FLASH FICTION INDEX 1 - May 2007-Nov. 2011


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Post April 30, 2010, 11:25:06 PM

Medieval Fantasy Mixup

Evilyne’s Interminable Minstrel Cycle

By:
Mark Edgemon



Elements: a minstrel, a sorceress, an oaf, the Sword of Unforgiveness.


It was said that every place she stepped there was blood. Month after month, the fearful men of the countryside would cry out for a hero to deliver them from this witch from Hades, who caused men’s innards to turn inside out with the shrill of her evil speaking. She was empowered by the enchantments of the Paranormal Metaphysical Sorceries known to men as PMS.

The embattled minstrel floated on his unicycle through the hazed countryside, dew on his green felt cloth shoes as he sang a heart-felt ballad. Unexpectedly and in mid-fa-la-la, Evilyne, the venomous sorceress, materialized before the minstrel, smacking him hard across the face launching him high into the air, where he landed in a gathering of pansies in the midst of the morning dew.

“Get thee off of us!” said the irate pansy and his significant other, who had been hurrying off to audition for the musical, Gaylord, the Magnificent Dwagon Swayer. “Wat in the b’wue b’wazzes are you doowing on top of us?” the first pansy exclaimed, speaking with the hair lisp that endeared him to his partner.

“Many pardons and salutations,” the minstrel said, backpedaling from the unfortunate mishap.

“Endorphin!” screeched the evil siren.

“Yes, my bloated queen! Shall I sand the calluses from thine feet?” the half-frightened minstrel squealed.

“Nay,” declared the sorceress.

“Would mine irritable-bowelled lady prefer me to make my ass available for more of thine cutting remarks? Thou verily shredded me in previous days.”

“Nay, thou minuscule pony!” she said, berating his manhood.

And with that, she picked up the minstrel, slapped him across her shoulder and hastened to yon bushes. The sounds that came forth should not be heard by the young and innocent, for they were mightily sensual from she who would tear one off so early in the morn.

Her beauty was most fair in an I’m-going-to-eat-your-soul kind of way. Her raven hair tussled down in front of her face with fiery eyes that were as black as soot. As the minstrel crawled from the foliage, he asked in a submissive tone, “Were thou bedazzled by mine prowess?”

“Thine magic wand lacked power and was hardly felt.” The shrewish enchantress glistened as she spewed nad-shriveling bile toward his quivering flesh.

And so the journey begins. The sorceress, her combatant minstrel Endorphin and her oaf who had arrived only moments earlier and who secretly enjoyed giving her baths on Tuesday, set off to find the Sword of Unforgiveness, that she might add it to her collection of oral armaments to verbally slice men in many new and sadistic ways.

The trio traveled to the dark and dismal land of Metaphor, which required all those who would understand its truths be capable of seeing the deeper meaning in things…whether it was there or not. After they journeyed for a while they stopped to rest for a moment.

“Mistress Evilyne, thou is on the rag!” the oaf cried out.

“Thou hast some nerve to say that to me!” the evil one bellowed.

“Yes, thou art standing on my rag. Get off!” the oaf said as he yanked it up hard, pulling the sorceress’s feet out from under her, causing her to fall backward onto her scrappy minstrel, who was beginning to get his strength back from his dalliance with the sorceress earlier.

“I needest this rag for thine final step in opening the treasure thou seeketh,” the frustrated oaf stammered. The oaf didn’t understand half of what the sorceress said most of the time, especially when she talked of her “feelings.”

Forward and onward the trio adventured, past the red, monthly, over flowing Volcano of Doom, toward the treasure of insatiable delights.

The oaf marveled at the enchanted land’s wildlife, commenting to the minstrel, “Isn’t that a galloping uterus which cometh between us men folk?”

“Yeah,” the minstrel agreed, “Isn’t it always the case?”

After many days, the three travelers entered into the thirty-dimensional cavern, kept by the Witch of Bitchery, who herself knew something about sorcery and multiple personalities, sporting one each day of the month.

“What doest thou seeketh?” the witch inquired.

Pushing the men aside, the sorceress spoke. “I, sorceress Evilyne, am here to claim the Sword of Unforgiveness, to add it to mine verbal armament, to terrorize the sons of the beaches, who live on the ocean shores of our kingdom.”

“Why wouldest thou desire this powerful weapon?” asked the witch.

“Why…it’s what I do! It’s who I am. I am the paragon of puppet mastery. I control men by reaching my hand up into their secret parts, bending their will to mine. Besides, I have the gripe, piss and moan dagger collection and I need the sword to make a complete set!”

“Before you obtain what you seek,” the discerning witch responded, “You must drink this potion, so the sword’s dark powers will not overwhelm you.”

Evilyne held the vial of blue nectar, which was secretly a love potion. She drank it, downing it like a tankard of ale on a Saturday eve.

As a transfiguration began to possess the sorceress, the oaf took his rag and dusted off a long golden chest positioned in front of the witch, therewith opening it so the minstrel could remove it’s treasure, the Sword of Unforgiveness.

When the minstrel grasped the sword, he too was transformed… into an unforgiving, chauvinistic, close-minded, inflexible, bigoted, opinionated, dictatorial male. Fed up with her treatment of him, he wielded the sword mightily and sliced off Evilyne’s head just as she experienced love for the first time in her miserable, faultfinding life. The minstrel immediately picked up her head and placed it inside the chest, slamming the lid therewith. He carried her headless body back to his homeland, eventually marrying it and discovering for the first time in his male adult life… the better part of a woman.


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Post April 30, 2010, 11:26:18 PM

Medieval Fantasy Mixup

Brotherly Love

By:
Casey Callaghan



Elements: a knight, a dragon, a pig farmer, & the Dragonbane Lance


A knight, a dragon, and a pig farmer going on a quest for the dragon-slaying Dragonbane Lance... if we were going into a tavern instead, this would make a great joke I thought, bitterly.

"Hey, Seth! Are we there yet?" I asked.

"No," said Seth, his fierce steel visor hiding the irritation in his face, but not the irritation in his voice. "We weren't there the last time you asked. We won't be there the next time you ask. We won't be there until we walk into the cave. Now will you stop asking me that?"

"I can't," I said, simply.

"And why not?"

"Well, because you're a Knight of the White Order. You take oaths about not telling lies. What sort of an older brother would I be if I made you break your oath?"

