Zanzibar, part 42

This is a continuation to Lori Carlson's Zanzibar, published on her blog 'Promptly Written' on 30 April.
Lori and I are developing this story as a round-robin, and this episode will also be published on Lori's blog.

Click to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14, part 15, part 16, part 17, part 18, part 19, part 20, part 21, part 22, part 23, part 24, part 25, part 26, part 27, part 28, part 29, part 30, part 31, part 32, part 33, part 34, part 35, Part 36, Part 37, part 38, part 39, part 40, part 41


Time was somewhat random when Rodney was in Norman’s presence. Sometimes, according to Jacob, he returned at almost the same instant he left; other visits were perceived as longer. This latest visit must have been of a new order. When Rodney returned to consciousness in his home in the Village, it was in total darkness. He began to prepare himself for the following morning’s prayer meeting. There came a rap on his door.

“Come,” he called out.

Cobra sauntered in. “We been worried about you, Jav. Where you been all day?”

Still mildly confused, Rodney replied, “The Curator called me again, Sandy. You remember Agrima’s question?”

“Yeah. Thought it was a good one. Did the Curator answer it?”

“Yes and no.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“He just said that there are things we can’t understand about how this all works, because of the limitations of what he called our ape-descendant brains.”

“Cheeky bugger!”

“Careful what you say, Sandy. He hears everything.”

“What’s with all this Sandy stuff, anyway? My gang name is Cobra.”

“And your real name is Alexander Perrone. Do you really think the gang is relevant here? We formed it as our thing, a place where we could rebel against our parents. We’re not even together here; Chad and Tracey are in the Smoke and Billy is in the Settlement. How are we even a gang? Anyway, where are the others?”

“What: Cougar, Mustang and Rambler?”

“Yeah. Frank, Scott and Jimmy.”

“Where do you think? Off somewhere with their girlfriends. I don’t know what they find to do with them all day; this place is so Dullsville.”

Rodney smiled a wry, knowing smile. “I imagine they’ll think of something to do,” he said.

“Yeah, well they’re ignoring their real friends. That’s all I’m saying.”

“I’m glad you’re here, Sandy. Can you round up the others for me? They can bring Sakura, Habeeba and Eloise if they like. I’d like to talk to them about tomorrow’s prayer meeting, and try to make some plans for us, now we’re all that’s left of the gang.”

Sandy ran off in search of his friends, returning a few minutes later with three boys and three girls in his wake. The seven sat, cross-legged, in a semi-circle in front of Rodney. They all looked at him expectantly.

“Listen guys,” Rodney said, “this is all as strange to me as it is to you. I have no idea what’s going on, but I do know that if we join the rest of the Village in prayer to him, the Curator may be able to do something to help.”

“Why do we have to pray to him?” Scott asked, “If he’s God, don’t he already know everything?”

The other boys muttered agreement; Sakura and Habeeba nodded lethargically, Eloise simply shrugged.

“Were you listening at the meeting this morning?” Rodney asked them, “Didn’t you hear me say that He can’t fix this? That only the Architect can do that, and that He won’t move unless He knows that everyone in all three places is praying to the Curator.”

“What is the point in praying to this Curator if He can’t fix it, then? Why not pray to the Architect Himself? Huh?” Habeeba asked.

“You weren’t listening, were you?” Rodney replied brusquely. “I don’t have any answers. I am simply passing on to you what the Curator told me to pass on to you.”

Jimmy Martin, alias Rambler, had always been the rebel of the group. “We’re wasting our time here, guys,” he said, rising to is feet, “c’mon, let’s get out of here and have some fun. Whose turn is it to—”

“Don’t say anything,” Frank Cross (Cougar) admonished him. “The less high-and-mighty Javelin knows about what we do, the better it’ll be for us.”

Three boys and their girlfriends stood and left the house.

“Looks like it’s just the two of us then,” Sandy said.

“Make that three,” Jacob said, entering the room.

“Jacob, my friend,” Rodney said, standing to give Jacob a serious man-hug in greeting, “do you have a plan for the meeting?”

“I do. I thought I’d use a tried and tested formula where I say some words and the assembled population signifies assent.”

