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Jul 28, 2006

In, please.


Jul 28, 2006

Sleepover and Out

"Ex-friends feud over a video-game console."

Edit- 1124 words.

Mr. Marina smiled as he helped his son into the colorful EVA suit. The boy sang to himself as his helmet pressurized.

Zen's cargo cube was packed with essentials: blanket, toothbrush, beloved dinosaur. He had pressurized the container all by himself the "night" before. It had been a year since the last time his best friend orbited so close. Virtual playdates were fun, but he thought there was something exciting about going to visit somewhere for a whole weekend. His parents enthusiastically agreed.

At the stop of the airlock klaxons Mr. Marina swung the hatch open, leading his tethered son out into Low Earth Orbit. He aligned his HUD and fired thrusters. "Wheee!" crackled Zen over the intercom. As their home shrank behind them in the endless black, Mr. Marina launched into his usual hiking lecture on orbital mechanics involved in space stations. He pointed out thunderstorms over Australia 250 miles below, pontificating on mankind's triumphant un-nesting, his escape from terrestrial life. Zen played with the holographic goldfish interface in his visor.

Their home shrank to a pinpoint behind them, while the speck in Mr. Marina's target graphics grew. "Is that it!?" Zen broadcast eagerly, flagging the point on his father's HUD with a question mark. "Yup!" Mr. Marina replied. "We're almost there!"

Gradually details came into view. Their new neighbors' solar panels were much cleaner than the Marinas', and their windows were bigger too. A huge dome through which Zebulon and his mother waved to them made Mr. Marina whistle. "The Arecibos must be doing pretty well for themselves" he said, turning the hatch handle. "Your mother wants a dome like that one".

Zen unclipped his cargo cube, fidgeting impatiently as atmosphere hissed back into the room. Zebulon, a blur of pajamas, shot through the hatch the moment the lights turned green. "Hey Zen! Wanna play Mind Machine? We're having cheesy broccoli for dinner! Did you do Miss Sciamachy's assignment yet? Wanna play Mind Machine? Hey Mr. Marinas!" he crammed into a single breath.


Zen's cargo cube collapsed neatly in the corner of the rumpus room, where the pajama-clad boy stood gripping his silver tyrannosaurus. "Roar" it reassured when squeezed.

"Just wait 'till you see it!" Zebulon chattered. "Mind Machine can do anything! When I got Mind Machine, my head almost exploded! I was like, PHBHSHSHBHSHSHBSHBSHBSH". Zebulon flourished with a sound effect that required a cloud of spit to pronounce. The cloud dissipated, revealing the device clutched in the boy's hands. It was unassuming, a metallic rectangle with a line of blue spheres running down one side.

"Well, it sure is getting late!" Mr. Arecibo yawned theatrically as he floated out of his chair, and made a playful show of activating the rumpus room's control panel. "Your mother and I will be in our quarters if you boys need anything. And I just might have forgotten to set the power curfew until 0:00. Clumsy me!" He took another drag from his vape-pipe and swam down the hall in a silly backstroke that elicited a giggle from Zen and a scoff from Zebulon. "G'night boys!"

"My dad's goofy. Wanna fight devils with swords!?"

The blinking black rectangle sluggishly aligned itself as gyroscopes came to speed. The blue spheres at its side released and drifted across the room towards the boys, glowing. Zen batted away the two aimed at him, but they wafted back every time. "No, let them line up, dummy" chastised Zebulon. "You wanna go fishing? We should kill angels. You'd like the dinosaur game. Or maybe not. This is gonna be so great!!!"

Zen floated a moment in hesitance, but finally allowed the spheres to light upon his temples as they so adamantly desired to do. "Okay, first I..." he said, then lost consciousness.


Zen felt metal against his skin. He was bobbing up and down. Total darkness gave way to a sliver of light for a second at the peak of a bump, but it clanged down shut again. Panicked, he grasped for his face, but found only a hardened shell.

Zen lifted the visor of his helmet. He was in an enormous boulder-strewn valley, riding on a horse. His other hand held the reins, a buckler and sword at his side. The wind seeped through the cracks of his armor, and he could smell his horse. He no longer needed to pee.

"Help! I'm from space I don't belong here!" whimpered the grizzled knight, and began to cry. A cloaked figure approached him, as if from nowhere. "Shut up!" he said.

