Stephanie’s Smile

It had been many years since my wife and I took the kids to the state fair.  Although they were still young enough to enjoy it, life had crept up on us.  Time after all is always creeping closer.  This year, we would go and have a great time.

The wife took the eldest and went on some of the larger rides, while I took our youngest, Stephanie, to the carousel.

“The brown horse, Daddy! I want to ride the brown one!” she said ecstatically.

“Okay sweetie, when the ride stops and the man says you can go, make a dash for it!” I instructed.

As I watched this tiny human bounce up and down, smiling from ear to ear, laughing hysterically at nothing – I sat in awe.

I wondered if now, at my age, if I could ever find something in life that would make me feel as my daughter did riding this mechanical horse.  I wondered about the men or women who crafted it.  The precision, the colors, the sanding involved to make each horse and poll rose-pedal smooth.

For most of us, things in life don’t always pan out.  Unfortunately, that’s life.  People often say you can sleep and be miserable, or never sleep and be happy.  What if you don’t want to sleep, but can’t find your passion.  What if you have ever opportunity in the world to find that gift, but it always eludes you.  One can’t help feeling guilty.  One can’t help feeling like they are squandering opportunities, perhaps being viewed as lazy.

My mind continued to race as I watched Stephanie laugh and spin.  I hope something out there is for me, something out there is waiting.  But how do I find it?

My wife returned with our eldest, Patricia, both of them laughing away.  A mother and daughter bond now stronger from the day together.

I put on a happy face, and we walked back to the car.  My head sunk low as I watched my feet move forward, one after the other.

I should be the happiest man in the world, yet I felt trapped and alone.

Where is my carousel?

via Daily Prompt: Carousel

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O Diabo

O Diabo (Portuguese) “The Devil”


“Dad, wait!” I wailed.

We were constantly late in the morning. What should be a relaxing moment to begin the day, always began as a running of the bulls.

Dad was tall, he could take longer strides.  Sure, I was tall too (one of the tallest in my class) but I was only 5.  I simply couldn’t keep up with my old man.

That morning was no different.  His trench coat swung through the air like a parachute, smacking me in the face with every step.  His neatly pressed suit grabbed the eyes of onlookers, at least that’s what I thought.  At 6 foot 8, I think people were more impressed that he could find a suit that fit.  It clearly wasn’t tailored.

We ran and ran, my hand me down shoes taking ever more of a beating.  The holes in my socks were causing blisters.

“Dad, pick me up!”

“We’re almost there, you can walk – it’s good for you!”

The station that morning was bustling with activity.  Horns blaring, people shouting, the intercom lady drowning them all as the volume seem to be cranked up to 11.  I always took in all the sights and sounds.  My curious little mind was always fascinated by what I saw.  To be out in the real world.  Experiencing it.  Feeling it.

I sat on the bench as instructed by my father, and read my comic book.  “The Amazing Spider-Man” or “The Avengers”.  I got lost in their escapades.  The colors, the action, the adventure.  I marvelled in the wonderment of such a universe.

As I turned the last page of my comic, I noticed the station had died down.  People had left.  It was almost if it as abandoned.  “How long had I been reading?” I wondered.

At the entrance were 2 tall, strong men.  Dressed in what was described at the time as a “power suit”.  A suit that cost as much as a used car.  At the exit, the same.  Their bodies turned away from me.  I tried to see who they were, but you can’t tell who is who with slicked back, greased hair and a hat.

My eye panned down towards the floor.  I sat staring at my beaten old shoes.  I began to go into shock.

“Where was everyone? Where was my dad?”

“Ahem…”

I slowly lifted my head, my eyes blurry with tears. As I wiped them away, I saw a small stocky figure standing gloomily over me.

“Michael, my name is Alessandro Giovanni.  You’ll be coming with me.”

via Daily Prompt: Amble

Extraction

It had been 18 minutes since the bang.  We knew something had happened in the mine.  Did a shaft collapse? Early TNT detonation? Elevator failure? There was no point in playing the guessing game, all I knew was the rescue crew and I had to get in there immediately.

Although we were all trained for such an incident (whatever it may be) there seems to be something emotionally wrong with sending in fathers to look for their sons, and vice versa.  In such a small town, we have no other choice.  An outside crew would simply be too far away, and keeping them on site would be an expensive, logistical nightmare.  I can see the strain on their faces.  Sadness and nervous tics rolled into one.  No matter how strong you are, nothing can prepare you for what may lay in the caverns below.

“Matt, go into my office and bring me the layout,” I ordered.

Matt ran quickly into the main office, papers flying everywhere – bull in a china shop.  Even in this trying time, I slight grin came on my face.  Witnessing Matt pulverize my office.  “Stop, be professional,” I mutter.

Matt smacks the blueprints on he hood of my beat up Chevy.  Quickly surveying our options, it is clear we will need to detonate from the other end of the mountain, and work our way in.  Estimated time to stranded crew, 3 days.  The uninjured would survive, albeit dehydrated and famished.  The injured, well, we all knew the circumstance.  There was no doubt in our minds that there would be a death toll.

