"Short Stories"

Chapter 1
A Fine Chocolate Line

By smileycloud

A family lineage of three generations
Supporting A multitude of celebrations
Delicate chocolates that are cream of the crop
Quaint little shop selling a rare and tasty drop

John of Austria, a man with a recipe. The recipe was not just for the finest chocolate that could pass your lips. The ingredients included courage and determination. Bravery took his family way across the water.

Peter loved his father, and Pia as well, and he believed in this family, and saw the opportunity arise to expand. They all wanted nothing more than to continue the tradition. This included flooding the world with scrumptious home-made treats. Martha's Kitchen put the seal of perfection on their name.

Christopher the son and Stephanie the daughter added their talent and flair. The will to excel and the knowledge that they have something great to offer the world, and make it a more pleasurable place. These are the ingredients that will always shine like a golden syrup trickling through time, and if you are looking to place some bets at the casino, you'll not have a better return for your cash than a box of Aigner Chocolates.

Take home the most valuable "Golden Nugget" of all from your stay at the Casino in Las Vegas. Then top up your deliscious supply from time to time in beautiful downtown Forest Hills New York City. A metropolitan taste on Metropolitan Avenue.

Imagine eating chocolates so fine
Don't even leave your room just go on-line
Click-on the Aigner Chocolates website
Send the perfect gift that is always right

Author Notes At a guess I would say that the prompt requirements were for prose. I am not quite sure
I do apologize for the rhyme in the opening and closing; LOL just cannot help myself;
Then again, it did encase four paragraphs of prose.
Hope you enjoy the read anyway.

Write a three to four paragraph "About Us" for Aigner Chocolates. A very old chocolate company in New York City ( that connects with young adults to middle age persons. It should be personal/engaging/fresh while still telling the story of a multi-generational chocolate family that makes high end, exceptional pieces.
The original building, and the only store currently in operation (consistently since 1930), is in Forest Hills, Queens, NYC. Over the past 30 years, we have operated stores in Astoria (late 80s for 5 years), Ridgewood (previously Martha's Candy Kitchen 1915 - 1993) and Manhasset (1991-2008) - all New York towns. We also sell through 'The Chocolate Box' in the Golden Nugget Casino in Vegas since 2009.

The picture does not belong to me;
It is the image that is on the Aigner Chocolates website;
I could not help but use their own image
as it is so beautiful and quaint and it looks to me like a house made of candy

Chapter 2
The Red Sea

By smileycloud

This recurring dream of mine plagues my slumber rooms.  Music beckons me to dance the waltz of frivolity and freedom. Try as I might to skip playfully, my feet trudge across that vast, ever present, deep sea of ink black substance, like wading through a pit of sticky jello.

Peering down at my attire, gone are the bed clothes of my peaceful rest. The soft, youthful, almost childish garments, that just on this very night I had worn with such comfort and security. I am so sure it was tonight, yet it now seems so very long ago. They are gone, replaced with heavy red robes that drag relentlessly around my ankles, like prison chains restricting movement into small, awkward, spasmodic steps.

My voice screams inside my head, "I cannot dance in this! Stop the music! I implore you." Fear and hopelessness surround me. The question forms in my mind, "What is this pitch black mire I feebly attempt to dance in?" Still the music persists, luring me onward.

I can feel it with every fiber of my being; there's a promise in the atmosphere. A way out of this pit of despair. If only it was more tangible, I could reach out and grasp it. I am almost there, on the brink of escape. "Why can I not see it, why can I not reach my destination?"

The colors. I am now certain they are the culprits. I am now so feverishly aware that these dark shades are to blame for the stagnation in my progression through this nightmare and out to the other side. In my semi-conscious dream state, I summon all the will power which is stored in my subconscious. I focus, I desperately determine to lighten them. I must find a window. Must let the light and sunshine illuminate the way. Surely in the stark brilliant light of day, black could at the very least, turn to gray. These scarlet robes are pulling me down, down into a dungeon. I cannot prevent the impending fall into the this tar colored thick liquid hell.

I am catapulted from my world of visions and dreams like a cannonball back to the realm I thought I could trust. Yet, when I wake, there it is, lurking, a faintly disturbing presence intruding upon my saturated mind.

I walk through the walls of my sanctuary out into the world as I vaguely remember it to feel and be. Today; things are different, I am certain. The cool breeze seems to be whispering as it brushes over my skin like an artist making strokes with feathers on a canvas. The word "canvas" lodges in my throat. It will not budge. In a frenzied state of confusion my thoughts run riot. "Am I to paint? Such nonsense, I cannot even sketch with a lead pencil. And what is it I might endeavor to paint?"

I look around me and see the glorious picture of my world in all its vivid magnificent splendour. This masterpiece cannot be duplicated or outshone by someone so lacking in talent as I. I come to an almighty stunned standstill. Yes, it is true. Look, see how differently my eyes see my world today. It surely must have rained during the night hours; all around me everything appears so clean and freshly washed. Allowing my eyelids to fall gently over my eyes, I breathe deeply of the fresh crisp newness in the air invading my senses.

Reluctantly, I lift my lashes and I peer inquisitively into beaming smiling faces as people pass along my path. They could not be suddenly feeling so kindly toward me. Their smiles are never for me, only their scornful laughter, in response to my cutting disposition displayed across my brow in a disapproving frown. My hand instinctively brushes my brow, but fails to find the crinkled lines of my frown. In shock my palm slips down to cover my mouth in disbelief. I am smiling. And just what is it that my features believe I have to grin about? My life is one long tedious trek of struggle and strife. There is nothing to be grateful for, nothing that has come to pass in my miserable existence that could be portrayed in a pleasant expression upon my face.

It is that dream. That stupid festering dream. "Leave me now, I command you!" That is much better. Things appear more normal now. There, my world is just as it always has been. The dreary dull cloud is overhead, hovering, like an alien ship about to spew its green slime all over my life.

Dare I sleep tonight? This is the umpteenth time I have posed this ridiculous question since dusk descended. Of course I do. Dreams do not control me, I control them. Night terrors are created only in one's own imagination. My world is too full of disappointment to indulge in such luxuries as fantasy and childish make believe.

My weary head plunges into the depths of my pillow. I could swear a hand brushes across my cheek. Involuntarily, I reach up to take hold but it is not there. Elusive and out of reach. There is a strange but pleasant stirring in my chest. So very tired. I must sleep and rest.

Oh, that music. That beautiful tantalizing music playing through the corridors of my mind. The tune of an entire orchestra is billowing like the sails of a great ship through my body. Dance, I must dance. My every fiber desires to float across the dance floor with such amazing grace in tune to the beat of delirious pleasure. In desperate need to swirl and glide, I reach down to scoop up the skirt of my night dress.

The scarlet robe clings like glue to my feet as they are dragging in the muddy muck of this damnable black sea. A howl of terror escapes my tightly drawn lips. I must stop struggling. It is quicksand. I will go under. Down and down I go. The pit is swallowing me up. I cannot scream for help. The vile depths of my life are pulling me further into this vat of hate and disgust. The mush of the black sea is oozing all around me and squirting its evil over my head.

From deep in the bowels of my soul, I scream the words and squeeze them past my parched and restricted throat. "Oh my God in Heaven. Help me! Please have mercy and help me! Where are you my Lord? Don't let go of me. Pull me up, please save me!"

Soft, soothing music penetrates my consciousness. The hand is back upon my cheek. For the first time in my blind selfish life, I dared to risk rejection as I reach to grasp it. The fingers fold strongly around my hand. Up and up from the mire I float so effortlessly, like the black goo is transformed into crystal clear fresh spring water. My eyes close for a fleeting moment to savour the pure exhilaration of the freedom from my certain death.

A band of angels sing and clouds part overhead. I thrust forward on feet so light I feel I can fly. Reaching down for my skirt, I scoop up the hem of a sheer white gossamer gown and dance like a ballerina to the tune of release and thankfulness.

My robes of scarlet red have turned to snow white and the black sea flows in brilliant red, surging through my veins and propelling me across this heavenly dance floor as I miraculously dance in red.

I am truly dancing. Dancing like a new born child in my Saviour's precious Blood.

Author Notes Our sins are red as scarlet, washed snow white in the Blood of The Lamb.
Contest entry prompt required prose written in one of six themes;
Dancing in red is my entry in this great and challenging contest created by mmichelle07219 to whom I am very thankful for her and her daughters' initiative and imagination, time, energy and edification.
Have a smiley day and dance, dance, dance.

Chapter 3
Twenty-four Seven

By smileycloud

Author Note:REVIVED FROM 2009


What is the Spirit of Christmas?
I know what it is "not"

The Spirit of Christmas is not tequila
Those intoxicated wriggly worms living in the bottom of the bottle
could ruin Christmas.
They could pop out from the bottle and fill their plump juicy little bodies
with the delicious summer fruits
so prettily arranged in the center of the feast table.

The Spirit of Christmas is definitely not rum
Every drop in all the households around the world
has most likely been poured into the puddings and the rum balls.

The Spirit of Christmas simply cannot be brandy
More than half a bottle is swimming through a bucket of thick smooth custard.
Even smoother now with the brandy infusion.

It is amazing at times, every time we mention the Spirit of Christmas,
our thoughts auto pilot to the kind loving deeds and thoughts
that are so becoming of a giving nature.
In turn, these attributes conjure up images and aromas
associated with Christmas time.


Perhaps we are not accustomed to,
or do not recognize these qualities in people at any other time of the year.
Perhaps we are not looking and listening.

The Spirit of Christmas is

The stranger in line at the supermarket checkout,
who reaches into his pocket and inconspicuously hands over a dollar or two
to the little old lady in front of him,
to save her the embarrassment of being short
in paying her meager grocery account.
In the middle of April or May
Compassion and charity

The surf life savers who protect our children at the beaches.
All year round
Service to mankind

The neighbor who makes a cake and a pot of tea
or even dinner for the woman next door
who has just had a fall and hurt her ankle.
In July or September
Hospitality and Empathy

Or perhaps it is

Members of The Salvation Army who
house and feed the starving and the homeless.
Twenty-four seven, three hundred and sixty five days a year
Love and Dedication

Yes, the Spirit of Christmas is all around us all the time.
It is the people we see every day.
The ones who quietly and unassumingly share their world
and their wealth with us.
Their wealthy, healthy spirits.
The people who walk and talk with God,
as the Spirit moves mysteriously and miraculously in them.
They are called Angels.
Messengers from God.
The things they do to make our world better every day,
even in the tiniest way, the deeds that speak God's silent language.
These deeds are called miracles.

The Spirit of Christmas is ordinary angels walking among us.
people after God's own heart.
Dedicated to creating simple unnoticeable tiny miracles in our lives.
Performing a humble service to all mankind
with their generous natures and compassionate hearts.
All for the love of God and humanity.

The Supreme Spirit of Christmas is the third Person of the Holy Trinity.
The One Jesus sent to us as our spiritual Guide.

Another way to describe the Spirit of Christmas
is the power of the prayers and supplications that are raised
to the Heavens at this time of year.
This thunderous rumble alone is enough to shake the earth
clean off it's axis.

Anything at all that turns just one more person's thoughts
toward the Lord because of Christmas Day
as the Spirit moves within us.
That alone, is a victory that rings the bells in Heaven
and makes Angels sing.

What is the Spirit of Christmas?
It is you
In God and God in you

Chapter 4
The War of The souls

By smileycloud

Worldly love seeks self-gratification
Agape love seeks the recipient's highest good
Romantic love seeks reciprocation
God's love seeks souls

Worldly love requires greed
Agape love requires tolerance
Romantic love requires commitment
God's love requires acceptance

Worldly love accrues sorrow
Agape love accrues honor
Romantic love accrues unity
God's love accrues life. Eternal
The mind's vision of the soul's purpose
Is written on the pages of our heart's desires
Contained in the book of our lives
  Interpreted by our actions and deeds

Our imperfections and idiosyncrasies tell our story
Our shades of dark and light color our world
The struggle within is the patriarch of our family
The turmoil between right and wrong points to a moral creator

The constant learning curve
Changes our minds into hearts and transforms those hearts into souls
We exist to know there is a God
  Our existence proves there is a God

Chapter 5
Toy Corruption

By smileycloud

Author Note:The idea is inconceivable. Or is it?

An alarm sounded in the distance.
The noise was piercing and ear-splitting, made even louder by the low cloud and the chill breeze that drifted across the homes in this small town, where the most excitement to date, was a car back-firing at no later than dusk on a Saturday night.

Police sirens screaming and people frantically running about in confusion.
Light switches were quickly flicked to brighten the darkness in almost every home.
Children being hushed and dragged indoors lest they get tangled up in whatever messy business might  be intruding upon the peace and quiet of this sleepy place.

It was like there had been a threat of an air raid during a war.

The area of car park and bus stops surrounding the town shopping center, in the daylight hours, were usually abuzz with mothers awkwardly pushing full shopping carts.
You would almost always see and hear children running amok with ice creams and candy.
A rare occurrence were men dressed in business suits with attaché cases stuffed full of important papers striding purposefully toward meetings where they would make or break their ideas with confidence and zeal.

Tonight, on this night of madness and bedlam, there were not any visions of beauty strolling along the pavement gazing longingly into the elegantly dressed windows of the fashion boutiques.

The roller shutter of the mechanics cove was pulled tightly closed, silencing the roar of engines and the clang of tools being tossed carelessly to the concrete floor.
The smell of grease and oils were securely trapped behind the dark solid walls.

The aroma of coffee and the enticing smells of freshly baked pastries and breads would not drift down the lane of the arcade till well into the morning.

There was only one place that was not sleeping the night away till dawn.
There was a huge buzz of chaotic activity causing this nightmarish upheaval as police officers and fire fighting crew as their back up, shone blinding spotlights upon the glass windows on the second story of this monumental building.

Security cars had come to a screaming halt in a disorderly manner all around the perimeter, sirens still peeling out, with red and blue flashing lights sending blazing slivers of warning in all directions, creating an atmosphere of pure panic and fear.

The toy department in the large chain of markets that had established themselves in this quiet little area more than ten years ago, was now the main center of attraction.

This chain of department stores had brought new life to this struggling community, and was a roaring beneficial success in the lives of the people who gained employment with this company.

There were many men and women who greatly appreciated this opportunity that had put their community on the map in the retail world.

You could say though, no one was as grateful and proud than Tom.
Tom was a middle aged part time produce farmer who had just recently clocked up his ninth year of service in the toy department as a valuable dog's body, who was the be all and end all to his fellow workers.
Tom was a great organizer, hands on experience as a hard working, quick thinking, energetic dynamo on his own property and in the whole community had honed his skills quite considerably.

All these attributes were minuscule compared to his gentle, helpful nature which shone from within him like a beacon.
This was the guiding force, which drew thousands of shoppers and browsers to the store year after year.

Children would look in wonder at the incredible animated displays, all operating furiously and as if by magic, like clockwork.
This wonderland is created every day by a talented, happy-go-lucky crew, led by Tom.

Bikes suspended from the ceiling were power driven by Tom's battery operated invention, mechanisms that spun the wheels like the bikes themselves were competing in a marathon.
Cuckoos chirped, dolls danced to bouncy musical tunes, hula-hoops swung round the hips of mannequins dressed in bright and glorious costumes of the world.
Train whistles blew loudly as the toy carriages sped through tiny model railway stations.

All who came to this magical wonderland, even from miles away, after hearing of the store's reputation, not forgetting to mention the legendary Tom, stood spellbound at the pure delightful shopping experience that was to be had by one and all.

Old fashioned toys, modern gadgets, the most up-to-date electronic devices.
Media and sound equipment, every outdoor and indoor desire for the young and young at heart, for the entire family, was always on display and with plenty in stock.

Never did a child or an adult have to leave without their hearts desire due to management hiccups or delivery delays created by slack ordering systems.
It was magically always the color they wanted, was never broken or damaged in any way.
Batteries were always included.

There were not any signs of magic on this terrible night that was holding the hearts of the entire town captive.
Tom was being held hostage at this very moment by a hostile aggressor, who at this crucial stage had not been identified.

Police who were feverish in their efforts to talk the situation down over the loud crackling megaphones, were only receiving hostile retorts from this retentive assailant through the smashed out windows of the toy department.

A few months ago in his workshop in Santa-ville, this perpetrator had been procrastinating over the influx of millions, no, zillions of toy requests that would mount hourly until that magic hour of midnight on Christmas Eve.
This onslaught was causing Santa great pangs of grief this year.
It is not that he suddenly did not wish to deal with all the demanding rush and bustle of Christmas.
For several years he had been disgruntled with the mostly unappreciated work load and he was becoming increasingly depressed.
This burden, that was now stressful to him, for centuries before had been a pleasure and delight.
To meet the needs and wants of children all over the world had always previously been totally fulfilling.

