Writing Contest Entry: Undead No More

I am entering the following short story based on this photo:in Theresa Oliver’s most recent writing contest.  Thank you for reading!

Undead No More

“No. No-no-no-no-no… Noooooo!” He howled his agony but found no relief. “Sally! No! This can’t be happening…” At his feet in the misty confines of the decrepit, abandoned barn, a young woman sprawled in a heap. Silky blond hair tousled, blue eyes the innocent shade of a robin’s egg shrouded by creamy lids fringed in long brown lashes, unconscious. Possibly dead. But no longer undead. That much was immediately apparent.

Jeb crouched and carefully scooped Sally into his arms. Standing again, he noted how light and flimsy her body felt without the solid cloak of her Vampire heritage. Her torso spilled flaccidly over his left forearm, reminding him unpleasantly of the rag doll he had secretly given his favorite human for comfort before it was led to the butcher for processing. His mother had warned him not to become attached to any humans within the herd, that they were not pets. But Jeb was young, only a few hundred years, and didn’t listen. That night dinner had been garnished with the doll and Jeb had been given extra helpings to drive home the cruel lesson that humans are food. Nothing more.

A furtive movement from the velvet shadows of a stall a few meters from where he stood cradling his sister caught his attention. “What have you done?” he bellowed into the dark. Jeb did not need to ask who it was that hid in the gloom of the ancient shelter. Who else could have done this to Sally? Who else would have dared?

“…I love her…” whispered a feeble voice from the murk. “She wanted…”

Jeb hissed furiously, “She did not want this! I don’t even know how you accomplished this… this abomination! She is human now! Human! How could you condemn her to…” Jeb abruptly stopped speaking. His sister now shared the destiny of all humans. She was now nothing more than a snack. An icy finger of horror traced a sensual path up his spine. Not Sally. Not his little sister. She had not even reached the anniversary of her first century. It would be better if she were dust.

“Come here,” Jeb growled. His tone brooked no arguments and was rewarded with a figure detaching itself from the shadows and moving obediently before him. The silver glow of the moon softly filtering through the gaps above them revealed a tall, muscular, human male with charcoal hair and kelly green eyes radiating defiance even as he trembled with apprehension.

Jeb shoved the unconscious form that used to be his sister into the arms of the nameless male. “Take her and go. Do not return. I can do nothing more. Go!”

Needing no more encouragement, the dark haired human clutched his prize to his chest and promptly melted into the night. Jeb watched as long as he was able, profoundly mourning the loss of his beloved sister and fervently vowing to never again make a meal of a golden haired female.

Having completed my Unsanctioned Imitation of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I decided to take one more day off in honor of May Day and reblog my post with the most page views -over 1000! Holy Cow! Thanks for reading and Happy May Day!

Tawn Krakowski

There have been several times in my life when I have stepped so far outside my comfort zone that I was unsure I would ever find my way back.

While some of these jaunts were exercises in personal growth, such as performing as a member of my high school J.R.O.T.C. drill team, competing in my local Junior Miss Pageant, and even going away to college, most involved flying.

Some milestones on the path to a pilot’s license are mild comfort zone busters:  first solo, solo cross country, check rides, etc.  Others, such as initial Learjet 35 training at Flightsafety International Inc., are akin to drinking from a fire hose.

Prior to my two week indoctrination into the right seat of the Lear, the most complicated piece of equipment I had flown was a Cessna 310.  Going from this relatively docile aircraft to the bad tempered rodeo bronco that…

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Z is for Zenith: The A to Z Blogging Challenge Unsanctioned Imitation

Life is like a box of chocolates…No, wait. Life is like a roller coaster…No, still not right.  Life is like being airlifted to the middle of the Himalayas and unceremoniously dumped with nothing but some all-weather gear and a small survival pack with instructions in Mandarin.  Yeah, that’s more like it.

Although you have what you need to survive, the information isn’t revealed to you without some effort.  And what you do with that knowledge is entirely up to you.  Some people simply decide it’s too difficult and give up.  Some people find a nice cave in the valley and spend their time making themselves and their descendants as comfortable as possible.  Some people start climbing.

