That's signups/2000 words closed. You have 1250 words for the next 24 hours.
|# ? Oct 4, 2014 02:05|
|# ? Jan 24, 2022 12:50|
That's signups/2000 words closed. You have 1250 words for the next 24 hours.
|# ? Oct 4, 2014 04:46|
e: wrong thread
|# ? Oct 4, 2014 05:05|
Prompt: Virtue - protecting the weak. 1244 words
The Chief strode through the airlock and got straight to work. Engines thrummed to life as she skilfully attached the plasma fuel canisters. Beside her two junior engineers took their places in the cramped generator room and clumsily mimicked her movements, with one getting his fingers stuck in the machinery of the black hole generators.
'At least you didn't lose them this time,' She said, her laugh muffled by the shielding mask. There was a scuffed star-shaped sticker above the eye slit, reading '#1 Station Head' and partially covering a deep groove in the mask.
'Like I could!' said the figure hunched in front of the generator. He detached his mechanical hand and grabbed it with his left. The two waited for instruction, their masks shiny, their yellow jumpsuits pristine – a stark contrast to the battered attire she wore.
'Derek, Jean, you two set up the lasers. And for god's sake make sure both chambers are sealed.'
One mistake and entire solar system would be toast. Probably why they were testing it on a rusty old mining platform only half a galaxy from alien territory, she thought bitterly.
The two exited the generator room, and she watched them move around the small white inner chamber through the viewing window, periodically giving them instructions through the wall-mounted intercom. In the middle of the room was a cylindrical sanctum, only accessible with her personal keycode. Soon it would be home to the first black hole engine.
The intercom clicked, but the two juniors were setting up the four focal lasers that would ensure the self-sustaining shield on the black hole sanctum. Which meant it was from outside.
'Hey, Jude. Begin.' Came an unwelcome voice through the intercom.
'What is it, Mateus?' She asked the man. She could see the sleazy station security head through the two-way intercom. He was flanked by two red-clad security goons, their flak jackets concealing stun batons and ID locked stunguns. The security chief himself wore a red beret concealing the front half of his short green mohawk. His purple beard was shaking with laughter.
'C'mon, Jude, don't be like that. Me and the boys want to see humanity's great achievement.'
'Don't make me force my way in.'
He could if he wanted, she knew it – If he ordered the station AI to open the door, only the captain could countermand it.
'You yourself said nobody enters the chamber until it's fully operational. What happened to security procedures?'
'I am security procedures. Who knows, some alien could try and take you out. And we wouldn't want that, would we?'
She was glad he couldn't see her face. Shuddering, she put her hand up to the groove in the mask. As much as she hated the man, she owed him her life – she could at least let him be present at such an important moment in human history.
Watching the cameras as she keyed open the generator room airlock, She could see his earpiece blinking. She could only hear static, the inner shell blocking the transmission. Whatever it was, it was amusing Mateus greatly.
Mateus and his escort stepped into the generator room with the junior engineers. At least they deserve it, she thought. The two had arrived fresh as green grass, and they'd worked their asses off till they almost resembled station engineers.
'I'm starting the final cycles now. Five minutes, and that'll be it. Pull up a generator, watch the laser light show.'
Mateus was leaning on the intercom, playing with it's buttons. He flicked it to internal transmission only and started singing into it. It caught her off guard, and she laughed a little.
'Alright, Jude. I'm going in!' He said, waltzing out of the airlock before she could say a word and going over to the inner chamber lock, commanding the AI to open it. She was stunned. Then she was furious. She rushed out of the generator chamber herself, and made it to the door with the two worried security goons behind her before she stopped and registered the new voice in her ear.
'Chief Engineer. Jude. Anybody in Engineering Hub. Come in.' It was the Captain, coming over the heads channel. He sounded frighteningly sober. 'If anyone is left in the Engineering Hub, this is a recording. Mateus is dead. Do not trust him. He's prying open the airlock with just his hands...he's a monster. Do not let him near the black hole engine.'
The thing with Mateus' face had turned back to look through the airlock, and for the second time she was glad it couldn't see her face. The smile was inhuman now, reaching almost to the ears. It had brought it's hands up in a conciliatory gesture, palms facing outward and a slight shrug as if to indicate you got me, game's over. It knew.
One of the goons was approaching it warily. They knew something was wrong.
'Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to come out. You know, protocols. You made them?' He sounded plaintive. Why wasn't she saying anything? The thing raised it's hands above it's head, like it was giving up.
'SHAPESHIFTER!' she screamed, and as the guard turned to look back at her, great talons burst out of the alien's fingers.
One swipe took off the face of the first guard. To the credit of the other, he didn't hesitate; dropping to one knee he started firing stungun bursts, but the thing was fast and took cover behind a laser emplacement.
The guard and her stood to either side of the airlock, and she saw the guard peek his head in. It came back screaming, covered in a green slime. There was a hissing sound as the acid ate away at his face and then his hands as he clawed at his dissolving skull.
She vomited inside her mask.
'Heyyyy, Jude. Don't make it bad,' came the mocking, multi-harmonic voice. She risked a peek of her own and was rewarded with acid spit, but it slid harmlessly off her shielding mask and hit the floor. She could hear the final cycle of the black hole generators begin to spin up, and knew it was too late to stop the engine.
'AI, scan Black Hole Chamber One. Close and bolt door,' she said, before stepping through.
A harsh buzz from the closing airlock informed her that no matter what, the alien wasn't getting out either.
'Hey, Jude. Come to stop me? Why don't you let your hair down,' said the alien from the back of the room, behind it's cover. The huge lasers were active now, making the room nearly impossible to traverse.
'We're both dead anyway, honey. Once I dismantle these lasers, no human will be able to travel through this arm of the galaxy – our little border tiffs, all gone. Can't have vermin in the home now, can we?' It's mouth now fully split it's head.
The thing had all of Mateus' taunting personality as it approached her. Only one laser separated it from her, and it had to crawl under it as she stood by the inner sanctum, listening to the power grow inside it. The alien looked up at her from the ground.
She could see Derek and Jean cowering in the generator room. The thing on the floor was looking up at her. It almost looked like Mateus again.
'Hey, Jude. Don't be afraid.'
She opened the sanctum door.
satsui no thankyou fucked around with this message at 02:34 on Oct 5, 2014
|# ? Oct 4, 2014 11:39|
Kelvin (921 words: "wherein somewhere He sleeps, His bones grow cold with the passing of time, and an empty hearth")
No one dreams in stasis. So when Starchild Flockmother tumbled out of her cryopod, she was nine years old and her parents were still alive.
She sprawled naked across the deck, sitting at the kitchen table in her Sunday best. Catie thought about last week when she snuck into the church to surprise Father. She marveled at the size of the empty cathedral as she meandered up to the confessionals. She meant to speak, but the noises coming from within them were scary so she ran back home. When she asked Father what happened at confession he said he was doing the Lord's work. For some reason that made Mother cry.
Catie knew she shouldn't wrinkle her nice clothes, but she was so very sleepy. Surely a little nap wouldn't hurt. She nestled her head in her arms. For the first time in a thousand years, Starchild slept.
She awoke to a nightmare. Failing to stand, she propped her back against the base of her cryopod and surveyed the cargo bay. The empty walkways radiated hostility under the feeble red auxiliary lighting. Her ragged breaths were an affront to the moldering silence.
Starchild crawled to the nearest maintenance post and tried to organize her thoughts. She had practiced for hundreds of emergency situations, for plagues and famines and deserters, but she barely knew the floor plan of The Covenant. An acolyte was supposed to anoint her, veil her in the ceremonial habit, and usher her to a glorious new life amongst her flock. Instead she felt like some forgotten heathen idol: blood made of molasses, organs wrought in stone.
She managed to stand, leaning heavily against the console. Hers was the only pod to glow green. The rest remained dark, either empty or deactivated. She deliberately slowed into a pattern of controlled breathing. Where was the crew?
Her pulse regulated, Starchild hobbled toward the galley. Her timid calls died on heartless steel. The interstitial darkness was immaculate, and twice she stumbled over invisible entanglements as she followed the railing. Once inside, she gravitated toward the nearest illuminated vending machine, pushed a dusty pile of rags aside with her foot, and punched up a strawberry ration bar.
She pressed the button harder. This time she could faintly hear a click and a whir as the machinery struggled to perform its intended function. Again it failed.
In an act of desperate indignity she smashed a chair through the faceplate and reached around the wreckage to claim her prize. The wrapper smelled faintly of bitter almonds, but its contents were uniformly delicious.
Hunger was the one void in her life she knew how to fill, but the satisfaction was fleeting as loneliness and fear crept up her spine. She had to find someone who could explain what was going on.
Starchild checked the saloon. It was empty. The rec room was also deserted. She ran to the crew's quarters and forced several of the cabin doors open, but each one was barren. She was utterly alone. Abandoned.
Cat came home from school that night to find her lawn peppered with policemen. An apologetic woman in white told her that her parents had gone away and that she'd need to stay with a different family for a little while. It would be like going on vacation.
She shuffled from household to household as her legs got longer and her chest filled out. Surrounded by strangers she was forced to call "Mom" and "Dad", Cat felt isolated and alone.
After her third failed suicide attempt Cat discovered the Stewards of Now and Forever. They took her in, nourished her body and mended her soul. They gave her a new name and a new purpose in life. They rescued her from the emptiness. To be alone and adrift again was too much to bear. Starchild screamed.
Running through the dark corridors, suddenly ashamed of her nakedness, Starchild thought of all the lambs she would never see again. Sophia, Donny, Dedrick. Elanor, Rebecca, Ruth. Without their shepherd, they were condemned to limbo, an eternity in exile from the promised land. She had failed them, and hundreds of others. Disgrace constricted her arteries and burned in her throat.
Starchild staggered onto the bridge, her face a ruin of water and mucus. The displays were blank; the comm channels were quiet. Only the auxiliary lighting still functioned. Starchild smashed her fists on a keyboard and slapped at random switches. She shook monitors, punched cushions, and spat on the center console. Then she saw a note, scrawled with zealous fervor:
Only death will absolve us. The Lord is our shepherd.
Cat's doleful mother was looking somewhere just beyond her. "You're old enough to walk to school without me, and I have some business with Father mac Bóchra this morning. Be a good little girl. The Lord will be your shepherd." That was the last morning Cat believed it.
Starchild broke down and wept. She wept for her parents and she wept for her flock. Finally, she wept for herself. Torrential tears washed her sadness away and smothered the resentment she'd harbored since that day. She cried away her very identity, until the woman who remained was a stranger to her. This time there was no one to direct that stranger.
Catherine mac Bóchra brushed the note aside and methodically began flipping switches. She never was good at operating electronics, but she had all the time in the world to learn.
