Quiet the Noise

Writing Sidekick

The phone’s ringing.

Facebook’s sending out notifications.

Email’s pinging.

The television’s talking.

Even the gas pump plays advertisements as you fill up your car.

Ugh. Unless you make an intentional choice to shut it all down, you can’t escape the constant demand for attention.

One night a week, my husband and I make that intentional choice. We turn everything off, including the lights, make ourselves some tea, light the oil lanterns, and sit in the quiet as we discuss whatever comes to mind.

It’s a glorious, calming bubble of time in which the anxiety in my brain dissipates to insubstantial smoke and dreams become vivid again.

I’d like to capture that calm for a slightly longer period of time. So for the next few weeks, I’m stepping back from technology. Although it’s unlikely I can shut everything off and still function in our world (I can’t do anything about the advertisements at the gas pumps), I intend to stay away from the forms of technology I do have control over. No Facebook or email, no blog or instagram. You get the picture.

All this to say, if you leave a comment or post a blog, I’m not ignoring you out of spite. I’m just universally ignoring the ping from my phone…or actually, my phone won’t be pinging at all.

I’ll return toward the end of November, I promise =) Thank you to all my readers for your amazing support!

Blessings,

Jennifer

Oasis Disturbance Option Bb2: Chocolate to the Toad King

Toad - Oasis Disturbance Adventure

Welcome back for the last post in the Oasis Disturbance Adventure! If you missed part of the story, here’s a recap. Otherwise, jump down to the story and see how everything ends =)

Week One: You rode into the desert oasis town of Caspian and received a rather cool welcome from the inhabitants. Red, the tavern keeper, agreed to allow you to sleep in one of his rooms if you promised to stay inside all night. You agreed, but midway through the night there’s a deep roaring outside and the ground begins to shake. Readers voted to go outside to investigate. (If you would like to read the start to this adventure, click here.)

Week Two: When you left your room, Red found you at the bottom of the stairs. He drags you to the back door of the tavern and shows you the destruction of his stables, which he blames on you. When you try to check on Opher, your horse, Red refuses to check with you, so you leave the tavern alone. Before you even reach the stables, however, a walking skeleton dinosaur catches you and asks you to rescue the Toad King so all the skeletons can return to normal. He says this will help your horse too. Readers voted to help Calvin, the skeleton dinosaur. (If you’d like to read week two, click here.)

Week Three: Calvin gave you two options for how to rescue the Toad King from the tavern keeper, Red. One was to offer licorice to Red in trade for the Toad King. Two was to offer chocolate to the Toad King and hope he’d pick you as master over Red. As you enter the Tavern to find the Toad King, you find Red pointing a shotgun at you while he holds a glass jar with the Toad inside. Readers voted to offer the King chocolate. (If you’d like to read week three, click here.)

Now, let’s hop in and see what kind of magic the Toad King can conjure. =)

Oasis Disturbance Option Bb2: Chocolate to the Toad King

You question whether or not Red can be reasoned with, so instead of addressing him, you meet the bulgy eyes of the Toad King. His tongue flicks out to hit the glass of the jar. It pings like a moth hitting a window.

Crown - Oasis Disturbance Adventure“Your majesty,” you say. “Would you agree to un-damn the lake for some chocolate crickets?”

“What are you doing?” Red growls. “Battier than a belfry! It’s a toad, for crying in a bucket! He can’t talk.”

However, right on the heels of his statement, the Toad opens his mouth in a wide yawn and asks, “Crickets? Chocolate covered crickets? Oooo, that is tempting.” His croaky voice sounds almost British.

Red gaps at the toad in his glass cage. He lowers the shotgun in order to place the jar on the bar. If you didn’t know better, you’d think he was afraid the toad might explode. Then he backs away a few steps to stare.

“What?” the Toad King asks. “I never wanted to talk to you, so I didn’t. Plus, you feed me flies. I’ve never seen a chocolate covered cricket in this dusty establishment before.” At this, his tongue flicks out and he turns his bulgy stare toward you. “Let me see a small piece. See if it’s worth the hassle.”

You pull a small cricket from the package in your left pocket and slide it down the bar. It hits the glass of the jar and sits there. The Toad King smashes his face against the glass to get a better look at it.

“Hmmm,” he mutters, “dark coloring, smooth texture, legs included. Seems like a good product. I’ll take your offer, human,” he says.

“Ha,” Red laughs. “You’re my Toad King.”

“Ha,” the Toad King laughs back. “Hop around like a kangaroo for the next three days.”

Kangaroo - Oasis Disturbance AdventureRed stiffens and then, to your surprise, he holds his hands close to his chest and starts hopping for the front door of the tavern. As the door slams shut behind his bouncing gait, the Toad King turns to eye you and you suppress the urge to gulp. What did you just get yourself into?

“Can you do that to everyone?” you ask.

“Only the person who claims me,” the King grins, “and since I’ve accepted your offer, that’s you.”

“What? I just offered crickets, not ownership.”

“You made a deal with me,” he responds, “ownership passes to whoever made the most recent deal. Now, crickets?”

***

As you leave the tavern with the Toad King sitting on your shoulder, you find the yard suspiciously quiet.

“No skeletons?” you ask.

“The curse on the lake is lifted.” The king shrugs as he crunches into his second cricket. “Can we explore somewhere that’s not Caspian?” he asks around the bug in his cheeks.

“Uh, sure, but I think my horse needs time to heal.” You point out the destruction to the stables and the worried neighing inside.

“Oh bother.” The Toad King waves his webbed feet. The rubble of the stables gives a jerk and, between one blink of your eyes and the next, they’re back to normal with a sleepy hush hanging over the predawn.

***

As you travel with the King, who’s name you find out is Martin, you find out there’s good and bad to having him around. He always wants chocolate crickets, so you start carrying ingredients to make them yourself. He likes small tricks and you end up wandering around thinking you’re a dog occasionally. On the upside, Opher never gets tired and every tavern you stay at suddenly gets the urge not to charge you. He’s also very good at eating mosquitoes, so you never have to worry about bug bites.

Everyone does ask about your ‘pet’ toad. You ‘jokingly’ ask them if they’d like to offer him a sweet. As of yet, however, no one’s topped chocolate covered crickets, so he resolutely rides around on your shoulder and, in general, just bothers you.

The End

Hurray! You survived this adventure and helped the town of Caspian. Good luck getting arid of the Toad King 😉

Blessings,

Jennifer

(If you liked this story and are interested in more adventures, you can find my book, The Adventure, on Amazon.)

Oasis Disturbance Option Bb: Help Calvin

T-Rex - Oasis Disturbance Adventure

Welcome to the Oasis Disturbance adventure!

We are in the third week of this adventure, so if you missed week one and two, here’s a quick recap:

Week One: You rode into the desert oasis town of Caspian and received a rather cool welcome from the inhabitants. Red, the tavern keeper, agreed to allow you to sleep in one of his rooms if you promised to stay inside all night. You agreed, but midway through the night there’s a deep roaring outside and the ground begins to shake. Readers voted to go outside to investigate. (If you would like to read the start to this adventure, click here.)

Week Two: When you left your room, Red found you at the bottom of the stairs. He drags you to the back door of the tavern and shows you the destruction of his stables, which he blames on you. When you try to check on Opher, your horse, Red refuses to check with you, so you leave the tavern alone. Before you even reach the stables, however, a walking skeleton dinosaur catches you and asks you to rescue the Toad King so all the skeletons can return to normal. He says this will help your horse too. Readers voted to help Calvin, the skeleton dinosaur. (If you’d like to read week two, click here.)

Now, let’s jump into the next part of this adventure =)

Oasis Disturbance Option Bb: Help Calvin

“How does un-damning the lake help my horse?” you ask Calvin.

He hops from one foot to the other with a toothy grin. “If horse is hurt in the moonlight, horse becomes like me. Then you end up with a thirsty, dusty skeleton horse. By un-damning the lake, your horse’s injuries remain normal and she’ll heal like any normal flesh and blood. See, easy peasy. It’s all connected.”

You shake your head and Calvin takes this as you disagreeing with him when, in reality, you’re just trying to understand everything.

“Please help. I promise it’ll help your horse. I promise, I promi—”

“Okay!” you say. “What has to be done?”

Toad - Set Up Adventure Story“I finally figured it out!” Calvin says. “He kidnapped the Toad King and now we’re suffering the curse. We need to return the King to the lake.”

“Who kidnapped the Toad King?”

Calvin points one long claw behind you at the back door of the tavern. When you turn to look, you see Red staring with such an expression of fear, anger, and defiance that you take a step back.

“Why don’t you retrieve the King?” you ask Calvin as Red spins away to disappear into the darkened interior of the tavern.

Calvin spits his disgust. How he does this when he has no tongue, you don’t know, but you’re pretty sure he hawks a loogie that kind of looks like a tumbleweed. It blows around in the dust of the tavern yard.

“Once a skeleton, all indoors are denied to you.” He reaches out a careful claw and touches the skin on the back of your hand. “Skin,” he says simply, and then grins his delight.

“I don’t get it,” you admit. “Why would Red want a Toad King?”

This time Calvin palms his face, making the bone of his hand scrap on his brow ridges. “Don’t you know anything?”

You don’t answer that. Why should you know anything about a Toad King, a curse, and walking skeletons?

“Sheesh,” Calvin exclaims. “Anyone who has the Toad King has his luck.”

“Doesn’t seem like good luck to me,” you comment with a gesture at the rubble of the stables.

Dinosaur - Oasis DisturbanceCalvin grins and waves a claw like a teacher would at a smart point made by a student. “There’s always a catch. The Horse’s Shoe is doing great and even the damage Rex did to the front of the tavern tonight will be gone by morning—that’s how I know Red’s the one holding the King—but now Red’s stuck with night terrors every night. While he holds the Toad King, he can’t be harmed by anyone, but as soon as he puts him back, people can take whatever retribution they want for this nightmare.” Calvin shrugs. “He’s in trouble either way.”

Considering there’s a T-rex wandering down the road and you’re talking to a tongue-less skeleton, you can’t really argue with Calvin’s logic.

“What am I looking for?”

***

Calvin’s description of a large toad in a jar can’t be that hard to miss, right? As you walk back into the tavern’s dark kitchen, you’re running over all the possible places the tavern keeper would keep just such a jar.

You needn’t have wasted your brain power, you realize, as you step into the tavern and find Red standing at the far end of the bar with a shotgun aimed your direction. He’s holding the pistol grip because he only has one hand free. Under his left arm is a large jar with a green and yellow, wart-covered toad inside.

“Stop there,” Red says. “I don’t want any trouble.”

“You’ve already got trouble,” you say without thinking and Red growls at you.

Besides his description of the toad, Calvin also gave you a couple suggestions on how to approach this situation. One, he thinks Red has an addiction to licorice candy because he pays exorbitant prices to have it shipped into town. The talking skeleton even came prepared and handed you a small package of the stuff. It’s sticking out of your right back pocket in case you need it. Calvin surmised you might be able to bargain for the Toad King because the skeletons have been destroying every shipment of licorice for the last month.

The other option presented was to appeal to the Toad King himself. Apparently the slimy creature isn’t without some power even when he’s being held in a jar. If he’s motivated enough, he might choose you as master over Red. Again, Calvin suggested sweets but this time he figured chocolate covered crickets might entice the Toad instead of licorice. A small packet of crickets is tucked into your left back pocket.

With the shotgun pointed at you, you don’t have a lot of time to debate your choices.

Do you…

Bb1. Offer Licorice to Red?

Or

Bb2. Offer Chocolate to the Toad King?

