Week 6 of Odd Prompts

Another week, another reason to write. Sometimes, this is what you need. An external force, pushing, nudging, or pulling you along into momentum. And sometimes you lose the momentum and need it renewed. Humans, we do best in company of others. People like us. People who are… a little odd.

PrompterPromptPrompted
Cedar SandersonOn the first night of the apocalypse…Ray Krawczyk
Fiona GreyAn unfortunate history of warfare involving…nother Mike
AC YoungTheir first meeting was described as a case of magnetic repulsion.Cedar Sanderson
nother MikeThe challenge was set. Snowboards at twenty paces!Leigh Kimmel
Ray KrawczykThe lush green grass of the valley hid a deadly surprise.AC Young
Becky JonesThe neighbors got together once a month for drinks. Until last month…that gathering was odd.Fiona Grey
Leigh KimmelAs the snow melts, you find…Becky Jones

If you forgot (ahem) or didn’t want to commit to a challenge, there’s always spares! Or you could do a challenge and a spare. Or…

SpareThe snoring was soft as a purr
Sparepro-knock gasoline
Spare$CHARACTER pulled up in ’23 Maxwell. A *2023* Maxwell. [Note: Jack Benny’s car on radio & TV was a Maxwell.]
Spare“By now, who *hasn’t* seen a unicorn?”
SpareI can’t get no magic action…
SpareThe tree outside the window was a golden birch.

Whatever you do, come back and leave the results in the comments. We don’t critique, we just support ’round these parts. And sometimes we nudge a little, gently, because you need it.

31 comments

  1. In this week’s prompt triangle, Ray Krawczyk supplied my challenge: The lush green grass of the valley hid a deadly surprise.

    After a little thought I went with a terraforming artefact.

    It was early morning on Atlas IV. Terraforming the planet had finished only a century ago, and the first settlers had arrived only 50 years back.

    Gordon Basing-Jones was an inter-planetary livestock dealer. He had invested a great deal in livestock on Earth and was on a tour of newly settled planets to sell the animals to farmers. He’d invested in specialist breeds gambling that these would be relatively unknown on the planets he was visiting.

    Gordon had arrived on Atlas IV yesterday. He had docked his transport ship at Titan Station, the small space station in orbit around Atlas IV which was where all visiting spacecraft too large to return to orbit docked. No sooner had he paid the docking fees and set up the automated processes that took care of the animals than he took the shuttle from Titan Station to Atlantis, the capital (and so far only) city of the planet.

    He had booked himself into the only hotel in town, and this morning had rented a vehicle. He had reviewed the local maps the previous night and had noted that the livestock farms on Atlas IV were in a cluster to the north-west. So, north-west Gordon was headed.

    Hex-Hex was the name of the nearest farm, according to the sign on the gate. As he drove through the fields he saw cattle grazing. Gordon didn’t recognise the breed, but most colonies started with mixed cattle that could be used for either beef or dairy.

    Gordon knocked on the front door of the farmhouse. The door was opened by a man possibly in his fifties or sixties. Second-generation then – possibly. “Good morning, I’m Gordon Basing-Jones. I’m a livestock trader, and I hope you’re interested in expanding your herd.”

    “Good morning. Welcome to Hex-Hex. You can call me Keith.” A short pause. “Hmmm. I think I’d better show you. This way.”

    The farmer headed off across the yard. Gordon followed. A hike through the fields followed, until they reached a gate. The other side was a plain of grass, spreading all the way across a wide valley heading up to distant mountains.

    “It looks perfect grazing doesn’t it?” asked Keith.

    “Yes. I’m sure many of the breeds I’ve got for sale will do very well on that grass.”

    The farmer smiled. “Shall we take a closer look?’ He led the way in to the field. Gordon followed.

    The farmer reached down and spread the grass, revealing a layer of flowers, previously hidden underneath the long grass. “These we call Atlasian belladonna. As far as we know they’re unique to Atlas IV. They’re poisonous to most cows. Hence the name for this type of grassland – poison meadows.”

    Gordon was very surprised at the revelation. “You have cattle. I saw them as I drove here. Do you keep them away from these meadows?”

    “No. Poison meadows are this planets’ dominant grassland at these latitudes. We couldn’t afford to farm cattle if we didn’t graze them.”

    “So what breeds do you have? I may have some on my ship.”

    “I doubt it. When the families around here started farming this land they invested most of their seed capital in genetically engineered cattle – adapted to be resistant to the poisons in these plants. Even then they only had one small herd between them to start with.

    “It took them twenty years to grow the herds to the point where every family could have their own. Another ten were required to build all the required processing facilities on each farm.

    “I’m not putting all that effort at risk with cattle that aren’t poison meadow tolerant. Even if they survive, the wrong genes enter the herd and I could lose them all.”

    Gordon understood. He wasn’t going to get a sale here. He probably wasn’t going to get a sale on the entire planet. This was a planet for specialist livestock dealers, and that wasn’t him – yet.

    He thanked the farmer for his time and headed back to Atlantis.

