Welcome to Day 7 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

Welcome to Day 7 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! A different author will be featured each day of this tour, with a piece they’ve written that focuses on one of these themes: A World Without Mom and/or How Living in This New World Has Change Me. Help me welcome today’s author, Wendy J. Scott.

Wendy Scott

FOLLOW THE LEADER by Wendy Scott

Darkness swallowed dormitory B49. The lights had been extinguished an hour before at 8 pm. Stevie listened for the rhythmic breathing from the cots, aligned with military precision, one metre apart. Twenty beds, divided into two rows, sat on opposite sides of a red painted aisle. Identical grey bedding topped each hard mattress. The sheets were starched so stiff they were difficult to tuck under the corners, and the pillow was as unyielding as set concrete, but its worst feature was the coarseness of the blanket’s weave that threatened splinters.

Controlling his breathing into an even flow, he opened his thoughts to the ones forbidden by the masters. Silently, he recited his litany of self, as he had every night for the past five years.

“I am more than the number B49-17.

My name is Stevie Robinson, my birthday is the 11th March, and I’m 12 years old.

My father’s name is Mark.

My mother’s name is Katie.

My sister’s name is Jenny.

My family existed.

I vow to always remember our life together before the invasion.”

Tears gathered, but he was careful not to snuffle aloud. The cameras and microphones embedded in the walls monitored any transgressions every minute of every day.

Further, up the row, bed springs creaked as B49-3 tossed in his sleep, deep in the throes of another recurring nightmare. The silence shattered. His roommate screeched into the blackness, “Mama!”

Heart palpitating, Stevie squeezed his eyes closed, stilled his body, and faked sleep. Moments later, boots thundered into the dormitory, followed by scuffling sounds as the offending boy was dragged out his bed and marched away. The doors crashed shut, muffling the boy’s protests. Stevie had witnessed numerous night raids, so he knew to remain frozen.

A torch button snapped on, then measured boot steps resonated on the wooden floor boards. Three paces. A pause. Stevie imagined the torchlight scanning over the statue-like faces. A few paces at a time the master inspected the dormitory until he halted by Stevie’s cot. The smell of leather polish ripened the air. Stevie focused on breathing. In and out. In and out. No twitches. Feigning sleep. Early into his captivity he’d learned the harsh consequences of non-conformity.

Finally, the boots trod away. Before he exited the master intoned, “The Leader watches over you all.”

***

Clad in identical uniforms, the boys from B49 trooped into the instruction room, their orderly line pausing as each boy bowed before saluting the oversized portrait of the Leader. A shadow of crew cut hair, a creased forehead, lips thinned into a disapproving line, and demon eyes bored out of the frame as if tracking each boy’s movements. The identical image dominated the boys’ access zones: the dormitory, the canteen, the corridors, and the ablution’s block. The Leader’s face had become more familiar than Stevie’s own. It had been five years since he’d seen his reflection in a mirror.

Without a murmur the boys filed to their designated desk and stood beside their seat. Stevie glanced at the empty space allotted to B49-3. A sickly sensation puckered in his stomach but it wasn’t due to the beige mash the servers had dished up for breakfast. Years ago, his taste buds had withered away as he learned to chew the gluey texture for its sustenance value. Refusal to eat resulted in ejection, and reassignment to the intensive reprogramming wing. For boys who cried out in the night, the punishment was the same. None ever returned, and within days a different boy would be slotted into their place, and assigned their numerical identification. The Leader’s message clearly delivered. They were expendable cogs in the Leader’s war machine, merely insignificant numbers. Individuals didn’t exist.

Head straight, eyes forward, Stevie snapped to attention as the master strode into the room. “Be seated.”

Chairs scraped across the floor boards in synchronised motion. The master’s laser gaze scanned above the boys’ heads. “It seems a reminder is necessary. Our lesson will focus on our basic principles until the Leader is satisfied that B49 understands their function.”

Lies. Propaganda. Brain-washing. A turmoil of thoughts swirled through Stevie’s brain, but he kept his expression bland and his body language submissive.

Do. Not. Attract. Attention.

The master picked up a cane and whacked it against a board, directing the group’s focus to the three sentences printed in regulation white chalk.

“Recite together.” He traced the written words with the tip of his cane.

Obedience—Leader knows best.

Conformity—Leader made everyone equal.

Conception—Leader created each of us for his divine purpose.

The taps acted as a metronome commanding repetition until their voices sounded like they’d gargled gravel.

“Halt.” The master consulted the clock on the back wall. “Proceed outside for drill instruction. Convene back here in one hour. The Leader watches over you all.”

