Friday, January 12, 2018

Terribleminds Writing Prompt: significant song lyrics

Source blog post:

Let's get one thing straight: my tastes in music are not exactly in alignment with whomever is on top of the pop charts this week, and hasn't been for quite a while.
(And yes, I just turned 47 a little more than a month ago.)
A perusal of some of the songs (specifically, the ones with lyrics) that are "in rotation" on my music devices should prove that:
"Karma Slave" by Splashdown
"Up And Away" by The Poxy Boggards
"Breathless (LP Version)" by The Corrs
"Dead Man's Party" by Oingo Boingo
"Edge of the Ocean" by Ivy
... to name but five.
So, given that the assignment specifically refers to "Now, take a slice of those words — a smidgen of the lyrics, a line, a short stanza — and use them as the theme or basis for a bit of flash fiction", what should I use for this assignment?
There has been a chorus with an image that keeps popping up in my thoughts for years now. And as tempting as it might be to pick "Blood From A Stone" by Cycle V (which has, in fact, been stuck in my head since I first heard it back in the 1990s), I have a string of words that has fascinated me for far longer.
It comes from "Tom O'Bedlam", an English traditional poem dating from the early 17th century. The word "bedlam", commonly defined to mean 'a scene of uproar or confusion', is a linguistic corruption of "Bethlehem Royal Hospital", a facility near London that became associated with the worst excesses of abusing patients suffering from mental illness. The poem has been set to music since it first hit public awareness, so it counts, nyah.
One verse of the eight "canonical" ones reads thus:
"With a host of furious fancies
Whereof I am commander
With a burning spear and a horse of air
Into the wilds I wander
By a knight of ghosts and shadows
I summon'd am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wild world's end
Methinks it is no journey."
I've never been able to get the image of "a knight of ghosts and shadows" out of my head for long. So, here goes, with a tip of the hat to Mercedes Lackey:
"Your crest has a place at Tourney," the guy told me.
I looked up from my phone. I had my earbuds in for a reason, dangitall. I had no time for homeless bums trying to wheedle my spare change or any leftover food I might have in my pack.
I gave him a once-over, still shuffling my feet toward the bus stop. My height, give or take. Brown hair that hadn't been washed in a while, but held away from his face; I guessed he had it tied and running down his back. Serious weathering on his face; the man clearly lived most of his life outside.
"The ghosts have called," he went on, in that same voice. Low and umbling, like he and his mouth had regular contact with high octane rotgut. He fell into step beside me, matching my pace.
His shoulders looked like he might weigh over two hundred pounds, but the stiffness in his movements made me look again. And damn me if he wasn't wearing some kind of shoulder pads under a faded sarape, the narrow horizontal stripes faded and down to shades of brown or grey. And everything else I could see under the cover looked like some kind of armor. Scavenged from castoffs behind sporting goods stores or scrounged from donation boxes, but armor nevertheless.
I wrinkled my nose, expecting an olfactory assault from the filthy clothes. Thankfully, nothing happened on that score. What fabric I could see actually looked kind of threadbare, but no black gunk around the seams or cuffs or anything. It seemed clean. So what? If the guy wasn't homeless, then he was some kind of Internet sensation within his thousands of subscribers. His face didn't register; I have my own circle of online celebrities, thank you very much, and he certainly wasn't one of them.
"The shadows have found you," he added, as if that settled everything.
I didn't have time to get caught up in some stupid viral video event, prank or otherwise. My day job shift, back office stuff at one of the international banks that hasn't been caught laundering money (yet) had wrapped up ten minutes ago. I wanted to catch the next bus at the stop four blocks away; between the two transfers, followed by a seven block walk to my apartment, I could squeeze a pair of fifteen minute naps before getting home to the side hustle.
The day job paid for rent and utilities. The side hustle, transcribing recordings of droning meetings, let me actually afford to take public transportation to my day job, as well as eat about once a day and occasionally spring for a new pair of shoes.
"Got the wrong guy, pal," I told him. Kept a side-eye on him, but only that. Armor or no armor, fresh out of the homeless shelter shower or not, you only ignore crazy people when they're out of range. And I sped up, a little, to get that space cushion between us. If I was lucky, sometime in the next couple of blocks, I could cross an intersection before he did, and that would put a nice insurmountable barrier of city traffic between him and me.
And, hey, here's the curb and the street, the crosswalk countdown gives me three seconds to cross and I want to leave this guy eating my dust. I break into a sprint, catching up with the stragglers at the end of the crowd crossing with the light...
No joy. He matched my pace, easy as anything. Wasn't even breathing hard.
"You are summoned to tourney," he said again, an insistent note starting to come through in his tone.
"Screw off," I told him. I pulled my phone back up in front of my face, trying to ignore him into going away.
I felt a hand go onto my shoulder and tried to shake it off.
My shoulder went stiff, actually started getting cold.
I stopped, anger rising. I had absolutely no time for any of this, but if this guy wasn't going to take a hint, I had about a month's worth of stress from two jobs and the rest of my waking life just waiting to get let off in a fight with some random crazy dude.
"Hands off!" I told him, pointing my free hand at his nose.
He released my shoulder and stepped back, the tension in his face fading away. "Welcome to tourney," he told me.
I looked past him, and saw that the nifty Irish bar I had always meant to stop in at some point wasn't there any more. Along with that entire side of the street, the city traffic... Hell, the rest of the city.
Instead... tents. Wooden bleacher seats, facing away from me. The sounds of metal and horses and people, but no cars. The smells of sweat and dirt and roasting meat... but not a hint of exhaust from internal combustion engines.
It looked like the Renaissance Faire I had visited once, about ten years ago, along with a lovely young woman who was really into that kind of thing.
"Your pavilion awaits this way," the guy said, waving a hand....

The guy's armor made no kind of sense. For one thing, it was a collection of pieces from damned near every pre-firearm warrior culture on Earth. The left boot looked like the kind of

No comments: