Image Prompt 062 – First Sight of the Ocean

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I chose the image of the light house on the coast of Ireland as my prompt today.  I’m borrowing characters from another image prompt I wrote a while back (#20).  I’ve continued playing around with that story and what happened next, but this is more just a little side moment with Ian and Ailill, the characters in that image prompt scene.

First Sight of the Ocean:

Ian watched the crowd moving around then, marveling at how effective Ailill’s magic was at hiding what he really looked like.  It probably helped that blue hair wasn’t as weird as it used to be.  Anyone could dye their hair blue these days.  But the wings disappearing was always a little weird.  Ian was so used to seeing them.  He wondered if they were really gone, or if Ailill was just hiding them from sight.

“Have you ever been here before?” Ailill asked, trying to lean to see around some of the people in front of them.

“Yeah, I had an engagement photo shoot here a few years ago,” Ian replied.  “I thought you might like the views.”  Ailill had told him recently that he’d never seen the ocean before.  This was a pretty nice spot to show what the coast was like.

“That’s sweet,” Ailill said, turning to smile up at Ian.

Ian smiled back.  He couldn’t help but smile when Ailill was smiling.

“Not that I can see much from here,” Ailill said, looking at the backs of the group in front of them.

“I can’t either,” Ian said softly.  “It opens up a bit further on and you can see more, this is just the path down.”

“Oh, alright,” Ailill said his shoulder brushing against Ian’s arm as they continued walking.

Ian kept half his attention on his feet and the crowd in front, and the other half on Ailill.  When they got to the end of the path, where everything widened and the group was suddenly scattering further apart, he saw Ailill’s eyes widen.

“It’s so sparkly,” Ailill said, actually stopping to stare at the blue water that glimmered in the sunlight.

“Let’s not block the path,” Ian said, grabbing Ailill’s hand and towing him forward and over to the railing where they could stand and look for as long as they wanted.

“What’s the weird white building?” Ailill asked softly.  His eyes never stopped moving as he gazed out over the vista before them.

“It’s a lighthouse,” Ina explained, smiling as he watched the delight in Ailill’s eyes.

“What’s it for?” Ailill asked.  “I’m guessing it’s not like a silo.  That doesn’t seem like the best place to store grain.”

Ian laughed.  “No,” he agreed.  “You see the top part, where it’s all glass?”

“Yeah, there’s a light in there from the look of it.”

“The light turns in a circle, so that the building is visible to all the ships passing by.  It lets them know where the land is, so they can stay far enough off shore where it’s safe.”

“At night when it’s dark?” Ailill guessed.

“And also when it’s foggy or storming, or anything else,” Ian replied.  “It’s a safety thing, from back before technology could tell you exactly where you were at all times.  And for when the technology fails you, because that definitely still happens occasionally.”

“Humans always come up with such interesting ways to supplement their senses,” Ailill said.  “A Fae would never think of such a thing,” he added in a softer voice.  “We’d just use glamour.”

“We’re good at making up for any deficiencies we may have with technology,” Ian agreed.  “Want to walk around a bit, see more of the ocean?”

“Yes,” Ailill agreed, smiling up at Ian.  “Thank you for bringing me to see this.  It’s really beautiful.”

“I’m glad I could bring you to see the ocean,” Ian replied, walking slowly away from the railing and further along the walkway.  If they were lucky, the pier would be open to visitors today and they could walk out over the water.  Ian was pretty sure that would fascinate Ailill.  Both the platform of the pier being out over the water, and getting to look down into it and see the fish and other things through the water.

Ailill continued to point out interesting things that caught his attention.  Ian tried to see it all with new eyes.  He barely remembered what it had been like to see these views for the first time and he didn’t actually remember his first sight of the ocean.  His mother had send him and his sister to the shore every year since before he could remember.  He didn’t even remember who had gone with them before his sister was old enough to mind him on her own.

