Inheritance Option Ab1: Stay

Inheritance Option Ab1: Stay 

“So if I leave, you stop talking to me,” you muse to your pack.

“Um,” it shifts on your shoulders, “true, I guess, but wouldn’t that be akin to killing me?”

“Not sure you’re truly alive,” you say.

“Oh, but I am. Would you like me to explain?”

“No,” you pick up the letter and flip it over. There’s nothing on the other side. “I need to find a candlestick to show me around.”family-letter-in-1920-1-1553589

“Oh, yippee,” zip, zip, “you’re not going to perform a pack murder.”

Sheesh.

You open the office doors and study the bright halls lit by streaming sunlight, realizing that in all the dark halls requiring candlelight, the floors are bare. Here, there’s a long, red, green and brown rug running most of the hallway.

“Let’s find a candlestick,” you tell the pack. “Think this hallway’s safe since I’m coming from the inside?”

“No, probably not, but maybe if you walk along the side of the hallway and not on the rug, it’ll leave you be.”

You follow the pack’s advice but only a step in and the wall against your side bulges outward, hits your hip and sends you stumbling onto the rug.

You give an “argh!” of surprise and try to jump over to the other side. It doesn’t work as the wall on that side has bulged out as well.

The rug shudders and moves, offsetting your balance even more and you hit the floor. In a move so fast you have trouble recalling exactly how it happened, the rug curls around you and rolls up into a neat burrito. You go thud, thud, thud down the entire hallway until you’re so wrapped up that your arms are tight against your sides and it’s hard to breath.

persian-rug-1232276Then there’s a deep, ringing laugh of glee from the thing.

“Well, this is lovely,” zip, zip high up on your shoulders. In the tussle, the pack shifted to sit almost even with the back of your head. It wriggles and the rug laughs like it’s being tickled.

“Can you get free?” you ask.

“Working on it,” zip, zip.

In moments, the pack flops to the floor beside your head. The rug tries to slap an end onto it but your pack scrunches and slides farther down the hall.

“Sorry good chap,” it tells the rug, “But you’re all caught up with someone else.” Then to you, “Be back in a jiff with one of those bright fellows.”

Since when did your pack have an English accent? You can’t say but you watch as it shuffles its way down the hall. It’s one of the oddest things you’ve ever seen.

Like the rug’s frustrated at losing part of its prey, it tightens even more around you.

“Hey,” you complain.

It squeezes and you shift your face right and left, trying to add wiggle room. It doesn’t work but you notice something when you turn left.

The edge of the rug by your shoulder is fraying. This gives you an idea.

“Let me go,” you tell the rug, “or I’ll unravel you.”

It laughs again, that deep, almost belly laugh of delight.

“Fine.”

You grab a few fibers with your teeth and pull. This is going to take forever but it’s not like you have anything else to do. You keep pulling until you get a good, solid strand that actually starts to pull more of the edge loose.

There’s a shudder and an odd gasp of what sounds like weeping.

“Let me go or I’ll continue,” you tell the rug.

It loosens and then, just as quickly as it captured you, the rug unravels and sends you sailing into the office door.

When you look up, you see a person-sized candlestick standing at the far end of the hallway. Your pack sits on the floor beside it, candles-1199910almost like it’s standing up.

“Well done, Boss,” it zips.

***

Hoping to start on good terms, you repair the carpet from the small sewing kit in your pack.

Then the candle shows you the castle, you get a steak and see the treasures of the place.

You end up moving that one carpet in particular because even with a candle, it always trips you on the way to the office.

Other than that, you end up great friends with all the flowers because you enjoy gardening. The pansies do try to burry your feet. They seem to think you need to be planted, but they never try to eat you. Your pack on the other hand, they love to try to eat. It turns into a game figuring out where the pack gets buried. It complains incessantly but it stays your trusty pack.

The End

Congratulations on surviving the Castle! The adventure will be back on 26th. Until then, have a wonderful week.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Inheritance Option Ab: Go Left

The Adventure continues! Readers voted to follow the daisies’ advice and head left instead of right in an effort to get to the office. Let’s see if you’re deft enough to cross to the balcony!

Inheritance Option Ab: Go Left

The idea of the very walls guarding the office freaks you out. What’ll they do, start moving?

“Think the daisies are telling the truth?” you mutter to your pack.daisies-1479802

It shrugs. “Not sure they’re smart enough to mislead you, Boss. They have this very vacant look on their faces.”

Great. Flowers have faces and they can look vacant. Learn something new all the time. But then again, how can your pack tell? It still has no eyes.

“I’ve gone crazy,” you mutter.

“Certifiably,” your pack agrees.

You refrain from answering as you reach the bottom of the stairs.

They’re narrow but at the top you can see a vaulted ceiling and what appears to be a large, open hallway lit by sunlight. Compared to where you’re standing now, that hallway looks inviting.

Perhaps too inviting.

“Left it is,” you say. At the top of the stairs you pause and look both ways. The hallway to the right boasts big windows that show the internal courtyard of the castle. The sunlight streaming through is what lit the stairs from below.

In an odd lack of symmetry, the left hand hall has no windows but is lit with the soft glow of candles.

“Seems like a trap,” zip, zip.

You agree. You just hope you’re guessing correctly on which way is the most dangerous.

Squaring your shoulders, you step into the left hand hallway. Nothing moves, nothing speaks up. You’re almost to the end of the hallway where it takes a turn to the right when your pack clears its throat.

