Hey, you, Mercedes.
|# ? Jun 16, 2019 01:15|
|# ? Sep 26, 2022 16:37|
Omfg, you still have the fresh print of a mushroom stamp on your forehead.
|# ? Jun 16, 2019 02:51|
|# ? Jun 16, 2019 03:16|
Omfg, you still have the fresh print of a mushroom stamp on your forehead.
By the power vested in me by my single HM, I will judge this brawl.
Please write me an adorable horror story. The writer who can strike the finest balance between and will be the winner.
I recommend making these supernatural horror stories because I find realistic horror tedious.
If either of you decides to give me a hot take like 'modern society is the real horror' I will eviscerate you.
Give me up to 2000 words by Midnight on July the 1st, EST that will warm my heart and chill my blood.
|# ? Jun 16, 2019 04:13|
TD358 – Hearty Stew
The prodigal son returned on a wonderful day in autumn, after most of the harvest had been brought in and there was time to enjoy life and nature and life in nature before the ravages of winter. Stephen arrived in a neatly pressed uniform, a perfect haircut and a cleanly shaven, and deposited a sizeable suitcase in his old room. His father Gus was overwhelmed but happy, the unexpected visit giving him a welcome workload, for he was still used to the stressful days of harvest season, and the following calm days of nothing made him antsy.
“Four years, son.” Gus cut turnips and carrots and potatoes and assorted herbs with practiced force. “Did they lock you up at West Point?”
Stephen scooped the cuttings into a big pot. “The army needs a good reason to let you go a while. Like mother.”
Gus became silent for a minute as he got a fire going, shooing Stephen away when he tried to help. His son didn’t know the fireplace, the heat needed, how high the pot had to sit. When Madeleine died, Gus had to learn to do so many things he had taken for granted before. Some, like the kitchen, he had taken to well. Others, not so much. The last of the chickens had ended in this very pot years ago. In somber words, Gus told his son about these things, and Stephen did not know what to say; but it was fine. Gus was not here to complain. These were the facts, and one had to live with what God gave you and the decisions you based on his gifts.
Stephen’s gift was a studious nature, so he had decided to leave the farm to study at the famous military academy. And now he had to live with having left behind a lonely father at a farm maybe too big for him.
“How’s the stew?”
They were sitting at the same oaken table, on the same chairs Gus had made when he was just a boy himself. The smell of smoke and food was still crowding a room too small for proper ventilation, but too big for only two men.
Stephen took another hesitant spoonful, then grimaced. “It was better when mother made it.”
“It tastes like it always did. You remember it better because everything is a feast after an honest day’s work.”
With a burning sip of his father’s homebrewed liquor, Stephen masked his embarrassment.
“So what’s the army’s good reason this time, son?”
Stephen needed a second sip before he could muster a reply. “I’ve turned to civil engineering now, dad. I don’t need an excuse to visit the old home anymore.”
Gus’ raised eyebrow contained a whole spectrum of reactions, but had he spoken, he would have reminded Stephen that he was uneducated, but not stupid.
“But I am here for work, yes.” A third sip, a small cough. “Do you know about steam trains?”
“Seen an engine demonstration once. Powerful. Dangerous.”
“The future, dad. I rode one from New York to Philadelphia, it was so fast, so convenient! I could only visit you so easily because of it.”
“They were talking about putting down tracks…”
“And they did it! The company I work for now, incidentally. We have made a huge amount of progress in the last years, which kept me busy, and this is why I couldn’t visit. But now…”
Gus held up a hand. “They won’t stop with New York to Philadelphia, won’t they.”
Fourth sip, grimace. “No. Westward is next. The bosses are dreaming of connecting all the states, eventually from coast to coast.”
“So they’ll just flatten the Rockies, dry the great lakes, cut down the forests of Arkansas? So rich folk can take vacations in California?”
“We’ll build around nature, dad. It would be too expensive otherwise. That’s my job now! I’m a surveyor, and I’ll help the tracks get laid correctly.”
Gus gestured out a milky window.
“Between the rolling hills up there and to the South?”
“Through here, dad, yes. The train will pass along the river of this valley.”
“And your engineers and craftsmen and building crews will tear up the field, fell the orchard, raze the vegetable patch? The house, will it have to be reduced to rubble?”
Stephen shook his head, a wry smile on his lips. “No, this is not necessary. But the trains get very loud. We’d pay to relocate you, a smaller house, less work to maintain.”
“You ate the produce from my garden,” Gus said while looking at his plate and not his son. “You’d stomp what gave you this meal into the ground? God’s gifts – treated like refuse?”
“It wasn’t even that good, dad. With what we’ll pay you, you can have fresh food delivered to you by a servant!”
“We built this garden together, son!” Gus slammed his fist down, hit the spoon, and stew flew wide. “Hours in the glaring sun, good work to keep us fed! You loved to pull the weeds, to sift away the stones, and plant and watch the seedlings grow! We talked and talked about your dreams, and how I would do all I could to give you the future you wanted!”
A second slam, Stephen’s fist came down as well, better aimed than his old man’s. “I only loved to hear that you had nothing against me leaving this backwater! Every day ended with dirty hands, an aching back and too much hunger for what little food we got! The weeds, the stones, the seedlings – those can all burn in the cruel heat of summer!”
The expression on Gus’ face became unreadable. For agonizing minutes, he did nothing but clean up the mess he’d made, while Stephen anxiously tried to drain a cup of moonshine he had already emptied. Finally, Gus spoke with a voice one could have used to cut the vegetables earlier.
“I will not throw you out at night, my son. But tomorrow morning, I will tend to my garden, and I do not want to see you here when I come back.”
“Father, please. You cannot stand in the way of progress.”
“And you cannot presume to come back here after all these years and throw me out of the house we used to be a family in. Go to your room!”
Like a child defeated after pointless tantrum, Stephen slouched upstairs to spend the night in a bed he had grown too big for, uncomfortable like his memories.
Woken by harsh morning light, Stephen slunk into the kitchen, where Gus was absent as he had promised. But on the table, next to a pot of still-warm gruel, sat a gigantic pumpkin, and held by it, a note. The old man had spent his free time well, and taught himself a script quite pleasant to behold.
I do not want your visit to end in such bad blood. I had a long hard think, and I guess I understand where you are coming from – you got the opportunity to move up in the world, and took it. What I do not understand is why you feel the need to forget entirely where you started. What you had here, and what it meant.
I have decided long ago that this will be the house I die in, just like my Madeleine did before, God rest her soul. I have made it my good, if lonely home – found great pleasure tending to the garden, remembering the times you and me had there. The memories are all I’ve left. Please try to see my point of view.
This pumpkin is the fruit of my labors, years of careful selection culminating in this magnificent example. I could win a prize with this, but I don’t care for prizes. Take it with you, and think of what it means.
Your loving father
Stephen’s eyes shot from note to pumpkin and back again, and with each pass they filled up a little more. Until he could not take it anymore, and left.
About an hour later, Gus came back from tending to the garden, and saw the pumpkin resting on the table still, and felt a burden as if he had already worked a week without a pause. The suitcase from his son’s room: gone, as was the son himself. And Gus’ hope to resolve the railway situation without a gaggle of harsh city-men showing up to cast him out from this, the only place he could ever love.
Yesterday’s stew was boiling in the pot for a solemn evening’s meal, when someone rapped on the door. Warily, Gus opened – and found Stephen standing there, a tired, dirty boy, his hair a mess, his uniform disheveled, the hands well-caked in mud and such. Behind him, the suitcase he had taken out before.
