Soldier

via Daily Prompt: Underdog
Underdog

Thunder,
Thor’s Hammer,
the pounding roar
of rockets
of tanks and guns
of bombs;
the pulse of War… beating
the blood of Sacrifice… spilling
the pain of Remembrance… stilling
the price of Freedom… chilling.

And in the driving rage of battle,
the air thick with fear
and bullets,
is found the average,
the underdog
fighting beyond purpose-
beyond reason-
to become superhuman
in defense of a friend,
side by side
a life for a life
strength in unity;
Beyond country.

And should they fall
do not question motive,
do not question deed
but lay them softly in the ground
and honor them,
and remember,
Freedom has never been free.

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Excerpt from The Scrolls of Udanadar

via Daily Prompt: Mercy
Mercy

She lay across the fire from Fix where she could keep an eye
on him. There would be no guard duty this night, relying solely on
her training and the alertness of her iopiop.

The fire crackled and popped while it danced seductively. Fix
lay on his back next to it, staring at the stars through the canopy
of trees, contemplating the day’s events, trying to figure out what
made someone into a shuggi. For all that he had seen in Varlek’s
memory, he seemed like such a good man. How is it that he could
turn out this way?

“You know, it’s strange, Yuari,” he finally said aloud.

“What is?” she answered no closer to sleep than he was.

“That a man who could love his family so passionately could
hate just as passionately, well, it just doesn’t make sense to me.”

“It does if you think about it. Love and hate are not that far
apart. Passion, without something to temper it, can be a destructive
thing,” she replied thoughtfully.

“How so?” He yawned, feeling the first nibbles of exhaustion
feeding on him while also feeling the deep stirrings of the shuggi.
“And don’t take it personally if I fall asleep while you talk. Sorry
in advance.”

“Varlek loved his family passionately, which is great and is
something to be admired. But did he love, period, or was it love for
things that were his—a possessive love? Love devoid of compassion
for other things is just a strong emotion, so anything that interferes
with that perfect world becomes an object of scorn and hate. It
can be a cause, an idea, or a person. And that sort of love is only a
shade off of hate without mercy.”

“Okay, I can see that. You should have been a philosopher,” he
said a little more distantly. “What do you mean by hate without
mercy?”

She wondered what a philosopher was but didn’t ask. “Well,
I hate the Urilok passionately, but I do not hate them mercilessly.
I will fight and kill them if I have to, but I will not go out of
my way to cause them unnecessary harm and suffering. They are
living creatures and deserve to die quickly no matter how vile they
are. I would not slaughter their innocents—if they have any. Hate
without mercy and love without compassion do not have such
balance. That is why he is one of the hateful dead.”

“Ha-ha,” Bartholomew laughed even more distantly, “sounds
like a music group—the Hateful Dead.”

“What?”

“You’re so wise. How old are you again?” he rambled on
sleepily, his voice barely audible, the curtains drawn over his eyes.
“Oh wait, age isn’t a matter of age . . . you said that . . . it’s a
matter of chocolate and puppy dogs . . . and little Ish-y things . . .
and . . .”

“But then, what do I know about love,” she said softly.

Yuari listened patiently to his ramblings until he finally drifted
off to sleep. She was deeply worried about him and feared he
might not see this ordeal through. Her emotions were in flux, and
she felt like crying. “Now you know why I don’t like to get close
to people,” she muttered, angrily tossing a twig into the fire.

Feather

via Daily Prompt: Black

Black

A feather adrift upon the air
Black bird aloft, awing, no care
Falling, falling here nor there
To my tips, my fingers bare
Clutching, clutching my fingers snare

Grey as cloud and soft as shadow
My soul it lay in field a-fallow
A feather, a feather upon my gallow
Set to perch on life so shallow
Drifting, drifting my life to harrow.

To my eyes a form so free
None to which I’m bound to be
Compelling, compelling her wings spread free
To my heart, my blasted me
Aching, aching to burst and bleed.

Wronged at love by youthful choice
A broken wing, a longing voice
Calling, calling, calling…

Soul Dance

via Daily Prompt: Dancing

Dancing

She danced for him then, in the last light of the burning sky, to a music heard only in her head. He knew it was something profound; an invaluable gift for him.  This was the revealing of her soul.

Sensual and graceful her moves were, at times punctuated with intense gyrations. Her dancing was unencumbered by perception, without reservation, for she had chosen to bare her soul to him thus she could not be judged.

She danced naked yet it was not profane, the sinews of her body glistening in the veiled light, rippling with the intricate motions.  But it was not erotic, it was beauty. It was the translation of the ethereal to the material realm.  It was the truth of who she was and not about sex or love. It was about trust.

Collapsing to her knees at the dance’s completion, her hands palm-to-thighs as her chest rose and fell in deep, controlled breaths, she looked into his eyes, not in challenge to his judgement- she could not be for this was her Truth- but expectantly.

Although not familiar with her customs, he sensed what he needed to do next; not to do it would reject what she offered.  Rising to his feet, he let his robe slip, revealing his nakedness.  Before he could doubt himself and bring awkwardness to his dance, he began to move to his own music, letting his soul dictate the next step, resisting the urge to succumb to self-consciousness and control his movements.  He let his soul pour forth and fully yield to the mind music.

She watched respectfully as he revealed his Truth.  His dance was shorter and with movements more angular and dominant, but there were stretches of smoothness and subtlety which evoked a soul comfortable with authority and calculation.  In the end he too collapsed to his knees, panting softly and matching her gaze.

They rose as one and then embraced, accepting each other’s Truth- the ritual was complete.  The Warrior-king had come requesting his priestess, his immaculate counselor who had accepted the role and who would sit by his side as he conquered the world.

The Infected

via Daily Prompt: Panacea

Panacea

It had made us mad, crazy mad, and there was as yet no way to stem the tide.  The infected were easy enough to identify with their mercury-silver eyes and blueish pallor, and the fact that they made no effort to disguise themselves.  They were completely guileless, just relentless, and hard as hell to kill.  The infected were not undead, they just didn’t die.

It was supposed to have cured us of everything- cancer, the flu, blindness, bad breath, one didn’t even have to brush their teeth.  At first it did just that but in one generation, it had all gone wrong.  The Panacea Pill had become the instrument of Humanity’s fall from grace.

A pill of nanoagents easily swallowed to regulate our biosystems seemed so harmless, but it eventually transformed the newborns who, after the changes of puberty, went violently insane and became super strong, spreading the infection by bite and by touch if you were unlucky enough to survive an encounter.  Wounds healed quickly while biological and chemical weapons were useless.  Only a scorched-earth policy could stop them, but realization of the threat came too late to mount a formidable defense.  And, their brains still functioned, they were not mindless beasts.

Now the Infected hunted us, the Pure, who desperately clung to small groups of survivors fighting as best we could.

“Three incoming,” came down the line as a whisper while we hid in the crumbles of a broken city, waiting to spring the trap.

I gripped tightly the sealed jar in my hand, ready to do my part. The three infected turned the corner onto our street, toward the barricade where we hid.  They sniffed the air predatorily, their heads scanning back and forth as their eyes searched.  They could smell us, I knew, and we were relying on that.

Steadily they came- Infected rarely ran- stepping over a snapped power line into a large puddle of water covering the street where, as previously planned, Marcus flipped the switch sending power coursing through the line.  Electricity rooted them to the spot while I and several others darted over the barricade and ran at them.

As soon as we got there, Marcus cut the power and they fell limp into the puddle, then we opened our jars and doused them with the acid.  We did not know if the electricity would permanently fry the nanites, because if only one survived it might repair the body, so we hoped by totally destroying the body to ensure true death.

We raced back behind the barrier to hide once more.  Now we would wait to see if we had found a weapon to fight back and regain humanity- a cure for immortality.

 

 

Waffles by Proxy

via Daily Prompt: Proxy

Proxy

They were supposed to be waffles, but they just didn’t turn out that way…

My wife surprised me this morning in expressing a desire to have waffles for breakfast. Not so strange, you might think, but I make my batter from scratch using secret ingredients, gluten-free flour, and whipped egg whites. Still, no big deal but we are in the process of transitioning from a Paleo diet to a Keto diet, which precludes the use of such flour.

Addressing the look of shock on my face, my wife thought I had a recipe that would work and in fact, I used to have one, but I never really liked it and had lost said recipe.  Feeling intrepid after my wife searched for 30 seconds for a keto-friendly recipe, I declared that I would figure it out.

Almond flour, coconut flour, some nicely whipped egg whites and several secret ingredients later-along with some fixing and fussing on the consistency- I felt I had a suitable batter.  It was a disaster. The waffle iron rejected the product in the worst way possible- burnt, undercooked, and stuck to the surface.

Not to be thwarted, I declared that I would make pancakes out of the batter instead.  Not so lucky there either I soon discovered, as the out side darkened quickly while leaving the inside moist and unsolidified, thus rendering it unflippable.  I served it anyway, three each, with plenty of butter.  It was passable but not desirable.

I can make muffins! I declared until realized that my wife and I and had gotten rid of our muffing tins a couple of years ago after going Paleo and also reading that using aluminum bake-ware is very very bad.  But fortune smiled as my wife threw me a lifeline.  Just days before she had received in the mail her order of New York Baking Co’s silicone baking cups, 24 stand-alone, pan-free and non-stick cupcake liners.

I filled them to 3/4, warmed the oven to 325 and placed baked them for 50 minutes.  Perfection!  My little wannabe waffles came out delicious.  (True story!)

Ruul (con’t)

via Daily Prompt: Simmer

Simmer

The stones began to fragment and slough off from his mind. He felt so slow, so monolithic in the process of thinking.  In truth, it took decades for his thoughts to form and reason; it was that chink from the very beginning of his shackling, his betrayal.

As his awakening transpired, beneath the surface, beneath Ruul’s sunken fist the power simmered, seeking to find its own release, locked away as it was to serve a controlling master. It found its course, the conduit that would lead the way out and once again inhabited the form it had been comfortable with for many years. They were together again and this time without the restraint imposed by the Lumesti.

Agony rocked Ruul’s as the earthpower exploited the crack and coursed through his body, breaking the Lumesti chain and reinvigorating his physical being for so long paralyzed in time. Ruul screamed the pain of ages, the anguished sound rolling off to climb the surrounding mountains.  He had a brief moment of awareness then toppled over as he passed out.