Somewhere in the distance, a white light flickered.
|# ? Oct 4, 2014 19:21|
A Song for the Road
Virtue: a jovial and easygoing affect
Gare plucked at his lute, eyes closed, trying to harmonize with nature. He wove the rustling of leaves, the gurgle of a stream, and the warmth of the sun into a lazy melody. He blocked out the incongruous sounds he had brought to the scene: munkrats sizzling over the fire, his boots scraping against the dirt as he shifted his weight on the log.
Percussive footfalls joined his tune. The rattle of chain links broke his peace and concentration. He opened his eyes. Three men approached, their hands on worn sword hilts. They fanned out, flanking him.
“Hail,” Gare said to the strangers. “I was getting bored out here on my own with no one to share in my mead.”
The little one to Gare’s left looked to the one in the center of the formation. Center straightened his left palm out parallel to the ground, signaling to the big one to Gare’s right. He may as well have announced his orders aloud.
“We’re pursing bandits,” Center said.
Gare shrugged. “I haven’t seen anybody all day. But I also haven’t strayed from the path. They say there are Quatches in these woods.” He strummed low, sinister chords.
The little one smirked.
Center spit. “What are you doing out here?”
“Just making my way on to Haverdale,” Gare said.
“You a thief?” the big one said, his dirt streaked fingers still resting on his hilt, anxious to get on with it.
“Nay,” Gare said, reaching into his haversack. “The only thing I’ve ever stolen was a maiden’s virtue.” He winked at the little one as he pulled out a jug.
The little one guffawed, and looked to Center who pursed his lips.
“Let’s have a drink,” Gare said. He pulled the cork from the jug with his teeth and spit it to the side. He took a swig. “Have a seat, lads.”
The men looked to Center.
“You’re welcome to search me,” Gare said. “All I have is food and drink. And you’re welcome to share in both. Where are you lot from?”
Center loosened his armor. The little one grabbed the jug from Gare, and taking a long pull, sat down beside him. The big one lingered, still gripping his sword.
The little one tipped the jug down and wiped his mouth on the back of his hand. “I’m Clay. This is Brion, and the big sour one is Thice. We’re Kingsmen. On patrol.”
Thice knelt behind Gare and to the right, still flanking him. Brion pulled a log over to sit across the fire from them. Their armor was mismatched and rusting. Their swords were dull and of varied lengths and widths. Clay hadn’t said where they were from, perhaps because they had never gotten that far in their cover story.
Thice grabbed a skewered munkrat from over the fire and bit into it. Clay offered the jug to Brion, who declined, but motioned for Gare’s pack. Clay tossed it to him.
Clay nodded to the lute. “You a bard?”
“I don’t play for coin,” Gare said, “if that’s your meaning.” His fingers started working out an upbeat drinking song.
“Why not?” Clay asked. “You’re pretty good.”
“I make music for the fun of it,” Gare said, playing louder. He slapped the lute between strums. “I guess it’d be like if someone tossed you silver every time you touched yourself for pleasure.”
Clay laughed and looked to his companions. Thice grunted and flicked the munkrat’s head into the fire. He threw his bare skewer in after it. Gare caught a signal from Thice to Brion out of the corner of his eye. Brion waved his hand parallel to the ground again. Thice sighed and took another roasting munkrat.
Brion looked up from the unremarkable contents of Gare’s pack. “So you’re a vagabond?” He tossed it back to Gare.
“In a matter of speaking,” Gare said. He started another tune, a traveling song. “I work when I need money. I hunt when I’m hungry. I sleep when I’m tired. I gently caress when I’m horny. Aaaand I hit the road when I get bored.” He stopped playing. “And I fight when the King calls in the able-bodied.” He pulled down his shirt collar revealing a white scar shooting down across his collar bone.” If Thice wouldn’t be swayed by jokes, song, or drink, maybe a war story would win him over.
Brion shot up and swatted at the air. He hopped away from the log.
“It’s just a bee,” Gare said.
Brion ducked. “I swell when they sting me.” He swatted at his attacker again. “And my throat closes up.”
“Well right now you’re telling it you’re sporting for a fight.” Gare pressed a string to the bridge, and plucked it. He let it vibrate for a few seconds and then plucked it again, trying to approximate a buzzing. When that failed, he reached into his pack for a jar of blackberry preserves. He pulled off the wax lid and the bee wove its way over to examine the sticky sweetness. Gare drew a dagger from a sheath on his belt below the small of his back and speared the insect.
Brion nodded to Gare and sat back down. Clay took another pull from the jug. Thice threw another bare skewer into the fire.
Gare put his lute on the ground, holding its bridge like an upright bass. “How about another song, gentlemen?” He plucked at low chords and slapped the wood, beating out a deep disjointed tune.
Clay tapped his foot. Thice sighed and drummed his fingers against the base of his sword. Brion looked to his joyless companion and shrugged.
Gare played harder, faster, hoping this one would work.
Thice stood and took a step toward Gare just as the trees across the road started swaying. Leaves shook and fell from their branches. Brion craned his neck around. Gare plucked out low notes as fast as he could.
A Quatch emerged from the forest, grunting and hooting rhythmically, matching Gare’s notes. It lumbered forward on its knuckles. Brion and Clay drew their swords and charged. The Quatch bared its teeth at the little men and beat its hulking hairy chest.
Thice hesitated, waiting for an opening. He looked to the stream behind him, then to the beast shrugging off blows from his companions. Before he could make up his mind to fight or flee, Gare wheeled around and sliced at his throat.
A back hand from the Quatch caught Clay in his ribs. He cartwheeled through the air and landed in a crumple heap. His sword protruded from his back.
The Quatch grabbed Brion’s sword arm and pulled him to the ground, wrenching his shoulder out of its socket. Brion looked back to the fire and screamed. “Thice! Gare!” Thice lay face down in a pool of blood next to the jar of blackberry preserves. Brion could just make out Gare bobbing in the stream, his arms straight up holding his lute out of the water, before the Quatch grabbed his scalp and twisted. His head came off like a cork.
Gare glanced over his shoulder when he reached the opposite bank. The Quatch lumbered toward him, then noticed the blackberry preserves. It sniffed at the jar and sat down. The Quatch licked at the sweet jelly. Gare plucked out a traveling tune on his lute and walked on.
|# ? Oct 4, 2014 19:49|
rip this story
anime was right fucked around with this message at 23:08 on Dec 31, 2014
|# ? Oct 4, 2014 22:28|
tick tock people. 1250 should technically be over by now but I've decided to let the clock run to the same point I did yesterday. You have about two hours before you're on 1000 words.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 00:40|
1250 words is closed, you now have 1000 words. We have 43 entrants and currently only 6 stories.
Final submission deadline: Sunday October 5th, 11:59pm UTC
That's just under 20 hours from now. No extensions. Get cracking.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 02:12|
An Honorable Man Vice: rigidity
The passenger starship Ion 4 reached the inner solar system of Solerus around 15:00 Galactic Time, and the destination planet Orius finally came into view in the cockpit of the ship. The stim behind the captain’s ear had been long a depleted gray, and he slouched slightly in his seat in fatigue. The first officer stood at attention behind the captain at his console, denied the luxury of sitting as befit his rank.
The captain rubbed his face wearily. The first officer fought to keep his own exhaustion from showing. It had been a long flight from the nearby star system. The AI had malfunctioned as they entered the outer solar system, demanding the skill and constant attention of both captain and first officer as they navigated the space debris that ringed it. At last they were finally in view of the planet, a mere thirty minutes away, and the first officer looked forward to the luxury of rest and to let down his face for a short while before his next flight.
“Plug in and let the Orius spaceport know we’re about to reach orbit.” the captain said.
“Yes sir.” The first officer reached for the slender communications cord and plugged it into his neuralcom. After a moment of static he was connected to the spaceport. After a minute of neural communication he unplugged himself.
“Sir, Orius spaceport has cleared us for landing.” He hesitated. The spaceport had indeed cleared them for landing. They had also warned of a geomagnetic storm, common for this kind of star system. The captain at his own console would already have this information and was surely going to act appropriately given the absence of the AI. The first officer however had a small inkling of a doubt, a nagging sensation at the back of his head.
“The sun is very turbulent today.” He finally said. It was the closest he could get to voicing his doubts. To question a captain in his own ship was to question his honor, and that was something he could not bring himself to do.
The first officer had spent years working his way up, from ship boy through the officer rank to the coveted and competitive rank of first officer. He was a dutiful man, a man who followed orders exactly. Unlike many of the other men who worked on the ship he bore no stripes on his back for disobedience. His record was immaculate, his obedience unquestionable. He was proud of the honor he had accumulated.
The captain grunted. “It’s often turbulent in this system. Too bad the drat AI had to go out. No matter, we’ll have to link in and navigate ourselves for the landing.”
“Yes sir.” The first officer began the preparations. The planet loomed in the window. Another storm was also brewing down on the surface of the planet. The planet was prone to such turbulence, sudden and powerful super-storms that swept the planet’s surface. This would already be treacherous, but without the AI and with the electrical disturbances the magnetic storm would cause it would doubly so. His eyes flickered nervously, the only sign his carefully trained face would allow to show his discomfort.
‘It would be safer to stay in orbit until the storms passed.’ The little voice of doubt said in his mind. He looked over at the captain. The captain was clearly fatigued. Was it possible his judgment might be compromised?
The first officer banished such thoughts from his mind. Such thoughts of doubts were treacherous. He was but a lowly officer, not fit to judge the actions of captains. He retrieved the proper chord for navigation and linked in alongside the captain. The electrical systems were already starting to fail in the magnetic storm, and they prepared for a blind landing.
The planet encompassed the entire window now. The first officer could see roiling turbulent clouds down below. The clouds were illuminated by lightning flickering across its surface. He balked. Surely the captain would see that they could not attempt a blind landing in such conditions. Even visual information would not be enough for this.
“The storm below looks treacherous.” He said. Normally he wouldn’t dream of using such strong language, but fear was starting to creep into his mind. The captain looked at him sharply.
“Watch yourself first officer. I’ll put a stripe on you yet for insolence.” He said. The first officer felt a hot flush of shame creep on his face. Still, he wished the captain had at least considered his concern.
The captain and first officer neurally navigated the ship into the atmosphere of the planet. For a brief moment there was a moment of calm as they entered the stratosphere of the planet. Then they hit the storm.
The ship rocked violently in the turbulence. All visual information was lost as they became engulfed in a world of howling grey winds. They navigated the ship desperately to the coordinates given to the spaceport.
“Keep her steady.” The captain grunted. They maneuvered through the clouds.
There was a sudden, loud bang as they suddenly entered a hail storm. A keening sound began to rise from like a dying animal. The captain cursed.
“We’re almost there. Just got to get out of this drat storm.”