Seth turned to face me. Well, to visor me, at least. "How would not asking if we're there yet cause me to break my oaths?" The bewilderment in his voice was echoed in the set of his shoulders.

"That's easy. You said that we still wouldn't be there the next time I asked. So now I have to ask again before we get there, don't I?"

Seth sighed. "I can't fault your logic," he said, calmly. The same way he'd always said it. The same way he'd said it when I'd tried to tell him how illogical it was for him to try to join an elite order of knights. The fact that he had succeeded now meant that, by standing there, he was refuting what I had once considered such a fine argument that I had never gone beyond the life of the pig farm, like my father before me, and his father before him.

There was a gust of wind as the third member of our expedition, and the reason for it, as well as the reason why we traveled on foot and not on skittish horses, landed near us. Pitiful humans. How long does it take you to cross a mere few dozen leagues?

"A lot longer if there's a great big mountain halfway along," replied Seth, calmly, still trudging along. "The swamp and the forest slowed us down a touch as well."

You are weak, you are slow, and you are stupid. How do you seriously expect one of your kind to destroy my brother?

"Wait, Borapholon is your brother?" I asked, surprised at this revelation.

You demonstrate your inferiority at every step. Who else but my brother would I be so eager to destroy that I would reduce myself to an alliance with such sniveling worms as you?

"It's a little bit different with humans," pointed out Seth, diplomatically.

No, it's not. I have studied your royal intrigues.

"Alright, not all humans," conceded Seth. "But, for many humans, a brother is one's staunchest ally in all sorts of difficulties."

The dragon's great head lowered over us, radiating puzzlement. Is this some human attempt at trickery? A brother threatens one, always. A brother is competition for food, for mates, for gold. For what purpose would a brother possibly defend his brother?

"Purpose doesn't enter into it," said Seth, calmly. "It's just something that most brothers do."

Show me a single example.

"When you hired me and one trustworthy companion, I chose my brother," replied Seth, calmly.

The dragon thought about this for a while. This insignificant worm is your brother?

"Yes."

You have - both of you have each been trusting your very lives to a brother every night of this journey?

"Well, yes."

The dragon reared up to his full height, looking down his long snout at us. Then I begin to see why you would dare challenge one such as Borapholon. Spreading his great wings, he took off and flew up again.

"Remind me again why he hired you?" I asked.

"Because he can't fit into the cave where the lance is," said Seth, calmly. "Because he can't wield it properly, having the wrong sort of hands. And because if he gets into a battle with his brother, he will get thrashed and he knows it.

"And you accepted the quest because?"

"Because it gives me the best possible chance of killing the biggest dragon in these parts. Because without his directions, I wouldn't know where to find the Lance. And because, afterwards..." Seth looked up towards the distant flying shape, as if making sure it was out of earshot - "...and because, after the quest is over, I'll still have the Dragonbane Lance."

I sighed, and shifted the weight of my pack. "Are we there yet?"

"No."


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Post April 30, 2010, 11:27:23 PM

Medieval Fantasy Mixup

THE DARK KNIGHT

By:
Richard Tornello © 2010



Elements: a princess, a wizard, a dragon, freedom from a curse.


Once upon a time, in a musty brain addled land, there lived a diminutive dark armored knight. His land had been visited by repeated invisible destruction. His distraught king made a proclamation: “I offer my daughter up in marriage,” as if she was a piece of property, “to any one who will rid our land of this curse, this plague on our house.”

The dark knight, having little else to lose, accepted the challenge and headed off to the headlands in search of the origins of the problem. He assumed that a solution would become obvious. “I will free our land from this curse and marry the beautiful princess.”

He died, as did countless other armored fools.

The princess, unaffected by the curse, and tired of being put up for auction, decided to do something. She spoke to her pet dragon, a supposed guardian of virgins, of which she most certainly was not.

The dragon, only slightly affected by the curse, was not as mindless as the rest either, but forgot his true purpose in life. The princess appreciated that.

She said, “Dragon, we will go and seek the reason for our lands demise and discover an antidote, spell or some solution. If we have dragons that speak,” pointing to him, “why not witches or wizards that can brew antidotes?”

“Sounds about right,” he said.

And off they flew.

The dragon initially crashed a few times until he remembered how to fly straight. Off they went, again. This time things went right, if only for a while. They made a great distance flying into the wind.

This direction, she assumed would bring her to the source of the problem. If the plague came from the wind then the source had to be up wind. They flew and flew landing in different towns and villages.



Each area was worse off then the next. She was excited. She was getting closer to the source. She knew it. The dragon just followed directions. It was easier than thinking. Because, if he thought about it, he would have known this princess was nuts and dumped her right then and there.

Eventually, they arrived a location where a primitive industrial complex was making war machines for a great wizard king of the known world. His land was upwind and therefore not affected from the toxic byproducts his greed and desires.

The princess knew from human affairs, and she had quite a few of them, that no amount of reasoning would work on someone with so much pride. Her subquest was to discover a way to stop this insanity.

“What to do? What to do?” She muttered.

The dragon looked at her and said, “Why do anything? What’s the point? Everyone is not right in the head and you want to fix it?”

“Yes I do, because I live here.”
“If I do it, I won’t have to put up with any idiot for a husband that comes along and does what I can most certainly accomplish. That’s why.”

“Okay that makes sense to me. So what’s your plan?”

The princess was a knock out beauty. That fact was not lost on her. She always packed for any affair. “I just happened to notice a proclamation about a ball being held at the Wizard King’s palace this evening.”

“Dragon I have to freshen up. There is a warm spring over here. I will bathe and dress for the ball. Maybe I can influence this wizard creep to stop making his war machine and quit poisoning my home.”

“You and what army?” the dragon mumbled.

“I heard that,” she yelled back. “I have a backup plan.”

That evening she arrived at The Ball. She was a show stopper. The wizard left the women he was with. He was enchanted by her beauty, charm, and wit.

“Got beauty, check; got brains, check. A great, dangerous combination,” she thought, smiling, as he propositioned her.

She accepted as was her wont.

That evening after the games had been completed and the wizard was smoking a cigarette she asked, “Hey big boy. What’s with the weapons and all that? There is no one in the world that is a threat to you. What’s the big deal?”

“Don’t know. Just wanted to. Why?”

“You’re killing all my people with that stuff.”

