Tuesday December 6th, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: hibernation.

Bit of a rough start to the day, but things recovered by early afternoon. Ran some errands in town, had a pleasant roasted chicken dinner with the family (Miles may have eaten too much chicken for his tiny belly... but he's gotta start working on learning that lesson eventually, right?), and enjoyed a cozy evening in front of the fireplace with Kat.

I'm covering for Emma at the bakery this week, so I'll be working full shifts Wednesday to Saturday. I'm hoping we'll sell out early on at least a couple of those days.

Mine:

The cold has arrived.
I think I shall stay inside
for a month or four...

*     *     *

He slumbers in his
cave, blissfully unaware
of our wintry blues

Monday December 5th, 2016

The exercise:

Today we bring our yearlong tale about the House of Mercy to a conclusion. It's been quite a ride, and I would like to thank Morganna again for getting us started on the journey.

What's in store for next year's prompt? I haven't figured that out yet.

But for now... let's focus on finishing this one off, shall we?

Edit: blargh, sleep. Sorry for the late posting once again

Mine:

Traditionally, there are four known ways to kill a vampire. Though they are well known, I shall list them for you anyway:

1. Sunlight.
2. Wooden stake through the heart.
3. Silver.
4. Beheading.

There you are. Nothing too complicated, yes? Have a vampire infestation, just pick something from the above list and problem solved. Right?

Well. Perhaps.

You see, there are some who believe this compilation of methods is not entirely... accurate. I count myself a member of this fraternity of doubters. I would suggest that you too, dear reader, have your suspicions.

Why else, then, would you be reading this copy of Real, True Facts About Vampires?

"Because I'm an idiot?" Julie muttered before turning to the next page. She was sitting on her bed, back in her apartment again. It was a cloudy, dark afternoon outside her window but she was paying little attention to the weather.

So, back to the list for the moment, for there our problems begin. Realistically, only the first two methods - sunlight and staking - will kill a vampire with any (apparent) certainty. The other two - silver and beheading - are even less trustworthy.

Silver acts more as a slowing, or weakening agent. One would need a lot of the stuff to finish a vampire off. Useful for keeping a monster in place - handcuffs made of silver come readily to mind - but something like, say, a silver bullet would merely serve to slow the beast's fearsome healing powers.

Speaking of those powers, you might be wondering if one could even recover from having its head removed from its body entirely. There is some evidence to suggest that is, indeed, the case.

"Of for crying out loud," Julie said with a shake of her head. "What is wrong with me? Six months later and I still can't let it go."

She continued reading anyway.

There is also some evidence that the best way to ensure a vampire is gone for good is to use a combination of all four methods. This is especially true when dealing with the most powerful members of this race, who are well known to have significant psychic abilities. It has been theorized that if they are damaged too severely, they will go into hiding until they have fully recovered. Where, precisely, they might go during this time is unknown.

The most troubling aspect of all of this, at least to myself, is that there is a strong possibility that the source of this widespread misinformation is the vampires themselves. They do not wish for us to know th-

Julie's head snapped up at the sound of the apartment door unlocking. She slammed the book shut and quickly shoved it under her pillow before picking up a pen and her journal from her bedside table. Flipping it open to a random blank page, she began to scribble mindlessly.

"Hello?" Anne called from the entrance way. "Julie? You home?"

"In here!"

"Still in your bedroom?" Anne said, leaning one hip against her door frame. "You need to get out more, girl. You've done enough therapy writing in that thing. It's safe beyond these walls now, trust me."

"Uh huh," Julie said, shrugging her shoulders and shifting her weight around on the bed. "I guess I'm just having trouble believing that Cecilie is really gone."

"She is. I killed her with my own two hands, remember?" Julie looked up, wanting to believe her friend's words. She searched Anne's eyes for some shred of proof that she wasn't lying but couldn't find it. "Can I come in?"

"Yeah," Julie said, frowning. "Why do you always ask? You know you're welcome."

Sunday December 4th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the chase.

A refresher before reading mine, for those that need it. Because it's, ah... been a while since last we heard from these three.

Day started out sunny, then we got hit with a windstorm and snow, then it went back to being nice again in the afternoon. If the forecast is to be believed, then temperatures have just dipped below zero outside and won't be going back into the positives for the rest of the week.

I suppose that's all right, what with it being December and all.

Mine:

"They're shooting at us!"

"Drive! Just keep dri- aaaaahhhhh!"

"Crystal? Crystal!"

"Eyes on the road! I'm fine. I think."

"You've been shot, Crystal."

"No kidding, Tammy. Now hit the floor unless you want to join the club."

"Are you okay? Should I pull over?"

"Are you kidding me? If you take your foot off that gas pedal I'll shoot you myself."

That was the last thing any of us said for the next ten or fifteen minutes. I kept the van pointed south while Tammy scanned the maps for alternative routes. Crystal, slumped down in the passenger seat with her left hand pressed against her right shoulder and breathing in pained gasps, kept her eyes on her rear view mirror. I kept waiting for her to announce that the cops were gaining on us but she never did.

"We need to get her to a doctor," I said when I couldn't take the silence any longer.

"Pretty sure I told you I don't want to go to jail," Crystal said, but her words lacked her usual fierceness.

"She's lost a lot of blood," Tammy pointed out. She was still flat on her stomach in the back, her nose in a map of Southern California. I passed a pickup truck and had to swerve hard to get back into our lane to avoid a head-on. She wore softly as she slid to her left.

