Coffee Mishaps (Pt. 2)

The continuing saga of Thornne, Rosalee, and Hyalus…. 

A familiar knock rapped on the door of the closed coffee shop.

Thornne’s head shot up from inspecting her still neon pink tattoos. “Don’t you dare open that door. I mean it. Don’t let him in. Don’t you dare do it.”

Rosalee scrunched her nose. “Oh, please. He’s not going to make fun of you.”

She grimaced. “I know. That’s why I don’t want you to let him in. It would be more humiliating to have him fawn over me than criticize me.”

The modern magic user waved a hand as she glided to the front door. “Hey, Hyalus. Please come in. I locked the door only a few minutes ago, and I still need to finish cleaning up, so I’ll be here for awhile.”

The man with the glass right arm smiled and entered, looking around the empty coffee shop. “How’s business going for you, Rosie?”

“It’s been great. A lot of repeat customers, which has been increasing word-of-mouth. And I promise, no addicting or mind control potions slipped into my drinks.” Her salmon eyes studied the bar stool that just had a patron. “So what brings you by?”

Hyalus ran his hand through his black hair. “Oh, I just wanted to wish Thornne a happy birthday. She wasn’t at her house, and I saw Mr. Sexy in the parking lot, so I thought I’d try here.”

Her eyes narrowed. “It’s her birthday…?” But she soon straightened. “You know what, Hy, take a seat, and I’ll go get the birthday girl. Enjoy that drink on the counter.” With a short smile, she ducked into the back room behind the counter. “Thornne, are you in here?”

The woman with lime green hair had wide eyes searching the preparation space filled with vials, potions, and ingredients. “Rose, we need to talk. Are you…a witch?”

Rosalee sighed. “We don’t use the ‘w’ word here. And to answer your question, no. Even though I don’t know why it would change our relationship if I was. My magic is in my blood, and I channel it through coffee. I’m more of a…beverage sorcereress. How does Hylaus know today’s your birthday, and I don’t?”

Thornne sighed. “Get this pink off me, and I’ll tell you.”

“Have you tried your shapeshifting abilities to make it look black?”

“What do you think I’ve been doing for the past hour?”

The mage rose a dark brow. “I’ll get something to try to help. How does he know your birthday and not your best friend?” She went to a shelf full of partially used containers and grabbed an empty mug.

Thornne waved a hand. “It’s from our government experiment days. Dad always had to parade me around on my birthday like I was some type of god. I hated it. But I’ve always hated both of my parents.”

Rosalee handed her a concoction. “Oh, that’s right. I got out before you and Hyalus were acquired.”

She paused while downing the drink. “Say what?”

“Nothing! How you feeling?”

Thornne squinted an eye. “Why?”

“No reason. What’s your favorite color?”

“Lime green.”

“Your first love?”

“Mr. Sexy.” Thornne stumbled a bit. “What is this?”

Rosalee smiled. “Truth potion. I want you and Hyalus to have a good time. There’s a side effect. It causes drunkenness without the need for alcohol. It’s not harmful. More for my entertainment than anything else.”

She hiccuped and searched for something to support herself on. “Y-you really…suck.”

“I know,” came the chipper reply. “I also know you love me anyway. Now, get. Your non-romance awaits.”

 

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The Day the World Turned Orange

“Hey, Hun,” Elise called, pausing as she grabbed her keys off the counter, eyes transfixed out the window in front of her.

“Yes?” Michael responded as he popped his head out of the bathroom. He followed his wife’s gaze. Toothbrush hanging out of his mouth.

She stood unblinking. “What’s wrong with the sky? Why’s it like that?”

He moved beside her. “I don’t know. Perhaps the clouds are reflecting the sunrise. It is almost five thirty.”

“Right. Almost five thirty?” Eyes widening, she trotted down the stairs. “I’m going to be late for work. I can’t get fired!” She flung open the door leading to the garage then elbowed the button to retract the large garage door. Placed her lunchbox in the passenger seat of her bright green Jeep.

However, her pace slowed to a crawl when she caught a glimpse of the outside world as she rounded the back of the Wrangler. Yes, the sun may start rising before five thirty, but it was never this bright. Nor was the entire air tinted orange. And that’s what it seemed like. As if someone spray-painted the air itself with a transparent, faint orange color. Never had she seen such a thing in her years of life.