His inspiration had flown out the window along with his energy, and with only a few months left to fulfill all these dreams, his storehouse of new inventions and good intentions was completely empty.
Santa's mind was dry and barren, save for the seething hate which he unjustly held for that one man, out there.

Mrs. Claus had long since given up the ghost on trying to ease his spirit by begging him to let go of his negative and spiteful thoughts of the man she new as Tom.
She finally gave him an ultimatum to clean up his act and his heart, to give his zeal and zest the chance to get back on track, or she and the Elves would leave him to wallow in his own cold and dreary attitude.
An attitude that was harming his power and bringing about his own downfall.

He was desperate.
His now limited magical power could no longer fulfill him like it used to when his heart was free of envy and he joyously colored the world with gifts.
Despite his degenerating state, Santa still clutched tightly to a sense of responsibility toward all those greedy ungrateful little munchkins, waiting eagerly for him to drop new and expensive toys down their chimneys and in their stockings.

It was useless to sit here in despair.
"My talents have dried up and I am in a complete drought".
His thoughts turned even uglier as remembered the tales he had heard of that stupid man out there in that ridiculous toy store.
Who in the world does he think he is fooling?
This inane human.
"Tom, huh, what an ordinary name for an ordinary fool.
"He has no magic like I have"
Or did have, Santa was sinking lower into the depth of desolation.

Magic, Tom may not have, but he sure does have toys.
Multitudes of new shiny toys.
For some inexplicable reason, Tom seemed to have a never ending supply of them, just like he has a never ending following of children.

That really irked Santa right now.
"This Tom has children smarting after him all year round".
Like who thinks of Santa at any other time than Christmas, except to use his name as a threat to keep wayward behavior under control.

"That's it".
"He's got the toys".
"I need the toys".
"He's already bathing in the glory. What have I got except an empty sleigh come Christmas Eve"?

"I'll take them. I'll simply steal them".

Well, Santa did not really view this as steeling.
They're going to the same place anyway.
But this way, it will be better for all the children, because then their once a year faith in Santa will not be destroyed.
This is the way he justified his cruel intentions.

Tom was not meant to be there that fateful night at all in the toy department.
An incredible coincidence had occurred during the day, which delayed his departure from the store by what should have been a couple of hours.

A delivery of small marbles packaged in soft flimsy cardboard boxes arrived out of the blue.
This unexpected delivery presented itself while Tom was in a meeting with the board of directors regarding profit margin predictions for the coming holiday quarter.
Tom generally did not like these sort of meetings as he did not like to clutter his mind with such materialistic matters, as he felt it dwarfed his creative flair and had very negative underlying influences, which detracted from the pleasure he experienced in doing his job.

As Tom was not available to supervise the incoming order, which was actually being delivered to this store by mistake, a young man on the docks thought he would be very helpful.
Since it was only a few minutes to closing time, he decided to move all the boxes in one time-saving trip.
He loaded them all onto a small palette ready to transport them into the toy department.
The stock would be there ready for Tom and his crew to put them on display tomorrow morning before the doors opened for the days trading.

In his rush to do this good deed, the corner of the palette caught hold on the edge of the wooden leg of a rocking horse in the nursery display.

As the young dock assistant tried to dislodge his vehicle and maneuver it past the horse, he pushed the handle of the palette jerkily in the wrong direction and the horse fell heavily toward the side of the bassinet., which was in the same display.

Because the small toy cot was made of extremely delicate materials, he quickly leaned forward over the top of the palette's handle and grabbed for the cot in order to rescue its fringed trim from under the hard curved base of the rocking horse, which was balancing precariously, posing a threat of squashing the tiny bassinet to the ground.

Well, one wrong move after another resulted in the palette, as he not engaged the hand brake, rolling and swerving maliciously through the finely placed displays and eventually came to a damaging halt under the sales counter.
This knocked most of the boxes off the tray and marbles by the thousands broke loose and went careering through the entire department.

By this time Tom had returned and was greeted by peels of laughter from most of the good-natured staff and by a very surprised and frightened dock attendant.

Tom soon took the situation in hand in his kind and humorous way, and relieved the young man of any feelings of fear or embarrassment.

Tom decided it would not be effective at all to hold up all the staff, especially when budgets were still fresh in his mind from the meeting, so he told them all to head home, he would be fine.
He figured it would not take him more than an hour or two to restore order to the display floor.

The task was taking a little longer than he had anticipated, and it was already dark outside and only a few security lights were supplying him with sufficient light to finish the job.
Just a couple of minor details left now.
Almost finished, he reminded himself to reset the toy departments alarm system, which he had isolated from the rest of the store at closing time.

Tom broke out into a cold sweat and was rendered frozen solid when he heard a loud crash and the definite sound of breaking glass coming from the sporting department on the ground floor.

Fear and panic set in when the stores screeching alarm started to ring out it's warning like an air raid siren.
This confirmed that there was an actual break-in in progress and Tom started toward the phone to be sure that the police were definitely on their way.

Tom had not reach the phone when he was clobbered from behind with what he was to discover very soon to be a golf club.

As Tom stumbled and fell to his knees from the force of the blow, he swung around and was staring petrified up into a thunderous expression on the face of a man wearing a Santa suit.
Or so he thought.

Leaping to his feet, he tackled his assailant and the struggle began for supremacy of the fittest and strongest.
The displays which he had so carefully and lovingly restored to their original beautiful condition, now were all being tossed and thrown about in a destructive disarray.

The power of Tom's instinct for survival and his determination finally got the better of this floundering criminal.
As Tom sat sprawled heavily across the ample stomach of the Santa suit man, he snatched the offending club from the man and threw it quite viciously across the room, a safe distance away.

With his attacker now pinned to the floor, Tom tried feverishly to rip the beard and the red and white fur lined jacket off him in order to discover his identity.
Tom was determined to disrobe this villain so he could relieve the surmounting feelings of disgust building up in his stomach.
He was mortified that anyone would try to rob a toy store disguised as Santa.
This irked Tom to a huge degree as his sense of pride and respect in all that Santa stood for was being  maliciously undermined.

Time stood still.
It seemed like an eternity, but surely it was only a few seconds that had passed as Tom sat shocked and spellbound, as his entire body went numb and rigid with incredulous amazement.
Nothing, the hair or beard, not even the jacket that Tom had ripped at with fiery abandonment, not one piece would budge.
It was like it was all glued to this horrible degenerate.

This is how the police discovered them.
Santa sprawled in a remorseful heap on the floor.
Tears of regret and shame streaming down his face.
Santa knew.
He knew that this kind and upstanding man had recognized him.
Santa suddenly could not bear the weight of his abysmal actions.
Tom knew this repugnant man was Santa Claus.
Santa shrunk from the horror of his bitter and covetous ilk being confirmed by Tom and the entire world.
He sank into a gratified trance.

Tom was found slumped beside the man in a conscious but half-comatose state.
Police and all who arrived on the scene, and the doctors at the local clinic all assumed that Tom's speechlessness was the result of the trauma he had experienced.

The police had broken down the front door with the aid of the fire fighters, and they were able to sneak up on the scene under cover of the melodious and insistent alarm that was still sending chills through the hearts of all the towns-people.

The two-bit crook as he was thought of by all but one, was dragged off none too gently and thrown into a cell in the town's jail, pending trial.

Tom, after some time spent at the clinic and a whole lot more composed, went home and prayed.
"Show me please, how such a miracle could go astray".
"Why has the universe turned it's back on the Spirit of loving-kindness through this poor wretched soul tonight"?

As if his prayer had been instantaneously answered, his doorbell chimed with a lilt and a tinkle he had never quite heard before.
This did make him jump a little, as his nerves were still quite raw from the ordeal.

Opening his door to the vision of Mrs. Claus was just about Tom's undoing.
With her were a number of Elves, and a bedraggled, red-faced, extremely humbled Santa bringing up the rear of this unexpected, unlikely crowd, as though he was hiding behind his saviors in fear of showing his face.
This scene almost sent Tom reeling backward into pure unadulterated insanity.

The reassuring, mystic voice of Mrs. Claus stilled his racing pulse and mind.
The words then spoken drifted through the tunnels of Tom's ears and settled like a warn comforting blanket thrown over his chaotic thoughts.

This unbelievable scene would dwell in his subconscious for the rest of his days and beyond, giving him glimpses from time to time of another world, where imagination and fantasy reigned, and all people received the gift of a childlike spirit.
Tom's understanding and connection with unseen phenomenon reached new heights that changed his life from that time forward.

Mrs. Claus' voice seemed to come from a great distance.
Tom, we sincerely apologize for the traumatic experience you have had to endure this evening.
It is truly mournful, but it was unavoidable as you had a very important role to play in the events which had no choice but to take place this evening.

The Rulers in the Kingdom of Fantasy have seen and been duly impressed with your great works for a long time now.
Your spirit of fun and adventure combined with your humble and gentle heart has been recognized by the Councilors of Magic, and they have bestowed upon you a valuable gift of immense proportions.
This gift gives you free reign in the human kingdom of Toy-land.
All new invention that will forever more come to pass, will start with you and all the land will bow to your artistry.

All the towns people are in a deep blissful slumber, when the sun rises in the morning, there will not be anyone in this town that can recall the sore events of this bleak night, this also includes you too, Tom.

Mr. Claus, Santa, has suffered quite enough in his atonement for his wrong doing.
His greedy and immoral acts have been forgiven as the Councilors see deep inside his heart, and they have seen that his soul is truly repentant and his dear heart is bleeding tears of remorse.
The demons have been evicted.

The Elders in the Kingdom have rekindled his imagination and therefore reinstated his position in the Fantasy Realm.
His Power of Magic has been gifted back to him.

These Powers were taken from him many months ago,
The Rulers were devastated by his increasing feelings of rage and jealousy.
While these despicable feelings lived in his heart, Santa was doomed to be under the spell of unspeakable demons of callousness.
He could not bear the thought of you and your kind acts toward the children of the world  being recognized by the Council.
He was beside himself with envy that you were able to perform these amazing acts of loving-kindness without the Gift of Magic.
I myself bow my head in shame, as I was partly am to blame for his punishment reaching such a high degree of severity.
I feel much regret that in the early stages of his spiritual decline, that neither the Elves nor I took heed of the warning bells and we ignored the degenerating signs that led to his temporary but painful demise.
Often, an alarm sounded in the distance, but like an ostrich I would close my ears and pray that I was mistaken.

It has been a truly dreadful time due to the jealousy that festered in the heart of this once highly respected man.
The final straw broke in the most heart wrenching way.
Santa has learned a valuable and lifelong lesson, and has been given a second chance to prove his worth.
Not only to the Council, but to you, the Elves and myself and the children of the world.

All in the Kingdom of Fantasy has been restored to it's majestic state.
Magic will never leave Christmas again due to the repentant heart of the gifted ones, and because of the mercy and forgiveness of the great powers that reign.
Gifts will always be freely bestowed upon the loving heart.

Like magic, the scene before Tom's eyes evaporated into thin air.
He could no longer see or hear any of his extraordinary night visitors.
There was however, a calm rush of peace and clarity washing through his body and his mind seemed to know things that he never before though possible.

Tom quietly closed his front door, climbed the stairs, fell into bed and claimed a long, restful sleep, completely devoid of dreams.

The dawn saw Tom in his beloved toy department, staring incredulously at the huge palette load of boxes containing millions of small colored marbles in the middle of the toy store.

It was only a little while before the answer to his mental inquiry came rushing into the room.
The young dock attendant bounced in quite proudly to announce that he had wheeled this delivery in while Tom had been in his meeting the previous afternoon.

Tom remembered to praise the young man very profusely for his kindness and initiative, before he suggested that they both return the entire load back to the docks.

Tom had been all the time perusing the invoice that accompanied this order and was quite pleased to see that it should have been en route to a factory in a town many thousands of miles away.

The young man agreed that this was definitely the safest course of action.
"After all Tom, you never know what damage could be caused from any silly little accidents that might occur from maneuvering such an awkward vehicle as this in among such delicate treasures that we have on splendid display in our beautiful store", was the young mans conjecture.

Tom silently nodded in agreement and lead the way by clearing the best path back to the holding dock with this precious but somewhat dangerous cargo.

He leaned down to gently move a rocking horse out of harms way.


Author Notes Contest entry prompt
This sentence starts the story
"An alarm sounded in the distance"
Recommended length 2000 - 3500 words.
Toy Corruption is
Santa is not corrupt.
Santa is not a thief or an attempted murderer.
Santa is not in jail.
Mrs. Claus and the Elves dearly love Santa.
Christmas will be all that we hope it to be, complete with toys, gifts and scrumptious food.
We are free to trust in the Hope of the Spirit, and all those lavish, miraculous trimmings will be present in our hearts as we invite family and friends into our homes.
Many thanks to MinoYasue for this magical and talented depiction of A SPELL

Chapter 6
Merciful Departure

By smileycloud

Author Note:To all the souls who depart too soon and unprepared

Mrs.McArdle was swamped by ever surmounting pangs of doubt, fear and despair.
Her heart was grieving for a time past when she was the one in control of all her own choices in life.
Clinical strangers were now pulling the strings of her puppetry existence.
Her cunning debasing family were now the foxes ruling this den of iniquity she once called life, and charting the course for her raw emotions as they wielded masterful rods of deceit and disloyalty around her.

Her built in power of survival was paralyzed as she was plagued by the burden of her rapidly approaching demise after the excruciating news of that wretched brain tumor.
She can not operate in her own usual energy charged manner while this terminal black monster eats away at her life force.
She needed to regain control over her depressive thoughts of unfairness and injustice, and turn this around to make her parting as renowned as her living.

It is totally inconceivable and beyond comprehension that she should be the one that suffers this atrocity while the rest of her ungrateful spoiled stagnant family breeze through their lives of debauchery, drunkenness and shallow materialism.

This once stately elegant woman could not force herself to imagine that her well earned and deserved fortune may land in their greedy little laps in the matter of a few weeks.
Her wealth she has accumulated with wisdom and hard work.
This amazing woman can truthfully boast of moral and honorable treatment of every single soul, without any displays of contempt and never acquiring anything by devious means.
Surely this prosperity is congruent of a much more felicitous conclusion.

She desperately needed this very instant to create some sweeter and kinder thoughts in her mind to purge the ugliness of disappointment and disgust from her soul in order to sustain a semblance of dignity and grace.
Like a magic window had slid silently open she was enveloped in the blissful euphoria created by fond memories of her teenage sweetheart, Ron.
Dear Ron Kennedy.
She bathed in the warm exciting feelings brought about by the recent miracle of seeing him again.

The correspondence they have shared through her on-line sustentation in the past couple of years has been a balm to her chaotic emotions.
A lifesaving interlude that has given her the strength to wake from her sporadic slumber and lift her weary head from the pillow each morning and face her shattering world with her drawn and tear-stained face of gloom and hate.
Yes hate.

She mercifully drifted into the chasm of true and unconditional love that she and Ron felt for one another and a burning flame ignited in her mind.
Justice will prevail.

Maude McArdle vehemently vowed.
For all that my caustic debasing family have taken from me; I will strip them of their ill begotten spoils tenfold in the mere speaking of a few and everlasting words.
This adage will constantly reverberate through the halls of their conscience forever and I will sting them like a bee at the core of their honeycomb dynasty.
In these last days they will only have cause to remember me as I have come to know them.
As serpent vipers.

The plans had to be initiated immediately as there was not much time left before grueling futile medical treatments and excruciating pain like a thief in the night stole her ability to load the cannonball of fire and reprisal.

She made the formidable call to two of her most trusted and faithful friends to start the snowball of revenge rolling and to name these friends as executors of her Will and they will work unremittingly hand in hand with trustees of her estate.
The most important part of their assistance is to instantly aid her in acquiring all the properties and holdings that are needed to be in her possession in order to finalize the contents of her new and savage Will.

A tired and exhausted Maude trudged through the tasks and duties of many financial dealings.
Tasks, which had to be tackled and completed tout de suite, which in the past would have been a breeze to her keen and steel-trap mind.
It now irks her that she requires so much assistance to do even the most menial of tasks.
But she knew she could rely upon the dexterity of George and Alex to whom she was entrusting these invocations.
It will be then that she makes her new and foolproof
Last Will and Testament.

Not more than a few days later, but to an effete Maude it seemed like an eternity serving a prison sentence of hard labor at a work farm, and in the trail of an Everest of paperwork that needed to be authorized, signed, sealed and delivered.
Not to mention her shaky signature on a multitude of checks passing through the hands of many all too eager recipients for properties and trusteeships.

Almost all was complete.

Her dear friends who helped her accomplish this entire masterpiece of artisanship were astounded at the generous endowment she would bestow upon them.
She was making a very substantial provision for both of them and their respective families in her Will.
Maude knew they would never betray her last wishes and they would both be adamant that all matters were followed through to the very last letter.