They were near the entrance to the pier, and it looked like it was open today, when someone bumped into Ian.

“Sorry,” a familiar voice said.

“No harm,” Ian replied, stepping away slightly and turning his head as the person when past.  Except they didn’t go past, they shifted to move behind Ian.

Ian shifted, suddenly feeling uncomfortable about the person being behind him.

“Careful,” Ailill said softly, suddenly standing between Ian and the stranger.  “We don’t want to draw attention,” he added in an even softer voice.

Ian stepped back a little, giving Ailill more space.  The last time he’s made a comment like that, they’d run into another Fae by accident and the woman had almost gotten into a fight with Ailill.

“We don’t?” the man in front of Ailill asked, tilting his head a little and smiling.  Ian knew that smile and recognized those bright green eyes.  What the hell was he doing in Ireland?  Blair’s little piece of Faery connected to Scotland.

Image Prompt 061 – The Face of a Cat

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I chose the image of the black cat in the black back pack for my twenty-minute sprint today.  I set this in the same world as my books, with a student at Black Ashe University, the Wiccan University in Fort Madison as my main character.  I hope you enjoy.

 

The Face of a Cat:

Kyle padded out of his room into the kitchen, starting the coffee maker more by feel than sight.  He’d been up late last night finishing up his essay on metaphysical translation spells.  He’d thought this was going to be one of those boring, reading dusty old tomes kind of metaphysics classes, but the professor was new, and was actually having them research spells, discuss how the mechanics worked and how they could potentially rework or recombine different mechanics for different spell effect.  It was the most fascinating class he’d taken as Black Ashe University so far.

Once the coffee was brewing, Kyle stopped in the bathroom, then returned to the kitchen, actually turning on the light this time and opening the fridge.

There was a soft noise from near the door, almost like there was an animal outside growling.

Kyle straightened up and looked toward the door.  He had the food for his late class in a bag hanging behind his backpack so he wouldn’t forget to pack it.  They were taking turns providing snacks so everyone had something since they met during normal dinner hours.

The noise came again.

Kyle walked toward the door, and when he came around the counter, something in his backpack moved, eyes shining in the dim light from the overhead.

“You better be a raccoon that broke in or some such,” Kyle muttered under his breath, grabbing the emergency flashlight from the counter.  He turned it on and shone it at the bag.

There were eyes, and a mouth, and they looked like they were part of the backpack.  They were on the front, where his initials were embroidered.  The bag had been a gift from his grandmother, complete with customization and extra straps.

Kyle approached the bag slowly, still hoping whatever animal would either duck down to hide, or jump out to try to get away.

No such luck.  He was crouched right in front of it now.  The bag had been made mostly of nylon fabric before, but now it looked more like suede in most places, and a little more like actual fur around the face.

“Are you friendly?” Kyle wondered, reaching toward the bag just to see what happened.  The bag made a noise, and Kyle really wasn’t sure if it was a purr or a growl.  The face on the bag looked mostly feline.  It had that sort of triangular shape to it that he associated with cats anyway.  Kyle touched the bottom corner of the bag.  It was soft, softer than most suede, and warm.  Like body heat warm.

“Okay,” Kyle said softly, meeting the eyes of what used to be his backpack.  “I’m going to call my professor now.  Hang tight.”

Kyle shuffled backward still in the crouch before standing up and retrieving his phone.  He took a quick picture of the cat bag, and attached it to an email so he could send it to his professor easily if needed.  Then he found the number on the syllabus for emergencies related to class.  He dialed and waited for it to ring, still looking at the bag.  He’d been talking in his paper about how to leverage the mechanics of a spell designed to make a book able to defend itself, and how that could be applied to a variety of objects.

“Hello?” someone answered.

“Hi,” Kyle said.  “Is this Professor Scriven?”

“Yes,” he answered.

“It’s Kyle, Kyle Melbourne, from your Metaphysical Research class.”

