For #LineByLineTime “Flattery”: A scene based on another movie or book
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For #LineByLineTime “Flattery”: A scene based on another movie or book
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For #LineByLineTime : Lines to be proud of.
The angel smiled wryly. “All mortals want to live forever. But what do they spend their lives doing? Worrying about the future, regretting the past, wasting the present. They find so many other things to concentrate on instead of the important ones.”
David couldn’t resist. “Important ones? Like what? What does an angel – a grim reaper, even – know about what’s important to a human?”
“Hah! If you had my job, kid, you’d know. Life looks a whole lot different on this side. All the people I’ve escorted, listening to all their regrets, and complaints, and begging to be allowed to come back to do all the things they put off all their lives, yeesh! Makes me want to molt my wing feathers.”
“We don’t just escort people to the Pearly Gates and drop them off, you know. We have to take them to the Seat of Judgement, and listen to the Creator pointing out everything they neglected during their time on earth. Always makes me glad I’m not mortal.”
He eyed David. “The number one regret and omission? Love. So many people worry about making a living, feeling like they’ve accomplished something, sometimes just surviving. But those things don’t matter. Careers will end. Finances, education, earthly pleasures, they all end. It’s not bad to want to do well, but spending all your time on them is wasting it. Five minutes, fifty years, a hundred even; the length of life doesn’t matter.”
“I can’t tell you how long you have, David. Only the Creator knows, and He doesn’t tell anybody else. All I can tell you is make the most of what you have – every minute, every hour, and every day. Living a century won’t make a difference is you regret wasting it at the end.”
For #LineByLineTime: Mean lines
Harper snorted. “The only thing my parents ever did to help me was paying Luthor to be my bodyguard. Not having to watch for bullies gave me more time to do computer stuff.”
Luthor jerked upright from where he had leaned against the window. “You knew? How? They told me not talking about it was a condition of the job.”
His small seatmate shrugged. “Like I said, I think half the time they forget I’m there. They talked about it over the dinner table the night they hired you. I didn’t know you then, but I kept my eyes open for a really big kid named Luthor, and you showed up the next day at school wanting to be my friend. I’ve been enjoying the lack of hassling ever since.”
Nita leaned over toward Luthor, her eyebrows raised. “So, the friend bit was an act all this time? You don’t really like Chico, here?” She wiggled her shoulders as if eagerly anticipating a fireworks display.
Luthor just curled his lip at her. “Didn’t Mrs. Williams say no trying to start something? As it happens I do like Harper. You, I can live without ever seeing again.”
“Oooh! I just want to die! He doesn’t like me!” Nita flung herself back in her seat with a dramatic fake sob and put her forearm across her face.
The seat hissed with the sudden pressure, or perhaps it was Minji expressing her disgust. “Must you be so dramatic? Why do you not take drama class if you insist on overacting?”
Nita dropped her arm to her lap while she rolled her eyes. “If I want to be a drama queen, what’s it to you? I think it makes life more interesting! Otherwise, I’d be screaming with boredom right now.”
For #LineByLineTime : Difficult Scenes
“They get to make choices, but we don’t?” Nita snarled. “We just get to be pawns in whatever weird little game you’re playing, huh?”
“This is no little game.”
The hair on the teens’ arms stood up and they stiffened as they felt power flow around them again.
“This is no game at all. This world balances on a tipping point. Rising Sun and Adoracion are battling to push it into chaos and darkness, where evil is a way of life and the innocent suffer endlessly. You are hardly pawns. Only you four have the talents, skills, and most importantly, the determination to win so that peace and order can prevail. The future of this world lies in your hands. The choices you have made before now brought you here. The choices you have made since are proof you are the best chance this world has to survive.”
There was silence as the teens digested this. Their faces showed their doubts, disbelief, and in Nita’s, anger still.
