Starts with W

My response to City Sonnet’s January Photo of the Day Challenge for January 20. Can you guess what my ‘W’ stands for?

It was a fun day In Rapid City, South Dakota. I was happy to see a more diverse crowd including many indigenous people in their native clothing and a large turnout from the LGBTQ community. This was my third year.

Did you attend a march in your area?

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Sunday

Here is my contribution to Becca’s Sunday Trees – 375 photo challenge.

Birches against the sky.

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I love the perseverance of this bugger. Let nothing stand in your way. I wrote this story with this tree in mind. A Tree for Momma

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I forget the name of this tree. Do you know?

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Pathways

Enjoy my response to Friendly Friday Photo Challenge hosted by Something to Ponder About.

Our family trip to Hawaii last year was an amazing adventure. The first two photos are from Pu’u Wa’awa’a volcano which was used as a cattle ranch at one time. I actually hicked to the top! The other photos are from Akaka Falls, a botanical gardens, and random nuggets of beauty around the big island. Enjoy!

 

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For other photo challenges check out these links:

South Dakota’s Hidden Treasures

Weathered: Sacred Places

 

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Old School

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                                                                             Plainview School, Winner South Dakota. Photo courtesy of Kendra Perry Koski

England School has been gone for decades, but this is how I remember the elementary school where my grandmother taught my father and where my siblings and I ate cold lunches while seated at tiny wooden desks.

Two rooms, two teachers, eight grades. At the most, there were maybe twenty students. Sometimes a grade lay vacant waiting for the next year. Not many folks moved to a part of South Dakota homesteaded in the early 1900s, so the faces were always the same, just a little older. We were kids with chickens to feed and hay to haul before we did our homework.

Our teachers, Mrs. Clausen and Mrs. Ogden, could have been twins with their flowered dresses, rolled up nylons, and hair bundled on top of their head. Unmarried, they fit the schoolmarm stereotype. They appeared ancient to me. Maybe they were.

We raised the flag every morning and stood for the pledge of allegiance because that’s just what happened before the morning spelling test. We clapped erasers, swept the floors, and cleaned our desks. I let my cousin cheat from my homework. I wrote ‘My name is…’ a hundred times on the blackboard.  We had costume contests for Halloween, performed skits at Christmas, and made Valentine boxes for exchanging cards and candy.

In 1971, the indoor plumbing was installed, and the little wooden outhouse was torn down. No more pumping water. No more washing before lunch in frigid water. No more putting on a coat when the urge struck you.

The wind never seemed to stop with nothing standing in its way except barbwire fences and prairie grass. At recess, it blasted our faces and sand filled our ears as we held up our coats in makeshift sails to blast across the field that served as a playground, football field, and fox-and-goose maze.

We had two swings, bats, and balls, but mostly we had our imagination. Even though Wounded Knee and Pine Ridge were just down the road, we were unaware of the racist connotations of playing cowboys and Indians. Sometimes it was cops and robbers. Mostly it was the sport of the season. With only a dozen players, everyone held a position even if it was only outfield.

I wish England School was still there. I imagine how tiny it would seem, how low the ceiling, how small the windows. Maybe the bulletin board would hold some forgotten secret of my time there. I feel fortunate to be part of history long gone that stood on the cusp of the information age. I am part of the last generation to witness the simplicity of an era.

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EVENT: Women’s March 2019 on Washington D.C. — EVENT: Women’s March 2019 on Washington D.C.

Get ready. On January 19, 2019 the Women’s Wave is converging on Washington D.C. for the 2019 Women’s March.

Specifically, the following issues are spotlighted:

  • Ending violence
  • Reproductive rights
  • LGBTQIA rights
  • Workers rights
  • Civil rights
  • Disability rights
  • Immigrant rights
  • Environmental justice

As you may have heard, “Women’s rights are Human rights.

The #WomensWave

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The Basement

The chill in the air took his breath, sucked it away leaving little icicles of dread that gripped his hope and melted it away. She was near.

He hadn’t seen her face, but her presence lingered in the crevasses of the dingy basement, hiding behind half-empty cans of paint and chairs with broken legs. Masses of drooping cobwebs caressed his face, their owners gone long ago to richer fields, ones without her.

