It’s 8:00am. The cobra slinks into the kitchen. “Do you mind if I borrow this,” he says. I’m non-committal, as always. He downs the eggs, five in a row, and promises to pay me back. I know better than to hold him to that. He’s a louse, and I don’t know why I don’t just kick him out. I wouldn’t even need to kick, I just need to string his four-foot long neck and stuff him under the door gap. But I do none of this; instead I try to finish making my omelet with what I have to work with.
“Charlotte’s back in town,” he’s testing me. “Good. Good for Charlotte,” I’m not burning my omelet over this. loving hell, Charlotte. Why are you back? Why do you ever come back? “Are you going to see her?” He says as he squeezes the TV remote. “I don’t know,” I say knowingly. I’m going to see Charlotte, probably soon, but it won’t be my choice. It’s been three years since the last time I’ve seen her, and if I have to buy a new car after she leaves again, I’m going to lose it. I mean it, I really am. “I’m going to have some friends over later. I hope you don’t mind,” He says. “Sure, fine, whatever.”
It’s 11:30am. I am losing my poo poo. Charlotte’s already here. Charlotte is already happening. “I need you to hold something for me,” she says, and shoves a box in my face that’s too small for the usual mess, but still filled with a copious amount of “I-don’t-want-to-know.” The box is stamped with her insignia, as she loves to call it. A rose in the shape of a swooping C, covered in thorns. In the center of the C are printed the words, “Electric Age Adventure Company.”
“No, please.” Every time I’m with Charlotte, I get exactly two words to beg with her. I really need to choose them more carefully. “It’s just for an hour. I promise. I’ll go and be back before you know it,” she smiles, kisses me on the cheek and leaves before I can say any more then “No, wait.” Two words, I need to plan this better. I watch her step out of the car, cross the street, and into the alley. Stephan is going to loving kill her.
It’s 11:30am, seven years ago. I’m on a bus in the hills of Ireland. The grass is a beautiful green, but that may be only in contrast to the never-ending overcast that’s common here. It’s quiet, but only one person tends to be speaking on a tour bus. Charlotte wouldn’t drag me to something like this unless she had something planned. “Hey Rocky,” she nudges me, “our stop’s coming up.” “Don’t call me Rocky. You can call yourself Charlotte, but don’t call me Rocky.” That doesn’t faze her, “I’m gonna make you love it someday, you know.” I know she’s going to try. I also know that “our stop” probably doesn’t mean that the bus will actually stop where we get off.
The bus is rolling down a curve when Charlotte breaks open the emergency exit. She immediately shoves me out onto the grassy knoll below. If I wasn’t used to this by now, I probably would have broken a rib, maybe a fibula. Instead, previous trials by fire (both figurative and literal) have taught me to distribute the force across my body, and to pray really hard that I don’t hit a rock. I hear the smoke bomb go off, see a bag fly out, and watch Charlotte leap out of the chaos like a deer in a NYC intersection. She lands with a somersault, popping up in a wide-armed stance. I also watch the bus coast to a stop some 120 feet (or, in this country, some 36 odd meters) down the road.
“We should probably go,” I say. “Excellent! I love the initiative Rocky.” Ugh. She picks up the bag, and the two of us start at a brisk pace. After a few minutes, I finally get around to asking where we’re going. She’s more than happy to describe her intentions. “Deep within these woods lay the ancient Druidic circles of Pulsiagen. Legend has that their power is as great as they are mysterious. We’re going to steal something from them. Anything, really I’m not all that picky.”
I’m dumbfounded, “We took a tour bus to steal from some Druids?”
“They’ll never expect it,” she explains, “much less so the eight mile hike we now need to make.” UGH.
It’s only two miles in before I notice that her bag is moving. In fact, it’s downright thrashing. “Charlotte,” I say, “What’s in the bag?” She grins, “My secret weapon,” and puts her finger to her lips.
“Charlotte, please. Your last secret weapon was a nitroglycerin bomb you barely knew how to use. I’m not moving until you pull out whatever is in the bag.” She sighs, “Alright Rocky, meet Stephan,” She says, and pulls a cobra from the bag. “And who says there are no snakes in Ireland.”
It’s 8:30pm. I am shoving a small box down a cobra’s throat. There are about 50 witnesses to this event in my 350-foot apartment, which is a large reason why I’m doing this. Also, for another reason.
