Battle For The Net

 

If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do? Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10thEveryone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/96020972118/be-a-part-of-the-great-internet-slowdown Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!

via Battle For The Net.

Signing off for a while.

Hello everyone,

I’m sure you have noticed that we’ve been MIA for the last week or so. I regret to inform you all that Short Story Salad will be shutting down for a while. We cannot say when we will resume our story telling, I apologize. Everyone is well, but different commitments in life have pulled us away. We will try to post up the last of our stories soon.

Though this site has only been up since Fall 2013, we were writing on our other websites since the summer of that year.We thank you all for your interest and for coming with us this past year of storytelling.

Take care,

bernicons

Guest Writer 1

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So we promised guest writers and we have started! Welcome Imani! Our first guest writer!

Here’s a brief write up from our special guest:

Mostly Imani just thinks she’s awesome. She has a mostly boring life however that says otherwise but everyone’s got to have dreams. Imani in turn has a cat, a five year plan, student loans out the wazoo and a fondness for 2nd person fiction. She can be found here on twitter (displaying her not so hidden love of Calvin & Hobbes or here at the blog she never updates because her life really isn’t as awesome as she likes to tell people it is.

Thanks for joining us this week, Imani!

The Hill, Part 3

bernicons8:49 pm

“Stop! W-what are you doing?” Jasmine’s voice shuttered.

One of the women snipped away at Mausmi’s hair. “We need this, for the Mistress.”

“What Mistress?!” Thunder rang outside. Another woman slapped Jasmine across the face.

“The Mistress compels us, we must do as she bids.”

“We must do as she bids,” echoed the hollow voices of the other women in the cave. From Jasmine’s count, there were four of them, each with their own hound at their side. At the far end of the cave there was an altar of some sort, a menagerie of blue and purple candles lead up to the space, with more and more candles huddled around the main table. When Jasmine had become too restless, they pulled her away from Mausmi and turned her away from the altar. They said she was no worthy.

“We have your vessel, Mistress!” sang the first woman, “Your faithful have provided!” Jasmine could not see what the women were doing with Mausmi’s hair at the altar. They were working with fire and a perfumed smoke. Another poured oil about the altar. None of them were looking at Jasmine.

Which she used to her advantage. She was sore and there were certainly bruises crawling up her arms, but still, Jasmine reached for a single purple almost beyond the reach of her bound wrists. Jasmine’s eyes darted back and forth from the candle and the altar she could barely glance at in the corner of her eye. The perfumed smoke masked the smell of burning rope and the chanting women covered her grunts of exertion.

“Mistress! Fill this empty cup! Be released from your heavenly prison on this night! Walk among us once more!”

Mausmi jerked up and cried out toward the ceiling. The four women held hands and kept themselves from focused on altar, singing their horrid song. Mausmi’s head went limp on her shoulder.

The bounds were burned through, and Jasmine kicked her legs free. “Hey bitches!” She shouted. She swiped the candle and threw it at the altar where the fire consumed them.

 

9:23pm

Mausmi’s body stopped in mid air, inches from the unforgiving bark of the tree and hovered here, engulfed in a pale blue glow.

“B-baby?” whispered Jasmine.

Mausmi’s eyes flew open, glowing in the same blue glow that surrounded her. Her body sung itself upright and she flexed her hands, inspecting them closely. “Yes,” said Mausmi in a voice that was not her own. “This will do.

Jasmine squirmed in the mud but then cried out as the pain jolted up her leg from her ankle. This caught the attention of the glowing Mausmi. She stepped forward, but her feet never touched the ground, her head tilted slightly as she studied Jasmine with a quisitive brow. “You are not one of the faithful.”

“The faithful!?” spat Jasmine, “I hope they all burned alive in that hell-hole!”

The glowing Mausmi looked up, seeing the smoke from the cave. “They are all but dead. Pity.”

Jasmine could hardly keep up with her breath. “I’m glad! Go with them for all I care! Just give me back my Mausmi!”

A glowing hand reached out and grasped Jasmine’s throat. Keeping up with her own breath wasn’t the problem now, having breath was. She was lifted from the earth, the glowing Mausmi’s hand gripping tighter and tighter the higher she was. Tears ran down Jasmine’s hot cheeks, but she could not struggle, she hurt too much to try.

Then the grip loosened and Jasmine was lowered, gently to the ground. Jasmine was confused, searching for an answer in the glowing eyes. “This body does not wish you dead. Curious.”

“Mausmi?”