“What?” you ask.

“The candles like you,” your pack whispers.

candlestick-1252787You glance back. Instead of the small candles you just passed, you find a single candlestick as tall as yourself. Even as you watch, another candle hops off the wall and joins the big candle, congealing into it like mud into mud.

“It likes me?” you ask.

“It wants you to ask it to join you,” your pack whispers.

“Why are you whispering?”

“It freaks me out!”

The candle has no eyes or mouth. The flame at the top burns brighter as more candles amble over to join it while you consider. It is kind of nerve wracking because you can feel it watching you, somehow.

“Join me?” you ask, deciding a friend could be super useful.

The candle jumps up and down like an excited puppy. The flame at the top bobs and it splatters soft wax over the floor before hopping forward to stand beside you.

You put a step between yourself and the candle and then proceed to the turn in the hallway.

There’s no light. It’s so black you can’t see more than ten feet ahead.

“Glad I invited you,” you comment to the candle. It waddles forward to light your path and bounces on its silver frame while it waits for you to catch up.

“It’s making me dizzy,” your pack grumbles.

You ignore it.

The hall leads to a single door. On the other side you stop to adjust to the sunlight streaming in the bay windows.

The candle stops in the hallway.

“Thank you,” you say.

It bounces up and down and then places itself squarely in the doorway. Behind it vague shapes move in the dark but they don’t come forward into the light of the candlestick.

“Still creep you out?” you ask the pack.

“Not so much,” it responds.

On the far side of the room, you open the windows and peek out. There, to your right, is the balcony the daisies spoke of. The sketchy part is the stretch of about six feet between the bay window and the railing of the balcony. There’s nothing but brick wall to hang onto in between and the balcony sits above the window.

No matter how you consider it, you’re going to have to push off and grab ahold of that railing.

“Don’t fall,” zip, zip.

“Hush.”

All you need right now is a reminder. You climb out of the window and stretch toward the balcony with the fingers of your right hand on the frame of the window.

Nerves make your fingers sweat.

balcony-1507143Focus on that railing, you tell yourself.

If you’re deft. The flower’s words run through your mind.

I’m definitely daft. You decide and push off from the window.

You left hand slaps against the metal of the railing. The sweat on your palm makes the grip slick but you latch on and grunt as your weight falls on that arm. In a moment you swing your right arm around and grasp ahold with both hands.

Now for a pull up.

Perhaps it’s the adrenaline, but it’s the easiest pull up of your life. You slide over the railing and crash against the floor of the balcony.

“You’re squishing me!” your pack complains.

You groan and roll over to push to your feet. The office proves to be a lushly furnished affair with heavy oak shelving and desk. In the middle of the empty desk sits a letter.

Hermit,

Congratulations for making it this far. Most don’t make it past the pansies.  

And Welcome to the Castle of Other. While within the moat, anything may have animation. Your task is to protect it. Some will reward you richly for watching out for them. The candles and dishes in particular will thank you for your guardianship. (Ask the dishes for a nice steak, medium rare. It’s the best I’ve ever tasted.)

The rugs and certain flowers will not thank you but they will tolerate you as long as you show them discipline and courtesy. The rugs hate and fear fire. So always take a candle with you and keep the rugs clean and they’ll leave you alone.

You are the only person I trust to watch out for this treasure. You understand solitude and discipline. If you choose to walk away, tell the Bridge and Mr. Toad to drain the moat. All of this will cease to exist.

If you choose to stay, there are treasures beyond imagining here but they require your diligence. Tell the Candles you’re staying and they’ll show you the ropes.

Yours truly,
James Levi

You gulp.

Do you…

Ab1: Stay

or

Ab2: Leave

Blessings and see you Thursday for the end of this Adventure!

Jennifer

Inheritance Option A: Follow the Pack’s Advice

Inheritance Option A: Follow the Pack’s Advice

The world’s gone completely topsy turvy. Maybe you’ve been alone for too long and it addled your brain but, if you’re addled anyway, you may as well have fun with it, right?

“All right,” you agree with the pack and pick it back up, throwing only one strap over a shoulder. “Watch my back,” you tease.

“Absolutely!” zip, zip. The pack doesn’t catch your tone.

pansy-1398202Upon your first step, all the flowers swivel to ‘look’ at you. The pansies in particular seem to lean forward as though they’re picking up your scent.

“No funny business,” you say to them.

They nod their heads and give off a “hehehehe” that sends chills down your spine. The other flowers knock heads with the pansies and emit a ‘shhhhh’.

“That’s just creepy,” you mutter.

“Indeed!” agrees your pack, which isn’t comforting at all as you can feel it mimicking your shudder.

By now you’ve reached the door on the right hand side of the courtyard and you slip inside before the stares of the flowers can creep you out any more.

Inside’s dark. Faint light filters through windows high up on the walls, but it’s so weak that it only glints off of the frames of the pictures on the walls. It doesn’t show you what kinds of pictures are displayed.

You step forward until you’re past the first set of glinting frames. You don’t make it another step before your pack shudders.

“Hey Boss,” it says, “they’re watching us.”

So many questions run through your head.

“How can you tell? You haven’t got eyes.” Then, before the pack answers, “Who’s watching us?”

“The flowers in the pictures.”

“Any pansies?”

daisies-1479802“No, just daisies so far.”

Sheesh! This is ridiculous, but you can’t keep wandering blindly.

“Ask them where the office is.”

“Office?” zip zip.

