(Author’s note: After a week of being sick (hence why no post last week), I am back to give more fictioneers. This is a reprise… or maybe a new season, of “Taking The Town”. The last entry of this was “Taking This Town (Again)” from MANY months ago. So I figured it’d be nice to revisit the idea…)
Taking The Town (… A Third Time?!)
by Miles H. Rost
Professor Ronald Scott did not know what hit him.
One minute he was walking down a side street around the Royal University of Sydney, after finishing the prep for student orientation;
The next, he was bouncing in a sea of co-eds into a very active bar.
His particular ring of people involved 20 or so, led by a vibrant blonde with a Melbournian accent.
“Girls! Devour anything you see!”
With Icehouse’s “Taking The Town” thumping through the bar, the good professor barely made it out of the bar alive. Torn clothing, lipstick kisses, the works.
(Author’s note: I took a month off of writing completely. Things have been a little bit busy with work and I was in a bit of a jam writing-wise. The jam is slowly removing itself, and I am starting to get back into the swing of it with a 3 work-day vacation this week, a “use-it-or-lose-it” thing. Today’s last item caps off a year that was, in a lot of ways, not the best year for a great number of folk. But, take it as you will. Here’s today’s last Fictioneers of 2022.)
by Miles H. Rost
Granddad opened the Nicosean Bakery along Latrobe Street in 1927, before all the other Greeks came to Melbourne.
Visitors, tourists, and famous people would come in at various times for traditional Baklava, piping hot finikia, or even traditional raised and filled donuts.
Dad took over in 1974, and the institution served to the Greek Orthodox community every year with its specialty breads.
2021 was to be the year I took over. But that disease came, and the officials who bought our baked goods shut us down. “Safety” they said.
Dad lost his life soon after. Without work, he was nothing.
(NOTE: This story is fictional. Treat it as such.)
Teddy stood, brushing the sand and dust off his clothes.
He lodged the large, uncut opal into the top of the headstone.
“Ay, da. I buried ya where the paper told me.”
Teddy’s father spent most of his life in the holes next to where he now laid. His fortune was in opals, a dangerous job with a great reward. The cancer treatments, though, depleted that fortune and left it all gone. By the time Teddy showed up, it was too late. He died.
“I’ll be back soon, da. I have to close this deal on oil with the Singaporeans.”
(Author’s note: Hidiho, neighbors! Currently training my replacement in anticipation of a new position coming up. In the meantime, doing my duty with putting a Fictioneers up. This one reuses music that I’ve used before, but I think it’s appropriate. Enjoy!)
The 20 students snuck in overnight, flying into Tullamarine Airport, looking like smiling tourists. They walked past immigration, past the taxis, onto the nearest train platform. They smiled as they got on, and in unison, looked out the window.
As the trains eventually pulled into the Southern Cross Yards, each of the students looked towards a blonde haired girl with Chinese features.
“We have been selected for a great future. We are the future of Australia’s education.”
The train slowed to a stop.
“Time to take this town, girls!”
They rushed out the doors, onto unsuspecting businessmen and college registrars.
(Author’s note: Things have been quite busy this week. Bad experiences abounded, but good things are to come. Week 6 of uni has almost come to a close, and there’s another 7-8 weeks left to go. But, some big stories will be done soon, as I will need time to just sit and write and detox from writing essays. You all may be recipients of the work. Anyhow, here’s today’s Friday Fictioneers, with a bit of Australian flair involved.)
“What’s the number on this one?” Senior Constable Alistair MacKaye asked.
“Looks like this is the fifth one,” his partner, Constable Jacklyn Brandt replied.
“And I’ve been called out here six times in the past month.”
“I don’t understand, is there something about this place?”
Alistair just gazed at his young charge.
“Jackie, do you know anything about icehouses?”
“Nah. Never heard of them back in the bush.”
“It’s a nuthouse. They like the walls. Sometimes they climb them.”