Maude was also more than adequately cognizant that due to her solid and earnest investments, her current $600,000 million empire would continue to be lucrative and prosper to enormous proportions through many generations to come.
There was plenty to supplement all of her contrivances and in her vault of resources as well.
This thought brought a smile of pride and happiness to her worried expression.

Maude declared that this couldn't wait a moment longer, as not only is my health rapidly failing but so too is my resolve fading.

Now is the time.

Unlike her latter-day slumped and bedraggled demeanor she washed, pampered and re tailored herself into her very best attire.
She sat proud and stately in front of the video camera.
When she had sufficiently composed her racing thoughts, stilled her fluttering stomach region and steadied her numb shaking fingers that were grasping tightly to the folds upon folds of documents.

She pressed record on the remote.

Mrs.McArdle spoke surprisingly clearly and authoritatively but the wobbly tones in her voice filtered through her screens of strength far too many times to show that she was leaving this world with a crushed and broken heart, but definitely not a broken spirit nor a vision of an empty bank account.

The cogs of the transmitting apparatus whirred relentlessly in her ears as a constant reminder that this tape shall spill out the downfall of most of her once treasured children she so lovingly bore, and of the lifetime partner she once believed him to be.
The reel will spin unremittingly as it plays its echoing heralding edict in a comfortable but stark and austere room in the suites of her solicitors.

Maude began the beginning of the end. 

I sit before this camera with my heart exploding like dynamite through my vocal chords and lighting a fuse on my tongue that will detonate a bomb that will demolish your lives as you know them now.

This is my Last Will and Testament, the final chapter of my life in this world, as we know it now.

Or should I address you as 36459?
Excuse the sarcasm in reference to the phone that appears to be surgically glued to your glutinous ear.

For you, my manipulative offspring who has disregarded all I ever tried to teach you about common decency and fair play in business have belittled my name and good character reputation with your villainous tyranny.
I leave to you a lesson.
I leave to you a chance to redeem yourself in the eyes of humanity.

On the very day that my ashes are sprayed across the still waters from the beautiful banks of the Missouri River, your entire factory of control over the unsuspecting investors you duped and castrated will be undone in an instant.

I have never before used my power and wealth in this manipulative manner.
It is now apposite to capitalize upon their ascendancy's to have all your ill-acquired assets frozen and to have you my little wheeler and dealer at the realm of a Titanic, declared bankrupt.
All your paper mache companies and wealth, which shamefully their foundations were funded to a large degree by my stupid and misdirected generosity, will be dissolved into empty vessels.

I have also wielded my influence to obtain and secure you a real job in the property industry.
Waiting for you is a position as a rental property manager at a small and reputable family real estate agency in Downtown Back Woods Nowhere.
Here I suspect your unethical methods will simply wither and die due to the lack of sufficient fertilizer feeding your evil motives that toil at duping poor decent folk out of their hard-earned savings.

If you think for even an instant that you can simply refuse to turn up in Downtown Nowhere, you are gravely mistaken.
There is an insurmountable condition attached.
In order for you to receive a substantial yearly sum from my vast estate, which will serve to compensate for your meager retainer and commission you are able to forge from an honest living.
You must show proof annually to my trustees that you have indeed worked your lazy little derrière off in a respectable and moral manner.

I can only pray that you will heed these expensive lessons and live an abundant life full of self-respect and take pride in worthwhile achievements.

Be your own best investment you ever made.

Oh dear Nancy.
My flirtatious slutty daughter.
I sit before you here filled with shame and compassion combined.

I feel compassion for you as you have never felt the pure unadulterated joy that giving love brings to the heart.
Your shallow callous treatment of the men in your life creates shooting pains of shame through my own heart, cutting off my breath as the knives of your decadent behavior slice through the tinder dry walls of my arteries.

I can only feel extremely sorry that your vanity has even deprived you of the delicious aroma of a creamy choc topped cappuccino where a succulent marshmallow could be tantalizing your lips with every sip you take.
Your senses have never had the extreme pleasurable taste sensation of a custard filled éclair on your tongue as the pastry flakes fall into your lap as you would savor the smooth sweet texture with eyes gleaming from the culinary delight.
Experiences like these could have been devoid of fear of the consequences of stains on your prissy expensive clothes.
It could have been a blessing of freedom if you did not have the obsessive need to count the calories that might detract from the appearance of your puny starved body.
An alluring form, which you wield as a weapon on people who are unfortunate enough to fall head over heels in love with your feigned displays of affection.

To gain your meager inheritance from my estate you will wake very early five mornings a week.
You shall don a volunteers drab uniform and fight your way through the hot sticky mire of traffic and bustle to a Clinic of Mental and Emotional Stability.

This is where you will serve seven hours each of these tedious days as an aide to the overworked and emotionally overloaded counselors.
These counselors are the anchors who will teach you the real down and dirty steadfastness of life.
You will behold some of the most magnificent characters who live their lives in that building to forge their way through a multitude of ailing patients who have come broken and lost to their door in desperate need of help to cope in their troubled lives.

This you will not do just for the monthly installments in your bank account, but in time you will do it for yourself and for them.

Please, my darling girl; spend every day for the rest of your life truly feeling and hearing the world around you.

Do not see this as a vengeful act but as a mothers guiding hand leading her beloved child down the path of happiness.
Please walk proud and tall on that track.

Grow up.
Be a man.
I have absolutely nothing here to share with you.
No money.
No conditions to meet in order to obtain any part of my estate in any shape manner or form.
You are free to go on your disgusting little way.
You may as well slither from the room right now, but I imagine you will stay mesmerized by these proceedings till the very end.
You are probably expecting this to be some kind of sick elaborate joke and hoping against all odds that in the final scene you will be showered with all the easy wealth you believe you so richly deserve.
This is most assuredly not a joke.

However, as for dear Emma, the gentle loving wife who you threw on the refuse tip due to your wild and drunken ways as you squandered away every penny that could have taken care of her as she is now in ill health.
I have more than compensated for your irresponsible desertion.

My darling Emma, I have made adequate allowance for a comfortable home that will remain in your name for life and then will be passed onto my two adorable grandchildren who Gary has neglected and abandoned.
And you will have the fully funded services of a permanent private nurse and also medical and hospital benefits for yourself and your two girls whenever you require them.
This is tied up in such a way that no one, especially not Gary could ever deprive you or my grandchildren of this legacy.

As for darling Sarah and Shay, who thank the Lord for fine mercies, have inherited more of their mothers kind and loving genes than their fathers, or for that matter their grandfathers, and have already at their tender ages learned from the influences bestowed upon them by Emma and myself.

I have set up a college fund in trust for both the girls when they graduate from senior high.

The girl's places at the Memorial Elementary School in Willington have already been secured.
Your home will be but a stones throw from this wonderful school, where the teachers, the likes of Ron Kennedy have been mentors to many grateful students.
The admonition from these prodigious people has shaped their impressionable young lives into monumental triumphs.

A professional, well-trained and compassionate group of people will assist you and the girls in making the transition to this beautiful and amazing town, where I spent the happiest years of my life.
God Bless you my darling girls.

Adding to their lifelong financial security, Emma, Sarah and Shay will all receive a tidy sum on the date of each of their birthdays, which will be handled jointly by Emma and the trustees.

There will not be any loophole or opportunity for Gary to gain access to any of this cash or property, which is intended to give the dearest part of my family a safe and secure future.

No doubt, when you hear this Gary you will feel perfectly justified to drown your little sorrows in booze and cry pitifully on the shoulders of all your unsavory hangers-on who by the way, will soon disappear when the funds for partying and living the life of O'Reilly himself has been dried up by the reading of this will.

Get dried out.
Get a job.
Make strong and decent friends.
Live life.
Do not continue to swim through life from the bottom of a barrel of whiskey.
You have sufficient intellect buried deep inside of you to make a fortune in your own right if you follow the path of integrity.

Alfonso, my forever roaming illicit husband who has been a caustic shadow of the man I believed you to be when we wed.
I leave you a Cathouse.
This is a very fitting bequest.
This may sound rather obscure I imagine and your beady little eyes are most likely squinting out a protest of unimaginable objection.

The Cathouse I refer to is a private feline animal refuge which I have purchased and appointed you the hands-on (excuse the pun dear husband) day manager and dogsbody.

You too will have to make annual reports to the trustees of my estate in order to continue to reside in this lavish mansion and in order to retain the rights to this entire property that has now instilled a sour taste on my palette.
I no longer see this as our home.
It is worthless to me and I would not want such a nefarious place to be bestowed upon anyone else, as the memories you have darkened my heart with just may darken their doorsteps.

I extend you a heartfelt welcome to crawl home to your lonely abode after you have slogged your unfaithful body to the bone at the Cathouse.
Once again excuse the several intentional puns at your expense.

I do hope that this over generous bequeath has got you purring in your loins and it will not do you any good to pounce viscously on my overpaid and under worked solicitor as all my wishes have been set in concrete and are irreversible for the rest of your miserable pathetic existence.

Dear sweet Ron.
The years growing up in our hometown.
My college beau.
The letters and emails in the recent past.
Our chance meeting and subsequent reunion.
These are my realities.
Nothing else has even come close to the heights of this intoxication and rapture.
Every moment of my life I truly treasured at these times.

To introduce this upstanding and distinguished gentleman sitting in that room alongside the members of my bombastic family;

Meet Ron Kennedy.

A man who has accomplished far more than any of us who would be bold enough to think we are successful.
A schoolteacher in a community he loves and where he is very well respected.
A faithful loyal pillar of strength and decency.

Ron Kennedy, to your school I leave a never ending petty cash tin.
From this bottomless well the school will have the opportunity to gain all the educational and recreational equipment that is required for the entire term of your employment.
Your trustworthiness allows me the great pleasure in stating that you will have sole authority to open this tin whenever your wise and generous heart deems it necessary.

I have requested and funded an order to be passed by the Willington Chamber of Commerce to renovate the old library, the fountain in the town center and to refurbish the old picture theater and have it heritage listed.
These are not just monuments of a town, but monuments in the hearts of two young inspired lovers growing up and growing together in spirit and soul a very long time ago.

My soul mate.
The entire free remainder of my estate I pass into your loving and caring hands.
I only ask that you remember me as the girl you once knew and the woman you loved.
Knowing she has reciprocated these feelings for eternity, from a distance.

This is the Last Will and Testament of Mrs. Maude McArdle.

Author Notes The main character in this story
has numerous battles to overcome.
The struggle that takes precedence
is in leaving this world a better person
for hopefully having set her wayward loved ones
on a righteous path with the lessons
she meters out in her new Will.
I will admit that this was not an easy piece of
writing to produce from my imagination,
as I have an extremely beautiful and loving family.
I am stoked that I can see things
from an opposing point of view.

Chapter 7
Speed Limits Live Forever

By smileycloud

Author Note:Love is seeking someone else's highest good

1. Time eventually slows down
2. Food and shelter is most all we need
3. A simple Sunday roast is a feast fit for a king
4. When our feet are tired and weary and no longer respond to our requests. We can still dance. In our heart and from our eyes and through our voice
5. Grey hair and glasses are a fashion statement that is taking the world by storm
6. Rest and recreation does not remain our highest priority forever
7. A treasure box does not hold material items locked inside
8. Our Sunday best can be the same as our Monday morning attire
9. Function is definitely superior to fashion
10.Saying "Please" and "Thank You" is not the same as being polite and grateful
11.A warm mug of milo late at night is pure liquid gold
12.A tiny scruffy ruffled bird can be a lifelong best friend
13.A one minute story told, can be the source of hours of entertainment
14.A cardboard box has many many unimaginable uses
15.The human body wearies much faster and sooner than the mind
16.A wheelie walker is a limousine
17.A laundry person or a kitchen hand is as important and as worthy of as much respect as a doctor or a nurse
18.You do not have to utter a single word to be heard
19.The youth are not seen as aliens by the elderly, but as our parents and leaders of our future with a long and hard struggle in front of them, and I quote "The poor dears"
20.Contentions and differences can be defused and melted by the heat of compassion
21.A local school band is an orchestra worthy of a world stage
22.A laugh is more contagious than the common cold
23.The health department has not yet printed an infection control fact sheet for laughter
24.The world can be a big scary place no matter what age you reach
25.A soft goodnight wish at bedtime stills and soothes the soul
27.Could go on forever.
Though it does have to end sometime.
So, this is the end........of my list

Author Notes There are a lot of people in this universe who, by the touch of a hand or the soft lilt of a smile, can make someone's embarrassment or shame dissapear in an instant, when they make a personal accident or mistake look and sound like a natural normal trivial occurence

Chapter 8
Pets of Distinction

By smileycloud

Author Note:This beautiful photograph is my incredible Minxie baby girl

There are times when one must simply allow our minds to know that there are forces that are not only totally unexplainable but are also beyond our control. We must learn to accept these things with an open and faithful heart and immediately with such haste that it makes our head spin.

Her name was Minxie, and she was a beautiful Birman Manx kitten squirming around on a small carpeted mat at the local pet store with all of her siblings.
A total of approximately 9 kittens from the same litter were all bundled together.
My husband and I drove to the large department pet store to buy a bigger aviary for our breeding canaries.

As we walked in past the front counter manned by three or four staff members, on our way to the back of the store where the bulkier items were kept, I felt a furry tickly touch on my ankle. Looking down I saw this tiny tiny fluffy ball rolling over my feet, peering up like a little imp.
I had never before had anything to do with cats, so I reluctantly bent to smooth the beautiful fur.
In the meantime one of the saleswomen came across and picked it up to present it to me.
Never before had I ever held anything so soft and squirmy. The lady instantly said that it had taken a special liking to me. I simply took that as a sales pitch and stroked the kitten.
I asked the woman if it was a girl or a boy. She said the kitten was the only girl there in the store. The litter were all boys excepting this one.

I politely excused myself from her to head down the back of the store. The saleswoman tucked the kitten back into the writhing bundle of brothers.
On the way through the store, we spent a considerable amount of time checking out and patting the pups as we both were dog lovers.
I already had a gorgeous young Border Collie called Puppycloud and Richard's dog Lucky was her son, and cats were the furthest thing from our minds.
We also had several incredible canaries, but we failed to find the aviary in that store which would aptly replace our current cages.

Heading back through the store to leave, we were approaching the counter space when this little kitten once again was curling over my feet. I looked over to the group of kittens on the mat and they were all occupied with one another, except this one.
This time I picked it up and asked the woman if it was the girl. Of course, I think I already knew the answer.
My husband and I looked at one another in amazement and bought the kitten who had chosen me for herself. Me, not really a cat person.
I had never nursed one before, so it felt strange, but in the vehicle she cuddled in under my arm and started nipping. I said "you little minx".
That was how I became the mother to Minxie Baby Girl.

The very first thing I did was lose her in the house. She had taken off the minute we got home to go and explore, and she hid on me.
I called for ages until she came bouncing out like a gazelle with all fours leaping off the floor. My daughter always thought this action was so humorous and beautiful to watch. My daughter adored Minxie the moment she met her. Going to work and leaving her was the hardest part. I missed her. Can you believe that? One would never had thought to call me a cat person.

We did eventually find the perfect aviary for our sweet singing canaries, but soon we were building extra-large screen doors around the huge canary home to put a barrier between them and this new inquisitive family member who appeared to be very interested in the canaries indeed. Who would have thought such a construction was required? Not me, not being a cat person.

When Minxie met my Puppycloud, they skirted around one another and showed a rather deep healthy respect for one another, each to their own space. A small sigh of relief escaped from my lungs. It would have broken my heart if they had objected to one another. This respectful, territorial attitude continued between them. I believe they both did this to please me because they both equally loved me as I did them.

The meeting between my new baby girl and my husband's young pup, Lucky, was rather a different matter indeed. Lucky, being very young and boisterous, decided that this little kitten would make a great toy. He went bounding toward her as soon as he saw her and was about to pounce right on her when she raised a claw exposed paw and swiped him clean across the bridge of his nose. She did not draw any blood at all but she drew his attention and wariness within seconds.
Lucky retreated to a safe distance, sprawled out low on the floor and made a very submissive whimper. In response to his behaviour, Minxie stalked up toward him and circled him like he was her prey. I was very surprised that Lucky remained extremely still for her inspection. She was obviously quite pleased with the results as she simply plopped herself down at his side and began to knead him like he was a piece of dough. This did not amuse him so he lost interest very quickly, jumped up and walked away. She then simply followed him everywhere from then on but still she was obviously at the top of the pecking order. The only thing which was a touch scary was when she stood directly underneath him between his four tall legs in order to put her scent on his underbelly. To my relief he never sat down on her while she stood there, as he weighed about 35 kilograms and she weighed four.

Our pets were very intuitive. I had already suffered from breast and lymph cancer, and had been on chemotherapy for six months. By the time Minxie was in my life, I was back at work and feeling quite well.

