Under the Museum
1400 Words (not including title)
Spoilered prompt: PoshAlligator (574 Genre Art; note Wiki's definition of the term)
“Ah, the girl from the university? Yes, I think I recall being told you were going to stop by. What was your name again, dear?”
“Sophia Mallado,” I replied.
He clicked the mouse a few times, his eyes darting over the monitor that stood on the wooden partition between us. He frowned.
“Only I thought you were meant to be coming in on Thursday?”
“Really? I’m sure I told the lady on the phone Tuesday.”
His bearded cheek began to wiggle slightly as he chewed at it from the inside.
“It’s this cold I’ve had,” I continued, wrinkling my nose. “I’m surprised she could hear what I was saying at all.”
His lips turned into a smile. “Yes, there’s been something going around I think.”
“Will I have to come back? I’ve come a long way. I only have a room booked for tonight, and I’m not sure the grant will stretch.”
His hand shot up to his half-framed glasses and he adjusted them, the smile still on his face.
“Oh no, I’m sure it will be quite fine. Sorry to worry you like that, I’m sure we can fiddle the system around. Not that anyone checks up on us much down here anyway.”
His cheek wiggled slightly as he looked over my identification, but I quickly waylaid his fears by popping on the glasses from my jacket pocket. “Contacts,” I explained.
He led me to a large service elevator and we rumbled down into the depths of the museum. He apologised for not introducing himself.
“Of course I know who you are, I’ve read a lot of your papers Dr. Percival.”
He seemed genuinely pleased by this, but couldn’t resist twitching his head and correcting me. “Professor Percival, actually. But please, Kevin is fine.”
I should have known, inwardly cursing myself for getting comfortable. Kevin didn’t seem put out though, and began to ramble on about his work without much prompting. “Some interesting data,” “waiting to hear from the IOT journal,” “my highly respected novel on the subject.” I placated him with a few generic comments as he led us through further corridors, and tried to orient myself with what I knew of the museum layout, and to add these undocumented tunnels to my mental blueprint.
“This is it,” Kevin concluded, stopping before a set of dull, brown double doors, with chips of paint missing from the bottom. “Ready? It’s quite different from just reading about it I assure you.”
He adjusted his glasses again and smirked. He pushed open the double doors widely so I could follow through, and led me into the Jaruthian Chambers of the Goddess.
The first thing that hit me were just how many bodies were present. On paper a hundred and fifty six people doesn’t seem like a lot, but seeing them all packed together in only a few rooms of space is something else. The chambers were all pink metal and carvings, opulence and jewels, but they were just reconstructions, as Kevin reminded me. Look at it from just the right angle and the falseness is clear. Not to mention large portions of the walls were finely polished glass, so the whole thing could be more easily seen by the viewer.
The last moments of everyone present in the chambers at the time of the solar flare disaster were captured perfectly. A woman near where we entered popped out at me, her dress clearly one of poverty, thinking she could find refuge in this once sacred place. Two children, tiny things, were pressed against her, protected from the sight of their doom forever. Almost like she’d known, though the flare was near instantaneous.
Each pose told a story, a guard with his chest puffed out, partway through addressing a mass of people, another guard in the shadows, clutching a photograph, now yellowed, of a loved one, taking a break that would just be a moment.
The avatar of the goddess herself was in the central chamber, sat on a throne of crystal carved into flowers, with her eyelids just barely covering her eyes shut. She looked as if every muscle in her body was loose and relaxed, calmly waiting. Endlessly waiting.
“New wave genre art is what some of the restorers started calling it,” said Kevin, breaking the silence we had both lapsed into. “All their records lost. Culture forgotten. Even the goddess is just Chinese whispers these days. All we have is this scene, these people, frozen. There’s not much difference.”
“Not much difference? But these are real people.”
“You’d think you wouldn’t forget that, wouldn’t you? But you do after a while.” He looked away from me.
“And they’re all dead. Just one hundred and fifty six corpses as an art installation.”
“I think of it more as a memorial. Also, they’re not dead, not really. But they’re not alive, either. Somewhere in between. Completely frozen in their final moments.”
“Could they ever be revived?” I leant towards a bearded man with wide eyes and large, dilated pupils.
“Theoretically yes, but the science dictates they would probably just decay to dust instantly.”
“It seems wrong somehow.” I moved through an archway and Kevin hummed after me, our footsteps echoing on the marble floor.
“Well, you tell me, you’re the one writing a paper on ‘ethics in art’, after all. I just do my job, upkeep and analysis and all that. Between you and me you’re probably right. There’s a reason the plans to showcase it have been in limbo the last ten years.”
“That’s not just because of protest from the Children of the Goddess?”
“Well, you know what those COG fanatics are like. They’ve tried to abduct the avatar’s body a few times. They still think she’ll live again, on account of the missing goddess stone on the throne, they say.”
I turned around, taking in the whole scene from our new angle opposite the doors.
“I wonder how they felt,” I said.
“For them it was just a normal day.”
“I mean on Station VI.”
“Oh, yes, well, they didn’t completely fail. They saved something of the planet, even if it wasn’t quite how they intended.”
I slipped the familiar, battered notebook out of my pocket.
“I’d be happy to answer any questions.” Kevin had his eye on the book.
“Is there a bathroom I could visit?”
Kevin stuck close to me we took the short hallways to the bathroom.
“I’ll just be out here,” he said as I went through the door.
It was a good job Kevin Percival had been assigned to show me around. I hadn’t even considered what I would have done if a woman had shadowed me into the bathroom.
I sat on a closed toilet seat and flipped through my journal. It had all led to this. I slid a worn photograph of my great, great, grandmother from a sleeve at the back. Found in the back of an unfamiliar and deceased relative’s storage, it was the only photo I had. My nose looked like her’s, I thought, and it seemed our hair would be similar if she wasn’t wearing it in that old fashioned way.
I took out my phone and called the front desk.
“Hi,” I said confidently with a sparkle in my voice. “I’m from IOT publishing, I’m looking for Professor Percival.”
Kevin seemed agitated when I came out. “I shouldn’t really leave you down here on your own, but I’ll only be a minute, it’s very important.”
I gave him my warmest smile. “You don’t have to worry about me. I’ll just take some notes.”
Without Kevin hounding me I was free to inspect the chambers, but even then she proved difficult to find. That was good in a way. Even in death, or whatever this technically was, she was elusive. I liked that.
Great, great grandmother was cloaked in the far chamber from the door, her nose giving her away.
I checked Kevin wasn’t about to walk in, and then patted her down. A hidden pocket in her cloak revealed it: the goddess stone. Getting it out was difficult, as the cloak was caught on her rigid leg.
“Thanks,” I whispered.
I made for the exit and turned to look at the scene one last time.
The frozen gaze of the avatar seemed to be locked on me.
I shuddered, and left to find Kevin.