“I told you, I’m a surveyor now; I surveyed,” Stephen answered with a cheer that didn’t fit his ragged looks. He handed Gus a paper: the note he’d written before, its backside now full of schemes, drawings, annotated plans.
“Son, this is Chinese to me. What did you do?”
“I had all my tools with me. It took some work, but I found a different way. The railway will be built; but not through your garden. We’ll flatten this here hill instead.”
“And the cost?”
“I’m a surveyor, not an accountant,” Stephen shrugged, and finally the two men shared a laughter free from tension.
“Then sit down, my boy. You must be exhausted.”
But it was a lot of fun, I must confess.”
Stephen devoured a spoonful of the stew.
“And I’m so sorry, dad – this surely is the best meal I ever tasted!”
|# ? Jun 16, 2019 21:58|
From the Notebooks of Barron Tuesday: Secrets of the Sunken City
You will notice, no doubt, gaps in this transcription. They come not from a want to censor or redact on my own part, but rather the condition of the original when my agents recovered it from a merchant in Kabul who swears it was untouched by him since he purchased it from a refugee fleeing Russia's late troubles. The covers are scorched and slightly redolent of petroleum, but this is the least of the damage: the rear covering and, alas, much of the interior has been ripped apart, as if by some manner of wild beast. Nonetheless, I trust this will aid in your pursuit of the history of your illustrious ancestor.
November 7, 1875
We emerged from thick forest to the top of the cliff so suddenly I wondered how many startled prey before must have run too fast and plummeted the two hundred feet, into the depression before us. From here we could see the massive extent of it, the nearly circular ring of cliffs punctuated by we waterfalls as streams flowed from various parts of the Russian wilderness.
Captain Weisshaupt organized the ropes, rigging pulleys and counterweights on a sturdy overhanging limb, while Jamai,Yardley and I organized the supplies. After sending the box of rations and ammunition down as a weight test we descended, the Captain first, then me, then the Sikh. It was then that the treacherous Brit Yardley picked to strike.
A thunderous crack from above assaulted my ears, unmistakably the report of an elephant gun. Yardley shot the tree-limb, severing it cleanly, and Jamai, counterweight, and branch all started to fall freely toward us, shadows growing ominously. The Captain backed away on foot, but I was transfixed a few seconds longer than wise, and barely had time to leap and roll aside. The branch landed across our supply crates, smashing the wood and crushing or scattering the contents. Jamai did not move or scream, his head tilted so far it was painful to look at. A mercy, given the alternative, no doubt. And Yardley was not done.
A shot, less loud than the elephant gun, and I saw a plume of dust mere inches from my head where the bullet hit. One of the rifles. I resumed rolling, then sprang to a run, heading for the cover of the forest beyond the cliff-base. Weisshaupt did the same. I felt a sting in my left ear as Yardley's second shot sounded, and my hand drew to it involuntary, coming back bloody. I kept running, into the shaded wood. I heard a few more shots, but none hit home.
We ran, heedless into those strange woods, unfamiliar odors mixing with the stench of our panic. A screeching growl struck us with almost physical force, and a beast half again as tall as either of us, a huge and toothy mouth, short but sharp clawed arms, all covered in purple and yellow down that flared as it reared back,no doubt to attack. My pistol was with the crushed supplies. I drew my field knife, thinking it inadequate next to the monster-bird's neck reach, and held it defensively.
It reared back and roared, blasting us with the raw-and-rotting meaty breath of a predator. Then from the trees arose a sound, a human sound, a high-pitched ululation, and obsidian-tipped spears rained on the beast from the treetops. One struck home, skewering the neck, and the beast fell. We were rescued, but also made captive.
weeks and months passed the Captain's classical education gave him a head start, as their language bore a relationship to Attic Greek, although only in the same sense that French does to Latin. My increasingly close association with Chyrena gave me opportunity for practice and correction, aided by her own prodigious study of English.
Her sisters, or perhaps cousins, kept a constant watch until after a night of feasting and ceremony I only later came to understand to be a marriage, with no place to insert my assent, as freely as I might have given it. In the haze of the following morn I asked many questions concerning
diminished, in both numbers and the capacity for specialization numbers provide. Their great forges that must have made this metal, brass treated to be both stronger and far lighter than steel, now sat cold and unused. Waterworks that once drove great mills served only to keep the depression from flooding over. Weisshaupt became fascinated with their rocketry, more advanced than mere Chinese fireworks, which he considered applicable to his dreams of
library full of books, written in an ancient language none of us could begin to understand. Chyrena was in a rage at the folly of her ancestors, to allow something as wondrous and useful as the written world to be lost, perhaps forever. I gathered those with illuminations that marked them as relevant to the sciences and engineerings, intending to attend to the literature and poetry on some future
returned with nearly a dozen gun-bearing associates, Russians, Tsarists not too proud to take British pounds. Yardley surprised us all by speaking the language fluently in his demand for surrender. Given that, the betrayal of the Queen's second, Phosis, should have been less shocking. Like most would-be conquistadors, Yardley understood the importance of cultivating local allies.
Queen Biarsa had scarcely finished her defiant refusal when, at a slight gesture from Yardley, one of the Tsarists shot her square between the eyes. Chyrena and the rest of the guard let out a long modulated cry, as of mourning. Yardley fired his pistol into the air to end it.
"Anyone else care to volunteer for a dose of lead?" he asked, aiming the Colt revolver at each person in turn while Phosis tried vainly to get his attention. Then he turned behind, alerted by a growing thunder.
It had not been a cry of mourning but a call.
A herd of feathered dinosaurs came crashing out of the woods, a purple wave of tooth and claw. The Russians turned and fired. Their weapons did damage but did not stop the beasts, nor were their bayonets proof against the toothy charge. More were trampled than fatally bitten in that
Why?" asked Captain Weisshaupt, shouting over the storm.
"You know how rich Skythian Brass could make us," Yardley answered, balancing the torch and revolver in his crossed hands
"Yes, more than enough," I said.
"To share?" Yardley barked a dark laugh. "Share what I have earned with a god-forsaken Kraut and a
Water pooled, perhaps an inch deep, as the storm continued. I wondered how deep it would get, with the drainage tunnel collapsed by Yardley's dynamite. Surely not too deep.
Then the second explosion sounded in the distance.
Canyon to the north," I explained. "A dozen men with shovel to dig a canal, ending with a dam impregnated with explosives. When he set it off he loosed the waters of the mighty Volga straight toward the northern cliff."
"How long?" asked Chyrena.
"Until the Earth between canyon end and cliff erodes enough to form a channel?" suggested Weisshaupt. Chyrena nodded. "Hours, rather than days."
"As the last of my people, I would not spend my final hours idly awaiting death," she said.
"Wait," I said. "I have
prepared to strap ourselves on to the Captain's hastily constructed rocket, a considerable improvement on my initial vision. Rigid gliders for the three of us, and parachutes to save our cargo, the brass samples and indecipherable books.
"Remember," said the Captain, "Cut the rope at the flight's peak, which should be three minutes after the reaction concludes."
This is the final entry. The rest we must infer. We know your ancestors survived, both your grandfather and grandmother, and of the fortune they and the Captain were able to build thereafter. The journal must have come loose in the fall. As for the other damage, the most parsimonious explanation is that at least some of the beasts of that now-drowned depression were capable enough swimmers to survive, and their offspring may yet roam the southern wilds of Russia to this day.
|# ? Jun 16, 2019 22:24|
The Ghost of Oakchurch Hall
The Sensation Novel
1,746 / 1,750 words
Read it in the Archive.