The Hill, Part 2

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5:36pm

The woman just stared back at Jasmine, not as if her gaze were looking through her but as if her eyes were looking around her. As if whatever Jasmine meant to the woman was something not even worthy of her sight or her notice, though notice she did. Her lips didn’t move though and for a moment Jasmine began to think maybe she hadn’t heard. She did look to be older; perhaps she was deaf or suffering dementia.

“I said, hey there, friend.”

The woman blinked then, and that was all. Staring back at her the younger woman kept expecting to see some sort of acknowledgment or response but instead there was only the soft dull gaze of the woman’s eyes. Watching her face she saw that the woman was indeed old, grotesquely so, and that her eyes, while numb, were of a milky soft blue color. Her eyes, sunken down in her gaunt cheeks, were hard to look away from but when Jasmine managed to she saw that the woman was gaunt in other ways as well. Her old clothes hung off of her in awkward places and she wondered that woman might be dying. She seemed to stand on her own though.

“Excuse me, my name is Jasmine and this is Mausmi. We’re visiting from the city.”

Jasmine nervously spoke again to the woman, trying to find in her eyes some sort of connection. She could feel Mausmi stir next to her and could somehow sense the fear in her and the goose bumps rising underneath the hand her arm. Mausmi stayed silent though and looking toward her Jasmine saw that her eyes were not on the woman but behind her. In the distance was another woman, also with a hound at her side. A gray, old hound, panting and watching with the same numb eyes as the woman nearer to them.

But no, the dog’s eyes were not numb, and on looking at the nearer hound it’s eyes were neither clouded nor dull. The were wide and full of intelligence, scanning over both their bodies, the hound’s eyebrows jumping at each sniff and pant. It was almost as if the dog were leading the woman and not the other way round.

“I’m sorry, I hope this isn’t your property. We just saw the hill and. . .

Jasmine looked away from those black dog eyes and trailed off though as she felt Mausmi tugging at her arm and heard the soft whimper that escaped her lover’s lips. Looking down at her she saw wide eyes and quivering lips and following Mausmi’s gaze over her shoulder she saw that behind them was another woman, old and gaunt, and leading a big gray hound like the ones before them.

As Mausmi’s finger raised to point in a new direction she saw too that there were more. Many more.

7:08pm

The rough texture of the pine straw beneath her came as a shock when Jasmine woke up and sitting upright quickly she clutched her forehead at the pain which suddenly came. Pulling her hand away she could see that there were dried flakes of blood and a long streak of wet on her fingers. She could feel the matted curly hair on her right temple and started to remember things about the past few hours. Little things at first as she clutched both hands to her face and covered her eyes, keeping them closed as tightly as she could manage.

“Mausmi!”

Pulling her hands away and looking around quickly it occurred to her how little light there was in this small space. Wondering how long she might’ve been out she grasped around through the straw and found little slivers of strange hard things before finally letting her eyes adjust to the dim light and seeing the small, huddled shape of Mausmi in the corner.

Rushing there, she pulled her onto her back and looked at her face to see no visible wounds or markings and began to shake her gently, whispering her name as feverishly as she could.

“Mausmi baby, please wake up. Please.”

After a few moments Jasmine put her head down on her lover’s chest and felt the gentle rise and fall of her lungs. Soon tears left streaks down the grime on her face as well as blood.

Finally though, looking up from the girl in desperation though, she noticed the room they were in, if one could call it a room. Possibly eight feet on a side, she couldn’t see any discernible doors but there was the dry straw beneath them and the strange little hard chunks she finding throughout it. A persistent thought in the back of her mind kept her from examining any too closely though, and so she looked again to Mausmi’s gently rising chest and her softly quivering lips.

In the distance the rain began to fall and the walls of their box shook with the roar of thunder.

TJ’s Hiatus

 

Hello all,

 

When Bern and I started this exercise nearly a year ago, the purpose was to get our writer’s blood pumping and to turn us into well oiled creative machines. I’m proud to say that I think it kind of sort of worked. I have a lot of projects that I want to work on and a limited amount of time and energy, and despite the fact that SSS is designed to only take up three hours a week, I’m sure my blog mates would agree takes a bit more.

So, with that said, I will be taking a hiatus from SSS to work on some personal projects. I’m sure I’ll be back, if not as a regular then as a guest, but in the meantime, continue to enjoy the wonderful tales of Bern, Kelly, and Rabo.

 

Later,

TJ

tjicon

How the Years Go By, Part 1

kellyiconThey said Madame Beauchene was as old as Lake Pontchartrain itself, and that the first people who wandered into Louisiana to found New Orleans found her on her hill, just as she always has and still does today. She lived on a grassy little hill overlooking the road that ran next to the shore, her shabby old two-story house keeping a watchful eye on all those rushing to get to the city and those rushing to get out of it. Everyone knew her and called her “Madame B,” just as their parents and grandparents and probably even their parents did. Try as they might, no one could remember when the house was built or if she had any family living with her long ago, and while nobody thought she’d be angry if anyone asked her, everyone’s will to pry dissolved when confronted with that kind, thin smile she was so well-known for. You’d stumble around for words for a few seconds before giving up and taking a beignet, always fresh right out of the oven, and in the end nobody pried too deep.

