Tag Archives: #WOW555

The Timekeeper, Part 5

Okay, I rolled double sixes on my spin-down D20 for Chuck Wendig’s FFC this week. According to his chart, that nets me a title of “Distant Testmaker.” I remember a collaborative challenge of Chuck’s from the month of February, so I tracked down all the parts and decided to continue it. I also worked in prompts from Adan Ramie’s Word-A-Week, Stephanie’s Orges’ Inspiration Monday, Wendy Strain’s #WOW555, and Thom Gabrukiewicz’s #3WW. I finished at 893 words, and you should participate in all the prompts mentioned. They have wonderful communities with great feedback.

Here are links to the first for parts:
The Timekeeper, Part One, by Mark Gardner
The Timekeeper, Part Two, by Mozette
The Timekeeper, Part Three, by Angela Cavanaugh
The Timekeeper, Part Four, by Carolyn Astfalk

The Time Keeper, Part Five – Distant Testmaker

Ice cream with Jordan was the most fun I’d had in years. When I paid for our ice cream, I had a strange feeling of déjà vu. The banknote seemed to be the exactly the same as when I paid for the steak and mushrooms. My stomach churned at what I had witnessed, but I ate and asked Jordan about his school, his sister, and anything else I could get from the little boy.

The last ten years had been eerily similar for him and Tricia, but without me. I spent the day seeing the sights with Jordan. Everything was similar, but there were subtleties that I picked up on. We ran into Tricia only a few blocks from her house, and I relinquished Jordan back into her care. From the stories Jordan told me, Tricia was doing better than she had when I was her friend. As she led her little brother toward home, and I watched them recede into the distance, I wondered how our meeting and friendship had been changed.

I turned, and had the sudden feeling like I was on a roller coaster. My vision blurred momentarily, and I found myself in a familiar place – around the corner of a coffee shop. A coffee shop that would change my life so much in only ten years from the meeting with Tricia and Jordan.

I sucked in my breath as I watched a figure pause in front of the coffee shop. I would’ve recognized myself wearing the identical clothing I had on, but my actions solidified the recognition: Me, that was the me from… Hell, I don’t know… The me that tried to sell the watch. I was starting to understand what the hirsute pawnshop owner meant by trying to keep a grip on reality.

The earlier me peered across the street at the hours of operation, and she stepped into the coffee shop, a frantic gait as she peered into her purse. I pulled my timepiece out of my pocket and marveled at its reversion to the dull piece I had tried to sell. It’s meaning was lost on me, but I supposed this is what on-the-job training was all about.

“You got that right.”

I spun, frantic, at the sound of a familiar gravely voice. “Did I…”

He raised his hand to silence me. “Time is a fickle thing,” he declared.

I rolled my eyes, but issued the proper response. “But, it forever heeds its will to the timekeeper.”

He nodded. “I had to make sure you were the right you.”

The statement would’ve been bizarre in any other situation, but now?
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Since my salacious piece from last week violated Stephanie’s link discretion policy, I had to go all-out InMonster this week and use all five prompts. In these 500 words, I also worked in prompts from #Wow555, #3WW, Word-a-Week, Writerish Ramblings, Sunday Photo Fiction, and Sunday Scribblings 2:

* * *

“I got nothing,” he said, spreading his hands, a pair of anchors adorning each beefy arm.

I shook my head as a proper response failed to coalesce. In the many years of my life, I had come to appreciate an educated vocabulary. The spoken word is a marvelous thing with subtle implications. Allusions to what happens below the surface of the speaker live in wonderful flavors of intimation. It’s like the perfect chocolate dessert melting on the tongue – a chocolate that sooths the pain of living in an uncouth world.

Words are the musical blueprint of communication. An amateur makes a respectable showing, but true artists paint words from a palette unavailable to mere mortals. They command speech with a depth of meaning – sometimes so profound, that conflict begins and ends with the utterance of a few simple words. Lives lived and lives lost, as a testament to the power of words over love, hate, fear, misery, bigotry and privilege.

But this man, this man is the epitome of my exasperation. So often I’ve encountered cretinous vocalization from those gifted in speaking, who had the potential to say so much more. Not just in the quantity of words, but in a quality that bared the depths of their intellect. But alas, these people say nothing of consequence. They open their mouths and allow vapidity to fall out and soil their shoes. Their awareness of what they could do with words is so deficient; they are wolves, hidden in darkness, baying at the moon.