The first officer wasn’t listening. He had realized something the captain hadn’t in his concentrated effort. The keening sound was coming from inside the ship. It was the terrestrial proximity warning.
“We’re not going to make it. You were wrong, we’re not going to make it” He said. It would be the first and last dishonorable statement he would ever make.
When the rescue crew was finally able to identify the bodies they sent the first officer back to his home world. He was buried as befit his rank as first officer, as befit that of a man who had lived his life in honor.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 04:27|
Red Eggs All things in moderation
How Arnold loved the sauce freshly sizzled and piping hot, straight off the frying pan. About five jellied eggs was all that was needed for a thick, zesty broth. His guests loved it, too. He could have gotten away charging a lot more than ten dollars a jarful, but it didn't really matter all that much.
Two eggs would flavour an omelette for breakfast, and the aforementioned five could make an extraordinary pasta sauce if one added a little basil, salt, and pepper. Come dinnertime one could mix them into anything from salad to soup. It didn't matter if they were boiled, diced, fired, or baked; they still tasted heavenly. Like a perfect mix between a tomato and good, young veal.
Arnold scooted into his favourite comfy chair, huddled up with an extra large mixing bowl of pasta. Red sauce dribbled from his chin onto his ruined shirt, staining the once beloved garment further. Flavour came bursting from the melted remains of the foetal eyes smashing between his molars.
It was a perfect afternoon, a perfect day, and a perfect life. Well, as far as Arnold concerned himself.
He’d have to rub her again that evening. Every other day she needed to be rubbed, otherwise the eggs wouldn't make. Around twenty minutes of non-stop rubbing usually did the trick, but on colder nights this number could rise to almost an hour.
The sun started to set on that chilly October day. Arnold estimated that she’d need to be rubbed for about thirty or forty minutes. Arnold stretched as he shifted from his comfortable sitting position to a standing pose. Judging by the groans, he’d need the heavy-duty gloves and goggles for this one.
“Lord please give me the strength,” Arnold said to himself as he fumbled with his black trunk of equipment.
The groans grew in volume as Arnold approached the cellar with his equipment. They were especially loud now that he was out living room, which he had specially padded to keep out the groans.
The sounds continued to rise from the cellar, and were like a mixture of a young child bawling in pain and a furnace expanding from its own heat.
It had grown at least six times over since Arnold first bought it. She was more or less a fat lump of off-white flesh, groaning over its own existence. Beady black eyes peered back at Arnold, as if trying to intimidate him.
She had been somewhat cute when he first bought her. She was just a tiny thing, cooing softly whilst cuddling against his chest under his smoker’s jacket. The man in the ‘fake Rolex salesman'-type getup called her a wonder pet. A creature that needed almost no care, just water and whatever table scraps you had leftover.
He never mentioned how much it'd grow. Now it sat in that cellar all day, eating what little leftover pasta or soup he had to throw to her. However, the salesman didn't mention the eggs, either. They appeared underneath the creature daily, golf-ball size and usually forming in batches of ten or so at a time.
Arnold couldn't recall what possessed him to eat one of the eggs. Curiosity, perhaps? The smell?
Nonetheless, Arnold had become addicted to those little crimson gels. Occasionally a foetus looked out from its jelly womb, up at Arnold. If Arnold didn't know better, he’d have said that the foetuses wore an almost frightened expression, as if they knew their fate.
The creature gave an agitated moan as Arnold began to work his gloved hands over what appeared to be its abdomen. The now overweight Arnold grinned to himself, excited over the yearly block party coming over tomorrow. He couldn't help but thank the horrific creature he worked over for making him the host, as it was his ‘amazing home cooking’ that won the whole neighbourhood over.
The creature began to let out an atypically guttural moan. Arnold grinned ear to ear as reddish liquid began to pool under the pasty blob. There would be plenty of eggs for the block party.
The next morning, Arnold went down with his bucket and gloves to start harvesting. He wore a boyish grin as he trotted down the steps, ready to become the talk of the town. As he shifted the creature over to begin collecting, Arnold saw something that truly frightened him.
The eggs weren't there.
He decided to play it cool, and gave the creature a more vigorous massage.
It was mere hours before the party was scheduled. Arnold went down to check on his creature. He once again trotted with his big metal bucket to scope up eggs.
Once again the eggs were absent.
With thoughts of humiliation on his mind, Arnold flew into an unbridled rage. He pounced the creature, pounding its abdomen in blind fury. The skin of his knuckles broke on the surprisingly tough flesh of the beast, yet he continued to pound on the creature like an enraged gorilla.
He continued to beat the flesh until large, violet bruises formed. He continued to beat the creature until its groans turned into eerily human shrieks of agony. He continued to beat the creature until he felt a slight prick on his ankle.
Arnold looked down at his leg to see a dozen eyes, blacker than the darkness of the cellar, peering up at him. He could feel several sliding up the leg of his pants. Each one pricking him with increasing intensity.
For once, the cellar fell silent. The creature did not moan as her children ate their fill.
I had another ending that was much more trite that followed the prompt better, but I hated it. So it's now a 'don't be a fatass'-type moral deal, I guess.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 08:30|
It Always Ends Like This
bringing out the best in others
The orc's jaw was brittle, weak. He hit the floor hard, spitting blood and teeth and curses. Thrakk caught fragments of the mangled invective. Coward. Survivor. Child-lover.
His second punch shattered ribs.
"Do you understand?" He stamped down, hard. The rest of the pack backed away, narrow-eyed, teeth bared. Torchlight cast their shadows against the prison walls. "The human is mine! My prize! None of you will touch it!"
They understood. He was bigger and stronger than any of them. He raised his foot and kicked the groaning ringleader towards the door. "Out."
The prison was little more than a square of earthen walls. The air was acrid and stinging. There were no bars, no locks, just chains and iron rings hammered into the scorched ground. More than enough for its single occupant.
The human was small and pale and grey, as happened to their kind with age. She was hunched in the far corner, ruined leg twisted unnaturally under her, watching him. She'd never been afraid of him. Thrakk respected that. Not now, not then.
The trees burn. A dozen bodies, both races, lie scattered around them. All of his best, dead.
An arrowhead throbs in his chest. A rock hums through the air. She cries in pain. Branches crack beneath her back. Her bones crumple around his fist.
He tastes iron and victory.
"I appreciate this," she said as he approached her. "I don't think I could've taken them all at once."
Thrakk stopped just out of reach and squatted, facing her. "It wasn't for you. They wanted to mark you, to share what is mine."
They sat for a while. Thrakk heard muttered conversation from outside. About him, no doubt. They said he spent too long with the human. They mocked him for it.
No matter. It had lasted as long as it would.
"You burn tonight."
She was always quick with a response. Not this time. "I see."
Her calm stung. "Is that it? We will melt your flesh from your bones and drink to your screams. It will not be heroic. No one will sing songs about you. It will serve no greater purpose." He didn't know what reaction he'd wanted, but it wasn't this. "I thought your kind feared death."
"I thought yours celebrated it."
Thrakk scowled. "You're valuable. This is a waste."
"That's not what you said when you brought me in."
A nod. "You have. I'm glad. But you shouldn't worry about me. I always knew that you… that this is what happens to people like me. I've had a good run."
Thrakk reached down to his belt and took out a knife. It was worn, straight, unremarkable. It had been hers.
She moves like prey, jumping and skittering. Urkor keens as she sinks her knife into his eye.
"I don't worry," he said, turning it in his hands. "I won't mourn you, human. You killed my brother. This is fitting."
She nodded. "And you killed my son. Now there's just us."
"Not for long." Thrakk tucked the knife away and stood. "You have been told. Make the most of this day."
He spent the day prowling the camp. A dozen clans had already come to watch the last of the human heroes burn, to celebrate how strong they were. Tents were spread across the blackened plain as far as he could see. Fights broke out as groups competed for the best views. Several orcs were dead.
Thrakk thought about the pointlessness of this charade. Killing the human achieved nothing. There would be more to avenge this one. There were always more humans.
He thought about speaking to the warchief, about trying to convince him that there was a better way than this.
Thrakk stood over the human and tore her chain in two without effort. The firelight filtering in through the doorway cast his shadow across her.
"This is it," he said. "Last chance to run."
She gave him a disappointed look and hauled her broken leg underneath her. "Could you give me a hand up?"
He pulled her to her feet without another word.
A thousand orcs had gathered. A hundred fires dotted the hillside. As the two of them stepped out of the prison, a guttural roar went up from those closest to them, rolling out across the gathering until every orc present was cheering and chanting. Killer. Murderer. Destroyer.
Thrakk felt the death-lust rising within him. This was his moment! His triumph! ...and then he looked down and saw an old cripple, clinging to his arm for support, waiting to die.
The others had built the pyre for him, a nest of blackened branches with a single upright spar at its centre. He took the human in both hands and held her against it by her neck as he tied her arms behind her. He tried to look rougher than he was.
A small orc approached the pyre, torch in hand. Thrakk waved him back. He drew the human's knife and held it in one hand between them.
"This is yours," he said. "I… regret… that this is who we are."
She smiled, with effort. "It doesn't have to be."
Thrakk leaned in and pushed the knife into her belt at her hip, then deeper into the soft flesh there, until the blade was buried and no longer caught the firelight. Her eyes widened slightly and her body sagged.
"Die quickly, woman," he said, and turned away from her.
He took the torch and tossed it at her feet without looking back.
In the hours that followed, Thrakk sat alone away from the fires, listening to the sounds of drinking and shouting and fighting around him. He heard other orcs talk with respect about how the human had burned without even a cry of pain. He turned the human's knife over and over in his hands.
He thought about waste.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 18:21|
docbeard fucked around with this message at 15:49 on Dec 29, 2014
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 19:17|
I ended up sick as hell this weekend and slept through both deadlines after writing a nice 1700 word piece.
I am ing myself to get a completely different < 1000 word piece in before the deadline because I am angry with myself.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 19:42|
Forgive me for this story
To Axe a Boon 995 Words
King Kotar of the Plains looked down at the usurper, whose thinning hair was matted with blood and snot. Kotar stroked his mighty beard, and though it was streaked with grey, it was thick as ever.
“Jerves! What does he want? I can’t understand his whining and womanly tongue.”
Jerves winced, wishing Kotar would take these negotiations seriously. He translated, “The gold, jewelry, and precious stones are yours--”
“drat well they are!” Kotar grunted.
“...and the usurper asks that you exile him, sparing his life, and in return his remaining archers and warlocks will swear fealty to you.” Jerves hoped Kotar would accept, as they had lost dozens of men on this attack.
“Archers and warlocks? Ask him if such cowardice won him the battle today! Did their arrows and magic stop our axes? Have them all executed!”
