The False Oasis


I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Oasis


The Desert Constellation. Photo and digital art render by Ford.

The False Oasis

Our city is an oasis in the middle of the desert. You can see it from the dunes – all glittering at night like strewn about jewels tossed from the fists of princes and warlords in the midst of temper tantrums as wild as the wind.

Our dear oasis city in the middle of the desert, liberated from tempestuous sands and scorching heat, the freezing nights, the quicksand, the snakes, the scorpions, and the promise that the sun will strip you of your meat and bleach your bones if you dare to wander from our city home for too long and too far and too wide.

We fine men of our city, we finish our work for the day and catch buses back to our air conditioned homes, to obedient wives and sons and daughters who will follow without question our oasis city traditions. See how full our bellies are, as we recline in plush furniture stuffed with the bills agreed upon by Western handshakes, oil and weapons and luxury apartments in London – ha! see, children, see, another oasis city, yet surrounded not by desert, surrounded by sea!

Now shush, children, shush, the news is about to begin; it’s a very important statement from our esteemed chancellor, once more promising us the earth from an oasis city, and in a tongue still wet from dinner taken in his ivory tower.

***

The Desert Constellation (2) Photo and digital art render by Ford.


Words and photo art by Ford Waight.

If you’re going to fight, do it outside

Street Fighter II. Game Boy. 1995. US.

TVTA is pleased to present a selection of gaming ads from 1995 to 2005 … featuring fighting and battle games from Nintendo Game Boy, Super Nes, PlayStation, X Box, Tiger Electronics, and more.

Grrrrrr!

Remember: if it hurts, you’re still alive. No pain, no game!

WrestleMania: The Arcade Game. 1996. US.

WW Day of Reckoning II. 2005. US.

WWF War Zone. 1998. US.

ChequeMate C-3D Imaging System. 1997. US.

Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects. 2005. US.

Superman. Game Boy. 1998. US.

DC CD ROM Comic Books. 1996. US.


As always, thanks for looking 😎

SSS: a micro story and poem

I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word.

This week’s cue word is Clip. Last week’s was Tender. I missed last week’s due to work, so this is my double bill feature to catch up 😊


 

The Haunting of the Clipper

She was going at a fair clip across the lurching tapestry of the Atlantic Ocean, England to America, blue agate skies and lemony sun, seabirds orbiting the old ship as it sailed westward.

Mary leaned on the rails and gazed at the vast and moving plain, her thoughts turning to the dreams of joining her husband Richard at his plantation; did she love him? Yes, otherwise she wouldn’t be making this voyage, but… the but was as stark as the shrieking of a gull as it made a pass over the deck, a black and white phantom of the seas, all hungry and brutal and vital, and Mary gave a shiver.

And she saw then on the horizon gathering clouds, blooming with the menace of a fantastic storm she might later find herself sailing into; a storm as inescapable as the life she was about to commit herself to at Richard’s plantation.

That night, in her cabin, it wasn’t storms which troubled Mary – but terrible nightmares riddled with pleas for vengeance and retribution; and the moaning and groaning she heard was not the protesting timbers of the clipper, but voices weeping with pain; and the dreadful rapping at her porthole was no striking pellets of rain nor hail, but the knuckles of fists demanding her attention; and the howls which pervaded every inch of the ship were no lamentations of the wind – but people calling out to her “Avenge us” and “Free our souls”.

The next morning Mary told her dreams to the captain, who smiled knowingly beneath a seasoned beard, and through a puff of smoke from his billowing pipe he said: “Ghosts, lass, nought but the ghosts of slaves tossed overboard and now un-resting below, aye, did ye not know this route was once sailed by slavers?”

And upon that following night, while Mary slept and once more bore witness to the moans and the howls and the voices demanding her help, she found she was no longer afraid but steeled with resolve to unshackle those ghosts, and a vow made that as soon as she reached the promised land she would burn her husband’s plantation down to the ground.

***


Tender

Tender is the man who succumbs to the virus, tender becomes his limbs and lungs, palest skin, and fragile eyes as weak as glass panes in cheap picture frames.

Tender is the meat he is helped to eat, hashed and blended, almost a liquid, when not one week ago he was scramming Sunday dinner down his throat, unaided, unhindered, unblemished by the invisible fingers of a virus tapping at his shoulder.

Tender is the bed he slept upon here, de-blanketed and de-sheeted, the mattress disinfected, his worldly belongings put into quarantine before being sent to relatives tender with tears.

Tender, so tender, the placement of flowers at a socially-distanced funeral.

Tender are the sentiments we are left with to nurse: the anxieties, bad dreams, stress and grief machined into relentless missiles lined up at the open hatch of a roaring bomber in a midnight sky –

Yet hearts, made of tough steel to meet the enemy at whichever gate it chooses, strong and vital, beating hard; O virus, ye shall know our wrath in the most tender moments you can reduce us to, and by our acts and courage we shall persist.

