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Jan
Feb 26, 2008

The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.

hai guise is this the magic the gathering megathread? i found this "black lotus" card in my big brother's deck, is it good for anything tia.

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Jan
Feb 26, 2008

The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.

Die Young

1737 words

His tousled hair dancing in the wind, William gawked excitedly through the carriage window. In between thick plumes of locomotive smoke and wagons weaving ahead, he could catch glimpses of the mining town that would soon become his new home. As the hamlet threatened to dip below the horizon, he leaned out the window for a better look.

 “Settle down, kid!”, the man behind barely yanked him back just before he fell overboard. “Would be a proper shame if you broke your fool neck before we even got there.”

 “Sorry, sir”, he replied. “I’m just happy to be away from home and finally do something for myself.”

 He glanced back towards the hamlet.

 The man followed his gaze, “First time here, eh, kid? What’s your name?”

 “William, sir”, he replied distractedly.

 “Tell you what, Will. You should save some of that cheer for later. Between all of us old cadgers, you’ll soon find yourself in short supply.”

 William found the landscape far more interesting than the man’s attempts at banter. The town was growing closer, and he saw it paled compared to his home city. The largest of the warehouses here were dwarfed by some industrial buildings of Nottingham, such as the factory his mum worked at.

 With his father away at the front and news as well as money coming sporadically, William’s mother had taken on work at the munitions factory a year into the war. When Will wasn’t skipping school, he’d been looking after his siblings John and Mary. Since the pittance wage his mum was earning was barely enough to keep the family afloat, he and his friend George did the occasional caper to make ends meet.

 But nothing lasts forever. Like most women working at the factory, William’s mum had developed the typical symptoms of exposure to the nasty chemicals all Munitionettes had to handle. Oh, she’d tried to hide her dwindling health, but Will had seen what happened to George’s mum. Thus, once Will’s own mum had started taking on that distinctive canary tint, he knew it was only a matter of time until weakness or worse settled in. And then his odd jobs would not be enough to relieve their family anymore.

 So he didn’t wait for the worst to happen and sneaked off one morning to work the coal mines, which George had heard paid very well. He had left a note imploring his mum to take care of his younger brother and sister and let him do his bit by sending some money home. She was probably worried sick, but that should change once he sent home enough for them to eat, live and maybe even go to the cinema sometimes!

 The shrill cry of the train whistle jolted William out of his reverie. The settlement had crept up around them and he could now see a myriad tracks criss-crossing. Few of them led to the train station ahead, most of them instead leading into the gaping entrance of the mine shaft. In a screech of brakes punctuated by clunks of all kinds, the train came to a stop into the station.

 But Will had not waited for the train to stop before weaving through the throng of other passengers. So as soon as the conductor opened the door, he darted out and headed towards the mining office, being already familiar with the layout from studying the map now fixed in his head. They had made the office simple to find in any case, as some workers coming in would not even know how to read.

 William did not have this problem and soon found the wooden building, identified by a sign simply stating Mining Office. The town was too new to be christened with an actual name, having grown from a mere exploratory mining outpost to an actual operation with the increased demands of wartime industry. He opened the door to a pair of clerks seemingly idling at their offices, preparing for the influx of new arrivals from this week’s passenger train. One of them glanced up at William and beckoned him over.

 "Well, aren't you a tiny little thing… How old are you?"

 William puffed out his chest with pride, "Why, sir, I just turned 15!"

 "Really… Are you sure about that?"

 “Why, ma’am, yes I am! Me mum made a big show of it just last week, too,” he replied with a straight face.

 This was complete rubbish, of course – barely 13, he’d just happened to inherit some of his dad’s hairiness, which in his case manifested into what could almost pass for a moustache. The clerk glowered dubiously, but seeing Will’s enthusiasm, she merely shrugged before stamping the forms. She joined another sheet and handed them back to William.

 “These are your housing and work assignments, your bunkmates already there can show you around. You are expected to report to your quartermaster on Tuesday morning at 5:00 sharp.”

 William knuckled his forehead, politely exclaiming, “Thank you, good ma’am!”

 He sauntered out, past a forming line of would-be workers, and into his new life.