“Whoa,” came Michael’s response as he stood in the doorway leading back into the house. “Were we transported into a video game in our sleep or what?”

She gave a short laugh. “Well, if we did, it was Fallout, and this is just after the bombs fell. But I guess I better get going. I can spectate this on my way.” After giving her husband a quick peck on the cheek, she pulled herself into the taller vehicle. Carefully backed out into the orange haze.

Honestly, the atmosphere was eerie. She wanted to declare this was an unbelievable phenomenon, but there was something about it that made her not want to make any final decisions on it. It was too quiet. Even for this early time of the day.

There were much fewer cars on the road taking her to her hardware store job. Normally, there was average of about fifty. Today, she counted thirteen. And they all had their windows tightly rolled shut even though the weather was lovely, despite the summer season.

Elise glanced at her two windows that were rolled down. Was there something in the air she didn’t know about? Did she need to roll up her windows? She looked around at the continued orange through the top of her windshield. Were there even clouds in the sky? She couldn’t see any kind of variations.

Ah, screw it. She was keeping her windows down. As weird as the sky was, it was too nice out to not have them down. Turning up the radio, she placed an elbow out the window. Thumb tapping the steering wheel. Although, her wary gaze didn’t lose true sight of the strange orange glow.

Soon, her nostrils flared. What was that burning smell? Her arm grew hot. She looked down and gave a yell of alarm as the top layers of her flesh bubbled red. Pulling her arm back inside the Jeep, she almost crashed the vehicle during her surprising discovery.

The subtle sizzling of her skin stopped once it was out of direct contact with the orange light. Her wide eyes studied her arm. She couldn’t feel much pain, but common sense told her not to put her arm back out. In fact, she rolled both windows up.

She stared at her festering wound. Returned her attention back outside. What was this orange glow? Where did it come from? There had been no alerts, no sirens in the night. Nothing to relay a national emergency. It clearly wasn’t safe, so why hadn’t she seen anything about it on her news feed when she played on her phone before getting ready?

Was this the result of government experiments? Or was this the pollution finally coming to wipe humans out. It wasn’t a bomb since there were no sirens. Unless certain people died, and no one was able to activate the sirens. She didn’t want to think about that.

The main worry for now was what could she find that would allow her to safely go out into the orange glow? Assuming she would ever find out what caused it and what it was made of. After sending a warning text to her husband, she continued on her way. If there was something she could make to protect herself, certainly the hardware store would have it. It didn’t seem to affect cars and houses, after all.

 

*Author’s Note: Yesterday morning, I did walk into my garage and lift the door to see the air painted with a faded orange. It was an unusual phenomenon. Of course, I ran through every fictional post-apocalyptic/sci-fi scenario I could before the science side of my brain kicked in and told me the crystalized water in the very low-hanging clouds was reflecting a bright orange sunrise down instead of out across the sky. It was ominous and beautiful at the same time. And, of course, I needed to write a short story about it. 

Wrangling Ideas

My daily driver is a 2006 Jeep Wrangler Golden Eagle. For those who don’t know, the Golden Eagle package was produced only for half the 2006 year. It’s also a dark metallic green with eagle logos and gold accents. But my Jeep isn’t the only reason I’m writing this post for this Freebie Friday because I drive nine miles to get to my morning job. Even though I’m a part timer, I have a set schedule, so I leave my house around the same time every morning.

That being said, I also take the same path to work. No matter if I leave a few minutes early or even a few minutes late, I almost always past an early 2000s Wrangler that’s red, has some diamond plating accents, and silver rims versus my gold ones. But that’s not where the irony ends.

The man who drives the red Jeep is bald with a big, thick beard. I, on the other hand, am bald on my chin and have thick, semi-long hair I keep in a ponytail. Even still, there’s more to my amusement about this situation. I drive nine miles to work at a Home Depot, when there’s one literally down the street from my house. The man drives nine miles to work at Lowe’s, when there’s one closer to the apartment complex I’ve seen him pull out of many times.

Perhaps, I’m just easily entertained (well, let’s face it, I am easily entertained. I flipped out today at work after finding a super miniature padlock I didn’t know existed as product), but this tickles me every single morning I drive and pass the bearded man who drives the red Jeep.

