Village Catastrophe

The eight randomly generated words for today are: catastrophe, exile, valley, harp, stream, playground, ridge, and pigeon.

Wanda the witch stood at the top of the ridge and looked down into the valley trying to understand the magnitude of the latest catastrophe. Her village had lived in the valley by the stream for centuries, for as long as anyone could remember. But then last month the earth had started to tremble, and the tremblings got worse and worse. Wanda was psychically gifted and she just knew the village would be destroyed, so she rallied her people and got them to move up out of the valley. Thankfully, people trusted her, and even if they didn’t believe that their village could be destroyed, they did believe that she believed it and that she was usually correct. It had been hard to get everyone out of the valley and a lot of stuff had been left behind. It was especially hard for the elderly and the very young, but everyone worked together and no lives were lost.

But now what, thought Wanda, as she looked down into the valley to see raging waters everywhere, big splits in the earth, boulders, downed trees, and realized that her people would now have to go into exile into the mountains. She didn’t know what kind of life would be possible there. She needed to talk with the village minstrel and get him to write a new ballad to inspire the village. He could then play it on his harp each night around the campfire to help put spirit back into the people. If Wanda was discouraged it was nothing compared to the rest of the villagers who were just terrified that more destruction would follow.

Wanda had taken a few of the leaders and headed up into the mountains for a look and they had found a place which seemed pleasant. There were caves in the mountainside and there were also flat areas which could be plowed so that crops could be grown during the summer months and she’d even found a small waterfall and pool nearby, a spot that would make a lovely gathering spot for the villagers and a playground for the children. As far as they could tell, no one lived in the area and that rather worried Wanda.  If the spot was so good, why hadn’t anyone moved here?  But in her visions she saw great joy and happiness here so hopefully this vision was as true as the vision she’d had of the catastrophe. There would be lots to learn about. All the wildlife and plants would be new to the villagers. Pigeons wouldn’t live with them anymore, but hopefully other birds would.

Wanda had stood at the ridge’s edge long enough. She needed to help her people to make a decision as to where they would go. She and the village elders would start the trek up into the mountains today and hopefully, within a month’s time, everyone would be in the new location and starting to settle into a different routine, a routine which would ultimately prove to be just as rewarding, or so Wanda hoped. At least the earth had stopped its rumblings and shakings. That had to be a good sign.

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The Dentist’s Chair

The eight random words for today are: sneeze, telescope, revenge, desert, door, fur, false teeth, crown

Millie was sitting in the dentist’s chair awaiting the replacement of a crown on one of her back molars. She was terrified of dentistry in general, and to have to come here on her day off from the library only added insult to injury. She did have to admit that her particular dentist was kind and patient and gentle, but years of bad dentists in her life from a very early age had convinced her that it was going to hurt no matter what. Ok, she needed to get a grip on herself. She needed to think of something other than the sound of the horrible drill. The dentist had filled her with enough novocaine to knock out a mammoth and he’d also given her laughing gas to calm her. Now was the time to think of something else. She had good teeth and was in no danger of ever having false teeth, but she did need to take care of them, and after all, replacing a crown wasn’t a big deal, right?

Millie just needed to imagine that she was somewhere else. Where would she rather be? Honestly, anywhere but here would be an improvement, she thought as the dentist asked her to open wide. What about the desert? Well, maybe that wouldn’t be her best choice. She was not that fond of deserts even if they did rank higher than the dentist office. Maybe she should imagine herself on a planet in another galaxy. Would there be life? Well, there better be if she was there, but what kind of life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to meet with new species, new cultures? Yes, that’s what she’d imagine. She’d think herself onto a distant planet with intelligent life. She saw herself approaching a dwelling and knocking on the door. A tall creature covered in fur and looking something like her cat Cuddles answered. The creature was standing on two legs, but it had a tail and the coloring was suspiciously like that of Cuddles. But this creature could talk and after a few words, Millie realized she could understand the creature. Maybe there really were universal translators or maybe she had watched too much Star Trek. The creature introduced herself as Imogene and invited Millie into the house. Inside the living room there was a giant telescope which Millie realized was capable of seeing the earth. So, thought Millie, we watch them and they watch us.

