Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Guilt)

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Tom is finally coming out of the flashback he’s been having for the past two Sundays.  But that doesn’t mean we get to snap right back to the plot, like it never happened.

A paragraph or so after last week, Tom is back in his lawn chair with a cold bottle of water:

Clouds

“Better?” Turner asked.

“Yes and no,” I said, exhausted and embarrassed. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be a dumbass,” Turner told me, before going back to the grill.

Dad watched me as I got back into the chair, gripped my shoulder in a way that gave me the benefits of a hug without the fuss, and went to tell Turner what he was doing wrong.

Bryan and I sat in silence for a while.

“Tala and I triggered you,” he said, staring at the bottle in his hand. “We should go.”

“No,” I said. “No, this isn’t your fault; it happens.”

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I know the image has little to do with this snippet, unless you’re in a particularly metaphorical mood, but not even for you lovely people would I risk searching the Interwebz for an image of a “dumbass”.  The term is a tad too subjective for my blood pressure.

In other news, I’m going to see “Inside Out” for a delayed birthday present today with my family, so I may be a little late in commenting today, what with the movie and the probable popcorn overdose!

Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (All Clear)

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Happy Father’s Day to anyone who fills that role for someone!

Green Balloon

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Last week, a flashback hit our wereduck hero Tom, offering a hint about what happened to his unit in Afghanistan.  Unfortunately, he’s armed.

His friend Turner (who is also one of the few survivors from that unit), is talking him down.

Lawn Photo

I moved to get line of sight but he moved with me. “What are you—Grant is still—we have to—”

“Kyle got him out of there,” he said.  He’s safe, Donald; we’re all safe.”

Wolves,” I said, but the fog was starting to lift and the desert night slowly bloomed into green grass in the summer sun.

“Only two, both friendly.”

“You’re sure?” I asked, trying to remember why that last part didn’t ring true.

“Hey,” he said, lightly clasping my elbow, “I’m only human.”

That phrase was his all-clear, so I handed him the Glock, sank to my knees beside the overturned lawn chair, and practiced breathing for a couple minutes.

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Thus endeth the panic attack.  Let the familial guilt begin!

Donald is a nickname, in case that confused anyone—Turner has used it in previous chapters and is using it here to get Tom to believe him.   The use of the all-clear phrases is also established earlier, when Tom speaks with Grant.

It’s really easy to double-check things like that in Scrivener, by the way.  Just saying.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Storm)

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Several people were interested in continuing from last week, when Tom was just tipping into a PTSD flashback in his parents’ backyard.

No one asked for my entry in the World’s Longest Run-On Sentence, but I threw it in for free, anyway (Wewriwa moderators:  I swear I’m not pulling a fast one.  This is how it’s written, which might make me guilty of poor grammar, but not fudging my sentence limit. Right?):

Seabee Sandstorm

A howl, possibly from the second floor bathroom window, possibly from the past, echoed in my ears.

“Tom?”

“Yeah,” I said, rubbing my eyes.

Mahon! Down!

“Tom?”

Man down!

Hands closed on my upper arms and I twisted away and threw a punch, but that wouldn’t be enough (Bryan had taught me that) and I could hear Turner curse and Grant scream and there were more of them coming out of nowhere, leaping out of the swirling sand, taking down the ones who broke and ran because they didn’t know any better, and I didn’t have my rifle and the grip of my sidearm was wrong but it was in my hand and I took aim and shouted in Urdu, which wasn’t right for this region, but it made everyone pause and I might be able to buy the others a little bit of time with bluff and bullets and I knew it wouldn’t be enough, but if I was going to die, I was going to die trying

“Tom,” Turner said, appearing in front of me, “stand down.”  He sounded as calm and sure as always.

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I don’t have PTSD—librarians aren’t usually susceptible, even during the final weeks of the Summer Reading Program—but this is what my panic attacks feel like to me, including the inability to catch a breath.

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The image, which was taken in 2009 by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Patrick W. Mullen III, is actually of a Navy Seabee assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5 in Afghanistan, but it was so outstanding, I had to use it.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Prisons)

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This week, Tom, our wereduck hero, and his brother Bryan, the werewolf, are having a discussion about Bardulf, the Big Bad, and his nefarious plans, which include Bryan.

These plans may or may not include Tala, the young female werewolf who helped Bryan escape but who has subsequently failed to endear herself to Tom.

Some of what Bryan says is coming a bit too close to triggering Tom’s PTSD.

In this bit of their conversation, Tom has the first line:

Prisoner_of_War_ribbon

“And you told him no.”

“I told him a lot of things,” Bryan said.  “No was most of them.”

“And Tala?”

He didn’t answer for a while. “You should see the conditions there, Tom. They’ve bought into his ideas about what wolves are supposed to be, but it’s all lies. I might be biased against packs, but that . . . that’s not a pack—it’s a cult, with Bardulf as their god. And the females . . . he says he’s teaching them the best of what wolves are, but he’s only showing them the worst of what humans are.”

A desert wind, gritty and warm, ghosted across my mind.

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Tom’s reaction in the last line might seem disjointed, but it’s the first line of the next paragraph, so it does fit better into the general flow.  In short, reminders of captivity aren’t his favorite.

Can’t blame him, really . . .

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Image is of the Ribbon from the Prisoner of War Medal issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.  This image is in the public domain.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Home)

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In last week’s bit, Bryan (our wereduck hero Tom’s werewolf brother who recently escaped from the Big Bad) told Tala (the half-feral werewolf he brought with him) that he expected her to be polite to his family, who were offering them a safe haven.

Tala questioned the concept of “safety” and, after I ran out of sentences, stomped back into the house, followed by Mrs. Mahon (Tom and Bryan’s mother) and Jackie (their weretiger sister, who is Not Impressed by Tala).

Tom and Bryan take a breather before they launch into a plotful (hush, it’s a word) discussion:

Salmon

“Lotta bossy females around,” Bryan murmured. He didn’t sound like he minded.

“And you brought another one,” I said.

He sighed. “Take it easy on her, Tom, could you?”

“Depends on what you have to say.”

“Fair enough,” he said.  “Any chance of a beer?”

“Is Dad grilling?”

“God, it’s good to be home,” he said.

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Not the most exciting bit, maybe, but I like how Tom and Bryan interact in it.  I think it defines their relationship better than the “scar explanation” from a few weeks ago.

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The mouthwatering image of grilled salmon was taken by Jon Sullivan and placed in the public domain, according to Wikimedia Commons.