The 'Lost Barb' Tale

Writers Fantasy posted on May 28, 2022

Contains profanity

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Ok! Remember the beg of May? I posted a dedi for Barb (bakapo), and said I started a tale for her, but didn't finish? Well, I finished. (Well, kind of...) Look: It's from a different image. And it's nuts. It's one of those tales that's all over the map, and frankly I'm not sure anyone should read it! But the thought's in the right place, and I hope you like it! (It gets better as it goes along---which is what writers say when they're pretty sure you won't make it to paragraph 6...) Now: It's based on this image: A Picture So Real... Please look at it! You gotta see the soldier jumping out of the phone---it's the essence of Barb's terrific image. (I love Barb's art! I get tales galore from it. I hope she's still my friend when this is over...) Now. Why a photo of gulls? I have nooooooooo clue!!! We can't post tales without an image, soooooooo...I posed gulls. (I'm not Wolfenshire, folks: I don't have great images to go with my tales!) This image has zero to do with anything...just so you know... Finally: This is maybe the 3d or 4th tale I've done w/ Barb's images, and she's been marvelous at letting me go wild with her work. I hope you all like it. If you don't, I had a bad back. (I really did. Though it's still a lame excuse...) I started commenting last night and will get to you all this weekend! Thanks for your patience---peace and inspiration, Mark
------------------ The Tale
Ok! So I was on the phone, when Alice cried: "Whoa! There's something crawling down your back!" "Shit!" I cried: "What is that thing?" And, boom: This medieval soldier came careening down my waist like Errol Flynn saving Olde England, landed on the floor---plop!---grabbed my wine, downed a whole bottle in 30 seconds, wiped away the wine that'd slobbered all over his face, went "ahhhhhhhhhh," slapped his armor like a gorilla, then turned to me and shouted: "Greetings, friend!" followed by: "Wait---where the hell am I?" He assumed full-size the minute he hit the ground: He was tall, hollywood-handsome, had a long pony tail, with armor and arrows and thick iron shoes--- "Birkenstocks!" he cried. "Best damned sandals in the business!" "You crawled out of my phone!" I said. "(Brushing himself off:) Sorry---did I hurt you?" "Who the hell are you?" I said. "(Throwing out his hand:) I'm from a Bakapo." "A Bakapo?" "Yes." "You mean Barb's art?" "Yes! Do you know her?" "Happily, yes!" "(Jumping up:) Oh man: You know Bakapo???" "You do too, right?" "Yes," he said: "I mean------(whispering:) I'm not supposed to...we're not supposed to mingle with artists---it's the law! (Leaning close:) Technically I'm not even supposed to be talking to you!" "I had no idea..." "Oh yeah! But you know Barb! (Leaning close:) All of us in Mixed Medium just luuuuuuv Barb! Do your characters love you?" "Well........." "Yes?" "(Whispering:) They hate me..." "(Staring:) Hmmmmmm...I kinda see their point!" he said: "It's just, you're a little heavy on the reds...and those orbs...duuuuude: You tryin' to outdo the sun??? (Whispering:) Just a little on the 'loud' side, if you know what I mean..." "Let's move on," I said. "But hey: If I ever need a sunburn, you're my man!" Silence. "Oh lighten up!" he said. "We're compadres!" "(Irritated:) How'd you find this place?" "Ok! So, like, Barb put me in a smartphone, then told me to stand in the 'screen'---I'm talkin' half-in the phone, and half-out...and that gets a bit uncomfortable after a while..." "---hmmm---" "---so I jumped out of the phone, and here I am!" he said. "But why did you jump out of my phone ?" (He looked both ways to be sure no one was looking:) "'Cause if I jumped out of her phone, I was afraid she'd be pissed as hell! Abandoning your post is punishable by being sent back to Pixabay!" "Is that bad?" "(Turning white:) Oh, you don't wanna know," he said. "I see......and, let me guess: You want me to--- "---go to Barb's Gallery and plead on my behalf! (He grabbed me:) Would you do it? Please??? Just go to B and say 'Chad's really sorry'!" "Chad???" "(Whispering:) My real name's Hrothgar, but how many women do you think you can pick up with the name Hrothgar? (Whispering:) I'm god's gift to women, if you haven't noticed...So anyway, I changed my name to Chad: But don't tell anyone!" "Jesus..." "(On his knees:) Pleeeeeease help! I couldn't stay in that phone forever! I mean, don't get me wrong: This place isn't exactly the Ritz Carlton...But please go to Barbara...please...