Staggy fucked around with this message at 12:46 on Dec 30, 2019
|# ? Jun 16, 2019 23:32|
The Survival of the Swaggart
We had been only a week from making port in Canton when the storm overtook us, but it was not the storm that proved our undoing.
There was no telling which sailor had erred in the night. The only ones who knew were dead – either from the fires in the wake of the lightning strike, or, when they failed to smother it in time, from the explosion that consumed the powder room.
Had there been survivors on the deck below, I would have had them all been flogged. The powder room was unsecured, and the entire ship had paid the price for it. As it was, I had to settle for the bloody triage of keeping us afloat. One who has held command on a ship knows that sailors are a dark-minded, superstitious, and vice-riddled lot, but fear and pain condition them to act in a disciplined fashion. There are a thousand tasks to keep a ship seaworthy; the fact that the Swaggart was in such peril only heightened their urgency.
Mr. Gifford had done everything he could to aid the injured, but the doctor’s attention and medicines were drawn thin between the further wounds of the second mate and a dozen sailors. Twice he had asked me permission to open our cargo, to ease the pain of the dying, and twice I was obliged to refuse him. We had a duty to bring our cargo to Canton, and to go sniffing about its wreckage like common scavengers was to undermine the dignity of every man on board. The doctor prevailed upon me for some hours in the name of mercy, but I was finally obliged to rebuff him: what good is rest or mercy when it comes at the cost of an entire crew’s future?
Still, discipline among wounded and desperate men only holds so long. Isolation and uncertainty take root in the minds of the latter, and conspiracy to mutiny follows not long after. Wounds would rot in the bodies of the former, if they did not kill their owners outright. Three days I was able to sustain us before the steward Mr. Shay emerged from his cabin to tell us the captain awaited me.
Captain Paul was a vile, stubborn, godless man on his most sober of days, and he had grown more so in the wake of his injury. Half-invalid as the wound had rendered him, he still drove away everybody who inquired about his well-being, including the doctor – everybody, that is, outside of myself and his steward, the lanky, boyish-faced Mr. Shay. Shay was a quiet but firm soul, whom the crew and I knew mostly by his lilting voice and sinister smile; thankfully, he and I barely exchanged a dozen words in a day as he tended to the captain’s needs.
The captain’s cabin reeked of incense and of his wound, a smell that had been getting worse as the days wore on but had become particularly wretched overnight. Of reflex, I held my sleeve over my nose in a futile attempt to block out some of the stench, but Captain Paul’s voice cut through the sudden nausea: “I have little time, Mr. Thomas, and you have none to spare. Come closer.”
The words were spoken through a mouth full of gravel, raspy and abrasive, but there was more clarity in his eyes now than I had seen since the disaster. I stepped closer and sat down on the stool next to his bed, the one I had seen Mr. Shay occupying so often over the last few days. Captain Paul regarded me there for a long moment, and though I did not permit my weakness to show in my bearing, he must have known our situation. “The damned Chinese are coming for us, aren’t they?”
“Yes, sir,” I said, hesitating only a moment. There was a subtle fury in him the likes of which unnerved even me. “We’ve counted three pirate junks, filled with fighting men. Fishing boats, no cannons, but seaworthy enough.”
The captain sneered, and drew a ragged breath to say more, but his bravado disintegrated into a series of wet, hacking coughs. Mr. Shay was at his side in an instant, supporting him, and what hope I had for his recovery was broken. Several moments passed before Captain Paul was able to breathe freely again. “I won’t have it!” he said at last, gaze fixing on me. “I won’t have it. You’re a God-fearing man, aren’t you, Mr. Thomas?”
“Yes, sir,” I said, mustering my oatience, half-expecting another blistering tirade, but the captain only sank back onto his bed and smiled wickedly. “What of it, sir?” I pressed.
“Do you think you’re a good man? Do you think God will save you from the heathens?”
“By the blood of the Christ we are saved, not by deeds or words.” We had disagreed about this many times before. “There is nothing that the heathen can do to my body that will imperil my immortal soul.”
He made a noise somewhere between a laugh and a hiss. “What a good little missionary you would have made, Mr. Thomas,” he said, venomously. “Come, now. Mr. Shay will get my left side; you will get my right. I must see these Godless bastards with my own eyes.”
His body was light, much lighter than it should have been, and his clothes were full of gangrene stink. Mr. Shay took his other shoulder with utmost gentleness, and as we hoisted his body up between us, I remembered other nights where we had done much the same under much more benign circumstances.
Sailors trailed off in their work when we emerged from the darkness of the cabin, only snapping to when I roared at them to continue preparing for our guests. By measures, the two of us hefted Captain Paul to the starboard rail. He squinted at the distance, mumbled for a spyglass, and Mr. Shay held one to his eye. Some moments later, he nodded. “Those aren’t blue-water ships,” he said, breath coming in wheezes. “How did they know we were here?”
“I sent men off to the coast to seek help. I had hoped to meet friendly natives.”
Captain Paul hissed through his teeth. “Not so friendly, these Chinese. Not when they suspect what we keep in the hold. Do you want to live another day, Mr. Thomas?”
“Yes, sir,” I said in all honesty.
“Even if that day stains you in the eyes of God?”
He laughed one last time despite the chill of the morning, forestalling any answer. “I despise men like you, Mr. Thomas,” the captain said, gaze fixing on me again. “Full of love for God and Queen and Country. That’s why I’m making you let the devil’s leash loose.”
I stared at him wide-eyed, thinking him mad, as he craned his neck closer to me. His smile was full of hate, and his eyes were full of malice. “The choice is yours, Mr. Thomas. If you want to live another day, you’ll tell Mr. Shay to murder every man on that ship.”
“Mr. Shay will do it. You only have to ask.” He no longer had eyes for me. His head lolled towards his left, and he whispered something to Mr. Shay – something almost musical – and then, unceremoniously, his head rolled backwards.
Silently, Mr. Shay and I lowered the body of Captain Paul to the deck. I could feel a dozen eyes on me from all directions, but most of all, I felt them from Mr. Shay. He gazed at me placidly, unaffected by what he had seen and was seeing, or by the passing of his master. “Shall I do it?” Mr. Shay asked me in a clear voice – higher-pitched, womanly. “Bid me slay your enemies, or release me from my oath.”
For a moment, I could only I stare at the steward as he proceeded to shuck off his jacket. How his countenance had changed in so short a time! “How, Mr. Shay,” I asked, “do you propose to do what he claims you can do?”
“That is unimportant, Mr. Thomas.” He knelt, and began removing his shoes. “But you must tell me to do it, or I will not do so.”
“Not even to save your own life?”
Mr. Shay pulled off his cap. “Life and death are worries for mortal things,” he said as a full head of hair spilled outwards. The crew gasped to see the sight – and things which had been unclear about Mr. Shay were suddenly understood. “But if you wish to live beyond today, you must order me to murder these men, who want your boat for the opium you have taken such care to preserve in your hulls.”
I froze and regarded Mr. Shay with more alertness than before. That had not been public knowledge. Not in the wake of what had happened in Canton the previous year. And it was not unknown for a woman to take to sea, disguising herself as a man, but to what end had she revealed herself?
