Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony Redux

I started this piece last year, here's a link to the original post. After I started it  I did some research, which made me not want to continue, as I banged into good old rule 34 (If it exists, there's porn of it). Instead, I extended the introduction to it (which follows after this) and left the story for a later date, which turned out to be today. I kept the paragraph from before, and added a couple more.

As our school expanded, so did our playground areas, and our playground duties. I picked up one in a new area, which was forlorn and lifeless as it was just used as a thoroughfare. Practically my only companions there would be the occasional teacher passing through... and Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony. Our sports supplies arrived (nearly a term late, of course), and the area sprouted badminton nets and a basketball hoop, so there was an explosion in the student population. Through long months of playground duty, Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony stood vigilant guard with not just me, but other teachers on duty. Though I think she went largely overlooked. Incongruous, yet easy to miss... light blue, with a smattering of rich dark purple stars on her hind quarters and matching hooves. Her mane, flowing free in the wind of the ether. Her face was joyous yet solemn at the same time, and she had a wistful look in her eye. Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony had a coat that felt like suede. “Merely” a sticker, placed by some happy student on one of the windows, unnoticed by most. I always greeted her as I walked past, and waved goodbye when I went off duty. 

Its the little things, the silly things, that I keep looking for. Who needs a gorgeous sunset over a beach, or other magnificent sights on a grand scale, when you can have tiny patches of wonder. Lower the bar, and keep your eyes peeled for small gifts. Then your joys are abundant, and the payout is even greater when you do see something large and awe-inspiring.

I kept meaning to take a photo of Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony, and even though I always had my camera on my hip, I was hesitant to do so. It may have been I just wanted to hold her in my mind, pristine and ranging free, instead of corralling her in a soulless picture: slightly blurry, miss-filed and then forgotten. Then one week she was gone. That doesn’t mean she didn’t touch my life. A damp and miserable duty meant there wasn’t many kids to supervise, so I spent time daydreaming about her instead. Where she came from, and where she went, because she couldn’t have have been only a sticker. I started to write a short silly story in honour of Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony as a creative writing exercise one night, but then we went to bed after the first paragraph. Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony was in my mind as I was drifting off to sleep, and I couldn’t help but think there was something familiar about her.

A bolt from my subconscious jolted me awake... Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony was a My Little Pony! I wasn’t completely sure, but my hunch felt reasonable. So I started poking around, trying to find out if my suspicions were true. Her form seemed similar to the ones on their website, but I couldn’t find an exact match. Maybe a knock off? Maybe I was wrong? I tried an image search, with a few terms thrown in to narrow it down. I found her! How I wish I hadn’t looked! My poor Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony. Good old Rule 34 strikes again. At least it wasn’t too extreme. After that, the wheels fell off my version of happiness for her. My inner child isn’t just an inner child, but more of an complete unit... I don’t really have much space - or use - for an outer adult (except maybe to buy booze). I’m happy and confident with my inner child, and while I don’t mind rainbows and bright shiny colours, I wasn’t  so sure I can knock out a paean of happiness to Blue Belle the My Little Pony. To Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony yes... but it may take a little coaxing to get her to trot back into my life [it did, more than a year went past with the document sitting in my unfinished folder]. At the time I expanded this explanation as the writing exercise instead. That made two unfinished stories in quick succession. Let’s hope that someday, the publication deals come as thick and fast and easily!

Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony

The herd stirred, and nickered softly in the glow of the Aura of Happiness. It was time for them to go out into the myriads of worlds at different periods in the timestream, taking sadness from other beings. The stallion whinnied in benediction, and dismissed them with a flick of his tail. Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony galloped without motion, and after an infinitesimal moment that somehow seemed stretched, she began seeking her place and purpose. She was hoping for an improvement over last time, when the only way she had been able to bring joy and happiness was by being eaten. When she was depressed, she could still feel the tiger’s claws rending her. It had taken the herd many revolutions indeed to be able to summon her back into existence.

As her form became nebulous and malleable, Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony concentrated her will into a bright point of actinic fire. It seemed that it was her turn once again to be inanimate. She slowly solidified into a new form. Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony tethered her mind to what had once been her body, and slowly drifted on the astral currents, to better observe her surroundings. How cute! Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony cavorted amidst a range of cheerful flowers, mythical creatures and brightly coloured animals. Her essence pinned to the sheet of stickers, Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony was rather limited in what she could do, but in such a situation her mission - that of bringing joy - seemed to be almost over before she began. Being so small, her psychic influence would be weakened, but she was certain she wouldn't need it.  And she even looked a bit like her true form!

