*gasp* You had me at evil wood elves! Besides, the first line in the product description says it's "Gr 8" yeah yeah I know. My braincells are too overtaxed to come up with anything so I'm going to buy my own copy (if I did manage form a coherent though, Roswell would triumph most triumphantly though). Sounds awesome. Thanks, Kyle! ^__^
That's so funny. I can't believe I've never actually THOUGHT of that myself. :)
Also, I really think you should write a short piece. Even overtaxed braincells can come up with something fun/silly. Um... right? ;)
Random, I know, but I love that so many of your photos include the gorgeous Roswell! It makes me happy to see well-loved kitties!
Here I am swooning over Roswell. Love that cat.
A little Roswell always add a touch of style.
Folks should try it, it's fun,a nd Roswell stories are *always* a blast.
I really enjoyed the Straub contest!
Roswell certainly enhances the value -- she always does!
referenced to your post from Silly stupid memes
saying: [...] Unfortunate Cultural Narratives, written in the proper style. *This post by Kyle Frickin' Cassidy [...]
I wrote this, and then had to literally halve it to meet the word count. Bye, bye, all my adjectives. Anyway, Open Office SAYS it's 350, so hopefully it's okay now.
She's acclimatising to this world into which she's been thrown. Her passage has been eased by the abundance of mice and the dishes of milk everyone here leaves out. She stays away from the cold ones, the sharp-faced not-people who slink from the shadows when the sun sets. She sticks close to the house of the chemical-smelling man. Tattoos that stink of metal clasp his wrists like manacles. Nails seed the lawn like daisies.
“You'd better come in, then,” he says, the day he catches her drinking the milk.
He leaves the door ajar, wandering back to play with his explosions and flames.
She pads over the doorstep cautiously, feeling a prickle that makes her fur stand on end. She licks it flat furiously.
The chemical-man grunts. “Sorry. That's the warding. Should have guessed you'd feel it, mostly black and all.”
The itch fades, the further in she goes. A smoky fire crackles in the grate. A clock grinds and clonks, the door to the weights left gaping, the wood warped enough to prevent its closure. It's dark and enclosed. Safe.
The man bolts the outside door. Through the crack she sees him draw a pattern on it with a fingertip. He hums as he pours a saucer of milk and spoons something from a tin into a bowl. Little, perfect fishes swimming in a briny sea. She licks her chops, aware that mice have sustained her, but haven't done more than that. Such effort for small bundles of bone and fur. She watches unblinkingly as he places them nearby.
After a reasonable wait, she emerges and devours everything. She hears him chuckle, but she's too busy gorging herself to care.
“If you're hungry after that, there's a rat that gets in, whatever wards I cast.”
She retreats to the clock. There's now a soft bundle of fabric in there that has a nose-wrinkling aroma of sulphur. She kneads it into submission and settles down to digest.
Before dawn, she rubs her nose all over the sleeping man's face to let him know that she wants breakfast.
awesome awesome! thank you!
*blushes* Thank you.
It really does look very bare with all the descriptors missing. Wish I'd saved the 680~ word one, but I was editing on the fly and didn't think to until I'd chopped it all down.
It is said that in the time of the great darkness, an alchemist made the long journey across the troubled wastes, and reaching the end of his travels, approached the sacred Temple of the Buddha Felina.
He came seeking knowledge, as is often the way of alchemists. He came bearing many fine gifts, which is not.
Welcomed within, the alchemist enjoyed the hospitality of the temple, and shared the prosperity of the monks who dwelled in that place.
It is further said that after three days, the alchemist was judged to have made sufficient preparations, and an acolyte of the temple escorted him into the divine presence of the Bodhisattva Roswell.
"You have traveled far" intoned the Roswell, "and have endured many hardships. We are particularly pleased with the Meow Mix™ Market Select you have brought as your offering. You may ask your question."
"Oh, great Roswell" replied the alchemist, "most wise, most holy, who strides the world with two paws upon the Earth and two paws among the sacred pillars of Heaven - I am an alchemist, and therefore I must seek the Philosopher's Stone. I seek to transmute base metal into gold."
"Did not the Shakyamuni himself teach us that the lust for gold brings harm to the Karma of all things? Are you unaware that gold surrounds you?"
"Surrounds me? But, mighty Roswell... I do not understand."
"Compassion for all things, except mice, of course. Food to eat. A good scratching post. A human to provide a warm place to sleep and to carry you around all the time. In these things there is naught but purest gold."
