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

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There’s No Answer To That…

“… and this,” said Ernest von Dakinen as the next slide was presented “shows an 800 year old Mayan woven tapestry. Of course, it’s in poor condition, but we can clearly see, in the foreground, a partly constructed pyramid.

So-called ‘experts’ would have you believe that this tapestry was woven to record the collapse of a pyramid and, indeed, such a pyramid exists today in the Coba area of Mexico.

However, it’s obvious that the pyramid isn’t ‘collapsing’ but is in the process of being constructed and the tapestry shows us how this pyramid and, therefore, others were built.”

“Rubbish,” came a clear, distinct voice from the rear of the hall.

One or two scowling faces on the front row turned to express disapproval but von Dakinen, used to interruptions, pressed on regardless.

“What these ‘experts’ fail to acknowledge, or even consider, is that this is an illustration of help being given by an alien civilisation in the pyramid’s construction.

Here we can see a helicopter-like craft that was obviously being used to hoist the heavy stone blocks into place.”

“Absolute nonsense,” again, from the same clear, distinct voice.

Von Dakinen scanned the rear of the hall. “Someone has a contrary opinion?”

A frail, stooped, grey-haired woman slowly got to her feet. “I do. Alien civilisation? Poppycock!”

“Madam, you have a closed mind. You need to open it to the universe of possibilities out there. I have studied this tapestry for years. And you?” said von Dakinen, his sarcasm playing to the audience, who laughed in return.

“I made it.”

“My dear, it’s 800 years old,” came the response, dripping with condescension.

“So am I. Sir, you have a closed mind. You need to open it to the universe of possibilities out there.”
A weaver woman lived on the moor. She wove cloth of remarkable fineness and color, which she stitched into clothes with a silver needle, and sold for ha’pennies in nearby villages.

The King learned of her wares. Furious they were wasted on peasants, he rode to her cottage. Threatening her with violence (the coin he habitually dealt in), he demanded a coat to inspire the world’s envy.

Alone in her cottage, the weaver strung her loom with threads of starlight, pain, sunset, and rain. She stitched the resulting cloth faithfully to the King’s pattern.

He was delighted when he came to claim it. “No other shall own such a coat!”

Running her through with his sword, he destroyed her loom, baskets of fine-spun thread, her spinning wheel. In his frenzy, he failed to notice a drop-spindle on a corner shelf, a pair of shears.


Fourteen days passed. The weaver’s body rose . . . hardly more than a mist.

Taking up the spindle, she started a new thread: of thistles and thorns, coarse and ugly, full of tangles.

The King’s luck turned. His armies deserted, courtiers embezzled, servants left in the night.

Yet he remained in his empty castle, preening in his wondrous coat. “What a life I have lived! I have robbed and cheated, murdered and intrigued—”

For a moment he thought he heard . . . something. He turned; there was nothing, only a brief metallic glint in one dark corner.

“I regret nothing! What I accomplished once, I can surely—” The breath left his chest, robbing him of speech.

As he fell to the floor, someone stooped beside him, removed from inside his breast a ball of knotted twine.

“I hoped,”said a wispy voice, “misfortune might teach a lesson. You have learned nothing!”

The last thing he heard was: SNIP
Woven Commemoration

“Grandma. What’s this lizard on that woven tapestry all about?”

“I made that on a loom decades ago. You see, a few hundred years after a nuclear war, many animals became mutants. Some grew into giants, like that lizard you see. It was a huge gila monster that was eating a town's cattle. So the people hired a professional hunter to get rid of the creature. He was lean and mean, and thirty years older than a teen.”

“You’re not going to sing, are you?”

“No. The Mumble weeds, you know, the talking tumbleweeds, noticed the bounty hunter mosey into town.”


“Look. A tall, mean looking, long coated stranger with jingling spurs is entering the town. Wow. He’s heavily armed with guns too,” remarked one Mumble weed.

“He looks kind of stupid to me," said another.


After discussing with the town council, Creature Hunter Odie Cody Brody accepted the terms and traveled with an Indian guide named Chief Running Water to locate the beast.


“I can tell by your stare that you don’t like the box with a string attached idea. How about this plan Chiefy. We’ll build a catapult, use cheese as bait, then…stop staring at me. Dagnabbit. What are you pointing at?”


“Here’s your giant gila monster.”

“How’d you kill it?, asked the mayor.

“Chiefy found it dead. Crushed by a boulder.”

“Wait a second. You didn’t kill it.”

“Now hang on. You said bring it back dead or alive.”

“We’ll stick to our arrangement. But, Running Water gets the money.”


“He found it.”


“Listen Brody, " said the mayor. There’s an enormous tarantula that you could eradicate for a fee.”

“How much?”

“$50,000. For a few dollars more, bring back its fangs.”

“That’s a nice fist full of dollars.”

“Oh, grandma.”
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Dream Weaver
They burned his loom in the market square. At least they weren’t burning Chay with it.​
“He didn’t mean any harm,” Sharra repeated.​
“We know,” said the Prefect. “But the land’s weave was badly disrupted, with acres of farmland lost when the river flooded. People could have died.”​
“It’s quite remarkable,” said the Chief Weaver. “Such power emanating from something so grotesque.”​
Sharra’s anger flamed higher than the loom’s pyre. “How dare you? Chay’s not grotesque. He’s beautiful and loving. It’s not his fault his brain doesn’t work properly.”​
“My dear, I didn’t mean Chay. I meant his loom.”​
The loom was ugly, cobbled together from wood Chay had scrounged or scavenged, its warp threads twisted laigon leaves, its weft unravelled clothes and horse hair. Chay smiled as he watched it burn.​
“But your mother was a great Weaver. He’s obviously inherited her strength.”​
“Unfortunately, not her control,” said the Prefect. “It cannot happen again.”​
“It won’t,” promised Sharra. “From now on, I’ll bring him with me when I’m at the tannery.”​
“We cannot risk it. Chay must go to the Orphan House.”​
“He’s older in years than the other children, but his mind is much the same age. He’ll be happy there.”​
“And you can come to us,” said the Weaver. “That was your dream, wasn’t it? To follow your mother into the Weaving House.”​
Her dream. Before her mother died. Before Chay became her responsibility, making the three apprentice years living in the House impossible.​
“I promised Mother I’d take care of Chay.”​
“So you will, weaving with us, protecting our land and people. And what does Chay want?”​
“He won’t understand.”​
But Chay turned, still smiling. “I go Orphan House. Sharra go Weaving House.”​
He hugged her. “I Weaver. Once. Weaved Sharra’s dream for her.”​

“Unsettling, the way its limbs bend.”

The occupant was just visible through the airlock. “Like celery going soft in spots.”

“Spot on. Thank you for doing this.”

Rodgers did a check on my arterial and cupped my shoulder like someone who had never reassured another human being. The lock cycled shut.

I exhaled for the last time as the umbilicus took over - tubes to my neck bright red; the alien dull blue. Instead of turning toward me, it shifted as if to hear better. We spent the first night sleeping with a limb draped over me.

I awoke to the hush of the alien digging through the supply crate, its four meters hunched over piles of colored fiber. I stood nearby. Living walls pulsed around us - unfathomably symbiotic with the alien. Poison for me.

Eventually, it straightened and posed as if frozen mid stride. I followed the gesture to a framework extruded from wall organism. It waited with arboreal patience as I moved its sortings to the armature.

It knew the recipe, I had the dexterity. Trial and error filled the days, then weeks. I alternated between ghostly hunger, dogged impatience and fascination with my companion. We negotiated a body language of sequence, tension, color and repetition.

The weaving took the form of a sack, but with gaps and gathers. One evening it eased the textile off the frame and began folding it with its massive limbs, signaling my assistance. The cloth ate itself, taking an uncomfortable form. A shape slid into my hands, the alien stepping aside to reveal the airlock.

I took my first labored breaths in a year as Rodgers freed the lamprey valve from my aorta. “Show this… navigation system. Coding… woven in.”

I glanced through the airlock; the ship’s Master asleep again in its prison.


The door opened. Three young women ran in.
“Grandpa!” they shouted.
“Don’t call me that,” said Shea.
“Why not?” said Aisleen.
“It makes me feel old.”
“But you are old,” said Glenna.
“As old as your loom,” said Edana.
“My harp.”
“It sounds worse than the bagpipes,” said Aisleen.
“Enough!” said Shea. “I must speak with your rescuer. “Eric!”
A tall man strode into the hall and bowed. “I’m honoured to be of service.”
“Your service pleases me more than you know. Now for your payment.”
Eric smiled. “That out-of-tune harp will do.”
“You deserve much more.”
Eric drew a wand from his robe. “Hand it over.”
“Why should….”
Aisleen, Glenna and Edana morphed into three giants.
Shea stepped back. “Why would you want my harp?”
“We both know why: it weaves magic.”
“Not on its own, it doesn’t.”
“But combined with three other unmusical instruments…. Show him!”
One giant pulled a mirliton from his coat.
“A kazoo? And a swannee whistle?” Shea added as another held up his instrument. “Your third minion has bagpipes up his sleeve, I suppose?”
“Together with your… my harp these will weave magic to make me this world’s Lord.”
“Your shapeshifters were a clever ruse, but where are my grandchildren?”
“My giants killed them once they’d duplicated the women’s appearances.”
“And you were there to watch and gloat, were you?”
“Stop stalling. I demand—”
“—nothing. Look!”
The giants morphed into three old women, Shea’s sisters, Aisleen, Glenna and Edana.
Shea turned to them. “We now have the full set. You know what spell we must weave.”
He picked up the harp and began to play. As his shapeshifting siblings joined in the cacophony, the wizard calling himself Eric slowly began falling apart.
“Music to my ears,” said Shea.
First Contact: A Colonization Story

Ratkáhthos awoke screaming. His dream, so vivid. “They are coming!”. His shout roused the
sleeping Kanien'keha, who, like those familiar by blood, didn’t hold back, calling him names and
questioning his sanity, wanting to go back to bed. “I know this thing. As did my father, and our fathers before him as numerous as the maple’s seed.” But they still didn’t believe. Undeterred, he ran to the Ancient Mound. And just as his dream foretold, started to dig at its top.

Come morning, exhausted, fingers stained with blood, he staggered back to the village.

The Chief spoke commandingly, “The Old Ones who had enslaved us have disappeared. The Sky Woman has restored the lands of Tkar’nto to the Kanien'keha, and all in the Haudenosaunee family.

“Yet, the last thread of her Great Tapestry is now sewn. I have seen it, completed within the spirit

“This cannot be.”

Ratkáhthos nodded solemnly. “The Others will arrive upon the Great Water. I’ll prove it.”

He led the leaders of the tribes atop the Mound and showed them what he had dug up. And then they believed.

That night, the people of the Haudenosaunee gathered atop the Mound overlooking the Great Water.

Ratkáhthos, took his place beside the strange markings he had shown them earlier, and pondered them once more. “FAIRMONT ROYAL YORK”. The gravity of the moment did nothing to unlock this cryptic message, but he knew it must be a greeting to the Others.

The night ebbed away, when a thin sliver of sunlight peaked above the horizon. Then, a flat shape, the colour of poplar, and about three longhouses in width and probably as long, silently floated down, resting just above the waters without creating a ripple.

A door opened slowly, and a figure stood in the light.






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