The Basement

He gripped the wooden handle of the hammer, the first thing he had found after shimmying his way out the rudely constructed box she had nailed to the rotting supports. The weapon felt rudimentary in his hand; primitive compared to her guile.

Maybe she wanted him to escape.

Maybe she enjoyed the hunt as much as the capture.

Her motives were clearly displayed on the pegboard wall: shears, a saw, dental instruments, and many more items. He could only imagine the torture others had had to endure. She seemed to prefer smaller gadgets, ones that could be inserted into private places. And knives. She had a plethora of knives. But the surgical tools waited front and center, lined up at attention; soldiers in a cruel war.

The bones of others littered the stone floor, adorned with remnants of hair and bits of clothing. The decay wrapped around him with uncomfortable arms. He could feel her above it all, an essence the crept beneath his skin and stole his strength, familiar in a way that escaped him.

He had yet to see her face. Did he know her? Somehow he did, but their meeting seemed from another time like a face on the street.

The creak of the floorboards above his head was punctuated with a drizzle of dirt and dust from years of neglect. The door to the basement split open revealing a sliver of light quickly obscured by her shadow.

“Billy, Billy, are you there?” She singsonged her little rhyme. “Billy, Billy, are you scared?”

Her chant sent a shiver through him. He had heard it before when he was a child. But she was dead, long ago she had gotten sick and died. Pneumonia they said. He had been very young, but he remembered. How could he forget?

The top step creaked under her weigh. Step. Stop. Step.

“Billy, Billy, you can’t hide.” The yelp of metal on metal fell heavy on his ears. “Billy, Billy, come outside.” Tap, tap, tap.

The cats with missing tails. Birds that had lost their wings. Dogs with punctured eyes.

“They let me out for good behavior, can you believe that? Thirty years, but they finally fixed me.” Steel on steel. “They sent me away, but now I’m back. I’m back to send you away, Billy Boy, Billy Boy. Back to send you away.”

“Stay away! You’re not real!”

“Oh, you know that’s not true. You wished me dead. Thought you got your wish, too, but I’m back. Did you miss me?”

She had tormented the neighborhood; filled every shadow with her dread. All of the neighbor kids fled when they saw her turn the corner, because it wasn’t only animals who were her victims. But Billy was her favorite. Whenever she got the chance she would trip him up, slam him to the ground. If he was lucky all he would get was a wedgie, but he was rarely lucky.

“Billy, Billy, why you run?” She advanced a couple more steps down the stairs. The song of metal on metal kept rhythm. “Billy, Billy, you’re no fun.”

Her face came into view but her features remained blocked by the backlighting. But he didn’t need to see the crooked teeth, the hooked nose. She had never left his dreams.

“Stay back! I’m not a little boy anymore! I’ll bash your head in!”

Her laugh echoed against his despair. “You never had much spunk, you little twerp. Pretty sure you ain’t got none now. You try and hide now. I like it when you run away like a scared little bunny. Remember that time I trapped up in that tree? You was too scared to come down for a good day and a half. Had your folks worried sick, you did. You knew I was watching. I was always watching.”

She held a dagger in each hand, playing them against each other in a macabre melody. Scratch. Screech. Scratch.  “I’ve been practicing, Billy Boy.” She displayed her victims with the sweep of her hand. “But they weren’t the ones I wanted. I drew your face on every one before I carved out their eyes.” She tickled her silhouetted cheek with a blade demonstrating her monstrosity.

Billy backed away, knees scraping on the cold, stone floor. There was nowhere to hide. Wrought iron bars decorated the tiny windows No escape. She inched toward him, the knives caressing each other with a lover’s touch.

He wished he had grabbed one of her tools of torture, but he never could think clearly when she was around. She had always sapped the smarts right out of him. It was no different now. There had never been a level playing field. Here he was a little boy again, but this time he felt her cracked mind and knew his time had run out.

He jumped out from behind the decomposed beam and rushed her, but she didn’t have the panic that embraced him. Calmly she stepped to the side and stuck her leg out. He went sprawling.

“Billy, Billy, you’re so silly.”

It wasn’t so much the pierce of the knife as the heat of his blood that drew his attention. It flowed across his chest in a passionate river, leaving his body in pulsating torrents.

Her words drifted to him as his lights went out.

“Night, night, baby brother. You’re not mommy’s favorite anymore.”