The indented puns and nonsense words are human proof of the assault on my tender ears. Ears with unexplained bruises, aching for intelligence as if they were starving. A hunger, I dare say, like watching an elaborate feast with all in attendance ignoring the meticulously prepared food and the best chocolate the chef had to offer – only to fill up on tough bread. Their teeth gnashing in an attempt to gain sustenance from such commonality. The sadness is overwhelming, and an assault to my delicate sensibilities.

Like a diver breaching the surface, gasping for air as gases burn his lungs, I needed words – moreso than a dragon covets gold. Words were my life and this dolt couldn’t seem to string together more than a scant few in reply to my query. A query so ingrained in the experience, I would think the response would be commonplace. But, I suppose, even a commonplace reply from a commonplace man in a commonplace setting was just too much to hope for.

Speak! I willed the man to form the affirmative or the declarative negative. Speak and the entire world shall hear, waiting on bated breath for the conclusion of this epic discourse…
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[504 words – Word-a-Week Inspiration Monday #3WW #WOW555 terribleminds]

“Bring Flavius to my chambers, immediately!”

“Yes, Mistress!” responded the guard before running down the corridor. Fabia sat under a pergola and awaited Flavius, luminous rays playing about the floor.

A rap sounded on the door. Fabia called out, “Enter!” She stood as Flavius entered and closed the door.

“Mistress?” He stood at attention, awaiting orders.

Fabia responded by dropping her stola to the floor, the daylight oil casting shadows across her smooth skin.

“Are we?” he started, but Fabia raised a finger to silence him.

“What are you waiting for?” she demanded.

He seized her hand and kissed her fingers, working his way up her arm to her shoulder. He bent her arm behind and she gasped. He continued kissing her, grabbing her hair and pulling her head back as he thirstily kissed and bit her neck and cheek. He groped her breast with his free hand, squeezing her nipple between his fingers. Each squeeze and bite stole her breath. She grabbed the hand squeezing her breast and lowered it between her legs. She stood on her toes to maneuver it to its destination.

Flavius moved his biting and kissing lower to her breasts and stomach. He released the arm he had pinned so he could support her entire weight with his freed arm. Fabia’s body shuddered with each thrust of his fingers. Each bite radiated warmth. A violent shudder elicited a deep moan.

“The bed!” she demanded.

Flavius picked her up, strode to the bed and deposited her with force. He took his place at the foot of her bed, and Fabia wrapped her legs around his head as he worked his magical tongue. She bit her hand and pulled his hair. She forced his head into her flesh squeezing and hitting him as she thrashed in ecstasy.

Flavius raised his head and stared into Fabia’s eyes. The smell of intimate sweat and silphium permeated. Standing, he picked her up and she wrapped her legs around his muscular chest. Lowering her, he impaled her on his member, a cry escaping her lips. Gripping his neck, she worked her legs and met each thrust with exuberance.

Flavius stumbled to a wall and Fabia felt the grain of jagged rough-hewn wood against her back. She knew there would be scrapes and bruises, but as Flavius increased each thrust in force and duration, she knew they would finish soon. At Flavius’ final thrust he let out a grunt and she a scream.

Still enjoined, Flavius walked to the bed and lie down with Fabia still clinging to him. She released her grip and fell to his side while he supported her with his arm. Tendrils of her hair spread across his chest and arm. She stirred under his touch and nestled closer, tilting her head back to look up at him. “Tomorrow, we will bring them to their knees.” She ran a finger down his chest. “No longer will they deny us.” When she reached his member, she smiled at the knowledge she wasn’t the only one stirring.

Nala’s Story, Part Twenty-One


[535 words – #WoW555]Nala sat next to Shui, and tried to recall the meeting that made her late for her nightly rendezvous. The memory, scant minutes old, refused to coalesce in her mind, but she clung to fragments of it, as if it were her salvation. She remembered through the overwhelming numbness.

We have diluted his wine with extract from the Cao Wo petal. Not too much to alert him that something is amiss. It should already be affecting him when you answer his summons. Do not reveal this to anyone.

Nala’s ear lingered near his mouth, and observed the rise and fall of his chest. His breath was shallow, almost nonexistent.

