#SoCS June 18, 2022 – Cent/Scent/Sent

Linda’s SoCS prompt.

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “cent/scent/sent.” Use them in any form you like. Use one, use two or use them all. Bonus points if you use all three, and Cheryl will put your next drink on David’s tab. I know, you used to get bonus points for two, but inflation… Enjoy!

She wrote a letter, spraying her favourite scent on the paper, before sealing the envelope.

That should be enough to remind him… A sniff of my perfume, and he’ll come running.

A cough alerted her to someone’s presence. Her brother stood at her doorway and pretended to gag. “What you trying to do? Suffocate the poor bloke? You’re better off just sending him a text!” he rolled his eyes and walked off.

Stupid man, what does he know? Always has to put his two cents in, even if they’re not needed...

Carefully licking the lip of the envelope, she stuck it down and placed a stamp at the top right-hand corner.

I’ll post it in the morning. Once I’ve sent it, all I need to do is wait…

Jim Webster’s Done It Again! Two New Books! #BlogTour

Guess who is joining me on a blog tour again?

Good ole’ Jim Webster! And here is a little story for your perusal.

Be careful what you pretend to be. 
I would like to say that when I heard what Garamie was planning, I knew it
wasn’t going to end well. Unfortunately I must confess that at the time I
thought he had come up with an excellent strategy given his obvious
limitations. Garamie wanted to be a savant. He wanted to be looked up to and
respected for his knowledge. Unfortunately he didn’t want to dedicate a
lifetime to study, so he could reap the benefits of his status as a
well-respected scholar in his old age. He wanted the benefits now. I could
see the source of his confusion. Garamie was quite well off. He’d been
through the University here in Port Naain, but like many students he
appeared to have left more muddled and less accomplished than when he
arrived. What university had taught him was that the road to proper
scholarship is hard.
Have you heard the comment, “The easiest way to be recognised as a savant is
to ensure your field of expertise is so tedious that nobody will ever
question you about it?” Garamie took this one stage further. He decided that
he would make his field of expertise so terrible that nobody would ever
raise the subject. Thus, after brief thought, he proclaimed himself a
Traditionally necromancers shun people, daylight, and soap. Garamie was the
exception to the rule, in that he merely wanted the fame, or perhaps more
properly, the notoriety. He had no interest in truly studying necromancy. So
where most necromancers have no social life, Garamie became the socially
acceptable face of necromancy and was invited to all sorts of parties and
social events.
When out and about, he could dissemble adequately when it came to discussing
his dark art. If somebody asked him anything, Garamie would bluff. He could
mix into his conversation mumbled phrases from long dead languages, most of
which he made up on the spot. He found it harder to convince people he was a
genuine necromancer when they visited him at home and discovered that he had
none of the impedimenta of the trade. It seems that to be accepted as a
necromancer, or as any sort of mage, you need a workroom. You need the
paraphernalia. Young ladies, fascinated by him, expected to see the tools of
his trade when they visited his abode. Obviously they weren’t looking for
cadavers in the bedroom, (although one or two of his rather more
‘specialist’ lady-friends gave the impression that this was the sort of
thing they rather anticipated.) 
As I said, he had money. This was a positive disadvantage. If he’d had no
money he could have done wonders for very little. After all, if I want the
skull of a hanged man, I merely ask Mutt and he’ll return later demanding
twenty-five dregs for a perfectly reasonable skull. Indeed it may even come
from a man who was hanged. (In Port Naain the chances are at least
reasonable.) I certainly would not seek out one of the Exulted Purveyors of
the Imperishable Wisdom. Admittedly they would guarantee that the skull came
from a hanged man, even if they had to bring forward the hanging for your
convenience. But on the other hand they’d expect me to pay an alar for it.
It’s the same with cadavers really. I remember the time Lancet and I found a
chap who’d passed out with drink. Lancet painted the fellow’s face so he