For more of my flash fiction check out these collections on Amazon:

Unconfined Delusions, Beyond the Threshold  https://tinyurl.com/y7qvxwz9

 Sanity’s Threshold, Slivers of a Twisted Mind https://tinyurl.com/ydyxtmuc

 

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Resolutions (and how not to make them)

Angela L. Lindseth

  1. Lose weight. How about just not gaining any new weight? It’s practically the same as losing weight. I know me, and I think this is a realistic objective. Say no to new weight!!!
  2. Get a hobby. I have hobbies: sleeping, drinking, and watching TV. What did you have in mind?
  3. Exercise more. Ha! Moving on…
  4. Get into a meaningful relationship. Try a relationship with basil. I love basil. It doesn’t snore, it expects nothing from me except water and sunlight, plus I can eat it. It’s delightful.
  5. Be more positive. Have you watched the news? I think I’m pretty fucking positive, considering. I got out of bed this morning, didn’t I? Get off my back.
  6. Make more money. This one I can get behind. As long as I don’t have to work more hours.
  7. Volunteer somewhere. You betcha, as long as I get paid (refer to number 6.)
  8. Spend less…

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Charcoal – Part 2 of 2 from Unconfined Delusions

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Charcoal, Part 1

Personal log 04/13/2163

Five more showing symptoms. The medical bay is overflowing. Doc Peters has locked himself in the lab. His assistant lost the use of his hands, so I help him out when I can. Mostly, he lets me bring him meals, but I usually take it away untouched. He sits hunched over the microscope muttering. He’s taking it hard, and I worry about his stability.

Personal log 04/14/2163

I’m the only one symptom-free. I feel like a traitor. The few who can help nurse the ones who’ve collapsed. They say the pain is minimal, but their thirst is unquenchable. I’ve rationed our water supplies, and the moans for more water haunt what little sleep I’ve been getting.

Doc Peters gave a little speech that ended with him distributing a pill to each of us. He plans on using his when his hands freeze up. He suggested we all consider the same. He’s run out of options, ideas, and hope. I could have shoved it down his throat and saved him the wait because his ‘pep talk’ was unbecoming for a senior officer. On the other hand, some of the crew looked relieved to have an easier way out.

I canceled all duties, so some of the crew have isolated themselves in their quarters. I imagine them staring at the pill and gathering the nerve to use it. I threw mine in the trash. I am the captain. It’s my duty to see this through to until the end and record every detail.

Personal log 04/15/2163

I’m showing the first signs of numbness. I had hoped I was immune because witnessing my team turn into blackened statues and their appendages snap off like dead wood… well, horrific is hardly the word for it. We still haven’t found a cure. How can one discover an antidote without a diagnosis?

I make the rounds checking on everyone and noting their condition. I force myself to visit Bobby. He’s lost the ability to talk, but he licks his lips over and over. I drip water into his mouth, but it’s never enough. I can’t look him in the eye. I don’t know how much more I can take.

Personal log 04/16/2163

Doc Peters took his life today.

Personal log 04/17/2163

My progressive decay fascinates me. Like watching embers in a fire that move and wane, the degeneration works its way up my limbs. It’s mesmerizing. The onset reminded me of a bad sunburn, but then the pain subsided to a dull ache and numbness took over.

I thought there might have been an explanation that didn’t involve the Spector-18, but that’s stupid. We were on a foreign vehicle, in an underexplored galaxy─ I mean, how do you prepare for every unknown?

I am smoldering. My temperature is 105º, pulse rate is 53 bpm. Blood pressure 80/50. I should be dead. I wish I was.

The ship has grown quiet. I switched over to my thought recorder before paralysis is total. I wonder when that will be.

I wish I hadn’t thrown away my pill.

Personal log 04/18/2163

The invader consumes with hot determination. The lucky ones crumbled to ash when they toppled, but some twitch and moan where they made their last resting place. I ignore them the best I can. I guess I should put them out of their misery, but somehow I still have hope they will revive and grow their limbs back. It’s ludicrous, I know, but I don’t want to be out here alone and lost in this godforsaken place.

I experimented knocking my hands against something solid. My fingers shattered painlessly into charcoal briquettes. My hope flees with every minute.

Today my pulse rate is 42 bpm. Blood pressure 80/30.  My temperature is 112º. I don’t feel ill, but my thirst is unquenchable, and I’ve run out of water. My tongue protrudes from my mouth. My lips feel like sandpaper.