Holes were drilled, the mountain was lined, and we all took our positions.  The landscape rocked with thunder.  The slight shockwave hits your chest like a boxers punch.  A boxer at 10% power, that is.

The adrenaline was racing, and we were almost 15 hours a head of schedule.  The earth was hard, hand tools were borderline useless, and most of our diamond tipped equipment was down in the mine.  It was a rude reminder as to why we chose the other side of this behemoth.  But we drudged on.

Strike after strike after strike, we began to feel air rush our faces.  We had found them.  Without hesitation, a head count began.  We were missing one.

“Where… where is my son?” Matthew questioned hastily.

A severely injured man simply pointed, directing our attention to an open chasm.  I peered down the rabbit hole, and saw a faint purplish glow.  Intrigue took over, and I strapped up and began my descent.  What lay before me was something not of this world.  A large, purplish object stood tall directly in front of me.  What I can only describe as a portal.  If Matthew saw this, he would for sure jeopardize our mission, and the mission was to get all our people out, dead or alive.  This secret would have to remain with me, for now.

via Daily Prompt: Detonate

Stars of Brilliance

I sat in a deep lounge with my morning coffee.  The sun sector was always quietest at dawn.  While most slept, I basked in the suns radiance.

“Computer, .03% star power please.”

“Of course, Mark.” She promptly replied.

Like a punch in the face, I got an extra tenth of a percent of the suns rays.  Holding fast at only 30,000,000 miles from her destructive core, small increments were fierce.

Regardless, I took it all in.  Our ship “Constantine” contained special materials to allow the proper viewing of stars.  Without protective gear, we could stare directly at the ominous light with no adverse affects.  Her brilliance gave me a feeling of euphoria.  When the hair stands up in the back of your neck after hearing that “special song”, I could mimic the feeling with this room.

A long sofa lined the viewing panel, with a curved table to match.  This was my solitude.  My time to think.  I could be myself here.  I could remember every detail of my life.  People I missed, things of regret, but also pure unaltered joy.

A soft Ryo Nakamura track played as I drank my final sip of delicious double espresso.  My mind was clear.  I was free.  I was whole.

“Computer, 100% star power please,” I begged.

“Unable to comply.  Requested levels are fatal.”

“Override Jacobs N736-B,” I ordered.

“Code accepted.”

via Daily Prompt: Radiate

Odin’s Test

As a warrior of Valhalla, we are raised to enjoy pain. We welcome it, not fear it. As a child my brother and I often fought on the grassy knoll outside the village. Thrusting wooden swords at each other, hacking and slashing wildly, we rarely quit until exhaustion kicked in. We would come home to mother, covered in bruises with bloodied noses. The only time she became upset, was if the blood stained our fur lining that she had recently traded for. As we grew older, wood changed to Damascus blades and forged steel. We carried stifling shields that off set our stance. We swung wildly – channeling our inner berserker.

Although I showed no visual signs of distress to my tormentor, inside I was wondering how much more of this I could take. My once ox-like body dangled frivolously from the ceiling. Men who were once smaller and weaker than I, now seemed to tower over me. Punishing my torso day in, day out with whatever they could get their hands on – I was almost defeated. Unable to understand the language, they kept uttering something about a “Christ God” and referred to me as a “Pagan”. I know not what these words mean, but they seem to refer to me as an animal. Perhaps “Pagan” is animal.

When my chains gave slack, I am hoisted tight again. The men seem obsessed about my body being shaped in the form of a cross. They laugh as my arms pop from their sockets. My wrists bleed as much as my face and body from the constant adjusting of this “Christ” position.

The worst part about dying from torture is not the torture itself, it’s the fear of not being able to enter Valhalla. Without a sword in hand or dying gallantly in battle, Odin will not open his great hall to me. I will spent eternity in darkness.

The light in the room begins to fade, another night is upon me. Although I admit, was the room darker from night fall, blood in my eyes, or the loss of consciousness. I couldn’t tell anymore. If my time comes, I will let out one final ferocious battle cry, and show these heathens I fear them not.

As suddenly as I sank my head, I heard a commotion outside. I could see sparks in the distance. Swords met metal to metal. The tiny crack in the wall was my only window to the outside world – fighting, lots of fighting. They came flooding into the streets, dozens at a time. The sound was all too familiar, I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears.

With a second wind, a fury began to rage inside me. Shouting at the top of my lungs, letting out my battle cry for all in Valhalla to hear, I pulled heavily on my chains. One side crumbled, and then the other. Freedom.  I have passed Odin’s test, he thought me to be weak, but now I am strong.

The door flung open, and there stood Ragnar. My second in my command, my brother.

“We finally found you Lord, we had been looking for days. Most ships were lost, but the men,” he paused “the men survived!”

“My sword, brother!” I beckon as Ragnar tosses me the blade. The cool steel feels fresh against my skin; how I missed thee.

“Come, Ragnar. We have much work to do! It is time for the Christians to meet their end!”

via Daily Prompt: Reprieve

via Daily Prompt: Survive