Friday Five June 4th

image bar express redeem privilege

Anaximander took the special members only entrance to the club. A rare privilege as he had fallen out of favor with the local

Vampire court. This was proof he had slowly begun to redeem himself. The Court had worked hard to develop an image of respectability and his flamboyant lifestyle had come under scrutiny. Too flashy. Too sensational. Vampires were trying to shed their decadent image and Anaximander’s infamous late night parties did not help. 

Anaximander wasn’t one to cling to the shadows and darkness in colorless rooms contemplating his immortality. He needed to express himself.  It was more fun to go our, meet people, make a few friends. 

He’d been cut out and cut off for twenty years wasting away in a coffin. And at the moment when he became to feel his mind slip and he wished for nothing but sunlight and dust, the current Queen had granted him a reprieve. 

It was his chance to get back into everyone else’s good graces. There were the usual vampires sitting around the chairs with cigars and drinks reading old times. He glanced over towards the bar. Several human thralls were sipping cocktails and laughing at shared jokes. A thrall! He wished he had one. It would keep him stable;give him some focus. He just needed to meet the perfect guy.

Recent Topics I’ve Googled

This is an interesting topic, so I decided I’d like to know what it is I’ve googled. Since most of my desktop searches are for work their wasn’t much outside of technical and work sites. So I decided to look at my iPad and phone to see what I’ve been googling. 

Episodes of Star Trek, no surprise. Tokyo Olympics. Lots of searches about the Shinkansen and bullet trains. I’m editing an SF story set in Japan and I fell down a research rabbit hole.

Then Liz Cheney, Christopher Columbus, and Ariana Grande: All in the same day and I can’t see how they are possibly related nor can I remember why they were connected. 

Fictional Characters I’d love to meet and why

Captain Picard.

Captain Sisko.

Captain Janeway.

If I met Picard we’d have Earl Grey tea and I’d listen to all his insights about being a captain. If Sisko, I’d like to live on DS9 for a few months and just see him at work. Janeway is awesome. I’d gladly be her first officer.

But I’m going to turn my attention to books. From ASOIAF I’d love to meet Barristan Selmy because he’s a favorite character and/or Tyrion Lannister. I’d also like to meet Stannis Baratheon because in the books he’s more interesting than the show, even if I don’t really agree with him. I’d love to meet Catelyn Stark also. I know many people hate her, but I loved her chapters in the books and I really empathized with her reasoning and her feelings of duty.

When I was young, Island of the Blue Dolphins was one of my favorite books and I always wanted to meet the main character who was based on a true story. I’m a huge fan of Ann Cleaves mysteries so I’d love to meet Vera Stanhope and solve a case with her. 

Friday Five April 24

Words: increase retire dairy hiccup verdict

Anthony watched the end of the clip. He saw the tiny thin, defeated man with long, lank dreadlocks, being led away in handcuffs. It was always painful to see and he hated that the local station wanted to make a spectacle of him. 

The jury is expected to reach a verdict quickly in the Lester Solomon case.

Anthony shoved his phone back in his pocket. He’d had enough. And he knew the  man was innocent. The increase in crime wasn’t just a social problem; Anthony know knew there were other, darker forces at work. He didn’t have access to a car at the moment so he’d taken the bus into town and walked down the streets. Paranormal investigations was not an easy job to do without a car, so he needed to fix that soon. How? He didn’t know since paranormal investigation and ghost hunting didn’t pay either. 

Losing his car was a bit of a hiccup in his long term goals, but he wouldn’t give up.

The Main Street  had been gentrified. People who moved from New York to the south to retire quickly got bored with the lack of high arts culture and fine dining in Coverton County so young entrepreneurs had moved in to fill the gap. The place he was looking for was an old converted dairy distribution factory. They’d kept the look but turned it into one of those boutique, hip eateries with lots of overpriced food, now called Cow-don Bleu.

He walked in and took a look around. A family of four sitting at a side table. A couple looking over a menu, sitting close.  And over in the corner Anthony noticed him.