“Looking to see if this James Levi left a note, instructions, something.”

“Oh, okay. Hello Daisies.” The walls giggle. “Can you tell us where the office is?”

“Up the stairs and to the right,” the walls sing, “but it’s guarded day and night. Perhaps you should go up the stairs and to the left. You can cross the balcony if you’re deft.”

Or daft, you think, but don’t say it.

“Guarded by what?” you ask.

“Guarded by what?” you pack asks the walls.

“Rugs and pictures, lights and halls,” the song echoes with the daisies’ delight.

You shudder.

So, upstairs…

Aa. Right?

or

Ab. Left?

Blessings and see you Tuesday for the continuation of this bizarre adventure =)

Jennifer

Inheritance

All righty then! It’s July and time for the adventure to return to its regular schedule. This new one seems to be a mix between Alice in Wonderland and the Dresden Files. Let’s see where it takes us.

Inheritance

He looks like a toad, short, squat and rather large lipped with a squishy face. You don’t usually have such a reaction to people but the poor man at your door seems to embody his ugliness like he’s proud of it.

“Do I have your name right?” he whistles through his teeth.

cabin-2-1503914“Y-e-s,” you draw the word out. No one visits you, not way out here where it takes a four-wheel drive vehicle almost two hours to reach your door.

Toad man definitely came equipped. The truck sitting behind him pops as it cools. Its hood sits almost even with the top of his head.

“You are the recipient of James Levi’s estate,” he pulls out a large roll of paper from his satchel and stuffs it in your face. “Sign pages three, eleven, sixteen and twenty two.”

“What?”

He just stares at you, still holding the papers.

“I don’t know a James Levi,” you say.

“He states in his will the estate must go to another hermit. Namely, you. You are the only other hermit.” The way he says this last bit makes it sound like you’re the only other hermit ever. Odd man.

Being a hermit, you don’t exactly care for confrontation. You sigh and start signing. When you’re done, he stuffs the entire stack of papers back into his bag and hands over a single page. On it you find an address.

“Enjoy,” toad man spins on his heel and climbs back into his truck, using a stepladder he pulls from the floorboard to reach the seat.

You read the address in your hand.

Yuck. That’s farther out there than your small cabin. Too far to make it to today. Tomorrow morning it is.

***

Even leaving before dawn, you reach James Levi’s estate well after noon. Whoever this man was, he really didn’t want any visitors. You suspected as much, so you loaded up your four-wheeler into the bed of your truck the night before.

Now you’re truck sits alone, left on the road ten miles back, because the road narrowed so much you couldn’t fit the Chevy through the trees.

You cut the engine to the four-wheeler and simply sit on it for a bit. You’re in the middle of nowhere, literally surrounded by forest and mountains with barely a trail leading to the place, and before you rises a flipping castle.

castle-1232067How in all that’s Holy did James Levi build such a beast?

Gate-check.

Moat-check.

Turrets-check.

Full on medieval castle.

You shake your head and dismount the four-wheeler. On your back you carry a backpack with basic supplies for the night since you’re so far out from even your own cabin.

A tiny footbridge crosses the moat and gives access to the gate.

You’re suspicious by nature, so you kneel down and check under the bridge. Nothing seems out of the ordinary. Nothing happens when you cross, your heels making soft thuds on the wooden planks, but when you reach the far side, the bridge gives a shudder.

You step onto solid ground and immediately, the bridge breaks in two and lifts into the air like a toll bridge, cutting you off from the other side.

“Hello?” you holler.

Your voice echoes and dies but no one responds.

Someone’s out there, though, you’ve got that itch against the back of your neck like a spider’s climbing your skin. You shiver and approach the gate. A small intercom graces the right side. You press the red button and it gives off a buzzzzzz.

Moments pass, then, “Go away,” crackles out of the speaker.

“Um, can’t,” you respond. “The bridge is up.”

“Dumb bridge. All right, come in.”

There’s another buzz and the gate rattles upward.

Flipping medieval castle. When it’s high enough, you duck under and step into the courtyard beyond.

“Careful of the pansies,” the speaker pops. “They’ll eat you alive.”

“What?” you ask.

The speaker doesn’t respond.

You scan the courtyard and find pansies, tulips, geraniums, and a variety of other flowers you don’t recognize scattered around the yard.

“Perhaps we should skirt the outside of the yard,” says a voice behind you.

You spin but there’s no one there. You spin in a full circle and still don’t see anyone.

“Can we please stop that, it’s making me dizzy.”

You freeze. Then, with two fingers, you pinch the strap of you pack and slide it from your shoulders.

It’s a simple thing. Green with only two outside pockets and a main zipper that follows the full front of the pack.

“Much better.”

The zipper’s closed but as these words come from your most trusted pack, it unzips and rezips without the need of the zipper car.

Take it in stride, you try to calm your racing heart.

“Skirt the outside?” you ask.

“No pansies,” zip, zip.

So do you…

A. Follow the pack’s advice?

Or

B. Run Away Screaming?

Blessings and see you Thursday,

Jennifer

Time and Value

Clear warning, this post is a bit different. I don’t usually talk about myself in depth but I always feel a bit guilty when I take time off and I thought I’d share a little about what’s happening in my little brain. There is a real person behind the adventures, I swear =)

Here goes.

Yay! Cake!

Yay! Cake!

A little bit ago I turned thirty. Not even sure what to say about it. It just happened. Kinda snuck up on me and laughed in sadistic glee as it whizzed right by. Crazy things, time and age. I don’t feel thirty.

I somehow thought I’d be more comfortable in my own skin by this age. Now I’m realizing it’s human nature to find fault, especially as a woman, in myself. It’s human nature to wish for straight hair when the humidity turns my god given locks to ringlets. To crave clear skin when I’ve got a healthy body that keeps up with my passions for climbing and hiking and snowboarding.

The list of ‘have-nots’ is endless if I let it. It’s so, so easy to focus on the ‘have-nots’ and completely forget the even longer, more uplifting list of ‘haves.’

And I’m coming to realize focusing on the list of haves is not a comparison thing. I can’t compare myself to another woman or compare my good traits with my bad. That way lies grief and tears because, inevitably, it either leads to pride or the pit of have-nots again.

The list of haves is simple fact. Something we each can own as who we are, beautiful, or handsome, in our own right.

I’m beautiful. Shut up internal dialogue that says otherwise.

I’m also successful despite the fact that I haven’t completely accomplished all my dreams and goals yet. Failure only drowns me if I stop trying, stop living for the things that God’s instilled in me to enjoy and have a passion for.

But sometimes those passions, those values, conflict and it feels like failure to back away from one to accomplish another for a time.

When I look in the mirror and focus on the things I have, I see the deep blue irises I inherited from my dad, the slightly wavy hair of both my parents and the shape of my mother’s graceful face. These are a legacy of a family I greatly value.

Here’s where the passions conflict right now.

Writing’s always a passion for me. There’s a drive in me that just won’t quite. To take time off feels like I’m failing myself and those who actually read my work. (Thank you to everyone reading this! I greatly appreciate you.)

But time with family is precious beyond anything I can describe. Over the next month, my husband and I have the opportunity to spend time with family that we haven’t had in several years. So it’s been placed on my heart to focus solely on them. To step back from the writing in order to appreciate the blessing that is family. Perhaps this is where the wisdom of thirty comes in. I considered trying to do both but, in all honesty, I doubt I’d do either justice if I did.

So thank you to everyone in advance for understanding a month’s break from the adventure. (And thank you for being patient with my rambling today =)

I encourage you over the next month, and beyond that, to focus on who you are individually (no comparisons) and find value in the things that make you uniquely you. You’re beautiful, handsome, and amazing simply because you are who you are and there’s not another person like you.

Until July, blessings,

Jennifer

Raining Frogs

And the adventure’s back! I feel like a talk show host sometimes. And here we have the adventure stories involving multiple endings and dangerous perils. Choose wisely, for there be dragons beyond them there boarders.

Okay, sorry, had to get a bit of shenanigans out of my system, but seriously, this piece was fun and random to write. Hope you enjoy =)

Raining Frogs

Today’s the day you’ve been working toward for months. Although the sky hangs overcast and the morning holds a gloomy gray in the air, you walk down the boardwalk with your shoulders back and your head high because, in your hand, you’re holding your final payment from the Sheriff.

You caught your last bounty that morning. Months you’ve tracked down criminals, with one goal in mind, to buy the chunk of land for sale on the far side of town. On it you plan to build your new home and work a small field and produce just enough to trade for anything else you might ever need. You never have to track down another person or haul them in for payment. No more wandering for you.

The money clinks softly in your pocket and you close you fingers around the coins to keep them from making any more sound. No need to announce your good fortune.

The bank’s just opened when you arrive and you step through the door with a barely controlled smile.

The door’s swinging shut when you hear it. SPLAT.

You pause mid step. With the door now closed, the sound’s softer, but you still hear the repeated. Splat, splatsplat, splat, splatsplatsplat…

You back step and crack the door open with a shoulder blade. And SPLAT, against your face.

frog-1390604You give an ‘ugh’ and quickly step forward again to let the door close.

“Did you know,” you announce to the three bank tellers on the far side of the room, “that it’s raining frogs.”

They look up and their identical looks of skepticism could make them triplets.

“Just saying,” you shrug and approach the right hand teller. You pull the Sheriff’s payment from your pocket as you move and say, “Deposit for my account,” like raining frogs isn’t anything unusual.

The woman doesn’t look down at the coins you place on the counter. She points, “You’ve got a bit of, um, slime, on your face.”

“Oh,” you wipe your cheek with a sleeve and, sure enough, the fabric comes away with yellow slime. “Like I said,” you smile, “frogs.”

She swallows. “Really?”

You nod, with your smile in place, and point at the coins for deposit. Nothing could ruin this day.

The door opens and, with it, you hear the almost solid splatsplatsplatsplat of a deluge of frogs. When you glance at the newcomers, several small, colorful amphibians hop their way in around the people’s feet.

You’re still looking at the energetic frogs when there’s the heavy Cha-chack of a shotgun being charged.

Your gut knots and you raise your eyes from the floor to find four people, each holding shotguns. Two of them approach the counter and sling potato sacks at the tellers.

“Fill ‘em up,” one says.

The Sheriff’s last payment still sits, gleaming, on the counter between you and the third teller.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

A frog lets out a ribbbbet.

“Frogs,” you mutter.

“What’s that?” one of the robbers point his gun at you.

“Frogs,” you nod toward a green and red, glossy backed critter hopping toward his foot. “That one’s probably poisonous.”

He grumbles and kicks the frog away. It splats, unharmed, against the wall, before ribbeting to the ground where it starts hopping toward the man again.

The little amphibian seems determined to reach the robber and he’s not the only one hopping determinedly toward one of them.