Personal log 04/21/2163

I’m forgetting my daily posts. I’m not even sure what day it is. I converted ship functions to automatic yesterday. At least I think it was yesterday. I imagine the last person ‘alive’ on the Spector-18 going through the same motions.

My temperature is an alarming 121º. My breath leaves my nostrils with tiny puffs of smoke. How is this even possible?  I can feel my heartbeat; the minimal tempo vibrates down my solidifying tissues like drumbeats in the distance.

I shuffled around the laboratory on what is left of my legs pretending to work on a cure, pretending to have hope. I can’t find any of Doc’s pills. Maybe they took them, and it didn’t work. What a cruel joke.

Personal log 04

I can’t move anymore. Hopefully, someone will find my thought recordings and process these messages before it happens to them. If we are ever found.

How my heart beats in this blackened shell and supplies blood to my organs is all I think about, at least when I’m conscious. I’m losing chunks of time, I think. Time passes like minutes and an eternity at the same time.

For my final gesture, I toppled over across from the blackened husk of Bobby’s body. What’s left of him is on the floor of the isolation cell. He’s not moving. At first, I thought he was dead, but his eyes locked on mine, alive and alert. My God.

Log entry

Breathing… a chore.

Bobby’s eyes… not blinking… once in a while… dart upward… pleading to God…

If Bobby… alive…he was first…

How long… have I been here?


Need more of Unconfined Delusions, Beyond the Threshold? Click this link:  https://tinyurl.com/y7qvxwz9

 A fan of my writing? Check out Sanity’s Threshold, Slivers of a Twisted Mind and click on this link: https://tinyurl.com/ydyxtmuc

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Charcoal – from Unconfined Delusions

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Personal log 04/04/2163

The pinging that brought us to this sector of the galaxy comes from a Spector-18 exploratory vessel, old, but still used in some quadrants. It’s unknown how long the ship has been adrift. No reference to its identification number has been found in our ship’s databases, but our records only go back a hundred years.

There are no obvious signs of distress, and the body of the vessel is intact.

The mooring cables are in place, and an exploratory survey of the exterior is scheduled for tomorrow.

Personal log 04/05/2163

We discovered a peculiar powdery substance on the exterior of the hull. Bobby took scrapings of the gray and black scale. Sample analysis indicates severe carbonation. Dating of the material eliminates the possibility of an Earth origin and the thickness of the scales indicates it formed after the craft became immobile. The engineers haven’t come up with a viable explanation for its development in deep space.

Personal log 04/06/2163

We have been observing the ship for two days per protocol and have not discovered any signs of life.  Motion detectors, heat imaging, audio recordings have all been negative.

Preparations have been made for the Lead Engineer’s Alpha-boarding in the morning.

Personal log 04/07/2163

Bobby entered alone through the aft portal to conduct the Alpha monitoring. He took all the required initial entry readings and samples. Standard operating procedures for boarding an abandoned craft were followed. Full-body protective gear was worn.

I monitored his live video feed. Nothing peculiar stuck out to me. No sign of the crew. They seemed to have literally vanished.

Analysis of the samples failed to raise any red flags. All parameters were within acceptable limits and Beta-boarding will be initiated in the morning.

At dinner tonight, Bobby complained about numbness in his fingertips which struck me as odd. It’s not like him to complain or express discomfort.

Personal log 04/08/2163

Beta-boarding teams consisted of: Team 1- myself, Bobby, and Raj; Team 2 – Shannon, Marco, and Sherman. Our team was responsible for reconnaissance and overall assessment. Team 2 was responsible for establishing the vessel’s operability.

Team 1 conducted a sweep of all three levels. Our primary mission was to determine why the Spector-18 was abandoned, and what had happened to the crew. We found no signs of distress, but we did find numerous piles of an ashy material, and a thin film of the carbon substance similar to the piles covered most surfaces. We collected samples of these materials and food supplies. We discovered some dry goods, but no liquids of any sort.

Team 2 was able to restore the craft’s life support systems. Computers are back online, but most of the memory files are corrupted and will be no help to determine why the ship was abandoned. I’ve ordered the crew to maintain protective precautions until further notice.