The usurper mumbled and whined, flashing a pitiful smile at Kotar and Jerves, he then kissed Kotar’s feet. Kotar kicked his throat, sending him writhing and gasping for air.
“Our scouts have reported,” Jervis said, “that Lord Nurka fights with witchdoctors, and perhaps these warlocks could defend against their hexes.”
“You’re an advisor, so you advise, but I’m a decider so I decide! We fight with sweat and steel! I’ll not grant an usurper concessions...it will only encourage future rebellion!”
Jerves sighed and summoned the executioners.
Kotar’s axemen rushed across the field toward Lord Nurka’s army, axes gleaming in the sun. Kotar swelled with pride, as he had spared no expense outfitting his berserkers with the finest axes in all the south; they were the largest, sharpest, and strongest axes ever forged. Jerves was worried it wouldn’t be enough.
Jerves raised his spyglass. Despite the impending onslaught, some of Nurka’s spearmen were laying on the ground, most didn’t even hold their spears. He scanned from side to side, finally spotting the witchdoctors.
“My King, the witchdoctors are beginning their hexes.”
“They are just dancing around,” Kotar said, “we’ll cut them down!”
From the swamps to the side of the clearing, a swarm of arrows soared into the air and slammed down into the axemen. Dozens of Kotar’s warriors fell to the ground, and those who were unhurt scattered. Jerves looked into the swamp. He squinted and just barely spotted the swampmen holding tall bows, covered in grass and moss.
The spearmen collapsed on Kotar’s confused men, while the witchdoctors unsheathed long daggers, lipped a song to them, and rammed them deep into the wooden posts. As the daggers sunk into the wood, Kotar’s axemen dropped, blood spurting from their necks. By the time the spearmen arrived, there were fewer than ten berserkers standing. Knowing Kotar’s punishment for surrender, they fought on, throwing themselves onto the swampmen’s spears.
Kotar fled with Jerves and his honor guard back to his castle on the plains. As they fled, one of the witchdoctor’s kicked Kotar in the balls from over a mile away. Kotar hid it well, but Jerves still noticed.
For Kotar’s failure in battle and for wasting hundreds of lives, Kennis, brother to one of the fallen berserkers, challenged Kotar to the throne. They both wielded their finest and largest axes, and fought in the sand of the dueling pit. Kotar lopped off Kennis’s head in one swipe.
When Kotar disregarded Jerves’s pleas and drafted all boys eleven and older into combat, and they too died, Gulluth challenged Kotar in the pit, and Kotar dismembered Gulluth before crushing his windpipe with his boot.
“Jerves,” Kotar said one day during axe training. “It has taken me many years to see, but I fear I am a weak leader.”
Jerves’s eyes bulged, but he quickly composed himself and said, “Kennis and Gulluth thought so...” Kotar had never admitted any weakness; Jerves would tread lightly.
“I fought better than them, but maybe they would have led better than me?”
Jerves frowned. Kotar most likely wanted reassurance, not agreement. “No one is braver than my King or better with an axe, but it could be that a leader must at times act cowardly.”
“I think a leader must be good at everything, not just the axe.”
Jerves composed himself and searched for a response, the wrong one could mean an axe to the neck, but the right one could save his people.
Before he could choose an answer, Kotar added, “I’ll not speak of this again, Jerves, but I don’t want to lead anymore. I just want to die fighting. Make it happen, and find a good leader.”
Jerves did not want the burden of leadership, yet trusted no one but himself. He paid the finest axemen to challenge Kotar to a five-against-one battle, if Kotar fell Jerves would become king. Kotar accepted, and everyone in the Plains spoke loudly of Kotar’s bravery, but whispered relief that Jerves would become king.
Kotar had two extra large and sharp axes forged for the occasion, the cost of which, Jerves realized, could feed five families for five years. In the center of the dueling pit, Kotar stood atop a raised mound of sand as the five axemen encircled him. They came at him all at once, and he swung both axes as if he were a cyclone: the bald man died instantly, and another lost both hands. Just like that only three stood against Kotar, and as they regrouped, he leapt from the mound and impaled one duelist with the spiked bottom of his axe handle, then flung the corpse up to block the two incoming swings. Their axes stuck into the corpse, and Kotar cut the both down.
“I step down and name Jerves King of the Plains.” No one whispered that Kotar was a coward for stepping down, as he had killed five men by himself.
The reign of Jerves was successful but short, as though he led well, he fought poorly with the axe and was cut down by someone much like old King Kotar.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 21:15|
if anyone is struggling with the sci fi part of the prompt - ending your story I FELL OUT OF BED AND WOKE UP - ON A SPACESHIP! is p foolproof.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 22:03|
crabrock fucked around with this message at 06:37 on Oct 28, 2014
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 22:12|
if anyone is struggling with the sci fi part of the prompt - ending your story I FELL OUT OF BED AND WOKE UP - ON A SPACESHIP! is p foolproof.
Also, starting your story this way.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 22:33|
if anyone is struggling with the sci fi part of the prompt - ending your story I FELL OUT OF BED AND WOKE UP - ON A SPACESHIP! is p foolproof.
my suggestion is "and then he stepped out of the holodeck and put on his Starfleet uniform, because he was Jean-Luc Picard."
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 22:33|
Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:04 on Dec 31, 2014
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 22:42|
Read it in the archive.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 00:23 on Jan 2, 2015
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 22:52|
e: Hang on, why do I only notice the typos now
Obliterati fucked around with this message at 23:04 on Oct 5, 2014
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 22:59|
I've had a hell of a week and I know I'm not going to make it...deepest apologies. I have shamed my people and the sanctity of this great contest. Had a sneaking suspicion that I should have toxxed this time, and I definitely will be doing so next time. There's no excuse.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 22:59|
According to my watch you have exactly one hour, so where are your loving stories.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 23:01|
‘Show yourself, wraith! It is I, Fjornach son of Bjarn, a mage by the grace of the Council of Four. I have travelled through the heat and the cold, through the drought and the flood, and I have come to bring your final rest upon you.’
Fjornach’s words went through the cemetery in a thunderous echo, yet tombstones kept their silence. The ghost lingered in hope that this unwanted guest would leave him be. That Fjornach couldn’t do.
The flame on mage’s torch flickered and from somewhere below Fjornach heard a chilling voice.
‘Why have you come here, mage? Do you think your spells can hurt me?’
Fjornach looked down to find two shadows at his feet. One of them was black as a raven’s wing and moved on its own.
‘Nothing can hurt you more than I did, brother. It’s a disgrace before Gods and our ancestors that you had to be buried by strangers. I knew you were gravely ill, but every day I found a reason not to come: I had no money to travel, my wife and son needed me, my work was more important than my only brother…’ Fjornach knelt down and with care put his palm on the shadow. ‘For this, Gelmar, I ask your forgiveness.’
The shadow turned light blue and extended its hand to Fjornach’s.
‘I have a confession to make, too, brother. Do you remember the day you’ve discovered your magical gift? You didn’t blow up those hens. As a joke, I fed them some self-exploding gnomish powder. I should have told you earlier, but you were so happy to be special, I just couldn’t bring myself to crash your dream of becoming a mage.’ The shadow was white now and the voice was no longer that of a ghost, but of Gelmar as Fjornach remembered it. ‘We had our share of wrongdoings against each other, but if you can find it in you your heart to forgive me...’
‘Forgive you?’ Fjornach shouted on top of his lungs, ‘I had a good reason not to travel thousands of miles. You, on the other hand, acted with malicious intent plain and simple. You just wanted to see how far you can go with that, didn’t you?’ Fjornach clenched his hand into a fist and hit Gelmar’s shadow without even feeling how hard the ground was. ‘Your so-called joke had lasting effect on my life, while you would have snuffed it with or without me by your side anyway. How can you even compare those two things?’
‘I said I’m sorry, alright? What else do you want?’
‘Oh, I don’t know, ten years of my miserable life back? How well do you think I fare against mages with actual talent? Do you know I still rent a room not much bigger than your grave, my wife has left me, and my own son doesn’t calls me father anymore? It’s all because of you!’
Something sparked inside of the shadow. It was turning yellow and orange.
‘You’ve always been like that, you know, self-absorbed little pest. You had your chance with a family and all that guff. You blew it, yes, but that’s on me, brother dearest. Meanwhile, the only reason I died alone is because I had to babysit you, while other boys were looking for their future wives. And have I ever heard a word of gratitude from you? Oh, I wish. I wish you had never been born!’
A fiery chaos nibbled on Fjornach’s shadow. With each Gelmar’s word he felt a burning touch on his skin
‘That’s it. Sod it. When I travelled as a stowaway surviving on rats and rotten cabbage, the only thing that kept me going was memories of our time together: how you taught me how to fish, or how you repaired my toys, and how not once have you raised your voice at me when I embarrassed you in front of your older friends. Now I don’t know why I came so far. If you don’t want your peace, at least let me have mine’
Fjornach grabbed a dagger from his belt. With his hand already engulfed in fire and tears rolling down his cheeks Fjornach lodged the dagger straight into his own heart.
As the sun was rising, two fading white shadows stood in front of a smouldered corpse.
‘Sorry about that, brother.’
‘It’s fine. Forget it.’
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 23:01|
Nothing to see here, move along
Obliterati fucked around with this message at 01:30 on Nov 6, 2014
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 23:03|
In The Ruins of New York City
Shoot 'em in the head or they just keep comin'. Crawling if they gotta, and trailing their blood behind them. That's what everyone says about zombies. I watch two of them come up the street: jerky, stiff-limbed, winding between the trees and the broken lines of cars. I brace the old semiautomatic on a pile of rubble with a clunk - the thing's nearly as big as I am - and wonder if a spray of bullets will take them down.
The female leans heavily on the male. Her body is twisted, wrong. I glance up and down the street, making sure there's no others. That's the thing about zombies - they're slow and weak. In ones and twos they don't attack. It's just when they mob you that they pull you under, trample you, rip the clothes from your body and the flesh from your bones.
Crows rise from the canopy in chattering swarms. High above their caw-caw-caws echo off the crumbling skyscrapers. A gusty wind tears down the street, bringing the stench of zombie with it. The two are still coming closer, the male with its arm around the female's distended waist. Dappled sun strikes the halo of flies around the male's blackened, dripping hair.
There's something off about the female, too wide around the middle for its skinny arms and legs and neck. Its breasts sway heavily under its baggy shirt, dark stains spreading from the tips. Its belly pushes out aggressively. It staggers suddenly, and the male supports it as it sways.
The male looks up and meets my eyes. Close enough now to shoot, and I put my finger on the trigger. It holds out a hand, palm upward. Empty. "Please," it croaks.
I've never heard a zombie speak. Didn't know they could. But, "Please," it repeats. The word sounds painful coming up, like a deep cough. Wet and ragged. "Please. She's having a baby."
