Tag Archives: elephants

Camp Research

Lisa* and I arrived a few hours before sunset. True to their word, the service pitched our tents near an old hand pump for fresh water. They'd brought in a supply of mopane wood and built a sizeable fire ring. A 50 gallon drum with another hand pump was our source of gasoline.

Lisa set about getting the generator started and hooked her umbilical up to recharge. I grabbed my copy of Death in the Long Grass and started to browse.

“Really? A paper book? What's next a windup assistant that isn't dependent upon electricity?” She asked.

I folded my book shut and looked up from my camp chair. “I'm a modern guy, but the paper copy is the one I own. I also don't believe in discarding last year's technology when it still works well.”

She stood a little bit straighter. Apparently robot girls are also worried about being replaced by a newer model. The generator hummed along, but was remarkably quiet compared to the ones I'm used to. Loud grunts came from the river.

Lisa's mouth dropped open. She froze in place, and scanned toward the river.

“We don't-have-any-wifi out here! What am I supposed to do without wifi? I want to know what's making those sounds?”

“Those are hippos.”

“Says you. I know how you are, and your fantasy world has tyranosaurs and dragons in it. I want to Google those sounds and I don't have any wifi.”

“Relax, think of it like a working vacation. Look at the scenery, watch for animals.”

“But I'm basically a walking computer. I gather data and repeat it back. Software lets me make some conclusions.”

“You'll just have to gather data with your eyes and ears. See that wet canvas bag hanging on the tree branch beside the kitchen tent?”

She put her hands on her hips. “Yeah.”

“That is an evaporative beer cooler. Do you remember how to get me a beer?”

“Sorry, that data is saved to the cloud. The same cloud I can't access without wifi.”

I swiveled my feet to the ground and looked at her. This was a point of contention I'd have to address.

She flicked the little cable that ran from her belly button to the generator. “I'm tethered to the generator for another hour.”

I sat my book down and retrieved a beer with no label. I don't know whether the Anurans left me something from outer space, dwarven ale, or tshwala the native beer that basically leaves you in a coma for the night. I rummaged through the kitchen tent, but couldn't find an opener. Sheepishly, I approached Lisa with my treasure.

She flicked the cap off with two fingers. “Hmph!”

“See, plenty of uses.” I retreated to my chair.

I found myself actually re-reading Capstick. He was a good author. By today's standards there are a few too many descriptive words, but they were all unique and not simple “ly” modifiers. His graveyard humor about burying the lion victim in a coffee can was pretty well described.

This is the danger of research. It becomes an entity unto itself. I wasn't so enthralled that I failed to make notes. I used my Stipula Gladiator fountain pen to make a list. This is the same pen I bought when I outlined The Cock of the South. Here is a partial list:

  • Sausage trees
  • Mopane wood
  • Fever trees
  • Pan = pond
  • Tshwala beer
  • Castle Pilsner?
  • Dambo = flat
  • Abercrombie & Fitch (originally started as safari outfitters)
  • Rowland Ward
  • Marula fruit

I don't know if all these exist in the time of my African adventure, or in the location I have picked out. I'm glad I don't have wifi or I'd be tempted to find out. This trip is all about immersing myself into the environment. I can get details later.

Oooorgh oooorgh, ugh, ugh ugh! A deep baritone roaring broke the quiet of our little camp. I sat up straight and twisted my bottle in the dirt so it wouldn't tip over. The lion sounded like he was about a half mile away.

Oooorgh! Sounded right behind me. I snapped my head around as Lisa answered him. She'd recorded him and played his own call back.

“What are you doing?”

“You told me to enjoy the wildlife.”

The lion answered back. Closer this time.

“Now he's coming here, he thinks you have a date tonight. Stop encouraging him.”

She patted her hip. “I brought the B.A.G. if he gets fresh.”

I raised up my book. “It's a pistol. This book is filled with references to rifles like .470 Nitro Express, .500 Magnums and the like. Do you understand the difference?”

“No, want to know why?” She crossed her arms and shifted to one side. “Because there's no wifi!”

“Okay, keep the lion calls down and maybe he'll go away.” I found an old board and a pocket knife to give her. “You wanted to make a sign for Camp Research, try that while I read and look constantly over my shoulder.”

I started reading a lovely bit about how elephants like to pound their victims against termite mounds until they are the consistency of a bota bag.

Lisa snatched up my list and scanned it. “You'll just lose it, and I have enough onboard memory to keep a copy.”

*Lisa Burton is the main character in Wild Concept, and is a robot. Since her story ended, she works as my personal assistant. B.A.G. is our term for her Big Assed Gun.


Filed under Muse, Writing

Houseflies and Elephants

People seem to be enjoying my new story ideas. This one isn’t a vignette, but I decided to tell you about it anyway.

My Muse, Lorelei, really poured it on a couple of weeks ago. She threatened to leave me if I didn’t start writing again soon. Then she sprinkled something in my peaches or something. I had a couple of pretty good story ideas, and blogged about them. I also had a ton of ideas for the story I just started. I’ll withhold those, because they’re mostly enhancements and not the main story.

Things are trickling off now, but I got one in a dream last night. They don’t all come as dreams, but this one did. It’s not even a vignette. It’s just a flash of something, but it was in vivid HD color. I was with someone, and I wasn’t in Idaho. It was a bit more tropical. A group of pink and grey cockatoos flew into the trees around us. Someone said they aren’t supposed to be here. (Apparently it wasn’t Australia.) There was a comment about them being feral, and something about global warming.

This one feels pretty useless, but I’m putting it in the old cauldron anyway. I know exactly what kind of birds they were, and they have an Australian name that I’m too lazy to look up. I heard somewhere they are pests.

The next one seems to work much better as a story idea. It’s been really hot in Idaho. It’s so hot that whenever someone opens a door, the flies invade. Why wouldn’t they, we have an air conditioner. It got pretty bad when the grandkids were here, because the door opens every 3.7 seconds.

This probably sounds pretty old school, but I’m a bathtub kind of guy. I know everyone prefers showers this century, but I love my bathtub. Every day, I have to pluck two to four dead flies from the tub before running my water. I could take a photo, but nobody wants to see that.

I was on my 4:00 AM bathtub cleaning this morning and said to myself, “This is where houseflies come to die.”


“How about that?” I have this cool idea about these people in Africa. The elephant graveyard is an African legend that rivals King Solomon’s Mines. I know everyone hates the idea of ivory these days, but at one time it was quite acceptable everywhere. The idea of thousands of tusks lying about on top of the ground is a treasure hunter’s dream come true. Carry them to market, never fire a shot, live like a king for the rest of your life. Since this would be an historical piece, it works out pretty well.

You can bet this one went in the cauldron too. It was immediately drawn to the vignette about the African couple.

Who knows, maybe the cockatoos will like the guy with the yak. Maybe the yak walked to Australia because of a land bridge or something. I just keep adding stuff to the cauldron and letting it blend together. There’s still an old idea about the ghost of Steve McQueen in there somewhere. Maybe he can figure out what to do with the cockatoos.

I’m off to have my first pumpkin beer of the year. It’s just a Shocktop, but I’m a pumpkin beer junkie. I’m sure more pumpkin libations will show up soon. The Shocktop is like the first butterfly of summer.


Filed under Writing