Tuesday, 26 February 2013


"Aye, I can do it, but it's not a very... regal sort of animal." the blacksmith said.

"Screw those sanctimonious bastards, and their notions of heraldry!" The knight drew breath, and from his previous visits to the smithy, Danny knew he was going to start his long winded tirade yet again. He nodded his head at all the relevant places, pumped the bellows as quietly as he could, and wished he would just pay up and leave. "Beggin' yer parden sir, but if'n you want me to finish this today, then it's best you leave and lets me get on with it." A curt nod and the knight left him in peace.

Danny shook his head in confusion. Lions, dragons or eagles all made sense on a shield. To some degree he could even see the sense in a stag, noble looking with the antlers. But a manatee? A manatee?

Picture from here
I started the Monday Mixer yesterday, after work. There were still a couple of kids in the classroom, waiting to be picked up. One had some input in the story, naming the blacksmith and telling my off for my spelling and swearing. She also suggested trying for the overachiever award, but I couldn’t comfortably cram more words in. She of course loved the toilet definition of garderobe. Sanctimonius, smithy and manatee were enough for this piece though. There were some coats of arms with manatees on, mainly drawn by kids. But when I saw the horribly wonderful pun on the t-shirt, I couldn’t resist selecting that picture.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Progress report on Research Subject C1-MMA

When we first received the specimen ten months ago, it was incapable of relocating itself, making containment relatively simple. Initially unable to control its pseudopods, there now seems to be a rudimentary range of movement that has increased dramatically throughout the course of study.

The first signs of progress in this area was the ability to right itself when overturned. This was followed up a month later by a flowing motion which often left a trail of noxious slime behind the subject. Since then, C1-MMA has picked up an alarming habit of transporting itself short distances when in contact with a "carrier". Just recently it has demonstrated the ability to hover unassisted for brief periods. Because of this greater mobility, we are concerned about the containment abilities of the laboratory. Security must be a priority - an escape would have serious consequences.

C1-MMA is currently about the size and weight of a watermelon, but at the rate it is growing final projections are difficult to ascertain. While documenting its appearance, C1-MMA went through a moulting phase, hence the difference between the data files 0ZI and V13T. So far this has not caused any issues in regards to paperwork, but could become an issue in later dealings with government agencies.

Four white protuberances recently burst forth from the upper section of the subject. The Chief Investigator believes that these could be followed by more very soon as there are bulges stretching out laterally from each growth. Some assistant handlers mentioned such swellings three months into the project, but they were found to be mere speculation.

Sinusoidal growths at the top of C1-MMA has caused some observers to nickname the subject "Medusa".

Sounds produced: 
When the subject first became available for study, the noises it was capable of producing were abrasive and harsh. Now it has the capability to make modulated, subtle sounds, though it does regress at times to its original state. As it gained greater dexterity with its appendages, C1-MMA began using objects to generate sounds. There is evidence it could be attempting to communicate with us, but there has been nothing definite yet, apart from the most basic of copying personnel in its vicinity. C1-MMA is able to manipulate emotions, possibly by emitting some sort of field that we have as yet been unable to detect.

Originally the subject subsisted only on secretions from the host it had infected. It has since moved on to include a wide range of foodstuffs, some of which appear quite disgusting to the staff assigned to feeding it. Disconcertingly the subject will now attempt to eat anything that it can get within close proximity of its maw. At times C1-MMA will smear food on its carapace in what we believe is a territorial display.

When constrained, the subject has a tendency to revert to a more flaccid state, for example flopping down in the nutrient container, or squirming about fluidly and uncontrollably. This can sometimes be alleviated by emitting food for it from specialised nozzles.

Final thoughts:
Although progress has been made in establishing a useful corpus of knowledge on these beings, the findings will not be able to be corroborated unless we acquire another specimen in the future. Until that happens, it is the opinion of all those involved in the study of C1-MMA that the utmost care should be taken in handling the subject.


Subject C1-MMA feeding

It's been a fair while since I've done one of Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenges. Either I've been "too busy" (but his latest post destroys that defence), or I haven't liked the prompt - and that's not a different way of blaming my muse not coming through for me, as I like Oglaf's approach to her:

Oglaf: The Blank Page (HIGHLY NSFW website)

Oglaf: Muse (website hasn't magically become SFW)
The prompt for this week was write what you know... but change genre. Obviously it's a sci-fi study of an alien. C1-MMA stands for Child One, Madeline. She's just started staying vertical without holding onto something the other day. The photos in her passports look like completely different babies. Her teeth started showing just before Tet, though my father and I thought they were imminent when she was three months old.

When I saw what the prompt was, this was the obvious idea. A lot of fun, and if she was older than 10 months, I'm sure I would have a lot more material to work with (that's a lie, there was plenty more, but I am guessing there is only so much you want to read about someone else's kid, even when its been jazzed up thusly).