For #LineByLineTime : Tearful scenes
Christie sat in her favorite rocker and slowly moved back and forth, staring at the display. “My children loved to do this sort of thing. All three were always making things, drawing pictures, and every Christmas they would make an ornament for the tree. They were so creative, so – so lively, so…” she stopped and began sobbing. “They were so alive, and they’re not anymore. Ronnie, Donnie, Juliet, my babies, they’re gone. James, my husband, they’re all gone. I’m all alone, and I can’t bear it anymore. I can’t stay here anymore, I have nothing left! I want to die! Please, just let me die!” Her throat closed until the last was a whispered scream.
This first line just drifted into my head and blossomed into a story. I wanted to get the idea down. If you have anything to comment on it, please let me know. I’ll expand it more, but this is how it begins…
We called her Dr. Doolittle’s Daughter. Not in front of grown-ups, of course. We’d get into a lot of trouble if we did that. They’d probably call it bullying or some such, but it wasn’t. Becky Sue Hubert was weird, for sure, but at least it was INTERESTING weird.
She could talk with animals. Anybody can talk TO animals, but nobody else I ever knew of could understand what they said back. Some of us who knew asked Becky Sue what our pets said about us, but she wouldn’t say. At first, she looked at us like we were crazy and denied she could understand them. But after a while, she would just roll her eyes and walk off.
People learned to take better care of their animals in our little town. Some folks we knew were mean to their critters. Nobody knew how she found out, but pictures would wind up posted around town. Nobody could prove it was her posting the pictures, but we knew. Some of the pictures were so bad, my dad would have to go talk to them. My dad? Oh, he’s the county sheriff. Sheriff Tommy Lee, he is. I’m his youngest son, Barney.
Becky Sue and I are in the same class, just like we’ve been since kindergarten. Our school and town are so small, there’s only one class for every grade. We don’t even have a high school. When we finish the 7th grade we’ll be bussed to the high school in the county seat. We’re in the 5th grade right now, so we have some time. But as my dad likes to say, I digress. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds funny and makes him laugh when I say it.
Usually, Becky Sue stuck to chatting to pets and livestock, but sometimes we wondered who – or what – else she talked to. Her dad was a veterinarian and a good friend of my dad, so the families would have cookouts on the weekends sometimes and sit around and talk a lot. Becky Sue didn’t talk to humans much and spent most of her time drawing pictures of animals. She gave me some pretty good sketches of my dog, Pepper.
One night after eating, everybody was sitting at the picnic table in the backyard, just chatting. I was throwing a ball for Pepper when I heard my dad complain about some guy.
“We all know he’s making meth somewhere, but we haven’t found it yet,” he said. “We figure it must be up in the woods somewhere, but that’s a lot of forest to look through and we haven’t been able to trail him.”
I saw Becky Sue drawing, but I figured it was another animal picture. Then she stood up and walked over to my dad and put her sketchbook in front of him. He started to brush her off with that smile adults give kids who interrupt them and her dad started to say her name. You know how that goes. My mom leaned over and looked at the picture. “Becky Sue, what is that a map of?”
All the adults stared at the sketch. I slid over and looked around my dad’s shoulder. Becky Sue was a good artist. The map was easy to read. She had even labeled the highway and put a compass on the sketch, like a real map. There were trees and hills, and a little line to show a road that branched off the highway. It was labeled, too. The road wound through the trees and ended where she had drawn a little shack.
The grown-ups were real quiet. I felt goosebumps rising on my arms. Our dads looked at each other. Her dad finally looked over at Becky Sue and asked, almost in a whisper, “Becky Sue, where did you get this?”
Becky Sue kept looking at her feet, or Pepper, who was sitting on them. “A friend told me about it,” she mumbled. “He wanted me to make the guy go away, because he likes to hurt the animals around the shack. He said a really bad smell is there. When you said the guy might be making drugs in the woods, I thought it might be the same guy.”
