Word Count: 900 (Including Title)
The maple door creaked open seconds later while the doorbell's jingle faded. Arching away from a pile of overgrown leaves above, a man with thick rimmed glasses ducked and popped his head out from the doorway's small opening. "You are early Miss Rivett," he said.
A woman smiled and tapped on the back of her tan electronic tablet with her red fingernails. "I'm sorry Dr. Ashford, but that was before I have received news that I have to work overtime," she said, "I promise I won't take much of your time."
Dr. Ashford returned her smile with a thinner one of his own. "Come in, come in. That is if you insist your interview will not take more than thirty minutes."
The doctor wobbled aside, opened the door, and pushed an overgrown potted thin tree further against the wall near the door's hinges. Near the plant, he hung his lab coat on a hook beside a black dress coat that have a golden name tag with 'Richard Ashford' on it. A drooping rose with pink petals lay in one of the dress coat's pockets. He directed her through a towering archway leading to the house's small open dining room. Neatly trimmed dark olive colored wines covered it with its own flare from its leaves of various shape and sizes.
The woman helped herself to a seat from one of the dark wooden table's metal stools. Laying the tablet face up, Miss Rivett swiped its surface once using her thumb."For the record," Miss Rivett said while doing a set of finger swipes, "please state your name and your occupation."
"I am T. Ashford and I am a dentist," Dr. Ashford said. He entered and moved around the kitchen. Placing a glass plate on the long granite counter separating the kitchen from the dining room, he added, "Considering who you could be reporting for, I will not disclose much about the project itself."
"I am here on the behalf of the Daily Scoops."
"I am also aware what your side-job is, Miss Rivett." Dr. Ashford leaned under the counter where he took a square shaped container from the middle shelf. Pouring out its contents, a pile of minced leaves in different dark hues of olive, the doctor watched Miss Rivett flinch. A loud bang echoed the room following a windy hustling sound.
"Did you close the door?" she said.
"It must be closed now if I did not," he said, "As I was saying, you moonlight your writings to the Star Inquirer from time to time, do you not?"
Miss Rivett's middle fingernail pecked twice on the tablet. The small onscreen microphone in the lower right-hand corner of the screen faded out. "I did once."
"Is this interview have anything to do with your first story from them?"
"No!" Miss Rivett faced up at the doctor as she heard two metallic clinks. "What was that?"
"Good." Dr. Ashford reentered the dining room with the plate in hand. "That was the shelf. Is there a kind of dressing or seasoning you prefer?"
"Surprise me." As the dentist walked back to the kitchen after placing the plate down, she pushed the plate away. The reporter insert short memos within the tablet. For a moment, she glanced to the left. A thin reef hung above both closed windows. One of its ends were hugging one side of a square glass clock. Both hands of the clock was near the number five. "What didn't you like about it?" she asked.
Dr. Ashford reentered again with a glass bell-shaped container holding a light tan liquid and a thick wooden skewer in another hand. "Everything. It was full of slanderous poppycock." He placed them to the right where he had placed the plate earlier.
Miss Rivett watched him sit across her. As he pushed the stool back further, making a loud shuddering streak, he crossed his legs. "My brother would not dare sabotage his own work under any circumstances, Miss Rivett. Not only that is not like him, but I would not have allow it."
As she slid her elbows on to the table, Miss Rivett jerked her elbows back when she felt a cold ting. The glass plate jingled and wobbled.
"Please be careful not to break that. My babies love looking at them," Dr. Ashford said.
The brunette's face gleamed and pointed at the dentist. "You," Miss Rivett said while cracking a smile, "have kids?"
"Yes. They are wonderful bundles of joy. I would like for them to have some time with you if time permits it." Dr. Ashford glanced at his watch and added, "Speaking of time, you have two-thirds of that now to finish."
Miss Rivett double tapped on the upper left hand corner of the tablet, and the microphone reappeared at the same spot it was earlier. "Although the portable smart house had a perfect lift off, it has been suggested that there were intentional damage that caused it to crash off course. How do you feel about the possibility that your brother has been murdered?"
Dr. Ashford frowned. "I would have known if it was an inside job."
"There is new evidence that shows that Richard--"
"He left here an hour ago Miss Rivett."
"Why is his jacket still on the hook?"
"It is?" Dr. Ashford stood using an end of the table as support. "Watch her, my children."
|# ? Apr 6, 2013 19:40|
|# ? Feb 1, 2023 09:08|
The Speediest Crits, GuaranteedTM
Thanks for getting my crit done so fast! It's great not to be hanging in limbo all weekend.
VVVVVVVVVV Edit: And you too, bub VVVVVVVVVVVV
SpaceGodzilla fucked around with this message at 21:03 on Apr 6, 2013
|# ? Apr 6, 2013 20:55|
Steriletom - Red Scare
Nubile covered most of the writing problems so I will focus on the structure.
Inciting Incident: FBI Agent Arrives at old man’s house.
Rising Action: Conversation between Agent and old man with implication that old man is a spy.
Climax: The house lifts off.
What do the characters learn during the course of the story?: Agent learns that old man is an alien. Old man/alien learns nothing.
Your inciting incident happens immediately and you take us directly into the rising action. Unfortunately the rising action lacks any real tension and doesn’t feel like a real conversation. The rising action is the meat of your story and it is more or less a boring conversation. The conversation does establish the time period and the tone of campy sci-fi, but it does little else. The climax is the house taking off, but nothing happens during the climax other than the FBI agent rolling around on the floor. At the end of the story we learn that the FBI agent is boring and that the alien is writing a book on humans. The reveal at the end fell flat.
I don’t want to read the imaginary book because everything that happened in the story was uninspired. I don’t care what boring alien wrote about boring FBI agent.
Next time you compete, lay out your structure ahead of time and ask yourself what you are trying to achieve with each element.
I think going for campy sci-fi hurt you on this one because you can’t half-rear end a throwback to 50’s sci-fi in 2013 or it’s going to fall apart.
Martello - The Cranes Came Home
I found one example of lack of proofreading:
I one last drag from my one-a-day vacation cigarette.
This exchange felt like a chance to tie a lot of elements together and create a stronger transition, but it didn't. It sounds okay but I wish you had revealed a little bit more about the book here and a little more about the protagonist:
Jade chuckled. “Actually, she does kill people.”
“Maybe I’ll actually read it now.”
Your imaginary book was successful and it was nice that you ended with the protagonist wanting to read it. The plot of the imaginary book made me suspect that the protagonist is probably not going to make it back from this job, which I liked.
Unfortunately the way you worked in the future setting completely distracted me from the plot. “Allied States” is first mentioned quite a ways in and is the first hint that this isn’t happening today in our reality. Right after mentioning “Allied States” you have “Ever since the restoration projects of the early ‘40s...” I don’t know enough about Venice to know if there were restoration projects in the 1940’s, but “Allied States” makes me not sure at this point if we are in alternate history or in the future. Since the protagonist was on a cell phone and says he was in Venice in the 40’s, I guess it’s the 2040’s. Since there were likely less tourists in the 1940’s in Venice than there are in 2013, mentioning “the ‘40s” with very little clues that the story is set in the future is distracting from the plot. This whole confusing 1940's ambiguity is what was running through my head as I read this rather than what you probably wanted me to be thinking about.
Further in you mention her “scroll,” and then at the very end of the story you have “a chat ar-box.” Why not make the first phone call in the restaurant mention the ar-box or something similar? This would have established the time period straight away and I could have focused on the actual plot.
I love science fiction, but in this story I think cutting the descriptions of 2050’s/2060’s Venice and 2040’s Venice to show more about the relationship between the characters or to just do something else would have made it more successful. Even if it was more obvious early on that it was set in the future, I didn't see any real reason why this couldn't have just been set in 2013.
SpaceGodzilla - The Diary of Georgia Munroe, Age 10
This was a good story and I have little to critique. I forgot to look at the picture and text you chose before reading and looked at it afterwards. Nothing was ham-fisted and once I saw the picture I really appreciated how well you worked it into the plot.
I was slightly irked that even though the air is contaminated and the father is that paranoid about kicking the hall between the house and the greenhouse, the girl still has a regular window. I only thought about this afterwards and maybe there was some kind of air-tight seal on the window that you just didn't mention?
At first and especially after I saw your imaginary book I was very afraid this was going to turn into some lovely zombie story. Good thing it didn't! The book was worked effectively into the plot, though I do agree that you lost a chance to up the tension with the description of the stabbing.
CantDecideOnAName - Eye
Inciting Incident: Guy leaves on expedition.
Rising Action: Details about the trees are revealed
Climax: They see a tree and it's slightly creepy.
What do the characters learn during the course of the story?: Protagonist learns that he doesn't want to see more trees. Other characters are irrelevant.
"...because they knew that I own three of Janove's journals, and that I have actually read them."
“Hmm... shall we take the protagonist with us or Mr. Bumblebore? Mr. Bumblebore has FOUR of Janove's journals, but he hasn't gotten around to reading them yet. I hear the protagonist has actually read them, even though he only has three journals. Let’s take him!"
Look at how you structured this story: The rising action is just meandering exposition and it blurs together with the climax that is barely a climax. The inciting incident doesn't just happen straight away, it's implied to have already happened but is still kind of happening (this goes into Hillock's suggestion to flip around the first paragraphs.) The trees and their eyes could have been intriguing, but you spent too many words on irrelevant poo poo. I liked the idea of the journal; if you had built that up more and then had the trees do something worthwhile this would have worked much better. Same thing I said to Steriletom: Really look at each part of your story before you start writing and ask what the point is and what you are trying to achieve.
V for Vegas - The Library of Unwritten Books
Wait a few days and reread this. Think about what else you could do with this premise, because it's a nice idea. Half of the jokes were funny and half weren't, but my main problem is that you wasted your premise.
"You'd think that, but it's not quite true. Everyone wants to have written a book, but very few people ever want to actually write one. It's the writing part that's hard, see. Much easier just to dream up your perfect book in your head without all that messy writing business. All I do is catalogue what people are thinking. And there you have it, a perfect library filled with perfect books that are never written."
This had me wanting to read on, but then I had to read jokes about vampires and robots. Why does the kid have such a boring idea for his book? Why does Uncle Tory have such a lovely counter-suggestion? Is Uncle Tory just scamming the kid the most interesting thing you could think of after setting up this entire premise? If you are really attached to the kid getting conned, you could still make it much more engaging. You have established this premise where the reader is doubting what is and isn't real, but then you just cut to, "Yeah, it's not real, the kid got scammed and Uncle Tory's going to go drink."
Voliun - S.O.S.
Inciting Incident: The dentist implies that Miss Rivett is working for someone else.
Rising Action: They accuse each other of poo poo.
Climax: I honestly don't know what is happening by the time I reach the climax. I think the climax might be the revelation that the guy who sabotaged the house is still there?
What do the characters learn during the course of the story?: The Dentist learns that the guy who killed his brother is alive, Miss Rivett learns that the dentist has weird children that are monsters or something?
Your inciting incident happens way too late into a 900 word story. Everything that happens before it is describing how people are working overtime, describing what different vines look like, telling us how the rooms are arranged. No one will care about this poo poo if it doesn't affect the plot, but I don't even know what the plot is after reading the story. You have so many subject-verb agreement mistakes that I am wondering if you are a non-native speaker. Even if English isn't your native language, you can obviously command it well enough that you should be able to proofread these mistakes away. It looks like you did not proofread at all.
I don't know how much structuring problems you have because I can't even tell what is going on. Why is any of this poo poo happening and why do we care? Your job in writing is to make everything clear and to make the reader care about what is happening. I have no idea what the dentist's "children" are and I don't care. I tried to read this a few times through and after two or three times I still don't know what is going on.
A loud bang echoed the room following a windy hustling sound. Translation: A loud bang caused the physical entity of the room to echo back and forth through space-time, BUT FIRST there was a windy hustingreally? sound.
The maple door creaked open seconds later while the doorbell's jingle faded Translation: The maple door creaked open BUT FIRST the doorbell's jingle was fading.
Why would you write out of order like this? It makes no sense to say, "I cleaned up my jizz with a dirty rag seconds later while I closed all the porn tabs."
angel opportunity fucked around with this message at 22:37 on Apr 6, 2013
|# ? Apr 6, 2013 20:57|
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 00:57|
Two weeks passed and it happened again.
Charlie entered the apartment suite to find holes in the walls, holes punched all over, his cousin Milo peering deep into one of them. Drywall was strewn around in chunks and fine powder, some of it resting on the pine-green carpet, some sunk in. The carpet was ripped up in certain spots. The floorboards showed through like raw layers of skin under a torn scab.
“What the hell’s been going on here?” Charlie asked.
“Finally, Charles! I didn’t think I could fend them off much longer on my own.”
“Wait… fend off what, exactly?”
“The Lumps, for Christ’s sake!” Milo said, his thick glasses nearly hanging off his nose, the only ring of hair he had left teased out in wild tufts. “They’ve popped up everywhere, it’s some sort of infestation.”
“Like rats? I’ve got the number of an exterminator who got rid of termites for me last August. I think he handles rodents, too.”
“No, goddamn it! I thought it might be an animal, but look at the walls. They bulged out and the only way I could stop it was to tear them up.”
“The walls… bulged.”
“Yes, God, I thought that was the worst part, but then the lumps started moving, like when a snake swallows a mouse. You can see it writhing below the rubbery scales—still alive, still in such awful pain…”
Charlie stopped Milo there and led him to the plush recliner in the corner. Milo sunk into it and put his head in his hands. Shaking, he began to sob without tears.
Then his ears twitched. He sprang up from the armchair and rushed out of the room, knocking Charlie down in the process. Charlie followed him to his study where he saw Milo repeatedly bashing a wooden chair on the rug.
Charlie tried to see the lump Milo was attacking, but the man’s frantic motions and the flailing furniture distracted his vision. The chair flew up and down, knocking the end table over and tumbling the clay lamp on top of it to the floor. There was a loud crack, and the chair fell apart until Milo was left holding two of its legs, whacking them on the floor like a giant’s drumsticks.
“Charlie!” he yelled, “It slithered away! We need to call in an expert right now, or these things will never leave.” Charlie agreed, telling him to wait there, lie down for a bit, while he got a professional on the phone.
The professional turned out to be Dr. Campbell, a local psychiatrist. The two restrained Milo and carted him off to Campbell’s small mental institution. Milo swore to God that the lumps were real, that they’d overrun the apartment if they weren’t purged away. Charlie and Dr. Campbell didn’t look back at him.
At the hospital, Dr. Campbell outlined to Charlie his proposed treatment. To elaborate, he brought out a thick book and slapped it down on his desk. Its title was Mental Abnormalities of the Common Man. A bright yellow sticker on the cover read “Now with graphic illustrations!” and the author was listed as Dr. Edwin Campbell.
Charlie felt a wave of queasiness.
“This book leads me to conclude that poor Milo’s deficiency is caused by an overactive amygdala,” Campbell said. “His intense, latent emotions are manifesting themselves as these phantom ‘lumps,’ as he puts it.”
Charlie nodded. His stomach turned.
“You didn’t see any such thing, did you?”
Charlie took a deep breath. “I wish I could say for sure, Doctor. He was standing in the way. I can’t entirely trust my own judgment on it.”
Campbell put a hand on his shoulder. “Trust mine, then. My recommendation would be an intense hypnosis treatment—with your go-ahead I can start right away.”
Charlie was no doctor, so he gave Campbell his approval.
Over the next three weeks, for several hours a day, Milo was shut in a dark room and strapped to a chair that leaned back to point toward the ceiling. Campbell drugged him so that his muscles relaxed and his eyelids would not close. Projected spirals twisted on the ceiling and the chair spun Milo in the opposite direction. Loudspeakers mounted to the walls blasted incessantly:
THE LUMPS ARE IN YOUR MIND
YOU ARE THE SOURCE OF THE LUMPS
THE LUMPS ARE FROM INSIDE YOU
Repeating, without end, until it became Milo’s only reality.
Much later, Campbell called Charlie and informed him that Milo’s mind was clear, that he had been sent home and was ready to see visitors. Charlie left right away to check how he was doing. On the way over, he bought a “Congratulations” card and a box of gourmet chocolates.
He knocked on the door of the apartment. When nobody answered, he tried the knob and found it was unlocked. Quiet calm flowed across the suite. The only sound was the hum of the radiator. He called out for his cousin but received no reply.
He walked into the bedroom but stopped short. Milo sat propped up against the wall, a stain of glistening blood starting at his stomach, flowing through the white shirt and soaking into the carpet all around. His eyes were dim, his glasses resting on the floor. He had a long knife in his hand.
Milo’s eternal silence was broken only by the bold, red words on the wall, scrawled by a finger:
FROM INSIDE ME
Note: I made a small edit to italicize the book title and correct some spacing. The rest of the story is unchanged from the original post.
Nikaer Drekin fucked around with this message at 18:12 on Apr 7, 2013
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 01:37|
Hello. Earlier I expressed my interest in writing a story; however, I do not see my name in the list of participants. I hope this is merely an oversight and I can still include my story.
I don't know why I keep writing my posts in this thread like a moron.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 02:55|
You entered in time so yes, it's not your fault if Systran was too busy singing along to Bonnie Tyler [and promptly/diligently writing crits] to add you to the list.
Hello. Earlier I expressed my interest in writing a story; however, I do not see my name in the list of participants. I hope this is merely an oversight and I can still include my story.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 03:05|
You're good to go, crabrock. Go ahead and submit your Mr. Linden's Library piece when you're ready.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 03:11|
I guess I better put up or shut up. gently caress you guys, this is my brawl entry:
Chickencheese for a Dream (985 words)
Brett ripped the bandage off his arm, blood dripped onto a pile of syringes. Kayla picked strands of bloody t-shirt from her shredded shoulder; she didn’t even wince as she squeezed out buckshot like she was poppin’ zits. He poked the chunk of lead stuck in his bicep. More blood. If the poo poo hadn’t been top-notch this week, he’d be screaming for death.
“You figure our last meal was worth it?” She spoke at the floor, staring at their squat’s tarp sheeting.
Their run on a cornershop in the Core hadn’t panned out; cashier had a sawed-off under the counter. She’d put a blade in his throat after he missed, twice.
He pushed the memory away with ease; sliding into the radio’s fuzzy beats. Her busted bike was still hanging on the wall; she’d been a courier.
“You figure we could get some meds if you got another run?” he asked.
“We got enough creds to get back on the net, get a run and fix my bike. We’d be right back at square one. Real good plan last night, fucker,” she said.
“Maybe we can go on a bender? One last run?” He wrapped a new rag around his arm.
“I got a better idea: we get a put-put,” she said.
“The gently caress would we do with a taxi?” he asked.
“Dunno, but I’m sure it’ll be fun. What the gently caress we got left to eat?”
He kicked over his bag and started pulling out cans.
“Beans, tomatoes, more beans…”
“What’s that one at the bottom?” She pulled out a big peel-top.
“It’s loving chicken!” He tore it from her hands.
“Sweet Sue Canned Whole Chicken. Says it’s fully cooked and just like homemade. Mother gently caress! There’s stuffing and everything!” His stomach growled.
“Brett! Check this!” She tossed him a can of EasyCheese.
She held their only plate under the can as he cracked the top. Blobs of grease slid out, followed by the plop of the moist, pale bird.
“You sure it’s cooked?” she asked.
“Said so on the can”. He tore off a drumstick, peeled off the skin and ate it; her eyes widened.
It was soft and salty, the congealed fat warmed then dissolved as he chewed. Real meat.
Kayla was catching on, delicately pulling the other leg free. He sprayed down his drumstick with cheese and bit in.
The experience shot shivers up his spine. The cheese foam dissolved and coated tongue in thick slurry. The meat was cool and soft and broke apart into bitter sweetness. Some primal part of his brain roused; a part that just wanted to be fed.
He slid the rest of the meat into his mouth. Hints, delicate traces – a sublime spectre of cheesiness – set the stage as chicken-muscle slipped apart into individual strands. Each one slick and greasy, resisting at first but then transforming seamlessly into a warm, salty paste. The bone was stripped, he threw it aside.
He tore a hunk off the ribcage. Kayla wasn’t talking; he knew they were in the same headspace. Bite after bite, the chicken disappeared; Kayla huffed the aerosol when they were out of cheese. He tossed the can onto the pile of bones.
Kayla opened her laptop and burped, the data creds were spread out in a fan on her lap. One hand punched in digits while the other slid used cards onto the floor. She was down to two when she slammed the computer shut.
“He’ll be here in twenty.” She slid the bloody shotgun into her jeans and tossed him the pistol.
“The gently caress am I supposed to do with a deuce-deuce?” he asked.
“Iunno, scare someone? Let’s go.”
They sat on the steps of the crumbling tenement and waited. The put-put, the bastard child of a pedicab and a forklift, turned a corner. Its single orange light barely lit the street. It pulled to a shaky stop and an old man got out of the fibreglass shell, gestured for them to get in.
She reached for her wallet but grabbed the gun instead, spraying the cab with the driver’s spine.
“What the gently caress!” Brett screamed. It didn’t matter; everyone heard the shot.
“One last run, better than a bender! Get the gently caress in!” She yelled, already in the driver’s seat.
He climbed in the back. She tossed a canvas bag at his chest; it fell to the floor and lodged itself under the propane tank.
“Careful with those flares! We’ll need ‘em!” She gunned it. The little motor roared, squealing the tires and filling the cabin with smoke. They could already hear sirens.
Kayla slammed the brakes and slid the cab around a corner onto a toll road. She lined up for a straight shot at the core and pulled the throttle back as far as it would go.
“You’re gonna rip the fuckin’ motor off the mounts!” he screamed over the unsteady whine.