It is said that the alchemist was considered wise among mortal men, but he was blind to the truth laid before him. The alchemist left with only bitter disappointment to accompany him on his continued travels.
The acolyte however, was enlightened.
2011-03-02 05:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Bodhisattva Roswell
Oh, this is excellent! What a fun story. :)
Not entering the contest. Just wanted to remark on how beautiful and well behaved Roswell is :-) *hugs to kitteh*
“Just how do you plan on getting from here…” he gestured at the dusty courtyard, “to there,” his hand mockingingly tilted towards the tower. “unnoticed?”
“Simple. I’ve got friends in high places.”
“Very deft, clever friends. Nobody” her eyebrows raised for emphasis “notices the cat.” She bent down and placed a pocket-watch mouse on the ground. Steve peered into the shadows as she wound the tiny clock hands, initiating a barely audible ticking noise. What seemed like mere moments later, he felt a small form brush casually against his leg. Steve skittered away, glaring at first Eve, then the delicate whiskered shadow.
Eve laughed. “I warned you.” She bent down, offering her hand in greeting. “Hello Roswell. Thanks for stopping by.”
“Hrrmmm…” the purring voice came from a black and white cat, delicate in proportions and elegant in bearing. “whaaat can I do forrrr you, oh temptrrress of kittennnns?” She deftly swatted at the pocket-watch mouse, allowing it to dance away for a moment then, pouncing, wrought swift artificial death.
“We seem to have a problem of location. I was hoping we could access The Ways.”
“My ways are mysterrrrious, it is true, but there’s no need to capitalize them.”
“I plan to capitalize ON them.”
“Cleverrr girl. You always did have a way with worrrrds. Can you still follow? Are you still open?”
“I can, but you’ll have to give this one a mark.”
“Fanged?” Suddenly Roswell was no longer on the ground. Steve found himself face to face with two luminous eyes, a paw casually pulling back his lip. “I see…” Her rough tongue caressed his cheek and then, just as easily as she’d arrived, Roswell leapt from his shoulder, resuming her prowl across the ground.
“Light on her paws? Your friend is downright ethereal!” Steve reached up to touch his cheek.
“Don’t." Eve snatched his hand. "You’ll need that where we’re going. Madame, by your leave?”
“We’ll be off, then. Stay close, my tenderrr morrrsel. And keep yourrr frrrriend… closerrrrr.” And with that, Roswell slipped into the shadows beneath the castle wall, disappearing into the night.
Brown silk tickled the undersides of Roswell's paws as he looked up at the alchemist's laboratory table. He wasn't at all sure about this gig as an alchemist's cat, but his new employer had a sassy teenage daughter who he thought was rather cat-like: aloof, self-important, and ready to hiss as soon as anyone crossed her. She was, at least, interesting – a quality he didn't usually find among humans.
As she dabbled with her father's equipment, however, Roswell had a bad feeling that her experiment would not go well. Her mother's gold cross necklace was melting in a glass beaker, balanced precariously over a green flame. In another beaker, copper wiring was dissolving in acid. And small swatches of brown silk were being heated in milk, to what end the cat couldn't fathom.
Interesting, yes. He decided, against his better judgment, that he ought to get a closer look. Curiosity had always been a failing of his.
His leap up the table couldn't have come at a worse moment. The alchemist's daughter had turned up the flame under the gold cross and was holding the copper-filled acid over it. Despite the softness of Roswell's landing, his presence upset the careful hold she had on the beaker, and she tipped not one drop, not two, but a quick stream into the gold.
The flame below turned violet.
"Roswell!" the girl scolded. "Shoo!"
Her hands came up to bat him, much like he would have expected from a sibling he'd pounced on. So he batted back, claws only slightly bared, playing. She was not cat enough to understand. She jerked back, tipping over the liquid silk, which pooled on the table, surrounding the fire.
The gold, copper, acid mixture exploded.
When Roswell awoke, he felt refreshed, rejuvenated – and short one life. His back was spackled with metal that had seeped through his fur and into his skin – matching the strange design on the arm of the alchemist's daughter.
"I wonder what that did," she said, her expression pained.
"We'll just have to wait and find out," answered Roswell.
