s load of dark writing.

              My God, GD, you’ve discovered a whole new type of matter with all its corresponding forces, properties, and characteristics. Maybe we should call it GD matter in your honor.

              Liked by 3 people

              1. GD Deckard Avatar

                Well, if you add an “s” to matter.

                Liked by 3 people

                1. John Correll Avatar

                  Of course, without question!

                  Liked by 2 people

    3. Sandy Randall Avatar

      Boris, this may be another aspect of the Presence of absence ….

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Boris Avatar

        Sandy, that didn’t occur to me – you may well be right. (I assume you are referring to dark writing.,)

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Sandy Randall Avatar

          Yes that’s exactly what I was referring to! 😎

          Liked by 1 person

  16. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Well reasoned, GD.

    Another characteristic of dark writing would seem to be that it is far denser than other writing. This is further evidence of its inability to engage the reader.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. John Correll Avatar

    Sue, your Embouchure story is wonderful, beautifully written, and so true. BUT. What’s with the violin? Why? Why? Why?

    I visited my 25-year-old daughter in Wellington last week, and somehow we got on the topic of high school band, and I asked, “Don’t you play the flute anymore?”

    And she replied, “No. You know I always wanted to play the violin.”

    “But you had asthma, and the doctor said you should play brass or woodwind. That’s why we choose the flute.” I said.

    She stared at me like I was a dense, unsympathetic lump of lead at the bottom of a nuclear reactor.

    Then I read your story and hit my lead head on the table. Several times. Oh, the pain.

    You mean I should get her a violin? But I’m afraid it will collect dust in the closet along with the boxing gloves, karate suit, and riding boots. I already mind her cigar-chomping collie. Charlotte’s her name, and tennis (balls) her game. That and bossing my golden lab.

    Really, a violin? At least I won’t need to hear her practice. She’s settled in Wellington. What a relief.

    And besides, I’ve had enough of ’a thousand ways to kill a duck’ from my teenage son’s saxophone this last year.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Thank you for your very kind appraisal of Embouchure, John.

      LOL!!! A violin’s voice is softer than brass or woodwind, and I think that makes the violin more appealing, especially to an introverted child. I know skilled musicians can make trumpets and flutes sing and even cry, but they never sounded plaintive to me. (Dad liked listening to Dizzy Gillespie, Al Hirt, Herb Alpert, Sousa marches, and Benny Goodman, so those were my models.)

      My sixth-grade sister ended up with the flute. That was Dad’s choice, too. She gave it up after a year because all that blowing made her dizzy.

      I’m not saying you should get your daughter a violin, but you might ask her if she still wants one. And if it sits collecting dust, well — what’s that flute doing?

      Liked by 4 people

      1. John Correll Avatar

        Collecting dust on her bookshelf.

        Liked by 2 people

  18. John Correll Avatar

    GD, what an amazing story. Did you really see Westmoreland and Bob Hope together? Wow. I mean, WOW! Did you get an autograph? Hope’s not Westmoreland.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. GD Deckard Avatar

      It’s a true story. They visited the ICU twice while I served there as a medic during the Vietnam war. I think Westmoreland enjoyed basking in the goodwill that Bob Hope inspired. I didn’t ask for an autograph. We staff stood back out of respect for the wounded. The pregnant Negrito woman, though -we loved seeing her condition take precedence over fame and authority.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Sandy Randall Avatar

    John,
    “Woodie stopped coughing. “But sergeant, the pillbox…” Crack, crack. The sergeant’s blood showered us. “…right there. Jesus.””
    I felt the blood hit me. I heard the body hit the ground. I felt myself wonder yet again, why anyone would want to go to war.
    Visceral writing. I have much to learn from you.
    However, on your first piece, The Inquisition, I admit to being a bit lost. Intrigued, but lost. I actually googled J-window and came up with the Johari window. But I am still lost. I followed the story, but not the setting. I kept trying to see it as a metaverse thing I think.
    Having said that, it’s left an impression on me and keeps me coming back to see it from another angle.

    GD
    I’m with John and a bit starstruck, you got to hang out with Bob Hope in an elevator. How cool is that??!! (PS just FYI I am making my way through the Phoenix diaries … slowly because my pleasure reading time is limited. But I am enjoying the read).

    Boris
    A beautiful connection with other creatures. All I can say, if there truly is an afterlife, I want to go where the animals go.