looked like a corpse, and we sold his clothes to pay for a cheap shroud. To
be fair, that is common enough, the dead man doesn’t need his clothes any
more, and the money left over after buying the shroud traditionally goes to
paying for a round of drinks for his friends. We then carried the corpse
along Ropewalk on an improvised stretcher. I might have mentioned that it
costs one silver vintenar to book your place on the corpse boat. When the
boat is full they sail out to the west and drop the weighted bodies
overboard for their last rest. It’s considered a charitable gesture to give
a vintenar so that a poor man can make that last journey, and as Lancet and
I tearfully solicited money for the poor deceased we were carrying, we did
quite well. 
Then somebody offered to buy the body off us. I’m not sure why, it wasn’t as
if it was a particularly good body. The owner hadn’t been taking any real
care of it. But Lancet had got our potential buyer up to twenty vintenars.
They’d shaken on the deal and the happy purchaser was about to give Lancet
the money when the ‘corpse’ groaned. I said, probably too quickly, “It’s
just the air escaping.”
Unfortunately at this point the ‘corpse’ tried to sit up. At least one of
the bystanders screamed, Lancet and I dropped the stretcher and ran in one
direction, whilst the putative purchaser ran in the other. The ‘corpse’
staggered forlornly down Ropewalk, struggling to walk in a shroud.
Alas, Garamie was spared this education by his wealth. He merely ordered his
bits and pieces from the Exulted Purveyors of the Imperishable Wisdom. Of
course you have to ask why they sold him the material. It’s obvious to
anybody who talked to him that he wasn’t a serious student of the dark arts.
Perhaps it was merely a case of him being a free-spending incompetent who
differed little from their usual run of customers?  
I once saw Garamie’s ‘workroom’. I found myself roped in because I’d been
passing as a courier’s wagon arrived. At the same point the heavens opened
and Garamie, spotting me, asked if I’d give a hand helping them to unload.
Apparently there was a risk that three bags of ‘grave dust’ might turn into
several buckets full of ‘grave mud.’ 
Garamie had chosen a modest downstairs room as his workroom. It was
naturally poorly illuminated, a small north window providing entirely
inadequate light. He proceeded to fill it with clutter. Several crudely
built tables were piled high with skulls, candles, battered tomes one
assumed were of eldritch lore, and any number of strange crystals. I confess
I looked at the books. Let us be honest with ourselves here, how could I, a
poet and a man of letters, not look at the books? Let us be equally honest,
those I examined were likewise split between recipes collected by cooks and
housekeepers of a previous century, the account books of large estate, the
latest entry at least two centuries previous, and a selection of those
history books one only ever finds in school libraries. I am willing to admit
they were fascinating, I have a weakness for history books that are so old
that the history they cover was virtually current affairs for the writer.
But still, unless necromancy has changed direction in recent years I
wouldn’t have regarded them as particularly macabre. 
Still Garamie must have picked up some more specialist literature. He
acquired habit of dropping esoteric phrases into conversation. I was in the
Misanthropes on one occasion when he said something and the hairs on the
back of my neck stood on end. On other occasions people claim that when he
spoke the candle flames flickered out or the room grew strangely colder. 
I still hold that he hadn’t any idea what he was doing. I do know that he
was in the habit of jotting ‘interesting’ phrases in a pocket book. He
showed me it once. It looked like a collection of nonsense phrases but
should he wish to impress the sort of girl who likes ‘bad’ boys, he’d drop
one or two into his conversation.
We’re not sure exactly what happened to him. The woman who ‘did’ for him
went in one morning to discover he wasn’t about and that the workroom door
was locked. She tidied up a bit and decided that there was a strange smell.
At that point she thought to send for the watch. They broke into the
workroom to find the walls liberally decorated with Garamie. His pocket book
was open on one of the tables but was so liberally daubed with blood that it
was illegible. His death was registered as ‘suicide by means of unthinking

And now we’d better hear from Jim Webster.

