The Proud and Grateful Pan Knight (On his Tenth Birthday)

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My tenth birthday was a full sixty years before my final birthday. 

I somersaulted over the gate and landed in an ankle deep excrement pie. There was no time to clean my boots so I quickly abandoned them on the porch before sprinting into my cabin. 

“Morning mother,” I said. 

My mother nodded. 

I was up long before the sun to feed the chickens early so my mother could not scold me for not taking care of the coups and the stocks before breakfast. So I was free to sit by the big unmarked box in the living room, near the fireplace.

Mother cleaned and brewed Ginger Coffee while grandfather sucked on a pipe. 

“Can I open it now?” I asked

“Have a seat?” My mother ordered.

I nodded and took my seat quietly at the kitchen counter. 

“You need your srength,” Mother said. 

“Grandpa says understanding self is as important as building strength,” I said. 

Mother placed a steaming bowl of fish porridge before me and started wiping the counter. “Your grandfather will never be drafted.” 

“I can still scrap,” Grandfather coughed. 

Mother stared at Grandfather. “If he’s not strong enough to wield the armor…” 

“Then he’ll get lighter armor,” Grandfather answered. 

My mother slammed her rag on the counter. “And less protection.” 

“He won’t grow much bigger than he is.” 

“Yes he will, father…” 

“Let the boy discover what is best for him,” Grandpa lowered his pipe. “What’s best may not be a heavy suit of armor. ” 

“What’s best won’t matter if he’s dead, father.” 

Silence. 

“I will check on the chickens,” Mother said before leaving. 

I fed them already

“And some more tobacco, please dear,” Grandpa said. 

“You have legs,” Mother shot back. 

The poultries and meats were reserved for the Shining Knight brigade. Nothing more important than to support God’s mandate to expand the Potentate’s vast kingdom. We had mud-salmon for protein. 

Mother’s seasoning masked the bitter taste. 

I was happy to support the war effort. 

“Did you thank the Gods?” Grandfather asked. 

I nodded. “And the empire.” 

“Then, open your gift,” Grandfather said. 

I looked over my shoulder. 

I was far from finished with my breakfast and I didn’t want to incur mother’s wrath. 

“I’ll deal with your mother,” I said. 

“Thank you!” I leaped off my stool. 

Grandfather grabbed my shoulder. 

“Patience,” Grandfather said. 

I slowly approached the box. 

The box seemed even bigger than when grandpa brought it into the house a week earlier. 

I took a breath. I removed the ribbon. I removed the lid. I reached in. I pulled out what looked like…

“A pan?” I said. 

I reached in again. Pan lids strung together with chains and leather. 

“Your new armor,” Grandfather said. 

I wiped away a tear. “I love it…” 

I loved it because it was mine. I didn’t care how it was made. I didn’t care how inexpensive it was. I planned to train in it to make it an extension of me. 

“Thank you, grandfather,” I said. 

Fleeting Tale Vol. 4

He stood in the hallway, fogging the glass as he peered into his office.

There were thick files waiting for him on his desk. There were mounts of paper about to tip over like dominos into each other.

He thought of his career. He thought of how many trees were destroyed to create those mountains. He thought of skipping lunch so he could escape an hour early. He thought of how much he missed his dog, and how much they both loved to spend their -unemployed-days taking terrible selfies and rescuing spiders from his wife. He thought of how much he missed his wife, and how lucky she was to work from home. And how lucky he was to work.

I miss you buddy…

He shut the door. He slung his backpack over his chair and powered his computer.

He was beginning to think they were right about him doing too much.

He was a writer. A DJ. A filmmaker. A part time sous-chef and a crime fighter dubbed by the social media as The Master Chef. He was also well known liar– to himself and his peers.

He digressed.

He grabbed a stack of paper and loaded it onto the outdated scanner. He pressed the on button.

Beep… Beep.

The scanner was jammed.

He sighed. “Brick by brick…”

He reclined his chair.

Its going to be a long day.

Pots vs. The Glittering Knight

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“Reliance on my advantages was my greatest disadvantage…”

I stifle my laughter just long enough to draw my Great-sword. 

My opponent has a rice pot for a helmet and small frying pan lids for shin, and elbow guards while my armor glitters as it was forged in the sun’s corona using minerals from the far side of the moon– armor I received from my uncle at my recent birthday. My opponent looks more like the town beggar than an actual warrior. 

We were yards from the rogue village. I can see into the empty town from the empty road– our battleground. I can almost see their eyes peeking from the cracks in their window shutters. 

They will watch me break their champion. Slaughtering their village was unnecessary because defeating their champion will break their spirits. They’ll beg to be folded back into the kingdom. They’ll have the privilege to bow to us once again. 

I turn my attention back to the opponent before me. 

