Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

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*Sorry to be so late. Yes, I actually slept last night. OTOH this morning I had a bunch of errands to do which I’ve been putting off because going to the grocery store (say) while sleepy enough to walk into walls is a bad thing.
Fortunately I don’t have to feel terrible about not promoting people on time, since I have no books to promote today.  I guess like me everyone was overcome by the forces of evil in the new year.
Okay, now I go finish short stories. – SAH*

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: Whispering.

67 thoughts on “Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

        1. I’m using my own set for the CO governor. (I was going to add “That great southern pansy” in the Pratcheterian sense. Then realized that it could be taken as an anti-gay slur.
          So I’ll explain, not all gays are pansies. Not all pansies are gay. But Jared Pollis is a great southern pansy. ONE WHO SHOULD STOP TRYING TO MAKE US CA BUT HARDER AND FASTER.)

    1. (assuming you are talking about VA)

      Jackass is trying to get a casus belli.

      Apparently someone was shooting off artillery just west of Richmond today. Now there is a way a making your voice heard…

      1. he’s literally letting the central VA AntiFa come to ‘show support’ for the 2nd amendment demonstrators. There is no word at all on plans to keep them separated.

        Also, they are arbitrarily limiting the number of demonstrators allowed in Capital Square.

        If you show up with a firearm, you will be turned away from Capital Square but are free to wander around the surrounding area ‘demonstrating’- what, does he think we’re as unhinged as CNN tells him we are, and we’re going to wander around shooting robbing and lynching people?

        A quote from Admiral Ackbar comes to mind. I will NOT be driving Uber tomorrow.

        1. 7Hills is protesting alongside the rest. Yes, this is one of the vanishingly rare cases when Antifa can be treated as something other than absolute enemies.

          Sadly the person who would have been Speaker-to-Antifa isn’t able to go due to illness. But the people the ground know the situation and are planning according.

      2. If it does come down to armed rebellion I can’t imagine Trump supporting Northam. The only question is whether he sends the military to arrest the governor or tells the Guard to sit it out while the citizenry takes care of business themselves.

        1. Glenn Reynolds had an interesting comment on this last night:

          NORTHAM’S REALLY TURNED OUT TO BE SCUM. How a Democratic Governor and the Mainstream Media Tried to Delegitimize a Civil Rights Rally Before It Even Started. “Northam probably knows more about white supremacy than I do, given his history, but this is starting to get ridiculous.”

          UPDATE: So I’m wondering: What if Virginians rebelled and overthrew Northam’s government? It’s unlikely, but if they did, federal intervention is also unlikely. There have been two such cases in American history — the Dorr Rebellion in Rhode Island, and the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898, and in both cases the federal government didn’t intervene. To intervene, the president would have to make a declaration under the Insurrection Act, and there’s no obligation that he do so. And the question of which state government is legitimate is, according to the Supreme Court’s decision in Luther v. Borden, political and non-justiciable.

          Which means that if Northam were to be physically removed from office and a new state government put in in his place — possibly with a new legislature — it would be up to Trump to decide whether to restore the status quo ante, or to recognize the new state government as legitimate.

          This probably won’t matter, but it’s worth noting, and I doubt very much that Ralph “Coonman” Northam has thought about it at all.

          Posted at 10:06 pm by Glenn Reynolds
          Embedded links available at https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/355128/

          1. well at this point he is attempting to stop people from being able to petition their state government for redress of grievances, so he’s got an actual violation that can be used to recall him….

      3. They think themselves clever, they choose to believe the 2nd A supporters are as docile and easily quailed as themselves. They choose poorly.

        Virginia legislation seeks to restrict number of outdoor gun ranges
        Legislation proposed in early January by a Virginia Democratic lawmaker could effectively limit the number of outdoor gun ranges in the commonwealth through local governments by rezoning property for residential use.