But in my heart, I found I feared death. Perhaps in war, perhaps surrounded by family, I would have thought differently – but here, in this godless ocean, with only crabs to keep my bones company?
I let go of my breath. “Do it, Mr. Shay.”
She laughed, and I could feel her eyes on me, full of cruel joy, as she stepped over the rail and into the waiting sea.
I will not commit to paper what transpired next.
The next day, we were discovered by the freighter ship Jolly Work. They blamed our moods on the shock of our ordeal, and ferried us the last several days to our destination, what remained of our cargo in their holds.
The East India Company offered to make me a captain, for my clear-headed, decisive action. In haste I almost accepted the offer – but before I spoke, I remembered Mr. Shay, who had not returned to port with us.
I do not know who she was. I do not know what she did. But I remembered her delight when I let her loose, and that there might be more like her out there. All taste for the sea fled from me in a heartbeat.
We did not want to die.
But they did not deserve to die the way they did.
And she, and things like her, are still out there.
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 00:53|
People moved in exhausted silence up and down the street as J.J. hurried back to his photography shop from lunch. The heat was unending and burst down like flash powder held eternally in the moment of burning. No one could escape it.
He came to the street corner where the speckled mare had died three days earlier. The poor beast still lay exactly where she’d fallen. He held his breath and hastened his pace. He remembered the living creature’s wild, bright eyes and smooth pelt, and the distinctive white spiral on her haunch. ‘She’s a beaut, she is, just a lover,’ the driver had said to J.J. on their way into town. ‘She’s my best, everyone says she’s lovely.’ The man’s eyes had twinkled with pride as he tugged on his hat and grinned. J.J. sought out the unique spiral shape as he hurried across the street, but it had distended into a circle on the mare’s bloated haunch. Flies seemed to trace it in the air.
Inside his shop the shade cleared his head. He dabbed sweat from his brow and took a cup of water before noticing the Miller family had arrived. They stood at the backdrop looking patiently at him. Mr Miller was tall and gaunt with a mustache that hid his mouth, and Mrs Miller was stout and red with sorrowful eyes. Between them, balanced in the chair, was their seventeen-year-old son Bertrand, who’d died the night before. He wore a well-fitted suit, his hair was combed exactingly, and his face was powdered into a blush of health. He seemed at first glance, J.J. thought, closer to life than his parents.
“You are all ready then?” he asked, and shifted the camera on its stand.
Mr Miller nodded. “We want him to look smart, sir. He was real clever. He read books.”
“Yes, quite right.” J.J. readied the flash powder in the tray, carefully, with fingers scarred by his rare mistakes.
Mr Miller continued, “He knew lots about words, sir. Even my brother, Tom--even he asked Bertie for a word’s meaning once.”
“Shocking,” said J.J. He peered through the lens and adjusted. “You must be proud.” His attention was caught by a circular discoloration on the boy’s temple. He pointed. “This mark, ah, is it...?”
“It’s... well, we used a trepan at the last, sir.” Mr Miller said. “We tried everything, but there was nothing for it.”
The couple, it seemed, had tried to hide the trepanation hole in the boy’s skull by filling it with candle wax. J.J. envisioned the spiraling motion of the trepan burrowing through the white bone.
“He knew what a trepan was, he did,” continued Mr Miller, “he asked for it hisself. Such a bright lad, sir. A learned one not like any--” Mrs Miller nudged him into silence.
J.J. gave a tight lipped smile. “I see. Well, if we move him just so, and adjust his hair like this, we can hide the mark.” They shifted the chair, Mr and Mrs Miller composed themselves behind the body, and J.J. got behind the camera. “Right there, perfect,” he said. He prepared to light the flash. “Now don’t move. One, two--”
Some reflex of fatherly love compelled Mr Miller to lay hand on his son’s shoulder, and the body toppled like a dead tree. Mrs Miller’s hands flew at the boy’s shirtsleeve, J.J. leaped from behind the camera, but the body continued inexorably to the floor and a sickening thud froze the living on their feet.
J.J. heard three ticks from the clock on his desk, then Mrs Miller began to weep softly, “My boy! My boy!” she cried. J.J. awoke, and knelt at the body. He gripped the shoulders and looked urgently at Mr Miller. “Help me.”
They reoriented the body on the chair. J.J. caught sight of the gaping hole in the boy’s head and snatched the wax plug from the floor where it had landed. He hastily shoved it in place before the family could see. The left eye bulged, and the mouth drooped as if smeared where it hit the floor. The face now reminded J.J. of one in an asylum staring blankly from the small slit of a cell.
“He’ll be alright won’t he, sir?” Mr Miller was saying. “Ohh, I’m sorry sir. He’ll be fine, won’t he?” Mrs Miller brushed at the boy’s hair with her hands, her tears gone as suddenly as they had appeared.
J.J. tried to adjust the mouth so it would stay closed. “One moment please, don’t move.” He fetched a pot of glue from his desk and applied it between the lips and above one eyelid that was drooping. He took a step back, grimaced. It would have to do. “There we are,” he said. “Now, hold steady, and try to keep your eyes open.” He ducked behind the camera.
Flash-bang! and light burned their image into the plate. As they recovered from the noise, J.J. imagined the photograph as it would sit on the Miller’s mantle. He saw friends and relatives peering at the bulging eye, the oddly crimped mouth and the slumped shoulders, and saw how Mr Miller’s tales of the clever boy would fall on ears deafened by this sight, and how over time even the vision preserved in Mr Miller’s head might be replaced by this new one, seared forever in place by heat and light.
He stepped outside to bid the couple farewell and watched them heave the body into the carriage with them. The sun brought out sweat on his forehead instantly. The driver pulled away and across the street J.J. saw two children kicking at the corpse of the speckled mare. He distinctly heard a tearing sound like a wet cough, and red mist sprayed out from a new hole in the distended belly.
The sun was too much, and he went back inside.
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 03:14|
What the Life Tree Demands
Flash: Protag must be a vampire
It must be cold tonight. I can see the breath of expectant villagers clustered around this week’s grave. I can hear the spades plowing through soft dirt, the tips of their iron heads striking against a hastily made coffin cover. I can hear their hearts beating like caged birds against their rib cages. I can sense their fear, and the unease that claws at them.
An outbreak of consumption had given way to irrationality. My father, a man of some means, was among the affected in his desperate attempts to keep me alive. Where he had the wealth of a successful textile factory to fund my treatment, most villagers had to watch their children and spouses wither away and die.
The miracle of my survival was directly attributed to the physicians and nurses he could afford to hire, but when father had to spend more time tending to my needs, the needs of his business suffered and so too did his finances.
Those months leading up to my death were the most uncertain. Father had made several inquiries throughout New England looking for experimental treatments and costly procedures slated to be able to counteract the effects of consumption. Most turned up fruitless, but one night they came.
I didn’t get a good look at them, but they looked like members of a church. One of them, unnaturally tall and lanky, wore a cowl that concealed unique features. The other, a shrewd looking older woman demanded a black iron cross that had been in our family for generations. My father produced it, and then the tall person said something that sounded as if they had whispered it into my own ears, “We will be there when you need us.”
A few days later, a doctor from the medical institute in Vermont came to the house. I had seen him once or twice before, but mostly he negotiated with my father while other physicians and nurses tended to me.
My father and the doctor had sequestered themselves to the study as their conversation grew heated, but my father’s shouts could be heard through the walls.
