Sunday Vignettes

Since tomorrow I will be doing Cyber Monday Promo, I didn’t mean to inflict two promos on you. And yes, I am slightly better. What happened is the dry coughing irritated my throat and got my asthma going, so there’s still some coughing going on, though substantially less every night. Will probably be on in a couple of days. I hate when my body takes a reaction to something, in this case medicine, and views it as a suggestion on how to kill me better.

Having auto-immune is like living with a stone cold assassin whose plans are ever changing and flexible. Hey, outsmarting it for sixty years is reason to rejoice, I guess.

So, we’re going to have vignettes without promo, which is like having second dessert without dessert, I guess.

I know it’s bee a light week on posts, and no, most not the holiday, but rather my stupid reaction to bp meds. I will try to do better next week.

I am going over the copyedits on AFGM in order to put it up. And I have another Rhodes hanging by a thread. Whether I’ll be able to do much today is a question, but tomorrow is likely at least.

And as for reasons to not try to write a post today, I downloaded the top image from pixabay this morning and spent not inconsiderabe time trying to decide whether to write a short story about a robot kitten with steel wool fur. Shoot. Me!

I think napping is on the program and then some light going over edits.

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: FULL

99 thoughts on “Sunday Vignettes

  1. Mrs Hoyt= a note- you mentioned blood pressure meds- I take Metaprolol, generic of Lopressor, and one of the main side effects is a dry cough… if you take some meds like this, they can cause that. I also have asthma so I can relate. Just a thought!!!

    1. The cough started with blood pressure meds, yes. I’ve discontinued. No great change in BP. Coughing all night is a problem for BP too.
      It’s taking a while to get over the cough, I assume because my airways got so irritated. THey didn’t tell me of the side effect, or I would not have dragged two weeks.

    2. Metoprolol causes a dry cough? I’ve been taking that for years, and never made the connection (I’ve got the dry cough as well, though not all the time). Thanks for mentioning that — it gives me something to think about.

      1. MidnightOilDiary= yes, a friend of mine, a pharmacist, pointed it out one time when I wa talking about a cough that seemed to come and go, but he said that he did nit know of any other meds that worked as well without even more possible side effects… so I am still taking it. Cough cough.

                1. I humbly strew rose petals in your path to honor your reply. But as you stride the rose strewn path, please do not wear your pumped up kicks!

  2. “Therefore, we will begin with the classic choice: every one of you will study the element opposite your temperament. You will each find a jar full of it in your desk.”
    Ava’s thoughts bounced from how she knew which desk they would choose to what it meant to have a jar full of air.

    1. My assumption would be that the opposite of Air is Earth. I like the classical four elements, they do quite well in medieval fantasy systems (even if they aren’t scientifically accurate).

  3. “My Lord, why are you here? Your family is wondering where you were.”

    “I had to get away from them. My home is full of all of my relatives. When you’re over 500 years old, that’s too many relatives to handle. Why did I insist that all of my descendants get the immortality treatment?”

    1. Oof. Yeah. That many generations… even if one has a Dracula-sized castle, that’s going to be a tight fit.

      And depending on how you interpret the word ‘descendants,’ an uncomfortable situation all around. Did he specify that those who married into the family could/would receive the same treatment?

      A very interesting idea, though. Vampire family soap opera?

      1. It’s a Very Big Orbital Home.

        People who marry into the Family might get the Immortality treatment.

        Of course, over 500 years there have been “Purges” of the Family. Mainly those who are “drones” (ie living off of the Family fortune) but some are purged because they’re complete assholes.

        Part of the problem is that a Purge is 200 years overdue because he really doesn’t like Purging the Family.

  4. “The question is not whether the glass is half full or half empty.” He turned the goblet between long fingers, allowing the candle light to flash off purest crystal and crimson before holding it out toward her. “The question is to partake of the contents, or abstain?” He raised one thin, copper-red eyebrow as he spoke.

    Hand trembling oh-so-slightly, Angelica reached for the cup.

    1. And the question is “what additions have been added to the beverage”. 😉

          1. At the grocery store, I gave somebody advice: “If you turn those boxes 90 degrees, they won’t fall over when the belt moves.”

            The cashier said “You must be an engineer.”