    Sue,
    As a writer I can relate. It was my Dad who told me to forget writing I won’t make money at it. The consequence of his putting a lid on my passion, made me promise to myself I would not do that to my own kids. I hope I haven’t. The other consequence, led to a difficult relationship with my Dad. It was an “I am King and you are the peasant who must abide by every law of my kingdom.” Consequently, I fled the kingdom and never went back. Time with dad is limited to a week or less, once a year. He will never come to the realization your father in your story came to. Now when he speaks of my childhood, it’s certainly not one I recognize.
    Mimi’s reaction to your story, mirrored mine. I didn’t have to worry about family dinner angst, but my dad was a teacher at my high school and my volleyball coach. I once made it my mission to see how many days I could go without seeing or talking to my dad. Tricky, but I managed three days. He didn’t even notice.

    Now I’m out of time, Mimi I need to respond to you, and there is more to read … John’s new post and GD’s new post …

    Oh and Happy Anniversary! Thanks for inviting me to this wonderful party!😁🥰

    Liked by 4 people

    1. John Correll Avatar

      The Inquistion was too long, so I tried to reduce it as best I could. Hence the Window of Justice turned into J-Window.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

        The Inquisition eluded me. It felt like part of a larger work I hadn’t read, so I didn’t know the necessary background. But the line GD highlighted also stood out to me for its energetically creative aura.

        At first I thought the scene depicted a children’s game because the narrator and his sister come across like they’re 12 – 14 years old. That gets confused and undermined by all the husbands and wives and their kids and parents tattling on each other for offenses I can’t comprehend, but that apparently have serious consequences. Why would this group of people consider this a Challenge? Why would an “apple atop the sacred Window” be a problem? What’s a “sacred Window”, and what was it doing on “the witches’ kitchen table”? How many witches owned that kitchen table? Does the witch in the cage lay apples like a chicken lays eggs? What’s a v-Window? What’s an i-tree? What’s the significance of “brother-I” (or sister)? You’ve used those in other works. Is it a Maori thing? A kiwi thing?

        I found the Johari Window, too, which made me think you might be telling an allegory I didn’t understand using math and computer programming. I spent some time trying to figure out who represented AI in this scene.

        Aside from all the detail questions, my main question is this: How is the reader supposed to understand what’s going on here? (Perhaps you sensed my frustration here, lol.)

        Diametrically opposed to The Inquisition, Blasted Arrogance is hard-hitting and gut-wrenching. The images will linger. The impact affected me deeply.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. John Correll Avatar

          Sue and Sandy, thanks so much for the feedback on The Inquisition. This gives me some good ideas on what needs more clarity and explanation. I find it challenging to figure out what to leave as a puzzle and what to explain. But in this case, I seem to have overwhelmed my audience and forgotten the pervasive use of Google to decipher the mysterious. Johari window? Wow. I can see this fitting in somehow.

          This piece is part of a larger story, in a series of stories about a society of cyborgs (noted by ‘I-‘ or ‘of I’), androids, robots, and humans in the land of I (from the holy Input and Output inspired by the movie Tron). I is a quasi-robotic-cyber-theocracy that borders its theocratic rival, the land of O. Of course. These stories may have oblique Kiwiisms, but they are entirely unintentional.

          In this piece, the inquisitor, a centuries-old cyborg, is Max from “Conversations with my Microwave.” Max also appears in “A Robot’s Guide to Suicide,” a longer piece that I’m still polishing.

          Max is a sounding board for some of my arrogant, full-of-myself thoughts and tribulations. He’s not the most responsive therapist, but I do gain some solace in his creation.

          Thanks again. This as been really helpful.

          Liked by 4 people

          1. Sandy Randall Avatar

            I’m glad I have offered something useful. Like Sue I sensed the larger story as well, but for me, I view every story as infinite. It really makes writing short fiction hard.
            Perhaps a version of the Johari window will help. I know your use of Taniwah, is making an appearance in my Grass Dragon story.
            I’m excited to see where you go with this. I’m intrigued …

            Liked by 3 people

          2. Sue Ranscht Avatar

            John, I have one more thought about The Inquisition. Once you’ve sorted out the story, background, and setting, I think it’s important to give us some reason to care about these characters. Right now, they are blank faces saying words that don’t easily connect with the readers’ experience.

            Liked by 3 people

        2. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

          W/o the bylines, I would never have guessed that *The Inquisition* and *Blasted Arrogance* had the same author.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. John Correll Avatar

            Harsh but true. The Inquisition, if that will even remain the title, needs a lot more work.

            Mellow, I would like to thank you for leading me to the writer’s co-op. Without you, I wouldn’t be here. I read your short, Vow of Silence, on Edge Of Humanity Magazine, and thought, what a cool name. Then I followed the gluten-free internet breadcrumbs to this site and loved the flavor.

            Without you, Blasted Arrogance would never have been written. So Thanks again!

            Liked by 3 people

            1. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

              Glad to hear that my posting *Vow of Silence* in E of H led to your finding this group and writing *Blasted Arrogance*. As others have already said, it is vivid and gut-wrenching.

              Love the phrase [gluten-free internet breadcrumbs]. It sounds like it could be part of something that sneaks up on the reader with a serious thought while disguised in a silly costume. Dunno what the thought might be in this case, but I like this kind of sneakiness and aspire to it.

              Liked by 3 people

      2. Sandy Randall Avatar

        I think you have something with The Inquisition. Finding the Johari window, made me think I brother was someone in need of understanding himself. Which gave it an interesting twist for me. This is where my head went … Disney’s “Inside Out” Movie:

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Boris Avatar

      Thank you Sandy. This connection really did happen for real.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sandy Randall Avatar

        I love that it is a true story. Vignettes of a moment in your life can be so poignant and precious. Having the ability to recollect it the way you do allows us to really share the moment as if it was our own.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Boris Avatar

          Thank you Sandy. Yes, I did try to convey what I experienced at that moment in time and I am glad that I was able to do so (at least, for you).
          I also have a draft for a story about my real-life encounter with a saltwater crocodile, the largest crocodile in the world.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Sandy Randall Avatar

            I look forward to reading that one!

            Like

            1. Boris Avatar

              That depends on whether there will be a suitable showcase theme for that story and whether I will ever turn it into a finished story.

              Liked by 1 person

    3. GD Deckard Avatar

      I’m delighted that you are enjoying The Phoenix Diary, Sandy. Let me know if you feel that the main characters “grew up” some during the adventure? I tried to convey those changes, but it was my first effort, and I am nowhere as good at developing full characters as my daughter is. So, feel free to tell me, “No. Not at all.” 🙂 That would satisfy my curiosity.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sandy Randall Avatar

        I will let you know.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    I can’t count the number of times I heard, “As long as you live under my roof, you’ll follow my rules.” And there were so many rules. Growing up under that thumb, I knew Dad was an authoritarian verging on control freak. I also knew that I wasn’t going to change who he was no matter what I did. But as I went through high school and college, I learned that a well-made argument for why I should be allowed to do something, sometimes changed his mind.

    By the time I was 7, I came to the same conclusion you did, but from a slightly different angle: If I ever had kids, I would not treat them the way I was treated. But even then, I wanted to face my life and learn to deal with it without anger or resentment because I didn’t like feeling angry and resentful, and I didn’t much like myself when I felt that way.

    People say no one teaches you how to be a parent, but that’s not true. Every parental example you see while you’re growing up teaches you how to parent or how not to parent.

    Liked by 5 people

  21. mimispeike Avatar
    mimispeike

    We three have a lot in common. I had made up my mind by at least twelve or thirteen, I can picture myself in the kitchen of our house in Crystal Beach, Florida telling my mother I didn’t want kids, she giving me an argument … you will, when you meet the right man. I knew I wasn’t going to change my mind. A dozen years later, after finding a doctor who believed I knew what I wanted, I got myself child-proofed. I’ve never regretted it.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      As a mother Mimi, I applaud you. I have four kids. Every single one unplanned. I’m so freaking lucky. They are amazing humans. I have told all of them their lives and choices on how they attain happiness is more important than making me a grandma. In addition my only criteria was they harm no one else in achieving their happiness. To me happiness and self fulfillment equals success.
      To date I’m fifty-seven with a grand dog and three grand cats. 😂 my oldest got married last year. His wife wants children and he’s scared out of his mind to bring up a child right now.
      Watching to see how that goes.
      I’m a spectator in my kids lives unless they ask specifically for help or information. I refuse to get in their way. I attribute my parenting to the lessons learned from my own parents. As Sue aptly pointed out, the lessons for how to as well as how NOT to parent are there. It’s up to us to choose.
      It took me until my 30s to understand that blaming my parents for my life ended when I left home. The moment I took the reigns the direction and speed were my choices and not theirs. What a moment of freedom for me. Oddly, September 11th initiated that realization… a story for another time.