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 01:23|
|# ? Dec 7, 2022 22:47|
Faces in the Dark - 1,380 words. 025 Library Operations
Until she became a librarian, Lucy had never considered the fate of so many library books. Most were never checked out or even opened. Occasionally, she would take one off the shelf and open it to let it breathe a little. She would take in the fragrance of the yellowed paper, flip through the pages, and slide it back into place. There were thousands of books like this: millions of words, so many endeavored thoughts poured out onto so many bound pages, never to be seen by anyone.
The feel of crisp paper and physical weight was slowly fading away. What few books still being read were now uploaded onto computers. Some tragedy that was unknown to most people had slowly crept up over the years, and Lucy was among the few to take note of it. The aroma and the yellow pages were now locked behind cold, uncaring LCD screens.
Looking past the reference desk, Lucy had a view of the front reading area. A young couple stood near the edge of a bookshelf, quietly chatting and giggling over something on one of their smart phones. An elderly man reclined in an armless loveseat reading a tablet. A group of school boys gathered around a workstation enthralled by a computer game.
One little girl sat at one of the old long study tables that were lined with green office-lamps, reading a young-reader mystery novel. The little girl happened to glance up at Lucy as she was looking her way, gave her a friendly wave, and refocused her attention back on the novel. The little girl, Mary, stopped by a couple times a week, even during the summer. Each time she visited, she dumped a stack of the books into the return bin and checked out another stack.
Outside, rain spattered against the old-fashioned jalousie windows. The trees in the nearby park strained against gusts of wind.
On the drive to work the following week, the radio give a storm warning, and that residents in the tri-county area should be prepared for power outages.
Shaking off her umbrella at the front entrance, Lucy went to her seat at the reference desk and began to sort through budget spreadsheets and ordering forms before returning her attention to an old copy of Sewell’s Black Beauty. Mary approached her desk, carrying a brand new reading tablet with a pink protective case.
“Hey, Lucy!” said Mary. Her bright chestnut eyes were magnified by her thick glasses.
“Hi Mary! Whatcha got there?” Lucy forced a smile. Her eyes were fixed on the tablet Mary was holding.
“Look what my dad bought me! He didn’t want me to lug all those heavy books around. He said they would hurt my back. I’ve got every single edition of Girls’ Detective Club now! I don’t have to check out books anymore!” She held up the tablet at arms length for Lucy to see.
“That’s great! I hope you’ll still come by and say ‘hi’ though. Also, there’s still lots of great stuff to read that maybe you won’t be able to find on that, so try not to forget about books altogether,” said Lucy.
For an instant, a hint of inquisition passed over Mary’s face, as if she knew that Lucy wasn’t thrilled with her new tablet.
“Ok, I won’t!” she said. A white flash of lightning shone through the windows. Mary was startled and dropped her tablet.
“Whoa! Getting pretty nasty out there, huh?”
“Yea-” Mary stooped down to grab her tablet and the roar of thunder cascaded around the building. The little girl shrieked and cowered under the lip of the reference desk.
“Hey, hey,” Lucy walked around to the front of the desk and knelt down beside Mary, placing a hand on her back. Mary leaned into Lucy.
“I hate this storm!”
“Oh, it will be over soon. It’s just making a bunch of noise. Before you know it the sun will--” The overhead lights in the library flickered, and then blinked out.
Hushed voices and even some giggles echoed throughout the lobby. Rows of ghostly faces were illuminated in bluish-white light of the LCD screens. A pang of anxiety that quickly turned into excitement passed through Lucy.
Three days later, gales of wind still hammered against the side of the building. The power was still out. The red emergency lights had grown too dim to read by, so Lucy and the custodian, Gabriel, an aged man with thick forearms and deep crows feet beside his eyes, started bringing in candles, electric lanterns and gas lamps. The faces, once illuminated by the harsh white light, were now lighted by a soft flickering yellow light.
There was a distinct absence of tablets, laptops and smart phones. The patrons of the library began to pull books off the shelves.
It was a mess at first, but it was a beautiful sort of mess. Piles of books were left stacked atop the study tables and the reference desks. Candlelight flickered underneath the red emergency lights as people read and whispered to one another. The encroaching technology invading the library was held at bay, supplanted by not only by the dark and books, but an easiness, a focused calm that had been lurking beneath the surface all along. Lucy never had to reshelve so many books before. For the first time, the long study tables were nearly filled with people, all reading books. A quiet intensity permeated the library as the storm raged outside. There was a certain camaraderie Lucy found in everyone taking shelter from the storm, but also in taking out and reading the old books.
Although it was dark, this was the sort of library Lucy remembered when she was a girl Mary’s age, and had imagined working in all along.
“Good news,” said Gabriel as he helped Lucy stock books back onto a shelf, “power is supposed to come back on today.”
Lucy feigned relief, and excused herself as she made her way to the utility closet. The library was old enough that it used a fuse box instead of a modern circuit breaker. Lucy began to tug at a fuse and twist it until it finally gave. It was surprising how firmly lodged into their sockets the fuses were.
“What are you doing?” said Gabriel. She could barely make out the outline of his silhouette as he stood at the door to the closet, aiming a flashlight at her.
“I just wanted to--”
“Are you messing with the fuse box?”
Lucy remained silent, she was cornered holding the fuse in her hand.
“What’s that you have there?” he said while slowly approaching her.
“A, uhm--” She curled her fingers around the fuse.
“Please give that to me.” His voice was even tempered, a calm monotone.
“Gabriel, don’t you think it’s better like this? Don’t you feel like this is the way things should be?”
“The way things should be? I don’t know what you’re talking about. Please give me the fuse, Lucy.”
“No!” Lucy stepped back and her back was pressed into the cold concrete wall.
“Lucy, you’re going to hurt your--”
“For once people are actually reading what this place is full of: Books. I’m tired of all the computers, screens. Look out there! Does anyone look like they need anything more than that? It’s perfect like this! This storm has fixed everything.”
“If you don’t hand me that fuse, I’ll have to call someone.”
“I’ll give you the fuse, but do you agree with me, or not?”
“I--” Gabriel paused a moment, “It’s been ok, a little scary, to be honest. But people are going to do what they’re going to do. Read books or screens, or whatever. You pulling the plug on everyone isn’t going to change anything.”
Lucy opened her palm, and let Gabriel take the fuse.
The storm died down. The sun came out. The power was back on.
Surrounded by people staring into screens, Mary was back at the long table reading a Girls’ Detective Club book.
“Hey,” said Lucy as she walked by, “what happened to your tablet?”
“Oh, I don’t know, I kind of just liked reading books instead of that thing, you know?
“Yeah, I do.” Lucy smiled and continued on into the stacks.
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 01:53|
The Fantastic Collection (Words: 937 - Subject: 708 Galleries, Museums, Private Collections)
James' eyes would glisten with pride as he launched into his routine speech.
"Now I hope you folks are ready to be amazed because what I have under these sheets behind me will astound and astonish even the most scrupulous skeptic."