I keep wanting to make some kind of short story out of this. However, I haven’t come up with anything good. I’ve been thinking some type of alternate reality circumstance for the plot? We’ll see if anything comes to fruition. Hmm, I’m not sure. But I’m hoping now that I’ve written this out, I’ll be able to think of something worthwhile.

Coffee Mishaps

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Thornne squinted an eye at the mug she finished. “This coffee tastes weird.”

Rosalee paused as she wiped down the main counter. Her salmon-colored eyes widening. “That’s probably because it’s not coffee.”

“Rose…what did I just drink?”

“I, uh, well, I’m not sure.”

Thornne closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Please don’t tell me I just downed another one of your potion experiments. Last time, I almost fell in love with Hyalus, and I swear, if that happens again, I will kill you this time.”

“Oh, come on. You know you love me.” The practicing mage smiled sheepishly. “It’s almost closing time, so how about I shut down early?” She locked the front door of her quaint coffee shop and pulled down all the blinds in the slender windows. Then her expression turned serious. “Give me that mug.”

With a scowl, she pushed it across the counter’s bar. “Take it.” She smoothed back her thick, lime green hair.

Rosalee held the mug under her nose and inhaled a deep breath. “Hmm. Getting some herbs. Ooh, a spice or two for flavor. A hint of honey–”

“Rose, what did I just drink?”

Her tongue flicked along the inside rim of the mug. “Oh! This isn’t anything harmful at all. Just my new way to color my hair.” She tossed her rich chocolate brown hair dipped in fuschia. “A girl like me doesn’t have time for lengthy coloring sessions, so I’m trying an oral method.”

Thornne’s nostrils flared. “Will this change my hair color? Because I have a strict rule of keeping it this vibrant green. I don’t want it to be anything else.”

“I don’t know. I haven’t tried it yet.”

The shapeshifter sighed and let her head fall on the counter. “I swear…”

Rosalee’s lips formed a thin line. “Uh, Thornne?”

“What?”

“Look at your arm.”

Thornne lifted her head, holding out her right arm. Watched the tattoo sleeve change color. The roses and spiraling thorny stems faded from black to neon pink. Her jaw set, and she slowly turned her head toward her friend. “Are you kidding me right now? How long is this going to last?”

The modern sorceress held up her hands. “I don’t know! This was an experiment. It doesn’t look half bad on you.”

“We are not leaving this coffee shop until you fix this. Do you hear me? I don’t care if we’re here until the rest of the night. I’m not going to be seen in public like this.”

Rosalee couldn’t contain a giggle. “You know, it’s a good thing were in the Millennial generation. People are used to our ‘exotic’ colors.”

The shapeshifter frowned. “This…abomination is not my color. I only wear black, white, and green. You know this. So fix it. Now.”

“Alright, alright, Ms. Grumpypants. I’ll start working on a counter potion.”

“And while you’re at it, you can get me a real cup of coffee.”

 

Isle of Lost but Never Found

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My eyes slowly opened as I sat up, instantly blinded by an intense light. I raised my arm in attempt to block the source. It was all pure instinct; sight was the only sense currently functioning properly.

A sudden wind beat my back. The hairs on my arms rising. I shivered, realizing I was soaked head to toe. Pushing myself to bare feet, I hugged my chest. Where was I?

Everything adjusted into focus. Sand met water roughly thirty feet in front of me. A beach? I rubbed my face with my hands. Last thing I remembered, I was camping in a forest on a mountain. This had to be a dream. A hallucination.

My hearing finally kicked in. The rhythmic roar of the ocean lapped ashore. I took a deep breath of salty air. A lucid dream? However, it all felt so real. If this was real, how did I get here?

Distant barking made me whirl around. My eyes widened, and an eyebrow rose. Before me stretched mounds of socks, keys, phones, cables. What on Earth? What was this place? I started forward, inspecting the socks further. Not a single one had a match.

As I walked further into what I assumed was an island barren of vegetation, I noticed a plethora of remotes and bank cards. Lipstick tubes scattered around. Various forms of office supplies. Was this a place for junk? Junk Island?

The barking became deafening as a herd of collarless dogs rushed me, knocking me to the ground. I couldn’t help but laugh as I was attacked by a thousand tongues. But through the canine fur, I caught glimpses of cats, birds, reptiles, and other animals looking more domesticated than wild.

