Daily Prompt – Places

Daily Prompt: Places.

Beach, mountain, forest, or somewhere else entirely?

Terry really, really didn’t want to open his eyes. He knew, deep in his bones, knew, it was a bad idea. With a groan of realization he cracked his left eye. As he had feared he was not at home. He was supposed to be at home. His wife was expecting him at home, and if the sun was telling the truth he was very, very late in getting home. He groaned again and let his eye close.

He was not at home. And he was definitely in trouble.

And his head hurt, and his mouth felt like something died in it.

Yes he was hung over. His wife might very well skin him for this. She was having a dinner party last night and he’d blown it. He thinks. Last night’s mostly a blur that hurts to think about. He shifts and something rustles under him. Did he see the sun when he opened his eye? Yes definite red glow filtering through, and there was a dampness soaking through his shirt that he knew wasn’t from some hotel or a friends couch. So he was probably outside.

Outside was bad. Outside meant a lot more places he could be with the possibility of not having civilization around to get him aspirin. A very manly whine may have escaped at the thought of waking up without aspirin. All the same his shirt was uncomfortably wet and the red haze was sharp and demanding. He rolled so the sun hit his back. All he accomplished was a sharp pain on his ribs that had him yelping and sitting up much too fast.

He found himself relieved of last night’s meal. Huh, looks like he made it to the dinner party then. So how had he ended up outside. In a forest if the pinecone he’d damaged his ribs on was anything to go on. He squinted through the pain and found himself staring at the damp bark of a pine tree. Which he decided made sense what with the pinecone of doom that had attacked him.

He managed to lean onto the tree’s trunk and may have fallen asleep. It was a stupidly loud bird call that made him groan awake once more, this time his pants annoyingly wet as well as his shirt. He really couldn’t get a break. With a sigh and more than a little help balancing from his friend the pine tree he managed to stand up.

For the first time he really looked around and was surprised that he was not in a forest. Sure there were pinecones and pine needles and even his very own pine tree to rest against but beyond that, nothing but a Martian landscape of red hills and dirt. He shook his head and winced. He was mostly certain he was not on Mars. Why and how would he be on Mars? He was at his wife’s dinner party last night, at some point.

He took a worried step forward and his foot hit the Pinecone of Doom which slid out from under him and sent him falling back onto his trust friend the pine tree. He looked between the pine tree, and look behind him more sparsely spread out pine trees, then out to the Martian landscape. Not the dirt of the red planet he assured himself. Red clay. Georgia. That’s right his wife’s dinner party was his wife’s mothers dinner party. He had been out with his wife’s brother and his friend, they had gotten to the party and that last glass of wine had turned into a whiskey then … He wasn’t certain what happened after that, something about baiting the crew.

What crew he wasn’t sure. But it had sounded like a wonderful plan at the time. He scanned all around, he couldn’t see a house. Just red clay a couple pine trees and more red clay. God his head hurt. He contemplated sleeping again but everything just ached. He wanted a shower and about ten aspirin. Also to punch his brother-in-law … yea punching him sounded pretty good right about now.

He scanned some more and saw a glint of .. something off by one of the large hills of clay. Gathering himself up he managed a few steps. Then a few more, soon he was walking like he’d done it his whole life. Albeit with his hand pressed to his head and his eyes barely open. The sun was too damned bright in the south.

Cresting the hill was difficult, his feet kept sticking in the clay then sliding where it formed a slick mud coating. His hands were filthy and he couldn’t wipe the gunk off of him even as it dried forming a second orange skin complete with cracks over his knuckles that mimicked the wrinkles in his hands perfectly. Finally he made it to the hill top and was surprised at what he saw. The glint that had drawn him was metal. Big yellow metal construction tractors. Several of them silent in the afternoon sun. He was at a construction site. In Georgia. Somewhere near his wife’s mother’s house. And it was Sunday. No one would come today and send him in the right direction. He pressed his fingers to his eyelids and immediately regretted it as the clay crumbled slightly leaving dust in his eyes when he opened them.

He grunted and looked about. He could see much more from his new vantage point. The tree’s where he’d been asleep, the machines dotted around the construction site and more tree’s, on the other side. He stood staring for a minute and could honestly not decide which way he should go, but it seemed a shame to backtrack to the trees he had left earlier, not to mention the Pinecone of Doom would probably kill him if he returned.

He started carefully down the clay hill and was shocked at how quickly the trees were gone from his site. If he had woken here, he may well have believed in aliens. Giant metal yellow aliens though, he could still see the large trucks with their claws to shape the earth. He started up the next hill and stopped.

