Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Locked thread
Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Black is back.

In.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Tuesday says: euclidean, ambrosia, phantasmagoria, tantamount.

Damien
(1089)

In the hallways and in the libraries there is quiet now. On the soft fields of dust covering hardwood desks and tabletops there's a calm she hasn't felt in years. Anja stands in the doorway, the mild wind from outside tracing patterns on the unswept floors.

"Damien?"

She calls out, as soft as she used to. The quiet remains.

"Wait here, watch the back."

The soldiers behind her spread out, sergeant calling out orders. She enters, and closes the door behind her.

"Damien."

He would have replied the first time, it's not a question any more. She realizes she never truly believed she would find him. Anja, shoulders relaxed but far more tense, unbuckles sword and pepper-box, leaves it on the side-table where mother would leave lemonade or grape juice when the days were hot. Ambrosia to Anja and her brother after long days of exploration or-

She realizes that she's long lost in thought, straightens up, counts to ten. Leaves weapons behind in the foyer as she starts towards Damien's study.

-

The hedges outside are overgrown, bushes previously perfectly trimmed and spread out across the gardens have grown together like bloated cities are wont to do. Creatures that would have scuttled away at the sound of footsteps have grown bold, and as the soldiers make a perimeter they watch and sting and hiss.

Something else watches too, something that moves not through the euclidean spaces we call home, but upon the surfaces that vibrates within and above all things. It folds in over itself again and again as it moves closer to the house, sending faint whispers through the grass, shivers in spines and the sudden death of vermin.

One soldier, far too deep in the garden, notices that the buzzing of insects has stopped, and the creature leaves him no time to scream.

-

The dust fills the room as Anja shakes the journal, giving birth to beams of light in the haze by the window.Behind her, the rest of the house waits with a legion of memories, but she keeps them at bay. She sits down by Damien's old desk, leaning back, hearing the familiar creaking of his chair, a sound she hasn't heard in three decades.

Eyes closed, just for a moment, just to let her mind follow her body. She's ready to open his journal, she's not ready.

"The blight in Warvan has lasted for half a year today. Thousands are dead, I had venison and raw fish for lunch today."

-

It makes me sick, to be honest, but there is a strange, symbiotic nightmare of a relationship I've entered into, I know that. Should the blight end next month, it will be because I've fed senators and high-scientists with venison and raw fish and oysters and what have you, and they've given me the funds I need to solve this.

And I will be the one who solves it, I know that, none but me realize the significance of the strange-sights. With an expedition funded, I've practically solved it already.

In any case, I'm far too deep in to back out by now, doing so would be tantamount to treason. They trust me too much, and I've promised what they probably consider far too much.

-

It feeds on the soldier, tasting flesh it hasn't tasted for a long time, learning history and language and everything it needs. The creature enjoys this man more than any elk or brigand or farmer, until her name and face enters its mind.

The remaining soldiers are dead in the span of a scream.

-

The potatoes look entirely normal for a day or two after harvest, we've found no traces of pathogen during growth. It is unlike any blight I've ever seen, and it frustrates me immensely. The meeting with senator Jodvan went to hell, he's an imbecile, and a waste of gold truffles and duck. No matter, I've secured enough funding for an expedition with a skeleton crew. If my next two meetings end the same way as Jodvan's, I'll proceed with the bare minimums.

I have too much riding on this.

-

As she flips the last page over, she's reached her old bedroom. The quiet has grown thick as molasses, covering her memories. There's a single line on the last page.

"The meetings failed, they're all idiots, I'm leaving tomorrow."

Anja opens the window, moth-eaten curtains fluttering in the sudden wind, afternoon sun casting strange shadows through the strips of cloth, like absurdist phantasmagoria. The book is left on her bed, turned to the last page and that last line of text.

There is something else.

This she realizes from the corner of her eye just as she understand that the spots of red outside the window are her soldiers.

There is something else in the book.

Anja turns, rushes out into the hallway, back towards the foyer.

It's not writing, not in any sense of the word, but it's still written in the book. Like space itself duplicated and smeared upon reality, cracks spilling words like rivers flowing upwards.

It says, "I did it, I saved us."

-

Anja knows its him, she doesn't know how, but just as an apple will fall when dropped, Damien is the force that fills the foyer.

"Damien."

She looks at her weapons, knowing that neither sword nor gun will save her.

Save you? You've saved us all, you found me.

"How many people have you killed Damien?"

