the witch of the aegean sea

I want to tell you a story about a short stout woman who lived on the island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea. She fished barefoot next to her shadow just before the sun found her copper face and presented her to the world. By the culture’s warped standards, she was not pretty. But she was a clever moonlight witch with a cauldron for each day of the week, including a special Sunday cauldron meant specifically to raise something dead. She knew that at the rate the world was going, she’d spend many Sundays searching for the left tooth of a hippopotamus and the right hind leg of a field mouse, the primary ingredients needed to raise the dead. Then there was the distilled water that could not be purchased in plastic gallon bottles from a supermarket shelf. Those were tainted. They’d been sitting too long and around far too many fearful souls who believed in too many gods. The energy was all wrong; so she, Alda, had to distill the water herself, a process that took several days and a large beacon handblown by a sad naked virgin with butterfly tattoos covering most of her body. Alda had watched the process many times before and sometimes joined the virgin, her clothes tossed over chairs and tables in solidarity.

(to be continued)

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dirty blues

This is an unedited excerpt from a work in progress.

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Down by the jook joint is where the sweatin’ and grindin’ began. But it by no means ended there. It was a Sunday evening, just after church and before the end of the Sabbath for some. I was always there, bumpin’ and grindin’ with the best of ‘em. The cat calls that floated just above the smoke gave me a real high. It was like listening to a symphony. They were singin’ my song. They always did. Most’a the men were sweet on me. But they was afraid’a my daddy. He was the town pastor. My mama was the first lady and respected by everyone in our little town. Sonny would say, “Sissy, what you doin’ down here? Yo’ daddy gon’ whip you good if he find out.”
        “I’ll whip you good if you tell ‘im,” I holler’d back. I grinned on the inside, so he wouldn’t see. But sometimes he could see right through me.
        Sonny was something. He was always in my business. But he was my best friend; always tryin’ to look out for me. Couldn’t nobody do me nothin’ with Sonny around. Some ‘a the men, no matter how stinkin’ drunk they were, when they saw Sonny, they sobered up quick if they were near me. He’d bloodied enough noses and broken enough ribs for them to know not to touch me, Ms. Sissy Crawford, pastor’s daughter and the best dancer in town.

I wasn’t always as sassy as some say. But I was always alive and filled with fire. Mama said when I was born, it was like Christmas in heaven, minus the snow. I came out dancing…stompin’ on her back she’d say. It wasn’t so much the pain as the constant kickin’. I kicked as though there was a song playin’ in her womb. And when I popped out, I was smilin’. She said I smiled like there was nothin’ but joy in the world. Like love danced with me on the other side where I came from.
        “Lord! That girl was somethin’ else, wasn’t she, Joseph?”
        “Yes she was. She sure was full a somethin’ hot. Like coals were under her feet.”
        Those in listening distance would laugh.
        By the time I was twelve I started to laugh. Didn’t get it before then. Seemed like a bunch of grown folks actin’ silly and laughin’ at stuff that made no sense. It all started to make sense after a while. Plenty of grown folk stuff started to make sense. Curiosity about why mom and pop kissin’ and chucklin’ all the time soon disappeared. After Larry touched me between my legs, I understood. His hands were big, and they were hot. Felt like he held ‘em over a fire and then real fast like, put ‘em on me. He put it on me for sure. Larry was my first, but by no means my last. He usher’d me into womanhood on a starry night. He moved slow, drinking in every moment of our unity. I thought of how daddy loved mama. I wondered if he drank her in the way Larry did with me.
        Larry was gone after a few weeks of bumpin ‘ and grindin’. Said he had to serve his country. Said wasn’t nothin’ gonna stop him from going to ‘Nam. I loved him for his bravery. But hated him for his stupidity. That war was not one he shoulda been fightin’ in. Black men was always fightin’ for folks who didn’t care about them. Larry wanted to fight. He needed to fight. He said he’d be back for me though. Said he’d marry me and give me a bunch ‘a babies. Wasn’t no babies gonna be had with Larry though. He stopped writin’ after a while. No good-bye, nothin’. Just silence. Weeks turned into months. Months turned into tears that flowed like a waterfall during the rainy season. Larry faded away like a billow of smoke faded as it rose into the sky.
        I moved on. Decided that if I started seeing a bunch ‘a men, it would help take my mind off Larry. The men didn’t mind. They were more than happy to soothe my achin’ heart with their achin’ rod. And did they soothe? Yes, they did. For the moment at least. They took me away from my borin’ little town. They couldn’t erase memories of Larry though. I saw him in each one of they faces. His brown skin was like the trunk of a tall strong tree, a deep dark color filled with life. His soul was green like the leaves of those grand trees. Green an’ lush and filled with a vibrancy that creates new life an’ possibilities. No, they couldn’t erase him. But they filled in the spaces at times. They were the pockets o’ air inside a sinkin’ ship. I knew the time would come when the air would run out and I would drown, but I didn’t care. I had to feel good. I needed to feel good.
        