All of a sudden Millie’s dentist was removing the nitrous oxide mask and asked how she was doing. The abrupt jerk back to the real world made Millie sneeze and as she tested her bite she thought, I wonder what kind of revenge I can take on him for bringing me back to earth before I got to know Imogene. But then she just smiled and thanked him and headed home to enjoy the rest of her day off. No revenge was necessary because Millie realized, the entire operation had happened while she was happily visiting another world. When she reached home, Millie couldn’t wait to tell Cuddles all about her look-alike in a far distant galaxy.

The Mouse and the Snail

Today’s eight randomly generated words: mime, bath, snail, night, mouse, oar, spark, danger

It was a dark moonless night as Hyacinth the mouse set sail in her little boat. She had to get to the other side of the pond as her cousin was in labor and she had promised to help. Normally it wouldn’t be difficult to sail across the pond and she could even use the oars and row if the wind was too calm but tonight the problem was too much wind. She certainly didn’t want to take a bath in the pond, but she had to get to Crystal. Crystal had lost several litters and Hyacinth was sure she could help bring this labor to a successful conclusion. Crystal and Pepper deserved to have a large family. They were such kind mice, and Hyacinth knew they would make wonderful parents. She had to get there.

As Hyacinth pushed the boat away from the dock and raised the sail she noticed a small snail on the edge of the seat. Hyacinth was worried that she’d gotten someone else into danger–bad enough that she was crossing the pond in this wind, but she didn’t have to endanger anyone else. She tried to get the snail’s attention and mime that they were in danger, but the snail stayed resolutely on the bench, refusing to move. Oh well, thought Hyacinth, I’ve tried, and she returned to sailing the boat. A gust of wind caught the sail and soon they were flying across the pond at a great speed, but not exactly in the direction Hyacinth wanted. She tried to correct their course but to no avail. Before she knew it, the boat had beached itself at the edge of the pond several hundred yards away from where Hyacinth wanted to be. Drat, she thought as she climbed out of the boat and dragged her medical bag after her. That is when she noticed that the snail had climbed onto the bag. So, thought Hyacinth, you want to come too, do you. Ok, hang on, and Hyacinth raced through the woods clutching her bag with the snail secure on the top.

Soon they reached Crystal’s home and by the whimpers and squeaks coming from inside things weren’t progressing too well. Hyacinth hurried in and got out her supplies. She set to work right away and soon she was delivering three tiny mice. Two were strong and healthy, but the third appeared to be dead. Suddenly the snail slid onto the third mouse and Hyacinth couldn’t see what it was doing, but all of a sudden, Hyacinth saw the little mouse’s chest jerk and she realized that the snail had found the spark of life in the little infant and nursed it into bloom. Suddenly the third mouse was also wiggling toward its mother and Hyacinth was able to see that Crystal had three mice nursing. Pepper was beaming as any proud father would, thanking Hyacinth over and over again. Hyacinth said, “Well, give thanks where thanks are really due. I did help with the first two boys, but you owe this snail thanks for the life of your third, your only little girl!” Pepper looked down in surprise, but he did manage to stutter his thanks, and with that, Hyacinth packed up her things, watching as the snail again crawled onto the pack, and the two of them headed back home, happy to have helped three new lives into this world.

The Princess and the Troll

Today’s eight randomly generated words: gate, work, bribe, sentry, energy, kiosk, moon, and lead.

The troll stood guard at the kiosk outside the sorcerer’s castle. A full moon shone overhead and the troll’s energies were very low. A full moon was too much like the sun to suit him, but he was on sentry duty so he did his best. All of a sudden he noticed a contingent of dwarves approaching with what looked like a princess in the lead. The troll, never the brightest even for a troll, wondered what they were doing out at 2AM, but his training came into play and he shouted at them to halt in front of the gate. “What do you want,” asked the troll.

The princess, for it truly was a princess at the head of this strange group, said, “We need to see your master right now!”

