More Flashy, More Fictional

Here is another offering at the Altar of Chuck Wendig

The Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Weekly Challenge for this week was to write about a flea market.

Markets of the Mind>

You are lying back on a couch in room full of unread books and pot plants.

    "Let me try again."

The therapist sighs. He fiddles with his bow-tie. In the end he consents. You lie back on the couch and watch the watch. It swings back and forth. Your breathing slows. Liquid relaxation flows in from your extremities and then... BLAM!'re under.

The entrance to the market is crazy. You've been here many times. Bright lights and loud noises. Fast food, hot clothes. iPads and jet-skis. A game-show host in a purple tux offers you the chance of a lifetime to win the steak knives of your dreams.

You push your way through. This one is easy.

There's a crush of bodies moving deeper into the market. It's hard to get air and everybody wants your attention. Better abs. A gift for your boss. A t-shirt that will perfectly express how little you need a t-shirt to express yourself.

Someone else is pushing through. You follow in their slipstream. As you follow (deeper, deeper) you wonder who they are. From behind you can't tell. Not one of your parents. No teacher you can remember.

They stop at table selling flowers and spent shotgun cartridges. You crane your neck to see who has led you this far but the crowd pushes you on and do not see. Doesn't matter. Keep moving. Eyes on the prize. Deeper.

The crowd loosens and thins. You are more free but more exposed. There are memories here. Photographs in frames of all sizes and shapes. Colour, focus and scale all mean something.

Later maybe.
You can come back anytime. Let's get in there.

You take a deep breath and walk on. Into the dark tent where rows of sex toys form an intimidating wall. You don't want to touch them but it's the only way forward. Resist the shame, handle guilt, focus on the good times and move on.

You're at school now. Endless corridors and arching walls. Teachers, friends and enemies selling pieces of your past. It's not all bad. Sometimes you get stuck here staring at a sunbeam. Dust caught in light that you can stare at for hours. You feel relaxed, warm.

Not this time.

You gather yourself. Pull up your ill-fitting uniform and march on. To the real estate agent with all the houses you have ever called home. She doesn't look like your mother this time. That helps. She takes keys from a big box full but you know they are the right ones. You take them, thank her. Ignore her loneliness. Keep moving or drown.

The road is not as you remember. The dog is scary, the neighbour friendly.
The front door is the wrong kind of blue. Chipped. Brass handle. It is ajar. Your hand trembles as you push it open.

You have never been down this hall before. The walls are dark and wet. Into the room; not your room. You can hear singing. Nursery rhymes you never knew.

The room is bright. The Sun from the windows is too bright to see out. There's a mirror on the wall and you know that you will make it. Head bent and squinting against the brightness you crawl towards it. Your pudgy hands are difficult to control but you can lean against the wall and with a great effort drag your infant body upright to peer into the mirror.

What you see is yourself.
You see yourself on a couch in an office full of unread books and pot plants.
Opposite you is a small man in a bow-tie snoring loudly.

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World of Unicorncraft

Everybody down on the floor! This post is a hijack!

Actually it's more of a re-purposing. I needed somewhere to post this short story so that I could submit it to the Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Weekly Challenge.

Basically it just had to be about Unicorns. Oh and less than 1ooo Words

The Hand and the Maiden

Jethro had good eyes.

Even though they were still 3 days ride from Darwin he could see the end of the line - the new train tracks built out from the port meeting the workers shanty building them in from the outback. There’d be trains this way before the season was done.

No point going into the worker town. Jethro could probably get a beer but he’d just as likely get in a fight and he’d have to spend the whole time with an eye open for his maiden.

Instead he pitched camp out in the desert, same as usual. He lead the unicorns to a dusty creek and checked it for crocs. Then he dug a short trench and pulled the wagon up over the top of it for her latrine. Finally as the sun was going down he built a fire. Jethro was careful. This was when most unicorn men got themselves killed. He was done before the moon came up.