Thank you for stopping by this week. Leave your vote in the comments below and we’ll return next week to see how this adventure ends.

Blessings,

Jennifer

(If you liked this story and are interested in more adventures, you can find my book, The Adventure, on Amazon.)

Oasis Disturbance Option B: Go Outside

Welcome back for the second part in this adventure =)

If you missed last week, here’s a quick recap: You rode into the desert oasis town of Caspian and received a rather cool welcome from the inhabitants. Red, the tavern keeper, agreed to allow you to sleep in one of his rooms if you promised to stay inside all night. You agreed, but midway through the night there’s a deep roaring outside and the ground begins to shake. Readers voted to go outside to investigate. (If you would like to read the start to this adventure, click here.)

Now, let’s see what happens.

Oasis Disturbance Option B: Go Outside

The subtle shuddering in the floorboards continues, growing in strength until dust floats into the air from the surface and each dry board creaks against its neighbor. Red, the tavern keeper, may have asked you to stay in your room all night but you’ve a sinking premonition that your room might not last till dawn and it might be safer to move your body elsewhere.

Door knob - Oasis DisturbanceWith a firm grip on the doorknob, you turn it carefully and peek into the hallway beyond. Darkness greets you but it’s a sleepy kind of hush, not a creepy kind. Keeping your steps soft, you exit your closet room and make it three steps down the stairs before a grating, grinding crash shakes the walls. Even before the noise stops, you notice light coming from under the door of the room you just left. It’s silvery light, like someone opened a giant window…except there wasn’t a big window in that room to open. Maybe it’s time to get out of town, you decide, and take the last six steps down to the bar two at a time.

Before your feet finish thudding on the landing, someone’s got you by the arm.

“Should’ve told you to leave town!” Red shouts. He spins you toward the back door where you assume the kitchen sits.

“How do I have anything to do with this?” you shout right back, both from his rough handling and from your surprise.

By now, Red’s shoved you through the kitchen and toward the door outside. He lets go of your arm to swing the door open.

“Look at that!” He points through the door but does not step through it.

Beyond the door lies the backyard of the tavern and beyond that sits the stables. Or rather, what used to be the stables. A jumbled heap of timbers and thatch meets your gaze, and now that you know what you’re hearing, you realize some horses must have survived because their worried neighing carries through the tavern yard.

“Opher!” You run to search for her but Red grabs your arm again before you exit the door.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“My horse. Your stables. We’ve got to help them!”

He lets go like you burned him. “And go out there? You’re battier than a belfry.”

For a moment, you simply look into the big man’s dark eyes. Under the bravado, there’s a layer of fear so thick he’s almost drowning in it. No argument will make him leave the questionable safety of the tavern.

“Fine,” you say, and step out the door.

It’s a relatively clear night with only a few scattered clouds to hide the moon occasionally. You’re so focused on the stables that you don’t immediately see the creature running toward you waving its spindly arms. When you do catch sight of it, however, you freeze as your brain stumbles over an explanation.

Dinosaur - Oasis Disturbance“Look at you!” the creature crows. “All that lovely skin and hair and—and—and look at your eyes! You have eyes!”

This would be a very strange statement except the creature doesn’t have eyes—or skin—or hair. It’s just bones and now that it’s standing right in front of you, there’s no denying what’s talking at you.

A dinosaur, or at least it’s the talking bones of one. About the size of a thin, medium sized dog, the teeth and snout look like they could leave quite the wound in all your lovely skin.

But the dinosaur isn’t biting, or even really aggressive. Instead, it grasps your hands in its long claws and sighs,  “You’re perfect. Please help us.”

“Um,” you say.

“Oh right,” the dinosaur drops your hands and takes a step back. “They all say I’m a little much. Calm, Calvin, stay calm and explain.” This last bit seems to be said more to himself than to you.

“Someone stole the toad king,” Calvin says.

“What?”

“I know, right!? Who would do such a thing? But they did and now we need to un-damn the lake or we all stay dusty, thirsty skeletons. Help us?”

