OSWALD ISLAND

A REEDSY PROMPT

You are an explorer who’s just discovered a new island.’

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OSWALD ISLAND

by John Yeo

   The press conference was well attended, with representatives from several of the national newspapers and a few reporters from regional papers.
There was a presentation of sketches and photographs on display of a substantial rocky landmass located in a sunlit sapphire sea. There was a large indentation in the centre that was a natural lake with a channel leading to a bay that formed a natural harbour.

‘First things first Ladies and Gentlemen of the press. My name is Captain Oswald, I own that luxury yacht moored in the harbour. We have just returned from the Indian Ocean, where my island is located.’

Mike Molloy, an ebullient Irish reporter employed by the Daily Torment, a national tabloid newspaper. ‘You are referring to this discovery as your island
Captain? How can you lay claim to an island for yourself. Surely you should be claiming it for the nation?’

‘My friend I have discovered this paradisiacal island, exactly 101 miles off the coast of Tango, located in the South Pacific Ocean. Even now as we speak several members of my crew are in residence guarding my property. I have laid claim to this new land and I propose to sell shares to anyone interested in the future development of my land.’

There was a sudden loud general hubbub as questions were fired at Captain Oswald, a short, stocky man with a shock of sandy coloured hair.
A large familiar-looking man raised his hand and shouted.
‘Peter Swinburne, from the Daily Scare. Supposing you are overruled by the government of Tango and the island is confiscated. How do your investors know they will be able to get their money back?’

‘Mr Swinburne, my word is my bond and I guarantee to refund all monies that will have been invested in my property. I have the financial backing of a leading worldwide firm in the futures investment industry. This will be a first class investment with the minimum of risk. I have been assured by a member of the Tangoan government that this new island is just outside their territorial boundaries and is open for development. I have agreed to allow the Tangoan government a full half share of any future profits.’

Another voice shouted a question, this time it was a lady reporter. ‘Geraldine South, from the Seaview Independent local paper. I would like to know how much of these future profits will be invested locally in these Isles.’

Captain Oswald smiled and replied. ‘There is no question that this government will receive substantial funds in exchange for protection from marauding pirates and gangsters. I have been assured this is possible and a feasibility study is underway as we speak. Of course the bulk of our trade will be with tourists and businesses from here. Holidaymakers will flock there, the ultra-wealthy will build their homes there.’

A tall distinguished looking man then stepped up and said,
‘Ladies and Gentlemen, I have to bring this press conference to a close now. I am a lawyer representing Captain Oswald. I would appreciate it, if all further questions could be directed to my office. I propose to leave a pile of my address cards at the back of this hall.

The next few weeks were exciting as far as Captain Oswald was concerned. Money was flooding in from interested investors as speculators queued to get a piece of the action. The funds were quickly channeled into building projects and advertising.

Captain Oswald had returned to his island and made the trip back several times. He now worked from a plush office in the centre of the financial hub of a city on the mainland.
When the first warnings started to come through, Captain Oswald was attending a plethora of meetings with his new partners and the banks.
The first newsflash was seemingly insignificant, just a suggestion that there was a hurricane due to touch the coastline of his private island.
The news came through as Captain Oswald had a meeting scheduled with the press to announce a public naming ceremony of his new island. Unsurprisingly the island was to be named Oswald island and would be officially recognised by all concerned.

The reports of the power and devastation caused by the hurricane in the South Pacific Ocean became more and more alarming. The weather forecasters had named this powerful storm, Hurricane Esmeralda, a name that would forever be indelibly imprinted on the mind of Captain Oswald.

Within days the Captain and his crew were travelling at full speed towards the Tango islands in the South Pacific following a spate of reports of the devastation and the loss of life caused by Hurricane Esmeralda. There was a lack of news after a while due to the power lines that had been severely damaged by the storm.
Several days later they were approaching the point where Oswald Island was located but to the horror and surprise of the Captain there wasn’t any sign of his island.

Captain Oswald screamed to his first mate, ‘Barnicle, where’s the island?’

‘I dunno Captain, it should be right in front of us.’

‘Have you got the right coordinates man?’

‘Yessir! Positively Sir.’