“Some of them fall off.”
“Isn’t that a travesty?”
“Eh, I don’t mind the walls. They keep us safe.”
The Witch of Winter. Snow fairy. The Winter Wife. Yuki-Onna.
She was called many different names from the time of her youth, referred to in legends. She was one of many, but not as many as others. She wasn’t a monster,though, like what many people thought.
Her skin was a beautiful alabaster, her hair nearly crystalline in appearance. Out of the sun, it looked a beautiful strawberry blonde color. She was dressed in a shorter yukata that came down to the knees, colored white, with broad and wide sleeves, along with a salmon-colored sash across her waist. To the uninitiated eye, she would have been described as a young, teenaged beauty.
However, to quote Bob Dylan, “The times they are a-changin’.” With the internet, more people found out and knew about the legend of the Yuki-Onna. As a result, more people were scared, or were fascinated but didn’t do anything about it as human instinct is to avoid things that mean death.
She remembered hearing about the stories from her mother. While there were many who took to the traditional way of freezing their mates to death, and joining them in whatever afterlife there was, she wasn’t one who would do that. She was different, and to her kind, an outcast. She wanted what the humans had.
She sat on a cliff, overlooking a lake that was thawing. She sighed as she kept thinking about her love, whoever he was. She looked at the melting snow, a sign of the springtime that was to come and the summer that would be tough. She thought about leaving her native land, going to a new land where she may be more accepted. She heard about the Australian snow fairies, who make their homes in the highlands of the east coast; and even the Rocky Mountain Yuki-Onna, the rare and yet most striking of the snow fairies in the mountains of America and Canada.
She didn’t have the income to move, however. Because of this realization, she slid further into her reflections. She sighed as a slight chilly air flowed from her mouth into the air.
She heard a slight crunching behind her, and she immediately shifted around to see who was coming. She waited, patiently, hearing the slow movement of rock and the groaning of someone who sounded quite masculine. Waiting patiently, she sat placidly as the form of the newcomer came into view.
The man was brown-haired, young, and a slight bit overweight. He didn’t look unhealthy, but he could easily shed a few pounds if he so chose. He reached the overlook where she was and sat down.
“Hello there, love. Looks like…WHOA-!”
He looked over the lake, the beauty of it all flowing into his eyes and piercing his brain. The deep blue of the lake, contrasted with the grayish white of the melting sheets of ice, and the deep, dark green evergreen trees that blanketed the landscape. The sun shone in rays and peaks from around the needles of the trees, creating a near-kaleidoscope effect to a person’s eye.
In the young man’s eyes, this was intense beauty. He smiled broadly, as he pulled out his expensive camera and started taking shots. The young beauty sitting close to his feet was in awe at how engrossed he was in the scenery, many thoughts and questions running through her mind.
“You…like nature?” she asked him.
He looked down and grinned.
“Absolutely! I have never seen or experienced such beauty since I look out from Cape Blanco in Oregon, in the USA. This is the essence of Japan, and I now have a piece of it for my memories. Now, since I’m done gushing over nature’s beauty, how about you?”
She looked down, demurely, trying to hide the embarrassment of having this foreigner’s attention on her.
“The name’s Tom. Tom Bishop. Cairns, Australia.”
Her eyes lit up and she smiled, broadly.
“Australia?! Is Cairns anywhere close to snow?”
Tom looked at the young lady and smiled.
“Nah. Snow is farther south. Down in the hills around by Melbourne and Canberra. Cairns is tropical. Which is okay, because I don’t really like tropical places. What’s your name?”
The young yuki-onna bit her lip as she looked at him.
“My name would translate to Yukiri in this language. It’s hard to pronounce my actual name in your language.”
“Well, Yukiri, I am very glad to meet you. It’s not everyday you see someone who is beautiful surrounded by beautiful nature.”
She sighed, and a wan smile towards the compliment.