The crows flock outside. Each broken, hoarse scream sends them flapping into the sky, and each long silence drags them hopefully back. The gun is sweaty under my palms. I don’t look at what’s happening behind me, do not want to know what is under the baggy shirt she wears.
“Not...real zombies,” the man croaks at me. “Not like...old movies. Just a name for us...walking dead.”
I watch the street. There’s movement in the distance. Other zombies, drawn to the screams. “Will they attack us?” I ask the man.
“Yes.” He coughs heavily for a moment. “You.”
Lovely. The woman screams. I hear the man moving to her side as more zombies file onto the street. They hang back, gathering their numbers. At least ten, now. Enough to take me down. Will gunfire scare them off, or draw more?
The gun bucks and shakes under my hands, deafens me in the small space. The zombies coming down the street slow as the frontrunners fall, their legs shot out from under them. The crows fly into the falling dusk. Behind me another scream, another silence.
A long high wail.
“It’s…a girl,” the man says.
I can’t help it. I turn. The man is holding the baby gingerly, away from his body. The woman is on the floor, surrounded by blood. “Will she be okay?” I ask.
The man laughs a wet, bitter laugh. “Take the baby,” he says. “She’ll have...a life with you. And...run.”
He holds her out to me and I take her carefully. She can’t even hold up her own head; I support it with my elbow as I cradle her in my arms. I can feel her cries against my chest, slowly waning.
She needs food.
The zombies on the street are getting closer. “Take the gun,” I tell me man. He shakes his head in vehement denial, his hair dripping blood across the room.
“No. I’ll...hold them off. You run,”
It’s awkward, swinging the heavy old gun onto my back while holding the baby in my arms. I manage. And then, while the zombies close in down the street, I slip out through the back door and I run.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 23:07|
The King’s Shame
She was disgusting, a bloated mass of wobbling chins, greasy fingers and sweaty makeup. The king frowned at his daughter, the fat princess on the other end of the dinner table, nibbling at her food with a drooping expression on her face. She would do this for hours, like it was some kind of depressing hobby, pulling skin off thighs, gnawing, chewing, swallowing.
With a daughter so undesirable, they would never be able to marry into a better dynasty. She had been gorgeous once, when the queen was still around, but with her gone it seemed no one else could talk sense into their daughter as she grew in size.
The king slammed his fists on the table. “Go on, you hog,” he yelled across the room. “Stuff yer face with pastries and chicken lest our house actually thrive.”
She kept her head low and chewed a bit slower. The king snorted and finished his meal in silence.
The laughter was even stronger than the time some hedge-wizard had transformed the princess into a cow.
A row down from where the king resided on his marble throne, his daughter wobbled on her gold-engraved chair. She was a pink, gelatinous cube with a face and three chins. The merchant slowly backed away, empty vial still in hand.
“Turn her back immediately” the king roared. “And get this vermin out of my sight!”
The castle alchemist took one of a dozen equal nondescript bottles from the inside of his coat and doused the gelatinous princess in a blue-glowing liquid. As the neutralizer soaked her, slowly turning her back to her original form, the merchant was dragged away to the taunts and cheers of the audience. Part of the mockery was clearly aimed at the princess as well.
Once again she had brought shame on their house.
One particularly plain and empty-handed solicitor stepped forward and knelt on the red rug.
“My liege, may I suggest a more novel approach.”
The king rolled his eyes and urged the merchant on.
“What if the problem is not in your daughter’s appearance, but in our perception?
Mostly the princess just pretended these proceedings didn’t happen. But now, for the first time in weeks, she raised her head to look at the visitor. Of course it had to be one talking hogwash.
“For I see a fair maiden in front of me, and if we could make the princes of other realms understand, see her like I do, maybe we could--”
“Are you intending to waste my time?” the king roared. “Away with you!”
The merchant protested, but he was dragged away nonetheless. Not without one last look towards the princess, who anxiously chewed her lip and looked back at him.
They had woken the king in the middle of the night.
Two grim guards escorted him to the throne room, where he sat and stared down at the chained man before him: the merchant from a few days prior, who had spoken out on behalf of the princess.
“They have found you in my daughter’s chambers,” the king said. “What do you have to say for yourself?”
The man kept his head inclined and didn’t dare to speak.
“You spit on my hospitality. You attempt to sully royal blood. You wake me from my sleep.” His fingers dug further into the wooden armrests with each grave accusation. “Explain yourself!” Spittle must have flown as far out as to the boy, and just as well.
“My king,” he said, “my heart knows nothing but grief, for not only have I upset you, but also am I smitten by your daughter’s beauty, who I have been so suddenly separated from.”
The king’s face turned quite red. “The insolence,” he said, “of you pretending you could be attracted to this--” He stopped himself as the princess barged past a pleading guard.
“Father, please--” she said, but the king cut her off with a swift motion of his hand. He lifted his back, composed himself and scowled back down at the merchant.
“You want to be a part of my house, eh? Very well. Guards, take his head! And put it on a pike on top of my castle, where everyone can see.”
The wails of the merchant would have moved a weaker heart, but the king ignored the fading cries as he focused on his other problem.
“You,” he said, pointing at the princess. “This is your fault just as much as his. You will finally get ahold of yourself, so that we could marry you to someone worthy of our allegiance.”
The princess rang for words. Then, without excusing herself, she ran from the throne room, her face full of tears.
Maybe now she finally understood.
The next day, the king was woken up again in the middle of the night.
“Another nightly visitor?” he said. But it wasn’t.
They’d found her in the rose bushes. A bloated mass of makeup-smeared chins and bloodstained clothes. It had been too late to save her. That’s all he remembered the doctors saying through the red-veiled mist that had followed when he saw her.
When his rage subsided it made place for something else, a cold hand that grabbed for the king’s heart, wrapped itself around his throat. The princess was dead. The future of his house lay before him, in tatters.
If only she had understood. None of this would have happened. Suicide! It was stupid, shameful, unnatural, selfish. Disgusting! He opened his mouth to say all these things.
But only a hoarse cry came out.
He fell to his knees and clutched the dead girl to his chest, dirtying his robes with runny makeup, crying into her unkempt hair. His shame was complete, and for everyone to see, but that wasn’t what mattered. His daughter was dead.
His daughter was dead.
If only she had understood.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 23:11|
cut his throat spill his blood
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 03:03 on Dec 11, 2014
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 23:12|
Prompt: Love of Nature
“What would you do for love?” Vassily asked, staring up at the distant dome overhead, just beneath the gray smog-clouds.
"The hell kind of question is that, Vassily?" Bill leaned back on the bench, finished his beer and tossed the can over his shoulder. "You gettin' philosophically drunk?"
"I have not drunk, Bill. Please, humour me."
"Why you asking me? I ain't the love type. Go find yourself a poet." He opened another beer, drank heavily from it and belched. "You ask the strangest questions for a trucker."
"What of Annabelle?"
"poo poo man, how'd you know about little Annie?"
"You told me last time you got so drunk you couldn't stand."
"Hells, an' I try not to talk about her too. Yeah, okay, I love my daughter, you got me. Never even gave her the belt when she and her mother were around, even when she deserved it."
"What would you do for her, Bill?"
"I'd pound any man harmed a hair on her head, I'll tell you that much." Bill finished his second beer and crushed the can between his fists. "What about you then, mister philosopher. You got a daughter you been hiding from me?"
Vassily laughed softly. "No such secrets. I do not have a family. Perhaps once I loved home, but..."
Bill leaned forward. "But what? C'mon boy, your turn."
"But there is no home now. No steppes. No mountains touching sky. All gone to steel and stone." He dug his fingers back into the soil and made it two inches deep before he hit an irrigation pipe which dribbled water and nutrients at his fingers. "Like this." He tipped a handful of dirt out onto the grass. "Lies and machines."
"Progress, Vassily. Can't stop progress." Bill opened another beer and stared up at the sky. Beyond the park's dome, the sun fought a losing battle to penetrate the smog and dust.
Vassily stared down at the frayed carpet, kicked at a bare patch. Behind the desk, his supervisor glared at him over a clipboard.
"The hell were you doing, Vassily? You were three hours late on your run back from Titan. Three hours! It's only a five hour run in the first place!"
"Had to take break, boss."
"A break, huh? S'funny that, we pulled your ship logs. Says you gated out of Titan orbit at half two and doesn't show anything until you hit Earth gravity well at five. Mind explaining what the hell you did to you logs while you were on a 'break', eh?"
Vassily said nothing.
"poo poo kid, you're good with your truck, don't mind your tinkering when it keeps her running smooth but you don't go loving with the important poo poo, you hear?"
Vassily nodded slowly.
"Listen, buddy, you are this close from being fired on the goddamn spot." Vassily's supervisor held up his finger and thumb to indicate what a short distance 'this' was. "The least you can drat well do is be honest with me. Now spit. What the hell were you doing for two and a half hours?"
"Break, boss. In hyperspace."
Vassily's supervisor blinked, stared at him, blinked again. "Hyperspace. For two and a half hours." He laid his clipboard down on the desk and folded his arms. "I don't know how in all creation you managed to hack your computer to let you stay inside hyperspace without leaving the gate for that long. I don't know why you aren't a dead man, and that's a loving miracle right there. I got no words, Vassily. What the hell's eating at you, boy?"
"Hyperspace is quiet, boss. I hear her there. Her song and her pain."
"What? Who? The gently caress you talking about?"
"You cannot hear her. Not outside hyperspace. I have. Gaia."
"Gaia? The hell Vass? You joined that loving hippie-poo poo cult? Thought better of you than that." He picked the clipboard up again. "Well poo poo. I dunno what to do with you now. Corporate are gonna poo poo on you from a very great height for this, boy. Unpaid leave for a week, and frankly you'll be lucky to have a job after that. Get the hell out of my office."
Vassily's ship hovered in darkness, all lights extinguished, nothing running other than the hyperdrive engine keeping it safe inside a bubble of reference-universe physics. One panel was still lit, the gate display almost completely obscured under a flood of red warning messages complaining about hyperspace gate plans that weren't even supposed to be possible. He drifted in the centre of the cabin, eyes closed, listening.
Gaia was almost silent. He could barely make out a distant whisper above the rushing of blood in his ears, the sound of grinding gears and scraping metal smothering it. He shook his head, listened again for the faint, familiar voice.
Burn it all away, he heard, a croak from amidst the noise.
Vassily stabbed downwards. In the depths of his ship, alarms started a futile clamour.
The rift opened in the skies high above the Atlantic, a ragged hole tugged and deformed by wind and gravity. The sucking darkness of hyperspace beyond it tore screams from the air, clouds spiralling inward like a whirlpool.