One day I was sitting on the lounge resting after work. Minxie was still only a small kitten but we had a great connection. As was her customary habit, she came to me and was about to settle on my lap after her usual kiss on my chin. This time she did not kiss my chin. Instead she licked at the centre of my throat and placed a paw on each side of my face and again licked my throat. She did not then settle as she always did, but jumped from my lap and stood at the other side of the room with her back turned to me.
I wanted my cuddle with her so I hopped up and went to pick her up. She snuggled softly in my arms and looked directly into my eyes and to my total amazement, there were tears rolling down her cheeks from her eyes. We cuddled for quite some time until we began our normal after work routine and went about the rest of our day.

The next day I was due for my check up and blood tests and all of those dutiful things at the hospital where amazing doctors and staff had done miraculous things to save me. I had for the past six months been following this routine every four weeks since I had completed my chemotherapy.
My lovely surgeon came to speak with me before my tests and we had a great chat. After the tests were done, he came back into the room and instead of saying all the usual stuff about doing well, he asked how I felt and if I had any lumps at all that were new to me.
Of course I said I felt fine and noticed nothing different. He left the room. He was gone quite some time. He returned.
I was then told that I had a very aggressive rare thyroid cancer. The lump I had not noticed was at the centre of my throat. It all began again.

Just the day before I was sitting on the lounge resting after work. Minxie was still only a small kitten but we had a great connection. As was her customary habit, she came to me and was about to settle on my lap after her usual kiss on my chin. This time she did not kiss my chin. Instead she licked at the centre of my throat and placed a paw on each side of my face and again licked my throat. She did not then settle as she always did, but jumped from my lap and stood at the other side of the room with her back turned to me. I wanted my cuddle with her so I hopped up and went to pick her up. She snuggled softly in my arms and looked directly into my eyes and to my total amazement, there were tears rolling down her cheeks from her eyes. We cuddled for quite some time.

There are times when one must simply allow our minds to know that there are forces that are not only totally unexplainable but are also beyond our control. We must learn to accept these things with an open and faithful heart and immediately with such haste that it makes our head spin.


Chapter 9
The Artist's Impression

By smileycloud

Ramon is plagued by the things his best friend, ex best friend, had told him in their last damning discussion, several years ago.
Julius had barefacedly berated Ramon for diminishing his God given gifts and talents, which he abundantly possessed for creating the most exquisite paintings full of vibrant life and explosive hues, and replacing them with ghostly shadows.
Ramon sat sullenly slumped on the settee while Julius expounded upon his belief that silhouettes only appear to be an entire representation of the subjects, which are struggling to be identified in Ramon's reflexions.

In actual fact, all feeling, expression and emotion in the subject is missing. In these circumstances, your mere dark shapes and outlines of someone, visibly restricts light and a brighter portrayal of that individual's nature. Whoever it is that one believes they are painting with these inferior silhouettes, does not exist. They are dead to depth or character.

Almost like there was a third person present. His friend told him that his own personal past, dangerously silhouettes his future in these blank pictures which are filling his mind and canvasses. Loose grainy past participles silhouetting his present, sifting through all the divided partitions of his dull dreary world.
Julius' words crashed into the stone wall who was once his almost constant companion. Julius could bear no more, throwing his hands into the air, he stormed out of the room and out of his friend's perilous pretence of an existence.
That was the last encounter between the two proud and audacious men.

Ramon will only ever depict a clouded representation of his mother, showing her shape and outline only, typically with blotted out details, always a dark solid black portrayal.

The simple contours, the severe profile, the dark delineation of each form shapes a figure in Ramon's thoughts that is only a shadow of the person he dares to remember. Featureless lines, nondescript curves of a heartless, soulless configuration.
This is where his talent now lies, at a place in his life where there is no colour. A place filled with bland feelings devoid of all spice or flavour. Ramon not only desperately desires to live in this washed out world, but, for the sake of self-preservation, truly admires his strength and ability to do so.

This is exactly what the sketch artist Ramon truly believed. He painted all things in this form. Full of dark shadows and no actual visible characterization of the subjects he was painting.
Ramon was about as emotionally desolate as one with such incredible talent could be. An artist's passion is usually so extraordinarily intensified. The genius which he has squashed into oblivion, lies dormant and motionless in the pits of his own despair. Ramon himself is a silhouette.
Ramon would often pause to see his mother's silhouette against a dimming sky, but frantically turning his face away before his memory could betray him and transform that darkened image into the bright vibrant entity as he once knew her to be, so very long ago.
Eons ago, in an ethereal place where time was intervallic.

Every week a van would arrive at the home of the Cottrelle's. Hearing the wheels crunching on the stone driveway, the lady of the house, Elizabeth and her son Ramon would fling open the front door and burst onto the driveway even before the van could come to a complete stop.
Laughing, the plumpish but sturdy driver would alight from his vehicle. Immediately Ramon would squeal with delight and plead with him to hurry and unload the huge packages, which Ramon knew was his weekly supply of artistic tools, as his mother liked to call them.
Reams of thick butcher's paper and several boxes of crayon. A plastic tub of brushes and many coloured paints. This was just a one week's supply in the hands of such an enthusiastic child of a mere seven years of age, who loved to draw and paint and sketch all kinds of things, places and people.

Darren and Elizabeth Cottrelle were extremely supportive of their son's exceptional desire to draw and paint. His creative prowess thoroughly delighted them. It was an immense pleasure for them to show his masterpieces off to the neighbours and anyone in town who would lend them a moment or two to brag.

Ramon's work was like actual wallpaper in their home. In every room and in the garage as well, there were drawings and paintings of ducks and geese seen floating on the nearby pond. Trees and flowers in the garden were lining the hallway to his bedroom. On the ceiling, there were simple letters and numbers painted in all the colours of the rainbow, in all different shapes and forms. There was, in fact, an actual rainbow painted under the eaves of their front veranda.
This was only a tiny part of Ramon's talent. Easels which Darren had made from bush wood, were all over the place. On these easels were blank canvasses which the school teachers and townspeople had given to them. Blank for only a very short time.

Ramon was like someone possessed when he took up his brushes and painted the most astonishing portraits.
Almost all of his portraits were of his very good friend, Julius and other school friends and people the family knew. There were, however, quite a few drawings or paintings of people who Elizabeth thought to be strangers. She assumed these were artist's imaginative inventions when they found they had run out of subjects. This thought actually made her giggle.

The faces and the images which leapt out at anyone who looked at them, were so very surreal. Elizabeth often felt a shiver pass through her as she stared into the eyes of the people in the paintings. She understood that this was a quiver of pure pride in her son. His talents surpassed her and her husband's imagination. Elizabeth felt very alone and deserted when Ramon sat with his palette. It was a strange feeling, almost like he did not exist in the place where he stood. She chose to believe that a genius, as he appeared to be, is in dire need of their own space.

The only time recently that her son appeared to come down to earth was when he was with Julius

Julius was a little bit of a loner since his parents had been killed in an accident. He has lived ever since with his uncle and aunt a quarter of a mile down the road. He loved them dearly and they loved him and treated him well. But it was Ramon's mother, Elizabeth who was truly his mother in his heart since he could not have his own dear mother with him. Because of this and many other unexplainable reasons, Ramon called him brother.
.Julius seemed to be able to communicate with Ramon on a plane where no one else could visit. There was an understanding between them which defied definition. Julius too was very extraordinarily gifted. By the age of twelve he had written and had published several children's novels. Written many essays and won awards through universities. Like Ramon, he was endowed with a flair worthy of being addressed as genii. It was as if they possessed ghostly propensities.

Ramon's renown spread very quickly, and many benefactors wanted to display and buy his works. By the time he was in his late teens, Ramon had sold thousands of pieces. Never did he part with the portraits of his mother or father. Julius remained always in his possession. Also the one and only portrait of Sarah, his friend who lived a few properties to the south of their land was never displayed outside of his room and certainly never sold.
Sarah's portrait was so vividly vibrant almost like she herself was living in the canvas. Often, Ramon would stand and stare into the eyes he had painted. Elizabeth would not disturb him as she watched his body sway gently side to side as he reached out to stroke the canvas. It was a well-known fact that these two were deeply in love with one another and Julius would always tease him about the wedding bells ringing in his ears.
The teasing turned to great pleasure the day when Julius stood beside Ramon as his best man at the wedding of his two favourite people in the world. Ramon and Sarah were wed on her eighteenth birthday. Almost twelve months later to the day, their child was still born.

Sarah never recovered. She would not leave her room. No amount of medication or treatment, nor any therapy could heal or reach her. Ramon was shattered that he had lost his son and his wife. The loves of his life were gone, lost to him.
Five years after the death of their unborn child, Sarah died of pneumonia. Ramon had not put paint to brush for all of this lonely, desolate heartbreaking time. The afternoon when Ramon laid his Sarah to rest, he took a firm grip of his largest brush and violently splashed jet black paint across the first canvas he had put onto an easel in several years. Doing this did not help him at all in his grief, but suddenly he was overcome with the knowledge that this is now he saw all things. Ferocious and filled with a sinister kind of darkness.

Julius moved away from his home in their town and went to a large city where he forced himself become lost in his writing in the midst of thousands upon thousands of strangers. There came a time when Julius too found deep love. He married a gorgeous, vivacious lady called Marianne. They had a beautiful daughter who they named Elizabeth. A year later they had a son. Julius whispered the name Ramon in Marianne's ear and she smiled and nodded with a great deal of pleasure and pride. She had met Ramon several times and she knew of the deep relationship between the two men and understood the heartache they had shared.
Ramon would only stay in the city for a very short time. He would return to his home town and to his mother and father without delay.

By the time Julius's son was born, Ramon had started painting again. He dedicated his work to Sarah and to his still born, unnamed child.
His heart and his brush remained heavy and burdensome. Despite his lack of sensitivity toward the canvass, he produced hundreds of masterpieces which were widely sought.

He stayed at home so much more now. He and Elizabeth found a connection which surpassed all the relationships he currently had in his life. In his heartbreak, he opened a door to her where she found a dreamlike little world where they both connected to one another on almost a mystical level.
This was something which helped them both survive the trauma of Darren's heart attack and lingering convalescence. When Darren was then struck with a more serious attack a few years later which took his life, Elizabeth and Ramon clung together like Siamese twins. Joined at the soul.

Julius and Marianne brought their two children and stayed with their dearest friends in their home town for almost a year. The time passed so quickly in a myriad of mixed emotions and complexities. All realities seemed to drift into the background for every one of them. It was almost like living in some kind of continuum fantasy.
Eventually, Julius decided it was well and truly time for him and his family to return to their own home and pick up their lives where they left them behind. The children have had their education disrupted more than they should have, and his writing had been put on the back burner for far too long. Marianne, he knew was missing her family and the big city lifestyle which she was born to love. She did not complain even once. She silently and patiently waited for this incredibly close family to gather their strength and resources
A sigh of relief and gratitude escaped her lips when Julius told her of his decision. He simply smiled knowingly at her response.

He had made this decision the night before at dinner. He had a moment of clarity wash over him. He physically sat back in his chair at the dinner table and silently watched the scene like he was looking down upon these people from above,
He was shocked to realise that both his children had slightly wilted since they had been in this almost morbid atmosphere. They no longer laughed out loud or threw food at one another with playful abandonment. Marianne sat still and quiet and a smile passed across her face on rare occasions now, whereas she was always the life of the party and exuberantly enjoyed every moment they spent together. His family were almost shadows of who they are.

He suddenly recognised that both Ramon and his mother were living like ghosts. Dwelling on all the precious memories of the past. It was like they were keeping their loved ones and their former lives alive. They acted like the "then" was happening "now".
Julius tried to broach the subject with both of them separately, but to no avail. He could not seem to find the right words to explain what he meant. Even his very germane writing abilities could not help with this dilemma. It did not help that both Ramon and Elizabeth did not understand his concern at all. In fact, they indicated that they thought he was being quite rude and obnoxious.

To save any trauma and to keep all their relationships intact, Julius decided it was time to go home almost right away, and his friends agreed with him quite amiably. Besides, Ramon would visit them in the city in the not too distant future for Julius's daughter's birthday.

Ramon did not turn up for that celebration. Instead he rang to tell Julius the most horrendous news.
Elizabeth was dead.
Elizabeth had been murdered. Strangled. Her body was found by Ramon out in the bushland at the back of their own home.
The silence on the line was unbearable, but neither of the two men could bring themselves to break it.
Julius hung up and went straight to his home town, alone. He could not put his family through this kind of anguish.

What he found at the house was unbelievably crushing. Ramon was sitting pale and lifeless on the front veranda. Two police officers were standing in front of him, looking at him with sharp stern features. Accusing stares of condemnation was slicing through the air. The police car in the driveway appeared to be a giant grizzly bear waiting to gobble up all who came near it.
As Julius approached and came nearer, Ramon looked up at him and a smile of pure derision crossed his face, making him appear to be manic.
The officers turned. They were the local police and they knew Julius. The pity in their eyes made his knees buckle from under him and he actually stumbled up the few steps to Ramon.
Ramon told him why the police were there. Julius ran into the house and reached the bathroom just in time to throw up the entire contents of his stomach.

Over the next couple of nightmarish weeks, Julius was by Ramon's side as more and more flimsy evidence was provided in the courtroom that made him look inequitably guilty of Elizabeth's murder. Long tedious days. Frightful, draining nights of panic and worry.
Ramon going over and over every detail with Julius and their solicitor, hoping to find the way to prove his innocence.

The two friends looked like bloodless zombies the day they sat in the courtroom to hear the judge and the jury decide the verdict.
It was not a guilty verdict.
It was not an innocent verdict.
It was a dismissal. A lack of sufficient concrete evidence in order to prove guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt.
What an appalling conclusion.

They both staggered from the courthouse in a trance. People were everywhere to help them avoid the newspaper men and all the curious onlookers, dying to find out all the dirty details. Thankfully they were whisked into a waiting car and taken home.
The weeks that followed gave way to many speculations and accusations from all sorts of people.

Julius went home and revelled in the warmth and security of his dear loved ones.
Ramon sold the house. He moved to a town some distance away.
He lived daily, every moment with that terrifying verdict;-

A dismissal. A lack of sufficient concrete evidence in order to prove guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt.

No. He could not live with this in his head.
He was innocent. Innocent. Innocent. They must believe me.
A deep depression descended upon him.
Like a man demented he returned to the easel. He furiously created thousands of thick black outlines and shapes resembling people's faces, but with no features. Simply dark copies.

Even though Ramon did not know it, Julius kept constant contact with the law enforcement in their home town. Together they worked for many arduous months to find the evidence to clear his friend's name and hopefully find the satanic individual who murdered sweet gentle Elizabeth.

Julius and Ramon met occasionally in the city or at Ramon's new suburban home. They still had a reasonably good strong relationship, but the light had gone out. Where once they hugged, they shook hands. Where once they talked incessantly, they sat in silence for long periods of time. Where once Ramon trusted Julius to believe in him, he felt there was doubt. Where once there was companionship, there was strained interactions. Their visits became few and far between.

Then the day arrived. Julius had heard from their home town solicitor. The nightmare was over, or so he thought.
They had found the murdering scoundrel who took Elizabeth away from his friend and himself. Ramon was cleared. It was known by all that he was innocent.
Ramon nor Julius knew this degenerate and neither did Elizabeth. He was a stranger passing through and stopped to wreak havoc and create demons in the lives of beautiful innocent people.
For Julius and his family, it was finally put to rest.
The news from Julius in person, was received by Ramon with little or no emotion. He simply thanked his friend for letting him know the outcome of his gruelling efforts to clear his name. They spent a few hours drinking and eating and occasionally chatting.
Ramon vividly remembering the moment when he found his mother's lifeless naked form lying on the stony rigid ground in the bushland, out the back of their home, very late, in the pitch black darkness of night.
Julius thought as he walked away from Ramon's house that perhaps the light will come back into his friend's life and at least a tiny splash of colour return to his art.

Julius's wish and prayer did not eventuate. A number of times he tried desperately to bring Ramon back to his former self. Each painful meeting led them to drift further and further apart. The two men, after a very heated and excruciating one sided argument about Julius feeling that Ramon was living solely in his deep dark past, their friendship came to a dreadful end. They never met again.

Ramon continued to work feverishly at his painting and drawing for many years to come.
He never sold another piece of his work.
Ramon will only ever depict a clouded representation of his mother, showing her shape and outline only, typically with blotted out details, always a dark solid black portrayal. While in the very gloomy background of his canvas, he can see Sarah and their unborn child. From time to time he glimpses Julius standing beside Elizabeth, smiling. Approving. But that is all in his mind. The canvas is blank or black.

When Ramon passed away and went into the world where he no longer had to pretend that life was real, there were over five thousand silhouettes of unknown faces on thick butcher's paper stacked all through his house.
They were worth a virtual fortune. But, in actual fact, to Ramon, they were worthless. Mere silhouettes.