I’ve never seen grown-ups look like that. I got a little queasy and the barbeque we just finished felt like it might want to come back out. Becky Sue crouched down and petted Pepper, who licked her hand like he licked me when he knew I was upset. Her shoulders hunched up around her ears and she kept her face down.
My dad turned around on the bench and lifted Becky Sue up and sat her on his knee like a little kid. He held out his other hand to me until I went over and sat on his other knee. I wouldn’t have acted like such a baby, but right then, I felt like a little kid. I was glad none of my friends were around to see. Well, Becky Sue was more or less a friend, but I could tell she was a little scared, too.
Becky Sue’s dad and mom stood behind her and put their hands on her shoulders. Mom came around the table and put her hands on mine. I could feel his hand on my back sweat a little. He rubbed my back like he did when he was thinking hard.
After a long minute, he finally cleared his throat. “Okay, Becky Sue. I’m not going to ask about your, uh, friend. I know most, uh, informers like to give information in secret. But I’m going to ask all of you, but especially you kids, to not say a word about what’s happened tonight. Not one word. If this guy finds out we have some information, well, bad things could happen. To me, to you, and to the law enforcement officers who are trying to stop him. Or he might just run and do this all over again somewhere else.”
He put the hand on Becky Sue’s back under her chin and stared into her eyes. “I want you to promise me something, Becky Sue. I want you to swear, if you get information from a, a friend or whoever, that you will not give it to anybody but me.”
“Or her parents,” Becky Sue’s dad interrupted. “In fact, I’d feel better if she just let us be a go-between. I don’t want anybody noticing she’s been talking to the law before a bust.”
“What if there isn’t time?” Becky Sue whispered. “What if I’m at school and you’re both working?”
I wondered who – or what – she might be talking to at school, since there weren’t any animals allowed on the school grounds, but then I remembered all the birds that were always flying around. “Just tell me,” I heard myself saying. “Nobody pays attention to me texting my dad. Or my mom. They let me use my phone between classes, since Dad is the sheriff. In case of emergency, you know?” I gulped, wondering why my mouth always got in front of my brains.
For #LineByLineTime – “Misunderstandings”
Moonsinger pointed her tail at Shadowstalker. “Remove the shackles from this male immediately!”
Shadowstalker looked quickly at Loper, who only stared back and shrugged, passing the problem back to him. The older male shuffled his feet and switched his tail, but finally stuttered, “We – we can’t!”
The elderly female Striker stiffened. “YOU DARE! You dare to defy a Den Mother in her OWN DEN!” Her voice thundered in the cavern and echoed back from the passageways. Almost every Lunatic in the cavern cowered, covering their heads, including the beta males who had roused her ire. The shackled male only tipped his head sideways, watching Moonsinger change her tail from a pointer to a club. Striker changed her tail to a club as well.
The shackles on the male rattled as he moved in front of both females. “No,” he said.
They stared at him. “You would protect these two males?” Moonsinger demanded.
“You didn’t listen,” the male said calmly. “He didn’t say they WOULD not. He said they COULD not. There’s a difference.”
The females’ tails relaxed and they both sat back, moving their gaze to the beta males.
Shadowstalker and Loper exhaled noisily. Loper raised his head just enough to nod jerkily. “He speaks truth. We were not given the keys. We were to deliver him as he is.”
Moonsinger narrowed her eyes. “Then how can they be removed? I will not leave shackles on someone who risked their lives to save one of mine.”
The male before her shrugged. “That’s no problem. I’d have freed myself a long time ago, but I wanted to see where they were supposed to deliver me.”
Skyshaker shifted, slowly switching his tail. His head lifted and he inhaled deeply, sifting odors from the cavern air. Moonsinger tilted her head, silently asking what was wrong. He shook his, unable to determine why he was uneasy. The fire was warm, the sand was soft, his belly was full. Why did he feel he needed to be up and hunting?