It took a few seconds for the dreadful realisation that Oswald Island was gone and would never be seen again. Washed away and destroyed by Hurricane Esmeralda, the island was now at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
The Captain took this discovery surprisingly philosophically.

‘Well life’s a gamble, they say things come and go, Nature provides and Nature takes away. C’mon Barnacle, head for Tango, I need to cash in my chips.’

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

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A DRAMATIC SHOCK REACTION

A REEDSY PROMPT

A DRAMATIC SHOCK REACTION

by John Yeo

   That night, the action backstage was even more dramatic than the story unfolding onstage. Harry Houston, the leading man of this highly successful production was in a terrible rage. Harry stood himself up to his full 6 foot 6 inches height and shouted aggressively and belligerently at the diminutive figure of Peter Whelks, the stage manager.
    ‘Look here Whelks, I’d like you to get rid of that so-called makeup artist at once. She is awful, I’ve broken out in a rash all over my face and my neck.’
Harry Houston’s veins were protruding through his leathery skin as an effect of his incredible rage. Peter likened his performance to a cross between Godzilla and a fire-breathing dragon.
     ‘Sure thing Mr. Houston, there will be an instant investigation and if she’s responsible she will be dismissed instantly.’

    ‘Of course, she’s responsible man! She’s the only person who gets paid an enormous salary to apply the muck here that masquerades as makeup. I want her fired immediately.’
Harry then proceeded to cover the offending itchy spots with swathes of calamine lotion from the first aid kit, which had the effect of turning his face and neck bright pink.
At that point, Mrs. Imelda Spinks, a competent professional, who represented the theatre company as head of the makeup department responsible for the facial appearances of the whole cast, bustled into the dressing room. A short-haired lady with streaks of grey showing through her dyed blonde hair, she had piercing blue eyes reflecting an expression that announced she would brook no nonsense from anyone.
     ‘Oh my God! Mr. Houston what have you been doing? You’re on stage soon, you have ruined my carefully applied makeup, what’s that stuff all over you? Here let me help you wipe it off.’

     ‘Stay away from me you old dragon! It’s all your fault, by smearing your dreadful muck all over my face you have managed to bring me out in incredibly itchy spots.’ Shouted the leading man in a threatening aggressive manner.

    ‘Now hold on a minute, Mr. Houston, we have to establish the facts before you are able to accuse anyone.’ Interceded Peter Whelks, nervously stepping away from both of them.

    ‘Don’t you dare speak to me in that tone of voice, you rude ignorant excuse for a gentleman. I’ll slap your face hard for you and you’ll need more than camomile lotion. How come nobody else in the company is showing any signs of these spots?’

    ‘Shut up you idiotic clown! Of course, it’s the gunge you call stage makeup that you’ve been spreading all over my face for the last two weeks now.’ Shouted Harry Houston.

     ‘Look here Harry, You are out of order here. I must insist you apologise to Mrs. Spinks at once please.’ Peter Whelks broke in again.

  With a sudden crack, the tall 6-foot figure of Harry Houston staggered back under the force of a sharp slap from the diminutive Mrs. Spinks.
To everyone’s surprise, Harry Houston suddenly attempted to speak but his tongue seemed to be thick and swollen. He collapsed and rapidly passed out as he hit the floor. It took seconds for Peter Whelks to react
    ‘Call an ambulance quickly!’ he shouted, ‘ He’s not moving at all, I think he is unconscious.’
Derek, a stagehand, who had been standing by, enjoying this unplanned spectacle instantly pulled out his mobile phone and dialed 999. Twelve minutes later a Paramedic arrived on a motorcycle followed by an emergency ambulance. Three professionals were soon hard at work, desperately trying to bring Harry Houston around.

   Mrs. Spinks meanwhile had turned a deathly shade of white and Derek, the stagehand quickly bought up a chair for her. Peter Whelks ordered him to fetch a glass of water for her from the kitchen adjoining the stage. Then turning to Mrs. Spinks he said, ‘Don’t worry, my dear, there is a lot more happening here than meets the eye.’
Mrs. Spinks, her lips trembling and her hands visibly shaking with shock, sat still, transfixed into silence.

     ‘Has anyone telephoned Belinda Houston and let her know what’s happening here?’ enquired Peter Whelks.