The Cao Wo extract may not kill him right away. He is after all our greatest warrior, but you will be able to drive your dagger into his chest while he succumbs to the poison.

Nala pulled the dagger from the sash wrapped around her waist. The silk was of the finest quality, as was the instrument of Shui’s impending death. It gleamed in the dim candlelight of Shui’s bedchamber, and cast surreal reflections across her face.

Avenge your friend, Nala, and hundreds of other women who have died at his hands. You are not special to him. Your plight is carried out again and again by men like him. You will never have another opportunity like this. Do not waste it.

Nala looked down at her dagger. Has it always been so heavy? she thought as she hefted it. It does not matter. She ran her fingers along the metal and rubbed the sharp edge with her thumb. My body does not feel like it belongs to me, she thought, her head swimming in a thick fog.

We will position guards loyal to our cause outside his door. You will not be disturbed when you carry out justice. You need not fear execution, for we, the righteous, shall seize his holdings and condemn the Champion Standing for his crimes.

“Champion Standing,” Nala recalled the phrasing. She looked at Shui’s prostrate form. “They call you by your title. Do they know your name?”

The damned always perish for their wicked ways. It is the same in Nubian society as well as in the Han Dynasty. All great peoples know this natural law.

“You are wicked.” Nala didn’t know if she was telling him or straining to convince herself. “You killed Fabia. You killed all those women who had been enslaved here through no fault of their own.”

Get angry, Nala commanded herself. Feel the righteous fury. Think of all the horrible things he has done. You have been waiting for this.

She looked at his blank face, imagining the evil behind a mask of innocent sleep. “You have encouraged the trading of women like ordinary market commodities, subjected them to horrible atrocities.”
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Nala’s Story, Part Eighteen


[575 words – #WoW555]Nala resisted the urge let loose a tirade of Han swear words that would, without equivocation, have established what sort of consort she was. Instead she returned her attention to the flowering Akonai.

She had so completely ignored Shui, that her next awareness of him was when the grass beside her rustled and to her horror, Shui sat on his haunches beside her. He studied the flowers with genuine interest. When his shoulder touched Nala’s, she froze perceptually before moving away.

He shifted his gaze from the flowers to Nala and frowned. “Do you loathe me that much?”

“Absolutely. I hate you.”

“Such conviction,” he nodded, “you mean it.”

“Your point, Mi’Lord?”

Why am I so angry? she thought.

The last few days had been calm. She still tried killing him at any opportunity that presented itself, and he avoided each attempt. They still traded insults. Well, Admitted Nala, I still insulted him. He would wave her away in a nonchalant manner that infuriated her. She hadn’t been this angry in a while.

Why have I not been angry?

The answer, Nala refused to accept. If she accepted it, then a well of repressed feeling might surface, and Nala was not prepared to deal with that. She shook her head as if the action were punctuation to her thoughts, and looked to Shui, who still studied her.

Did nothing bother this man?

“Do you like the Cao Wo flower?”

The question surprised her, but she replied with her default derision. “My opinion of the Akonai flower is not your concern.”

He sighed. “Back to where we began.”

She wanted to tell him that they had begun nothing, but he turned back to the Akonai and asked, “These flowers are poisonous, why do you like them?”

“It matters not that they are poisonous. The Akonai flowers are beautiful. The poison protects them. It saves them from the selfishness of man who is eager to destroy every perfection they find.”

She turned to stare at the tended Akonai, gently blowing in the afternoon breeze. The sun was sinking below the horizon, it’s orange colors contrasting the field of violet flowers. The sight stole her breath as she stared wide-eyed at the unencumbered vista.

A sensation of having witnessed the same scene under a different sky at a different time consumed her. An otherworldly numbness overcame her. The afternoon breeze carried a voice on it she had not heard in years, but reverberated in her mind every night in an attempt to hold on to the faded memory. His deep baritone; a tone that had put her at ease.
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Nala’s Story, Part Ten


[669 words – #WoW555]Nala drew in a breath and willed her heart to stop racing. When she fully realized the severity of the situation, she whispered, “I will answer you, but…”

“But?” he bellowed. “You dare offer terms after your dishonorable behavior?”

They both turned at the sound of a forceful rap on the chamber doors.

“Mi’Lord?” the voice was muffled through the thick door. “Do you require assistance?”