***

Under the direction of another master, the boys marched around the quadrangle in orderly lines under an overcast sky. Beneath his cap, Stevie swept his gaze around his surroundings. Windowless concrete high-risers towered around the compound, each one housing identical dormitories. Electrified barbed wire fences and fortified watchtowers incarcerated the thousands of boys within the indoctrination camp. Overhead, a drone buzzed, surveying the sea of uniforms for any sign of non-conformity.

A mine field separated a squat building from the rest of the compound. It accommodated the reprogramming centre. The only entrance was via a rusty metal door. Stevie’s nostrils twitched, the air tainted by the black smoke belching out of the stack of soot-stained chimneys on its roof. The air stunk like burnt barbecued ribs. The boys’ route included parading past the centre’s outside gallows platform. Relief flooded Stevie when he spied the empty nooses. A brief respite as today, they wouldn’t be forced to stop and stand to attention, witnessing the distorted faces of those who broke the Leader’s rules.

For years, he’d shared a room with B49-3. They’d eaten, washed, and marched to the same regimented routine day-in and day-out. He shuddered to think of what the other boy was suffering inside the bowels of the centre. Trained sadists, the masters displayed no capacity for compassion.

Behind him, a voice whispered, “His name is Tom.”

Heart thumping, Stevie’s foot fumbled the next step. He didn’t dare turn his head and acknowledge B49-18’s forbidden comment.

From the front of the line the master roared. “Keep in time.” The cane whacked on the concrete. “Left, right, left.”

The path turned sharply by the outer fence. A flash of purple and yellow caught Stevie’s attention. A lone pansy grew between the cracks in the pavement. He risked peeking at the master before stooping down and plucking up the flower. Careful not to crush its petals he tucked his stolen prize up his jacket sleeve. A tidal wave of adrenaline coursed through his veins; he hardly believed he had dared to jeopardize his life for a pansy.

No outcry ensued and he concentrated on keeping the rhythm. Sometimes the authorities planted informants among the dormitories. Boys who traded secrets for extra rations. He could not afford to slacken his guard.

***

The clock hand ticked over to 8 pm, and the dormitory plunged into darkness. Stevie waited ages before rolling onto his stomach. He extracted the flower from his pillow case and brushed the petals across his nose. The floral bouquet reminded him of the tubs of pansies his mom had grown on their porch. After gardening, the pansy fragrance lingered on her skin.

Memories cascaded like a broken dam. Blowing candles out on a chocolate frosted banana cake. Giggling with his younger sister as their dad spun them around in circles on the back lawn. Wet kisses from his puppy, Sparky. Rainbow lights flashing on the Christmas tree. His mom reading him a bedtime story before pressing a goodnight kiss on his forehead. “Sweet dreams, son.”

He smothered a sigh with the pillow. Silently, he recited the words that kept him sane.

“I am more than the number B49-17.

My name is Stevie Robinson, my birthday is the 11th March, and I’m 12 years old.

My father’s name is Mark.

My mother’s name is Katie.

My sister’s name is Jenny.

My family existed.

I vow to always remember our life together before the invasion.”