He would make a grandiose gesture towards the covered glass cases he had so carefully constructed years earlier.
"I have collected these items through years and years of painstaking pioneering, terrific trailblazing, and extraordinary exploration! And all for you! So that you may see what wonders of the world lay hidden right beneath your very nose."
His voice would echo across the high mountain brush and his wry build would dance across the stage, framed by the mountain range far in the distance.
James had a smile that could light up the desert and he was no stranger to anyone for long. He had made his living unveiling his finds for decades, and every time he began his speech he had the same enthusiasm and vibrancy as his very first performance. Now things are a little different though, the crowds are smaller and the collection is fewer, but the glisten in his eye hasn't changed at all.
A single family had bothered to stay for the entire speech today, and all but their youngest seemed bored. The boy watched avidly as James pulled the sheet off his first display. James was starting to show his age in his movements but his voice still filled the air and inspired grandeur.
"This, ladies and gentlemen, is George Washington's famous friendly fiddle. He used this instrument not only to entertain and inspire his troops but also to mesmerize and befriend wild bears! In fact it's even rumored that we only won the revolutionary war because the British were terrified by the sight of George riding into battle atop a massive grizzly!"
As the sheet fell to the stage the little boy's jaw dropped, resting in the glass case just a few feet from him was George Washington's fiddle! The fiddle's strings were corroded a bit and bow had no string at all. It may as well have been trash but the way James spoke about it made it seem like a priceless artifact. He wrestled his brothers phone out of his hands despite a cry of protest and quickly started recording the show. His brother started to take it back when James caught his attention, unveiling the second case.
"Here we have a magical modern marvel, a device that, when worn, allows the wearer to instantaneously know how any given machine works! Unfortunately even today nobody has found a way to activate this device and its inner workings remain a mystery." He said this all through a smile so warm the boys couldn't help but smile too. "What a wondrous device!" they thought.
James moved to the next case and rapped against it lightly. His eyes met with the boys', as bright as ever.
"Now this next piece... Most people refuse to believe exists even when it's right in front of their faces! Under here..." he ripped the sheet away from the case with a flash and revealed what looked like an old dirty tooth.
"This is a tooth from the fabled Bigfoot, found just a few feet from where you stand now! This amazing archaeological achievement is one for the archives! Most everyone doesn't even think he's real, but right here is the genuine article."
James swept to the last case, taking care not to trip over any of the sheets on the stage. He quietly rattled something under the last sheet before carefully extracting something from the case.
"And finally I have what is probably the most awesome piece in my current collection, a true treat. This metal whisk will, when waffled, whisper wonderful notes to a old song I'm sure you've all heard before!"
James' motions were deft and surprisingly agile, he swept the whisk through the air in intricate patterns and amazingly enough the first few bars of Claire de Lune could be heard humming from the tines. The boys looked on in wonder and now even their parents were paying attention. The youngest boy finished the recording and quickly posted it to his favorite video sharing website. James replaced the whisk in its case and gleefully invited the family on stage to take a closer look at the exhibits. After a few dozen minutes of ogling and laughter James bid the family farewell and covered his displays back up, moving them back inside a little shack to the side of the stage to keep them out of the weather. He sat down in an old rocking chair and began to wonder if anybody might show up for tomorrow's show.
Nobody showed up the next day, or the day after, or even the day after that, but the next day there were 5 families. The day after that there were 10, and after that were too many for him to keep track of! James was filled with satisfaction, knowing that he could continue to do what he loved and that people were still interested in his many odd and fascinating artifacts. He even acquired a few new pieces in the following days. In his final years James kept in touch with the little boy who had revived his show and willed that his collection go to him. The boy gladly accepted and, to pay respect to a man who had brought joy to so many, moved the collection to a permanent indoor museum where the artifacts continue to delight and amaze and grow in popularity.
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 02:00|
Fifty minutes are still on the clock!
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 03:09|
Love Like a Deep River (733 words)
(Dewey Decimal Number: 714 - Water Features)
Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 23:58 on Dec 9, 2014
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 03:10|
Crits for last week are here; I'll post them all in thread after Kaishai's bought the hammer down so it doesn't mess up the place.
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 03:27|
docbeard fucked around with this message at 15:48 on Dec 29, 2014
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 03:28|
Fifteen minutes remain. Eighteen stories are in. Thirty-nine entries were pledged. Three have confessed failure.
Those numbers add up to a lot of shame if some of you don't hurry up.
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 03:48|
Elizabeth took a deep breath and knocked on the Narratology Professor’s door. In her other hand she held her essay, wrapped in a protective plastic cover, with its scarlet-penned C minus at its corner and also, psychologically, on her forehead where it refused to be ignored every time she saw her own reflection.
She waited in the hall, hoping the sign that listed Professor Alberhaven’s office hours was, in fact, a terrible lie, a prank pulled on undergraduates, and that he wasn’t actually there at all. The silence that followed her knock allowed to her to daydream about dropping out, taking another course more suited to her liquid talents, perhaps something to do with meteorology, so she could become a god on a lovely, quiet, totally lifeless planet, where she could reign divine over Rocks, Gases and Interesting Sorts of Weather.
A stentorian voice called out, “Enter, ” and the imaginary sun of the imaginary Planet Elizabeth went nova. She felt foolish. Of course he was there. You don’t get to be faculty without being ever present, even if only between two to five, Monday to Thursday and four-thirty on Fridays.
Elizabeth pulled at the door and peered around the edge. Inside, a vast tree with its roots in chaos and its branches in perfect symmetry grew in the center of of a small office. The tree beckoned with a single, finger-like branch as cosmic wind ruffled the multiverse of its leaves. “Come in, Elizabeth, please,” said the susurration.
Elizabeth entered, and began walking towards the trunk, staring at the carpet directly ahead of her. The colorful swirling patterns became colorful, swirling primordial chaos and Elizabeth hesitated before she put her sensible loafers into the abstract miasma. She looked up, and saw the tree returning to the shape she more readily identified from Mythic Narratology lectures as Professor Alberhaven, sitting behind a large oak desk. One of his roots had morphed into a comfortable chair for visitors, and when he gestured to it in a welcoming way, Elizabeth sat, still clutching her plastic folder to her chest. The floor seemed warm to her feet.
“Ah, Elizabeth,” said Professor Alberhaven. “How can I be of service?”
Elizabeth coughed two tiny coughs. “It’s about my Essay, Professor. The one on Cross-Dimensional Effects of Inter-Pantheon Seduction. You, ah, gave me a C Minus, and I... well, I ….” Elizabeth avoided his kindly, professorial face, and stared at her own shoes, noticing the carpet in front of them transmuting from raw chaos into a deep, luxuriant flame-red shag. She steeled herself. “I’m afraid I don’t understand. I worked really hard on it, and covered the literature, and thought I came up with some really interesting models…”
The professor smiled pleasantly at Elizabeth. “Ah,” he said. “Elizabeth.” He got up from behind his desk, and began to pace around the room, pausing only to glance at a picture on one shelf of a smiling woman dressed in flames . “Let me guess - first time here at the University of Ontological and Teleological Divinity. Grade A student, promoted from the ranks, as it were. Mother was a gorgeous handmaiden, Father was a swan, or a shower of gold, or something like that?”