      Liked by 6 people

    2. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      That was a crystalized moment for you. I think the idea of getting married and having kids (and meeting the “right” man or woman) was simply a mostly unquestioned part of the society our parents grew up in.

      I am grateful for the only advice Dad gave me that I took to heart: “Never get married. Learn to take care of yourself.” I was a little surprised when his response to learning I was pregnant at age 31, was, “Quit your job and get married.” Of course, that didn’t happen, and by then not only could I take care of myself, but I felt ready to take care of someone else, too. And I never regretted doing just that.

      I agree with you, Mimi. The three of us have a lot in common — maybe most emphatically that our challenges helped us know ourselves, we make our own choices, and we live by them without regret. (Although, I do have stupid incidents sprinkled throughout my life that I still kick myself over.)

      Liked by 4 people

  22. Sandy Randall Avatar

    I love the advice your Dad gave you. Never get married. When I was pregnant with my oldest I was barely 20. My first thought was to disappear from everyone I knew and do what I thought was best. In the end I succumbed to the pressure around me. I married.
    It wasn’t all bad. We did move to the Netherlands where my son was born. He has a great relationship with his dad (and me) and he knows his whole family. His dad and I divorced when he was two. I was simply too young to be married and raise a kid. So I focused on raising the kid. Looking back it feels more like I raised a younger brother. My other three kids I had later. Still not very successful at being married, so that didn’t last either. However my second ex and his fifth wife are good friends of mine. We all found our way somehow.
    Sue you said “ (Although, I do have stupid incidents sprinkled throughout my life that I still kick myself over.)”
    We all have that. As time Goes on, I take those moments as learning points as well.
    I’m just grateful I can look back and feel like to this point my life has been an adventure.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    “We all have that.” Lol, I never doubted it, Sandy. I just thought I should acknowledge my own so that saying I have no regrets wouldn’t sound so disingenuous to me.

    Actually, I do have one real regret. 48 years ago, when my mother was dying of cancer, Dad gathered the five of us sisters to tell us, “Your mother doesn’t acknowledge she’s dying. Until she does, neither will we, so don’t talk to her about it.” The ultimate consequence of that was that none of us got to say good-bye.

    I knew it was bad advice when he said it, but I chose to respect his parental/husbandly authority. To this day, I wish I hadn’t. When his turn came 25 years later, I made sure the entire family — daughters, in-laws, and grandchildren — got to tell him what they appreciated about him and say good-bye.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      I appreciate you relating your experience over the passing of your parents. I have not crossed that path yet. My parents continue to walk the earth. Both are in relatively good health, though I can see some mental deterioration and definitely lower energy levels, but they still get around. Dad is 80 and Mom is 78. My step dad is 70 at the end of this year. My youngest brother is 38, and has Down Syndrome. My other brother and I have tried to help my Mom and step dad understand how much his life is going to change when they pass, but they don’t want to prepare for that eventuality. Much like you honored your Dads wishes not to speak to your mother about death, My brother and I have come to a simple impasse with Mom and step Dad. It may be a regret down the road, but I have said my piece to both as has my brother. We both stand ready to assist our younger sibling, not if but when.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

        I salute you and your brother.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Sandy Randall Avatar

          Thanks Sue.
          My brother and his girlfriend made a Herculean effort to help out my Mom and Step-Dad. Their refusal to accept the help was frustrating, because they had asked for the help. Then when my brother moved from Wichita to Hawaii as they agreed he would do, they thwarted every attempt. It was a passive aggressive thwarting, but in the end my brother said either we do as agreed or we go back to Kansas, where her Dad and mine live. Both elderly men very happy to have help. Another sad part was in the middle of the move to Hawaii, his girlfriends Mom was diagnosed with brain cancer and died just a few months after the diagnosis.
          I love my family, but so frustrating!

          Liked by 3 people

    2. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

      I think your father may have made a good call here. Yes, we should show love and appreciation for those we love and appreciate. Yes, a terminal illness makes that showing more urgent. But dwelling on the urgency may do more harm than good if the patient is in denial, as your father said your mother was.

