Image Prompt 075 – Nebraska Campus & Scottish Stream

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

 

Image Prompt 075-01 Lincoln NE 2011-10-21 074

Image Prompt 075-02 Haggis Tour Scotland05-04-15 021

Image Prompt Response 074 – Red

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I chose the image of the moss-covered, stone stairs leading up a hill for my twenty-minute prompt this time.

Red:

After months cooped up inside her apartment, Kelly was glad to get out of the house for a while.  She’d been doing alright with online meetings for work and seeing her friends in online spaces and doing occasional calls with family and her best friends, but it was getting old staring at the same walls all the time.

So she’d driven up the mountain to find a place to hike for a while.  It was safe enough to be out in nature as long as there weren’t too many people.  It was still early in the season, and the parking lot hadn’t been very full, so she figured she’d be alright.  She kept a mask in her pocket anyway, just in case.

The first part of the trail was a little busy, so she put her mask on and picked her way around people a little off the trail most of the time.  She was an experienced hiker and even had a little climbing experience, so she was willing to go off trail a little, always careful where she stepped to avoid damaging anything, and she managed to get out away from the others by taking the more difficult option when the trail forked.  It wasn’t long before she came to her favorite section of the trail.

There were stones set into the side of the hill to help make a rudimentary set of steps to get higher up the hill.  They were covered in moss and could be very slippery in the wrong conditions, which was part of why this was a harder trail, but it was dry and bright today, so she was able to walk up them quickly to the top of the hill.

There were remains of a railing that hadn’t been kept in good repair.  Back from an older period of trail tending.  These days the goal was to change as little as possible.  The trail was there to keep humans off the rest of the mountain, so they didn’t damage things.  It wasn’t necessarily there to make the climb easier.

When she crested the hill, the light blinded her for a moment.  She held up a hand to shield her eyes and blinked quickly, her eyes actually watering from how bright it was.  She hadn’t been expecting that this early.

When her eyes had adjusted, she was able to lower her hands and gaze out at the mountains spread out before her.  She was so glad she’d moved up here.  So much better than being stifled in the city.

“Haven’t seen you around before,” someone said from her left.

Kelly shifted to her right as she grabbed her mask out of her pocket, slipping it over her mouth and nose and wrapping the elastic over her ears.

“Never got that reaction before either,” the voice said.

Kelly couldn’t see anyone on the trail to her left.  That was weird.

“Down here,” the voice said, so Kelly looked down.

There was a fox sitting just off the path, front legs straight, head held high, tail wrapped around it’s feet.

“You seem surprised,” the fox said.

“That’s because foxes don’t talk,” Kelly replied.  Had she slipped and fallen?  Hit her head?

“Oh, right, you aren’t used to this,” the fox said, looking down at itself.  “Is this better?” it asked before being enveloped in a puff of smoke.

The smoke cleared to reveal a slim figure about four and a half feet tall with fox ears poking out of it’s red hair, amber eyes with vertical pupils, and a bushy fox tail swishing slightly from side to side.

“No less unbelievable, but it’s been a weird year, so what the hell, I’ll roll with it,” Kelly replied to the fox person.

“They said belief was down these days, but I didn’t realize it was this bad,” the fox person said.  “How about we start with names, then?  You can call me Red.”

“Kelly,” she replied.  “Nice to meet you,” she added.  “Do you get human diseases?  We’re dealing with a pandemic, that’s why I put the mask on when I heard you.”

“Oh dear, a plague?” Red asked.

“We’d probably have called it that back in the day,” Kelly said.  “It’s a potentially deadly disease at any rate.”

“It shouldn’t hurt me any,” Red said.  “Never heard of a puka getting a disease before.  Probably because of all the magic.  Keeps us healthy.”

“Magic, right,” Kelly said.  “Is that how you do the fox to mostly human thing?”

“That doesn’t take magic,” Red said, waving one hand in denial.  “That’s just something puka can do.”

“Cool,” Kelly said, carefully taking of her mask.  “So what’s a puka doing here anyway?”  She might as well have a conversation.  It had been a long time since her last face-to-face conversation.  So what if it was probably just a hallucination brought on by a head injury.

“I like to visit and people watch,” Red said.  “Been a while since anyone’s been able to see me.”

“Not everyone can see you?” Kelly asked.

“Only humans with a little magic of their own can see us these days.”