He was wheezing heavily. My opponent’s mouth is buried beneath his coal and ash peppered beard. He is diminutive and frail and has yet to show he can lift his spear. 

I am amused, but also disrespected by the champion the village sent forward to face me. Of all This will be easy. 

“Surrender,” I command. 

The broken old man lifts his spear. 

“Is there nobody else?!” I call towards the village. 

The old man grunts. 

I lift my sword. “Alright then.” 

His crudely made armor will shatter easily, but not on first impact. His armor was made of old pots, but they were metal nonetheless. They’ll require one or two strikes before I’m able to cleave through his bones. His neck was unprotected, so I figure two strikes and I will have his head. 

I lower my helmet and and take small steps towards my opponent.

I want to punish the feeble old man for wasting my time and tricking me into donning my new armor. 

My opponent backs way from me. 

I pause.  “You won’t outrun me.” 

My opponent raises their spear and pauses. 

I’ll easily overwhelm him. I’m stronger. Faster. Younger. 

I raise my sword. “Goodbye, sir..” 

I rush my opponent and bring my sword down on his head. 

My sword strikes dirt. 

My opponent’s spear pierces the side of the knee, beneath the hinge. He withdrew just out of my reach before I could counterstrike with a slash of my sword. 

I’m bleeding through my armor. My armor is stained in blood red and dirt brown. 

I’m furious. 

I stalk my opponent and follow him off-road and into the dirt. 

My opponent circles back towards the road but remains within striking range. His spear is raised but he’s leaving his whole right side open. 

I swing at his right side. 

He parries and throws his body into my chest, knocking me off balance. 

I slash again but fail to connect because my opponent has already retreated to outside of my range. 

Clonk!


I am blind for a moment. I’m rattled. 

Frustrated. Perplexed. 

I couldn’t see the hit coming. 

I shake it off and start applying more pressure to my opponent. 

I’m faster but none of my attacks are connecting. The harder I push the more I’m fumbling over myself. 

The old man is moving blindingly swift in his armor made of rusted pots and pans. 

I’m moving like cement in my celestial armor. 

I attack with all my might. All my speed.  

I’m hoping to tire him out but I’m taking brain rattling hits to the head and stabs to the tender spots in my armor. 

I’m striking where he’s standing and either meeting resistance or empty air. 

It’s not as if he’s moving very fast either. The old man just seems to know where to be like a magician. Like he has precognition.  

I’m crumbling. 

“Enough,” I say as I fall to my knees from exhaustion and all the blows I took to my helmet. “You win.” 

The old man staggers towards me and steps on my sword. 

My sword is too heavy to lift, especially from beneath my opponents tattered boots. 

“Nice armor.” The old man removes my helmet with the blunt end of his spear. “Is it yours.” 

I don’t answer.

“How did I beat you?:” He asked. 

“You tired me out,” I say. 


“You tired yourself out,” He replies. 

My head was pounding and I was starting to feel pain in all of my joints from stab wounds, and from small punctures and incisions from the old man’s spear. 

He takes a seat besides me and lights a pipe. 

I could smother him where he sat. My armor would be too heavy for him to push me off. I could finish this-

“Relying too much on your advantages was your greatest disadvantage,” He says.  

I release my blade. “I don’t understand.” 

“If you’re lucky, you’ll live to be a broken old man like me,” He exhaled a smoke ring. “Then what will be without your speed, strength, and youth?” 

I recognize the sweet scent of smoke. It was the sweet scent of Jane flower. It was often used by peasants as an opiate to calm the body or suppress pain. His hand trembled as he extended the pipe to me. 

I take a quick pull of the old man’s pipe.

The pain quickly disappears and all my regret and disappointment is replaced with a blissful emptiness and clarity. 

“Know your weaknesses better than anyone,” The old man stands and returns to the road. “You understand?” 

I stand and nod.  

Schwoop! Schoop!

Two arrows strike the old man in the back. 

I look over my shoulder. 

An Imperial archer aiming another arrow at the old man. 

I stagger towards the bleeding old man and turn him on his side. “I didn’t order this.” 

The old man laughs and gags on his own blood. “I guess my weakness is mercy.” 

The old man’s head rolls back and so does his eyes. 

An imperial army materializes behind the archer. 

Heads Up Display

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“I think we’re making progress… don’t you?”

 

He blinked rapidly trying to rid his irritated left eye of the rapidly expanding red meter. 

His therapist didn’t believe him. Nobody ever does. He regretted even making the appointment.

His therapist sat there, tapping her cleft chin with her designer pen.

He wanted to stand up right there and leave the room. The display in his eyes- something akin to a power meter in a role playing game- in the corner of his eyes was blinking fast. The word warning started to appear in bold white letters whilst the room was starting to light up like a Soviet submarine.