Moonsinger began to tense up, reading his body language. She jerked, looking over at the opening to the nursery cave. Skyshaker caught his breath as a small weight settled on his front paws. He glanced down to see the two rescued kits. The older had brought his little brother in.
The pack leader bent his head to the little ones. The older stretched up and put his mouth to Skyshaker’s ear. “Watch my brother. Bad ones come. I need to gather our sisters.”
The two adults stared at each other. “Wait with your brother. I’ll go alert the others.” Skyshaker motioned for Moonsinger to protect the little males. She curled herself around them as Skyshaker moved silently to the nursery opening.
He took a deep breath and realized a new scent was on the breeze blowing into the cave through the opening on the outside wall. Bad ones indeed were coming. The air stank of the rogue he had killed his first day and the killers of the boys’ mother and pack. He slid across the room next to the opening and vibrated his throat in the inaudible signal he had trained the females to react to.
The females remembered their training well. Shadows moved without sound, plucking up their assigned kits and climbing the nets on the walls to the ledges above. The nets rose with them, leaving them out of reach of attackers. Skyshaker set himself ready, his fangs covered so they would not shine in the dark.
The smell of burning wood and the rustle of movement snapped the four teens into wakefulness. Nita and Harper were on their feet before their eyes were completely open.
Luthor stretched and yawned. “Morning already?” He rubbed his face. “Guess breakfast is up to me and you again, Nita.”
Minji rolled to her back and groaned. “It was not a dream, then? Ow, my back! This ground is far too hard. Perhaps next time I will try the hammock you suggested, Luthor.”
Nita collapsed crosslegged on her silver emergency blanket and grabbed her shoes. “Phew,” she muttered. “Need to do some laundry, but how?”
Harper heaved a sign and reached for his shoes as well. “Laundry, sure. I want a cup of coffee and a breakfast taco, myself. Mom was all ‘that’s unhealthy!’, but Dad always got some for both of us when he took me to school. School, huh. Wonder what Mr. and Mrs. Williams are doing right now?”
“The sun is close to setting,” Nita pointed out. “We need to find someplace to spend the night. We don’t need to be walking around in the dark, even with flashlights. If anyone is searching for us, we’ll see their lights.”
Minji pointed at a rock wall close by. “That looks like it will make an adequate shelter. If it gets chilly after dark, the rock will radiate heat. We will have our backs protected.”
“Not a good idea,” Luthor disagreed. “That rock will radiate heat all right and all the wildlife, including snakes, will be snuggling up to it.”
The other three teens stared at him. “So what are you suggesting?” Harper demanded. “Build a fort out in a clearing? I don’t think we can do that before dark.”
Luthor rolled his eyes. “Very funny. We need to get up to the top of Enchanted Rock. Fewer snakes, less wildlife, especially predators. Plenty of big boulders to put our backs to and they’ll radiate heat, too. Not to mention we’ll get a better view of the area.”
Nita wrinkled her nose. “I really hate to admit this, but Superman might actually be right.”
Harper groaned, loudly. “You want us to climb a mountain after we’ve been hiking all around it? I’m tired, I’m hungry, and more than a little freaked out! Why can’t we stay down here?”
“Snakes!” Minji snapped and pulled on his arm.
Despite Harper’s grumbling and groaning, the quartet made it to the top of the dome and found a large flat top rock with a lack of snakes. As the light of the sun slowly faded, Luthor pulled a firestarter kit out of one of his many pockets and started a fire with the sticks and branches he had collected during the climb.
Nita curled her lip at the snake Luthor was skewering and found a way to the top of the boulder. “You three can eat that nasty thing,” she told them from above. “I’ll be up here looking for signs of life and eating my sandwich.”
With the coming of true dark a breeze picked up and the teens pulled out their jackets and Luthor dug out several emergency blankets. “I always carry some of these. Habit.”
He was stretching up to offer one to Nita when her hand snapped down and clutched his. “Superman! I see something! It looks like firelight!”