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Only slightly less well known? NEVER go in against a rabid dog in a lightning storm!

This writing prompt series is an irregular effort to force myself to write when I otherwise feel abandoned by a Muse of any sort, let alone the unfortunate specimen assigned specifically to me. If you don’t remember the origin of this series, you can catch up here with Part I, here with Part II, here with Part III, here with Part IV, here with Part V, and here with Part VI. But fair warning: reading those entries, while providing a modest sense of continuity, will very likely not help you make any sense of it beyond a vague feeling there may be a recurring character involved in some sort of questionable religious past. Or present???

The rules are simple: using the writing prompt book Write the Story, include the ten provided words (underlined in this text) in a story using the given title. Any failure to do this, no matter how fleeting, will result in a sharp rap on the knuckles with a ruler wielded by an angry, eagle-eyed nun.

The ruler, by the way, is metric only. As it should be.

Business as UNusual

As a full-time trapeze artist, I found it difficult to relate to people other than my fellow trapeze artists. The idea of working in an office, or spending time in a studio interviewing a politician or celebrity (or celebrity politician!), or being able to ignore the dangers inherent in space travel in order to go for a moonwalk were completely alien to me. I could no more embrace a new career than I could another man’s housewife.

And then I met the new nurse. She’d signed on with our carnival company after some sort of unpleasantness involving a cult. That was the scuttlebutt, anyway, though no one seemed to have any concrete details on the matter. Our chance encounter was triggered by, of all things, a possibly rabid dog, a frenzied dash of terror across an empty field during a rain storm, and a lightning strike.

Not of me, thankfully. As the hairs on my neck rose and the air began to crackle, my early days of open air trapeze training kicked in and I flung myself to the ground, pursuing foamy-mouthed stray be damned. The lightning struck the dog, and I heard the most heart-wrenching wail in its aftermath, louder to my unpracticed ear than the furious accompanying thunder. Whether it was the dog or me who made that sound, I cannot say. But when I looked up and around, the dog was gone, leaving me alone in the weedy field with the puckered wound of a dog bite on my thigh.

I stumbled into the old health clinic, long abandoned and therefore cheaply rented by our company to service, once again but temporarily, as a medical facility. She was on duty that night, her smile as bright and dazzling as the engagement ring, resting against a wedding band, on her left hand. I reported my injury as well as my suspicions about the hound’s health, and she gently led me down to a curtained off cot in the basement.

The examination was perfunctory and evidently found all to be acceptable. We both waited, breaths gasping, for her to conclude the series of injections to protect me from rabies, and then I found myself able to conceive many things I’d previously thought impossible, including the aforementioned embrace of an ostensibly unavailable woman.

She was just what the doctor would have ordered for a lonely trapeze artist. Or so I though at first…

I think the nurse will be going on hiatus for the foreseeable future. Actually, I know she will since the next three writing prompt exercises are already done and are all stand-alone stories. Feel free to let me know if you wish to see more of this crafty nurse, though, and I can work her into a future prompt.

 

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Posted by on 29 December 2018 in Writing, writing prompts

 

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Deadly music isn’t just a Sirens thing: Intro to the Ludite Faith

With the planned publication of Balloons of the Apocalypse, the sequel to Marlowe and the Spacewoman, coming up Very Soon Now™ [IT’S OUT NOW!], the time is ripe for an exposé on a group that features prominently in the book.

I speak, of course, of the Ludites (pronounced LEWD-ites).

Adherents to the Ludite faith, also known by the (derogatory) term Beeters, worship the music of Ludwig van Beethoven and await His return to complete His 10th Symphony.

It turns out this wait can be a dangerous one, for many of the faithful have died in the course of trying to expedite Beethoven’s return.

I will offer no person judgments on the ludicrous beliefs of this reckless cult, but will instead, in a series of articles, paint a picture of their history and beliefs, and allow you, my gentle readers, to come to the conclusion that they’re kooks.

In this first installment, I talk about the basic tenants of the Beeter faith.

But before one can talk about the rules of the Beeter faith, one must describe the events that led to it.

