Archive | August 13, 2014

The Clean-up

First in this story: Unwelcome Guests
Previous: Kicking Out Unwelcome Guests

I have more planned, but this was a good stop point for this part. 673 words.

“Your target was never here.” Baram punctuated his sentence with a sharp kick to the bikers’ leader’s ribs. The woman grunted, and, on the other side of the field of battle, the nearly-dead tank made a pained noise.


Worry about it later. Baram picked up the boy. “This one stays with us. And your flamethrower.”

“Keep the girl, we need the boy.”

Even more interesting. Baram shifted his weight to his back foot, Jaelie’s cue to pick up the negotiation. “If you need the boy, even more reason we should keep him. You were the ones who were dumb enough to attack us on our home territory.”

“We were hunting down a target the boy said was here.”

“Then he’s not that good, is he? Both stay.”

“If we swear that our gang will never bother you or yours again…”

“Then you’ll be making reasonable precautions to stay alive.” Jaelie relented, just a bit. She shifted forward. “Look, we’ll keep the boy for six months. Come back then, and you can have him.”

“And the girl?”

“She’s ours. Come back in two years and we might – might – talk abut it.”

“You could-”

“We could kill you. I wouldn’t even have to get my hands dirty.” Baram admired, silently, the way that Jaelie made it sound casual. She was tough as nails. All of them were. “The tree will do it for me.”

“Six months on the boy. He’s yours until then. Two years on the girl. She’s her own woman, good luck holding on to her.”

“We’ll hold on to her.” Via jumped down from the wall and grinned. “One way or another. You get on down the road before we change our mind.”

Baram put a foot on the fire-thrower’s arrow-pinned wrists and nodded to Jaelie. She grabbed the seer boy and hauled him to his feet, pushing him against the wall.

The trees let go of the biker boss, and what was left of her merry band managed to get themselves onto their bikes and onto the road.

That left Baram and the girls to deal with the prisoners. “You.” He toed the girl on the ground. “You belong to Viatrix for the next year.”

The girl grunted. “Or what?”

“Or I let the trees have you.”

She twisted to look at the trees, which were reaching out to her with greedy arms. “I Belong to Viatrix for the next year.”

“Yes, you do.” Via pulled out the arrow with a yank, and the girl screamed. “Come with me.” She shot off instructions as she walked, and the girl pulled herself to her feet.

If she stayed that rough, Baram would have to talk to her. Hopefully, it settled down once she had the girl under control.

“Do you want me to get Aly, Boss?” Jaelie manhandled the boy over to him. “I mean, I already have Wish, and he’s enough for any two normal people…”

Baram showed his teeth. He’d meant it to be a smile, but Swish made him snarl. “No. No, this one’s mine.” He poked the boy in the chest. “Six months.”

The boy squirmed, and couldn’t quite look Baram in the face. “Six months.” His Adam’s apple bobbed as he tried to clear his throat. “I Belong to you for the next six months, sir.” He dropped to his knees and offered up his wrists. “I come to you with nothing, and everything I have will come from you.”

Baram shot a glare at Jaelie and Via, because he couldn’t very well glare at the kid, could he? He wrapped his hand carefully around the boy’s outstretched wrists. “You Belong to me,” he agreed, “for the next six months. To…” Aly or Jaelie would have done the words better. “to use and to protect. To shelter, to command. Yes?”

Now, the boy looked at him. “Yes.”

They still had two former “friends” in the basement to deal with. But Baram figured their actual prisoners of war might come first. “Come, then. Be Mine.”

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Here in Spain We Just Call That Rice.

Homer: Can you let me out of the boat?
Brazilian Kidnapper: What for?
Homer: [Whining]I have to go do a piss.
Brazilian Kidnapper: [Annoyed] Again?
Homer: I’m sorry, I have a bladder the size of a Brazil nut.
Brazilian Kidnapper: We just call them nuts here.
Simpsons, Season 13: Blame it on Lisa

We made Spanish Rice Monday for dinner – we are on the great Clean Out The Freezer quest, and the first thing to come to T’s hand was ground beef. We have peppers, bell & hot, ripening in the garden, and I’ve been in a rice mood.