“Really? No one ever mentioned that to me. But why should even I care? Effluent flows down hill and I’m up wind.”

She smiled and said, “Yes that’s true. Come here and give me a kiss. I like them big, strong and politically powerful.”

Pride and lust being what they are, he gave it no other thought. He kissed her and turned into a warty frog.

Surprise!

The princess was also a minor witch. And that was something she never ever let on.

“Oh, Dragon,” she beckoned.

He flew into the bedroom looking around.

“Here, a treat for you.” She threw the frog at the dragon who swallowed it down.

“Nice appetizer. What’s for dinner?

“Any of the other guests. Go at it,” she commanded.

He did much to his delight.

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As the sun shown through the clouds for the first time in ages, the people began to breathe better and better. The crops grew and minds began to clear.

The princess had discovered the source of the problems, achieved her quest, and returned home. The king wanted her to marry but she said, “I achieved the goal of the quest. I can and will do as I please.”

“And, I’m not finished. Not… just…yet,” she said to the king.

“What mischief are you up to now?”

“Oh, nothing too weird papa. Trust me,” she said coyly.

The king was wrapped around her finger.

She looked at the dragon. She always liked what she saw. With a magical incantation she turned herself into a dragonette.

“Like I said, I like then big and strong. They don’t have to be smart.”
“I pick him.”

Off they flew.


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Post April 30, 2010, 11:28:37 PM

Medieval Fantasy Mixup

The End of Days

By:
Michele Dutcher



Elements: an archer, a madam, a wizard, & the Pond of Light


The night was darker than any of the three remembered, even the elderly wizard.

“This kind of darkness makes no sense,” raved the young archer, angrily throwing another twig into the fire as if this would make the black world brighter.

“At least we know the Sun will appear tomorrow morning, if never again.” The old wizard blew some dust into the fire and it blazed purple before shimmering into a hundred falling sparks.

“Cheap tricks,” scorned the woman standing beside the fire.

The Archer looked at the female, her body barely covered with a metal and leather dress. “You should know about 'cheap tricks, Jezebel,” he scorned her, snickering loudly. He stood up from where he had been kneeling, facing her toe to toe. “I have no idea why Pag decided to bring you along.”

“Relax, archer,” said the old wizard softly. “It's not as if you have never darkened the doorway of a brothel.”

The young warrior thought a moment, shrugged and sat back down. “I'm pleased that you are here with me at the end of the world,” said the wizard. He looked first at the madam and then the warrior. “Both of you.”

“When shall we reach the Pond of Light?” asked the woman. “It feels as though we have been walking for weeks.”

“It will need to be tomorrow,” answered the wizard. “The night is so dark because the flame has gone out completely by now.”

“I shall rekindle it with my flaming arrow and the world will know summer again, and life...” he glanced at the woman... “and love.”

“Love can still be found, warrior. For a price.”

The warrior looked at her, measuring his need against the amount of gold in his purse.

“Better if we could all stay focused,” the wizard reprimanded them, and then relented with a knowing glance. “Even the straight arrow needs a crooked bow.”

The Archer stepped around the campfire, placing his hand on the woman's waist. She leaned against him slightly, lifting her emerald eyes to meet his.

“I always envied your enthusiasm, young warrior,” said the wizard, remembering his early trysts. He grew solemn before continuing. “I've read that in the last moments of the world, there will be a blast of light like a hundred super-novas.”

“You talk like a book, Paganel,” laughed the madam.

The old man looked at the stars, and then at the satellite hanging in the azure sky. “Our twin planets are dying, this much is certain. There are only 10 kinds of people – those who understand our binary system, and those who don't.” He laughed at his small joke and looked at the young people, who returned his stare blankly. He drew his cloak around his shoulders. “I'm getting cold. Let us sleep. We'll need what's left of our strength for the journey tomorrow.”

The archer and the woman nodded before moving further from the fire, igniting a flame of their own.

Sunrise - The Last Day

The Archer and the madam awoke to the smell of meat frying over a maple wood fire.

“That smells heavenly,” said the madam, shooing her auburn hair from her face. She arranged her blouse and skirt before stepping out of the embrace of the sluggish warrior. He began to wake only after she was eating beside the campfire.

“I walked to the top of the ridge while you slept, and the Pond of Light is there, in the next valley.

“Then the world is saved!” announced the archer, finally standing. “I will shoot my flaming arrow into the sacred pond and re-ignite the oil and the Sun shall blaze up once again.”

The wizard merely shrugged, as though tired of the cycle of life and death and life again.

The pale sun was peaking over the edge of the furthest mountains when they finally crested the ridge and looked upon the Pond of Light. It was as the wizard had told them: the flame had been completely extinguished.

The sorcerer pointed towards small thatched huts in the valley. “There is a village surrounding the lake. If we set fire to the oil in the lake, the houses will burn to the ground.”

The archer took out his bow and quiver. “Better they should die than the entire world cease. Let the glory of the mighty be built upon the ashes of the weak!” He drew an arrow from his quiver and set it to flaming with a match, but the old magician touched his arm before he could raise the bow.

He looked at the hero before him, as though for the first time. “There was a period in my life when I would have agreed with you, my friend. But it seems to me now that their lives are just as valuable as my own. Perhaps it is time for me to leave and my descendents to take my place.” The wizard drew a knife from within his robes, its metallic blade shining in the early morning light.

“Don't do this...” the woman shouted, but her screams were cut short as the laserblade eviscerated the old man. The archer and the madam fell dead as well.

***

Inside the city, the medical technicians looked away from the window overseeing the orbital's river and valleys. “The avatars have died,” the youngest one told the other. They looked at the body of the ancient man inside the crystal coffin. The feeding tubes were beginning to pull away from the frail flesh.

Inside the mind of the great man, the outer edges of the galaxy where beginning to disappear, then the Oort Cloud, next the gas giant planets, till the mind came to rest upon the one small coffin inside a Bernal Sphere Orbital circling Titan. Suddenly there was a burst of light inside the mind, brighter than the illumination of one hundred exploding super novas.

“It was a good death,” the older doctor said. “A hero's death. I’ll need to remember this Avatar Fantasy Scenario when it is time for my passing.” Before the foggy solution began to dissolve the body, the doctor noticed the ancient man had died smiling.


