Friday, October 31, 2014

Quick costumes

1. Take a rubber chicken, a telephone cord, and a blue shirt. You are now chicken cord-on-blue.
2. Put on a bright colored shirt and a thumb brace. When people ask what happened, just say that you stick out like a sore thumb.
3. Wear a shorts, a sports shirt, a whistle, and a baseball cap. You are now a gym teacher.
4. Carry around a clipboard and a pen. You are now taking surveys.
5. Wear a red shirt. You are now a red shirt. (So beware any away missions.)
6. Wear a glove that has been painted red, and carry a cookie jar. You've been caught red handed stealing cookies from the cookie jar.
7. Put on an apron, then carry a bowl and a whisk. You are a baker.
8. Put on a backpack and carry a notebook, binder, and dictionary. You are a student.
9. Connect a bunch of socks to your clothes. Tell people that you're the monster who takes everyone's left socks.
10. Carry an umbrella and say that you're ready to sing in the rain.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A hero's apprentice

When on a quest, no hero wants to hear that "true love's kiss" is the answer.
Seriously, true love's kiss? That makes the quest impossible for everyone but the person's true love!
That is, unless the hero can trick themselves into believing the damsel is distress is their true love.
In order to do that, the hero needs to be either a genius or a complete fool.
Luckily, I'm neither of these.
Unluckily, I'm the trusty sidekick of "Caine Barret, a ruggedly handsome hero of no discernible threat", and yes, he really calls himself that.
As Caine pulled his white horse to a halt at the top of the hill to gaze down at the tower below, I had to admit that he fit the image of a ruggedly handsome hero. With light hair framing a sharp face, and a tall frame that could wrestle a lion, Caine certainly looked like a hero who could get things done.
What most people didn't realize though, was that Caine was dumber than a rock.
Not a very nice thing to say, I know. But it's true.
"Where's the dragon?" Caine asked as I pulled my mule to a halt.
"There is no dragon at this tower." I said as I studied the tower. "Lord Glind said the tower is protected by a sorceress."
Caine frowned and tapped the hilt of his sword. "That can't be right. Sleeping princesses in towers are supposed to be guarded by dragons."
I held back a sigh. "The princess isn't asleep. She's been turned into stone by the sorceress." Turning away from the tower, I tried to make my voice enthusiastic. "Only true love's kiss will break the spell."
Caine's face brightened. "My true love awaits below, in the clutches of a vile sorceress!" With a flick of the reins, the hero was off.
I followed at a slow pace, shaking my head. Caine thought anything that needed solved by true love's kiss was happening to his true love. It fit the strange fantasy that he lived in, with him as the hero who always saved the day.
It made jobs like this easier, since these curses didn't seem to care if both parties felt the same way about each other. As long as Caine thought he was the true love, he had the power to break the spell.
Unfortunately, he'd forgotten about the sorceress.
By the time I reached the base of the tower, Caine had already charged inside. Climbing up the dimly lit stairwell, I avoided the traps that Caine hadn't set off. Caine is really bad at avoiding traps, but he had fallen in a pond of invincibility as a child, and so couldn't be harmed by most things.
At the top of the tower, I found Caine frozen in the doorway. Magic.
Taking a cautious look around the immobile hero, I spotted the sorceress.