Later, a little girl skipped into the room, singing a nonsense song to herself. Upon seeing the stickers, she squealed with glee. Picking them up, she raced out of the room and Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony could already feel waves of happiness washing over her. Lying on a rainbow mat in another room was a baby, being attended to lovingly by her mother. The little girl sat down and began carefully peeling the stickers off one by one. She put them on the toys, showing each one to the baby and waiting for its smile before adding another. The mother stuck a cartoon mushroom on her daughter's nose and this was met with a flurry of giggles and stickers applied generously to all three. Sky-Blue Sparkle Pony was given pride of place on the baby's forehead and the camera came out to immortalize the fun.

Feeling the gentle tug back to the Plane of Joy, Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony savoured a final moment with this family and coalesced under the rainbow stars. After resting for a while, she sought out the stallion for guidance. Pawing the ground in confusion she asked why she was sent on that mission - that family already had an abundance of goodwill, her efforts would not have had an impact. "My child, happiness was restored to you. Sometimes we must think of ourselves if we are to truly serve others."

Monday, 17 September 2012

Eating Out

 “A long time since I see you in my restaurant, but still I remember what you order with your wife! You will have a banana flower salad, seafood nem, crispy squid and prawns steamed in beer, yes?”

Inwardly I groaned. We had been here about half a dozen times and that was over three years ago... a lifetime ago. “Uhh, that’s what I used to order with my ex-girlfriend - I’d like to introduce you to my wife, we’d like to see a menu please.”

Picture from here
I know this is meant to be Five Sentence Fiction, but this is unfortunately based on a true event. I saw the funny side of it, but Tho wasn’t overly impressed. For a city of six million, Hanoi is a small town. The prompt for this week is awkward.

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Tho and I were in the kitchen, picking over the last of the roasted chicken and trying to decide how many of the bananas that were ripening too fast we should eat. Madeline was in the bedroom, gurgling to herself on her playmat to the accompaniment of squeaks and bangs as she batted the brightly coloured toys about. I convinced Tho that a milkshake was the way to go as we’d also be able to polish off the last of the milk. She was always worrying about lack of calcium, but we ate plenty of cheese, surely that was good enough? Breastfeeding a baby means you have to eat properly, but the issue is complicated by random bullshit “advice” that good-natured Vietnamese friends and family provide. For example, nothing boosts the mothers milk production like eating dogs legs. Old wive’s tales seem hideously suspect when they’re part of someone else’s culture.

This time it would be a real milkshake, just like my brother and I made when we were little tackers... earlier in the week I’d gone shopping for cooking supplies. Bananas, chocolate, ice-cream, honey and the secret ingredient - food colouring. I shielded the blender from Tho’s sight with my body, but I needn’t have bothered. She had taken the opportunity to take yet more pictures of Madeline. At this rate, we’ll be buying another terrabyte harddrive, as we’re fast running out of space.

The purple concoction slopped into the mugs (I only splashed a little on the bench, next to some spilled milk, but that’s nothing to cry about) and I sat at the table proud of the hue I had achieved. Tho wasn’t as nonplussed as I’d expected - a byproduct of the photoshoot I guess. We started discussing where to go for the next holidays. Then we heard it. Something that every new parent dreads... often with no good reason. An unnatural silence. She’s probably just fallen asleep we said, yet into the bedroom we ran, eyes frantic.

Madeline wasn’t asleep, but had industriously squirmed across the floor, and was busily chewing on the ear of Rainbow Bear. Time for another photoshoot my wife declared, as we laughed along with our little darling.

This piece is in response to Tobias Mastgrave’s story challenge of the week of unnatural silence. Hardly fiction, though Madeline isn’t able to crawl any distance yet (and I haven’t made a proper milkshake, but I will the next time we have one). Someone had also suggested writing a story with our daughter in it. A good idea, as normally my writing isn’t so grounded in reality. For the record, I didn't make up the bit about dog legs, my sister-in-law was knocking off a couple a day when her baby was born. Plus I wanted something that wasn’t too dark and foreboding as the picture that goes along with the prompt isn't too cheerful. I know our life isn’t all that enthralling to outsiders, but to us, it’s pretty damn good.

High Magister

Yet another site I’ve been reading for a while now but hadn’t got around to entering their flash fiction challenges is the Parking Lot Confessional. I’m not sure if entries in their 500 hundred club have to be dead on in number, but I guess I will work it out as I intend to participate more often. It makes a nice change for me, going over the word count for once, most of my pieces tend to be under whatever target is set us. One of the choices for this week was to write about something loved that was forgotten, so I took the easy route and wrote about love. 

