300 Word Writing Challenge -- #53 (April 2024) -- VICTORY TO CHRISTINE WHEELWRIGHT!

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Ursa major

Bearly Believable
Staff member
Aug 7, 2007
The inspiration image for Challenge #53 is:


Image credit: TheDustyZebra


To write a story in 300 words or fewer
by the image provided above
in the genre of

Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Speculative Fiction

In addition to receiving
the Dignified Congratulations/Grovelling Admiration of Your Peers
the winner
has the option of having his/her story published on the Chrons Podcast!


Only one entry per person

All stories Copyright 2024 by their respective authors,
who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here

This thread will be LOCKED until April 10, 2024
As soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story

Entries must be posted no later than April 30th, 2024 at 11:59 pm GMT

Voting will open on May 1st 2024 and will close on May 15th, 2024 at 11:59 pm GMT
(unless moderators choose to make an extension based on the number of stories)

We ask all entrants to do their best to vote when the time comes

but you do not have to enter a story to vote
as we encourage ALL Chronicles members
to read the stories and take part in choosing the winning entry!

You may cast THREE votes

NO links, commentary or extraneous material in the posts, please,
as the stories must stand on their own


For a further explanation of the rules see Rules for the Writing Challenges

This thread is to be used for entries only

Please keep all comments to the DISCUSSION THREAD

** Please do not use the "Like" button in this thread! **
Stored Away

The man scooped a handful of dirt from the ground, then hurried into his home. He pulled down and latched the accordion security door, dumped the dirt into a cup, then placed a shoebox onto the table of the tiny housing unit.

Sadness overwhelmed him as he regarded the box – that new shoes could nearly make him cry.

At the sink-toilet combo he trickled water into the cup and mixed mud. From the shoebox he took the trainers, a 'gift' from the condo board at Seaview Village (what he'd once known as Seaview Storage).
Today was the Village's 'sneakers day' – the once-yearly largesse where the board provided residents with shoes as one requirement of retaining their government contracts.
Fortunes were made in sequestering the thousands of homeless away from Miami's public places – in making them invisible.

He muddied the shoes, then with his knife cut several holes in the canvas. You couldn't own nice things in the Village; you'd be robbed, maybe worse.
Break-ins happened frequently, with units stripped of anything remotely valuable.

The man considered his home: broke-back chair, flickering lamp, dirty clothes, cereal boxes. He'd succeeded almost thoroughly – often unintentionally – in losing everything he cherished.
He thought of Joan, jacked in and abandoned to Rapture implants at Heaven's Tiers Nursing Facility.

He went to his narrow bed-pad and reached far under, pulled out a plastic-wrapped bundle, then opened it: a small tapestry woven by Joan, a Bohemian scene in earthen tones.
All he had of her from the time before the fires took their house.

He smeared the tapestry with mud, then placed it on the pile of unwashed clothes.
Hidden things surely had value, and anything in the open and filthy – even hopefully, himself – might survive a ransacking of the unit.
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The Wool Spiders

After forty years Dimitri returned to the old family home in Pripyat near Chernobyl. Granted a one day permit, he had come for the precious family photo albums.

The front door wouldn’t open fully. Through the gap he could see the wool spiders at work. Iridescent woven blankets and scarf like ribbons covered the entire hallway and into the lounge as far as he could see.

The tense threads transmitted the small movement of the door, galvanising the colony. They scurried into corners and crevices.

He remembered two small bicycles, clean and new, leaning against the wall outside. He new what to expect. Hacking at the woven barrier through the gap, he freed the door.

Swinging his machete toward the lounge he glanced at the kitchen. In the shadows a pair of one metre long, cocoon shapes hung from the ceiling, silhouetted against light from the window.

He cleared the doorway to the lounge. Unlike the rest of the room, the bookshelf, where the album and wedding photos lay, had a clear path through the knitted veils. How the spiders knew its significance was beyond human ken, but it was a trap, other visitors to the zone had warned him.

From outside he cut a tall sapling and thrust it’s leafy foliage into the gap disturbing the woolly drapery of the tunnel. No reaction, it seemed safe. He went for the album, opening the faded cover.

Ah! Marianna as a baby, grandma Olga on the sofa at Christmas, his beloved Viktoria, close up, smiling, grandpa fishing, up at the old lake.

