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Sokoban
Feb 16, 2011


In for wizards. God help me.

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Sokoban
Feb 16, 2011


Sitting Here posted:

You can bring your drawings and painting to life! However, you can't re-paint or re-draw them once you've done so, no matter how badly you want to.

The Apprentice

855 words


It wasn’t the usual path to take, Peer knew that. This path rolled down to the other side of the forest, away from the village and into the stone halls. He had finished work for the day. Without notice he had picked up his favourite stick and gourd and ran as fast as possible. He heard his father curse his name as he was running. That was a crow’s flight behind him. He sat among the heather and grasses as the air calmed the earth. The sky rolled above, sullied and bruised, the wind warm enough just to wear a jerkin. As he followed the path, Peer would have welcomed rain if it came.

He paused just before the stone halls – it was odd to be here. Birds, he noticed, had stopped singing. The pulse of nature was mute, a black-and-white hesitation in a world of colour. Peer moved on, he gathered his racing heart and shy blood and forced his legs to walk. It wasn’t just the halls hollowed into the hillside, everything around him was stone; the ground was pebbles and dash, granite and slate. One hall called to him, it was just ahead, a black O of silence. It was the mouth of a giant: endless, final.

‘Hello?’

The O did not answer. He took a step forwards, as many do before the unknown, careful, slow; arms out, reaching, searching, testing. Once his eyes had absorbed more light, the hall sloped down, through and through. Steps led to more steps, and those steps led to a tomb. Holes in the ceiling cast enough day for Peer to be without a torch. It was cool in here, dry and safe.

The shadows of the hall gathered in shades of dust. They formed and flicked around Peer. Some moved, which he jumped at, some were still and hungry, waiting for him to come closer. In a panic Peer watched as phantoms leapt off the walls. They seemed to be made of chalk and pencil, water and paint. They jeered and twirled about him as he fell to floor, his knees shaking. It was a kaleidoscope of ghosts, a maelstrom of colour and shape. Some sang, some danced, and others clapped and cheered. When he summoned enough courage to look at them, some were just scribbles. Some were still wet, and dripped onto the ground in splotches. More came, wailing and suffering as half-finished doodles. They begged him to leave and never return. To speak not of this place, to never reveal this location, to leave them in peace in an eternal waltz.

Peer began to laugh at them.

The spirits stopped their dance, unsure of what to do. They were myths and animals, noble men and ladies alike, and they all stared at this child in disbelief.

‘Stop! Stop it! Get back the lot of you. Well, who is it? Who’s there?’

A man in a purple robe appeared from the gloom. He was just as old as Peer’s father, except more pale, and a lot thinner.

‘Oh gods – another boy who thinks he’s an adventurer. Well what do you think of them?’

Peer shrugged, he wiped the tears from his face.

‘My work boy! My work! My life spent perfecting these creations, are they not sublime? Are they not the pinnacle of art?’

‘They’re sort of bad.’ said Peer.

The wizard (Peer assumed) opened his mouth wide. There was a moment of inflection, and then he nodded. The man sat, defeated. He kicked off his shoes and folded his hair back.

‘Gods, they are a bit aren’t they? I’ve tried. I can bring painting and drawings to life you know?’

Peer nodded. ‘I noticed. But you’re not good at drawing.’

‘The crux of the issue my boy.’ They fell into a comfortable lapse. The spirits still looked on, and then to each other, bemused.

‘Can I try?’

‘You? You look like a farmer’s hand.’

‘I’m really good. Let me show you.’

Peer took a sliver of charcoal from his sleeve and drew. He scratched and scrawled onto the floor, until a dragon came to be. It was small and wicked, with plumes of feathers and sharp teeth. The wizard looked the drawing over. He took a pot and brush from under his robe and added red to the skin of the dragon and green for the eyes. In a flourish he dotted water over the charcoal and smudged until the drawing seemed real in the half-light. The wizard placed his hands above his head, rolled his eyes back and spoke.

‘Vitae!’

The dragon huffed and hissed, coughed and gurgled. It moved unsure, first a toe, and then a foot. Finally it stretched its wings. It looked at the boy and wizard and the spirits who were still paused mid dance, and shrugged. With a sigh it rolled to one corner of the hall and fell asleep; one lazy draconian eye keeping watch over its new world. In its slumber puffs of charcoal erupted from its nose with little splashes of red paint. The wizard had a smile on his face.