He heard something, something shrill. Something pissed off and worried. He smiled, he would call back but he was certain that was a very bad idea given the state of his head. Instead he hurried back down the hill and followed the call as best he could. Minutes later he was climbing up another crumbling yet damp clay hill, and really why was Georgia earth so determined to contradict itself he was not certain. He managed to clear the top and smiled at the sight he managed through his squinted eyes. A shame faced brother-in-law with a clear red handprint on his cheek and a worried wife calling incessantly for him to stop fooling around. He raised his hand to wave and miss-stepped. He yelped as he slid down the clay hill, dirt and rocks slidding up under his shirt, one rock gouging a line all the way to his shoulderblade before wedging itself in tight, his left shoe filling with loose powdery dirt that had dried on top while his sock cuff managed to slick up with wet clay from underneath the dry. He lay still at the bottom of the hill for a moment eyes shut and really, did he want to open them again? He wasn’t certain.

Then there was a cool hand on his brow and another on his cheek. Soft words, that didn’t hurt his head. He smiled softly. His wife. He frowned. That meant his wife’s brother was there. All this was his fault. In a snap he managed to open his eyes stand up and plant a mean right hook on the brother-in-laws jaw.

He may have yelled something about pinecones. But he wasn’t sure. He was certain that he’d have to try again when he wasn’t so hungover, the brother-in-law had barely rocked back. Although he was grinning like a fool and patting his shoulder. He decided he would wait until the headache had passed. He may have whined about needing aspirin. He really didn’t care though. His wife’s hand was on his back her soft voice scolding her brother made him smirk as they carefully negotiated the construction site and headed back to showers, and beds, and aspirin.

He really needed an aspirin.


Daily Prompt – Send a message to the Future

Daily Prompt: Back to the Future.

A service has been invented through which you can send messages to people in the future. To whom would you send something, and what would you write?

It had happened a couple months ago, a breakthrough in science they told us, a way to electronically send a message to the future. Even detailed delivery was available, to a specific person, to arrive at a specific moment, in fact it seemed the more specific the easier it was to ensure deliver. There were awed silences, parties among the theoretical physicists who had worked their whole lives on such a thing. Some denounced it as heresy. I didn’t really care all that much about it. I couldn’t see how it affected me at all. In fact I found I didn’t think I would ever use it.

I have always kept a diary. Not always diligently, and not always with beautiful prose or a pretty binding. Nonetheless I find myself writing my thoughts and feelings, my passions and fears, my own little self-help book and personal history. Occasionally I find myself leafing through the pages of one of my varied diaries, smirking at myself when it seems I’ve written while completely drunk, sometimes visiting a particular time to help myself come to terms with who I am and who I was when I had written those entries.

It was while jotting down a note my roommate of several years came into the kitchen while brushing her teeth with a curious look on her face. She spat the froth from her mouth into the sink, causing me to grimace.

“I’m going to the expo tomorrow.” She said. “You’re coming with me.” She turned and left without even rinsing the sink out.

So the next day, against my better judgment I ended up at the expo and pulled around from new exciting breakthrough to new exciting breakthrough really just wishing for the weekend to end so I could get back to work. I wondered if that made me a sad person, everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves. My roommate eventually went to the long line of people excited to try out the newest and most exciting breakthrough and send their messages to the future. I ended up bringing her a flat fried tortilla that apparently had enough nutrients to feed a person for a week and tasted of pizza. She ate it in about ten minutes.

We grew closer and closer to the front of the line and she was so excited to send her message that I couldn’t deny her by trying to drag us out, even though I wanted to be in bed and the trains stopped in half an hour. Finally we arrived and she grinned like a school girl, leaned forward and whispered to the machine. The screen lit up and she apparently liked what she saw and hit a too large red button sending the message off to the future.

I rolled my eyes and she hurried off the platform. There was no need to rush away from the expo now. Neither of us could afford a taxi back home, even pooling our money, and the trains wouldn’t fun until 7 the next morning. With a sigh we did what we always did in these situations, and what did that say about us that we had such things planned already, we went up a floor and looked for an unused meeting room. Then we hid ourselves behind the meeting table and using our coats as blankets and our arms as pillows curled up to sleep, making sure our expo passes were secured and our bags safely tucked between us.

We were up hours later with no need to rush to the train. It was Sunday the last day of the expo. Many of the tables were shutting down and packing up, most of the freebies had been given away. Some of the stalls were discounting their merchandise but by this time most of the expo goers had run out of money or run out of space in their bags. The line to the message sender was dwindling. It was sort of poetic. Three days and it had lost its sparkle. Sure it had been out for a couple months but three days at this expo and no one seemed so excited they’d wait for the hours we’d waited just yesterday. This fad, it seemed, would be like so many before it the most amazing thing ever until the next one when it would fade into obscurity. I must have looked whistful though because my roommate hooked her arm through mine and marched me over to the line.