“Is something wrong?” Professor Scriven asked.

“Maybe,” Kyle said.  “I finished my paper last night, and I was postulating about some things,” Kyle said, giving a very brief explanation of the book defense concept and the possible applications.  “And when I got up this morning, my backpack appears to have changed.  It has a cat face, and it’s either growling or purring at me.”

“A cat face?” Professor Scriven asked.

“Eyes, mouth, fur, I think there’s a nose but it and the bag are black and the lighting isn’t great in my apartment.  The bag used to be nylon and now it feels like super soft suede and it’s warm to the touch.  I have a picture I can send you.”

“That would probably be helpful.  Your paper draft too if you can.”

“It’ll be two emails,” Kyle said.  “Hold on a sec,” he added, pulling his phone away from his ear to send the picture.  “The paper’s going to take a minute since it’s not on my phone.”

“That’s the bag you usually bring to class?” Professor Scriven asked as Kyle pulled up an email.

“Yeah,” Kyle replied, typing in the professor’s email and attaching the paper.  “There used to be initials were the face is.”

“I have a colleague who has postulated that this kind of application would be possible,” Professor Scriven said.  “But she’s never tested it.”

“Mostly I just want to know what I should do now,” Kyle replied.  “Is it dangerous?  Do I need to feed it?  Should I never use it as a backpack ever again?”  That would be a shame.  He really loved that bag.  It was super versatile and really comfortable.

“Let me just scan through your paper,” Professor Scriven said.

“This bit is on page three I think,” Kyle offered, turning back to the cat bag.  He wondered what his grandmother would think when she saw it.

2019 Writing Year in Review

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A lot of writing happened this past year, and a lot of good work toward my writing goals both generally and on specific projects.

I made a Get Your Words Out habit tracking pledge of 240 days for 2019, and missed it by 17.  Considering I’ve gone months without writing in previous years, I think that’s pretty fantastic.  I’ve made the same pledge for 2020, and have confidence I can push through and make it this time.

I spent a good deal of time working on the second book in my series as well.  I spent almost as much time on revisions for that as I did on my November novel draft, which is pretty impressive since I spend most of my free time working on the novel in November.  I also spent almost as much time on book three.  That leaves book 2 very close to ready for final copy-edits and book three ready for a major revision similar to what book 2 has been through.  I’d like to release them fairly close together and if I’m able to really focus on the project during the first few months of the year, I’m confident I can get things much closer to publish ready sometime this year.

I experimented with planning before drafting this year, both with the major revision (basically full rewrite) of book 2 and my attempt during NaNo to have a plan and outline before writing my first draft.  These had varying levels of success.  Book 2 is so much better for it (and all the wonderful feedback I got from beta readers).  The NaNo project is a bit meh at the moment, but it’s also not finished, and I didn’t manage to stay with the outline the entire month.  But the two attempts left me feeling confident enough that planning can work for me that I’m trying to develop an outline for book 3 so it will come out better than book 2 did pre-outline-driven-rewrite.

I worked on 19 different projects over the course of the year (with smaller things like the blog’s image prompt responses counting collectively as a single project).  Most of these were novel drafts of some form or another.  Many were in the same world as Strong Fort Spathí.  I spent over 200 hours on my writing over the course of the year (at least as far as rough tracking goes).  I’m willing to bet that’s more time than I’ve spent on writing in a single year since before I got a full-time job.  I’ll be curious to see if my total will be significantly different for this coming year, especially if I make the 240 days of writing goal.

Overall, I’m proud of the work I’ve done in 2019.  But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to rest on my laurels and not keep working.  My priority goal for 2020 is book 3, so that I can polish up books 2 and 3 and get them published sooner than later.  I’d also like to continue trying out planning and outlining before I write or shortly after I start to see if that improves the quality of my first drafts.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing bits and pieces about both of those goals as the year unfolds.

Do you have any writing goals for 2020 you’d like to share?