“My horse needs my help first.” You point toward the rubble of the stables as you try to edge around Calvin.

He grabs your arm and then flinches back. “Calm, Calvin, calm. Don’t scare the human,” he tells himself, then, “un-damning the lake will help everyone, horses included. What do you say?”

Do you…

Bb. Help Calvin?

Or

Bc. Find Opher?

Let me know in the comments which option gets your vote. Next Thursday we’ll return to see how this adventure continues.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Oasis Disturbance

Oasis Disturbance - Moon

Our last adventure had a rather chilly river involved. Let’s warm up in the desert for this next adventure =)

Oasis Disturbance

It’s dry as only a desert can be. Each breath creates a dull ache in the back of your sinuses like the flow of air is actively pulling moisture out of your body. Well, you admit, it is in fact doing just that.

Your goal is the small town of Caspian. As far as you know, it’s the only oasis in the otherwise flat, tan and white of the desert, and it’s the only waypoint in the middle of the Salt Desert.

“We’ll make it,” you tell Opher, your nag of a horse, as each of her steps trudges forward. As long as you can reach Caspian before the sun sets, you should be fine. You’re not prepared for another freezing night out on the salt sands, however. “We’ll make it,” you say again.

Opher doesn’t respond.

Oasis Disturbance - WaterNot more than an hour before the sun disappears below the horizon, you top the crest of what can barely be called a hill, and there sits the dumpy town of Caspian. Right in the middle of the sloped, dried looking shapes of the buildings sparkles the town’s claim to fame, the Caspian Lake, and the only true water for miles.

As though she can smell it, Opher picks up her pace toward the main street.

You pull her up short in front of the Horse’s Shoe, the only tavern in town. In previous visits, the people of Caspian haven’t been openly friendly, but neither were they openly hostile either. As you dismount now, an elderly woman wanders by and gives you such a hairy look that you check to make sure you’re not indecently dressed.

Perhaps she’d just having a rough day, you decide, and wander into the tavern. At this time of day, the main room’s full. Before you opened the doors, the general hubbub of the place carried out into the street, but as you enter and pause in the dark interior, all conversation stops.

The older lady was easy to shrug off but this is a clear sign something’s amiss. You meet the bartender’s stare and hold up your hands to show you mean no trouble.

“Meal and a glass of water?” you ask.

The bartender, a heavy shouldered man with such red hair it could be flame, grunts. “Sure,” he says and nods his chin to the only open stool at the bar.

As you slowly make your way to the spot, conversation picks up again although it stays more hushed than before.

When the flame haired bartender sets a plate of over cooked beef and a hard roll on the bar, you thank him and then ask, “trouble in town?”

“Something like that,” he says as he turns away.

Before he can get too far, you ask, “Any rooms open for the night?”

He eyes you for a long moment before nodding, “Sure. So long as you stay inside the whole night. Want no trouble.”

There’s more going on than one stranger rolling into town and creating possible trouble, but Red doesn’t seem interested in sharing.

“Deal,” you say. Staying inside shouldn’t be a problem. You’ve been traveling for several days and a solid night of sleep sounds good.

Red grunts and walks away.

***

A room turns out to mean a closet with a twin bed and a nightstand with a small bowl of water for washing up. Thankfully, there’s a tiny window to let in fresh air or the place would feel uncomfortably close.

You splash your face to remove some of the desert dust and then flop onto the bed for much needed sleep.

It’s perhaps an hour after midnight when a sound, a solid, deep chested roar like a lion’s but much deeper, wakes you from a dreamless, drool-inducing sleep. Your heart rate hits top speed, rushing blood through your ears and making you wonder if you only imagined the noise. As you listen, the whoosh, whoosh of blood screams in your head.

Then the roar comes again, accompanied by a subtle shudder to the earth. You sit up in bed and hesitate. There’s a faint light shining through your small window but between the haziness created by dust on the pane and the shifting clouds across the moon, you can’t actually see anything outside. You said you’d stay in the room, but nothing you know of makes a roar like that.