Enough. I've been waiting for you, looking for you, but I can't leave. They made me the ward of this place, and I have no choice but to ward it.

"So you're dead," Anja sits down, hands on her knees, "I never believed in ghosts, but that's it, isn't it.

The creature pauses with the taste of time stopping, and then shifts, turns, swims. A shape takes form on the dusty floor, with a voice like dead water.

"I found the solution," says Damien, "I was too busy trying to fix the blight, fix the potatoes, not realizing the obvious answer."

Anja feels the rest of the creatures closing in around her, claws around her neurons.

"They didn't know what they were doing with me, with you, it'll be different. I can't leave this place, with you, it will be different."

Her body is a memory, her mind an archaic artifact. She's falling into the depths of everything. Her voice is gone, her eyes, but she can see him.

Damien.

She says.

Black Griffon fucked around with this message at 23:18 on Jun 4, 2016

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Thank you all for crits and such.

I'm just home from Rome (the reason my last story was so hastily submitted), and I'm drunk on taxfree red wine and Cointreau.

Someone give me an image and a flash rule, I'm in.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


QuoProQuid posted:

:siren: About four hours until the sign-up deadline! :siren:




Flash Rule: "Cowardice is the most terrible of vices."

Edit: hit submit instead of preview :downs:

Alika and Marcius
995 words

Gone from the dust baked trails are wheels and hooves, battles imprinted on cobbles and dirt fading far from memory. Far from untouched minds in any case.

I've felt years of roads in every muscle of my body, all roads versed in conflict, all in things too close still. The years behind me licking somber lashes on my back, saying coward again and again. Saying coward as if I don't know, as if it's not still close as a mother's labored panicked breath on a lifeless child's brow.

The horse below hasn't felt these cobbles, not this track beneath its hooves, but I've dipped four mares and a stallion onto the grey. Legs twisting ribs breaking blood sputtering and I am thrown. Amidst arrows and bolts and angry Damascus steel.

Five horses, but not this one, yet.

And believe me, I stayed, for years and for four horses I stayed. I crawled and then I stood and then I kept fighting and Alika goaded me again and again and I saw him then, and I went for him. Arrows and bolts, felling all men around him, my angry steel so giddy to kiss his blood.

And for years, he withstood. His city craved bloodshed like so many wolves and that bred a special sort. With every step I learned, he learned another, with every ally I gained, one I would lose. Like any Sisyphus from any age I threw all into nothing and got nothing. And have any of us ever been good at the arithmetic that follows blood and souls? Do we ever learn that nothing gives us nothing?

Of course not. Alika fought because he enjoyed it, I fought because I was honor bound. There are, when we get down to it, few other reasons to fight. We do it because we believe it is right, or because we realize it's good.

Then the fifth horse fell.

And when Yma collapsed below me, dead before bones broken, bolt through the eye and not a sound; I ran.

Saying coward like so many lashes, I am followed onto this hallowed ground by all those years. And they see despite the fading the blood I've left from me and others. And the city walls where Alika stood are ground to rubble and weep long grass and vines and the buzzing of cicadas.

Hours pass, I remain in the saddle, morning leaves and dew evaporates and I wait. Spear slung on the left side has no notches, steel stashed on the right has too many. The horse still living has see no blood since birth.

A coward can't ask for much.

And there he is, against the sun, and he speaks, and I know I have not heard his voice in years and his broken city hangs on every word and he is as broken as me.

But I am back in the sand with Yma broken and my arm broken and my spirit broken finally and his words echo through my head and through time. What he said then, he says now.

"Cowardice is the most terrible of vices, Marcius."

There is no joyous rage there now, it's not a scream. There is only the broken city and an age reducing those words to so much less.

His chariot is so much less, his horses less than mine.

His Damascus steel unchanged, still starved. Perfect.

Two straight lines from his wheels now, and a cloud from hooves, my mare a virgin in battle consecrating the ground again. Waking to life all that blood of old. We both know that I have nothing to say, we both know that this must end.

The rumbling of wheels so loud in my head screaming coward along with the years.

Spear now first, and he thinks the same. Arm still strong, mine is weaker. A straight throw he gives, but I lean low and to the right and hear the whistle of wood and metal pass, and with a jab I've drawn blood with my own spear. His left horse stumbling, his chariot unbalanced. Prepare for another charge.

Men like him they live on battle, but when the feed stops, they stop. I can see it now, in his shoulders on his brow. He fell before his city, when I ran and the attacks stopped and the decadence began. Without battle, he was lost.

He's found battle now, but it's been too long.

Again, Damascus steel for Alika and still a spear for Marcius. Thundering hooves turning to patter in my ears. They say; grow not too confident, be not too sure of your victory.

And I feel sad for him now, because I'm allowed the luxury to ignore the advice of elders and grow confident and sure.

And when I kill his left horse and the right one panics and he is forced from his chariot I let myself feel joy. Joy in defeating a broken man, but I am also broken. To redeem myself is the only thing I can do, and am I not allowed an ounce of joy for my only alternative?

Again we wait, he with Damascus steel, and me with my horse. But I won't let this one fall.

I dismount, draw steel. Close on him and engage, steel choir singing loud. He still has the gait of a warrior, but I have the gait of a victor.

And there he goes, Alika the tyrant. Fallen city behind him.

Paints the dust red like spilled wine.

Paints the cobbles red like festive paint.

Paints my soul clean, at last.

There never was a time for words, despite his insistence, and I'm struck with how quickly it ended.

The rumble is gone, enter cicadas and the sound of an ending. His remaining horse, panicked and wild, I release from the chariot. Soft words and soft hands and he's away.

And so am I, saddle beneath me again, the screaming years now left in the blood of Alika.

Black Griffon fucked around with this message at 21:17 on Jun 12, 2016

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Oh who cares, I'm sure we'll all survive this too. And besides I'm an OG from the old potato days and I'll break a rule or two if I feel like it.

Edit: loving brawl me, kid.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


What, do I have to twice confirm my will to fight or something? Jeezy christ you people. :toxx:

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


I'm in and also give me a flash because I want you to die.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


sebmojo posted:

newtestleper posted:

Congratulations! You managed to break two of the most basic thunderdome rules in one go. That's quite an achievement.

Black Griffon posted:

Oh who cares, I'm sure we'll all survive this too. And besides I'm an OG from the old potato days and I'll break a rule or two if I feel like it.

Edit: loving brawl me, kid.

I'll judge this. 666 words, due 24 June 2359 PST, prompt: kids these days got no fuckin idea (no character over forty)

Need-to-know

(666 words)

"The floor is lava, you see, burns your feet right up, through the skin and bones."

Andy had one foot up on the bonnet of an old, burnt out Prius, the other one braced against a wall. Milly kept her gaze on the road, halfway paying attention, halfway adjusting the iron sights on her bolt action. She'd taken off her hat, and felt a bare measure of comfort with the wind blowing through her hair. It carried with it the smell of stale compost, rust and long burnt-out buildings, but she'd stopped noticing that half a year after the Bang.

"And you have get from this-," Andy continued, clumsily kicking of the wall, "To over, like, over-," stumbling onto the roof of the Prius, "And then you just jump."

He made an attempt to jump from the roof of the Prius to half a Tesla, and promptly slipped and fell to the grass-kissed asphalt.

"Be quiet, sitt still," said Milly.

Andy blew a raspberry, but sat up, dusted himself off and cradled his knees.

"When will they be back?" said Andy.

"Soon."

"That's what you said an hour ago."

"That's what I said five minutes ago because I don't know."

Andy tried to wipe the dust from his face with a sleeve full of grime and ash from the burnt out cars.

"You're supposed to know," he said, "You're a grown up."

"I'm-", she began, and stopped herself.

I'm not a grown up, she wanted to say, that's just what you call me now. 'Cause you need someone who knows things.

And that's not what I want to be, she'd continue, that's just what I've become.

"Soon," and now she looked him in his eyes, "And I wish I could tell you more, but I can't."

He opened his mouth, about to say something, but she saw he got it now. Maybe he didn't understand it, but he wanted to, and he could see that she wanted the same.

Andy drew circles in the dust with a discarded shell casing, keeping silent against his will, but knowing it was for the best.

-

Night and teasing rain brought new smells and new sounds. Andy had fallen asleep in the Prius, sleeping bag on the skeletal back seats, Milly grabbed the rifle, doused the lantern.

The new smells and the new sounds were bad, but the rain was a boon. She checked on Andy, making sure he was hard to spot in the dark, and made her way down the street.

Marion and Alice should have been back by now, they should have. Milly had just forced herself to not partake in the trepidation and fear plaguing Andy.

But they should have been back.

Felt covered soles on grassy asphalt in drizzling rain made her gone, and she could get right up to the newcomers, just out of range of their lanterns. She adjusted her sights closer, click like the patter of rain on broken cars, aimed for the one with the biggest gun.