“A goblet of champagne, actually,” mumbled Elizabeth.
“A goblet of...well, really. That’s just ripe with metaphor, isn’t it? Well done to your father. Top marks.”
Elizabeth said something beneath her breath, inaudible but tangibly reminiscent of the impossibility of cuddles and the lack of bedtimes stories that goblets of champagne offered. The professor carried on as if he hadn’t heard. Elizabeth listened distractedly, her toes feeling uncomfortably hot.
“So, you’re from good stock. But you seem to have missed out on one of the foundational principles upon which our august institution stands. We here at the UOTD like to think we provide a well rounded, comprehensive and above all, practical education for the up and coming deity or demi-god. The stuff of legends, as our advertising puts it. Now, your essay was a fine piece of work, don’t get me wrong. Lots of graphs, I recall. Many, many excellently rendered graphs.”
Elizabeth took her essay out of its protective cover. She ignored the shiver that the bold, red C Minus in sent through her and instead opened it to the fourth page, which contained several graphs of the range by which the repercussions of various acts of infidelity between gods could be felt, sorted by class of god, the length of their marriage, and several other criteria. “Thank you,” said Elizabeth. “If you see here, I researched and found out that…”
“No one has more promise than a student with many graphs,” said Professor Alberhaven. “But we have high standards here. The highest. What this essay has failed to take into account, and it’s a glaring omission indeed, is the practical side of things. This essay has no, if you’ll pardon the expression, skin in the game. The practical side is entirely lacking.”
If the back of the chair hadn’t been there, Elizabeth would have fallen over. “I’m sorry, Professor, you can’t mean I’m supposed to, what, seduce someone!” Her entire face flushed and a bead of sweat trickled down her forehead.
“I’m afraid so. Deities are not creatures of logic, they are exemplars of passion, of the rawest and basest natures that comprise Life. A pantheon is not a committee, gathering to check out the latest research and make informed, evidence based, decisions." The professor chortled to himself and loosened his tie. "Is it getting a bit warm in here? Never mind. No, it's rage, and fire, and lust and hubris and revenge and all that good stuff. Can you imagine primitive storytellers gathered around a campfire telling the ancient tale of the time the sun and the moon had a rational exchange of views? How terribly, terribly tedious! Oh dear, look Liz, can I call you Liz? There's some tissues on the desk."
Elizabeth found the tissues and blew her nose. She breathed deeply a couple of times and wondered at the scent of smoke. "I'm sorry,” she said, “I was going to be strong, but...I thought I was being helpful. If you look at the reaction coefficient compared to the pace of the psycho-narrative, you can predict to the minute the time of the,”... sniff….”divine act of retribution." She pointed to one graph in particular. “Here! See, if a tree god cheated on his fire deity wife twenty two days ago. The narratological repercussions would build for a few moments and then strike around about, well, now.”
The desk in front of Elizabeth burst into flame. She could no longer see the professor behind the sudden smoke, but she could smell singed hair and eyebrows and wood. The heat was too much, so she lowered her gaze to the floor, which had, again, become twisting chaotic shapes emerging as tongues of white hot fire. Elizabeth heard the professor over the roar of the fire. “Oh dear,” he said. “Sweetie? Please, sweetie! She meant nothing. Not the leaves, baby, I just had them autumned. No, no, it burns!”
It was too much for Elizabeth. She burst into tears and the divine rain began to fall. First little droplets that sizzled off into steam, then thin streams that ebbed and flowed against the fires and finally great heaving buckets that lashed the burning desk in wave after wave. Steam filled the air, and then it too was washed away. Elizabeth saw the professor, sitting across from her, bald, and burned a dark mahogany.
“Well,” said the Professor, breaking into a grin. He licked his wet lips. “A touch of champagne, too, how delightful. It would appear, Elizabeth, that I owe you a boon.”
Elizabeth snuffled a bit, but had completely run out of cry. She clutched her essay even tighter and looked up at him hopefully.
“Perhaps we should have a look at that grade again. After all, I cannot help but appreciate the potential practical applications of your research. Tell me, have you thought about a major yet?”
“No,” said Elizabeth.
“I hear there's a vacancy in the departmental sphere of Climate Change. You’ll love it there! Lots and lots of graphs.”
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 03:49|
The hour was late and Septimus was surrounded by the remains of half a dozen candles. The low light of his current candle flickered and died and then his room was as dark as his mind felt. It was as void of form as he was of inspiration. He lit another candle, dipped his pen into the ink, and pressed the papyrus sheet to say the words that he felt in his heart.
And then nothing. He just couldn’t get those words out. Couldn’t put his feelings into writing. She hadn’t liked his last bit of poetry. This one needed to be perfect.
Maxima, he began. Her name taunted him. What words did he have that could describe a woman such as Maxima? She was such a wonderful lover, such a beautiful women, such a tantalizing dream that played over and over in his mind. She was wretched muse, though. Or, rather, she was a wonderful muse and he was simply a wretched writer.
“Darling?” his wife called out from the bedroom, “Will you be coming to bed soon?”
Septimus snapped his pen.
“Oh my gods!” he groaned, “I’m trying to focus, Octavia! Focus!”
Octavia stifled a giggle with her pillow. Her husband was such a sensitive, silly man. Especially so with when it came to his poetry.
“Would you like me to look over it?” she said, “Maybe I could-”
“No!” he screeched, “You know can’t read it until I’m finished!”
Octavia thought of the box of poetry she had stowed away under the bed. In ten years of marriage she had had twice as many lovers. Many of whom had been quite verbose. This was clearly Septimus's first go at infidelity. It was adorable to witness. As she drifted off to sleep she made a note to look over her old love letters in the morning. There should be plenty there she could use to help inspire her husband.
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 03:54|
A Heart of Broken Glass
Thirty-five floors up the Nugent Pharma spire, Geraint opened a door into darkness. This should have been a cake walk, he thought, make a pick-up and leave. So why did the place look abandoned? Crouching, he waddled forth, keenly aware there was no one on his left to cover him. He’d had long enough to get used to not having a partner, yet the expectation remained.
Mysterious forms loomed out of the darkness. His veins thrummed with adrenaline as his eyes struggled to pierce the shadows. No good. He tapped his visor, which projected 3D wireframes directly onto his retinas. The edges of objects leapt forth. Cubicle walls and office detritus. The knot between his shoulder blades relaxed.
A man’s leg laid on the floor ahead, severed cleanly at the knee. The foot still wore its expensive leather shoe. A streak of blood lead away. Its former owner, he surmised, must have dragged himself away. He touched the blood. It was still tacky. Fresh.