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Post April 30, 2010, 11:29:39 PM

Medieval Fantasy Mixup

- Winner -


TREASURE(BOX) HUNT…

By:
Sergio Palumbo



Elements: a samurai, a plunderer, a peasant, & a jade treasure box.


Keku, unseen, dangling from the pergola, thought of the two fellows of his waiting just outside for the opportunity to intervene. The eight plunderers inside were drinking, unaware of what was going to happen…

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Everything had begun two days ago… The Daimyo called Keku before him and handed to the the black- haired Samurai a little treasure box in jade (there were only three of them within the fabled riches of the Clan, made by ancient Earth magic… ), sealed by the appointed shugenja who made it subject to be opened thanks to another counter enchantment, known only to the shugenja working for the addressed Daimyo of the Lowland Clan. The swordsman had been chosen to deliver that gift to him and had to leave at once.

That was the most important duty his Master had asked him for so far. He knew that keeping a good relationship between the allied Clans of both Daimyos was essential…

So, Keku had left the village, knowing he was leaving also one piece of his heart cause of his beloved girl he was departing from, although confident he would have been back as delivery had been made.

Unfortunately along the way he stopped at a tavern where two customers paid him a drink, pretending to be corteous to a faithful Samurai wearing the traditional garment of their great Daimyo. Unnoticed, they put some dangerous substance inside his cup so Keku went soon into a deep sleep… Next morning, when finally awake, he discovered himself near a little river, his head aching, all the clothing disappeared. His katana and the precious treasure box were lost, too.

Soon he understood how foolish he had been and the need to cover himself became pressing cause of the cold. He had been walking for long before arriving at a house with a cultivated field nearby. Probably some propriety of a local peasant, and not a wealthy one…

As Keku approached, he heard an invocation coming from the house. Cautiously, he had a look and discovered inside a curly man who was threatening a white- haired tenant, handling a naginata really in bad condition. The old man was saying he had nothing to give, but the assaulter wasn’t listening to him…

Keku abruptly entered, despite his embarassing nudity, and hit the plunderer making him unconscious on the floor. The old man showed himself very thankful to the weird saver. They tied tightly the assaulter and the tenant, named Oteku, gave the swordsman something to cover himself with and some food. So the Samurai sat down and told Oteku his misfortune of the night before…

The peasant explained he was once a good yumi(bows) maker, then was forced to leave looking for a new occupation when his creditors came for the money… But Oteku still possessed some old yumi made in the past and that was exactly what that plunderer desired… . Moreover, Oteku said he could give Keku some hints about those tavern delinquents, as he had heard something about the place where they probably were hiding… but they were members of a bigger party of plunderers- maybe eight men- and it was unlikely that one swordsman alone could win such a fighting…

In the meanwhile the tied plunderer, recovering his senses, listened to their words and suddenly broke out:- My name is Jun. I could be of help to you!-

-Why should we believe you… ?-Keku replied, keeping his brown eyes on him-You just attempted to prey on this poor man!-

-Yes, as you say… but, please, just think of my situation… I am not so good as a plunderer and, apart my old naginata, I possess no money even to buy some new weapon… and that is necessary for my, ehm, activity… -

-So what… ?-

-You spoke of a tresure box, didn’t you… ?Surely this thing is precious and maybe there is a reward for the ones who will retrieve that… -

-And you would join me just for the reward…?- Keku asked Jun.

-Maybe this way I could get some regular money for a time… -

The Samurai thought it out: ”Two swordsmen are better than one”…

-I want join you, too… - the tenant added-Although old, I could prepare arrows… you know, using them and a good yumi one clever archer alone could kill many adversaries… and you, as a Samurai, were surely trained at Kyudo, the traditional yumi fighting art… -

Keku didn’t see many other options ahead…

-Please, don’t prevent on old man from doing his last act of courage… !-Oteku demanded.

The Samurai nodded. So they created their strange -and temporary- alliance!

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Oteku started crying outside the plunderers’ building. Three delinquents reached the door and opened it. Suddenly the (allied) plunderer attacked them by surprise with his naginata, wounding two. Meanwhile Keku entered from the back and fired arrows against the remaining men, killing four (enemy) plunderers. the last one, unnoticed, attacked the Samurai, but Keku turned and hit him.

When he got out of the building, looking for his fellows, Jun was in trouble… but unexpectedly Oteku stunned the last assaulter…

So, incredibly, the fighting was won and the treasure box retrieved!

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When the three were before the Daimyo to deliver the valuable treasure box, the shugenja found a writ- surprise!- inside.

The Daimyo read the text and said- There are some useful information on this document, but also some instructions for me from your Daimyo, as follows: “The message bearer is one of the best Samurai of my Clan but, unfortunately, he disappointed me as he got one niece of mine into bed. So, regretfully, he is to be executed at once… ”- Suddenly the guards came and held Keku, astounded.

-Wellthen… not the right moment to speak about a reward… -Jun said.

-As a peasant, I’d better go back to my cultivation… -Oteku added – We go now… with our regards!-

They, too, were taken before reaching the exit…


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Post June 20, 2010, 05:56:00 PM

Aliens & Archaeologists Challenge

The challenge was to tell the best tale of aliens and archaeologists.



Beneath

By:
N.J. Kailhofer



It was above me, on top of the pile of rubble. I think it knew I was trapped.

As if the regular monsters weren't bad enough, this one had some kind of pet, an oozing menace with long teeth. I thought it could smell me. Why couldn't it just go away?

I didn't want to be taken. I didn't want to be probed or experimented on. Or dissected in one of their ships, for that matter. I just wanted to get out of there.

I wanted… I wanted it to be like it was, before they came.

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The fish were running that day. There were so many all you had to do is lower a net into the water and you would catch some. I knew the law would have been upset to see me, but everybody did it during spawning season. They were small, but it was free food. Free was good, take it from Luko.

The river water was cold, so cold, from all the snow melting in the mountains. My tall boots leaked, and I shook as I stood there, net in hand.

My wife, Marza, laughed at me from the river's shore, of course. Why was it wives had a never-ending supply of ways to make us feel self-conscious and still we felt lucky to have them at the same time?

I heard the thunder before I saw the flash.

Mountains of clouds burned, filling the whole horizon. The flames raced higher and faster toward us, as if the atmosphere had somehow caught fire. I thought it was Judgment Day, the day we would all pay for our sins, but I was wrong.

It was just the beginning of our suffering.