        The bill was authored by Democratic state Sen. John Bell, whose district covers portions of Loudoun and Prince William counties. According to Bell’s legislation, outdoor ranges would not be able to operate within 500 yards of any property zoned for residential use unless the Range Design Criteria established by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Health, Safety, and Security have been met.

        The bill defines outdoor ranges as “any partially enclosed or unenclosed area or facility designed for the use of rifles, shotguns, pistols, silhouettes, skeet, trap, black powder, or any other similar sport shooting.”

        The state of Virginia offers more than 70 outdoor shooting ranges to the public. The Washington Examiner reached out to Bell’s office for comment, as several of the outdoor ranges are located in his district, but did not hear back.

        Mark Oliva, director of public affairs of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearms industry, told the Washington Examiner, “The key language [in the bill] is any property zoned for residential use.”

        He argued, “That language would allow a county commission to simply change the zoning designation to regulate out the existence or potential for a small business outdoor range to operate.”

        Oliva added that ranges set up on private properties could be considered a violation of the law, pointing to the language that defines an “outdoor range” in the bill.

        “This language is unclear if this applies strictly to a commercial, county, state, or federal outdoor range,” he said. “That seems to apply to private parties who are participating in recreational shooting on their own property, making them subject to fines of up to $1,000,000 for the first violation and an additional $5,000 each day following.”

        Oliva added, “This is an attempt to legislate out of existence the opportunity to learn and participate in the recreational shooting sports and limit the ability of law-abiding Virginians to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”

        Another Virginia Democratic lawmaker also proposed legislation that would regulate private indoor gun ranges to no more than 50 employees and require the range to collect and maintain personal information of each individual that uses the range.

        Since Democrats took over majorities of both chambers in the Virginia legislature in November, a slew of gun control bills have been put forth amid outcry from pro-gun protesters in the commonwealth. Virginia’s state Senate has already passed three of these bills.

        Second Amendment activists from the Virginia Citizens Defense League are expected to attend the state’s annual “Lobby Day” in Richmond, as they have each year, on Monday, to speak to their legislators and rally.

        1. They think themselves clever, they choose to believe the 2nd A supporters are as docile and easily quailed as themselves. They choose poorly.

          Why would they not think this? Conservatives always fold, especially gun owners. And they generally know approximately zilch about effective political activity. That became clear almost as soon as I got a peek into some of the left’s methods.

          The violence on/off switch is no different than if some country completely disbanded its military, and relied purely on nuclear deterrents to defend itself. That country would be forced into the choice of using nukes on trivial threats, or having to nuke its own cities to stop the advancing tanks.

          If this were the result of conscious planning I would start at mental retardation and get more insulting from there, but “fortunately” it is merely the result of temperament.

          1. If this were the result of conscious planning I would start at mental retardation and get more insulting from there, but “fortunately” it is merely the result of temperament.


            I think it’s more a matter of living in a fantasy world where they are always Right and nothing they do can ever go Wrong.

            That, and dancing on Bloomberg’s puppet strings.

            What I truly fear is that somebody among them does have a clue, and there will be an ‘incident’ which is instantly blamed on ‘gun rights activists’ — carefully leaving out the fact that it was perpetrated by left-wing stooges.

            I remember the Reichstag Fire.
            ———————————
            Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do remember history are doomed to watch everybody else repeat it.

                1. I hope everyone is not just alert but recording video.

                  That’s something they’ve not had to deal with ere now.

                  It’s a game changer.

            1. I think it’s more a matter of living in a fantasy world where they are always Right and nothing they do can ever go Wrong.

              You seem to have missed who I was talking about. It wasn’t the left — they have their own lunacy — but the right’s backing themselves into a corner and chaining themselves to said corner.

              1. Well, if you consider insisting that the 2nd Amendment means exactly what the plain words say to be ‘chaining themselves into a corner’…

                If the Constitution has been shoved into a corner, I’ll be in that corner.
                ———————————
                Prohibition did not work on alcohol, what makes those idiots believe it would work any better on guns?

