Adventuring Ain’t All Fun and Games

Dungeon level fifteen, east wing, subsection 17A&B.

Most people think that we’re down here searching for wealth and fame. While it is true that our dwarven pack mules are staggering under the weight of accumulated gems and gold pieces, they weren’t our primary motivation.

We’ve been down here for months. The beasts we battle aren’t going to make us famous, but they keep us fed. I’ve gotta tell you, dragon steaks aren’t the taste sensation that some believe. Dragons are just honking big lizards, you know. Gamey. Tough.

You see, we lost the section of maps with the dungeon’s entrance.

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100 words, for this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt:

Once More Unto the Breach

The wind blew, the leaves parted, and there it was; the dreadful beast the priest had warned me about. A most puissant foe, it stood fully forty-five cubits tall. Its four arms were each equipped with an enormous scything blade, and its beady little eyes peered out from beneath a massive wooden helm.

With a sound that would surely chill the bones of a lesser knight, it groaned as a soul lost to perdition. I stood in my saddle and flung my helm over its head in a challenge, and lowered my lance to the ready position.

Forward, bold Rocinante. Our destiny is at hand, for fair Dulcinea del Toboso!

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110 words, for this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers prompt:


“We all knew he was going to set himself on fire one day.”

“It was a logical step,” Jack agreed. “Tilman had already demonstrated that the basic process worked, starting with tiny flesh wounds and working up through serious injuries, amputations, even a major spinal injury.”

“The problem was the startup going public,” Jamael explained. “We had this process with fascinating implications, and we realized that we were about to change the world of medicine forever. To Tilman, that meant a Big Splash IPO with a show for the press, bread and circuses for the politicians, and a miracle for the public.”

“Right, he wanted something to rival the latest iPhone or the next Windows release. So he set up the Immolation Trap.”

“Drew some inspiration from Houdini, it was brilliant and creepy and shocking. And my god was it everything Tilman had imagined.”

“One of those ‘where were you’ moments; everyone remembers exactly where they were when that flaming thermite rained down in that armorglass tube on live television.”

“Tilman was burned to ash within minutes.”

“Then he was rebuilt from basic elements by the Elijah nanotech system.”

“You know the rest. Ten minutes later, he did it all over again; rain of fire, immolation death and destruction, complete resurrection and restoration from backups. Cameras caught it all, twice. Tilman proved the Elijah System could keep multiple backups current with a transcription lag of only seconds.”

“If only he knew,” Jack looked haunted.

“Tilman thought we’d invented a workable replacement for the entire field of medicine. He couldn’t guess how it would be perverted.”

“We hear the rumors about political prisoners, enemies of the State, torture that never ends. Execution and resurrection, pain recorded and looped.”

Jamael nodded. “We didn’t invent miracles. What we invented was Hell.”

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298 words, for this week’s Cracked Flash (Y1W36).

Somewhere Under the Rainbow

Mac Feegle paused for a moment and sniffed the wind. His face twisted into a snarl and he returned to work.

He donned his red coat with seven rows of seven golden buttons. Then he opened the cages hidden in the tall grass, releasing cuddly rabbits and a swarm of butterflies. Finally, he set out his most irresistible article of bait; the shoe with the worn sole in desperate need of repair.

When they arrived, he sprang out with his cold iron spear and bound them fast with delicate chains of silver. Elves make fine slaves, toiling in the End of the Rainbow Mine. Gold doesn’t dig itself.

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108 words for this week’s Microcosms (15). Leprechaun/Field/Fantasy.

Crochet de Boucherie

“The Maian Consul tells a story about how this place was christened.”

“A Maian has a story of a Parisian bistro?”

“Maians are, as you know, asexual and polymorphic shape shifters. One Maian bumped into Yukon Pierre, an aggressively macho Canadian logger type”

“Yukon Pierre drunkenly suggests this quiet Maian must be a petite little girl.”

“The Maian doesn’t comment and heads into the restroom.”

“Then Pierre goes in, too.”

“See that sign? ‘On a pendu cette ordure à un crochet de boucher.’”

“Roughly, ‘they hung his shit from a butcher’s hook.’”

“The locals caught Pierre red handed, looking very surprised and holding a naked preteen girl.”

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108 words, for this week’s Microcosms (14) prompts: Butcher’s Hook/Paris/Sci-Fi


Yes, please wear that. You look unbelievable. I’ve always had a fixation for you wearing silk and lace, especially in red.