Image Prompt 060 Response – Familiar

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I chose the picture of my black cat, Locke, looking out the kitchen window for my story prompt this week.  This is the product of a twenty-minute sprint and a quick copy-edit.

Familiar:

Midnight had her paws up on the kitchen windowsill so she could see outside.  Amanda smiled as she got out of the car and saw her familiar watching for her arrival.  She hurried to grab the bags out of the trunk but walked carefully up the steps.  It had snowed again today and she needed to clear them off again, maybe put down some more salt to keep things from getting slippery.

Amanda unlocked the door and pushed it open.

“Hello my lovely,” she greeted Midnight, who was now sitting on the counter right beside the front door.

Midnight meowed happily, brushing her head against Amanda’s arm since her hands were full.

Amanda chuckled and set her bags down, petting Midnight with one hand as she closed and locked the door.  “All’s well?” she asked.

“No callers or intruders,” Midnight informed her.

“Good,” Amanda replied, stroking Midnight one more time before turning to deal with her bags.  “I’m glad no one bothered you today.”  Some days there would be salesmen, or someone looking to hire Amanda would find out where she lived.  She didn’t like when they came to her home and bothered Midnight while she was gone.

It only took a few moments for Amanda to put away the groceries she’d picked up on the way home, and set her work bag and her little backpack by her desk in the second bedroom.  She came back to settle on the couch and Midnight jumped up to sit beside her.

Amanda stroked Midnight’s soft fur and sighed happily, relaxing into the cushions.  It was good to be home.  She missed Midnight on days she couldn’t take her familiar with her.  Some clients just didn’t understand the bond between a witch and her familiar, so they requested she leave the cat at home, like it was just some kind of pet.  At least this job had only taken a couple days and was close enough she could come home each night.

Sitting here with Midnight beside her again, Amanda could finally relax.  It was stressful on both of them when she was away.  Maybe she’d stop taking jobs that asked her to leave Midnight behind.  She could change her contract, make it state that Midnight was to be allowed to accompany her for all portions of her work instead of having a question asking if Midnight could accompany her.  Work was pretty steady now, unlike when she’d first started out.  She didn’t have to take every job she was offered just to make ends meet.

Amanda looked out the back window, watching snow begin to fall again, the swirls of snowflakes lit by the streetlamps.  The world was hushed and quiet now that night had fallen, the blanket of snow muting any sound there might have been.

“Tomorrow we leave for the next job,” Amanda said softly.

“We’re helping someone ward their home, correct?” Midnight asked.

“Yes,” Amanda replied.  “A very nice family,” she added.  They’d been very gracious about the entire thing.  They’d even asked if they needed to keep their own cat sequestered while she was there.  It was rare for anyone to even think to ask about things like that.  It was much more common for a client to ask her to keep Midnight sequestered or on a leash or something equally ridiculous.  Midnight would be at her side where she belonged.  “I think you’ll like them,” Amanda told Midnight.  “And if you’re feeling frisky, they have a cat you might be able to entice to play.”

“That would be nice,” Midnight replied, nuzzling Amanda’s leg.  “It’s been a while since I had a chance to play with another feline.”

Amanda smiled.  She’d amend her contract.  There was no reason to be so accommodating of those who didn’t understand her bond to her familiar.  If they wanted her services, they’d just have to accept that Midnight came too.

Image Prompt 059 Response – 3 a.m.

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I chose the picture of my apartment in grad school for this week’s writing prompt.  The usual twenty-minute sprint plus some copy editing.  I hope you enjoy.

3 a.m.

Kelly started awake, sitting up in her bed, heart pounding.  She looked around, wondering what had woken her up.  She jumped again when someone pounded on her apartment door.

Grabbing her robe from the chair beside the bed, she slid out from under the covers and pulled it on, shivering as she crossed the room in her bare feet.  It was winter and her electric baseboards just couldn’t keep up with how cold it got here.