Frogs chasing bank robbers. Interesting.

You eye the robbers. They’re all relatively short, wearing hoods and heavy clothing that you mistook before as rain gear. Now you see it just serves to make them nondescript but doesn’t actually protect them from rain. Splotches of color, like someone threw paint blobs at them, cover their heads and shoulders. The man’s boot, where he kicked the frog, boasts a red and green smudge.

Perhaps the clothing protects them from the frogs.

The slime didn’t harm you, so maybe these people aren’t human.

That’s a lot of guesswork, though.

With full potato sacks, the robbers back away toward the door. They haven’t touched your payment, so you don’t move.

Then one of them spies the gleaming coins and greed glistens in his eyes.

Great.

Do you…

A. Let Him Take the Coins?

Or

B. Fight with Frogs?

Raining Frogs Option B. Fight with Frogs

You worked for years to earn enough for your little parcel of land and now this two-bit robber wants your hard earned payment. coins-1198693No way are you okay with that.

As he approaches, you back up in a non-threatening gesture.

That close to you, you see he really is short, and you’re not a towering individual. The bulkiness of his clothing also covers very broad shoulders and what looks like the bulges of bovine ears under his hood. Those bulges move warily.

He’s definitely not human.

Around his feet hop a couple of the frogs. They seem to be trying to hop into the gap of his pant leg but he’s moving too much and they keep missing the narrow target.

His hand comes down on the counter to sweep the coins into his sack.

You stoop down, grasp a squishy frog and pitch it into the robber’s face.

He screeches and drops the potato sack full of money. It hits the floor with a crash and glittering coins scatter across the floor in all directions.

The robber stumbles and his hood falls back.

He’s ugly. Truly misshapen with a bald head covered in blotchy colors, big, rubbery ears and warts everywhere.

The teller behind you gives a horrified gasp.

Where the frog smacked the robber’s skin, steam rises and bubbles blister his flesh. He wipes at the slime frantically, trying to clean himself with his sleeve, but his movements are shaky and he gets slime onto his hands as well. Immediately the skin there blisters and lets up steam. There’s a hissing like an egg dropped on a hot skillet.

Useful.

You grab another frog and pitch it into his face, driving him backward. Two of his companions move up beside him and you start pitching frogs faster.

But there are four robbers and only one of you. By the time you have a chance to look around for the last man/ghoul/whatever thing, it’s too late.

bricks-1554855He lands on your shoulders like two tons of brick and you hit the floor with an ugh!

Although he’s small, he weighs enough to equal a horse.

“More for the offering,” he says in glee. The others chortle in hissing, high-pitched delight.

While his companions gather up the fallen coins, he ties your hands behind you and throws an extra potato sack over your head. It smells musty. Maybe the potatoes that used to hold it turned moldy.

Offering? You wonder as he forces you to your feet.

He pushes you forward and a moment later you’re outside getting hit by splatting frogs. Deluge is right.

Your captures grumble.

Do you…

Bb. Stay Quite for Now?

or

Bc. Make Their Lives Difficult?

Raining Frogs Option Bc: Make Life Difficult

These creatures ruined your day. This perfect, lovely day of realized dreams. A vindictive part of you simply wants to ruin their day in return.

sacks-1162226Although your head’s covered with a potato sack, you have no trouble telling when you’ve left the bank. Frogs splat against your head and shoulders in an unceasing rain of amphibians. They fill the air with ribbits and croaks over the general, thick splatting sound their soft bodies make against the ground.

You wait until you’re away from the bank and out into the street before you let loose on your four captors. With a shove of your hip, you push the right one far enough away that you can kick his legs. Luck’s with you. The kick connects solidly although with the hood you can’t say where.

You guess near his knee because he screams and crumbles to the ground. He continues screaming in a gargle like show of agony.

You don’t question your luck when he doesn’t rise. Instead, you shift to attack the creature on your left.

He sweeps your legs from beneath you and you hit the ground with a thud that rattles teeth. The potato sack slides to the top of your head and you shake, making it fall away completely. You’re just in time to see the creature aim a kick. As his leg draws back, you snake your feet around the leg holding his weight and pull.

He falls and huffs when he hits. His hood falls off and within seconds, frogs cover him.

You stare, shocked, steam hisses and frogs croak but when they clear away from him, there’s nothing left.

A quick glance confirms the first robber suffered a similar fate. You can’t remember when he stopped screaming. It all happened in such a blur.

You meet the eyes of the last two, and shudder. Inhuman fury turns their already ugly faces to masks of pure hate.

They shriek and race at you.

You try to roll away but your hands are still bound. The first kick hits low on your spine. The butt of a shotgun barely misses your temple.

A part of you wonders whether to be thankful or frustrated that they don’t just shoot you but as more and more kicks connect, you loose any thought except trying to protect your body.

You pull your hands and arms around your face and curl into a tight ball. Another kick rocks you onto your back.

Two things hit your pain-addled brain. One, your hands are free, and two, you just rolled onto a shotgun.

You gab the gun and pull the trigger.

One of the attackers staggers and falls to his knees and, because of his short stature, this puts him into easy reach of the jumping frogs. They swarm him and he disappears.

When you look up, you freeze. The last creature holds a shotgun. You’re faced off, each holding the weapon on the other.

Time slows for a subjective minute. Frogs hop behind your last opponent like they’re encouraging you. Several land on top of each frog-1390604other and before long, you realize they’re stacking themselves behind him to reach his head. It’s the oddest thing you’ve ever seen.