Peach fuzz on his chin, grown up and closer to death than her. Clad in Alice's boots.

See, one thing would always ring true, no matter how young they died.

-

Five minutes after the last shot rang, she heard Andy coming up the street behind her. She turned, reached him with a brisk walk and turned him around, marched back to their camp.

Before he had time to see anything.

One thing always rang true no matter how young the grown ups got. They'd be the ones who knew. Andy wouldn't have to pull the trigger, not yet. He wouldn't have to see the blood and the endings, not before he had to. Kids had to be kids, needed to.

And so he wouldn't know, and at times it would be torture for Milly because every fit he threw was because of knowledge she wouldn't tell. Couldn't tell.

And she'd keep the blood and the endings to herself, she'd be the one to know.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Ohohoho, this is fun, this is very fun. But no, I must be generous. I should expect that the young ones are still a little rusty about the very basic thunderdome rules and such, you know.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Mischief in the deep Creeps (1262 words)

Verhov, clad in work pants and a synthleather jacket on account of the chill, had stopped paying attention to his homework feed a long time ago. He was attaching the last wires of his brand new boost coupler to his rather old hoverbike when he heard the whine of another bike peaking to a halt behind him. Hopping off and stumbling as he landed, was his very best friend and investigative partner Pauk. Verhov hadn't seen Pauk this excited since they rigged an AI to shout principal Dunter's poetry all over school, and if Pauk sat on something even more exciting, he just knew they were on the cusp of an even better adventure.

"I found a signal," said Pauk, "Something real strange and real strong."

"A signal?"

Where Verhov had gone for a boost coupler, Pauk had picked up a full signal booster suite, it was a strange choice, Verhov had thought at the time, but obviously Pauk was onto something.

"Short wavelength, hard to pick up with all the habs in the way, but definitely there!"

Pauk activated the holo on his hoverbike, casting a map on the dirty hab wall beside them.

"Now see, we're right here," he said, and pointed to a spot on the map, "And the signal is coming from all the way down there."

Pauk elongated the 'a' in 'all' as he trailed his finger downwards and even further downwards. Verhov felt a chill down his spine, completely unrelated to the temperature.

"Hey Pauk."

"Yeah."

"That right there is the Creeps."

Pauk paused for a minute, then he turned to Verhov and grinned.

"I know."

Verhov's grin wasn't quite as convincing.

-

The steady hum of their hoverbikes sounded stranger and more hollow the deeper they got, as relatively clean habs were exchanged with broken down units and collapsed tunnels. Verhov had tucked a scarf around his neck, Pauk seemed to need neither food nor water, completely committed to the trail.

"We're halfway there, just about," Pauk said over the closenet.

"Thank the Coder, I thought we were going in circles."

"You're gonna wish you were!"

The voice was not Pauk, but it was coming in across their closenet. It was gruff, rough and spoke of some real questionable life choices.

"Now wait just a minute," said Pauk, as they heard the growling buzz of a hover-hog behind them, "Who is this."

"What you kids are pretending to be," said the voice, "A real treasure hunter."

The growl turned into a roar as the hog sped up behind them, Verhov cast a glance behind him, seeing only headlight. Furtive fear was replaced with grim determination, as Verhov knew just what to do.

"Hey Pauk, I think my recent purchase will come in handy as well."

And with that, he spun up his boost coupler and engaged the turbo thrusters, feeling the bike kick underneath him, engine turning from a whine to a scream. A sharp u-turn brought him in line with the blinding headlight, and he sped up, buzzing past the treasure hunter with a mean speed. Pauk, meanwhile, had taken advantage of the distraction and slipped into a side corridor, and soon found a direct route to the signal. With a few deft moves, free from distractions, he disconnected the treasure hunter from their closenet and ensured that Verhov would find his way back to him after his daring distraction.

Verhov was running circles around the treasure hunter, vectoring up and down and in the diagonal as the goon tried to draw a bead, when he was absolutely sure that Pauk had got away, he tilted every booster back and launched down a random corridor, treasure hunter hot on his heels. He could see pings on his dashboards from the goon trying to break into their closenet, but Pauk had done a good job, and besides, Verhov imagined the scoundrel had nothing nice to say. A tilt here, a boost there, a side tunnel, and suddenly, Verhov realized, he was alone.

"Well then," he said to himself, configuring the guidance system for Pauk's signal, "Time to get back to it."

