A Curious Collection of Cats

‘Welcome to the museum of the impossible and the improbable,’ writes curator Shona Tell, ‘here our exhibits, many of them based on a feline theme, are mainly of an implausible nature. Many of our treasures are difficult to display owing to their impossibility; by definition an impossible object just cannot be, making it contentious as whether or not it can be possible to show it off to our visitors. Many of our more improbable objects produce a unique challenge when it comes to their display. Sometimes when we think that a piece is on show we find that owing to its improbable nature nine time out of ten it’s a fifty-fifty chance whether or not it’s visible.Take the Cheshire Cat for instance. We’re never sure what our visitors are going to see. Will it just be a big moggy, a grin fading into the aether, or nothing at all?’

‘You can likely understand the difficulties we face when we attempt to catalogue our collection. How do you ascertain if Schrodinger’s cat is in its box? No curator wants to be accused of terminating the animal through the simple expedient of opening up the box and finding it dead.’

‘And talking of cats, have you seen our perpetual motion exhibit? A very popular display consisting of a cat with a piece of buttered toast, butter side up, strapped to its back rotating just off the ground demonstrating the twin paradoxes of a cat always landing on its feet and that toast always lands butter-side down.’

‘Anyway, unless you have any questions, it’s time for me to go. Before I close the museum I have to round up all the exhibits for the evening. How many job descriptions do you know that include the phrase, “Cat herding experience essential”?’

 

Written in response to the Microcosms 300 word competition number 123 with reference to the prompt: Curator; Exhibition Hall; Comedy.

This piece won the community pick and a Special Mention by the week’s judge.

This was a cleverly written and amusing piece. I enjoyed the curator’s name, the engaging tone, the hints of possibility offset with the prospect of probability and the thought experiment being a nuisance. There was a fantastic suggestion of familiarisation jading the curator even as she bolstered the theoretical into something fit to display.

Excellent concept and piece.

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Writing Spaces at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum

NATIONAL

WRITING

DAY

       June 2018

Writing Spaces at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum

Saturday 30th June. 2pm – 4pm.

To celebrate National Writing Day the Birthplace Museum Writing Group is hosting a free event.

Join the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum for a celebration of writing at an inspiring venue in the heart of the country – the very house in Lichfield where Dr Johnson, famed for his English Dictionary, was born.

Hosted by the Birthplace Writing Group and with writing spaces available throughout the historic house, this is a fantastic opportunity to meet up with fellow writing enthusiasts, soak up the atmosphere, and put pen to paper to celebrate National Writing Day!

Everyone has a story to tell

For more information phone: 01543 264972

http://www.samueljohnsonbirthplace.org.uk

We’re on the National Writing Day

Fallen Angel

It was another smoggy day in Neo-Victorian Britain and I was on a shopping expedition. Not just any shopping expedition, but one essential to my self esteem.

It was some time since that unfortunate incident that had resulted in the loss of my wings but today I was to meet with the finest steam miniaturisation expert in all the land. I arrived at an anonymous trading estate and glanced at the name boards at the entrance. There it was, “Icarus Fabrications – Engineers to the Gentry.” As I entered I was astounded by the merchandise on view. There was a steam-driven elephant, larger than the real thing, for hunting tigers out in India. Leaning against it was a clockwork ordinary, one of those bicycles often referred to by the hoi polloi as a penny-farthing. But up in the rafters were what I’d come in search of, wings. There were wings of all description on display including a very nifty pair attached to what looked like a gentleman’s vest.
I asked the proprietor to show me them and he climbed a ladder and brought them down.

After a brief negotiation I left the premises wearing my new wings. Outside I checked the buckles on the front of the vest were tight, extended the wings then, reaching behind me, lit the candle-powered motor. Unlike the more usual engines this reached operating temperature almost immediately. I was ready to take to the air once more! With a mighty flap I soared into the sky and reached towards the dimly seen sun. I was flying again.

As I flew through a black cloud I became drenched by rain. My motor faltered and I was falling.
My last thoughts before I hit were the ground were, ‘Oh bugger! The wick’s gone out.’

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Written in response to the Microcosms 300 word competition number 122 with reference to the prompt: Angel; Trading Estate; Steam Punk.

Honourable Mention

Ah yes, nothing like a bit of steampunk re-telling of Icarus who flew too close to the sun. And a nod to the wax reference of the Greek Mythos but instead ending with “Oh bugger! The wick’s gone out.” Well played!

There Is No Planet B

Space, vast, infinite space. We had come out of warp near the Orion system and were starting to trek through the local spaceways in search of asteroids bearing rare ores when we ran into trouble. All of our navigation systems went down at once, leaving us lost in space.

I called out over the comm system for help, ‘Technicians to navigation, stat.’ A team of techies surged onto the bridge and started analysing the problem.

In the meantime, I scanned our immediate environment, using hand-held instruments. There was something out there! It came from outer space. It was alien. I’d never seen anything like it before. It was a fiend with a thousand faces floating in space. We had to get away.

Time stood still as I tried to figure out what to do. In space no one can hear you scream, unless of course they’re on the bridge with you. But then again, no one expects to get lost in the twenty-third century, especially when you’re twenty-thousand light years from home. What do you do when all is lost and your original plan has failed? Why, you search for another plan of course.

Addressing my first officer, I said, ‘We have to get out of this place, but with no navigation, we’ll be flying blind. It’s time to resort to Plan B for outer space.’ The first officer directed the helmsman to set a course for the planet Beta Orionis itself.

I remonstrated with her, ‘Damn it, Janet! I said Plan B, not planet B!’

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Written in response to the Microcosms 300 word competition number 120 with reference to one of six punning prompt titles:

  • A Street Cat Named Desirée
  • There Is No Planet B
  • To The Manure Born
  • Set Phrases to Pun
  • One Small Step for a Naan
  • Abracadaver!