  5. The kitchen full of family,
    The air full of song,
    The tree full of presents,
    The light dark and long.

    The cozy fire crackling
    In the sleepy evening air.
    Granny in her afghan,
    And her rocking chair.

    Family and dancing,
    And the feast we’ve made to share.
    Songs of thanksgiving,
    Ringing through the air.

    Then all the house is silent,
    And all the joys are held,
    The family in our hearts
    And gloom for now dispelled.

    1. You are incredible, Wyrdbard. I think this could be tweaked a little to even out the stresses and syllable count, but it’s really lovely as it is. All the warmth of the holidays written into one short and sweet package. Well done!

      1. Thank you, ma’am. I may fiddle with it a little before it’s done, but I tend to be cautious (I’ve broken too many stories, etc. by messing too much with them.)

  6. “You failed in your bargain,” said Drusilla. “You did not complain of wise fools or thieves as well when you took it. You find your life full of trouble if you continue to fail in it. Look!”
    Her majestic wave of hand lit up a corner. Two young men in chains knelt there, both bloodied and battered. Reynardette blinked. One she knew from her scouting, and Drusilla had a captive of high rank. Worse, the other one dressed as finely, but she could not name him. Drusilla dealt in things she did not know, and that was a dangerous thing.

      1. It is well past the beginning of the story, so the reader will be able to deduce both men’s identities, and know why she doesn’t know. Such is the cumulative build of a novel.

  7. So!


    A cute little robot kitten with steel wool fur, ruby claws and very hard carbon teeth?

    No matter really, if she ends up in a story or a song, her name, her claim to fame must be and is of course, Lucy with a mouth full of diamonds.

    1. Looks more like an overturned pie tin. Don’t see rubies or diamonds; but I’ll play along:

      “Lucy” on the “pie” with “diamonds”?

    2. Yikes. No vet alive is going to take on that level of threat. Just ask Lawdog, I believe he did a post on taking a standard kitten to the vet.

      “I can haz ARTERIES!” featured in the discussion.

      1. My four kitties can definitely be unpleasant on vet trips, too, especially my two torties! L doesn’t like to be held at all and left me with a slight scar on my hand from when I was trying to get her out of the way to do some housework while H is a problem just from being a huge chunky butt and they had to put her under to shave her last time, part of her problem is she’s too fat to groom herself! I do need to figure something out for that soon but being in the middle of trying to get my house ready to move doesn’t make it easy…

  8. My doctor explains the immune system as a lion in the house. If a mouse comes in, aka disease, the lion gets up, eats the mouse, and lays back down.

    If there is anything toxic about your environment or if your lion is “off,” that lion wanders around the house tearing everything up, trying to find a mouse that isn’t there.

    1. So, my immune system is a bored and cranky tabby. Much explained.

      On a more reality level, Doesn’t every cat need a used tire as a scratching post?

      1. Sigh. Never let my Fiona anywhere near good furniture. You could have the filet mignon of cat trees right next to that couch, but noooooo.
        Never heard of a tire before–sounds like a right proper redneck solution to the problem. 🙂

  9. I figured the new face in this setting would take the initiative one way or another… A bit long and spoilerish but oh well.

    The man sitting at the corner table did not seem like he belonged in this particular establishment. Most of the men around him were young, dressed the way most Wenlock soldiers did when they were off duty, and loudly drinking, carrying on, and trying to pick up the various women around the tavern. The man in the corner, by contrast, was tall and thin with greying light brown hair, yet even the most hot-headed soldiers gave him a wide berth. His various scars, the cross-shaped one on his left cheek in particular, indicated that he had survived more than most of them ever would.

    The only person who approached him was an attractive young waitress with a tan common among the people of southern Arev. She gave him a mischievous smile as she noted “Monsieur Faucher, your tankard is still full!”

    The man simply nodded in response, taking a long drink of beer before picking up a napkin and wiping the foam from his goatee.

    “That’s more like it!” the girl chirped, though her thoughts were cut short by the doorbell ringing and the tavern falling silent. A figure in hooded black robes walked in, surveying the room with softly glowing crimson eyes. Though the woman had beautiful features and an enviable figure her eyes, and ghostly grey skin, were enough to warn away even the randiest Wenlock private looking for an evening quickie. The woman seemingly glided over to the corner table, her faded red hair striking against her dark robes.