“I’ve made considerable donations to your practice, and I’m sure the money I’ve funneled into your pockets has allowed you to live quite the life of luxury in this past year, and now you’re telling me that it’s not enough!”
“Get a hold of yourself, Augustus! The hospital is a business! We help people, we do, but we cannot continue to offer you aid in this capacity. Other people need our attention, and we lack trained professionals as it is. Your donations have been generous, but these accusations you raise against me are unfounded, I won’t have you slander my integrity like this.”
“Then let me be rid of you already, dammit! Go on, get the hell out of my house!”
The front door slammed. My father came storming up to my room, a bewildered look in his eyes with his travel coat on.
“Adeleine, my sweet child.”
“Yes, papa?” I asked in response.
“The hospital and I have…” the words caught in his throat.
“It’s okay, papa. You’ve done all that you can. I understand.” I assured him.
“I’ve not done all that I can, but I fear what I must do now with no other options left to me.”
That caught my attention and I turned to examine him more closely then.
Once full features, flush with life and optimism had been turned gaunt and morose. The smile he wore was something practiced but visibly bereft of hope.
I was curious what he meant by that but seeing him that way made me fearful.
“Should I be concerned, papa?”
“I-I can’t say for certain.” He answered honestly, and then a look of dread came over him.
He kissed my forehead and muttered something on an apology before leaving. He left me in the care of a nurse he had somehow managed to pay for the week and was gone for three days afterwards.
On the third night, I was stirred from my slumber by my father. Only, he just looked my father. There was something behind those eyes that was no longer him, and at his side was a creature not of the natural world.
Nearly hairless and pale with a sickly luminescence, it loomed over me. Eyes like vacuous obsidian hollows gazed into me. Tufts of quills needled their way through a patchy scalp attached to a misshapen skull. Too wide at its top, and disproportionately cone-like at its bottom with pointed stalactite fangs resting on a thin bottom lip.
The creature moved in with preternatural speed that distorted the space around it. As I basked in its void-like presence I felt the life leeched from my body and saw visions of something primal. More of an imprint than an image, my mind pieced together a picture of a translucent tree filled with blood. Ochre colored leaves endlessly flaked from spindly branches like rust and crumbled in the wind of a crimson tinged night sky. I stood awestruck, immobile, and not at all present in this miraculous place, but learned of it intimately as the ink-like blood of my progenitor was exchanged with my own.
When life departed from my corpse, I felt the promise of hope flee with it. The light that had governed what was once human had been devoured by shadow leaving a creature of the night in its absence.
I awoke the next night to my father sitting vigilantly across the room under lamplight. He gazed at me with a transfixed expression, and when he saw me stir, he approached slowly with one of his drinking tankards filled to the brim with blood. There was a good amount of blood on him as well.
I moved to speak, but a hiss escaped from my open mouth and then I felt the hunger. The unquenchable thirst. I moved like the creature did, impossibly quick, and filled the space between us in an instant. My father stood nonplussed as I snatched the goblet from his hands and lifted it to my mouth. I drank in deeply savoring the taste of the blood, relishing in its warmth as it coated my throat, painting the corridors of my ashen mouth ruby red. The blood was fresh. Where did father get this blood?
A thought I didn’t occupy myself with for long. The ecstasy I felt from feeding on the blood was paramount. No feeling rivaled it. I looked up at my father, thirst abated, and the look of contempt in his eyes hurt me less than I thought it would. He left the room with that practiced, unfeeling smile on his face, not a word spoken.
Night after night, he’d bring me goblets of fresh blood. I never asked where he got it from, and he never said a word during the feedings.
One night however, everything changed. My father hadn’t made his daily appearance, and when he did come home, he had a gash on his forehead. The blood trailing from the wound made my mouth salivate.
“Father, you’re injured.” I said plainly.
“I’ve no blood for you tonight, child.” He answered tersely.
“It’s fine fath-“
He interrupted, “By the Gods, Adeleine, it is far from fine.” He said as he slumped down to the floor.
“I’ve made many mistakes Adeleine, but none have been greater than my handling of your sickness. I… I should have let you die, but I’ve made deals with-with things. I’ve… I’ve committed horrific crimes.” he pulled a revolver from his pocket and raised it towards his head.
I moved before he could finish raising the hand and seized it, crushing the fingers around the metal inadvertently with strength I wasn’t accustomed to.
He shrieked out in pain, as the front door to our home came crashing open.
“Get out here, Augustus! You’ve been found out, murderer!” A voiced shouted into the empty corridor. My father was weeping now, “Let me die, Adeleine. Please.” He whispered.
I let go of his hand, suddenly disgusted with him.
“He killed my boy, and I’m going to kill him and his girl, I swear it. I’m going to kill the son of a bitch and anyone who gets in my way.”
An unkempt man with bulged out, maddened eyes emerged in the doorway with a shotgun clutched in his hands. He leveled it at my father and cleared the top half of his body with gory permanence.
The saccharine sweet smell of that freshly rent flesh overcame me, and I leapt at him burrowing a mouth full of teeth into his neck, fangs emerging out of instinct.
I exsanguinated the man in seconds. His skin hung slack on his skeleton and an audience of terrified, grief-stricken villagers watched in horror as the lifeless husk fell backwards over the banister.
He collapsed into a jumbled pile of lifeless limbs, and then came the screams. Stirred from my bloodlust I escaped through my bedroom window into the night.
The villagers razed the house believing it to be an altar in the service of Satan. They found the bodies of two children and a homeless woman in the crawlspace under the floorboards. They had been completely drained of blood.
The problem of consumption only grew worse, and many felt that it was attached to me. The girl whose father made her into a demon. Any who died of sickness were treated as cursed.
They exhumed graves weekly and committed to the insensate butchery of deceased friends and loved ones. Limbs were severed and carefully burned as a priest offered ritual condemnation for the dead, cautioning the onlooking survivors against treason in the eyes of God.
I’ve watched them perform this misguided practice for weeks. The mania has spread as far as Rhode Island, and in a way, I feel sorry for the dead. Mistrusted in life because of their illness and mutilated in death for a false sense of security. They are true victims in this.
I’ve killed again in the time since I left my home. It feels more natural with each feeding, but I suppose I have eternity to become acclimated to it. I’ve managed to gain control of my appearance as well. I no longer look like the monster that granted me unlife, but like the sweet child my father had hoped to save. It makes what I must do easier.
The life tree demands blood, and I am its servant.
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 03:22|
A Strange Diary Found
I escaped from the carriage just as we reached Fuller’s Pride Falls. A horse threw a shoe and, when the driver headed off to ask about a smithy, I flew neatly from the back and into the forest.
This marriage foolishness will not abide!!!!! I shall live in the woods as a hamadryad.
Confound all hamadryads; I shall be a nun. It is abominably wet in the forest. Nuns at least have bedlinens. I believe. Father always threatened to send me to a convent school when I was a naughty child, so he should be fairly happy with the arrangement.
Upon the road, I met a gentleman (such enormous whiskers!!!!) called Mr. Lupo. He was himself travelling alone and invited me to accompany him in his carriage. Being at this point quite faint from hunger and my travails, and being that he is a rather old and frail man, I have agreed to travel with him for the time being.
Mr. Lupo has been quite kind so far, even paying for me to stay alone at this pastoral inn, while he himself lodges with a bachelor friend. How angry Father would be to know that I am so unchaperoned! I cannot stop my childish giggles. In truth, I feel fairly giddy- Nanny Rush would surely dose me, were I home.
