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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by marlowe kitt on January 18, 2011
"...with apologies to Owen, Tolkien, Frost and Shakespeare...."

Dishwater, or The Wizard King of Stainless Steel

"Cannons ready."

Rows of red plastic drinking cups emblazoned with the royal crest march through tendrils of humid vapor, shaking off the sweat as they exit the Hobart Jungle.

"Fusiliers ready."

On the other side and ready to roll into the same jungle, blue-binned convoys of knives and forks huddle together to share a drink or a joke, coveting the day they'll be reunited with their spoons.

"Present arms."

Freshly scraped plates trudge through trenches of muck, the detritus of lunch's war. All dulce et decorum, they stand defiantly against the scalding hot rain that washes away the blood of their ketchup and the yellow bile of their mustard.

Porcelain soldiers and china knights parading their condiment prisoners of war before their King.

The sudden familiar drone of patrons lets him know that the kitchen's swinging doors have granted someone access into his realm. And the Wizard King, he who makes gloriously sanitized summer of our winter of waste-bin discontent, looks down longingly at she who would be his consort, his Juliet, his queen. From afar her face illuminates the murk of his Sorcerer's pool, golden tresses reflecting in the eldritch waters. For that brief, eternal moment she floats from beyond that blue, swinging threshold and into his Stainless Kingdom of Silver.

"Sam, is the silver ready?"

She knows my name. My true name.

The Wizard King cowers. The Hour of Reckoning is ending, rolling up with it the crusader castles of cutlery and crockery, and soon she too will depart... once the silverware is rolled up.

Would she share my kingdom if I asked?

"Talk to her," a bubbled reflection of his own face arises from the murk. "Go on, then, you coward, just have a go." The Mirror Man, the usurped twin, trapped in reflections, fitted with an iron mask of viscous detergent, rails at him. "You really are spineless, aren't you?"

Ahh, Bravery, back to torment me then? He sighs and looks at the little bubble, and says, "I need 50-100 parts per million chlorine; about 2ml of 5% bleach per liter of water, or approximately one cap-full of bleach per gallon of water." That's all. That's it.

Fight his gossamer temptations with your own spells, mighty Wizard King.

"What you NEED is to talk to her. Just start a conversation. C'mon, you can do it." Confidence's venom oozes from the little bubble's lips, sprouting for a moment a brief bubble of its own. He feels its abrasive pull tugging at the craven grime on his heart.

And what would become of my subjects? More arrive daily from the harvest-white fields of the Reckoning Hour, these crowded and soiled refugees, huddled around their scraps, these my fledgling armies awaiting the magic that will make them glisten. Look at them. It wouldn't be proper. Abdicate? This is my kingdom. I can't simply abandon it. Not proper. Not noble...

....Besides, fool am I to think that she would share my kingdom. She would not be my queen.

"You don't know that. You missed your chance on break. How many chances are you just going to let slip by? Now go get her before she clocks out!" Rainbow strands of hope flick across the bubble's transparent features. The Wizard King lays down his rain-scepter for a moment; he gazes at her from his throne-room. The stain of love darkens his heart, oversyncopating its natural rhythms.

....Just one step then? Just a few more after that? Just beyond the blue, swinging doors of heaven... into that glorious realm... to face the hour of my own reckoning?...

No way. After all, "Death pursues the man who flees, spares not the hamstrings or cowardly backs of battle-shy youths." No, my kingdom needs a king, for now.

The bubble pops. The Wizard King looks on as the Mirror Man and his brave voice deliquesce into amorphous spirals. Fratricide! An enviable sponge cuts through the swirl to fearlessly caress a spatula. He picks up both, furiously scrubbing.

No, not yet, not yet. My time has not yet come. Hours to go before punching out.... I pass the test. I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain The Wizard King of Stainless Steel.

The hum and whir of the Hobart drowns out his voice,

"...The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

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