She crept to the door, managing not to jump when someone pounded on it again.

She paused beside it, not sure if she should push the curtain aside to look out or just ignore them.

The pounding came again, a little quieter this time.

“Come on,” she heard a muffled voice say.  “You have to be home.”

Kelly reached up and pushed the curtain aside a little, keeping herself a bit back and to the side so she wouldn’t be clearly visible from outside.

There was just enough light from the streetlight at the corner for her to make out Mark’s features.  She hadn’t seen him in six months.  Not since she moved out of the house she’d shared with him, his sister, and their cousin.  She flipped on the light and reached to unlock the door.

“What the hell?” Kelly asked as she opened the door.

Mark had one hand braced on the doorframe and the other was raised like he was going to bang on the door again.

“You’ve got to let me in and close the door,” Mark said quickly, glancing over his shoulder.  “I promise I’ll explain.”

“Come in,” Kelly said, stepping back.  She watched behind Mark too.  He wasn’t the nervous type.

“Thank you,” Mark said, hurrying past her.

She closed the door, flipping the bolt out of habit.  “So what’s going on?” Kelly asked, glancing at her microwave.  “It’s three in the morning.”

“I think Melody’s dead, and Veronica tried to kill me.”

“What?” Kelly said, taking a step back and bumping into the door.

“I don’t know for sure about Melody,” Mark said quickly.  “She could have gone home to see our parents, but her room was a mess and there was all this sticky stuff splattered everywhere and I think it might have been blood.”

“Did you call the police?” Kelly asked.  When you couldn’t find your sibling and though there was blood in their room, you called the police.

“No, I ran,” Mark said.  “I got home late and I just poked my head in to see if she was there, and I didn’t even have time to decide what I though the sticky stuff was before Veronica showed up.  She was crazy.  She kept trying to grab me and she was talking nonsense, so I ran back out to my car.  She ran after the damned car.  I’ve never seen her run when she wasn’t being chased.”

“Okay, slow down,” Kelly said, taking a deep breath.  “You need to explain everything in order and you need to include all the details.  Why don’t you sit down?”  Kelly pulled the chair over from her table, putting it facing her desk and then sat in her desk chair.

Mark sat down, taking a few deep breaths.  He was still in his work clothes, black slacks and a polo with the restaurant logo on the breast.

“Start at the beginning, and go slowly,” Kelly urged him.  Then she sat back and listened.

Mark told her about getting out late because of a huge party in the private room.  He hadn’t even turned on the lights coming through the house, but he’s gone to check on his sister.  She was usually still up at two in the morning.  He’d noticed how much of a wreck her room was and turned on the light.  It looked like someone had torn through the place looking for something and maybe had a brawl while they were at it.  And there were drops and splatters of something dark reddish brown that were tacky when he touched one.

That’s when Veronica had shown up.  She’d yelled at him for being in Melody’s room.  He’d said Melody didn’t mind, and asked what happened.  Veronica wouldn’t answer any of his questions.  She kept saying that Melody had stolen from her and Veronica hadn’t meant to do anything, just get it back, but then Melody opened it and she tried to grab it and it was everywhere now.  Mark had tried to back away but Veronica grabbed him, her grip tight on his wrist.  He held it up to show her the red mark that said he’d have a bruise by morning.

“And her eyes seemed to glow in the dark,” Mark said.  “I was freaked out, so I ran.”

Kelly sighed.  “Mark, I think I know what happened, or at least part of it.”

“What?” Mark asked, looking so eager for an answer.

“Veronica got infected, and they gave her a supply of blood in case the craving hit when she was home.  It’s pretty typical.  My guess is Melody took her supply.  I have no idea why.  The blood you saw all over the room was from the supply that Melody opened and Veronica fought to get back.”

“Infected?  You think Veronica’s a vampire?” Mark asked, his eyes getting really big.