© zaji, 2014

i am misplaced

Writing Prompt: Misplaced

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

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The cosmic hand misplaced me, Zhala, and dropped me here. I traveled in its pocket for the better part of centuries before it realized that it had lost me, somewhere on the far side beyond several galaxies. It is filled with angst because it knows I don’t belong here, but it has yet to find me, having forgotten to make the psychic connection before embarking on its journey. Now, it cannot hear me when I call and I cannot hear it. But I feel it searching for me, desperate to find me and take me home to where I belong.

I was born with this knowing, just as one is born knowing their sex. This place where I was dropped is strange to me. I have no connection to the ways of this world called Earth. Everything feels alien, stranger than strange.

But I wait for the cosmic hand, hoping it will remember when last it saw me and possibly figure out where it misplaced me. I am waiting. I long for my home, far away from this place.

© zaji, 2016

it’s an imitation

Writing Prompt: Flangiprop!

Invent a definition for the word “flangiprop,” then use the word in a post.

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Some things were too insane to be real, thought the bride. When a woman plans to get married, she doesn’t have time to think about anything but the wedding and the many details that could unravel if she isn’t careful. So when her groom walked in and said he finally picked up the rings, the last thing she expected to see were two flangiprops in front of her that she paid over $10,000 for.

“What is this?” she asked her husband to be.

“The diamond rings,” he answered matter of factly.

“Are you blind? Can’t you see they’ve slipped us a Mickey?”

“A what?”

“Oh good grief! These are flangiprops fool! Why am I marrying you again?”

“Are you serious? I didn’t notice!”

“Obviously, or you wouldn’t have brought them home to me as though nothing was wrong.”

The bride grabbed her coat, car keys and flew out the door before her husband had a chance to take his coat off the hanger.

“If they think they are going to get away with this, they’ve got another thing coming. Imagine, they are trying to switch out these flangiprops for our real rings. Not gonna happen. Not on my watch,” she said as she sped down the road toward the jewelry store.

Flangiprop (noun): Fake ring; this could include fake diamond, gold, silver or platinum.

no help for the helpless

Writing Prompt: Help

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

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Giant black garbage bags sat to the left and right of her. They were sentries protecting her from the nothingness she fell further into each day. Tan holed socks over crusted unwashed feet kept out some of the chill. She untied the bag to her left. She rummaged inside looking for another sock, but nothing changed since yesterday. She knew this deep down, but like a child on Christmas Day she hoped that she possessed Santa’s special red velvet gift bag that produced whatever one asked for from thin air. There were never any new socks to be found and Zoe certainly didn’t have Santa’s bag. All she had inside were the vestiges of a life once lived. To lose or have anything stolen from her bags would doom her to permanent homelessness and a past that would be erased as though it never existed. So she kept them close and tied her knots tight so no one could see what was left of her life after the fire.

Zoe needed help and asked for it many times. But the system kept her in an endless loop of wants and needs that could never be fulfilled. She pleaded for help, often pleading with only the air and wind, and sometimes a God who seemed to have forgotten he’d made her. She was an only child and her parents who had died were only children. All her grandparents were dead. She was alone, forced to face monthly periods and a growling stomach on the streets of Manhattan, or as a mole underground where light and air were only for those with money. Most times, it was food or maxi pads. Food always won because blood could not be eaten nor bartered for socks. Instead it stained her life each full moon and reminded her that help would never come; but the full moon would never end.

There was no help for her. Only endless days of coins hitting tin cups, an empty knotted stomach each week and crimson blood on the sad full moon.

forgetting you

I wrote this micro fiction piece today. Decided to play with an idea.