Other people in the corner wouldn’t pay much attention, but Anthony had learned what to look for. The man had a hat pulled low over his head, and the hair was shaved down but it didn’t change the fact that he was the spitting image of the man hauled away in handcuffs. Others at some point may remark on the similarity but this was more. He  was Lester Solomon -or rather his  fetch- created out of hair and twine and made all too real. He saw the telltale mark on his forearm which others might dismiss as a simple tattoo. But most importantly he ‘felt’ the lack of humanness. He was the second fetch Anthony had found. There was a nest of them were out there and a real Lester’s survival depended on him finding them all.

To be continued…at some point.

Copyright Echo ishii 2021

Creative Outlets I enjoy

My main creative outlet is writing; but it has a different focus when I’m working on things to submit or publish. I’m a newbie so I’m still searching for my own voice. Recently, I like writing horror and spooky stories. I’ve had fun doing Friday Five and I’ve taken the starter posts and written some full stories. I finished a full 6K story from one post and turned over to a beta group; I want to submit it to a few markets.

I’ve started a novella based on my last entry.

I’ve always enjoyed a ghost story. I make them up for my husband and daughter when we go for a short hike. I made up another for one of my English language students. They had fun with it. Lately, I’ve explored making spooky video shorts.

I don’t have other outlets. I suck at knitting, sewing, or anything remotely related. I can’t sing or play any instruments. My daughter is a budding artists-she likes art and illustration. Me? I can barely draw a smiley face.

Friday Five April 9th

So, this time I’m giving Friday Five another try. This week’s words are: hell, railroad, chief, abridge, past

The obelisks burst up out of nowhere, where the railroad used to be, past where my cousin used to live. We called the police chief but we doubted there was anything he could do. There had been several cases of these obelisks popping up out of the ground in the last few months. The fact that it happened out here in our little town frightened me. What were the chances? 

I wasn’t keen to go, but my sister and her boyfriend begged me. Since her car had been repossessed and he had a suspended license, that left me. My sister asked to borrow my car, but she doesn’t have the world’s most reliable track record. When I picked up Shirley and Stan, he already smelled strongly of alcohol. He was a friendly drunk, never mean, but that didn’t change the facts. But this wasn’ t  the time to have another lifestyle management meeting with Shirley and Stan. 

I pushed the pedal to the metal, so they say, eager to get where we needed to go. 

“We need to get pictures of it,” Stan said from the backseat. “We need proof.”

“We will,” Shirl eysaid confidently. She was sitting beside me, with her seatbelt on, but straining her neck to look out the front window as if something or someone would jump out in front of us. Of course, given the state of things in this county lately, that might very well happen. 

We were not the first ones to arrive. Everyone parked by the side of the road and headed across the field towards the obelisk. Any minute now, state authorities were bound to show up. Stan had jumped out of the car before I even unbuckled my seat belt and was racing across the grass. Shirley was right behind him. I was slower, like always, but I managed. I locked the car-because I had common sense- and made sure I had my wallet and my phone on me. I walked briskly, rather than running like a fool. I didn’t trust what might be in the grass in the middle of the night. 

The truth was, I was terrified. Everyone was acting as if the obelisks were some wondrous event. A Nobel winner in physics was on the news everyday talking about it. I’d even bought her book-well the abridged version for the layman. I didn’t understand a word of it.  Twitter had all the conspiracy theories known to man and even the president tweeted the possibility of alien contact. I’d love to be the optimistic, but I’d seen things in my life that proved otherwise. 

The closer I got, the larger the obelisk, looked. My heart began to race and my palms were sweating. The feeling of panic gripped me, and I thought about fleeing. There were hills of dirt were the object had pushed up out of the ground, and a few were trying to climb it sliding back down. The closer I got I noticed the foul smell and the dirt-like dog droppings and winced. How could they stand it? 

I walked towards to the obelisk, near enough to touch it, but I didn’t dare. It was smooth, but as I looked closer, I noticed the sketching on the sides that looked like faces. Round faces, oval faces, square faces; all with wide opened eyes and wide open mouths and no noses. Liquid dripped down the sides, as red as blood, and I backed away. My blood ran cold; my hands shook. The obelisk began to move, getting taller, pushing more of the earth up. The man on the dirt hill fell over and sank into the mass. People began to scream. This thing was coming up to us from the bowels of hell and there was nothing we could do to stop it. 

