Tuesday, February 15, 2022

#WEP 2022 All You Need Is Love #wepff

*Trigger warning / spoiler alert from the 1590's: Teen suicide

WEP Feb 2022

Julie Ette

by J Lenni Dorner

Julie Ette on her balcony watches the sunset noting the colors. Especially the red lighting the V on the bulwark. Capsule takers live on her side of the protective barrier. Mutagens occupy the other side, their violence loud enough to carry to her ears. How could she ever marry someone who expects her to bring children into this dangerous and divided world?

Yet, at the dinner party this night, her father insists she dines with a man who has such expectations. A handsome fellow with enough wealth to still travel safely. Julie has not seen the world beyond the bulwark since she was knee-high to her father. That was when the variant became known. Most people vaccinated before and needed only one booster capsule to be safe from the variant. For those who had not, it was too late. This strain attacked the prefrontal cortex. Once infected, man became like a violent beast, spreading both virus and violence. Mutagens, any people who had not been inoculated and thus were ineligible for a capsule, were forced out of town.

"Hmm?" She looks to her cousin Ty, who bolted over holding two cats.
"Do you see Rose? She's over there, in the a-line dress."
Julie nods. "Yes, I see her. Where are my manners? Have you met my suitor from France?"
Ty sets his cats on the table. One scampers off. The other sniffs Julie's plate. "Do you know those three guys? One eyes Rose like a cat does a mouse."

Julie says she does not know the guys. Her parents come over. In hushed whispers, Ty suggests the three might be Mutagens. Julie vaguely hears a discussion about not making a scene, but all words are just background now. A cat rubs his head against her chest and purrs. Yes, that affection, the pleasant purr, that is what she feels inside. Not for the Parisian, but for one of the guys Ty pointed out. Her gaze meets his, her heart soars as he smiles at her. And then he is gone, hauled away by yellow-biohazard-suited security. 

She stares at the V in the bulwark that night. What if her family had not been lucky enough to receive vaccines before the new variant? There were fools who refused the protection, but also those to whom it was not made available. Her heart aches for people who had been outcasts long before the bulwark and the virus. She cries, remembering the bulldozers hauling away the bodies of the destitute. Her volunteer days ended. The last soup kitchen closed, the V on the bulwark marking the path she once took to get there. Youth did not blind her to the reality that her family owns the company that made the vaccines and capsules. She knew that, yes, her father's brilliance saved lives, but it also elevated their family to wealth beyond measure. Julie felt a duty to help the poorest of the poor, to give back any way she could. What if that guy she saw tonight had not been given a choice? If only she could ask him.

"A rose does not make the choice to be a rose. Roses are planted and thrive or die based on proper care. Perhaps he was offered no fertilizer, no love from society, no chance to fight to survive."

Knocks at her bedroom door pull Julie from her philosophical debate. Her nurse comes in, takes her temperature and blood pressure, then goes over the rest of the nightly symptom checklist.
"My heart is beating faster. I saw a guy tonight. Not the one my father brought, one that Ty pointed out. I must get to know him."
"You're gonna tie the bedsheets into a rope and go over the balcony, aren't you?" The nurse shakes her head. "And I'll end up patching your broken ankle. I think not. Was it one of the boys the biohazard team removed?"
Julie dances and claps her hands. "Yes! You know of him?"
"Of course I do. Do you think some other medical professional came on-site at night for blood draws? Had to verify they lack vaccination. No sign of the variant in them yet, so they'll get breakfast before being shipped beyond the bulwark. I can sneak you to the kitchen before sunrise."

Never before has bacon, potatoes, and eggs smelled so wonderful to Julie. The fry cook greets her and offers to make anything she'd like. 
"Two onion rings, please. Small ones."
He laughs as he preps them. "Ladies watching their weight. I could spin this bacon into an edible rose, you know?"
"But would it be as sweet as this beauty," a voice asks from behind Julie. She turns to see the guy.
"Hey. I'm Julie. Shouldn't you have an escort?"
"Slipped the guards. I like to roam, you know, unimpeded. Easier to find you."
"Wow. That's amazing. I want to roam with you. Marry me?" Julie holds out the onion rings. 
He slips one on his finger and one on hers.
"By the power of the fryer, I pronounce you married," the fry cook says. 
"Meet me at the mausoleum by the V later, we'll roam from there," Julie's roamer whispers before being hauled away.

Julie goes to pack. Her father comes. 
"Ah good, you shared my thought. You'll marry tonight and head to France."
"What? Daddy, no. This suitcase is to donate to the needy. Ty has to take those guys back, figured he could drop it off."
"Ty was killed while slaying one of them. I banished that roamer. Pack for yourself, you'll marry and move to safety."