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

i twist.

i forgot about you last night. left you standing on the roadside while i drove around looking for weed and pink satin heels. you told me you walked to the bus stop, barefoot. you left your sandals in the back seat when we stopped at the gas station to get Twinkies and Mountain Dew.

my phone rang. it was Samuel. said he had some good weed and he’d meet me down the road by the swings. i saw you walking around, looking for the Twinkies, checking the price on the peanuts and swinging a six pack of Mountain Dew. i saw you put everything on the counter and mouth something to the clerk, who pointed to the back of the store. he gave you a giant wooden rectangle with small silver key dangling from the end. you walked to the back. you opened the door with a little black silhouette of a woman in a skirt. the door swung close and then you were gone.

you were gone too long. i needed my weed. so I left.

i turn.

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when you found me, hours later, you told me i shouldn’t have left you, at the gas station store, barefoot, in a dirty public bathroom that smelled like a well-used outhouse. you said the walk to the bus stop was long and you stepped on rocks that you couldn’t see. your feet hurt. the sun went away, you said. and I left you there, with no sandals.

i fidget

i forgot about you, i said. i found Samuel on a swing with his friends. he gave me weed, so i got high on the swings. then i forgot about you, just like that. like you never existed. i saw pink satin high heels flying through the air. pretty pink heels that fit me perfectly. they floated off into the starry night sky. i reached for them. but all i caught were sandals. your sandals. then i remembered that i left you. but it was too late. there was no turning back. so i pushed off and let the swing take me higher. i was high.

i leaned back.

© zaji, 2016

gen’sis

This is a wild idea I came up with. Definitely needs some work (a lot of work) but it could become an interesting story if I give it a bit of love. I started it a few years ago. I intend to revisit it very soon.

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Gen’sis

In the beginning there was no word. There was only energy and thought floating through the dark abyss. The darkness was the life. The darkness was where creation began. It gave birth to light. The darkness thought, let there be light, and there was. Yet, it remained, to be with its new creation. The darkness was still the source and the creative power, even though light, the demi-creator, was born. The darkness was the more vast expanse. The darkness was the essence of the universe. These were the revelations of Cree’gen, one of many on its home world, Gen’sis.        
        The wind traveled from just below the oxygen poor atmosphere, down to the planet, across the face of the deep…the waters, over the land and into the valley of the Knowing. It crept silently, a wisp between leaves and branches and everything green. It had no detectable color, it was untouchable form. There was no void within the wind, it was omnipresent on the planet. It was the life of the people, what gave them the ability to continue. For the moment, it was their survival in their world. Their air was made of a thin gaseous helium, abundant helium. It was their life source.
        Cree’gen sat atop a mountain looking up at the suns. They both shone bright and blue on that particular day. It closed its eyes and inhaled the rich helium that was life to all on Gen’sis. It exhaled a long breath, opened its eyes, and watched the many flowers in the gorge sway from the light wind. They too needed the life giving breath of life, the wind upon their petals and their suns warming the ground beneath them.
        Cree’gen picked up from its left side a book that sat on a large gray rock. It flipped open the pages and from behind its ears it removed a large feather. From its right side it reached for the ink that was in a small clear glass bottle. It flowed black and fogged the sides of the clear container, only to eventually settle into the remaining ink. It tilted the bottle sideways to watch the globs float back and forth, a mini universe in the palm of its hand. It turned the bottle up again and opened it. The feather was a bright red, and the wind caused it to blow west. Cree’gen dipped it into the ink and proceeded to write.
        The book was well worn with many pages filled. Each thought was scribbled in all directions, some with a feverish hand, all with determined strokes. Cree’gen’s recent thoughts began to fill the page. It was filled with an overwhelming curiosity. The paper was where it spilled its mind, allowing it to stain each page with symbols that became words, words that became patterns of thought. And patterns of thought that became almost tangible living entities. These entities communicated through space and time, joining the ranks of the living with a fierceness that begged the question. Who and what are words? And where did they come from? The answer was always the same. Cree’gen heard their murmurs like whispers in the night.
        “We were created by you. Just as you created yourself,” was always the answer. It was the answer to many questions. But it never answered the highest question. How?
        Cree’gen became aware of its own existence almost immediately. It walked among its people with daily curiosity. It wondered how it came to be and why, even though deep down it knew the one basic truth of how it came to be. But the deeper how and the deeper why eluded Cree’gen. Everyone on Gen’sis knew their beginnings. Because everyone came to be in the same way. The only things left unanswered were the questions Cree’gen was determined to answer.
        Through writing, Cree’gen was able to tap into truths waiting to be unveiled. The feather was the conduit. The paper the place to land. And the words…yes, the words were the second medium of discovery. They added a dimension to communication on their world that was new and exciting. Cree’gen knew this…even as most of its people used their minds to communicate. But Cree’gen wanted to explore symbols and how they bent the mind to a new way of being and thinking. Words were a gift from the source.
        Before Cree’gen realized, the sky had turned a deep dark blue, with pinpoints of light blinking above its head, shining on the grand canvas that spread across the expanse. The night sky was bright. Each of their four moons were full. Cree’gen rose and walked along the valley floor, through the waist high grass that lightly lashed its legs as each tall green blade bounced about. It was a good night for thinking and meditating. Cree’gen knew this. The full moons always gave way to deep introspection. They were silent guides that spoke only when necessary, and then, only in whispers. Their whispers told tales of the origins of many things, including Cree’gen.
        Cree’gen heard one of the elders speak to it. It was Bi’chen, down in the village. It had been looking for Cree’gen through many minds. Finally, it decided to call to Cree’gen through the planet. It heard Bi’chen’s voice reach it through its mind.
        “Are you writing again?” asked Bi’chen.
        “Yes Elder,” answered Cree’gen without moving its lips.
        “I thought you would tire of such a primitive form of communication.””
        “It is an interesting experiment Elder. The symbols challenge my mind to envision things differently.”
        

