Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

This week’s photo challenge is: On Top. We’re free to interpret this in any way we choose. So for me, nothing says “top” like “Top Predator.” Being lord of the skies, surveying the land for whatever you desire to take. How about being a Great Horned Owl or a Swainson’s Hawk…

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…or then again, if you’re a Pelican, and a Seagull is standing on your head, that’s “on top” too. ;)
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Photo Challenges are FUN! To participate, go here: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/on-top/

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Skywatch Friday

Taken near the Hamilton Pools in Central Texas. After enjoying the pools, we stopped to enjoy the flowers and the sky awhile.

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Wild Bird Wednesday #92

Some of the birds I was lucky enough to capture in recent travels.

Barred Owl
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Ladderback Woodpecker (F)
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White-Eyed Vireo
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House Finch
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Exchange Student

Written for the Friday Fictioneers. A story, about a strange exchange student, begins after the photo.

Genre: Science Fiction/Humor

Photo by: Douglas M. MacIlroy

Exchange Student

Natalie was concerned about the exchange student. His papers said he was from Bangladesh. Not being familiar with the country, Natalie just assumed everyone had those strange looking eyes. Still, she didn’t understand why he charged into his room to wear the diving helmet he put on so often.

She knocked on the door. “Are you alright, Ix’Halti’Thanex?” It was a weird name, but people in foreign countries had funny names.

“I’m okay!” he called.

In the room, Ix’Halti’Thanex breathed in the sweet smell of Ammonia in the mask.

“How do these Humans breathe?” he muttered, and he activated his FTL communicator.
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The Friday Fictioneers swim to shore every week to write up to 100 words of flash fiction from a writer-donated photo prompt: This week’s prompt can be found here: http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/18-april-2014/

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True Woman – The Speakeasy

Written for the Speakeasy.

True Woman

Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold. Snow still fell in April. Heedless of the slick surface, Janice Patton still exceeded the speed limit down the winding Pennsylvania road to work as she would all year round. Idly, she wondered why she took the risk. Was it because she believed she owned the skill to handle the treacherous road? Was it related to the nightmares that still plagued her, the dreams where she was tossed into a stinking dumpster, laying like a broken, unwanted doll?

As she came to skidding stop at Research Boulevard, she almost slid into the intersection. She mused idly that perhaps she still didn’t give a damn about herself. Her doctor had told her she could never conceive a child. She had a perfectly good womb, but nothing to put in it. In moments, her sense of self worth…died.

Yet, out of her black despair, she’d arisen like a phoenix. Driven by the nightmare of her condition, she pioneered a radical technique for conceiving children from DNA alone. At first, the press incorrectly called it cloning, but it wasn’t at all. Her process randomly combined the DNA of two people. Growing in their artificial wombs, the emerging children were cleansed of genetic diseases and abnormalities more easily than they could be in natural childbirth. Suddenly, couples who couldn’t have children, could have better, more attractive, children than anyone else. Though her professional star was rising, her nightmares persisted. She was so obsessed with finding a solution, somewhere along the way she forgot herself. Though she could’ve been her own first client, the thought never occurred to her.

Perhaps it was the members of Westbaum Baptist Church that distracted her too much. As she raced through the falling snow obscuring the last stoplight before her new company, she expected the religious fanatics to be picketing the gate as they did every day. As she slowed to turn in the drive, she noted they were suspiciously absent. No signs with religious quotes, no screaming, wide-eyed true believers harangued her as she drove through the gate. Idly, Janice wondered what was wrong with them.

Janice got out of her truck wearing weathered jeans, flannel shirt, no makeup, and her unruly hair in a ponytail. Since learning of her condition, sex no longer entered her mind. Her ambition to help others had taken it’s place. What was the point of sex if she couldn’t bear the fruit of it anyway? Though harshly self-critical, in her deepest heart, she didn’t feel female, not a true woman, and her appearance reflected that belief.

As she approached the entrance, she noted the door was broken, hanging off it’s hinges. Alarmed, she rushed inside.

She found the security guard laying in a pool of blood. He’d been shot in the arm, belly, chest, and finally in the head. At least 20 shell casings littered the floor. The attackers were terrible shots, she noted in her shock. She found her lab assistant, Sammy, down the hall with brochures still in his hand. They’d shot him many times, finally in the head from close range. They’d executed him while he was armed only with knowledge. She cried over his cold corpse for a time, and then she realized the true target of this murderous rampage.

In the lab, she found the twelve artificial wombs had been smashed, the growing lives inexpertly snuffed out with a crowbar. After careful inspection, womb #8 seemed largely intact, merely cracked. Quickly, she checked the status monitors. As Janice suspected, the wombs showed malfunctions, all except #8. As she watched artificial amniotic fluid oozing out, she realized the life inside wouldn’t stay that way for long. Her new business had no backup wombs to save that one last life. That one child was doomed…except…unless. She snatched a large syringe. There was little time before it was too late.

***

The country outside Greensboro was beautiful as Janice drove to her father’s ranch 40 miles outside the city. Cars passed her often as she drove 5 mph below the speed limit in the slow lane. She felt tired from the long drive, and decided to stop at a diner. It was risky to keep driving when fatigued. She parked and watched herself in the vanity mirror as she brushed out her hair and arranged it across her shoulders.

She stepped out of the truck, holding her swelling belly. As a warm spring breeze blew caressed her, she noted she finally felt female, and she smiled.
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Each week, The Speakeasy, offers up a writing challenge for up to 750 words of flash fiction. This week, the sentence, “Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold,” must begin the story. The media prompt below is must also be referenced in some way. I think I covered that. ;) This week’s prompt may be found here: http://www.yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/fiction-challenge-157-open/

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Caveat Latro – Write On Edge

Written for Write on Edge. A story, about an attempt to force the sale of land, begins after the image.

Genre: Science Fiction

Caveat Latro

Translation: Robber Beware

Randall Medrano rode the fence of his ranch on Plaxus IV like ranchers on Earth had done for centuries. Though, the curious biosphere of Plaxus that produced bluish trees also added many years to human longevity, it couldn’t keep him alive forever. He loved the beauty of his home of 118 years. Unfortunately, not everything about the planet was beautiful.

A skimmer approached him from the other side of the 20-foot divider fence, the northern side of his land that kept the cattle separate from that side of his land. As Randall faced his last years, perhaps his last months, younger and wealthier ranchers looked upon his land with greedy eyes. Far from government authority, some buyers were more aggressive than others about making a purchase. Watching the familiar skimmer, Randall brought his ATV to a halt and awaited the inevitable confrontation.

The skimmer stopped on the other side of the fence and two henchman, armed with high-powered guns, stepped out and stood behind the wealthy and portly Jedidiah Jones. The two ranchers greeted each other in classic style.

“Randall.”

“Jed.”

Silence.

A hawk flew by overhead.

“I really wish you’d reconsider my offer, Randall.”

“Told you I’m givin’ it to my granddaughter.

“Well. The law of Plaxus says the land gotta be owned by folks whut live here.”

“She’ll be here with the supply ship in two months. She’ll be a citizen then.”

Jedidiah placed his hands on his belt beside his gun. “Trouble is, if’n you die before then, your land goes to the highest bidder. That’d be me.”

“You threatenin’ me, Jed?”

Jedidiah spat on the ground. “You could just sell to me, but…yeah. I s’pose I am.”

Randall spat too, but further. “I believe that’s called robbery, Jed.”

“Call it what you will.”

“‘We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided,’” Randall quoted. “We should help each other, not fight like this.”

“Horse-shit! It’s just business.”

“You couldn’t work this land. You don’t know nuthin’ about it.”

Jedidiah pointed at the cattle grazing nearby Randall. “It’s just a cattle ranch, Randall.”

“It’s not a cattle ranch, dumbshit.” Randall pointed at the cattle. “Them’s the feed.”

Jedidiah looked perplexed. “Whut? What the hell do you feed cattle to?”

“Eustreptospondylus.”

“Whut?”

“Eustrepto…”

“I heard you,” grated Jedidiah. “I never figured you for an algae farmer.”

“Not algae. Dinosaurs.” He pointed behind Jedidiah. “Like them right there.”

Jedidiah and his men spun around to see five of the 20-foot long carnivorous dinosaurs stalking towards them. The 1,400 pound predators looked hungry.

“Rich folks pay top-dollar for ‘em,” said Randall. “But they eat a lotta cattle.” He aimed an EMP gun. It only made a *click* sound before it rendered the electronics of their guns and vehicle inoperable. “Come to think of it, they’ll eat just about anything that moves.”

“Help me, dammit!”

Randall shook his head. “Help? ‘Horse-shit,’ Jed. It’s just business.”
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Author’s Note:
Eustreptospondylus:

Every week, Write on Edge offere a new writing prompt with a quote and an image as cues or inspiration. My splash photo in the media prompt, and I used the quote, “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided,” directly. This week’s prompt may be found here: http://writeonedge.com/2014/03/writing-prompt-2014-week-13/

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Total Lunar Eclipse (Blood Moon)

In the night sky on April 15, 2014, there was a Total Lunar Eclipse. A Blood Moon. Shey and I stayed up until 2AM just to see it.

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A Lunar Eclipse is described here: http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/total-lunar-eclipse.html

Although the Moon is a dark object, it can be seen in the sky most of the time because its surface reflects the Sun’s rays back to Earth. During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth moves between the Sun and the Moon, so no direct sunlight gets through to the Moon and its entire visible surface is enveloped in the darkest, central part of the Earth’s shadow – the umbra….The Moon is still visible in the night sky during totality. Although the Earth blocks all direct sunlight from the Moon’s surface, some rays find their way onto the Moon via the Earth’s atmosphere. Parts of the sunlight’s spectrum are blocked or filtered out during this process, red being the remaining frequency under normal circumstances. This accounts for the usual appearance of a totally eclipsed Moon as a copper-red orb.

Whenever you have a Total Lunar Eclipse, you get a Blood Moon
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A little bit of Moon Folklore: http://witcheslore.com/bookofshadows/witches-workshop/the-magic-of-the-moon/2499/

There is the legend of the Moon Maiden who collects the wishes and dreams of all living creatures on earth, they are then dropped into a goblet and swirled together before they are sprinkled back on Earth and become dew. The German goddess Frigg is said to live on the Moon spinning the lives of mankind, while the Chinese goddess Ch’ang O stole the potion of immortality from her husband. She drank every drop and flew to the Moon to escape, she now lives there contentedly after being given refuge by the hare who resides on the Moon.

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