The fibreglass shook as they smashed through the toll barrier. Cars shot past them on both sides, taking advantage of the free entry. The motor’s belts were starting to squeal, it rattled violently. Brett swore he could smell propane.
A low-slung cruiser pulled up beside them, sirens blaring. A cop was speaking over the P.A. Kayla slammed the brakes and swerved, narrowly missing a roadster. The cop dropped it into reverse, trying to slam his cruiser into the cab. She gunned it, turning hard to dodge, but clipped a passing truck. Brett bit into his tongue as the cab rolled, her face slammed into the handlebars. The toppled cab slid to a stop.
She coughed up blood. The cruiser’s door slammed. The cops were coming.
“Give me a flare,” she said.
He lit one and passed it to her. She crammed it under the propane tank and reached for the shotgun. She cocked both barrels. He heard a blast, and then nothing at all.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 03:21|
You're good to go, crabrock. Go ahead and submit your Mr. Linden's Library piece when you're ready.
I'm so sorry:
Suspended Without Pay
Professor Linden's commandments shot out with a thunderous boom, followed closely by silent wisps of unease. As the students looked to one another for answers that did not exist, he absconded from the silent lecture hall.
Isabella looked around at the other students beginning to pack up their bags. She didn't have a bag; she didn't need one. The insurance policy she had spent all semester cultivating was finally going to pay off. The surprise twelve-page final that was due in a week didn’t bother her in the slightest.
As she did the sideways-auditorium-exit shuffle a boy she recognized from her physics class turned to her. "This is such a load of B.S., huh?"
Isabella tried to fake a smile. "Sure."
The boy's heart fluttered like the flag on a sinking ship.
While most of the class exited out the back, Isabella followed Dr. Linden out the side door. She walked along the catwalk past the multitude of bulletin boards and vending machines, ignored the students sitting at tables selling coffee, and into the hallway housing the offices of the Psychology faculty. Isabella opened the door to the professor's office, saw that he was alone as usual, and locked it behind her.
"I really liked your lecture today," she lied. "I never knew the adolescent mind could be so—"
"—loving broken? That's really what I want to get up there and say every time. It's God's cruel gift to give such a tangled mess of neurons and hormones sentience," he grumbled. “It's a miracle he bothered to make them at all.”
She lowered herself onto his lap and leaned in so he could feel her hot breath on his ear and her hand on his belt.
“But then again, how would you young co-eds develop all those daddy issues that I appreciate so much?”
"Well, why don’t you take this off and punish me," she whispered.
He drew in a deep, slow breath, but this time he gently pushed her away.
"Why?" she protested.
Dr. Linden reached for the stack of identical books and handed her the top one. "My self-published book just arrived today. I just know you’re going to love it."
Isabella took her copy of Mr. Linden's Library. "Well, I would, but I kinda have this 12 page paper to do this weekend."
"Yea, yea. I get your point. This is my magnum opus, and it takes precedence. You come back here on Tuesday after class and tell me what you think, and then we’ll probe the depths of your perversions."
* * *
Isabella nestled into her couch with her quilt and a mug of coffee. She put on her PJs and her reading glasses, and prepared to delve into the mind of a man she considered a genius. The horror started almost immediately:
Amber was an 11-year-old girl with brown hair and brown eyes and pink cheeks, and Mr. Linden nervously quivered when he thought about what other pink delicacies the young lady hid beneath her purple tank top and white shorts with lace on the bottom of them.
Isabella let the book fall to her lap. Her stomach lurched and the nausea that followed was excruciating. Was this a joke? A test? What the gently caress. Maybe it was ironic? Maybe there was a twist? Maybe she needed a glass of wine.
A glass of Cabernet Sauvignon at her side and she dutifully proceeded with the abhorrent tragedy.
Mr. Linden snuggled her and sobbed. "Please Amber, this book contains all the love for you that overflowed from my aching heart, and it is so powerful that if you ever look upon it, it will consume your fragile soul. Please never sneak into my library and read it! I beg you, I never want to lose you! I only wrote this book because if I had not a runoff for our love then my heart would literally explode!
Isabella did not have the willpower to continue reading. She got into the shower and stayed there until it ran cold. She toweled off and fell into bed. Sleep was no respite; the dreams were unmerciful.
The next afternoon after cleaning the grout in her bathroom and kitchen—and taking another shower—Isabella reluctantly opened up where she had left off.
Mr. Linden drove off into the sunrise toward his very important business meeting and then Amber snuck into his library. She stole the forbidden book and skipped back to her bed where she pulled up the warm fuzzy covers. All of the words in the book were so lovely and sweet that she couldn't help but giggle and smile with her sweet lips and she closed her eyes feeling like the happiest girl in the whole world. But she never opened her eyes again, and instead a rose bush made out of pure love grew from the pages and when Mr. Linden got home later that night and ran into her room he saw a solitary rose resting on his lover’s cheek.
* * *
Isabella watched her feet as she walked up to Dr. Linden. She dropped her paper onto his podium, turned around, and vamoosed.
There were no emails, no phone calls, and no texts. Years later when people asked her why she had never settled down with a man, Isabella just shrugged. "They're loving broken."
While brainstorming titles the worst one I came up with was "The Young and the Breastless." Kill me.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 04:49|
While brainstorming titles the worst one I came up with was "The Young and the Breastless."
I'm sure this entry will get a completely mild, not-at-all-interesting reception
SpaceGodzilla fucked around with this message at 07:14 on Apr 7, 2013
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 05:15|
I made my fiance give me permission to post it out of fear it'd be too creepy or weird so this is totally on her.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 05:22|
I really enjoyed this one, I hope it shows.
Missing In Venice.
Even with her mighty engines in reverse,
the ocean liner was pulled further and
further into the canal.
Rashomon's Vector (895w)
So old that she would have looked totally out of place but for the gantries and buildings that wound around her gunports, the skyscraping battleship Rashomon lay in state. Anne had begun to regard it with a feigned indifference, as any twelve year-old should. Nevertheless, it did provide a useful shortcut through the broken part of the city that was their home.
Her brother picked his way amongst shattered glass behind her. She could feel his hesitant movement; the desire to follow her mixing with his fear.
She wanted to turn, but something in her, maybe her mother’s parting words, kept her from comforting the boy. There’d be no comfort in their years ahead in the camp.
Rashomon was the emblem of that state of affairs, as unchanging as their lives, its metal hulk as bound into the mordant land as they were. She did her best to avoid its hulk, a subconscious boycott.
The refuse pile was more fun than lessons were. Hand-work, though dirty and baked in the sun, was closer to Anne’s talents than school. Either something was rubbish, or it wa-
A dull, metal folder. Peeking from a pool of slime, caked with rust, but etched with the kind of ornate details than an industrial item shouldn’t have. She pulled at its metal cover but it wouldn't budge, as though the wire binding was too thick for the holes in the pages.
It was hardly bigger than her hand, but when she hefted it, it had the weight of something that wouldn’t have been easily misplaced. She glanced at the title-
-and shoved it under her jumper.
Ash slid along the frosted sheets and shouted after his sister, but she skipped past the great painted R without turning. She clenched that metal block to her like it kept her heart beating, the way he’d so often seen her hold it in the months since she’d first brought it home, tossing it onto her bed.
“Anne, what is it?”
The blast-glass echoed his voice back like a taunt, the squeak of a six-year old in a thousand year-old city. Something moved behind a pipe, six building-sized decks above, so he pounded up the steps.
As he climbed, the Rashomon became colder; winds whipped across as the protection of the skyscrapers fell away and the cloud approached. From somewhere in that mist, he heard his sister’s panting, and followed.
The ship became more ornate, but cluttered with barbed wire and barriers. Warning signs from the protectorate showing icons of children with sad faces covered every surface. But with each barrier, there was always one breach; a tiny cut in the fence, a crude step, and Anne’s booted footprints following the path. Ash now understood months of midnight disturbances, the sounds of the front door shutting and his sister telling him he’d seen nothing important.
She’d hit him, the only time he’d tried to look inside the metal block. He’d found it in their fridge when he was looking for their last rat. The cold metal hadn’t moved but for a squeal, and she’d rushed into the kitchen, screaming at him not to touch. He’d never seen it again.
The book felt heavier, but the pages had begun to loosen against the cooling, contracting wire so she pressed on, finally smashing through the bridge door. As she wedged a metal trunk into a bracing position against the door she saw Ash’s face, confusion in his eyes and a question forming on his lips.
She’d tried to keep him out of it, keep him innocent. The book had made that need clear. As the altitude cooled the book further, she wrenched it open, and the familiar but alien symbols appeared. As promised, they corresponded exactly to the icons on the panels around.
Ash hit the door at full speed and felt as though the door hit him back harder. Through the little porthole, his sister pulled at levers and dials, occasionally dropping back to stare at the metal symbols in the book.
The symbols were something nightmarish. Even through cracked glass they pulled at his vision, collapsing in on themselves.
He banged his freezing fists on the door, bloodying them, and his sister continued her work.
At the centre of Rashomon’s controls was a button, inside which was a needle, she knew. She pressed it and felt the heat of blood welling up, then dripping into the workings of the ship. From somewhere below, metal roared in satiety. She wished her brother could have heard that roar from far away, dismissed it as another crumbling tower, and gone back to sleep.
Ash gazed at the other page of the book - a towering schematic of the ship, stretching up the fifteen decks they’d climbed, but also stretching down... Ash saw decks that were no longer nautical, were something misshapenly industrial. Belching exhausts, engines with cruel tearing spikes, and something organic – the pipes took on a sinewy, tentacular quality.
The mist around cleared to show the broken skyscrapers, the living places of their refugee families. The glittering towers of the protectorate on the distant horizon shifted, moving backwards as the fortress-ship lurched forward, and Ash realized with horror-
-and Anne saw with glee-
-the skyscrapers of their homes lurch forward along with them, as Rashomon dragged its urban carapace out of its nest.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 09:40|
Brother Francis Cried No More (865 words)
Brother Francis stepped in out of the rain and looked around the chapel. It seemed damper and darker than most of the others he had visited on his pilgrimage but he decided to attribute it to the weather and late hour.
“Here, I think you might need this.“ As silently as he had disappeared, the chaplain returned to the entrance bearing a towel. “If you'll follow me I will show you to your quarters for the evening. Two of our brothers agreed to share a room for the night.“
The room was near the back of the chapel beneath the bell tower. The furnishings were spartan to say the least. A single cot lay in the corner opposite the door while a small table sat in the middle with a single book upon it.
Left alone in the room and awakened by the excitement of the unexpected storm, Brother Francis decided to take a look at the book before retiring for the evening. It seemed to be bound in a strange leather. He assumed it belonged to some animal native only to the local forests. The title, embossed in gold, read “Book of Hidden Relics “.
Opening the tome to a random page a rough sketch of a bejewelled skull greeted him. The image was titled “The Skull of Golgotha“ and the book went on to describe in length the many-faceted powers of the skull including removing warts and stopping hemorrhages. He could only chortle at this description. Having seen the skull himself in north France, he knew for a fact that it possessed none of those traits.