Bobby worked the morning, but after I noticed him flexing and shaking his hands I sent him back to our ship for a medical examination.

Personal log 04/09/2163

I sent two crews to conduct a thorough inspection of the lower decks today. They reported more of the gritty piles. Analysis of the substances shows it is composed of nearly pure carbon. The piles, the film on most of the surfaces, and the scale on the hull are all the same. Its origin is unknown, and I’ve put solving this mystery as highest priority.

Update on Bobby. He’s experiencing numbness in his toes and considerably decreased mobility in his fingers. Doc Peters hasn’t been able to figure out a cause yet. There are no symptoms other than the numbness and a slight fever.

Personal log 04/10/2163

Shannon and Marco both mentioned numbness in their fingers today. Bobby’s illness is spreading up his arms, and his toes and feet are also showing signs of atrophy. He claims he feels no pain even though his fingers are the color of shale. Doc says he’s drinking an unordinary amount of water.

It’s unclear if the Spector-18 is causing the symptoms, but it seems a likely.

Personal log 04/11/2163

Bobby’s condition severely degraded during the night.  His fingers and arms have turned black like charcoal, brittle and cracked, and they radiate heat. He accidentally knocked his hand against the counter and his pinky and ring finger broke off. He said there was no pain, but fear shone bright in his eyes. I’ve ordered him quarantined along with Shannon and Marco, but if this is an airborne infection, it may be too late to stop the spread. Shannon and Marco’s conditions have also deteriorated; however, Marco’s feet have decayed faster, and he can no longer stand for fear of them breaking.

I ordered recalibration of all our instruments and a secondary run of tests, full spectrum, but they revealed nothing. It’s too late to abandon our mission especially since we haven’t determined a cause of the contagion.

We used every instrument to test the air, but we must have missed something. I don’t know how else to explain it. Hell, I don’t know. Maybe we absorbed something subatomic.

I’ve sent messages out any neighboring ships, but I don’t expect an answer. This is what we signed up for. Daily downloads of ship’s activities are sent back to Earth every day, but the lag time in responses is twenty-seven days, and rescue could take years.

I don’t think we have that much time.

Starting to worry about our water supply.

Personal log 04/12/2163

The effects of the virus, or whatever it is, hit Raj, Sherman and four others who never stepped foot on the Spector-18. It’s an alarming development considering we took all decontamination precautions when traveling between ships.

Doc Peters is baffled. We’re in agreement the contagion is somehow caused by the carbon although there’s no evidence of the correlation. I haven’t mentioned our conclusion to the crew, but they’re not stupid. Easy enough to connect the dots.

Bobby’s in bad shape. Bobby and I go way back, back to the academy. It’s hard to watch him disintegrate. His body temperature has spiked to 112º, and it’s impossible to keep him hydrated. He drifts in and out of consciousness. His clothes smolder and spontaneously combust. Little patches ignite revealing black and cracked skin. He lies immobile, but chunks of him spall away from his limbs. I’m not sure if he’s aware, but he must be able to smell and see the smoke. I see no reason to bring it up.

Charcoal – Part 2 of 2 from Unconfined Delusions


Need more of Unconfined Delusions, Beyond the Threshold? Click this link:  https://tinyurl.com/y7qvxwz9

 A fan of my writing? Check out Sanity’s Threshold, Slivers of a Twisted Mind and click on this link: https://tinyurl.com/ydyxtmuc

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Sanity’s Threshold – Goodreads Reviews

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Sanity’s Threshold, Slivers of a Twisted Mind

“You could sit down and read all of these “stories” in one sitting, but you might want to spread them out in order to savor the weird deliciousness of each piece. Because each one is so short, flash fiction has to be written “tightly” with no extra wordiness or fluff. These stories will NOT disappoint. I highly recommend.”

“A twisted collection of brilliantly written horror stories. Quick read and definitely worth it! Guaranteed to send a chill down your spine!”

“Angela L. Lindseth’s twisted bits of flash fiction provide the whole “story” in a microcosm. In “Slivers of a Twisted Mind,” readers experience murder, mayhem, and heat, both real and emotional. It is an interesting and well-done collection of stories, each told in under 700 words. I recommend it.”

“Just a word of warning … don’t read when you’re home alone. Angela L. Lindseth is a master of psychological suspense.”

“Brilliant storylines. Authentic author.”

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