Introducing Jasper

Grasping a wad of high grasses in his left hand and wrapping it back around his wrist Jasper acted quickly. That would have to do, he knew it probably would not. He scuffed the dry prarie soil with the toe of his sandle enough to draw in with his fingertip. He traced a near-perfect circle, added two sinuous lines that might have been wings, and poked a dot into the center of it all.

Jasper liquified the breeze and draped it around himself. It did not take long.

Air rushed to him from all sides bending the green grass like penitents at prayer. The air then swirled upward into a vortex with Jasper at the hub. Solid circle shapes and other bursts sprung from the markings he’d traced in the dirt and rose with the air. Mostly they were the color of the prarie: green, green-yellow, and green-teal. Some, of course, were starkly white or deeply black.

Jasper hoped the grasses he held were well rooted to the earth, but didn’t look. It wouldn’t matter now. He strengthened his grip for what came next.

The two wings he’d drawn on the circle flowed along the surface of the prarie winding among the grasses growing there as crinkle of his vision. They seemed like eager beasts waiting on chance. They were desperate to fly.

Jasper needed his attachment to the earth to hold. If the roots tore free too soon he’d spin into the initial vortex and bounce in a painful arc along the ground before going up. It happened before; he held no interest in repeating the experience.

The wings popped and snapped along the surface of the prairies battering the gentle plant life and raising more bursts as they came fully to life. Each lively crinkle became a white ribbon expanding into a sheet and then a sail. One split partway out and formed a third anxious beast. The bursts ran freely to the center and rushed upward. The speed at which they formed disallowed them full solidity so nearly all of them were outlines or double outlines.

Jasper waited for the bursts to be incomplete arcs and wilder half-shapes. They signaled his leap.

A neatly drawn plus sign ran up from the leftward wing. Jasper had never seen one of those before. He hoped it good. The point of each wing ripped free of his tracing. They alternated between losing the rest of themselves and trying to encircle Jasper. One twined his leg and popped him off balance. He nearly lost his grip. When he looked up he saw the unsplit wing’s distal end billow up like a sail catching the wind. Then the split one broke free and lept into the air with it’s fellow.

Jasper caught hold of the wing still encircling his leg. He’d been taught he couldn’t force his will on these things; he could only coax them. He watched the billowing ends disentangle from the earth. Their freedom rippled back toward him.

“Please let me time this right.”

Each wing stripped completely free of the earth and rattled into the sky. The wider far ends wafted high and back toward the center. Good. He’d go up first—no arm breaking. A cascade of bursts erupted around him: stars, octagons, circles, hoops, a curious harp shape, more plusses. The wings went up without him. Distracted, he missed his moment.

“No I didn’t!”

He loosed his grip on the grass and grabbed a pair of plusses clawing at the air like it was a ladder. He stuffed his toes into a hoop on one side and stepped on a solid green circle on the other. He kicked and pushed his way up the flock of bursts till he closed in on the nearer tendrils of the wings. They did exactly as he expected—hoped—they twined his body and rooted there.

Jasper launched above the prarie pulled by three wind filled sheets. Bursts orbited him or rested near his shoulders. Sometimes running up the wings; sometimes trickling back down.

Day 295

1000 Days Goes to Mars

If you’re here via Sci-Fi-O-Rama you may also enjoy some bits I’ve written after seeing Ian McQue’s compelling concept ships.  Enjoy!

“I don’t recall Brainard taking this picture, but it must have been him.  There’s Teague on the mainframe of course.  Big ol’ Mathis watching him—I guess.  And holding a rope?  Shipley’s got his back to the camera–facing north–overlooking the chasm.  You can tell it’s him and not Brainard from that ridiculous collar he wore that also ran down his back to his shorts.  Was that really in fashion?”

The auditorium chuckles.  Back chokes, as the kids call them, resurfaced less than a year ago right after this photo made it rounds on the web.

“And, of course that’s me looking like some Forties-era pin-up.  We cannibalized our suits for the circuitry and monofil.  And it was hot.  Any questions so far?”

Hands go up.

“But first, yes I had long blonde hair then.  Yes I’m really wearing a thong.”  Dr. Mades gestures to her near buzz-cut grey hair and slightly sagging frame. She does a vampy pose.  “Hard to believe either now isn’t it?”

The auditorium chuckles.  Several people clap.  Most of the hands go down.

“I thought that might cut questions in half.  Ms Sandifer, you first.”

“The whole trip to Mars thing seems mythical now.  There were ten or fifteen practice runs before your crew’s ultimate success…failure.  And nothing after.  Have we not been back in 40 years because of that failure?”  Ms Sandifer sits back down.

Dr. Mades smiles, but doesn’t respond.  She clicks the slide to half bright then looks over her shoulder to the wings of the stage like she’s seeking permission from a hidden compatriot.  “My dear, you think that because we crash landed.  Because Shipley died and Teague’s body was never brought back.  Because Brainard went insane and became a serial murderer back on Earth.  And because I lost both my legs that it was a failure?”

Dr. Mades looks around to the gathered students—some of whom are not enrolled in any of her courses let alone this one.  Everyone thinks that.  She walks to the edge of the stage and peers directly into Ms Sandifer’s eyes.  She whispers.

“It’s precisely because of those things that it was a success.”

Day 292

Elcho Islander

elcho islander

This is what I’ve gotten so far. I should probably not release this as it will change if I ever get back to it. In case I don’t I wanted something to show for the day….

If you’re interested in the true context of this photo then I’d follow the link. I am certain you’ll find it more powerful than what I end up with.

My initial reaction is to write dialogue that includes the spoken word, “Mon.” I’d be half a world off. Which is probably good because it puts me far enough from the reality to be entirely ignorant. And that, of course, is bliss. I’ll endeavor to avoid using ‘Mate’ as well.

“I’m a bartender in places you didn’t even know were places.”

That’s not what I was expecting him to say. I was actually expecting a nod of recognition or even a simple single syllable greeting.

“So. Listen. I could probably take you down in a punch or two or just grab you and throw you to the ground. I’ve had to learn at least how to accomplish that much to get to where I am now. I assure you that you would not get up till I’d left.”

Ok. That’s more hostile than I’d expected too. He’s serious and giving me his CV. Have I done something to this guy? I am starting to feel like I need to give him mine or walk away.

Word count: 255
Day 179
Photo courtesy jthommo101

Day 117: Conner’s Son’s Father

Conner’s Son thought his father was foolish for leading them to this dilapidated oasis on the open prairie.  Surely the beast that tracked them would turn it’s attention here–even if he didn’t think they were that stupid.  A flock of crows startled at their unstealthy approach, rose like a flare, then dove back to their perches and cawed loudly.  Nothing Conner’s son could imagine would announce their location more plainly.  He hoped that in his death book they wrote, "Not the crows nor the beast that killed Conner’s Son but Conner’s Son’s Father."

Conner’s Son’s Father, Conner, smiled at the crows.  "There’s been just enough rain that this should work.  Follow the trail along the stream like you are hiding.  Make sure you cross through the water several times.  Come back when you hear my call.  Come back through the stream only.  Not on the path."

Conner’s Son nodded.

As soon as Conner’s Son was away Conner began meticulously uncovering the entrance to a cave.  Stone by stone he exposed the slim hole.  Each stone within arms reach of the entrance and neatly laid to avoid disturbing the secret over much.

"Son!  Come back quickly."

Conner made a hasty and obvious trail opposite his son’s that ended in an expanse of rock and hard scrabble earth to obscure his path.  He removed his boots and turned back to the hidden escape walking swiftly but with as much craft as he could to conceal his trail.

The beast would arrive soon.  Conner’s Son had not returned.

Word count: 259

Day 79: The Mother’s Foot

Inspired by this photo.

The granite of Qard Fell rises improbably above the teeming tent-city. Selith’s thinks that were he atop that monster he’d finally be alone, not that he could see for weeks in every direction. It would be quiet too.

People gather in places of natural resource: bay towns where the fishing is good, mountain villages near the useful metals, or river camps along convenient causeways. Even simple farmers congregate on the edges of wide fertile fields. The only natural resource here is curiosity.


Too many distractions this morning. I’ll try to come back tot his because I love where it’s going so far. Elements I was hoping to capture were: visuals of the tents as ants, the tight smells of food and flesh, and the incessant sounds of merchants and tinkers. I also wanted to paint the ignorance of the origin of the Qard Fell (mother’s foot to the locals).

Word count: 147

…the only natural resource is curiosity.

On my map it’s a large square in the middle of nothing surrounded closely by little dots.  The notation is ‘Qard Fell…unknown’, ‘tents…seasonal’.  Judging from the remainder of the map it must be the founding year that is unknown.  The separate designators would seem to indicate that ‘Qard Fell’ and ‘tents’ are not the same entity.  Looking out from the scrabble crusted edge of this dune above the tents, I’d say it was true.  The curious monument is very much out of place.  In the tales of the long timers it really is mother’s foot put down from the sky.

All the merchants here and many of the regular travelers has been atop the plinth.  It could be reached by ladder if anyone bothered to bring or make one, but you couldn’t sell it so why bother.  They’ve been up there when the wind flows hard drifting sand up the base.  Sitting up there is something of a rite of passage for the veterans.

As tall as the plinth is top to bottom the width is greater still.  Accounting for the drifting sand, I imagine the proportions to measure half a golden rectangle.  While others want to climb, I will begin digging at the base in the morning to be sure.

Word count:  374

Day 58: Tarry No More Tonight

Johnathan replaces the cover on the lens and looks at the scene once more.  The golden glow of lights overwhelms him–it’s why he took the time to make the picture.  The spell he’d been making all evening, the one he started the moment he stepped out of the keep, the one he’d been building on the long walk over the bridge, the one he’d nearly finished walking the shore to this spot, he sacrificed on this last moment.

The village at the base f the keep was alive with floats and revelers in the lamplight.  Fireworks splattered the lower walls of the keep with brightly colored spots the way sunlight through the trees spritzes the grass below.

[build up to this location]

Without the spell Johnathan Goffe would be exposed and hungry.  He hushed the camera and removed it from the tripod.  The tripod he left.  Let them find that.  Let them know he’d stopped here.  They would know soon enough where to find him.  Now he had a record of the moment he started being a hero.

Word count: 175