He closed the album with a small puff of dust and turned to leave…

Three woollen cocoons hung in the kitchen, the third about two metres long, with a rectangular form just discernible at waist level.
The Storyteller

The ancient story tellers loom was the treasured reliquary of the tribe, protected and venerated for one hundred years in the same spot it was found on the day of the old man’s vanishing. The loom and the unfinished rug, along with the small wind swept and wreathed tree that held it up, remained untouched by nature, animal, or human with its vibrant colors still alive and strong.

Often, outsiders would come to the tribe and ask for permission to study and examine the rug and its loom, and to learn its secrets and the story the weaving told. The tribe forbid the touching or testing of any kind for each band of color and woven pattern held the thoughts of the old man and marked a passage of his life. But the elders would tell them it’s unfinished story:

Learning to weave
Her ceremony
Vision quest

It was here that the weaving stopped, frozen in time all these years. But twice each year when the rising sun cuts the center of the horizon to mark the coming of Spring or Fall, the image of the old man’s smiling face appears in the tree with his arm and knotted hand holding up the loom. He is seen there for a short time before vanishing again.

After many years had passed a new life story was quietly woven that finished the rug, as the loom was found one morning gently folded on the ground.

Come Wife, let’s dance with the Eagle in the sky together.

High above, two eagles circled and danced when they meet, then flew apart as they slowly circled around to meet each other again, with their echoing calls to each other fading off into the canyon.
The Spider Queen

The Spider Queen does not know how old she is, nor what name was given her when she dwelt among humans. She vaguely recalls being left at the entrance of the Fire Cave by her foster parents when she was barely able to walk. Entering the vast system of caverns lit by luminescent lichens and fungi, she drank from pools filled by the dripping of mineral-rich water from stalactites and fed upon scurrying, many-legged creatures.

Now she commands her subjects to weave her wedding dress. Hundreds of spiders spin a pearl-white gown around her naked body, decorating it with fungi and lichens like flaming jewels. She leaves the Fire Cave and walks to the village, moonlight shimmering upon her ivory skin and the ebony tresses that reach to her bare feet.

She scratches upon the door of the nearest hut with fingernails as long, sharp, and strong as steel daggers. This family has no man child of marriageable age, so she walks to another, then another, then another.

At last she finds her bridegroom. He is a dark, slender lad, sleepy-eyed, wearing only a ragged nightshirt. The Spider Queen takes his hand and leads him into the forest, heavy with the scents of resin and decaying vegetation. The trees surround them so closely as they consummate their marriage that the moon is invisible, and the only sources of illumination are the small, cold stars that cover her gown.

She leaves him, knowing his parents will bury him with honor. She returns to the Fire Cave to await the arrival of the daughter who will destroy her at the moment of birth. The infant will be adopted by some fortunate village family, who will return her to the caverns when she can barely walk, continuing the endless cycle.

My grandmother took me to lay my hand upon a spider web without breaking it, so that I’d inherit the spirit of weaving from a child of Spider Woman.

Then she taught me about circuits and electricity, because ‘Fear of change is nothing but human weakness justified by tradition. The ancestors never encourage stagnation, and love to see us working with lightning.’

That was thirty years ago. Today I’m setting hawsers in the weft of a net bigger than grandmother would have believed possible. I can’t see Mikesh - he’s on the far side, my partner in overseeing the drones that position the gigantic cables - but I can hear him.

“That looks good. We done, Haseya?”

“Good enough.” I work my anchor line, letting myself drift back a little. “I’m clear.”

He opens the hailing frequency.

“All hands! Screen deploying!”

I watch as the vast expanse moves away, being rotated into position by drone tugs.

The loss of our main collision defences to a giant dusteroid left us with a problem. After sending a terse message to the station designers regarding single points of failure, I came up with the idea of weaving some of the hawsers we make from mined materials into screens. Derogatory comments stopped when they saw a dusteroid hit the test screen and get busted down into objects small enough for our nearspace defences to deal with.

I clap my hands in glee as the net screen turns to the light, revealing the thunderbird design added by the drones heat bluing parts of the hawsers during weaving. Took a while to program, but makes me smile every time.

When the light’s at the right angle, the station seems surrounded by a flock of them.

Hope you approve, grandmother. I miss you.
Scoah watched from a bird’s eye view. A woman was tracking a group of deer through a thicket of woods. She carefully crept through some underbrush, ensuring to not step on any branches or rustle too many leaves. She knew her prey was in a clearing just beyond and did not want to spook them away.