At this point, Mr. Churlish Dandified Edgar must be in a state. Perhaps I should feel more remorse.
I write this in a terrible fright- in truth, I am in the necessary, as it has a lock and a candle, and I found surprisingly that my own room had neither? Although I must have had a candle when I went up to bed. I can find no explanation for its disappearance.
I was awoken very suddenly by a shifting, sloughing, growlish sort of noise. Not wanting to draw attention, I stifled myself and lay as though dead, with eye barely open. I could hardly see, but a faint flicker of light from the hall penetrated the gloom. With no lie in my heart, I record that I saw a very bent and twisted-looking beast of some sort, a rough, hairy animal, with malevolent yellow eyes. They shone like lanterns, and seemed both blind and piercing- mad eyes.
My breath nearly betrayed me. The urge to tremble was so entire that my mouth felt like a sack of loose rocks. Desperately, I held on, and feigned sleep even as the beast audibly sniffed for me. I heard its slaver splash to the floor.
At that dreadful moment, another lodger must have stirred, for I heard footsteps in the hallway. In that very instant, the beast was gone.
I lay, trembling, for as long as I dared, then dressed hurriedly and made my way cautiously dolwn the hall. Although I had heard someone before, it was now quiet.
The stable doors were locked, so I have escaped into the privy. It stinks, but is not uncomfortable, and here there is a candle. I can certainly wait here until----
July 11th, morning
The splashes on this page belie my crime- I have killed a man! And yet, they are trophies, for I am no true murderer.
When the privy door rattled, I screamed with all my might. The monster managed to force his head, neck, hands, and chest into the room. I could see he had not only fur, but scales- huge, ugly slabs of chitin. His face looked as if someone had put their fingers in his eyes and stretched— with a horrible, round little mouth stuffed with vicious teeth. His spindly fingers curled around the rough doorframe, capped not with claws or nails, but yet more teeth!
I could not have fought such a beast. I had no weapons, not even a stick. But, as it growled and hissed and tried to squeeze itself through the doorframe, I espied my savior: the candle, and a basket of hygienic rags.
Father should feel very sorry about the time he paddled me for my mischief with Mrs. Butterwick’s privy, back when I was twelve. I had no mind then to set a blaze, only to see my little flaming sticks wink merrily away into the darkness. How was I to know that ordure was so flammable? How was I to know that this childish mischief would one day save me from a demon?
I quickly lit a match and set a handful of rags ablaze, waving them in front of the monster’s face. It hissed at me, the fire glinting in its eyes. I must admit that I was quite profane as I taunted the beast, but my unladylike behavior, for once, bore fruit.
As the monster lunged its way fully into the privy, blowing the door off its hinges, I threw my bundle of fiery rags into the second privy hole and, with a great scream, slid directly through the monster’s legs and out the privy door, just as I heard a huge rushing sound.
The manure beneath the privy exploded! It must have been a very old and rather solid chamber beneath, for there was an astonishing amount of muck thrown about. I was myself blown over and into the pasture, where I luckily used an overturned water trough to block most (but, sadly, not all- hence the aforementioned stains) of the airborne mess. Besides the panicked whinnying of horses and the distant cries of disturbed men, I could hear thousands of soft, plopping noises, as unspeakable matter covered the world.
When the storm blew over, I lay low, not daring to stir and admit my part in the crime. But eventually curiosity got the better of me, and I peeked over my fortunate trough to see a ring of besmirched citizens, all looking horrified and confused, all circling the prone, white figure of a naked man.
I cautiously approached- horrible! It was Mr. Lupo!
For a moment, I was struck dumb by guilt. I thought for sure the Heavenly comeuppance Father had always warned me about had come at last. Then I realized the poor old man must have been harboring that foul demon. I admit I fell to my knees and began weeping immediately, both guilty and grateful. Thankfully, the others mistook my reaction for the natural grief a girl would have if she had lost her “uncle” in such a way, and bade me return to the inn and rest.
Even before I could clean myself, I had to record this most extraordinary day. I shall put this book under my pillow, foul as it is, as any knowledge of this surely would spell only trouble for me!
I am quite recovered from my ordeal. For my entire life, I shall never forget the kindness of dear Mrs. Pipkin, the stout and good-hearted proprietress of this little country inn. She has allowed me to stay, free of charge, until I felt ready to commence my journey once more. If ever I have the largesse to do so, I shall repay her kindness a thousand-fold!
Sadly, I find myself in a bit of a quandary: back to Father, who shall surely place me in a far more odious marriage, or continue on to Hanbury and the boorish, overly fashionable Mr. Edgar.
As repugnant as I find the man, I am at least assured he is not possessed by a demon. About Father, I have no such certainty. It should be easy enough to escape Mr. Edgar, and then surely Father could only blame him for my transgressions.
If I can defeat an unholy demon using only the privy of a country inn, I shall certainly find a way to wriggle out of a dull marriage! In fact, I shall relish the challenge.
If this is ever found, Dear Reader, please- be careful whom you meet on the road!
Here ends the record.
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 04:45|
The cards are falling apart, so we’re drinking again.
“I want something that’s real. I want something that I can put my hands on.”
It’s hard to replace playing cards. You need every single card to feel like the other one to make it a fair game. You need the nine of clubs, to feel like the six of diamonds, to feel like the queen of hearts, to feel like the king of spades. It’s hard to replace playing cards. It’s even harder to replace liquor in this town, but that’s where we’re at, tonight.
“I’ve never seen gold. I’ve heard you tell about it, Sam. I don’t know what gold looks like, feels like, smells like. I’ve seen pictures of it, and heard you tell about it, and I go to sleep every night, and it’s like going to sleep with ice in my mouth.”
It’s a year until the twentieth century, and people are leaving Circle City, which is good news for us. Those that get discouraged first, encourage the rest.
“It doesn’t last, Sam. I can’t sleep anymore.”
I’m listening to Matthew talk, and not listening, and still trying to listen through the cloud of whiskey haloing my head. I know everything’s going to be okay. He knows that everything’s going to be okay. I’m going to lean over, and kiss him, and everything will be fine. But first I have to grip the arm of the chair a little harder, just to make sure I don’t fall off.
“I didn’t want to come here with you. You told me that we’d find our future up here, and you still go out into the snow every day, looking for it. Looking for our future.”
Matthew’s already stopped drinking with me, and that isn’t fair. It’s been almost three years in Alaska, and that’s worth celebrating. I’m going to pour him a drink, in just a second. When everything feels right again.
“And sometimes I think--this is--I can’t believe I’m--sometimes I wonder what if I followed you out there, and then maybe you turned right, or turned left, and I just kept walking straight? Just kept walking off into the snow, and kept walking, while you kept digging, and I’d walk right off the edge of the world, and we’d see who found the future first.”
He’s talking about the future, and I like that. I think he sees what I see, that it’s just a matter of time, that Alaska is miles wide and it only takes one day, one day of being in the right place in the right time, and then I could give him everything he ever wanted, everything he never had, and then we could move back and be happy together, for the rest of our lives.
“Like Columbus. Remember Columbus? Sailed the ocean blue? Sailed right off the edge of the world and into a new one? I want those dreams again. I want to dream about that.”
And we could burn this town down, burn Circle City and the same twenty faces we see every day and the same trees and the same road and the same signs and fenceposts, burn it all down to the ground and spit on the ashes if we wanted to, just because we could, because no one else could say a damned thing to either of us anymore, because we’d be rich and in love and nothing and nobody could stop us from being either.