To be continued

Copyright 2021 Echo Ishii

What my last meal would be

I was too busy last week to post, but this is food. I can manage food.

My final meal will be…
A brunch with big fluffy biscuits, baked potatoes with sour cream, corn pancakes with black bean sauce and guacamole, grits with butter, and fresh raspberries. And hazelnut coffee. None of it does my cholesterol level any favors but since it’s a last meal who cares? Then I’d have a dessert of devils food cake with cream cheese frosting and/or chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

It’s cherry blossom season so I thought I’d share:)

Friday Five: March 12

Sit, portion, fiber, inflate, beef

Helena held her breath, hoping it would work this time. No sudden moves. Every fiber of her being told her to show no fear. She didn’t know what would happen if she did because she’d never summoned a creature from another realm.

She’d tried a few times now, but all she’d gotten was a wisp of the creatures snout. She needed a better enticements. She gone cross town to the speciality grocery store  high grade beef. It broke her already thinly stretched food budget, but this had to work. If it did, she was willing to endure instant noodles for all her meals until payday. 

She had a rented room built over her step mother’s garage. She was 22 and still living at home. It was not how she’d imagined things. Her stepmom and her dad were on vacation for the week, so it was as good a time as any to summon mystical creatures from the other realm. Her mother had been a powerful sorceress- so she heard- but up to this point, Helena had shown no real talent. That’s probably why her mother had taken off and left her with her dad. 

Well, mom would be proud if she could see how far her daughter had come. Helena unfolded the wax paper and took out a portion of the beef. It was still raw and bloody. She heard a spectral sniff. The hound was there even if it wouldn’t show itself yet.  She sat it down on the floor and waited. The sniffing sounds grew closer as well as the sound of paws across the wood floor. She heard a low growl, and smelled the musk of dog breath. Strong, but she’d smelled worse. The air shimmered in front of her eyes and suddenly the creature appeared. A hellhound.  It gobbled up the beef, saliva dripping on the floor, and eating through the wood like acid. When it finished, she stood in awe and stared. The hellhound staring back, sitting like an eager pup, its tail thrashing back and forth. She thought of her boss Harvey- he of the wandering hands and inflated ego. Fire her, would he? There was a surprise coming his way tonight.

“Well pup”, Helena said, “it’s time to fetch.”

Friday Five: March 5

Once again, I’m going to try the Friday Five writing challenge. I don’t have more ghost stories today, but just a short montage inspired by my day trip to a castle. Enjoy the photos.

bracket, teacher, import, maze, moral

The man watched the ship swaying in the bay as the waves beat fiercely against the rocks. Men were moving as fast as they could to unload its riches. The  Provincial Lord seldom imported objects from faraway places and he wasn’t a man to be disappointed. A rough looking seaman handed the box over to him, and he turned to begin his climb to the castle tower. 

The lord seldom left the tower these days. His courtiers and concubines kept to the lower palace, and he could hear them singing and laughing through the rain. Once in a while, he caught a glimpse of a beautiful kimono sleeve gliding past the sliding bamboo doors. But  a low born man like him had no business gazing on the concubines of feudal lords. 

He began is climb up the maze of steps, sometimes veering left and sometimes right but always up and always steep and as the rain poured down all the more difficult. He served the lord as a teacher of languages; Dutch at first, and now English, but only to the retainers. The lord himself had no interest in crude languages from foreign barbarians. To him, they lacked manners and morals. But the great lord was intrigued by the objects they made-mechanical machines, like the bracket clock he now carried up the steps. It has a gold display with and ebony finish and a chime as beautiful as birdsong.  It was made by one of the finest clockmakers in London.  London. The teacher said the words under his breath, liking the strange sound on his tongue. London. Blackpool. Leeds. He’d only seen them as names on a map somehow imagined them as worlds of gears, wires, and clockwork. 

In such a world, he mused, I’d have a machine of gears and steam that could carry me up these steps. He was getting older and worried that soon the feudal lord would think him too old to keep in his service. And then, where would he go? What would he do? Perhaps, he thought, he still had enough health to travel to this place called London and see it for himself.  