‘What’s your name?’ the wizard asked.

‘Peer, and yours?’

‘The Great Imago. And I think, my boy, I believe, I have found a new apprentice.’

Sokoban fucked around with this message at Jul 9, 2017 around 14:19

Sokoban
Feb 16, 2011


Chili posted:

Just a friendly reminder that EDITING YOUR SUBMISSION POST WILL TYPICALLY RESULT IN A DISQUALIFICATION.

Also, to make it easier on our tirelessly awesome archivist, and the judges, please include your wizarding flash at the top of your submission.

Oh! Added.

Sokoban
Feb 16, 2011


Chili posted:


OUR SECOND FARTHEST AWAY FROM WINNER

Sokoban’s The Apprentice was a messy endeavor that didn’t seem to accomplish all that much. We are hopeful that, through detailed feedback and more time, we will one day see you at the top of this glorious enterprise, holding the baton as we all yell PROMPT at you. Come back, Sokoban, and show us what you’ve got.

My virginity has been taken. It feels... good.

Sokoban
Feb 16, 2011


IN is the only way to improve.

Sokoban
Feb 16, 2011


FIRE & ICE

1070 words


This wasn’t good. It just wasn’t good. Nothing about this was fine. This wasn’t fine at all. This was the opposite. This was bad – a caveman, Neanderthal, hit-thumb-with-hammer word, but succinct. This was bad.

The Great Big Hack Job of Our Generation was bungled. It had gone wrong – a testament to failure. DVD slid off his dream-mask and thought of how many life sentences he was about to receive. He jabbed numbers into his HTC. Roughly 20 life sentences; perhaps with good behaviour he could reduce it to 19. Fate had given him only one remaining option: join the net, and become lost in the code. A suicide – something he hoped not to become when he woke up this morning.

His HTC shuddered with a message. His thumbed the ID scanner and read: job status?

DVD put the phone back on the table upside down. He made a mental status of the job: hosed. He wasn’t sure what to do. The virus had been intercepted, stopped by a vaccine, and they would be here in 20 minutes, a FIRE squad ready to arrest. 1 minute per life sentence. He fingered the dream-mask, the only hacking tool he had left, the only gear to his name. He just needed to slip it on and twist the connection out when the neural wire had established itself. It would dump his brain onto Google and that would be that, no prison, no hell.

Unless. There was one person who could help, but it meant servitude, to be a net-zombie, a ghost-thing, a person unborn. Better than neural-prison. Better than what FIRE would do to him. He picked his HTC back up, and ignored the urgent messages from his client. He hooked two wires into the phone, licked his finger and slicked it across the top of the screen. It lit green, and showed him a hash code. He took a screenshot with the dream-mask, a brain JPEG, put on his boots and coat and left.

Out on the street below his bedsit the day had brightened. Black cables laced each other in a tangle of static; the glo-paint on the traffic signs shimmered against the overcast sky while holo-ads told him about every product he’d never need. To say he hated living in The City was false – how could you hate living in a place which you couldn’t escape from? You didn’t. You accepted it. Chinese phones lined up in the stall in front of him – DVD picked the cheapest of the bunch and paid contactless. He added a card to the phone, punched in the hash code from before and called. The phone connected in his ear.

‘Hello?’

‘You know who I am ICE, my name is in the hash.’

‘DVD. You have, really, about 5 minutes before the police take you away. Plenty of time to explain why you are calling me?’

DVD spat. He wiped his face, rubbed his eyes.

‘A job turned bad. When I say bad ICE, I mean it might go down as the worst in hacking history.’

There was a pause. ‘I know.’

‘Of course, of course you loving know! So let me be clear: help. Me.’

‘I’m sending you a message. Memorise the address.’

‘Thank you.’

‘Thank me? You’ve just sold your soul to the devil.’

The connection cut. That was it then, stuck between fire and ice. The address was a short walk through the underground. ICE’s intentions were difficult to figure. Capricious would be an apt description of her; a hacker who had developed software to erase people digitally, to reinvent their online self, to rebuild histories and create futures. She was a genius and had squandered it. She had formed her own little computer cult hidden in the recesses of a dilapidated hospital and took odd work: sometimes black market, sometimes darker, always anti-state.