                1. #MeToo.

                  Better “chained in a corner” with the Constitution than “lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot”

                2. What are you even talking about? Did you read anything I wrote?

                  Let me spell it out then:

                  1. People on the right treat violence as an on/off switch. The left treats it as a dimmer. This is not a controversial idea on this blog.

                  2. This means that the only significant responses the right has are to either fold, or kill everyone.

                  3. This means that for 99.999999999% of political engagements the right has no choice but to retreat.

                  4. This means that the right inevitably ends up with their back to the wall, praying that lighting the blue touch paper won’t kill too many people.

                  This has nothing to do with whether the 2nd means what it says, or that people are allowed to wear sleeveless shirts. Though on/off has resulted in things being a lot closer to the sleeveless shirt side of the scale.

                  1. For the TL:DR crowd, this is historically expressed as:


                    Don’t Make Us Angry – You Wouldn’t Like Us When We’re Angry

                  2. People on the right treat violence as an on/off switch.


                    People on the right recognize that violence is an on/off switch. They didn’t make it that way.

                    The left treats it as a dimmer.


                    Which is why they are idiots. Once violence is unleashed, there is no ‘turning it down’, no controlling or containing it. The beasts howl for blood, and they will spill it.

                    Violence is the first response of the left when people disagree with their bullshit. Conservatives know that violence must be the last resort, when all else has failed and the enemy is attacking. At which point, it has already dropped in the dunny.
                    ———————————
                    It takes two to make peace. It only takes one to make war.

                    1. Which would be why the right’s option is to say for the 208434th time “No, don’t do this, we really mean it this time.”.

                      Anyone who expects the Enemy to back down rather than laughing in their face after doing that doesn’t get to claim wisdom in anything. If you refuse to punch a bully back because all violence is the same you don’t get to complain about his abuse.

                    2. And anyone who wants to throw it all away — everything we’ve been doing for the last several years — by going hot because why the fuck not? is AT BEST at agent provocateur. Should I check your credentials?

                    3. Never said it was. I routinely have to internet-smack people with the cluebat of world-is-not-ending.

                      My gripe is that the right has had at least a century to learn from the left what works and what doesn’t. But “zomg that is tainted knowledge!” (who cares if it might just happen to be true) and muh law abiding (regardless of what the law actually was*) were too important.

                      As for Illinois, it has been garbage long before I was born, and will be garbage long after my great-great-great-grand children are dead. Unless someone discovers a new fault line around Chicago.

                      * I complain, and yet own an AR without the dreaded third hole…..

                    4. And I don’t see anyone saying knowledge is tainted.

                      The big example in times past of Rules for Radicals. As I understand it that started changing about the time of the Tea Party. See also: the right becoming less retarded with each passing year.

                      JUST don’t go hot. We. Don’t. Go. Hot. First.

                      “Going hot”, at least in the usual meaning would indeed be a terrible idea.

                      Things like (to use possibilities that were discussed pre-rally) refusing to submit to illegal orders at a rally…. well that gets very situational.

                      It also directly ties to the on/off vs dimmer problem. Because on/off means that “going hot” is all you have.

                    5. Some of us have read Rules for Radicals. I’m not using too much effort to apply them, because I’m lazy and have novels to write.
                      BUT Trump applies them like a dream.
                      Don’t count us out.

          2. Ian is under the delusion that because he’s not aware of plans for effective resistance there aren’t any.

  1. going to the store not a wake, no problem. (so you bump into a few walls, they can take. besides I do that when i’m awake)
    going to the store when your hungry, now that is a mistake.
    many years ago my wife sent me to get milk. I got $60 worth of groceries, and forgot the milk. she sent me back, with a list (one word list).
    second lesson learned, always take a list. if it is not on the list, it’s not my fault

    1. Third lesson! If it is on the list, but I didn’t add enough specifics to get what I wanted, it’s my fault, not the helpful husband who went shopping with the list!