The man closed his eyes, and waited a moment to steady his voice. “I do not require your presence. Maintain your position.”

He turned to Nala. “Speak!” he demanded.

The panic that so consumed her was abated by his quick marshalling of his wits. “My hands, Mi’Lord,” Nala said, the man had to strain to hear her.

The man released Nala’s wrists. She collapsed to the wooden floor and commanded herself not to look to the dagger a few feet away. She sat upon the floor, the man’s intense honey-colored eyes bored holes into her facade. She rubbed new bruises that formed on her wrists.

“Explain yourself,” he ordered, his voice bore the same even tone as he did in the market.

“Explain what, Mi’Lord?” Nala gambled that deference was the only way to live through the next few minutes.

His face exhibited a scowl, impatience flashed across his features. “Why did you attempt to assassinate me?”

Nala gathered her thoughts and instead of answering him directly, she posed her own question. “Are you the Champion Standing?”

The man blinked and tilted his head to one side as if he contemplated his answer. He remained silent for a few terse seconds before a single word reply: “Yes.”

Nala let out a breath she didn’t know she had held. He has not slain me yet, she thought, perhaps I may live a little longer. Additional thoughts careened around her mind: Why had I thought he was any different? The prospect of a decent man in a world of filth had softened her disdain for humanity. He disguises himself as a sheep, but he is a wolf. She returned to her default views of society. He is no different than the noble I accosted, or the taskmaster who peddled our flesh. This man was no savior. He is as corrupt as any other bastard in this hell of hells.

A renewed hatred surged through Nala. Years of abuse doled upon her and her sister, had compounded into a hard shell. It protected them as a shell protected the mighty tortoise. Indignities hadn’t affected her the way they had Hazina. She had been a fountain of strength for her and her sister, but the niceties she experienced as of late had skewed her shell. Soft spots had formed and her soft flesh had been exposed.

Nala’s eyes snapped open and she returned the Champion Standing’s intense gaze. “You have you answer, Mi’Lord.” She heaped as much scorn and derision on the honorific as she could.
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Nala’s Story, Part Six


[500 words – WoW555]A week had passed since the mysterious stranger purchased their freedom from the loathsome taskmaster. When Nala thought about it, she admitted that really, their freedom had been bought the day they were forced into the taskmaster’s troupe. It wasn’t as if women had genuine freedom, arranged marriages were so common, but even a loveless life was a step above servitude. Her freedom had been purchased with the blood of her family and friends. The price was the destruction of their village. Nala closed her eyes and saw the charred remains. She dared not breathe when she recalled it, for the stench she remembered would overpower her. It was best to live in the comfort of the last week, smelling of flowers.

For that week, she felt like a proper woman. Well, she admitted, at least like a human being. It wasn’t that she had dreamed of a life of nobility, but what could someone such as her really dream about? A roof over her head and walls to protect her? A Master that didn’t beat her every night? Nala was grateful for that, but she was a practical woman – a polished wooden floor under her bare feet was the dream. No coarse sand between her toes. No trudging to the market each day. Her body was clean and her bruises had faded – she had to pinch her skin to verify it really was hers. For the first time in Nala’s life, she had a choice in what clothes to wear; what to adorn her body with. Hazina’s cheery smile didn’t seem out of place in the lavish rooms they now lived in. These new freedoms tried to put her mind at ease.

Her new life of a week was so surreal, accepting it seemed to betray her. She waited for the debt to come due for such opalescence. She saw calves fattened before the slaughter, and she felt more like the calf than the noble prepared to eat such a magnificent feast.

Nala tried to push the thoughts from her mind. Hazina and the rest of the girls seemed so happy. Are they naïve, Nala wondered, or am I too bitter? Nala kept her suspicions to herself, and instead of enjoying the lavish clothes and showers of exotic oils, she searched the grounds for the mysterious man with an air of superiority and the most beautiful eyes she had ever witnessed.

The man had vanished into the crowd like an oasis skirts the desert horizon. She was the caravan, camping on water’s edge. She made the most of the safety she was afforded, but knew she would eventually have to leave the luxury of palm trees. She kept watch for predators and other suspicious behavior. As in the desert, she knew there was plenty.

Survival had been her primary mission for so long, but to survive like this? She almost considered it paradise.

And it was paradise; at least until the first girl was summoned away.

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