One Last Chance

Planet Earth watercolour painting by Elena Mozhvilo@miracleday Unsplash

Great Being Five had been twiddling her thumbs for too long at the Academy for Wisdom¹. Over the decades she’d re-educated many recalcitrant Great Beings and re-engineered their wrong-doings. She’d set them all back on the straight and narrow, repentant of their misdeeds in the management of their planets. But now she was bored.

True, she still retained responsibility for two planets, but one was still at the ‘rocks and slime stage’ and the other, Orea, the one she used to love so much, with its pretty pastel colours and cute, fluffy life-forms, was… well, just a little bit dull.

Five was missing her beautiful blue planet. Planet Earth, which she’d finally decided to delete² back in Earth Year 2033, before the greedy, selfish little humans destroyed it themselves and took off to infect another planet.

She missed those fallible little creatures. Back in the day, before they had too many technical toys at their disposal, they were such fun. So creative! Five sighed as a wave of nostalgia broke over her desk and splashed off her Universal Viewing Screen.

Back in the day. The thought crossed and re-crossed her mind.

It lingered while a plan formed.

She’d done it before, and she could do it again. As a top official in the Academy, she had both the authority and the autonomy. All she needed to do was turn back Time in that small solar system on the edge of the Milky Way. 

Once before she’d re-set Planet Earth, but sadly it hadn’t had much effect; soon the arrogant little inhabitants were back on the road to their inevitable existential fate. This time needed to be different. A planet-wide change of mind-set must be effected.

She knew just the Being to help her.

Five dropped a mind message to her first re-education subject, the one she knew best and her greatest success. She immediately sensed his enthusiasm for the project. He was primed and ready for action. She would take care of the Time-Grid and he would set up the means for a mind-set change.

He warned her it would be radical.
He warned her it would be tough.
He warned her it would take time.

She agreed.

Five aligned the Time-Grid: 01.01.2020.
A nice round number; not long before The Total Tipping Point.

She sat back. Watched and waited.

Planet Earth reappeared in its old position. The little humans had ceased their scurrying. They’d hunkered down and huddled in their homes. Five was saddened at the sickness and the suffering; the deaths of the elderly, the poorly and the poor.

The Earth turned and turned again
day after day
month after month.

Skies cleared. Rivers ran clean. Nature thrived and re-asserted itself.
The planet cooled down a little.

When the scourge passed, the little humans emerged. They had changed and the change came from within; a new understanding of their beautiful blue planet.

Five mind-melded with her colleague: thanks, Nineteen.

She hoped her little humans would get it right now.


¹ For the Greater Good
² And finally she pulled the plug

Photo credit: watercolour painting by Elena Mozhvilo

The WI Competition

WI competition by Chris Hall lunasonlune

Alys eyed the glowing seed packet dubiously. It had just that minute materialised on her doormat with a note from Cheryl Charmworker, the Chairlady of the Inter-Coven Competition Committee.

‘Well, Sparky, this is going to be a challenge,’ Alys addressed her diminutive dragon who was still perusing Cheryl’s missive.

‘She’s asked you to represent the Western Sisterhood in the Witches’ Institute Flower and Produce competition!’

‘Only because everyone else is busy with the Mistress of Spells Symposium,’ said Alys moodily. ‘What do we know about growing stuff?’

‘We can only try, Alys. C’mon, let’s get planting. The competition’s this afternoon!’ Excited smoke danced from Sparky’s purple nostrils as he flew out of the back door.

Alys followed carrying the seed packet carefully. ‘Don’t wake until ready to sow’, the instructions had whispered.

With a bright burst of flames, Sparky cleared a patch of earth. Alys opened the packet and shook it. The tiny seeds sparkled and danced in the air before sowing themselves neatly in the fresh earth. Each seed produced a miniature spade and covered itself over. Moments later they heard the gentle sound of snoring coming from beneath the earth.

Alys and Sparky spent an anxious few hours anticipating the growth of their entry. Eventually they’d given up peeking out of the back door to find nothing happening. Alys returned to studying the ‘Biggest Book of Brilliant Spells’, while Sparky amused himself practicing his flame throwing skills in the hearth.

They were interrupted by a polite knock on the back door. Alys hurried to open it. The ugliest bunch of knobbly root vegetables she had ever seen lay neatly knotted together on the doorstep, pulsating with a peculiar pink colour. It was almost time to leave. Her heart sank. They were never going to win with these.

Alys and Sparky stood on the doormat. Alys had just read out their destination when a big bunch of tulips burst from the retired cauldron and placed itself on top of the basket holding the knobbly veggies. Alys smiled gratefully; maybe there was some hope after all.

The Witches Institute Hall hummed with excited conversation. No sooner had Alys and Sparky found their allotted spot than a judge arrived; a rotund black-bearded dwarf who introduced himself as Wilfred.

Wilfred eyed the tulips. ‘You grew these?’ he asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow.

Alys flushed. ‘Actually no, they were a present from my retired cauldron.’

Wilfred removed the offending flowers and peered into the basket. ‘What do we have here?’ he plucked the pulsating pink veggies from the basket.

Alys and Sparky exchanged a worried glance as Wilfred slowly turned them over in his calloused hands.  

‘These are magnificent!’ He leapt onto the table and held them aloft. ‘Pink Prestige Parsnips; notoriously difficult to grow.’ Wilfred beamed. ‘First Prize to the Western Witches’ Coven!’

