Xanadu or Die

Glad you could join us for the next x-traordinary episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

Elliot X
Photo credit: Cheri Perry

“Well?” The fierce predator blinked repeatedly, her flaming eyes flashing off and on in the dark. It was an intimidating effect she had perfected over the years to capture the attention of many broods of squabbling owlets.

The two tiny gastropods embracing in her nest pulled apart with a slight sucking sound. The larger one addressed her with a polite bow.

“Please accept our sincere apologies for dropping into your inviting… uh, Xanadu, uninvited. You see, we have just escaped the clutches of a deranged evangelist, and must have taken a wrong turn in our haste. We are the unwitting victims of gravity.”

Xanadu, indeed, she thought with chagrin, catching the smaller one stealing a glance around her home. It had been several days since she last tidied up. Spotting a chunk of shrew skull lying in the fluffy lining beside her unexpected guests, she casually extended a talon, and poked the bone into the twigs beneath the down. Perhaps they hadn’t noticed.

She had spent countless years maintaining order for the benefit of her offspring and gossipy neighbors. It had worn her down like a beak on stone. Even as she tucked the trash away, she insisted to herself, I can’t begin that life again. I won’t. After The Fire, she had become a confirmed recluse, retired and unaffected by her solitary deteriorating circumstances. She had expended great effort to permit herself the luxury of clutter that sometimes rose to just this side of squalor, but if she were honest with herself, she still hadn’t shaken her compulsion to show well to others.

A plan to be rid of these charming interlopers began to glimmer in her mind. This was the perfect night for it.

To be continued…

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .

Today’s twofer from May 1, 2016: (See how far behind I was?)

X-rays and Fluoroscopes and Blood, Oh My!

My youth was full of doctors. I won’t bore you with medical details because what’s the point?

The point is that post- the most significant part of my medical past, I endured an extended-followup that lasted from age 5 through age 22, when I stopped going. Every year, I submitted to either an X-ray or a fluoroscope, and one of two sets of blood tests. The classic “1 from Column A and 1 from Column B” choice. Except didn’t make the choice. If the choice had been mine, I would have gone out for Italian.

The X-rays weren’t so bad. Sure the glass plate was cold, and I had to lie on it in whatever uncomfortable position the X-ray technician told me to lie just before he aimed the ray gun and ran off in his lead-lined blacksmith’s apron to hide behind a lead-lined door, peering into the room through a little window I now assume was 24% lead crystal, to hit the button that triggered the x-rays that left an image on the glass plate.

We all know now that X-rays are BAD for us. Seems the doctors always knew.

The fluoroscope is kind of like a video x-ray (not to be confused with an x-rated video), but without the video. The doctor just stood (or sat) in front of the screen and watched. The set up looked a lot like this:

Fluoroscope 3
Not me, though I was that blonde. I was much younger, but I suspect my expression was no happier than hers.

The worst part was having to swallow the Barium first. It tasted like chalk and was thicker than exterior wall paint. It smelled like that, too, but cut with milk of magnesia. Yum.

In even years, after the x-ray, I had blood drawn by a finger prick (this is not meant to insult the person who did the pricking — I think finger pricker was the technical term), to be dripped on glass slides or sucked by magic into the thinnest possible glass tubes. (I think the blood set aside in those was for weaning teeny-tiny baby vampire bats.) They would have made delicate drinking straws for Barbie. Now, only the nanotube is thinner.

In odd years, after the fluoroscope-con-barium, I rode the elevator to the basement for a series of blood tests requiring gallons and gallons of blood to be drawn from the crook of my elbow through a quarter-inch-diameter needle attached to a garden hose that emptied my blood into an oak barrel once used to age wine. I may or may not be exaggerating. I hated that kind of blood draw. I had to prepare myself mentally days in advance.

Except for that one even year — a finger prick year — when someone higher up, I suspect Dracula himself, decreed I should go to the basement where one of his minions, a lobotomized phlebotomist vampire with a rubber hose dangling from his mouth, I kid you not, sat framed in a 2’x2′ walk up window cut out of the wall at the end of a long dark hallway. It was straight out of that Twilight Zone episode where there’s

“Room for one more.” Creepy Twilight Zone episode

That was the moment I understood how my blood would be leaving my body. Thirty seconds wasn’t advance enough to prepare. Thirty days would have been better.

Well, 30 seconds might have been enough if Dracula’s minion had looked like Ian Somerhalder.

I was 13, and my mother was with me. Good thing, or I would have turned tail for the elevator. I remember looking up at her, pleading with my eyes not to make me do this, as my stomach sank to my ankle socks. I believe I whimpered. I felt like crying. Or fainting. Or both.

But I did neither, and I survived. I was learning just how strong I really am.

When have you surprised yourself with your own strength? Any kind of strength. Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual? What changes could you see in yourself afterward?

#AtoZChallenge A-to-Z Fictioneers: Interested in original fiction? Here’s a list of writers who are writing stories for the 2017 A to Z Challenge. The author’s link will take you to their “A” post. If you know of any other story writers I can share, please drop the link in the comments!


Author: Sue Ranscht

I am a writer. Let me tell you a story...

15 thoughts on “Xanadu or Die”

    1. Haha! Yeah, I get her, too. Too well. Now that the A to Z finish line is in view, some of the pressure will be gone and I might be able to manage some housekeeping tucked into all the other projects I’m juggling.


  1. Nice X entry! I’m pretty sure I like Ms. Owl and her rather hit-or-miss tidying, so I don’t want to hear she’s got anything nefarious planned for our snail pals.

    X-rays, fluoroscopes, and blood sucking – yep, those are the things of my nightmares. Don’t be showing me any needles, fangs, or leeches. Possible fainting and/or screaming may ensue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Deborah. She carries it off better than I do, but I think she’s compensating for broods and broods of constant demands on her attention.

      I promise — no needles or leeches. Wait a minute… leeches… hmmm…


  2. I’m getting strange vibes from the owl…oh dear…
    I hate having my blood taken. Apparently, I am a phlebotomist’s dream…veins like a road map!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She does seem to be carrying some baggage…

      Somehow, as an adult I volunteered to donate blood — a pint every 6 weeks for a couple of gallons worth. I also donated platelets twice. I owned my new found strength! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hope your snail friends get out of this one in tact. Modern medicine. What was considered modern in my youth is old school or just plain bad now, but blood thinners keep my mother and my husband going , so, you take the good with the bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Delightful, as usual. I hasten to mention that I am now on blood thinners and have to see a finger pricker once a month to make sure the medication (which is rat poison) is doing its job. Ain’t modern medicine a miracle??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness. Good thing you’re not a rat, huh? But if it works and doesn’t kill you, I suppose it’s worth the risks. Just be glad you don’t have to see the Dracula guy!


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