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May 23, 2008

This is probably my first ever foray into non-lurker goondom. Hi!

My offering: a society founded with good intentions that ultimately became dystopian.

I'm in... as I gaze doe-eyed at the incoming blows.


May 23, 2008

Prompts used: psychological horror, magic that seems like science or vice versa, society founded on good intentions that ultimately became dystopian.
I shall meet my crushing defeat honorably...

Nephilim - 1340 words

When you see my visage, you will call me “dragon.” I am Tenno, the last of my race.

By the time humans began to bend metal to their will, we had long since bent reality to ours. When we fled to our last planet, a mere rock meandering about the edge of a solar system, our bodies could reject the void, our eyes saw the world through diamond-hard lenses, we recycled our oxygen within sculpted organs, and renewed our waste through willpower alone. We even learned to generate thrust with our wings. This magic was called wish-weaving, and it enacted a revolution against physiology to paint the heavens with our majesty, but soon, we had nothing left.

Muototsu means “textureless, featureless,” a namesake for the ultimate curse among our kind, and a state of pain and humiliation feared more than death. No sane parent would have allowed a wyrmling with this defect to hatch. If the child lived at all, it would never have survived to become the scaleless beings before me. More likely, this mockery of life hatched from our minds as we plied our art upon the fabric of reality. Long had it been posited that we realize our fears as well as our wants.

When you encounter the scaleless, you learn that “featureless” is a misnomer. The replacement of facets with a smooth surface would be bad enough, but instead you find oozing pores, and the mind spontaneously imagines the painstaking process that might have plucked each treasured gemstone flake from the body of the beast before you. The imperfectly sealed eye weeps tears of blood, and every step is wracked with pain. It should have expired within seconds of exposure, and yet it moves. A dragon’s mind reacts to this countenance like yours might react to a cockroach flying directly at your face. Yet a cockroach merely offends you with its presence. It does not answer your hatred in kind.

The reason I had been able to survive unscathed to this point, perhaps, had more to do with hate than anything. When labeled as cursed by your fellow dragons, you become branded with fear, but eventually that fear will shed its skin and emerge as hate. The Muototsu picked us off from the shadows and soon had us outnumbered, but I did not hesitate.

I was surrounded by three of the Muototsu as I sought my prize. They rushed me from the right, front, and left. As tempted as I was to dismiss them as incapable of rational thought, I knew they were perfectly able to set up an ambush. They were lighter than us, the right one by far, and bloody fast. But I could easily change their momentum. I grabbed the right by its throat and twisted it as I leapt, planted a foot in the small of the back of the one charging in front, then used my wings to turn as I landed. The third was preparing to loose its breath on me. But within a vacuum? This was a new surprise. I tightened my grip on the throat below me as flailing claws gouged at my arms. I was content to wait.

When the gout of flame came, I answered it with my very own ebony inferno, my only companion. The Muototsu were cursed in form. I was cursed in flame. Unlike that of most, my flame doesn’t require oxygen to burn. I wasn’t even certain what it did consume, but while the featureless had to project and sustain a localized cloud of air, mine licked at the well of power that kept it there. The dragons called it blackfire, and when it enveloped the two creatures ahead of me, there was a shift in the substance of thought that allowed them to exist, and they melted like wax in a furnace. When I turned my eye upon the one beneath me, a voice issued forth.

“This one wishes for you to end its suffering, Copper-Crowned One.” From a long since hollowed-out structure, a half-skeletal, half-rotting face surfaced into view. I stared in amazement at the latest affront to common sense. How dare such a wretched creature speak? But if such a beast could breathe fire in a vacuum, surely it had sentience and the ability to project a voice as well.

“You insult our tongue by speaking it, maggot. I will not suffer a wish from it, nor its continued life.”

“Then crush that projection beneath you, my liege, for in so doing, you will grant neither.” The voice flowed smoothly and unperturbed. Glassy eyes stared unseeing as I followed its instructions, even as they pointed straight in my direction. A skeletal finger rose, and pointed past our ruined buildings of once-impermeable rock to a mountain with a door cut in its face.

“The instrument you seek has been prepared for you. We will welcome you.” I then stared back, unwilling to acknowledge this creature’s sapience with the questions I wanted to ask. So, unbidden, it simply began to answer. “Your fear gives us cognizance. Your fellows merely feared our existence. But, you are the last wish weaver, now.”

“You fear that we might be one and the same, maligned as we are. But your blackfire shall always be yours alone, King of the Cursed. Now, claim your prize. Set us free, and pick clean the bones of your dead civilization.”

“Maggot! You have no kingdom, nor have you a king!” The bony creature stood unflinching as the spark that animated him was immolated in shadow.