The wagon had a compartment where the maiden lived. The door was bolted and padlocked with a drawer to pass meals through. Jethro put a bowl of stew, a hunk of pan-bread and a mug of tea into the drawer and knocked, twice, on the wall. He heard her stir inside. The drawer slid back. She didn’t say anything. He didn’t expect her to.

They weren’t supposed to talk at all. Company regulations. It was bad idea anyway. Once Jethro had seen the hand of a maiden as she pulled in her meal. He could still see it if he closed his eyes. A bad idea.

Regulations are one thing but the job is something else. Herding unicorns was hard, lonely and dangerous work. It had rules of its own. Old rules like nature. Water runs downhill. Don’t lose your maiden. If she gets sick or crazy you got to fix her or get far enough away before sunset. Nature wont dock your pay. Nature just carries on without you.

So Jethro talked to his maidens. You could keep tabs on them that way. This one didn’t say much. He could hear her crying sometimes but they all did that. Mostly Jethro just talked his mind for his own self.

That night he lay in his cot at the front of the wagon and told her about the railroad. What it meant. It wasn’t going to be two dozen unicorns led by wagon anymore. They’d have hundreds at a time in endless trucks. Darwin would explode with money and great mountains of ground-up alicorn on the docks. Hell, if they could freight the horns fast enough in iceboxes they wouldn’t even have to move live unicorns at all.

Jethro realized he was shouting. He stopped short. The moon was up. The unicorns stood beyond the campfire regarding him implacably. Nothing moved.

“They wont need us anymore,” Her voice was like an unused riverbed.
“I guess not,” said Jethro “Wont need maidens if they can keep the beasts locked up.”
He waited, not breathing. Would she speak again?
Jethro sighed.
“No, not good. You’ll be on the scrap heap.”
“We both will.”
They fell quiet then. Jethro lay on his cot. Thinking about nothing. He wondered what her hands were like.

“Do you remember the rock?” she whispered.
“What rock?”
“You told me about it one time. They broke it.”
That had been a long time ago. They drilled through a mountain for the railway. Turned out to be one big rock and as they cut it the whole piece cracked. No use to anyone after that. They had to go around. He’d been happy. Told the maiden at the time about it all night. How it would slow down the railway.
“That was you?” Jethro asked.
“It was me.”
That maiden, this one, hadn’t spoken after that. Just cried. He’d thought she was sad for the mountain. Or some such.
“That’s when I knew I wasn't going to make it,” she said, "'l'll die in this box."
He understood. The stars swam a little behind his hands.
“So what’s good?” he wanted to know.
It was her turn to sigh. Long and tired.
“Others I guess. No more like me. That’s some kind of good.”

Jethro stood up. He took the shovel slammed it against the lock.
“What are you doing?” she cried.
He didn’t answer, just kept pounding at the lock. The unicorns rumbled in the darkness.
“You can’t come in here.”
The shovel blade bent but the lock came partially free. Jethro jammed the shaft behind it and wrenched the thing right off the door. Breathing heavily he slid back the bolt.
“Keep away.”
The tiny room smelled terrible. A single shard of moonlight penetrated. The maiden was cowering in the farthest corner.
“Don’t touch me.”

He stood back, then, from the door. He moved towards the restive unicorns as close as he dared.
“You can come out, now. I ain’t going to hurt you.”
For a long time nothing happened. Then the maiden stepped, blinking into the moonlight. She wore a dirty white dress. Her skin was wrinkled and her spine was bent. Her legs were veiny and weak.

She stumbled and Jethro took a step towards her. She screamed, a raw animal noise that stopped him in his tracks. She crabbed away from him towards the unicorns, they parted for her. Jethro felt the blood heat of the animals behind him. A sharp horn pressed into his back.

"Wait," he said as evenly as he could, "We need to stick together."
The maiden stared at him. She was bathed in the moonlight glowing off the unicorns. One bent its neck and she scrambled astride it.

"It's too late for us," she said, "Too little and far, far too late."
The unicorn behind him moved slightly. He felt the horn enter his left shoulder blade.

Then, as he watched her ride away, it broke his heart.

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Just when I thought I was alt...

...they pull me back in.