(begging:) pleeeeeease..." "Ok," I said. "Oh, thank you!" he cried. He wept profusely. "Oh, get up! I'll need a photo though---" "A photo???" "To prove I saw you..." He panicked: "You're gonna take my photo? Arghhhhhhh! (He looked down:) I'm wearing my cheap armor! Look, look: It's is my running armor! I can't be seen like this!" He ran to the phone and leapt in: "Sorry---I'll just be a minute--- "(Rummaging like crazy:) Where's my good armor? (To the apps:) Did anyone see it? (To the squirrel:) Did you? (To me:) Ya can't trust squirrels! (Swiveling:) Where the fuck's my good armor??? (Bing, bang, boom...) Ah------HERE it is! (To me:) Turn around: I'm getting undressed!" (Clink, clank, crash!) "Done!" he cried: "Whaddya think? (Whispering:) It's Hugo Boss..." "Wow!" I said: "You could be a great actor!" "(Shouting:) Yes! Once more unto the breach, dear friends...Or how's this? To be, or not to be, that is the question...Is that good? Or: Out, Out, brief candle! (He grabbed me:) Could you feel it? (Shaking me:) Did you feel my motivation? my pain? Be brutal, I can take it..." "I------------" "Never mind: We'll talk later!" He burst into gales of laughter: "I like you, ya know that? You don't have much of a sense of humor---and you're kinda smug---but who's counting??? Compadres!" More gales of laughter. "Well!" I said: "This has been a slice! Now lemme take your photo so I can get the hell outa here." I took out my camera: "Ok, bubba: Stand still. (God are you a ham!) Good: Now smile! No, smile." Click. "Ok, I'm off!" "Wait!" He ran after me: "You have to convert to pixels before you go! (Whispering:) You're going through galleries---it's a must! Then you're gonna pass all those galleries---so I warn you: They're a rough bunch, Jack...Blender? Thug fucking City. Vue? Biggest bunch o' liars this side of Mars! (They act soooooo gentle: But get within 10 feet? They'll take your wallet before they say hello!) And Poser? Don't even ask...Just watch your back, is all...(in my ear:) They're the most devious, stuck-up, self-important eeeuuuuwwwww characters on the site...Just because they've been rendered, they think they're the hottest thing since sliced bread! (Two hours in some 'Pose Room' and they think they own the fucking place...give---me---a---fucking---break!)" "...uh...they pretty much do own the place," I said. "(Pondering:) Yeah , you're right..." "Anything else?" I said. "Just this:" He hugged me till I couldn't breathe. "Whoa, tiger!" I said. "I'm leaving..." "To your Journey!" he shouted. And he downed a bottle of mead: "Worst fucking drink since Adam and Eve!" he said. And he ran away...
The Preparations
So! I put on my armor, packed a digital lunch, took my anti-pixelization pills, my Photoshop Filter Anti-Lesion cream (those filters cause injuries!), and I left... I went to my stable, mounted my steed, realized I didn't have a steed, and fell on my face...Then I looked for a cow, a deer, a large dog, anything; and---finding none---mounted a chickpea, who, though delicious, didn't travel far. So I fell to the ground---ker-plunk!---and wept profusely. When---behold---the Lady of the Lake rose out of Lake Michigan, and---after brushing off some seaweed---cried: "O Grungy One: Even though you don't know shit about horses, prepare thyself for thy Quest: For thou shalt pass over many mountains and fight many foes, and be tempted by many ads and 3D models...and yes, they're snooty, but hey, they own this place...and remember, you're on a Quest, a veritable BFD: Are your ready to embrace your Destiny?" "Yes!" I cried, "oh yes!" I leapt on a rock, swung my sword, and exclaimed: "Behold, I shall plant my sword in this Rock, and it shall be my Sign that I have heard Thee, o Goddess!" I plunged my sword in the rock: It broke in half. "Oookayyyyy," I said: "Let's try this again!" I pulled out another sword: "In the name of St. Stephens, and whoever the hell else is listening to this: I plant this sword in the name of King Arthur---" I plunged the sword in a second time. "Fuuuuuuuuck!" I cried. "(Shoving hard:) Go in! Go in! Go in! (Stab, stab, stab:) Fuuuuuuuuuuuuckkkk!" (I started punching punching the rock.) "Get a grip!" said the goddess, pulling me back: "You're not King Arthur! Just go! And go quickly: Barb's gallery closes in 40 minutes..." "Fuck!" I cried. And I hailed a Horseman, and rode away... (She waited till I was gone, and said: "God, what a tool...")
The Quest And it came to pass...
that the Horseman took me to the Middle Ages (this was a long trip, folks). You could it was the Middle Ages 'cause there were very few cars...We raced past galleries---Vue, Carrera, ZBrush, etc---and they all threw spears at us: especially Poser: I'm talkin' spears here, folks. We even got a glimpse of 2D: God, it was everything we'd feared: A dark, dingy dungeon, stuffed under a rock, on top of a bog, next to the only latrine in western Europe...Poser models threw crusts of bread at us so we wouldn't starve (and trust me, digital breads leave a lot to be desired)...we wore frocks and rags, spent our days inscribing The DeviantArt Monologues on the head of a pin; and we did this under a single candle, whose light kept flickering due to a wax shortage---because Poser models waxed their thighs with it, and used up all the fucking wax!...And every so often, a Poser family would wander by and whisper: "See, Johnny? Those are 2D artists...but don't feed them---they get violent..." The Horseman leaned forward: "I read that paragraph, and you're a little overboard on the Poser thing..." "You might be right," I said. "Chill's a long ride..."
* * * After many weeks, we came across a sign: MIXED MEDIUM GALLERY---NEXT MILE! (We arrived! Mixed Medium Land! What a sight!)
Immediately, characters raced up to us, pulling on our sleeves: "Can you give us a job We'll work for scale!" Some said, "I was in a bakapo!" while others claimed to have been in the bible, claiming: "God got most of Creation from Pixabay." Then the mists finally lifted: Barb's Mixed Medium Gallery opened before us like a teeming landscape, filled with lush forests, ivy-covered castles, endless ferns and grasses covering the world like a shawl of opulent lace---where light winnowed through the leaves, throwing floral patterns all over the forest floor...Further, animals pranced by in corpulent fairy-tale form; and gremlins, elves, queens, kings, lovers, mushroom houses and magic squirrels were everywhere...There was even a man who carried a whole valley on his shoulder (!).The whole landscape beamed with mystery and light and the sense that, if you traveled here for weeks, you'd still not exhaust its mysteries... But, when you looked close, you saw character after character practicing lines (!): Ie, reading speeches, practicing voice ("mee, mah, moo, mah, moe"), primping in front of mirrors, trying out poses, outfits, anything: all waiting for the 'call'---the big moment when they'd be taken into a new image and play a new role: This was the life of the Mixed Medium Gallery...Even in Barb's gallery---where they loved their jobs---they dreamt of their next assignment, hoping to become a star... Examples: I passed a squirrel practicing speeches from Hamlet; I passed three 6 year old children dressed in clothes from Dickens, spouting "'ello, mate!" and "'god bless ye, everyone!"; I passed medieval royalty priming themselves in front of mirrors, asking, "how do I look?" and "am I fat?"...They primped and prepared in the hope of becoming the next big clip-art sensation; and hoping they'd be chosen by artists like Barb---who I'm told paid extremely well, invited them in her very best hard drives, and fed them digital caviar and truffles---which were hard to come by in these parts... In one nook, a character kept muttering, ""---from Annie Hall---then turned to me and said: "I'm trying out for a Woody Allen I have it?" Other characters met with their agents---yes, the bigshots from agencies like Pixabay, who met over espressos and said things like: "Can you handle a sword? I got you a part as a lady who stabs Charlemagne..." But then I passed Pixabay: Ooooooh lord...It was dark and foreboding, the images were packed-in like sardines, where the guards threw them gruel every tuesday: "Your days in the clip-art factories," said one character (whose name is withheld by request) "are reeeeeallly, reeeeeallly bad. We're talkin' tiny quarters, scant bread and water, artists who come by and gape at you, and holding one pose for, like, ever---well, it just breaks you!" (She broke into tears:) We all love to be picked by artists like Barb: She keeps us sane..." "Sometimes we sneak out and rest in one of her photographs," said one. One of Barb's fractal flew by and lit up the sky......
* * *
"What about manipulations?" I said. "You mean Photoshop?" they asked. "Yeah, and GIMP and ArtRage, etc," I said. A bunch of characters showed me their wounds: Gasp! Huuuuuge burns from light filters (brightness, contrast, etc); gaping cuts from sharpening filters; whole faces drooping from blur was worse than I thought... "You artists have no idea!" said a character. "Why haven't you told us?" I asked "We're not allowed to talk to artists!" "But you're doing it with me!" I said. "(Whispering:) And no one knows: Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh..." "Besides," said another: "We've seen your work, and you're not exactly guiltless!" I turned red. "That's right!" she said. "You filter like it's goin' outa style!" (Loud jeers.) "I'm----sorry----" I stammered. "Just give us bandages, free medical---anything..." said another. In the distance, loud Zaps came raining out of the sky: Someone just went through a blend filter! I had no idea, just no idea......
* * *
Well, it was getting late. So the Horseman said: "Time to pay, sir..." "What do I owe you?" "40,000 Guilders." "What?" I said: "Where'm I gonna come up with 40,000 Guilders?" "Welcome to the Middle Ages!" said the Horseman. "40,000 Guilders, or you don't go home!" I rifled through my wallet: "Will you take a bus token?" Silence. "Then how 'bout 300 Pfennigs?" I said. (Gales of laughter.) "Pfennigs! Did you hear that, people?" shouted the Horseman: "(To me:) We don't take no stinking Pfennigs!" "Fuck," I said: "How 'bout a Florin?" "You've GOT to be kidding!" More gales of laughter. "Now listen here," I said, grabbing the Horseman by the lapel: "I don't have any Guilders; we're losing readers by the bushel-full; I spent 6 hours looking-up Medieval Currency---just to satisfy your greedy ass---and how many jokes d'ya think I can make out of Florins??? Huh??? And while we're at it, you told me last night that bakapo's birds 'devoured Paris in 1400': Are you shitting me??? Maybe they nibbled on a Suburb now and then---but which of us hasn't done that??? Further: I have no clue how to end this thing, and you just took up 25,000 words on 'medieval coinage'. Now I'm gonna make one more offer, and you're gonna take the damned thing or I'll steal your horse and change you into a plate of escargot! Are you with me, Sir Lancelot?" "Yes..." "Good! How 'bout a Grzywna?" "A what?" "A Grzywna!" "What the fuck's a Grzywna?" "I have nooooooo clue! But it's real," I said: "Google it!" Well! It was real, awright, but no one cared. The horse took the Grzywnas, gave me the finger, stole 200 bucks from the Horseman, and galloped away. "Great!" said the Horseman: "Now I got no horse!" And he jumped on a hedgehog and rode off... (I frankly thought Grzywna would get a much bigger laugh---it's a funny word!---but whaddya gonna do......) (grzywna's are real, btw...I truly didn't make it up!)
Final Scene
I arrived at Barb's phone image, leapt inside it, and yelled: "Can anyone help me?" But someone turned off the phone: The phone went black, the SIM card wheezed and died, the apps screamed and hid under a rock, I bumped into the Weather Channel App and got poured-on for 20 minutes, and I fell into despair... "Worry not!" (OMG: It was the Lady of the Lake!) "I will free you," said she: "And you shall return to your people. And Chad---the archer---will join his. And all things will be good---trust me. For I am the Lady of the Lake...Byeeeeeeeeeee!" And it came to pass that the Lady of the Lake dived into the waters and got way wet, and left. And the Lord did look, and say: "It is good,' because, let's face it, the lord was a tool. And the Lord went back to heaven and took up Feng Shui, because the universe needed some chartreuse. (This is how we got sunsets...) And......well......I don't know where this is going, but it's reeeeeallllly outa hand, so I'm ending this... I got De-Digitized, hailed a cab, and got home in 2 months. I still had some pixels in my urine...
Alice gave up on me and married a wide angle lens. (They gave birth to several F-Stops.) And Chad---being a man of honor---slept with every female from Chicago to Constantinople, and is presently working his way backwards in the hopes of sleeping with most of the Ancient Near East, by late August. And the Horseman gave up his hedgehog and now rides a very large---albeit agile---bee...
The End * * * Be sure to buy The Criterion Collection edition of Barb's image, featuring an Audio Commentary by bakapo scholar, Janice Berkowitz with bakapo the Archer 16 birds, and a Mermaid called "Bertha" (who slept with most of the Atlantic). Plus: Deleted scenes, production stills, and an interview with the Squirrel. Also: Get your "Chad and Barb" Day-Planners, Mugs, and Thermal Socks! My apologies to Barb for demolishing another fine work of art. (You have my permission to demolish a piece of mine...) (Thanks so much, Barb! Hope this wasn't too insane!) Finis ------------------

Comments (6)


Wolfenshire 10:18AM | Sat, 28 May 2022

This is a true journey through the infinite universe of imagination and dreams, where reality is the jester, and unicorns rule from a star sparkling in the night sky. I am amazed at the twists and turns of your mind, as if I were wandering aimless through the halls of a palace that has no exit or entrance - but perhaps only a window one might crawl through after plunging over an endless waterfall of misty clouds made of spun sugar. You are the master writer that so effortlessly forges ink across the paper like magic spells cast with a feather stolen from a sleeping Phoenix. And like that Phoenix, your words rise from the page to form spectacular new worlds where all is possible.


JohnnyM 3:12PM | Sat, 28 May 2022

I read your entire story over lunch and I can't wait for the movie to come out! You writing style and creativity captures the imagination so well. This was an amazing story and dedication for a very talented artist here on this site.

Not to diminish your great story in any way, but this image you have placed along with the story is amazing and in my opinion you need to give yourself more credit for it. With your talent for writing, you could easily make a story of this seagull image. (think of Alfred Hitchcock and "The Birds" movie.) but instead of the blackbirds throw in a few Pelican birds in the mix, just to add variety. "LOL" We'll leave the crows out of this version, OK you get the idea my friend. :-)


eekdog 4:35PM | Sat, 28 May 2022

Love the border work and very close captures of the seagulls Mark. Impressive capture with the dock in back with the sea tide rolling in. I will get online with my computer tomorrow and read your story. Cell phone view is difficult.


bakapo 1:29PM | Mon, 30 May 2022

Sorry I'm late to comment, the past few days have been busy.

Wow! Thank you!!! What a ride. I love this twisty/crazy tale. Chad (LOL!) sounds exactly like he looks; a confident man who breaks rules. Your story is involved and truly amazing. How you manage to get all of this out of one of my renders is fascinating, because I rarely have much of a "story" in mind when I create something. I have a basic idea, yes, but that's it. I always absolutely love what you add to my images. The Lady of the Lake, Horsemen, squirrels, and birds, and credit to Pixabay wow, cool!

The conversation about Medieval Currency had me laughing out loud. And don't you worry, your art is marvelous; the bright colors are perfect.

Thank you so much, Mark, you honor me with the sharing of this tale. You see so much beyond the actual image and it's beautiful. And by the way... you'd look fabulous dressed in armor. ((hugs))


RodS Online Now! 5:50PM | Thu, 02 June 2022

O.... M.... G!!!!

WHERE do you come up with this stuff?? You were right - it was long. And all over the place. And funny as hell! (Seriously though, how funny can Hell actually be? It's hot, they don't have pizza or maple-plank roasted salmon, and it's run by this really disagreeable chap with red skin - and he's not from Boston - and horns sticking out of his head. WTF?)

Anyhoo.... You, good sir, are a true "Writer." Seriously. I feel good if I get a few decent lines of dialogue to go with the images of sexy babes with big boobs beating up bad guys. You WRITE. Really.

By the way... You owe me a new pair of Haynes, sir. I laughed so hard and long, I peed all over myself. (I know... You didn't need that visual...).

Keep on doing what you do - you are a light (maybe an odd color, but still a light..) in the darkness, Mark!

anahata.c 7:25PM | Thu, 02 June 2022

Thanks so much, Rod! I hoped you'd get laughs out of this. (A little pick-me-up during hard times.) Thanks for plowing through another bit of mania from me...(you should see my first drafts...) And yeah, I could've gotten by without knowing about your Hanes, lol. Not the first image that I was seeking after getting the covid booster! But what're friends for, am I right? And I think Hell is what George Carlin said about the afterlife: We all go to a garage in Buffalo. (Beats all hell outa the guy in the red suit...) Thanks so much, I really appreciate your plowing through this. All the best to you and Jo!


mwthunderclap 7:23PM | Mon, 25 July 2022

I listen to seagulls stop it now as I read your BARD song!👽😎6️⃣ Love a great proving ground!

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