“Where’s Charlotte?” I scream, and start looking for more small objects with which to choke a sentient reptile. He coughs, sputters, and hisses. It’s been nine hours that she’s been gone, and this is what my investigation has devolved to: Aggravated assault on a snake. I can’t handle this with her. I just can’t. My blood pressure goes sky high around her, but it’s never been this bad. I shouldn’t have to be responsible for. I should be okay to live here, to settle down after all the adventure, after all the stress and complication. I just want simple. And here I am strangling a snake. And that’s when I notice just how quiet it is around me.
I turn around and see her standing in my kitchen, on the other side of the breakfast bar. Stephan begins coughing up the box and slinks down wheezing. “Open it,” she says. I reach down and open the box, and inside it is a beautiful ring. It’s gorgeous, but it hits me. Three years, and nothing, but now she’s here, and she wants me to say two words. But I’m crying now, and all I can give her is “I can’t.”
|# ¿ Jan 5, 2015 05:00|
|# ¿ Dec 7, 2022 12:41|
In, because I don't know how to quit you, Thunderdome.
|# ¿ Jan 6, 2015 08:21|
Argentina to Chile
Word Count: 816
Two-hundred and fifty kilometers of soil-stone is almost exactly what you’d think it is: It’s a desert of rocks. The final seventy-five kilometers of this leg are merely a desert in the traditional sense.
“Welcome to the fifth leg of thirteen in The Aires-Santiago Rally Raid. I’m your announcer, Chip Steggwell. Today will see our racers cross the border of Argentina into Chile on their way to the checkpoint in Copiapo. Despite the slightly shorter length, this leg is no less grueling than the previous ones, with temperatures reaching upwards of thirty-nine degrees Celsius at the mid-day in this blistering January climate. On top of the temperature, this leg has other challenges: The course starts high in the mountain range, about forty-five thousand meters above sea level, and will test everyone’s suspension systems as they move over the peaks, or else they risk running into dead ends in the valleys.”
The mountains of Argentina are some of the most majestic piles of dirt you can find in the dry season. Some are dormant volcanoes, others seem as though they would be more at home on another planet, and all of them look like massive, stoic, ever watching hell beasts that somebody has draped over with the dullest brown blanket.
“And we have an exciting one today, people. There is, perhaps, a six second difference between first and second place of the motorbikes as of this moment,” Chip is more than happy to say. It’s not often that there would be this close of competition three hours into a four hour race, at least not a race like this.
They dance around each other for a bit before Rodi makes his move. Dipping into a valley, he builds up some speed while Luc navigates the safer path up above. Rodi revs up, and punches back uphill to a path that runs almost parallel to Luc’s path, and will merge about three-hundred meters down, but gives him a little more clearance, momentum, and ultimately, the lead. It’s a lot of work and risk to shave eight seconds off of a four hour race, but familiarity with the area pays off somewhere, doesn’t it?
Luc is patient though, a trait that can be a double edged sword in a race. You can win a few races here and there with moves like that, but you don’t stay in the game for over twenty years without being smart. There are still the sands coming up, and those hills shift. Being able to identify the best path is much different from simply knowing it. The opportunity will come, but for now he will simply keep pace right behind Rodi.
But Rodi is young, and despite his skill is not used to having someone trailing this close behind. He needs just a few more seconds, just a bit more space between himself and his stalker. He knows the risk, but something tells him that he’s fated to win. He told his mother as much a week ago, the last he saw her. The gap isn’t that large, he just needs some speed, some distance.
Luc hears the rev blasting his ears through the helmet as he watches Rodi speed off the path, through the desert plants toward where the path curves back around after two-hundred meters. It would save some time, but the valley is two bike lengths wide, and the other side isn’t that much lower. If he fails, he could fall so far. But Rodi is committed, gets up to speed, and launches.
There’s a moment where everything slows down for Rodi here, and for that moment, he feels it. That sense of absolute knowledge, the predictive sense of all thing as they will be, the clarity of all. That feeling that comes when you know you absolutely nailed it. That feeling lasts all of two seconds for Rodi, as he lands on the other side initially cleanly. But the bike, overheated and overworked, gives off a clang, a sputter, and explodes some small loose metal into Rodi’s calf. Rodi screams, bites his lip, and tries to ride a little while further, before realizing both he and his bike can’t make it and collapses just shy of the path.