"Luko!" Marza screamed from the bank, pointing in the air. I looked, and in the center of Perdition's flames was a thing like I had never seen. It seemed long and flat, dark as night against the burning sky. It kept getting bigger, and I realized it was something coming out of the fire, emerging, and headed right at us.

"Run, Marza!" I shouted. My foot slipped on a rock, and I pitched into the water. It felt like my head exploded, and everything went dark.

When I awoke, I was lying on my back in a shallow part of the stream, half covered with water. I hurt all over, like I never had. I didn't know what was wrong with me, but I knew it was something serious.

"Marza?" I asked, but my voice came out in just a whisper. My eyes forced their way open, but I didn't understand what I saw. At first, it was all dark and blurry. Then I saw the riverbank. It was black with soot, burned to a crisp. The whole of the valley was blackened and burnt, except for the thing at the mouth of the ravine. It took up almost the whole space in the valley from edge to edge. I could see it then, but couldn't understand it. I had never seen anything like it. Never saw such black metal.

I saw then that I was burned, too, all over my back. It must have stuck out of the water when the thing landed. When I tried to move, I almost screamed from the pain, but I dared not make a sound.

I found Marza, then. Her poor body was black, seared, lying on the ground not far from me. She didn't run a quarter mile before the end.

A noise.

From their ship, I heard them. Five of them, coming toward us. I pushed myself into the deep water in the center of the river. Oh, the cold water! It burned, even as it kept me alive.

They were tall, sickly-white beings, with huge eyes and enormous ears. They walked like us, even wore clothes like us, but the noises they made were terrifying. I realized after a moment that it was their language, but I had never heard something so completely alien.

They unfolded some kind of board and put her body on it. Two of them carried her toward their ship. I never saw her again.

Three of them waded into the water toward me. I dove into the deep and swam as fast as I could. I held my breath until I was bursting. When I came up for air, I was far downstream from where they stood. How they didn't see me with those big eyes, I'll never know.

[align=center]***[/align]

I kept to the shadows as best I could. Weapons were no use against them.

Their language was hard to learn.

They wanted our world--our present, but also our past. This ship was filled with "archaeologists" trying to "study" the ruins of my ancestors. Hah! They just took it all for their museums back on their home world.

They are going deeper now, ripping passages deep into the earth with explosives, huge holes into my sacred homeland. Then they take my ancestor's bones and their treasures.

I crept close to one of their sites. The ground shook, and the stone column tipped toward me. I dove, but it was too late. I was trapped beneath the rubble.

[align=center]***[/align]

I didn't want him to find me. Let me die here, buried among my forefathers! I heard his pet monster scratching on the pile. It knew I was there.

What could I do? I could not move. Soon, they would have me. They would take me from my home, a curiosity, a slave to their whims.

There! A shard of rock. It was sharp! I would cut with it.

A stone lifted from above my head. Light poured down, flooding my view. So bright. Two dark shapes looked in through the hole.

Why couldn't he take his slobbering St. Bernard back to his ship and leave me to care for the ruins?

Then, I died, leaving nothing of Luko for them but my blue blood sprayed across his human face.


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Post June 20, 2010, 05:57:13 PM

Aliens & Archaeologists Challenge

The True Story of Dr. Tow Bing’s Remarkable Discovery and the Department of Biological Archeology, School of Theological Physics

By:
Richard Tornello © 2010



“Dr. Tow Bing, the Board of Bio-Archeo Scientists has requested you refrain from publishing your latest findings until they have been peer reviewed. You’re giving all of us headaches with this extraterrestrial nonsense,” said Dr. Dikkofig, Dean of the School.

“Dr. Dikkofig, please, you’re being obtuse. I have found what I believe to be the origins of our species!”

“All the more reason for peer review.” Dikkofig says peering over his refractors.

Frustrated, Dr. Bing retorts, “You know they’re a bunch of ossified academics especially Dr. Gay O’Vek. She is so far gone, that short of a white hole exploding its data in her face, she believes nothing new.”

“Granted, but these are the accepted methods of data propagation and you know it. Please I must ingest some tree root to calm myself. You and O’Vek make my brain hurt.”

Dr. Dikkofig sighs. He begins what have been countless, and futile efforts to bring Dr. Tow Bing in line. As brilliant as Tow may be, he’s a headache to the whole University. His family just happens to be the University’s major contributors.

“Tow,” Dikkofig begins with his arm around Tow, “we both know the local white hole spews data, energy, and jetsam from some other brane to our brane. From where, we know not. We just get it and that explains the universes expansion. The total mass keeps adding and we keep expanding. We all agree on that.”
“And, we originated seven million years ago from the God’s Magic Egg-Head. Those are truths. Be praised.”
“Most of us, in our humble opinion, believe this archeological data that you ‘claim’ represents our true origins, is, well, ridiculous… knowing THE TRUTH.”

“Humbly set in concrete,” Dr. Bing grumbles.

“I will ignore that. May I continue? This space junk you state to have located in the Sacred High Mountains, with frozen DNA, intact no less, proves, NO SUCH THING.”

“You haven’t even read the evidence no less viewed the physical pieces of this very ancient civilization. How can you even say that with a straight face?” counters Tow Bing with a headache of his own.

Dr. Gay O’Vek runs in to see what all the fuss is about. She loves a fight. “You two need assistance? Come on. Let me in on this. It sounds interesting.” pleads Gay.

They both turn to her, “Dr. Gay O’Vek, please go away. We will call you if you are required,” orders Dr. Dikkofig.

“Come on…”

“Out, be gone,”

Dr. Dikkofig continues solemnly, “The gods, blessed be their unknown names, decreed our existence from a set time. That’s the end of that discussion. We have other pressing research such as where the white holes get their energy and what to make of the objects that materialize floating in space.”

Tow emphasizes, “Yes and that’s exactly my point. Some of that junk, as you call it, is from ancient advanced civilizations. Through some form of biological contamination, it gave rise to us!”

Dr. Dikkofig states with a fatherly countenance, “I will divert from our normal procedures. I will review this data you claim is the key to our existence.” All the while thinking, if true, it throws all history, and science into the junk heap. I must be insane. I have appeared stolidly correct all these many years. This upstart, if it weren’t for the money…Ah, the medicine is working. My headache is gone.

He looks around his office relieved. Tow Bing, his other headache, has left too. “This will not occur.”