-

He found Pauk in a hallway, bike on idle staring into a darkened hall beyond.

"This is it," he said, as he spotted Verhov's HUD signal, "It's in there somewhere."

"Lights on, I guess," said Verhov.

They moved in, Pauk fidgeting with something, Verhov scanning the room, panning the headlights across the vast span.

"I don't think I-".

And then he saw it, obsidian against the darkness, a strange black shape.

"Oh Coder, said Pauk, leaning back in his seat, "Jackpot."

Against a wall, a hulk and a shadow of what it once were, was a black spaceship from the Great War. A solitary diode blinked on and off, nestled in some fold of the design. Maybe some automated process that had reached its assigned time, maybe a glitch, in any case the source of the signal.

"Nobody's seen one of these in a century," said Verhov, "Maybe even more!"

"It's... Incredible."

"It's also mine!" said the treasure hunter, speeding full tilt into the room. He'd done away with the closenet and was blasting his voice from a speaker unit on the hog.

"Oh bother," said Pauk, "He had to find us at some point, didn't he."

"I will admit," said Verhov, "I didn't really think of the fact that he was heading this way anyway."

"Well I am the thinker."

"That you are."

They heard a loud mechanical click, and watched in horror as a pair of magblasters extended from either side of the hog.

"If I off ya down here," screamed the speaker, "Is the perfect scene for a murder. Perfect! Once I kill the signal, there won't be a living soul here for another century."

Pauk toggled the closenet access, and allowed the treasure hunter access.

"Well the thing is," he said, "While you were busy chasing after my friend, and making threats right now, I've been merging the blackship signal, our own, and piggybacking that on your private closenet, seeing as you gave me ample access back when we, well, first met."

The sound of the magblasters warming up had Verhov paralyzed in fear, and he was wondering what in the name of the Coder Pauk were thinking.

"Let's just say," said Pauk, "The signal is mighty amplified, and someone's been listening in."

And at last Verhov heard the sound of sirens coming down the hallway, and the chattering of stun rounds filling the room. The treasure hunter had time to yelp before he was entangled in wirenets and zapped by stunners, and the magblasters went of harmlessly, blasting a section of wall to dust on the far side of the hall.

Pauk almost fell of the bike in relief, Verhov put his feet on the dashboard and whistled.

-

The treasure hunter was far less intimidating in person. A shot, balding man with an unkempt beard, he screamed and sputtered as the ultracops dragged him from the landed hog. Pauk and Verhov enjoyed a cold energy floater, explaining the whole adventure to a stunned ultracop sergeant.

"Hey kids," screamed the treasure hunter, struggling against the cops, "You won, fair and square. You better make use of this, you're gonna get rich."

"Oh no," said Verhov, you've got it all wrong. We don't work for ourselves."

And with a kick to his dashboard, the hoverbike holo stuttered to life, projecting a rotating badge in the air.

"You, my good man, are dealing with Pauk Dunder and Verhov Jones, Kid Curators."

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


We'll meet again, on another battlefield, and when that time comes, we'll have a real fight.

sebmojo posted:

This was a vicious slab of words that screamed up, swung the back wheels around and dropped off the Point before haring off into the distance roadrunner style. Hitting the wordcount exactly was gravy. You could have smashed Newt just by writing POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP on the screen because he didn't bother to show, but he'd have had a put in a story that was well above his average to beat this.

:siren:Black Griffon Wins:siren:

:woop: thanks for the crit.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Sitting Here posted:

if anyone is skulking around on the sidelines going, gee I want to enter but this prompt is too tough and scary for me, I will think up TD disses for you FYI

I've been away for too long and all the good one's are taken. Help me Sitting Here.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Sitting Here posted:

well you know, I heard Djeser couldn't write a human character to save his life, unless it was an overly gregarious door A.I. or a bidet who just wants to find friendship in the buttholes it cleanses. Look at me im djeser I have an encyclopedic knowledge of tropes and plot devices but I'm only going to submit like 30% of the time hur hur hurrr also I'm a pokemon.

yea im gonna get that bitchmade fuckboy

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


yeah i'm in

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Thanks bunches for y'all doing gods work with crits.

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

gently caress you. You're using nacreous five times, and you're ALSO using singular five times.

the most beautiful thing i've ever seen

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Night cold (946)

I could never imagine back then that the object of my desire would hold such hideous power over me, that it would tear asunder everything I held safe.