“You see things…” His therapist inquired.

“Yes,” He replied.

“You see a meter that reads your stress levels.”

“Something like that.”

“Right now?”

“Unfortunately.”

She was questioning him like he was crazy. Maybe he was crazy. But he paid her hourly to make him feel better about himself. Like a whole person. Not to judge him with her eyes.

He sat forward from his sofa with the intention to leave.

“You leaving?” She asked.

“No,” He fibbed.

“Please don’t leave.”

“Okay,” He laid back on the sofa.

His stress meter was full to capacity. The blinking lights ceased and steadied. The room was a steady red. His muscles felt like wet sandbags.

“Still see it?” His therapist asked.

He sank in his seat. “That’s correct.”

“And this is a result of a head injury,” His therapist asked.

“A concussion,” He added.

“And how did you get this concussion?”

“I tripped… Trying to fix a light bulb.”

I tried to hang myself and the rope snapped and I hit my head. 

His therapist wrote something in her notebook.

“What are you writing?” He asked.

His therapist lifted her head from her notebook. “How do you feel about these, visions?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know.”

His therapist stared at him in silence.

He asked. “You don’t believe me.”

“I believe you,” His therapist replied. “These visions could be a good thing.”

“Good?”

“The ability to see your negative feelings rise. Like, a pressure gauge on a steam pipe.”

Wow… She wasn’t judging him. He was just being paranoid as usual. Relief.

“Never thought of it that way,” He said.

The room faded to normal colors as his red gauge slowly declined. The bold warning letters disappeared and was replaced by a more subtle critical which rested at the bottom corner of his eye.

“This meter can be helpful to you,” His therapist reached over and touched his hand. “Feelings are harder to ignore when they’re visualized right in front of you.”

He smiled. “You’re right.”

His stress meter dropped to zero and within seconds, his one full blood red bar was now half-filled with a neon green.

“Thank you doc,” He said.

“We’re glad to help,” His therapist replied. “Take care.”

He grabbed his coat and opened the door.

A nagging thought prevented him from leaving. Her parting words…

“Yes?” His therapist asked.

“You said we’re glad…” He said. “Who is we?”

Diamond’s Tuition

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The photographs looked nothing like her.

Snap!

The creeper photographer began snapping from lower angles.

She fixed her hair in one of several smudged mirrors surrounding the half-empty loft.

The photos looked nothing like her. Which was a good thing. She never gives photographers or agents her real name. To them, she’s Diamond. In case she ever ran for political office. In case she married a megachurch pastor. Everyone everywhere had a doppleganger somewhere in the world. Her’s was Diamond.

She straightened her back. “This good?”

The photographer lowered his camera towards her thighs.

“What now?” She asked.

“Nothing.” He Glared at her over the camera lens.

“Yes?” She snapped. “I’m getting tired.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, be faster please.”

The money he offered was going to pay off her tuition for the semester. And, though he was inches shorter than she was in flats, he was three times her size in girth. She needed to watch her tone.

The photographer approached her.

She forced a smile. “Done?”

“Yeah….” The photographer nodded. “Almost finished.”

The photographer’s wore an aromatic musk was something she expected from a tall, coco flavored Wall street hottie with muscles and a full head of hair. His aroma created conflict between her eyes and nose. A stout, balding man with a stretched out wife beater should smell the opposite.

The photographer reached for her vest.

She immediately pulled away. “Excuse me!”

“It’s classy…”

“You mean pornographic?”

“Nothing like that.”

Creep…

“These will all be tasteful shots.”

She left her stool. “Yeah… right.”

Slimeball.

“I didn’t mean to alarm you.” The photographer put his camera aside.

She scooped her clothes from the photographer’s unfolded futon and marched towards the door.

I’m an idiot.

She didn’t deserve a doctorate. Nobody in their right mind would agree to enter a strange man’s warehouse apartment to take semi-nude photographs for a blog she’d never heard of.

“Five thousand extra.” The photographer offered.

She turned to see two columns of dollar bills on his kitchenette counter

“Towards your college debt, Ms. Thompson.” The Photographer smiled.

The stack was tall. Thick. Greener than green.

“How many shots?” She asked.

“A dozen,” He replied.

“Too many.”

For too little…

“Only need three to publish.”

“The other nine?”

“I’ll delete.”

She returned to her stool.

“Panties remain.”  She opened her vest. “Hurry up.”

“Okay…” Photographer waved his hand. “Just need you to move your-”

She moved her arms to expose her breasts.

He snapped several photos. “That’s great.”

Doesn’t feel great. 

He lowered his camera.

She covered her chest. “What now?”

“One sec.” The photographer took off towards his room.

He could be back there gathering rope and electrical tape.