        Cree’gen spoke with the elders, asking questions no one ever asked publicly, but talked of in hushed tones by fire light. It was not that it was forbidden to ask, no one ever imagined it needed to be asked. They existed. Wasn’t that enough? It was not enough for Cree’gen.
        “Elder, I understand the beginning, but how did it happen and why was it this way?” Cree’gen asked.
        “Child, it is not for us to understand at this time. Wait for clarity. It will come,” responded Bi’chen.
        “We know of other worlds; worlds that require two to create. But we are not like them. Why?”
        “Because that is not how the universe allowed us to come into being. It allowed for a different way for us. And that way has worked for us for the last 50,000 years. Your curiosity will not change what we are.”
        “But Bi’chen, is it not our destiny to learn and grow?”
        “Yes Cree’gen. But not in a rushed way. Not through anxiety.”
        Cree’gen could not contain its fascination with its beginnings. One day it simply appeared out of nothing, at least as far as it could tell. It had taken many decades for it to discover that it created itself. The memory of that moment was lost for a time. It seemed a very long time. Although it finally realized how it came to be, it still didn’t know how it did it. There was another force that created the ability within it, in all of its kind. Cree’gen was the only one that lost the memory of its beginning. But the remembering changed everyone. Cree’gen’s awakening came with many questions no longer asked. It came with a wondering that went beyond mere curiosity. Cree’gen wanted to unlock a secret housed only in the universe and in the age of its people.
        One thing was certain in all the asking, everyone from its race created themselves. It wasn’t like on other worlds where either copulation, parthenogenesis or the division of cells was a necessary methodology to bring about the existence of another. Its people simply could create themselves, from nothing. Or from the vastness of that which allowed them to come into existence. The Gen’sis people could bring about their own existence. The only problem was many of them didn’t know or couldn’t remember the conditions that brought about their desire to come into being.
        This missing piece was a recent flaw. Their ancestors, the Gen’sis Elders, knew everything. They explained the process, but it was far too complex for many Gen’sis to understand. Cree’gen wanted to understand. It wanted to know its beginnings and the conditions that existed which allowed it to bring itself into being. Why did it want to exist? Why did it bundle the universal resources that allowed it to bring itself to Gen’sis, to become alive in a new way? What was the driving energetic force? Cree’gen knew there was more to it all. But it would take many of their moons’ rising and setting to understand.
        “Everything in the universe comes about through need,” said Bi’chen one night to Cree’gen. “This need is never one way. Each new thing arises from an infinite amount of needs, all existing at different moments and for different reasons. New needs are created from existing needs satisfied.”
        “I don’t understand, Elder.”
        “Listen with more than your ears, Cree’gen. Hear me with your heart. Everything is in a state of need for survival. The universe knew it could not survive by being the only source of creation. This knowing is not a sentient knowing, nor is it a knowing lacking intelligence. It is something in between the two. Something far more complex. It needed to allow for everything. And in doing that, it allowed for all possibilities.”
        “I think I understand, Elder.”
        “Do you? What do you understand?”
        “In other worlds, existence is dependent on what is perceived as a duality. The two, a splitting apart of things, or a coming together of things that lead to a division that builds the whole. That way is one of many ways the universe allowed for being. But with us, it wanted something more sure, something lasting. It wanted something that contained the essence of it in a purer way. So it allowed us to create ourselves.”
        “That is correct. We are the other way. A way out of many other infinite ways of existing.”
        “But Elder, how did it do it?”
        “This is what you want to know, child. But this is not something I can merely tell you. Examine other worlds. Go on a quest. Seek out the answer you need. It will find you.”
        “That is not an answer Elder.”
        The Elder Gen’sis villager laughed out loud. It was not accustomed to this new Gen’sis creature, fresh and new to their world. It had a different mind. It wanted to know that which only experience could teach.