  At that precise moment, a tall immaculately dressed lady arrived. Belinda Houston had appeared, right on cue.
    ‘What’s going on? I hear Harry has collapsed and is receiving medical attention.’

  ‘Yes,’ replied Peter. ‘He is in that ambulance there undergoing treatment, the young paramedic standing over there will give you the details.’

Belinda approached the young lady paramedic and said,
‘I’m Mrs. Houston, What’s happened to my husband? I hear he has suddenly collapsed.’

     ‘Yes Mrs. Houston, I’m Ruby Dawson, a senior paramedic. We have brought him around, he seems to have been undergoing a shock reaction to an, as yet, unidentified substance. Can you tell us if he’s allergic to anything obvious? He has a nasty rash on his face and his neck.’

   ‘Oh! Of course, he has a strong allergy to peanuts, the slightest trace of a peanut is enough to provoke a reaction. He knows better than to go near peanuts.’ replied Mrs. Houston.

   ‘That’s it! Exactly what we thought, he has had an anaphylactic shock episode. I’m sorry to say he’ll have to spend the night in hospital under observation. Would you like to accompany your husband in the ambulance?’

   ‘No thanks, I think I will follow in my car after I’ve collected a few things from home.’

  After the ambulance had left the theatre, Peter Whelks called Imelda Spinks and Derek, the stagehand into his office and announced that the show would go on with the understudy in the leading role. He stated quite emphatically that in the interests of confidentiality they were forbidden to discuss the events of the day. He assured Imelda that the management would act with every sympathy for her predicament as the treatment meted out to her by Harry Houston had been unacceptable.
Several days later a huge bouquet arrived for Imelda from Harry Houston with a note of apology attached.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

A WINTER’S NIGHT IN THE CITY

A REEDSY PROMPT

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A WINTER’S NIGHT IN THE CITY

by John Yeo

  The time by the clock on the Cathedral spire chimed with three loud sonorous peals, assaulting the night and the eardrums of the lone figure wrapped in a dirty blanket, who was lying almost out of sight in a stone archway.

 In the near vicinity, a loud siren screamed with an urgency as an ambulance sped through the city streets, answering a distress call or transporting a sick or injured person to a hospital.

 A vicious wind, whipped around the tall tower blocks across the way causing a harsh updraft. The rain, correctly forecast by some of the passers-by; the few who took the time to talk had temporarily become slashing sleet. A chilling sleet that quickly turned to icy hard drops that stung the face of the figure lying prone on some sheets of cardboard. Clearly visible was a partially torn off address label that simply had the word Amazon left for all the world to see.

 Suddenly Spot, the dog lying close to this frozen figure gave a low growl and bared his teeth.
  ‘What is it, boy?” Exclaimed Freddy, the sad supine sleeper who was forced to spend his nights out in this unfriendly cold atmosphere. Freddy tried to wet his frozen lips with spittle to enable his words to become audible.
Freddie had suffered a marital breakdown several months before and he was now forced to live on the streets.
Spot gave another louder growl as a four-legged, doglike creature padded past them on the pavement.

  ‘Ah! I can see him.’ Said Freddie to himself, ‘An urban Fox on the prowl for food scraps, you’ll be unlucky here Foxy. We’re both starving, it will be a while until any hopes of food arrive.’

 Soon another sound broke the silence as Karla, a heavily made-up lady of the night stepped out of a taxi that suddenly drew up alongside the curb where Freddie was sleeping. Flicking her long peroxide blonde hair from her eyes, she frowned at Freddie and said,
  ‘Hey there! I brought you a cold hotdog and a cup of coffee. You’d better drink this fast before it turns to ice!’

 A strong smell of cheap perfume wafted into the alcove, mixing and fighting for supremacy over the damp musty smell of unwashed humanity.

  ‘Thanks!’ grunted Freddie, wiping ice crystals from his lips. ‘Are you by any chance an angel?’

Freddie broke the hotdog in half and gave half to the dog.

  ‘Are you kidding? All my flying high is in my dreams. I’ve had a rough night, one of the punters tried to beat me up. If I had a minder I would have been fine, but I don’t believe in encouraging pimps to steal from me.’