My course had been set long before the creature spoke, and remained unchanged. As it said, its fellows welcomed my approach to and descent through the mountain, chanting “King of the Cursed,” even as I tore through them, burned them, cursed them. They finally massed about me as I entered the inner chamber that held our society’s most important artifact, a sphere of unidentifiable green metal that was discovered long ago. Rumors held that the first to work the wish-weaving magic was “taught” by this device.

Captivated by its otherworldly shine, I discovered too late that the character of the Muototsu surrounding me had changed. They continued to chant their gibberish as they lovingly, yet firmly pinned me down, and began to pluck out my scales. My beautiful, copper scales. I struggled furiously, unleashing column of black flame, but the pain was too great and the air fled my body, my innards tried to escape every opened orifice, my blood boiled and assaulted my brain.

Yet a part of me remained there. Tendrils of another being’s awareness tugged at it when a tiny metal ball was placed on my chest. It did not speak, yet it communed with me, somehow.

“What is it you seek, featureless one?”

“I sought to crush this charade, this life we’d created.”

“An end to the chaos? Even though your race is dead already?”

“They cannot be allowed to live.” I thought I felt a sneer at my response, and in my humiliation, I changed my mind. “No. I’LL crush them. I’ll crush them myself. Every last one. I just need my scales…”

“I shall be your scales.” A flood of power entered my mind as the green pearl melted upon my chest and spread a black film across my body, hardening and forming articulated armor that no claw could pierce. “In return, I require an oath.”

I flexed my new wings, clasped my new claws around the feeble throats of these tortured souls.

“I will remain as the last of my race, and haunt the universe until it ruptures.”

Flames glanced harmlessly off the black armor. Once again, the Muototsu gave me the joy of combat, and soon tasted the void of blackfire.

“This satellite shall be my chariot, to be ridden from planet to planet, until all life is rendered silent.”

“If that is your oath, then very well. Seek your silence, dragon. I will give you a loud end when you find it.”

May 23, 2008

I'm in.

Could the "Icarus" prompt have anything to do with our treatment of the word count limit last time? I think perhaps "hurtling a car into a brick wall at top speed" would be a more appropriate metaphor, at least for me.

@Sitting Here: Thank you for putting up with my atrocity long enough to say a few words about it.

May 23, 2008

Late Bloomer – 1184 words

A small space, but comfortable and warm. I have everything I need, and so I sleep, wake in the froth briefly, sleep again.

Then, it feels tight, something not right. I want to move, to breathe. I strain against the wall, then tire, and sleep. When I wake, the wish to move becomes an ache, a need. Strain again, ache becomes pain, but the wall gives. I feel it bend. Spurring myself to new efforts, I push with my legs, I wiggle, I peck. Tiredness leads to a desperate rest, but when stagnant air turns to soup, I know I have to push harder, and so I struggle with all the strength I can muster, then struggle even more.

Finally, I feel a crack, and with more poking and prodding, a chip falls out and the air rushes in. A voice with which I’m inexplicably familiar chirps with pride, and I bask in a cool zephyr before I set out to finish my work.

It is some time after, with the bits of the world before broken and cleaned away, nestled in the embrace of sisters and brothers who climb about and shiver and scratch and labor to breathe or to poo poo, that I become attuned to the struggles we yet face. When I feel the first light dim and then take leave, mother’s body presses close. Whenever we wiggle, she presses closer until we don’t make a sound, and I feel the fear in her. After an eternity, her strain grows lax with the warming air. I stretch out my mouth at her as she stirs, knowing I have a need, yet knowing not what, before she taps my gaping beak with hers, and a beating gale suddenly fills us with the terror of her passing.

How could she suddenly be gone? To where, and why? I can feel the growing concern in the twitching crowns of my sisters and brothers, that she has abandoned us. Then, a chirp from close by puts us at ease, a different voice, but one we know all the same. Father is nearby, watching, and so we nervously shift about, taking turns in the middle of the huddle to keep warm, before mother returns and dribbles a warm sauce into our outstretched gullets. The fragrant flavor, comprised of wondrous things that I can’t even imagine, sates a need so deep that we can scarcely manage to keep still when she bounces away, and father, in a shaky call to the effect of saying, “Here I go!” takes flight.

Many new surprises come, some much less kind. We come to know, when the days are wet and cold, and try as he might, father’s wings cannot save all from the pummeling drops that soak the nest, that the ruder surprise is the lack of food. My silently imploring mouth is only met with a chiding touch from his.

A feast of relief comes after, but brings new challenges. It is the tallest mouth that gets the soup, and so we clamber about, bruising each other’s bodies and batting our nubby wings into our neighbor’s eyes, renewing the race for the top with each successive fed head. Today, I get nothing.