      Saying good-bye in the *auf Wiedersehen* sense is innocuous, but saying good-bye in the we-will-never-meet-again sense has more downsides than upsides that I can see, unless perhaps it is known that death is minutes away. One of the burdens of a terminal illness is uncertainty about the final departure time. Dying is not as predictable as the flight home at the end of *Casablanca*, and the loved one could spend hours or days feeling abandoned after an explicitly final good-bye.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

        Mel, I appreciate that each person’s experience with a dying relative is unique, and I’m not advocating some romantic, Hollywood sendoff. I’m not even suggesting there’s such a thing as closure because I don’t believe there is. But I do see great value in acknowledging death is an integral part of life that doesn’t need to be an uncomfortable or morbid thing to discuss with your family and plan for. Not just the financial aspects and the disposal of the corpse, but sharing what those who remain see as the personal legacy their loved one leaves them. More like days gone by when people stayed home to die, often in a multi-generational family situation, when everyone gathered round Grandma’s bed at the end to see her off.

        In Mom’s last few months, she did tell at least two of us about something of hers she wanted us to have after she was gone. That could have been an opening to talk about how we felt about her dying, but Dad wouldn’t have it. Maybe that wasn’t really his call to make for conversations that would have taken place between a mother and her daughters.

        Three days after Mom’s radiation treatments were finished, she was in such pain, she asked to go to the hospital, saying, “If it’s going to be like this, I’d rather die.” Dad and I took took her there and the doctors/attendants told us to go home and come back in the evening so they could do whatever it was they were going to do. We returned with my two youngest sisters (15 and 16 at the time), talking in the elevator about who would come visit at what time during the next few days.

        We walked into her room and she was dead. We had to inform the hospital people. They had no idea.

        When the family got together to say good-bye to Dad, he was living at home — his choice — and it was clear the end was imminent. In fact, it was the last day he was able to interact with us. No one actually said, “Good-bye.” We shared memories, things he’d taught us that we took with us into our adulthood, and we even got him to laugh. Three of us were with him when he died, which in his case, was not a peaceful process. Quite unexpectedly, we each experienced being with him as a privilege and a gift. He even had a few lucid moments — as apparently many dying people do. He was glad he wan’t alone.

        Maybe a healthy approach would be to share those feelings all through our lives. My family didn’t do that when I was growing up, but that’s not the family example I’ve set for my son.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

          Your reply is moving, beautifully written, and potentially helpful to others. Hope it will be worked into a post. What would be a good word or short phrase for the kind of gathering to share and reconcile that preceded your father’s death? I am wary of overloading “say good-bye” with a third meaning that could be confused with the other two. Will send e-mail if I think of something.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

            Thank you, Mel. I’ll give it further thought, too.

            Liked by 1 person

  24. John Correll Avatar

    Sandy, just in case you’re finding writing ever so frustrating I wanted to add my own humble words of encouragement.

    I know valid criticism can be disheartening, but don’t even consider stopping. Not even in the furthest corners of your subconscious. I’m confident I’m not the only person hooked on your story and waiting for the next installment. Your writing may be a little rough, sure. But the ideas and plot twists really drive this story forward. And this forum will only help you refine and polish those great ideas.

    Liked by 4 people

  25. Sandy Randall Avatar

    Thank’s John! I appreciate the encouragement!
    As for stopping? Never.
    The story is indeed rough. It is all first draft after all. You guys are getting the development phase of this story. I welcome all feedback. I will use what I feel works for the direction I take this.
    This story is a tough one for me. The technical aspects throw up roadblocks for me to dance around, but I am enjoying the challenge. When I need to step back from it, I work on my other pieces.
    Finding this group has been a lifelong search. I’m finally home in that sense.
    The opportunity to make writing my priority, another lifelong goal I’m finally realizing.

    Liked by 4 people

  26. Boris Avatar

    John, I assume your story is about The Battle of Tarawa during WW2.

    There’s effective alliteration in second sentence of first paragraph, the repetitive initial “b” sound accentuating the sound that bullets make.

    There are strong and vivid descriptions in your story.

    Have you heard of the book “The Forgotten Soldier” – your story reminded me somewhat of that book. In that book there is also an arrogant sergeant who ends up in a similar way.

    (by the way, it is a funny coincidence that your story and my story in this showcase both mention little lizards.)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. John Correll Avatar

      Yes, the Battle of Tarawa. Yes, I read Sajer’s book ages ago. Maybe that’s what inspired the story. I had this image, which I knew I’d read somewhere a long time ago, but I couldn’t figure out what book. Thanks.