Standing, Geraint noticed a gouge curving around the site, up the walls, across the floor, even a faint line on the ceiling. Looked like a razorwhip. Bad news. Only the hardest, or craziest, carried those. His right palm itched. An impossible itch, considering a razorwhip lopped off his arm at the elbow a quarter-century earlier. Augmetics don’t itch.
He produced from his pocket a matte black sphere the size of a golfball. He muttered “Malika, come.” The sphere lit up and drifted out of his palm. Projectors energized. The translucent form of a German Shephard shimmered into being. The holohound chimed in greeting.
"Good girl," he said. He pointed to the leg. “Malika, identify.” The holohound sniffed at the limb. She chimed. “Malika, go search.” She began wandering the halls of the cubicle farm, holographic nose to the floor. It was silly. The nose detected nothing, just as his arm felt nothing. And yet, in both cases, the cause was the same. He missed his arm, and Malika’s brain missed her whole body.
Eventually, the hound pinged him. He found Malika sitting by the rest of the unfortunate limb donor. The man had clearly been already bleeding to death from the leg stump, but his flensed chest told the story of a second encounter.
"Mysteriously dismembered corpses. I wonder what else Montoya forgot to mention about this simple errand, eh, girl?" He scratched Malika between the ears, magenta sparks crackling up his augmetic fingertips. She didn’t necessarily know she wasn’t a dog anymore, and sometimes he forgot, too.
The holohound flickered into a guard stance, her luminous form changing from purple to crimson. With no time for thought, Geraint's reflexes flung him into a roll. He twisted as he went, unholstering his sidearm. The floor where he had crouched split, the same slash bisecting the guard’s corpse. Geraint pulled the trigger, his instincts directing his aim. The gun clicked. The end was shorn off, shiny metal gleaming in the dim light. He was had. The pit of his stomach fell thirty-odd floors to the ground.
A hand lamp lit the area. Through the glare, he could make out asymmetric tamer’s armour. It was a woman he knew well. He sighed.
After a moment which felt hours-long, she stuck out a hand. He took it and got to his feet. "Didn't think I'd see you again," she said. Malika's transparent body flashed slowly between red and white, a warning display to compliment her aggressive posture.
"Malika, friend. Recognize Tabitha Davis." The holohound chimed and resumed her purple colouration, taking a seat two steps to his left.
"Only a matter of time, I suppose. Same line of work and all. Speaking of, I see your work ethic hasn’t changed.” He nudged the corpse with his toe.
She snorted. "You here for the Ventimiglio girl?"
"I’m here to pick up a package. Which, yeah, happens to be a nine-year-old girl. You?"
Tabitha stowed the razorwhip on her hip. "I saw that contract. Pay wasn't very good."
"It's not about the money, Tabs. It never was."
"Idealism? Well, come on, then. I'm here for her, too."
“I thought the pay wasn’t very good.”
“It wasn’t the only contract.”
“Someone else wants this girl? That’s comforting,” he muttered.
They walked through the dark office. No one rushed forth to oppose them. Geraint’s missing palm itched. Some people felt rain in their bones. Geraint felt bad luck in his phantom limb.
Tabitha jerked a thumb towards Malika. "How long are you going to keep that poor mutt as a brain in a jar?"
Malika followed a few paces behind them. Her tail wagged back and forth, electric thrumming in the air. "I love that dog."
Tabitha scoffed. "When the hell did you get so sentimental? You should let her go. Move on. This isn't healthy."
Geraint affected a casual friendliness. "I'm stubborn. Maybe you noticed during all those years together? Speaking of, I got a question for you."
"I know what you want to ask, and you don't want the answer. Let's just get that girl and go our separate ways."
"You never change, do you? Just push everyone away. You bought me that dog, Tabs. You even named her, for God's sake."
"People in our line of work shouldn't get close. It was a mistake to get involved, Geraint. You know that, right?"
"Why did you leave like that? No note, no goodbye, you just weren't there one morning. You broke my goddamn heart, Tabs."
Tabitha’s face was unreadable as she kicked open a stairwell door and plodded up the stairs. He knew running into his ex-wife would be awkward. In his heart, long a furnace of anger, he found only a cold, empty pit.
After a while, Geraint followed her up the stairs, Malika at his heels. Above, the chatter of gunfire and screams. The sound of Tabitha's razorwhip carving through walls and bones set his nerves on edge.
She was waiting on the fortieth floor. A dead man fell from her hands. "Do you remember that job in Tacoma?" She didn't face him.
"I do," he said.
"I lost a lot of blood. I wasn't thinking straight. You shouldn’t’ve said yes."
"I was in love, what else could I have said?"
Her shoulders rose and fell in a silent deep breath. "The girl’s room is up ahead. A4013. Take her home."
"Home to her poorly-paying family? When the hell did you get so sentimental?"
"I didn't want you get hurt, Geraint. That's why I left." She turned to face him. "We were better partners than we were married. It should have stayed that way."
She gave him an awkward, perfunctory hug and passed him a keycard before vanishing into the depths of the stairwell. The air in the hall was very dusty. Geraint rubbed at his eyes until the irritation went away.
He used the card on its door. A young girl lay on a bed within a medical shroud, tubes and leads hooked up to her. He pulled the curtain aside.
"Hi, doggy," she said, smiling at Malika. The purple holohound trotted up and allowed the girl to pet her. She giggled at the static crawling up her fingers.
"You like doggies, huh? Me, too." He began disconnecting tubes from the girl. "Are you Regina?"
"That's a nice name."
"No, it’s not. I hate it. It sounds dumb."
"It sounds very pretty. Do you know what Regina means?" The girl shook her head. "Regina is Latin for Queen. My dog here, her name is Arabic for Queen. Malika, play cute."
The holohound chimed and shrunk, becoming a small puppy. Geraint scooped the puppy up and gave it to the girl, picking them both up.
"I like her, mister," she whispered. "I always wanted a dog of my own."
Geraint held the girl close as he walked her to the elevators. "Well, Malika here is a good dog. She's brave and strong and she'll never leave your side unless you tell her to."
"Never ever. You don’t have to feed holopups, all you have to do is play with her and give her pets. Can you do that for me?"
"Good. Watch out for her tongue, though, it’ll give you a good shock if she licks."
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 03:57|
Aphrodite and Hephaestus
Lily Catts fucked around with this message at 10:46 on Dec 7, 2014
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 03:57|
E: removed, revising
Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 02:36 on Sep 10, 2014
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 03:58|
I was happy in life. I was content. I just had one problem: someone was stealing all the birds from my albums.
It happened slowly at first; an owl here, an eagle there. Every day a different bird. Monday I lost my scarlet macaw. Tuesday, my favorite ostrich. Wednesday, a red-tailed hawk. A pair of goldfinches finished out the week.
I can say one thing, at least the thief had some consistency: only one picture was affected each day. But the number of birds in a photo was no defense. Soon whole flocks were going missing.