***

William settled into this new life easily enough. As a result of his fibbing about his age, he was considerably smaller than all other miners and thus was able to squeeze in otherwise impassable passageways, just like child miners of yore. Which is exactly what he was, but he had a way of being so cheerful where everyone else was toiling miserably, to the point they truly believed he was happy. So they turned the other way and played along with the obvious lie, all the while guiltily finding solace in his optimism.

 In the cramped tunnels of the coal mine, William found a brand new world to explore. He was the mighty warrior sneaking into the dragon's lair in order to bring back the enchanted black diamond that would break the princess’s curse. Or he was the courageous captain leading his squad across mostly collapsed trenches in order to pierce behind the ranks of the unsuspecting Germans. Then he was the prehistoric warrior creeping up to the panther dozing off in its lair, ready to avenge its cruel attack on his tribe. For each tunnel, for each expedition, there was a brand new story to discover.

 Later that month, once he’d collected his first pay to send back home, William ran to the post office excitedly. He’d traded in almost all his earnings for a bank bill addressed to his mother.

 “Dear mum,” he wrote.

 “I hope you are doing well. I have found work mining coal in northern Notts. This town is almost like the wilderness Pa used to tell me about. The work is hard, but everyone here likes me and they trust me with important things.

 “Please don’t worry about me. I will come visit as soon as I am able. Give my regards to Mary and John.”

 His precious missive safely entrusted into the hands of the Royal Mail, William ran back outside, to enjoy the rest of his Sunday chasing dragons across town.

***

Worry lines creased his forehead at such a young age, but William still brimmed with youthful energy. He had explored every nook and cranny of the mines as well as the town over the past two years, but his imagination still ran free. Even as he pushed a cart full of equipment farther down the mine, he was actually pushing a boulder shielding him from the hail of arrows of the oncoming barbarian hordes.

 He had grown and no longer was the nimble little rascal darting through the mine shafts. If he still brightened people’s days, he did so pushing carts and hauling ore just like all his fellow miners.

 “I don’t know how you manage to do it, Will, but even now you’re smiling like some devil,” said Sam, suddenly dispelling the barbarian hail of arrows from Will’s mind.

 The man had aged even more than William did since their brief discussion on the train what seemed a lifetime ago. Sam looked to him almost imploringly, as if he was trying to absorb some of William’s good humour.

 Though he felt weary inside, his smile barely wavered as he said, “Life here is simple and it doesn’t matter to me if the work is hard, ‘cause I know my family’s back home waiting and proud of me. Next week is my annual leave and I'll get to see them again.”

***

Unlike another train ride what seemed a lifetime ago, it was a pensive Will that headed back home. He had been without news of his family for the last three weeks, with no letters coming in and telegrams going unanswered. For the first time in his life, his imagination was working against him, devising the worst possible scenarios. He did his best to ignore it by contemplating the landscape outside, but everything seemed drab and gray.

 He barely noticed the train pulling into the station, following the passengers like an automaton as they disembarked. The city had managed to grow since he had moved away, accommodating new industry, yet it seemed smaller than ever as he walked the familiar streets leading home. He rounded the corner, expecting to find John running in the streets under the watchful eye of their mother.

 But there was sign of life where he used to live, the door remaining firmly shut no matter how hard he knocked.

 “I wouldn’t bother,” called out a woman from a window above. “The lady living there died when the factory went up in flames.”

 “Oh, I see…” replied William after a stunned pause. “Thank you.”

 Through the window, William’s gaze settled on a wilted bouquet of flowers, their petals having mostly fallen off. As if it were someone else’s memory, he remembered the bluebells his mother used to keep. He stood there for a while before turning away, his flat stare having lost the twinkle it once had.

***

He barely paid any attention to the landscape changing as the train took him away once again.

 First his father, then his mother, and probably his brother and sister too, this war had been taking everyone and everything he loved. They’d said it would be a short one but had turned out anything but. In truth, wouldn’t he be better off doing his bit before it took somebody else?

 The train sped along southwards, towards the front lines where he could make a real difference.

Jan
Feb 26, 2008

The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.