Author Notes A character can make a story

This is my entry in the following contest;-
Write a short story that includes a character that is part of the scene pictured above. Creative approaches are welcomed. We are looking for 'Vivid Characterization' - well-defined, rich characterization. These are characters you can vividly hear, see, smell and care about as they are created by the writer.

The image included by fanstory, I have chosed it to be a silhouette of my character Julius who was a writer and best friend to my main character Ramon

Chapter 10
Free and Easy

By smileycloud

I thought I heard a voice. How silly of me, I already know that no one could be here. I live on my own. No one knows where I am and will never find me ever again. No one exists, so who could possibly find me? Wow! What was I thinking? There isn't anyone else. How could I be seen or found by no one? Funny stuff going on in my head here.

But then again, what if I am wrong? What if something or someone from the past worlds still exists and cranky old Charlie lied to me? What if Charlie let them break through my walls and were right at this very moment invading my thoughts.

Well, that is not for me to be fretting over. George will come rushing in and take care of those kind of problems. He certainly puts Charlie in his place if he is fibbing or playing a joke, by making stupid human noises and letting me think imaginary people are talking.

I really do not have any stress these days. Not like the old days when there were so many awful things happening all around me.

That world was filled with disgusting appalling people. Thank goodness they do not exist any longer. Not really sure why though. Don't care why either.

But now, all I have to do is think about good old George, or reliable Rachel and they will appear. Even super softie Sandra will pop into my mind from time to time. I must admit, Sandra really cannot do much about anything at all. She is a wee bit of a weakling, sort of the way I myself used to be, way back then in that weird dangerous world. Long ago, when I did not have all this support and help. Many years ago before I thankfully, suddenly became all alone, except for my very few dear friends to guard and guide me, just waiting there for me to call them.

I am totally carefree. I can please myself without any responsibilities.

I sure do love my world all on my own. Though, I have been thinking, perhaps I should start getting it together about my saviours whom I actually never see. Strange that is. Oh but the joy when I hear their voices. So calming and peaceful, funny or comforting, but they speak with the power of an army. Maybe I should write about my friends. They would like it I think.
I think. That's funny.

I will do just that, if I wish. I love talking about them almost as much as I love talking to them, so I will paint them with words. Put my thoughts on paper so to speak. Well, they are my thoughts, if I write about them, they are on the paper.
This is exactly what I will do. I will write all about them.
I will bring my loved ones to life. Make sure they live forever, enclosed between precious pages.

Who will I begin with? Where will I start?
Of course, cranky old Charlie. He is quite mischievous and gets really upset if he does not get his way when playing practical jokes.
I am not afraid of him at all. He is quite fond of me I am sure, but he is also quite funny and humorous when he starts getting grumpy.
He really is a nice old guy. He would never hit or bash me. Cranky old Charlie would not do anything so shameful or such dreadful things that they cannot be spoken about.
He is a good man but just a tiny bit cheeky. Harmless really. There is nothing wicked in him at all.

Good old George is very difficult to explain. His voice is strong and dependable sounding, but I feel he is gentle and caring.
I imagine he resembles someone who has two different personalities. Well, not really, just sort of. I know for sure that people cannot be more than one person at a time, but, it is the only way I can describe good old George.

He is my tower of strength when there is room for concern, like there is sometimes this one very hard and strict voice which keeps saying that it is not good to have my own friends that I must listen to those doctor people. What in the world is this stupid woman's voice trying to fool me for. She is not really there and the world is totally devoid of all other humans. Stupid illusory voice rattling on about pills and other such rubbish.
Good old George silences all this fantasy which keeps emerging from time to time in my head.

Then there is my dear friend, reliable Rachel who is so very loyal and trustworthy. She would never gossip about me or do any trickery behind my back. She really is one of my very best thoughts. If it was possible, I guess we could sit on huge plush settees and have tea and scones. Or perhaps I will think happy thoughts about that and she will drop by with a word or two.

Softie Sandra. Well. She is something to think about for sure. Weak, whimpering, and always worried about this and that. Looking over her shoulder thinking there was something about to jump out of the dark and hurt her.
I've told her a million times that there is absolutely nothing or no one in all the rooms and nothing hiding down corridors to jump out and go "BOO"!
She listens sometimes and starts to have a good visit with me but then I hear her start vexing and fussing again, so I send her off to the corners of my mind and call cranky Charlie for a laugh or good old George for some comfortable companionship.

Good old George is so practical and logical but he has these amazing ideas about the power of the mind. He believes that almost anything that we can envisage can be accomplished by the strength which we hold in our own thoughts. Wow. Can anyone ever imagine that?

Then there is me. My name? I'm not really sure.

I live on my own you see, in a place with no people to speak nasty things or to hurt me when I am not looking, therefore, because there are no other people in the world at all, no one actually exists to call me by my name.

However, I do vaguely remember in that old scary world, a voice calling me Bonny. I will not think of that though because whenever they said that name at me, it was in a harsh and hurtful way. Even now, I hear in my head, a stern voice saying that name, but I simply close my eyes and will it away. It's not there anyway.

I am then once again, all alone again, on my own, happy and free with all my own well-chosen friends to comfort and protect me.
I am more than relieved the world and all that was in it has exploded into oblivion. It was a disgusting world full of fiendish people and hideous things.
I love being on my own. It is much nicer than before.

I think I will have a rest now. There is a tiny mark on my arm which is stinging and I feel very tired all of a sudden.
I don't want to think anymore in case I hear that intrusive fictitious voice going on about medicines and needles and all that trash.
So tired.
Goodnight Charlie and George, Rachel and Sophie. I will miss you, but I will talk to you later. I promise. But I have to hide my pen and book now and go to sleep.

At the same time while Bonny slept, several doctors and nurses with their own reference books were in conference about those very voices who give Bonny such security since the time she decided to escape her previously tragic, heart wrenching life and live in peace and safety within her own imagination.
Many years have passed. Still there has not been any breakthrough or progress.

The medical professionals can all agree on one thing only.
Bonny and her four friends are very happy together, alone, on their own, by herself.


Author Notes Your artwork is very good for my writing and it is brilliant work;-
made it to safety, what safety by Renate-Bertodi on

Chapter 11
Read Between The lines

By smileycloud

Author Note:This contest is my opportunity to practice fiction writing and prose

'From the depths they come
writhing and creeping in shadows
tainting all they touch'.

Those words do not blend comfortably with Savanna's flair for writing.
Where in the world did they come from?
That verse feels totally alien to the way she wants to express herself to the world.
She cannot allow them to hear those thoughts.
The children love her.
She must keep her childlike persona alive in everyone's mind.

Creating magical stories was Savanna's favourite pastime.
She loved to write about colourful fairies flying among forests of candy canes,
and lollipop ships floating on chocolate rivers which flow into strawberry yoghurt oceans.

She would let her imagination wander to lands where fluffy lions ruled the pixie kingdoms
as they rode on purple elephants trumpeting out bouncy tunes of merriment.

Savanna would let her thoughts drift through lush jungles where chirpy cheese monkeys swung from lemonade trees with butterfly leaves.

Savanna was a truly special child who grew ever so quickly into an extraordinary young woman, misunderstood by many people who believed her to be rather strange with a weird and overstretched imagination.

It was often heard to be said by some cruel and spiteful gossips that she was possessed by something other than the good Lord Himself.

The children at school were not of the same opinion, as they could not wait to hear her next wonderful story. She would write dozens of stories and poems every week.

Savanna would give them to the teachers, even long after she had stopped attending school, and they would read them to the class during English lessons.
All of her stories were thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who heard them.
At least the ones she actually shared with other people.

No job. No social life. No friends. Doting, overprotective parents.
Living at home at the ripe old age of twenty four, going on eight.
This sums up Savanna's entire negative side of her existence.

Her real world where she knows she belongs is quite different.
Thousands of interesting ideas.
A multitude of friends between the pages of her books.

Her two wonderful Border Collie dogs, Razor and Blade, who follow her everywhere through the house and gardens, with such loyalty and faithfulness.
The incredible Summer and Winter, the Birman cats who are her constant house companions.
Beautiful creatures who live with her in her story books.

Savanna's large black folder which held her beautiful pens and special fine paper where she did her remarkable literary work, was always within her arms reach.
Inspiration would come to her mind at all times of day and night.
It would not matter where she was or what she was doing, she would be swamped with this incredible urgency to spill everything from her thoughts onto paper.

Most of the time Savanna did not even make sense of the words, but when she was tired from the extreme effort, she would take a nap, right where she was.

When she woke from her slumber, the stories were so incredibly amazing that she often wondered how she actually wrote them, especially the ones she labelled dark secrets and never ever spoke of them or shared them.

No other living being ever saw those writings, or so she thought.
Sometimes she did not even remember writing them at all, but putting that down to her extreme fatigue,
she overlooked any oddity in it.

Savanna's parents, Sue and Vince Crawley, were aware for many years of their daughter's blackouts.

They did not like the fact that the medical profession said that they could not explain the symptoms of fatigue and memory loss nor the fainting spells, without any medical reason visible.

Savanna was not aware however, that her parents kept an extremely close watch on her and when these episodes happened they would hear her go off into a mumbling tirade and scribble furiously onto her precious paper.

They would wait patiently and worriedly out of her sight until she lapsed into her usual slumber.
They would then make her as comfortable as possible and read the miraculous writings which she had just penned.

Their wonder at the childlike fairy tales and their horror at the dark macabre stories all written at the one time was too much for them to handle on their own.

Her parents had actually sought the assistance and advice from a friend of theirs, Darryl Newcust, who studied unusual behaviours in young people who were socially maladroit, in university.
He believed that Savanna was simply displaying signs of multiple personalities where automatic writing was occasionally one of the leading symptoms, as at times an alter ego would communicate with their host in this way.

Automatic writing, he explained, was writing said to be produced by a spiritual, or subconscious intervention rather than by the conscious intentions of the person using the pen.

He had also read most of Savanna's work.
As their friend he had assured them that the childlike stories were most likely a sense of loss of those more carefree innocent years and the darker, more ominous pieces were due to her isolation from the world around her, and societies non-acceptance of her abilities and talents.

He felt there was no cause for alarm, and she was quite harmless to herself and to others.
This was still his opinion even though he had already seen most of her gloomier works.

Though there was one piece of writing which plagued his thoughts from time to time.
He was not sure why it unsettled him more than the other works.
It was nowhere as sinister as some of the others, but it was hauntingly chilling, like some kind of warning.

Most of the time he was able to put it out of his mind and dismiss it as just the ramblings of one of the personalities who Savanna chose to hide from the world but loved to listen to because they were the only ones who made her seem special, and of course, they gave her this exceptionally gifted genius for dramatic writing.

'From the depths they come
writhing and creeping in shadows
tainting all they touch'

Those words echoed ominously through Darryl's mind as he stood motionless, almost paralysed, at Savanna's hospital bedside in the mental institution which was now her home.

She did not recognize him nor was she pleased to see him.
If it was not for the restraints he believes she would have violently attacked him.

Those words.
That particular verse from one of Savanna's written works which had disturbed him a few years ago, when his good friends, Sue and Vince had asked for his help with their daughter, still at this very moment was agitating him.

He tried so very hard to remember the rest of the story where these words were so significant that he can still remember them like he had just read them yesterday.
The same cold shiver ran the entire length of his body that had chilled him the first time he saw them.
Those words.
Right then he remembered the whole ending of story he had read.

"From the depths they come, writhing and creeping in shadows, tainting all they touch.
Sucking the breath from the bodies.
Binding them with thick slimy vines.
Hanging their lifeless forms from gnarled branches of the tree of death.
The feline claws shall flay the skin from their pitiful shapes.
The canine teeth shall devour the flesh off their vile bones."

This was the story that only now bolts his memory into horrendous realization.
Darryl stumbled from her bedside and ran to the motel room which he had rented near the hospital.

He had flown back to his home town when he had heard that his friends, Sue and Vince, had been murdered in a horrific way in their own back yard and that Savanna was hospitalized.
He had assumed her confinement was due to the fact that she had been traumatized by her parent's murder, but, on arrival, had discovered that the police had arrested her for the shocking crime, and a psychiatrist had moved that a judge have her committed to the asylum.

This was after Savanna herself had revealed every last detail of the incident to the  psychiatrist in a fit of rage in the middle of a manic episode.

She had described everything to the very last detail, even things that an eye witness could not have known. Disgusting things which only the killer could have known because they were the one who did them.

All evidence at the scene and all DNA evidence proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was Savanna who had murdered her parents in the most gruesome way.

When Darryl's plane had landed earlier that day, at the airport, he had bought a local newspaper, but he saw the menacing headlines and front page story, so he put it aside in his suitcase. He felt he could not deal with the dramatics and propaganda of newspapermen just now.

Now, he needed desperately to get to that paper and read the story, no matter how much it pains him to see such terrifying facts about his dead friends written in print.
He needed to know.
He had to find out how they were killed.

Holding the paper in front of him, his mind went numb with cold fear and acceptance of the stark reality that Savanna had in fact murdered her parents in this gruesome manner.
He was convinced that one or all of her other personalities had either forced her to commit this repulsive evil deed, or, she in fact had invented those entities in order to cover up her own satanic element in her character.

There in black and white, the thrill seeking journalist had blatantly cited every gory detail of the crime;-

Like a demon from the depths of hell she came, this strangely weird criminal, writhing and creeping through the shadows of their own garden, tainting all she touched, as she trailed her demonic weapons through the back yard.
After sucking the breath from their bodies, the vindictive daughter bound them with thick slimy twisted vines. With demonic super strength she hung their lifeless forms from gnarled branches of the tree of death on their very own property.
Leaping like a demented feline animal with talon like claws she flayed the skin from their pitiful shapes. Baring her clenched teeth like satan's huge black dog she used a cleaver to rip the flesh off their weak decaying bones.

The depiction in print went on and on with the damming evidence, including police reports.
The torture was said to have lasted for several days.

It also stated that the police had found many of Savanna's stories in her black folder lying beneath the tree from where the remains of her parent's mutilated bodies hung.

At the end of the news story, the journalist had printed the very piece of writing which Darryl had not been able to forget from the first time he had seen it.

The guilt ran deep inside his gut.
He was appalled that he had so foolishly and innocently dismissed Savanna's behaviour as harmless.
How could he ever forgive himself for being responsible for both his dear friends' death at the very hand which he called harmless?

The psychiatrist at the asylum was very surprised one afternoon when Savanna had calmly asked him if it was true, that a man called Darryl Newcust, had been found dead in the shower of a local motel, with his throat slit, and a suicide note riddled with guilty confessions concerning her parents murder, pinned to the wall.

Savanna smiled at the therapist's affirmative nod.

A very cold shiver raced through his body as he stood to leave her room.


Author Notes Contest entry prompt;- From The Depths

'From the depths they come
writhing and creeping in shadows
tainting all they touch'

Use the verse above as inspiration to create your story.
That's it. Minimum 1000 words.
Fiction only.
Any genre.
Include the verse at the top of your piece.
Deadline: Sep 17

Chapter 12
Puppy Cloud

By smileycloud

Author Note:Our Heaven is you and your Heaven is us

There once was a lovely little puppy called Cloud. Puppy Cloud in fact.
She was a beautiful black and white Border Collie girl.

Her temperament was soft and gentle, but her strength of loyalty and protection
was unsurpassed by any other dog.
Clever as a whip and cagey as a bird, it was difficult but fun to
keep up with her shenanigans.

The door to the loo was left open to her curious nature and there
she wall papered the room with toilet tissue.
She could not be seen through the maze of white paper which even found its
winding way around her guilt ridden little paws and chin.
Our laughter echoed through even the neighbour's homes.

A walk to the waterfront was quite the elegant stroll and she
behaved so very well, especially crossing the roads.
Puppy Cloud actually believed, so proudly, that she was the one
leading me across the street.

We both thoroughly enjoyed our treat at the local store.
We delighted in a scrumptious drumstick ice cream.
Me squatting down to her size to eat mine and her
licking hers from my spare hand.
She was always quite indignant, but accepting of the fact, that
I would bite off the bottom chocolate piece
and the top layer of nuts before she got started.
I think she really did know that I did all which was best for her own good.

She stayed with us for a dozen years and our lives were, and still are,
much richer for having had her in our family.

The days before she moved to dog heaven were painful and the decision to end
that long agonizing period tore our hearts from our breasts.
Her transition into permanent peaceful tranquil sleep turned
a sunshine day into a cold black night.

We all clung together in our quiet canine free home and suffered no less
than we would have for a child who might have left us.
Memories were our salvation.
The blessed feelings of overwhelming shared love for her
and from her lifted us high out of the doldrums
into the happy go lucky family we always were with her around.

Truth is, she definitely has not really left.
She lives in our every thought and reminiscence.
Puppy Cloud was not our dog just then.
The past is the here and now in our hearts.
She is our dog yesterday, today and tomorrow.


Author Notes
A line above the title says family fiction genre
But I wrote a true story as per the prompt requirement
Puppy Cloud is very real indeed

The photograph is of our beautiful Puppy Cloud
when she was just a baby girl.