      Liked by 2 people

  27. Boris Avatar

    GD, this is an experience to treasure, although it does make one sad about the sheer tragedy that war is, especially a war that could have been avoided.

    On another matter, I don’t mean to topple America’s sacred cows (like Bob Hope) but I do want to raise the question: Who really knows what goes on in the mind of a person who is smiling and being sincere and friendly, and how can one definitively prove whether a person is being genuine or not? I do recall that there is a saying that goes something like this: “You know that you have made it in show business when you can fake sincerity.”

    What I am trying to say is that human beings are such complex creatures that there often can be a deep disparity between their outer behaviour and their inner thoughts and feelings (unlike with animals, who express exactly what they feel.) So, hypothetically, it is entirely possible that behind generals’ arrogant manner there was caring and concern that they couldn’t or wouldn’t show, for whatever reason. Because of the complexity of human behaviour, theoretically this is an entirely plausible possibility.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. GD Deckard Avatar

      Hi Boris,
      You are theoretically right of course, based on normal human behavior, about what could be possible. But like Schrödinger’s cat, possibilities can collapse into reality. The reality in this case is observed through actual experience. Bob Hope was British. He spent years of his career, beginning in 1941, visiting and entertaining American soldiers during WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam war, including 48 Christmases with troops overseas. Actress Brooke Shields said after accompanying him on a tour that what she will never forget is the respect that he felt for the men. I never heard a man say otherwise. Theories & possibilities exist in the mind, but the observed reality of the people who worked with him and the men he greeted is that Bob Hope’s respect for soldiers was genuine.

      The Generals? Damned if I know.

      And you are exactly right about war. It makes no sense that something that makes no sense is inevitable. But it has always been part of basic human behavior. We really oughta try to think that through.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Boris Avatar

        GD, I don’t doubt anything that you say about the sincerity of Bob Hope. However, I wanted to raise the philosophical issue of not being able to ever truly know another person’s inner world. For philosophers this is a genuine issue and they wouldn’t be satisfied with the statement that the outer behaviour reflects, demonstrates and confirms the inner feelings, thoughts and intentions. .

        Liked by 2 people

        1. GD Deckard Avatar

          I agree with you. We don’t truly know another person’s inner world. To me, that’s part of a bigger question, how do we know anything? I once received top marks for a university paper on the subject. But, it turned out that while I’d fooled the teaching assistant who graded the paper, the philosophy professor caught that I’d actually begged the question. He allowed the grade to stand, but he made sure I understood that I didn’t understand. 😁

          So, I still don’t know the answers to (any of) philosophy’s (bigger) questions. But I have noticed that we do not live and act on a philosophical level, so much as we re-act to reality. And there is a reality, even if it’s only what a jury says it is. The wrongfully convicted go to prison.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Sandy Randall Avatar

            And here I am dabbling in multiple realities …🫥🤣

            Liked by 1 person

  28. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

    Looking forward to more episodes in the saga of Bepé and Dunia, but hopeful that U will change Dunia’s name to one that fits his gender.

    I blundered into reading episode 2 before episode 1 but could get the gist of the story anyway, albeit with details missing and a mistaken assumption that Dunia was a woman. The syntax in episode 2 is admirably clear, so I could devote my meager brainpower to the semantics. Episode 3 is not so clear. Aside from things that Carl has noted, there is a problem with ambiguous pronouns.

    The word [he] in a sentence of the form

          Sam told Joe he is ______.

    could refer to either Sam or Joe, depending on how the blank is filled. Sam is sorry; Joe is misinformed; somebody (who?) is generous. The reader needs context and common knowledge to disambiguate. In episode 1’s

    «Dunia stood up and waved at him from where he had placed the perimeter fence.»

    I disambiguated “he” as referring to Bepé because I was misled by Dunia’s name and had already assumed Dunia was a woman. Yes, it would have been smarter to assume that placing the fence was something the assistant do in course of measuring (and to shrug off his having a weird name). The bit of common knowledge that disambiguates for the reader may clash with the bit that disambiguates for the writer.

    There’s not much common knowledge about verse jumping gone wrong. Many uses of [he] in episode 3 left me unsure whether the referent was Bepé or Dunia, and knowing no male names ending in -ia made the uncertainty worse.

