Jesterly Challenge Month – November 8th

AR Neal asked me to play along with one of the Scribe’s Cave Picture Prompts. Take a gander and a read and let me know how I did in the comments, and please forgive me for going over the 200 word count “limit.”

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It wasn’t what he had expected.

The tower in his dreams had been surrounded by fields of bright red roses that had seemed to take days to hike through.  Its polished exterior had gleamed under a brilliant sky and acted as a beacon to mimic the call he heard in his heart at all times.  The ground had sloped ever-so-slightly towards the base so that the tower stood above all else.  It was the center of the world after all.  It was the center of all the worlds, the hub around which all other realities spun.  It was fragile and strong.  It was terrifying and serene.  It was hideous and beautiful.  It was magic.

The tower that stood before him, jutting from the wasted lands looked nothing like what he had dreamed.  It did hold some hideous and fragile properties, but lacked the counterpoints to alleviate his doubts, his concerns that his quest was finally nearly its end.  The song in his heart still sung clearly and his mind burst with the closeness of the tower, but his eyes whispered lies that his brain desperately wanted to believe.  How could that monstrosity be the hub of worlds?

He stepped forward, his boots falling heavy in the dirt and grime of a land that had moved on.  Thorns from his dreams pulled sharply at his hands and ragged clothes but he no longer cared about the growing madness pulling him apart, the discrepancy between what was real and what was imagined.  There was no bite and sting of injuries to break his all in concentration.

However, in the very core of who he was, with each foot fall he hoped that the reality of what he was seeing would be replaced by the illusion he craved.  He needed the roses, and sunshine, and gleaming dark spirals reaching for the heavens.  Each step only brought further disappointment.  A desperate depression sought to steal control of his thoughts.

And, yet, the song that had guided him before the dreams had even started grew stronger and clearer.  It pushed against his insides and he clamped his mouth shut in fear it would burst from his lips and shatter the calm of his final march.  He’d overcome so much, he’d lost so much, and he’d betrayed far too many to face any additional challenges now that his target was in his sights.  He didn’t have the energy left.  He didn’t have enough fight in his soul for anything beyond putting one foot in front of the other.

Crumbled chunks of metal and sheetrock sloughed away from the tower to crater into the ground at its base.  It swayed in the breeze that also picked up a cloud of dust that filled his lungs and clouded his vision.  The dark tower was falling apart before his eyes and as the truth finally overcame his doubts and the song in his heart, he began to sprint.  He had to reach it before it collapsed.  He had to know what was inside it.  He had to fulfill his quest.

It wasn’t what he had expected, no, but it was still where he was meant to be.

promises, lies

The Dark Tower sang,
While roses enchanted me,
Of promises, lies.

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This is a silly little haiku based on Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and is my response to this week’s We Drink because We’re Poets Haiku Novel challenge:

"What I would like you to do this week is present your favourite novel, book, your own personal poem, movie or similar -the entirety of it, the story of it – with a Haiku!"

If you want to play along, make sure you link up with their post so everyone else can see your response.

 

my journey

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Photo Credit: islandtime

The parched ground of the ancient forest crunched under my boots.  A trail of prints disappeared into the gloom behind me, marking where I’d come from.  Ahead, the path continued deeper into the hazy half-light filtering through the expansive canopy.  My eyes ranged forward until the trees and trail merged into the darkness.

Silence walked with me as all other living creatures had fled the dying forest long ago.  The quiet was eery and left my nerves sparking for every flickering shadow and hint of movement among the still branches.  It felt like I was walking on holy ground and every step I took was an offense to those who had come before me.  I half expected Shardik to rush forth in his madness for daring to trespass in his final hunting ground.

That particular bear had died, though.  I was certain of that.  But, that knowledge didn’t help ease my tension and edginess.  I expected trouble around every bend.  I expected danger lurking behind each gnarled trunk.  Each mile further from sanctuary my mind increased its sensitivity to light and sound.

My footfalls were deafening roars.

The odd spaces of sunlight allowed to carry through to the forest floor radiated blindingly.

And, still, I continued on, into the heart of the woods, into the darkest parts of my journey.

When they’d heard of my quest, the Elders had warned me that the world had moved on.  I believed them then, and I saw the truth of their statements all around me, but that couldn’t reverse my resolve.  Fate, or destiny, or perhaps madness, had decided long ago that this was the path I was supposed to walk.  If that meant I had to move on, as the rest of this part of the world had, then so be it.

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This picture seemed like it belonged in the world of gunslingers, roses, and dark towers, and everything you just read sprang from that initial feeling.

What do you see when you look at the picture?  What do you feel?

Write it, link it to the current Once More With Feeling challenge, and post it so we can all enjoy your response.

beauty and pain

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I walk the path, the tracks through the tall grass.  I don’t have to look up anymore to know I’m under the beam.  I can feel it.  I can sense it.  I can hear the grass singing me forward.  Their songs give me the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other though I know I should have faltered miles before.  I have nothing left.  I have no one left.  I walk alone.

The beam tells me I will never truly be alone, and I know that, but that doesn’t keep my heart from aching.  All of my friends have fallen on this path, on this quest.  We sought the end of the beam without knowing what we would find there.  I continue on, though I still don’t know what is waiting for me at the end.  I think it will be a rose.  A towering, spiraling, contraption of beauty and pain that encompasses everything: life and death, redemption and damnation.