A large red rosette appeared on the table next to Alys. Wilfred turned to her and whispered. ‘You would’t mind if I took a couple home, would you?’


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #39

The challenge this week was prestige. Photo credit: clipart.com

The Eye of the Beholder

What do you see 8

‘They look so realistic! It’s bronze isn’t it?’ she steps forward reaching out to touch the arm of the nearest figure.

‘You shouldn’t touch…’

She pulls her hand back.

‘…remember in the Tate with the Henry Moore?’

‘But this is outdoors, exposed to the elements.’ She paces around the sculpture of the warrior bearing his fallen comrade in his arms. ‘The detail’s so fine!’ Unable to stop herself, she brushes her fingers across the shoulder of the upright warrior. The metal is cold and hard. She knocks against it gently with a knuckle. ‘I wonder who they are?’

‘Who they were, you mean.’

She rolls her eyes. ‘There must be a plaque or something.’ She crouches down, running her hand over the calf muscle of the warrior’s left leg. ‘What about the leaflet they gave us?’

He fishes in his pocket and hands her the crumpled guide to the castle, before strolling off towards the battlements. Sculpture’s never really been his thing and he finds the pair, posed together as they are, strangely unsettling.

The print on the leaflet is small. She walks over to a nearby bench, fumbling in her bag for her reading glasses and dropping the leaflet as she does so. As she bends to pick it up, she hears a loud yawn. She glances around, but no one’s there.

It hits her like a mallet.

The statues have moved.

She retreats, catching herself as the back of her knees make contact with the bench. She sits abruptly, never taking her eyes off the two statues.

The warrior has unburdened himself of his comrade and is stretching magnificently. His back is turned towards her and she can see every muscle and sinew rippling across his back. In one fluid movement his companion rises from the ground and stands facing her.

Living statues, like the ones they’d seen in Barcelona? But she’d just touched one and it was cold and hard.

The eyes of the statue facing her widen; his mouth drops open.

She freezes.

He puts a hand on his companion’s arm; he turns. Eyes lock on hers.

A long moment is frozen in time.

A loud whistle distracts her; she hears him calling her name. She looks up and sees him waving to her from the castle walls. When she returns her gaze to the statues; they have resumed their original pose.

She rises and approaches, raising a hesitant hand. Cold, hard and immovable; but she didn’t imagine it.

Did she?

She starts to walk away, then turns, staring at the two figures. Then she realises what’s changed.

‘You switched places!’ she accuses, raising a finger. ‘I know it!’

The statues remain impassive.

Footsteps approach from behind her. ‘You’re not talking to them are you?’ he says. He puts his arm around her. ‘You’ll be telling me you’ve had a conversation with them next,’ he laughs.

She smiles up at him and turns to leave, casting one last glance at the sculpture.

The upright warrior winks.

 


Written in response to Sadjes ‘What Do You See #8 photo prompt.

Capturing the rain animal

Capturing the rain animal by Chris Hall lunasonline
Source

“Come sit and write down the story of the old San man,” he says. “Before it’s too late, before the story gets lost.” He wags his finger at me. “Stories are like the wind, they float away to another place unless you write them down.”

“Tell me the story of the old San man then.”

He nods and settles himself more comfortably on the sun-warmed rock and begins.

“When the moon is full and the land is parched and dry, the San man comes. He comes when the spirits call him. Old as the hills, yet he walks tall and straight; his eyes are clear and bright. Dressed in a long blanket and pushing his hand cart. All he has is in that hand cart.”

“He travels from place to place as his people have always done; although few are left. They say: ‘When you lose your land, you lose everything. When the animals are gone, the people are gone.’ And so it is.”

“He visits the places where the rocks still speak and the air is alive with the spirits.”

My storyteller strokes the smooth rock on which we are sitting. I’ve seen the rock art in the cave behind us: faded pictures in ochre and red, showing animals and people.

“He comes to perform his rituals; to perform the trance dance, the dance in which men become animals and their souls travel far, far away, and it is said if they stay away too long, they never return.”

My storyteller stares off into the distance.

“Once, long ago, when I was a still a boy, I followed him.” He turns and points. “I hid behind that big rock and watched, thinking I was unseen.” He pauses, nodding slowly, his body swaying gently, as if he’s listening to a song.

I grow impatient. “Go on, what did you see?”

“As the sun slipped behind the mountain, he lit the fire he had built, just down there, on that patch of bare earth. Then, as the fire took hold, he began to shuffle around the fire; his feet scuffing the dirt, raising little eddies of dust. The dance began, he raised his arms and threw back his head and started to chant. Then the chanting stopped; he spun around and looked at me, beckoning me to come.”

He looks over to the mountain, where the sun is almost gone. His voice is a whisper.

“I was afraid, but I went. He took my hand and I followed him in the dance. And then I was flying like an eagle, looking down from the sky at me and the San man dancing far below me. I saw the San man turn to me and put his hand over my heart and I felt his spirit too, running with the springbok, the kudu and the eland; the great herds of the plains.”

The storyteller fell silent.

“What happened next?”

“It started to rain. Out of a clear sky, it started to rain.”


Capturing the Rain Animal is an important mythological and symbolic aspect of the rock art of the San People. Read more…