“It would explain how she could hold you so tight it’s going to bruise, and her chasing after you.”

“Am I safe here?  Have I put you in danger?”

“Vampires are only dangerous if they aren’t getting proper meals,” Kelly explained.  “I’m majoring is Preternatural Biology, remember?”

“But what about Melody?” Mark asked.

“Did you call her yet?” Kelly asked.

“Shit, I was too freaked to even think to,” he said, pulling out his phone.

Kelly sighed.  This was probably some weird family dispute or Melody freaking out about Veronica getting infected.  Hopefully she would answer and then Mark could go home and Kelly could get back to sleep.

Image Prompt 058 Response – Welsh Dragon Tour

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I chose the image of the field viewed from inside a ruined castle in Wales for my twenty-minute prompt this week.  It was going well, so I ended up writing for more like 30 minutes on this one.

Welsh Dragon Tour:

Kyle crouched against the crumbling stone castle wall, the weathered surface rough through his t-shirt.  He had not just seen that, had he?  He lifted his head just a little, craning his neck so he could see over the wall while hopefully not being noticed.

There was a little grove of trees just below the wall, and then several green fields of sheep on either side of the stream.  Beyond that there were more trees and the farm buildings and then the rolling hills, or maybe small mountains.  He saw the mountains first, then the farm buildings, then the fields as he slowly inched upward out of his crouch.

It was still there.

There was a dragon in the field.

It was eating sheep.

The river seemed to be turning to steam, leaving a hazy cloud of water vapor around the dragon.  It didn’t seem to care, but Kyle figured if it was causing the river to turn to steam by standing in it, then it didn’t mind heat or humidity.

Kyle wasn’t sure how big the dragon was, since he was so far away, but it was eating the sheep whole, so it’s head had to be at least three times the size of a sheep.  It had a long sinuous neck, letting it turn to look a full 360 degrees around itself.  Its legs were short, so its belly almost touched the ground, but they were thick and strong looking.  It turned, facing away from the castle to get more sheep, so Kyle chanced grabbing his phone to take a picture.  No one was going to believe this even with a picture, but he wanted to remember, or leave some evidence behind if it ate him.

He snapped a few quick shots and then zoomed in to get the best image he could of the full dragon up close.  Its big leather bat-like wings were spread out wide, and seemed to be glistening slightly, like they were wet maybe.  Its tail was long and shifted back and forth as it moved, like it was using it as a counter-weight or something.  The end looked like it was a ball with spikes.  As if the giant jaws weren’t scary enough, Kyle was pretty sure one hit from that tail would kill just about anyone.

Kyle crouched back down again.  He looked over at the other people on his tour.  One of the guides, Melody, was holding Rachel, the French girl, who was still crying.  The other guide had gone down the other side of the ruins to see if it looked safe to get to their bus.  Ryan, the Kiwi, and Ellen, the Canadian were hugging each other.

“What did you see?” Ryan asked.

“It’s eating sheep,” Kyle said.  “It’s still there and it’s eating sheep.”

“What do we do?” Ellen asked.

“Gary called 999,” Melody said.  “If it looks like it’s safe for us to leave, we’ll leave.”

“The bus would be visible from the field if we drove off, wouldn’t it?” Ryan asked.

“Probably,” Kyle said, peaking up again.  “Yeah, definitely.”

“I’m sure the emergency response folks will let Gary know what they want us to do,” Melody said.

“Are we safe here?” Ellen asked.

“As long as it’s down there eating sheep, probably,” Melody replied.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t run out of sheep then,” Ryan said.

Kyle whole-heartedly agreed.  He peaked back up, doing a quick count.  There were at least a few dozen sheep left in the closest field.  Maybe ten in the two further out where the dragon had been eating.  It didn’t seem to be eating anymore.  Kyle hoped it didn’t get full either.  But maybe if it wasn’t hungry it wouldn’t be a danger to them?  They were probably small and insignificant to it.