“Merde!” Luc yells as he watches the entire scene play out, and makes his way over along the path towards Rodi’s unmoving body. An attempt to communicate does not go well; Luc does not know Spanish, Rodi is already unconscious from the shock and heat stroke, and didn't know French anyway.
There are eighty-five kilometers remaining in the leg. Sitting there in forty degree Celsius heat, Luc prepares a smoke flare, ignites it, and watches as the other riders move by in the desert below. He looks at his rival of the last two hours, and silently declares his retirement. He does not want to spend another second in South America.
|# ¿ Jan 12, 2015 04:58|
In with Visions Of Sumerian Night.
940 word limit? alright bitch.
|# ¿ Jan 14, 2015 05:40|
The Baker of Lagash
Word Count: 940
Visions Of Sumerian Night
Carved and hardened in clay, in stone: A story woven, a tale is told. Of Gods, of mortals, of the earth and water, this is a chapter of a time that was, this is the story of The Baker of Lagash.
In the markets of Lagash, there stood a small bakery, run carefully by the widow Ianna. Alone, she works the dough, alone she works the oven, and alone she works the store, quiet, with only her thoughts and memories.
In the morning, she walks to the well to fetch the water, and recalls her husband, Enkio. Strong, and the most handsome man she would ever meet, he was idealistic and kind. The day he asked to marry her, she wept, and thanked the Gods for their kindness. She offered to them in her sacrifice what little wealth she had, hoping that would show how thankful she was.
It was not long before they bore a child, a son, they gave the name Abdi. Healthy, with her eyes and his father’s smile, the boy gave light to her spirit, and she was filled with joy. Again, she prayed and thanked the Gods, offering now her bread, as was part of her livelihood.
Ianna filled her bucket with water, and headed back to the bakery in silent contemplation. She began mixing the flour in her bakery with the water, and again, fell into her memories.
The three of them had lived together hardly a year when the request came. War was approaching, and all able bodied men were needed to fight. Enkio, with heavy heart, left his family to fight in the war, to protect them. “I will pray to the Gods for your safety, Enkio. I know they will not abandon us.” Those were Ianna’s last words to Enkio.
Every day she prayed before opening the bakery, for a year, for two years, waiting. But Enkio did not return. She watched as other men returned to their smiling families, and still she prayed. One day, she went to one of the men who returned in the market and asked, “What has happen to my husband? What has happened to Enkio?” The man shuffled away for a moment, looked to his family, and said with a broken voice, “I do not know what happened to Enkio.” Ianna was hurt, unable to move as she watched the man disappear into the crowd of the market with his family. That was the last day Ianna prayed for her husband’s safety.
Having finished the dough, and with the oven heated she began to bake the bread. She watches the flames flicker and burn, as she closes the oven, and waits, and thinks. She thinks of when her son Abdi, after just four years of life, fell ill. She thinks of all the nights she prayed to the Gods for his health, how much bread and wealth she had sacrificed to them in some hope that she would have a miracle. That her son would rise above what is ailing him and that her husband would return to her and that she would not be abandoned. And after just five nights of desperation and depression, she was alone.
Ianna does not open the bakery today. It has been exactly ten years since her child died. Instead, she lets the flames lick the bread, blackening it. She lets it burn, entirely to ash. Her anger with the Gods so great, she would burn the entire city her husband lost his life for if she could. But alas, her rage is impotent, and all she can do is burn her offering to the Gods. A futile, minor transgression, but all she can muster.
While watching the oven, Ianna is approached by a woman in a beautiful camel-skin cloak.
“Go away,” Ianna says without moving her head, “I have no bread available for sale.”
“But you are baking some bread now, are you not Ianna?” The woman replies.
Ianna smiles for just a second before responding, “You do not want this bread. For this bread is destined to be burned to ash, as the Gods intended.”
The woman frowns and says, “I have heard you are the best bread maker in all of Lagash. Surely even a slightly overdone bread of yours is worth something.”
Ianna laughs in a sour tone, “Ha! You have heard no such thing. Who are you to enter here with such bold declarations?” As she turns to look at the woman, she sees that the woman has a long, beautiful face and eyes that are paradoxically dark and light at once.
“I am Ninsun, and I ask for your bread Ianna,” the woman’s tone becoming grave.
This is absurd, Ianna thought. This woman is claiming to be a God, demanding of her for her burning bread. But, in a show of both disbelief and exasperation, she pulls the bread out of the oven, burnt crust falling off, and slams it on the counter. “Here! Your bread, free of charge. Now leave me be,” she says, as she moves to make another dough, mixing water and flour.