   ‘What happened?’ Asked Freddie.

 ‘I kicked him hard between the legs and ran for my life. Goodnight to you, I would invite you home but my husband and the kids are fast asleep up there.’
With that she entered one of the tower blocks across the way, clip-clopping on her outrageous red high heels.

Soon with a sudden silent glare of headlights, two police cars stopped and stationed themselves across the street, right outside Oscar’s, a large nightclub a dozen yards or so away.
  ‘Must be chucking out time Spot, the law has arrived in case of trouble.’
As the club emptied, two bouncers stationed themselves each side of the door, a large crowd of people surged out into the streets at once.

The worldly-wise policemen just sat inside their high visibility police cars watching. They knew it was far too cold for any of the club crowd to hang around causing trouble. A fleet of taxis soon started ferrying the clubbers away and before long silence descended on the city streets again.

Dawn broke and as Freddie was drifting into a fitful dozy state. Spot gave a loud bark as a man in a Salvation Army uniform, wearing the familiar peaked hat greeted him with a friendly grin on his ruddy chilled face.
  ‘Are you OK? I’ve got sandwiches and a hot drink here if you feel like eating.’

 Freddie grabbed the plastic carrier bag and immediately wolfed down a cheese and pickle sandwich. Mouthing his thanks, Freddie sipped the scalding coffee, that burnt his insides as he swallowed the steaming fluid slowly. He wrapped his hands around the outside of the polystyrene cup for warmth. Spot made some hungry doggy noises and Freddie fed him half a cheese and pickle sandwich,

  ‘Thanks be to God and the local supermarket’s largesse,’ said the kindly soldier of the Lord. ‘Are you in need of anything? I can take you to a shelter but I’m afraid dogs aren’t allowed.’

  ‘Then no thanks!’ Freddie replied, ‘I go nowhere without Spot, he’s my constant companion.’

  ‘I understand,’ replied the kindly man, ‘Here’s an address where you can get help in the morning, even with Spot staying with you for a short while.’

  ‘Thanks again,’ answered Freddie. “Goodbye!’

A road sweeping vehicle trundled by, with large brushes that swept up most of the detritus left in the road by the clubbers who seemed to consume vast quantities of fast food washed down with cans of drink and coffee.

Morning broke as the thick clouds in the sky lightened slightly. The persistent rain and sleet had stopped now. Freddie dragged himself to his feet and picked up his crutch. He rolled up his sleeping bag and his blanket and packed them into a large canvas bag.
He headed for the local hamburger restaurant where he could use the toilets and clean himself up a bit if the staff didn’t notice that he hadn’t purchased anything.
He tied up Spot outside and muttered, ‘Sorry boy, I won’t be long, I have an appointment at the hospital today. Got to get my leg sorted out.’

Spot whimpered and stood guard over the three bags that were all the possessions Freddie owned in the world.

Soon the roads were full of traffic, cars, and buses transporting workers heading for the city offices as another winter’s night in the city drew to a close.

Copyright ©️ Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

 

JUSTIFICATION

A REEDSY PROMPT

Write a myth to explain a mysterious part of life (such as what happens after death).

Unicorns

Image Courtesy of pixabay.com

JUSTIFICATION

by John Yeo

 

  I heard it from my Father, who heard it from his Father. The origins of the tale go far back in the mists of time. Apparently, the saying goes that a horse with a horn situated in his nasal area, actually raised his head and spoke. Of course at that particular period in time, nobody understood what he had tried to say.

The Shaman, as the wisest person present, led the creature into a small field attached to his hut. A little later a loud whinny was heard by the assembled villagers. A sound that was enough to send shivers down the spines of the hardest-hearted person there.  

Soon the Shaman came into view and sternly said ‘It is finished.’  

Wiping the blood from a huge sacrificial knife, he said. ‘We must end the line of animals that presume to be equal to us by talking.’

The Chief of the village then came forward and addressed his subjects. ‘Kill any horse born with a horn. Especially the creatures that have the temerity to attempt to speak.’

There was a murmur of approval and cheers from the assembled villagers.

 Following this major event, almost every horse born with a horn was slaughtered.

