The Lego Serious Players

(Photo Credit: Renee Heath)

Three deck chairs provided a glorious view of the sun set. The plunging orb cast an orange hue around the mountain ranges overlooking the sparse shrub land. The mobile caravan, a mere euphemism for being a hair’s breath away from being homeless was parked a few feet away from the chairs. One of the world’s largest technology companies that took concepts such as Lego Serious Play and NLP with the same gravitas reserved for welcoming heads of States, was planning its “Hackathon” in the open plains.

The family stood no chance. The eviction notice was only a few heartbeats away.

(Word Count: 100)

This story was written as part of the FRIDAY FICTIONEERS challenge, more about which may be found HERE

 For the complete list of entries, please click HERE

Soul Strolling

(Talinn, Estonia | Daniel Pettersson, Google Maps)

Parveen leisurely ambled her way through the narrow cobblestone alley that led to the breathtaking park at Kadriorg. Kadriorg itself was a quaint, leafy and benevolent area within walking distance from the Old Town. Parveen ran her hand through her red-tinged and woodgrain inspired cascading locks. Ribbons of auburn gold were streaked throughout her hair. Otherwise a girl of astonishingly simple wants, the one luxury which she liberally allowed herself to indulge in was dabbling with hair colours.

Taking out a worn out notepad that had dog eared pages, she scribbled, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Invictus – her favourite poem.

A girl with a maturity belying her age and a resoluteness that was a latent spark of fire, she never carried a camera with her nor used her phone to click pictures. Moments and memories mattered more than Instagram and Facebook!

(Word Count: 150)

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw

For the complete list of entries, please click HERE

 

The Witness

(Photo Credit: Ted Strutz)

“Can you see the hood open as wide as the jaws of a hungry shark?” The terror was palpable in Venky’s eyes and rivulets of sweat streamed down his cheeks. “The black car came crashing in through the trees before coming to a standstill. The hood sprang open and the murderer just floated out from its confines with a sickle in his left hand and the head with fresh blood still dripping from it, in the right.”

Inspector Shaun and Detective Ivan looked at each other.  The land in front of them was desolate, barren and absolutely empty.

(Word Count: 98)

This story was written as part of the FRIDAY FICTIONEERS challenge, more about which may be found HERE

 For the complete list of entries, please click HERE

Knives and Wives

Call me a nomad, a mendicant, or even an aimlessly meandering soul

Brand me a wandering ascetic bereft of all concepts of either fair or foul;

The world for me is now an inexplicable sphere of chaotic welter

Where thoughts, deeds and words make for a messy grid running Helter-Skelter.

 

Impervious to bliss and ignorant of pain

I am an empty hollow within which all emotions lay slain;

Thus when accosted by armed assailants seeking to induce dread

I calmly said “Let him strike me who he thinks can kill something that is already dead”

 

Helter-Skelter they ran with their guns and knives

Some tale that to narrate to their wives!

Courtesy of Sammi Cox Weekend Writing Prompt

We owe it to the Ozone

spf 11-18-18 joy pixley 2

(Photo Credit: Joy Pixley)

The gravel pathway leading on to the Research Centre was prevented from getting baked underneath the heat of a blazing sun by a gnarled and twisted canopy of brown and green. The shadows of the knotty and contorted bark made for an interspersion of asymmetry as Siew Kuan studiedly made her way to the non-decrepit office. Beyond the stone walls could be glimpsed the vast expanse of an azure blue sea.

Opened with the usual fanfare and flamboyance, The Centre for Ozone Restoration, was both Siew Kuan’s altruistic brainchild and politics’ assiduous neglect. Lobby cartels and unscrupulous Multinational Corporations prevailed over restrictions on the use of Ozone depleting substances such as hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Capitalism and Carbon emissions were after all siblings operating in tandem.

First they revoked Siew Kuan’s patented technology for Ozone preservation. The screws were further tightened when the funding reduced to a mere trickle. Now with all the employees gone, the Centre was virtually gasping for air.

But Siew Kuan had not decided to scale this summit for nothing. Fight she will, ferociously, fervently and fanatically like a wounded tigress. This much she knew, she owed Mother Nature!

(Word Count: 195)

This story was written for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here.  To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Oymyakon’s Revenge

(Photo Credit: Sue Vincent)

Oymyakon, as was universally admitted, would never be a threatening contender for the most flocked to holiday destination in the world. This quaint and tiresomely accessible place in Russia had the distinction of being the coldest permanently inhabited place on earth. Temperatures averaged around -58 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months.