So here I am again with another blog tour. I’ve released two collections of
short stories from Tallis and if you’ve enjoyed the one you just read,
you’ll almost certainly enjoy these.
So what have Tallis and I got for you?

Well first there’s ‘Tallis Steelyard. A guide for writers, and other
stories.’ The book that all writers who want to know how to promote and sell
their books will have to read. Sit at the feet of the master as Tallis
passes on the techniques which he has tried and perfected over the years. As
well as this you’ll have music and decorum, lessons in the importance of
getting home under your own steam, and brass knuckles for a lady. How can
you resist, all this for a mere 99p. 

Then we have, ‘Tallis Steelyard. Gentlemen behaving badly, and other
stories.’ Now is your chance to see Port Naain by starlight and meet ladies
of wit and discernment. There are Philosophical societies, amateur
dramatics, the modern woman, revenge, and the advantages of a good

So come on, treat yourself, because you’re worth it.

Just a short story… The Voices In The Book

Annette Rochelle Aben has reminded me that it is Tell A Story Day today, the 27th April, every year, and as a little tribute, here is a short story I wrote a few years ago, in school, to demonstrate how you use prompts to create fiction. It’s more YA fiction that adult, but I hope you like it!
So, I said I would try to get back into my writing… well here is a recent attempt at some fiction. Please, let me know what you think
book n glasses
It was a scorching hot day in the village.  Rajini was walking to the well to get some water for her mother, who was cooking dinner.  Under a large banyan tree sat a little old man, wrapped up in a white lunghi, with a white turban wrapped around his head, to protect it from the sun that was beating down. Upon his nose rested a pair of wire spectacles.
He was looking at something in his lap, and as Rajini got closer she saw he was reading a book.  It was a large book with big pages.  As she got closer she realised that there was nothing on the page he was looking at.  “Why would you stare at a blank page?” she wondered.
When she was about to walk past the man, he looked up and smiled at her.  She had been brought up to always greet her elders so she put her hands together and said “Namaste”.  “Where are you going, little girl?” the man asked.  Rajini stopped.  “I am just going to fetch some water for my mother.”   The man smiled again so Rajini came closer.  She felt a bit braver.  “Why are you looking at a page with nothing on it?” she asked.
The man pointed to his glasses.  “I have special glasses.  They help me to see what no one else can.  If you would like to try them, come to my house later this evening and I will show you things you would never believe! I live in the small house just behind this banyan tree.”  He indicated a small hut like building just behind him.  “Ok,” said Rajini, intrigued “I’ll see you later!”  She rushed off to fetch the water that her mother was waiting for.
After dinner, Rajini normally would go and play in the fields with some of her friends, so she went out as usual.  But, instead of running to her friends, she followed the path out to the old banyan tree.  It was starting to get dark now, and there was a small flickering light inside the hut.  She gingerly knocked on the side, and the old man’s voice called to her, “Come in, little girl!”
She looked around and saw the book lying there with its pages open, still blank.  The old man’s glasses were on top of the book.  Rajini coughed.  “Oh dear, the dust must have got to you on the way here.  Let me get you some water.”  He slipped out of the hut to where his drinking water was kept in a clay pot.  She was too impatient to wait for him to come back, so Rajini put the glasses on and looked at the book.  Sure enough, there was something there… not words,  but something moving on the page.  She looked closer and it looked like there were four miniature children there.  They were shouting something but she couldn’t quite hear what they were saying.  She leant in closer and put her ear to the page.
“Help! Help! Don’t drink the water!” was what she heard.  Panicking, she dropped the glasses back onto the open page and stumbled out of the hut.  The old man was just coming back with a small steel glass.  “I’m sorry, I forgot, my mother asked me to run an errand and she will be very angry if I don’t do it.  I’ll come another time!” and with that, she flew down the dusty path back home.
