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Ursine Asylum
Jul 10, 2012

dreaming of that face again

it's bright and blue and shimmering

grinning wide and comforting me with it's three warm and wild eyes


I haven't written anything worthwhile since middle school. I look forward to continuing that streak. In.

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Ursine Asylum
Jul 10, 2012

dreaming of that face again

it's bright and blue and shimmering

grinning wide and comforting me with it's three warm and wild eyes


Early on Tuesday
875 words

"After you graduate", everybody said, "you have to camp on The Hill."

Everyone in a ten mile radius knew what The Hill was, of course; even at the edge of the midwest, any mound of dirt more than a dozen meters tall was afforded proper noun status as a matter of course. A bald island in an otherwise-unblemished sea of trees, it was nestled in the middle of the town's only forest preserve, and stretched imposingly above the leafy boughs to offer an expansive view of the county from it's crest. City to the east had clashed with farmland to the west, and standing on top of The Hill made it easy to see that the city, 20 miles distant, was winning. Where forest preserve wasn't, asphalt roadways were bracketed by 2-story homes, sprinkled generously with white picket fences and scattered oak trees. The horizon was interrupted by watertowers and 12-story apartment buildings, themselves spaced out by hunched parking garages and sprawling strip malls. An occasional radio antenna, blinking malevolently, rounded out the picture; your own personal slice of suburbia.

Nobody knew how or why the tradition was started. Maybe it was a holdover from an earlier age, when you were pretty much guaranteed not to leave the town even if you even had a chance to go to high school in the first place-- a beautiful view of the place where you were going to spend the rest of your life. Or maybe it was just dares between high schoolers, where sneaking into a forest preserve after sunset was considered "living on the edge". Either way, it had taken on a pseudo-religious significance-- The Hill at sunrise, they said, had changed their lives; they claimed to come back at peace with themselves and at one with the universe, having experienced a spiritual awakening unlike anything before or since.

It was a load of bullshit, of course; but nobody seemed to want to admit that-- to camp on The Hill was a vision quest, and so built up that anything short of a casual run-in with God would be a let-down. The stories built on themselves until they were just short of myth, the truth of the matter intentionally forgotten even by the original storyteller-- but no matter the reality, I still found myself at the entrance to the forest preserve late one summer night, a month before graduation.

Truth be told, I had jumped the gun somewhat; while late night post-graduation ventures to The Hill were common knowledge, so was the fact that there was a surge in the number of patrolling police around the preserve during the mid-summer months. I was open to the idea that a night alone on The Hill would give me some much-needed perspective, but I was a somewhat more skeptical about gaining that perspective from the inside of a holding cell at the local precinct.

It was a pleasant walk, if brisk; it was late enough in the season that there was no risk of any true cold, but still early enough that the mosquitos and other summer annoyances hadn't yet begun to overwhelm the area. The light of the moon shone through the scattered canopy of leaves, making unnecessary any sort of flashlight. The actual climb was uneventful, and before long, I found myself on the fabled peak.

The night itself was majestic. The forest preserve was a great carpet of matte black, stretching out to the boundaries of it's enclosing freeways and roads, where the sodium glow of streetlights could reassert itself. The noises of the town were muffled to the point of nonexistence, and even the perpetual background mutter of traffic was gone. It was stillness, unlike any I had experienced before, and for a long while there was nothing to do, nothing to think. Just me and the night.

Then the moment passed. I unscrewed the thermos of coffee I had brought with me, sat down against a convenient mound of dirt, and settled in to wait for the finale.

Dawn was not something I had experienced in full view before; despite the comparative evenness of the terrain itself, trees and houses tended to block most of the effect until well after sunrise. That morning, however, was a different experience. From the first rays of sun flitting up over the horizon, barely dusting the furthest landscape with a marigold hue, until the point when it stood proudly above the edge of the world, pouring light across every surface, I watched. While the shadows of the apartment buildings turned from the faintest grey, almost indiscernable in the pre-dawn fog, to great blocks of darkness covering the nearby parking garages, I watched. While the light rolled down the radio antennas and water towers, as if someone was pouring great buckets of brilliant golden color across them, I watched. Finally, at the end, when all the land was covered in daylight and I could see the specks of people begin to move about, I came to a realization. I had respected the wisdom of my peers, embarked on my vision quest, and was rewarded with insight:

"This place is too loving flat."

A month later, I graduated, and moved out of state. I haven't been back since.

Ursine Asylum
Jul 10, 2012

dreaming of that face again

it's bright and blue and shimmering

grinning wide and comforting me with it's three warm and wild eyes


I don't know if it's more proper to PM directly or not, but I'd love a more in-depth critique if anyone has time.

mostly I'm just happy that I didn't get a DM

Ursine Asylum
Jul 10, 2012

dreaming of that face again

it's bright and blue and shimmering

grinning wide and comforting me with it's three warm and wild eyes


I will live to regret this. In, and flash rule me.

Ursine Asylum
Jul 10, 2012

dreaming of that face again

it's bright and blue and shimmering

grinning wide and comforting me with it's three warm and wild eyes




A Cold Day in Hell
Words: 697
Flash Rule: BEEEEES

Ryan Jones shivered as he sat in a ski-mounted ATV and looked out across the massive ice flows of Europa. Although the view was spectacular, he wondered to himself what possible reason Doc could have for dragging him to a communication outpost this far from the main base. The faint sound of an engine floated over the ridge, and he turned to see Doc coming up the frosty path with one of the outpost's slower, wheel-mounted vehicles. Jones vaulted off the side of his ATV and walked to his coworker’s side. "So what's up, Doc?"

Doctor Emmanuel Hasenpfeffer, "Doc" to all but the most uptight on base, merely shook his head. "I had to talk to you privately. I’ve found something that just doesn’t make sense, and I can't trust anyone at base with this just yet."

Jones gave Doc an odd look, then shrugged. "Alright, Doc, I'm listening."

Doc walked to the trunk of his vehicle. "You’ve heard, of course, about some of the artifacts that the Archaeology team has been digging up?"

Jones followed, nodding. "I've heard some of it. It sounds like there was a fair amount of history on this iceball before it froze over."

Doc looked around briefly, then leaned closer to Jones. "That’s the thing, I don’t think there was!" Seeing the look on the other man's face, he added "No, I'm serious! We've been seeing things analogous to Earth's own historical periods, pre-industrial era fortifications and the like, right?"

Jones nodded soberly. "There's a guy on the arch team who won't shut up about parallel sociological evolution and all that crap, yeah. I think it's a little weird, but--"

"That's just it, though!" Doc interrupted. "There's nothing on this planet apart from the ruins to indicate that kind of life would be sustainable at any point during this planet's history! And now, there’s this."

Doc pulled out a map of the outlying area, and jabbed a finger at it. Looking closer, Jones noted the elevation markings. "The side of a mountain, sure. What about it?"

"Six exploratory teams passed this point in the last three years, and none of them reported any sort of cave system. But when I drove by yesterday, there was a massive hole, big enough to drive through. I stopped to check it out, and..." He paused, then handed Jones a set of pictures.

Jones flipped through them and laughed. "Jesus, Doc, you had me going for a second there."
Looking at Doc's face, he paused, then re-examined the pictures. "This is a joke, right?"

Doc shook his head. “If I hadn’t seen it myself...but I took those pictures yesterday. A forest of giant grass, in a hole on Europa. And it’s alive! It hits -40 C out here at night and there’s a cave full of grass that wasn’t there a week ago!”

Jones stared at the pictures. "But...how? How could it possibly--"

"That's what I'm saying, Jones! Six teams wouldn’t have missed this! We keep finding things here that aren’t supposed to be, and we have no idea where they came from and it’s still happening! We have no idea how or why, and we don’t know what else might show up!" Doc stopped, with a stricken look on his face. “Please, tell me you believe me.”

Jones said nothing and just stared, pale as the landscape itself. Following his glance, Doc turned around just in time to see the giant flying yellow-and-black monster land on the roof of the outpost, buzzing ominously.

---

“Oh, Jill, before I forget-- I just wanted to say thanks again for that Lego set you got Mike for his birthday. Yeah, he’s been having a ton of fun with it so far. He was pretty bummed out when I told him they weren’t making that Ice Planet stuff anymore…Yeah, it’s pretty cute. He’s been mixing the sets together, and-- oh, poo poo, Mikey, are you okay?”

“MOMMY, I WAS PLAYING WITH THE BEES BUT THEY STUNG ME!”

“Listen, Jill, I’ll call you back, I--yeah, take care. Come here, kiddo, let’s get you patched up. I told you to be careful when you’re playing out on the lawn…”

Ursine Asylum
Jul 10, 2012

dreaming of that face again

it's bright and blue and shimmering

grinning wide and comforting me with it's three warm and wild eyes


The Last Duck - 25 words

He had blown into it, but no response-- the cartridge was dead. For the rest of his life, he could still hear the dog laughing.

Ursine Asylum
Jul 10, 2012

dreaming of that face again

it's bright and blue and shimmering

grinning wide and comforting me with it's three warm and wild eyes


"In", he grimaced, the cracking of his knuckles adding punctuation to his monosyllabic utterance.

Ursine Asylum
Jul 10, 2012

dreaming of that face again

it's bright and blue and shimmering

grinning wide and comforting me with it's three warm and wild eyes


Lead out in cuffs posted:

"In", he blathered, noting that some fool on the Internet has compiled a list of 325 dialogue tags as a freely downloadable ebook.

"Sebmojo has proposed on IRC", he further publicised, "that we each make a random selection of several of these which we have to use in our submissions".

"I have ruptured, nagged, publicized, bemoaned and barked," he conveyed.

"Those wishing to join can find a random number generator here," he informed.