Hence, when this isolated and unheard of city found itself at the centre of the world’s imagination in the bleak winter of 2018, it created more than just a few minor ripples. On a desolate stretch of land between Yakutsk, the city centre and the railway station, could be found a two-thousand-year-old gnarled and wizened tree. This child of nature had seen revolutions and recriminations, stood mute witness to pillages and prosperity and was a silent spectator to carnage and celebrations. Right beside this tree was a big piece of stone that resembled a giant walrus in undisturbed repose. This unusual and unassuming combination of tree and stone spawned a bone chilling sequence of stories that made even Urban Legends read like kindergarten rhymes.

Rumours had it that on the second Wednesday of the eleventh month in the year 2018, three people who sat on the stone facing the tree (at different points throughout the day) had undergone a chilling transformation. The tight lipped and tongue tied locals were too terrified to even reveal the exact nature of the misfortune that had plagued the troika or the people associated with them.

Renowned climatologist and the inveterate nature lover, Blaise Huizen decided to take both matters into his own hands along with a camera. After a laborious and back breaking journey that involved all possible modes of transformation from an airplane to a mule, Blaise finally reached the objects of attention. There wasn’t to be seen a single soul in sight. Setting the camera on timer mode and ensuring that the experimenter and the experimented would be clearly captured, he positioned his camera at the most appropriate angle prior to positioning himself atop the rock and facing the tree.

Time seemed to stand still and except for the unceasing falling of snow. Just when Blaise was about to get himself off the rock, he felt a powerful surge of heat flow throughout his body. This sensation lasting just a couple of seconds had him drenched in sweat. Gathering his wits, thoughts and camera, Blaise headed back home.

Mrs. Doolan, hearing the doorbell ring slowly trudged towards the door with her arthritic limbs groaning and creaking at every step. “Hello Mama!” Blaise greeted Mrs. Doolan. “Hello son you are…….” Mrs. Doolan jerked back as if experiencing a powerful electric shot. She slowly brought her crooked fingers to cover her mouth. Although she saw the glint of pure evil in the blood shot eyes of her son, she could never see the arm with the machete springing up before coming down upon her, mercilessly, ruthless and perhaps – inevitably.

All metamorphosis may not be external. Some of the deadliest transformations are those that stem from within.

This is a response to the #writephoto Prompt – Snowfall curated over at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. Click on the link to read other stories inspired by the image.

Frosty’s Failure

3 sheep

(Photo Credit: Crispina Kemp)

Frosty couldn’t have known that he was genetically engineered; the boisterous children who named him so didn’t realise he was genetically manipulated, the breeding centre which housed him couldn’t care less whether he was transgenic or bio-technology derived. The shining innocence of the kids and the startling indifference of Science both used Frosty to serve two totally contrasting purposes. Purposes driven by conflicting motives.

While Frosty’s creators were waxing eloquent about their achievements, the masters of modern technology failed to inform Frosty as to whether they had adhered – in both letter and spirit – to the Guidelines on genetically engineered animals used in Science. Frosty was the poster boy of social media. But neither the filters on Instagram nor the frenzy on Facebook told his real story.

A story of deceit and diffidence which made Frosty unable to stand or sleep for more than an hour a day.

(Word Count: 147)

Written as part of the Crimson’s Creative Challenge #11 More details regarding this challenge may be found HERE.

In Transit We Trust

(Photo Credit: H.R.R. Gorman)

The house looked as though it had been recently kissed by an asteroid. In a state of lamentable shambles, it was a ghastly sight to behold. Rolls of tissue crisscrossed across the master bedroom in a serpentine fashion. Tattered rags lay strewn about as though paying obeisance to a rodent ball. Appendages of furniture sticking out from under the mess made for a perverse jigsaw puzzle.

They found him in a disheveled and deplorable state squatting on the floor right next to an open window. Unwashed and unfocused, crossed arms hugging himself, he was crooning softly while making a monotonous rocking motion. A lullaby for the denied, a song for the deserted. His eyes were vacant, distant and lifeless.

Now ten years to that fateful day, he was gently murmuring to an adolescent girl who had tears streaming down her eyes. “Depression need not and should never be a choice. It is just a transitory gatecrasher trying your patience and testing your will power.”

(Word Count: 164)

This story has been written as part of the FLASH FICTION FOR ASPIRING WRITERS – FFfAW Challenge #201, more details about which may be found HERE

For reading similar entries submitted in response to the FFfAW Challenge #201 please click HERE

Thank You H.R.R.Gorman for the photograph!

Dennis The Messiah

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(Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding)

The orphanage was urgently in need of funds. With a thousand other institutions actively competing for both deserved attention and desperate funding, it was only unfortunately logical that some organisations would be left behind both in terms of structure and substance.

They say that hope springs forth from sources unforeseen. The harbinger of hope for this dedicated non-profit organisation was one of its youngest inmates. Dennis was brought into this facility as a seriously ill one-year old abandoned to his cold fate in a secluded alley. Amidst torrential downpour the wailings of the child were almost lost to the world but for the uncanny aural sense of the janitor of the orphanage, who coincidentally was on his way home.