    Please retrofit the drafts of all the episodes with a name that does not end in -ia. And please be careful to ensure that referents of pronouns are obvious to the reader, from syntax alone when possible.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      Thank you Mellow! I appreciate the feedback.. not sure if you saw my post where I admitted I screwed up the names… 😂 you have provided a solid preference which I really appreciate!
      After Carl, Sue’s and Mimi’s feedback I already decided I needed to skip the upcoming showcase and get this story on track.
      Your insight with the first two pieces, in addition to some of the research I’ve been digging into… cements my thought that I need to start over. Not daunting at all… that is normal for me when I revise. It gives me a sense of continuity rather than cobbling.
      Again I appreciate the comments and observations from everyone. It’s so nice to have people be honest with my work instead of the platitudes of friends and family trying to be “nice”. I get they are trying to spare my feelings but I’m working here! I need honesty. My feelings have nothing to do with it! I’ll feel better when I write something worthy, instead of hacking a great idea into useless drivel!
      You all are great. Thank you!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

        I missed the post regretting the choice of names (and many other things) while distracted by family drama. Here’s a quick note before something else hits the fan.

        If U are going for a major rewrite anyway, I suggest that U consider keeping Dunia’s name while changing Dunia’s gender. Here are 2 reasons:

        (1) The difference between he/him and she/her would obviate pronoun ambiguities in writing about interactions between the two main characters.

        (2) Episode 2 ends with Dunia schooling the previously clueless Bepé about his wife’s shenanigans. Putting those words in a woman’s mouth (w/o making a fuss about the speaker being a woman) would be an unobtrusive way to make an intrinsically implausible story a tad more believable. Just a tad, of course.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Sandy Randall Avatar

          Definite food for thought… making Dunia a woman also eliminates prehistoric beard care…
          And stranding a woman for thirty years … 😳

          Liked by 2 people

      2. Boris Avatar

        Sandy, in Slavic countries “Dunia” is a well-known female name. It is also used as a pejorative term for a country bumpkin kind of a woman, kind of like “Billy Bob” being used in USA as a term for a hillbilly.

        Liked by 1 person

  29. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Boris, that’s a beautiful moment to cherish. As GD pointed out, it happens between people and their pets, too. Domestication seems to make it a less remarkable experience, but more certain in its meaning.

    I recently had an eye-t0-eye encounter with a coyote in my back yard. Her expression struck me very clearly as, “Please. I don’t want any trouble.” Then she ran off only to return the next day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Boris Avatar

      Thanks Sue. Yes, I only thought of it as occurring between man and wild animals, but GD is right in his observation regarding pets.

      Liked by 2 people

  30. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Mimi, Sly appears to have met his match in willfulness with John Dee. Their interactions crackle. Yet even with Sly’s strategic capitulation, the reader knows Sly will get the best of Dee in the end.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. mimispeike Avatar
      mimispeike

      Thanks, Sue. That’s what I believe. Sly has met his match. That relationship will play out in books four and five.

      My apologies to all for neglecting this site. I have been wrestling with my next Showcase. I’m in untrodden territory now. The going is rougher than in previous areas that were substantially written, that only needed to be groomed.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

        No apology necessary to me, Mimi. My own delayed responses are the result of having to create a Monarch butterfly worthy of attendance at the Met Gala, lol. It’s challenging and fun, but I’d rather be writing,

        Liked by 3 people

  31. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Sandy, the dialogue — credible and informative — zips along at a cinema-worthy pace. However, Dunia’s anger at Bepe over having been left unrescued for 30 years, strikes me as misplaced. He can see Bepe hasn’t aged so why would he conclude Bepe had delayed looking for him? As he mentions a few times, he’s had a long time to think about what happened, and he blames Sofia and Darren. I hope we’ll find out what Dunia has been doing for the past 30 years. Right now, it sounds like he spent it brooding and bitter. Certainly, as a scientist, he must have done something actively investigative with his life.

    A little thing. The word “receded” to describe the buttons on the jump device hit me hard as wrong. I think “recessed” is a more appropriate description.

    I’m eager to read the next chapter.

    Liked by 3 people

  32. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    GD, your economy of words effectively establishes and undermines a complex hierarchy. The Generals insist on it, Al accepts it, the comedian lives outside it, and the Negritos are completely oblivious to it. Well done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. GD Deckard Avatar

      I did that? Cool! (Seriously, Sue. Your critiques are revealing. Thank you.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

        You’re welcome, GD, but I promise you, I cannot read what isn’t there. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

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