Julie takes a coma capsule. Security, thinking she's another virus casualty, transports her to the mausoleum. Her roamer comes but doesn't realize she faked her death. He takes the suicide pill many Mutagens carry. Julie awakens and finds him dead.

"Maybe he did refuse vaccination. Suicidal fool." Julie eats her onion ring. Survival-fortitude and love are what she needs from a spouse.

What Are They?  ... Characters borrowed from a tragic play set in Verona. 
J's snark key to Julie Ette story
There are those who consider that play to be a great romance. 
Proof that "all you need is love" is what the two teens decide when marrying despite their warring families. It's what the famous "rose by any other name would smell as sweet" eluded to, that love is all you need. 
Well, my story has a bit of a twist on it at the end.
Is it a modern-day retelling? Is it a prediction of something that could happen? A political commentary? 
Why didn't the messenger (Friar John) make it to Romeo in the original play....  ๐Ÿ˜ฎ The bubonic plague- black death- didn't have variants or spread via people. 
Meh... this is flash fiction. It's just a story. And a Friar doesn't really work in a kitchen frying food (not as the main job description, anyway). 

Tagline: Shakespearian inspiration for love being all you need, with a viral twist.

1000 words, FCA

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

The #atozchallenge Needs a Graphic Designer

As our graphics guy passed away, the team must find someone else to do graphics. There are two strong contenders so far, but we want to make sure everyone has a chance to apply.


Please share these posts to spread the word! Thanks so much.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

#IWSG and Jeremy Hawkins Tribute


Shout-out to Alex and the awesome co-hosts for today: Joylene Nowell Butler, Jacqui Murray, Sandra Cox, and Lee Lowery!

February 2 question - Is there someone who supported or influenced you that perhaps isn't around anymore? Anyone you miss?


I am losing track of how many people I've lost lately.

The dedication page in my book says it best.
The last two years have been a ๐Ÿ’ฉ⛈ of deaths of friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances... 
I was upset about certain friends who moved away back when I dedicated my book.
But that is nothing compared to what's going on now.

๐Ÿ’‰ I could tell you to vaccinate but, honestly, if you haven't yet, my saying it won't be the request that tips you over, will it? 
It's your life. You can risk it. That's not more or less true because of a pandemic.
But the people you leave behind have to deal with your loss. People that are left behind will feel grief and will wonder if they could have said something or done something to change the outcome. 
Your life isn't a lone island. I can say that with certainty because you're here, reading this. And I'm GRATEFUL that you are here to read this. 
I've been especially lost in grief lately. It has taken away time I could spend with the living. And time I could spend writing, blogging, finding debut authors to interview, commenting on blogs, trolling social media... 
Nope. I was busy weeping and doing ceremonies for the dead. That wouldn't be my role, but the guy who normally did them, he died. 

I'd like to go back to cheering up sick children (the "pays the bills" job). I'd like to spend hours a week writing and blogging and being in my community of writers and bloggers. And I'd like to finish reading a book in a day instead of a few pages a week again! I'm tired of missing people and of having losses for people to be sorry for. 

This post ends with a tribute to Jeremy, the graphics guy I know from the A to Z Challenge. I can't believe he's gone. I can't believe one more person I know died. I was dealing with a sick friend at the time (which is how I missed last month's post). And soon (very soon), the team and I will have to put out a post looking for another graphics person. ๐Ÿ’” My heart is absolutely broken at the thought.

Covid has taken far too much from me. Jeremy's Facebook shows his friends and family telling us that it is what killed him. Several of them ask that people get vaccinated. Fight what killed him. 
You will or you won't; don't bother to argue with me if you're on the "won't" side. 
I've buried or burned too many bodies from this pandemic. 

Please visit: The Insecure Writer's Support Group Book Club on Goodreads.

Operation Awesome Happening at OperationAwesome6.blogspot.com

Please share that tweet.

On January 3, we lost an amazing guy – Jeremy Hawkins. http://www.beingretro.com

Today, February 2, we pay tribute and give back to one who was so giving and involved in our community.

Please honor his life and support the family he leaves behind.  Please purchase his t-shirts https://www.neatoshop.com/artist/Jeremy-Hawkins and his books https://amzn.to/3rNVlnH

Spread the word and let’s pay tribute to one of the most supportive and loyal guys ever to cross our paths, Jeremy Hawkins.

Most of our conversations were related to the #AtoZChallenge. Here are some fun glimpses:

Jeremy conversation with J

Jeremy conversation with J

Jeremy conversation with J

He really did enjoy making the graphics for the A to Z Challenge.
Thank you, Jeremy, for the legacy you left behind. I'm glad I bought one of the limited-edition personalized posters.