With the coming of the next morning, the throbbing red light of sun through our eyelids gives way to the wide, colorful world. Our wonder is palpable as we marvel at father’s incredible glistening feathers, and we strain to keep our eyes open when his wings spread to their full span and defy the air, carrying him further than we ever imagined him to go. I watch him leave with elation, then try batting the air with the nubs at my sides, confused when I only succeed in eliciting an annoyed panting sigh from my elder sister.

With the contrasts and the hues of the world in relief, we learn from the example of our parents’ shrill notes of the terrors that surround us. Where we used to lumber about, we now wait for our meals in attentive stillness, though we break it now and again to eat the odd ant.

I cock my head one morning in a mix of jealousy and adoration when I see feathers on my sister’s body, and the nest regards them in a bustle as we take turns to preen them. More feathers appear shortly thereafter, until I notice to my great chagrin that I’m the only one adorned merely in the unattractive peppering of white down.

Our meal comes, and the void in my stomach burns like a bouncing hot ingot. I reach with all my might, but taller heads extend above mine. I barely manage to secure a mouthful before father leaves. The fleeting relief only makes me hungrier in its passing. A buffet of air stings my eyes, making me wonder if mother is back already, but the source is much closer by.

Days later, despite the sprouting of a few plumes, I feel naked and cold next to my siblings. The meal comes, but I don’t even bother. I’m too tired to climb that mountain, so tired that I almost don’t notice the sounds of their chirping for the first time. I feel a beak pick at my neck, and see my sister with an ant in her mouth. I bury my head in her warm feathers.

When I wake, an odd feeling of space and cold tells of a brother’s journey out upon the tree branch, and more siblings hop out after him. My legs strain to lift my head onto the poo poo-encrusted rim of the nest and, in an effort to distract the pain, I watch them bounce intrepidly about and test their wings. For a few odd moments, I feel contented, watching them. A nudge at my bottom propels me just enough for the world to open wide. At the flood of new colors and sounds, I collapse, alarmed, and see my sister above me, cocking her head left and right. Surprise turns to anger, but soon again to wonder. I want to see that world again. When the next meal comes, I climb and reach with all my might.

When my first brother departs, I see him off with pride, my dull hunger soothed by his elated song. When mother comes, the mountain is smaller. I feel like she sees me for the first time. My wings bear the same muted matte as hers. She nuzzles me adoringly, noting that her job will be finished soon.

We stand together on the end of an outstretched twig, my sister and I tweeting back and forth. I let her go first, my heart lurching as the twig bobs up and down.

There are many struggles yet to face, but also many sights yet to see. I will go see them, and talk to her about them. We’ll have many stories to share.

I stretch out my wingspan. I’m tiny, but I’ve got spunk. I’ll make it, right? Amongst the carpet of feathers, I see one more white downy hair. I pluck it out, and take a leap.

May 23, 2008

I'm in.

Just finished Slaughterhouse Five, too. This is more damning than it sounds.

I think I need a flash rule to help me come up with some idea that won't spew bile all over a distinguished work of literature.

Cheneyjugend fucked around with this message at 01:53 on May 24, 2014

May 23, 2008

Here's a cute thing that just happened. I sat down to read my newly bought anthology, "The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft: Dreams of Terror and Death" when I heard a stack of books fall in our storeroom. Of the books that hadn't fallen, "At the Mountains of Madness," the only other Lovecraft book in the house, was at the top.

Meinberg, yours is an awesome prompt, but my brain and schedule have failed me in this time of need. I will spare your sanity this week.

May 23, 2008

I'm in. Here you go.

May 23, 2008

Type 1 DM - Word count: 250

C.M. Douglas was sent careening when the cyclist’s bike hit a rock. He was glad that spacewasstillthere b e t w e e n him and the landing, giving him time to pull off an acrobatic display that made the crowd go wild. To the judges of Kalamawea cross-country performance eating, the destination was more important than the journey. His head bobbed like an overstuffed bird’s as the cyclist’s face disappeared down the hatch and he wiped the corners of his mouth with a flourish. Bonus points for swallowing after dismount. This is what earned him the Americium, he learned later.

“Mr. Douglas! How does it feel to win for your home planet?” panted the first wiry, green reporter to accost the fuzzy, blue C.M. after the ceremony.

He replied with the first word that came to mind, thinking of the shiny medal hanging off his neck. “Heavy,” he said. “It is a great responsibility. I did it for the kids back home.” It seemed more appropriate than “radioactive.”

“Did you choose your new performance sport because of your recent diagnosis?” waved another recorder among the several encircling him now.

“White meat has lots of protein. I like promoting a healthy diet…” C.M. mumbled.

Many new questions followed, but C.M. glazed over and parted the swarm with a wave.

Many streets later, he called his chauffeur to stop aside a monitor display, his eyes drifting wistfully over stock footage of educational show reruns depicting a wild-eyed C.M. enjoying sweeter times.


May 23, 2008

I'm in.

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