Seconds later the whirlpool reversed. The far end of the tunnel opened and sunfire flooded out, super-dense plasma so hot it tore the atoms of the air apart. Amidst the white-hot fury, Vassily’s ship tumbled out of the protective cocoon of hyperspace’s physics and became a darker smear across the sky, an inverted shooting star that swiftly disappeared into the light.
The hyperspace gate only lasted a handful of seconds before the instability tore it to shreds. It was more than enough time for the sun's fury to burn the atmosphere, scorch the land and boil the oceans. The firestorms raged for months.
When they finally subsided, steel and concrete and a hundred billion lives alike were scorched to ash. From beneath the dirt, unseen by any eyes, the first shoots emerged.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 23:16|
the need to always know more
Barry Cleroux was two under par and lining up a sweet putt when the middle finger of God reached down from the sky and flipped him off so hard his heart stopped.
He woke up thirty-one days later.
“Memory loss is a common symptom of severe electric shocks,” the doctor told him. Along with other fun symptoms: chronic pain, weird lesions, cognitive difficulties, emotional flattening.
Emotional flattening and memory loss. Hell of a combination.
Beside him in the office, a red-headed woman sobbed, each breath a shudder. She had introduced herself as Melanie. His wife. His bulgingly pregnant wife.
Barry had no idea who the Hell she was. Worse yet, he didn’t care.
He made it home after a month of therapy, physical and speech and psychological. The red-haired woman squeezed into the doorway and hugged him, pressed her swollen stomach against his side.
Turns out, fits of uncontrollable anger were also a common side effect of lightning strikes.
He couldn’t stand the sight of her.
His insurance paid out. He bought books. Lots of books. Pathology of Lightning Strikes and Neuropathology of Electrical Injuries and Coping With Memory Loss.
Each night, he sat at the table and pored over the latest. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for. The damage had been done.
Melanie sat beside him with books of baby names, catalogues of children’s furniture, photos of their old life together. The person in those photos was dead. He made a point of ignoring her. He couldn’t explain the anger nor justify it.
One night, she rolled atop him in bed and started kissing him. But instead of recalling some latent affection, he was repulsed by her desperation. When he shoved her away, it was reflex, not malice. She didn’t see it that way. She probably wouldn’t have seen it that way even if he hadn’t split her forehead open on the headboard.
She was gone the next morning. With her she took the millions of little cells dividing inside her body, rapidly growing into a person that would someday be half him. Barry tried again to care.
Barry’s Amazon wishlist dwindled, then dried up. Stacks of journals and old hardcovers littered his kitchen, highlighted and dog-eared and post-it noted.
He could describe the mechanism by which lightning entered the body. He could identify Lichtenberg lesions and detail with painstaking accuracy the effects of electricity on flesh.
But the memory lapses, the emotional deadening, the anger that surged through him seemingly at random?
Science seemed just as lost as he was.
Turns out there are conferences for people who have been struck by lightning. Who knew? Barry wasn’t sure how he felt about it, but he turned up anyway.
A woman at the podium recalled when she was hiking on Mount Rainier. The ozone smell, the blue light that shone off her skin, and how after the bolt hit, she felt like she was being carried up to Heaven. Her eyes teared up and she dabbed them with her jewel-purple cardigan.
“A soft voice spoke to me as I floated toward the light,” she whispered.
“It told me, ‘not yet, it’s not your time.’”
Barry didn’t remember anything like that.
The other speakers’ stories weren’t as uplifting. They spoke of constant pain, zero support, families that had abandoned them, and how little they knew themselves anymore.
After the presentations, Barry sat on the hotel’s front steps, munching a sad, bland Danish. Stormclouds churned overhead.
Someone sat beside him. Before he could say ‘gently caress off,’ he noticed it was Purple Cardigan Woman.
“You look troubled.” She smiled like some fat-faced grandma. He was silent. Her fat smile turned rueful.
“Of course, you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t troubled. What was I thinking?”
Barry took a bite of his Danish. He was bad at small talk these days.
“Your story was really… uplifting.”
“Yes, it is, isn’t it,” she said. Her pudgy mouth turned downward. “An inspiring story.”
Barry could see what she was getting at.
“So it’s just a story?” He finished his pastry. “You made it all up?”
“Would you hate me if I did? Not that I’d care if you hated me. Everybody here is angry.” She rested her puffy chin in a palm. “If I can make up twenty minutes of bullshit and it gives even one person hope that there might be something better out there than this--” she waved, indicating the hotel, or maybe the whole world. “--then isn’t it a worthwhile thing to do?”
Barry wasn’t sure. It sounded like a lot of work.
“It doesn’t make you feel any better, does it?”
“Of course not.” She fixed him with a hard look. “But just because you don’t feel much lately doesn’t mean the rest of the world forgot how.”
He didn’t have anything to say to that.
“You’re young. You’re cute. You’ve got a wedding ring on. If you aren’t here for your family’s sake, why the hell are you?”
They watched the stormy sky in silence.
“I wanted to learn. I thought maybe the doctors, the speakers here. I thought someone might know....” What was he even after at this point? Even if he learned exactly how electricity had manipulated his neurons, what would it solve?
“And you’re here? Learning about lesions and and vitamin supplements?”
“I didn’t know where else to go.”
Purple Cardigan Woman looked like she might slap him. Instead, she leaned in, invading his personal space, and spoke right into his face:
“You’re not in the wrong place, dumbass. You’re just asking the wrong questions.”
“Oh poo poo.”
He knew what he had to do. He thanked Purple Cardigan Woman in a rush and raced toward the street. He didn’t remember Mel’s number, but it would be on his phone at home.
The second bolt struck him while he was trying to hail a cab.
He woke up thirty-one days later. There was something he had to do, but he couldn't remember what.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 23:21|
Virtue: A Green Thumb
“Knock it the gently caress off.”
“Cool it, Lika. He’s not hurting anything.”
The boy stops tapping on the viewport and turns to look at them. In his early teens, he looks out of place with the two tough-looking thirty-somethings.
Lika stares at the boy just long enough to make him uncomfortable before getting up from her seat and pushing him out of the way of the window. She puts her face to the window and turns to Kile, now adjusting dials on the shuttle’s control panel.
“Touching in five...four...”
“I got it,” Kile says as the lights in the cabin go dark. “Gonna be a few before we connect -- one of the few downsides of them not expecting us.”
Kile turns his chair and pulls out a retractable keypad, feverishly typing into the panel by the airlock.
“Alright, kid, here’s the rules,” Lika begins. “You’re gonna do exactly as we say, when we say it, and how we say it. You’re not gonna get any ideas of your own either. We clear?”
“My name’s Roben. Not ‘kid.’”
“That’s exactly the kind of poo poo you’re not gonna say. That’s your one gently caress up. You won’t get another.”
Kile stops what he’s doing and raises an eyebrow to Lika.
Lika stares daggers at the pilot, who goes back to his work, shaking his head slightly.
“Alright, I got it. Are you gonna tell me the plan now?”
“You’ll know when you need to know.”
“Will you get nicer when I’m officially in?”
Lika looks questioningly at Kile, who does his best to look like he didn’t hear the question.
“In what, exactly?”
“In the gang. He said if I came with you, I could join you guys.” Roben’s face beams with optimism.
Lika lets out a sigh. “Yeah, sure. We’ll give you your uniform when we get back to the docks-”
Her bullshitting is interrupted by the high-pitched hiss of the airlock cracking open. The air near the opening rushes out and Roben shivers as the cabin instantly drops ten degrees.
“Move.” Lika is the first up the ladder as Kile gestures for Roben to follow her.
They fill the antechamber and the exterior airlock door closes with a crunch behind them. Even from just this room they can tell that no living person has been here in a long time. Despite the rush of air from the airlock, a layer of fine dust is stuck to the interior walls.
Lika examines the locking mechanism for the interior door. She pulls out a multitool from a pouch on her belt and begins removing the casing.
On the door itself, Roben wipes away dust to reveal the blue and black logo of the Santerra corporation.
“Santerra? Why would Santerra have gold up here?”
Lika looks to Kile, exasperated. “What in the poo poo have you been telling this kid? And why the hell is he here, anyway? I’ve trusted your judgement and obeyed your orders without question for a long time, but this is ridiculous. He’s gonna get us killed.”
Kile is silent for a moment, as he and Lika stare each other down. “Open the door.”
Seizing the opportunity to do something she has control over, she turns back to the panel.
“I...I can’t. It’s got some kind of optical biometric. I think we’ll have to cut it open. But that’ll trip the alarm for sure. I’m not sure what-”
“Let Roben try.” He turns to the boy and nods.
Roben places an eye in front of the reader. A red light turns green and the door lurches open.
Roben smiles while Lika looks at Kile, confused.
“Apparently his grandfather was one of the engineers here. Turns out their irises were close enough to count as a match. Found him after Luther did a search of the juvie records we cracked last month. Watch him a minute. I’ll get the seeds.”
Kile goes through the entryway to a small room filled with cabinets labeled with the names of various fruits and vegetables and begins stuffing canisters into two large duffel bags.
Lika lets out a sigh and smiles at the boy.
“It’s gonna be a while before you can taste your first orange. But I think you earned this, at least. Do the honors?”
Out of her bag, she pulls out a can of green spray paint and a stencil and hands it to him.”
Roben’s eye widen as he looks it over.
“You’re Puño Verde!?”
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 23:22|
You currently have half an hour left, and there's still 20 stories outstanding. I know some of those are going to come in the very final minute, but not all of them will, and I don't want to be the man who organised the most failures in Thunderdome history.
It's 7:30am on a public holiday and I am sitting in front of my computer. My virtue is patience and my vice is sloth, because I'm going back to sleep. Deadline extended until I wake up again, whenever that may be.
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 23:29|
Sam dealt with his mother’s death almost as though nothing had happened. And in reality, not much had; his mother’s presence still manifested at the breakfast table, only sans her screwdriver and dry toast. He turned his bacon and mayo sandwich over, as was his custom due to his tendency to disproportionately eat the bottom bun of the sandwich.
“We should have gotten you braces,” Joyce said. Sam shrugged.
“It adds character now.”
Even in death his mother couldn’t relax, her regret turning thick and stiff in her veins. She moved in rigid, statuesque angles, reflexively reaching for the screwdriver that wasn’t there. When she clenched her hand around nothing, a thin ripple of annoyance and surprise moved across her eyebrows and nothing more.
Through the front door Sam’s sister, Caitlin, walked in with a young couple in tow.
“Here we have a nice, two story, three bedroom—“ she paused as soon as she saw Sam. “Complete with a beautiful breakfast nook, as you can see.”
The young couple were visibly uncomfortable. Sam brushed off and extended a hand.
“Hi, I’m Sam Hartley, the owner.”
The young man hesitated, but shook the Sam’s hand lightly.