She looked irritated, but not especially malevolent as she waved her hand to disperse the black smoke that billowed around her. The princess Isabel was in a corner, with a cloak hanging off her outstretched hand.
"Heroes, always rushing in and ruining my potions. They're almost as bad as pestering princesses." The sorceress grumbled as she glared from Caine to the princess.
Straightening, I took a slow breath and stepped into the open. "Pardon my intrusion, esteemed sorceress." I swept into a low bow as the sorceress turned her attention to me. "Perhaps I might be of service?"
Squinting, the sorceress frowned. "What are you, the hero's apprentice?"
I gave a dejected sigh and nodded solemnly. "Alas, I owe him a life-debt. Regardless of my affiliation with the hero, I have a proposal that you might find intriguing." With a flourish, I offered the sorceress a violet stone. "From what I've surmised, the princess Isabel was the latest in a series of uninvited guests from Southtown."
The sorceress coughed and waved away more smoke. "They insist that I use my magic for them. Self-cleaning pots, love potions, combs to grow hair! Each demand was worse than the last." Moving away from the cauldron, the sorceress sat in a plush chair. "No manners! They simply barge in and start listing demands. They keep ruining my spells."
I shook my head and sighed. "Such disregard for decorum. I fear I must apologize once again for my companion." I glanced to Caine, and with a click of my tongue I lowered my head and shook it.
The sorceress regarded me. "You're much more polite than the others. Come sit and tell me, what is that stone?"
Taking a seat, I gazed at the violet stone. "Quite a useful thing, this stone causes whatever it is linked with to become invisible."
The sorceress leaned forward.
"Yes, but it only works if freely given. Otherwise, it attracts the attention of any who come near it." Caine and I had gotten it along with some other treasure last month. Not seeing a use for a purple rock, Caine had given it to me.
The sorceress's eyes glinted. "Would you be interested in parting with such an item?"
I looked at the sorceress, then at the stone. I allowed a moment to pass, as if I was hesitant. "Perhaps, if I might receive safe passage from your domain for myself, the hero I serve, and for the princess Isabel."
The sorceress glanced at the stone princess and the frozen Caine. She let out a cackle of a laugh.
"You are far more clever than the hero, young apprentice." She recited something in a language I couldn't understand, then snapped her fingers. The princess and Caine disappeared. "They'll be waiting outside."
I dipped my head, and offered her the stone once more. "Then I give you this stone of my own free will. May unwanted guests no longer intrude upon your home."
The sorceress took the stone, then gave me a look. "You're far more interesting than the hero you serve." I shrugged, and she shook her head. "Go, depart in peace."
I left. When I finally stepped outside and looked back at the tower, it was gone.
"Neil!" Caine called. I turned and saw him standing next to the princess, who was no longer stone. "Where did you go? I charged into the sorceress's lair and the next thing I knew, I had gotten the princess outside and broke the spell!"
Offering a grin, I jogged over to them. "Another amazing rescue, sir."
The princess didn't even look at me, she was too busy swooning over Caine. "My hero." She said in a tinkling voice. "However did you save me?"
So with Caine atop his white horse and the princess riding my mule, Caine began the tale of how he had daringly stormed the tower and defeated the sorceress.