I knocked on her door, the afternoon air muggy and oppressive and the mosquitos already coming out in force. I slapped at a duo that had landed on my arm as the screen door creaked open to reveal Madame B, a smile on her face and her long sleeves rolled up and tied around her elbows.

“Lakeisha, how are you?” she said.

“Just fine. Good to see you, Madame B,” I said, returning her bear hug.

She ushered me into the house, chatting away about all her recent visitors, her French accent as thick and rich as caramel. Madame B’s house was never what you expected. Outside, the paint was peeling and the weeds overgrown, but stepping inside was like stepping into a museum. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if Madame B actually lived here or just used the house to store her collection. The walls and floors were just bare wood, no paint or carpets, and you had to wear slippers or risk turning your toes into a pin cushion made of splinters, but strewn about the floor were treasures like you couldn’t imagine. Old fashion and literary magazines, from Harper’s to Life to turn-of-the-century French literary magazines, were stacked in every corner and along every wall; pictures frames, large and small, wrapped up in brown paper, and stacked in sets of five and six, were strewn about the living room floor. Upstairs a whole room was filled with nothing but old leather chests overflowing dresses and suits from every conceivable decade after 1800. It was a favorite pass time of the neighborhood girls to come round Madame B’s and run their hands over the fine lace and silk. Madame B even lent a few of the dresses and suits for weddings, but always insisted they be returned to her in the same condition she lent them out, and so everyone handled them like they were made out of tissue paper instead of fabric. A china closest was filled with ivory sculptures and fine dishes, though when asked where she got them, Madame B always waved her hand in front of her face as if to bat away an unpleasant smell and said she “found them at some yard sale years back.”

I always loved coming to Madame B’s house. I’d sit among the stacks of magazines and delight in the gaudy beads and short dresses of the ’20s and the pinched waists of the ’50s and all the dapper men in their suits and hats. Mother would sit at the plain, wooden table with Madame B and shoot the breeze about gossip and births and who married who, or Madame B would tell us a story about her youth in Frace. All the while a jazzy song blaring out of the beat-up, old record player. Her house was full of things I could never see or dream of in a small Louisiana town. So when she had asked me to help her organize her things over my first summer home from college, it took me less than an hour to collect up my notebooks and run up the steps to her porch.

“Now, love, I thought we’d start with upstairs, yes?” We were sitting at the table, our plates scraped clean of a lunch made of seafood and bread. “It is just clothes and pictures up there. Easy to organize. We just have to take note of what’s in what chest.”

“I’d love to. Do you have many pictures of France?”

Madame B smiled, crinkling the crow’s feet around her dark eyes.

“So many, I think you will be sick of looking at them by the end of the day.”

“I doubt it. I’ve been wanting to look at those picture books since I was six.”

“Then why don’t you get started? I’ll clean here.”

It didn’t take long to find her pictures. They, like everything, were piled in a mound in a corner in one of the bedrooms. It looked like at one time someone had sorted them neatly, only for them to topple over and spill out all over the floor. There was a magnificent four-poster bed decked in soft lavender and silver sheets in the room. I carried over an armful of binders, dumped them onto the bed, and crawled onto the soft comforter.

I’ll always remember the moment I discovered Madame B’s secret. The first picture in the first binder was of Madame B. A little younger perhaps, with a few less lines and no gray in her hair, but clearly it was her, even through the photo was crinkled and yellow with age. She sat on a stool, dressed in a high-collar Victorian dress, her hands folded neatly on her lap and bland smile on her face. Next to her stood a man, dark and handsome, his hand on her shoulder and a look of pride beaming from his face. I slipped the photo out of the plastic and flipped it over. The back read, in French:

Adele Beauchene, b. 1826, m. 1845. May God shine his grace on you and bless you with many happy years. Love, Mama.

Pineapples, Am I Right? (Part 1)

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“Hey, Mr. Piddles.”

Elizabeth closed the door behind her locking both deadbolts without thinking, the second and larger one closing with a solid “thunk” accompanied by the sound of Mr. Piddles yowling.

“I know you’re hungry little guy, it’ll just be a second, okay?”

Meoooooooowrr.”

“Ah!”