“Your turn.” She demanded, the hard line of her jaw telling me I wasn’t getting out of this.

So there I stood in a line that would take bare minutes and I was told I was sending a message to the future, who would I send it to, myself? Perhaps. What on earth could I put in it? I didn’t know then I was standing looking at the screen it’s blank page staring at me, the cursor winking as though it were bored waiting for my instructions. Leaning forward I whispered into the microphone, much as my friend had done yesterday and pressed the red button, barely bothering to read the print out.

Satisfied my roommate let us leave and my back thanked her. Sleeping on the floor puts me all out of whack. I’m not as young as I once was. It takes us two hours once we board the train to get to the station find the car and drive the rest of the way home. I cook a meal for myself and my roommate groans at the scent, apparently the tortilla also keeps you full for a week, which should be impossible, but then again there are so many things that used to be impossible that aren’t anymore, why freak out about one more?

I stir the pot of spaghetti once more before deciding it’s done and plate up. My roommate yelps from the living room and I come running, pot still in hand.

“What?” I demand, brandishing the dirty wooden spoon like a weapon.

“I just got all tingly.” She yelped again and walked away from the couch. There was a sudden drop in temperature and we looked at each other with wide eyes.

“If you summoned a demon .. “ I threatened.

“Right, right, it’s my problem to clean up and you’re using me as fodder to escape. You’ve told me before.” She rolled her eyes. The couch seemed to pulse and writhe while remaining statuesque, which was terrifying and compelling, neither of us could look away from the phenomenon. And then there was a piece of paper on the floor, my roommates name boldly written in green letters.

Taking my spoon, and dripping red sauce on the floor she edged towards the paper and picked it up cautiously. She sniffed it. I have no idea why she sniffed it, I have a feeling she didn’t know either. With wide eyes she pulled it open and flinched.

Nothing happened.

She read from the paper and huffed.

Then giggled.

Then cleared her throat and read out loud.

“This could have been sent in an email, or if I wanted to take longer snail mail. Any message sent ends up in the future. I don’t understand why you made me miss my train for this.”

Grin and retrieved my spoon.

“You’re cleaning the floor.” I inform her and she chuckled.

“And you cheated.” She insisted.

It is six years until I find out what her message was. She was living across the country married to some musician while I was living not too far from our old apartment, not yet married, although there has been some interesting company I’ve been keeping. It’s not the first of these messages I’ve received. In fact I’ve got a special box that came out three years ago that keeps all the freaky moving not moving stuff from happening all over the room you are in. Instead it all happens in the box then the paper slides out as soon as you next pass it. The boxes are all over the place so you can get messages pretty much anywhere. I’ve received them at work and at the grocery store and even once while sitting on a park bench.

I pick up the paper and see the distinctive green ink. Missives almost always come in black or blue, red occasionally for business purposes. This green had really only ever been used in the very early days. Sitting on the couch, the same couch my roommate had been frightened out of years ago, I let my fingers ghost over the name, my name.

I sat there for several minutes then shook myself out of it. Unfolding the paper I can’t help but grin.

“I didn’t cheat.” It starts. “I bet you will.” And I had, I really had.

“You owe me dinner.” I must say that line confused me, for all of thirty seconds when my doorbell rang.

I practically leapt from the couch and flung the door open. There stood my old roommate, husband nowhere to be seen and bottle of wine in her hand.

“This was a much better message than yours.” She declared and thrust the bottle at me. “Where’s my dinner woman?” She demanded flopping onto the couch.

I spent maybe five minutes in the kitchen before bringing her a plate with a fried tortilla on it. “Spaghetti alright?” I indicate the plate and she picks up the tortilla and takes a nibble.

“Mmm. Just like old times.” And she turns on the teleview-screen happily munching while watching reruns of some awful soap opera we used to watch in college.

I wrote in my diary and when I’d finished tucked it away in its record box. It scans each time saving the progress, all my journals are stored in there. It has an auto link to my personal net. When I die it send everything in it forward two years, to whoever’s name I last told it. Right now that’s still my roommate, my best friend, and if she’s gone too, it’s to her oldest child. It’s a little morbid but at the same time, I’m certain my story and hers will be seen by those it matters to, and maybe they will get some laughs, and see who we really were at certain times in our lives. Maybe they’ll watch through us as impossible things became normal and they can wonder at what they will see become normal.

My best friend throws the remote at me.

“Bored,” she declares grinning.

I roll my eyes at her, and wonder if it will ever stop being entertaining.