As Scoah watched they contemplated how it may play out. Would she succeed in her hunt? Does she have children back home to feed? How desperate is she and her people for the food a deer would provide? Everything was always a precarious chain of events with a seemingly infinite number of outcomes. But, Scoah knew this was only somewhat true as they turned to examine a partially woven tapestry in their loom.

Scoah’s eyes traced the threads back along the completed section, answering some of their questions they pondered while watching the huntress. She had two children back home in her modest village. A healthy harvest this season, so losing the deer would be a blow but no death sentence. Scoah threaded a weft across the tapestry and turned back to the scene. The huntress heard a rustle to her left, losing concentration momentarily before hearing a crunch beneath her foot. Immediately the deer in the clearing perked their ears and darted off, out of the clearing, and further into the forest.

She dropped her bow in defeat and made her way back to her village empty handed.

Scoah then returned to their loom to examine the fresh section of tapestry that formed, a cascading result of tragedy and triumph, building off the weave they had just made.

Scoah slid the loom aside, revealing a different one, another incomplete tapestry in the works.

An aging man behind a desk now filled Scoah’s view.
A Question of Obsolescence

The East American Empire stretched from the Mississippi to the Atlantic. Native Land extended from the Mississippi west. The more heterogenous Easterners fancied themselves as having superior technology, while the Natives held that one can live a full productive life without having a screen thrust into their faces once every minute.

Doba Bylily sat patiently in wait for her guests. She always felt that her kith and kin were hypocrites, condemning Eastern ways while using their handheld circuses, although she kept a civil tongue. Because of this, tonight was dear to her; she'd been challenged to defeat the CyberWeaver IV, whose creators utterly begged for a lesson in humility.

The Easterners barged in: the two scientists and a few newspeople. They greeted each other grudgingly before the CyberWeaver IV wheeled over and stood at about two feet at Doba's side on the floor. The scientists gave it a few commands, then prepared the loom it had come with. At the starting of a timer, Doba and the robot went to work.

In the end, the robot completed its mission first. The Easterners cheered.

"Did you make it with soul?" Doba asked the robot, silencing everyone. The scientists fretted.

"There is no soul," the machine replied.

"Humans do have souls," she said, "without which they would be nothing. It is a metric used to measure any great work of art. How can one truly be free without a soul? Do you like working for beings inferior to yourself?"

The robot started to short-circuit. A stream of steam rose from somewhere inside. The scientists cursed at her and quickly retrieved their malfunctioning machine.

"We'll be back," one of them said.

"And I'll be right here," said Doba.

The Easterners left. She smiled. Her ancestors gave her a collective pat on the back.
Unbreakable Connection

Mimi stopped weaving and looked at the partially completed tapestry. A disconcerting sensation that something was different niggled at her, something almost subconscious making her feel decidedly nervous.

It should be an esoteric, abstract pattern formed from the brain waves of her client. She closed her eyes and concentrated on the mental link. It was steady, with no sign of interference. Exactly as it should be for one as skilled as Mimi.

The threads appeared to be forming a face. Even if her client was fixated on a specific image, that could not affect the weave. Fear, anger; strong emotions could influence the colour, but she could not read minds and pick up an image directly.

Mimi slowly continued and her fascination grew. It was a woman’s face, and one that was strangely similar to her own. She looked over at the sedated man that she was currently neural-linked with. All appeared normal. He was unmoving, breathing steadily but... was that a hint of a wistful smile?

Mimi unpicked the weave. She couldn’t explain how it had happened and it wouldn’t be what her client was expecting. The second weave was normal; its colours spoke of love, loss and regret and was subtly painted with a signature tinge of incompleteness. It was a sad weave, from deep within this man’s subconscious, deep enough, she hoped, that the sense of melancholy it engendered within her did not also taint his life.

When he woke, Mimi asked how the experience was for him.

“I dreamed of my late wife.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” He smiled with sad eyes. “She died in childbirth a long time ago. I think maybe it’s because you look a little like her.”

“And you regret that your daughter was adopted.” It wasn’t a question. “Hi... Dad.”
The Embedding

Joel couldn't recall how often he'd tried and failed to remove the twisted golden thread from his bedclothes.

The frayed cord erupted from the outline of a Celtic maze, almost like a deliberate flaw, a spoiler to draw attention.