****
Dr. Dikkofig secretly meets with Dr. Asad, University Trustee infamous for his mendacity, and says, “Let’s review at this pile of ancient space junk Bing claims is evidence of our true origins.”
“First, a piece of metal with some numerical formula barely legible from the all the space dust. It is a space craft all right. And what’s this? Two bipedal creatures etched onto a plate. Is this a warning or a threat? Do you notice the raised limb or something? And second, there is no corresponding galactic location that would even come close to his proposed explanation of the numerical gobblygook.”







Dr. Asad exclaims, “But that DNA report, now that’s dangerous. The proposed mutations do correspond to what we could be. I know we came from the Gods Egg-Head. ‘When the sons of the god came among our women and found them fair and mated…’ we have that written in our great books of wisdom. We are the children of that Great Egg-Head. This data cannot be allowed. Dr. Dikkofig, this blasphemy must be suppressed!”

“Yes I know, I know. What are we do? This will upset the whole being of our world. To think that some space germ infected our planet some 2 billion years ago and initiated the carbon based structures that are here today. This shakes the foundations of our very existence.”

“And here it is. The data is irrefutable. We burn it, of course,” demands Dr. Asad.

Dikkofig nods and whispers, “Yes.” He utters a revelation, “However this is not new. This very same concept was proposed long ago before the DNA testing we have today. Another piece of junk popped out of that damned white hole and nearly hit a “conveniently” deceased scientist in the head. It was a space craft with a body in it.”

“I never heard about that!” Dr. Asad exclaims. He usually made aware of blasphemous occurrences, and is shocked.

“You wouldn’t have. I destroyed it. The body resembled one of those bipedal creatures on this metal plate.”

“We will never speak of this again.” Dr. Asad commands.

“Never, not to anyone. This goes to our graves.
Dr.Tow Bing must be promoted to some very remote location, immediately.”

“Dikkofig, I will call and emergency meeting with the board and have the papers signed in an hour. God’s will, will be done.”

“Please, with great fanfare and publicity.”

“Of course your Eminence. Egos and funds must be coddled,” chuckles Dr. Asad.


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Post June 20, 2010, 05:58:16 PM

Aliens & Archaeologists Challenge

Bird One, Bird Two

By:
J. B. Hogan



“If this find is as important as we think it is,” Student Archaeologist I Beri Dar told his companion, Student Archaeologist Trainee IV Faudle, “our careers will be made. We’ll be elected to the Interplanetary Archaeologists Society. The first students ever chosen for such an honor.”

“We’ll be promoted on the spot,” Faudle enthused. I’ll make SA I and you’ll be bumped up to II.”

“Maybe higher,” Beri Dar suggested. “I am the expedition lead.”

“Right,” Faudle concurred. “That’s what you are.”

“We’ll have to prepare speeches,” Beri Dar told his slightly younger protégé.

“Very exciting,” Faudle said. “And we did it using all the old technology and techniques just like Professor Hazlit told us to.”

“It was a test,” Beri Dar suggested. “Old Hazzie didn’t think we would find anything using these outdated methods.”

“Carbon dating,” Faudle laughed, “how quaint.”

“And without space imagery,” Beri Dar sniffed. “Just look what we’ve found.”

“Lost for eons,” Faudle said, “buried under the dirt of epochs. The mislaid connection to an ancient civilization halfway across the planet.”

“Good old Earth,” Beri Dar said, shaking his head. “It’s been a great place to look for signs of species development. Apparently these bipeds once covered most of the planet’s surface. There are signs of them everywhere.”

“Busy as little insects they were,” Faudle agreed. “Too bad they got wiped out before they could do much developing.”

“Lucky for us,” Beri Dar said, “they just loved to build things. There are structures like this one scattered around the planet.”

“But none of the studies predicted one here,” Faudle noted, waving an index finger about just like Professor Hazlit might do when making a particularly salient point during one of the Introduction to Cross-Stellar Socio-Archaeological classes he taught each year at the Science Academy.

“I want you gentlemen,” Faudle remembered the professor telling him and Beri Dar a few weeks before they were sent to this remote corner of the galaxy to study a long lost civilization, “to learn how to find the past without our modern techniques. It will be great training for you. You’ll learn a lot and you just might find some real treasures down there.”

Ah, how prophetic those words seemed to the two student archaeologists now. Now that they had uncovered the great pyramidal structure several feet beneath the soil in this remote area of the planet.

They guarded their find carefully. Why let a professor take credit for it? Old Hazlit had spent years here on the planet before and had come back with an extraordinary find: a series of pyramid ruins in a place designated Bird One because of the ubiquitous use of birds in their hieroglyphic language.

Now Beri Dar and Faudle had found Bird Two – and in the most unexpected place. Several thousand miles to the west of Bird One. But the student scientists had no doubt the two locations were related. How could they not be? Both sites had giant pyramids, with similar animal-faced figures guarding the entrances. The materials were different, sure, but local geology and environment accounted for that. The two budding scientists were certain of their discovery. As certain as you could be given the primitive technology they had been forced to use.

“Before we pack up our samples and notes,” Beri Dar told Faudle, “let’s make a final check of the dig over at the western perimeter. Tramer indicated he may have found some smaller objects made of metal there. We should check them out just to be thorough.”

“Sure,” Faudle concurred, “it’s the kind of attention to detail that will mark our research and get us those promotions.”

“And election to the council,” Beri Dar reminded his colleague.

“Of course,” Faudle nodded, “of course.”

* * *

“Two signs,” Tramer told Beri Dar and Faudle after they had arrived at the western perimeter dig. Tramer was on his first dig and had been assigned the menial task of searching the area with an ancient device Professor Hazlit insisted on calling an inorganic material finder or IMF. “I found two signs. One was probably attached to a piece of wood, the other was simply lying about.”

“Let’s see them,” Beri Dar said, all expedition leader-like. Tramer was slow handing them over. Beri Dar grabbed them rudely out of the rookie’s hands.

“Geez,” Tramer said.

Ignoring the newbie, Beri Dar laid the two signs on the ground and using a thick rag wiped them as clean as he could.

“Wha. .ap.ens .n V.gas st..s i. .egas,” Faudle read over Beri Dar’s shoulder.

“Gibberish,” Beri Dar said with a sigh.

“Hieroglyphics,” Faudle responded.

