Bi-Weekly Story Prompts

Writing Prompt “The Sands of Time Had Run Out”

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This post is for STORIES related to the Last Lin Theme: “The sands of time had run out,”  or “…the sands of time had run out.” Your story must end with these seven words. Critiques, comments and feedback are encouraged on the LinkedIn Comment Thread; non story comments here will be deleted.

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12 thoughts on “Writing Prompt “The Sands of Time Had Run Out”

  • Dean Hardage
    by Dean Hardage ©2016

    Harvey Teller sat at the control board of the vessel, watching the power indicator with a worried look. This voyage had taken a lot more subjective time and thus resources than had been anticipated by Command and things did not look good. The condensed particulate dark matter that served as the power source for the ship’s temporal propulsion was running low and the levels were approaching zero at an alarming rate.

    Harvey remembered for a moment what he’d learned in his training and service about how his vessel propelled itself. Time and space, he was told were inextricably linked. If one could find a way to move through time, one could travel virtually anywhere. With the right temporal vector it was possible to reach the other side of the known universe within a couple of days of subjective time. All well and good until one remembered that there was no known method for achieving this type of manipulation of space time.

    That was before the Rock of Ages. A research physicist working on a means to identify, detect, and isolate dark matter found a way to condense it and hold it in a visible, touchable form. The first time he did it he ended up with a lump of something in the containment enclosure that looked like nothing more than a small boulder. As the team conducted research they found that the ordinary looking lump had some amazing properties. One of them was to affect space time in such a way that it opened a time vector and allowed ordinary matter to slip along that boundary between universes. It took decades but this unique property was finally exploited to produce the first timeship. Using granulated condensed dark matter as their propulsive material they were able to travel fantastic distances in what seemed like almost no time at all. Perhaps it was coincidence but the temporal propulsion units had an hourglass shape. This prompted one of the first pilots of the timeships, having a bit more of a sense of humor than his colleagues, to name the granular fuel the Sands of Time and it stuck.

    Now Harvey watched the power indicator slowly step toward zero. He cast about for some way to slow the drain on his very limited fuel supply, reducing their temporal velocity and fine tuning the parameters of temporal vector they were travelling but the effect was only slight. It might give them another hour of flight time before it was exhausted. After hearing Harvey’s report the Commander called in the crew and held a conference.

    “Engineer Teller has explained the situation to me so I’ll give it to you straight. We don’t have enough fuel to make it home. Manufacturing dark matter has become more and more critical with the sudden proliferation of timeships by just about everyone. Apparently the individual who made up our fuel allotment did not realize how much power we would consume and we have come up short. “

    The Commander waited for his words to sink in, watching the faces of his crew pass through all of the emotions he expected. He saw fear, denial, determination, and resignation in those few moments.

    “We don’t’ even know where/when we’ll be once the fuel is exhausted and we drop out of our temporal vector. We can hope we’re near a system that can support life, that we can make it safely there on our normal thrusters, and that the landing won’t kill us. We all know these vessels aren’t made for that but it is part of our emergency procedures. I would suggest you all find and pack up anything that might be useful in surviving in primitive conditions. For the moment everyone is dismissed.”

    The crew left the briefing room and went to follow the Commander’s orders. All except Harvey. He returned to his post at the control board and stared at the power indicator as if he could slow its descent by an act of will alone. Unfortunately it did not respond to his desires and continued its inexorable descent.

    Harvey looked out a port that was normally closed during temporal travel. There was nothing to see except solid darkness while they were following a time vector but they would not be in it much longer. The beeping of the alarm on his panel told him that there were only moments before the darkness parted. For some reason he could not articulate, Harvey wanted to be the first to see where they would spend the rest of their lives when the Sands of Time had run out.


    Mary gripped the side of the kitchen table. She’d been feeling oh so very tired recently, and now there were the pains in her chest.

    She stayed there for several long moments, breathing steadily, recomposing herself. The water was boiling on the stove but she didn’t go over to it, at least not until she felt strong enough.

    When she did, she dropped an egg in the water, flipped the egg-timer over and picked up the cup of tea that she’d already made.

    The stairs, which Mary remembered bounding up as a child, were now like a mountainside to her. She grabbed the hand-rail to the right and half climbed, half hauled herself up the daunting wooden obstacles, all mocking twelve of them, the cup and saucer rattling in her left hand.

    When she got to the room, her mother was already awake.

    “What kept you?”

    Mary placed the tea on the bedside table

    “Sorry, mother. I wasn’t feeling so–“

    “Never mind that. You know I can’t get up. I need the bed pan.”

    Mary slipped the enamel bed pan under the sheets and watched as her mother relieved herself.

    “I brought you your tea.”

    “What about my egg?”

    “I’ll get that shortly. I can’t bring it all up at once these days.”

    “Don’t give me any of your sob stories. I wish Susan were still alive. She looked after me properly.”

    “I try, mother.”

    “Well you don’t try hard enough if you ask me. Now go and get my egg.”

    “Yes, mother.”

    Mary turned and made to leave.

    “Where are you going?”

    “To … to get your egg.”

    “What about the bed pan? Are you going to leave it here so that it spills and soaks my sheets?”

    “No, of course not. Sorry, mother.”

    “I should think so too.”

    Mary retrieved the bed pan and placed it on the floor at the foot of the bed.

    “Aren’t you going to empty it?”

    “I’ll get your egg first.”

    “Six minutes, remember! I don’t like it runny.”

    “Yes, I know, mother.”

    “And another thing.”


    “This isn’t working.” She pointed to the telephone on the bedside table.

    “I know. I’ll try to get into town today and have the telephone company send someone out. I don’t know if I’ll be able to, though – it snowed last night and the lane … well, you know the lane. That time in ’63 when we were cut off for days, remember?”

    “Of course I remember. I haven’t got dementia you know. Well however tricky it is, get yourself into town and get them to come out. We can’t be stuck out here in the wilds with no way to contact the world.”

    “Yes, mother. So … I’ll go and get your egg.”

    “And make it snappy. I’m famished.”

    Mary made her way carefully down the stairs and got to the kitchen just as the last grains were dropping through to the bottom of the egg-timer.

    She lifted the pan and turned off the gas ring. The egg-cups were in the cupboard above the sink. As she stretched to get one, the pain returned to her chest, making her gasp in surprise. She grabbed hold of the edge of the sink and tried the steady breathing that had helped before.