402 word count

True Story Contest Prompt
Share a true story from your life.
Write a story that shares a moment, an object, a feeling, etc.
This does not have to be a profound memory, but should allow readers insight into your feelings, observations and/or thoughts.
Use at least 100 words. No poetry.
Deadline: Thursday, January 25, 2018

Chapter 13
The Colourful Painted Foreshore

By smileycloud

Many tourists from all around the world have visited the beautiful
oceanic town of Nambucca Heads in New South Wales, Australia.
People from various cultures have left their memories
in the form of a picture, by painting one of the rocks forming a wall.
This man made rock wall juts out into the Pacific Ocean
and has been beautifully painted by men, women and children
who have displayed their artistic talents,
leaving behind a small piece of their own holiday history.
This creative wall is visited, loved and admired by many Australians
and overseas visitors.
Artistic talents and memories immortalised.


Author Notes The image shown is a picture which
I took on holiday to Coffs Harbour
with my family a few years ago

Contest entry prompt;-
A drabble is a flash fiction story that uses around 100 words.
That is the challenge of this contest.
Write a story (on any topic) using 100 words.
The title does not count towards the word count.
The submitted work must be between 98 - 102 words.

Chapter 14
Animal Abuse

By smileycloud

Author Note:May we all show good intent to all humans and animals and the earth

Animal cruelty is a horror story which seems to take second place in our thoughts when it comes to the perceived hierarchy of crimes.

The news on the television flashes vivid scenes of an abused or murdered person and we all shudder and pray for the perpetrators punishment to be harsh and that justice wins the battle.

What about when an animal image, starved and beaten, or chained to a rail or fence in the broiling hot sun. No water. No shade.
One tends to shudder in horror and curse the bastard that did this to a defenceless animal.

But do we notice the very slight difference in thinking which may occur in some humans when they hear this horror story regarding an animal? Is the people's perception of the situation just that tiny bit calmer and less ferocious toward the situation portrayed?
The gasps of shock are perhaps a little less merciless when they deliver their news reports with the words "Cat flayed and hung to a tree by the neck". "Dog's throat cut". "Elephants tusks severed while slightly stunned then left to die". "Monkey's back broken by juvenile wielding a baseball bat".

Are people either brainwashed or immune to the ability to distinguish that the severity of some crimes in comparison to other crimes in the same context of intent should not be judged on a gradient scale due to the differences in the victims? If it is fine to distinguish between horrendous acts performed against human or animal, then are we going to work to the same scale in the differing human status'?

The list is a never ending procession of vulgar acts where the laws fails to fully convict, mainly due to laws which also place a hierarchy of magnitude upon the crimes.
The rules do not even begin to reach the heights where justice actually prevails on equal par with the punishment for human abuse.

This does not intend to diminish from the fact that any act of harm or violence to any person at all is absolutely satanic and should be punished to the ultimate degree of the laws of the land.

God will take all sins of man under the advisement of His Son's recommendation.

Do people feel sadder and more afraid when the news says that in their own suburb or nearby territory, "A man was beaten to death by several teenagers and dumped by the side of the road for a few lousy dollars in his wallet?" "Elderly woman ran over by a hit and run driver", but the evil bitch in the vehicle was not satisfied to drive over her once, she reversed several times while laughing hysterically due to being under the influence of strong drugs" "Young girl taken from the playground at her school has been found as a skeletal body several years later in a room under the house of psychotic killer where there is evidence of years of extreme torture.

Yes, we quaver at the sight and sounds of human suffering, as we should, being soft loving gentle law biding people who love all of mankind. Who love all of God's creation. But we must see the same intentions and evil actions in all of these scenarios no matter what the crime or who the victim, human or animal.

Animal cruelty is no less horrendous than murder, rape or torture of humans. This alone is a horror story in itself. Add to this the incredible injustice that people and the law itself does not agree with this statement.

In some countries a mass murderer of humans receives the death penalty and in other countries, life imprisonment without parole. Yet, an individual who kills and tortures dozens of animals in a night of heinousness acts receives minimal financial loss and on occasion, some jail time.

The main horror story is the difference in the thinking and the perception of some people and the ineffectiveness in the law's ability to hand down harsher sentences to those who commit animal abuse. Some judgements handed down for animal abuse show that perpetrators can receive as low as a few months jail time and a small fine approximately in the two thousand dollar range.

There have been many studies which show that these psychological disorders have a substantial link to human violence.

Animal abuse is a terrifying horror story.
The lack of sufficient punishment
for animal abuse is
a terrifying horror story.


Author Notes The image shown at the beginning of my story
is from an animal cruelty website on the internet
and the image was named "the ivory trade"

A much loved family pet, a female Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Holly,
was repeatedly kicked until she died.
The level of violence inflicted on Holly was quite appalling.
Dog found lying in a pool of blood
It transpired the young man had attacked Holly following an argument with his girlfriend. The girl found the dog collapsed in the garden, lying in a pool of blood, just a few minutes after she had left the house.
Holly died within two minutes.
The man told his girlfriend that he'd just found Holly like that,
having been inside the property during the time she was out.
The girl's mother thought that the dog's death was suspicious.
She brought the dog home and called the police for advice who in turn called us.
Severe damage to her head and body
A postmortem was conducted on Holly's body at the University of Liverpool.
The report indicated a catalogue of injuries, including a broken rib cage and liver lacerations which were estimated to have occurred approximately 36 hours before she died.
It concluded blunt force trauma to the head was the likely cause of death. Significant force would have been behind the trauma causing the level of damage that was present.
This kind of force can be seen in a road traffic accident, but if a vehicle had caused these injuries in a dog of Holly's size, there would have been much more significant widespread injuries.
The vet concluded the injuries found on Holly were more likely to have been caused by a person and were of a non-accidental nature.
Holly suffered a lot before her death
There was no evidence that Holly received any veterinary attention following the injuries sustained to her rib cage and liver.
During the time from sustaining the injuries to her death, she would've been in significant pain and discomfort and would have suffered as a result.
The man accused of killing Holly denied any knowledge of the injuries and lied throughout his first interview.
It was not until a second interview that he admitted kicking Holly repeatedly.
He showed no remorse for the incident.
In Court
At Birkenhead Magistrates Court the District Judge indicated this was a top of the range of case of violence to an animal: it was serious and a clear message sent to the public as to punishment for acts of brutality.
He imposed a sentence of ONLY 22 weeks imprisonment and disqualified the man from keeping animals for life.
He was also ordered to pay 960 pounds in costs.
Psychological disorders and the link to human violence
There are studies providing evidence of a link between animal cruelty and violence towards humans.
Conviction statistics are thought by some to show people convicted for animal cruelty to be more likely to be violent to humans,
Leading experts to believe that decreasing animal abuse will, in turn, decrease domestic violence.
Meanwhile, others explain apparent correlation by criminal courts more often convicting the former for the latter crime as a self-fulfilling prophecy, without any actual link between the two types of actions.
Others argue that psychiatry and other authorities outside of courts keep records of who have been cruel to animals and can make biased guesses about whether or not they did violence to humans thereafter and also that they conversely record people who have been violent to humans and can be more biased towards later assuming them to have been cruel to animals, explaining apparent links by institutional bias without link between the actions themselves.
Intentional acts of cruelty can lead to multiple years behind bars.
These acts (of intentional animal cruelty or non-accidental injury)
may be indicators of serious psychological problems.
According to the American Humane Association, 13% of intentional animal abuse cases involve domestic violence.
As many as 71% of pet-owning women seeking shelter at safe houses have reported that their partner had threatened and/or actually hurt or killed one or more of their pets;
32% of these women reported that one or more of their children had also hurt or killed pets.
Battered women report that they are prevented from leaving their abusers because they fear what will happen to the animals in their absence.
Animal abuse is sometimes used as a form of intimidation in domestic disputes.
One of the known warning signs of certain psychopathologies, including antisocial personality disorder, also known as psychopathic personality disorder, is a history of torturing pets and small animals, a behavior known as zoosadism.
According to The New York Times, "the FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appears in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers, and the standard diagnostic and treatment manual for psychiatric and emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals a diagnostic criterion for conduct disorders.
"A survey of psychiatric patients who had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats found all of them had high levels of aggression toward people as well, including one patient who had murdered a young boy."
Robert K. Ressler, an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's behavioral sciences unit, studied serial killers and noted,
"Murderers like this (Jeffrey Dahmer) very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids.
Cruelty to animals is one of the three components of the Macdonald triad, indicators of violent antisocial behavior in children and adolescents. According to the studies used to form this model, cruelty to animals is a common
(but not universal) behavior in children and adolescents who grow up to become serial killers and other violent criminals.
It has also been found that children who are cruel to animals have often witnessed or been victims of abuse themselves.
In two separate studies cited by the Humane Society of the United States, roughly one-third of families suffering from domestic abuse indicated that at least one child had hurt or killed a pet.

Chapter 15
True Testimony

By smileycloud

Author Note:The world is as the tongue speaks

There are many things, people, events and words which have an effect on our happiness and self-esteem.
There are numerous responses to all that we see and hear.
Some responses advance our growth and others hinder us on our road to the success of happiness.

We must all admit, that at some time in our lives, we have either been badly wounded by the words from another person, or we have hurt someone else with our words.
Or both.

In life and love, in friendship and business; to avoid the damage one's cruelty can inflict; we must endeavour to walk nigh the narrow path, and drift not, nor digress into reckless mischief or rough verbal tendencies.
Stray not from the pursuit of an ever present euphoria, which comes only as a result of good strong relationships and communications.

Respect with a calm, passive esteem, even in the face of all negative energy.

Ruination can erupt from heinous intent harbouring in the heart, when the mind devises iniquitous thoughts, culminating in a forked and fractious tongue.

Considering consequential conduct and planning to improve the outcome of our interactions is a well balanced approach to our own happiness.
We can also formulate a positive action strategy to compensate for any deleterious exchanges which we might encounter from other people.

Placid words protect and soothe a soft and vulnerable heart, whereas, harsh criticisms wound and cripple the mind.

This is a definite two way street. The concept of karma comes into play.
If we spread rank butter on mouldy bread then we will only have an indigestible outcome. A spoiled meal.

When we consciously deliver amicable conversations then we are setting the stage to, in most cases, receive similar congenial responses.

The tongue should be a true and faithful guardian, being ever watchful in warding off sicknesses of the heart.

In the situation where we have been less than kind or good natured to another person, we most likely feel a measure of guilt, that is, after we have calmed down from the undesirable communication.

If the shoe was on the other foot, and we had to endure the tongue lashing from a nasty mouthed individual, we can feel quite unhappy and even border on a light depression.

The other person involved could possibly feel the same way about either incident.
Depression, guilt, feelings of isolation, due to low self-esteem, as a result from feelings of inadequacy if on the receiving end of barbed comments or critical exchanges.

Again, we can see that the tongue should be a true and faithful guardian, being ever watchful in warding off these irrefutable sicknesses of the heart.

Whether it be your tongue or mine, which might administer malicious, maligning abominations; a cheating, chattering, gossiping mouth can create a cavern of hate, causing havoc, even among friends and family, not just stranger danger encounters.

If our speech carries with it a corruptive influence, carelessly spilling over the brim like a boiling pot, dripping with spite, then abhorrent intentions reign supreme in rants and raves which defy all reasoning.
The damage can be insurmountable, and repairs to relationships can be a long and tedious trek, that is if cordiality, trust and faith is ever restored at all.

Lying or abrasive cruel lips defile friendships and then relationships unravel and either die a slow painful death or end so abruptly it is like an explosion of cutting knives stabbing at the heart.

On the very rough seas of life, even while there is an appearance of sailing on calm waters, we need to stay alert and captain a sturdy and steadfast ship, steering straight through the tangled webs of deceit.

Still, we must know this never changing fact; the tongue should be a true and faithful guardian, being ever watchful in warding off these sicknesses of the heart.

Be word wise.
Be brazenly beautiful, inside and out. Speak softly to ourselves and to others.
Show the same kind heartedness in all kinships.

A strong and sagacious core is the armour of success.
Persistent prayer and the solitude of meditation feeds the inner being with sustenance and fuel.

A beautiful countenance reflects a refined soul.

Fight like a true champion, protecting the garrison which is our body, heart, mind and soul.
Be known as a temple of truth.
Let not the spirit ail, be not the victim of malicious intent, but also be not the possessor of a vindictive resolve.
Raspy tongues spit fire and venom, tainting the lips, polluting the space all around us and them, leaving behind the remnants of a foul breath, while poisonous gasses abrades the intellect, confuses the senses and the clogs cognitive airways.

When we all make the decision to whore ourselves by aiming stinging darts at one another, we create a vortex within the far recesses of our minds.
This allows the sub conscious to dwell upon the ruthless connotations and if unchecked can brew quite a barbaric kettle which could just become second nature to us.

These subtexts can then have the power to rewrite almost everything we say.
These nonconformities are most likely alien to our normal nature, therefore we have ample opportunity to nip the nasty thoughts turning into words syndrome in the bud before they get to fully bloom and start to feel like a natural part of our persona.

The next step in the progression of nasty thoughts is that the fallouts march right on in and pierce the heart, hardening it's impulses to a degree where it almost needs a script transplant rather than just a rewrite.

It is when we refuse to batten down the hatches to protect ourselves from incoming nasties, or if we deliberately reject the instinct to curb our own outgoing retribution of other people, that lives are broken.

Shattered pieces of most relationships then fall randomly into the waste bin of our day to day existence. Shards of glass like barbs castigate all we come into contact with.
Everything we say and do is always coloured by our inner and outer ambience.
If we are running around our life with nothing but jagged edges protruding then there is only one final outcome; our own eventual downfall.

We become butchers whose main talent is slicing and dicing into tiny segments and for good measure, we tend to develop the habit of rubbing salt into the already wounded heirs of our venom.

The worst of scenarios is that one might start getting high on how miserable we can make the other person feel. Sounds horrific, but is often seen in people who have spent most of their life under the thumb of someone else and then all of a sudden they feel this intoxicating power of control and manipulation for themselves.
It happens; this shamelessness.

We must clean up our own act before even attempting to view anyone else's.

Projection; An important part of influence, respect, reputation all rely heavily on what we project from ourselves.
From this vantage point other people form their opinions and of course, judgements.
If we show a hateful spirit by allowing our tongues to run riot in a negative or unsavoury manner, those judgements will be harsh and critical.

These perceptions formed by others can then cause our own lowered self-esteem, much worldly pain and suffering, depression most likely due to isolation from the main stream of society because people will begin to shun us.

In extreme circumstances, if we have allowed an odious tongue to colour our character, even suicide enters the mind of someone who is hurt to this degree.
It happens; this forlorn inconsolable desolation.

Here we are looking from the point of view where we have injured another party with our words, but if we were on the receiving end of these cruelties, how would we deal with them ourselves?
Would we be so hurt that even the same most drastic scenario would enter into our minds?

The listening ear canal has many channels, from not in the least interested right through to hanging on every word someone says. Within that range the ear picks up on a whole lot of currents.
Some of these currents can be complete misunderstandings and crossed wires, but even when the information is distorted, deciphering between good and evil is quite easy to do.
It is like a built in radar that gives off warning signals when hurtful things are said, but it also has the ability to react quite fondly toward encouraging and positive language.

The tool which works most effectively against negative or critical invasion is to; hear not the manipulator. Block unwanted deliveries by simply turning away and stifling incoming harm with our own protective self-talk.
Raise the bar of our acceptance by openly stating that we deserve better than what might be getting shot at us.
The most important tool is to believe ourselves that we deserve much better.
We are worthy of good, decent treatment and speech.
Not forgetting that this is not always incoming but we are quite capable of sending this damage out there ourselves.

To block the outgoing injuries, there is another whole set of tools which can help us retrain our own speech. Trust is a big one.
Firstly, we need to free ourselves of all the garbage and junk that we have built up over the years.
Free the spirit within so to speak.

It is very necessary to our healing process to cast aside any left-over resentment or pains from the people in our past who might have injured us just the way we might now be wounding others now.

Forgiving them is the big step number one.

The old adage about forgiving and forgetting. It is true right down to the very last letter.
We should mentally picture any unpleasant people in our mind's eye, including ourselves, and physically say the words which will release us from our negative bondage.

We can literally make our words work for us instead of against us by verbalising our own freedom.
Are we brave enough to speak to ourselves with authority and expectation?