  I say almost, as there were survivors. A group of three of these unusual animals were corralled and secreted in a valley surrounded by dense jungle.

 Danito, who lived with his woman and lifelong partner Marita were isolated from the rest of their neighbours and treated these lovely creatures as equals. Marita even learned to speak to them in a basic but quite fluent way.

 The Shaman was quite sure that the Chief’s instructions had been carried out and the unusual creatures were gone.

 Until the special day, Marita’s Father decided to pay her a visit to celebrate her birthday. Marita knew her Father was a mystical man, although she hadn’t seen him for many years, she welcomed this visit.

 Unbeknown to Danito and Marita the person who arrived was the Shaman, who happened to be Marita’s Father.

  Suffice to say, when the Shaman had greeted his daughter, there was a huge welcome and a feast was consumed. With wine served from the horns of a strange animal.

    ‘What meat is this?’ asked the Shaman.

  Marita replied, ‘This is the meat of our friendly animals who die and return to us supplying an endless supply of food. We have grown to know them and they have proved there is life after death, by returning in many different forms. Sometimes they come back with wings and fly away. Father, there will always be life after death in one form or another, once we leave this husk of a body behind.’

 The Shaman was overwhelmed with this and kept the secret of his daughter’s location.

 So the story of life after death began as the slaughter continued and the creatures came back in many forms. Sometimes absolutely unrecognizable.

  Thus was born the myth that is fine to eat the meat of animals as they always come back to life after death, in another form.

 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

 

SOPPY

Field

A REEDSY PROMPT

Write a story based on an experience from your childhood — but have that experience happen to a person or group of people who are nothing like you or your family.

 

SOPPY

 

by John Yeo

   Our boarding school was a large old country house set in 100 acres of the most beautiful wooded grounds. Sadly for the boarders, 99 of these acres were out of bounds unless there was a sporting event in progress. The school boasted two full-sized football pitches, two cricket pitches, tennis courts, both lawn and hard courts, and an outside swimming pool, that was icy cold in the depths of Winter
     When we were playing on our large playing field behind the school, we dug a large pit in the ground and put planks over the top and made ourselves a comfortable little den. We enjoyed our self-provided privacy in our own little world of dirt and worms and grassy comfort.
One day a new pupil arrived from a well-to-do family and needed to be welcomed and looked after.
     Mrs. Simpson, the matron said. “Give Rodney a lovely welcome boys. He is the son of one of the school founders.”

     “Yes Miss:” We all chorused.

Later that day, Rodney Blenkinsop arrived and he was quickly christened, ‘Soppy,’  for short, by one and all in view of his high-brow manners and his total dismissal of all sports as a waste of time.

    After our school day had finished, Tommy Jones piped up and said. “Hey Soppy, come and play with us in our den, you will enjoy the change from your big house.”

   “Oh, of course, I would love to join you. Your ignorance and continual mispronunciation of my name leads me to believe you are an inferior, up to no good idiot, Jones.”

  Tommy was taken aback by this attitude and was about to thump him when Mrs, Simpson appeared.

  We all then made our way to our den in the field. The boys all chuckled loudly when they noticed the total look of horror on the face of Rodney Blenkinsop.

   We all piled underground and waited for the new boy to brave the dirt and mud at the entrance to our secure little den.
The grins suddenly became chuckles…The chuckles became laughter…
The laughter became guffaws then turned to outright glee as everyone realized that Soppy was still outside the den.

  Then suddenly there was a shaking of the timbers on the flimsy roof, then a trembling of the earth around the den as the roof began to collapse.

  Somehow as the main beams began to fall inwards they were stopped in full collapse.

    “Get out quickly, while I keep trying to hold the wood my arms are aching. Quick! Get out now!”

   “That’s Soppy’s voice,” said Henry as everyone dashed for the hole which collapsed immediately the last person escaped. The roof then caved in, taking Soppy with it into the bowels of the earth.
Of course, he was rescued by a passing schoolmaster who had witnessed the whole episode.
Rodney Blenkinsop soon recovered in the school sickbay, none the worse for wear. Just a few cuts and grazes as badges of his courage.
No one ever referred to Rodney as Soppy again, From that day forward, he became something of a school hero.

 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.