      I cannot expect my husband to know I want 1 dozen large eggs if all I put is “eggs”. If he returns from Sam’s Club with a gigantic box… my fault, not his! The proper response to 64 eggs is “I am so sorry! I wasn’t precise enough! Thank you for doing what I asked!” followed by “Hmmm, quiches freeze… and I can make devilled eggs for the next group dinner…”

      My marriage has been greatly helped by this rule.

  2. Adam snapped off the car radio, cutting the song between “Like the whispering wind” and “you sent to me” — leaving silence except the whispering tires. “Moby , Carole King, Mandy Barnett, the phucking Platters – voices in my head keep whispering to kill the next songwriter abusing that cliché.”

    1. I like it — you’ve managed to quote song lyrics without needing to worry about copyright and permissions, for the simple reason that those particular lyrics are so overused that nobody can claim originality.

  3. Through the link with his teacher, Țepeș heard the whispers.

    “Who What are they” Tepes asked.

    His Teacher Varnae answered “They are the humans and Ultras that I have enthralled. They are both useful and dangerous to me.”

    Tepes responded “I understand their usefulness no matter how terrible it is to enthrall them, but what is the danger.”

    Varnae replied “Dangerous both because it is tempting to gather more risking that I might attempt to enthrall somebody who reject the enthrallment thus threaten he and because the more I enthrall the more dangerous I become to my fellow Ancients & other Ultras. I could in theory take on and destroy most of my fellow Ancients but even I could be destroyed if they join forces against me. Of course, if they are joined by large numbers of the Ultras of this era my death would quickly follow.”

    “I see and the same could happen to me if I went too far”.

    “Indeed, my young student.”

  4. It wasn’t anything that he could consciously recognize as voices. And it wasn’t the wind; the air moved only enough to push the mist and fairy dust along the safe paths through the forest. Nevertheless, he could almost swear that the whispering noises were laughing. At him and his quest.

  5. “So those are the Whispering Pines?” Bob asked, looking at the small stand of trees.

    “Actually, those aren’t Pines – those are the Whispering Spruce,” Mary said while parking the car. “A few years ago the Whispering Pines got Pine Beetle, at which point they stopped whispering and started screaming. The neighbors started complaining about the noise, but before the Town Council could make up their minds to do anything there was a mysterious fire. Then there was yet louder screaming, but only for a short time. The Horticultural Mage Association said the beetles would come right back if they planted Pines again, so they went with Spruce this time, plus towards the back over there they planted a grove of Whispering Oak, but they only whisper when they have leaves.”

    Mary and Bob got out of the car and walked towards the trees. As Bob walked closer he started to hear the whispers. He concentrated with his eyes closed, then they popped open and he looked at Mary.

    “Wait, are those commercials?”

    “Yeah, the Spruce made a deal to get regular pesticide spraying treatments to protect the stand from Spruce Blight Worm, so they do ads to pay for that. They are not too bad – they’ll get back to the regular topics pretty quick. Be glad it’s winter – the Oaks do rap sessions to pay for their Sudden Oak Death treatments, and Oaks can’t rap worth a darn.”

  6. I’m hoping to have something for next week. I’d hoped to already be re-releasing my old stuff by now, but dealing with contractors on the storm damage repairs have been making it difficult to get other stuff done.

    And fractal flame rendering software has a definite learning curve. I use a Mac, so instead of Apophysis I’m using a program called Oxidizer. It generates fractal flames in a more organic way — you use a random number “seed” to generate a “gene pool” of sixteen fractal flames in thumbnail, then “breed” them to create other fractal flames. I’m starting to put together a decent-sized library of images, and I’m hoping to start working on new covers later this week.

  7. Living in an artificial habitat took some getting used to, even one as big as Shepardsport. There was the ever-present whir of the fans in the life-support systems, just at the threshold of hearing. Just loud enough that your brain was always trying to process it into something understandable. More than once Tara was sure she could hear voices, like the Mean Girls back at school whispering about her.