Image Prompt 074 – Woods Near Maggie Valley, NC and GA Renaissance Festival

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

Image Prompt 074-01 Family Vacation 2007 - Maggie Valley 018

Image Prompt 074-02 GA RenFest 2011-05-29 244

Image Prompt 073 – Snowy Tree and Parliament

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

Image Prompt 073-01 Carl's Tree03-01

Image Prompt 073-02 Parliament House05-04-14 004

Image Prompt Response 072 – Tired of Third Shift

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I chose the image of the cat on the laundry hamper for my 20-minute sprint today. 

Tired of Third Shift:

Amy was so glad to be home.  Working third shift was harder than she’d thought it would be.  Just managing to sleep properly when it was daylight out wasn’t a simple thing.  Thankfully she’d found a mask that was comfortable enough.

Violet was settled on her laundry hamper as usual, eyes closed and looking content and warm even right next to the window.  As soon as Amy walked in she opened her eyes and meowed loudly in greeting.  For such a lightweight little thing, she was incredibly loud.

“Good morning to you, too,” Amy said, stepping over to pet Violet and scratch her ears and chin just the way she liked best.

Amy heard the bathroom door open in the hallway outside her room.

“Good morning,” her brother Jason said quietly.  “It’s nice that I always know you made it home alright, but that’s the only nice thing about how loud she is.”

Amy laughed softly, still petting Violet.  For as much as Jason complained about her cat being loud, Amy knew he secretly loved Violet, especially when she was in a good mood and curled up on his lap to cuddle.

“Good night at work?” Jason asked, leaning in her doorway.

“Not bad,” Amy replied.  It was a retail warehouse job, it was never going to be great, but at least it meant she made enough for her part of the rent and utilities and at least some of the grocery bills.  Jason was being really great about feeding her when she came up short.  But then, he made bank doing computer security work for one of the big banks, so it wasn’t like he was struggling too.

“I got a pot roast and your usual list of veggies for it if you want to get that in the oven this afternoon,” Jason said.  “I’m going to be a little late getting home, so you don’t have to wait on me unless you want to.”

“Thanks for feeding me all the time,” Amy said, moving over to the door to give her brother a hug.

“You’re worth it,” he said, hugging back.  “Besides, one of these days you’re going to find that perfect job and you’ll be able to spoil me right back.”

Amy laughed again.  Finding work as a graphic designer wasn’t as easy as you’d think.  Yes, plenty of people needed one, but not everyone was willing to pay what you were worth or pay you to just do design and not six other things while you were at it.

“Have faith,” Jason said as he gave her a final squeeze and headed back to his room to get ready.  He had to leave for work soon.

“I’ll try,” Amy replied, heading into the bathroom to brush her teeth and get ready for bed.  At least she was able to keep her sleep schedule such that she was awake in the evening when her brother and their roommate were home.

Amy changed into pajamas and curled up in her bed.  Violet was jumping up to join her only a moment later, curling up against Amy’s chest where it was nice and warm.  Amy smiled as she put on her sleep mask and lay her head on the pillow.  She gently stroked Violet as she let her mind wander, hoping it wouldn’t be too hard to get to sleep this morning.

She was almost asleep when her phone range.

She pushed the mask up and reached for it.  Clearing her throat she answered with a standard “hello.”

“I’m calling to speak with Amy Thomas,” the male voice on the other end said.

“This is she,” Amy replied, laying her head down again.

“I’m calling from Wright Light Design,” he said.  “We received your application for the designer position and wanted to arrange a phone interview if you’re still interested in the position.”

“Yes, I’m still interested,” Amy replied, sitting up in bed.  “What day would you like to schedule it?”

“Are you available tomorrow?”

“I’m available between two and six tomorrow,” Amy replied.  If it was going to be that fast turnaround she didn’t want to disrupt her sleep schedule.

“We have a time available at three,” the man replied.  “The phone interviews usually take about thirty minutes.”

“Tomorrow at three,” Amy replied to confirm.  “Who will the interview be with?”

“I’ll be calling you at three as the HR representative for this position, along with the Lead Designer the position reports to and one of the designers on the team the new designer will be working with.”

“I look forward to speaking with the three of you tomorrow,” Amy said.

“Excellent, I’ll speak with you then.  Have a pleasant day.”

“You do the same,” Amy replied.

Amy’s door opened, Jason peeking his head in.  “Did I hear the word interview?”

“Yeah,” Amy said.  “Phone interview tomorrow.”

“Nice,” Jason said, smiling.  “Get some good sleep,” he added, “I’ll see you for dinner and I can grill you about the job it’s for.”