“If you know more about me, you may not think I’m so beautiful. Many times, people even think I’m a real monster.”
Tom looked at her, squinted for a few seconds, and gave a little chuckle.
“Everyone has a little bit of monster inside. The most pious of people have that, or there wouldn’t be something called “the human condition”,” he said, while looking out at the placid lake, “There are men and women out there who appear to be normal, but who are murderers and thieves deep down. They show kindness to the world and hatred reigns in their hearts. If you think you are a monster, then obviously you haven’t seen how some humans can be.”
Yukiri looked at him with wide eyes, not realizing that for even a moment that someone would state that some humans are worse than her. She quietly looked out at the lake, serenity perceived, and a tear started to fall down her face.
“Tom, what if someone told you that they were a real monster. Like a monster from legend, or someone who was unbelievably different that it would make you question everything you know?”
Tom looked down at her, and gave her a sideways smile. He crouched down and his smile broadened.
“Everyday, I question what I know. It’s not because I think God’s wrong, or that I’m wrong, but it helps me to realize that there are things I can’t explain out there. If you told me you were a real legendary monster, it’s likely I wouldn’t believe it. But, after a while, when I think about it and pray over the idea, I might change my mind.”
He sat down, dangling his legs over the edge of the cliff, and he reached over to touch her shoulder. Yukiri started to pull away, but then relaxed as the warm hand lightly gripped her shoulder.
“God has shown me many things in my life. He’s shown me the greatest highs and the greatest lows. He has shown me beauty unimaginable in nature, and he has shown me true ugliness. If you’re asking me whether real life monsters exist, then I could say yes. But again, the question we should be asking is, ‘What is the true definition of a monster?'”
Yukiri eyes started to tear up heavily as Tom continued to speak to her.
“Yukiri, beauty and monstrosity are in the eye of the beholder. I know of women back in Oz that are beautiful as can be in their looks, but their personality is absolutely horrific to the point of revolting. I also know of women who are not 10s in their looks, but have some of the warmest and most beautiful hearts imaginable. When you find a balance, that’s where perfection comes in.”
She launched herself at Tom and buried her head in his shoulder, cold tears soaking into the microfiber jacket that he wore. He looked down at her, and he didn’t know what to do.
Do I hug her? Do I ask her what’s wrong? What’s…does she really think she’s a monster?
After a minute of sobbing, the icy tears soaking through Tom’s jacket, she pulled away slowly and sniffled.
“You made me feel…like a human, Tom.”
Tom put up his hands and laughed nervously.
“Hey hey…I’m no saint here. I’m guilty of being a monster myself at times.”
Yukiri smiled at him as he attempted to deflect the compliment with self-deprecation. She put a finger on his lips and smiled.
“What I mean is this, that your words make me think that there is hope for someone like me.”
“What do you mean?”
She looked him in the eye, and took a deep breath.
“Well, what I’m going to say may be hard to believe. You’re talking to a real live legendary monster.”
Tom cocked his head to the side and raised an eyebrows, as if he was saying, “Go on…”
She stood and revealed her true face, which was a little bit wider, with what looked to be sharp saw-like teeth. She raised her hands, which were now a deep ice blue, the fingers looking like sharp, razor claws.
“My family are snow fairies. We are Yuki-Onna. In legend, we are accused of leading men to their death.”
Tom’s eyes widened, but as Yukiri looked into his eyes, she didn’t see fear. She saw what she only could describe as amazement.
Tom blinked, and reached for her icy claws. She started to recoil from the touch, as if to cry out “Don’t touch me!”, but he was quick enough to put his hand into her claw.
“Your hands are ice cold. It’s like dipping my hand in a blast freezer. But…I can still feel a bit of your skin. It’s like grooved ice.”
Yukiri smiled, showing the razor teeth in her mouth. She wasn’t showing malice at all, and she felt like Tom was receiving that message in his mind.