I finished this a few days ago, but yet again, they’re mucking around with filtering software at work, and blogspot was on the hit list, so I think I've just managed to scrape in before the deadline. It also makes reading other people’s entries in various flash fiction challenges difficult.

Picture from here

Ervity was High Magister and throughout the kingdom, he was the final say in all matters magical. Steeped in lore, his form remained ageless, his violet eyes burned with an inner fire. Those eyes had captivated many a maiden, but his studies had always kept him aloof. That changed when the russet locks of one of the serving staff had a similar effect on Ervity. Shorn of his usual confidence the wizard was slow to court Penny, not just because her station was so much lower than his. Eventually - and without the influence of Ervity’s arts - the relationship blossomed into into the worst kept romance the palace had ever known. Instead of being sequestered amongst his books and alchemical equipment, the High Magister was to be found in the laundry, scullery, or wherever his beloved was working.

Granting an unaksed-for boon to his wizard, the king kindly transferred Penny to the staff of the High Magister so that Ervity would be more focused. Rumour ran rife through the palace, but the two did not mind... the mage was well-liked and the teasing was largely good natured. But as the years progressed, and her auburn hair faded to grey, his fondness for her lessened and he became distant - Penny found herself relegated to someone Below Stairs again. If she had been a woman of means, she could  have left in a flounce of skirts and a moue of disgust. But Penny was practical - she was under no illusions she would find better employment outside the castle especially at her age, so she buried her sadness under a professional demeanour and kept to cooking, scrubbing and dusting.

It came to her one day that maybe magic could solve their situation. She was loathe to broach the subject with Ervity, especially since he prided himself on not using sorcery to win her heart all those years ago.Taking the little money she had saved over the years, she spoke with one of the magicians who traded in love potions and fortune telling down by the dockyards. For a small fee (conveniently the exact amount she had brought with her) he instructed her in the design of a sigil that was certain to work.

After washing the needle in her tears, Penny carefully sewed the symbol into the hem of Ervity’s robes of state, using a single iron grey hair as her thread. Penny did not expect the rune of forgetfulness to have an instantaneous effect, but as the weeks progressed, Ervity seemed no closer to her. Perhaps her stitching hadn’t been accurate? Or his wards and defences too strong? Fretting and unsure of herself, Penny waited with a heavy heart.

On the evening of the full moon, just mere days before Penny was going to admit what she had attempted, the magic took effect. The colour of Penny’s hair was not all that departed the memory of the mage. The next morning found him helpless as a babe, unsuitable to fulfil the duties of his rank, or even comport himself in polite company. No-one was able to reverse the spell, and the position of High Magister was passed to another. Penny saw out her days, caring for the man she once loved, but not in the manner she had hoped for.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Five Sentence Fiction: Memories

Another place I’ve been watching for a while, but hadn’t participated yet is Five Sentence Fiction, organised by Lillie McFerrin. So once again, now is a great time to start! This is a great idea - short pieces that will be good practice for me to pare them down instead of comma-splicing into paragraphs. The prompt for this week was the word memories, but it doesn't necessarily have to appear in the piece.

Picture found here
Lou slowly counted out pound coins into piles for each drink - his rheumatism was acting up again. Half way through the second pint his eyes would twinkle, and he would charm the young backpackers with his accent and tales of his beloved Maude; she’d been gone now these past twenty years (God rest her soul) and there wasn’t a day she didn’t grow lovelier in his mind. Often this lead to further drinks being paid for in an attempt to entice more stories but it was pointless. Given a third, his brogue would thicken, tears would fall, and Lou would yearn for more than mere memories... inconsolable.

Time to type again!

I haven't written much lately, what with holidays then getting accustomed to my new class. Time to remedy that! Chuck Wendig's challenge for this week was something anything SF or Fantasy. And for a while now I've been reading Tobias Mastgrave's page, where he often gives a seed sentence or an image for inspiration. I'd never got around to doing any of his, so figured it was about time I give it a shot, especially when it aligned so nicely.

The scene challenge was the starting sentence (and maybe the picture too, I'm not sure, I'm new). I think scene challenges are meant to be short, so this one is just a wee little tacker.
Picture comes from his page, of course
Agnal mouthed words of power, though no sound emerged from his throat, and raised his hands. The long years of his training in the Elder Tongue had corroded his vocal cords, but it was a small price to pay for such power. A bluish glow emanated from his fingertips, lighting the recesses of his cowl and causing his familiar to hiss with irritation. Slowly the light coalesced into the tentacled and be-fanged form of the Ithyak that was bound in service to the mage. With a keening roar the creature dashed from the study.

Agnal smiled, fingering the key he had worn around his neck in remembrance for many a long year. Soon justice - true justice - would prevail.