Blind Date

via Daily Prompt: Suspicious
Suspicious

It was there in the slow swirl of her wine; the hesitant press and sip to her ruby lips that left just a trace on the rim; the blue eyes that just couldn’t quite meet his. She put her glass down and offered a forced smile to the waiter as he brought their meals- hers lobster tail with a garlic-butter sauce and his steak tartar- while still avoiding his gaze.

She was not sure why she had not left immediately, feeling such a odd aura from her date. It was only because her grandmother had set this up that she had acquiesced to the date and decided to try and make it an evening of it, but he was such an unsettling being- hairy beyond belief with such predatory eyes and a hungry smile that disturbed her.

When her grandma’s number had popped up on a cellphone call, she of course answered but to a very hoarse voice, barely recognizable, and upon inquiring as to her health, received only assurances.  The conversation ended with grandma insisting that she meet up with the doctor that treated her, a Dr. Wolff.  For grandma’s sake she agreed.

They arranged to meet for dinner at the The Gourmet Basket, a well-regarded place nestled in a wooded resort in the nearby hills- a place of fine food and dancing.  He had insisted on treating her to the best.

It was  a misty evening when she arrived in a cab, wearing a demure knee-length red dress with a matching hooded trench coat, her black hair cascading in loose curls past her shoulders once she passed it over to the coat-checker. Dr. Wolff had already arrived and stood as she approached the table. He was dressed neatly in a light-grey suit with a charcoal-gray shirt splashed with a rose-red tie. Handsome and distinguished looking though he was, his scrutiny of her promptly set her at unease.

“You look very lovely,” he seemed to growl. “That dress is amazing on you. I could just eat you up.”

“Uh, thanks,” shyly she replied. “You look very dapper yourself.”

He played the gentleman- seating her, ordering pork belly appetizers, and engaging in small talk, none of which seemed sincere to her. It was probing as he asked about habits, likes, routines, and family. In return, he slyly deflected her questions about how he knew her grandmother and her state of health.

It seemed feral the way he tore into his tartar as she carefully picked apart her crustacean after eating her exquisitely prepared spring vegetables, none of which her date had eaten of his own.  It was all devoured in silence.

Afterwards, feeling obliged to continue the night, she took to the dance floor where she had to admit that he was lithe and sure on his feet, adept at the foxtrot, but felt chased and hunted across the floor. Although being fleet of foot herself, she felt worn out and cornered by the end, desiring to go home.

“Would you like me to take you home?” he asked with a big, toothy smile as he helped her on with her hooded cloak.

“I’m not quite sure… maybe.” She replied.

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My New Life-word

via Daily Prompt: Simplify
Simplify

Simplify, such and easy word to say but so hard to implement. About a year ago my wife and I had decided to simplify our lives.  Both sons were out of college and living on their own, and we had just closed down our business that had gone nowhere, which we had opened after I retried from the military.

The failed business had chewed up a lot of money, but I made enough in retirement to not have to work.  I had already published one book so I was going to work on being an author; my wife was going work on woodworking and art; and we were going to get back into shape and travel.

Dreams die.

Retirement was work and distraction.  With a big house, large yard, and two boxer dogs, we seemed to be either cleaning or fixing something and with two large dogs- one which can hardly handle temps above 65 deg- we couldn’t seem to get away. So we decided to simplify.

Life is full of stuff, most of which we don’t need but are convinced by advertising and/or friends and family that our lives would be better with it.  We decided to cast that aside and have been working on getting rid of first the dusty stuff and work on selling the house.  Anything we haven’t used in a while or question its use, we have donated to Salvation Army (I refuse to give to Goodwill).  But still there is more as we do nothing with our lives, living static and unfulfilled.

We simplify and simplify but the road still stretches before us, there is some much stuff we’ve collected over time and so much inertia to overcome. In the end, we will have just an RV, a Kia Soul Exclaim, two dogs and each other heading out to the horizon living life for a change.

And although I do not care much for Stephen King, I will use a line delivered by Andy Dufresne, “get busy living or get busy dying”. We’ve been doing the latter for far too long, so we have made “Simplify” our new life-word in order to do the former.

I hope, too, that you find your way in how to live life.

Bewildered

via Daily Prompt: Bewildered
Bewildered

days of nights
nights of lights
wakeness murky
topsy-turvy
thoughts are run astray
bewildered grasping
a world unclasping
flailing, flailing away

ashes swirling
memories twirling
loss and confusion
hurt a contusion
left by the hammer’s blow
bewildered reeling
earthbound kneeling
crying, crying so

finding reason
in the dying season
one spirit unbound
one mind unsound
that grief had rent apart
bewildered praying
graveside laying
with broken, broken heart

To the Bone

via Daily Prompt: Enroll
Enroll
A battered troop transport traveled between distant stars, its hull marked with repeated battle scars.  Inside, battle weary soldiers of several broken units pressed together in uncomfortable silence, the survivors of a large force sent from their homeworld of Vanaar to participate in the battle for Kreneth.  The bottled atmosphere of the transport smelled of the surface of the now conquered alien world.  The musty smell mixed with that of filth-covered humans and fear formed an atmosphere that could be cut with a sonic knife.

There was no rank and order.  Officers occupied the same space as enlisted as the transport was forced to load over twice the amount of its rated cargo capacity.  They were just cattle now as the Vanaaran units had been disbanded. Nobody in the ship was healthy, they were all diseased with a war that had lost its purpose; except for the megacorporations that fueled the expansionist motives of the Free Terran Conglomerate of Market Worlds.