“Yukiri, I want to know more. You’re a new being that I never knew existed, but a testament to the greatness of the God I serve.”
She morphed back to her human form and smiled, knowing that this was something she hoped for.
“I’d like to know more about you, Tom. And the God you talk so highly about…”
The Lady In White (Part 2) (aka Close Enough) by Miles Rost
She invaded my mind again. The sight of the Lady in White upon my mind has been a relief, and a worry yet still. It’s been months since the last time she visited me.
In my mind, we were on a boardwalk, a cement waterfront “street” if you will, in Melbourne. I was walking toward her, and she walked toward me. As we drew closer, it was like a camera got closer to us both. After a few close-ups, our hands finally met. She immediately moved over to my shoulder and laid her head down. She felt so warm and looked so lovely, even if I couldn’t see her face.
For a time, we just stood there, my lady in white trying to get in as close to me as possible, and myself wanting to hold her tighter than ever. She leaned up towards me, her skin slightly glowing in the muted sunlight, and gave me a kiss. A gentle, but long kiss. I remember the sensation, like two lightning bolts jolting through my body and a warmth on my lips that permeated all throughout the upper part of my being. It felt like we were floating on air, traveling through the air like a hot air balloon. As we released, we looked back out at the bay…and found ourselves on the steps of the Opera House in Sydney.
I looked down at her and saw the incredible amount of love that permeated from her. It was a beautiful sight of sparkles, flowing pure light from her entire being. It flowed from every pore, every fiber of hair, and washed over me. It wasn’t lust, the red wave of passion that many men and women envision when they think of their chosen other. It was a love that was pure, that forgives everything and heals. The type of love that God has for all of us. She had that, and it poured like transparent sparkly white ribbons over my being. She looked into my face, my eyes, and she gave me a smile that said “I don’t care what you’ve been through, you’re with me. Let it go.”
She turned around and held onto my shoulders as I put my head down on hers, able to relax and feel so much love flow between us. We just looked out at Sydney Harbour, seeing the calmness of the bay. The sun was fully open, and the white dress she wore glowed like snow on a mountain. It was nearly blinding for most people, but for me, it added a glow that was almost angelic. The wind was light, and it flapped the cloth of her dress like a flag. It felt like this was where I needed to be, where I wanted to be forever, and to never go away again.
A gust of wind picked us up and, unlike before in Melbourne, it whisked us off quickly. Like a kite, we flew through the air in a quick way. It felt still, however, as we traveled to wherever this wind was taking us. As quickly as it happened, we landed on a flat Australian beach somewhere, an overcast sky making things a little colder.
She looked back up at me, and put her soft, gentle hands to my face. The soft skin lightly brushed the growing scrub of hair on my chin, and the warmth of them felt like a glowing incandescent light bulb. I felt a tear start to fall from my eye, and I suddenly collapsed to me knees. She fell with me, as I felt the warm tears flow from my eyes onto her shoulder. All the tears of pain, anguish, hurt, released from my eyes, from my being onto her skin. I knew she was strong enough, but this was remarkable that she was able to take all of this pain and anguish, and simply wick it away like oil into a towel. I felt the blackness, the greys of my emotional heart, slowly being pulled from my self.
She pushed me back slightly, and looked into my eyes. Her eyes, of which color I could not remember, communicated unconditional love. Believe in Christ’s love in me, my beloved, they seemed to say, as she comforted me. All that went through my mind at that moment was who this woman was, and how God could make her to be so strong and so forgiving. So loving, that she would be willing to take that pain and shame I had and totally remove it, and still gaze into my eyes and say things without words.
She moved to me again, and pressed her soft lips onto mine. As I realized I was slowly starting to wake, I remember feeling that softness of her lips still pressed upon mine.
I don’t know who she is. I can’t see her face, I only know that she’s the lady in white. What I do know, though, is that she is a woman of unimaginable grace and beauty, of true godliness and forgiveness. I pray that I can meet her. Soon.