Do you…

A. Stay Put?

Or

B. Go Outside?

Leave your vote in the comments and we’ll return next Thursday to see what happens next in this adventure! Thank you for stopping by this week.

Blessings,

Jennifer

(If you liked this story and are interested in more adventures, you can find my book, The Adventure, on Amazon.)

Fort and Light Option Bb2: Search the Forest

Forest - Fort and Light Adventure

Welcome back. It’s time to see how the Fort and Light Adventure ends!

If you missed some of this story, here’s a quick recap: You were about to leave the old military fort you were exploring when you heard a voice inside. Upon checking it out, you found yourself not in an old fort but in a fully manned military operation. The voice you heard told you to get the lighthouse lit because there’s a boat sneaking past on the river. Readers voted to use the matches in your pocket to light the lighthouse. (If you’d like the read the beginning, click here.)

When you got the lighthouse lit up, the shooting started! The pirate ship and the fort exchanged a series of volleys until one of the pirate’s cannon balls hit your lighthouse and knocked you out. When you awoke, you found yourself captured by the pirates and waiting on the beach while they finish their breakfast to find out what they want to do with you. Readers voted to try and escape with your fellow captive by running for the river. (If you’d like to read this part in full, click here.)

You made it to the river and succeeded in escaping the pirates, but your fellow captive now wants to warn the town of the pirates headed their way. Readers voted to search for the old signal tower in hopes you can find it and get it lit. (If you’d like to read about your escape, click here.)

Now, let’s go search the forest.

Fort and LightBb2: Search the Forest

River - Fort and Light AdventureEven moving around to help the blood flow to your limbs, your shivering doesn’t subside for another half an hour.

“I’m thinking another soak in the river would be dangerous,” you tell your companion, who you’ve started to think of as Gray Beard.

He hums. “You’re probably right. It’s not a warm day.”

“Let’s aim for the Signal Tower,” you say.

Gray Beard simply nods. After another few minutes in the sunshine, you both head into the trees in unspoken accord. The long branches and dark trunks of the forest close around you in an almost claustrophobic fashion, like a living cave with moss acting as a heavy, green blanket.

“We’ll get lost unless we orient ourselves somehow,” Gray Beard says.

You both stop. You’ve done a certain amount of hiking and orienteering in your life, so after a few minutes of looking around, you think you’ve got it.

“Signal Tower’s that way,” you point in the general direction where, when you were at the river, you could see the land rising slightly from the rest of the landscape.

Gray Beard nods.

“The river should then always be to our right.” You point again but it’s the dull roar of the river that really speaks of its direction. “Which places the sun to our left and slightly behind us.” You point again but the forest obscures most of the direct light from the sun. “We’ll have to pause anytime we get a break in the canopy and make sure we’re still on course.”

Gray Beard gives a soft chuckle. “I like you,” he says. “I’m not sure anyone else at the fort could have figured that out so easily. Okay, so river to the right and sun to the back of our left shoulders. Perfect.”

Trees - Fort and Light AdventureYou head out again and before long, you’re both covered in a thin layer of sweat. Any chance you get, you pause to check the direction of the sun but the dull ache of hunger starts pinching your belly long before Gray Beard calls a halt. He groans as he lowers himself to sit on the large exposed root of a nearby tree.

“We should be close now,” he says with a look around that communicates his worry. Unlike before, he’s making no effort to hide his true feelings.

Somehow, that worry makes you want to be more positive to help keep his spirits up.

“We’ll find it,” you say. “There’s a small patch of sunlight over there. I’ll go take a quick look while you rest.”

He gives an appreciative smile as you head for the patch of sun.

The gesture was more to show encouragement than for anything else, but when you reach the small bit of light, you give a surprised, “Ha!” at what you find.

“Come here,” you call. “I’ve found something.”