A Close Encounter

Prompt - light

It was one of those heavily overcast midwinter days where it was impossible to tell the time of day by looking at the sky. Even though it wasn’t far off midday, the streetlights were coming on early. As I walked through the park dressed warmly against the cold, I saw a young woman staring upwards. I wondered what she was looking at so I stopped and looked upwards too. At first I thought I was seeing a streetlight that had just switched on then realised that the light was moving. It was further away than I had thought, higher than the lights but too low to be an aircraft. As I continued to watch I saw the light grow as it came closer. The woman noticed I’d joined her and moved to stand next to me as if for comfort or protection. Slowly the light descended, growing in size as it did so. I wondered if it was a drone but who would be out flying on a day like today, a day with no visibility? Finally, it landed a few metres away from us, a large sphere, perhaps five metres in diameter, rocking slightly as it touched the ground.

There had been a surprising absence of sound as we’d watched the craft, for that’s what I supposed it was, approach and land. Was this a real life manifestation of a UFO? It had been flying and, so far, remained unidentified. But we all know what I mean… was it some form of alien craft? Were we about to be witnesses to a close encounter of the third kind?

A weird humming noise began to emanate from the sphere and a kind of door began to open. The woman moved closer still and huddled against me, grabbing my arm for reassurance. All we could see though the open door was a dark void. As I steeled myself for whatever was going to happen, I fumbled for my phone with my free arm. Holding the phone at arms length I fired off a shot. I briefly saw motion, but the flash didn’t last long enough for me to determine what it was I’d seen.

Immediately after this the door started to close and the sphere left the ground. It rose back up into the sky, slowly at first, before accelerating away and disappearing into the gloom. We looked at each other as if to say, ‘did that just happen?’ and breathed a sigh of relief in unison. She let go of my arm and I worked at my phone with both hands. I was curious to see what my attempt at photography might have revealed. The result was an image of a creature with two massive eyes, open mouthed, staring aghast.

I showed the woman the photo on my phone and we discussed it for a while. What had scared the creature and its craft away? Had it been the sudden flash from the phone or had it been the sight of the two of us clinging together? Were we such a hideous sight as to frighten it off or did it even see us given the glare of the flash? I’d like to know the reason for its sudden departure but, unless it returns, we’ll never know. To this day I continue to watch the skies in hope.

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Written in response to the Creative Writing Ink June 7th writing prompt competition

Love Locks

Room for Rent

 

I was looking for somewhere to stay when I noticed a hand-lettered sign saying Room for Rent. It was positioned above a piece of rusting red latticework in the shape of a heart. What drew my attention was the collection of padlocks attached to the latticework. It used to be common to see padlocks attached to gates and the railings alongside bridges where they crossed the river, at least it was until the authorities decided to clamp down on the practice and remove them. There had been an outcry at the time, mainly from those of a romantic disposition, but it had not been enough to save them from the depredations of council bolt-cutters.

These padlocks seemed to have been in place for some time given their rusted state. I counted them, there were ten. Curiously they were all of an identical make and model. It almost suggested a local street vendor selling padlocks specifically for the purpose of providing lovers with a memento of their love.

I couldn’t figure out the connection between the romantically engaged padlocks and the room for rent. Was it for rent by the hour? Perhaps somewhere for the privacy deprived to enjoy a brief moment of passion? I mused on whether each of the padlocks had a significance connected to the room and its rental. Did each padlock represent an assignation? Were more than one pair of lovers involved in recording their trysts or was it just one couple? It occurred to me that the reason for the padlocks being all the same was that they might have been bought in bulk, a trade deal perhaps. Did that suggest a single protagonist recording his love for multiple girlfriends, something akin to keeping score through notches on a bed post?

Or was the room available for long-term rental? If so, why the lover’s keepsakes? So many questions. I noticed that some of the padlocks had writing on them but it was so weathered or covered by rust stains as to be almost illegible. Presumably a record of the lover’s names along with the date of their romantic encounter.

I was reluctant to make enquiries about the room for fear of embarrassment. I didn’t really want my musings about short-term rental being proved right. I resigned myself to the fact that I’d never know the story behind this room for rent and its associated display of love locks and moved on to continue my search.

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Written in response to the Creative Writing Ink June1st writing prompt competition

An Even Playing Field

High in the skies above war torn France flew a solitary gremlin looking for something to do. He was bored and feeling in a mischievous mood. A little distance below him he noticed two of those bizarre human flying machines engaging in one of their ritualistic duels. One was a dull brown colour decorated with roundels, the other was a bright red and featured gothic crosses as identification.

This could be interesting he thought to himself. He swooped down out of the sun and descended on the two machines unseen. These humans just couldn’t manage to standardise their machines. The red one featured three pairs of wings while the brown one had two pairs.

They were in combat, something that the gremlin and his kind couldn’t abide, and the red one seemed to be winning. He decided to even matters up and wondered if it was the extra wing that gave the red machine an advantage. Softly setting down behind the human piloting the red flying machine he examined how the delicate structure was held together. A strut here, a tensioning cord there, it was just fabric held together by string. As he studied the design he began to understand how he could remove the uppermost wing and even up the combat between the two humans. He reached for a cord here, another next to it, then another, and before the pilot could react the gremlin had peeled away the upper wing. He grinned in delight at the sudden uplift that the great wing gave his little body and found himself soaring into the air without the use of magic. Glancing back down he noticed that he had indeed evened up the fight as he watched the red machine plow into the ground.

The Red Baron would fly no more.

 

Written in response to the Microcosms 300 word competition number 119 with reference to the prompt: Fighter Pilot; WWI France; Fairy Tale.