    “How many years has it been, Alphonse?” she asked, taking the seat across from the man without waiting to be invited.

    “Far too many,” he replied. If the woman’s inhuman appearance bothered him he didn’t show it. “How shall I address you?”

    “Harmonia will once again suffice.” the woman responded, her eerie features softening as she smiled.

    Alphonse’s only response was to glance at the waitress, who had gone almost as pale as their guest at the sight of her. Harmonia gave the girl as sympathetic a look as she could manage and said “I am not here to discuss a sensitive matter but I will not be insulted if you see to your other guests for the moment.”

    “O-Of course Dame Harmonia!” the girl squeaked, moving away as quickly as she could.

    “So what brings you here?” Alphonse asked. “I’ve already heard about the end of the war.”

    “Indeed, even the most far-flung hermits know of that.” Harmonia replied, folding her hands in front of her. “Rather, I am here to invite you back home. My husband’s death in battle caused his allies’ political capital to vanish overnight. The Lord Hierophant called his demise divine punishment and now my sons are working to correct his most foolish mistakes. One of which was utilizing a one of a kind soldier to settle the pettiest of grudges before tossing him aside once his perfidy came to light.”

    Alphonse remained silent for a long moment. Could returning to Loire in service of the new king really be that simple? After all, it was the former queen herself offering to have him reinstated. Also, what had happened to her? Her features and figure were as attractive as ever yet her skin tone and glowing eyes were clear marks of having become an Undying.

    “In the end,” the man thought, his eyes meeting the fallen queen’s crimson gaze without flinching. “What do I have to lose anymore?”

    “Very well. What do we do next?”

      1. Glad you like it! Not yet, and there’s still a lot I’m working out with it, but I’ve got about 4,429 words in a document for this setting and I do have a lot going on, especially with the move. Once that’s settled, though, I’ll see about actually ironing out some things to publish. I’m pretty sure Sarah’s not going to let me do otherwise once that’s settled!

    1. My reaction upon reading this: “Hooded cloak and glowing red eyes. Now that’s a plot hook if ever I’ve heard one!”

      Well done. There are definitely some interesting directions this could be taken. Speaking as someone with a number of unfinished stories lying about in various folders waiting for some more work, I hope you get more done on this. Publishing is definitely the goal, however far off it may look. Good luck!

      1. Thanks! I figured this story, and her in particular, would be to your liking! 🙂 Admittedly she’s one of my sloppier cases of “file the serial numbers off” given her looks and real name (and the serial numbers involved for Alphonse aren’t filed off that much cleaner). I’m still not sure where things are going with her yet but I do have more of an idea for him and I’m looking forward to working with him more!

  10. “Ah, golden apples. They cure the ill, sometimes,” said the dwarf. “The land is not exactly full of them. Do you know what it is full of?”
    Liam shook his head.
    The dwarf leaned forward. “Soldiers.”
    “A war?” said Liam.
    “Wise of you to think so. A war. Neither the invaders nor this kingdom’s soldiers will think well of a prince who wanders through, looking for golden apples.”
    “I thank you for your warning, though I must go on. Is there a way that would be wisest to go and find the apples?”
    “There’s a castle up in the mountains.”

    1. Interesting. Liam seems a decent enough protagonist, although I don’t think there’s enough meat in this vignette to really distinguish him. Are you thinking classic mythological fantasy/fairytale here, or trying to twist it a little?

  11. “You’re sure this will work?” I asked.

    “Of course,” replied the tech. “Mind, consciousness, memory, awareness — every quirk and nuance of your personality uploaded into a robot body guaranteed to last 50,000 years. Powered by a thorium-232 reactor; it comes with half a ton of thorium, with a half-life of 14 billion years. You also get a complete set of spare parts, as well as schematics should you need to fabricate more. It’s not full immortality, but it’s as close as modern technology will take you.”

    “Good. Let’s do it.”

    I lay down on the gurney. They wheeled in the robot and positioned it next to me. The tech took hours to attach all the electrodes, the while clucking and fiddling and consulting his charts. Finally he said, “All right — it’s time. One little shot to put you under…”

    Gradually I returned to consciousness. So this is what it’s like to be in a robot body, I thought. Funny, it doesn’t feel any different at all. I opened my eyes. WHAT?! I was still lying in the gurney, the robot next to me.