“Most likely a public notice of some kind,” Tramer said.

“Hmph,” Beri Dar grunted. Faudle echoed his leader’s sentiment.

“Just saying,” Tramer shrugged his shoulders.

“I suppose you’ve already mastered this planet’s innumerable languages?” Beri Dar said snidely.

“What about the other one?” Faudle asked. “I suppose you’ve got that all figured out, too?”

“It’s not terribly difficult,” Tramer noted, “it’s fully intact as you can see.”

“Read it, then,” Beri Dar ordered.

“Yeah,” Faudle aped, “read it.” Beri Dar gave his partner a sharp look.

“Las Vegas,” Tramer read the words slowly.

“Probably the name of the Bird Two king during the Third Dynasty,” Beri Dar proposed.

“It’s almost certainly the name of this location,” Tramer contradicted him.

“We’ll do the analysis, thank you,” Beri Dar corrected Tramer.

“Wait’ll we present these findings to the Society,” Faudle said proudly.

“Proof positive that Bird One and Bird Two are directly related,” Beri Dar said happily. “Bird
Two is clearly a follow on society to Bird One.”

“We’ll be the talk of the Society,” Faudle cheered.

“I don’t doubt it,” Tramer said. Beri Dar gave his inferior one of his patented harsh looks.

“This is the last bit of evidence we need,” he said. “We’ll be honored throughout the galaxy.”

“Yeah,” Tramer said, turning away with a smile. “Good luck with that.”


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Post June 20, 2010, 05:58:57 PM

Aliens & Archaeologists Challenge

Lost and Found

By:
Lester Curtis



"Adviser, we're receiving a sub-space transmission from our scout ship in the outer galactic arm, reporting on a promising planet."

"This is very exciting! I would speak with them, Technician." The technician keyed the connection.

"This is High Officer Tu Ahn, greeting you with news, Adviser."

"Tu Ahn, live in honor! Please, tell me what you've found."

The officer bowed. "Adviser, we have located a system with a habitable planet. It has one moon, a healthful magnetic field, much water, and all environmental parameters are within acceptable limits for the survival of our most mindful species."

"There is life, then?"

"Undoubtably, Adviser, but we are not yet close enough for our instruments to resolve significant detail. We are hopeful thus far, though, as we've not detected any sign of civilization. Upon your approval, we shall enter orbit for a closer survey."

"Approval is given, High Officer; proceed in safety."

"It shall be, Adviser. I return to my duties, in gratitude."

"Go in virtue, Tu Ahn."

Maybe this will be our new home, thought the Adviser, with a new, young star to replace our dying Sun.

[align=center]*****[/align]

"Remember, this equipment is on loan, so be careful with it." Professor Landon looked like part of the Arizona desert they were in, but he was one of the best-known archaeologists on the continent.

"What is this thing, anyway?" griped a student, as he took one end of a large plastic shipping crate.

"It's a ground-penetrating radar unit, Mr. Sykes. Put it over there." Krishnamurti took the other end from the truck, and they lugged it away and set it down. "Everyone gather around here, please."

The archaeology students formed a loose semicircle around the professor.

"Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, we're here because of a very old Hopi legend. This legend refers to a supposed celestial event some four thousand years ago, but we're looking for a settlement that's said to have grown up here" -- he stabbed the ground with his walking stick -- "in association with that event.

"This radar unit will save us a lot of shovel work, but there will still be plenty.

"Also, remember that we are guests of the Hopi, and this is a sacred site, so be respectful. Don't make fun of them when you see them; some of them look like they belong in a bad cowboy movie, but they're not stupid. Our radar operator is one of them. He should be here soon, so we should get the grids laid out. Let's go to work."

[align=center]*****[/align]

"Tu Ahn, what news have you for us?"

"Adviser, we've been orbiting the planet, gathering data. There are millions of life-forms, both animal and vegetable . . . there may be an issue of doubt, though . . . "

"Yes?"

"We see what appear to be organized structures at places upon the surface, and we fear there may be pre-technological sentient life . . . "

"Honor demands that we confirm this, Tu Ahn . . . it would be a great Shame for us to occupy a planet that already supports sentient life. You have approval to land, but do so discreetly."

"It shall be so, Adviser."

[align=center]*****[/align]

The first radar image resolved on the computer screen, as Professor Landon and the students watched. There was laughter and excited shouting.

"It's here," the professor said softly. "It's really here. The legend was right . . . "

Krishnamurti pointed at an ovoid blank area below the clearly discernible structures. "What's that?"

Joe Two-Crows shook his head. "Don't know. Might just be an anomaly. We need to scan from a few other locations anyway; we'll know then."

By late the next day, the picture was complete: a disc-shaped something, with rounded edges, buried deep, with a ring of small buildings surrounding it at a distance.

"No idea what that is?" asked the professor.

"Nope," Joe said. "It's solid, though, not a cavity."

Sykes quipped, "Maybe one of the UFO's missed Roswell and crashed here instead." There were giggles and derisive snorts.

"He may be right . . . "

The professor cocked an eyebrow. "Mr. Krishnamurti . . . ?"

"I'm not here for the archaeology, sir . . . I'm post-grad anthropology, and my master's thesis is about this legend.

"The legend speaks of 'silver men from the sky,' and says they 'traveled in circles.' And that" -- pointing at the screen -- "is definitely a circle . . . "

[align=center]*****[/align]

TO THE WISE COUNCIL, FROM TU AHN, SCOUT SHIP HIGH OFFICER. I REPORT IN SHAME THAT A LANDING ACCIDENT HAS DISABLED OUR SHIP, AND OUR SUB-SPACE TRANSCEIVER ALSO.

THIS PLANET IS OCCUPIED BY SENTIENT BEINGS. THEY HAVE LANGUAGE AND SOCIETY. WE TRIED TO AVOID THEM, BUT THEY HAVE SEEN US.

WE ARE BURYING OUR SHIP IN A REMOTE LOCATION, AND WILL STAY INSIDE IT, IN THE STASIS CHAMBERS USED FOR FOOD STORAGE. WE DON'T KNOW IF WE WILL SURVIVE OR NOT.

The Adviser looked up from the screen. "Technician?"

