Tag Archives: light


I keep meaning to write and post the Friday Fictioneers story on Wednesday, but the last few weeks have been crazy busy here. I work in international admissions at Gannon University and we have new students coming in for the October session. Next week should calm down a bit, relatively speaking.

“Describe this picture!”

copyright Rowena Curtain

This was the final round of Eluci-Date, the show where two contestants competed for a date with a lexicographer by creatively describing pictures. It had been called Meta-For-a-Date until it was bought by thesaurus.com.

My mind froze like a naked Floridian in Greenland.

Sunny. Stripey.

My opponent Lewis looked smug.


“Angelic safecracker!” I bellowed.

Kristina, the lexicographer, gazed at the picture. “Lewis?”

No! She wanted a comparison.

“Smeared titanium white on the palette of creation,” Lewis said, smirking. “With a #6 fan brush.”

Kristina frowned, then grinned at me. “Why would an angel become a safecracker?”

What do you see in the picture? Let me know.

Bear Meets Absorbed Nurse

bear hall

Credit to Gomerblog for the unauthorized use of this Photoshopped picture


The doors of the hospital slid apart with a cheery ding as the bear walked in, a small cub lying unconscious on its back. The emergency room waiting room went quiet as only the sudden appearance of a bear can cause. A quick-thinking woman with a head injury tried to call 911 but instead called 822. A teenager with a broken arm tried to turn on the video camera on his phone. The clatter of the phone falling to the linoleum tiles and a strangled scream of pain were the only sounds besides the bear’s heavy tread as it approached the reception desk.

The nurse on duty was as harried as the new patient was hairy. Two of her co-workers had called in sick and another one had gone on a five-minute smoke break twenty minutes ago. She sensed the approach of someone at the window as she worked away frantically at the computer.

“Here, fill this out,” she said, pushing a clipboard of papers at the bear.

The bear searched its memory, but the closest thing in its experience to a clipboard were the flat rocks under which ants and beetles and other delicious insects lived. It nosed the clipboard up a few inches experimentally, but the underside was clean.

“Do you have insurance?” the nurse asked as she kept typing, sensing that the presence at the window had not moved. “I’ll need to see your insurance card. Do you have a copay?”

The bear gave a tentative growl.

“Good. We’ll need payment up front.”

It was probably just as well that the bear was unaware of how much it did not know about the healthcare system. All it knew was that its cub had eaten some bad berries and was very sick. It had seen one of the humans eat those same berries the year before and after a while a vehicle with a colorful cross on the side had come and gotten him. So the bear had put the cub on its back and started walking until it saw a building with that same cross on it. For all it knew, this was the Go-When-You-Eat-Bad-Berries place.

The nurse kept typing, trying to get through the backlog of notes on the last dozen patients. They just kept pouring in. She gritted her teeth as she saw out of the corner of her eye that whoever was at the window still had not taken the clipboard. The last thing she needed was a high maintenance patient she’d have to handhold through the ten-page intake form.

It was at that moment that Dr. Elizabeth Gauss walked into the emergency room. She took in the scene in a glance: the frozen expressions of the waiting room patients, the bear standing patiently at the reception desk window, the cub lying motionless on its back, the nurse typing madly at the computer.

This was new, but Dr. Gauss worked the night shift in an emergency room, so it was not the most surprising thing she had ever seen. She walked over to the bear, who turned expectantly. Seeing the cub’s half-open eyes and the color of its protruding tongue, she guessed what had happened. She motioned for the bear to follow her and it did, with the innocence of a toddler trying to make a withdrawal from Fort Knox.

Dr. Gauss got the bears settled in the extra-large examination room and came back to the reception desk. “Jane,” she said. She repeated it three times before the nurse looked up.

“What did you think of that last person who came in?” Dr. Gauss asked.

Jane looked at the blank forms on the clipboard and gave a noise of disgust. “He didn’t fill out the paperwork. Probably wasn’t more than a sore throat anyway. He sounded like he had a growl.”

“Just put him down as John Doe,” Dr. Gauss said. “Actually, no, not that. Say John Ursine.” She looked kindly at Jane, noticing how tired her eyes looked and just how frazzled she was. “Why don’t you go take a break for half an hour.” She handed the nurse a twenty-dollar bill. “Get a snack and coffee, on me. Don’t worry,” she added at Jane’s protests, “you need a break. I’ll get someone to cover.”

“And Jane,” she said as the nurse gratefully accepted the money and started to walk away. “Don’t go into Examination Room 3.”

Fantastic Travelogue #3 – The Light in the Woods

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.


The worst part about being locked up all day is not being able to go to the bathroom. This wasn’t a dank prison cell I was confined in: it was a nice parlor with polished wood floors and walls covered with a pale pink, fibrous paper. It held nowhere where a civilized person could even hope to respectfully relieve themselves. At that moment, I had just eaten as much as I wanted to of the meal and was feeling very comfortable, but I did not count on that feeling lasting.

I knocked on the door some more and tried calling, but no one answered. Finally, I sat down and looked at the signboard above the door. I had noticed it when I was eating but now I stared at it and tried to make some sense of it. It looked like Chinese, but the characters were a lot more curvy than what I was used to. From what I could tell, it meant “the fortress of the rising light” which would have been typical of the grand and lofty names of most Korean palace buildings.

Name Board

Things were getting urgent in the bathroom department and finally I started pounding on the door, calling out in every language I knew just to let me out for a moment. The door opened without warning and the head woman stood in front of me, holding two fingers to her mouth. When I started to speak, she put the fingers on my lips, which shut me up quick. She evidently perceived my distress in my expression and in my stance since she made a little noise of comprehension and slammed the door in my face. The young woman I had met in the forest opened the door and put a earthenware pot on the floor along with a small basket of freshly-picked leaves. She gave me a smile and then shut the door again.

Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do, and I did what I had to do. The rest of the afternoon, I moped around, wishing I had a book at least. A couple times, one of the women would open the door a crack to push in a tray with water or some fruit on it. They were at least running a hospitable prison.

Dark Room

I must have dozed off because I woke up to find the room much darker. Peering through cracks in the shutters, I could tell that the sun had set outside. I could hear shouts and cries and some of them sounded male to me. The men are back, I thought, unsure if I was relieved or not.

I stuck my hand out the small window and managed to push the wooden shutter out a little. It was fastened at the bottom, but I could move it enough to see through a crack between them. There seemed to be bonfires built around the village and by the dancing red light, I could see the outline of the nearby houses and the dark wood looming up beyond them.

At that moment, a burst of white light erupted from within the forest. It coalesced into a pillar of white light that shone straight up. It’s a spotlight, I thought. It was coming from the area of the large stone ring and I realized that they must have been preparing for a concert or something there. Why they would need to lock me up to keep me out of the way, I wasn’t sure, but they had been nice enough to me besides that.

A ball of light flew away from the pillar of light and moved horizontally through the forest. Okay, that’s weird, I thought. More and more erupted and flew here and there. Some of them came over the houses and rested on the tips of the roofs. Ball lightning was the only thing I could think of. I’d never seen it, but I had heard that it acted crazy. An orb of light came towards me scuttling along the ground, but it missed the building and kept going.

A sound like a scream came from the forest. It could not have been human though, because it was constant in pitch and grew slowly in volume, until it sounded more like the roar of a jet engine. Shadows were being thrown around in the forest, as if things were dancing in front of the light pillar.

I sat down on the floor and pulled my knees up to my chest. Suddenly, I was just tired of being there. All I wanted was to go home.

Visual Fiction – Midnight Lantern

All of my novels, as well as most of my short stories, have started with a single image in my mind. Pictures are powerful sources of inspiration, like creative food. I’ve decided, as a change of pace, to occasionally post some of my original photographs that seem to inspire stories in me. I won’t necessarily write any stories based on them, but if you wish to, feel free. Just let me know since I’d love to read it.

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