Thus: Spanish rice. It’s one of those dishes, like stir-fry, that you don’t need a recipe for, but I looked it up just for fun (our version involves white long-grain rice, tomatoes, the last of a jar of salsa, the aforementioned ground beef, onions, the white ends of some bok choy, and a strange variety of spices that included Tabasco and Garam Masala)

I got a kick out of the Wikipedia article:

Although called “Spanish rice”, this dish is unknown in Spain. The term “Spanish rice” is not used by Mexicans or Mexican food enthusiasts, and its use probably stems from the fact that the Spanish language is spoken in Mexico; the dish is usually simply referred to as arroz (“rice”) in Mexico.

“…here in Mexico we just call that rice.”


I got all the way through this & then realized that my quote might make it sound like I don’t know the difference between Spain, Mexico, and (Portuguese-speaking) Brazil. Not the case! We’re a Simpsons-joke household, and that one comes up even in totally inaccurate situations (“…here in France we just call that toast.”)

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Three-Word-Wednesday – The Easy Way & Hard

To Three-Word-Wednesday (Today’s words are eradicate, mercenary, squeamish).

In the same world as last week’s story, The Job

There were always politicians.

Even now, even after the near-end of the world, even after the years of struggling to find a new way to survive, even now, when survival was not guaranteed for more than ten percent of the remaining population, there were politicians.

And they would stand in their safe, protected halls in their safe, cozy auditoriums, and they would pound their fist and shout. “Eradicate the Blank Plains!” they would demand. “Wipe out the Creatures! Make this world safe!”

Over and over again, the politicians would shout, because shouting was safe when you were within the walls.

There were always the mercenary ones.

If it seemed like there were more of them now, when every commodity was a rarity, when there were so many ways to gouge and so few could afford to be gouged, then it was probably a matter of perspective: there had always been those out for number one.

They would stand by the gates and offer “services,” in the marketplace and offer supplies, by the graves and console widows, and all at a low, low price.

If it could be bought, they’d sell it, because selling was easy when your audience was captive.

There were always the squeamish.

If they seemed far more delicate now, when there was no room for delicacy, when food was scarce and resources tight, if they seemed too soft to live, it was probably the comparison: most people had grown far more hard. But there were always those that could not toughen.

They would wail over their choices for meat, when even their herd animals were starving. They would wring their hands over an outlaw’s death, when outlaws threatened everyone.

They would flap their hands, because it was easy to be squeamish when someone else was getting dirty.

There were always those who wouldn’t do what was needful: the politicians, the mercenary, the squeamish.

And then there were the Rangers.

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Book Review: The Ideztozhyuh Strode Out of the Mountain (Reiassan Demifiction)

It is a truth of our people that goats have always been with us: we imagine, if we are fanciful, that we rode on goatback from between Reiassannon’s legs, back in the Time Before Time.

A recent paper penned by the learned Scholar Piebryo-Tis seeks to dispel that notion, along with several other of our closely-held family stories, as it were.

The Ideztozhyuh Strode Out of the Mountain, Lannamer Stone Press, tells a story – one nearly as unbelievable as the fable of riding from the goddess’s thighs, if with more scholarly backing – of a possible origin of the Calenyena people, and, perhaps more importantly, of our goats.

In the extensive pages of this tome, Scholar Piebryo-Tis details finds from dusty archives left sitting since The Voyage, as Ideztozhyuh Strode refers to the mythical travel from another world. In these finds, the story goes, lies evidence that the first goats were hardly larger than the horses you’ll see running around some mid-continent valleys.

While every schoolchild knows that goats are bred for stamina, size, wool, milk, and temperament, it is one thing to think of gaining a [term here translates as “knot” but means, pretty much, “hand;” a unit of measurement about 4″ or a decimeter long] or sleeker wool; it is quite another to think of starting from the size of a modern newborn kid.

That is, of course, not the only revolutionary idea in Scholar Piebryo-Tis’ work. Among other thoughts unlikely to come into common acceptance any time soon: that the Ideztozhyuh, Piebryo-Tis’ word for these proto-Calenyena, were illiterate until they encountered the mythical Writing People, who taught them language; that the Ideztozhyuh learned to dye fabric from the Bitrani (ridiculous! We’d still all be wearing brown wool!); and that the Ideztozhyuh learned to ride goats from a stranger from another mountain.

Scholar Piebryo-Tis’ sources are fascinating, and the work involved in finding all of this material was clearly well-done. If the Scholar would stick to the facts and not go off on weasel-tracks, this would be a much more solid read.

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