The woman takes the bread from the counter, ignoring the heat, and says, “Come with me, Ianna.”
Ianna is furious, and steps toward the woman who claims to be a God. Just as she does, the woman reaches out and grabs her, and all around her the world seems to spin and melt away, until they reform together in the shape of a lake.
Ianna is alone now with the bread, knowing what to do. Carefully, she walks into the lake, her final offering to the Gods.
|# ¿ Jan 18, 2015 23:53|
|# ¿ Jan 20, 2015 03:05|
Outer Space Does Not Make A Twenty Hour Road Trip With Your Ex Any More Tolerable
Word Count: 1,085
The Bluebird, moving at Mach 15 and two-thirds, is playing host to a reunion of sorts between a man, the woman he loved, and her husband (postmortem). The woman is wearing all black, from her dress to her shoes to the black lace veil and wide brimmed hat she had to sit on as it got in the way of the bulky spacesuit she is required to wear over everything else. She is currently attempting to sleep off some of the twenty hour flight. Her husband is dressed in a lovely stone grey urn, with a speckled obsidian lid representing his love of the stars in space, teal stones bordering the top and base to represent his love of the ocean, and gold accents to represent his love of gold. He is resting in his wife’s lap, peaceful as ever.
Adam is flying the Bluebird. Adam is awake, thanks to the fifteen plus assortment of energy drinks scattered along the floor of his spaceship. Well, yes, for your information, the Bluebird was legally classified as a “Spaceship” and not just some fancy jet, no: A real honest to God spaceship. As in it can fly to outer space, operate in an acceptable capacity as agreed upon by the Board of Interstellar Travel Health and Safety (BITHS), and return to Earth without any permanent harm to its passengers or operators. (That last sentence is what is highlighted in the framed e-mail in Adam’s office back in Houston, approx. 230,000 miles away from where the Bluebird is now.)
The woman shifts in her seat, before awakening to the Moon, bigger than she’s ever seen it before, its light filling the cabin of the Bluebird with a pale, full luminescence that seems to stick to everything it touches. She shifts her feet, rolling the cans of liquefied Fun Dip that have collected in a small pile. She’s about to say something along the lines of “How many of those have you drank? Also, please don’t die from heart failure. I know Harold loved the moon but honestly I wasn’t really that big of a fan so much that I’d want my remains to be left there as well,” but she stays quiet. Quiet is all that either of them wants at this point. Quiet after all of the how are you’s, and you look great’s. Quiet after all the catching up, condolences, small talk, and who pays what. Quiet after all the talk of propulsion systems, heat shields, and anti-gravity equipment, mostly one-sided. Quiet after inquiries, filling in’s, and explanations that didn’t satisfy anyone, would never have satisfied. Quiet after the hour staring out the windows of the cabin, the curvature of the Earth looking like it’s bending to the will of the universe at large, staring because there is no booze on the Bluebird. And quiet after “I still want to love you, Starla,” is absolutely necessary.
Quiet, until Adam lands the Bluebird on the rocky dustbowl known as the Moon. The Bluebird begins beeping, as the suits of its occupants’ pressurize and the cabin depressurizes. Oxygen is green, pressure is green, communication is green, and with a *PISHHH* the cabin opens.
“Did it really have to beep that much?” Starla asks, clutching the urn as she steps onto the ladder that has extended next to her.
“Safety regulations, need to alert all occupants that the cabin is about to be opened, as per BITHS guidelines,” Adam replies, reciting the safety guideline posted on the wall back at the launching station. “And after all, BITHS knowth betht in thpace and thafety.”
Starla looks around, and realizes a problem. “Hey is there a cliff somewhere, this really isn’t going to work if I can’t, you know, spread the ashes a bit.”
“I don’t think there are any cliffs or anything, but there are a bunch of creators around here,” Adam suggests.
“I don’t just want just leave him in a hole in the ground. I could have done that back on Earth.”
“Well I don’t know what else—“
Starla is looking around when an idea dawns on her, “I got it.”
“I got it. Adam, just shut up and let me say my peace here,” She interrupts. “Also turn off your communicator. I just want a little privacy, okay?” And then turns off her communicator.
Adam sighs, turns off his earpiece, and swings his arms ahead in a “Go ahead” motion.