    “What the hell happened? Why am I still here?” I demanded.

    “Tsk, tsk,” said the tech. “We thought you understood. Naturally, the upload process creates a copy of your personality in the robot. The original stays where it is.”

    “You mean —”

    The robot stood up, shook hands with the tech, and walked to the door. It turned, said “So long, sucker,” and left.

    1. Yikes. Did someone not pay enough attention to the paperwork? When making a deal that ends with immortality, read the fine print.

      And apparently someone’s personality isn’t terribly nice, given how that robot’s acting.

      Well done. For a cautionary tale, it’s brief, descriptive, and emphatic.

  12. “Call.”

    “Flush in stars. What you got?”

    “Full house. Reapers.”

    “Dang. … Let’s …discuss this like gentlemen.”

    “Table stakes. You aint got it. Now get off -my- ship.”

    “No. Its mine. Wait a minute…. we are not handing this over to you on a hand of poker. Besides. There’s three of us.”


    Thus, I found myself arguing duties and docking fees on a load of pilgrims instead of hustling chumps who cant play cards.

    Not sure I really won that hand.

  13. “Funny. I always thought you were a pessimist.”

    “I am.”

    “Then why did you say the glass was half full?”

    “Because emptiness is a receptacle’s default state, and what’s noteworthy is its containing anything at all. It’s optimists who expect glasses to be full automatically and without effort, the fools.”

    1. The glass is always full, as long as your hull is intact and the airplant pumping. Ok, so it isn’t full of whisky. Details. You’d be pounding the Comm if it actually wasn’t full. Well, assuming your life-bag was full, and you made it in. Details…

  14. Phineas, the farrier’s father, photographed phantasms featuring fine feathers flowing frontally from furrowed foreheads. Finally, Phineas’s frantic feats filled fancy folios. Fulfilled, Phineas phoned friends for financial favors. Fiscally fixed, Phineas feasted on far-flung, foreign foods.
    Phonetically, Phineas was fully flush.

  15. She stood. She had things to do about the castle, enough to fill her day. Her father could not find her if she busied herself with them. He could complain, but then he always would.
    If Augusta worked as a lord’s daughter, they could manage between the two of them.

  16. A few weeks ago, someone posted a link to an interesting looking self-defense manual for women, from the early to mid 1900s.

    I’ve looked back though the last month of threads, but I’m not finding it.

    Anyone happen to remember what it was?

    1. Pretty sure it was something by William E. Fairbairn, co-inventor of the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife and Special Operations instructor to Britain’s “ungentlemanly” forces in WW II.

      Searching ATH comments (likely W P in general) is a, well, (radioactively) hot mess it seems; but searching on “Fairbairn self defense” eventually produces the following link to a PDF:

      Click to access hands-off-self-defense-for-women-fairbairn-21444015-.pdf

      Hands Off! sounds about like what you were looking for; but I’d have to be able to find it in the comments this past month to be fully sure, so see all the above difficulties…

  17. A few weeks ago, someone posted a link to an interesting looking self-defense manual for women, from the early to mid 1900s.

    I’ve looked back though the last month of threads, but I’m not finding it.

    Anyone happen to remember what it was?

    1. It was the Fairbairn book that Analytical Engine Mechanic posted above. If you want the amazon link, it’s under the Oh, Please! post. Posted by balzacqc in response to suburbanbanshee.

  18. “Would you care for more cake, Mr. Slim-Howland?” asked Gwendolyn, presenting Nigel with the tray. “More finger sandwiches, perhaps?”

    “Oh, goodness me, I couldn’t eat another bite,” said Nigel. Why is Gwendolyn trying to make me eat so much, thought Nigel. I’ll have to take her in for maintenance. Again.

    1. Ah, the beauties of realism in artificial intelligence. For this one and your second, below, it looks like the A.I.s in question have worked out their roles in relation to Nigel, and are simply acting out what common media suggests they should be doing. Which is working out quite nicely for Nigel, it seems.