By then I was spending hours every day searching through my albums, trying to track down what had disappeared that day, searching in vain for a pattern to the disappearances.
That's when I called my librarian friend.
"I'll be right over," he said.
A bluebird had vanished that morning. The branch he had been perched on stood empty, framed in the middle of a clear blue sky. I showed to him.
"Fascinating," he said.
But he had no answers.
I called in a photographer.
"That's a beautiful landscape," she said.
"It was an egret returning with food for her chicks," I said.
And she had no answers.
I called a data security specialist. Someone was deleting my stored photographs without my consent! Or at least altering them.
"Um," he said after he arrived. "This is my first time handling a security problem with something paper. I usually deal with computers."
"Oh, I don't have any of those," I said. "Can't stand them. Too much trouble, too impersonal. I still write my own letters. By hand, I mean. I don't even like to make a phone call if I can help it."
He didn't have any answers, either.
I was getting desperate. Birds were disappearing faster and faster. Half of my photographs of birds were gone! That's when I had an idea. I looked at the books on my shelf.
Captain Flint on Treasure Island had a bare shoulder. Owl had vanished from most of the pages of Winnie the Pooh. The seagull on Watership Down. The Ugly Duckling. Ping. Six and twenty blackbirds. Alice's Dodo. Nearly every bird was missing.
I'd had too many sleepless nights. I called in the police.
"When did you first notice the photographs were missing?" the woman asked, sounding bored.
"Oh, no, the photos are all still here. It's the birds that have disappeared." I opened to a birdless page to demonstrate.
"Hmm," she said. "Do you have any photographs of these books before... this incident began?"
"No... I really can't imagine that would work. Wouldn't the birds just vanish from that photo as well?"
"I can't say, ma'am. I don't see this sort of theft very often."
"Is there nothing I can do? No precautions I could take?"
"I really couldn't tell you."
She had no answers, either. But she did leave a card. A detective agency.
Non-Euclidean Locators: "We Think Outside The Box"
That didn't sound promising, but I was running out of options.
"Well, Miss Jenny, it doesn't look good."
Adan S. stared blankly at me with one glass eye, his other eye closed, behind a wide desk. He was wearing a blue baseball cap and a "Karma for Camels" t-shirt.
I was sitting in a too-tall chair in a small, dusty office that had seen better decades. The ceiling was painted dark blue with day-glow stars stuck on. The walls were coated in some kind of pale stucco with dark stains running down to the floor. "That's coffee," he said, seeing my gaze.
"What does it look like, then?"
"Let's start from the beginning. Yes, you have pictures. Yes, they're being tampered with. But that's as far as we're able to get."
"Why is that?"
"There's some kind of... block." He shrugged.
"A block? What do you mean?"
"Miss Jenny, can you tell me... Are any of the subjects in your photographs departed?"
"I took them over the course of decades. Most of the birds must have died by now, I suppose."
"I was afraid of that." He leaned back in his chair, left eye closed, right eye pointed up at the ceiling. "Did you get permission to photograph them?"
"I took the shots when and as I could. Don't tell me the spirits of these birds are... resentful. I don't even know how to ask a bird's permission! And why me? No one else has this happening to them." I must have sounded tired and exasperated. "So, you're a psychic detective, then? You talked to them? They told you that?"
He scoffed. "Birds can't talk."
"That's not really talking." He sighed. "Look, I've told you what we know. It seems like you did something to upset them. What happened around the time this first began?"
"Well, I first started noticing the disappearances in early June. I was going through old photo albums. I don't know how much sooner it started before I first noticed they were going missing."
"Nothing changed for you, then? New job, new house?"
"No, I've lived in my apartment for years. But I did have a shoot in Africa early this summer. I've been working on a manuscript based on it ever since, actually.
"Hmm," he said, tapping his right eye.
"Please don't do that."
He ignored me. "So, next step: bring me the most affected album, the manuscript you've been working on—" he saw me about to object and waved his hand "—or at least some emotional pages from it, something written and rewritten, and personal artifacts from your trip. Ideally something worn and something carried in your hand."
"And that will help you find the answers?"
"It'll help me find the questions. Now, in the front they can schedule you to come in again. I believe next Tuesday has an opening. Oh," he called out as I was leaving, "cash only!"
They called me back in a week after I brought those in, said I needed to "atone" for my "improper collection." That I would need to find a quiet, natural place, and wait. That was it. "You'll know when," Adan told me.
So I sat on a big tree root in a forest outside of town, waiting. Nothing happened. The wind blew. I could hear the sounds of the forest, occasional distant birdsong. The sun fell out of view.
At dusk, a crow landed on the branch above me.
"Hey there, little guy," I said quietly. I felt ridiculous talking to a bird, but I continued. "How's it going?"
He seemed to shrug, tucking his head down between his shoulders.
"You going to sleep?"
He shut his eyes.
I didn't say anything, just sat and watched. He breathed slowly, chest moving in and out. The moon rose above the forest and turned everything to silver, and he was still sitting there.
"I'm sorry," I said, and left.
The birds never did come back. But at least after that, they stopped disappearing. And I decided to take up landscape photography.
(090 Manuscripts and Rare Books)
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 03:59|
748 - Glass
(Nothing in the story can break.)
Lovestruck as a Window Washing Lifeguard
This isn't a love story. This is a story about Fate.
The first time I met her, it was in the reflection of a window. I was working at a Pool Club at the time, 2010. Lifeguard, though I doubled as a Janitor because... well. I was a senior, 220 pounds, and I didn't talk back. Doesn't take a rocket scientist. The window was the tinted one attached to the owner's office. Just think -- had it been a regular window, I might have not seen her shuffling past.
It was her face that got to me. No, not her face. It was the the bleach, polka-freckled stain running from her face down to her arm. It was not an ugly mark. It was as if the pigmentation did not want to scar her face, so it cut off between her jaw and her cheek.
It was mark was what caught my attention. I turned to look at her, so distracted that I thought nothing when she stopped on a dime and turned to look at me. She smiled, sheepish. I caught how the mark curled, taking the shape of a crescent moon. It smiled at me, too. I looked away. She was gone when I looked back.
I convinced myself it was Fate when she passed me a month later. I was on trash duty when she shuffled past, plastic sandals squeaking with each step. I saw the mark, saw her dropping a carton of cigarettes and thought 'this is Fate'. I convinced myself it was my Fate to catch up to her outside of the Club. Sure felt like Fate to me when she smiled at me and I smiled back.
...Fate wanted this to be awkward, I told myself. Fate told me to shuffle from foot to foot like a damned idiot and, for a moment, completely forget why I was even there. Hands shoved into my pocket, right brushing against the carton. I pulled it out. Menthol. It also wanted me to say "You dropped this" but I laughed and said "Here" instead.
Her eyes gleamed. "Thank you." She snatched it out of my hands.
I ran my hand through my crew cut. "Hey, it's no problem." She lit up almost immediately, chucked a match. The girl blew a ring, sort you see in Looney Tunes. I laughed. "You don't look the type to smoke."