"Okay so you're the good guys and I'm the bad guys. You have a horse and a sword and I have an evil book. We get more power using our stuff and fight, okay? Go!"

The knight continued crying as the cloaked figure traced glowing runes in a black tome. It emitted triumphant sounds of accomplishment, glowing numbers and plus signs in cascading torrents. The knight's horse circled, as he dropped the reins and buckler, weeping. The only glowing symbols that appeared before him were the words "do sword tricks to level up".

"All right!" yelled the cloaked figure as he burst into purple flames with a trill. Giggling, he emerged from the inferno wearing nicer clothes. Two devils oozed out of his hands, and immediately ran towards the knight, screeching.

"Mine's broken!" sobbed the knight as the devils knocked him from the saddle. The animal died fast, and each item the devils looted from the corpse filled the air with triumphant musical stings. The knight swatted at warnings that buzzed his face, negative numbers in red pouring out of the back of his helmet like a plume.

"I got you now, sucka!" taunted the elaborately cloaked figure with arms akimbo. He selected something in his spell-book with a weighty sound effect, and the skies began to churn. In an instant a hurricane was raging, and from its center a hundred-foot-tall demon thrust its arms and emerged. It picked up the knight, and began throttling him in mid-air.

Something primal in Zen snapped. He struck out at his own temples with the toy dinosaur he knew was still in his hands. Everything shimmered.


Mr. Marina looked tired as he depressurized in the Arecibo family's airlock for the second time that "night". Hurtful words flew, alliances dissolved, pants were delivered. Fathers shrugged and apologized, eager to crawl back to bed. There would be time to talk about the cost of a pair of Mind Machine neurocontrollers later, now it was time to go home.

Zen slept in his EVA suit as his father towed him home, cheeks red and nose boogery, exhausted by terror and a screaming fistfight. Mr. Marina sighed to his wife over his communicator.

"Boys." He explained to her.

BoldFrankensteinMir fucked around with this message at 06:39 on Nov 16, 2015

Jul 28, 2006

In for the pilgrim's path, please.

Jul 28, 2006

Hit the Bricks
(732 Words:)

At every shrine the pilgrim grew more conscious of the brick's weight digging into his shoulder. It was no longer just a fragment of the cracked millstone in his satchel, he felt. To him it weighed as much as the mill.

Engraved with scrimshaw prayers the whetstone brick glittered in every temple fountain the pilgrim reverently bathed it in. He chanted his prayers dutifully in grand cathedrals and sprinkled the brick with ashes from their censers. He heaped blessings upon the brick at every city and town until the pilgrim's path led away from the last traces of society and into the wilds. Somewhere in them, he believed with star-eyed sincerity, was the great West-most temple, and at its center the place of offering. There he would find forgiveness for his sin.

The pilgrim's path grew rough and spotty, weaving through the wilds. In a steam lodge hewn from living rock the pilgrim put the brick to the coals and burned his palms on it to show his sincerity. Every temple's countryside became progressively more arid until not even wilderness followed the pilgrim anymore. The tug at his shoulder grew more insistent, and the stream of temples dwindled to simple figures on crumbling roadsides studded with cactus and brush. In the high afternoon the sun baked the bricks in the pilgrim's path to a sizzling heat, and the sky was relentlessly blue.

Each prescribed anointment to the brick brought the pilgrim to harsher climes, to sparser shrines, to longer walks with a ceremonial stone encrusted with more blessings than he could keep track of anymore. But still his path plowed westward, until the crumbling roadside predellas with their totems and baubles devolved into simple stacks of stones and scraps of flags; then even these were gone. The pilgrim grew depressed. The millstone brick tugged unbearably, as if to wrestle him to the bricks of the road underfoot, drag him under them. He had been walking so long, nursing the stone in his satchel with leaden duty and praying deliriously. The West-most temple had to be soon, or else it wouldn't be anywhere. There was nothing out here. He had been away from home so long.

Even the path itself finally dwindled away. There was nothing at the end of it but a jagged end. The pilgrim sat, vexed. He swore, and raged briefly. He wept and frowned, and kicked at the sand. The great West-most temple, where the heart of the old millstone needed to rest to restore him. How would he gain forgiveness now? Every day since the pilgrim had cracked the stone he thought about his hungry family and promises of forgiveness, if he followed the path. He had followed it, but it had not led anywhere.