    Rand hadn’t been surprised when she’d cautiously broached it to him. It was just the auditory equivalent of the phenomenon by which people saw faces and objects in the shape of clouds or ink blots, and she shouldn’t worry about it.

  8. “Come,” said the voice, oh so softly. “Come. Away from gaudy day, away from glaring noon, away from fickle footing.” The leaves rustled, showing where they shadowed the solid rock.
    “Wake up!”
    Minette blinked, and realized that she stood, bare-foot, on the floor, her hands reaching for the door’s latch.

  9. At the halfway point, I manage to find my way to the punch and finger foods and pour myself a glass to drink. “Are you enjoying yourself?” a voice asks me from behind, in Japanese.

    To my credit, I don’t throw my punch anywhere or snort any of it down the wrong pipe, but I am startled. I turn around, and Sayuri looks at me, and raises her fingers to cover her smile. “I am, even when my friend is going to get me in trouble over spilling punch on me,” I reply, and Sayuri lowers her hands to reveal just the faintest hint of a smile.

    “I do have some good news,” Sayuri points out. “I have figured out who has succeeded in her palace coup against Tropolie-san.”

    Her chin twitches slightly, pointing behind me, and I turn to look around. Madison is sitting off in a corner, and I can see that on her perfect makeup are quite a bit of tears. In front of her, is Emily. Surrounded by a whole hive of girls, hanging on her every word, every story. “Emily?” I ask.

    “I’m surprised myself,” Sayuri says over my shoulder. “But the entire night, Tropolie-san has been kept from dancing with anyone she wanted, and the few she did dance with…one of them, basketball player, tried to feel me up.”

    “Chuck?” I asked, still slightly in shock over this. “Tall white boy, lanky brown hair?”

    “Black, shaved head, Miles, I believe,” Sayuri considers after a moment. “You were suggesting that this was a good idea at some point.”

    “Most of the boys weren’t bad,” I refilled my punch cup and took another sip. “And, we weren’t exactly angels at times, were we?”

    One boy, the fifth one…Kurt? Kevin? If twenty years from now he had built an entire fantasy life on this one dance, I wouldn’t be surprised. I seemed to have had that kind of effect on him. “Sometimes,” Sayuri said with a tone of wonder, “you seem much, much older than you are.”

    I consider this for a moment, “To be honest? I’m a Time Lord.” I chuckle. “This has to be one of my oddest regenerations ever.”

    Sayuri considers this for a moment, and raises her hand to chuckle behind her fingers. “Taylor-sama, you are shameless.”

    “I am myself,” I consider. “And, I like being me, even when it hurts.”

    Before Sayuri can say a thing, Emily pried herself away from her hive, and comes over. Her pace is different, the way she moves is different…she’s not shy and retiring anymore. She’s not scared anymore. But, there is something else going on here, and it’s scary. I’m afraid that she’s looked too long into the abyss and whatever looked back is riding her like a cheap rental car. “Good evening, Adelaide,” Emily says happily as her hive begins to follow her, ignoring Sayuri with a complete lack of disdain.

    “Good evening, Emily,” I smiled cheerfully. “How are you doing?”

    Marvelously,” she drawls. “I’ve made a whole lot of new friends recently.”

    Something about her stance, her words, her movement makes me twitch. She’s changed, and learned how to play the games of court, the game of thrones from the women’s side. This…scares me in ways I can’t quite explain. There is a faint sense of corruption, like a hint of spiritual gangrene covered by a rose perfume. “I’m very happy for you,” I reply neutrally. “And, Madison?”

    “Oh, she’ll be a friend, soon enough,” Emily chuckles and some of the members of her hive giggle as well. I have this intense urge to escape, but I’m feeling like I’m facing a lion. Running away may cause her to pounce on me.