When Gray Beard reaches the spot, you point out the slightly overgrown trail on the far side. What truly encourages you is the uphill slant to it and the cut logs on the sides that the moss hasn’t completely buried yet.

Gray Beard slaps your shoulder and you wince at the sharp pound. Your companion doesn’t notice in his excitement. He heads straight for the path.

In following it, you quickly rise up out of the forest to a cleared hill, and at the top sits a square wooden tower.

The ladder creaks when Gray Beard places his foot on the first rung, but it holds up with loud protests as he ascends. You say a quick prayer and follow him.

Matches - Fort and Light AdventureBy the time you crawl through the trap door, Gray Beard’s already got a heavy metal box open and is emptying its contents across the floor. An old rope, a shovel, two small lanterns, and a bedroll occupy the space. Next he pitches an empty burlap sack and then comes up with a triumphant, “ahha!” In his hand is a small wooden box that rattles like your small matchbox.

He hands it over. “Above us should be the signal platform.” He points to the flat ceiling. “Tinder and all that should be up there. Go for it.”

Maybe he assumes because you were the one to light the lighthouse at the fort that this is your job, but whatever the reason, you don’t protest. Instead, you pocket the box and climb the short ladder to the platform above.

From this high up, you notice the break in the trees and the rooftops of the town farther down the river. It seems peaceful but when you scan the river, your stomach sinks at the tall masts sliding along. It won’t be long before the pirates reach that calm, unaware town.

Turning to the waiting fire platform, you indeed find the kindling Gray Beard spoke of along with a stack of cut wood to add to the fire. A small, oiled canvas slants over the pile to keep it dry from any rain.

Just as with the lighthouse, this fire starts after a few tries but it smokes terribly from the moisture that’s slowly crept into it from the general atmosphere. Blowing gently, you coax it slowly to life until you’re sure the logs will light. A quick glance at the river tells you the pirates must be pushing their oarsmen because they’re moving at a steady clip.

“Hurry, my friend,” Gray Beard calls as though you can’t see the ship. From his vantage point below, he probably just noticed it.

FireFinally, the fire gives a whoosh, and the logs light with an acceleration only accomplished with gasoline. You fall back on your rump in your hurry to get out of the way. Whoever set up this platform must have soaked the logs. Time and moisture had hidden the smell from you.

Within seconds, an answering orange flame springs up from the town. Although the signal tower is decrepit, apparently the town still mans their watches. Good. They have time to prepare.

Gray Beard gives a whoop of excitement at your success.

It’s the last thing you hear as everything fades to black.

***

Something’s tapping metal on glass. You groan and open your lids to find the light of a flashlight hitting your eyes. In a moment of total disorientation, you look around to find yourself in the driver seat of your car. It’s dark outside except for the directed light in your face.

Rolling down the window, you see the hat and narrow face of the park ranger who closed the gate today…yesterday…a while ago.

“You can’t sleep in the parking lot,” the ranger says. “Go home.”

You just nod, still disoriented, but when you reach into your pock, you find the chatter of your keys at your fingertips.

***

It’s only later that you check the history books to see what they say about the fort and the signal tower. Although they don’t directly mention you, there is one report from Captain Murphey Montgomery about escaping pirates with one of the fort’s personnel. It’s a very military report, so he doesn’t exactly say the person disappeared immediately after the signal fire ignited, but the account does suspiciously ignore any more mention of said person. Captain Montgomery was awarded a medal for saving the town. When you find a picture of the Captain, you just smile. Well done, Gray Beard, well done.

The End

Well done! You survived and warned everyone of the pirates =)

Thank you for joining in with this adventure. We’ll return next week with a brand new adventure to explore!

Blessings,

Jennifer

(If you liked this story and are interested in more adventures, you can find my book, The Adventure, on Amazon.)

 

Fort and Light Option Bb: Escape

River - Fort and Light Adventure

Welcome back to the Fort and Light Adventure!