"I forgive you. I cut myself off from all negative ties which I had with you in the past.
If in the future our paths cross, I will not allow you in to hurt me. I am free from your disapproval and unconstructiveness. I will not remember the pain you caused me, nor will I suffer at the end of your tongue anymore.
As I am now seeking freedom, I no longer have the need to remember. I no longer wish to relive over and over again the very things which I despised.
I also forgive myself for any harm which my tongue has spread upon the world.
I forgive myself for allowing my mind to dwell on anything which is unhealthy for me and my life or for you and your life.
I forgive and I most definitely forget. I am free. I forgive both you and me"

When we truly believe in our own self decontamination words, then these very words of freedom and self-respect will not only clean up our act in the daylight hours, but will cleanse our subconscious as well.
Which means even as we sleep, when the subconscious mind comes alive, we will be able to continue in our growth process and because our subconscious is such a powerful tool, also accomplish a much higher measure of success in that development.

Once we are free, then we are ready to heal our own inadequacies which have crept into our speech patterns. Our words can now celebrate and be the happy recipients of our new found liberty.
Time will improve our habits and then it will be second nature to speak kindly and encouragingly most all of the time.
Not just to others, but to ourselves as well. It will get easier with routine.

We will suddenly feel like our life is a much nicer place to live. Predictably, the other people in that life will be much nicer people to be around.

If the tongues of others still try to drag us down, we will be much more prepared and equipped to deal with the garbage by sifting through it and discarding the unwanted dregs.

Using tools and tricks of the trade for blocking out the incoming carnage, to prevent self-harm and destructive infectious behavioural assertions, and also for self-awareness and self-cleansing.
That is not the end of our self-help.
There are also necessary steps to be taken to continue the defence of the protective layers which we have developed and worked hard to earn.

The fellowship we involve ourselves with is very important to our continued growth and happiness.
The alliance with many can be an alluring aspect.
The company of few is pleasant and can work to the benefit of strong and lasting bonds.
Like-mindedness has the effect of pouring out many blessing upon the relationships.

This does not mean that one must always agree with the other, but if there is a similar outlook between the companions to morality, care-giving, logic and life's priorities, then when there are differences of opinion, there would be a compassionate, respectful and amicable conclusion to the matter.
This eliminates thoughts of resentment or the harbouring of ill-feelings.

We should endeavour to keep company with compatible people who treasure analogous earnestness in their lives and ours.

Envy not nor seek out the false and pretentious ways which leads to one wavering from or stumbling on the narrow path of loving-kindness, toward one another.

If we were to personify human characteristics, we could call them our friends and stand close and be loyal to them. What if our friends, "BFF's", were known by name; sincerity, faithfulness and gentleness, tenderness, logic, honesty, laughter, purity and the list of available friends would go on forever.

Personified characteristic metaphorical friends, and of course real human friends would be in abundance because all those we come into contact with would not only enjoy our company but feel good about themselves when we were around them.

This may not always be the outcome if we are dealing with the owner of a particularly nasty tongue.

It just might be that the honest and agreeable personality which we are doing our best to pursue as a reality, could make them shun or belittle us because the mirror they look into after an altercation just might show them up for what they really are; and this only serves to ignite the flames within themselves to increase their malice in severity the very next time they meet us.

Nothing we can do about that. That is not our responsibility if we have dealt pleasantly and fairly with them. It is on their shoulders to discover and practice their own healing and growth process.
They will only reach their higher limits when they forgive and forget. Others, themselves and us where necessary.
Our duty of care is to enrich the lives of others if we stay on course and they allow themselves to feel and accept any benefit which can come their way.

"All the world's a stage"; is a phrase that begins a monologue from William Shakespeare's "As you like it", and compares life to a play.
The nature which we harbour within writes the play we live without.
The chosen stage, our environment; predicts, influences and even manipulates the acts that we perform, which is called our life.

The choices we make can alter the dramatic progression of the existence we are desirous to enjoy.

The other characters on the stage in the play of life, colour the events played out on that stage and determine the critiques to a much greater degree than we can possibly imagine.

Be watchful of friend and foe alike; choose friends and allies with logic and wisdom above all else and only allow the heart to either sanction or reject the ties of attachment, not establish them.

By their words and culminating actions they will be known.
We must be wary of who steps upon our stage and guard the script of our play very closely, lest it be wrested.
In the final act upon our stage, let it be said that we have known our heart to speak the truth to us and she has been our faithful guide.

True friendship will be like a magnet to us and everlasting companionship will wear the tongue of amiable genuineness.
Respect for oneself is prudent, necessary and one of the greatest tools we could ever possess to fulfil our own goals of happiness.


run the good race
fight the good fight
(2 Timothy 4:6-22)

I had written a poem; just a little bit
Not nearly enough space to finish and still fit
Staying within the boundaries of form and style
Satisfied my mind for only a tiny while
Then I found this long fanstory competition
Many more words could I use; with prompt permission
And quickly those millions of thoughts spilled from my head
I enrich my poem with my story instead

The Three Wise Bunnies by avmurray on
Your picture is so cool
the bunnies are the trick
I found no better tool
to give my work a kick


Author Notes Thank you so much for the great image of
The Three Wise Bunnies by avmurray on

The contest prompt requires;-
Personal essays, memoirs, and works of literary non-fiction on any topic.
It doesn't matter if it's spiritual, political, intellectual, emotional, funny, serious.
Non-Fiction only.
New entries only.
No Poetry.
Minimum length 500 words.
Maximum Length 7,000 words.
Recommended length 2,000 - 3,500 words.

My story; 2824 words

Chapter 16
Tell Dad I Called

By smileycloud

There was a child, who was born to be great.
An infant deserving of grand adulation.
Isaiah 9:6-7, speaks of Him with many names,
and to all the first century Christians and to us,
He is most definitely called also the King of Kings,
His name is Jesus.
He was also called Hosanna, "Hosanna in the highest!" in Matthew 21:9.
(Highest;- utmost, ultimate, supreme, prominent, eminent, lofty, exalted).

A small newborn, to grow up to transport
the entire world of humanity back to their Father.
Sounds like the makings of a super hero story.
It appears so easy for people to create and follow their heroes.
Either sporting figures or famous Hollywood stars or even
comic book super men and women.
What is it that entices someone to follow them so loyally?
People hero worship just about anyone or anything whether it be
a Good Samaritan or even villains.

What is it that entices someone to follow their chosen hero so loyally?


There could not be anyone more popular than Jesus of Nazareth.
His name was on everyone's tongue either loudly in adoration or damning abuse
or whispered in secret for dread of accusation.
He was known by all, even by those who hated Him,
and especially by the Romans who feared Him.
This child, this Jesus, this man who was said and prophesied to be
the new King of the Jews,
was an enormous threat to the wicked Roman Empire,
and by many Jews who were wresting Old Testament Scripture,
but the fear was not warranted in the way they expected.
If only they recognised at the time,
it was even more powerful than the ruling of a physical kingdom
which they were so afraid  of losing.
The King of His spiritual Kingdom was much more than a threat
to a measely throne which would eventually perish.
His throne was everlasting and all powerful,
beyond any of which mankind could ever comprehend.
His reputation and purpose spread through the vast lands so rapidly,
it would put our current highly technical social media to shame
in comparison to ratio of population and distance.

What is it that entices someone to follow their chosen hero so loyally?

Strength and power?

Insults, lies, scorn and finally arrest, torture and death.
Through it all He endured with faultless uprightness.
The power of the miracles and temperament with which
He delivered His sermons and teachings,
with a following increasing in numbers by the hour.
This is the stuff, and the only stuff that heroes are made of.

Well, He most certainly is just that, a hero like no other.
There is no greater hero than the baby Jesus.
This amazing little baby was sent from on high by our loving and caring Father.
Our daddy.
This is how close we can be to God if we accept His Spirit
and choose to follow His Son, Jesus Christ.
Christmas is all about Him.
The Child who came willingly, extending the ultimate invitation
for us to return to our Father,
and determined to do all the work to get us there.

We only have to say His name in love, fuelling the love of the ages,
past, present and futuremore, to wash through us,
and in accepting the Holy Spirit at Baptism, we are all once again, family.

This precious child was gifted to the world.
As He matured, He felt so deeply for us and our separation from the Father,
as He knew Him, that in Hebrews 5:7 He wept for the sorrows of man.
His anguish fell in the form of droplets of blood in Luke 22:44.
Have we ever known such pain? No.
We did not have to know it as our Lord sweat blood instead in the Garden.
Then His blood nailed our burdens to the Cross.

Hero THAT!

The relationship between a father and a son is so very uniquely precious
that when they are split, the pain is heart wrenching.
This made Jesus cry.
The strongest and most powerful entity in the whole of existence,
was brought to tears over us puny sin filled humans.
He could not stand the fact that we were separated from our Father.
Jesus knew how wrong and destructive this was.
We were condemned beyond redemption if He did not
pave our way back to God for us.

He cried.

No matter how excruciatingly painful was the sacrifice to come,
this, our estrangement from God, actually hurt His heart even more so.
We know that Jesus called to His Father,
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46.
God hates sin and cannot have any part of sin, 2 Corinthians 5:21.
The forgiveness of sin had to come to the world through Jesus
and for a tiny minuscule of time,
He Himself, had to be separated from His own Father, our Father,
in order to bear the entire weight of the world's sin upon His shoulders.
In this action our sins were of course transferred from us to Jesus
and washed completely away on the Cross.
At the very moment when this happened not only was Jesus separated
from His Father but we were automatically united with our Father.

Jesus, our Lord felt the desolation of being separated from His Father.
It was so hard to endure that our Lord felt forsaken.
This is how we will feel if we do not keep our Father in heaven in our hearts,
and accept what has already been done for us. We are the prodigal sons.
Jesus opened our Father's arms. He will prepare the fatted calf for us.
Angels will sing at our return. A baby, the birth of a tiny infant did this.
We should be celebrating this day in and day out,
but if this one day of Christmas is the time chosen to
celebrate His birth in a special universal way,
then the season truly is festive indeed.
If Christmas turns even one eager ear toward the Lord,
then that is another miracle witnessed.

When the birth of the baby is celebrated, the Lord our God is very well pleased.
This is one of the most all-encompassing father and child rapports
that could possibly ever exist.
This is how we dare to lovingly call Him, daddy.
We are a child in need of nourishment and guidance.
The Spirit dwells within us to ensure we ignite and sustain
this relationship with our Father.
The purest attachment of all.

A tiny baby looks so lovingly into the eyes of the ones
who are caring for its every need.
That small infant is entirely dependent upon the protector and parent.
The milk is given with such pleasure and the care giver is so very proud
to provide their child with all the nourishment it needs
and deserves to grow and flourish.

God is actually pleased and happy that we are His children.
The Psalms and Proverbs often speak of God's pleasure in his dealings with man.
The Gospel of Mathew shows the Father is well pleased with His Son,
and always was, from beginning to end of the ages as we know them.
It is the Son who presents us to the Father.
Our Father is well pleased with His children.

This is the same relationship as our Heavenly Father who cares for our needs
by the provisions from the earth and all it holds.
Our bodily sustenance does not come by magic
but by the toil and sweat of many people.
It is not the Lord Gods fault if we destroy
what He set in place at the beginning of time.

Our spiritual nutrition comes, also not by magic,
but through a willing relationship and the teachings in the Lord's Word.
It is not a book of words, it is food, guidance and a plan in the making
of a strong and united family.
As a toddler, we run as fast as we can toward our mum or dad
as soon as we find our feet.
We run laughing and squealing like happy little munchkins who cannot wait
to be seen and caught up by them, into their arms.
They in turn, laughing with pure delight, swing us up in the air and all
eventually ends up with a huge hug and a kiss.

Can we even begin to imagine the delight if we saw God right in front of us
and we could not wait to run into His arms
to be lifted up high in this very fashion.
Just how much further can we be lifted than out of the quagmire of sin
into the heavenly realms of eternal life to live forever with our own Father?
The Almighty One.

Life progresses and soon our words come quickly to us as we grow older
and we are always chatting away about this and that.
Most of it at the beginning is quite unintelligible
but eventually we can bombard our parents and care givers
with many small funny stories and most of all,
heaps of requests for many things.

When we first turn to the Lord and want to learn from His Bible,
we then too might find it to be confusing but the way to understanding
is to ask for the Spirit to show us the meaning as we have
fellowship with Him. Ephesians 1:17--18.
In meditation as adults wishing to connect with our Saviour and God,
we chinwag and tell all our sorrows and troubles
or even maybe the joyous things which might have happened during the day,
for which we are praising and thanking Him.
But most of all, we have supplications by the droves.
Prayers of request for all that we see as an integral part of our existence.

In our prayers, to where have we gone? To whom have we turned? To our Father.
We can always feel this power and strength in His presence.
We recognize our protector and guide.
In our daily life, our physical life, it is our father, parent,
care-giver who usually represents this eminence,
therefore it is more than understandable that we attach ourselves
to this all powerful omnipresent entity
who has given us this amazing child,
the baby Jesus who lives and dies and rises
as our Saviour and for us,
leads us on our way home to Him, our Father.

With all these avenues open to us to accept this fellowship
and the extreme similarities in this spiritual family to the one we come to know
and cherish in our earthly family, is it any wonder,
we can grow safe and brave enough to call our God, "Daddy".

When we are on our bended knee, down here on the floor of the Earth,
our soul is set free from its chains where we can lay it at His open door.
When we bow with a low and meek heart,
and an accepting mind knowing we have a brand new white clean slate,
we can listen more intently with knowledge and discernment
and truly hear Him speak.
Knowing the Father through Christ, and being fully aware
what a father and child relationship is meant to be like,
and definitely trusting the Lord's forgiveness
we can rely on a just and fair hearing for our confessions
and true compassion for our supplications.

If our commitment is genuine, we can be certain that our name
is written in the Book of Life,
Philippians 4:3, and Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us
with His Father in Heaven,
then therefore we can unwaveringly say to Jesus, "Tell Dad I called".

Because baby Jesus came into the world and was born the Son of God to man.
We are God's children.

Dear Lord Jesus, Tell Daddy I'm home.


Author Notes My humble little poem;-

I bend my knee
Down on Earth's floor
My soul set free
Laid at His door

Heart low and meek
Mind a clean slate
I'll hear Him speak
Trust in my fate

Talk to me Lord
With Your soft Voice
I'll glean Your Word
I've made my choice

In Book Of Life
Please write my name
My zeal is rife
Tell Dad I came

by smileycloud

Contest entry prompt;-
Share a story that somehow includes Christmas.
All writing welcomed including fiction and non-fiction.
Maximum Length 7,000 words. Recommended length 2,000 - 3,500 words.
Have a smiley day

Chapter 17
Mary the mother of Christ

By smileycloud



The nativity of Jesus or birth of Jesus is described in the gospels of Luke and Matthew.
The two accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the time of Herod the Great to a betrothed virgin whose name was Mary.


A short story about Mary

Mary the mother of Christ
By smileycloud

Mary had a baby boy
When a mother gives birth to her child, she is overwhelmed
with ecstatic pride and emotion.
Under normal circumstances, she is visited by friends and family,
laden with chocolates, flowers and baby gifts.
Her husband is, for the most part, right by her side, as Joseph was with Mary.
Under normal circumstances, they return to their home of warmth and comfort
and begin to create a workable routine.
She is faced with all these strangers, especially the special three,
popping in to not only visit but to worship her little boy.
Some even warning her of the eminent danger at the hands of the Romans.
There were no toys or blankets as gifts, just these unrelated to childbirth,
grown-up things of worship.
How would the modern day mother deal with all this?
With random unharnessed fits of panic, I imagine.
To top it all off, there were no beds, no home to go to at all.
The journey ahead was all on foot,
or possibly for short periods on the back of an ass.
People were out to murder her child.
Ok, I know that during these times,
this all seems to be a normal part of their existence.
Even the gifts which the three wise men brought were
known to everyone most likely,
concerning their value and purpose.
And yes, Mary knew she had been part of a miraculous conception,
and that her child was extremely special to the God
she worshipped, adored and obeyed.
I am not too sure that she was fully aware, at the birth,
that she was mother to the Christ.
The Son of God.
But, then again, she was visited by the Holy Spirit.
Even if she was totally enlightened, what an extremely huge burden
to a new mother.
Not forgetting, a first time mother.
I know we are born in a different era and we are
supposedly more advanced and progress
has been deemed to improve our lifestyle.
That is all quite comparably true, but, give a thought for the fact that
a mother is a mother, no matter where, when or how.
How in the world could we even try to cope with those circumstances
which befell Mary at a time when she could have been just
nurturing her baby and
spending time with the other women in their village?
Washing at the river, slashing wheat, grinding herbs,
baking bread and many other normal everyday things.
Mary was truly blessed to give birth to our precious Lord.
Mary was a powerfully strong woman of tranquillity and peace.
What a great love she must have carried in her breast
for the Lord our God.
What an incredible woman.
Not just for her role in the Son of God coming to save us,
but in all her tiny sacrifices on a normal daily basis.
Not to mention the worry and strain of the dangers
involved in keeping her baby safe
with their futures in such peril.
No shelter, very little food and facing the elements
with so few possessions.
When we sit down with our family this Christmas to eat a feast
in celebration of the birth;-
After we have felt the presence of the beautiful baby Jesus in our hearts;-
I ask for all of us this Christmas to say a very special prayer for Mary.
The mother of our Lord



Chapter 18
Mutual Necessities

By smileycloud

It is fact not fiction, that without both sexes in the world,
mankind will be extinct.
This is true of all living beings on planet earth.
That is a huge responsibility which was placed into
the hands of woman.
It does not necessarily mean that all women have to be baby factories.
It simply means there are no other means by which to procreate,
in a natural unscientific way.
Man's responsibility is to respect woman.