    “Very glad to hear that,” and I can feel my throat drying a bit. I don’t want Emily angry at me, and I don’t want her to think that I’m showing any form of disrespect. And, there’s this sudden little quiet voice in my head whispering, this is just a girl with a few of her friends. You’ve faced down monsters and black wizards, why are you scared?

    What is making me so scared of her all of a sudden? Before I can say anything, the music starts again, and we’re going to find new partners. Now that I can observe things, I notice that some of Emily’s new hive are making sure to cut Madison off from any interesting boys that she might want to dance with. And, that dance card has to be filled…

    By the end of the night, I want to escape from the Ball. And, if that requires leaving glass slippers behind, they will be thrown away to give me more speed to escape. This fear seems to recede as Emily and her new entourage depart for the dorms, and my fingers are shaking slightly as I call for my pickup. There’s a slightly larger than normal group of security guards outside the gates as we wait for our rides, and I can see Sayuri coming up to me. “Meeks-san has changed,” Sayuri notes as we wait for our rides home.

    “Not in a good way,” I agree. “Your turn to come over tomorrow for extra practice.”

    “Yes,” Sayuri considers as the town car pulls up. Her guard is about to lean on the horn before she can say anything and she waves at him. “Tomorrow, Taylor-sama,” she nods.

  10. “I’m here,” she whispered, unable to speak louder. “I’m here.” She crept closer. “I came as I promised.”
    Leaves rustled. She felt like a fool. She had to be heard by anyone here. And were there no one, why, what reason was there not to shout? The birds wouldn’t mind.

  11. She walked down the path, through the crowd. Silence fell. The leaves stopped their rustling.
    Moments later, the crones started to whisper, too low to be heard, but the tone did not sound friendly, and the glares were hostile. She did not think that any of their eyes turned red.

  12. Doreth spun around with an expression of rage. “Speak up, or shut up!” he roared. “If you have a legitimate concern with me, have the guts to say it to my face so we can get it out in the open and deal with it. Or tell your immediate superior and let him bring it up. If that won’t work for you, then suffer in silence! We all have our troubles. Whatever you do, don’t go whispering or muttering behind my back!” His face softened. “Of course, no one likes to confront an angry man. I do try to make myself approachable.”

  13. It started with whispers, but rose to shouts. Bredon could not make out the words. The hatred was plain enough. Rather be eaten by dragons than let an elf of lowly birth save them.
    The cart trundled on.
    He supposed some might not realize those had been their only choices.

  14. In the cathedral, Cari could still hear them, even if their voices had been stilled eons ago. Her classmates thought she was in her own little world, but the whispered words of priests, penitents, heroes, and the occasional villain still echoed from the walls and arches, and into her soul.

  15. Robert put a finger to his lips. Aidan blinked. Not even whispering?
    He looked over the steep slopes, glittering a blinding white. He wished he had learned more geography. Trying to cram all he needed to learn into the few brief years before he was cast out had left gaps.

  16. Carolus and Aurelie were on their knees before the altar, their heads bent. Sunlight suffused the chapel with golden light, and it was more their reverence that the artistry of the wheel that held her tongue, not even daring whisper.
    Marian and Edwin came into the chapel. Neither one paused by her, only walked up to the altar to kneel.

  17. “I’ll write up a prescription that should help deal with the voice you’re hearing.”
    “Thanks, Doc. I need it to go away before I hurt someone.”
    “No need to thank me. I’m just doing my job.”
    And the voice whispering in my own head added, “Good work, Doctor.”

      1. Why do you think that comparison is valid (not rhetorical: request for info.)

        All branches of the VA state government are in the hands of the crook Marxists. And they run the police as Stasi.

  18. When speaking with G*d, try to still the many voices clamoring in your head. The World will try to distract you from your communion with the Almighty in a myriad of ways. When there’s silence, a Word can have impact, even if that Word is uttered in only a whisper.

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