This week's Odd Prompts writing challenge at More Odds than Ends
was from Becky Jones: The clouds suddenly broke apart revealing a delicate glass tower.
That looked very much like part of the Big Messy Project, most likely the journey through the Lands That Are Not of Men. It looked like something that would tie together the Daft Punk and True Punk scene from the beginning of the year to her adventures in the Road Movie to Berlin -- perhaps telling how she ended up there rather than back to her own world.
I had it pretty well planned out, but Indiana Comic Con proved busier than I'd expected. Instead of having hurry up and wait time before load-in, we were able to drive straight onto the loading dock, and by the time I had the carts out and loaded, the doors were opening for us to actually load in. From then on, it was non-stop work, so I wrote only a few unsatisfactory sentences here and there.
Finally I decided to abandon that effort and just write the relevant scene:
Riding the Celestial Horse
Through the sky we soared. Recalling the few times I'd gotten into the saddle as a child, I'd expected a rough ride. Instead, I didn't feel so much as a jostle as the celestial horse ran from cloud to cloud, like something out of the book of Chinese folk tales I'd read when I was in grade school.
Now and again the clouds would part just enough to offer a glimpse of some lovely vista: a pagoda on a mountainside, a village on a lake, a sailing ship at sea. Every time I recalled the warning: under no circumstances attempt to use the reins or otherwise guide the celestial horse. He knew the way, and would deliver me to my destination without any intervention on my part.
It made me think of one of those Chinese folk stories, of a good man who'd become lost on a journey and came to a fine house in the wilderness, where he sought refuge for the night. Unbeknownst to him, he'd accepted the hospitality of a dragon, specifically a sky dragon responsible for the weather – and one of the lords of the heavens arrived that night with orders that rain be made.
However, there was no one at home that night who could undertake the journey. Not wanting his hosts to be punished for failing the orders of the sky gods, the protagonist offered to do it in their stead. He was given a fine horse and a small bottle of water, with the instructions that each time the horse stopped and stamped its hooves, he should shake a drop of water on its mane. As he rode, he realized the horse was taking him over a region that had been stricken with drought, so when the horse stopped there, he gave its mane not one but ten drops of water.
When he returned to the house, he was met not with praise, but with anger: his attempt at generosity had instead flooded the land, wiping out entire villages and doing damage that would require decades to repair. Although hurried away, he was given a bag of fine pearls, which he then used to pay to repair the damage his well-meant actions had done.
So I restrained myself, sitting as still as I could in the saddle so as not to disturb the celestial horse on its journey back to the lands of humanity, back to my own world and my regular life. There must've been some magic in that saddle, because I had no trouble at all sitting in it.
And then the clouds parted to offer me a vision of such astonishing beauty that I cried out in delight. The crystal spires of the fairy tower gleamed in the sunlight, a vision of fragile beauty that made me long for it so hard that I began to lean toward it.
That was just enough for the celestial horse to shake his head and begin to turn. At that moment I realized my error, but it was already too late to undo.
One of these days I'll need to work out the part that connects them, but right now I was doing well to write anything at all. However, I did manage to get a story written for this week's Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Writing Challenge
. My effort belongs to the Grissom timeline
, and is probably rather opaque to anyone who isn't familiar with certain parts of it, but it was something when the ideas weren't wanting to come.
As always, if you'd like to participate in Odd Prompts, just send your prompt in to firstname.lastname@example.org
to be assigned a prompt of your own. Or if you're not up to the commitment of trading prompts, you can always check out the spare prompts and see if any of them tickle your creativity.
There will be a new word and picture prompt up at Indies Unlimited on Saturday. Until then, the polls will open tomorrow for voting on the Readers' Choice Award, and will close at 5PM on Thursday.
In the meantime, keep writing.