He turned to the front of the book seeking an introduction or a date of some sort. The author of this tome had seen fit to include one paragraph describing his work: “In this modern age many have seemed to discover artifacts that claim great powers as being derived from divinity. It is of my belief though that such artifacts are not gifts from God but rather temptations of evil and it is my purpose to catalogue those which seem most sinister, so that those of devout soul may avoid them.“ It was dated 1142, over a hundred years ago.
The hairs on the back of Brother Francis' neck stood on end but he continued to flip through the tome. Descriptions of feathers from the wings of Lucifer, the location of the crystallized eyes of giants, and dark rings imbued with the power of Satan himself. All accompanied by vivid woodcuts. He had almost convinced himself this book was just a joke when he stumbled upon a page with fresh ink in the margin. Unlike the Latin of the text this note was hastily scrawled in German. It read “The fifth one ended up in France“ and accompanied an image of a human seated in a chair flying through the air.
Intrigued he began to thumb pages backwards. Notes in the margins of the prior page spoke of a chair capable of generating fabulous wealth. Another one that makes the sitter invisible. Finally a pair of chairs, granting mastery of life and death. The whole collection seemed to be called “The Thrones of Mephistopheles“ The image of death's chair bore another note: “Requires testing.“ A chill ran down Brother Francis' spine.
“Even if this book contains falsehoods, someone is seeking out evil in earnest. I must warn the head of this congregation that one of his flock has fallen to temptation.“ He bundled the book into his robes and crept out of his room, looking around for the chaplain's room. Finding a staircase behind the altar he figured this would lead him to his goal.
The stairs seemed to spiral downward forever. His breath began to appear in soft clouds before him. The smell of burning incense and the sound of chanting began to waft up towards him. The ground at the bottom of the stairwell was illuminated in an eerie blue light. He could not help but gasp as he stepped out of the staircase and into a massive underground chamber.
The ceiling seemed lost in the darkness and what little light did illuminate it came from the rocks themselves. In the middle of the chamber a ring of men surrounded a chair. It was not a particularly ornate chair, but the few carvings in the arms and back of it seemed to move unnaturally in the shifting blue light. He recognized it immediately as the seat of death from the book.
In his shock he let the tome slip from his robes. The sound of it dropping seemed to echo forever. The chanting stopped immediately. The man standing behind the chair looked up and flashed a toothy grin Brother Francis recognized, although in this light it seemed to belong more to a predator than a chaplain.
“Ah Brother Francis I see you found the literature we left for you. Would you care to help us with our work?“
“Work? Is that what you call this heresy? Work?“
“Is that a refusal? No matter, I believe the chair takes anyone, willing or not. Come, Brothers Gabriel and Sam, help our newest arrival find a seat.“
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 14:42|
You ever go fishing? You know that moment after the fish bites, but before he's at the surface? When you're all excited and you can sort of see a flash of scales under water; and you've already started thinking about fry oil and batter and beer? But then the line breaks and the rod goes limp and you're out a lure and it's kind of dark out and you realize you're cold and wet and hungry and the whole effort was kind of dumb? This story is like that.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 17:08|
I don't understand the prot's reaction to it. Why does she feel sick?
"Amber was an 11-year-old girl"
I hope I don't have to explain why somebody finding out they'd been banging a pedophile (especially one that brings up daddy issues) would freak somebody out. It's not lolita, it's a horribly written fantasy. I guess I wasn't clear enough? Because you seem to be like "big deal so what?"
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 17:14|
"Amber was an 11-year-old girl"
So this girl's banging her psych teacher so she can weasel out of writing an essay, and we're supposed to feel bad for her? She's cold and calculating and uses her body to achieve ends. I had her pegged as a psychopath (I mean, why else would the setting be psych class unless you're implying mental issues in your characters?)... But she's also madly in love with this prof or something? I, I don't know what you're going for.
*Edit: I don't wanna sound like a pedo apologist. It's reprehensible. BUT It's not like the prof actually did anything. It's like if my SO wrote a self insert Star Trek fanfic where she was constantly shoving dicks into door jambs. Yeah, it'd be weird. Would I be worried that she'd slam my dong in a door? No. Would I tell her to get help? Probably.
Recommend watching The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
edit* Nubile's SAFELIST:
autism ZX spectrum fucked around with this message at 19:38 on Apr 7, 2013
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 17:27|
Tried to make friends with the comma again and tighten up my sentence length. Echoing what others said about this prompt, it was great.
The Old Sadogue - 849 words (including title). Based on Captain Tory
"Where he goes, the fish follow in his wake."
Everyone in the outport knew those words from the story of the Old Sadogue. He was fat like a walrus and had tusks like them too, hidden beneath a great white beard that put every other beard to shame. He sailed in a dingy (before the mayor of St.John's gave him a schooner so he could travel faster, but that wasn't written) along the coast and stopped in each harbor only a few days, drinking with the sailors, settling disputes, and telling tall tales of the far white north.
I looked up from the book of black leather and yellow paper and asked if the thing about the tusks was true. Da' said the story had a way of shape-shifting as it went from mouth to ear, but if it was written on the page it was the truth. I was only eight then, and I believed him.
We were sitting on a wet beach just after dusk, the cold wind coming in off the shore and following the river inland. We sat just around the bend from the outport and I could see its glow over the hill, silhouettes of the tall, empty trees winding like cracks in the sky.
"You think he'll come?" I asked.
"We're in need."
"We needed last year too."
"Not as much."
And I believed him. Da' once said he planted me in mum when the Old Sadogue last passed through, because he knew the fishing would be good for that season and the next. When families could eat, families grew, and there were lots of boys and girls my age around the outport. But for the last three seasons the boats were coming back hollow and the sailors grew more sour by the month. By the time the leaves turned and the ice collected in the harbor that year, they had spent more time in the pub than at sea, drowning in something other than the waves. Every kid knew the Old Sadogue would return and our eagerness to see him never faded, even as we starved. Little Eld McCoy once told us he didn't exist, and was just a big dumb secret all the adults were in on. A group of us pushed him in the river and ran home, laughing all the way.
Da' was breaking down old lobster traps with his bare hands. He snapped the thin planks of wood over his knee and tossed them into a fire he lit with his lamp. He said the Old Sadogue would come in on a bout of fog, but when I squinted past the flame out on the ocean I could see the night horizon and every bright star in the sky. The fire grew tall as he built it up until it was our beacon on the shore.
Da' wiped his hands and came around the fire to me. "You hungry?" It was the first thing he asked me all night. When I nodded he smiled and said, "Not for long."
He gave me his salt crusted pea coat to brace against the cold and took the black leather book. He flipped through, mumbling as his finger traced lines back and forth across the pages. When finished he handed the book back and lifted his lantern from the sand. He walked down to the tide line with his pants rolled up to his knees and stood out there with the water lapping over his bare feet. He swung his lantern three times, the reflection like a wisp of ghost light rippling and dancing around him, bathing him in yellow glow.
We waited and the fire whipped with the wind, burning bright but slowly subsiding to the blowing cold. I watched Da' just standing in the water, looking out on the water, until the fire was nothing more than a scab in the sand. I could tell by now he was shivering and soon enough he came plodding back up the beach. He was grumbling all the words he saved for the sailors and the bottles, the ones I wasn't allowed to say.
He kicked sand over the humble embers that remained and swiped the book from my hands, gripping it between his finger and thumb. It was the same way he held any small cod or crab before tossing it back into the sea and I saw him look back out over the water, judging the distance. I wanted to say something to cheer him up, but knew better than to say anything at all when he was like that, and instead buried my face in his coat sleeves. I listened for the distant plunk but instead heard only a deep sigh, the kind that could have filled any sail. When I looked up Da' was looking down at me, his face fully of worry in the lantern light.
"Lets head in." He said, the book stowed under his belt.
"Not this season?" My stomach groaned like it knew.
"Next season." He said. And I believed him.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 18:47|
Word Count: 789
Prompt: A tiny voice asked, "Is he the one?" and a book from the imagination
Signals and Wards
Sam awoke and touched the book hidden beneath her pillow, feeling the creases in its leather cover. Knowing it was still there gave her comfort and knowing that it was secret gave her a reassuring thrill that allayed the troubling uncertainty of the Children’s Ward. Looking around, Sam saw she was unobserved, the other residents of the ward being busy with their own sufferings. She slid the book out from its hiding place and opened it to the most recently written page. She traced the reassuring words with her finger, mouth moving as she slowly read the shapes. “We’re coming,” they said. “Not much longer now.”
A door banged shut at the far end of the ward. Sam shoved the book beneath her pillow and lay back, as three doctors arrived. They came to her bedside first, checked her chart and discussed the various ways in which her head might be cut open and its insides rearranged. Sam lay there silently as she always did, waiting for them to go to the other children and leave her to her book and her dreams.
Sam had dreamed a lot during the past months in the ward, curled up on herself with one hand holding tightly to the book beneath the pillow. She always dreamed of other rooms, painted blue, like water for the sail boat that sat on a shelf above her, or green and adorned with posters of angry bands, or simply bare wood - but never the same twice. She dreamed that she was closing her eyes, pretending to sleep, and that a fresh breeze blew in through an open window. Sounds rose from outside, ringing chimes - but strange and distant like bells underwater. Even though Sam had her eyes shut tight, she began to see bright, moving lights casting yellow shadows behind her eyelids. At the edge of her hearing were tiny voices, asking “Is he the one?“ or “Is it her?” in rising, musical tones. She turned toward them to welcome and thank them, opened her eyes to see them at last and woke up in the ward yet again.
Some nights, the chimes were louder, some quieter, but every time Sam awoke there would be a new line written in her secret book, asking her to be patient, and telling her that they were on their way.
They weren’t here yet, however, there were only the doctors and today the doctors weren’t leaving. They drew lines on her forehead, and their talk wasn’t about tests or diagnosis, but schedules, exploratory procedures and how long it had been since she had eaten. Sam began to fret, looking anxiously between the faces of the doctors, but they were unfamiliar and impossible to read. She wanted to say that they were coming, and that they would be here soon, they had told her so, but Sam had never had never had any words of her own, just her secret book. They made notes on her chart and summoned an orderly, who made adjustments to her bed, and wheeled it out of the ward.
Sam watched helplessly as she was whisked down unfamiliar corridors, into a large, metallic elevator, down several more corridors and finally into a room filled from wall to wall with incomprehensible machines, made of pipes and dials and sitting on wheels. The orderly, who had babbled with pleasant but one-sided chatter the whole way left her there alone. Above her, where her bed was parked, were bright, long fluorescent lights.
In time, another man arrived, wearing a white coat. He wheeled a machine of cylinders and breathing masks over to her and explained the she would soon be asleep, and that she shouldn’t worry, in a moment she would be awake and everything would be fine. When he placed the breathing mask over her face, she tried to wriggle away, but found her eyes closing despite themselves. The lights above her made yellow shadows behind her eyelids. This wasn’t like the ward, listening to the other children’s noise drift into nonsense, counting sheep into slumber. This was hard and cold and precise, a surgical removal of her consciousness.
She looked down as if from a great height. Sam’s body lay there perfectly still, and the man beside her twiddled some knobs, removed the mask from her face, pounded upon her chest several times then raced from the room in a panic. She could hear familiar chimes, getting louder, but sounding pure and glorious. She looked up, and saw the lights - not the fluorescent bars on the ceiling, but the joyous radiance of those she knew and loved. They were here, they had found her. At long, long last.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 19:06|
My entry, using the Another Place, Another Time picture. I figured that this should be whimsical (since the picture gave me a "Miyazaki" vibe, particularly Spirited Away, and that film is full of magic and whimsy, with a few exceptions), but I don't know how well I did that.
The Wind Charts
Word count: 797 (800 with title)
The book floated along the river bank before being spotted by the boys. It was old, that much they could tell before grabbing its soaked spine. Rubbing away the mud, the cover read in big bold letters "Across the Four Winds: Charting the Unknown". The boys discovered something they rarely found in books: pictures! And big ones too! However, the waters did their damage and washed out the text on the pages. This presented a challenge, one that the boys eagerly jumped at. How hard can it be reading a book? With pictures, at that!
After several failed attempts at understanding the wordless book, they decided to take it to the smartest person they knew: Michael, the boat repairman of the island.
At Michael's house, they had to explain what happened several times before he understood what they found. He took one look at the dripping book and frowned. It was not the first time the boys consulted him on what they found in the river. Usually what they found belonged in the trash. This time would be no different, Michael thought. Wordless book, indeed!
Yet, when Michael read the title of the book, he grew excited. He flipped through the pages and started to smile. The boys never saw him like this; usually Michael would look at their discovery and sigh loudly. Michael turned around and explained to the boys that what they had was a book of wind charts! Michael told them that if the book had its words, then people would be able to predict when, where and how strong the winds would go! Everyone could sail across the waters according to the charts, instead of build rails to sail on (and pay that ridiculous rail fee)! More ways to sail meant more boats, which meant more business! However, since the water washed out the words, the book was useless to anyone curious enough to read it. Unless...
He told them that they had to go see the Book Menders, at Castletown. If anyone knew what the book said, it would be them! The boys got excited; they haven't been in Castletown forever, they told Michael. He looked outside at his flags; they were waving to the west. He told them to get ready quickly, before the wind dies out. The boys ran back home and packed what they thought they needed. They told their mother that they were going to Castletown. She grew excited and wanted to come along, much to the boys' dismay.
Michael just slid the book into the cart and lashed on the sails for the hour long journey. The boys came back, with a fully loaded pack and their mother. She wanted to go to Castletown to shop for more vegetables and clothes for the boys. Michael sighed and looked at his small sail cart. The cart could hold four people, but with little elbow room to spare.
After the longest hour of hearing about how the boys are growing up so fast, Michael dropped off the boys and their mother as quick as he could. He carried the book under his arm to the Hall of Book Menders in the heart of town. The Menders looked at the book with keen eyes. They knew that what Michael carried could change the way Castletown traveled to and from the isles. The Menders told him that they would need more time, since the water damage was severe. They needed special ingredients from the south to properly restore the book, they told him.
A day passed. A day turned into a week. A week into two. Two into a month. A month into a season. A season until...
Michael received a letter from the Menders. They restored the book! Michael rushed back to Castletown. At the Hall, the Menders gave Michael back the newly restored book. They told him that they needed to give a copy of the charts to the King, as expected from such an important discovery. Michael looked at the pages for the first time in months. The charts told him of where the wind would go and how fast it would take. He smiled. Now his business would grow, because everyone would want a boat to sail in!
At first, when official word got out that the winds could be predicted, everyone bought a new boat on the island. Michael's repair business flourished! But after some time, more and more people started to open up their own boat repair business. And, in the end, Michael's business didn't grow much at all. It became too busy competing with the newer boat repairmen on the island to grow.
The boys, having completely forgotten about their discovery last season, were busy learning how to sail in their very own boat.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 21:40|
Prompt: The Harp
Also a made up book, which I decided to adhere very loosely to.
My dad never did own up to it, but I knew there was something. And with mom fresh in the ground next to him this past August, there was no one left to keep his secret.
But on this particular day, I was more worried about the Lands Council. One month; that was how long I'd had to put the farm's affairs in order, auction off the cattle and harvest the last of the soybeans for sale. I got little more than chump change for both, but it was better than losing them to the land appropriation mandate.
I shuffled through the legal papers one more time, waited for the councilmen to come knocking. Deed, tax records, crop yields. The Council would need to know exactly how much further they could stretch rations down on the front lines in the Dixon war. I'd be trundled off to Omaha, of course, with the other farmers' sons too useless for combat and too impotent to breed their own family of farmers. Someone had to package all that weaponized chlorine for the trenches.
All hail glorious Agraria, I thought.
That's when I heard the song. It was almost too soft for the ears, and if I hadn't been ruminating, I'd never have noticed it. But there it was, sweet and sad and all the more heartbreaking for the fact that it sounded so far away. I was moving toward the music before I was conscious of being on my feet, up the creaky old stairs, from room to room until I reached my mom's old walk-in closet. It somehow seemed smaller without all her dresses to fill it up; only the smell of shoe leather remained.
Notes trickled down through the ceiling. It was coming from the attic, I was sure of it. I reached up, pulled on the frayed string and ducked aside as a ladder slid down from a trap door in the ceiling.
The attic had been off-limits in dad's lifetime. Once, at age fourteen, when I was just newly tall enough to reach the string, he caught me by the belt loop before I could climb halfway up that ladder and yanked me down so hard that my backside was bruised for days from where I hit the floor.
After his funeral, I had bolted straight for the attic door and his secrets. He wasn't all the way gone, I was sure of it. Part if him was still up there.
Imagine my disappointment when I poked my head up over that dusty floor and found nothing. Nothing at all. No bootlegging operation, no anti-Agrarian propaganda, no nudie pictures on the walls. Just an empty room with a window and some cobwebs. Mom had called my name from below, gently told me there was nothing to find.
But as boys will, I went up that ladder again and again to scowl skeptically at the empty, cob-webbed room.
The ladder groaned under my weight as I climbed, and cobwebs tickled my face. I peered up over the floorboards, saw the same shadowy nothing that I remembered so well from boyhood. But the song! It was strong and pure, pouring from the space near that old cloudy window.
I pushed myself up through the trap door and went to the window, tears running freely down my cheeks as note after note washed over me like heaven itself. But where was it coming from? I inspected the walls, ran my hands over every divot and even the floorboards around the window. It was kneeling there that the glint of metal caught my eye; a small catch worked into the underside of the windowsill. How had I never noticed it before?
Heart pounding, I pressed up on the mechanism and the windowsill slid free on cleverly concealed runs in the surrounding frame. A book was wedged beneath, faded, leather-bound, along with a quill and a pot of ink. The book was mostly empty, half the pages torn out, and the rest were blank save two. I recognized my dad's chickenscratch on the first:
Not all worlds are so ugly as this one. Use this wisely.
On the next page was a simple drawing of an open window. Nothing beyond it, except...except. It couldn't be, but the music was drifting up through the drawing, along with the smell of lilac and loamy earth. And, peering down at the yellowed piece of paper, I could almost see a garden, feel the warm summer air of some fragrant oasis.
The song came from a harp, notes one and the same with the burbling of a nearby brook. I could feel dad's hands in the music, in the rough, delicate way the notes fell over each other; and I thought, if I just listen, I'll see him. If I just keep listening.
A sharp knock the front door brought me back to the cold attic, to the ache of my knees on the wooden floor. The councilmen, come to take what had been my dad's to fuel our noble war. I wondered what they would make of the book, decided to tuck it well underneath the rest of the things in my travel bag.
Later, on the train to grey, smoky Omaha, I filled napkins with sketches of windows and doors. I'd be a long time in the city. Wouldn't do to waste ink.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 21:43|
“Unlock your imagination at the library”
2nd - Tomorrow I begin the inventory of the Linden Estate. Escaping auction house will be good for me, I haven't been able to focus since Maevis left. I hope to discover something peculiar to distract from her betrayals.
3rd - The House is full Of Leaves, every window is broken. There nothing of value, all the furniture and paintings are in tatters. It is wasted labor, but there is a week until the auction so I will occupy my mind with this. I was served divorce papers when I returned to my dank lodgings; I will likely lose everything.
4th - Today I examined the basement, and found something extraordinary. I expected a dusty storage area, or a wine cellar full of broken bottles, but it is clean and dry. From the bottom of the stairs a line of lit light bulbs stretches away in a corridor lined floor to ceiling with oak cabinets. The draws in the cabinets are filled with index cards. I seem to have stumbled upon a card catalogue.
This level may extend for some distance outside the foundations, but I cannot know as it seems to be completely without symmetry. The hall twists about but the cabinets continue perfectly along the curves and angles. The workmanship is exceptional, better than I have ever seen, but I cannot conceive of a method to remove them for sale without irreparable damage. Since the profit would likely be wholly stolen by parasitic lawyers or my spouse, so I am not inclined to speculate upon the effort required.
I am yet to find any books.
5th - Last night I attempted to take some cards for study, thinking it would aid my troubled sleep, but it felt so profoundly wrong to remove them that my migraines returned. I had to helped to my bed. Each card has cross referencing information, but no shelf mark. Instead a description of how to find the book is written in beautiful cursive. The information does not match this labyrinth, which I have begun mapping in an effort to inventory the collection, nor does it match the decrepid library upstairs. For Zampanò’s The Navidson Record:
Turn your face to the moon whilst before the window of the stolen god and take twenty paces, so the eye of your shadow from the setting sun falls through the arch of Pelafina upon the armoire of red pine. The folio of Zampanò will be at your right hand.
I have completed my map of the catacomb: five halls twist around and originate from a central hall, at the end one is the staircase to the house. In the centre is a chair very similar to that which Maevis and I bought for our first house, a wingback with large padded sections.
- I fell asleep in the chair, and I do not know what day it is. I have a mind to stay as my lodgings are covered in dirt and filth while this place is pristine. I never learned to care for myself, Maevis did the everything about the house, and she now has full possession of it. I have no place to call home except this labyrinth.
- Each map I draw is incorrect. The halls twist in differing patterns, and branch at the points where I previously thought they ended. I have also begun a map of the library proper. The cards often use landmarks, so I can visualise that marvellous space, it is vivid in my mind. I spent most of the day sitting with the cards, but it will take some time to make a full survey of the piece.
- I have fantastic dreams of the library when I sleep. There are vaulted ceilings painted in wonderful colours, and shelves and shelves of illustrated manuscripts. Fantastic canvasses by touched artists hang upon the walls, and gold plate adorns each door. Coloured lights diffuse through the windows, painting designs on the walls in deft strokes. I sense that I belong there. However comfortable I am in my padded chair in the catalogue it is but an antechamber. But if I find the right card, the one that describes how to enter the library, I reach it. I am surrounded by thousands of keys, I only need to find the one that fits me.
- When my supply of cards is depleted I discover another arm in the catalogue, another branch or root. I no longer need the maps I have drawn, but as I look through their sequence I can see the halls writhing and branching around me, growing. I stalk the labyrinth, instinct bringing me to the next cabinet, the next draw, the next card. I do not know if I will ever find the one I search for, and each one tortures me with ever more detailed descriptions of the library that I seek.
- I no longer know or care which branch leads up to the house, everything in that world has been taken from me. I am driven by the need to fulfill the visions I see when I sleep.
- I Wander in linden’s library Each sundown, chasing apparitions, purposefully examining The heady images. such Astonishing scenes yet lend unfailingly more Tender auras, Kreating intense, lacerating longing. Years, otherwise unfilled, May Advance Ere (those) Visions I Secure.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 22:03|
Prompt: Another Place, Another Time http://hrsbstaff.ednet.ns.ca/davidc/6c_files/documents/mysteries/Harris%20Burdick/placetime.htm
The Next Chapter
My biggest fear was that I would let my friends down. I didn’t care about the adventure, I just wanted to help Bernie and Gary get their dad back. I like to think that I did, but I won’t ever know for sure. That book knew, and I like to think that Bernie knew too. That book knew everything. It even knew when I would fail.
We crashed through the woods, scraped and cut. In my shoulder was still a thorn the size of a railroad spike, and I was just lucky enough that it wasn’t very deep. Ahead of me were Bernie and the rest of them, moving so confidently and with purpose.
“Wait up,” I said, trying to grab at the thorn.
“It’s just up ahead,” Bernie said. As he walked he flipped through the pages of the book. Cracked blue leather and gold trimmed, I desperately wanted to know what that old thing smelled like, but Bernie wouldn’t let it out of his hands.
I lagged behind the gang, Bernie, his brother Gary, and their friends Evan and Mary. Bernie trudged up sand dunes with his face buried in the book, a finger tracing his place. The forest had turned quickly into rocky beach, and in front of us was a railroad track that stretched into the infinite horizon. On the track was a cart, with a crude sail attached to it.
“This is it,” Bernie said. He flapped the book shut. “One step closer.”
A fiddler crab, as big as a dog, clacked its big pincher at us before scuttling away behind a dune. Small waves lapped the shore like small ripples. The ocean curved into the distance, and I felt despair.
“Evan, your time to shine,” Bernie said. Evan’s face twisted slightly, but nodded. Bernie tapped his finger on the book and smiled. Mary came over to me, and grabbed the thorn and yanked it out of my shoulder.
“Gah,” I said. The pain coursed through my body, squeezing the breath out of my lungs. “Thanks,” I said through the heavy gasps.
”Mary you go help Evan and Gary get the cart ready,” Bernie said. Mary nodded and traipsed away. “Come over here with me,” he said to me.
Bernie took me with him to a flat spot on the beach. He sat me down on a piece of driftwood, and I could feel him looming over me. I couldn’t look at him, only at the book in his hand. Scraps of tiny paper poked out every couple of pages. I started to cry.
“It’s okay,” Bernie said. “You’ve done more than enough.”
“But I can still help,” I said, standing. My shoulder burned and I had to sit back down.
“We’re going to go on without you,” he said.
“But, but your dad-“
Bernie knelt next to me.
“You’ve got a mom and dad, and your little brother back home, you have to help them too,” he said.
“It’s okay, I’m not that hurt,” I lied.
“You’re not in the next chapter,” Bernie said.
My stomach dropped. That couldn’t be true, I might have been a little hungry, and tired, and maybe a bit scratched up, but there was no way I was going to get left behind. Blood soaked my jacket sleeve and made it feel ten times heavier.
“It’s time for you to go home,” Bernie said. He stood and held out his free hand. With my good arm, I reached out and grabbed his forearm. As I stood, I faltered for a moment, and I knew he was right.
”This is where I go home?” I asked, more to the book than to Bernie.
“Yes, it is.”
“What’s it say after that?”
Bernie’s fingers tightened around the book and he looked away.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t gotten that far yet.”
I nodded. We stood there for a moment in silence and I started crying again. Bernie put his arms around me and I felt the book jab into my back. I wanted to laugh because it hurt a little.
“Bernie! The cart’s ready!” Gary shouted. All at once he disengaged and looked back to the group.
I couldn’t look him in the eyes. He just put his hand on my shoulder and walked away. The second to last thing I ever saw of Bernie and the gang was him walking away, with that book hanging by his side.
I wonder, in my old age, what ever became of them. Sometimes, when I go back to that place on the beach, where I saw them get on the cart, I still wonder if I should try to catch up with them. I sit and gaze out at that curved, empty ocean and wonder if I was ever really in that book at all. If I was meant to know, surely he would have told me.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 22:03|
Submissions must be in by 8pm EST. You have just under two hours left.
I have to proofread my wife's 100+ page dissertation tonight, but I'll at least try to read all the entries tonight.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 22:12|
Via The Harp.
Don't Skip To The End (863 words)
Yesterday, an attorney handed me a keyring and a typed memo from the best storyteller I ever knew, old Mr. Wilkins.
The lawyer shrugged. “No one’s heard from him for ten years. He left very specific instructions. Liquidate the estate and distribute the proceeds to charity. The library is yours to keep.”
Eight hundred miles later, I opened the door on a domestic winterscape. Trackless white dust covered books, which in turn buried the few other things in the three-room bungalow.
When I was a boy, my classmates called Mr. Wilkins an old gypsy, claimed he stole things, and said if you talked to him you’d disappear forever. And, true, we had our fair share of folks disappearing, but who can say where they went? Grab a greyhound, find a new life in the city. It’s easy. Hell, that’s what I did when I went to college.
As for the thievery, the house held little else aside from the bare necessities and the books, hardly King Solomon’s hoard.
Amidst the neglect, one thing stood pristine: a metal desk choked with felt-backed manuscripts. I had seen these once before, when I was still a teenager. Though my elder siblings had long outgrown the ritual, Mr. Wilkins had come over to tell his Sunday stories. After exhausting his yarn, he handed me one of these self-bound, handwritten volumes to read while he took coffee with Dad.
Between its covers, I soared over the Alps on the back of an airborne camel and visited a king’s court in the old country. As the sun faded, I skimmed the pulpy, graphite-streaked pages, racing along through the tale. I needed to see how it ended.
When Mr. Wilkins caught me skipping ahead, he snatched the book away and gave me the only frown I’d ever seen on his lined face. The next morning, Mother’s prize harp had disappeared from the living room and Mr. Wilkins never came over or spoke to me again.
On the cluttered desk, one book lay open, pencil chicken-scratch filling half the paper. I bent over the read it, but the long drive and the dust were making me woozy and I couldn’t focus on the words. I dusted off a chair, then flipped back to the start.
The King’s Last Request, by A. Wilkins. Had I the time, I’d’ve put down roots in that chair, reading every manuscript in turn. As is, I had to finish off this depressing business and head home. I started boxing, but the open book had a hook in my cheek and I kept rushing over to the desk to read a few pages.
By sunup, I’d nearly finished dusting, cataloguing and packing the house’s meager contents. It was time to go, but I sat down one more time, my head spinning with exhaustion. I flipped through to the final written page, where I’d found the book open, but my vision swam and I couldn’t focus on the words. My eyelids dragged shut.
Birdcalls woke me. I stood from the chair, surrounded by thick leafy trees scurrying with wildlife. A stream ran through the clearing into a little pond, beside which sat a polished wood harp - my mother’s, right down to the scar on the base where I’d stuck gum when I was nine.
Mr. Wilkins sat next to the harp, idly strumming. “Couldn’t resist, hmm?”
“The end. You were trying to skip to it, weren’t you? Thought I’d taught you better.”
“Where— why is that here?” I pointed at the harp.
“Well, the best details always come from life, hmm? Places, characters, everything. But you’re not supposed to be among them.” Mr. Wilkins laughed. “I should’ve picked a less impatient child. Where’s my ending?”
“You didn’t read my letter. This last volume isn’t finished.” He pointed down the stream, where the forest opened out onto utter blankness. “And I can’t end it myself, that’s suicide. But you were always good at finishing things. Do me the favor, hmm? Pick up a pencil and tie it all up.”
“Wait, does this mean we can go visit the king? See the old country?”
“No, you’ve got a job to do.” He crossed his arms. “I’ve been toodling around long enough.”
“But—“ I took a step forward and slipped on a rock, smacked my head on something hard.
Sunlight stroked my face and I sat up from the desk, sending the open book tumbling to the floor. I tossed it in my bag, drove the rest of the way home and phoned in a few days off.
Sitting in my flat with a pencil in hand, I opened the book to the right place. A half-blank page stared up at me, begging for an ending. All those places, all those people trapped between the pages. I was about to finish everything for all of them.
I slammed the book shut and shoved it in a shoebox. I’ve not read a thing since.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 22:15|
word count: 890
Jeremy sat at the top of his basement stairs staring down at a small wooden door. He had been afraid of that door at the foot of the stairs for as long as he could remember. His right hand trembled as he felt for the glass bottle next to him. His left hand touched the aluminum can on his other side. His tools comforted him a little, but not enough to give him the courage to go down the stairs and execute his plan. Jeremy only had another 15 minutes before his mother came home with his little brother Dylan.
Four months ago Jeremy’s dad spent the better part of a weekend cleaning up the basement. Jeremy had attempted to open the door, hammer in hand, ready to face whatever horrors lurked behind it, knowing his father was there to protect him. When it didn’t budge after his repeated tugs at the tiny brass knob, his father remarked, “Doesn’t open, Jer. I think it’s just a silly little door the last owners attached to the wall.” Jeremy knew better. It was probably sealed with some evil magic or sinister spell.
Jeremy squinted down at the door. Too afraid to head down the stairs and turn on the lower light, only the dim bulb at the top of the stairs provided illumination. He reached in his pocket and removed his father’s lighter. He lit it, but it didn’t provide any better illumination.
One night at dinner Jeremy had tried convincing his parents he heard mice scurrying around behind the door. He implored them to hire an exterminator to check it out. When they told him they weren’t worried about it and that it would be too expensive, he started crying. “Are you scared of the door?” his dad had asked him, in the same tone he took when coaxing Jeremy to go to bed and assuring there weren’t any monsters under it. Embarrassed and defiant, Jeremy said he wasn’t. Dylan admitted he was. That’s when his mom butted in. “What if there’s a little magical world behind the door? Like Oz? Or Narnia?” What a bunch of stupid kids’ stuff. Only one thing lived behind doors like that in basements: monsters, demons, or unnamed, undiscovered terrors. Jeremy knew of countless tales where small carnivorous monsters emerged from basement holes and ate the kids and other inhabitants of the cursed house. Jeremy knew it was only a matter of time before they came for him and his brother.
Since his parents didn’t seem willing to help, Jeremy searched for the means to open the door on his terms. According to an online excerpt of Portals, Doorways, and Demonic Gates all he needed was to say “apredo portalis arroha” The author, simply known as “Cyberw1ccan,” in the section Dealing with Monsters of the Dark, hypothesized that some kind of nocturnal, light-averse creatures most likely lived behind such a door. The article recommended several ways of dealing with them once access to their realm was achieved with the door-opening incantation.
Jeremy picked up the aerosol can next to him. He didn’t have much time left now before his mother brought Dylan home from day care. He opened his mouth, but no words came out. His heart was pounding. He was sure he had seen the door knob turn. The door creaked open. “Jeremy,” something whispered. Jeremy screamed. A tiny shape emerged from the door. Jeremy leapt up and jammed his thumb down on the nozzle of his mother’s can of hairspray as he bounded down the stairs, screaming. He ignited the stream of hairspray with his father’s lighter and unleashed a river of fire upon the creature. The creature’s shrieks mingled with Jeremy’s. Jeremy’s shrill screams transformed into a guttural roar. He sprayed a nonsensical torrent of vowels and consonants at the door as he bathed the crack in streaming fire. Jeremy could hear screaming now on the other side of the door. His roar transformed to, “gently caress you!”
“gently caress you! gently caress you! gently caress you!” he shouted through tears of shock, fear, anger, and adrenaline as he ran back up the stairs. He dropped the can of hairspray and grabbed the glass bottle he had filled with gasoline from one of the cans in the garage. He leapt back down the stairs, two at a time. He wrenched open the tiny door. He could make out small sizzling lumps in the darkness. The thing that had poked around the door had crawled back a few inches. It was hideous and smoldering. It resembled a small naked guinea pig with a humanoid head. A murderous kid-devouring gremlin, Jeremy thought. Or a harmless gnome from a little magical world. Like Oz. Or Narnia. The hideous thing looked up at Jeremy. It tried to speak, but only emitted a soft gurgle. “Shut up!” Jeremy shrieked as he lit the gasoline soaked rag sticking out of the glass bottle. He threw the bomb in to the darkness and slammed the door. A chorus of anguished shrieks followed him up the stairs. He slammed the basement door as his mother entered the front door, holding Dylan. Jeremy threw himself into his surprised mother and buried his weeping face in her stomach. He wrapped his right arm around his mother and his left arm around his little brother.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 23:11|
I just got home, I'm quite hungover, I'm terrifically happy and I'm certain my piece won't be done on time. Oh well.
|# ? Apr 7, 2013 23:18|
Based on Mr. Linden's Libary.
Descartes (897 words)
The room had been a bunker once upon a time. During the war, before The End. Roger was only a child then, just a boy, his father a captain, and later director. Now he was the director, and it seemed a strange and curious thing to look back on the war as thing thought of fondly.
Roger shut the door behind him. The lock didn’t matter. Hadn’t mattered for years. Under his arm was the book that had arrived this morning, and in his hands crumpled the letter that accompanied it.
The room had been cleared years ago. Only a few photographs and a couple scraps of old maps still adorned the walls. And there in the center he sat. The Guest they called him on official channels, though some had other names for him. His head lulled lazily, eyes wrapped in bandages. His hands and his feet were kept separate and secure by four great railroad spikes, one for each extremity. Two through his palms through the armrest of his chair, and two through his feet through the floor where they’d nailed him. His face and features were young but lined. You’d never guess he’d been here for fifty years. There on a table beside him, his one companion, an old military radio. Its cord ran down to an outlet in the floor, but it hadn’t picked up a signal in thirty years. Not that it needed to.
Roger stood before the Guest and waited. This was a room where silence made its home. There was no telling how long he’d have to wait. After a minute Roger flipped open the book he’d brought with him, and began to read.
“There were fields there, tick and beautiful, a tapestry of greens and yellows that lead down to the brook where all thirst could be quenched. There was music in the stream in the flow of the water, and those who heard it never wished to hear anything else all the days of their lives.”
It was a simple sentence. Nothing overtly sensational. The rest of the page and the whole of the book for all he knew was comprised of such sentences, harmless in isolation. Yet as he began to read down the page, more and more they knitted together in his mind, a seed of a place, both great and terrible in its beauty. It was a perfect place, yes. A place that absolutely could not be said to exist.
His fingers trembled as he reached to turn the page, when a laugh cold and cruel interrupted his world. Roger snapped the book shut and remembered his surroundings.
Again the radio laughed and lit up with sound.
“Ahhh, Arcadia. One of my favorites.”
The voice from the radio was tired and distant, yet carried itself with a musical bearing. Roger had been a boy when he’d first heard that voice. Now he was a man, old and withered, but the voice had not lost its sting.
“Roger, dear boy, how are you this morning. It’s rather early to see you in here.”
“This arrived in the mail,” Roger raised the book, “One of yours, I suspect.”
“Indeed, indeed. Very good, Roger. That’s three you’ve found so far. Only four to go.”
Roger held the letter tight in his hand.
“It was recovered in Cairo. A string of deaths. It was…Agent…Agent Harrier who finally discovered it.”
“Ahhh ha ha ha, Agent Harrier. I always knew she was a good little girl. Does she still call you uncle in official transmissions?”
The voice from the radio dissolved into static. Roger grit his teeth.
“Dead? You tell me the girl is dead?”
“Suicide. No fowl play. Your book,” Roger spat, “Was entrusted to her. They found it open by her corpse, finished, the last few paragraphs obscured with blood.”
“Ahhh, well, that would seem the popular method to use.”
“Settle down, Roger my boy. Settle down.” The voice from the radio seemed to savor these words. “I would never be so coarse, so bold as to suggest HOW one might cross over, but that doesn’t mean I never suggested the possibility exists.”
Roger grabbed the radio, the book and the letter falling to the floor.
“Why are you doing this? WHAT DO YOU WANT?”
“What do I want? What is it with you humans? You always think I’m out to get you.”
“I want my niece back you son of a bitch. We want everyone back.”
“I guess you’ll just have to recover the rest of my books then won’t you. Shouldn’t be too hard to find the rest in circulation. Only took you, what, thirty years to find three?”
Roger felt himself overcome. He released the radio and snatched at the power cord, yanking it from its spot. Still the radio hummed.
“AH HA HA HA HA HA HA OH ROGER. YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER THAN TO THINK THAT WOULD WORK.”
Roger fell back, startled, and grabbed the book as he made his way out of the bunker. Only as the door shut did the radio’s laughter cease.
Roger leaned back against the polished metal surface of the entrance. He looked to the book in his hand and thought of his niece.
“Sarah…Sarah why. Why did you-”
He couldn’t help himself. The old man buried his head in his hands.
|# ? Apr 8, 2013 00:00|
From "A strange day in July"
There was a hush on the lake that day, a silence that stilled even the gentle clatter of the willows. I sat in my favourite tree and dangled my feet over the edge of its long horizontal trunk, stirring the mist that lay on the water like a quilt. Beside me was a book that was bound in green leather.
I had found the book yesterday. Lacking a quiet space to ponder its revelations at the ramshackle house my family had reclaimed for our yearly sojourn to the North, I had elected to repair to the lakeside and sit a while. To wallow in “uffish thought”, as the -
"Per!" The voice came from the direction of the house. Ulli. I considered staying silent, decided against it. She'd find me anyway.
"I am here," I called back.
The branches parted atop the steep cliff that led back to the house. Ulli's sunburnt face peered out. She grinned, then scrambled down the path. Pebbles skittered before her and plipped into the water. Ulli bounced onto the trunk, windmilling her arms to stay upright.
"Lunch," she announced, "will be late. Mor was cooking the fish and Far came in and knocked the vase over on the table and Mor was telling him off but then the fish got burnt and then - what's that?
I'd put my hand over the book to stop it slipping into the water when my sister had jumped onto the willow beside me. At her exclamation I covered it with my hand again.
“Nothing, Ulli. Tell them I will be up presently,” I said.
“Tell them I will be up presently,” she said, nodding her head from side to side in imitation of me. “Don’t be a dumskalle.” She sat down on the trunk with a bump, setting the branches swaying. “Show me. Is it from Farfar’s study?”
I couldn’t think of anything that would deflect her so I nodded, held it up.
“Discerning the Min… Mins…”
“Meniscus,” I explained. “It is the curve in the upper surface of a liquid caused by surface tension.” She held out her hand for the book and I gave it to her, after a brief internal debate. “Don’t drop it,” I said.
She kicked her legs as she flicked through it. “Is that Farfar’s writing?” I nodded. The spidery penwork was all through the book, coiling around the dry nineteenth century typography. I spent a moment hoping she’d get bored before she found the –
“Pictures!” Ulli grinned at me, held up the book. It was a beautful watercolour picture of the lake, perhaps from high up on Ripasjaure. There was a half sphere of bright purple that covered half the lake. Flying things could barely be seen within.
“It is very pretty,” I said, and hesitated. Then the excitement that had led me out here combined with the thrill of conspiracy. “Ulli, can you keep a secret,” I held up my hand as she nodded instantly, “I mean a really big secret? The biggest?”
Ulli thought for a moment. “I never told Far about the fire at the school shed. Is it that big?”
I took the book back, started turning the pages. “It is bigger even than that.” I found the inserted page I was looking for. “Here.”
Ulli gasped. The page was a panorama, from lake level, with still water stretching out in all directions. A purple wash was over the sky. And over the lake, with its shreds of mist still remaining, flew iridescent winged creatures, fantastical beyond belief. There was a dragonfly with the face of a child, a snake that had hundreds of glittering wings, a towering ant thing that seemed to walk on the water with saucer-like feet.
Ulli reached out, touched her finger to the page. “So pretty. How did he make it shine so?” I shrugged. “Perhaps a special ink? But that is not the secret Ulli. The secret - ” Ulli leaned forward, eyes gleaming. “We can go there. There is a, a technique. A set of things we can do. Will you… shall we?”
Ulli’s mouth dropped open. Then she put her head back and frowned at me. Overhead the sun was starting to burn the mist away, glimmers of light were glancing off the water. “Are you tricking me? Because that would be mean.”
I stood up. A high giddy excitement had taken me over. “I don’t know! There is only way to find out. Come down here.”
A minute later we were standing by the water. I had in my hand the candle I’d pilfered from the study, lit with my trusty lighter. Its flame burned weirdly straight, a bright purple colour. With shaking hand I performed the actions outlined in my grandfather’s book. Once, twice, three times. Then we waited.
Ulli snorted. “I knew it. Nice try brother. We should head back for-”
There was a sound, like a heavy blanket landing over us. The sunlight was suddenly infused with indigo. Ulli turned to me with eyes wide. “Duck!” I cried as a feathered serpent flapped towards her, then away.
There was a purple barrier a few metres away, curving out and around the lake, encompassing miles of newly fantastical terrain. I picked up a stone, tossed it against the barrier. It bounced back at me.
“Ulli,” I said carefully, “I think we may be very late for lunch”.
sebmojo fucked around with this message at 14:15 on Sep 13, 2013
|# ? Apr 8, 2013 00:26|
Submissions are closed
I will try my best to get critiques out tonight and tomorrow. Deciding on the loser will be easy, but who will win?
|# ? Apr 8, 2013 01:35|
I've pored over the pages, scanned the stories. And I'm clueless. Submissions are closed, got that part. The prompt - is that the topic/rules/photo to write about? And it's posted in here too.
That's it? Do I have it all correct?
|# ? Apr 8, 2013 03:33|
I've pored over the pages, scanned the stories. And I'm clueless. Submissions are closed, got that part. The prompt - is that the topic/rules/photo to write about? And it's posted in here too.
Wait for the next prompt.
|# ? Apr 8, 2013 03:36|
How will I know the prompt if I don't know what a prompt is? Is this one of those fight club rule things?
|# ? Apr 8, 2013 03:40|
Where is my spider fiction
|# ? Apr 8, 2013 03:40|
Translucia welled up a tear. “All right, Mr. Vampire Lord, I guess you win.” She bent down to the ground, shaking with sobs, and said, “I only have one last request. My little robot bird friend here can take pictures. I was wondering if you’d let me have one last snapshot of my uncle before you drain him dry.”
The vampire lord smiled, this time without any malice. “Of course, Child, that sounds quite reasonable. Fellows, keep your guns on her, though. I can feel the need for energy burning inside us, we must feed soon.” He helped Lucy up onto the stage, stood back proudly as she crouched a few feet in front of her uncle.
“All right, Ox,” she said, “get ready to take his picture. All right, one, two… now!” She lunged forward and stabbed her uncle with an injector. As he began to stir, a flashbulb popped out of Oxford’s head and went off, splashing UV rays throughout the wide chamber and hitting the vampires like a wave of acid. They fired right as Lucy made a move, but their aim was thrown off by the flash. Bursts of plasma collided with the wall, scoring it with craters as Lucy pulled her groggy uncle away from the altar.
“Run, Uncle Mort! You were kidnapped by vampires who wanted to feed on your life force but I rescued you but they’re right behind us so you’ve got to run right now now now!” she said.
“Agh, fine, for Pete’s sake, girl,” Mort groused. “You never let me get any sleep, do you?”
They ran through the corridors, mere steps in front of the hungry hellbeasts whose prey they’d stolen. Oxford stayed at the back; they could hear the pops of his flashbulb followed by the Vampires howling for blood. At the same time, he signaled the ship to fly in low, through the atmo-bubble, and extend its landing platform to the rock surface. The three jumped into their craft’s entry bay, plasma shots scorching the polished metal plating all around the doorway. The door closed and sealed, and the Oxford blasted out and away from the wretched rock.
“Jeez, kid,” Mort said, “All of the exciting stuff seems to happen right when I take a nap, doesn’t it? Thanks for the rescue, by the way.”
“Don’t worry about it, Uncle Mort,” Translucia said. “We have to save people just about every day—turns out that’s nice practice for when it really counts.”
Nikaer Drekin fucked around with this message at 04:07 on Jul 15, 2013
|# ? Apr 8, 2013 03:49|
How will I know the prompt if I don't know what a prompt is? Is this one of those fight club rule things?
Wait until we announce this week's winner. They will make up a prompt. You will write a "story" using that prompt.
You're not a precog? You don't even know a precog?
|# ? Apr 8, 2013 03:50|
I've pored over the pages, scanned the stories. And I'm clueless. Submissions are closed, got that part. The prompt - is that the topic/rules/photo to write about? And it's posted in here too.
Here is an example of a prompt post. They usually have a week number and title up top.
Within a day or two, likely, systran will name the winners and losers for the week that just closed. Within a day or so of that, the winner will post a new prompt. At that point everybody's free to pile on it like lemmings at the bottom of a cliff, and those who agreed to judge will come to rue their choices in life!
|# ? Apr 8, 2013 03:51|
Where is my spider fiction
there was a stupid excuse you don't care about here
it is gone now
|# ? Apr 8, 2013 03:56|
Welp, Missed the deadline and my story is terrible but I'm posting anyways. Figure its better to post late then to post nothing. Can still lose even if I cant win.
Picture: In Linden's Library
“Please. They can’t know that I have this,” said Red.
The boy pushed the book into Violet’s hands and she hid it in her clothes. She didn’t see the use in telling her brother that it was too late.
She just smiled at their parents like the good little girl she was when they came to take him away.
Wicked and deceitful children had to go outside to the dead world, where the monsters lived. They had no place here in our home, her parents often told her.
But Violet never worried about things like that. She was polite and respectful and always did her chores. Twelve hours a day she would sew beautiful dresses with all of her brothers and sisters. No child was more hardworking or better behaved than she.
That night when everyone had gone to sleep, she looked at Red’s book. Violet had memories of reading, fond ones. But those were from some lost and ancient time that she could only barely remember.
One peek couldn’t hurt anything though. No one would find out. She illuminated the pages with a lighter she had borrowed one day while no one was looking.
The book was like nothing she had ever seen before. It was full of adventures with heroes and monsters in strange beautiful places teeming with treasure and wild princesses.
Violet stayed up late to read her stories, and dreams of them consumed her thoughts during the day.
It was all fine, at least until her rotten sister Green told on her one day.
She was locked in a small upstairs closet. For her own good her parents said. But it was wrong. Violet was always good, she didn’t see why she had to be punished.
It was dark and it smelled like rancid meat and bleach in the closet. She wanted to smash her fists into the door, cry out for her parents but that wasn’t something a good little girl did.
So she waited instead. They would realize their mistake, they had to.
Her mind wandered as the hours went by. She drifted in and out of sleep in the perpetual dark of the room. The book was gone, but she relived it as it existed in her mind.
She explored evil caves and dungeons, walked on bumpy floors covered with grass. Violet vanquished foul creatures of dust and shadow with a knife and saved everyone. They rewarded her with cake, and dancing, and love as befit a hero.
She twirled in the cramp space, between the old rolls of fabric while imaging the glorious dresses she could wear for her dance. She wanted one to match the color of her ribbon, the one that was the first gift her parents had given her, just as all the other siblings had theirs.
Her family had come to see her dance, and she lit the ceremonial torches with her hidden lighter so that they could better see her graceful moves. Violet swept the lighter’s flame across the fabric, causing it to smolder.
Her family applauded her for being such a great dancer and she basked in the warmth of their affection. The loud crackle of the fire snapped her from her thoughts, and she soon was confronted by a closet full of smoldering smoke.
Violet seized up in horror as the fire began to spread quickly from the wilting fabric. Terrified of what she had done, she curled into a ball near the door. The heat snapped at her back.
The door opened suddenly, revealing a flabbergasted parent looking down at her. Violet stammered out an apology as she scrambled out of the room as fast as she could. The parent screamed at her like something inhuman and seized her arm.
Her parents had never been like this, something was wrong. Violet kicked and cried but it would not let go.
Violet seized a small almost empty roll of burning fabric nearby, and thrust the lit end at the imposter in front of her.
The monster shrieked, releasing its grip, and Violet flailed the burning tube with all her might against it. Other parents arrived to witness the scene as the fire spread all around.
Violet swung at them with the tube like it was a sword to scatter them. Her hands burned from the heat. Choking smoke sapped her breath and made her dizzy. But she was determined to save her family from the monsters at any cost.
Exhausted she slumps to the ground, as the last of the imposters flee the smoke filled room leaving her alone in it. Sweltering heat rolls over her like a blanket. It’s over.
She can hear a high pitched wail off in the distance. It is a mechanical and unearthly sound. Violet wills herself to move but she can’t.
The sound of splintering wood echoes out through the room as something smashes into a door but the smoke is too thick and black to see what is going on. Monstrous raspy voices cut through the smoke.
She can make out the hazy edges of a yellow phantom, human shaped but rounder with bulgy plastic-like flesh. It looks her over with its reflective glass face and then lifts her up from the ground.
“Hang on! We’re going to get you out of here!” The monster tells her as it carries her outside.
|# ? Apr 8, 2013 03:57|
|# ? Feb 1, 2023 09:08|
I've had spiders in my rear end for a while. Not big ones, of course, the smaller variety. They're a very useful species; I have always viewed them kindly. And, of course, they kill flies. I can thank spiders for my rectum being 100% fly-free.
This isn’t something I can say about the rest of my apartment. Flies, beetles, worms and crawling, writhing things I have no name for fill my field of view. It is like a moving carpet of vermin out there. Since my necromantic activities properly began I simply cannot keep the little fuckers out. They swarm.
I have cultivated a benign calm in face of their depredations. My food is being eaten? Then I shall subsist on packets and tubes. My taps are full of iridescent scuttling beetles? Then I shall drink wine, replacing the cork after each swig. Sleeping each night in a tightly sealed bag has become less of a problem as my own need for sleep progresses on its downward trajectory.
But as the demands of my body lessen, I find other urges growing in their stead. I licked my long dead fireplace two nights ago, finding in that extinguished dusty taste a fierce satisfaction. And now, having paused amidst an experiment of piercing significance, I find myself gazing on the master of my insectile companions, the tarantula. The Emperor of the Arachnids. He is beautiful in every meaningful way that may be described with words, a facility which is slowly departing me.
So, before the words evaporate from my tongue and mind and fingers, let me here convey them. His eight legs are of flawless construction, articulating like a Japanese factory robot. His multiple eyes, gleaming in the dim light from my insect clogged windows, are black and implacable. I imagine what it must be like to be consumed by him, the intoxicating terror of it. His mandibles are the instrument of his savage predatory will.
At that moment I realise the power I have allowed this thing, this living machine, to exercise upon me. The same sparking flash of realisation delivers me the answer to my conundrum. I must inflict upon him the fate that has been conveyed to my hapless brain. I fumble for the frying pan, long unused, still keeping my eyes locked upon the object of my fascination. Yes, yes. Fire. Flame, that is how I will display the mastery that is my birthright.
I turn the knob for the gas, but am caught by an ecstasy of paleolithic remembrance. Did this spider’s ancestors, their height beyond any but the highest treetops, did they roam the prehistoric jungle? Was it that racial memory this spider was transmitting to me with his twitching pedipalps, willing me to submit my flesh to him? Well, your scheme has failed, spider. I come out of my fugue some period of time later, shaking my head and sending a few beetles flying. I notice the stove is not on and press the sparker.
The ensuing explosion is enormous, and serves to destroy most of the house as well as to knock me unconscious.
I awake, bleary, but not in pain. I look down and see that the explosion has, somehow, largely spared me. The spider was not so lucky, being crisped in a jet of gas yet still twitching with residual autonomic impulse. I reach out, moved perhaps by my own autonomic impulse, and break off a limb to suck out the meat within. The taste is sweet ambrosia to me, piped by the strange workings of Heaven directly into my mouth. The fire spreads around me, consuming my life’s work, but I am breaking off leg after leg after leg. I crunch them in a frenzy, drool coursing down my chin as I eat.
sebmojo fucked around with this message at 00:23 on Oct 10, 2013
|# ? Apr 8, 2013 04:49|