Rajini reached home and after a short while was ready for bed.  She lay on her bed, and her mind kept going back to the voices in the book, and the small children she had seen.  What were they doing there?  Why had they been calling for help?  Who were they?  Tossing and turning in her bed, Rajini didn’t get a wink of sleep that night.  “Somehow, I have to find out more about these children.  But how?”
The next day Rajini decided she had to, somehow, have a look at the book again.  But how could she get to it without the old man knowing?  Later on, that morning there was a meeting of the local elders at the village square.  All the respected older members of the community sat together to discuss the goings on in the village. Recently there had been cases of local children going missing.  From their village, in the last two weeks,  4 children had gone missing.  They had gone to fetch water at different times, for their families, and had never come back.  Obviously, the villagers were worried and they wanted to find these children, and prevent any others from going missing.
 Rajini had seen the old man at these meetings before.  Maybe he would leave his book at his house while he was at the meeting.  She decided she would try to sneak to his hut during the meeting.
Just before lunch, when the meeting was in full swing, Rajini crept away from her house and sneaked to the old banyan tree.  There was no sign of the old man, but his hut door was open.  She looked in and there was no one there.  The book, and the glasses sat on the small table by his bed.  Carefully she picked up the glasses and put them on, and opened the book…  There were the 4 tiny children, stood in the middle of the page.  They saw Rajini looking at them and immediately started shouting to her.  She put her ear closer to the page again to hear what they were saying.
“Who are you?” Rajini asked.  One child called back “It’s me, Mohan!”
Mohan?  Rajini immediately recognised that name.  Mohan was one of the little children that had gone missing last week.  “Mohan?  What are you doing in that book?  How did you get there?  Who else is with you?” Rajini asked very quickly. Mohan replied, “Nisha, Payal and Kishen are also here with me.”
Rajini was astonished.  These were the children that had been reported missing, all four of them!
“But how did you get in the book?  Please tell me!  Your families are so worried!  Come out right away and we can go home!  They will be so happy to see you!” Rajini said, excited that she had found these lost children.
“We can’t just come out.  Don’t you think we would have come earlier if we could? That old man, he put us here!  He said there was an amazing fun fair story in the book and if we wanted, we could go to it.  We all drank some water from him, then all of a sudden we shrank and went into the book.  The thing is, there is no fair here… there is nothing here.  Nothing to do, nothing to eat or drink… luckily Nisha and Payal had some snacks in their pockets when they came here so we are eating small bits of them to stop us feeling too hungry.”
Rajini was shocked to hear this.  How could she help these poor stuck children?  “Do you have any idea how to get out?  Or what you have to do to get out of there?” she asked the children. 
The mini Payal piped up in a squeaky voice, “I heard the old man talking to himself one day.  I was the first child he lured into the book and he was saying that he was glad there was nothing to drink in the book because all it would take was a sip of water and I would be back in the real world.  But we have nothing here, so how can we drink water?”
Rajini thought to herself.  What did she need to do to get water to these children?  Then she had an idea.  It was a very brave thing she would have to do, and if it didn’t work, she could also get herself into the same pickle that the other children were in.  “How about if I get 2 glasses of this special water, drink from one, so I shrink, then I should still have the other glass in my hand.  When I get there, we could all drink a sip from the glass and get back to our real world.”  Little Kishen started to cry.  He was only 5 years old and was missing his mummy so much.  “Don’t cry,” Rajini reassured him, “I will get you back to your mummy.”
She went outside to the clay pot where the old man had got the water from.  Near there were some steel glasses.  She took two and filled them both, then took them inside to the book.
“Right, I’m going to do this… I can do this…” but she was scared.  She looked outside to make sure the old man wasn’t coming.  The coast was clear.  Standing next to the book, she took a sip of water from one of the glasses.  Nothing happened.  She put one glass down and turned to go outside, to make sure there wasn’t another water pot outside.  Maybe she had taken the water from the wrong place, maybe there was another special magic pot…