Stevie swallowed the flower, destroying the incriminating evidence. He added to his mantra. “The Leader watches us, but I’m watching back. In my heart, I will never follow the Leader.”

~~~~~

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA“RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA“RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

Welcome to Day 6 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

Welcome to Day 6 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! A different author will be featured each day of this tour, with a piece they’ve written that focuses on one of these themes: A World Without Mom and/or How Living in This New World Has Change Me. Help me welcome today’s author, Joy Nwosu-Lo-Bamijoko.

Joy Nwosu-Lo-Bamijoko


WATCH AND PRAY

Indeed, these are difficult times. A time for soul-searching. A time to take notice of just how fragile we humans are, and, a time to look to God for solutions.

There is a plague ravaging the whole world, and what are we doing? We are running helter-skelter, trying one remedy after another by trial and error. Each day we are thrown deeper into a pile of confusion with all the false and misleading information we are being given. And still, there is no solution in sight.

We are a people who have built huge cities, shuttled to the Moon, and created structures mightier than our imaginations.  We have accomplished so much greatness, that now we have begun to believe that we are gods – that we have all the answers and solutions to everything. The human looks around and sees the great things God has given him … the knowledge and skills to achieve, and now, he believes he can challenge God. Because of these reckless beliefs, man goes into laboratories to play God – looking for ways to surpass God’s greatness.

The result is what we are experiencing today. God created order; man creates dis-order. God sits and watches us, like He did with us during the time of the Tower of Babel, with man trying to prove that we are gods. With His little finger, He muddled the waters to show us that only He is God, and He is the only one in control. Now, we have gone ahead and messed up the order of things again, and He continues to watch us. What amusement it must be for Him to see us wreaking havoc in the world, and then trying to clean it up without much success. 

I don’t believe that God will allow the whole human race to perish because of this. Those who believe in Him are praying, and those who do not, are still clueless. Eventually, God will relent, and again, with His little finger, redirect things in His own good time. He will inspire a human to come up with a solution to end the pandemic; a human who will probably take the credit for doing so. It will not matter at all. God knows His creatures more than we know ourselves. He will understand. Those who know the ways of God will thank Him for the end of the pandemic because they will be able to see the hand of God at work in it.

Will the end of this pandemic stop the non-believers from trying to one-up God?  Never! That is not the nature of the evil one. He never stops trying to prove to his followers that he is more powerful than God – that whatever God can do, he can do better.

All I know and pray for is that whoever inflicted this pandemic on the world is going to be in great trouble at the end of it all. They will pay! This will come back to haunt them, person per person, death per death, economy per economy, for all they have done. So, help me God!

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA“RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA“RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

#RWISA “RISE-UP” TOUR, DAY 5, P.T.L. Perrin, @ptlperrin #RRBC #RRBC_COMMUNITY #RWISARiseUp

P.T.L. Perrin

WHEN THE WORLD WAS FORCED TO A STOP

…it immediately created a toilet paper shortage. No restrictions had yet been put into place the day I went shopping at Walmart. As always, the items I needed were available. I loaded my cart and headed for the paper aisle. Wait! What the heck happened? A single pack of toilet paper sat on the otherwise empty shelves, left there, most likely, because of a tear in the packaging. I grabbed it. The paper wouldn’t spoil because the package was ripped.

Two women, one elderly and one a younger version of her, stopped in shock, just like I did. I couldn’t help myself. Tears filled the older woman’s eyes, and I had to do something. I handed her daughter the pack, fully expecting to find one somewhere else. Besides, we were okay for a while. How could Walmart, of all places, be out of TOILET PAPER? And why THAT item and no others?

In the coming weeks, when nary a roll was to be found anywhere, I fantasized about the hoarders having to eat it. Roasted TP. Grilled TP. TP Soup. TP pie. I hoped they choked; until I realized that some of them might be families with kids, and they’d be up the creek without a paddle if they hadn’t bought it all up that first week. I began to wish them well and decided to order some online. The next available delivery date was sometime in June, in two months, but it wasn’t guaranteed. A friend suggested I search Amazon for a bidet.

Having lived in Italy in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, I was familiar with bidets, simple low basins separate from the toilet with shower nozzles that sprayed upward. Back then, they were a place to float toy boats, complete with a fountain in the middle. I did not know their true purpose until I was much older and no longer living there. We had plenty of toilet paper back then.

The bidets I found online ranged from a hand-held sprayer, which can double as a cloth diaper cleaner (for those with babies who still use cloth diapers), to a seat attachment that requires no aiming. It appears that the sprayer might take some practice in order to avoid a wet bathroom. But then, if you turn on the no-aiming-required spray without your rear end covering the inside opening of the toilet seat, you could give your ceiling a wash. At least you could with the Italian ones. Amazingly, the guaranteed delivery date was in three days. I clicked the button, quite satisfied with myself.

Neighbors drive to a local farm, where a box of fresh veggies is placed in their trunk, and they drop some off at our front porch. Other neighbors are busy sewing facemasks for a local nursing home. I gave them some colorful fabric and a treasure trove of elastic left over from my long-ago sewing days. Kids ride their bikes in the quiet streets, six feet apart from each other most of the time. Couples walk holding hands (come on…they live together!) and greet other walkers, keeping their distance and using their ‘outside’ voices. Everyone asks everyone else, “How are you doing? Need anything?”