    The next day Gordon headed back up to Titan Station and headed back into space. He made a careful note in his logs of the properties of the various species of Atlasian belladonna. It may take him another decade of trading before he had the money to invest in genetically engineered breeds for speculative sale. When he did, he’d be back with adapted specialist beef and dairy breeds, ones where the poison meadow resistance would breed true, even in hybrids. If he sold even a quarter of his hold at the right prices he’d make a fortune on the trading cycle.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Nice glimpse of romance and problems in space! Of course, now we wants to know how they got from that first glimpse to their current state of interaction, but…

      Like

  2. Fiona Grey asked me to consider…

    An unfortunate history of warfare involving…

    [first thought…]

    When the aliens landed, after that first few weeks of tensions, the negotiations began. Mostly, they wanted to explain what they had decided. World leaders were stunned when they explained that we were going to be adopted by several of the alien races, and given guidance until we learned how to act in the greater universal exchange. One of the pieces of evidence that had convinced them to take this approach was an unfortunate history of warfare involving fighting between ourselves, even when the results were not good for either side. It was difficult for humanity to admit that our own history was littered with such examples, although the video replays shown by the aliens quickly showed that they understood our history at least as well as we did, if not better.

    Of course, having one of the alien races turn out to include the cats that had been living with us for centuries really didn’t help.

    [hum, I kind of like that, but… not sure where it is going, really. Second try?]

    The little town of Brunswager has never really been recognized for its history. That’s probably because it mainly consists of an unfortunate history of warfare involving cheese. You see, they are the only known creators of militarized Limburger cheese, among other strong cheeses. You may think that blue cheese is hard to swallow, well, you should try their green kase, best known for killing within a few minutes of eating. The limburger, of course, simply knocks out anyone within about 20 feet when it is uncased, as the odor reaches them. And what their famous brown goat’s milk cheese does… simply cannot be described in a public posting. So when the town of Brunswager sends you a package of cheese… don’t open it! Call your local hazardous materials disposal squad immediately, and let them take care of it for you. This has been a public service announcement sponsored by the cheesemakers of Wisconsin…

    [Now, that’s quirky]

    [There is a tickle in the back of my head that suggests maybe it’s the computer games that have a nasty history of warfare, but… I’m late, and the weather here is giving me a headache, so we’ll leave that for someone else to play with!]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Late on this reply. Prompted by Cedar Sanderson

    On the first night of the apocalypse I sat outside my camper and looked up. The stars twinkled benignly, distant, remote, and uncaring in the heavens. And then, the first herald, a meteor streaked across the heavens before winking out.

    Sixteen months before, a rogue wanderer, an extra-solar body had been confirmed. Its orbit around our sun was diametrically opposed to the helio-centric standard while still being on the plane of the ecliptic. At first it posed no threat. But then it transited Neptune, and its orbit changed fractionally.

    By then astronomers had been able to determine that it was circling the drain on its way to a death dive into the sun. And transiting Uranus altered its orbit. And Saturn, where it left a gash in the rings.

    They’d known it was 50 kilometers across at that point. Imaging had shown it to be oddly irregular and some wag had noted that with three protuberances, it looked oddly like someone’s hand throwing the horns. Instead of the astronomical gobbled-gook, people started calling it Horny.

    The transit of Jupiter altered its course yet again and voices started to be raised in alarm. Disaster preparations started coming back into fashion. That’s when I’d bought an enormous cache of freeze-dried foods and my little camper. A home in the wilderness would be destroyed by the inevitable earthquakes following an impact. At least a camper had some chance of survival since it could sway and bounce on its suspension.

    Horny transited Mars, and Deimos was blotted out of existence. Horny also broke up, but instead of a single planet cracker, a shotgun blast of Horny and some bits of Deimos were now headed toward Earth. It wasn’t a question of would we be hit, bit was now a question of how badly we’d be hit. Astronomers predicted a chain of impact covering a dozen days. Of course some wags produced parodies called The Twelve Days of Apocalypse instead of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

    Scientists observed almost 80 significant masses in the chain of meteors. There was no telling what was part of Horny and what was part of Deimos. Mars was developing its own ring and calamity was headed for Earth.
    Well in advance of the Apocalypse, the cities started to burn. I was reminded of the old parable about the Biblical flood. Won’t be rain, it’ll be fire next time.

    Suddenly, my campsite lit up. I looked up to see an enormous fireball slashing its way across the sky, shedding light and meteorites that disappeared as they burned up in the atmosphere. The largest fragment tumbled through the sky. A hammer of thunder arrived, the sonic boom of the meteor encountering our atmosphere. Friction from the air lighting up the entire hemisphere, bright enough to read by, before it disappeared below the western horizon.

    The earth beneath my feet shook first. My camper bounced on its springs. The trees nearby rocked and swayed, their trunks suddenly supple. The boles of wood creaked and groaned with the strain of unaccustomed flexing. Seconds later a titanic explosion could be heard, although no cause was apparent in view. It was the meteor impacting somewhere to the west. Either on land or in the Pacific, I couldn’t tell.

    I went into my camper to prepare for bed. Whatever the future held for us here on Earth, there was nothing I could do to affect the outcome.

    Liked by 2 people

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