© zaji

when we were one (free!)

For a limited time I’m sharing my USA Today reviewed speculative fiction novel, When We Were One, for FREE.

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“…her story is a celebration of sisterhood and their connection with the physical world and beyond… Zaji’s imaginative tale will spur us to think and to be entertained.”

USA Today
Get your copy as a free instant pdf download here:
http://thezaji.com/when-we-were-one

A race of women have lived in relative peace for centuries. But strange forces have come through the ages to finish what was started.

The opposing forces have their eyes on these special sisters who are unaware of what is on the horizon. These visitors will do anything to acquire the secrets of this ancient culture.

These women are unique in many respects, but none of their abilities can outweigh their ancient methods of reproduction. This, and the very thing that makes them strong, are what the visitors seek.

The sisters must go back through the annals of cycles gone to learn what they’d forgotten. It is in the past that they might be able to save their future.

When We Were One takes readers on a tour through memories of days gone. It is a journey that uncovers the soul of women and the spiritual miles they’ve trod. When We Were One honors nature and the vastness of the many universes that speckle the darkness.

This story honors women and their relationships. And it honors men and their connection to women.

the newspaper: a love story

The beginnings of something sad but mildly amusing. Imagine a world where bad news was the norm and good news was seen as strange and unheard of, even insane.

I think I’ll make it a short story. Lots more to write. Coming soon.

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        “Extra extra, read all about it! Indiana mayor in sordid affair with President’s wife! Extra extra!”
        Blair listened as the paperman rode his bike through the city shouting like a town crier. For a moment he felt as though the British were coming, but could not be sure given the even tone with which the paperman gave his morning cry. Blair’s face curled with displeasure as he turned the page of his crisp morning paper, The New York Moment. He recalled a time when there was a paper, long dead from lack of funds, called The New York Times. That was well over two hundred years gone. He once passed over a few yellowed pages in the back of the research library, somewhere at the top of a dusty shelf that seemed to be aching from neglect.
        “Milly, can you believe this tripe? Only one scandal this week! Things are really going downhill in this town. There was a time when scandals abounded. Now, we can barely get five in a month. What is going to happen to the paper if there is nothing to report?”
        “Oh Blair. You are too dramatic. Just last week there was a murder on the corner of 86th and Jones Street. Mrs. Johnson’s son, Jimmy, shot the milkman. It ran in the paper for a whole month.”
        “Yes yes, but it’s not the same. Scandals are what make The New York Moment a great paper. Without them, it’s no paper at all. You know what else? They are starting to report stories about people rescuing people! Can you believe it?”
        “No! Really? In what section?” Milly cried.
        “The Arguing Heads.”
        “When did the Arguing Heads begin reporting such stories? It is not like them. They are definitely losing their touch. If they keep that up they are going to lose customers. Their ratings are already going down. Maybe some of them are coming down with something. They don’t argue as boisterously these days.”
        “Very true, Milly. I’ve noticed the same thing. They are smiling more, and attempting to actually resolve issues. That is unheard of. This can’t go on. Do they want our beloved paper to end up like that old New York Times? We can’t have a repeat of history. It was things like these that brought that paper down.”
        “You are so right, dear.”
        

© zaji

tales from the road

Another possibility that could be developed into something. Must keep writing and editing and editing and editing.