***


Micro story and poem by Ford.

Image: Suzy la Revoltée. Par Tani et Souriau. Lisette N° 24, 1946.

The Pandemic and I (14) – when Covid-19 comes looking for a fight…

…It gets a fight

It’s been two weeks since I posted about how we discovered a positive case of Covid-19 at my work place, and how that figure went from one to seven cases in the space of a week. I was assigned to work on a four-person Covid team (a nurse, two nurse assistants, and a person to carry out disinfection).

Here is a broad breakdown of what happened when Covid-19 came to our place looking for a fight:

Week 1 

  • Discovery of our first case via a routine hospital admission of an asymptomatic resident who tested positive on admission.
  • We go into immediate lockdown; residents remain in rooms, all visiting stopped; rapid testing undertaken – a weekly testing regime initiated.
  • Three other residents confirmed positive. All staff negative.
  • Two Covid teams assembled to work with the positive cases.
  • Positive cases = four residents, zero staff.

Week 2

  • Three more residents confirmed positive.
  • Two become seriously ill and are admitted to hospital for critical care.
  • Three staff test positive. Note: these aren’t any staff assigned to the Covid teams.
  • Four more residents confirmed positive.
  • Positive cases = eleven residents, three staff.

Week 3

  • The two seriously ill residents who were admitted to hospital both die.
  • The resident who was originally found to be infected returns from hospital negative.
  • No other residents return as positive in latest tests.
  • No further staff return as positive.
  • Three residents who were previously positive now return as negative.
  • Positive cases = five residents, three staff.

Week 4 (current)

  • A further resident previously positive, returns as negative.
  • No other residents or staff confirmed positive.
  • Positive cases = four residents, three staff.

The above breakdown is clinical and bereft of any emotion. But to say emotions were absent during this period is wrong. Fear; anxiety; stress; mental and physical exhaustion; sadness; loss… just some of the feelings known to staff, residents, and their families.

When I learned of the two residents who died I had to push my emotions to one side in order to carry on working. In private I cried. Seeing someone, one week, who is fit and healthy, then the week after struck in bed and unable to respond properly, eat and drink, or breathe without oxygen, is just hard.

By contrast, seeing some of the infected residents become negative and make a recovery is cause for jubilation. Maximum respect for those who were able to kick the ass of our dear Covid-19 when it came knocking at the door. Let me tell you that three of the cases who recovered had underlying health conditions, and one was more than a 100 years old. Imagine being that old, and beating Covid? Respect.

I’m off the Covid team now for the moment and back to my normal duties – pending no more new cases. And if our few remaining positives can come back soon as negative, then we can say we successfully fought back with only small losses and fatigue.

I don’t want to use any ‘war terminology’ to describe how we must face Covid-19 (especially on the day I’m posting here, the eleventh of November), but in some ways it’s unavoidable, and you do feel like you’re battling an enemy, and even if you manage to claim some small victories there is the understanding that further battles might occur.

For me personally, working on a Covid team has been draining and emotional, but not without rewards in terms of expanding my experience and my sense of duty as a health care worker. Working with other care staff has forged solidarities. Just before going back to my regular duties, I was assigned to work a shift with a laboratory nurse for the testing. Something I would never have imagined doing before.

Staying upbeat? 

Regular readers will know one of my themes is to stay upbeat and offer a little ‘Pandemic Gallows Humour’ to help take the edge off things. Am I upbeat right now? You betcha! Despite our losses, we’re fighting back, we’re on track, like a mean machine Big Trak!

Upbeat USA!

During our ordeals at work came the long and drawn out presidential election results in America, which we saw on TV, and the news that Biden had won and that a brighter future might be in store! It caused some cheering in our small part of France I can tell you 🙂

Upbeat archiving!

On my two days off I decompressed by archiving music for a change and not vintage images. It was for a psychedelic hard rock band I played with in the mid-90s. Found a whole bunch of old cassettes we recorded live on, mostly jams, rough around the edges, but cool to hear again. I bought a cassette to MP3 converter, and… ah… went back in time. Beautiful.

Zig Yell Seed flyer. Collage by Ford.

Then there is the upbeating matter of chocolate

Just like in the last lockdown at work, the residents’ families are sending in parcels of delicious treats to help keep us going.

Good job!

A popular English expression heard among my French colleagues (aside from “What the fuck!”) is…

“Good job!”

Job par Mucha 1896

Stay safe and healthy out there everyone!

The final word goes to Wooof’s ongoing new feature …

TVTA Thinks:


Disclaimer. This report is meant to offer an overview of the fluid impact upon a care worker in the French medical system. No names of any persons or institutions are given. Some of the reportage here concerns decisions made at a French national level which is available to the public at any time. No breach of confidentiality or professional workplace standards is made or implied. Any health advice stated here is exactly the same as that given by the World Health Organization public advice pages 


 

Happy Halloween – Pump(kin) Up The Volume!