Seriously. I was sure I had the alt thing under control. I had a plan. I had a set. There was no need for anything else.

Mumphred – to play with Katyana (wife/alliance)
Paronymous - theoretical main
Grexel - skillz to pay the billz.
Xorroshow – learning to tank
Gawdbovver – learing to heal
Santsuen – learning the dungeons so that I don't make too much of a tit of myself as Xorroshow and Gawdbovver
Bampot – to play with Berrius (wife/horde.)

I'd also kinda stopped blogging. Which is exactly like stopping except you occasionally spend a wistful moment wondering how to start up again.

Well it turns out this is how:
Tamarind started a blog community guild. I'm a fairly long time reader and fan but unfortunately I can't get to the EU Servers. Fortunately there is a US/Oceanic chapter started by Ms Medicina.

So last night I popped out a brand new Gnome warrior; Theosaurus.
And it was great fun.

Lots of people already. Lots of dings. Lots of OMFG I can't believe I have no money/bags/spells/idea-where-alliance-stuff-is.

And, of course, now I have a huge list of new blogs to check out. I may never get anything done again.
But, you know, in a good way.

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Altaholism strikes again

The thing about alcohol and drug addiction is that it's about escaping from yourself. Maybe you want to be a version of yourself that doesn't think so hard or worry so much. Or maybe you want to be a version of yourself that thinks they're really REALLY funny.
Or, you know, just oblivion.

Fact of the matter is my Real Life™ hasn't been very pleasant for a little while. Basically my worklife has been very busy and very stressful. Which made it seem really weird that I would want to play Warcraft in the limited spare time that I had.

Because there's a real work-like quality to WoW. Go here. Do this. Do that 40 times and come all the way back so that you can head off to do it again to a slightly differently named gnoll.

Yet somehow it's soothing.

I think part of it is just clarity. I've been saying at work (to anyone who'd listen) that any one thing would be fine it's just the whole everything at once effect that makes it suck. In Azeroth everything can wait. You can choose your mission. Do some or all of it. Stop if you want. It's all about freedom of choice.

So I rolled a new alt.
I had been wanting a BloodElf because I haven't played one. I also wanted to start a warrior to be the Tank that balances Gawdbovver the healer. My plan is to pug up all the instances. Especially now we have the new Dungeon Finder thing.

What I didn't know was that Belfs don't Warrior. So what did I do? I could have gone with my second choice class and Rogued it up. But no. I went all the way back to beginning and popped up a brand new Tauren.

Oh and it was so soothing. Back in Mulgore it was like being wrapped in swaddling and loved by the mobs. The association of my earliest WoW experience and the newness of a whole new class was just... therapeutic.

And I finally found a use for the Thunder Bluff Zeppelin. A quick hop to Ogrimmar. Onwards to the Undercity and then through the portal and I'm the tallest noob in Eversong Woods

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In It For The Money

I swear I never even looked at that pig. Even so it got me pretty sick about a week ago.
A week before that I got a light touch and took the day off. That was an easy Warcraft day. Sweet. By the weekend I was in bits. couldn't even concentrate enough to level.
I don't know about anybody else but when I get feverish it all feels very cyclical. Like waves coming and going and coming. And going. and coming.
So spell rotation just makes it worse. Pyrolast, scorch, fireball... hurk.
So there I am with four whole days where I have time to play but can't bring myself to do it. Torture.
There was only one possible solution.
Well, two... but staying in bed and admitting defeat wasn't going to be it.
No the only sensible thing to do was to finally upgrade from AuctionLite to Auctioneer. Still cyclical to some extent but a 20 minute scan cycle is much easier to deal with.

So everything changes. It's a whole new ball game. I'm a babe in the woods again, of course, but At least I'm on the playing field.

My best thing at the moment is disenchanting. I scan for things that should disenchant for materials worth at least a gold more than the sale price and scoop them all up. There're heaps. Pretty much all the time. In fact I've upped the minimum profit to 2g just to reduce the traffic.
Weirdly people also sell stuff cheaper than vendor prices. The only justification I can think of is that they just want to empty their bags and they're already doing other auctions. Or they're morons. Whatever.