“How about y’all check out the upstairs, I’ll be right on up,” Caitlin said. As soon as the two were out of sight she grabbed him by the sleeve.
“We loving talked about this, god damnit,” she said right into his ear.
“I know, I’m sorry, but mom just thinks it would be best if I was here when you’re showing people around.”
Their mother nodded. Caitlin’s nostrils flared and she took a deep breath. Ever since their mother designated Sam as the beneficiary of her ghostly visage, Sam’s relationships with his sister had become strained.
Caitlin opened her mouth to speak but only a hoarse cough came out. She doubled over in a coughing fit, before turning to brace herself on the table.
“Oh watch out for mom—“
Caitlin lurched forward, her entire body phasing through their mother, and she kept coughing. Caitlin’s bobbing head pushed back and forth through their mother’s frowning face. Finally she took out a handkerchief and hacked something throaty and viscous into it. Sam could see something dark and red before she hid the handkerchief back into the folds of her clothes.
“I am going to sell this goddamn house with or without you,” Caitlin hissed and marched up stairs. Joyce reached for the absent screwdriver again.
Just past midnight Sam woke to the sound of glass on glass and found his sister on the couch, tears in her eyes. On the glass coffee table rested the family photo Caitlin had been holding, but now her face was buried in her handkerchief again, trying to muffle the coughing.
Sam sat next to her, putting a hand on her back.
“I just don’t know what to do,” she said. “Why you? Why did she choose you?”
Behind them in the kitchen Joyce sat with her legs off the side of the chair, staring at Sam. He didn’t want to make eye contact, but he stole a glance and immediately felt shame.
“Does she even talk about me?” Caitlin asked, looking up at Sam with giant, teary orbs. This time he didn’t look back because he knew their mother was looking the other way.
“How about you stay here tonight, in the guest room?”
They stood together, Caitlin hunched slightly, Sam’s arm around her. As he walked her towards the stairs, he stared at the back of his mother’s head. Joyce’s legs were still swung around to the side of the chair, but she kept her tightly wound bun of hair pointed directly at them.
At the top of the stairs Caitlin stumbled, catching herself two steps before the crest. She hacked, wet and full of gravel. Prostrate on the stairs she waved Sam away.
“Let me get you a glass of water.”
He traversed the kitchen without contact and returned unhurried to his sister. The glass of water sat untouched on the stair next to Caitlin, and Sam leaned against the wall, staring at the ceiling.
“Katy, you’ll think of something, I’m sure of it,” he said. “There’re all sorts of forgiveness programs, you just have to look for them.”
The wheezing slowly died down, and Sam felt very sure he saw his sister nod. He leaned down to his sister, placing a hand on her back.
“Mom said it was for the best this way.”
In an apoplectic shout, Caitlin swung her body around, grabbing his wrist with one arm, and pushing the side of his knee with another. Sam pitched sidelong, tumbling down the stairs before landing in a pile like dirty laundry at the bottom of the stairs.
Caitlin’s gasped asthmatic, shivering all over. She stood and scanned in jerking motions. Finally, she tipped the glass of water over with her foot, and she bounded down the stairs, leaping over Sam’s broken body. She closed the front door with her hand under her shirt and the locked the deadbolt. The water glass came to a final halt against the body of Sam, the last sound in the house for weeks.
Sam sat at the table, looking at his mother, who still reached for that screwdriver and toast unconsciously. Caitlin laid the final paperwork on the breakfast table and presented a beautiful fountain pen to an older gentleman. A quick scrawl, with a final blot at the end of the last letter in the signature, and the man picked up the piece of egg shell paper and blew to dry the ink.
Caitlin and the man shook hands and she made her way to the front door. She turned a final time and pretended to smile at the man, but she made eye contact with her brother. Sam smiled at her and turned over the imaginary bacon and mayo sandwich in his hands absent mindedly
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 23:34|
A Rose's Supposed Influence
(word count: 990 words)
"I need to talk to you for a minute, Earl." I paused at my apartment door and looked up at Renault. He had been the subject of my fantasies from the moment I met him. I would never tell him that, of course, but it was likely he already knew. Not much you could hide from a goblin-magician approaching his bicentennial birthday.
"What is it?"
"I found somebody that needs your help. Are you familiar with a 'Rose'?"
Her. That lying, deceiving – I pressed my thumb firmly to my door and watched as it swung open. "I'm not interested in seeing her."
Renault pressed on. "Isn't she an employee of yours?"
He wasn't going away without an answer, so I replied flatly, "Ex-employee."
A sudden silence. Sometimes I forgot just how scary Renault could be at times. When he spoke again, it was in low tones.
"One question: did you fire her because of her Ence rune?"
"I don't have to answer that." I turned back to my apartment door, but he grabbed my wrist. I flushed, but he continued.
"I took you to be a compassionate man. Not a person who would fire someone for such a ridiculous reason. Jobs are not easy to find these days, and with that, it would have been even harder for her to keep one."
I gritted my teeth, but refused to turn around. "What are you talking about? With that Ence rune, all she would have to do is shake the hand of any prospective employee, and she would have them following her like ducklings." I ended on a more bitter note than intended.
"If that is what you believe, then why did I find her on the streets, and why is she looking like death on my couch?"
That got my attention. I turned around again.
"What? I thought…" that she would be fine, especially with that blasted influence rune.
"I came to you because she needs medical help. You are the closest one who can provide it. I can go elsewhere if you refuse to assist."
My face flamed. "No, I'll help. Just give me– " I stumbled into my apartment, grabbed my curer's bag, and followed him up the stairs.
Seeing Rose was a shock. She looked absolutely awful – her skin gray, her hair matted and filthy, and her eyes sunken in with dark rings. I stood there, frozen, in Renault's doorway until he cleared his throat.
I tamped down my irritation and sat down by her in a nearby chair. After checking her pulse, I began pulling out the equipment I needed from my bag. Renault squatted down next to me, and helped me set the diagnosis spell up. Even though goblins were absolutely terrible with medical magic – something about being cut off from Life's flow – we'd done this often enough that he knew the procedure well.
I started the diagnosis, concentrating – and after a short bit, said curtly, "Her body's simply's been under a great deal of stress and hasn't been receiving proper nourishment. She'll be fine after some rest and good food."
Renault stood up. "That is a relief."
"It is," I said absently, staring at her. Then the memories of that evening came back – that awful second when I saw that Ence rune inscribed on her forearm and realized what she'd done to me, the suitably tragic tale she spun to explain her deception away, and the long silence afterwards when I told her to pack up her things and leave.
My compassion drained away, and I stood up as well. "If that's all that you need from me for the moment?" My tone was more clipped than it should've been.
Renault stared at me.
"I never took you to be so heartless."
I flushed. "I'm not. But there's nothing more I can do here."
"You think that this situation is her fault." His tone held that accusatory undertone once again, and I was reminded of the power he held. I glared at him.
"You know as well as I do that Ence runes require explicit agreement on part of the bearer. She agreed to it. Therefore, she wanted it, and therefore, she brought this down on herself."
His voice took on a disconcerting rumble. "And you know as well as I do that verbal agreement does not necessarily indicate true consent. Remember Richard? Remember how we first met?"
That was it. "Don't you dare mention that to me!" The imminent rant on my lips and the accompanying anger died when I saw Renault's stormy expression. Bad memories came back up, ones that reminded me of snakes and honeyed, silver words.
A brief pause, and Renault opened his mouth again.
I cut him off. "Alright, I get it." I sat back down.
"I was wrong in firing her, wrong in thinking that she would be fine, and wrong in thinking that she asked for the rune she carries."
I rubbed my hand over my face.
"I was just …upset that the first friendship I made in illusions was a complete farce."
"What are you talking about?" I stared up at Renault's confused expression.
" I'm talking about her Ence rune? You know, the friendship one?"
"That specific rune does not force friendship between the bearer and those she comes in contact with. It affects more …carnal desires."
The ensuing silence felt like it would last forever, but Renault had always been remarkably quick. He read my stricken face and formed the correct conclusion within seconds. "You need to make amends, Earl." His face betrayed the pity he kept from his voice.
I nodded numbly.
I cleared my throat. "Could you leave me alone for a bit?"
He nodded. "Certainly." He headed towards his study, surprisingly quiet for his size.
In the sudden silence, I stared at Rose, absently noting the regular rhythm of her breaths. How was I going to make this up to her?
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 23:45|
Every Bird Comes Home to Roost (601 words)
wisdom earned hard
Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 23:51 on Dec 9, 2014
|# ? Oct 5, 2014 23:52|
You currently have half an hour left, and there's still 20 stories outstanding. I know some of those are going to come in the very final minute, but not all of them will, and I don't want to be the man who organised the most failures in Thunderdome history.
I didn't notice the deadline was UST this week until about twenty minutes ago, so I'm guessing that's why everyone hosed up. Sorry.
fake edit: this is why it's smart to write drafts before the final day.
Missionary For Science
According to the Missionary’s Guide, Lemuria was “not likely to be receptive to our aims”. And like most non spacefaring planets, technically it was illegal to proselytize there. But then, Mr. Monroe loved a challenge. He’d successfully introduced the Scientific Doctrine to three planets and several different cultures already. Lemuria would only be a brief speedbump.
As usual, when deciding when to land, Mr. Monroe simply let the tracking computer do it for him. Such was the will of Science. As per these instructions, Mr. Monroe’s ship landed in a small hamlet surrounded by very flat nondescript countryside. An auspicious beginning- farmers in an area like this were the most likely to be bored.
Mr. Monroe fired up all the bells and whistles and opened up the hatch, releasing several stores of smoke pellets just for effect. His spaceship was a quiet, old-fashioned atomic machine, designed not to terrorize people. But then, he had to do something to impress the natives. And it wasn’t like they could hurt him when he had a protective forcefield.
“My friends!” Mr. Monroe cried out, as he stepped from the spaceship wearing a glowing blue robe covered in stars, and a fashionable pointy hat to match. “Behold the wonders of Science!”
Mr. Monroe expected some sort of reaction- a cheer or a scream. Screams tended to initially be more common, but this was the first time he’d heard nothing in response whatsoever. At first he thought the machine had erred, but when the smoke cleared all Mr. Monroe saw was a bunch of human-like aliens going about their business, ignoring him.
Perplexed, Mr. Monroe checked to make sure he hadn’t turned on the cloaking device by accident. With that much resolved, he went to the edge of his forcefield range and accosted someone who looked young.
“My friend,” said Mr. Monroe, “surely you’re curious about who I am, and why I came here in this spaceship?”
“I’ve seen better,” the young alien said, suppressing a yawn.
“Better spaceships?” said Mr. Monroe.
“Well no, but so you’ve got a spaceship. So what?”
“Think of the amazing things you could do with a spaceship! Check weather patterns!”