Happy Halloween, vintage mates!

Usually I make a bit of a party of it on Halloween, but alas not much of a celebration this weekend as I’m working long shifts. So I’m getting my celebration post in early today.

At least I found time to carve a pumpkin 🙂 🎃🎃

Here it is, I call it Med-Hed, a sort of Tim Burton-esque / David Bowie Blackstar mashup. And a kind of post-surgey Jack O’Lantern presented fresh from the lab!


Here are some of my carved pumpkins from previous Halloweens.

Star Wars – Yoda


Star Wars – Ewok, Chief Chirpa


Demon Black Pumpkin with party table friends


A pumpkin parade – mine is top left panel in centre of pic


Med-Hed with art filters


Med-Hed by candlelight

Anyone else carve a pumpkin this year?

Thanks for looking 🎃🎃

Keep pump(kin) up the volume!

I leave you with M.A.R.R.S.

50 Shades of Bodice-ripping Halloween Cheese

Here be a Halloween short tale to ever so slightly chill the blood yet warm the cockles of your hearts, me dearies. Late-night fun and frolics in the bedroom? Bodice-ripping yarns and things that go bump in the night? And with generous slices of cheese!

It’s all happening in yet another audacious episode of Six Sentence Stories

And this week’s cue word is…

foundation

 


Madge knew something was terribly wrong that Halloween night when she awoke to the bedroom lights switching on of their own accord, and the Teasmaid kettle (which she and Victor had received as a wedding gift in 1978) started spluttering out a liquid which could only be described as blood, and when her collection of porcelain dolls began spinning their heads and cackling: “Die Mama, die!”, and the flowery patterns of the wallpaper Victor had put up last spring changed into grimacing spiders and slithering snakes … and she half expected the reassuring tones of Victor who was sleeping next to her to say: Go back to sleep, Madge, it’s just a bad dream, but Victor remained asleep, blissfully unaware of the drama playing out in the bedroom.

Perhaps it was all just a horrid dream, Madge supposed – a nightmare brought about no doubt by that generous wedge of Wensleydale cheese she had foolishly indulged in before bedtime, and on Halloween of all nights, and what with her overactive imagination… and so she swiftly fell back to sleep and thought no more of the nightmare.

Moments later she was woken by Victor’s fingers caressing the back of her new black nightie she had purchased in the summer sales, and his heavy and sultry breathing which he reserved for impending amorous moments – usually on anniversaries or Valentine’s Day, but rarely – if ever – on Halloween.

“Mmm, stop that, Victor… it tickles, you saucy devil you,” she purred, and she turned over to meet him, the warm tingles inside her blossoming with the promise of a slow seduction followed by a hot and full-blooded 60% Cotton 40% Polyester nightie-ripping romp… but… oh… my… how quickly Madge’s passion dissolved into horror… for next to her in bed was a man with the face of Victor – yet gaunt and deathly pale, as though he had smothered his features with her foundation; and with crude black lines like scars etched across his sunken cheeks, like he had criss-crossed himself with her eyeliner; and then the vulgar red circles ringed around his eye sockets, like he had smeared himself with her new lipstick (Ripe Red Rosy Apples™, an environmentally friendly brand she had discovered recently on Amazon Prime).

“Victor!” she yelled, “You’ve been possessed by some kind of Voodoo magic, I’m calling an exorcist!” and at which her husband awoke with a start, and the Teasmaid kettle stopped spluttering blood, and the porcelain dolls stopped spinning their heads, and the creepy designs on the wallpaper turned back to pretty flowers, and her husband said: “Victor? Who the Dickens is Victor? I’m Harold for goodness sake. You’d think after forty years of marriage you’d get my name right! Go back to sleep. You’re having a nightmare.”

“Sorry, Harold,” said Madge, “I don’t know what came over me. I knew I shouldn’t have had that slice of Wensleydale before bed on Halloween.”

***


“As writers it is our duty, nay, nay, and thrice nay, our spiritual calling, to explore every literary genre available to us, dammit, even if that means delving into erotic suburban romance.”

 

W.A.E.R. Hobbe-Spaniel,

author of: Rubbish Quotes and Rubbish Invented Genres and Other Such Rubbish Rubbish and Pulling Faces at The Flying Egg which Cried Crocodile Tears in a Thunderstorm in a Japanese Tea Cup in Timbuktu.


Editor’s note: I really wanted to write a rampant stonkingly good bodice-ripping erotic suburban romance sex jamboree, pulsating with pent-up passion and lingerie and blindfolds and riding crops and gliding throbbery notched up to eleven. However, I ended up mostly writing about cheese.

Happy Halloween 🎃🎃😄