Amy just laughed.  He never grilled her despite how often he said that.  “Have a good day at work.”

“Later,” Jason said, closing her door before heading down the stairs.

Well, maybe things were about to turn around.  This was the first interview she’d gotten since she started applying for design jobs seven months ago when she graduated.

Image Prompt 072 – Cats and Wolves

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

Image Prompt 072-01 Winter Break in Gastonia 001

Image Prompt 072-02 Campus Spring 2012 (10)

Image Prompt Response 071 – Flight

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I chose the image of Edinburgh Castle for my twenty-minute sprint this week.

Title: Flight

Sonja crept along the edge of the wall.  Every few feet she paused to listen.  She could hear the patrol making it’s rounds above her.  As long as their steps remained slow and regular it was unlikely they’d noticed she was gone.  If they were looking for her there would be running.

She moved a few more feet and paused again.  She heard voices.  There were guards right above her.

“I don’t see the point,” a woman said.

“We’re getting paid, who cares why?” a man replied.

“It just seems like such a waste,” the woman answered.  “Fifteen of us at all times just for one prisoner.”

Sonja crept forward a few more steps.  If they were talking and dismissive, maybe this really was going to work.

“One very important prisoner,” the man reminded his fellow guard.  “You remember what they told us, don’t you?”

“I’m not sure I believe in any of that stuff,” the woman replied.

Sonja crept forward again, coming to the spot where the wall met the living rock.  She needed the guards to move away.  It was too risky with them so close.

“Believe it or not, they do,” the man said.  “And if they believe, you bet your ass we’ll be in for it if we don’t do our job.”

“Whatever,” the woman replied.  “I don’t shirk,” she added.  “It’s time to check the south wall.”

“You want windows or exterior tonight?” the man asked.

“Windows,” the woman replied, their voices already getting quieter.

Sonja pressed herself against the rock at the base of the wall.  This was her only chance at this.  They were moving away, but they were also about to find an open window and raise the alarm.

Sonja gripped the rock and pressed her foot against the wall and slowly managed to inch her way up onto the top of the rocky ledge along the edge of the wall.  She had to stay crouched to not be visible from the arrow slits in the wall above, so she inched forward carefully.

She heard the shout when the woman found the open window.  Scrambling forward as fast as she could in her crouch, she made it to the corner, where the rock face dropped precipitously and the next portion of wall was flush with the sloping edge.  She glanced back at the old castle they’d turned into her personal prison.

Every light in the place was on, but she was still in shadow.  She prayed that she had enough time.

Sonja closed her eyes and sought her magic.  It had been so long since she’d been able to let it out.  So long since she’d been her true self.  It took a heart-pounding moment before her magic answered her.

The magic boiled out of her in a rush, transforming her body as it enveloped her in flames.

Sonja spread her wings, fighting every instinct she had to keep from crying out in joy as she let herself fall off the cliff.

The wind caught her, the air around her wings lifting her up as she soared out over the city.  She headed straight for the most densely populated area.  The lights there would help her hide.

~

Anna looked out over the wall as they ran back toward the east end of the castle.

“Gods defend us,” she gasped, coming up short at the east wall.

There it was.  The phoenix she didn’t think she believed in.

“She’s headed for the city!” Anna cried, unable to look away from the beauty of the giant bird soaring out away from the castle.

“Bring it down!” their commander yelled from somewhere behind her.

Anna drew her weapon as her partner came up beside her, his already drawn.

Sighting carefully Anna’s finger touched the trigger, but she couldn’t make herself fire on such a beautiful creature.

Her partner’s rifle went off and Anna held her breath, still tracking the phoenix, so she saw it dip one wing, her partner’s shot missing completely.

Anna fired, and watched the majestic creature dodge her shot as well.

Image Prompt 071 – Edinburgh Castle and Brookgreen Garden Labyrinth

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

Image Prompt 071-001 - Brookgreen Gardens 2013-03-08 (226)

Image Prompt 071-002 - Edinburgh Castle 046

Image Prompt 070 – Scheile Museum Historic Mill and Snowy Dundee Scotland

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

Image Prompt 070-001 - Snow05-02-23 003

Image Prompt 070-002 - Scheile Museum Nature Trail 08-07-27 040

Image Prompt Response 069 – Our Most Reliable Navigator

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I chose the image of the bridge and the remains of an older bridge on the Tay as viewed from Dundee, Scotland.  This is actually a continuation of last month’s scene.  I was having so much fun with the idea I wanted to keep going.