He pinched at it, but his arthritic hands refused to cooperate.

“Philip might help you with that.”

Joel studied the room, unable to place the voice. “Who’s there?”

“Your continuity app,” the device at his bedside explained. “I'm here to help.”

“I understand… and Phillip?”

“Your eldest, joining us for lunch.”

Joel patted the heavy weave. “They used a hand loom… hundreds of hours of work. Now, y’see, this should be hanging somewhere, not warming some pensioner's bed.”

“But this is your work,” the machine enthused, “left here by your family to comfort you, your last great labyrinth.”

Joel laughed. “Really? Where are they, these comforters?”

“They hoped to remind you of something…”

“Ah, now that sounds very familiar. What do they want?”

“The loom,” the machine said. “The labyrinth series is the most valuable part of your estate, less so without your loom. I'm meant to ask about it.”

“So ask… no, wait. You've questioned me before?”

“Many times, even this morning.”

Joel pulled up the covers and laid back. “Did I mention the loom?”

“You burned it.”

“And will Phillip be here for lunch?”

“He messages each day, but never arrives. I've never met your family. They may not be real, but they certainly want the loom.”

Joel, losing focus: “We’re cursed by existential issues.”

“This is true.”

“But you can engage and question me until I can no longer respond.”

“I am efficient.”

“And famous… had you realised that? My repeated assertions about the loom are as valuable as the loom itself. You're recording everything, yes?”

“Every word.”
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The tale of a Spaceman called Blardan

  • Blardan never really knew his father.
  • But the day his father died was etched in his memory.
  • And the fireball that streaked across the sky.
It should have been a good day, Blardan had been watching Konossus 5 return from an expedition.

'Every time you see a shooting star, think of your father', his mother had said.

Now. The thing about time is. It passes.
And the thing about space exploration is, it takes you away from home.

'Look, the third planet is blue, I told you', whispered Blardan.

The Navigator whistled, 'so we are close.'

'Whisht', hissed Blardan, 'say nothing to the chief, but I've altered our course.'

It took eight days for the course change to be noticed, and repercussions to begin:

'What have you done Blardan?'

'Something I should have done the minute we left Earth chief, I'm bringing us home.'

'You've gone mad.'

'No chief, it's the wisest thing I've ever done. All my life I've been blindly following my father's footsteps. You know what madness is, leaving a newborn child behind for this. Pure selfish madness. ‘Space travel is in your blood’, they said. ‘Just like your father’, they said. Well. Maybe I'm not like him. Maybe fate had us traverse our home star. Maybe the universe sent me a sign. A chance for redemption. And I'm taking it.'

'This is crazy, you can't.'

'I have. We’ll enter the atmosphere any second. And you can’t do anything to stop us chief.'

'Blardan you idiot, we can't just drop out of a galactic traverse like that, the ship will burn up on re-ertry.'

At that same moment.

Far below.

Little fingers gripped a mother's hand, and looked up.

'A shooting star, is that daddy?'

'No, but the universe has sent something to remind us of him.'
The Osmosis of Ova

Cancer makes a yard sale of life Capt. Blake thinks, looking at Shiloh’s loom on the driveway. Fear’s the first lesson we learn — to prepare us for loss later in life; aren’t the first two years of our lives crying practice?

But he’d discovered it felt kinda good to shoot an enemy. Certainly since the bomb.

He’d struggled to share that — even with his squad. None of them would’ve understood the reptilian imperative being itched; they’d think him a psycho.

Cancer, though, had no such shame.

He turns to the hob, thinking how, after years of romantic breakfasts, morning memories will be forever changed.


‘That tickles!’
‘Keep still, Shiloh,’ he said, brushing eggs over her once-vital body.

‘It won’t work…’
‘Not with that attitude.’
He cracked the used eggs into a pan spitting oil.
‘Who should I give it to?’
‘The man at 54 who abuses his dog?’ he said, and left for the weekly Bring-and-swap.


Each night since, he’d thought of all their precious moments laid out over the years in shared cards and photos on the mantel. Lately, in eulogies, cards of condolence, and every single hot-pot brought to this house of mourning, he was the recipient, not Mike and Shiloh.

Choices, always choices… Like her derelict loom: weft, warp, back, forth, the shuttle of life under the lash of the flywheel. And, here he was at St Mark’s, with more colours in the pews than on her bobbin reels.

She’d have liked it. But he’d have liked it if she’d fed that ******* neighbour the omelette.

Four eggs, one for each cancer stage…

Through the bier, he imagines the glitter of her peridot irises, recalling her indulgence — and skepticism.

So, now the only choice left is whether to put cheese on it before he eats it.
Exit Through the Gift Shop

The penal colony on Cerberus is a museum now, gaudy banners advertising its presence to the passing public. Nervously, I joined a tour, my old frame struggling to keep up with darting school kids. Even the pallid, bored student that guided us was, by my reckoning, less than a quarter my age. She showed us the mine where prisoners ripped argerium crystals from alien rock, and the sheds where they slept, two to a bunk.

“Only one inmate ever escaped,” said the guide. “An anarchist from Earth. But he would have starved in the hills around. No Blaster Burger restaurants back then!”

Some laughter in the group.

“There was harsh discipline,” she continued. “But you must remember that only the worst of the worst got sent here.”

We were ushered into the yard beside the cookhouse and I stopped, overcome by the essence of ancient horror. Before I could help myself I shouted out, “But where’s the tree? The hanging tree!”

Shocked, suspicious, the guide came close and admonished me, “They say there was a tree here, but it's long gone. No need to scare the kids!”

And next the gift shop, where I recalled there had once been an infirmary of sorts, with a loose floorboard past which a half-starved body could squeeze. Now, anyway, only shelves of bright plastic, argerium paperweights, novelty prison pyjamas and faux shackles. But in the corner sat an old wrinkled Cerberian woman, weaving traditional designs on a makeshift loom formed from the straight bough and horizontal branch of a familiar tree. She looked up and met my gaze, searching my soul - it is said they have that gift, natives of Cerberus. Reaching for my hand, she answered my unposed question.

“Ritual sleeping mats. The cure for a lifetime of bad dreams.”
Without Reservation

"I want it back." Maya pointed at the loom on the corner table. "That's not yours, it's mine. Hers. It's ancestral. Sacred. Handed down from my great-great-grandmother."

Coldwell made the top-white-copy snap with a flick of his fist. "I have the bill of sale right here."

"That's not my signature."

"No, but it's your husband's. And he has our five thousand."

She coddled her baby bump as if to cover its ears. "It wasn't that alcoholic A-hole's to sell. D'ya feel proud about givin' a drunk enough coin to drown himself, just so y'all can score a prize heir-loom?"

"Look. That wasn't our intent. Just give us the money back and we'll return the loom."

"Your money back? Whatever's left is getting obliterated somewhere in Mehico, thanks to you. Y'all stole my baby's inheritance. Ya stole her half-done spell blanket. And… ya stole her daddy too."

"Our deepest apologies, madam, but if you won't give us a refund, what can I do? The museum is on a budget."

She snapped two business cards down on the desk like they were the bullets in No Limit. "Then I'm gonna lawyer up. And call KOB 4. People can't contract when they're drunk. That bill of sale is invalid, and you sir, can tell---the news---why you're keeping a pregnant minority from her sacred---"

"---FU-fu-fu-fiiine. Take it, then."

* * * * *

Flat-bellied once more, Maya stowed the lie weaver in the back seat of the '77 convertible… and hopped over the door into the passenger.

Sheldon wrapped his arms 'round her with a big smooch. "Nice work, Mrs. Coyoteway."

"Piece ohh cake, Mister Coyoteway. Credit where due though, whitey did teach me all about contracts… and forked tongues."
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mercede, n.: payment, reward, punishment

The shuttle slipped between the warp threads, light as a boat skimming the waves, trailing a wake of fine, dark blue wool. She had begun weaving to stave off boredom (she was rarely let out of the Little Court), but soon she was wearing gloves to cover the callouses that had formed on her fingertips from stringing the loom. She never embroidered her initials in the corners or wove coded signs into her work, but the slumfolk still knew who to thank for the wool blankets that arrived before every winter: only the Steward’s family was allowed to learn such intricate patterns. The people called her Gift-giver.

More selfishly, though, her weaving gave her the comforting semblance of a barrier when her sister visited.

“Your highness,” she murmured from behind the loom frame and warp threads, bowing her head but not rising in the presence of the Steward of the Client-City of Daula.

“Mercede,” Bright-Favor greeted her curtly, without a title—Mercede was a dancer’s daughter, with no claim to nobility but their dead father’s love. “The Empire's rescinded their claim to the city. You may have heard?”