“You can’t even hear me right now, Sam.”
Matthew’s not looking at me. I want him to look at me, but I just see the floor in front of me, and the floor is spinning around, and I need him to be there. I need to look in his eyes.
“If I told you that I was going to disappear tonight, if I told you I was going to walk to the very edge of town and step over the place where the dirt meets the snow and fall right off the edge of the world and you would never see me again, what would you say?”
Matthew’s saying something but he’s not looking at me and I can’t see him and I need him to be there. I need everything to be perfect. I need all the cards to stay in the deck, because that’s the only way we can keep everything together, because cards are hard to replace and liquor is harder and love is the hardest.
“Say something, Sam.”
Love is the hardest thing to replace.
It’s harder to find than gold, and we need to have both. We need to have both.
“I’m going to go for a walk, Sam.”
He’s stopped talking, and I want to tell him that everything’s going to be fine, but I can’t, because my head hurts. I will in just a second. Just a second.
The cloud of whiskey is swirling around my head, and my eyes are shut tight and I grab onto the sides of my chair and my stomach lurches. I put my head between my knees, and the world is upside down, and I think I see Columbus. I want to. To ask him how. How he knew. He knew how. Everything. Everything was going to be fine.
The world is upside down and spinning.
“Matthew,” I call, and I wait. I wait for him to answer me back.
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 05:31|
Paid in Blood
Solitair fucked around with this message at 08:31 on Dec 29, 2019
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 05:45|
Submission deadline is in ONE HOUR.
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 06:00|
Flash Rule: Scientific Romance
Upon Odin's Gallows
It had been some time since my last encounter with Lord Fitzhugh when I received his fateful letter. He had always seemed a level-headed fellow, much of a kind with myself, and not one for the sort of fanciful claims so often advanced by scientific amateurs. It was that, as well as his title, that convinced me to treat his missive more seriously than I otherwise might have.
In summary, he claimed to have come into possession of a most curious geological specimen, and while he restrained himself from making any grandiose claims as to its origin, insisted that he was quite convinced of its novelty. Owing to both my general reputation and my particular fame for debunking the infamous Dragon Egg of Sumatra, he desired that I examine his find before he presented it more generally.
It was soon arranged that I would visit his apartments in London, and upon doing so found Fitzhugh as gracious a host as I remembered him. He explained that he had come into possession of the specimen through his cousin, an army officer recently returned from Canada. His cousin had in turn acquired it from a local, who claimed that it had been unearthed decades earlier, during the construction of the Rideau Canal. I immediately cautioned Fitzhugh that this lack of a verifiable origin might limit the conclusions that could be drawn from the specimen, but he did not seem concerned.
He presented to me a plain oak box, which opened to reveal a bluish-grey object cushioned within. In shape it resembled nothing so much as the egg of a jack snipe, albeit around nine inches in length. Immediately apparent were a series of patterned ridges quite unlike anything I had previously seen. I must confess, I had expected Fitzhugh’s discovery to be little more than a novel concretion at most, but the regularity of the ridges gave me pause.
Upon handling the specimen, I discovered that the ridges amounted to two spiralling indentations that covered the entire length of the object. They were exact mirrors of each other, and seemed unnaturally regular, especially considering the object’s shape. The obvious implication was that the pattern was the work of human hands – a ritual object for some native tribe, perhaps. That said, the uniformity of its colour was quite unusual, and I found myself at a loss to identify its composition.
In the end, Fitzhugh offered to let me study the specimen further while he would be travelling in the Scottish Highlands. We agreed that he would retrieve the object from me two months thence, at which point I would relate my conclusions.
I will not endeavour to recount the entirety of my subsequent investigations; suffice it to say that I came to two conclusions of consequence. First, that in every physical respect the specimen was unnaturally perfect, to the limits of my tools. The spirals were unerringly uniform, and mirrored each other absolutely. The surface was otherwise entirely unblemished and consistent in colour. This alone would have been enough to convince me of the validity of Fitzhugh’s excitement over his discovery, albeit more likely one of anthropological rather than geological importance.
The second conclusion, however, was that I could make neither heads nor tails of the object’s composition, and indeed I had begun to wonder if it was some new type of rock entirely. It was this that daily brought my attention back to the object long after I had exhausted all means at my disposal of investigating it.
It was on one such occasion, two weeks before Fitzhugh was scheduled to return, that I found myself standing over the specimen in my study and feeling increasingly light-headed. My senses began to dull, as if by laudanum, and for a moment I felt as though my mind had lost all connection to my body. I began to fall, but do not recall hitting the floor.
I must apologize here, for I find my words quite inadequate to describe what I experienced. Nevertheless, I shall try. I awoke – if it can be called such – elsewhere. When my senses returned, I understood instinctively that they were not truly mine. My sight was not sight, and yet that is what I shall call it by necessity.
What I saw first might be described as a tree in much the same way that the Earth might be described as a rock. It was, in its essential shape, tree-like, for it had roots, and branches, and of course a trunk. I could see the roots digging through the soil, and the bedrock, and the very core of the world, and I could see its trunk, uncountable miles in diameter, stretching into the very heights of the atmosphere, and I could see its branches creating a continental canopy. I could see beyond its main structure, too, where across the planet, even beneath the seas, its roots extended into smaller copies of itself: trees the size of cities rather than nations.
But I do not wish to give the impression that it appeared as some common oak or birch, for it was in its composition unmistakeably alien. It was not wood, but something closer to stone or metal, yet unmistakeably alive. It was vibrantly coloured, every imaginable hue visible somewhere within the impossible organism.
This alien Yggdrasil was not the only organism I saw, though. There was an abundance of life, myriad species beyond my counting. Some were almost familiar – beetle-like animals and fern-like plants – while others defy description. The most human-like species, so far as I could tell, was a race that might be described as reptilian apes.
I expect that this description of what I saw seems quite impossible, and not only because of its fantastic nature. One might rightly ask how I could have seen all of this: the entirety of the world, from the subterranean roots of the Tree to the depths of the ocean and heights of the sky. Indeed, it took me some time to realize myself, so overwhelmed was my mind by what assailed my senses.
What I slowly realized, however, was that somehow I was the Tree. Not in the sense of some transformation, but in that my consciousness was present within it – a part of the Tree and yet distinct. And not only was I the Tree, but also the various creatures of the planet. They too, I realized, were a part of the Tree. Their minds, however simple, were entangled in this impossible Platonic world-soul.
To say that I was overwhelmed would be an understatement, and yet I felt neither shock nor fear at the bizarre circumstances in which I found myself. I credit this not to some incredible stoicism on my part but rather to some artefact of my impossible voyage.
I soon discovered that, with effort, I could focus my attention, and so began to explore my environment further. I studied the reptilian apes first, watching from within and around them as they went about their simple lives. They neither hunted nor gathered, for their food was provided by the Tree, and thus they spent all their lives in idyllic contentment. I watched them eat, and play, and give birth, and die. Upon the latter, their corpses were returned to the Tree, nourishing it in return.
Many of the creatures lived in the ruins of great stone structures that did not seem to be creations of the Tree. Indeed, I came to believe that these structures predated the Tree, being instead ruins of some lost civilization. I did not dwell on this at the time, however, and proceeded with my exploration.