Gary came back, moving in a crouch along the wall.  He came to a stop next to Kyle.

“Alright, there’s a back way out we can take that should keep the bus from being visible from the fields,” he said.  “They’re sending people to check out what’s going on and figure out how to keep everyone safe, but right now, they just want us to be away from here.  Pretty sure they only believed me because the farmer down there had already called in a pissed off panic because he’s losing sheep.”

“We can get to the bus without being seen?” Melody asked.

“There’s a short stretch were we might be visible, but I figure if we run it in pairs we’ll be fine.”

“It’s looking the other way right now anyway,” Kyle said, peaking up again.  “We should go before it turns around.”

“Agreed,” Gary said.  “Let’s go.”

Kyle followed Gary.  They stayed in crouched until the walls got high enough to run a little more upright.  When they got to the entrance, where they’d have to run across the gap to the bus, Gary stopped.

“Melody, take Rachel across first.  Be ready to start the bus and drive off as soon as the rest of us are on.”

“Understood,” Melody said, getting a good grip on Rachel’s hand.  “Ready?” she asked.

“Yes,” Rachel said, not sounding confident at all as she held onto Melody’s hand.

They ran across the space and up into the bus.

“Who’s next?” Gary asked, looking at the rest of them.

“You two go,” Kyle said.  He was on the track team, so if anyone had to run faster, then he should be the one.

“You sure?” Ryan asked.

“I’m fast, I’ve got this,” Kyle assured him.

“Okay,” Ellen said, grabbing Ryan’s hand.  “Let’s go.”

Ryan nodded and they ran the whole way and right up the steps onto the bus.  Kyle could see them move down a few seats and then disappear, probably crouched in the foot space rather than actually sitting.

“Ready?” Gary asked.

“Ready,” Kyle said.

Gary started off and Kyle kept close behind him.  They were half way across when he noticed movement in his peripheral vision.

“Oh, crap,” Kyle said as the giant, clawed, four-toed foot came at him.

Kyle tried to speed up, but he just wasn’t fast enough.  That foot wrapped around him, pinning his right arm to his side as he was lifted off the ground.

“Go!” Kyle shouted as Gary looked back.

Gary made it onto the bus and the door closed behind him.

Kyle’s stomach lurched every time he was jerked higher, the heavy beats of the dragon’s wings taking them upward.  He watched the bus drive off without him as the castle came into view below them.  This was not the kind of Welsh Dragon he was expecting when he booked this tour.

Image Prompt 057 Response – Best Roommate Ever

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I chose the image of my cat Locke in a shopping bag for this week’s twenty-minute sprint.  I had to go a little bit longer to wrap up of the scene, so this is maybe closer to twenty-two minutes or writing, but close enough.

Best Roommate Ever:

Kara heard the sounds of paper crinkling from the corner of the living room.  She walked over to investigate.  They’d had a couple mice get in last month and a few lizards over the summer.  Apparently the lizards could crawl in through the air conditioning system somehow because they always came out of the vents.

Kara laughed when she reached the corner.  There were a few empty boxes and a paper shopping bag, which currently contained her roommate’s black cat.  He was turning around in the bag and pouncing at the corners.

“Hey sweet boy,” Kara said, just to make sure he knew she was there.  He could get snappy if you startled him.

Coda looked up at her with his bright yellow eyes and meowed his tiny little meow.  He was huge, a healthy fifteen pounds according to the last vet visit—which Kara had taken him to since her roommate got called into work last minute that day—but his meow was so tiny and high pitch, almost like a kittens.

“Having fun?” she asked as she reached down for the bag.  She picked it up, just to see what he would do.

Coda was sitting up when she did and he barely moved as she gently lifted him up to waist height.  He just stared up at her and then meowed again.