Prompt was:

Die Young

Jan
Feb 26, 2008

The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.

flerp posted:

interprompt: seb sucks

Make Up Your Minds, an Epistolary Short Story

14 words

Dear SurreptitiousMuffin, magnificent7 and sebmojo,

Make up your puny little minds.

P.S.: sebmojo sucks.

Jan
Feb 26, 2008

The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Take it away, Friks.

Congrats on the throne!

Jan
Feb 26, 2008

The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.

Did not read prompt, in.

666 number of the prompt editing beast

Jan fucked around with this message at 13:55 on Sep 26, 2017

Jan
Feb 26, 2008

The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.

Sanatorium

1,484 words

Rays from the setting sun bathed the room in a warm hue, adding a bit of colour to the otherwise unadorned, spartan decor. A chilly autumn breeze softly stirred the curtains, travelling to a bed where an old woman drifted on and off in the indolence of a late afternoon nap. The cool touch of the wind stirred the woman awake just as a soft knock sounded at the door. The door opened, letting in a woman in the traditional blue dress and white apron of a nurse.

“Good afternoon, Camilla! Your visitor’s here… I’m letting him in now.”

The nurse nodded to the man as she sidled past him and out of the room. He paused in the doorway for a moment, contemplating the frail woman as she stared blankly somewhere beyond the open window. “Hi, mum,” he said before sitting down next to the bed.

“Is that you, Robert?” she said, her gaze wandering towards him. “It’s so nice to see you…”

“Yes…” he said, not meeting her eye. “It’s me.”

“Oh, but I do hope Robert isn’t late… Everything is ready for our voyage. I so wanted him to show me his homeland.”

“Camilla,” he sighed, “you’re still bedridden and in no state to travel… You have to recover first.”

“Young man, could you please tell Robert that I’m waiting for him?”

He shook his head, drawing a bundle from his briefcase which he carefully unwrapped, revealing an aged manuscript. After waiting to no avail for any glimmer of recognition from Camilla, he began to read from the book in a soft voice. She remained silent, staring in the distance and showing no reaction or expression but a faint smile.

Lulled by the comforting sound of his voice, she soon drifted back to sleep.

***

Frost rimmed the window, giving a blue tinge to the sunlight that suffused the room. Camilla lay in bed contemplating the sunset, waiting for the early winter sunset that would announce her visitor. As the sun began dipping below the horizon, a soft rap sounded at the door. The man poked his head through the doorway and, finding her awake, entered.

“Good evening, mum,” he said, sitting down in the usual bedside chair. He took out the book and waited. Minutes stretched by as Camilla remained silent, staring at the window. Shrugging, the man began quietly reading from the book. He barely got halfway through the short story before Camilla stirred.

“Robert… Will you help me out of bed? They say I’m in no shape to walk and should remain in bed still. Oh, but I do want to look outside, see the sunset over the Lake.”

He looked up from his book then at the window, as if considering the distance. Then he nodded, carefully wrapping the manuscript before standing.

As he gently helped Camilla out of her bed, he saw she was smiling despite the effort. He had to draw his arm around her and support her as she stood. She tread gingerly at first, leaning heavily on his arm, but it was as if every step was lighter until they reached the windowsill. She stood wordlessly with a beatific smile fixed on her lips as she stared through the window.

“Oh, Robert,” she finally said, “it’s beautiful. Thank you.”

The man took this as a cue and helped her back to her bed. He did not even have time to sit down and pick up the book again before she was fast asleep.

***

Fierce flurries buffeted silently against the layer of accumulated snow matting the outside light. Occasional gusts managed to slip past gaps at just the proper angle, leeching cold air into the room with a triumphant whistle. These however quickly get stifled by the stuffy hot air keeping the resident of the room comfortable. Her eyes are closed, with barely a flutter of eyelids registering whenever the gales are heard.

The man sat in contemplation, his book lying unopened in his lap. He was waiting for her to awaken, to no avail. Had he arrived early, perhaps? But no, despite the snowstorm nearly paralysing the city, he had still made good time for his visit. After nearly an hour of this, he sighed and began reading regardless.

