#writephoto and 3TC — Pastoral Vista

A22F08CE-D842-4877-A86C-751DDB0B4E26“So where are we exactly?” Dan, looking at the pastoral vista of the valley below them, asked Jim.

Jim pulled out his compass. “This is not normal,” he said, a sense of dread in his voice

“What do you mean by not normal,” Dan asked.

“The bearings are all fucked up,” Jim said. “It’s like there’s some geological phenomenon going on.”

At that moment, the earthquake hit, swallowing up the two hikers.

Written for the Three Things Challenge from Di at Pensitivity101. The three things are “normal,” “exactly,” and “bearings.” And for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt.

#writephoto — Is That OZ?

5B1DBCB6-5D3C-471E-A1FA-112BA50D9C17Lizzy stopped and let go of her father’s hand. “No, I’m not going.”

“Lizzy, we have to keep moving, sweetheart,” her father said.

“No,” she insisted. “I saw this before. This is the field that Dorothy, Toto, the tin man, the scarecrow, and the lion went into and they all fell asleep for a long, long time. I’m not going in there.”

“Oh Lizzy, that was make believe,” Her father responded. “Besides, that was a field of red poppies. This is a field of purple heather. You have nothing to worry about.”

“Are you sure, Daddy?”

“Yes, sweetie, I’m sure,” he said as he grabbed her hand.

Lizzy pointed toward the hills in the distance. “Is that Oz?” she asked.

“No, honey, it’s freedom,” he answered. “Now let’s hurry before the secret police or the state security forces catch up with us.”

Written for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo prompt.

Thursday Inspiration and #writephoto — The Beast Keeper

A870E5CB-B8F2-4DFC-8CBF-FB96D601C691Everyone referred to you, the stranger who suddenly showed up in our village, as “the beast” just because you didn’t look like them. I felt sorry for you. It wasn’t your fault. You were probably born that way. But your appearance frightened people. You made them feel uncomfortable, even frightened. Your very presence disturbed their peace and tranquility. The townsfolk were so disturbed by you that they were even contemplating doing something extreme: lynching you

I begged my father, one of the village elders, to intervene on your behalf. I told him that you had never harmed a soul since you were first spotted in our village and that there was no call for the townsfolk to harm you. I asked him if you could live in the shed behind our house and I volunteered to be your care keeper.

“It’s a bit of a risk, Lilly,” my father said. “The beast is a large creature and, I’m not sure I’m comfortable having it live in our shed. I’d need to have a sturdy lock and key to ensure the safety of the villagers.”

“Please Father,” I begged, “I would be very thankful and full of joy if you would let me do this.”C8DA4CB0-0E19-4D56-B2FB-E62090D8AE99My father finally relented, impressed by my display of courage. I would be ensuring your survival, even if you felt, at times, that you were my prisoner.

I cleaned out the shed, brought in utilitarian, but comfortable furniture, and made it as homey for you as possible. I brought you meals and I spent as much time as I could with you.

You were unable to speak the language of my village. You seemed only capable of uttering guttural, unintelligible sounds, so I took it upon myself to teach you our language. And much to my surprise, you were a quick learner. Within a few months, we were able to speak in my language.

“How did you wind up in our village?” I asked you.

You got a troubled look on your misshapen face. “My craft crashed in the mountains not far from here,” you responded. “At first I felt lucky to be alive, but then, after meeting your people, I wished I had perished in the crash.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “Where are you originally from?”

“I came from a planet far, far away,” you said.

“You came from space?” I asked, astonished to learn you were an alien. “What planet?”

You took a deep breath and said, “Planet Earth.”

Written for Paula Light’s Thursday Inspiration, where the theme is “beast.” Image from the Happy Color app. Also for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt. And for these daily prompts: Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (risk), Jibber Jabber (thankful), Word of the Day Challenge (joy), Your Daily Word Prompt (courage), and The Daily Spur (survival).

#writephoto — Alien Giants

8AD18621-EFD3-427C-96C2-A617BDD2D00B“Do you remember this, Viggo?” Antonio asked, pointing to the upright rocks on the green plateau.

Antonio shrugged. “It looks familiar, Viggo, but it was so long ago, I can’t be sure.”

“Ah, Antonio, you old bastard, your brain is all muddled,” Viggo said. “Where else do the rocks stand at attention like that, my old friend? We used to ride our bikes along this path and play among the rocks.”

“Oh right,” Antonio said and smiled. “When we were boys we used to pretend that those large stones were alien invaders and you and I would save humanity by battling and defeating them. But that was back when the world was normal, before the virus took its toll on our country and the world.”

“Yes, you do remember,” Viggo said, his eyes glazing over as he recalled life as it used to be. “Maybe we were right, Antonio. Maybe those giant rocks are aliens and they unleashed an alien virus that wiped out half of humanity.”

Antonio shook his head. “Viggo, my mind may sometimes be muddled, but this horror didn’t come from outer space. We humans pillaged and poisoned our planet. We concocted this virus by using genetic modification to alter the molecular structures of natural elements until one such concoction turned around and attacked us and we had no defenses to combat it.”

“Are you saying, Antonio, that we did this to ourselves?” Viggo asked.

“Not intentionally, Viggo,” Antonio said. “But I think humanity’s cavalier attitude toward our planet and negligence to take action to preserve our air and water led to the need for the forces of nature to clean house, so to speak, sort of like the biblical Great Flood.”

“So this was God’s work?”

“God, Mother Nature, science, alien giants, or simple human stupidity,” Antonio said. “I don’t know. But I hope that those of us who somehow survived will learn from this.”

“Don’t count on it, old friend.”

Written for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt. Sue has asked us not use her challenge as a platform from which to share our partisan political opinions. I think my (hopefully) fictional tale transcends partisan politics.

#writephoto — Welcome to Purgatory

C32E9638-7188-462B-89A1-1DD256BFD3A3I was one of a group of half a dozen rather unworldly-looking beings, almost ghostly in our appearance and seeming to be without material substance. I had no memory of how I got here and no knowledge where I was. But I knew that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

It was very dark and I could see nothing other than a blueish glow emanating from my companions and me. They all seemed to be as confused and disoriented as I was. I tried to speak but, I could produce no sound.

Without warning, an apparition appeared before us, emerging from the darkness and literally gliding into view. She had the appearance of a woman with long, flowing red hair and she was carrying some sort of bowl in her hand, in a fashion as one might when making an offering. She possessed an ethereal look, translucent and pulsating in such a matter that made it seem as if she was, at the same time, both there and not there.

In a voice that was soft and delicate, yet lilting, she said, “Welcome to Purgatory, my friends. Each of you has died in God’s grace, but you are still imperfect and must undergo the process of purification so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”

“Damn,” I thought to myself, since I was unable to vocalize. “It seems that I bet on the wrong horse when I was alive. I believed neither in God nor in the afterlife.”

The apparition floated over to me, took the bowl she was holding, lifted it over what once would have been my head, turned it upside down, and emptied the contents of the bowl over me, causing me to experience a pressing sensation on my chest. “No,” she said, “you are right where you belong.”

Then I heard what sounded like a cat’s purring and as I slowly returned to consciousness, I discovered that I was in my bed and the pressing sensation on my chest was from my cat sitting on my chest and kneading me.

Written for the Thursday Photo Prompt from Sue Vincent. Image credit: unattributed.