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The van eased its way down highway 80 heading toward Ohio. Although not its final destination, it still clunked along, cutting through the wind at what felt like 70mph, but was really 90.
        The naked trees flew by on the left and right, while flashes of snow caught the eye of the driver. His steady hands held the steering wheel tightly. He grabbed a bag of cookies to the right of him, by easing the grip he had on the steering wheel.
        The bag was from Subway, a place he never ate. There was a first time for everything. Written below the logo were the words, Eat fresh. He wondered how fresh the cookies really were. He’d never trusted Subway, but his sweet tooth needed to be satisfied. It was his weakness. He pulled out one of the two cookies and bit it. It was the peanut baked variety. His distrust faded as the sugar rush gave way to euphoria. He almost closed his eyes—were it not for the road—as he chewed, biting each corner of the cookie until it was done.
        He thought about the eternal road ahead. The drive was unforgivingly long. Seven more hours to go.
        “Aman?”
        “Yes?”
        “Are you ok?”
        “Yes. I’m fine.”
        “How’s the cookie?”
        “Delicious.”
        Ziza was always alert as to Aman’s needs. She loved him with a calm that could still the vast oceans of the world. Well, maybe it could only still a large lake. Or a small pond. He looked ahead, down the road, and wondered about the time worn asphalt. It was once black, a beautiful black that reminded him of the advancement of mankind. He chuckled at the thought. Advancement. What did that mean? Did anything manmade really advance, or evolve? Or were the time killing creations merely a cover for the fact that there was nothing particularly great about the culture. Maybe everything was merely to fill a void in those who had no real abilities and were bored, or felt useless, or wondered incessantly about their purpose so had to create purpose.
        Aman dipped his hand back into the cookie bag and retrieved the final cookie. Macadamia. He took a bite then glanced to his left. Across the seemingly limitless expanse was land for as far as the eyes could see. It couldn’t have been less than a thousand acres. Possibly much more. Speckled across the open fields were four houses, all spread a great distance apart. A few horses and cows grazed as the sun warmed their strong bodies. Aman let the taste of the cookie work its way around his mouth. He could almost taste the land.
        The land was not gray, like the aged asphalt. Even on that cold January day, it still shone lush, green and alive in his mind. It was quiet, gathering energy, preparing for the Earth’s turn, a turn that would transform everything on what was once considered Turtle Island. Newcomers now call it America.

© zaji

the scrolls of ankh

Excerpt from a potential story.

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The Year One

It was the time of change. The world was rediscovering itself in the aftermath of the great quake. The quake caused their planet to shift, creating a coming together of the lands. The People were afraid. They did not know what to expect because the land no longer spoke to them.

Across the vast plains sits the city of Artrack. Central to the surrounding villages, Artrack sits atop a modest plush plateau. Mahogany wood and braided rope ladders were used to climb to the top, a five-minute journey–two minutes for the strongest warriors. Yori was not a warrior, but scaled the ladders with the same swiftness of the best climber, Ignar. There was a silent understanding between them. Yori and Ignar passed glances over many seasons. They never spoke of their skills, nor did they challenge each other. The shame and burden of losing kept their tongues at bay. The silence said all it needed to say to keep their reputations untainted. Theirs was an understanding among spiritual warriors. This wisdom and understanding kept peace among their people.

The night tossed a blanket of darkness over their land. Every manner of beast roamed amidst the moonlight, hunting for a predawn meal. As they walked the fifty paces toward Artrack, the dead leaves rustled beneath their feet. They pushed aside giant green leaves with large purple veins spidering out to the tips. Dew fell from their edges, cascading onto tiny brush that lay low to the ground, like creeping vines stringing a path to their destiny.

Their destiny was like that of the vines, uncertain of the end, but sure of the journey. Their journey was the only thing they could be sure of; all else was a dream of a life not within their grasp. Their future was the wind that pass over leaves, they lightly shook and then were still, as though wind never moved them.

Ahead of them, near the clearing, they could hear the rush of waterfalls surrounding their secluded world. The water, their lifeblood, runs to the river Xior. At the base of the river lives the spirit of their people.

© zaji

the highway

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The dusty black tar receding behind Panga ran into the forlorn past. Far from the groping and needy future, the road ahead beckoned her to follow.  She was worn from the sleepless drive. Morning became her night and the sun her night light. But a place to bed was more of a challenge than she’d expected. She wanted nothing more than to sleep until death claimed her. Death instead claimed her two year old daughter, husband of five years and her mother who suckled her into womanhood through breast and bravery. Panga knew that if she traveled the roads at night she would see them in the mint green car, driving back to meet her. They would rewind time, return from the great beyond and find Panga roaming the highways; no hopes necessary, only life wrapped in second chances, straightened metal, unbroken glass and bodies laughing in the noonday sun.