He did not make it past the first few pages when her eyes opened. Looking around furtively, she whispered, “Robert! They’ve been trying to keep me imprisoned… But I’ve been pretending to sleep to foil their plans.”

Dumbfounded, the man could only stare at her.

“Quick,” she continued, “the door’s unlocked, let’s sneak outside before they realise!”

“As you wish,” he nodded, stowing the book away. As soon as he had done so, Camilla sat up in her bed, fully dressed.

“It’s torrid in here, it must be such beautiful weather outside. Will you show me the towers of Carcosa?”

“Let’s get out of here first,” he replied while peeking through the doorway. “No one’s around, let’s go!”

With Camilla leading the way, they crept outside the room into a deserted hallway. With all the guards conveniently busy with other residents, they managed to make it all the way to the back door without raising a cry.

Camilla paused at the door. “I bundled some pillows to make it look like I’m asleep,” she stated. “We have maybe two or three hours before they come for supper and realise the subterfuge.”

“We should be able to make it there and back before then,” Robert reassured her.

She nodded then pushed open the door to blinding sunlight. Stepping out, she shaded her eyes with her hands, struggling to make out details. A soft breeze carried sweet scents of grasses and flowers. Her eyes grew slowly grew accustomed and she took in the vista. In the distance, a city nestled against a majestic mountain range and surrounded by lakes. The largest of them lay beneath the city, a road snaking around it all the way to where they stood.

Behind them, the sanatorium loomed tall, the small door they had just gone through so insignificant it seemed to blend into the wall as it shut. Robert vanished around the building and soon came back, leading a sleek white mare. Its mane was braided with flowers, the saddle embroidered with gilded detail.

“Robert, oh, Robert, my dear husband, you were always such a charmer.”

Robert just smiled back at her as he propped her up the saddle. Together, they rode towards the lake in the distance.

The sun travelled across the sky and had begun to redden as they drew close to the lake. Robert looked to Camilla and said, “Come, I know the perfect spot to observe the city.” He spurred the horse into motion, away from the road and towards the dense woods bordering the lake. He circled around the edge of the woods until finding a path concealed in between dense foliage.

Upon taking the path, they were immediately plunged into a gloom as the thick canopy overhead made short work of the dwindling sunlight. But the path was well trodden and remained visible despite the dim lighting, and Robert was able to guide the horse carefully as the path snaked deeper into the woods. This went on for a good half hour and Camilla might have felt lost if it weren’t for Robert’s quiet assurance.

The path pierced through the underbrush and widened, leading to a secluded little beach overlooking the Lake of Hali. The clearing was rimmed with flowers still in bloom despite the late hour. Turned towards the setting sun, it seemed as if they were glowing, pointing the way to the shore.

Robert dismounted before helping Camilla down. Holding hands, they walked closer to the shore, their view widening as they cleared the dense vegetation. Camilla’s breath caught as she beheld the beauty of the moment. Perfectly cradled between the mountains and the city, the sun wreathed the towers of Carcosa in an angelic glow. The still surface of the lake reflected all of this perfectly, making it look as if twin suns were sinking into the water.

They lay in the sand long after the moon had risen to replace the sun. Soothed by the sound of a nearby creek, Camilla slowly fell asleep.

***

The sun had set hours ago. The howling wind had quieted, as if the sun had taken the fury of the elements with it. The man had finished reading a while ago, the book laying open in his lap. He held Camilla’s hand. She had never opened her eyes, but her face was now suffused with a quiet smile. Her breathing had been slowing down and was now but a whisper, barely audible over what remained of the storm.

And then, even that whisper stopped.

After a while, the man closed the book his father Robert had written for his wife Camilla.

The title read, The King in Yellow.

Jan
Feb 26, 2008

The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.


Thanks for this :v:

Jan
Feb 26, 2008

The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.

Lots of crits this week. Thanks, Chili and Mrenda!

Jan
Feb 26, 2008

The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.

Oh god I will probably be regretting it every day but that prompt is too amazing to pass on.

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Jan
Feb 26, 2008

The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.

I failed so hard at writing bad words that I didn't finish writing them. :smugdog:

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