The troll answered that his master was not to be disturbed under any circumstances. At this denial, the princess stamped her foot and made her demands again. While she was doing this, causing a general ruckus, several of the dwarves crept behind the troll, unlocked the gate, and slide into the castle grounds. The princess kept making unreasonable demands and the poor troll was becoming more and more bewildered by it all. Did she say that she wanted her dinner? What was that all about?

Meanwhile, the dwarves who had gotten through the gate were now inside the castle proper and they were hunting for the famous dwarf axe which the sorcerer had stolen over a month ago. They found it, after a brief search, hanging on the wall next to the fireplace. As soon as they lifted it off the wall they heard the sounds of distance gongs, but they were already racing out the door, barely squeezing through as the doors clanged shut. They sprinted for the gate and this time they had to clamber over it, since the gate was locked by magic, not just a key. The alarms continued to pierce the air, but the dwarves didn’t care. They turned to the princess and thanked her for her assistance, promising her their undying loyalty, before they headed for the mountains.

The princess looked at the troll and said, “I’m really sorry and I hope you don’t lose your work. Here, I have a bag of gold which you can say was a bribe, or hide it or whatever you want. But really, your master had no business stealing the dwarves sacred axe. And you may tell him I told you to say that. Sorcery is one thing, but theft is unacceptable in my kingdom.” With that, the princess made a very dignified exit ignoring the fact that the sorcerer was flying down the pathway from his castle. Sure hope he doesn’t hurt the troll, she thought.

Zoo Rebellion

Today’s eight randomly generated words: kite, tray, kangaroo, prison, fish, stampede, threat, and power.

Things were not going well at the zoo. Funding had been cut and the management thought that they could save money by buying cheap food and the animals were ready to revolt. Rosie the kangaroo was especially upset. She had never wanted to live in a zoo in the first place and now she was really mad and it didn’t pay to make a kangaroo mad, that was for sure. Rosie decided that the animals needed to get organized and not just sulk on their own, so after hours she had held a meeting and elected herself to be in charge. The others were so unhappy that they would agree to anything. The zoo felt like a bad prison now and on top of that, no kids wanted to visit anymore because everyone looked so sad.

Rosie said the key to success was to take over the power of the zoo. If they united they would definitely pose a threat to the humans and they could even cause a stampede which would certainly attract attention. But they needed a human ally and Rosie was sure she could get the keeper for the Australian area to help because Rosie knew that Brigid was also very unhappy with what she was required to do or rather not do for the animals. With Brigid’s help, they would start turning over all the trays of cheap food and go on strike. Brigid would alert the media and soon there should be a major uproar at the zoo. Even the fish in the aquarium would get into the act and the macaws would fly kites with protest messages.

Rosie understood all about hard times and tough decisions. After all, she’d agreed to come to the zoo as a way to save the rest of her family. But it made Rosie mad that the zoo’s director and all the board members were still taking home enormous pay checks while the animals suffered. If there were to be cuts, then everyone should feel them, not just those with no voice. So tomorrow would be different! With Brigid’s help, Rosie and the others would revolt and justice would be served. Personally, Rosie hoped she’d get a chance to push the director into the hippo’s mud bath. Now that would really be something, and with that thought, Rosie fell asleep, sure that tomorrow would be the beginning of a better world.

Tour Guide

Today’s eight randomly generated words: guide, olive, map, goal, coffee, hot plate, robot, and interlude

Samantha was taking a group of tourists for a hike through the local olive groves. It always amazed her how many people thought it was fantastic to hike through these groves as she had lived with them all her life and they didn’t seem all that special to her, but it paid her wages and the job really wasn’t too bad. Occasionally she got an annoying tourist, and those came in several flavors. There were the ones who asked thousands of questions, the ones who were whiny, the ones who tried to pick her up for a date, etc., but for the most part people were pretty reasonable. Samantha usually just followed the map given for the self-guided tour, but if she had a good bunch with her she sometimes took them to spots off the map which were particularly beautiful. Otherwise, she felt as if she were just a robot going through the motions. Today was the day for an off the map tour. Her group only had five women in it and they were all avid gardeners, so after a brief interlude for some coffee heated on her hotplate, she led them off into the area where the olive groves abutted some natural caves overlooking a waterfall. After a half-hour walk they reached their goal and the women were suitably impressed with the beauty and majesty of the waterfall. Samantha gave them time to enjoy the scene before leading them back to the approved path on the map. She gave her usual cautionary speech about not telling anyone about the side trip, and she wondered if that really did any good or if it mattered or if tourists even compared notes about what they had seen. Samantha really didn’t care. It had been a good day and her tips for the tour were excellent. She was that much closer to being able to move out of this small town and see the rest of the world!

