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ERB 100-Word Drabbles
by Robert Allen Lupton
A drabble is a short work of fiction of one hundred words in length.
The purpose of the drabble is brevity, testing the author's ability
to express interesting and meaningful ideas in a confined space.
THIEVING SONER ELVES
May 25 Daily Drabble:
The old shoemaker had arthritis and his gnarly swollen finger weren't as nimble as they once were. He was dozens of shoes behind in his contract and the King executed non-performers.
He brewed the special tea that relieved his pain and worked until midnight. He drank another glass of tepid tea.
Occasionally, he woke from his tea-induced stupor and saw visions of little people laughing, dancing, smoking, and making shoes.
The next morning his workshop was filled with hundreds of shoes, but the little people were gone and his stash of herbal tea leaves was missing.
Damn thieving stoner elves.
Daily drabble 5/27/2018 ~ This one is called "Attention Span."
Nkima, the monkey, was hungry except when he was too curious to remember to be hungry.
He watched the man put the shiny rocks in the bangstick.
While the man slept, Nkima’s nimble fingers removed the rocks. The stones tasted bad and Nkima threw them in the river.
Nkima and his friends played loudly after sunrise. The man grabbed the bangstick and tried to shoot the monkeys.
After a moment, he threw it on the ground and stomped on it. Nkima wondered why the man was so angry, but then he saw a ripe melon and remembered he was hungry.
Daily Drabble 5/28/2018: "Be Prepared"
Pat finished reading Pellucidar, sold his belongings, and searched for the polar opening.
He dressed like a great hunter, including twin Bowie knifes and a Sharpshooter rifle.
He wanted to see dinosaurs, cavemen, and saber-toothed tigers. He never practiced, but he looked damn good.
He survived the cold, found the opening, and stood beneath the eternal sun. Food supplies depleted, he decided to hunt. He’d never fired his rifle and he couldn’t use a compass.
A dyrodor, a carnivorous flying stegosaurus caught him raiding her nest. At least, he got to see one dinosaur before he died.
DOLLY FOR DINNER
The May 29th daily drabble stays Pellucidar, created by ERB. 100 words long. It's called, "Dolly for Dinner:
The Dolly Dorcas hadn’t seen the sun for weeks. There no whales, the sea was empty of fish, and food supplies ran out near Baffin Island. The little man rigged the cannibal lotteries until he was the sole survivor. One man can’t sail a whaling ship and she ran aground under the eternal sun.
He finished eating the Swede before he was captured by the cannibalistic Sabretooth Men. Poor diet, shame, and endless captivity took his mind. He didn’t remember his name, but knew it wasn’t Dolly Dorcas and his motto was “Eat the bastards before they eat you.”
What's For Dinner"
AN ULSIO STATE OF MIND
The May 30th Drabble is called, "An Ulsio State of Mind", 100 words.
The ulsio was an illusion created by a Lotharian mind to reinforce the realism of an imaginary army.
He appeared and vanished along with the throng of soldiers, until one day he didn’t vanish.
He searched the semi-abandoned city for food and a mate. He discovered a mind-created female as disoriented as he was.
They scavenged for food, mated, and built a nest.
Months later, several hundred ulsios strong, they stumbled upon the surviving Lotharian responsible for their creation.
His strength lay in illusions, not in battle. They ate him. When the final morsel was devoured, the ulsios disappeared.
KALDANE, IT'S WHAT'S FOR DINNER
The May 31 drabble, exactly 100 words, takes place on Barsoom. It's called, "Kaldane, It's What's For Dinner."
Moogoo, the Kaldane, was alone after his Rykor died. He couldn’t move quickly because he was mostly head. Little feet make slow travel. His strong Barsoomian mind projected a command for some less developed denizen to carry him back to Bantoom.
A Warhoon warrior arrived and dismounted from his thoat. They dueled mentally. Moogoo prevailed and the warrior carried him across the dead sea bottom. A female Warhoon rode alongside the two as they followed the path of the hurtling moons. They camped, she built a fire, and spitted the Kaldane on her longsword. “It’s about time you caught dinner.”
On the road for a few days and didn't post daily drabbles. Here's one for June 5. It's called "Balancing Act".
The Red Martian healer had seen over 900 winters before she took the voyage down the River Iss. Her thoat collapsed and pinned her to the rocky soil. She heard the banth approach and stared at Jasoom in the sky and wished herself there.
She woke in an Arizona cave. She couldn’t walk in the strong gravity and slowly starved to death. Years later a former soldier named John Carter found her bones. The universe is a harsh mistress and demands balance. An astral projection to Jasoom is not free.
There is always a price. John Carter woke on Mars.
Daily Drabble 6/6/2018. One more from Barsoom. The title is "Shell Game." 100 words as always.
Life wasn’t easy in a Thark incubator. Tars Tarkas learned quickly. The earliest born preyed on the last hatched. Tars wasn’t actually hatched, he fought his way from his shell and killed the two cannibalistic children planning to eat him.
He hit another child who was tearing a shell apart and saved the female, Gozava, who was still inside. It was forbidden love at first sight.
Gozava said, “You’ll rule the Tharks and I will never leave your side.”
Years later, Tarkas proved her prophecy by avenging her torture and murder. “Death to Tal Hajus. Long live, Tars Tarkas.”
The June 7th one hundred word drabble honors 'The Oakdale Affair" by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It's called, "Train Time."
Bridge waded across the creek and chased the train with his shoe soles flapping with every step. The leather folded double on his left shoe and tripped him.
The train sped away toward Chicago.
Bridge limped back to the hobo camp and built a fire to dry his shoes. He made coffee and beans in a couple of tin cans and huddled against the cold. He traded half the beans for a partial roll of tape and wrapped his shoes.
A hobo asked, “Miss the train?”
“Not to worry. Some you miss. Some you catch. Another train always comes along.”
RUNNING IN CIRCLES
Today's June 8th 100 word drabble returns to the world of Nkima, jungle adventurer extraordinaire. It's called "Running in Circles."
The lion was satiated. Bara, the deer, had been slow today. He slept beneath an Acacia tree and his snores woke Nkima from his nap. Nkima pelted the lion with twigs and seed pods, but he didn’t wake.
Occasionally, a vulture ventured to closely and the snores changed to growls long enough to frighten the bird.
Nkima wouldn’t let the lion’s snores drive him from his perch. He tied a deer’s severed foreleg to the lion’s tail. The lion woke and chased the foreleg in circles. Nkima taunted the lion and laughed so hard he almost fell from the tree.
No drabble for June 9th. I was reviewing my copy of Clark A. Brady's book, The Burroughs' Cyclopedia and decided that it looked unfinished on the shelf without a dust jacket (as published) so I made one for the book. Didn't turn out all that bad.
The June 10 100 word drabble of the day is a Tarzan / Tantor drabble. It's called, "Bad Hunters." The illustration is from Jungle Tales of Tarzan ~ Frank Frazetta art.
Tarzan tracked the elephant killers to the native compound where they’d hired their guides.
He waited quietly until the white hunters and natives drank and danced themselves into a stupor.
Tarzan made several trips to retrieve and bury the ivory. He silently took the hunters’ guns and threw them into the river.
He tied vines to the chief and the hunters and urged Tantor to move and hoisted the evildoers into the trees. Tarzan rode the elephant to the dangling men. The elephant screamed and beat them bloody.
Tarzan said, “Tantor says leave and don’t come back. He doesn’t forget.”
NO GOOD DEED
Here's the June 11th 100 word drabble of the day. Still in the worlds of ERB, today's drabble is called, "No Good Deed."
Tarzan watched the white men’s safari and they hunted all the time. Tarzan thought they were hungry. They weren’t good hunters and they didn’t eat the bounty of fruits and berries. They didn’t plant or harvest. They marched under the hot sun and killed animals.
Tarzan pitied the stupid men. They didn’t know how to find food. They must have come from somewhere far worse than Africa. Tarzan killed an antelope and dropped the carcass in their camp. The white men screamed and emptied their rifles into the trees. The bearers ran away. Tarzan left.
You can’t help some people
Today's June 12th drabble, exactly 100 words starts on Barsoom and ends in a Jasoomian rain forest. Let's call it "Ant Food".
Prek, the Kaldane, controlled the pilot of the interplanetary flyer and along with five female Kaldanes journeyed to Jasoom. Prek found a cave in the rain forest and looked for subjects.
Prek sensed the ant swarms. A single female controlled the workers. The ants weren’t suitable hosts, but they would do for now.
Prek crushed the female’s mind and took control of the army ants. He commanded they bring food. Thousands of ants resisted him. The ants attacked the Kaldanes, bit off their legs, and deposited larva on the giant heads. They only needed one to grow into a queen.
FOLLOW MY LEADER
Today's June 13th 100 word drabble goes somewhere a little different. It starts in Pellucidar and ends with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. I try to avoid politics like the plague, but from a distance of 27 years, I figured what the hell. Here's "Follow My Leader".
The Mahar escaped Pellucidar and crawled to the surface. She mentally subjugated a caravan and the travelers escorted her to Tsaritsyn. The caravan’s leader, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili recognized the Mahar’s powers and became her willing partner. He ensured she fed daily and she ensured the people of Tsaritsyn believed his every word.
He renamed himself, Stalin, and the city, Stalingrad. People, influenced by the Mahar, followed him blindly and killed millions who didn’t.
In 1952, the Mahar betrayed him and joined forces with Nikita Khrushchev. She died in 1991 and her acolytes fell from power.
IF YOU DON'T MIME, IT DOESN'T MATTER
The June 14, 2018 100 word drabble visits the aftermath of an ERB trilogy. I apologize in advance. It's called, "If You Don't Mime, It Doesn't Matter."
Tyler Bowen’s grandson moved to France and trained as a mime. After years of classes and street theatre, he moved to San Francisco and performed near Fisherman’s wharf. He was successful for many years, but as he aged his mind began to wander.
Sometimes he forgot how to perform many classic routines. The hands and face pressed against a non-existent glass window loses a lot when the face isn’t turned and positioned perfectly.
He performed the rope hauling routine, but with one hand it was embarrassing. His left hand stayed in his pocket. It was the hand that mime forgot.
AT THE MOVIES
The June 15, 2018 100 word drabble: It's called "At the Movies."
Jane sang along with the Beatles’ song on the taxi’s radio as they rode to the movies in Calcutta. Tarzan didn’t much care for “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
The movie was “Tarzan and Delilah.” The Indian actor looked like Gordon Scott and sang like Peter Noone, only in Hindi. Everyone sang and danced a lot, even the palace guards and apes.
Jane said, “Tarzan, you never sing to me. I can’t remember our last dance.”
Tarzan grunted, “I can’t carry a tune. I carry a rope and a knife. Some lion would kill me to stop my caterwauling.”
The June 17, 2018 100 word drabble finds takes place in mid-June at least 100 years ago. It's called, "Bondage Interruptus." Offense is in the mind of the beholder.
Korak traveled on foot halfway across Africa and arrived at Opar in mid-June. Jane, his mother, said that Tarzan had gone to acquire more gold and jewels and he hadn’t returned.
Korak never fired the Enfield rifle once during his journey. He used the hidden entrance. Tarzan, surrounded by the beast men, was tied to the stone altar. A beautiful priestess stood over him with a knife.
Korak unshouldered the rifle and played havoc with the Oparians. The priestess dropped her obsidian knife and ran. Korak freed Tarzan and said, “Happy Father’s Day.”
Tarzan complained, "Idiot. This was only roleplay.”
WHAT'S NU WITH YOU
The June 18, 2018 100 word drabble could be called "Abbott and Costello Meet The Eternal Savage", but instead it's called, "What's Nu with You."
“Who’s on first, what’s on second, third base, I don’t know.
“Who’s the shortstop?
“No, the shortstop is Nu.”
“The shortstop is a rookie.”
“No, who’s a rookie. The shortstop is Nu.”
“Yes, but who’s on third.”
“I don’t know. Who’s on first?”
“Yes, he is.”
“Tell me his name.”
“The first baseman.”
“Who, he’s a rookie.”
“But, the shortstop is new and he’s not a rookie.”
“Absolutely correct. Nu’s played short for years.”
“What’s his name?”
“No, what’s on second. Who’s on first.”
“I don’t know.”
“Okay tell me. What’s new?”
“No, completely different players.”
A MATTER OF TIMING
The 100 word drabble for June 19, 2018 takes us to "Chessmen of Mars". It's called "A Matter of Timing."
Gahan, a jed of Gathol, dressed well, fought well, and always got his way. He’d admired Tara or Helium for years and while they hadn’t met, was certain he loved her.
Tonight, he would attend a court function and planned to declare his love immediately. Parna, his retainer advised otherwise. “Don’t know about Helium women, but most ladies like to be wooed a bit before a man swears love, devotion, and happy-ever-after. Get to know her first.”
“She’ll be happy to have me. Besides, what can she do? Slap me and run away.”
“Maybe, women are touchy about such things.”
DADDY I'M HOME
The 100 word drabble for June 20, 2018 takes place on Barsoom during "Chessmen of Mars," the first ERB book I read. It's called, "Daddy, I'm Home." In retrospect, I was surprised how much the brief story of A-Tor is based on the legend of Jason.
A-Kor, the Keeper of the Manatorian Jetan Towers hated his father, O-tar,the Jeddak, who kept his mother, Haja, as a slave and beat mother and child frequently. A-Kor took every opportunity to revile O-tar and encourage rebellion.
The people hated the king, but their fear was stronger and they refused to fight.
Finally, his father tired of his son’s treason. He imprisoned A-Kor in his own tower, but the prince escaped, joined the army of U-Tor, helped defeat his father, and became Jeddak. He said, “You aren’t defeated until you’re dead.”
Haja and U-tor married and lived happily ever after.
THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS
The 100 word drabble for 6/21/2018 takes place in Oakdale, Illinois about a year before the events chronicled by ERB. It's called "The Secret of My Success."
John Biggs might have been the wealthiest man in Oakdale, Illinois, but people weren’t sure. He didn’t trust banks. Folks said he had thousands, maybe millions, stashed at home. The skinflint would pinch a quarter to save a penny.
A realtor knocked on John’s door one night and offered baked ham and a bottle of whisky for a few moments time.
The miser said, “House ain’t for sale. What do you want?”
“You’re rich, what’s your secret?”
John turned off the gas lamp. “You can listen in the dark. It’s a long story.”
The realtor said, “Never mind. I understand.”
BUT, YOU SHOULD BE AFRAID
The 100 word drabble for 6/22/2018 is from the Opar. It's called, "But, You Should Be Afraid."
Cadj, the high priest of Opar, was brutal and butt-ugly. The beautiful La ignored tradition and refused to mate with him. She loved an outsider named Tarzan.
Cadj conspired with Oah, another priestess, and they captured La and her ape-man.
La and Tarzan escaped. Cadj raised an army and chased them unsuccessfully. Tarzan formed an army of natives and apes. They recaptured the temple of Opar. Tarzan confronted Cadj and they fought. Tarzan’s lion, Jad-bal-ja, interceded when Cadj gained the upper hand.
Cadj shoved Tarzan aside, bared his teeth, and spoke his last words. “I ain’t afraid of no lion.”
Today, 6/23/2018, our drabble concerns Dag, son of Dag, and Nu, son of Nu, and a brief visit to ERB's, The Eternal Lover. It's called "The Promise."
The Manhood Ordeal creates strong bonds and the shared experiences of firewalking, ritualized fasting, and weaponless survival in a Neolithic jungle binds ritemates closer than love of tribe and family.
Nu, son of Nu, saved Dag, son of Dag, twice during their shared ordeal. Nu bound Dag’s wounds and tirelessly carried water to his injured ritemate.
Dag swore to repay his salvation and years later when Nu’s father refused to search for his missing son, Dag stood against the tribe and shamed them into forming a search party.
After many difficulties and battles, Nu and his beloved Nat-ul were saved.
NO STONE UNTURNED
Back to Barsoom for the June 24, 2018 100 word drabble. It's called "No Stone Unturned."
Gar-tan made saddles for the elite of Gathol until captured by the Warhoons.
He made thoat saddles and bridles for the green Martian warriors, jeds, and jeddaks. They could make him work, but they couldn’t make him work well. He made bridles too thin, straps with weak spots, and buckles with untampered metal.
Thor Tomis, the Jeddak, lead the Warhoons against the Warlord of Barsoom. They faced each other on thoat-back. He attacked and his saddle slipped and dumped him on the red soil.
The Warlord buried his sword in the green man’s neck.
For the want of a buckle.
The 100 word drabble for June 25, 2018 takes place in England as influenced by the discovery of Pellucidar. I apologize for this one in advance, but sometimes I can't help myself. It called "Proper Etiquette."
Queen Elizabeth rode in an open carriage with Abner Perry in the parade honoring the discovery of Pellucidar. They seemed the same age. An English expedition had explored and settled a portion of the underground world. A large section named Windsorland was occupied by English settlers and scientists.
During the parade, the Queen noticed Abner’s unusual wave. He moved his right hand like he was tracing a square. “Mr. Perry, wave this way. Elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, wrist. It’s the Queen Elizabeth wave.”
Abner persisted with his grid-like motions and said, “In Pellucidar, we prefer to use the Gridley Wave.”
RIGHT OR LEFT
The 100 word drabble for June 26, 2018 is called, "Right or Left."
Carson Napier was determined to be a pilot and even more determined to be the first man to fly to Mars. He designed and built his own aircraft.
He’d had issues with right and left since childhood and used a scar on his right thumb to tell which was which.
He wore gloves when he flew. He wasn’t sure which way to go and he turned the wrong way after he cleared Earth’s atmosphere. He ended up on Venus.
He survived a rough walk-away landing. He cursed his gloves and blamed his mistake on the moon. That’s what pilots do.
The 100 word drabble For June 27, 2018 could have been ripped from today's headlines and metoo movement, but it's based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Girl From Hollywood. Subject matter is not or amusing, it touches on unacceptable behavior allowed to continue far too long.
I try to stay away from current events with my drabbles, but ERB wrote the story almost a century ago and the more things change, the more they stay the same. So with that disclaimer and semi-warning, if you're troubled by "Bad Choices", that's good.
Every girl wants to be a star and Grace Evans was no exception. Her desire for fame guided her decisions from childhood and she never met a promise she didn’t believe.
Mr. Bench promised the lead in the Senior Class play and she believed him. The price was steep, but she paid.
She expected things would be different in Hollywood, but they weren’t. She believed she’d find a nice man to guide her through the perils and pitfalls of the movie industry.
One found her right away. Men like Mr. Bench trap their prey like a spider with its web.
LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER
The 100 word ERB drabble for 6/28/2018 takes us to the land of Pal-ul-don. It's called, "Listen to your Mother."
Before he got his name, Es-sat’s mother said stay away from Gryf nests in Pal-ul-don. The monsters defend their eggs with a vicious attitude and gigantic size.
Es-sat stole two eggs. The Gryf caught him and dragged him across the granite. Es-sat escaped by rolling off the escarpment. He landed on an ant bed. The ants tore his tender skin. He jumped in the river.
His skin was covered with rough scar tissue, hence his name Es-sat, rough-skin.
He was jealous, sly, determined and deceitful. He schemed his way to chiefdom of the Waz-don Kor-ul-ja tribe, for a while anyway.
MAMA WOULD BE PROUD
The 100 drabble June 29, 2018 takes us to the south side of Chicago. It's a reprise of an old joke and it's called, "Mama Would Be Proud." Enjoy.
Every morning, James McCurdy parked his car near the brothel known as Farris’s on the north side of Dearborn Street in the south side of Chicago. He went to the room he rented and changed into a business suit and walked to his law office.
At day’s end he reversed the process and drove home wearing a bowler hat, striped shirt with garters, and a colorful vest.
The powers-that-be came to his office. They wanted to appoint him as a judge. “I appreciate the offer, but I must decline. My friends and family think I’m a piano player at Farris’s.”
The 100 word drabble for June 30, 2018 takes us to Lutha and Victoria Custer, one of my favorite Edgar Rice Burroughs' characters. It's called "Table Manners.
Victoria Custer tried to learn European Court manners, but Lutha was a long way from Nebraska and it’s hard to care which fork to use when you killed the chicken yourself. Nevertheless, she practiced diligently.
Two assassins entered the palace one t and one found Victoria’s room. She threw her blanket over his head, twisted his knife from his hand, and slit his throat.
Without raising an outcry, she ran to her brother’s room and stabbed the second assassin.
Barney thanked her, but said, “Hardly ladylike, Victoria.”
“Is too. I held out my pinkie finger when I slit his throat.”
Copyright 2018: Robert Allen Lupton
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