Kakegawa Castle, Kakegawa City, Japan

Friday Five: February 19th

This week I continued last week’s story which was here.

impound partner lip knowledge full

“What do you mean there is someone in my house?”Principal Wright asked in the same tone of voice he used when he was still a principal and Anthony was in the office for the second time in a week. His little grandson was pulling away from him, trying to get down, but he had him a firm grip. 

“When I came to the door, I was met by a woman in a yellow dress,” Anthony replied, he bit his lower lip, a bad habit, thinking things through. His knowledge of ghosts and specters was largely self-taught. He’d seen ghosts most of his life, which his aunt had called the touch. She was the only one who’d believed him, and gave him a few tips about warding off ghosts. Fighting them, however, was another level. He didn’t have any mentors in the ghost fighting world or a partner in his paranormal investigations. All he had were web searches and, apparently, a disregard for self-preservation. 

“From what I saw of her, I think she’s a powerful specter. She was able to speak. And open the door.” Though that could have been the effects of the wind. 

“You think my house is haunted?” The man said.

“I don’t know if it’s the house or you,” Anthony said.

Principal Wright finally set the boy on the ground and grabbed his hand. The kid mumbled some words that Anthony couldn’t make out. He wasn’t good with small children. He knew that. But now he had to guard them both. Anthony, you have your hands full. 

“Maybe you and your grandson could go out for the day?”

The little boy grabbed his grandpa’s leg and clung to it.  “With eyes these bad I don’t drive anymore.”The other man shrugged and coughed. He looked up at Anthony.

“Now listen son. I understand you think helping. And I know this town has a reputation, but I can assure you my house is fine. Why don’t you come on in with me and we’ll prove it?” 

“I know what I saw.” Anthony insisted. Did he? There were times when he doubted himself. Once you saw a real ghosts you began to see ghosts everywhere. Most were just wispy images that clung too long to the real world. Others were more defined. And a few, like this one, spoke and moved and those he was certain  about.

The old man and the boy had already begun to walk back towards the house. If he tried to force them to stay outside, he’d scare the crap out of them again. Ghosts got stronger when they smelled fear; the irony of fighting them. He saw no choice but to follow them inside. They went around to other side to the car port. The car itself was large, and old, with rust on the rims and looked like it hadn’t been driven in years. It looked like it hadn’t been washed either. Anthony’d seen better vehicles in impound. No wonder the old man didn’t drive much anymore. 

He stepped inside right behind them.

“It’s cold in here,” the man said, “this place never warms up. That’s why we go out in the backyard.”

It was cold in the house. Colder than it should be. Ghost haunted cold. He pulled the root bag out and kept it in his hands. Anthony walked through the house with slow careful steps, looking down the hallway. Nothing. But she was here. He knew she was here. 

“Popsicle,” the boy finally spoke a recognizable word. His little legs ran towards the freezer. He pulled out a red one. Anthony remember those. He used to have them when he was a kid. 

He was surprised a kid wanted a popsicle in a place this cold. He shivered. He was wearing a jacket. The old man and the boy wore nothing but short sleeves. How did they stand it? 

The grandfather patted the boy on the back, ushering him out of the room. 

“The only time he goes is with that popsicle,” the older man said.

“I used to love them too when I was a kid.” 

“It’s the cold. Keeps him occupied.” Principal Wright stepped closer to Anthony. Something about him seemed quiet, timid, afraid.

“The woman in the yellow dress. She’s here everyday,” he spoke in a whisper.

“What?” Anthony replied with shock. Too loud, but the boy wasn’t paying them any attention. They heard the pleased giggle and the little slurp and suck sound of the kid downing the popsicle.

Principal Wright shushed Anthony to keep his voice down. 

“She drops off the boy each morning. No matter what I do. I tried going to a hotel, but there they were. Every morning. Got to watch. If I don’t…,” he rolled up his sleeve, showing scars up and down his arm. The were deep and ugly, in a pattern of hexagrams.

“She gets in a fury if I don’t watch the boy.”

Anthony heart sank to the bottom of his stomach. His legs felt like lead. So he wasn’t afraid for the boy, he’d been afraid of the boy. 

Copyright 2021 Echo Ishii