"What's our best option to find somebody to help her?"

"Would you two stop talking about me like I'm not here? I'm not dead yet, you kn-- ahhh... damn it."

"Relax, Crystal," I said as I maneuvered us around a red sedan. "Tammy?"

"Take the turn for Visalia. Should be coming up in about ten minutes if you keep this up." She paused to mutter something under her breath. Pretty sure it was something along the lines of I hope you don't. "It's big enough that we should be able to find a clinic, get Crystal's shoulder patched up, and be on the road again before anybody notices."

"Okay," I said, relieved to have a plan again.

"I'll stay with her, keep the doc honest," Tammy continued slowly, as though she were still figuring things out. "It'll take some time, easily enough for you to go and find us another ride."

"What?" I said, my relief washed away by a flood of panic.

"We can't keep the van," Tammy pointed out. "We gotta switch to something else. Get to Bakersfield, ditch whatever you get us in Visalia and do it again. Get to L.A. and pull the trick one last time before we head for the border."

"What?" I said again. "I don't know how to steal a car! If I somehow managed to pick the lock I'd probably electrocute myself trying to hotwire it!"

"Well then," Crystal said just before she finally blacked out, "I guess you'll have to carjack some poor sucker."

Saturday December 3rd, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: Santa school.

Work at the bakery was fine today, though I'm certainly the most tired I've been in a while right now. Definitely the hardest I've pushed myself since the vasectomy, so I'm going to try to get to bed early'ish tonight.

Need to give the final installment of House of Mercy some thought, so it won't be tomorrow. Maybe Monday?

Mine:

A swarming sea of Santas
Are learning to be jolly,
Though plying them with liquor
Must surely lead to folly...

Friday December 2nd, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the first snowfall.

Because that's what we had this morning, just after breakfast. Snowed enough to build up a little bit, but then was gone a few hours later when the precipitation turned to rain.

It was enough to get Max excited and I took him for a walk around the farm while it was still coming down. I was not dressed warmly enough for the occasion but he was happy in his new snowsuit.

This evening's shift at the community centre was rather chaotic. There was a fundraiser dinner for the local high school grads in the gym, so the place was buzzing with noise all night. I didn't have much to do at the front desk, but the general atmosphere of stress as they were setting up and the busyness of people coming and going all night didn't exactly encourage a peaceful, relaxed mindset.

I was glad that someone else was there to deal with the cleanup and getting everybody out, as the event went right until the end of my scheduled shift. I couldn't exactly do my usual lockup before leaving, but I did what I could.

Back to the bakery tomorrow morning for the first time in... what, three weeks? I'll let you know if I still remember anything to do with the job.

Mine:

With a squirming, face-grabbing, smiling infant in his arms, he walks from the kitchen and into the living room. His morning coffee hasn't taken hold yet, and his body language mutters tired and the end never seems to be in sight.

But then he looks out the window and a smile lights up his face as he turns his son so that they can share the view and he begins, softly, to sing.

"Oh... it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..."

Thursday December 1st, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the healer.

Feeling pretty good today. I've got basic movement back in the pain-free zone, though I still need to be careful as there are still movements that can tweak things enough to make me stop to pay attention. But I'm generally feeling like things are going in the right direction.

Good thing, too. I've got a 4 to 9 shift at the community centre tomorrow night, followed by an 8 to closing shift at the bakery on Saturday. Fairly ideal timing as it turns out.

At least, that's how I feel about it at the moment. We'll see what I think in a couple days.

Mine:

Bring me your innocent and pure of heart. Let their illnesses gaze upon me and tremble. Allow me to bear witness to their weaknesses, their frailties, their maladies and viruses.

I will ease them of their burdens. They shall breath out their black clouds, I shall breathe them in. I will invite their diseases and mental disorders and deteriorating organs in to be my guests.

And make no mistake, that is all they are: guests. They will not be permanent residents. They cannot be. I do not have strength enough for such feats. I myself would succumb all too quickly. But I have strength enough.

Enough strength to be their temporary host. To take them away from those who suffer so dearly and so unfairly. To carry them with me until such a time as I find a more... deserving host to bestow them upon.

Wednesday November 30th, 2016

The exercise:

Let's get back to the Random CD prompt, shall we?

Go ahead and pick a song as randomly as you like. Or maybe just use one that's been stuck in your head recently. However you do it, borrow your chosen song's first line and use it as your own (after credit goes where credit does). And then... take it from there.

The final day of November already, huh? December looms. The Christmas month. The final entry for House of Mercy. The last days of 2016.

Not sure if I'm ready for any of it, but that's not going to change anything. So I might as well just say: bring it on.

Mine:

Gypsy by Lady Gaga (yeah, I know. I actually wanted to use a different song but the opening line wasn't inspiring much of anything.)

Sometimes a story has no end.

If you're sitting there thinking to yourself, Oh yeah, I get what he means. I've seen The Neverending Story, then get out. The door is right over there. I don't have time for your fantasy nonsense.

Because, you see, what I'm talking about is real. There are tales that cannot be bound by life and death, space or time. They are too big. Too important.

I'm not talking about something with no beginning and no end. Of course it has a beginning. Everything does.

I do not know who started the tale. Or why. Or even when. But I do know one thing for certain.

This story will not, cannot end.