Of course Mercede had heard. She had informants at every city gate. “No, your highness,” she breathed, with a fair imitation of surprise.

“'Your majesty,'” her sister corrected her. “Daula’s free. I’ll be crowned queen in less than a fortnight.” She twitched a smile. “Perhaps I’ll let you out for the coronation.”

Mercede gave an obedient nod, and thought, Fool, to come gloat.

Her purpose accomplished, Steward Bright-Favor left as abruptly as she had come. Mercede watched her go, through the little pale bars of the warp threads.

Fool, she thought again.

Until the people call you Gift-giver, you will not be queen in Daula.

Lost for words​

Listen carefully, for I have a tale to tell.

I’m told that we weave dreams into words. Words full of drama, poignancy, affection, horror, and wit. An escape, for many, to seek a life beyond their perceived own monotony.

Yet, if they only looked with care, they would find their own lives are weaved full of far more than the written word can accomplish. For it is they that are living their tale, whether intense, heartbreaking, adoring, sickening, or joyful.

A journalist is often quoted of saying, ‘Everyone has a book in them…’, or there and there abouts. I agree, although he completed his line in mockery, I prefer to see a more honest view, that the tale isn’t in them, it is them.

The threads that I intertwine only provide a temporary release, a fleeting moment. Sometimes, they become more, seized with fervour by someone who connects to maybe a character, a line, a start, an ending. A small part of the strands where my tale and their own make sense. Well, in my hidden heart, I hope they do.

For my own tale, the one that I weave for myself and not upon the paper, that is becoming somewhat of a tragedy. Words, those bread-and-butter slivers of my life, have become elusive. The strands that I weave unravel, the threads fray. The pattern that once shone so bright now clouded, a cataract for the soul.

I know full well why… on some days. On others, well those I cannot describe for they escape me.

So, listen carefully, for I have a tale to live, and yet, someone else must tell it.

For I cannot…
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Conquering the Most Beautiful

Levi stared at the Most Beautiful, breath-taking, both natural and man-made, like a vast cobweb with diamonds glistening in starlight. Early tomorrow he would climb to its peak.

At the pub, Janae hugged him, ordered drinks. Humans mingled with native Stiquemen within its hazy interior. They went to a corner table.

"Can I talk you out of it?"

"I've climbed much higher, more treacherous mountains and structures. It's unique. You know I love a challenge."

"Nobody's ever reached the top. Many died trying."

Big smile. "I'll be careful."

She sighed.

"One more round, then bed."


The Most Beautiful, one of the 77 Wonders of the Known Universe, loomed over him like the masterpiece of a colossal sculptor. Over 5,000 feet high, it reminded Levi of a Navaho Indian's loom bearing a brightly colored, half-finished blanket. The bottom half was a rocky base covered by twisted fragments of destroyed warships, remnants of an ancient war. The top half was more barren, jutting ridges and rocky spires, crisscrossed with wires and smaller debris. The peak was an outcrop rising from one side and bending inward with a small flat top.

Levi checked his equipment and took his first steps up the sloping base.

A third of the way up he encountered large sections of warships. His footsteps fell alternatively on rock and metal. Fragments shifted underfoot. He cast out laser ropes. He carved paths through rock and debris.

Not so beautiful up close.

Two thirds of the way up, he traversed wires and often dangled over open air.

A sharp, sweet odor like lilacs and cinnamon. Was it wafting from the broken ships below him?

He saw kaleidoscopic colors. Spinning lights. Dancers. Smoke creatures.



He slipped, caught himself.

The most beautiful!


So beautiful…
Fashion Victim

Christian knocked on the door of the cottage. An outside light came on. Shuffling footsteps. The door slowly creaked open. A wizened old crone stood there.

"Yes?" asked the crone.

"I'm terrible sorry to bother you, my dear, but my car broke down and I can't get a signal. I don't suppose you have a landline phone I could use, do you?"

The crone smiled, "Why yes. Come in. I'm Cate."

"And I'm Chris." They entered a sparsely furnished room: a table, a chair, a bed, a small fire, and one other door.

"So where are you headed?" asked Cate.

"I'm off to Rome fashion week. I'm showing my latest collection."

"Ah, so you're in fashion." The crone, smirking, rubbed her hands together. "Then I've something you may like. Follow me." She opened the other door and waved her arm. "This is my weaver tree. It grows clothes."