Once the climbers reach the summit, they are faced with yet another decision – complete their journey at the zenith of their mountain and enjoy the view their achievement has provided or start climbing the next taller mountain and strive to gain an even higher peak.  And in this manner, each person and every living thing contributes to the Universe, in one way or another, through actions, thoughts and simple existence and eventually returns to the ether from which everything originated.  We are, after all, comprised of the same basic building block as the stars.

If each contribution to the whole is equally valid, what will yours be?  Do you give up and serve as an object lesson for the cave dwellers and the climbers or do you start looking for Everest?  Personally, I’m thinking the view must be awesome from Mars.

Y is for Yuletide: The A to Z Blogging Challenge Unsanctioned Imitation

I totally get the Grinch. The poor old guy lives all alone up in his cave with only a mangy dog for company while the residents of Whoville go on about the business of living their selfish little lives while completely ignoring the Grinch. And then, every year, they make it a point to celebrate Christmas as boisterously and obtrusively as possible, thereby forcing their belief system on the Grinch, who probably just wants to be left in peace to gaze at the stars with his own quiet dreams of cheerful solitude.

And then, when he finally couldn’t take it anymore, I’m sure the Whos were ready for him. He probably couldn’t leave his cave without triggering Whoville’s Early Warning Defense System and relegating his whole carefully thought out plan to the crapper. As he was sledding down the hill in his bright red Santa Claus disguise, the Whos were able to access real time satellite imagery confirming both the present location of the authentic St. Nick and the identity, destination and probable intentions of the Grinch. As he slunk around their homes stealing every last vestige of holiday cheer, concealed cameras with night vision infrared capability tracked his every movement. And finally, Special Agent Cindy Lou Who was sent in to establish contact, gather intel and provide a rudimentary psychological profile to specialists working on counterattack strategies. The poor old hermit didn’t have a chance.

I, on the other hand, plan to remain steadfastly in “Bah Humbug” mode as long as I draw breath. I know it’s not going to be easy – Christmas seems to arrive earlier and earlier each year. I can hardly shop for my Halloween costume without coming across at least one tawdry, obsessively festive Christmas display of poorly constructed red and white knickknacks. And I find it difficult to enjoy Thanksgiving properly while being forced to live in a neighborhood lit up with Christmas lights capable of being seen from space. And don’t even get me started on the music – eight hours of Handel’s Messiah on Christmas morning is about all I can stand without seriously considering voluntarily deafening myself with a red hot poker.

It all comes down to the fact that I can only be nice to people for a finite amount of time, and with Christmas encroaching on the rest of my holidays, I had been thinking a nice cave in the Grinch’s neighborhood might be a viable option until the Whos screwed that up for me. The Grinch is probably baking Christmas cookies right now for the Neighborhood Watch. Thanks a lot, Whoville. Merry Freakin’ Christmas to you, too.

X is for Xerxes: The A to Z Blogging Challenge Unsanctioned Imitation

In my opinion, 300 is the greatest chick flick ever.  And don’t tell me that 300 is not a chick flick.  It is simply impossible to plausibly assert that it was geared toward anyone but women and,  possibly, homosexual men.  If by some miracle, one is able to ignore the seemingly infinite ranks of excruciatingly hot, undeniably masculine Spartan eye candy destroying all manner of hideous beasts to protect their families in much the same way my husband disposes of spiders, one could envision 300 as a love story.

On the one hand, Leonidas shows a tremendous amount of love for his family and kingdom by going against the wishes of the corrupt politicians and priests and taking his 300 warriors to defend his home from the Persians.  But he also shows love for his soldiers not only when he tells Xerxes he would give his life for any one of them, but when he denies Ephialtes a place among them that would put them at risk.

On the other hand, the love story between Queen Gorgo and King Leonidas is the epitome of Neo-classical tragedy.  In her quest to rally support for her husband, Gorgo is raped, betrayed and publicly humiliated, but is still able to draw on the strength of her love for Leonidas to brutally kill her tormentor, expose him as a traitor and unite Sparta against the Persians.  Although, like any good tragedy, the help comes too late to save Leonidas, who dies proclaiming his eternal love for his queen.