I'd just finished a job in Mozambique, covering the election of Filipe Nyusi, and my cold, Alaskan cottage called to me like a lighthouse across so many oceans. Neelam drove me in sandy twilight towards a small airport, I had my laptop propped up against the dashboard, sorting through my shots. We'd left the paved highway behind, and the jeep shuddered as it barreled down the dirt road. Outside of the engine noise and the tires, the quiet enveloped us. Neelam hummed a quiet, toneless tone.

Which was cut short by the puncture.

Neelam twisted the wheel as the jeep skidded to a violent stop. I was thrown to the side, and for reasons that can only be explained by my profession, snapped shut my laptop and held it to my chest like a babe.

" pah! Not this now," said Neelam. He shook his head, muttering curses as he opened the driver door and climbed out. I rubbed my head where it had hit the window, checking to see that none of my equipment were damaged.

"You've got a spare?"

"Yes, but this will take some time."

I climbed out of the jeep, feet touching rough road, and joined Neelam by the tire. It was hideously mangled and bent out of shape.

"On second thought," said Neelam, "We can safely say that you will miss your flight."

-

The cell coverage was awful, and Neelam had to try for an hour before finding out that the closest rescue would be here by morning. I'd retrieved one of my cameras, and spent some time taking pictures of the landscape. It was useless. We were stranded on a bleak and nondescript piece of land, and I had no interest in nature photography, but it kept me occupied for a while. Neelam, prepared for most eventualities, were cooking a meal on a portable stove. I ventured about half an hour away from the car, armed with a revolver in case of unexpected wildlife, snapped a few pictures of sunset against solitary trees, and returned to the car. We ate, speaking of family and politics. Neelam went to sleep, I decided to look through my shots.

I woke up, standing, under a dark, starry sky. The night cold had set in, and I shuddered as numbness crept through my body. For a minute or so I thought I was dreaming, but the world was far too real. I turned, looking for the car, seeing only desert.

Dread filled my veins. This cold could eventually conquer me if I didn't find my way back. I started walking in a random direction, realized it was pointless, and stood still, waiting for some knowledge lost in my sleep addled mind to return. As the minutes passed, I remained entirely confused.

"Neelam," I said, at first, and then I screamed it. The night swallowed my cries.

I retrieved my revolver, closed my eyes, breathed in, breathed out, before I let loose a shot. Breathed in, breathed out, and then another one.

Tense minutes, or seconds, I wasn't sure.

But the sound of a rifle breached the night. I ran, feet kicking up sand, and in the dark I could hear a voice calling my name. First like the echo of an echo, and then clearer. When I saw Neelam's flashlight, I collapsed, freezing and exhausted. My vision turned to haze darker still, as I felt a jacket around my shoulders, and strong arms carrying me.

-

The cold was a comfort, the stars in another hemisphere. Outside my cabin, the fire warmed me. I opened another beer and leaned back in my chair. Daniel was inside, reading. I'd left Mozambique on a private plane, paying a steep premium and thinking nothing of it. Whatever had brought me into that strange night would stay there.

And yet, as I felt alcohol mingle with blood, I realized that something was undone.

I went inside, finding Daniel asleep, sat down and opened my laptop. There was no choice in my actions as I transferred the contents of my camera to the computer, there was no choice as I scrolled through the dull pictures of trees against night and found the first shot I couldn't recall.

The desert first.

And then something else.

A castle, or a palace, or a ruin. Closer and closer still, image by image. Tatters of Portuguese flags, and in the next shot some unrecognizable banner, and in the next a standard resplendent in colors far too vivid for the starlight.

No longer a ruin, but a grand adobe.

And I entered it, and I saw the man waiting inside. Or was it a man? My eyes went elsewhere as I tried to look at the shape of the thing, my head aching, a feeling taking my body that was neither heat nor cold nor any recognizable sense.

It spoke to me, about the endless oceans beneath the world, about the armies waiting in the sand. Remember this, it said, remember it well.

"You drink of the desert night and the understars," I muttered, "Of the infinite palace and the roots of of neither death nor life."

I knew I wasn't the first, and I wouldn't be the last.I knew that some hideous purpose had lodged itself on my mind. I knew I had no choice.

It told me that the infinite palace had roots across the world.

And eventually, in an Alaskan night lighted by all those stars, I would give him another guest.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


More like OlympBUTT
(12 words)

Olympus
Splendid and glistening
Cries in pleasure
The Washington monument half gone.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


In!

  • Locked thread