I want to stop.  I want to step into the grass, set down my burdens, rest and then… and then nothing.  Whatever waits at the end can’t be worth everything I’ve given up to get there, can it?  Can’t I just quit this mad quest, this fool’s errand?  I raise my fists to the birds overhead, also on the path of the beam, and curse them for their ability to fly against its pull, even as they conform to its boundaries.  I think about turning around, only to realize my feet have carried me another mile down the road while I wasn’t thinking about them.

It is my destiny, my purpose.  I was chosen.  I obey.

I hope whatever waits for me at the end can cleanse the filth of my soul.  I’m bruised from my regrets.  I’m stained from my mistakes.  My soul bears the lashing scars from every time I chose the path other my friends, my loves, my life.  I don’t deserve it, but perhaps I will find peace there, where the path meets the beam.

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If you are a fan of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, I don’t know how you could look at this picture and think of anything else.  It seemed as though it were ripped from that world, and the words that followed were inspired by my impression of it and how I imagine Roland felt at times.  Or, perhaps, how I would have felt if I had been forced to walk a few miles as the gunslinger.

What do you see?  Write it, link it up to Moi’s Once more with feeling prompt, and post it so we can all enjoy it.

just another door

Jules Ander, a scientist of some renown, tittered with delight as he completed the prototype for the invention he’d striven his whole life to create.  He held it aloft and marveled at the simple design to harness and balance the intricate mechanical structures and elemental fuels.  It was life and machine together, the first device of its kind, and a leap forward in humanities ability to distort the rules of physics.

Loathe to set aside the Second Bookmark, a simple name that barely hinted at the creations capabilities, Jules carefully returned the item to his workbench so that he could prepare for his journey all the same.  He considered locking it away, but decided there was no need as only he and his assistant and any knowledge of its existence, and he would only be gone for a few minutes.   Without a second glance he left the lab to grab what he needed from his private chambers down the hall.

When he returned, his assistant, Amber Rettin, was studying the new bookmark.   She didn’t bother to look up as she asked, “You finished it?”

“Yes, it is ready for testing.”

“What are you going to use as the test subject?”

“Myself.”

His calm and confident response caused Amber to look up from the device and study her mentor.  She was surprised to see he was not wearing his normal lab attire, but had switched to boots, jeans, a long-sleeved flannel shirt, and, taken aback, she pointed at the scientist’s hip.  “What is that?  What are you doing?”

Jules let his right hand casually fall to the butt of the Ruger Vaquero he had holstered just below his waist.  He smiled broadly and jostled the revolver in the gun belt, easing the leather’s grip on the smooth metal.  “I certainly can’t go unprepared.”

“Go?  You are seriously going to test the device on yourself?”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Jules stepped to the workbench and began to activate the device.  A series of flashing lights spiraled down the smooth surface indicating that everything was working properly.  With a curt nod and a satisfied smile he reached across to the adjacent bookshelf and withdrew the first volume of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

“This is madness, Jules.  You can’t test the device on yourself!  What if something goes wrong?  All your knowledge on how the bookmark works will be lost.  Please, please, stop this foolishness.”  Amber reached out to grab him but her hands passed through empty space.

Jules had already placed the Second Bookmark on the first line of the book and he’d been pulled in straight away.  The device worked.  It was a success unparallelled in all the great moments of scientific discovery.  And, no one would ever know about it.

“Go then, there are other worlds than these.”  Amber looked down at the desk, unaware of what she had just said and unsure of why she was standing in the laboratory when she normally would be at lunch at that time of day.  Seeing a book titled “The Gunslingers,” the first in a seven book series, she picked it up and turned to the first page.  Perhaps she had come to the lab to find something to read while she ate.

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslingers followed.”

Intrigued, she tucked the book under her arm and left the room, flicking off the light as she passed into the hallway.  She would return to her work studying the radiation levels of sun bursts after losing herself for a few chapters.  She hoped the book was good as her mind had been plagued with several issues recently and she needed a good escape.

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My sincere apology to Stephen King, and my thanks to Stephanie from Be Kind Rewrite for always supplying such fun prompts to inspire my writing.  Yep, this is another response to this week’s Inspiration Monday writing challenge.  I couldn’t help myself: Second Bookmark.  It called to me, just as the Tower calls to all who will protect it.  With all the potential universes spinning around the tower, all the possibilities, all the worlds, truths and untruths, why wouldn’t Roland have help from the beginning of the tale in at least one of them.  All things are possible…

You know you want to play along.  This is the first time I’ve broken “the rules” by going over the word count limit.  Whoops!

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The Rules

There are none. Read the prompts, get inspired, write something. No word count minimum or maximum. You don’t have to include the exact prompt in your piece, and you can interpret the prompt(s) any way you like.

OR

No really; I need rules!

Okay; write 200-500 words on the prompt of your choice. You may either use the prompt as the title of your piece or work it into the body of your piece. You must complete it before 6 pm CST on the Monday following this post.

The Prompts:

UNDEFEATED
SECOND BOOKMARK
FLASHLIGHT
NUNS WITH KNIVES
CALLIOPE