Now proper AH players measure they're profits in hundreds or even thousands of gold per hour. However as they say IRL the first million is always the hardest. You totally need capital.

My first couple of days I was totally broke. After about a week I had about as much money as I started with. But that's where the whole thing really kicked off because what I did have as profit was an enormous AH list of things for sale. Grexel is now raking it in.

Gawdbovver is my priest on the Alliance side and he isn't doing quite as well. The main reason for that is that he doesn't disenchant... instead he sends stuff to Katyana so that she can shard it. I suppose I could ask her to send cash back but it works out better as a way of keeping her sweet when I want to do auction scans last thing at night.

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Time To Kill

Haven't posted in weeks. I am a bad noob.
The post below was hastily scrawled out a while ago now and then left to fester in the drafts folder.
Due to the journal-like aspect of this project I will include it here anyway.

More soon.

Meanwhile Katyana and I have been rocking on up through the content. We've alpha-dogged Shadow Fang Keep which I love for its shape and layout. Gathered many sparklies from whatever the underwater one is. We've baconaised our way through Razorfen Kraul.

Finally we got through the Scarlet Monastery Library as well. We'd gotten pretty sick of it and wandered away. Then the other night we had a only a little bit of time so I thought we could run it through before bedtime. Turned out we could do that and the Armory as well. Glad to put it behind us. We'll probably do the last bit some other time when we haven't got long.

At the other end of the spectrum we're exploring Uldaman. We've covered a few bits but it is quite huge and we keep running out of time. I admit I've googled some of it and I don't believe we'll be able to finish it as a two-some; Katyana remains unwilling to search for groups. I will be patient. The game has successfully taken her to every other step. It can only be matter of time.

Did I mention she's auctioneering now? I downloaded AuctionLite for her and she's making her own money and buying her own mats. We both spent all our money the last time we played on AH fees and speculative trades.

Hopefully when we get back online we'll be rich.

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Blame The Healer

Another day, another Pick-up Group. That's not exactly the way it was. I finally got the time together and logged into the Looking For Group Channel. I ticked that I could offer healing because, well, I did last time.

Not long later I was invited to a run heading into the Hellfire Ramparts. Ramps. I even had a quest for it. Rock on.

Now in a perfect world I should be playing to my Boomkin spec strengths and observing a proper healer at work. At least for my first time into the instance, right?

But no. Seems like there's never a healer around when you need one. So rather than sit around I offered to do it.

And I went ok. The tank learnt pretty quick not to run in too hastily and we made it to through to the last boss. In fact I got the achievement for the instance but I still needed the bloke riding the dragon for my quest.

Unfortunately, by this time the group was falling apart. My server tends to the Australian so they're a good few hours ahead. Second time the boss wiped us it was just me and the Group Leader.

DK - I can tank it but we need at least a DPS
Me - I can DPS but then we need healz

In the end we reformed a whole team. Enough, in fact, to reset the instance and run it again. This time we had a good high level tank who was clearly very experienced and helpful. Bugger it if he didn't disconnect and then log on long enough to apologize for his computer.

So we ended up four-manning the same last boss. We wiped. I couldn't stay alive. And I couldn't keep the tank alive.

From a personal development point of view, I suppose, it was good: I had actually learnt enough about what I was doing to completely understand that... well... I just didn't have the healz to pull us through.

I could tell the GL (now tanking) was getting frustrated. Everybody kind of wandered away after the second wipe. They didn't say anything direct but I know that blaming the healer is common phenomenon.

And if it happens when it's unjustified, you can bet your last murlock it happens when the healer really is at fault. Oh and I accidentally rolled on a piece of plate and won it. I really was *that* guy.

I will be addressing this two ways: I'm leveling a proper healer. A Dranei priest. As soon as he hits 20 I'll be running every instance I can get my paws on.

And for my Druid, it seems if I want to run instances I need to be ready to heal. I'm not ready to give up my spec. So I'll need another. That's 1000g for dual spec that I need. AH here I come.

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