This brings us, of course, to the period of history known as the Partially Thwarted Apocalypse, and the collapse of the Big Fed (known in its heyday as the United States) that occurred as a result.

A great deal of chaos and fear ensued amongst the general populace immediately following the global collapse of all large governments. However, instead of driving the unwashed, and now ungoverned, masses to church as conventional wisdom suggested, this uncertainty so disheartened people that they fled from faith in droves.

Those who failed to be circumspect about their lack of a lack of faith often found themselves on the wrong end of a hail of stones and other heavy, sharp projectiles.

In the North American continent, secretive, isolated cults did well in the first few years after the fall of the Big Fed, as did religions that masked their beliefs behind faith in more secular items.

Prominent examples of these neo-secular faiths would be the Ludites and their fixation on Beethoven and his music, the Church of Mickey D and its holy Shroud of the Clown, which held certain types of fast food to be hallowed, and the deadly Bunny in da Hat cult, which placed a high premium on violent street magic.

And yet, within ten years, as city-states formed and imposed order in the form of local government, the uncertainty and disheartenment of the masses faded back to comfortable, or at least tolerable, levels. In this environment of structure and perceived stability, faith came back into vogue and there followed a period of openness.

With this new openness came conflict, and then, inevitably, consolidation.

The Ludites proved quite adept at co-opting and absorbing other religions, and as one of the first faiths to embark upon such a course of action, quickly built itself a large and stable fan base.

The best example of this absorption of other faiths is the annexation of the Church of Mickey D. To ease the merger, the Ludite Church declared fast food a required staple of the faithful (more on Ludite eating habits in a later article), and by the time fast food was phased out of Luditism, three years later, the Mickey D members had either embraced the Ludite faith completely, were excised with ruthless precision (sans all their worldly goods), or died due to poor heath resulting from their preferred diet.

The Shroud of the Clown became the Shroud of Tourette, reportedly donned by Beethoven prior to delivering his frequent public verbal flayings. According to the new Church doctrine, the shroud cloaked Beethoven in an impenetrable aura of obscenity and invective that left those subjected to his withering diatribes gibbering, broken shadows of their former selves.

The incongruity of a bright yellow and orange shroud in Beethoven’s era was glossed over as an article of faith not to be questioned. The golden ‘M’ emblazoned on the front of the shroud was explained as an emblem of the Church’s supreme leader, and thus was the office of Il Maestro born.

It is towards the end of this period of consolidation that the Ludite Church, now confident in its ability to safely operate in the open, published its basic tenants. Prior to this, the articles of faith were passed down only orally, in the form of hauntingly beautiful cantatas.

Initial circulation of the tenants was poor due to the use of stone tablets as the medium of publication. This was quickly rectified by phasing in the use of parchment and paper.

The basic tenants are simple:

  • Only through Beethoven’s music can one find fulfillment
  • Beethoven shall return to this Earth to complete his Tenth Symphony, bringing harmony and peace to the world
  • To prevent false prophets from claiming to be the Bringer of the 10th Symphony, Beethoven cast upon the world the Curse of the Tenth Symphony
  • Thou shalt not write a Tenth Symphony before Beethoven’s return, and after His return, His 10th will be so perfect there’s no reason to finish yours
  • The Return of Beethoven will be known and heralded by the Ludite Church’s holy leader, Il Maestro

Surprisingly, from those five basic tenants, Church bureaucrats have derived eight thousand pages of rules and regulations. This includes, to mention but a few, minutiae on offices that can be held within the Church, proscribed and prescribed food stuffs, acceptable methods of travel for missionaries, hierarchy of techniques for indoctrination (ranging from ‘kill them with kindness’ to use of drugs and sleep deprivation to break resistance), and proper posture of orchestra members when performing Beethoven’s music.

But whatever you might think about the Ludite Church, there is one fact that no one disputes:

They have excellent taste in music.

Part 2 of this series, Indoctrination into the Ludite Faith, can be found here.
 
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Posted by on 29 July 2014 in Marlowe and the Spacewoman, Noir

 

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