      1. They may or may not be working properly, but two questions remain. First, “working properly” is based on a certain set of expected behaviors, but whose set is it? Second, at some point, it might be hard to tell the difference between “working properly” and “malfunctioning.” Young Nigel may think Lily’s working perfectly, but it might not be good for him.

        Anyway, Nigel and his robots always give me some interesting things to think about, which is why they appear here so often.

  19. “Have another biscuit, then,” said Lily. “Your favorite – the cocoa one.”

    Ten-year-old Nigel, though stuffed with sweets, was having a wonderful time. Lily wasn’t designed to do this, of course. She was supposed to be a wholesome playmate. Mother and Father would say she was malfunctioning, but Nigel was delighted.

  20. Incoming Call
    Crane noted the trace info and decided that just now, he could take this one. Certainly, they knew better than to call unless it was important.
    Fresh panic bloomed on the channel. “Sir! The Privy Council is meeting, and they demand…”
    Crane cut them off with a very calm, measured command. “Call the Emperor.”
    Of all the responses his nominal director was expecting, that wasn’t one. The poor man hadn’t thought through the implications of being appointed as an acting head with limited ability to act. “Sir? What?”
    “Call the Emperor. He’ll handle it.” He would indeed. Crane had already discussed possible options and outcomes with him, and they’d been waiting six months for Redding to talk the rest of the council into letting him overstep his authority.
    “The Emperor will have to handle it. I cannot have any crises today; my schedule is full.” Crane disconnected the link, and redirected any attempts to call back straight to messages. That done, he smiled down at the tiny human swaddled in bright pink blankets, who was wrinkling up her entire face in a yawn. She blinked up at him, eyes unfocused, and tried to wriggle out of his gentle hold while making a soft, inquisitive burble.
    “Hello, little one. Your mother in sleeping, so you’ll have to put up with a poor substitution in me. Why do they make these bottles hold far more than you do?” The present political situation would take care of itself. Right now, he was busy with the future.

  21. Elaine had known when she came up here to Sparta Point that she shouldn’t expect much in the way of a Christmas celebration. New Year’s would be the big winter holiday, in the fashion of the old Soviet Union.

    However, she’d not expected so many people gathered around the dining-room table, even spilling out into the living room. In other seasons they might have gone out on the terrace to eat, but the chilly winter rains coming in off the Pacific made that solution untenable.

    Spartan noticed her astonishment as she took her seat at his right hand, gave her a cheerful smile. “I believe you call this a full house.”

  22. “What a foolish child we have here.” A lean young man walked up to him. A blue fire surrounded him, rising up on his head with his hair into a flame. It took Marcus a minute to realize that the mastiffs that followed his heels had glowing golden eyes, and he did not jerk back from them. “All the nonsense in the world, in the form of one little boy.” His voice snapped out, sharply, “Guard him!”
    The mastiffs gathered round.
    “And if you are so foolish as to escape?”
    He snapped his fingers. The mastiffs shifted in shape, to become hounds.

    1. Marcus thought escaping would be good, trying and failing to escape would be very bad. Better not try. 😉

  23. Master Hannes lifted an eyebrow. Will took the coins he was owed, and left. His life was full enough of trouble without bothering to add treason to it. They had crowned him, and acclaimed him king. Therefore, Rodger was king.
    What difference would it make, up here in the hills?

  24. Grief had a smell. Or was it a feel? Either way, Tuck the cat had become familiar with it since the day her two humans had gone away and only one had come back.

    Yes, grief had a smell, and so did those…things. Hateful, shadowy things smelling of burnt metal and rancid oil that crowded around her human, who somehow couldn’t see them. When the cat approached, they abandoned their foul caresses, skittering away into the corners of her vision.

    The unfamiliar cat who had invaded her yard had smelled of both. And Tuck had been so full of her own worries that she hadn’t recognized it.

  25. “And as your people used to say, some short little time back, my pronouns are k’shi, k’shan, and k’shenda.” All of it said as precisely and neutrally as the rest that had gone before.

    Most quickly I looked at Charlie, and his expression — though readable to me only through a long and close-up experience — was starting somewhere near a squall line stalking across steamy plains crowned with pearly anvils and slashed with lightning, moving onwards through a jet-black column of ash shouting from the throat of a redly bomb-pocked new cinder cone, fast and ever faster toward blooming brightly into another Yellowstone or Chixulub.