Ghost at the Opera

Today’s eight randomly generated words: bar, rehearsal, region, binder, essay, chandelier, fight, and holly.

Priscilla was practicing her ballet assignment in the rehearsal room, and had her right leg up on the bar to stretch when she heard yelling in the hallway. Whatever is going on now, she thought. As the principal ballerina for the opera company’s corps de ballet, she felt a responsibility to look out for the other dancers. Many of them were young and from different regions in the country and they were away from home for the first time. Jealousies and disagreements were normal, even tears and fights over having someone else dance the part you really wanted. All that was part of being in the corps de ballet. But lately the entire opera company was uptight and tense. Accidents were happening. They had even had a couple fatal ones lately, including the music director who was hanged when he got tangled in a rope and a sandbag fell. These things were not normal and Priscilla was worried. People were saying that the opera house was haunted by a ghost and that the ghost was writing threatening and demanding letters to the opera theatre’s owner.  There was a binder in all the dancers’s contracts prohibiting them from leaving during the opera season without major penalties, but really, was it worth putting your life in jeopardy? Priscilla essayed to keep everyone calm, but had no assurances that her efforts were actually working. And then what about the two old ladies who showed up wearing black pointy hats with sprigs of holly in them. Were they really witches? And why were they so determined to get into Box Eight for tonight’s opening performance? Didn’t they know that box was never sold on opening night? It had something to do with the ghost and a chandelier. Priscilla just wasn’t sure about any of it, but she knew whatever else happened, she had to keep her dancers safe. She couldn’t wait to get tonight’s performance over and done with. Why ever did she run away from home? Well, too late to worry now. The ruckus in the hallway seemed to have sorted itself so Priscilla went back to the bar and her practice. She’d be sure to wear her lucky shoes tonight, though, just in case.

This story owes heavy nods to Terry Prachett’s Maskerade (which in turn is a fantastic parody of The Phantom of the Opera), which I happen to be reading at the moment. I highly recommend it!

The Tortoise and the Frog

Today’s eight randomly generated words: frog, fog, crisps, tortoise, snow, binge, nail varnish, and salon

As fog seeped over the waterfront embankment and rolled down into town, a tortoise could be seen making its way slowly through the snow at the edge of the sidewalk. The tortoise, whose name was Helen, moved as far away from the street as she could and just trudged onwards. She paused outside a lighted salon, and looked inside at all the women getting beautified. Helen thought they were pretty silly, sitting there getting nail varnish and color tints and whatever. She trudge onwards wishing for spring and as she turned the corner she spotted a frog outside the taco restaurant. It was Elmer so Helen went over to say hi. Elmer didn’t even notice her approaching because he was too busy chomping down crisps on some sort of eating binge.

When Helen was finally beside him, she said, “Hey Elmer! What’s up?”

Elmer jumped straight into the air! “You startled me, Helen! It isn’t fair to sneak up on a guy like that!”

Helen laughed. “I sure wasn’t sneaking! You were making so much noise with those crisps an army could have marched past and you wouldn’t have noticed. What’s going on?”

Elmer looked sheepish. “You know that princess up at the castle? Well, she trapped me last week and kept kissing me to make me turn into a prince and I haven’t had a proper meal for days! All she fed me were flies and ants! I finally escaped and now I’m making up for lost time!”

Helen laughed! “I sure am glad I’m not a frog,” she replied! “No one ever turned a prince into a tortoise!” And after wishing Elmer the best and warning him to stay away from the castle, Helen continued her ambling, heading toward warmth somewhere, she hoped!