You’re not sure if the shot you took at the other creature hurt it or just knocked it over. All you know is the frogs definitely hurt it.

Do you…

Bc1: Shoot Him?

or

Bc2: Stall for the Frogs?

Raining Frogs Option Bc2: Stall for the Frogs

The shotgun might not harm him and, if it doesn’t, all you’ll do is anger him further while he’s got a gun of his own. And you know his bullets will hurt you. Erring on the side of caution seem like the smarter way to go.

The creature’s eyes narrow and he sneers. It’s an ugly expression beyond just the contempt, with teeth the shade of moss and jagged edges that remind you of a saw blade.

“Not fast enough,” he mocks in a guttural voice.

“Perhaps,” you say with a shrug and give a scornful smile back.

He backs away by a step.

“Hold right there,” you say. Somehow you sound more confident than you feel but the confidence must sound convincing because he stops moving.

You hold a relieved sigh. He almost knocked over the tower of frogs fast growing behind him.

The creature leers but there’s uncertainty in the expression. You’re at a standstill and you both know it.frog-1390604

You kick several frogs at him.

He flinches. Boom! The gun in his hand rocks back, almost hitting his face.

You flinch as the shot whistles past your head and chunks of brick fly off the corner of the bank where the shot slams into it. They spatter the ground, mixing with the solid splattering of frogs. There’s red and yellow and green splotches all over every area of exposed skin on you.

Spooked from the gunshot, the creature spins to run and comes face to face with a tower of frogs.

You could swear the frogs grin in glee as they jump onto his face and work their way into his hood.

He shrieks like his companions and disappears in a flood of frogs. You watch, horrified and fascinated by the odd sight.

And then the last robber’s gone. Not eaten, not burned by poisonous frogs, just gone.

There’s a deafening quality to the ribbits of all the frogs and then, poof, they disappear too. You glance around to find everything except the money the robbers tried to get away with just gone.

Sunlight hits the street like it’s smiling on a perfect, uninterrupted summer day. Slime drips from your face, so the frogs were not a figment of your imagination.

coins-1198693And there are bags of money laying on the street.

You gather it all, making several trips, to return it to the bank.

“So what happened?” The sheriff asks later, eyeing your colorful skin.

You tell him. Straight truth.

He scowls and moves on to the tellers.

Their stories aren’t any more convincing, so you come up with a story about four robbers that ran away and he sketches out wanted posters for four very ugly fugitives.

Every time you see those posters you giggle in hysteria. There’s just something crazy funny about it.

You become known as the crazy person who owns the land just outside of town, but just like the town drunk, the people accept you and you continue to giggle every time you see a wanted poster.

Perhaps it was all the frog slime that scrabbled your brain. You don’t know and don’t really care. Life’s just more fun this way.

The End

Yay! You defeated the robbers! And got your parcel of land although you might be a little addled in the brain. =)

Blessings,

Jennifer

 

House Sitting

Hope everyone’s week has gotten off to a great start! For some entertainment, let’s start a new adventure =)

(Some adventures are just a blast to write. This was one of those. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!)

House Sitting

mountain-lion-1370392He’s staring at you with golden, unblinking eyes. A deep rumble emanates from his chest, just loud enough for you to hear the burr of it like a distant engine. You try to stare back and he slowly closes his eyes and opens them in an exaggerated, lazy blink.

When you were hired for the job, you were ecstatic. Finding work these days is difficult in the extreme and this promises, if you do well, to be a continuing job instead of only a short time gig. No one you know has a full time, continuing job.

Ms Katerina explained in your interview that you’d have to look after her baby cat. At the time, you pictured a cute little kitten with fuzzy fur that might fit in the palm of your hand. Not a problem, you’d answered. She said nothing about wrangling with a 50 pound baby cougar.

“He’s just darling,” she’d said, “and loves to be scratched under the chin.” She’d gone on to explain the details of his diet and how long she’d be gone on vacation.

Two weeks.

You were in a manor house, house sitting essentially, for two weeks with a cat that could eat you.

Gregory. That’s what she named the cougar.

“Hello Gregory,” you say, trying to decide how you’re going to get from the front door, which you just walked through, to the hallway to your left that leads to the kitchen.

The sun outside sits against the horizon. According to Ms. Katerina’s instructions, it’s Gregory’s dinner time.

Great. You showed up just in time for the cat to be hungry.

Gregory’s purr deepens and the cat pads two steps closer and then stops to stretch his spin in a languid yoga pose all cats do. Front paws outstretched, butt in the air, spine elongated. He yawns and his continued purr comes out with a r-a-r-o-w.

You swallow, watching the teeth he just displayed for you.

Gotta get to the kitchen.

zip-up-1258279You hold out your bag at arm’s length and plop it to the floor. When you packed, you still had the furry kitten image in your head. Ms. Katerina mentioned Gregory loves catnip, so you picked up a small bag of it on your way to the manor. Considering the size of the cat, the amount’s definitely too small, but you slid the package into the outside zipper pocket of your pack. Perhaps the cat’s large nose will pick it up and find it interesting enough to distract him. Hopefully long enough for you to get to the kitchen.

Gregory eyes the bag and his nostrils flare in and out several times. He sinks down, focused with deadly glee, and then pounces, front paws hitting your bag so hard it slides across the floor right at you.

You side step and bolt for the kitchen door.

With a solid thud, you shut it behind you and throw the bolt, an actual slide bolt, not just a lock in the doorknob.