But then, all of a sudden, she started to feel rather strange and with a whoosh she was dragged back. She closed her eyes in fear, and when she opened them, all was white around her.  She opened and closed her eyes a few times. Then she saw the 4 children running up to her.  “Rajini! What have you done? You will be stuck with us now!” Nisha cried.
Rajini looked at her hands and in one was the other steel glass of water.  “Here is where my idea comes into play.  I have some water here.  Please, Kishen, take a sip.  Maybe this will help you.  If this works, run back to the village and tell your mummy and daddy to come fast, with the other villagers, to the old man’s hut!”
Kishen took a tentative sip, and after a few seconds he had disappeared!  “Kishen! Where are you?  We can’t see you!”  they looked up, and sure enough there was Kishen, much bigger than them, wearing the old man’s glasses, which were far too big for him.  “I’m free! Yay! I will get everyone and we will save you too!” He threw the glasses down and ran from the hut.
Next Nisha, then Payal took sips of water and they too disappeared away from the vast white emptiness, back to reality.
Only Mohan and Rajini were left.  “Right, Rajini, we have to go too,” Mohan said.  He went to take a sip but noticed that there was only one sip of water left in the glass.  “I can’t drink this myself and leave you, Rajini.  You were so brave to do this to save us.  What can we do?”
Rajini thought for a moment and then she remembered something. “When I drank the first water to come here, I brought the glass with me as I was holding it.  Maybe if we hold hands while you drink the water we can both go home.”
This was a risk they were going to have to take now.  Rajini could hear voices above them, in the real world.  People from the village were coming.  What if the old man heard and came first, and he managed to take the book before they got out?
Quickly, the children held hands tightly and Mohan took the last sip.  With a whoosh again they were dragged back and as they opened their eyes they were back in the old man’s hut.
“Thank Goodness it worked!” Mohan said.  As they looked up, a gaggle of villagers had arrived.  Mohan’s parents wept with joy to see their son, that they thought had gone forever. Nisha, Payal and Kishen were also with their families.  Rajini looked up and scanned the crowd to see where the old man was.  She couldn’t see him anywhere.
The villagers were starting to ask questions about where they had been, what they had been doing.  Rajini looked at the book… as everyone left the hut, she picked it up, and the glasses, and took them quietly with her.  She didn’t want the man to ever capture any children again.  She walked through the door and saw the clay pot. With a quick kick, she pushed it over so the magic water spilt out, and slowly soaked into the dusty mud floor.  “That should do it.  If there is no magic water and no book or glasses, he can’t do that again!”  She wandered back home and saw a small camp where some travellers were staying.  They had a fire roaring in the middle of the campsite.  She slipped in and threw the book and glasses on it.  As they went up in flames, she thought to herself… where is the old man?  He didn’t come with the others from the village?
She got home and there were many people asking about what had happened.  Rajini and the other children answered as best as they could, and some of the men from the village went to the hut to speak with the old man. When they went there, the hut was gone. The old man had vanished.  There was nothing there, just an old banyan tree.  And where the travellers camp was, there were just the burning embers left, of their old camp fire…. And the glint of metal from the magic spectacles…..
The End

Flash Fiction Foray- Fly Me To The Moon

A relatively new blogger, The Book Blogger, has started a new fiction challenge with a tag, where you get a song title, and write flash fiction of about 100 words based around the song.
This week, Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me To The Moon’… Here is my Flash Fiction Foray!

‘Fly Me To The Moon’ the sign said, hanging around the strange creature’s neck… 
‘I want to go back home’, it continued. 
So, this was what they looked like, the men on the moon. Kind of hairy for my liking, but he had good handwriting!
I tossed a few coins into his bowl… I don’t know how far it would get him, but hey maybe, once he got there, he’d remember the stranger who helped him a part of the way home, and send a spaceship for me to come visit.
Who knows, while I’m there, I might get to see what spring is like on Jupiter or Mars!

My interactive peeps!

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