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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Short story teaser - The Elemental Task by Maria K.

I poured another glass of ice-cold Pinot Grigio and settled back into my rocking chair. Lomonosov took immediate advantage of my stationary and relaxed position, climbed into my lap and started kneading and purring.

Ahhhh, this was nice... The last back-breaking stage of the implementation was over and with it – the series of long hours and working weekends. Another project wouldn't be underway for two weeks, and I had a chance to breathe. Sure I would still show up for work, as would my team mates. But it was generally understood, that we wouldn't be doing much actual work. It would be all sitting around chatting, taking long lunches and reading news and e-books on our laptops.

I had visions of dinners dancing in my head, taking place at the actual dinnertime with the actual food (instead of candy bars) and china and utensils. Watching some TV, like normal people do... Not cable – I canceled that a long time ago, because I was never home enough to watch it, but maybe renting a few movies. Reading! Cooking! Sleeping in!

The door bell rang. Oh, for crying out loud! I shoved Lomonosov off my lap, scrambled out of the chair and stumbled toward the door, swearing to myself for the fiftieth time that if this was my on-again-off-again friend Danielle with yet another one of her dramas, I was definitely sending her packing this time around.

I looked through the peephole. There was no one there. I carefully opened the door with the safety chain still on. Nobody. Damn kids... Except there are no kids in my neighborhood. Odd.

I locked the door and returned to the living room, fully intending to get back into my chair and stay there even if there was an earthquake and the walls started collapsing around me, only to find something purple hovering in the middle of the room about five feet above the floor. Lomonosov stood in the rocking chair hissing, his back arched, his tail flicking threateningly from side to side.

- Congratulations! - the purple thing said in a thin squeaky and annoyingly cheerful voice, - You have been selected for the most unique opportunity – bringing the elemental balance to this planet!

Publishers' Cleaning House did not possess such technology and I doubt they really gave a damn about – what was it? - elemental balance of this planet. I circled the purple thing cautiously and sat down on the couch, casting a brief glance at the bottle of Pinot Grigio – I can't have had more than a glass and a half. I have been tired before but not to this extent. I was undoubtedly awake, not entirely drunk and I was not hallucinating, because my cat was clearly reacting to the thing as well. I decided to be assertive.

- What are you? What are you doing in my house and what is all this nonsense about elemental balance?

The purple thing wavered as if uncertain, then suddenly dropped to the floor and coalesced into a pale bald-headed creature about two feet tall, wearing a voluminous purple garment, which went from spherical to tent-like shape as the creature landed. The being itself was small, which made its facial features look a few sizes too big: big hairy pointed ears, big nose, big droopy mouth, bit black mournful eyes. Even its expression of confusion and fear seemed a bit too much for so small a thing.

The creature rummaged in the folds of its garment and extracted a scrap of parchment.

- Is this Greenville?

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The Elemental Task is now available on

- Smashwords
- Amazon Kindle
- Barnes and Noble NOOK

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