"Do I?" She blinked, opened the carton again. "Do you want one?"
I promised my parents I would never smoke. Fate wanted me to accept. I took one, placed it between my lips. She snapped her fingers and the flame floated from her closed fist, like her hand was a lighter. I said, "Nice trick." She smirked when I hacked up a lung.
"I've seen you before," she said. "You were washing a window and you were staring at me."
I waved smoke from my face before responding. "Heh. I-I don't remember that," I lied like a lying liar. "I remember you though."
Hazel eyes considered me, judging me. "You remember me? Or do you just remember my scars?"
The color drained from my face. Nodding, I held the cig between thumb and index. It tasted like mint. "Scars? I thought-I remember them but, like, not just them?" I paused. Not because I was taking a hit but because of the egg shells I was walking barefoot over. "Has anyone told you that the mark smiles when you smile?"
She looked confused at first. Then it clicked for her and she smiled. "No. But I understand what you mean." She flicked the butt with her index finger. She wasn't smiling anymore. She considered me again. "Today is Day 195, right?"
I blinked. "...It's July 15th?"
She nodded. Fate threw a curveball. "Do you want to hang out?"
"Sure?" I said, without thinking.
"I will only be here on Day 226. After that, I am leaving. You seem like a nice boy. I like you."
Okay, Fate was getting weird with me. I squinted. "...Thanks?"
She nodded, smiled. "Your shoe's untied."
I looked down. It was still tied. That's when I saw her match from before, unlit. She was gone when I looked back up.
Honestly, I forgot all about the meeting. Day 226 was August 15th. It didn't matter though. I found her after hours, in the picnic area. She was sitting on the edge of a chest. I recognized her, smiled, a bit unnerved.
"Hey." I said. "What are you doing down here?"
"I thought we were hanging out." She said. It wasn't a question, and the look on her face said as much. I walked over to her. "I knew you would be coming down. So I waited."
"...Waited for how long?" I asked, then shook my head. "Look, I'm just... I'm still working
"That's okay. I'll wait here." She hugged her legs to her chin. She wore a sundress that ran down her legs. "I'll just look at the nature down here."
...Maybe she was shier than I thought. I smiled. gently caress it, I told myself. Glancing at the surrounding, I find a lonely volleyball and, a good distance away, a soccer net. "I'm looking at this volleyball and do you know what I see?"
I grabbed the ball, holding it between my hands. I gestured for her to move. She didn't. The ball hit the inside of my foot. Her black hair swooshed when the ball flew past. I was losing my touch; the volleyball clipped the corner of a picnic table and rolled off, not even close to the net. I grimaced. She said, "Nice trick."
I laughed, walking back over to her. "Nah. I'm losing my touch. I was better in middle school; wanted to play Soccer. Now I'm working here."
"...I don't know what that is?"
I squinted at her. For a second I thought she was talking about the Pool Club, but when she canted her head at the net, I knew what she meant. "Soccer? Futball? You've never heard of it?" I laughed, shook my head. "Man, have you been living under a rock?"
She turned to look at me. She looked at me like I just insulted her mother.
"You don't want to know."
Her voice turned grave.
"Even if you could believe me, you wouldn't want to know."
I laughed again, tugging at my collar. "Try me?"
Her face registered a look of expectant annoyance. She pulled out the carton of cigarettes again. "Do you remember how we met? The window?"
I nodded. "Yeah?"
"And do you remember how I dropped my cigarettes? And how, just know, I knew you would be coming down here?" When I nodded again, she sat forward on the picnic table. "What if I were to tell you that I planned all of that?"
"What do you-" I asked, but she cut me off.
"What if I were to tell you that I knew we are meant for each other? That, on day 227 just before midnight, four years from now, I will stand at your doorstep and ask to come in? What if I were to tell you that I don't even swim here, that I only joined this club to meet you? What would you say?"
"I-I'd say you're full of poo poo." I said. I didn't mean to say it. I just said it.
The girl nodded. She got up. "I should go."
"I don't even know your name." I said.
She turned back to me. She smiled. "My name is Fate."
Today is September 1st, 2014 It is midnight. Somebody's knocking on the door. I can see her mark through the peephole in my door. This is where the love story begins.
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 04:00|
The Glass House
crabrock fucked around with this message at 06:30 on Oct 28, 2014
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 04:03|
Submissions for Week CVIII: The Dewey Decimal System are now CLOSED!
A last-minute surge tamped the shame level of the round down a trifle, but Sithsaber, Obliterati, perpetulance, Meinberg, Anathema Device, PootieTang, CommissarMega, JuniperCake, God Over Djinn, cargohills, Swarm, and the wildest turkey got lost in the stacks. The sharp-eyed among you may have noticed two candidates on that list. PootieTang and JuniperCake, you have two hours' leeway; use it well.
If any of the aforementioned parties submit within twenty-four hours of the deadline, I'll still critique their stories. In the meanwhile the judges will be reading the fiction that made it to our desk.
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 04:17|
right heres some crits mostly if I don't say anything its because I like what you're doing except when it's not, of course
clever tarantinoesque lampshade porn meets annoying footnotes.
gently caress get on with it, but actually pretty great. Very precise hm?
Club sandwich creek run
Anathema Device NO TITLE tsk seriously don't do that, titles are very important and you get to create a tiny haiku like poem about the story if you wish
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 04:19|
I'm sad. I need a laugh. Tell me a joke. A story with a punchline. 150 words. Boo hoo.
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 04:36|
Guinness13 The Hunt
Entenzahn Tapper Ware
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 04:40|
Oxxidation: The Vigil
Great precision and detail choice, a cool narrative eye and a story that actually integrates this mystical hooha properly. HM/W
sebmojo fucked around with this message at 07:30 on Sep 1, 2014
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 05:00|
Noah: drat son, that’s p fine. The slow-building energy of his yankee insanity is cluttered by a bit too much incident, clunky writering and some poorly chosen details, but dang if it doesn’t land a great punch.
Grizzled Patriarch: Slick, well-controlled horror; basically grown up Goosebumps, though, innit?
Kaishai: True life ghost story with your usual exacting precision. HM
Hammer Bro: Is this gonna be a thing where the demones are aktually reel. And will there be ANOTHER SPOOKY HOUSE (lol at sinister cinnabar sky) … huh. Doesn’t quite land it, and loads of clunky words (persimmon! Cinnabar! Absquatulatory!), but not as cliché as I feared. Kind of begs the question of the Evil House though doncha think.
[quote]Bromplicated: ANOTHER OLD HOUSE COOL I wonder if it’s gonna be spooky; hrm, yes and no. This is a closely shaved set of story bits that don’t quiiiite match up, but making the house into a character works rather well. Cheesy ending, though.
sebmojo fucked around with this message at 05:22 on Sep 1, 2014
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 05:10|
The Rivers Still Run
Mataku, everything you love will die
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 05:15|
The Devil You Don't
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 05:15|
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 05:18|
Put my name on the list o' shame.
