Brief Update and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

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Brief Update

The good news is that I’m still improving, with no backward whomp. The bad news is that it’s really slow, so I plan to call the doctor tomorrow and ask for more/stronger antibiotic since I only have one and a half days left.  On the good side, tonight I should be able to resume my night-duties at instapundit.  And I might be able to get some writing, cover work and publishing done, though I’m trying hard not to push it.  Truly I am.  I’d LIKE to go to the zoo, and we have a friend in town whom we need to meet.

We shall see.

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: grow

57 responses to “Brief Update and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. *Thumbs up* Take care and get better. 🙂

  2. Pic brings to mind “Nellie in her nightie” the “Spirit” hood ornament on Rolls Royces.

  3. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Idris linked his mind to the damaged Keep-Stone.

    His opponent expect Idris to directly challenge his control of the Keep-Stone.

    Idris knew by healing/repairing the Keep-Stone his influence over the Keep-Stone would grow and thus challenge his control of the Keep-Stone.

  4. “Why won’t it grow??”
    “Well, we don’t exactly have the atmosphere for it, here.”
    “What do you mean? That spiny, blood-sucking crap grows just fine!”
    “Last I checked, a daisy isn’t a spiny, blood-sucking crap plant. Maybe try something more vicious, like a Venus Fly-trap?”

  5. I grow tired. Tired and restless, in the sense that I can’t rest, even though I’m tired. I am…Bibendum! Rolling over, and over, and over, and over…

  6. “What the hell is this?” Tristan stared in bewilderment at the black spherical object in his hand.

    “It’s an apple. Trust me,” said Jon. Tristan sighed, but took a tentative bite; when his face brightened, Jon nodded. “Everybody does that,” he said. “Part of the gengineering so the trees would grow under red sunlight. The plan was only to turn the leaves black, but….” He shrugged. “Life is essentially a quantum-indeterminate state, in practice.”

    • I don’t know about trusting somebody trying to get me to eat an apple. I’ve heard that can lead to trouble.

      • As long as they don’t say it will make you like God.

      • The Apples of Hesperides and the Apples of Idun were both supposed to bestow immortality. On the other hand, both of them were supposedly golden, not black. On the gripping hand, under what lighting conditions does gold appear black?

        • Maybe in an oil well? Shades of Tintin’s Land of Black Gold.

        • “On the gripping hand, under what lighting conditions does gold appear black?”
          Or vice versa.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_dress
          “About a week before the wedding of couple Grace and Keir Johnston of Colonsay, Scotland, the bride’s mother, Cecilia Bleasdale, took a photograph of a dress she planned to wear to the wedding and sent it to her daughter. After disagreements over the perceived colour of the dress in the photograph, the bride posted the image on Facebook, and her friends also disagreed over the colour; some saw it as white with gold lace, while others saw it as blue with black lace.[5][6] For a week, the debate became well known in Colonsay, a small island community.”

  7. BobtheRegisterredFool

    The space navy is switching to plant based warships that respond to singing.

    “Grow, Grow, Grow your boat…”

  8. Walter and Lucinda looked out over the happy families enjoying the Sunnyside Nudist Resort.
    “So”, Walter said, “How do we grow to the next level?”
    Lucinda replied, gazing at the crescent Earth glowing over the horizon, “We’ve got to figure out what to do during the two weeks of night.”

  9. SheSellsSeashells

    I tamped down the soil with my usual mantra–“Grow, dammit!”–stuck a marker into the ground, and creaked upright.

    The marker thumped against my head, and I spun to see a thumb-sized being with indignantly narrowed eyes, a white-streaked beard, and an incongruous set of dragonfly wings. “LANGUAGE, missy!”

    50 words, I am proud.

  10. Sorry, more than a vignette and off-topic, but I promised Herbn that I’d share one of my short stories. So here’s a link to The Gardener’s Wife: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1ioSn1UXH1oIwF0gLFlVdjX2_qgSEYiEI

  11. As a side note, I will be posting what I’ve finished with Solist At Large on 2/14, for Valentines Day. It’ll be in the Slush Pile at Baen’s Bar and it will be what I can get done for the final push to the finish.

    Anyways, a small vignette/snippet…

    For a good thirty seconds, there is this lovely disconnected feeling when I look in the mirror. The sensation is something like watching a movie or a video game, when you’re looking in a mirror of your character, and you can’t quite believe what you’re seeing. Your perceptions are off, like you’re poorly pulling the strings of a puppet that you should have no sensation of feedback.