    “Captain Blake, if I might have a quiet word with you now?” was what I said to him, and then shifting intonation and eye-contact to the third person there, “Begging a short interval of your valuable time, Learned One, for us two right now if you might.”

    Charlie shot up his eyebrows just a little at the ‘Captain’ but that sent the message it’d been pre-arranged to do; and they raised a bit more at how I’d addressed his own conversation partner, who sat still as rock a few moments more, then said neutrally as always, “Five minutes is granted you, most courteous strange youngster.” Five minutes as in not even one microsecond longer but that much I’d known before speaking.

    Just as I needed no long experience to decode Charlie’s expression, that was already soaked and marinated in a very silent version of Okay now, Charlotte, sure enough and fine, but what the hell?

    “Before you even get right and ready to go all Full Metal Deplorable on that… guy, far less do it, Charlie, please do remember that these are the 2200s, not the 2020s all over again, okay? One look at that one there ought to remind you, like starship captain of a despicable little tramp like ours, but still a real interstellar-capable starship, like how you always heard the Crazy Years told to you by your grandparents and your great-grand-folks, not anything your own self ever did see, like…”

    “Point taken, points taken, Charlotte. Very well and so. But still, I can find no obscenity strong enough to accompany the noun, but yet really and truly, pronouns thrown in our faces, again after all this time??”

    “Yes, Charlie, but how much of all that do you think made it into whatever cultural-summary package that one (or any) of the K’Shinna would’ve been able to buy, out here a hundred light-years from Earth or any of the Five First Worlds? What do you rate the chances of… he, more or less, having any real chance of any real, deep understanding of our cultural contexts?”

    “But what should we assume we know here, from our other side?” It sounded like a simple small point of debate, but really was just about what I’d been working towards all along.

    “First: k’shi and k’shan carry the marker of royalty, not commonalty; it’s as much as a tenth or more of their whole society, true enough, but enough of a point of status to insist on being recognized. Second: nobody human with half a clue tries to pronounce those words anyway, none of us could ever get it right, even transposed to the Songs to Sing To Strangers language and phonetics we’d still have to make sounds correctly normal humans can’t even hear. Third: this is someone who can and does decide who gets to go from the temporary docking points to the long-term berths that can handle cargo transfer — which means ‘he’ has an opportunity to benefit us, if any reason presents itself, say for instance someone with a half-quarter of pre-diplomatic training, before the war went hotter and she got herself sent to the front and her whole unit blown to MPD disbandment in a day?”

    And I looked at the bright red digits at the edge of my dataglasses once again. “We have at most three and a half minutes to get that plan full-loaded and ready to launch. Or not. Permission to get it done, sir?”

    And Charlie’s wordless answer was that deep and overflowing laugh that was worth all the price of knowing him and five times more. That, alone. “Yes, Charlotte, from out of all your Kipling-esque, Cantor-istically infinite resource and sagacity, yes: if you can do this, now, see it done.” And in answer I whispered something short more into his ear.

    “Dockmaster, ah, Learned One, I ask you to deal with my First Officer in all propriety and courtesy.” Charles Blake was not incapable of fine and careful polish; it just cut so perfectly and sharply across the grain.

    “Indeed, Captain, I will do, since you ask so impeccably, especially for a youngling alien of mere decades at most.”

    I crossed my hands above a point somewhere in between my heart and the hollow of my throat, bowed shallowly while wiggling my fingers a bit. It was all wrong in the details — the fact humans don’t have feeding palps to quiver is only the start of the forced errors — but it made the effort and that, to a K’Shinne of any real status, always tended to count. “Oh Learned One, we ask for your assistance in moving swiftly and properly to unload and re-load our ship. We will happily accept any berthing you’d prefer to choose, commensurate with our record and presentation of course.” And I bowed shallowly again, no trembling fingers this time.

    There was a complicated sort of choreographed motion, almost too fast for an unaided human’s eye to follow — I was almost unaided, courtesy of once-ly military procurement and priorities — about the eyes and head of the K’Shinne (think of a five-foot-tall wolf spider in something like a cargo harness and you won’t be too very far wrong, and sorry about any and all of your nightmares in advance, if applicable). And then ‘he’ spoke again.