I eventually found my footing and searched the area. My heart stopping. A soldier in full combat gear approached, wearing more dog tags than I dared counting. I swallowed. He held the hands of two children, and a parade of soldiers and children from varying nationalities followed him.

The head soldier greeted me. “What’s your name?”

My eyes couldn’t leave the sunken features of all the humans before me. They looked starved. “Morgan.”

He attempted half of an exhausted smile. “Welcome to the Isle of Lost and Never Found, Morgan.”

I swallowed again. The very last thing I recalled thinking to myself was how I got lost in the woods on the mountain. Then darkness. But an island of lost things? I would’ve preferred the Island of Misfit Toys to be real. “How big is this place?”

“It expands to fit what appears.”

Rubbing my eyes, I nodded. Dared to ask the inevitable. “Do things ever get found?”

The soldier shifted, a couple of the children sniffed and shuffled. “Sometimes. We assume you go back to the real world.” He gestured to his tags. “We’ve found soldiers from WWI here. Unfortunately, not everything lasts forever. Not even here.”

I searched the man then the forlorn children. Allowed my gaze to wander back to the beach I woke up on. Despite the presence of all the people in front of me, I suddenly felt terribly alone. More so than when I walked in the woods.

I had no idea if I would ever be found.

Hello, Again!

Good afternoon, readers! I hope this post finds you in good health. If not, then I hope you’ll be able to find something positive to brighten your day. I understand it’s been awhile since I last posted. However, I do have some good news.

I am finally starting to get my life back on track. Can you ever get a life back on track? Well, we’ll see where this train goes. Even if it’s to the crazy station. Eh, who am I kidding? I’m already there.

Two weeks ago, the husband and I went on a much-needed vacation. We went on some adventures, observed some never-before-seen artifacts, and just spent a lot of time sleeping in for once. It was nice. Of course, last week was living everyday in Hell at both of our jobs. Which is typically how it goes coming back from vacation. But it is what it is.

This week, we’re starting off better. I know I haven’t been much for poetry and short stories lately. Any creativity I’ve acquired has been shoved directly into finishing the final revision for my novel, which I’m plugging along with.

I’m not going to promise my blog routine will return this week. However, I will say I’m going to try my best to get back into the swing of things with my blogging schedule. I’m still thanking you for your continued patience!

A Chronic Monster Inside

“I need help,” she hoarsely called as she fought to keep tears at bay, the agony inside her head growing. She couldn’t cry because her vision was already blurred by the pain. All she could see was colored blurs. Nothing was in definition. But she needed to get out.

The right side of her face grew numb. Save for the long, quarter-inch drill bit grinding its way through her skull, the pointed tip severing the nerves behind her eye. She rubbed the problem area with the heel of her palm.

There was no blood; she wished there was. It would give a reason to her suffering.

Her hand felt the area beside her. Felt a wall. She tried clawing her way up to her feet, but her equilibrium refused to stabilize. Darkness flickered into her vision. Mind spinning, she slid back to the scratchy floor. “Hello?” her voice was nothing more than a pitiful whine, “I need help.”

She stayed pressed against the wall. Its coolness providing slight comfort. Though her face remained contorted in a grimace. The pain in her head caused her hearing to elevate. She could listen to every creak, groan, and crack of the building. She could hear all the leaves rustling with the wind outside, discern all ambient noise.

But she could not hear another person. Could not locate someone to help her. Her eyes opened. Everything was still blurred, even with the bright white bleeding into her peripherals. Her chest trembled with unspent sobs. Mirroring the slight shudder of her body.

“Please,” she managed. Allowed herself to fall to her hands and knees. “I need help. H-hello?” The outline of what she presumed was a door materialized. Hopefully, it was a door. She needed out. Needed aid. She was alone, scared. The pain had never been so threatening before. “Please.”

The dam holding back her tears finally broke as she miserably crawled to her perspective freedom. “Hello?” Her throat dried, and her little strength waned. She collapsed with a whimper. “I need help.” Curling up into a ball, she hugged herself. “Hello…hello?” She couldn’t get any closer to the door. Couldn’t get any closer to escape, relief.

“I need help. Please?” Her eyes fluttered. “H-hello?” The volume of her voice dropped considerably. “I…I need help. Hello?” She buried her head into the rough floor, everything coming out as raspy whispers. “Hello…hello…I need help. I need help. Please. Hello?” The darkness completely enveloped her. “I need h-help…”