The pilgrim's muscles twinged as he twisted under the weight of the brick. He fumed at it, ripped it from his bag, and dropped it at the end of the road. it made a satisfying clink against its neighbor, fitting neatly. Maybe all the others between here and home had been mistakes just as severe as his. It was hard to imagine people failing their village as he had so often. All together it was fitting they led nowhere, the pilgrim thought, and laughed to himself at the absurdity of it all.

The pilgrim's laugh rang in the still desert air. For a moment, fantastic silence engulfed him, and he turned his contemplation from the brick at his feat to the dome of the blue sky above him. He had never been somewhere so immaculately motionless, and was surprised at how utter silence compounded on him emotionally the longer he spent bathing in it. He found himself listening to nothing, and looking at nothing, and feeling awe at them.

The pilgrim checked his brick with a new-found care, seeing that it lined up well with its neighbors, and exhibited a sense of purpose. If it was a road of broken millstones as the elder had said, then his mistake was just one more, and it would not be the last. These concessions in the desert silence calmed the pilgrim, and he became thoughtful. More broken millstones would stretch the road further Westward, mistake by mistake. Maybe there really was a temple, further west than even this.

The pilgrim paused to imagine it, but turned east instead. Shoulders singing, he began his journey home.

Jul 28, 2006


Jul 28, 2006

What is Thunderdome Law on illustrations? A poetry embargo of some kind appears to be lifted due to the nature of this week's challenge, and pictures lend themselves similarly to whimsical fantasy.

Jul 28, 2006

Thanks for the crit.

Jul 28, 2006

Disqualified for lateness-

On a Sour Note (357 Words)

Every year my brother and I see all of the parade.
A million things go walking by, and we always get lemonade.

Up goes the baton, and the band begins the show.
the oompah signals Clydesdales and the cavalcade is go!
The camels shuffle afterward, then elephants stomp through
The drummers lead the pipers and the bear that plays kazoo.

Such exciting things to see, when it's just my brother and me.
Every year we see the parade, and we always get lemonade.

It's hard to miss the fire-eaters, swallowing their swords
a float made up with flowers carries ribbon winning gourds.
The beauty queens in limousines blow kisses to the crowds.
The astronauts braved space and now face dense confetti clouds.

But of all things I get to see, my favorite is my brother and me.
Every year we see the parade, and we always get lemonade.

Then they bring in the big balloons, and Santa Claus of course.
The banners announce the guilds by craft and workers show up in force.
They wheel along a captured plane, and so many flags unfurl
To be twirled by world-class color guard of entirely beautiful girls.

Whatever goes by, it has to be, every year my brother and me
It simply won't be the same parade, and we ALWAYS get lemonade.

Tiny cars whizz figure eights with sizzling sparklers lit
past lions clad in cages and a Punch-and-Judy skit.
We will always have a sip and watch the fireworks and the fun
That's how things are, they mustn't change, it simply can't be done.

Everything else I know is hers, but we still had the parade.
He always says he's glad he stayed, to see it and drink lemonade.

The fireworks crescendo and the crowd's deflation starts.
The only beasts left marching are the nags at sweepers' carts.
A straggling banner, one last toot, the men find trash and spike it.
My drink is sour, I'll admit, but not the way I like it.

Every year my brother and I saw all of the parade
But a million things have walked by since, and I don't like lemonade.

BoldFrankensteinMir fucked around with this message at 06:45 on Dec 7, 2015

Jul 28, 2006

Thank you for the crits, Echo Cian.

Jul 28, 2006

Thank you for the crit, RedTonic.

Edit- I am a fool who does not yet understand Thunderdome Law.

BoldFrankensteinMir fucked around with this message at 12:02 on Dec 25, 2015


Jul 28, 2006

newtestleper posted:

Any explanations not contained within the story itself are worthless and you shouldn't even try.

You're scum of the earth for responding to redtonic's crit with this crap. You should apologize.

Duly noted. Forgive my error, and I shall return to shameful silence.

BoldFrankensteinMir fucked around with this message at 11:50 on Dec 25, 2015

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