Summer Holiday

Today’s eight randomly generated words: faint, string, ring, giraffe, holiday, corner, belt, saddle

Summer holidays had finally arrived. Anna was so excited! Her mother had agreed to take her to Africa for two whole weeks so that Anna could see the wildlife on the Serengetti Plains up close and personal, so to speak. It was true that when they returned Anna would have to write up a report for her high school senior project, but what a report it would be.

Anna woke up the next morning and eagerly got ready for the airplane trip. It would be a long flight, but Africa! Wow! This was the first really wonderful thing that had happened since her father had been killed over a year ago. It had been a very difficult year for both Anna and her mother but now things would be different. Anna was just sure of it.

As soon as the plane landed in Nairobi, Anna and her mother settled into their hotel and waited for the safari guide. Anna thought she ought to be sleepy, but she was just plain too excited to sleep, or so she thought until she was awakened by the ring from their room phone. She grabbed her camera and backpack and headed out with her mother.

In what seemed like no time at all, Anna was sitting in the jeep, with her seatbelt properly fastened–she hated belts, but the guide had been insistent as the ride would be very bumpy–and they were on their way. They drove through the city and soon, the safari group was out on the plains. The first thing Anna saw was a herd of giraffes, all lined up looking as if they were hooked with a long string. They were so tall and so magnificent!!

After that the day went by at great speed with one marvel following right on top of another. It seemed as if every time the jeep turned a corner or changed direction there was a new wonder to be seen. The jeep stopped at a ranch for their lunch and Anna was given the chance to ride a horse for part of the afternoon tour and Anna jumped at the opportunity. Things looked really different from the vantage point of a saddle.

Finally, the first day of the safari was coming to an end. Anna and her mother sat around the campfire before bedtime, sharing with their fellow safari travelers what they had enjoyed the most that day, and in the distance, Anna realized she could hear the faint sounds of animals she didn’t even recognize.

This vacation was going to be the best ever and her only problem, she thought, would be to try to condense the magnitude of the experience into one school paper.

The Wolf and the Lost Prince

Today’s 8 randomly generated words: comedy, messenger, guide, wolf, tomb, neck, barrel, and soccer

Rain was pouring down in torrents and the field had become a muddy slippery slope so that  the soccer game between the witches and wizards was turning into some sort of bizarre comedy. All of a sudden a messenger arrived from the king and the game was halted, none too soon, according to one of the witches named Bertha.

The messenger announced that the young prince, eight year old Elliot, had wandered off and in this weather the king and queen were fearing the worst. The king asked (even he realized that ordering witches and wizards was a very bad idea) if anyone would help in the search.

Soon all the soccer players had abandoned the rain-soaked game to join the hunt. Naturally, as Bertha knew from the get-go, the wizards had their ideas about how to search and they treated any suggestions the witches put forth with the greatest disdain, so soon the two groups had split up, with the wizards waving wands and shouting and the witches returning to the last known location of Prince Elliot and looking for signs of magical disturbances.

While Bertha was hunting through the forest she caught sight of a wolf. Bertha was able to enter the minds of other creatures and she decided now was a good time to do just that so she entered the wolf’s mind and what she read there was very reassuring. The wolf had seen Prince Elliot wandering deeper and deeper into the forest, and when the rain started he looked for shelter. He found an old barrel and climbed in, not realizing that he was then trapped. He was now nearly up to his neck in water, thanks to the heavy rainfall, but the wolf (and now Bertha) knew just where the barrel was, so Bertha thanked the wolf for the information, promised her assistance if he was ever in need, and she raced off to the spot where the barrel was.

Prince Elliot was very happy to see her and she even allowed him to ride on her shoulders back to the castle. Bertha had grandchildren of her own and knew that the entire episode would be just a fun adventure with no harm done if it were handled properly. As the two of them came into sight of the palace they were surrounded by many of the searchers who had given up hope of ever finding the prince in this weather. Bertha returned the prince to his parents and then let the king know that the wolf was the one who actually saved Prince Elliot. The king was so grateful that he immediately proclaimed that wolves were sacred animals, not to be harmed or hunted. Bertha smiled and thought, I wonder how long that will last.