And finally, there are two lines from 300 which perfectly support my belief that it is the best chick flick ever.  The first is when Xerxes, as the personification of lust for power who can only command his hordes through fear and greed and therefore cannot comprehend the depth of Leonidas’ resolve, asks Leonidas to consider the fate of Sparta’s women to which Leonidas replies, “Clearly you don’t know our women! I might as well have marched them up here, judging by what I’ve seen.”  The second, but not necessarily lesser, quote is from the scene in which Gorgo stabs Theron while repeating to him the words he used prior to raping her, “This will not be over quickly. You will not enjoy this. I am not your Queen!”

Of course, I could just love watching 300 because of the hotties.  I think I should watch it again to help me decide.  Will you please pass me the chocolate covered popcorn?

W is for Work: The A to Z Blogging Challenge Unsanctioned Imitation

I’m feeling nostalgic today, so I figured I could get away with telling you a little story from my freight pilot days.  Nothing incriminating, mind you, because aviation is a little bit like Vegas – what happens in the airplane, stays in the airplane.  This is especially true when flying night freight and the only one you could possibly scare with your antics is yourself.  If no one saw you do it, it simply didn’t happen.

I was flying a small twin engine aircraft stuffed to the brim with freight four nights a week on a set schedule.  When you fly in and out of the same airports using the same call sign at the same time each night, the controllers recognize you and are able to get a sense of your capabilities as a pilot.  One early morning toward the end of my shift, I was flying into my home base and had to be set up for an instrument approach due to reduced visibility from fog.  It was not unusual for me to have to do several instrument approaches in a night during the course of my 12 hour shift, so I was prepared and following ATC instructions which would put me on my final approach course.

Standard procedure for approach and landing for a freight operation can be vastly different than that of a passenger operation.  The most notable difference is the speed of the final approach.  An aircraft flying passengers will commonly be completely set up for landing approximately five miles from the runway and will therefore maintain a consistent speed throughout the entire final approach.  My company’s standard procedure called for a decelerating approach in which I changed configuration at specific points during my approach and only became fully set up for landing a short distance from the runway, something that this controller had seen me do on several occasions.

So, as I’m waiting for ATC to direct me toward my final course and clear me for the approach, another aircraft checked on, a small 8-passenger jet.  When the jet pilot discovered he was being routed behind a much smaller aircraft for the approach, he attempted to remind the controller that he was flying a bigger, faster (and presumably more important) aircraft and should be cleared for the approach in front of me.  The controller’s response?  “Don’t worry.  You’ll never catch her.”

The resulting silence from the jet pilot had me laughing so hard I had to wipe the tears from my eyes to see the runway lights as I landed a full five minutes ahead of him.  I never found out whether he was more embarrassed that a light twin could best his approach speed or the fact that the light twin in question was flown by a girl.  But I do know that this story still makes me smile and I hope it did the same for you.

Not the airplane I was talking about in this post, but A.D. requested a visual. 🙂

V is for Virus: The A to Z Blogging Challenge Unsanctioned Imitation

It seems my white blood cells have been caught with their proverbial pants pooled around their chubby little ankles. A malevolent invader has slunk past my defenses and managed to reduce me to a sniffling, feverish, exhausted mute vainly attempting to choke down a blinding inferno. I have consumed gallons of tea, hives of honey, and tureens of chicken noodle soup. My children are becoming proficient in interpreting my hastily thrown together version of throat-on-fire-can’t-talk sign language and my husband is finishing my sentences before I can put pen to paper.

I could view this turn of events as an opportunity to marvel at how self-sufficient my family has become during this invasion which has left me unable to scrounge up the energy to open a box of crackers. Or I could believe it to be a sign that I’ve been pushing too hard, doing too much too quickly and I should slow down and take things as they come.

Either way, being sick sucks and I’m probably going to take Option 3: whine and bitterly complain until I feel better. I’ll be drugged up on acetaminophen, antihistamines and decongestants and sucking on Halls in a steaming bubble bath if you need me. And if you’re brave enough to enter my personal virus-induced hell, please bring chocolate. I’m sick, I deserve it.