And as I trudged behind on foot, I was amazed yet again how a hero who was dumber then a rock could weave such a ridiculous tale of his own heroism and believe every word.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Holidays in October

1. The 3rd is German Unity Day.
2. The 5th is World Teachers' Day.
3. Canadian Thanksgiving is on the second Monday.
4. October 12th is the traditional date to celebrate Columbus Day, but in the United States it is observed on the second Monday.
5. In Japan, they celebrate Health and Sports day on the second Monday in October.
6. The 16th is World Food Day.
7. The 24th is United Nations Day.
8. In the United States, Navy Day is October 27.
9. The 29th is the Republic Day of Turkey.
10. The 31st is Halloween.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Gargoyle blood

In the gargoyle hills, a tired adventurer huddled in his camp atop a hill. An early autumn storm had blown south from the mountains and the adventurer's mood soured as the wind whipped at his clothes.
"Perfect end for a miserable day." The adventure muttered, glaring up at the sky before turning the rabbit roasting over the fire.
"Eh, just call it quits and leave." The adventurer's wizened companion suggested, turning its red gaze to the adventurer and snapping its large teeth. "Just let the fae find a gargoyle himself."
The adventurer ran a hand through his light hair and looked at the redcap.
"Reid, you know I can't."
"Vander, you didn't make an oath. It'd be the human thing to do to leave." Reid motioned outward with his pike. "As much as I'd love to taste gargoyle blood, this quest has been a waste of time."
Vander shook his head as a light rain began falling. "The fae's supporting my best friend's efforts to build a kingdom. If Xylon can collect a vogiel's heart, then I can get some blood from a gargoyle." Vander checked the rabbit, and moved it off the flames.
"After three weeks, we haven't even seen a gargoyle!" Reid's face turned as red as his hat. "I'm getting tired of rabbit blood."
Vander moved his hand to feel the pouch hanging beneath his shirt, verifying that the vial containing a mixture of his and Reid's blood was still there. The redcap was a useful companion, but his loyalty would only last as long as the vial of their mixed blood remained in Vander's possession.
Vander knew that the moment it was gone, Reid would turn on him.
The rain fell harder as they ate the rabbit. Midway through the meal, a scraping sound climbed up the hill.
"What do you think?" Vander asked as the scraping sound grew louder.
"Could be a gargoyle." Reid's clawed fingers cut grooves in the bone he held. "Either that, or some other stone creature."
Setting aside the remains of his meal, Vander grabbed his mace and stood. Reid moved to join him, and they waited.
The creature's head appeared first. A leonine face contorted as the creature gave a gravelly snarl.
Moving forward, Vander swung his mace at the gargoyle's head. The blow connected, a chips of stone broke off the gargoyle.
But there was no blood.
"Reid, make it bleed!" Vander shouted as the gargoyle snapped at the mace. Vander harried the gargoyle as the redcap moved into position.
"Bring it over." Reid called. Vander smacked the gargoyle once more, then turned and ran. The heavy pounding of the gargoyle sounded at his heels. Vander dropped into a slide on the rain-slicked grass as the hill slanted. He slipped beneath the lowered pike and just missed ramming into Reid.
There was a sickening thunk as the gargoyle rammed into the end of the pike; the redcap's magic allowing the weapon to pierce the stone flesh of the creature.
Vander stopped his slide and climbed back up the hill. Reid gave the pike a twist, and it tore free of the dead gargoyle. Gray blood poured from the wound, and the redcap was already drinking by the time Vander reached it.
"A vial full should satisfy the fae. You can have the rest." Vander said, though his companion gave no sign of having heard as the adventurer took out an empty vial and filled it with the gargoyle's blood.
As he tucked the vial away and headed back to his camp, Vander wondered what the fae wanted with gargoyle blood.

Friday, October 17, 2014

To rhyme

1. As a way to share important information with audience
without them fully understanding what they've been told.
2. Rhyming can help you to memorize things.
3. During a challenge of wits.
4. Rhymes can help you learn.
5. As a way to express your thoughts.
6. Because it can be fun to rhyme on a dime all the time.
7. As part of constructing a poem.
8. Rhymes can make reading fun.
9. As a writing exercise.
10. Because rhymes can generate interest.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The hourglass