If you missed some of this story, here’s a quick recap: You were about to leave the old military fort you were exploring when you heard a voice inside. Upon checking it out, you found yourself not in an old fort but in a fully manned military operation. The voice you heard told you to get the lighthouse lit because there’s a boat sneaking past on the river. Readers voted to use the matches in your pocket to light the lighthouse. (If you’d like the read the beginning, click here.)

When you got the lighthouse lit up, the shooting started! The pirate ship and the fort exchanged a series of volleys until one of the pirate’s cannon balls hit your lighthouse and knocked you out. When you awoke, you found yourself captured by the pirates and waiting on the beach while they finish their breakfast to find out what they want to do with you. Readers voted to try and escape with your fellow captive by running for the river. (If you’d like to read this part in full, click here.)

Fort and Light Option Bb: Escape

Fort and Light Adventure - ShipOne of the dozen pirates stands up to scrub his breakfast bowl clean, and you know your time to decide on a course of action is running out.

“Let’s go,” you tell the gray bearded man beside you.

He grunts in approval, glances at the group of pirates, and then rolls to his feet to run for the river. Right behind him, you stumble when your numbed feet hit the ground. You hadn’t realized how long you’d been sitting in the same position and your legs are stiff. You pitch headfirst toward the riverbank and, at the last second, tuck your shoulder into a forward roll that brings you awkwardly back onto your feet. Pain radiates up your back and shoulders when the pressure of the ground touches those areas, but your momentum keeps you moving.

“Stop yerselves!”

You ignore the shout as your feet hit the water. Instantly the icy chill sends splinters of shock up your legs and then it steals the breath from your lungs when you dive into the current. With your hands still tied together, you struggle to swim. A hand grabs your arm and you almost lash out, thinking it’s a pirate, until you see the gray hair of your companion.

With deft fingers, he gets the rope off your wrists.

“Follow me,” he says. It might have been a shout but his voice is breathy like your own from the chill of the water.

A quick glance at the shore shows a rowboat of pirates putting into the water. Needing no more incentive, you flip over in the water with your head downstream and swim hard. The cold of the water blessedly numbs the pain in your back but it does nothing for the ache of trying to breathe. It’s not long before you’re gasping.

“Keep going,” your companion hollers.

River - Fort and Light AdventureYou focus solely on the brown of his wet jacket and just keep swimming. By the time he angles for the far shore, you’ve no idea how long you’ve been in the water. It’s with shuddering relief that you crawl onto the sharp stones and flop down to simply breathe. The smell of your wet clothing, a heavy odor of wool, reminds you that everything you left the house with that morning has recently changed. You were wearing jeans when you dressed for the day. Considering the wool still retains some of your body heat, you’re thankful for the change at the moment.

“Ha,” chuckles the bearded man, “hahahaha. Never thought we’d make it beyond the pirate’s boat.”

“Good thing you kept that to yourself,” you admit. “I might not have agreed if you’d shown doubt earlier.”

He grins and winks. “Question now is, how do we warn the town? We damaged some of the rigging with a cannon ball. The pirates might pause long enough to fix it but I doubt it since they know we’re free to warn people downriver. If we float the river again, we might be able to get there before the ship does but it’s a ways in the water. The only other option I can think of is to search for the old signal tower. It’s been out of use for awhile, so I’ve no idea if it’ll light, but if it does, the town and anyone else for miles will know there’s a threat coming.” He hums as though thinking through everything. “I’m not thrilled with either choice,” he admits.

“So let me understand this,” you say. “One way we’re getting back into the freezing river,” as you talk, your teeth chatter, “and the other way we’re hiking through unknown forest in search of a signal tower?”

“Yup. We know the tower’s uphill that-a-way,” he points, “but that’s about all the direction I know.”

Do you…

Bb1: Float the River?

Or

Bb2: Search the Forest?

Good job escaping the pirates! Leave your vote in for this next part in the comments below and we’ll return Thursday to see how this adventure ends.

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer

(If you liked this story and are interested in more adventures, you can find my book, The Adventure, on Amazon.)