    The girl whose eyes I’m viewing things through is young…if she’s sixteen, I’d be very surprised. Probably fourteen or fifteen years old. Her hair is short, almost pageboy in cut and length, and is a luxurious nut-butter brown to my normal dark blonde. Eyes as blue as liquid oxygen look out of a face where grey eyes should be, skin is a white porcelain color that has to be from the shock that she is feeling but looks like she should have the slightest natural rose blush to it. Her skin is unmarked, unblemished by time or injury or harm. Her breasts have the perky look of a young woman who is still developing, large enough to be very interesting without being too massive, her areolas barely larger than a quarter. And, she is fully female, as both visual and a tactile examination can confirm.

    Her hands reach up, and start to stroke her face, and it is the double sensation of the touch of her hand and the feeling of the fingers on her face that jerk me into full awareness and I realize that this is my body. All of it.

    I can see myself grow even more pale in the mirror and a second later, I pivot swiftly and throw up in the toilet.

    And, puking and trying to breath through the nausea is how I come back to the world.

    • Um… Most women who haven’t gotten pregnant or breastfed have pigmented areas that size. Even ladies with very large breasts. Some kinds of development only occur with pregnancy hormones. There is some difference according to ethnic group.

      So I am assuming that is part of the worldbuilding.

      (Not a biggie. Not nearly as odd as Ringo thinking caffeine stops cramps for all women, instead of causing it for about half; or Williamson thinking shoulder straps are the architectural support portion of a bra.)

  12. “Day by day one’s knowledge grows,” said Rosine. “When I was a child, I would not have been astounded to see a city and the rock it stood on floating in midair, with chains binding it to the ground, and a waterfall flowing from it, through some white-clad wizard’s work.”

  13. This is the best grow ever! Unbelievable scent! Blazing high! What’s the story?

    Well, it started out as a cutting from the Original Santa Cruz Haze. Then, it was cross-pollinated with purple Thai plants grown from seed. And – according to legend – it grew through the roof and kissed the sky.

  14. Julie woke suddenly with full sunlight on her closed eyelids, growing alarmed. She opened her eyes, looked about and gasped: The rest of the castle was floating away from her bedroom into the cloudy distance, trailing the chains that were supposed to keep it in place, yet allow a safe escape in event of an emergency, according to the structural engineering wizard.

    On the other hand, that racket behind her was growing, steel upon steel and shouts. Maybe this was an emergency. But why didn’t her bedroom leave with the rest of the castle? Curious.

  15. “It’s just a trickle. No offense to any of you who have to jockey your wagons up and down that thing; you’re doing your best. But it’s slow, more than half a day each way, and -”

    Larum let Kadril’s growing frustration slide past him. He’d felt the same things, this morning, anyway, inching his wagon down the falls-road. And he’d felt, and heard, the same things before, and his father and grandfather, too. It was the price of living on the Little Blackrock; it always had been.

    One of the river-men cut in. “I’ve never seen these falls. How high are they, then?”

    “The drop’s fifty feet or so.’ Hodri was quick to answer. “A hundred or so for the cliff. Why?”

    “Well, up at Kolmeet some of the city people put a canal ‘round the rapids. Just opened last year. Don’t have to line the boats up and down no more. It really helps.”

    “And how big’s the drop?”

    “Twenty feet in a mile.”

    Hodri looked sharply at the boatman. “How do they keep that from turning into a log-flume?”

    “They have some new thing they call an impound lock.” The man pushed the strange word out slowly. “It’s got a gate at each end and they let water in and out slow-like t’ lift the boat.”

    Kadril promptly threw cold water on the fire of growing interest around the tables. “We’ve got five times the drop, and that rock is a nightmare to work. It’s not called blackrock for nothing. You can see for yourself, Hodri uses a piece as a door-stop. Nobody even knows when or how the road was cut in. The god-mages, some say, or elves.”

    Most of the listeners turned back to their food after that, but Larum’s mind was still busy. Hodri had a thoughtful cast to his face, and so did Hald. Brito Davric, who owned one of the two warehouses, was thinking with his face, though he’d said nothing.

    Could mages break that rock? He supposed they could, but could they get mages to do it? Mages, and their terrible drums, were the realm of nobles and kings –

    The kings are gone, and the nobles overthrown, for nineteen years now, Larum, and the mages are still here.

    He resolved to talk to the boatman, before he left.

  16. I crawled back out of the remains of the silo with the messenger bag in my hand. A curious thing to find, damp and dirty, surely but not the ingrained soiling I would have expected. How long had it been there? The silo had been unused for ten or more years.

    The sudden growling of the dog interrupted my thoughts.

    I turned as Simon yelled, “Drop it, whatever it is.” I let go just in time as the dog let out one last growl and launched himself ….

  17. He stood in the park wearing a tie-dyed headband and carrying the biggest broadsword I’d ever seen.
    “I am the great to the 50th generation descendant of Groo the Wanderer!” he proclaimed.
    “Yes, but what’s you’re name?”
    “Groo is past tense. I am present. That makes me Grow the Wanderer!”

    • The soft hiss of steam from the irrigation system was the only sound in a field only lit by the reflected light from their world’s gas-giant primary. Here on Tharishon terrestrial crops could grow only if kept sufficiently warm through the long, cold nights.

      The ingenuity of Codylanders never ceased to amaze the agricultural attaché from Illini University. Elsewhere on this icy world, people dig trenches alongside the rows of crops and warmed them as best they could. But here every farm had it’s network of pipes distributing steam to fill the air with an ever-present mist of warmth.

  18. The question is “Who gets to decide?”

    But Is It Human?
    By Sarah Hoyt
    When I was little, my dad told me about Spartan infanticide: How a new baby was brought to the father, who then either accepted/recognized him/her or directed that the child be killed.

    I wasn’t that little, and this was by the way of being a joke on the fact that I was premature, very small and would never have survived. While old enough to understand the joke, I thought it was a barbaric and despicable system, putting the life of a newborn in the hands of a flawed individual who might just not feel really cordial that day, or kill the child for monetary and convenience reasons.

    I was very glad we no longer lived in such a barbarous age.

    For a while now, I’ve suspected I was wrong. Governor Northam’s speech was only the glaringly obvious slap in the face to prove that indeed and in fact, we do very much live in a world like Sparta’s. Only these days it’s not the father who gets to decide, but the mother.

    You see, lacking a solid point at which we declare that life in the womb is/isn’t human, we have defaulted by degrees to “It’s human if it’s wanted.” Specifically, if it’s wanted by the mother.

    Unfortunately, this opens the door to atrocity. …

    • Retroactive abortion of progressive politicians is justifiable to protect the physical and mental health of the American people.

    • Frankly, I find it appalling that we have healthy babies toddling around today who have been separated at 22 weeks, and there is simultaneously even the slightest discussion of abortion at 23 weeks +.

      Much as politicians want to keep the abortion window open, I think medical progress has been gradually closing it. If we simply remade the law to say that termination of a pregnancy through killing the fetus was illegal after the point where the fetus could be safely removed from its mother and successfully raised, a large amount of the moral trauma and tortured legal decisions might be avoided.

  19. From the current work in progress, which refuses to end:

    “You don’t get us at all, do you?” said Brunhilde, taking one of Sandra’s hands. “We can see your brain work in slow motion. I’m tracking your synapses one after the other right now. For us machines, talking to you humans is like farming. We say a word, water it with some body language, then go away for a few days. When we come back, our word grew and you say a word.”

    “Farming?” grumbled Sandra.”Very complimentary.”

  20. Regarding antibiotics — bacteria evolve resistance to antibiotics…..but they evolve resistance to faddish antibiotics of today and the recent past, while losing resistance to old-school antibiotics or ones that were never that popular. When I was a teen (I’m scant days older than SAH), they were handing out tetracycline like candy. In my 30s and 40s, the go-to antibiotic for anything was amoxicillin. Accordingly, these have always worked hesitantly, slowly, and poorly for me.

    On the other hand, sulfa (despite only placing bacteria at a competitive disadvantage and not killing them) did comparatively well for me, [until I broke out in spots with a fever]. Cephalosporins also worked like historical accounts of antibiotics used to relate (two days = I’m fine; take the full 5 days to exterminate any bugs that have partial resistance), and have continued to do so.

    So, although I’m not a doctor and haven’t stayed at a Holiday Inn Express recently, I’d advise you to request an oddball antibiotic family from your doctor.

    • From what medical things I follow (not much, son had better know MUCH more) this seems a reasonable line of investigation. There is a gotchya: Some of the really Old School antibiotics are really broad-spectrum and do the equivalent of nuking everything – even the beneficial stuff, which makes life interesting in new (and, of course, less than pleasant) ways.

      • ___Remembers the gut-clearing effect of the antibiotics (clindamycin and a cephalosporin) received after an appendectomy in 1976. Not clear if the medical team thought that was a bug or a feature. Post surgery, could have gone either way.

        I had to rebuild the gut micro-ecology while getting Lomotil for that. Sigh. Further adventures with Keflex (the go-to caphalosporin I encountered) indicate it was the guilty party. As I’ve noticed, eating yogurt makes it a bit less enthusiastic in the side effects.