Isn’t it a sultry color, smeared along this edge?

Carmine gobbets of glistening rare meat, perfect for grilling.

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39 words, for this week’s Shapeshifting13 (#47) prompt.

Delicious marinades are available.

Careful What You Select For

“This is incredibly disturbing to me.”

“Why’s that?”

“Leo, this hamster has genetic modifications for climbing?”

“Generation 34 included some minor modifications to paw structure, yes. It’s got a lateral ‘finger’ including some primate gene sequences, and the latest generations have a limited opposable thumb.”

“It’s better at gripping.”

“Better at climbing too, as you can see, Sam. Genetropia is apparently selecting for some arboreal survival advantages. Climbers avoid predators and can reach more food sources.”

“Genetropia is selecting these gene modifications without intervention. Leo, you must be able to see how dangerous that is. It’s selecting freely from 200000 library animal genomes, and you have no idea what the expert system might consider ‘advantageous’ in the next generation.”

“Nonsense, the system will automatically discard any result that produces a disadvantageous mutation. Genetropia will only select for better, more survivable animals. We’ll end up with super-rodentia, eventually.”

Dr. Leo Fazzino’s Genetropia project lab notes, Generation 65.

“For the recent litters, Genetropia seems to be selecting for traits common to Cricetidae, possibly Rattus rattus. Our hamsteroids have developed longer tails and have been steadily gaining in size for generations.”

Dr. Leo Fazzino’s Genetropia project lab notes, Generation 85.

Dipodomys elator, I believe, kangaroo rats may be the source of their overdeveloped hind legs. I’m not sure how much of the original hamster DNA remains, but our modified rodents appear to draw mostly from other species now. Up to five or six pounds, it’s big and it can make tremendous leaps. I’ve had to upgrade the cages several times already.”

Dr. Leo Fazzino’s Genetropia project lab notes, Generation 113.

“The modified rats are gone; apparently they’ve learned to work latches. Down into the basement, they’ve made it in the sewers. I only pray they aren’t as intelligent as I suspect.”


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298 words, for this week’s Cracked Flash (34).

A prequel-tale to St. Christopher’s Movable Feast, I guess, or maybe I just found morats too fascinating.




WordPress logs me out once in a  while (for reasons unknown). The only symptom is that the browser (Chrome, Firefox, whatev) suddenly can’t connect. Weird, since it connects just fine the other 364 days a year.

But the cell phone still connection works just fine…go figure. It’s only the PC browsers that this issue. Until I remember how to fix this oddity, like the last time it happened.

So I’m leaving myself a post-it note here, for reference next year: When you’re suddenly “unable to connect.”

Head to the main WordPress site once a year, log out, log in. Amazing! Fixed!

Browsers are just sillybuggers, sometimes.


Out of the Spotlight

Marisa Panetti produced more than a hundred and fifty thousand negatives between 1965 and her death in 2010. Most of them are quite good, professional quality photography, the standard of art that makes the photographer famous and earns Pulitzers. Marisa had talent and an eye for light and framing, and for capturing the humanity of her subjects.

She rarely appeared without her camera, did not process prints, and she certainly didn’t exhibit her work. She went to great lengths to avoid the accolades that would surely make her famous and wealthy during her lifetime.

Only one self-portrait image exists that’s almost certainly unintentional. The single black and white frame, a blurry and off-center reflection in a photography studio window, may explain Marisa’s extreme isolation. A rather plainly dressed woman holding a camera might seem unremarkable, but the six-foot prehensile tail holding the flash unit aloft is not.

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145 words, for this week’s FFfAW photo prompt. Based on the life and work of Vivian Maier (with some obvious differences).

Ask Not For Whom the Banshee Wails

The cailleach passed through the doorway, and through the door itself, like mist rolling over a moor.

As before, she floated slowly to the center of the Great Hall and hovered over the Caomhánach coat of arms mosaic on the floor. She keened briefly but stopped.


Men at arms sprang forward to secure the spirit quickly using cords laced with silver. Thanks to the argent cord, they were able to manipulate her otherwise incorporeal form. They then secured spirit and cording in a silver-lined chest.

“The new silver tiles in the mosaic worked as you’d hoped. What shall we do with the banshee?”

“Deliver her to Clan O’Brien.”

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110 words. Written for Microcosms (12), prompts “banshee/castle/fantasy” (but I slept through the deadline, doh.)

That’s ok, it’s too Irish-jargony as written (wtf is a “Caomhánach” or “cailleach”?)