He stopped in front of St. Jude’s Infirmary. It wouldn’t be the front entrance, that’s not ICE. A side door with key scanner seemed out of place. He approached it and sighed. With a flick of a screwdriver he popped its cover and scrambled the wiring. In a moment the door clicked open, swaying on its hinges. Sirens kick started his heart. poo poo. poo poo. DVD looked up. Just outside his vision was a red helicopter that glistened in the rain. It was menace. It was silent. It was full of men who had one ambition. He ran. He ran into the building and down the halls – UV signs lit up under his dream-mask, pointing the way to ICE’s hideout. Maybe she’ll be there. Please still be there.

DVD skidded in front of a sign that pointed up, up to the roof. He gasped for breath and removed his coat. He didn’t need the weight, he didn’t need anything anymore – his past and future were forfeit. Up the stairs he jogged; his legs screamed to stop, to pause, to rest for a little, but he kept pushing. If ICE was on the roof, it only meant one thing: she planned to escape with a wing-suit. He pushed the door at the top, his face a half-smile, ready for hope. ICE was there, the police were there too. They had landed faster than he had anticipated. A FIRE squad: cyber-crimes division. A trooper decked in red plastic armour had ICE subdued, a pistol held to her head as she knelt down, arms in restraints, strands of neural-wire and silver hair covering her face.

‘You had to make this choice DVD? You’ve stolen from the government – this is the outcome. You knew that job was crazy.’ said ICE.

‘But the money,’ spat DVD, ‘the money would have set me free.’

‘Freedom in The City has always been an illusion. You’re not the first young man to fall for it.’

ICE twisted her neck. A wireless connection came free in the back of her head, and she slumped forwards dead. She's just dumped her brain. She left me.

DVD looked on; his eyes unfocussed as the FIRE team surrounded him, pushed him to the ground, read his rights, and restrained him. They removed his dream-mask and removed his wires. No suicide. They had made that mistake already. DVD breathed City air for one last time. He hoped that somewhere ICE would still linger, a ghost, an image of her. He didn’t know how else to beat FIRE without her.

Sokoban
Feb 16, 2011




This is good advice to follow, thank you. in btw

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Sokoban
Feb 16, 2011


Thranguy posted:

One: Time Is out of Joint


No Time

489 words


One.

I’m dying forwards.

Seven.

Yes, now I know, this is the seventh second and I’m now dying backwards.

Two.

Now I’m in-between seconds; I’m younger by five of them. I remember five seconds of thought in the past and future. I know what I will think next. But my thoughts cha-

Ten.

I die.

Nine.

The bullet retreats – it spins backwards from my forehead, back to death, that dark forest. I don’t think we can make it. I have doubt in of this work, my work. Perhaps it’s best if I die, the experiment will have new data.

Three.

One second intervals of time. One-by-one. Blow-by-blow. Hammering my mind; shaping my thoughts. It’s an odd feeling to know that you knew what you were thinking of in the future, which is behind the past. I can’t grasp at the abstract concepts quick enough before I –

Five.

I change again. They’ve fired the bullet from the gun; I can see it spinning, suspended, unsure of itself, physics kneeling before time. We’ve done it. We’ve broken a fundamental law.

Six.

We are gods now, forever and ever. Endless energy, endless time. No more mistakes, no more death for people. We will make Earth into Elysium and challenge the stars themselves.

Eight.

The bullet is two seconds from my brain; it turns and twists, bites and punches the air with all of its violence. I am not afraid. This will work, it must.

Four.

I hear the click of the trigger, the grimace of my colleague behind his plate-glass. She wears an expression of sorrow. Do not be afraid of killing me Dani. It all serves a purpose; I will live on in the work, in the data.

Zero.

The bullet and smoke and noise all fall back into the barrel of the rifle and the investors and scientists and military advisors all clap. They look on, pleased. We can reverse time. We can do it. I look down: I’ve wet myself and gesture at my crotch, which brings laughs beyond the observation window. I stand up. Something is wrong. There are gasps and looks of horror. We are gods now, what do we have to be afraid of?

I look into the plate-glass. It’s me. My face is young, my hair is young. I have acne I do not remember. My leg breaks on its own; the bone ruptures from my skin and blood flies up in a spray. It stays there, frozen in time. I swallow. I can feel cold sweat build across my brow. I had a car accident when I was a teenager; a bad one. It’s repeating now, slowly, effortlessly. Every break, every scratch, every bruise. One-by-one. Blow-by-blow.

I know now that I am a fool. We are not gods, we will never be. I smile, and let time move forwards, and the phantom car hit me with all its fury.

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