Tangled between her feet for the briefest of moments the big tabby dodged down the hallway oblivious to its owners near demise. Stumbling, she grabbed the old railing along the hallway wall and steadied herself, grateful that the cat hadn’t caused her yet another bruise.

“I swear Mr. Piddles, if I fed you as much as you’d like I would just have to clean up more of your little vomits.”

Hanging her keys on the holder by the door though she could hear the cat’s scratching at the bin where she kept the food, his yowls echoing down the hallway from the kitchen. She put her big purse, the one that always felt self-concious about looking as much like it did like an old ladies, on the little table like she always did and walked there, her first stop the big plastic bin she kept the Friskies in. Mr. Piddles had a habit of chewing through nearly anything which lacked at least a quarter inch of plastic.

The tinkling of the food in the little porcelain dish sent him into a frenzy of course, his head bobbing around and trying its best to block the food from falling.

“Always hungry, huh Mr. Piddles. You silly little poody pood.”

Crunch, crunch.”

The top priority taken care of and Mr. Piddles silent but for the sound of his chewing, Elizabeth Spiller slipped her shoes off beside the stove as she did every day and walked on to the bedroom right off the “kitchen.” Honestly, the kitchen, dining room, and living room were all just one room attached to the bedroom and a tiny bathroom but she liked to differenciate them in her head. It made it easier thinking each corner of the studio were separate. Like she had more of a real house and not such a tiny apartment.

It made it easier for her to accept the fact that she was living in such a place even at thirty two. Living in a tiny apartment and still working at the bookstore for so many years. She wouldn’t let herself count how many. Not today. The last time she’d counted the years she’d had one to many glasses of wine and she’d had to be escorted from the party by a nice young gentlemen without the best of intentions.

“It’s not such a bad life though; I like all this space to myself.” She paused, staring off at the window who’s curtains were always drawn. “Though I really should stop talking to myself so much.”

Her shoes there in the little place reserved for them by the stove, her purse by the door, her button down blouse pulled from her shoulders and laid gently in the dirty laundry basket, never more than half full. Her slacks next to them soon and her pajamas pulled from the top cubby of her dresser and soon pulled over her soft pale legs. These were all things as they should be and comforting. The plaid of her cotton sleeping clothes warm against her as she walked towards the stove again and saw the clock above it glowing its gentle green 07:16.

Slurp. Meeeeooorrrw.”

“Oh Piddles, you’re so silly”

Opening the compartment at the bottom of the stove to pull out the little frying pan she petted the cat, scratching him behind the ears.

“Not that you would care, you silly pood, but tonight the menu calls for pineapple curry. Mindy at work said it was quite good mixed in with the sauce and so I thought I’d try it.” Scratching him again behind the ears as he tried his best to push the pan out of her hand with his head she went on, “I thought I’d take a walk on the wild side. Scandal, right?”

Chuckling, she put the pan to the eye as she turned it on and began to assemble the onions and tofu from the fridge before pulling the can of diced pineapple from the pantry. Of course the sound of the can opener would send Piddles into a frenzy but that couldn’t be helped. Fighting him away she opened the can, drained it and sat it down on the other side of the stove before turning to the vegetables on the cutting board.

“Silly cat. I promise it’s not tuna.”

Of course the onions make her cry though, so she went to grab a preemptive tissue before cutting them only to find the cat’s head buried in the big can of pineapple chunks, his whiskers sticking out around the edge.

“Piddles! What are you doing?”

Slapping him on the back of the head as she shouted at him, he pulled his head up and licked his little lips as if he’d just had the finest, freshest tuna.

What? You weren’t eating it.”

“That doesn’t matter Mr. Piddles! You can’t even digest that stuff, you silly cat!”

Who are you calling silly? I’m just hungry.”

“Wait. . .”

Freezing, Elizabeth looked at the cat and his lips moving as if in speech, the words traveling as surely through the air towards her as hers had traveled towards him. His tongue still flicking over his lips and licking his chops.

Pineapples, am I right?”

Summer Announcements

“What the heck?”

Was pretty much our reaction when we started getting followers. Now we have 127 (wow that’s a lot of people) which is pretty much super cool.

You guys are super cool.

SO cool in fact we want to show you how much we appreciate you by bringing you into the fold. Please vote on the poll below and decide what genre we will write for you NEXT WEEK (the week of the 27th).

Rabo returns!

That's right, Rabo is back! We're pretty excited.

That’s right, Rabo is back! We’re pretty excited.

Guest writers!

Soon we will be featuring some of our friends as Guest Writers as an occasional, special treat for you and for us.

Coming soon!

Coming soon!

In conclusion…

We are all very excited for new writers, old writers and what we will be writing in the coming weeks. Thank you all so much for being a part of this.

ussig