At the top of our narrow tunnel, dark clouds filled the view. Threatening to release their chill load at any moment, common sense pled that we return to the surface.
Yet we continued to dig.
A dark corner of my mind spoke of how this was our last chance. If we couldn't find the artifact here, then we were done.
"Are you sure it's here?" Joey asked as he shifted a shovelful of dirt.
"It has to be." Doctor Horace gritted his teeth as he shifted a large stone from the area of interest. Doctor Horace was the entire reason we were here. It was his map and its riddle that made us believe the hourglass was buried in the middle of nowhere.
But after three weeks of digging holes, I was beginning to doubt the doctor.
"Doctor, we've dug enough. The storm is going to break, so we need to leave." I tried to keep my tone friendly, but some of my impatience slipped through.
"Constance, can't you feel it? The hourglass is here." Doctor Horace shook his head, crouching to get a look at the congestion of stones he'd uncovered. "If you two want to climb up, very well. This still work for me here."
Glancing up at the looming storm, I turned to Joey and motioned to the ladder. "Climb on out and start packing up our supplies."
Joey hesitated for a moment. He was such a sweet boy, and had been a excellent assistant for the doctor. But I outranked him, so with one last look at doctor Horace, he scurried up the ladder.
"You could go with him." Doctor Horace said once Joey was out of earshot.
Kneeling beside the doctor, I shifted a rock. "Not if I want Jack to still speak to me when we get home." That was one of the cons of working for your fiancĂ©'s absentminded brother.
"He worries too much." Doctor Horace shook his head, moving yet another stone from the the pile.
"You don't worry enough." I replied, gripping one side of a particularly large rock while the doctor got the other side. Together, we heaved it out of the way.
Thunder boomed from above, and I felt something wet hit my head. "What is that?" I asked as doctor Horace peered into the cubby we'd uncovered.
"It appears to be a box." Doctor Horace studied the opening, while I glanced up as another raindrop hit me. "The entry is too small for my hands, but yours should be slender enough to reach in." I fought back a frown as I looked through the opening at the box within. More raindrops struck me, and I knew that the doctor wouldn't leave the find behind now that it was exposed to the elements.
Reaching in, I felt the side of the rectangular box and found a rough handle. Gripping it, I began to pull my hand out. It was a tighter fit now, and something scrapped my hand as I forced it free. The other end of the box snagged on something within the hole, and the box broke.
Doctor Horace reached out to catch the object that slipped out of the broken box. Landing in the cushioning of his hands, the tattered cloth covering the object slipped slightly to reveal the top of a golden hourglass.
Letting go of the box, I stood and offered the doctor a hand.
"Looks like you found it, doctor." I said as he took my hand.
"This does appear to be what I was seeking." Now standing, he carefully pulled away the tattered cloth as the rain began to steadily fall.
Placing a hand on his shoulder, I opened my mouth as he overturned the hourglass.
"Doctor, we should climb-"
A jerking feeling in my stomach silenced my as the grains of sand in the hourglass slid through bulb to the other. The rain vanished, and overwhelming nausea filled me. The world went dark, then a blinding flash of light burned my eyes.
The jerking feeling faded. Blinking rapidly, my vision slowly cleared.
But what I saw didn't seem to compute.
Doctor Horace and I were standing in the middle of a grassy field, and it wasn't raining.
No holes marred the landscape, and I saw no hint of where Joey and our jeep had gone.
"It actually works." Doctor Horace spoke softly, loosening his grip on the hourglass and gazing at it.
"What works?" I asked, my hand tightening around his shoulder. He started, and the hourglass slipped from his hands.
Doctor Horace fumbled to catch it, but it slipped from his fingered and the glass bulbs shattered against the ground.
Shaking beneath my grip, the doctor's voice was quiet when he spoke.
"That hourglass could manipulate the flow of time, and was our only way home."

Friday, October 10, 2014

Groups of animals

1. The alligator congregation couldn't really sing.
2. A paddling of ducks floats on the water.
3. There is a mischief of mice hiding in the cupboard.
4. Watch out for a cloud of grasshoppers.
5. That cackle of hyenas is laughing at us.
6. A bed of eels makes for an uncomfortable night.
7. A descent of woodpeckers met in the woods.
8. An ostentation of peacocks poses for pictures.
9. A scourge of mosquitoes irritated our day at the lake.
10. A tower of giraffes feasts on the highest acacia leaves.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Late to feed the fish