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Thịt chó

The meat sat there in her bowl, an anathema.
“Go on, have a bite! Be brave! You’re a tourist, do touristy stuff! This is an experience you can’t get at home.”
“It’s not one I am sure that I want.” A grimace. “What does it taste like?”
“It depends how it’s cooked, like most things. The one in the bowl is fairly rank - too much ginger and lemongrass. And there’s still the occasional hair on the skin. If you liked black pudding like Dad, I would have given you the stuffed barbequed intestines. But the sliced, boiled meat is like a gamey roast beef.”

Picture sourced from here The dishes at 12:00, 1:00, 30:00 6:00, 7:00 and 11:00 are to be found on the reasonable to delicious side of the scale. The soupy one I can take or leave, and the lemongrass and ginger one I'm not a fan of, nor another one which seems to be cooked with small sticks of yuck (but again, that's the fault of the spice).
This is obviously fiction, as my mother has categorically stated she won’t try dog, for the same reasons she won’t eat kangaroo. It wouldn’t be fair to trick her. The rest of it is true though. Mắm tôm, the purple dipping sauce can take a bit of a run-up as well, if you’re not Australian. It puts me in mind of a liquid Vegemite. An old wives tale here is that eating dog’s feet is meant to increase a nursing mother’s milk supply. Tho declined, but her sister was gnawing on two or three a day for a while there, not that it seemed to help.

The prompt for this piece was ...what does it taste like... for week number 78 of the 100 Word Challenge. I shouldn’t have written it before breakfast though, as now I’m hungry.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Ogre's Arms

I missed last week’s Monday Mixer because we were visiting the in-laws for Tet. A nice peaceful time, but internet free. The words I picked for this week are derisive, taproom and cosh. Looking for a picture to go with it, I had to pick this one from World of Warcraft. It’s making me homesick a bit, but while I enjoyed my time spent there, I’ve moved on now.
Picture from here, nestled in scenic Loch Modan if I am not mistaken
“You call this a stout? It’s paler than an albino’s ghost!” The derisive comment was greeted with a range of chuckles from the assembled drinkers. “About as full bodied, too!” Such comments were common in the taproom of the Ogre’s Arms, and nowadays Magnus let them wash over him. Occasionally he’d even join in berating his own stock. Not so when he’d first opened his doors. Back in those days, before his beard was even long enough to braid, he’d leap over the counter, cosh in hand, ready to blacken eyes and split lips for insults to his family’s recipe. Nowadays though, he was older and wiser. In the lowlands, things were different. Dwarves were still dwarves, but sense of self superseded that of clan and kin. Looking round at his regular patrons, Magnus realised that they were now dearer to him than those he’d left behind in the Clanlands.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Monday Mixing

I missed last week’s Monday Mixer, because I had stuck the Latinum Vault in my RSS reader, and thought that’d notify me when it was on (I'm not good with time. The word Monday in the title wasn't enough for my memory). But it seems RSS doesn’t work when it’s not the main page of a site - or far more likely I’m doing something wrong. This week though, I got a personal invite which was great... I’d lost track of what day it is due to the Tet holidays. So I thought it was only fair that I try and put more of the words in than the bare minimum. Instead of 3, I used 7 - all the adjectives of course, and two from each of the other categories.

This is the picture source
Down in the lowlands the river was tumultuous - thick with silt and full of small boats, hawking an unbelievable array of “wonders”. But for real magic, they came to the cabana next to the torpid rill that was its source.

Old Gammer would be waiting on her porch, rocking. Unbeknownst to the petitioner the philtre, tincture or unguent they had come for had been prepared hours before their arrival, summoned from the ether by her intrinsic arcane ability.

But the crone knew that the main part of the magic was in the showmanship. She’d squint and cackle. Be all crotchety and querulous. Muttering things about fantastic ingredients like dragon bone, wyvern’s fur, and the sclera from a cyclops. Grabbing a handful of those props, she’d mash them to a paste in her mortar and pestle. Just before her customers became bellicose, Old Gammer would produce their flask, and then disappear.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Recap of a month of small stones

So January was meant to be a month of writing a small stone every day. I know I've talked about them before, but they're essentially you condensing down a moment or a thing to its essence. The idea of them is to make you take notice of things more carefully - being in the moment (or thinking back to the moment) and recording it properly. I do pretty well in general of noticing the little cool things, like moss on a wall, or a sapling shooting up between cracks and all that jazz, so I thought it would be easy. But I resented the feeling of "having" to do it every day. I set an alarm so I wouldn't forget to do it each day, and of course one day as I was sitting here holding Madeline with Tho dozing next to me enjoying the moment, the alarm goes off and my phone is across the room and wakes them both up. So that was a bit self defeating. I think I'll just go back to writing them when the mood takes me.

Here's a selection of them that I like the best


The view from outside: insanity
From inside: love
My wife's extended family: my family


A cold morning
I hold the wigglepotamus under the blanket
Listening to a "multitude" of birds
Dawn chorus on a budget


Look! Large lemon leaves
flung forcefully float falling


Yesterday, the 23d of January, 2012
Was Tho's 10,000th day since her birth
May she have 10,000 years or more
Together forever!


Wind howls round the house - trees sway
A cricket chirps in counterpoint