The air smells fresher, the office is gradually getting cleaned out, and my tennis-pro husband burns off energy doing yard work and cutting the hedge shorter and shorter. By the time this is over, it’ll be six inches tall. We’re finally using up the canned goods in the pantry, at least those whose expiration dates are newer than July 2015.

The worst part of this for most people is the loss of jobs and income, although we’re all hoping it’s temporary. We hope to scrounge enough to pay the mortgage for the next couple months, until the tennis courts open and people take lessons again. Younger people with families at home are worried, including our children with their families. Some can work from home, others cannot.

The systems that should facilitate what the government has done to ease the burden are broken and scrambling to find fixes. When this happens again, hopefully in the far distant future, they should be prepared, and the process should run smoother. The same goes for medical supplies and personal protection equipment. There were no stockpiles when this virus shut us down. After this, there will be.

We pray for the sick, that they will recover, and for those who’ve lost loved ones. We pray for those who are feeling the pain of lost income, especially those with young children. We pray for the teachers who have poured themselves into making lessons their students can do from home, and we pray for the parents of those students. We pray for the homeless and the prisoners who have little choice in anything. We pray for Bill’s mom in a nursing home, and for all those who live and work there. We pray for doctors, nurses, hospital staff, first responders…everyone helping others though this.

We were both sick in January, and so were some of our kids and grandkids. Could it have been this virus, this invisible scourge, that made us miserable for a while and then left us to recover? Perhaps. Perhaps many people have had it unknowingly and are now immune, with antibodies that can help someone who is seriously ill to recover. In time, we may all be tested, and then we’ll know for sure.

For now, we practice social distancing. We stay home and catch up on things we’d been meaning to do for the last twenty years, and thank the good Lord we have a home to shelter in. We follow the rules, not to protect ourselves, but to protect the people around us, known and not known, just in case. We are witnessing the spirit of the people who live here, who, when faced with calamity, reach out and help their neighbors. We have never been prouder to be Americans than we are right now.

The bidet arrived right on time. It looks nice in its box, which will remain closed until we run out of toilet paper, an unlikely issue with our kids and neighbors watching out for us. Neighbors, if you run out, we have some to share. I want to try that bidet.

Now about those toilet paper hoarders…

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA“RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA“RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

Welcome to day 2 of the #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp Blog Tour!

Meet D. L. Finn, whose poetry captures what many of us feel about how this pandemic is affecting our lives.

D. L. Finn’s Poetry

MISTY MOUNTAIN MOMENT

It flows quietly on a breeze

Covering the landscape in its presence.

The world simplifies at that moment

While the mountain mist intensifies.

Its threatening chill keeps us indoors

Watching…

Waiting…

Worrying…

How long will it eliminate color from our world?

Yet, we’re securely tucked away inside.

We have a full stomach.

A place to sleep… others don’t.

Some live outside in this mountain mist

Trying to survive.

We offer what we can… from a safe distance.

As we head back to our protected lives

Suddenly, we get a glimpse past the monochrome.

Then we remember that a dreary gray mountain moment

Does not subdue the light that shines within all of us.

GONE

Gone is my freedom as I shelter at home.

Gone is abundant supplies; I must get in line to shop.

Gone are family gatherings, events, and appointments.

Gone is the income from those deemed non-essential.

Gone is the guarantee they will be helped.

This is all replaced by a new world.

Where procuring toilet paper is a reason to celebrate.

Where putting my wants over someone’s safety is a priority.

Where people risk their lives to save others.

Where people do without, perhaps for the first time.

Where learning how to make what used to be available.

Yes, so much has changed and is gone—for now.

My hope is this new insight and caring…

Stays long after everything that is gone, returns

And things go back to a new compassionate normal.

STORM

A storm tore through our world unseen

But we felt its presence as hospitals filled.

We tried to wash it off and hide from it

Yet, it kept coming.

Finally, we headed into the storm shelter

Only venturing out for food…

Unless we were needed to fight this storm.

So many heroes raced into the chaos

Sadly, some did not make it back home.

While the rest of us waited in our safety

Grateful for what we had

Worried for what we did not.

Here we wait for that sunny day

When the storm fades away,

And we return to normal again

Armed with a new understanding…

Of how fragile our existence is.

Something the wise won’t ever forget.

New Year, New Decade, New #RRBC Rave Reviews Book Club!

Happy New Year! Overlooking the fact that decades begin with the number 1, and not zero, I also wish you a Happy New Decade!

Since some of us in our local writers groups got together and started SeaQuill Writers Cooperative (I’m trying out the hashtag #SQWC for social media), I’ve been on the lookout for great resources for writers. A friend of mine raved about this one, and I joined late last year — just in time for their fresh start.

Check out the all-new RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB at their new location, RaveReviewsBookClub.wordpress.com.  #RRBC is a great place to showcase your books, get them read, and get reviews! What I find neat about it is that they operate in a manner I’m fully on board with. Everyone helps everyone else out! I’m reading and reviewing members’ books while they read and review mine. It isn’t quid pro quo, so the ones reviewing mine may not be the same authors of the ones I’m reading. You have plenty of choices.

If you’re an author looking for great support, #RRBC is a great place to be.

If you’re looking to grow as a writer, check out #RRBC.

If you’re looking for a community where your peers push for your success as hard as they push for their own, take a good look at #RRBC!

When you visit, #follow the site so that you’re kept up-to-date with all the awesome news they’ll be sharing in 2020.

If you like what you see after looking around the site, then please JOIN #RRBC and discover what a great community this is.

Until next time!
Patty