Through the small window in the wooden door, you peek to see where the cougar’s at.

He bats at your poor bag, now ripped down its entire length on the side with the zippered pocket, and then throws his head at it and, in a half roll over his front shoulder, rubs his entire spine across the bag.

Huge paws in the air, he wiggles back and forth, eyes closed in drug-induced ecstasy.

Great, you just drugged the cougar. But he’s not chasing you, so you recede down the hallway to find the kitchen.

Five minutes later, you’re staring at the instructions Ms. Katerina left. No wonder she can’t keep hired help these days.

First thing on the list is dinner for Gregory. Venison. The cat eats better than you do. You find the containers with raw venison in the fridge and portion out the desired amount into a metal bowl made for a mastiff dog.

There’s a thud to your right where you bolted the hallway door. Gregory just figured out he doesn’t have easy access to half the house.

Thud.

You stare at Ms Katerina’s instructions.

Feed Gregory at 7pm every night and 9am every Morning. Blablabla. Gregory can be a bit feisty when hungry. I’ve found feeding him in the backyard or the workout room works best so he doesn’t break anything.

Umm. The backyard sounds best but to get there, you have to go through the door Gregory’s pounding against.

Thud.

The workout room’s closer but upstairs. You’d have to let Gregory through the house and hope he doesn’t break anything, or attack you, on his way to dinner.

Thud.

So…

A.Backyard?

Or

B.Workout room?

House Sitting Option A: Backyard

You have two weeks with this cat. Best to face him head on right from the start or he’s going to make your life a circus. As a side meat-1474534thought, you pocket Ms Katerina’s instructions.

Then, with mastiff bowl in hand, you make your way to the locked hallway door and peek through the small glass window.

Gregory’s no longer ramming his shoulder against it. Instead, he paces back and forth in a languid stride with his tail lashing side to side. His eyes lock onto the window and your face, and his lips pull back over his long teeth in a protest. His nostrils flare as he picks up the smell of venison.

Your pack, and its contents, are scattered all over the entryway floor behind him. Apparently the catnip no longer holds any interest.

Nothing for it, you decide, and slide the bolt open on the door.

Gregory sits back on his haunches, ears and eyes alert.

No fast motions. No fast motions.

You pull the door open and step through. Gregory simply watches, his golden eyes unblinking in that eerie cat way. He’s close enough that you can make out individual eyelashes on his large lids.

“Good boy, Gregory,” you say.

The cougar’s eyes open wider but he doesn’t move as you side step toward the back hallway that leads to the yard. His head follows you with each step but he doesn’t move.

You’re not sure what catches his interest, but that instant before you step into the hallway and out of his sight, his muscles tighten into a pouncing stance.

“No,” you say, trying to deter him.

This only serves to excite him more. He crouches and his butt lifts a little.

“Greg—“ You don’t get the name out fully before he leaps.

puma-1504195You spin and bolt down the hall. On the right and left are multiple rooms you could dart into, but none of their doors are very thick. Judging from the thud against the other door, these ones wouldn’t hold up under Gregory’s momentum.

You glance back.

And he’s got a lot of momentum!

Just as he’s about to land with his paws on your shoulders, you grab a handful of venison and toss it into his face.

There’s a wet slap and the cat crashes into a wall, denting in the drywall, as he attempts to catch the meat in his mouth.

Those long teeth sink into the meat and juices drip down the cougar’s chin. He pauses to tear the venison into smaller pieces, which gains you most of the hallway before he takes off after you again. Right before you hit the door into the yard, you toss a second piece of venison over your shoulder.

There’s a slap from it hitting the floor and then you’re through the door and out onto the patio.

Without stopping, you drop the bowl, and the remaining meat, onto the concrete slab and then crash into the door of the enclosed gazebo. It swings open, hits the wall and swings shut again behind you. The gazebo’s one of those full wooden post structures, so it might hold out against the cat if he decides to ram his shoulder against the door.

Only then do you stop and grab your knees. Gasps of breath heave in and out of your chest. You start to shake with the adrenaline coursing through your system.

Two weeks! Running from Gregory every time you feed him might just kill you, if, of course, the cat’s teeth don’t do the job first.

You pull Ms. Katerina’s instructions from your pocket and smooth out the creases in the paper. It shakes in your hand.

Gregory’s rather messy when he eats, so I rinse him off when done. This keeps him from smearing blood on the walls. 

You scoff. Right. But then you read on.

He likes warm water so I leave the hose in the sun during the day and he’ll come right to you for his washing.

She’s serious! Don’t cats typically clean themselves?

You look up to locate him but he’s not on the patio. From where you stand, you can see the rest of the venison still in the massive bowl. Did he exit the house behind you?

You’re not sure. You were too busy getting away to actually see him leave the house. So where is he now?

A low rumble makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. On a heel, you slowly spin to find Gregory, perched atop the wall where the ceiling of the gazebo has been cut away for him to enter. Kind of like a cat door.

hose-pipe-1624399Juices from the venison smear his muzzle and he licks his lips with a long tongue.

You could go for the hose and hope he really likes to be washed.

Or you could try to make a stand. He’s not eaten all of the venison, so at this point, he finds you more interesting than dinner. Or he thinks you’ll be more tasty.

Great.

Do you…

Aa. Make a Stand?

or

Ab. Go for the Hose?