One man, no more important than the rest, hugged his backpack that contained all his worldly possessions.  Among those items was an alien skull burned clean by his plasma carbine, since surrendered after his units dissolution.  The skull had belonged to the last denizen he had killed on Kreneth.  The man could only remember bits and pieces of his last combat before boarding the transport home.

He remembered the painful blow of the huge “alien” fist smashing into the side of his head, sending his helmet flying and then meeting the ground with his bloody face.  He remembered rolling in the foul muck of a Krenethian swamp, struggling desperately to aim his carbine with trembling hands at the huge form that was blurred by the mud in his eyes, and the subsequent flare of his weapon as it burned a gaping hole in the being’s torso.  He unloaded his entire power cell into the lifeless figure until it caught on fire, burning the flesh from its skull until clean to the bone.

He remembered effortlessly pulling the skull from the crisp body and the brain slopping out into the swamp, then stuffing in his pack. Why, he did not know and the rest was just a dim memory.  How he found the remnants of his unit, how he made it to the ship, and where it was going, he did not know, or care.

Enroll and serve your people! the campaign urged. Serve a higher purpose and defeat the Krenethian threat! the campaign entreated. Enroll and get fabulous pay for a great future! was other appeal to those of a less patriotic nature. It had all been a lie and Kreneth a tragedy.

The ship had been in transit for nearly two weeks, little of that time was spent for sleep.  It was almost impossible to obtain that kind of freedom in the cramped conditions.  To the sleep starved soldiers, time was a blur, it seemed an eternity to debarkation on their homeworld from which they left six long years before.

The end of the trip came suddenly as the whine of braking engines awoke those who had managed to attain a semi-slumber status.  The ship  shuddered through normal space as it took the stress of transference from super space.  Sub-light engines engaged themselves in a deep rumble that permeated the ship and all those aboard.  The mood of the soldiers lightened some as this signified the end of their confinement and a new beginning on Vanaar… or so they believed.

Ghost Child

via Daily Prompt: Conveyor

Conveyor

They always fled from him, he wished they didn’t, but they could not help themselves for fear is what had made them what they were in the first place- lost souls, drifters in between the physical and ethereal worlds. The unknowing of the beyond scared them greatly; the leaving of loved ones, too, with so much undone and never being able to come back.  His purpose was to help them cross, the ones that he could find. There were so many and he regretted not being able to reach them all.

His boots thudded dully on the dusty wood floor of the decrepit house.  The roof had fallen in, the stairs were in disrepair, and the rest of the house was even worse. He coughed a little at the risen dust while scanning the environment of this once-great Victorian home in a once-prosperous neighborhood of Detroit. He was dressed smartly in a London Fog over and nicely tailored light grey suit with a richly blue tie, his brown hair neatly trimmed and face freshly shaved.  Looking his best for them when he came to help them cross seemed important to him for some reason.

Much research had gone into finding this one as people were reluctant to tell of hauntings in most cases, fearing to be labeled as crazy and such, so long hours at the library and seemingly miles of microfiche later, he felt reasonably confident that he had found one, a young girl of twelve who had succumbed to the Spanish Flu epidemic.

Pushing out his senses, he reached for her, casting about to find her essence and the fear she emitted. “Come Imelda, show yourself, I am here to help you!” he called into the ruins. He caught a twinge from above and proceeded upstairs.

Each step creaked as he felt his way forward, careful to avoid the rotted-out, hazardous ones and the failing handrail. “Imelda, you are safe.”

‘No!’ he felt the wordless scream and the psychic push that came after, anticipating it, and easily deflecting the force with a raised hand. Making the top of the stairs he paused to spread his senses again and smiled, finding her where he expected her to be; her most comforting and safe place.

Two steps from the threshold the door to her room slammed in his face, sealing itself to his interest. Calmly he grasped the tarnished knob and turned, breaking her hold and pushing it open to reveal a room whose roof had not collapsed yet nothing else but trash as it had bee thoroughly looted over the years since the last occupant. He slowly opened the closet door to reveal a glowing form huddled there, still in the nightgown she had died in, her hair pulled neatly back into a braided tail.

‘No! Go away!she screamed again trying to push him away to no avail, fear evident on her glowing but finely detailed face.

“Imelda,” he said while smiling warmly and extending his hands for her grasp. “Come with me, you will be safe.”

‘Who are you?’ Realization that she could not chase this person away seemed to dawn on her.

“I am the Conveyor, here to help you cross to the place where you belong.  This world is not for you anymore.”

‘I don’t want to go! I don’t want to die! I don’t want to leave my family!’

“Dear child, you are all ready dead.” This was expected as the departed relived their past, making themselves believe that those they loved were still there.  Before she could escape, his right hand shot out to grip her head, locking her into place. He flooded her with the articles that he had read, of her death and the later obituaries of her family’s deaths, grounding her into the reality of now.  When he was done, he released her spirit.

“Do you understand?” He asked. “They are in the beyond waiting for you, for their beloved little girl who they miss so much.”

‘Yes,’ she sobbed, shedding no tears but sending off energy of such a heart-rending sorrow.

He offered his hands again.  “Will you come now?”  She nodded then grasped his hands in her wispy own, then he pulled her into an embrace.  “Go my child, be at peace.” Her form dissipated as she went to the beyond.

The Conveyor sighed as he smoothed back his hair.  Little ones were always the toughest and left him with the most sorrow, for they had little chance to experience fully the gift of life, yet it still gave him the most satisfaction in resolving their crossing. But, his day was not done.

Heading out the door and heading west down the block, he had another soul to free.