    “Rare it is to see such courtesy and propriety in a human, even rarer to feel the integrity behind your presentation, younglings. You two are in truth worthier than you appear. Your berthing is Ring 3 Station 16, for as long as your vessel’s Standard Cargo Interval runs and you require. And little young ones, go with the blessings of the Ancestors, go well.” At which I turned and went without another word, as full gratitude demanded, simply trusting Charlie to follow likewise in my wake.

    “Ring 3, and we’d’ve been ecstatic to get Ring 31. Charlotte, you are at times simply a pearl beyond price.” His voice wasn’t heavy with feeling, but then rarely if ever benignly was. And then he smiled, that way.

    “Don’t forget, though, Charlotte, sometimes you really do have to go all Full Metal Deplorable on their ass. Sometimes it’s worth the fun, even if not actually either exigent or essential.”

    And I looked back at him, with some expression I was just as happy to know I could not see. “Battle of Colland’s Ring, all those orbital habitats and fabs, all those emplacements. Single-ship fighter pilot, only a cyber for company and backup. Here I am, still standing and with just about all my own parts.” And I felt myself — smile. “Charlie, never forget for all that I so dearly love to go any other way first… right there with you, on that.”

    1. They’re lucky that the pronouns are absolute. There are languages in which the correct form of “you” is relative.

  26. Dang, Moderation Purgatory again. And for a big-vignette of ‘only’ 7K chars, not the formerly dangerous 8K…

  27. The Foundation for the Utilization of Lateral Lavatories had disbursed a great deal of grant money in search of some clever entrepreneur with an unconventional understanding of sanitary systems.
    The visionary head of the Foundation was almost ready to build his own castle, the first one to rise from the ground up in the 21st century. It was small, being the prototype for a housing development for serious antiquarians, and would incorporate all the mod cons.
    The prospective buyers, of course, wanted to avoid the appearance of anachronistic plumbing while enjoying its benefits.
    The authentic, simple designs from the medieval period were functional, but unappealing.
    The housing authorities would never issue a permit for a privy chamber that dropped muck directly into a moat, even if there was one. Thus the need for a horizontal, rather than vertical, disposal system, tied into a thoroughly conventional sewer.
    Fortunately, anachronisms didn’t count if you couldn’t see them.
    So far, none of the architects he had consulted were able to meet his requirements, hence the creation of FULL, which he hoped would turn up someone able to think outside of the box.

    1. There actually is a genuine medieval castle a-building in France.
      The videos which I have watched are fascinating (links in the Wiki article), and the still pictures track the building progress.
      So far, I haven’t seen any videos with details about the sanitary provisions.
      I suspect that the French building authorities are also less than accommodating about permitting authentic accommodations.
      Interesting tidbits –
      By 2014, the castle was attracting about 300,000 visitors annually,[10] and had annual revenue of about three million euros.[11]

      The techniques redeveloped for Guédelon Castle are being used in the reconstruction of Notre-Dame cathedral after its catastrophic 2019 fire.[5][12]

      Guédelon Castle appeared in the 2004 documentary Europe in the Middle Ages.[13] In November 2014 the castle was featured in the series, Secrets of the Castle, in which the project was described as “the world’s biggest archaeological experiment”.[14][15]

  28. Stephen droned on with his empty promises, trying to swap the mob into supporting his bid for power. “If elected, I will ensure that you will never go hungry. A chicken in every pot, bellies filled with delicacies enjoyed only by the rich.”
    Howard grimaced, then muttered as if to himself, “Unlike you who is full of something more organic.”

    A ripple of laughter ran around the hall as the pitch perfect acoustics carried his comment to every corner, as he had known would happen.

    1. Ah. I was just typing “looks like ‘sway the mob’ to me,” thinking that the typo you’d thought you’d written was ‘sway the mop.’

      And then I looked again and spotted it. Ah, well. Happens to the best of us. 😉

      (And I think ‘sway the mop’ would have been a little funnier, if that had been the mistake.)

  29. “I don’t hate you. In a way, I pity you. No matter how mean, hateful and abusive you are, the misery you inflict on others doesn’t make you any less miserable. You remain as full of bile as ever.”

    Her eyes narrowed dangerously. “But that doesn’t mean I’ll forgive you.”

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