Chapter 19
A Fragile Perch

By smileycloud

A tiny wooden house nestled in the branches of a Tamarin tree.
Birds flew in and out of the little arched doorway.
One day a crow dive bombed the house.
Sadly, it fell out of the tree and crashed in pieces to the ground.
The crow flew off, cawing loudly


Chapter 20
Look Twice

By smileycloud

At first glance people visualize perhaps the superficial impression of an image flashed before the eye.
A photograph, a person in the street, someone misbehaving or simply a family or family member one might see or know, can be the target of misinterpretation.

Often it can be very deceiving to the eye if people allow their vision to wander out of focus and not bother to look behind the facade.

This image shown here for the "Club", gave me, as a writer, the idea that I was only looking at a singular point in the picture.
A child's hand is pressing against a window pane.
Perhaps I even saw that the glass is encased in a very heavy rather dark window frame.

The truth of the matter is that the background part of the image appears to me to be quite distorted and I cannot seem to make out its shape or identity.
This makes me feel that I could totally dismiss the fact that there is more to the picture than meets the eye because it is too much hard work to figure it out.

Out there in the real world, where life is not a storybook tale, that kind of thinking can ruin relationships and even destroy someone's reputation if the reality of the truth is ignored.

I was about to write a poem or a story according to my first impression, without looking behind the scenes.
In that story, I would have assumed that the hand was pressed urgently upon the glass in a distressed or fearful manner.
Almost like a child was being held prisoner and wished to escape.
Or perhaps a very lonely little rich girl admiring the outside world where she is not allowed to play or mix with other children.

I then decided that I could not find enough to write on that theme, not without using my imagination and guessing or making up a whole scenario, as I did not actually have all the facts because I could not see past the presented image in the foreground.

I began to wonder if I enlarged and cropped and did all kinds of technical things and put the image under extreme scrutiny, if I could get a clearer picture of what was going on behind closed doors.
No success there. Perhaps I need new spectacles, or, perhaps a person in my situation might need a new attitude.

A less deceptive, multi vision view is definitely in order if we wish to move away from pure fiction.
In the world of literature, fiction is wonderful. Imagination is an exceptional talent.
But are we talented or extremely unwise if we take those attributes and use them in a real life situation?

If people decide they need to stop jumping to conclusions, or perhaps decease from being a member of a gossip channel, and become an effective part of the family and community by having the wisdom to know the real situation, then perhaps it takes a huge turnabout.

A new attitude requires work and work requires a plan and a strategy with an outcome.
A good start in retraining our assuming nature is to follow a few simple rules and guidelines.

Do not form opinions from limited views and information.
For instance;-
The child in the image might have just been touching the glass because he or she liked the feel of the coolness of the glass itself.

Look beyond the surface if we are in need of the reality of the situation.
If a distorted picture exists, take a much deeper look and investigate each individual circumstance with a non-judgemental approach.

The long pinkish tubular thing in the background could be a pig carcass tied with string and hung up ready to roast on a spit.
Or it might simply be a reflection of some toy or even a swing hanging from a tree outside the window, and the child was steadying themselves to look out at the object.
It is quite possible that the angle at which that particular photograph was taken might cause the distortion through the glassy reflection.

Truthfully assess whether it is actually necessary to know the story behind the scenes. If not, perhaps it is only the business of the individuals involved.

Sometimes people like the feeling of being a rescuer even if it is not required.
Therefore a troubled looking situation just might be an exaggeration in the viewers own mind in order to boost the esteem of that onlooker.
Or is it possible that a person's life can be so devoid of worthwhile activity that a drama, even an imagined or misconstrued one, gives the onlooker a sense of purpose in their day.

The main lesson when looking in from the outside, no matter who or what, is to only come to conclusion based on true and proven fact.

A picture they say, paints a thousand words.
This is very true. I have actually written quite a number of them here while deciding what this particular picture might convey to me personally or what it might in actual fact really mean.

I have, for the purpose of my story, decided to take a wild stab in the dark. This is something that many people do on a regular basis in real life as well.
The supreme danger in guesswork and assumptions is that interference without the full story can cause untold problems.
Stabs in the dark are very risky and should be confined to the world of fiction.

But now, in the face of fiction, and definitely not in the cold light of day, I think that the child is inside a shed and is leaning against the glass to steady herself as she is standing precariously on a tomato case peering out of the window.

I have imagined that she is waiting for her father to come home and take the pigs carcass, which is hung from the high beams in the shed, out to the huge spit and tie it to the steel stakes which are stuck in the ground.

They will then light the fire which will burn fiercely to roast tomorrow's dinner.

This is the story I saw behind closed doors.


I do apologize

At first glance,
I missed the fact that this was meant to be a poem
I have
misinterpreted and written prose instead
If this was a contest entry, my mistake would have served to
have me
To compound the error I have marched on ahead and
submitted it anyway
This just goes to show that a mistake due to the

lack of attention to detail
can be the embarrassment before the fall
in this particular case;-
my humility after the fall

A casual nonchalant glance just once
is not enough to "get the picture"
We must assuredly "look twice"


Author Notes Please accept the prose as an introduction
the apology as the poem
if you wish

Chapter 21
Dancing and Romancing

By smileycloud

Sarah turned around quickly the moment she heard his voice.
The man had come into the diner and had spoken to the customer seated near the front door.
Thomas asked the couple seated there if the coffee here was any good at all.
His voice was very smooth and sultry with a tinge of sophistication, but with a gentle lilt which made any thoughts of snobbishness disappear.
Sarah saw Thomas as a distinguished suave gentleman dressed to perfection and a smile which would melt the entire state of Alaska.

Thomas felt her stare and looked directly into her eyes, not bothering to wait for the answer to his question which he had asked the couple.
He was a very lonely and quite shy person, despite his immense wealth, he certainly was not a ladies man.
Thomas was enthralled with the beauty of the waitress who now hurriedly looked away in embarrassment once she realised that he knew she had done much more than notice a stranger in the room.

She had fallen head over heels in love in a single moment in time.

Sarah pulled herself together and continued with her service of the customers in the diner and tried her best to ignore this handsome amazing spunk of a man who she knew could never even consider speaking to her let alone ask her on a date.
Oh my, what was she thinking?

The diners had actually all turned to look at both the new comer and the waitress in interest as they appeared to feel the electricity in the air.
Most of these regular customers knew Sarah quite well and they were all shocked to see her paying attention to a man, any man in fact, not alone such a high society sort of fellow.

Sarah felt she was very plain and extremely unaware that this gentleman was showing just as much interest in her.

As she was about to serve coffee and sandwiches on a tray to two elderly people at one of the tables, she almost dropped the tray in the woman’s lap when the juke box rang out loudly with the tune, "Only the Lonely".

Both her and Thomas stood stock still in their tracks as they realized that a customer had put that tune on the jukebox and more astonished that she was eagerly gesturing toward Thomas and Sarah to dance together.

As if in a dream, they both drifted toward one another and magically ended up in one another’s arms, dancing to the sad but seductive music.
When the song ended the pair did not, as they should, step away from one another, but Thomas held Sarah in his arms even tighter and leaned in toward her and kissed her ever so softly on the lips.

The now enthralled and delighted audience gasped in anticipation of her response.
At first Sarah looked like she was about to step back quickly and disengage her body from his embrace, but, like pure enchanted magic, she too leaned in to him and returned his kiss.

The diner's roof almost popped off with the blast of noise of the applause and exuberant cheers from the customers for this unlikely pair to unite in such a romantic, fairy-tale manner.

Thomas and Sarah were married that very same week and every single one of the diner's clientele were guests of honour at the elegant gala affair.


Chapter 22
Jesus first JOY

By smileycloud

Author Note:An inspiring Gospel Song Shout Outs to The Lord Club

There is a song which the children sing in Bible study.
It is called "J.O.Y."
The chorus is;-
"Jesus first, yourself last and others in between".
A beautiful happy feel good song for all ages.

Matthew 14; 13 - 21
There is enough sustenance for all of God’s children

Matthew 9; 41, 10; 42, 25; 40
"Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name
because you belong to the Messiah will
certainly not lose their reward.

This song, "J.O.Y." is very much in tune with these and
many other Bible verses.
Putting all others before oneself in the name of Jesus.

It is truly written, even when we give just a sip of water to
someone who is thirsty;-
we are planting the seed unconsciously;
as it is the Spirit moving within us that prompts us to give the water
so that the Lord can quench the thirst.

Thirst comes in all shapes and sizes.
Some for wealth, and others for adventure,
they may not be filled with eternal satisfaction,
yet, still all are quite quenchable cravings.

There is a thirst however, which is never quenched.
It is the hunger and thirst for knowledge which lasts forever.
Learning never ends.
We never reach the zenith of intellectual prowess in this earthly lifetime.
It is a very good thing for us to know that every day
of our earthly existence there is more to
comprehend and understand.
Many insights to take on board and impart.

There is a time when a soul be truly thirsty as well.
And once again, a cup of water, given in kindness with loving care,
relieves the burden from the sting of the withering
of both the body and the heart.
Water for the tongue in conjunction with compassion for the heart
is an incredible instigator in the journey to salvation and the healing process.
The path to salvation can be found in the loving deeds of the faithful.
The soul's thirst is then quenched by drinking the Blood of the Lamb.

Matthew 5; 6 gives us this everlasting promise.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled".

Hungering and thirsting after the knowledge of the Lord is the soul's destiny.
Hungering and thirsting after righteousness will be quenched by Jesus and His Blood.
Yearning so greatly for the Kingdom of Heaven
causes us to hanker and pant for food from above.
We will feel bereft and starved if we do not find the kind of satisfaction
which relieves the desolate abandonment of the soul.
Manna from Heaven.

John 6:58

"This is the bread that came down from heaven,
not like the bread the fathers ate, and died.
Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever."

As the Spirit moves within us, we show compassion and
display hospitality by handing a glass of water and a crust of bread
to the thirsty and the hungry.
The Spirit then fills them and lifts them up,
so their thirst is quenched by the Blood of the Lamb,
and their hunger is fed by the Bread of Life.

This is bringing the song of "J.O.Y." to virtual life.
The personification of the faithful "living";-
"Jesus first, yourself last and others in between".

Be joyful. Sing.


Chapter 23
Kittycat Alias Catwoman

By smileycloud

Cosycat is my name, and though it is a soft and mushy name,
fancy spirited callisthenics is my game.
I sensuously stretch and am so very fleet of foot when I prowl and hunt.
I am the envy of all my clumsy canine friends.

For the most part, I tried not to, but I often admired
the way that heroin Catwoman spoke with a hint of a meow in her voice,
purring pretentiously and stalking about with sleek graceful movements.
She earned herself pride of place on that all-consuming television
which receives such adoration.

Inferior feline that she is.

I try to be good and craftily seek to stay on the proper side of my mistress,
just like her, who desires to please the garbed upright Batman.

She too has a darker side to her antics. She is a thief with cat's vision.
Like me, she stalks and appraises her targets and pounces with
the strength and prowess of our large Tiger sisters.
I attack and am rewarded with my bounty of lizards and mice.
When she strikes, her prizes are rare trinkets and
shiny sparkling cat shaped jewels.
I am thoroughly green with envy.
Though, my loot is far tastier than hers.

Just like me, Catwoman is lured into giving into her nicer gentler
more agreeable nature under the enticement of the
suave and beguiling Batman.
I, of course, have a sweet and doting human mother
who thinks she needs to be fully devoted to me.
I guess I am in need of caring outside of my own wiles and skills,
which are many, and do need the humans to feed me all those
delicious fish treats.

It is also quite true that playing frisky games and sleeping
on my fluffy blanket on my human's bed
makes me very happy indeed, and I feel so spoilt and pampered.

But still.
I am so desirous and covetous.
I want to be her.
I want to be Catwoman.
After all, I am a cat.
I will be a far better Catwoman than her for certain.

When I am her, and have my own adoring fans with a
prime time position on the big screen,
Kittycat will be my Hollywood name as a woman I am not,
but I am a cat inside and out.

Catwoman will be no more.

Kittycat will be the the true feline heroine of the people and their pets.


Author Notes MY REAL NAME IS;-

Chapter 24
Thanks be to the Lord

By smileycloud

Author Note:A shout out to the Lord Thanks for the water

As it was He who gave us the strength, the skills
and the endurance to earn a meagre wage;-
We have a small but sturdy roof over our heads.

And as we lay down to sleep in a dry warm bed,
and each night as the Lord tucks us in,
we run and put a lousy single dollar in a tiny tin.

The Spirit will move within us when it is filled to the brim.
It will then go to those who lay cold,
awake and frightened in the night.
To those without shelter and without hope.

A grateful, happy family is kept safe in this house.
Thanks be to the Lord for keeping us together
and united, able to endure all kinds of mishap.

Most nights we prepare a humble meal.
We sit together with grateful hearts and stomachs.
Still we try to keep aside an extra portion in another tiny tin.
This cash, thanks be to the Lord,
will fill a tummy somewhere beyond our reach.
Might allow at least one child to sit down to dinner.
Thanks be to the Lord.

Thanks be to the Lord, we have freedom.
We can read the Bible and we can wander
into church anytime we please.
Christians meet together in His name without fear.
Not tortured, shot or imprisoned for doing so.
Thanks be to the Lord.
One day the entire earth will suffer for His name no more.

We are thirsty and we run to the tap
and out comes clean water.
That's another tin.
Quite a bit larger this time.
So too is the tin we keep for the times
we walk into a doctors surgery
and our ails are mostly cured.
The Spirit will send that to the remote areas
where penicillin is not even known.

We do nothing, we have nothing, and we are nothing.
Save for the Lord owns our wretched selves and
gives us His power through the Spirit.
To be all that we are and the best that we can be.
Till home we go and the Lord once again we see.

The Lord Jesus?
You bet your life He is!


Chapter 25

By smileycloud

Author Note:My testimony in prose for Shout outs to the Lord club


What the Lord has done for me and you, is so immeasurable, it is difficult
to hone in on one aspect of all the blessings raining down from Heaven above
from our Father through Jesus Christ.

I will look to the resurrection to write about blessings
for which I am personally thankful.

As He rose from the dead, the resurrection of my soul
by our dear sweet Lord Jesus is the most
incredible witness to the power of God.

He reversed the hideousness of my sins.
He removed the sting and gained the victory over my death and my grave.
He has disposed of my rotting corpse and clothed it in a Heavenly form
as my soul is returned to my eternal home.
His absolute sovereignty over my life and death has given me enduring hope.

Through Jesus the forgiveness of my sins is proclaimed.
Through him I believe I am set free from every sin.

His sinless character and divine nature as God's "Holy One"
has never seen corruption.
His purity is gifted to me through His blood.
By blood that did not run futilely, but with power and authority.
Blood which rose my hero from the dead.
My Hero raises me from the dead.

The resurrection, the supreme validation of His deity
authenticates the Old Testament prophecies.
My Saviour, bringing salvation, injecting hope for eternal life.
Respecting my faith in the visible proof that those promises were kept.

Jesus does more than give life; He is life,
and that's why death has no power over Him,
and through Him, no power over me.
I can share His triumph over death.
I, who believes in Jesus Christ will personally experience His resurrection,
because, having the life Jesus gives, I too have overcome death.
It is impossible for death to beat me. I win. Thank you Lord Jesus.

Christianity professes a Founder who transcends death
and promises that His followers will do the same.
I follow. I live.

The grave could not hold Him. He lives,
and He sits today at the right hand of the Father in heaven,
and He has gone to prepare a place for me.
God has accepted Jesus' sacrifice on my behalf.

Jesus is "the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
He has woken me from my slumber.

What the Lord has done for me.
Kept His promises.
Given me the Word.
Created The Church.
Let's me live with freedom.
Allows me to die in peace.
Abled me for service.
Provided me with brothers and sisters in Christ.
Handed me a discipleship.
Gave His life.
Shared His home.
Presented me to His Father.
Filled me with His Spirit.
Forgave me.
Fed me.
Cleansed me.
Loved me.
Cried for me.

My Lord cried for me.
I broke the Lord's heart and still He bathed me in His Blood.
Still He raised me from the dead.

What did the Lord do for me?


Author Notes Matthew 20:17-19
John 2:19-21
Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34
1 Corinthians 15:13, 16
Acts 13:32¢??37
Corinthians 15:53¢??57
Hebrews 10:12
1 Thessalonians 4:13¢??18

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