Six years and a diagnosis of autism later, Dennis began to paint. Colourful images of animals in repose and frolic. His latest was that of a donkey against a striking background with a sunflower clasped between its teeth.

The secretary of the orphanage, pursuant to a public appeal arranged for a public exhibition. Connoisseurs hailed Dennis as the next Albrecht Düre.

The children had found their savior. The small messiah had ensured that the orphanage would never face a resource crunch!

(Word Count: 200)

This story was written for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here.  To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

The 5 A M Club – Robin Sharma

Image result for The 5 AM Club

Robin Sharma’s latest work “The 5 A.M Club” (“the book”) presents itself as a formidable contender for “The Worst Book of 2018” award. Extraordinarily insipid, extremely uninspiring and inexplicably long-winded, the book is well served remaining unread! Replete with borrowed quotes, resonating with irrelevant similes, and riding on a by now familiar philosophy, Robin Sharma feebly and futilely attempts to package old wine in a new bottle. Unfortunately, the damaged quality of the bottle deteriorates the very essence of the wine.

So what exactly is the “5.00 A.M Club?”

A simple, ordinary message stretched to an unimaginably inordinate degree

The message being dished out by Mr. Sharma is neither innovative nor novel. The basic idea being to jump out of one’s bed at 5.00 A.M in the morning and perform a set of activities involving the exercise of both mental and physical faculties. THIS IS IT both in a nutshell as well as in the philosophy’s entire expansion. However, what could have been ensconced within a precise tract or even a pamphlet is extended, elongated and elaborated in a most painful manner that makes a reader plough through 314 excruciating pages.  The fact that in a book titled “The 5.00 A.M Club”, it takes 51 pages for a character to actually wake up at 5.00 A.M speaks volumes about the peripheral irrelevance that masks the core matter.

A story that is totally irrelevant

In order to convey a purely simplistic message, Mr. Sharma bizarrely elects to employ a story telling method which exasperates and enervates the reader to an infuriating degree. Yes, you really become tired reading (or at least trying to) the book. It is an unenviable chore trudging through a morass of pages that has at its centerpiece three characters. An entrepreneur who comes perilously close to taking her own life, courtesy an attempted investor coup before a seminar transforms her. Wearing bracelets with inspirational quotes etched on them, she signs on to become a member of the 5.00 A.M Club. She is joined in this endeavor by an artist who keeps fidgeting with his dreadlocks when not repeatedly mouthing “def” for “definitely. The mentor for both the entrepreneur and the artist is a quirky billionaire who when not mouthing quotes picked from Gibran to Seneca or doing dervish whirls and hand stands, spends time taking his two students on freewheeling tours to Mauritius, India, Italy and South Africa, imparting the tenets of the 5.00 A.M club. To assist him in this endeavor he keeps addressing his students as “cats” while himself using surfer slang such as “gnarly” to such a liberal extent that the reader feels like taking a sail boat over the book!

Pareto Principle in Action with Corny Passages

80% of the book is an astonishing exercise in futility. A communication that could have been accommodated within 20-30 pages takes up a whopping 314 pages. Pages that are packed with passages so reeking with irrelevance that they are enough to make the reader tear her hair out in sheer white frustration! Sample this:

“The artist laughed as a baby gecko jaywalked across a broad plank. He took off his black shirt in the dazzling sunshine, exposing a Buddha-sized belly and man breasts the size of fleshy mangoes.”

“…. she admitted as the skin on her forehead scrunched together like a rose contracting in the cold.”

 “. the artist interrupted with all the energy of a puppy seeing its owner after a long day alone.”

Invest in a book of quotes instead

In addition to beginning every chapter with a famous quote, the book strings together sayings at a speed which would put even the reproductive capabilities of rabbits to total shame! Quotes by the renowned and the reviled fly at you from all angles making both deflection and assimilation equally impossible. One would do well instead to invest in a book of quotes and peruse the same meticulously.

Read these Alternative Books

The 5.00 A.M club borrows liberally from the philosophies of luminaries such as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and also pop psychologists such as Malcolm Gladwell. In the event one manages to get through the tedium and torture of the “5.00 A.M Club”, the following books may serve as the perfect antidote:

  • “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi;
  • “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg;
  • “Eat, Move, Sleep” by Tom Rath;
  • “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey;
  • “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill;
  • “The Empires of the Mind” by Dennis Waitley
  • Read these Alternative Books

The George Orwell Rule

Mr. Sharma, while meticulously putting together the powerful sayings of many greats who have trod on this Planet, seems to have missed out on a set of most important rules – the immortal Six Rules laid down by George Orwell. One of the rules postulates, “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.”.

If only this rule was followed the “5.00 A.M club” would have been an eminently readable book.

The “5.00 A.M Club” – deserving of a pass.