“Travel far-off distances in the blink of an eye!”
“Solve the mysteries of the universe!”
Mr. Monroe was about to answer that when he realized he had no idea what the mysteries of the universe actually were.
“That thing just looks like a toy,” said the young alien. “How do we fix it? How do we use it? How does it work? Does it need resources?
“Ah,” said Mr. Monroe. “Science provides infinite resources!”
“Well,” said Mr. Monroe, “for fun, I guess.”
“We can have fun without a spaceship,” said the alien.
Mr. Monroe was at a loss. This was by far the most uncooperative race of aliens he had ever seen. They had no sense of curiosity whatsoever.
“Well,” said the alien, “I might be interested in learning more about this stuff if you would teach me. I don’t know about this Science stuff, but personally, science is a hobby of mine. So how does that thing work anyway?”
“Ah, yes, well,” Mr. Monroe hesitated. “I went to school for rhetoric so I only…know how to use the spaceship. I don’t know how it works.”
“So wait,” said the alien, “you say you love Science and it’s the best thing in the world, but you don’t know anything about science? They sound pretty similar to me. Doesn’t that seem hypocritical to you?”
“Ironic,” said Mr. Monroe. “The word you’re looking for is ironic.”
“What…?” said the alien. “You said the same word I just did. Are you even speaking my language or do these machines talk for you too?”
At this point Mr. Monroe became acutely aware that everyone was staring at him. Normally this was the whole point of proselytizing to just one person. But at the moment he just felt ashamed.
“I have to go now,” Mr. Monroe said. “My planet needs me.”
And with that he hurried back to the spaceship and flew off with the same pomp and circumstance with which he landed. The aliens only noted this as a somewhat unusual but mostly boring event in their daily lives. Mr. Monroe made sure to request an alteration for the Missionary’s Guide- “definitely not likely to be receptive to our aims”.
real edit: gently caress you proofreading error at least I'm not super late.
Some Guy TT fucked around with this message at 00:11 on Oct 6, 2014
|# ? Oct 6, 2014 00:04|
An appreciation of beauty
I just want to pay for my things and leave, but the man behind the counter can't keep his teeth straight. When he talks it's a grotesque spectacle, every other word swallowed or mashed through too many teeth or too few.
"Schorry," he says. "We're out of bobbled warter. Maybe nexth cycle."
"All right. Just these, then." He takes stock of my selection: Rope. Electric light. Breathing mask. Laserscribe. And a half-gallon of gasoil.
"You going on some kind of expedition?" he asks. At least I think that's what he says. His molars are doing a country line dance and I can't bring myself to ask him to repeat himself. I never could stomach the infected.
It's been thirty years since people started coming down with the uglies. Some say it was intentionally created, an aid to plastic surgery to make the features more malleable—when doctor was still a prestigious, well-schooled career, not a local kook with a hoard of medical texts—until it broke free from a clinic somewhere and started spreading like the flu. Others said it was an weapon: launched by China, possibly, or the Russians. If it was an attack, it was poorly aimed. Or, maybe it was only ever intended to terrify and destroy lives.
It starts small, a single spot on the skin growing or shrinking every day, like a pustule or an abscess. But then it spreads, growing across the face—always the face—redefining cheekbones, tweaking noses, sculpting brows, whitening teeth. Some people don't even know it's happening, at first. We didn't. Not until it was too late.
"Yeah," I answer. "Checking out the quicksilver mine. I'm gonna strike it rich this time for sure."
He makes a reproachful clucking sound. Or it might be his jaw dislocating. "Y'know thack place's hauntep?"
"I don't believe those ghost stories," I say. It's true, but I'm also building a story myself, constructing a simple explanation of what happened to me after I leave. He finally takes my credit and enters it into the register. I walk outside with a shudder.
After I turn off the main road, it's another hour of riding along dusty trails and once-pavement, now overgrown with vines and tree roots. I finally reach the entrance, passing what's left of the guard shack, stripped of most of its glass and metal. A few graffiti are sprayed on the walls and trees, but they drop off heading deeper into the mine.
The bottom of the shaft is dangerously low in oxygen. I activate the breather and it muffles every sound with a thick furry mechanical hum. And near the bottom of the shaft, I find an old kinematic sledgehammer in a pile of old tools and clothing. It should be even more effective than my initial plan.
After half an hour of searching, I find what I came for: an area of new excavation, where the support beams are scant and poorly positioned, and beyond, the earth is raw and uncompacted, streaked with the telltale cinnabar red. I look over each of the supports standing past the last turn of the passage, spectral ribs jutting out of the ground in the electric light.
My sledgehammer rips through two of the main support posts, one on each side of the tunnel, sending splinters in an arc out onto the ground. Then I switch on the kinetic amplifier on its head, raise the hammer behind my back, and swing it straight up into the ceiling—
The breather wheezes as it tries to function, clogged with dust from the collapse. I'm sealed in.
I remove the small red cube from my pocket. It's an atomic powered device, able to run a thousand years on a single charge, or at least that's what they say. I place it on the ground and activate it with a fingerprint. It begins to project onto the rubble before me. Holopics of my family start to tick over, one by one, all of them from before. Before the disease. Before it twisted their features. Before it left them bubbling and oozing and waiting to die. Before I left them. I couldn't stand to watch.
The display is silent; I don't want to give this place away to any would-be thieves. The device should give off barely more than background radiation for this area and soil depth. I try to think of a message to scribe, something pithy about the folly of man or of not taking things for granted, an epitaph for some distant future explorer to stumble over. But nothing appropriate comes to mind, and the laser-carver hangs heavy in my hand.
I try to sit down, but it turns into more of a slow-motion collapse, like something out of a comedy. My breathing comes fast and ragged, but somehow there is no pain. Slowly, haltingly, I manage to scrawl one word onto the post beside me
and with the last of my strength I remove the breathing mask.
|# ? Oct 6, 2014 00:05|
Been too busy. I am a shameful lameo.
|# ? Oct 6, 2014 00:15|
|# ? Jan 24, 2022 12:50|
THUNDERDOME CXIII - OK YOU ASKED FOR IT SUCKERS
Elements of Life - 999 Words
They surrounded him, tugging at the hems of his robes, beseeching him for help, cursing him for their pain, begging for their children’s lives. He winced in sympathy, but there were too many for him to stop; he was already in danger of being swallowed up by the crowd. His turquoise robes were a beacon to them, a possible salvation. A water priest walking alone in a town dying of thirst, and he could do nothing to slake their need until he got answers himself.
He broke away from them and climbed down into the dry canal, picking his way around the skeletons of broken boats. The cracked dirt at the bottom of the canal only reminded him of the lips of the people in the town, and he crossed it quickly.
It was empty now that he was near his destination, the white temple of his order. He wondered why until he saw the guard on the temple steps, the archers on the walls, and the spent arrows protruding out of the ground nearby. He approached the main entrance, the gates barred for the first time in his memory.
“Halt!” said one of the guards.
“I am Adept Mattious and I seek entrance.”
The guard chewed on his lip while he examined Mattious with narrowed eyes. He took another look at Mattious’ robes and nodded for the gate to be opened.
Mattious passed though and walked up the white marble steps to the doorway. The ornate doors opened ahead of him and several initiates met him there, along with one of his old friends.
“Initiate Gregory! It has been too long!” said Mattious with a smile.
“Adept now, actually. It is good to see you, my friend, after you’ve been away for so long,” said Gregory.
The initiates surrounded him, smelling fresh and clean in their perfect turquoise robes, and Mattious felt a little self-conscious, patting out the road dust of his own tattered robes. The initiates knelt before him and poured water from their jugs on his feet, the customary ritual for a member of the temple returning home.
Mattious looked down in confusion, then back up at Gregory. “Water? When people are dying and the canals are gone? What is going on?”
Gregory maintained his smile, though his eyes winced. “You have been gone a long time. Everyone who is returning must see the Master.”
“Of course, just tell me --” started Mattious.
“Now, I’m afraid. He insists,” interrupted Gregory.
Mattious nodded, the pit of worry that had been gnawing at him since he entered town now doubling in size.
Gregory lead him through the familiar halls and Mattious could only marvel at how ordinary everything seemed, as if the surrounding mobs of people howling for water did not exist. They reached the Master’s chambers and Gregory raised his hand to knock, but paused and looked at Mattious.
“You will understand soon, but you must keep an open mind. You must understand,” said Gregory.
Mattious studied his friend and did not respond. Gregory sighed and knocked hard on the door.
“Come in,” called a voice from the other side, and Mattious entered alone.
“Master Tain,” said Mattious, bowing low to the old man seated in the middle of the room.
“Adept Mattious, welcome back,” said Tain. “Come here. I’m sure you have many questions.”
“I do, Master,” said Mattious as he walked across the shallow pool that surrounded the Master’s chair. “I could not help but see the suffering of the town and its people.” Mattious could not help but blurt out his worry. “Has our god turned a deaf ear to us?”
Tain laughed. “I understand your concern, but no, our god is wise, and all is going according to plan.”
Mattious was stunned. “How?” was all he could manage.
Tain smiled his fatherly teacher’s smile, the one he used when he was about to explain something to someone who might not quite understand.
“Our god and our order have always been taken for granted. The people work hard for fire, they nurture it, they feed it. They desire the earth, to own it, to build with it. But water has always there for them, they have never had to worry about it. The wells have always been deep and the sea has brought prosperity. Meanwhile the other gods have grown strong from their worship. Fire can boil us away, and earth can block our path,” said Tain. He got up and walked around the pond, peering at various sculptures positioned nearby. Mattious looked at the one on his right, an old carving of a city being swallowed by a wall of water.
“We have taken the water away, and now they understand their need. They howl for it in the streets, their leaders beg for it in in front of the temple, and all now are showing the proper respect. Soon, our god will regain his rightful place in the pantheon. He will be able to douse any flame, blast away any earthen barrier,” said Tain, his eyes now alive with desire.
“You’re breaking the back of this town, letting its people die, just for power?” said Mattious.
Tain whirled to face him. “Everything can be fixed. The water will come back, the town will revive, and we shall be worshiped. Do you not see? Sacrifices sometimes has to be made. I hope you will join me, Adept. You are so close to becoming a Master yourself.”
Mattious shook his head and backed away. “Not like this, Tain. Never like this.”
“A pity,” said Tain. A surge of water tripped up Mattious’ feet as he took another step and he fell face first into the pool. Although it was barely a few inches deep, Mattious could not pull himself out. Panicked, he thrashed and tried to call up the spirit of the water, but failed. His vision darkened, then went out altogether.
“Gregory!” called out Tain. “Come and collect your friend. You were right.”
Walamor fucked around with this message at 03:24 on Oct 6, 2014
|# ? Oct 6, 2014 01:31|