E: fixed link

"I have a convenient link for your flash rule", Ursine Asylum countered.

Ursine Asylum
Jul 10, 2012

dreaming of that face again

it's bright and blue and shimmering

grinning wide and comforting me with it's three warm and wild eyes


A Conversation
Word Count: 989
Bookisms: Exclaimed, Jeered, Interrupted, Directed, Vowed

The man sat on the throne, listening to the muted sounds of a castle preparing for war. The rumble of oak casks full of oil, the sharp hiss of whetstones drawn along blades, the muted conversation of men staring into the black pit of their own mortality. He growled. This was not how a war was supposed to be, cowering behind stone walls--

"You can't win this by force, you know."

The man turned his head, glaring at the woman who dared to address him. "And what do you know of war," he grated, "tucked away in your soft halls, hiding behind the strength of others--"

"I know enough," she brusquely interrupted. "I know there are many kinds of war, and I know you are skilled at one of them. I also know you," she directed his gaze towards a window, "will lose this battle if you take to the field." She looked out across the courtyard to the hills surrounding the castle, darkened by men and siege weapons. "Diplomacy will be your sole recourse this day, my… lord. And I can be that diplomat for you, for a price."

"Soft words!" the man spat, grinding his hands into the arms of the throne as if he could throttle the life out of the idea. "Men will meet on the field of battle, and the strong will survive. That is the way of war, the only way of war, and I will crush all who oppose me, just as I crushed your king! By the strength of my own arms!"

"By the strength of you own--" the woman choked out, before bursting into laughter. "You think you wrought this by yourself?"

"Since the day your king killed my father, I have plotted!" he raged. "Since the day I was chained into slavery! I throttled the taskmaster with his own whip, I survived when they beat me and left me to die! I have freed and trained men, I have fought and killed soldiers, I have survived betrayal on the field of battle, and by my own hand have I killed the king of this place and taken back what is mine by right of blood!" He slapped a goblet off the throne, sending it clattering against a wall as punctuation. "I have done these things, and I will have no soft woman deny them!"

"And who," she jeered, "supplied you with the weapons? With the food to keep your men fighting fit when the rest of the kingdom would gladly turn you over for a morsel of bread? And did you really think that an entrance into the castle interior would be left unlocked and unbarred accidentally when a bloodthirsty horde was marching to war?" She smiled wickedly at the man. "You've been played, barbarian, and you have played your role well. All that's left is to share the throne, and you can tell yourself you won by," she gave him a disdainful look, "the ‘strength of your own arms’ until the day you die."

He sat back heavily in the throne, stunned. "But how-- nobody said where--"

"Of course they didn't," she purred. "The king-- my father-- would have gone incandescent with rage if he had known his daughter was plotting to be rid of him."

"But then why--" he exclaimed, gesturing at the window.

"You think you were the only horse I would bet on? I'm not so foolish as to assume only one man would succeed. They may have come stronger in arms, I'll grant, but you completed with some amount of stealth and guile what would have required more men to take by force. I ask you again: submit to my...recommendations, tell your men to accept my authority, and we will talk our way out of this. And that," she clapped her hands, "will be the end of that."

The man slumped in his chair, dark hair covering his eyes, his posture that of utter despair. The only outward sign of life was the trembling of his hands, fingers digging into the arms of the throne as if they were his sole connection to life.

The woman waited, patient. He had proven his skill in combat long before today. The only question remaining was one of flexibility, of being able to cope with change. And if not...

Slowly, the man sat up. He pulled the crown off his head, grasping it so tightly that blood started to run out from between clenched fingers. With a low growl, growing steadily louder, he straightened his back. "NO GODS, NO KINGS! BY MY OWN STRENGTH, I WILL NOT DIE BEHIND THESE WALLS!" he vowed, throwing the gold crown into the ground, deforming it beyond recognition. Tearing out of the room, the man did not stop to spare a glance at the woman, his mind filled with the promise of blood and vengeance.

The woman glared at his retreating back. "Foolish, foolish man," she snorted. But, she reflected, should she have expected differently? When given the opportunity to take what one wanted by force, what chance was there of sharing that power? She looked down at one hand, delicate and petite, and so very soft. She clenched it into a fist, and decided. "By my own strength, then."

While he roused his men, she stole a drab brown outfit from the scullery maid's closet.

While he rallied those around him with words of strength and battle and the crushing of foes, she slipped what jewelry she could into a beat-up rawhide pouch.

And while a man formed up his army in the courtyard, surrounded by other men willing to throw themselves on their own spears to prove their worth, a woman slipped out an unlocked, unbarred side gate leading a horse.

She rode hard, and by nightfall, the flaming ruins were only a glowing smudge on the horizon.

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Ursine Asylum
Jul 10, 2012

dreaming of that face again

it's bright and blue and shimmering

grinning wide and comforting me with it's three warm and wild eyes


gently caress, closed submissions. I thought it was midnight PST :/

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