Thought I’d try a prose poem this time. I know it’s not a story, because a story has a beginning, middle and end.
We were four now in number, and the plains played unwilling host. Hot, dry, ground agape, brittle grass and weeds. We were herded by dust devils. Rain to the south kept pace with us, never moving closer, not sending even a smell of water our way. Vera stumbled, almost fell one step in ten, but trudged on. Ross moved steadily, spine straight, eyes level forward, staring at his own thoughts. Only Maria sweated, the rest already wrung out, only her throat was not too parched for a cicada drone of mumbled curses. I was dizzy, my head and eyeballs hurt from heat and weariness and constant scanning. It was my expedition, my vision of artifice triumphing over nature. I watched for snakes, water, signs. I watched for a hint of change in weather or landscape. I watched for the sun to budge, grant us at least a shadow.
The Risk You Run
The clown was on fire. Not sure if it was a joke, and afraid of becoming the butt, we let him burn.
The Castle of Fear
The Castle of Fear is heavily fortified (what did you expect?) every floor and stair carpeted where soldiers tread softly to avoid startling when they move at all but with everyone typically hiding the castle seems deserted until danger threatens (say a cheek muscle twitches, nostrils flare on a neighbor monarch’s face) then all is fleet and ready and watch, sentries sprint back and forth along the rampart lest they miss scanning a bush or hollow where hostiles might hide and the king trembles in his bedroom while his wives and daughters and sons guard the passages then he looks at his arms and armor dustdull and rusted because to clean them is to contemplate danger oh someday he will lift the sword and sally forth alone and naked but tonight it’s too late the risk is past and everyone and he returns to bed and brittle sleep.
We communicated with the extra-terrestrials in writing at first. When we failed to understand them, they wrote bigger.
A million years ago, they were pets to another species. Hence their habit of curling up at our ambassadors’ feet in the middle of negotiations.
The winds have died out altogether on their world, and they pollinate wildflowers by hand. It’s their favorite form of sex. Such unnatural acts disgust us, we explained. Now that the bees and butterflies are gone, we’ve bred thumb-sized dogs that live on nectar.
Many churches disbanded when we discovered the aliens were Christians. Jesus had betrayed us with another planet!