“So does that mean all we have to do is say ‘Amen’, then?” Sandy asked.

“That is the word used in most of the Abrahamic religions and their derivatives,” Rodney explained, “but the Curator prefers the post-Picardian form.”

“Post-Picardian?” Sandy sounded confused. “Never heard of it.”

“Let me explain, then. Jacob will make a request, ending with ‘and the people say’, to which the people respond, ‘Make it so.’”

“And that’s all?”

“That’s all.”

“What’s the point of that? If all we’re doing is saying three words every so often…”

“What would you want to do, Sandy?” Jacob asked.

“Well, shouldn’t we all pray? If everyone prays their own prayer, there’d be much more going on.”

“And what would you pray for?”

“I don’t know. Wouldn’t you tell us what to pray for?”

“That’s what I’ll be doing. I will lay out what we’re asking for, and you’ll all agree.”

“Still seems pretty feeble.”

“You’ve had assembly prayers at school, Sandy, and I know your Mum made you go to Sunday school at the church, so you must have done this sort of thing before.”

“Yeah, but there, we all said Amen, not—”

“This is what the Curator wants, so this is what we have to do. We don’t have to understand His reasons. We just have to do what is most likely to work. And what is most likely to work is doing what the Curator wants.”

“Quickly,” Jacob said, “the sun is rising. We must go to the assembly ground.”

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Only ten days left — win a @Lendwithcare gift voucher

Three £15 Lendwithcare gift vouchers in free draw

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My wife, Clare, and I are supporters of Lendwithcare, a micro-finance organisation set up by Care International, one of the world’s leading aid and development organisations. This post will explain why.

Instead of simply making an extra loan through Lendwithcare this Christmas, we will buy and give away three £15 Lendwithcare gift vouchers, which the recipients will be able to use to make a loan to an entrepreneur of their choosing.

To be in with a chance of receiving of one of these vouchers, just answer three simple questions:

  1. What is CARE International’s Registered charity number (hint – you can find it at the bottom of the Lendwithcare home page)
  2. Why would you like to receive a Lendwithcare gift voucher?
  3. Do you already lend through Lendwithcare? – it won’t affect your chances of winning if you do.

Put your answers to these three questions in the contact form at the bottom of this post, or in an email (to keithchanning[at]gmail[dot]com), with Lendwithcare 2016 in the subject line, to reach me by mid-day (Central European Time) on Friday 16 December (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you).

Any personal information you put in the form will reach me by email, and will not be visible on this site or anywhere else on the internet. The winners’ email addresses is all that will be passed to Lendwithcare, so they can send out the vouchers.

When we have made our choice, we shall buy the vouchers and send them by email on Saturday 17 December to the three people who, in our opinion, give the best reasons for wanting the voucher. Of course, everyone is going to give a splendid reason, so it may end up being a bit random.

This is a personal offer, and is not connected with the ‘buy one get one free’ offer currently shown on the Lendwithcare web site. It is open to everyone, worldwide.

Three Lendwithcare vouchers, each to the value of £15 sterling, are available as an unconditional gift. The names of the winners, together with their general areas of residence (UK county, US State, French département etc) and the reasons given, will be displayed on this site on 17 December. If you have a preferred way for your name or initials to be displayed if you should win, or if you would prefer not to be identified, please let me know in your entry.

Good luck!

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Or why not go to the Lendwithcare web site and make a loan – or buy a gift voucher to enable someone else to make a loan.

The right tool for the job?

“Are you sure this is the way it’s supposed to be, Betty?”

“Maybe not exactly, George, but you gotta start somewhere, right?”

“Yeah; but here?”

“You got a better suggestion?”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously.”

“I’m not sure I could think of a worse one.”

“Why? What’s wrong with it?”

“What’s wrong with it? What’s right with it, more like.”

“Don’t you think you’re being a bit unfair there, George?”

I’m being unfair?”

“Yes, very unfair.”

“Look. Would you expect to start driving lessons by pushing a handcart?”

“Course not.”

“Then why are you expecting me to learn sheepdog trialling with a Greyhound and three chickens?”

“Seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“So did a lot of things.”

“Such as?”