“I don’t have a sec,” She called.

The photographer returned. “Batteries died”

“Five minutes, I’m gone… I’m serious.”

“Got it.” He set his camera. “You ready?”

She exposed her breasts. “Yes, sir.”

“You’re doing wonderful.” Photographer inched closer.

She side-eyed the camera.

Wait… He called me Ms. Thompson… I never told him my name… 

The end

Sleep In Peace

Sleepinpeace

Sleep in peace, brave warrior.

Lay your weapons and burdens aside.

Accept peace and remain in it, knowing you fought well.

Against impossible enemies. Against fate.

You protected me. Loved me.

Now it’s time to become one with me. Become me.

And I promise you.

You will never know death In my embrace. Only eternal life.

As you sleep you will exist as the flowers.

The trees.

As the pollen in the air.

As rain, hydrating the soil. Fueling and resurrecting life.

And one day –whence this planet dissolves– as the dust scattered among the stars.

Sleep well. My love.

 

(Sleep in Peace My Dear Sister, Rhea)

 

Fleeting Tale (Vol. 2… a.k.a. mandatory weekly update volume whatever).

Notebook

He found nothing about life funny. Or beautiful. Or remotely enjoyable.

He sank lower in his seat.

Well, there was his wife, and his many unpublished writings. That’s Beautiful. Enjoyable.

My writings suck. 

“Then you have negative fourteen to the…” His algebra professor droned while slowly fading out of existence.

Can’t be me anymore. Must be better. 

He slapped his nose.

It was a nasty habit. An indication that anxiety was about to overtake his already turbulent mind. Like a spider-sense but for obsessive compulsive writers who lack charisma and self-confidence.

He checked the time.

Forty minutes?!

He sank lower.

 

 

Fleeting tale (Unedited Short vol 1)

Windows

He stood from his desk and walked to the window.

It was sunny, but deceptively cold. His toes were cryogenically frozen in his shoes- and will outlast him long after his death.

He thought of how much wife says he’s good. Had the potential to be something. Thought about how much she hated his short sentences. 

He threw on his jacket. Grabbed his two cameras. Powered down his monitors.

May never succeed, but I have to try. I owe it to them. To her.  

Exhaled.

He’ll walk about. He’ll deeply reflect. He’ll continue to create and to work, despite fear.

Oh Mother

He sulked. Protruded his lips. Stared fiery daggers into the cute young woman preparing Mother’s cheeseburger at an elderly turtle’s pace.

Past midnight. Should be home. In bed. But Mother needs help moving. And fast food at an ungodly hour. Sucked being the favorite. Favorites do the heavy lifting. Physical. Emotional. Lifting. 

“Appreciate you.” Mother said.

He smirked.

“Want anything?” Mother asked.

Yes. Sleep. Freaking tired. 

“Nah,” He answered.

Mother bit into a stale-ish looking fry.

“Good?” He asked.

Mother nodded. “Thank you, son.”

He smiled. “You’re welcome.”

Mother’s smile offset some of his saltiness. Some… Not all.

Yawn.

Hungry.

 

 

 

 

The Upside I

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Zay promised to never look back. Or down. Only up. At the perfectly capsized city in the clouds.

Clearest skies on record since the mirror world –The Upside– emerged from the smogosphere, according to Templar meteorologists. Its the divine sign he’d been praying for. Do what’s necessary. Take flight. For Shalewa.

He pumped the burners.

Balloon ascending. Turbulence. Thinning oxygen.

Flying a hastily built helium-craft composed of antiquated parts from abandoned shipyards was high-risk. Highly illegal. Suicidal. Still… far safer than returning to the Seminary.

Shalewa tiptoed to peer over the edge. “Is that heaven?”

He gently pulled Shalewa back. “Just another city.”

“Mommy and daddy there?”

“Possibly.”

Mirror versions, but their parents nonetheless.

Shalewa smiled. “Great.”

His sister was smart for her age. Much brighter than he was.

Chilly. Temperature dipping.

“Will we feel upside down?” Shalewa asked.

“It’ll feel like normal.”

Or so he’d heard from Solomonic diplomats who’ve visited the Upside.

“But then, our city will be the one upside down,” Shalewa said.

“Correct,” He replied.

“Interesting…”

Rising doubts… They’re breaking laws and risking lives to meet strangers. A selfish, dangerous plot. But… Shalewa deserves better. She needed parents, even if they’re doppelgangers of the ones they lost.

“Are versions of us there?” Shalewa asked.

“Maybe,” He answered.

Shalewa bit her fingernails. “What if they hate us?”

“They wont…”

“But what if?”

Zay felt for the pistol with the disintegration rounds hidden in his belt.

Then we’ll have to replace them…

He pinched Shalewa’s nose. “Don’t worry.”