“Why don’t you come hang out with me?” she asked, carrying him to the couch and setting the bag down.  Kara sat down at the other end of the couch and laughed again when Coda leapt neatly out of the bag without even hitting the top.  He padded over and curled up against her leg.  He never seemed to want to sit in her lap, which worked out pretty well since fifteen pounds was a lot of cat to have in your lap.

Kara gently stroked his back.  He was the softest thing, with long fur that sat sleekly against his body.

“You’re such a good cat,” Kara told him.  “Such a sweetheart.”  She didn’t even end up turning on the TV as she’d intended.  She just sat there stroking Coda until her roommate got home.

“Hey, I’m back,” he called as he closed the door behind himself.

“Hey Mason,” Kara called out.

Coda meowed in greeting too.  Normally he was at the door waiting for Mason even when Kara was home.

“You two are getting along well today,” Mason said, smiling fondly as he walked through the living room.

“Yeah,” Kara said.  “I’ve always liked cats, but Coda is a real sweetie.”

“He likes you, too,” Mason assured her before heading into the kitchen.

Coda meowed.

“Yeah?” Kara said.  “You like me, huh?”  She reached down with both hands and rubbed his cheeks.  Coda purred, pushing his whole body against her thigh.  “I like you, too,” she said.  “If only I could find a guy I liked as much as you,” she murmured softly.  It had been a lonely several years for her.  Her high school boyfriend hadn’t wanted to continue when they went off to different schools and she’d never found anybody she liked enough in college.  And here she was, in her first job after graduation and she’d still not met anyone worth dating.

Coda meowed again, purring happily.

“Have you made any dinner plans yet?” Mason asked as he came back in sans work bag.

“Not yet,” Kara said.  “I was thinking about it but then got distracted.”

She smiled up at Mason, hoping he didn’t think she was a total flake.  He was an amazing roommate and she didn’t want to do anything to mess that up.

“He’s very distracting,” Mason said, coming over to stroke Coda’s side, his fingers brushing against Kara’s hand along the way.  His skin was warm, but Kara just shifted her hand, petting Coda’s head so she wouldn’t be in Mason’s way.  Dating a roommate was just a bad idea, even if he was the nicest guy she knew in the whole city.

“Yeah,” Kara agreed softly.

“Want to come out to dinner with me tonight?” Mason asked.  “It was kind of a crap day so I wanted to treat myself, and this is the longest I’ve ever had a roommate without a huge fight, so that seems worth celebrating too.”

“You don’t usually get along with your roommates?” Kara asked, frowning.

“I’ve just had bad luck,” Mason said.  “I never had a friend that wanted to live in the same room back in school, so I was always with random people and kept getting someone that didn’t agree with me about something big like cleaning or rules about who can be in the room when or something, which usually turned into a fight because I’m stubborn and a few of them had some serious testosterone poisoning going on.  I’ve only had three since college, and the other two were random online connections.  I figured you were going to be a great bet because a human being I actually knew recommended us to each other.”

“My first college roommate was horrible,” Kara said.  She understood about random roommates.  “She had a boyfriend, and he practically lived in our room.  It was kind of awful and no matter how many times our RA tried to help work it out she’d just break the new rules.”

“I had one like that,” Mason said.  “I got him moved out.”

“My RA never offered that as an option,” Kara said.  “I applied to be an RA my sophomore year so I’d never have to deal with another random roommate.”

“Just everyone else’s,” Mason said with a laugh.  “Come on,” he added, holding out his hand.

Kara gave Coda one more head scratch and stroked down his back before reaching up for Mason’s hand.

Mason pulled her up easily, smiling the whole time.

Coda meowed in protest.

Mason laughed.  “You have to share buddy,” he said to Coda.  “It’ll be my treat tonight to thank you for being an awesome roommate,” Mason said.  “Let’s go.”

“Thanks,” Kara said, squeezing his hand before pulling hers away.

Mason smiled over his shoulder at her and Kara thought really hard about how much of a bad idea it would be to date a roommate, but she still followed him out to his car to go to dinner.