© zaji, 2016

the elec-trick company

This is the beginning of an idea I believe I can flesh out and do something interesting with. I was thinking about consumerism, commercialism, capitalism, usury, and the poor economic state of this country. I haven’t done any editing, so…

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The Elec-Trick Company

The line was long. The people were fat. They each looked like humps in a little plump caterpillar, moving through the line, colorful with multiple legs. They writhed and squirmed, seeming to be filled with gas. Their faces looked hungry. They each looked around the foreign space, seeking a morsel, or two. But there was no morsel to be had unless they’d taken to eating people. From the looks of them, eating people was probably their secret past time.
        We inched forward, their eyes on us, the anomalies in the room. Slim. Astute. Clean. Nothing sold in Wal-Mart touched our bodies. The caterpillar parts, however, wore even pajamas to pay their bills. Was it because their lights were already turned off and they wanted to be dressed the part as soon as the lights came on? Plop down to watch TV. Order pizza. Scratch ass. Fart. Leave scraps in box on floor. Scream at kids. Fall asleep on couch. Wake up and head to bedroom. Turn on TV. Recall that the living room TV was still on. Good. Maybe will go down to kitchen to grab another bite to eat and can catch something interesting. Lost. American Idol. The commercial said 40 was the new 30, so indulge yourself in chocolate. Mouths open and another 100 pounds piles on. The bedroom TV blazes on. Late night talk shows and sex. The flashing on the wall as sleep takes over. While in slumber a string of commercials talk about restless leg syndrome and eating more pork, the other white meat. Morning comes and the fat caterpillar part changes its shirt but leaves on the pajama pants; it doesn’t know why it now has a strange craving for pork. Will grab some right after paying the damned bill. “Why’d they cut off my lights in the first place?” it thinks. “I was only five days late.”
        They keep looking. Their parts moving almost in unison to the front desk where separated caterpillar parts sit collecting green paper. Caterpillars like green leafy looking things. They work for the lie bearers, the people who took what nature offers for free and made it into an empire. The caterpillars don’t have time to think about why they are on the line. They are too busy being caterpillars, moving along in little shuffles, into a destiny with no substance or form.
        “Hello, sir,” the separated caterpillar chirps half pleasantly.
        “Fine,” I lie. It’s what you’re supposed to do? Right? Tell the caterpillars what they want to hear so they don’t begin to twist and bend out of shape, losing their form.

© zaji

the altar gods

This is a short story I’m still working on. It’s rough around the edges, but I like the idea of it. I started writing it a while back and decided to play with it a bit today. Tweak here. Tweak there. A few sentences still need rewriting and bit more development might be in order. I’ll see where the editing process takes me. Thoughts?

The Altar Gods

Ankhesenamun saw him, Sahure, off in the distance, over mounds of golden wind tossed Saharan sand. It was sunset; the sky was pomegranate and his skin like wet blackberries under the failing light. He moved, agile and patient, seeking. She sat on the altar, knowing her body would be sacrificed and he would perform the ritual.

His shoulders were broad, and his hunter legs, scratched and pierced, were decorated with the markings of his tribe.

Before she could properly greet the prince who would usher her to the other world, he spoke. Her heart quickened.

“Ashura hanti bemba, Ankhesenamun.”

She stared into his eyes hoping he would understand that she was fine.

“Shembi libara bemba yoturi?” he said.

She nodded. She was ready.

He took her hand and motioned for her to stand. His breathe smelled of jasmine and almond oil. Her hands shook as she closed her eyes. The scent of jasmine enveloped her. His black locked hair brushed her face. It was filled with the smell of gardenias. He ran his hands over her shoulders and across her neck, all the while whispering in her ear, “Baruti shengala bemba tumani?”

Yes, she thought. I want it, I want to be sacrificed.

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Sahure immediately prepared her body for the sacrifice. Her suri fell in a bundle at her feet. He lifted her and placed her on the altar, spreading her legs to prepare her for the other world.

“Bemba turi membi acoa.” His voice spoke from a far place.

He had moved close enough to smell the pungent mix of cocoa butter and her waters–she had prepared, scooping gobs of butter on her skin, imagining it seeping into to her bones, lacing everything with the aromatic glide of rich thick oils. Now he was stirring her flesh and like a lake of lilies in the noonday sun, her vapors rose to meet him, to intoxicate him, and even supine like she was, she could feel the power of the sacrificial lamb.

His tongue pierced her cheuwa, forcing her to moan with delight, begging for the sacrifice to continue. Now the scent of acoa made her drunk, as she moved without fear into the other world.

The gods were watching, smelling the acoa, knowing that she would soon be gone. They sent the rain. They were pleased.

© zaji

when we were one on download

My first novel, my baby, was selected as a USA Today must-read, as I’d shared a few months ago. I do hope some of you will take the time to grab a copy. It’s available in print and as an ebook.