House Sitting Option Aa: Make a Stand

You just ran through the house being chased by this beast. With two weeks to go, you aren’t in any mood to let this feline set the
precedent. No way are you letting him dictate every meal.

puma-1504195You meet the cat’s golden eyes, set your feet and place your hands on your hips in a challenge to the giant feline.

Gregory yawns, unimpressed.

You don’t move. Of course he’s going to win the staring contest, but that’s not the point.

Gregory yawns again, showing his long teeth and raspy tongue, and then he lays down atop the wall, never taking his eyes from you.

That easy? 

You doubt it. You feel like the mouse in a cat and mouse game. But you can’t stand there all day, so you relax and turn toward the door.

As soon as you turn, his muscles bunch and he launches off the wall.

Ha! You expected the move, so you slide through the door and use it as a shield to break his momentum. His body hits the wood with a thud that forces you back several steps, almost closing the latch.

When Gregory hits the floor, you shove the door open against him and he sprawls onto his back. Claws and tail lash out as he scrambles to stand back up.

You don’t let him get so far.

You grab his large paws and pull them all together in a hog tie position. In the same move, you place a knee against his throat to keep him from biting at your hands. Then you lean in, against his powerful chest, to weigh him down.

He thrashes around, almost throwing you off, but you manage to hold the position until he stops moving.

If he were any older, and bigger, the move wouldn’t have worked. As is, your body screams at you that you’re straining it to the max just to subdue the beast.

You hold him for a bit longer, just to show him you can, and then you slowly back off him.

Gregory rolls over to his side, eyeing you with far more caution than he did a moment earlier.

“Dinner,” you say and point through the open door at the bowl on the patio.

Gregory stretches and then moves past you to finish his meal.

Relief makes you weak. For now, at least, you showed the cat who’s boss. But you didn’t make any friends in the process.

Gregory finishes his meal and then, true to Ms Katrina’s instructions, he moves over to lay beside the sun-warmed garden hose.

After washing him and finding a meal of your own, you head farther into the house to the room Ms Katrina said you could use while staying.

Before you reach the room, you pause outside the study door. It stands open and inside, drawers law scattered with papers and other bits littering the floor.

A quick exploration of the house confirms that the study’s not the only room in such a condition. It wasn’t that way when you first arrived. Sure, you were distracted with Gregory, but you’re not that unobservant.

At some point between getting the cat’s dinner and now, someone’s been in the house.

But you’ve no way of knowing who did it or what was taken, if anything. Nothing for it now. You go to bed, discouraged on top of being exhausted. The likelihood of Ms Katrina keeping you on after the two weeks just got very slim.

SONY DSC

You toss and turn until sleep finally takes over.

It isn’t a noise, or even the extra weight on the bed, that wakes you. It’s a sense of unease. You open your eyes to find the shimmery orbs of Gregory’s eyes watching you. He’s laying, sprawled to his full length, against your right side. His nose sits less than five inches from your face. When he licks his lips, you almost feel it against you skin.

Do you…

Aa1: Shove Him Away?

or

Aa2: Start Talking to Him?

House Sitting Option Aa2: Talk to Him

Your eyes burn from lack of sleep while Gregory’s breath fans across your face. All you wanted was a stable job, something more than jumping from job to job. What’s the harm in hoping?

You don’t want to wrestle with the feline. Exhaustion weights your limbs down and, added on top of that, Gregory’s weight holds your right side in place.

“You’re a big pain,” you mutter.

The breath on your face stops for just a second but then resumes, like you surprised him by suddenly speaking.

“All I wanted was a steady job. That’s it. You know my friend Wilson cleans up people’s garbage just to have enough money for his dinner each day. That’s no kind of life. And my friend…” you ramble on.

Other than his orb like eyes, you can’t really see the feline. But you can make out the faint reflection that tells you he’s watching.

SONY DSC

And you see it a second before he lays his head down on your shoulder because the orbs wink out, like he’s closing his eyes to sleep.

You keep rambling. “I worked for a while as a day laborer on a farm. Good work, but seasonal. They don’t keep…”

Gregory’s body relaxes into your side, making it a tad hard to breathe, but you don’t risk moving if he’s actually going to sleep.

You’re not sure how much longer you chatter on about the different jobs you’ve had, but eventually, sleep takes you too.

When you wake, the cat’s not beside you but the blanket holds the impression of his large body.

Breakfast becomes a rendition of the dinner the night before but this time you don’t move fast enough to reach the back yard.

Gregory doesn’t go for the bowl immediately. Instead, he pins you to the floor and, very slowly, closes his jaws against your throat. He holds there, just like you did the night before after pinning him, for a moment, and then releases you and goes to eat his venison.

You’re heart beats so hard in your chest that you start assessing yourself for a heart attack. By the time Gregory’s ready to be cleaned up, you have your heart back to normal but the adrenaline still leaves you weak in the knees.

The text two weeks turn into who can best whom. Sometimes you pin the cat, sometimes he pins you. It’s never exactly friendly but neither do you hurt each other. And each night, you fall asleep rambling to the feline curled up beside you.

When Ms Katerina returns, your nerves are kind of fried. She pays you, thanks you for taking care of Gregory and lets you go. Between your fried nerves and Ms Katerina’s disappointment over her missing things, you separate on good terms but will never be back.

mountain-lion-1370392Although you do wonder, if you handled things differently, would you have made a friend of Gregory? Was such a thing even possible with a wild cougar?

The End

Thank you to everyone who participated in the adventure. =) A new adventure will start on the 17th.

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer