Freitag, 17. Juni 2011

Thunderbird Rock

Steve clung to the rock. He had no memory of how he got there, or why. Something about thunderbirds... His fingers hurt, his legs cramped. Wind ripped his head back, using his hair as a handle.

A quick glance down revealed that, yes, this was pretty high up. And although he did not know what he was doing, he knew he was not yet on his way back to solid ground yet. Slowly his left feet abandoned the rock, searching for any kind of support to continue his journey.

Giant shadows circled above him, dancing with the lightning beneath the dark gray clouds. Their cries echoed through the canyon. All Steve could make out was their shape. Curved giant beaks tore at the sky when the birds shrieked, and each cry coaxed the darkness further into the day.

He advanced slowly, trying to remain invisible. Soon his bare chest was covered in tiny red rivulets from where the glinting rock hat slashed at his skin. It was almost as if the mountain did not want to be climbed. Steve's heart raced. He had never done anything like this before, but he knew he had to reach the top... and the nests that had to be waiting for him. Everything else was a blur in his mind, with his goal a burning focus in the center.

With a mighty swooosh one of the giant bird shapes fell from the sky and shrieked past him. Steve glanced over his shoulder and saw a shadow tumbling towards the ground, head first. What was happening? The birds above him weaved through light and darkness, ever faster and faster. As he advanced, he could make out the marks on their feathers and the glow in their eyes. The air was charged with electricity, and whenever lightning struck the mountaintop, Steve felt a tiny jolt running through his fingers and down his sweating and bleeding body. His breath quickened as he realized that not only was he gaining height, albeit step by painful step, but that at the same times the birds were losing altitude, and that they were destined to meet. A foul taste coated the back of his throat.

Finally, with a mighty struggle, he reached the top and clamped his fingers into the ledge. The thunderbirds’ stares burned his back. One of them swooped down and attacked him, leaving deep marks in his back. Steve yelled in pain. He clung to the rock, advanced. His muscled belly scraped over the edge and he lay on flat stone, panting. Every inch of him felt bruised – and he had to go all the way back down! But…

It had been worth the effort. Huge nests made from dark brown and black bushes covered almost every foot of the plateau. Stinking dead carcasses lay scattered between them in varying stages of decay. He saw what he thought were dead sheep and cows – and humans. Scared, he jumped to his feet and raced over to the closest nest, which was empty. But the next held what he realized he had come for. Glowing with a red pulse, there lay three eggs, not larger than his fist. They were pure magic. Steve grabbed one, turned around and ran.

The thunderbird was waiting for him. Sparks danced through its eyes and over its feathered body. It threw back its head and shrieked. Steve’s head threatened to explode with pain. He fell to his knees, and the bird’s talons knocked him over. He screamed and fell…

… and was greeted by the ticking alarm clock on his nightstand. His head hurt. He must have knocked it against the wooden headboard. What a weird dream! His body ached as if he had fought an army of birds. And what were thunderbirds, by all means?

His fingers fumbled for the light switch, and then he paused. He was sure to find out, eventually. Beside his bed, pulsating with a dull red, there lay something which might have been a stone, or might have been an egg. Steve looked at it and felt a strange excited fear in the pit of his stomach. He lifted his hand and reached for the egg. Tiny lightning danced through his vision. The egg was almost hot to the touch. Steve smiled. That was so cool!

He had no idea what he had done.

Donnerstag, 9. Juni 2011


[I thought I had put this here before, but it seems if I did I cannot find it. Either way, I'll be out of town for a few days and thought I'd leave you with a short #FridayFlash.]

The moaning from the next room sounds almost genuine. In here, it’s colder, and there is hardly any light. Martina can hear the camera guy shouting something – Jeff probably has lost his act again. It’s difficult for the man to do his part, she knows. And on a day like this… Maybe they should all take a break. She clasps her water bottle. There are water drops collecting on the smooth surface. It fits her hand perfectly. This is the main reason she buys this water brand.

The blanket does a poor job keeping the cold away from her nude body. She has been sweating in front of the cameras and all the big lights. Twenty minutes of filming sometimes feel more exhausting than a complete workout. At least she doesn’t feel as guilty if the whole crew goes to the fast food parlor afterwards. She loves socializing, and if it requires an unhealthy meal now and again… she can do this, as long as she pays attention to her overall balance. Mustn’t forget, her body is the main source of her income. Maybe she should take a shower before she has to be on scene again – she likes being fresh and clean for her partners, even if they have already had some together action on that day. The job is hard enough as it is already. She even takes the time to brush her teeth after every snack – or oral action.

Her mother must never find out about her job, and she knows it. Fortunately, this is not the kind of movie the old lady would be caught watching. It would interfere with her attempt to catapult her soul into heaven. Besides, she does not like all this “dirty, uncomfortable physical stuff”. And that’s fine, since somebody has to earn money to pay the rent, and university fees… Martina knows she is not bright enough to win a scholarship, but she wants to be a social worker, she wants to make a difference. Her family thinks she does some minor job for a professor, sorting magazines and stuff, typing letters. Martina does not think of it as a lie, it’s rather an act of mercy. After all, there surely are professors watching. She dreads the day when someone at university might recognize her.

With a buzz, the loudspeakers in the upper corners of every room come to life. “Everybody on the shooting range for the big final. I want no messy hair, no fluids. Clean up and get your asses over here!” The speakers die before the camera guy has stopped snickering. He likes ordering the others about. Martina runs both hands through her copper-colored locks, sheds the blanket and walks over into the next room. Nude, she looks more regal.

Samstag, 4. Juni 2011

Gutter Santa

The main streets had been busy, and it had frightened Sarah so much that she had forgotten not to lose her mother. And now here she was, in a back street, with the sky growing darker high up above the shabby buildings surrounding her.

They had been on a noble quest – exchanging Christmas gifts for things they really wanted. Sarah’s mother had insisted on taking her along since the babysitter was still visiting with her family. Sarah would have preferred to stay at home and play with her new doll, she was afraid of all these people in town. Mum had taken the doll from her, handed her the worn teddy bear and dragged her here. Why did grown-ups never listen?

However, she had to find her mother. There was a curtain lecture waiting for her… as if she had got lost on purpose! But, first – how could she find her way back? This street certainly wasn’t the right one, it was smelly and had tiny rivulets of water with oil rainbows crossing from one side to the other. Trash cans gathered in a corner, as if they were planning nasty things – like bullies at school. And wasn’t there something moving behind them? Sarah stood still, clutching her teddy bear. Yes, of course, there was somebody behind the trash cans! In the weak light it was difficult to see, but she thought she spotted something red. Then she heard a groan, and Santa Claus sat up in the street, yawning and rubbing a dark spot on his coat.

“Hi Santa”, Sarah said.

Santa’s head swiveled around unsteadily, and for a moment it looked as if he might fall back again. “Hi there, young lady,” he croaked.

“Are you drunk?”

Carefully, Santa put the bottle in his left hand down on the street. It was not completely empty. “Why, of course not. I was just… picking up some rubble, and then I got tired and fell asleep. And what about you, young lady?”

“Don’t call me that.”

“Call you what?” Santa struggled to stand up.

“Young lady. I know you know my name. It was on all my presents. You write funny.”

“Well, uhm… I don’t have my glasses with me. I can’t see your face properly. Are you… Anne?” Santa leaned forward and squinted. “Mary? Susan?”

Sarah giggled. He looked too funny. “Not Susan, it’s Sarah!”

“Oh, yes, yes, of course… Sarah. You are a very good girl. I remember.”

Sarah tried not to blush. She was still afraid if he found out she had taken the chocolate cookies from grandma’s pantry, she might have to give her doll back.

“Now tell me, what are you doing here?”

“I – that is, we… my mother and I wanted to…” How did you tell Santa that the presents had not been good and that you were exchanging them for better ones?

Santa smiled. His teeth were yellow and slightly crooked. “Did my helpers mix up your orders?”

“Not mine, Mum’s. You know, it can be difficult to get the right present for her. It’s not bad if you got something wrong”, Sarah tried to comfort him, “at least she can still exchange them for what she really wants. Dad never is that smart. They always fight on birthday.”

“Your parents fight? I guess I’ll have to take a closer look at them. Seems they are not good parents.” Slowly, Santa came towards her, steadying himself with one hand on the dirty wall.

“Oh, they are okay.” Sarah thought about something nice to say about her parents. Then she took a closer look at his clothes. “Won’t Mrs. Santa get angry if you come home dirty like this?”

He looked down, puzzled, as if he had not realized the stains before. “Oh, you’re right. I’d better sneak home and put that in the laundry.”

“I have to go back and find my Mum”, Sarah said. She held her teddy close, taking a careful step backwards. Close up, Santa Claus smelled funny, like old fruit and older socks.

Santa tried another smile. “Come on, I’ll help you find your mother.” He squatted a few steps away from her, trying his best to look harmless. Somehow his beard was – lopsided. Boy, Sarah decided, he really had to practice shaving.

“See? Over there is the mall, and there are the other big shops. I am sure your mother is over there, and she is worried you ran away.”

“Over there?” Sarah looked doubtful. “But all those houses are empty, and there are rats in there!”

“Then I’ll come with you and take care so they don’t come too close.” Santa offered his hand. The sky had turned a dark blue, and Sarah got more and more afraid. Hesitant, she took his hand.

Santa had to make sure his steps weren’t too wide, his legs were much longer than Sarah’s. While she was looking around, he told her stories about the reindeer, who were on holiday. “Hawaii, that’s where they wanted to go.”

“Hawaii? What are reindeer doing on Hawaii?”

“I don’t know. Maybe taking surfing lessons.” Santa shrugged.

They had passed the dark houses with their empty doors and windows, and suddenly Sarah could see the lights of the mall again. And there – her mother was standing right at the end of the street! She started waving, “Mum! Mum! I’m here! And look who’s with me!”

A slender figure came running towards her. “Sarah! Here you are! Why didn’t you listen? I told you not to wander about! It’s dangerous all on your own!”

“I wasn’t on my own, Mummy”, Sarah insisted. “Look who was with – “ and she turned around to introduce her to Santa. But he had disappeared. “Where is Santa?”

“Santa?” Her mother smiled. “I am glad he took care of you. But now we’ll have some hot chocolate, and then we’ll go home. And next time you’ll stay right beside me, okay?”

She wondered where Sarah had got her vivid imagination.