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A race of women have lived in relative peace for centuries. But strange forces have come through the ages to finish what was started.

When We Were One takes readers on a tour through memories of days gone. It is a journey that uncovers the soul of women and the spiritual miles they’ve trod. It honors nature and the vastness of the many possible universes that speckle the darkness.

This story honors women and their relationships. And it honors men and their connection to women.

Visit here: When We Were One

the arrival

I have such a headache today. Woke up with it. I don’t usually get headaches, so it’s pretty annoying. It’s hard to think and even more difficult to write anything that makes sense.

Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep it off and get back to writing tomorrow.

Meanwhile, below is something I wrote a while back. I think there might be a story here. It was born from a collaboration I’m still working on with a well known author whose name I won’t mention at this time.

It is unedited.

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The Arrival

Mumbi could smell the raging distant sea. There wasn’t an echo of water for miles around. But she could smell it. Even as the mud from her rich brown land squished between her toes, she knew that somewhere off in the distance the water awaited her. It called to her like the drum beats during ritual, like the familiar beating of her heart that pounded in time with the seconds in a moment and space she imagined she would never leave. Every beat was a breath. And every breath smelled of sea water. Yes, she could smell the sea–she was keen that way. It was the sea her ancestors had played in and drew life from. It surrounded that place where everything new began. It was Alkebulan; her home. Some called it Af-Rui-Ka. But it was mother. It was birth in all its purity. It was the land of the people, the people who resembled the soil.

Mumbi was the seventh among her sisters. She was born under a full blue moon and came into the world with the same calm and quiet of that cloudless night. All that rustled the wilderness was the wind. And even the wind seemed to stop when Mumbi opened her eyes and looked up at the sky. But she did not cry for the future that lay beyond the darkness. Instead, she looked around, almost examining the stars, as though she were picking up her life from a place she had left many centuries ago–as though she were ready to tell us her story–the story of where she came from and where she was going. Once upon a time, those were the words in her soul, and from the moment she could speak, she began to tell everyone of her once upon a time. She told stories she could not know at four years old. And she saw a future none could imagine lived anywhere but in her imagination. She would speak of the sea, and that one day the people of her land would traverse its great back. It would kick and buck them about like paper. And when it was tired of kicking them about, it would swallow them whole. Her stories became legend. But before they would become legend, they would come true.

voices in the sea

This is a short excerpt from a story in progress. I wrote it many months ago.

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Sea date log, March 21, 2132, I think. Day eighteen at sea. Some days I almost forget to mark the blue painted wood of the diminutive boat. Keeping track of dates has become mundane and at times oddly humorous. I wonder why I continue. I’ve lost track of the days of the week. It could be Monday or Saturday for all I know. In truth, it doesn’t really matter anymore. Maybe days of the week never mattered. Maybe dates don’t matter. Time continues to slip away from me, becoming less and less important. I keep a log only for the person who might find me starved and dead. They may want to know how long I was afloat. My family might want to know. So I keep this diary for them and carve the wood for reasons I still question. In some ways, carving the wood feels ancestral, raw and primitive. It reminds me that at any moment, all else could be lost. So much has been lost already.
The sun is making its descent from the highest point in the sky. Night will come as quickly as it left. I will soon for a short while sleep so I can keep watch over the boat at dusk. Strange things surface from the sea at night. It is like a jungle with wild things waiting for the sun to go down so they can easily capture their next meal. I have become like those wild things, a prey that will fight for life, even in the midst of the lions of the sea.
The ocean undulates beneath my ailing boat. The sails took a proper beating from the storm that cast me into the vast ocean. To be the only survivor on a boat that once brimmed with the life of seven souls is difficult. To keep me sane, I began making diary entries. I was on deck writing yesterday when a strong wind blew away the pages of my first seventeen days. It was then I realized that I needed to continue making the carvings. If I lost more diary entries, or I died, someone would know how long I was at sea. My only hope was that the boat didn’t sink. All would be lost if I went under. No one would know my fate.
© zaji

the path

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I walked the path a thousand times and remembered how deeply I loved him. The path was wood paved and green. The last Indian Summer saw us making love atop a Colocasia leaf. We slipped into each other like a gentle touch slips into memories we claim forever.

I want him again, in the way that jungle leaves want water during endless dry Summers. But he left me standing at the grave side, alone.

I return to the path each day. Some days I exist inside hope. Other days inside childish expectation. Maybe he will be waiting for me there, beside the Colocasia leaves.

 

© zaji, 2016

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