Our Most Reliable Navigator:

Valerie and Dr. Harrison arrived at the University’s camp site on the Tay just as dusk was fading into night.

“Who goes there?” The guard posted at the gate called.

“Harrison…and…Tavish,” Dr. Harrison called back between huffing breaths.  “Bravo…Six Niner…and Hotel…Niner Niner,” he added.

“Get in, quickly,” the guard said.  “We’re in the process of locking down for the night.”

“Why do you think we’re out of breath?” Dr. Harrison asked as they dismounted their bikes and wheeled them through the gate.  “It was a hell of a trip.”

“Go get cleaned up and settle your gear,” the guard said.  “I’ll send someone to let Dr. Avery know you’ve arrived safe and will report to her before turning in.

“Thank you kindly,” Dr. Harrison replied, motioning for Valerie to lead the way.

She nodded to him, still too winded by the headlong rush to get to the camp to respond properly to anyone.

By the time they’d secured their bikes along the wall and found the tent reserved for the research team, she was breathing easier and the stitch in her side had subsided to a dull ache.  Everything had gone smoothly for the first day of the trip north, but on the second day, they’d stopped for supplies near Edinburgh, and gotten on the road with seven hours to make the six-hour trip.  Then found the Edinburgh bridge had been destroyed in the three months since they’d last been through.  It took an extra hour and a half to go around, so they’d pushed themselves as hard as they could to make it all the way to the Dundee camp before dark.

In retrospect, she should have recommended they diverge north toward Dunning and take the extra day to get to Dundee, but they’d made it, so at least she didn’t have too guilty about it since Dr. Harrison seemed less winded than she was.

She followed Dr. Harrison back out into the night and across the camp to the planning tent that was set up in the center of every University run camp.  It made it easier for everyone to find and report into their superiors.

“I was beginning to think something had happened to you two,” Dr. Avery said as soon as they walked in.  “Tavish is one of our most reliable navigators.”

“We hadn’t gotten word the bridge was out,” Dr. Harrison replied.

“What?” Dr. Avery snapped, standing up from her folding chair.  “Which bridge?”

The bridge,” Dr. Harrison replied.  “Edinburgh bridge.”

“Damnation,” Dr. Avery spat, followed by a colorful stream of cursing that was inventive enough for any historical sailor.

“Is this your first word of it as well?” Dr. Harrison asked softly.

“Yes,” she said, slumping back into her chair.  “We had another crew arrive back only a week ago, and they didn’t mention anything about the bridge.  Almost everyone resupplies at Edinburgh, so it’s the most used route to us.  Someone must have figured that out finally.”

“Just make sure the word gets out,” Dr. Harrison said.  “It was almost everything we had to make it before the gates closed.  We had an hour to spare, but closer to two would have been more comfortable.”

“You did well,” Dr. Avery said, including Valerie with eye contact and a nod.  “I’ll get word out on the network about the bridge so others can plan for the detour.  We may need to move the supplies to a better location as well.”

“Other than our travel mishaps today, everything went to plan,” Dr. Harrison said.  “Valerie has been indispensable as always, and we’ve got only one device left to install.”

“That was faster than anticipated,” Dr. Avery said, actually looking surprised.  “Dr. Davis had estimated two weeks for installation for the southern sites.  He’s only just now finished his three.”

“As I said, she’s been invaluable,” Dr. Harrison replied.  “I’d never have gotten it done in twice the time without her.”

Valerie could feel herself blushing.

“We’re all very aware of how important Tavish is to this project,” Dr. Avery said softly.  “Why do you think she’s the only student who always gets her first pick of research partners?”

Valerie glanced between them.  What was that supposed to mean?

“Don’t go scaring the poor woman,” Dr. Harrison said to Dr. Avery before turning to Valerie.  “We’ve noticed that you request to work with me and I’m very aware that it’s because the two of us make a very efficient team and you value efficiency.  It’s why I’ve always requested you in return to ensure you get your first choice.”

“I do value efficiency,” Valerie said softly.  It was too embarrassing to say that she also preferred working with Dr. Harrison because he cared enough to explain things as they worked.  She learned more with him, that’s why she really wanted to work with him so much.

“Why don’t you head to bed,” Dr. Harrison suggested.  “I’ll give our report and then we can head out to the Tay first thing in the morning and see if the boats survived.”

“Yes, get some rest,” Dr. Avery urged.

“Thank you,” Valerie said before leaving the tent.