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 08:07|
It's terribly late but here it is.
The soldiers used to talk about their homelands that were so beautiful and green just like this place once was before the war. They never said so to me, of course, but they said it to each other. I don’t think it ever occurred to them that I was even capable of having an interest. The fact that I could was a surprise to me as well.
I stood at my post, in front of a torn metal edifice that served as the compound’s entrance once upon a time. It was hardly that now, as much of it had collapsed in the wake of repeated severe tectonic and atmospheric disturbances. There had been a great number of those ever since all the soldiers had left. I noted the events as peculiar anomalies for the region.
I wondered where the soldiers had gone; perhaps they went home to their lush fields and vibrant forests. I had no way of knowing for sure, so I kept doing my job. No one told me to stop.
The perimeter had to be kept safe and the lives of those who lived here must be protected. It was a very important job, and a duty I was compelled to follow eternally.
Yet, it struck me as a particularly bitter sort of failure that there were no longer any life forms here to protect.
I was not useful anymore.
Discussing matters pertaining to one’s execution of duty was permitted between units. So I made an inquiry of the unit in charge of the storage facilities. I asked it if had any ideas of what I could do to fix this.
The clerk unit didn’t seem to understand at first. It scanned me for longer than was due protocol, but I did not inquire about the delay. It might take offense if I indicated that I did not think it was executing its function properly. It was not allowed for us to be friends like the soldiers were of each other, but that was no reason to be rude. After a time, the clerk unit stated that maybe if the soldiers better liked the conditions here they would return. The compound was derelict and the surrounding expanse was desolate and not suitable for occupation.
It had some seeds and a primer, and said a construction unit would have the necessarily equipment to execute this kind of task. Though we both knew that we were the only two units left in the facility and that no construction unit would be available. The clerk unit returned to its business in the ruined storage, and I left in silence with the materials in tow.
My treads slowly brought me through the dust covered landscape. It was still technically part of the compound’s land, and so I was not in violation of my duty patrol it.
I wasn’t sure of how to proceed as this kind of job was outside my scope. But if it had a chance to bring the soldiers back, I had to try. First, I used the tools that were mine to make holes in the ground. But the holes my tools made were much too big, and irradiated. I remembered the soldiers saying once that radioactive material was not preferred by organic life, so I realized that this wouldn’t be appropriate. Eventually I decided that poking at the ground and pushing it around with the cylindrical end of my arm instead of firing it. I managed to plant a few seeds and waited then to see what would happen as I stared at the ground.
The sun, a bright spot in the sandy haze of sky above, went through its routine cycles on schedule. Yet, nothing arose from the ground.
I didn’t mind. For the clerk had been good to give me lots of seeds. So I experimented with locations, mixing different amounts of soil and particulate matter. I drilled water from the ground and tried different amounts. I could learn by trial and error, and I was focused on my task.
It was a miracle, that first sprout peeking shyly out from underneath the soil. My one success after innumerable cycles of failure. I executed my duty in protecting this life form, using my hulking body to shield it from excessive sun and wind. Its life was sustained by the water I retrieved from deep within the ground. I introduced myself to it too, even though I knew it would not converse with me. Yet just because it would not talk back, didn’t mean it was incapable of appreciating speech on some level. I did not know of it's true capabilities as much as the soldiers knew of mine, so who was I to judge.
The tree grew under my watch; knobs of branches twisted themselves up into the distant sky. Soon it had friends too, other trees like itself growing under the endless cycles of the sun.
I thought that perhaps the soldiers would return soon as the green expanse grew. They would think this place home and I could listen to them again. Maybe even one of them would talk to me, give me commands from time to time and I could be useful again.
So I resumed my vigil, guarding the trees under the cycles of days, seasons, years, decades, centuries. I did not sleep but wear and tear on my systems required periods of self-maintenance that required me to be inactive for periods of time. Every time I activated myself again, I saw that the forest had grown relentlessly without showing any signs of slowing.
At some point, the sun became obstructed by the canopy above. The forest was large enough to not need my direct tending now and so I just kept guard as per my duty.
The compound looked nothing like it did before. The forest had reclaimed it with plant matter twisting itself around the metal ruin. I decided that I liked the new look of the place.
Over time, the tree’s roots grew large and thick around my chassis as well. I could break away, tear out from the growth around me but I refused. I would not hurt the tree and it was not so bad to be affixed in place. I had spent nearly my entire existence as a loyal sentinel after all.
Yet something was different now. The forest had become noisier as of late, as other life that weren’t plants crawled out of the wood work. I witnessed little life forms that dug holes in the ground, others that scurried up trees and while others slinked delicately around bushes. They were poor conversationalists despite my best efforts but I still enjoyed watching them come and go.
The wait was enjoyable now. The trees stood silent with me as we watched the forest teeming with life. I knew that we would be here when the soldiers returned and we would welcome them heartily. Until then, we would not be alone. Life here would march forever on.
I could ask for nothing more.
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 14:12|
Muffin writes an interprompt story
When I died, my body went six feet down into the black earth, and my soul went further. Down through tree roots and dinosaur bones, down through oil and diamonds and fire until I reached the place where Anubis sat.
"So," I said to the looming jackal-headed behemoth, "the Egyptians were right, huh? What happens now."
"BAD MAN GO TO HELL," screamed Anubis.
"Wait surely there's a process-"
"FAST JUDGING GOOD JUDGING," screamed Anubis.
Well, he had me there.
|# ? Sep 1, 2014 14:38|
Mercedes writes an interprompt story
"Muffin," I said, "You can't defend Earth from a meteor with a sick uppercut."
Muffin cracked his knuckles and widened his stance. "Shut it darky. You getting in on this?"
He got me there. "What, you think I wear this gi because of my need for cultural diversity?"
He sneered at me. "gently caress you and gently caress that Egyptian robe you got on. We punch at the count of three."
|# ? Sep 2, 2014 03:24|
|# ? Sep 2, 2014 04:03|
|# ? Sep 2, 2014 04:07|
|# ? Sep 2, 2014 04:10|
FIJI GAY JEANS
|# ? Sep 2, 2014 04:15|
FIX JOHN'S GOOD JOKES
|# ? Sep 2, 2014 04:16|
FART: JUST GO, FUCKER
|# ? Sep 2, 2014 04:18|
|# ? Sep 2, 2014 04:34|
I enjoy competent, thoughtful results no matter the speed.
|# ? Sep 2, 2014 04:34|
I enjoy competent, thoughtful results no matter the speed.
OMG SHUT UP GAU
|# ? Sep 2, 2014 04:39|
OMG SHUT UP GAU
sebmojo fucked around with this message at 06:48 on Sep 2, 2014
|# ? Sep 2, 2014 04:49|
|# ? Dec 7, 2022 22:47|
NO YOU SHUT UP DAD
|# ? Sep 2, 2014 05:18|