Thursday Writing Prompt No. 148

It’s been some time since I posted a Thursday Writing Prompt, so here’s one that will provide you with a location with lots of atmosphere.

The Rusty Arms hotel was once the most famous hotel on the Isle of Mollard, but a string of unexplained deaths caused tourism to drop off, and eventually the hotel began to lose money. The owners tightened their purse strings, and rather than spend money on upkeep, they needed the money to pay staff. But it didn’t matter, and soon the staff began to quit, one by one, until only a skeleton crew remained — a real skeleton crew.

Now write a short story based on the hotel and its unusual staff.

 

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Midnight Oil

I can’t sleep again. I’ve been having bouts of insomnia most of the year, although the last few weeks I’ve gotten it under control and only had a few sleepless nights. I do sleep, but I end up not falling asleep until nearly 4 a.m. It seems to be mostly stress related, but my failed attempt at NaNo seems to have nixed the insomnia. Mostly. So it wasn’t a failed attempt, not really. I decided to quit because a) I was falling behind and did not need more stress on top of existing work stress, and b) I decided that the NaNo project could wait because I have other projects in front of it.

It’s not that I didn’t want to do it. I want to do all the damn projects, which is my downfall. There’s only so much of me to go around, so I need to be a bit more selective about taking on assignments. I have a pretty good capacity for work, but I start to get balky when I push myself too far, and I was showing the signs of impending crabbiness and the “deer in the headlights” mentality I get when I have too much to do.

Speaking of too much, I adjusted my daily step goal down from 10,000 steps to 7,000 steps. My reasoning was that I wasn’t reaching the 10K mark very often, and so, let’s say I was at 4,000 steps or so, I would tell myself that I wasn’t going to reach my goal. I was building a lot of negative expectations for myself, and something needed to change. By shifting the goal down to something that is just a little out of reach, rather than in the next county, I’ve put that goal back in my sights. I’m into the second or third week of reaching my step goal. Not every day, but I did have a five-day streak and I’ve been meeting it three or more times a week. That’s an improvement. Things take time, so I’m going to keep working with the 7K goal for a month, maybe two, until it’s so routine I don’t even think about it. Then I’ll start building up again.

The Box of Shame

Zim in the box of shame. As you can see, he’s showing no remorse for his deeds.

Last year I took my two cockatiels to the vet after the older bird, Peachfuzz, became listless for a couple of days. One off day isn’t a big deal, and they were molting, which usually means they’re grumpy and sleep a lot, but Peachfuzz is about 21 years old and I didn’t want to ignore something that might be serious. So I packed them up in separate paper shoeboxes and took them to the vet.

Now, Peachfuzz is a real trooper. He put up with having to stand on the scale to be weighed, allowed the vet to listen to his heart (and discovered there were buttons on the vet’s shirt — buttons!), and even toughed it out when it came time to have a blood sample drawn. The only reaction he had was to clench his foot, and having blood drawn is not a small issue for a small bird! But Zim, who is 10 years old, is literally a bird of another feather. He screamed his head off the entire time that the vet was handling him and I’m sure some (I mean, all) of the squawks were the equivalent of four-letter words. Worse, he bit the vet. Twice.

So this year when I took them for a yearly physical I hoped it would go easier. Nope. Peachfuzz just hung out and smiled at the vet’s assistant (yes, animals do smile), but Zim wouldn’t even allow himself to be weighed. This horrible activity consisted of having to stand on a plastic perch attached to a support, which was then put on a scale. Really, it was a bird toy, but Zim flew around the exam room in terror of the multi-colored plastic monstrosity until he was exhausted and landed on the floor, where he promptly tried to hide under a chair. I scooped him off the floor, and that’s when the assistant pulled out the plastic bin. Yep, the plastic box of shame. In you go, Zim!

Of course, he bit the vet again (twice), but the squawking was a bit less than last year’s fiasco. This year I boarded the birds at the vet’s while we went to the Maine Astronomy Retreat and they reported that both birds were well behaved, and had enjoyed whistling with the vet. My husband had worried there would be a Band-Aid surcharge on top of the board fees, but happily everyone survived the ordeal with minimal distress. There’s real hope for next year’s exam!

 

You Mean I’m Not Rich?

This morning I was checking the spam folders on my email accounts and discovered that the White House Chief of Staff had sent me an email to let me know that I won a whole lot of money. Woot!

And it must be real! I mean, if the email were from a Nigerian prince I wouldn’t fall for it, but if the White House says it’s true, I guess I should be watching my mailbox for that check to arrive. And here I thought Monday was going to be filled with work and no play!

In other news, I’ve put in an application for Corrugated Sky to do a day table at the Baltimore Book Festival in September. The show is juried, which means that just because I sent in an application doesn’t mean that I’m automatically getting a spot under the big tent — and there may be a waiting list, too. I’ll post more about the festival when I get more information.