“I’m not saying. It’s just that sometimes, it helps to have the right animal to do the job. Greyhounds are good at what they do, but you need a collie or a sheep-dog to work with sheep.”


I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 103, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.

Kreative Kue 103

Kreative Kue 102 asked for submissions based on this photograph:
John W Howell, author of the John Cannon trilogy of My GRL, His Revenge and Our Justice, and who blogs at Fiction Favorites, sent:

 Work by John W. Howell © 2016

“I know you’re in there Pradeep.”

“Mmmumble.”

“I can’t understand you.”

“Quambackltr.”

“What are you saying. It is time to go to work.”

“Why can’t I catch a break?”

“I heard that. It’s almost nine o’clock. You need to get going. I’m paying for this cab, and it is not for sleeping but for earning money.”

“All right, all right. You don’t have to yell. I’m getting up.”

“Why do you sleep in this cab anyway? Isn’t it uncomfortable?”

“Better than on the park bench. Did you bring coffee?”

“Coffee? Do I look like I’m running room service? I’m your boss for heaven’s sake.”

“Doesn’t hurt to ask.”

“It does show a lack of respect.”

“Oh I’m sorry. I’ll bet that means no donut either.”

“That’s it. You’re fired.”

“Oh dear me. Whatever will I do? Here take the keys. You going to drive the cab now?”

“I’m the boss. Bosses don’t drive the cabs. Bosses own the cabs.”

“Okay boss. Good luck.”

“Where’er you going?”

“I don’t know.”

“Need a job?”

“Why yes. Yes, I do.”

“Want to drive a cab?”

“Sounds fun.”

“You’re hired.”

“Do I get coffee?”


My effort was

Is this safe?

“Can you take me back to my hotel, please?”

“Sorry, Sir. I’m not getting in there.”

“Why not? It’s yours, after all.”

“I know that.”

“And you brought us here in it.”

“I know that, too.”

“So why won’t you get in it?”

“Tell me, Sir. Are you familiar with the story of the crocodile and the scorpion?”

“Enlighten me.”

“A scorpion once asked a frog to carry it across a river.”

“What’s that got to do with a crocodile?”

“Crocodile, frog; same story. Anyway, the frog was afraid that the scorpion would sting it and it would die, so it refused. The scorpion said that it shouldn’t worry – if it killed the frog with its sting, they would both drown. The frog agreed, but half way across the river the scorpion did sting the frog. When the frog asked the scorpion why, the scorpion replied that it couldn’t help it because it was a scorpion.”

“And what does that have to do with you refusing to get in your tuk-tuk?”

“Can’t you see? Is it not obvious?”

“Obvious? It’s completely irrelevant.”

“Irrelevant, you say?”

“Yes irrelevant.”

“Well, if it’s irrelevant you want, do you know the ancient fable of the mice and irrelevants?”

“You probably mean the mice and the elephants. I don’t know the story, but doubt it will have anything to do with why you won’t get into your machine.”

“There are many such stories. But they all have the same meaning.”

“Which is?”

“Things are not always what people think they are.”

“Okay, so how does that relate to you not getting into your vehicle?”

“Sir. You need to see the deeper truth behind the moral. Things cannot always be taken literally or at face value. There is more to many things than meets the eye. Come with me to my brother’s café and take tea. The problem may resolve itself by the time we return.”

“Problem? What bloody problem?”

“It is not good to lose your temper, Sir. Anything can be solved with a cool head, and as you British say, a nice cup of tea.”

“Let me be clear. I am not losing my temper. I do not wish to take tea with you at your brother’s place or anywhere else. I want to get back to my hotel. I have an appointment I don’t want to miss.”

“Oh yes, Sir. That is a song; a good one, too.”

“Song? What song?”

“I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date—”

“Shut up. Stop singing. Get in your vehicle and drive me to my hotel. Okay?”

“No, Sir.”

“No, Sir? Why not? What is stopping you getting into the thing?”

“Come see for yourself, Sir. There is a spider on my seat…”


On to this week’s challenge:Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; and either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithkreates@channing.fr before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here – pingbacks don’t often work.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries, with links to your own blog or web site, next Monday.