Starla clears her throat, begins, “Harold, I…” and pauses. She shakes for a bit, though she doesn’t know if that’s from the intense cold of outer space, or some primal rejection from the base of her spine to what she’s about to say, even if no one is listening. “Harold, I respect you, but I don’t know if I ever loved you. That’s not me saying I love Adam or anything, you two were always similar. Same interests, same goals, your optimism is the thing that ultimately led to us getting married. You believed in it, in us, so, so much, and I thought that maybe if I went along with it that eventually I would believe in this marriage as well.”
“But I couldn’t. Or maybe we just didn’t get there in time, I don’t know. I don’t know. All I know is that at some point I realized that the people in my life were not my people. I didn’t share the same interests or beliefs of any of you, but there I was, falling into this little band of, of space nerds.” She bites her lip. “God, I’m such a bitch. I don’t mean to insult you, but I don’t think we were ever really for each other. You deserved better than me, than… this. But this just wasn’t for me, so please, don’t take what I’m about to do personally, it’s just the best I think I can do.”
Starla then opens the lid, takes the urn in the palm of her hand next to her shoulder, and shot puts it as hard as she can. It spins in the air, ash floating in a trail tracing the path of the lip of the urn, slowly coming down to the ground. After a long while of watching it spin and float, it lands a hundred yards away, soft, soundless.
Starla turns on her earpiece, and gestures Adam to do the same. “We need to go get the urn. Harold’s family is going to want it back.”
|# ¿ Jan 26, 2015 04:55|
|# ¿ Feb 10, 2015 20:33|
Back In. (Also because I failed last time I was here... six months ago)
|# ¿ Jul 14, 2015 21:22|
A Promised Land
(They were) Hoisted, contained over the riverbed, the Monster said he would skin them dead. I heard him speak on the priorities of the weak and helpless. Hopeful misdirection is honey to the flies of desperation, it was a promise; long have the stories been told of a city made of gold in the heart of this jungle. A promise it was: Bundle your things, gather your kin, we will find our salvation from this famine and abandon this infertile soil.
The mask of Ranu, God of Generals, was ceremonial, worn on holidays in celebration of the Gods that protected the people of Archino City. It was a dark red wood, with a sharp nose and deep eye sockets. Nobody knew why the mask had constricted as it had, gnarled wooden fingers extended, intersecting and digging into the back of the Monster’s head and under his chin. Or why when the Monster looks at you, the false eyes of the mask would always stare into yours, and then you lose what you were just about to say. Why blood would sometimes drip from the nose of the mask and the corners of the Monster’s mouth. Nobody knew why the Monster no longer slept, but instead looked up at the stars all night, and whisper strange words. In the mornings, he would say he had spoken with the Gods, and he would look into all of us, and we would follow him.
Stories of a quiet young lad were told with equal parts comfort and concern, for the first few years. But all stories have stopped being told long ago.
There once was a man from Archino, who was to leave for Dolode. Upon his departure he consulted the Gods on the safest way to travel. “Always keep an arrow notched,” said Kanoi, God of the hunt. “Follow the river, life will always be there,” said Maldine, Goddess of water. “A subordinate’s life is not his to keep,” said Ranu, God of Generals.
The Monster approached the traitors, who were enclosed in wooden hands over the river. They had conspired to take the mass of us away from the Monster, but he had spoken with the Gods, and so, as explained, they were doomed to fail.
Rock in hand he stepped to each of them, and broke them; Fingers, then hands, then heads. A whisper lingered in his ears, it’s for the best. Broken bodies were skinned and dropped in the river, it’s for the best. A proclamation to the rest of the camp, hands and face covered in blood, it’s for the best.
Nobody knows what’s best, so again the Monster leads us into the jungle.
|# ¿ Jul 20, 2015 06:25|
I picked this story, in all honesty, because I saw it was the shortest. I thought to myself, "This is gonna be really easy. I can just pound this out and look like I contribute a lot to the Thunderdome." But this is without a doubt that hardest thing I have attempted to read. I'm not sure what is being said here or why. I could not force myself to keep track of who was saying what and why. I think that if you had used a few hundred more words to give the story from a different perspective, I could possibly begin to understand why you wrote it.
ow. Also thanks for the crit. Also, I am so sorry, to the world at large.
|# ¿ Jul 20, 2015 22:16|
|# ¿ Dec 7, 2022 12:41|
|# ¿ Aug 18, 2015 05:17|