After what felt to me like days, I felt a great shifting within the Tree. I found my attention drawn upwards, towards the highest heights of the main trunk where it seemed to touch the heavens. I felt something rush through the Tree and then suddenly beyond, out of my grasp, shot like bullets from a rifle into the void above. I saw, and felt, as millions of identical copies of Fitzhugh’s specimen rushed towards the stars.
A moment later I awoke – truly this time – crumpled painfully on my study floor. But my physical discomfort was nothing compared to the terrible weight upon my mind.
It was less revelation than confirmation of a hitherto-unconscious thought. The specimen was a seed, launched towards the Earth countless aeons ago by that alien organism. This dire certainty embedded itself in my mind before I’d even stood myself up. I was unsure whether what I saw was a memory of this seed’s launch or a vision of the present on that distant world, but I knew deep within my soul that it was real.
Yet I must admit that my initial horror at this new understanding faded quickly, metamorphosing into an uncomfortable ambivalence. I could not bring myself to feel horrified by what I’d seen, no matter how bizarre the experience had been, and yet neither could I say that I desired to see the Earth undergo such an unfathomable transformation.
A part of me dreaded having to return the seed to Fitzhugh, while another part longed to be rid of it. As it happened, I received the news shortly thereafter that the poor fellow had been killed in an avalanche while climbing in Glen Coe – relieving me, albeit in a terribly tragic way, of the need to return his property.
It has been years now since the seed came into my possession, and despite my best efforts I have been unable to replicate my strange journey; I have resigned myself to the probability that I never shall. From time to time I find myself nearly overcome with desire to try to plant the seed, or conversely to destroy it somehow, but such urges inevitably pass. In truth I would not know how to do either. Thus it remains safe in my study, in the same oak box I received it in from the late Lord Fitzhugh.
What are the chances, I wonder, that the only seed to make it to Earth should happen to land somewhere it could be so easily discovered? But then, what are the odds that even one seed would hit our planet, let alone multiple, given the seemingly indiscriminate manner with which they were launched? I try not to ask these questions – not, I must emphasize, because I am afraid of the answers, but because it saddens me to consider that I will never know them.
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 06:09|
Threads of Silk
Flash rule: detective story
Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 23:56 on Dec 29, 2019
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 06:31|
Submissions are closed! Feel free to post afterwards; I’ll crit but you can’t win/HM.
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 07:00|
Ugh, coming back in the middle of a vacation gave the illusion of more free time than what I usually have. I will brawl any motherfucker who steps up, to sharpen my senses and, maybe, come across some kind of redemption.
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 19:55|
Ugh, coming back in the middle of a vacation gave the illusion of more free time than what I usually have. I will brawl any motherfucker who steps up, to sharpen my senses and, maybe, come across some kind of redemption.
I am enraged by my own failure to submit this week so I need to bite someone’s jugular.
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 20:17|
I am enraged by my own failure to submit this week so I need to bite someone’s jugular.
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 21:00|
I am enraged by my own failure to submit this week so I need to bite someone’s jugular.
look who's back in town
tell me a story about somebody coming back to town and loving things up
cannot be a western, fantasy, or sci-fi story
due the first of july, midnight PST
please toxx griffon
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 21:29|
Interprompt: Pick something (anything) you read in someone else's story this week and use it as a springboard for a story of your own. It can be any length, but state which story you got your idea from.
WhoopieCat fucked around with this message at 21:34 on Jun 17, 2019
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 21:30|
please toxx griffon
|# ? Jun 17, 2019 21:36|
Hey Thunderdome, let's make a magazine
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 05:50|
Morning, ladies and gentlemen. That was an interesting week, wasn’t it? Solid stories all round, mostly, but the common theme for a lot of you this this week seemed to be ‘fantastic concepts, mediocre execution.’
Failures to submit this week were sebmojo, Getsuya, QuoProQuid, apophenium, and kurona_bright. I’m very disappointed in you all.
So let’s start with the loser: WhoopieCat. The judges unanimously agreed that a couple of funny lines in no way makes up for a pointless, meandering narrative, far too archaic dialogue, and an irritating protagonist. You can write better than that!
Only one DM this week, and it goes to Saucy_Rodent, more out of frustration at squandering a great idea than anything else. We wanted to love this story, but you interpreted your flash rule badly, writing an unfunny article from a cultural history journal rather than a witty social comedy. If you’re going to end your story with a false rape accusation and a lynching, you need to spend a larger proportion of the narrative on it, otherwise it feels throwaway and pointless.
HMs go to Viscardus, Antivehicular, Thranguy, and derp. Those of you with flash rules interpreted them really well, and all of you wrote gripping, thrilling narratives with some beautiful prose. You only just missed out on the win; it was very close.
And the winner this week is…
We all agreed that the tone of this piece was phenomenal (you might say sensational) and you capture the feeling of your flash rule better than anyone else. It apes the sensation novel style perfectly, with a slow build full of dread and mystery, creepy characters, and a nice unresolved secret. It was a very enjoyable read!
Full crits from me for everyone will come out later this week.
Ascend to the throne, Staggy.
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 06:00|
Thunderdome Week CCCLIX: Who we are to one another
Judges: Staggy, Antivehicular, Viscardus
Life has meant that I've had relationships on my mind for the past few days. I don't necessarily mean romantic relationships - I mean who we are to one another, how we define ourselves and others in regards to the people and world around us. We often distil people down to a single role or identity - and too often we base that role or identity on how it impacts us. I think that's a good topic to explore.
So this week you're all going to write about relationships. Specifically, I will randomly assign you two relationships and you must base your story around them. They can be two different identities inhabited by the same character. They can be two characters as they relate to a third. They can be about the struggle to be one and the threat of becoming another. Get creative. I want to see stories that incorporate the two into the wider narrative - don't just give me an action scene and tell me "oh I guess she was a mother too".
As always, you can request flash rules from one of the judges. This will give you an extra 500 words to use, so use them well.
What to Write: Good Words.
What Not to Write: The usual rules apply - No erotica, fanfiction, nonfiction, poetry, political satire, political screeds, GoogleDocs, quote tags, etc.
Sign-up deadline: Saturday 22nd June, 8AM GMT (Friday Midnight PST)
Submission deadline: Monday 24th June, 8AM GMT (Sunday Midnight PST)
Wordcount: 1,000 words (or 1,500 with a flash rule)
Staggy fucked around with this message at 07:21 on Jun 25, 2019
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 07:42|
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 09:01|
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 12:57|
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 13:41|
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 13:49|
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 14:09|
okay i will do it
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 14:12|
in and flash, please
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 14:31|
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 18:49|
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 18:55|
In and flash please, I won't use the 500 words well though. I hardly use any words well.
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 20:21|
The Child and the Hunter.
Your story must feature exactly two characters; each feels betrayed by the other.
The Mother and the Employee.
Everything is on fire.
The Child and the Sister.
The Master and the Master.
Two men enter; three men leave.
The Commander and the Jailor.
okay i will do it
The Employer and the Hunter.
in and flash, please
The Father and the Friend.
Everything would be so much easier if people would just stop screaming for a drat minute.
The Sister and the Mother.
In and flash please, I won't use the 500 words well though. I hardly use any words well.
The Student and the Grandmother.
You just have to take it one day at a time.
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 22:17|
Don't have time to write this week, but I'll gladly judge.
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 22:18|
In the flash of it.
|# ? Jun 18, 2019 23:09|
|# ? Sep 26, 2022 16:37|
In with a flash.
|# ? Jun 19, 2019 00:47|