        FWIW, sulfa drugs include a warning to avoid much sunlight. Sunburn, I think.

        • I don’t recall that (not saying it isn’t the case) but I do recall being told, repeatedly, that when on sulfa, drink water and plenty of it. Seems sulfa has a tendency to crystallize in the kidneys (ouch!) if not flushed. Yep, drank lots of water.

          • Might have been another drug, or limited to one specific antibiotic. I’ve had a fair number of different meds inflicted on my body over the years. It’s hard to keep track of the old side effects if they’re not absolutely horrible.

      • Heh, And then you get to take those expensive other people’s poop pills to repopulate your gastrointestinal track. eeeyyyuuu!

  21. analytical-engine-mechanic

    Davida Carstairs looked up from planting a forest — thigh-high oak seedlings cobbled together from half a dozen or so natural species, fast-growing and evergreen down to 0°F or thereabouts — at the dazzling-white, moon-long needle rising eagerly over the western horizon. “Never gets old, that sight,” she said. She hadn’t even needed the reminder, which she blinked away quickly using the interface on her (otherwise quite old-fashioned) eyeglasses.

    Eszter Saharov (no relation) turned around, looked, and smiled. “Bringer of life to these far-away barrens, ought to have a more mythological name than just ‘Orchard of Atlantis.'” She’d been ‘planting’ something more overtly man-made than the trees, a six-foot-high sensory interlink nodepoint with ‘limbs’ made of multi-gigahertz antennas. And though it wasn’t a new exchange for them, it did help to dispel their presence in immensity. Not simply the only two human beings for a dozen-mile horizon around this spot, but also part of the only colony for fifty light-years around them.

    Since the huge advantage of the Westenra Drive was its zero-time transport. Not only faster than light, or even back in time in some frames, but (in the one special “Mach frame” shared by the cosmic background radiation) in exactly zero Absolute Time — Isaac Newton redux. Which meant (‘mong other things) you could easily reach quite far to pick the ripest planetary fruit, so to speak.

    Except this project wasn’t truly one of those, after all. Near-twin planets, just a touch bigger than Mars and not too much heavier, semi-artificial atmosphere and the exosphere chillers to keep it in place, Barsoom and Arcadia were a bit more… high-maintenance than most terraformable colony planets. This time the challenge had appealed, and the Transatlantic Exo-Eco-Eng Consortium (TAJEEEC, the “Joint” intercalated to make it pronounceable as “Tadzhik”) had plumped for a 50% larger thirty-mile arkology ship and the heavy-jumper time to transport it in-system.

    The semi-robot assistant beebled at her (a tone code that the originators of a certain turn-of-the-millennium vaudeodrama series would’ve been mystified to know traced back to them), do you want me to change out the supplies? Her hand-held planter was barely more sophisticated, at the bedrock functional level, than a 20th-century ‘tobacco setter’ — she chose the sites, placed it and pulled the trigger, it dug out the native gravel soil and exchanged it for grow-soil and a seedling and a dose of water and supplements.

    But it allowed the overall system to ‘watch and learn’ as she chose spots, and then watch further as the seedling grew, better or worse or not, to inform the much wider-scale and more automated plantings to come.
    Which, along with the experience she and Eszter were gaining personally, was the most of the entire exercise, far beyond planting seedlings on ten-foot or so spacing centers (almost) by hand.

    Davida whistled (ease of long practice) the “tee-oo” level+descending ‘wait a short bit’ code; then as she watched the ‘Orchard’ pass nearly over their heads, its length covering three degrees of sky some five hunded miles up, added to her other companion, “Quite an innovative degree of oversight, all this.”

    Eszter, her own gaze locked on the dazzling length of the ‘Appleseed’ (as her nickname here ran), laughed with interest. “Maybe not so much after all. Back there somewhere in Jewish lore, in the oral tradition or maybe the writings of the sages, there’s a passage like this: ‘There is not a blade of grass that hasn’t its very own angel hovering always over it, whispering, grow! grow!'”

    Davida turned to Eszter, still clearly visible in the four-hour twilight of a world with a forty-hour day. With a sudden merry grin of her own.

    “Then actually, I hope so. We can surely use all the help we can get here .” On a rolling gravel-and-sand plain broken only by moss and lichen, and now trees.
    (For my ship is so small, runs the old mariner’s prayer, and Thy ocean so vast.)

    (Based on a few pre-existing background elements.
    And somewhat delayed by a sudden feline death in the family. Rest well, Inky of the flippy tail and mile-wide yawn.)

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