    A second, stabbing burst of pain ripped through her chest. She groaned, her arms flailing about her now, seeking but not finding succour. She slumped against the table, pushing the egg pan to the floor with a crash, then following it.

    “What’s going on down there?” came an angry voice from upstairs.

    But Mary was on the floor gasping her final, short breaths, and would at last find peace. For her mother, too, although she didn’t yet know it, the sands of time had run out.

  • Rescue Mission.
    “For you, soldier, the sands of time just ran out.”
    Crouching on the straw covered floor of a damp cell, the lone window high up
    beyond his reach letting in a murky light and no warmth, Jed looked at his captor. After three months of captivity, fed on watery soup and rice, he didn’t much care either way as long as it was quick. Even the all pervading stench of mould and urine no longer bothered him.
    Hassan, the guard, disappointed at not getting the reaction he wanted, tried a different approach.
    “The penalty for spying is execution,” his bloodshot brown eyes bored into Jed. “They will come for you at dawn, you will be led out to the courtyard where you will be shot. Your body will be fed to the dogs after the women have finished with it.”
    Hassan took pleasure in taunting his prisoners; the threat of execution was a common one. The first time, Jed had been terrified as he was shackled, blindfolded and led into the courtyard and forced to kneel in the dust. Not much of a one for religion, he had prayed that day. The seething anger that he felt when his captors roughly pulled his chains and marched him back to the cell never left him. The mixed feelings of relief, humiliation and fear left him trembling.
    The spy drone beamed back images of the clearing adjacent to the pass. At first the pictures were of the Hindu Kush mountains with no special features, but when co-ordinated they showed a pattern. Expert camouflage concealed a rocky courtyard where sentries patrolled. Three heavily camouflaged gun emplacements were carefully hidden amid the rough terrain. The images were immediately wired through to the base at Credenhill in Herefordshire.
    A meeting was underway; Sgt Geordie McAndrews briefed his team. Chuck
    Peters, a rangy, loose limbed man of about thirty, Chuck should have been a sergeant by now. His service record was exemplary – or it had been until he had disobeyed a direct order. The mission had been to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a prominent government official. The child was saved, but Chuck narrowly escaped with his life. He was lucky to escape a court martial, and was demoted a rank. This was to be his first mission since that debacle.
    Private Rod Simmons was fairly new to the SAS, he had been with 1 Para before selection. Jerry Tweedy comprised the fourth member of the team, a good man to have at your back, but his problems with aggression sometimes affected his judgement.
    “As you know,” Geordie began. “All our missions carry an element of danger, and this one is no different. This mountain terrain does us no favours; the target is one of our own. Some of you will know Jed Lacey, the poor bastard has been held hostage for the last three months. HQ think they have identified the camp, so, come on lads, let’s go get him.”
    Under cover of darkness the Chinook helicopter hovered as, one by one the team parachuted out, their balaclavas and black jump suits rendered them almost invisible. The chopper sped away, leaving them with their heavy backpacks, climbing gear and rifles. Huddling in the shelter of a rock by torchlight, Geordie surveyed the map.
    “We’ll make our way to this point,” he indicated a spot on the map overlooking the camp. “Then we hole up while daylight lasts. We mount a surprise attack at midnight. And remember, guys, a quick in and out is what we’re looking at. We don’t know what state Jed will be in, so be prepared.”
    Hassan and his rebel colleagues were sleeping off the effects of rough alcohol and drugs when the SAS team reached the compound. The lone guard, snapping awake half a minute too late, was overpowered from behind and silenced by Jerry’s blade cutting through his jugular before he could raise the alarm. Withdrawing a bolt cutters from his back pack, Rod cut through the chain securing the rickety door.
    Jed stared in disbelief as Rod burst into the cell; it took just a few seconds for him to realise what was happening.
    “You OK ?”
    “Yeah! Get me out of here, like NOW!”
    Chuck had radioed ahead for the helicopter, and as the five of them made their way stealthily across the courtyard, keeping to the shadows, Hassan, awakened from a drunken stupor by some instinct, approached the cell with his machete at the ready. He found himself face to face with Jerry. As their eyes met Jerry levelled his Glock pistol. Just before his head exploded, Hassan was aware, with brutal clarity, for him, the sands of time had run out.
  • Kenneth Cartisano
    .emiT fO sdanS ehT (Revised.)
    © 2016 by Ken Cartisano

    It was probably the strangest confession ever heard. Don’t know if it’s true—or if it really matters in the long run. I’ve heard my share of unholy stories, and as bishop of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, I rarely deal with individual members on a one to one basis any more, but this was a special case.

    His name was Dr. Kroll. I recognized the voice because he was famous, not because I knew him. How he got my number is a bit of a mystery, but he phoned me on my private unlisted line, and insisted that we meet in person about a matter of great importance. Normally, I would simply refer him to one of my underlings, but as I said, he was famous, and I was curious. His research and experiments were well known and furiously debated. He was, to put it mildly, the greatest mind of all time. He’d solved Einstein’s intractable Grand Unification Theory in high school. In college he built a quantum computer and used it to decipher string theory. That was decades ago. His latest research had many people, including me, convinced that he was meddling with forces that were beyond human comprehension.

    He arrived in a disheveled state: not the calm, confident, intellectual giant that I knew from his many TV appearances, and said, “Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Father.”

    I ushered him into my study, an insulated sanctuary deep within the walls of the massive cathedral. Considering his condition, I offered him a Scotch. He declined, so I poured one for myself, then sat back in my chair and waited.

    He cleared his throat and said, “Have you ever heard the expression, ‘All things must pass, and this too shall pass?”

    I nodded. Of course I had.

    “Did you ever think it might be literal?”

    I didn’t. “It means all things must come to an end at some point.”

    He rubbed the back of his neck and said, “I—I think I may have broken the universe.”

    I stifled the impulse to chuckle. “Are you sure you don’t want that drink then?”

    He shook his head. “No. No, no, no. It’s bad enough that people are starting to think I’m crazy. If they smell alcohol on my breath they’ll just write me off as a drunk.”

    This seemed unlikely. But he fidgeted with nervous energy and there was an air of desperation in his manner. He had the look of a man who’d done a terrible thing. I said, “Please Mr. Kroll, tell me what’s troubling you.”

    His haunted eyes searched my face for empathy. After a few moments, he began again.

    “You’ve heard about my experiments, right?”

    “Yes, of course,” I said. “Who hasn’t?”

    “Yeah, I know. But do you understand the premise and the purpose of the experiments?”

    I had to confess a shortage of informed opinion on that score. “No. Not really.”

    “I created a time machine,” he said, “and despite all rumors to the contrary, I was able to send myself forward in time to the farthest and final epoch of the known universe.”

    “And yet you’ve returned, it seems.”

    He ran a shaky hand through his unruly hair. I could sense his frustration at my relatively limited intellect. “I went to a place so far in the future,” he said, “that time was at a standstill, no stars, no time, no motion. The universe was in a permanent, timeless, unalterable state.”

    I smiled politely and gazed out the window of my simple stone house. One of those new-fangled carriages was blocking the road into town. “I see,” I said. “And what did you learn, my friend?”

    He frowned. “It’s not what I learned, Father. It’s what I did.”

    I nodded patiently. Surely the man was going mad. I had no idea why he called me father. We weren’t related. A chill wind whistled through a gap in my thatched hut. “Okay, so what did you supposedly do at the end of the universe?”

    “I arrived!” He stared at me wild-eyed. “I arrived. Don’t you get it?”

    “Umm, no. I’m afraid I don’t. What effect was had by your arrival?” I spoke in a sympathetic tone as I tossed another log onto the precious fire that we all took turns tending.

    He looked exasperated. “The universe was in a steady state, man. Static, immutable—and then I arrived and—something popped. Something snapped, flinging me back to the present.”

    “Uh-huh.” He was using words beyond my understanding, concepts beyond belief. When I looked up at the night sky, the stars seemed closer and brighter than I’d ever known them to be. The glowing band of nebulas that girded the heavens seemed to grow thicker as I watched. Surely it was a trick of the eye, or more likely the effects of the concoction of fermented fruits I was drinking. I looked down into my ceremonial clay cup.

    He uttered something unintelligible, a look of desperation on his face.

    I grunted. I could not divine the meaning of his words. He conveyed images with his mouth, a skill I was yet to master. But I knew that his crazy babbling might alert predators and endanger the clan. If I allowed that to continue, the younger hunters would doubt my leadership, and I could not let that happen. Ignoring the fearsome flares of angry Sky Gods, I stepped closer to this so-called ‘future-man,’ and with a primitive surge of adrenaline, I smashed his skull with the rock I had been holding behind my back.


    The creature cowered in fear near the dying embers of the fire it no longer understood, oblivious to everything but its own flesh as the night sky turned white in one final desolate flash.

    And then the universe ended. As if leaking from a cracked vessel, the sands of time had run out.

  • Renette Steele
    Writers Hang out May 4 2016

    Last line The Sands of Time Had Run Out.

    The Hour Glass.

    Timmy sat on a stool with his nose in the corner, his bottom lip puckered out, tears streaming down his face, mumbling to anyone who’d listen. He didn’t mean the words, he knew he shouldn’t say them, but it was the meanest thing he could think of.

    “I hate you, you’re just so mean, you never let me have fun. I just don’t like people telling me what to do. I didn’t hurt him that much, he took my toy, I made it! It’s mine! He always takes my things.”

    Mommy let Timmy sit and stew. It did no good to argue with him, he’d just act out more. What was she going to do with that boy? This was the third time today she’d had to give him a time out, for hitting his brother, this time it was a full out tackle. The hour glass was a good timer for Timmy but often not near long enough for mommy. She stood at the sink washing up the lunch dishes, keeping an eye on the other three young ones, who played contentedly on the floor, every few seconds she’d glance over at the hour glass and Timmy. His tirade of words had slowed but his sobs had not.

    The sand was nearly gone. Mommy dried her hands, took a deep breath and sent up a silent prayer. Pulling a chair over to the stool she reached out and pulled Timmy onto her lap, encircling him in a sorta backwards hug. Whispering:” Timmy you know I love you, you also know it’s my job to teach you right from wrong. No matter what you do I will always love you, even when I don’t like your actions.”
    Kissing the top of his head she loosened her grip. Timmy turns and hugs her tight around the neck.

    “I know mommy. I sorry. I be good. Teddy keeps wrecking my creations and I work hard on them. I hate him.”

    “Now Timmy, you may not like how he behaves, but he is your brother, your very best friend and someday he and your sisters will be all you have left. Your the oldest, they look up to you, be a good example. Teddy doesn’t know what he is doing is wrong, we have to teach him, like I teach you. Plus what he does doesn’t give you the right to retaliate or do something worse. I will talk to him, Okay?”

    Hiccuping;” Okay, Tell him to leave my stuff alone, kay”

    “I will talk to him. Now what else is bothering you? You seem to be having a hard day. You know you can talk to me and telling me the truth will get you in far less trouble, it helps to talk.”

    Timmy puckered out his lip and tried not to cry. After a few hiccups he managed to say,”Mickey at school says daddy is mean cause he rested his mommy. He’s going to hurt daddy when he gets older. I gotta be tough so I can protect him, like daddy protects others.”

    “I am sure if daddy arrested Mickey’s mom it was for a good reason and to help protect Mickey. Daddy’s had lots of training and Bilbo helps protect daddy. When he’s here with us he plays with you like a puppy but when he goes with daddy he is at work just like daddy and he will attack if daddy tells him to. Do you understand?”

    Yea, but I gotta be tough, in case.”

    “There’s a good tough and a bad tough, we are trying to teach you the good kind of tough. The sands have run out. If you think you can go play nice you may go.”

    Timmy would spend many more times in the corner over the years. The hour glass seemed to get bigger and slower. But always just before the sand ran out mommy would pull over a chair and pull him into a hug and whisper in his ear,” I love you no matter what, but GOD loves you so much more.”

    One of the last times Timmy was sent to that corner he remembered hating that ole hour glass and throwing it against the wall. No more time out punishments for him. When Daddy came home he had a new hour glass and made Timmy go give it to mommy. Then set Timmy down and told him,
    “That hour glass seems bad to you Timmy but for mommy it’s a life saver. It gives her time to become calm, reminds her life is short and this stage won’t last forever, as quick as the sands go from one side to the other life can slip by. When she sees it she can see this and get her temper under control so she can talk to you with love not anger.”

    “How is she?”

    Teddy’s voice caused Timmy’s mind to wander back to the present. His father had past eight years ago, now his mom was in a nursing home, so frail but still so gentle and tender in her loving words. The hour glass set beside her bed, that’s what had brought the memories back and the lessons he’d never forgotten.

    He’d called his siblings, they were all flying in this week. His mom had played nice even when his actions weren’t. He didn’t deserve her to be so gentle with him, his brother and sisters. They’d all turned out pretty well. Timmy was a policeman like his father and Teddy a Fire Chief. One sister a counselor and one a doctor. Mom was right, one day they’d be all they had left. Now it was their turn to tell mom how much she was loved and how much more GOD loved her. Hopefully they would all make it before the sands of time ran out.

  • Alice Nelson

    The Unfortunate Darby Cooper (Chapter 2 of Edgar Poggit)
    By Alice Nelson ©2016

    Edgar Poggit watched as things unfolded, “Tonight is the night,” he said. Then he descended upon the life of Fifteen year old Darby Cooper.

    Darby was hiding in her room, ears covered so she couldn’t hear her parents fighting. Her mother’s left eye was still yellowed and purple from the last argument.

    Darby was not only afraid for her mother, but for herself; lately Hank Cooper had begun focusing his rage on her as well. To the world he was an upstanding citizen, a small business owner who was also on the city council. No one would believe her if she told them what her father truly was. Even her own mother, a victim of his abuse, refused to admit he was a monster.

    This time they were fighting about Darby. “If you were any kind of mother, she wouldn’t have run away!”

    “You’re blaming me?! Ha! She can’t even stand being in the same room with you!”

    The slap rung out so loudly that Darby could hear it from behind her bedroom door. She had gotten used to the violence, but never the eerie silence that followed.

    Darby waited until her father slammed the front door, and sped out of the driveway before tiptoeing downstairs. She found her mother, curled up and lying on the floor. Darby thought, ‘This time he finally killed her.’ Slowly she moved toward her mother, and jumped when Trina Cooper said, “Don’t worry Darby, I’m not dead.” She lifted her head, and Darby saw blood trickling from her mother’s lower lip.

    Trina’s eyes narrowed and she said, “This was all your fault Darby.”

    “How is this my fault?”

    “You embarrassed him by running away and getting picked up by police. He has a reputation to uphold you know, how does it look if a member of the city council can’t even control his own daughter?”

    And there it was —Darby’s mother finding another excuse for her husband’s abusive behavior. ‘Disappointing,’ Darby thought, ‘But not surprising.’

    “I’m going to bed.” She said, leaving her mother coiled up on the living room floor.

    Darby worried about what her father would do when he returned, so she propped a chair against the door to keep him out. At 1 am, she awoke to the loud drunken voice of Hank Cooper screaming, “Where is she?!” Followed by her mother yelling, “Leave her alone!”

    Hank stopped just outside Darby’s door, turned the knob, and when he realized that she had somehow barred his entrance, he slurred, “Open this door now, or I’ll kick it down!

    Darby hoped the chair would keep her father out until…until what? Her mother would be of no help, and there was no one she could call.

    She covered her ears and whispered, “Please, someone help me, please.”

    Edgar Poggit appeared out of nowhere —literally. One moment Darby was alone in her room, then she wasn’t. He stood there with a frightening grin on his face, this very old, and very short man, wearing a ridiculously colorful suit, and an old fashioned bowler hat.

    Understandably the young girl began to scream. Edgar Poggit sighed, “Must they always do this?”

    “Calm down Darby Cooper, I’m here to help.” He spoke to her as if she were a child having a temper tantrum.

    “Who are you?” Darby asked.

    “No time for that now dear, that man will be in here shortly,” Poggit said, pointing at the door. “We must act fast if I am to help you.” He smiled, and Darby nearly screamed again.

    Out of his pocket Edgar Poggit retrieved an hour glass, and set it on the night stand. Hank Cooper continued to pound and kick at the door, Darby flinched at the sound of wood splintering.

    “This my dear is the solution to this pressing problem. All you need do is flip it over, and when the sand runs out, poof! All your troubles will be gone.”

    Darby hesitated. Poggit was strange, but there was something about him that made her believe this simple hourglass would be her saving grace.

    She reached for it, but Poggit yanked it back, he was faster than he looked. “First you must agree to do me a favor when the time is right.”

    Darby nodded, Edgar Poggit scared her, but she thought her father was far more terrifying. “I agree.” She said.

    “Good,” He hissed, “Turn it over my child and you will be free of him.”

    When Darby flipped the hourglass, she thought Poggit had a look of triumph on his face, and she immediately regretted her decision. But the thought of her father entering her room so angry, quickly dispelled any doubt.

    Her father continued his pounding on the door as the sand trickled down, the grains shook with every blow. Darby willed the sand to move faster, because the door was giving way. When the final grain joined the others, the granules began to swirl around inside the glass, they spun so fast that Darby thought the whole thing would shatter. When the sand finally settled, the once pale grains had turned the deepest darkest black Darby had ever seen.

    She turned to Edgar Poggit, her face a mixture of confusion and horror —and that made him smile. “Listen my dear,” Poggit said pointing at the door, “to that wonderful silence.”

    He was right, Hank Cooper had finally stopped his relentless pounding, but Darby felt there was something evil lingering in the stillness. “What did you do to him?”

    Edgar Poggit held up the blackened hourglass, “Nothing my child, it was you who sent him here.”

    Darby didn’t want to believe it, but deep down she knew that somehow it was true. “I change my mind, bring him back!” she screamed.

    “It’s too late for misgivings,” Edgar Poggit said, the hideous grin spread across his otherwise jovial face, because he knew what kind of hell greeted Hank Cooper once the sands of time had run out.

    LINK TO Chapter 3

  • A ‘Timely’ Revenge

    The Earl of Sandbury, Dwyne, scrambled out of the grave ungracefully and picked up the searchlight kept nearby.

    He was angry, tired and slow. At 70, digging a 6x4x5 trench was difficult. But tonight, he was finally done with it. The rain continued without letting up like his parents’ nagging. And soon, he will send them also to hell.

    The Earl – ruling over Sandbury, a little village, housing 100-odd families – dragged one of the four body-bags to the grave. The old grandfather clock went down first, followed by all kinds of time pieces from the remaining three bags, and the runny soil. For years now, The Earl has obsessively collected them. His curling upper lip hinted at the eerie satisfaction of peering down at the watery grave of time.

    Drenched thoroughly now, The Earl picked his way back from the walnut orchard to the house carefully. He didn’t want his butler, Andrew, to catch him and fuss over him as if he were a recalcitrant child. Ten years his senior, Andrew poked his unwanted nose in all matters of Dwyne.
    A piercing loud voice called out to him, “Dwyne…”

    “Wake up, it’s five already.”

    Eight year old Dwyne leapt out of bed rubbing his eyes, only to collide into his mother.

    Shakily, Dywne replied, “Yes, mother. I am up now.”

    “You slept two minutes more than usual. The Earl is waiting at the stables. Be back before seven or your breakfast will be history,” warned Maria sternly, looking at her wrist watch.

    Restless in his sleep, the bed sheets felt chilled to his hot clammy skin.

    Dwyne realized he was dreaming yet again. The voices in his mind never ceased giving instructions –

    “Dwyne, you have two minutes to finish your bath…

    No one but you takes 10 minutes to eat…” And blah blah blah, the voices continued.

    Since childhood, his nightmares featured his parents who never allowed him to savour time doing any childhood activities. No wonder he grew up to be a bitter, harsh man hating time and his parents. After the passing of Earl Richard and Lady Maria, Andrew took upon himself the duty to keep Dwyne on time.

    Andrew, as usual, barged in without knocking on the door. Dwyne hated him as passionately as he did his parents.

    The Earl grunted, “Leave me alone, Andy.”

    Looking at his watch surreptitiously, Andrew replied, “It’s five in the morning already. Wash up quickly, Master. You’ve got to finish the paper work today, remember? And, breakfast will be ready by seven.”

    Loud and harsh crowing punctuated Andrew’s tirade. The Earl snapped, “These damned time-keepers… I want all the poultry removed from the village.”

    Andrew looked shocked, “And Barry?”

    The Earl growled, “Who’s Barry?”

    “Our rooster, Sir!”

    “I will get him cooked soon but not tonight.”

    Later, Andrew called for Mitch, the resident rooster-trainer.

    “Mitch, The Earl wishes for all the poultry in the village to be removed. And get Barry to coop down behind the kitchen,” Andrew grimaced.

    Soon after, Barry croaked painfully apparently at being mishandled by Mitch.

    “Call Mitch,” growled Dwyne, savouring his chicken wings.

    Mitch arrived looking defiant.

    “Prep that damned rooster to crow at one minute past midnight exactly,” ultimatum issued, Dwyne dismissed Mitch.

    Andrew piped in, “Why, Sir?”

    “Ervil – The Medium, will call Mother and Father. I am gonna send them to hell,” snapped Dwyne.

    “The Earl and the Lady!!!” exclaimed a horrified Andrew, “My Master… please don’t,” he protested.

    Furious Dwyne spat out, “Don’t you tell me what I can or can’t do and when. Those two screwed up my whole life… And now, you.

    “Just get that goddamned rooster to do its job. Okay? Or it’s your head on the platter,” Dwyne panted.

    The night came quickly.

    Djembe’s heavy beats started pounding off the walls. Smoke tendrils rose delicately up from the frankincense. A swaying Ervil started chanting strange sounds. His voice rose with the rising drum beats.

    Dwyne wasn’t sure if his parents would like the music. They hated it when alive and forbade him as a child to even whistle, let alone play an instrument.

    The Earl sat rigidly in one of the four chairs, waiting.

    The atmosphere intensified with hearts pounding harder with the drum. The smoke from the frankincense condensed into two apparitions. Now calm, Ervil bade them to sit on either side of Dwyne. Almost immediately, Earl Richard spoke up irritated, “Dwyne, why are you up so late? It’s your bedtime. And did you have to disturb my siesta?”

    “What? It’s the middle of the night,” said a confused Dwyne.

    “Who said anything about Sandbury, you idiot. I am a Sheikh now in an oil country. Its midday there,” he complained.

    Lady Maria butted in, “What did you want, Dwyne? And you have two minutes to tell us.”

    Despite his hatred, Dwyne felt himself cowering. He needed them there for a few more minutes.

    Gathering courage, he said, “Mother, you can’t dictate to me now. And you too Father. I called you tonight to send you both to hell.”

    “Rubbish. Maria, let’s go,” the old Earl started to float up.

    Dwyne swore under his breath and waited for the timely crowing of the rooster.

    An already shaking Ervil started moving violently with the djembe reaching a crescendo. And Dwyne kept waiting.

    Mitch reached the coop with Lucy, Barry’s lover, in his arms. Only she could lure Barry into crowing at the right moment. But the coop was empty. A movement near the wall caught Mitch’s eye. He was barely in time to see a man jumping over the wall and Barry’s croak faded. Mitch gulped hard.

    Desperate now, Dwyne said, “Father, wait… My rooster is going to crow any moment now…”

    His parents laughed out loud.

    “Son, you never could be on time…,”saying which, they both gave Dwyne a whack on the head and PooF! they vanished.

    Dwyne knew that for him… the sands of time had run out.

  • Phil Cartisano
    Dead rites
    Janine found it hard to believe that her husband Charlie was dead. He had returned from one of his overseas business trips at midnight, Janine was already in bed. He came into the bedroom, gave her a kiss and said he had some jet lag,. Rather than bother her he said he would take a shower and sleep on the living room couch. ”When leaving the room he said: “There’s something we have to talk over tomorrow. He never woke up.
    Charlie and Janine had married late in life. Both had careers that minimized long term relationships, She was a fashion model and Charlie was a globetrotting investment advisor. Janine was not wealthy but –photoshoots all over the world paid well. But being a top model meant watching your diet, keeping trim and early to bed. She was 39 and still looked good but one of the makeup artists had recently told her (confidentially) that on her last photoshoot they had had to redo one because of a blemish and micro wrinkle. She knew that it was a practice in the trade to make over ageing stars in TV and in films but she would quit rather than do that.
    Now she was sitting in a room with Charlie’s two sisters waiting for his will to be read. Ronald, Charlie’s lawyer and good friend, had called Janine the night before and told her to be ready for all eventualities – whatever that meant,
    Janine had never had much contact with his sisters. She knew they were against the marriage, calling her a “golddigger” and “slut” and claimed that she was only marrying Charlie for his money. Somehow things were smoothed over but even at the wedding they both drank too much and started a row over who had given the more expensive gift She knew that both sisters had gone through messy divorces with children on both sides in rehab.
    The lawyer entered the room and the meeting got underway. After all the legal blah blah was read he stopped and said, “There is one thing all of you must know..” and with that statement, he went into the other room and came back with a young boy in tow. “This is Jose, Charlie’s son.” He turned to a beautiful teenage boy with black curly hair and distinct Hispanic features. “I’m afraid he doesn’t speak English very well.”
    Of course Janine who was not happy to learn that Charlie had a secret life was even more unhappy to learn that in addition, he had a secret family but he had always been a loving husband The reaction from the sisters was awesome – a financial storm as they could see their portion of the estate diminishing. What the lawyer said next did not calm them down.
    “Jose has two sisters that couldn’t be here for the reading of the will. They live in Honduras and also figure in the will. Charlie had a very lucrative practice but the cost of two households and two families took a toll on his fortune. I might add that the mother of these children has passed away and I have checked all the birth and official records and they are in order. The $500,000 will be divided in six parts. I’ll leave you now for a few minutes to decide what you want to do.”
    After the lawyer left the room the sisters assailed Janine: “If you had treated him right he wouldn’t have had to find another woman. We’ll never agree to this, my sister and I will contest the will.
    The lawyer came back into the room and asked them what they had decided. The two sisters stated vehemently that they were going to contest the will.
    “Alright, and you, Janine?
    “I’ve had many wonderful years with Charlie. I will not challenge the will. In fact, they can have my share.”
    The lawyer turned to the sisters: “If that’s your decision here’s what will have to be done. I’ll have to file your decision to contest the will with the Appellate Court. This may take some time as I understand there is quite a backlog of cases. Then, there are the court costs, taxes and my fee.
    And, then there’s a possibility that Jose and his sisters might want to file a counterclaim – in Honduras, of course. That might require a trip there to plead your case before the court using translators.”
    He turned to the two sisters: “In my opinion, since Janine doesn’t want her share, it might be better for you to accept the $100,000 and avoid all the trouble and delay. I’ll even forego my fee.” There was a whispered conversation between the sisters, they finally reluctantly agreed, signed the necessary papers and stormed out of the room.
    The lawyer muttered, ”Most unpleasant people.” He brought the boy back into the room and Jose went over to Janine and said, in perfect English: “I’m pleased to meet you and hope you will come and visit us in Honduras. Both my sisters are Nuns and live in the local convent but we have a large house with a plantation and servants,”
    The lawyer took Janine aside: “if you repeat to anyone what I am going to tell you I could be disbarred. There is a second will in Honduras and as Jose has said both his sisters belong to a religious order that required them to take an Oath of Poverty so you see they can’t accept any of the five million Dollars that is in this second will.”
    “I suggest that you and Jose divide the five Million and offer part of the money to the convent.”
    “But don’t forget my fee,”
    Janine laughed, then recalled the conversation with the make up artist – but with her share of the will she’d be taken care of until the sands of time had run out.

    AUTHOR: plip cartisano = soon to be made into a major motion picture!

  • Incurable Dream
    Man lives and man dreams.
    Often his dreams will come true. It may take time; a long time or a lifetime, but they will come true.
    Mitch believes that with all his heart.
    He thinks of people whose dreams brought change to the world. Men who dreamed to fly made flying machines a reality and changed man’s perspective of the world he lived in.
    Mitch dreams of scientists who will find a cure in time to save him.
    His wife Carina watches the Days of Our Lives soapie. He thinks about its theme using the analogy of sand through an hourglass to describe the days of our lives; just that his days are running through faster than normal.
    Carina emerges into his left peripheral vision and slides toward his centre vision as she heads into the kitchen.
    Carina is his reason for living, his normality where no normality exists any longer.
    Carina begins to open cupboards where baking ingredients are kept. Mitch takes great pleasure in being around when Carina bakes.
    ‘My beautiful Carina; does she realise how much I love her?
    This evening Carina has invited friends to join them for supper. She needs a reason to bake.
    Mitch recalls times they loved to entertain. He was the acclaimed life of the party.
    Tonight he will be a… ‘Well a wallflower I suppose,’ he thinks ruefully.

    The clatter of bowls brings Mitch’s focus back to Carina. He fixes his eyes on her as she stirs mixture, rolls and shapes pastry, stoops to the oven and straightens again.
    As food is placed on the bench to cool Mitch revels in remembering the smells of freshly baked pies, their textures and flavours. He promises to have Carina bake just for him and he will eat until he is fit to burst.

    Then he will take her into his arms once again and fold her to him to dance like never before. He will kiss her, savouring the softness of her full, moist lips, smell her sweetness, and feel the warmth of her skin, the beat of her heart.

    By seven thirty their friends arrive, kiss and hug before settling in to enjoy the night.
    Mitch looks on and waits. Carina is glowing as everyone eagerly takes up her offers of drinks and compliments her food.
    Todd comes over and stands awkwardly to one side of the wheelchair, drink in hand. ‘Hello Mitch, how’re you doing?’ He is mostly out of Mitch’s line of vision, but Mitch catches the sounds of shuffling feet and a little clearing of the throat.
    Mitch can’t respond and the moment becomes awkward.
    Others come over and kiss Mitch on the forehead or the cheek. He hates their pitying looks. Quickly they retreat to safer ground.
    Mitch listens as the conversation swirls around him, but never includes him. He has many things to say, opinions to pass and questions to ask. They build up inside him until he feels like raging.
    ‘Don’t you care what I think or how I feel?’
    Then he sees Hugo loom into his line of vision. Hugo is married to Carina’s cousin. Mitch hasn’t seen him since the illness and he doesn’t care either. Hugo is loud and brash. He leans right in filling the space with his spectacled face, hot breaths blasting Mitch, making his eyes want to water, if only they could. If he had his sense of smell he knows he would be suffocated by stale cigarettes and cheap aftershave.
    Everything goes quiet, leaving Hugo’s shouted words to bounce off the walls and crash around the room.
    Carina steps over to rescue Mitch from this foolish man. ‘Hugo, Mitch can hear very well. Just because he can’t speak or show emotion doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand anything. His intellect is fine.’
    Mitch is grateful to Carina. Hugo makes him feel angry. ‘When I’m cured I’m going to line up that oaf and he will wonder what hit him.’
    The evening struggles on, but Hugo is like a fly in the ointment and things remain a little awkward and stilted. It is a relief when it comes to an end.

    About a week later Carina takes a phone call.
    ‘Mitch; exciting news from your doctor!’ She leans in and kisses him, her eyes glowing with excitement.
    ‘The scientists have had a breakthrough and are on the cusp of genetic discoveries that will mean a cure is imminent.’
    Mitch’s resolve is deepened. ‘There is every reason to keep dreaming. He does a mental rerun of his bucket list: Hug my wife, share the marital bed and eat her cooking. Host a party – noting not to invite Hugo. Drive the car and return to work. Take Carina on a tropical holiday.
    Importantly, write a book about my journey and how worthwhile it was to believe in a cure.
    Talk and spill out all those bottled up stories.


    Mitch senses rather than feels anything is wrong. Next he feels something warm and damp on his stomach. Unable to move his limbs, he can’t investigate. Not being able to speak he can’t call out to Carina. Nothing was amiss when the care staff came and put him to bed earlier. He lies there hoping that Carina might come by to check on him, but there is no reason for her to break her nightly routine.
    Mitch begins to feel pain and the warm, sticky wetness is spreading over his belly. Suddenly he becomes inexplicably lonely.
    At that point light fills the darkened bedroom but he can’t focus and the brightness just as quickly recedes. In the fading light he sees Carina’s face swimming before him – a sweet vision that brings him comfort.
    Her tears plop onto his cheeks and run down into his ears.
    ‘NO, NO No…’

    Sadly the sands of time had run out.

  • Ralph Jensen
    by Ralph Jensen

    He could see her clearly now.

    What once had been no more than a small window in front of his eyes by now had grown to cover the entire wall.

    “A railroad, a gate… a lock? What else…?” Shreds of thoughts now merged with the dank air as he allowed himself to be drawn into her reality.

    He had seen her before, many times, in this realm between worlds, beyond the worlds accessible to ordinary mortals. He had followed her, studied her, observed her path through life on the other side. By now he knew exactly what to expect – no matter what situation would come up.

    That’s why he noticed with surprise the sensation that ran across her face: fear – a notion of it. For a long, long time she had not allowed that sensation in her mind. Whenever it had come up she had done everything possible to dispel it – her anger and meanness would usually drown it all out.

    That did not seem to work now. Not anymore. After all, there was nothing left to do. And that realization that crept up on her, subtly but persistently – and grew the fear. She knew she was in deep shit now.

    Her breathing grew labored, her heart rate accelerated and she observed all this – mystified, alarmed, desperate. Afraid.

    In her hand: a map. He looked at it through her eyes, her hand raising it up, her eyes scanning it, puzzled, unbelieving. She shivered from the biting cold that now began to penetrate her bones. He felt it too. Her feelings were his – or rather… never mind.

    Ahead of her: a dirt path down a steep slope, into the cleft. With disbelief she shook her head as a cynical smile curled her lips.

    Deep in her heart she knew that’s where she was headed. The map provided confirmation and orientation: a circle, three words: “You are here,” an arrow pointing to a line, at the end of which one word declared the final destination: “Inferno.”

    Cries and other disturbing sounds echoed up from the abyss but other sounds, disturbing in a different way, entered from another realm – water running, metal clanging, glass clattering.

    A voice spoke.

    “Not now.” This was the last thing he needed now but the voice was persistent. He shut it out: “Just a moment!”

    The voice retreated.

    He knew there was little time left. The wall that kept this world separate began to wither. He should have done this earlier but now it had to be completed – now or never. It would take a long time to re-enter this realm again.

    He did not remember where she got it – the map, but it did not matter. He knew that this was not the path she would take.

    Indeed, she came to her conclusion: “Well, fuck you too.” She turned away from the abyss.

    “That’s my girl.” There were other paths – up, down, one headed away to in the opposite direction. That’s the one she took.

    “There’s always another option if you don’t care.” That had been one of her credos throughout her life. Now she wasn’t so sure anymore. Not caring had brought her here but she doubted now that not caring would get her out again.

    “Hurry, hurry.” He knew he could not push this but time was running out. The noises from the other realm increased, in volume and kind. The voice spoke again – something about a market, a market at night.

    “YES.” He was indignant. The voice fell silent. Not be for long, though. He knew it.

    She entered the path, tentatively at first, then faster, determined.

    A railroad track – of course, there had to be one – and a bridge, a barren divide.

    He expected the voice to return any moment now, unrelenting, more determined.

    The desolate landscape – jagged rocks, murky waters in the depth, barely moving… fascinating in its emptiness. A million words raced through his mind, describing this eerie world beyond all hope – way too many.

    A gate. Beyond it… nothingness.

    This was it. He knew it now began to dawn on her. Once more had she taken the road not traveled, the unchosen path, for the last time today.

    She cringed in the icy cold.

    Of course, there were other options. He could, for example, put her here from the start, describe her agony and then in flashback–



    “Can you now bring me to the night market?”


    It might make for a more gripping tale, with a better hook at the start.


    It would take at least another hour.

    The world before him began to fade, replaced by objects more mundane – a wall clock, a bookshelf.

    “I want to go to bed earlier today.”

    “What is this world coming to?” He couldn’t believe it. Click.

    “When I was his age the last thing I wanted in the evening was go to bed.”


    ‘Edit/Select All. Copy.’

    He gave it one more try: “It’s only eight o’clock.”

    Click on ‘STORY THREAD: Apr 28 – May 11, 2016’

    An hourglass with wooden frame, being turned, with orange sand. Beautiful.

    “The story needs an hour glass. Hour glasses are cool.”

    “I still have to eat.” The voice showed no mercy but one can’t argue with logic.

    Scroll down. Down further.

    Finally: the Comment Box.

    Yes, many different angles could be explored. They should be… vast worlds, other universes. But unfortunately, for this week… Ctrl+V (Paste)…

    ‘Post Comment.’


    Click …the sands of time had run out.

    Copyright © Ralph Jensen. 2016. All rights reserved.

  • Valsa John

    “So they became deities, hah. Truly! Jaggu you’re amazingly ridiculous.”

    I walked with my guide Jaggu in the Binsar foothills We walked through the enchanting markets selling ethnic stuff.

    “Want some chai, sir?”

    “I don’t think so.”

    “Sir, you must try. It is refresh. You will be man again.”


    “Sir, my English no so good.”

    “Would you stop with that sir? My name is Mark.”

    “Mark sir!”

    I gave in and tried the tea in a small glass. Could you believe it!

    Everybody smiled at me, as I struggled with the hot miniature glass, just as they would to a guest. My heart melted. It was refreshing! I liked the ginger and spices.

    We watched the villagers wearing their traditional clothes in vibrant colours. It was so charming. I clapped enthusiastically along with the other tourists.

    We explored the forest on foot with Jaggu’s banter making we guffaw at times.

    “Okay, tell me the story again, but don’t run away with excitement. Slowly does it.”

    “Oh you foreigners; you ask so many questions, but I like you listen even as a story, but this is true I tell you sir.”

    “Don’t sir me! Okay, get on with it.”

    “Sir, Mark – A beautiful little girl was born to the Singhanias’ and at the same moment at their relative’s place a boy was born. Her name Suhani and his is Yug.”

    “Yeah I know that, and then a few years later the families meet at a kumbh mela –a fair I guessed – a huge one!”

    “Right sir.”

    “Oh… oh yeah the lost and found! Are you telling me the truth? I know movies where two people get lost and meet at the end with a talisman that grew bigger with them.”

    “Ha ha sir, you know movies to forget worries, all fun. And they don’t get lost, sir.”

    “Duh! just Mark.”

    “Yes sir! Mark sir. The families make a commitment that they would get their children married.”

    “At four! God, do you still have this ritual? I abhor it.”.

    The guide coughed. “Not so much sir, but this many centuries ago.”

    “But it’s still happening!”

    “Sir, no goddesses now; no new gods. Sir, listen no, then they get married and go back to their parent’s homes.”


    “You didn’t listen sir.” he teased me, his white teeth gleaming.

    “Of course, yeah, the boy, Yug, is not aware that he was married because of the enmity between the two families.

    “But why?”

    “Because there was a great fight and the bride, Suhani’s uncle was killed by boy’s father, so enmity begin and marriage off from both sides. Then the girl waits as she becomes of age,” Jaggu explains.


    “When girl becomes ready to be mother, sir!”

    I chuckled, “How quaint!”

    “Queen sir? No she a common girl, very beautiful.”

    “You’ve seen her?” I teased.

    “Sir, I’m not tell…and continues. The boy is going to be married and unaware of his bride, his uh… uh bhabhi –yes brother’s wife tells him. Then he decides to refuse to climb the horse.”

    I guffaw. “You’re precious, Jaggu!”

    “Presh’ what?”

    “Okay, so the groom decides to bring his wife back, and gallops off on his horse. It’s like some kitsch film- he reaches the village where Suhaani stays, right?”

    I continue “And the bride’s family offer him burnt bread.”

    “Yug eats the food with humility, and tells the aunt that he has come to take his bride at any cost.
    As Yug leaves and Suhani goes to bed, the aunt bolts the door tight.

    The aunt’s nose quivers as she orders the girl’s father, “We have to get rid of him. If you can get him at the precipice, rest, I will manage.”

    “The father says you’re vicious, but I’m with you. My daughter won’t stay with murderers.”

    “He leaves the cows and they amble out, dashing each other and mooing away to glory. The guide slurps a sip of his nth cup of tea.”

    I continue the tale, “Suhaani sees this and runs to her husband to bring them back. Yug sprints off to do his wife’s bidding.”

    “On the way, Yug happens to step on a Cobra. It hisses and says, “How dare you! I was about to reach the state of moksha with freedom from rebirth and pain and you have made me impure. I have to kill you. ”

    “After a lot of coaxing and begging the snake relents and allows him freedom to return to the place where the snake was waiting for him receive his punishment. ”

    “When he reaches the place, he is beaten black and blue by the henchmen. They were to hurl him down, but decide he is dead and that’s good enough.”

    “But, Yug isn’t dead and limps back to fulfil his promise. ”

    “He finds the Cobra waiting for him. “There is no pure place left on your body. I forgive you. You’re brave and righteous.”

    But Yug is indignant. He has to fulfil his promise, and there is no second choice for him. Even his bride waiting for him couldn’t stop him. He pleads; for he would go to hell if he didn’t let the snake bite him.”

    “My hands and the soles of my feet are clean. My tongue wasn’t hurt in the fight.”

    The snake then bites him on his tongue. As the posion of the cobra spreads, Yug is in great pain and unease. Blue; he reaches his bride, but before she can call the doctor he dies in her arms.”

    “Suhaani is distraught and goes into shock. She dies holding Yug’s hands.

    Both of us were silent for a while.

    All this is too unbelievable,” I remark after a while. I look at my watch and exclaim, “Gosh is that the time? I’ve gotta go. Where’s the cab?”

    “Sir, you not seeing the temple?”

    “No, I’ll be late for check –in.”

    The cab arrives. “I wonder how things work in this country. It’s a wonder with its history, forts, temples and fables, but punctuality is not such a big deal here.”

    On the way the taxi guy points out the temple. I get a good glimpse of it. It’s awesome.

    I reach Heathrow and hope my wife Marcia will be waiting.

    Suddenly a voice cries out, “Mark!”

    She hugs him, “Oh darling I’m so sorry; I shouldn’t have walked out on you!”

    “I dreamed a strange dream last night that we were getting married in the Himalayas in India, in a strange hamlet. And suddenly I see a goddess-like figure in all her splendour.”

    He hugs her, and as they travel towards their home, he tells her the amazing tale of Yug and Suhaani.

    “I think of when I glimpse her statue, I think i unwittingly made a wish then…”

    “Aww that’s so sweet, darling. It’s such an amazing tale,” she says.

    “They were never united on earth. The sands of time ran out on them.

  • Carrie Zylka

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