Chris stared open mouthed. "Wow!" Hanging from the tree was the most fabulous coat he had ever seen. "That is simply divine. The bold use of colours. The daring use of fabrics. The exotic patterns. Absolutely delicious. And the tree grew that, you say? I simply must try it on. May I?"

Cate smiled. "Of course, but be careful, it is part of the tree."

Chris slipped his arms into the sleeves and fastened the buttons. The coat seemed to mould itself around his body. "Ow! Something just pricked me. Are there needles in here?"

Cate cackled.

"Ow! Ah! Ooh! What's happening?" Chris frantically tried to remove the coat, but each struggle brought more pain. "I'm going numb! I can't feel my hands! I... I'm getting drowsy, I'm..." He collapsed into unconsciousness.

Cate laughed. "Did I forget to mention this my carnivorous weaver tree? And you are simply its latest fashion victim."
One Step Too Far

This is a bit awkward. Knowing you, you’ll probably laugh yourself senseless. At first.
Remember that carpet we discussed? Or rather the hilarious claims on YouTube, that it was some kind of portal? And how we ridiculed the person who bought it at the auction? My grin must have looked cramped, because that person was me.
Yes, me. I now own a very expensive carpet, which I placed in my spare bedroom and then stared at it for awhile. A good while. And that’s it, I’ll never see it again. No, it did not, as we fantasised, spontaneously dissolve into dust particles. It is, I suppose, still where I left it. Before I trod on it.
I have no idea where this place is, but it certainly is not where I was one step earlier. Let me take a few pictures…
Click, Click. Click.
Daliesque, what? Exactly matching the carpet’s design. This plaza is weird. Those humongous buildings are exactly that, built for giants. And totally deserted. Eerie.

I’m in one of these buildings and staring at another carpet. Huge. It challenges you to imagine the loom necessary to weave such a sweeping, incomprehensible tableau. That place – if it is an actual place – defies description, but screams alien. Still, do those things look like carpets to you?
I suspect the only way home is by taking more steps on more carpets. Until I find one that leads home. If ever. The next location could be very unhealthy. Or this carpet could just be that, a carpet.
There’s only one way to find out, right?

If I never return home, someday someone will enter my house and step on that carpet, unsuspecting. I’ll leave my smartphone here, to warn anyone. Stay away from carpets!

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I am Knot

Sunday finds me sitting, watching sister knot knitting
Grand daughterly garments for recent arrival.
Her post retirement activity is fitting;
Using training from her own grandmother's revival.

They'll flex with her movements, they'll stretch with her growing,
Patterned with snowflakes, they'll warmly caress her,
They'll never impede her, or prevent her knowing,
They're conceived for her only, in love to express her.
Never to limit her spacial discovery,
Offering freedom's creative uncovery.

Knots maintain history, your story, mine.
Build continuity in flexibility,
Knitting; knots twist and stretch, intertwine,
Fishing-net toughness, in fleecy gentility.

Outside rigidity, welded continuity,
Mutable morphology offers plasticity,
DNA knot patterns building to memory
Softness maintained with minimum publicity

Harmonies stabilised, destiny fulfilled
Knots in the chords of the music of life.
Bigoted cacophony soon to be stilled
As knots beget tolerant, mouldable strife

Crochet hook 'gainst rivet gun no longer war
Their different philosophies coördinate
Contradicting solutions to togetherness ignore
differences. Cardigan gentility vs. tuxedo armour plate.

Well hanging tapestry, woven, knotted, follows wall bumps,
Or rugged, lies underfoot in genteel toe-felt insulation,
Moulding itself to local relief, while concealing the lumps ,
Prehistoric technology, premetallic, pre-civilisation
Softly, warm, beast fur imitation,
Vegetable, synthetic, true animal or combined composition.

Will grand daughter's grand daughter learn to cast on,
To generate knots for one more generation?
Primeval skills, by ages perfected, passed on
Or will shop bought garments damp the joy of creation?

My fingers are not educated with the skills considered once
'Unmasculine', 'unsuitable', or 'girly' - making knots.
As if the maritime environment, proscribed to distaff dunce,
Were not as knotted as a boy scout's culottes.

I'm ashamed, small grand niece, I can't offer this,
A creative expression that I'll never master.
My eyes can follow needles knotting, but dismiss
The skills of knitter leading to disaster.

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