It was Tuesday, and I was late to feed the fish.
Racing down the street, I left the laughter of my friends behind. They thought I was being funny, racing home to feed the fish that live in the backyard pond. A few days ago, I would have been laughing with them.
But then I saw what happened when my uncle was a little late at feeding time.
Rounding the corner onto my street, nothing seemed amiss as I barreled past the three houses before mine. Cutting across the lawn to the back gate, I pulled it open and hurried along the side of the house.
The water of the pond was seething, and I caught sight of silver scales midst the foam. Reaching the large tank on the back porch, I scooped out a small bucketful of goldfish and cautiously approached the chaotic pond.
Once I was as close as I dared come with the fish in this mood, I took hold of the bucket with both hands. I threw the bucket forward in a well practiced toss. The water and goldfish flew in an arc into the center of the pond.
A flash of silver leapt out of the pond, revealing the hungry fish. Its long, narrow body was partially transformed: short legs scooped at the air as a face that had elongated to a muzzle that snapped open to catch goldfish with gleaming fangs. Twisting back against its own body, the golden maned head of the fish disappeared back into the pond that appeared too small to contain such a large creature.
Returning to the tank, I got another bucket of gold fish and tossed them into the pond as well.
After a third bucket, the pond settled back to its regular stillness: the fish finally satisfied with its meal.
I cautiously approached the pond, and looked down at the deceptively peaceful looking carp swimming slow circles around the pond.
If I hadn't seen its other form, I would have thought it was a boring fish that my uncle insisted on feeding multiple times a day.
But after it bit off some of his fingers when I forgot to feed it, I realized the true danger of the fish.
It was dangerous to forget about a fish that transforms into a dragon when hungry.
Especially when it lives in your backyard.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Things you can knit


1. Hats.
2. Blankets.
3. Scarves.
4. Diaper covers.
5. Sweaters.
6. Socks.
7. Christmas stockings.
8. Hot pads.
9. Dishcloths.
10. Toys.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A shapeshifter's notebook

I've always been good at becoming someone else.
My methods are just a bit... unconventional.
Most shapeshifters like me steal a person's shape by coming into contact with them. A bush of the arms down a busy street, or perhaps feigning sleep against their shoulders during a long bus ride. No matter what the method, they all had one thing in common.
Physical contact with the target.
I don't need that. Which is good, since it has never worked when I try it.
I was the disgrace in the family for quite a while. Mother complained that I would never find a good match when I came of age, while Father fretted that I wouldn't survive long enough to worry about marriage.
Our kind of shapeshifter isn't seen in a good light by the other species of the world. Probably due to the fact that when we steal a shape, the person who's shape we've stolen loses half of any magical abilities they might have.
Since the other half comes to us with their shape.
A good shapeshifter can carry over the stolen abilities from one shape to another, though this becomes more difficult when there are many abilities or powerful abilities.
It's easier for me to transfer abilities, as long as I get everything just right.
I don't need physical contact to steal a shape.
I just need to know about the shape I'm trying to steal.

Sitting in the pack, I study the girl by the pond. Touching my pen to my notebook, I jot down another note.
Auburn hair; shoulder length and curly. Slender build, potential fairy blood.
With each notation, I felt my connection to this girl growing. It wouldn't take much longer for the key to claiming her shape to be revealed.
Five years ago, I had stumbled onto my unique way of stealing shapes. After writing down a detailed description of a neighbor, I had added her full name to the bottom. It had surprised me to find that I knew the neighbor's full name, as we weren't close to the family of sphinxes.
But the moment I had lifted my pen from the paper after writing her name, I had felt myself change.
Suffice it to say, we moved before the neighbors could realize what had happened.
I was on my own at the moment, and had been tracking this girl for two days.
That was the downside of my method: it was slow.
But I was running low on backup shapes, and needed to restock. That was the upside of my method, since after recording the details and learning the shape's name, all I needed to do was add the last detail to their name and I could take their form as it had been recorded.
Which meant if I wanted to claim a magical ability, I needed to know what it was.
The girl stood from her crouch, and with a graceful leap she took rose into the air.
I smiled and looked down at my notebook.
The ability of flight.
I added the ability in the space above the standard list I kept on every page of the abilities I wished to carry over. As my pen lifted, the girl's name slipped into my thoughts.
Turning to the front of the book, I added her name to the list I kept there.
Taliyah Irvia Howl. (page thirteen)
Closing the notebook, I stood and left the bench behind. Now that her name had come to me, I had enough information to take her shape. All I needed to do was add her name to the page that held the rest of her information.
But that could wait until I needed to shed this form.
I quite enjoyed being an elf, after all.