2011-03-04 04:47 pm (UTC)
Alchemy of the Soul
Roswell understood more than people thought she did. What she didn't understand was why they understood so little. The widowed alchemist had made a good income with his reliable formulas: there was never a shortage of cuts and scrapes, and he'd been respected, charging a fair price for balms and lotions that worked. While he hadn't gotten rich, he and his daughter lived in a nice enough house and always had enough to eat and enough wood for the fire.
If only he hadn't believed the story about the buried treasure. He'd seemed foolish to give the injured man lotions in exchange for the map. He had always healed some for free, as charity, but that was different: this time he'd let dreams of wealth fill his mind. The worst of it had been that the map was real, and the chest was there. Some coins and jewelry, and scraps in the bottom which he reassembled into a formula: a cream to turn away arrows and musket balls. If it worked, it would be worth far more than the trinkets in the chest.
So he'd abandoned his friends in the farming village and gone for an audience with the King. And now they lived at court, and his old reliable potions went into the supply chests for the military,
wasted. They would spoil, and be replaced, and then spoil again. A thousand vials, representing months of work, would be discarded every month. They didn't even give it to the tradespeople while it was still potent, so as to do some good.
And the old man couldn't see the damage he'd done to his daughter, dressed in finery but corroded inside. At first, she had pretended to be like the snotty girls who sat around bored all day making fun of other people, only to come to her room and cry after a day of being horrible. But now the magic of peer pressure was working on her, and she was becoming one of them. Roswell thought they'd truly discovered an evil alchemy: turning a girl's heart from gold into poison.
Very excellent -- we need your contact info though!
2011-03-05 01:43 am (UTC)
Re: Alchemy of the Soul
You know me as kilroy.
I don't know if I got this in on time but I had fun writing it. I posted it at 1137 pm MST so if I made it in time, great. If not, that's ok too; at least I wrote something...which I haven't done in months.
Anyway, here's my offering:
She crept forward whiskers tense, her nose twitching delicately as she processed the scents of the forest glen. He didn't hear her; she was careful where she placed her paws. The crunch of a single dead leaf would break the spell.
He sat motionless, his shoulders hunched and curled forward as if crushed by a great weight.
She sniffed again.
And below it all, something wretched and hopeless, something evil. Death lurked here, stealing light from shadows in the deepening gloom.
He stirred, his back stiffening as if he'd heard her approach.
She paused stone still, one paw poised for the next step.
He slumped again, sighing heavily and scrubbing a hand through shaggy gray hair.
She caught a glimpse of elaborate scrolls snaking up his arm. The iron smell was stronger, briefly, before the tattoo vanished beneath the frayed dirty sleeve of his cloak. She had no doubt now; after months of searching, she'd found him.
She slipped closer, a shifting black shadow skirting dried bleached bones as she drifted nearer. She was close enough now to sense his emotions.
Pain, fear, anger, betrayal, abysmal sorrow and a deep grinding guilt clung to him like a shroud.
“My fault” he whispered. “Too many. Too late. I was too late to save them.”
He swept her into his arms and buried his face in her soft black fur.
“I killed them, the good and the evil and the ones in between.” He sobbed in her fur.
She curled against him, absorbed his pain. She'd been sent here to heal him, to give him purpose while he pulled the shredded tatters of his life together.
She didn't carry the herbs and accoutrements of the alchemist. She didn't voice the spells of the magicians. She had nothing to give but one small comfort that she gave freely.
Tucking her head under his chin, Roswell purred.
I have picked 'Fractured Shadows' as the winner and am looking forward to sending you The Iron Witch! :)
I really loved your story; it read like a complete piece of 'flash fiction' to me (not that I'm an expert on that), and I was genuinely moved at the end of it.
Thanks for entering. Email me with your full name and mailing address, and let me know if you want your book personalized in a specific way: writerkaz at gmail dot com
Just wanted to say, thanks again to EVERYONE who took the time to comment here or 'tweet' at me about The Iron Witch, whether you entered the contest or not.
Special thanks, of course, to those who wrote such great stories. I was just telling Kyle how hard it was to choose. Seriously, I had to go off and think about it and then come back to read them all again. :)
I had lots of fun doing this!
Thank you Kaz. I'm glad you enjoyed my story. I'm looking forward to reading The Iron Witch.
And thank you again for the jump start to my muse. Its been on hiatus for several months; its nice to know it hasn't abandoned me permanently.
I'm glad it got you writing again - I love these contests that Kyle runs. They're very cool. And fun! :)
Received your email, thanks; will drop you a quick line back later.