"It's confirmed, Adviser; this was sent from the referred planet by light-speed radio, and beamed toward our former home world . . . "

"Before the Migration . . . so long ago . . . " The Adviser stood. "I declare that Tu Ahn acted honorably, and not in shame. Now, Honor demands that we dispatch a recovery vessel . . . "

"It shall be so, Adviser."

[align=center]*****[/align]

The top of the object had been excavated, and proved to be seamless titanium.

"Could this be a hoax?" someone asked.

"You're joking, right?," said the professor.

"And what are those guys doing here?" asked Sykes.

"Those are Hopi shamans," said Krishnamurti, "and they appear to be preparing some sort of ceremony . . . "

The shamans began their dance, and then, with an explosive thunderclap, the sun disappeared, occluded by a huge black disc against the sky -- and then the mysterious disc in the ground began to rise.


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Post June 20, 2010, 05:59:51 PM

Aliens & Archaeologists Challenge

The Explorer

By:
Michele Dutcher



Among the Hopi Indians the tradition is told that their ancestors once lived in an underworld in the Grand Canyon till dissension arose between the good and the bad, the people of one heart and the people of two hearts. Machetto, who was their chief, counseled them to leave the underworld. They tarried by the Red River, which is the Colorado, and grew grain and corn.

“You might as well come out Kinkaid – I heard you coming up the canyon in your wooden boat.”

G.E. Kinkaid stepped into the small camp that Stanley Thoth had set up on the banks of the Red River. He stood 5'7”, black hair tightly pulled back into a braid, with a full, white beard. “Those damn ears of yours will get you in trouble someday.”

“I doubt it, Wally,” he answered, stirring the campfire in front of him. “I've been allowing you to follow me for three days. There's only one way to go around here – downstream. I figured I'd rather that you found me than the other way around.”

Kinkaid put his backpack down, got out a metal cup and helped himself to some coffee from the pot in the coals. “I guess the guys at the Smithsonian heard about my find.”

“Hard not to hear, Kinkaid, when it shows up on the front page of the Arizona Gazette.”

“I'm surprised any of those stuffed shirts can see beyond their teacups and inkwells, Stanley.”

“You should know – having worked for the Institute for thirty years. We were afraid you'd get all these miners whipped into a frenzy with the talk of golden statues and hieroglyphics. So I volunteered to find you and have a look-see for myself.”

“That article was from three months ago.”

“I know.” Stanley reached into his back pocket, taking out a faded shred of newspaper and began to read. “Arizona Gazette, Monday Evening, April 5, 1909. Explorations in Grand Canyon. Mysteries of immense rich cavern being brought to light. Jordan is Enthused.” Stanley folded the paper before returning it to his pocket. “What happened to Jordan, by the way?”

The harsh man in the flannel shirt and weathered jacket gave a lop-sided grin. “I decided I didn't need a chaperone this time out. This discovery is mine, and mine alone.”

Stanley's gun was already drawn and pointed at Kinkaid. “I'm sure you won't mind if I tag along.”

Kinkaid got to his feet, tossing the last of his coffee into the campfire. “It's almost morning. The cave's not far.”

Stanley nodded. “I figure it's by where the river branches, on the north side – in spite of what you said in the Gazette.”

“You're right again. We don't want other people getting there first, do we?”

The sunlight along the top of the Grand Canyon was almost blinding as it bounced along the orange and beige ridges. They had experienced no complications climbing the cliff walls, both men being in excellent physical condition. The capstone of the mountain called 'Isis Temple' glowed brightly with the new day, while the bottom third of the canyon was still in darkness.

“The steps are just over here,” said Kinkaid while pulling his floppy leather hat tightly down over his eyes. He began to lead Stanley to the right.

“I beg to differ,” answered the blonde-haired man, nodding to the trail on the left.

“You're right, friend. I get confused so easily.”

The ledge was reached quickly, with Kinkaid lighting a lantern he had left by the entrance.

Kinkaid was leading the way in a hurry now, pointing out interesting attractions as they raced past them. Mummies; more writing; a golden statue in a small recess in the cave wall. The cavern system was easily passable, tunnels spiking out like hubs on a wheel. They had been walking for five minutes when they burst into a domed room as large as a warehouse. There were treasures stacked from floor to ceiling.

Stanley walked over to a pile and picked up a crystal globe which began to glow, shimmering at first, then rising, brightening to full day-glow. He grabbed Kinkaid suddenly as Stanley's face began to change into something other than human.

“I need a being with only one heart to help me open the portal,” he said, leading Kinkaid to a doorway. “Place your hand there.” Wally refused so Stanley grabbed his arm, forcing his left hand into a recess in the cave wall, while Stanley put his right hand on the other side. The doorway began to glow, changing into a portal.

“I could say it's a shame you had to find my hoard, but I never liked you anyway. You were always so busy and curious and dusty.”

“I-I-I don't understand,” garbled the explorer.

“What do all of these cultures represented here have in common, Kinkaid? One being – that's what. At the start of all of them, there was one man who brought them the gifts of astronomy, architecture, science and mathematics. Thoth, Imhotep, Quetzalcoatl, the Bird Man of Easter Island - I am all of these, bringing knowledge from my star-world. I like this little planet of yours, so I'm staying. But, Wally, I can't afford to have a twerp like you ruining it for me by blabbing your big fat mouth.” The portal was glowing red as Thoth threw the explorer through the doorway and into a totally new world. “Enjoy your explorations,” he sang after him.

As the light faded, Thoth completely transfigured himself into a winged sphinx with his head almost human and the body of a lion. He sat upon a golden bench, emptying a food pouch taken from a chest in the corner. “Well, if nothing else - it's nice to be home,” he smiled, settling in.


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Post June 20, 2010, 06:00:51 PM

Aliens & Archaeologists Challenge

The Emerald Tablet

By:
J. Davidson Hero



Out across the whispering desert, where the yellow sand abruptly gives way to vast stretches of white, begins an alien landscape like nothing else on earth. Devoid of life, it is haunted by huge hummocks and strange formations of white chalk that resemble nothing less than eerie sculptures crafted by some enigmatic extraterrestrial artisan. By day these inselbergs stand imposing but silent like megalithic relics in a forgotten alien museum, but by night under the light of a gibbous moon, the white crags take on an ominous appearance given voice by the ever-present wind. Here, hidden among the broken dunes and rocky hillocks, the professor discovered the cave.

Upon seeing it, I didn’t doubt that one good sandstorm could easily bury it, hiding for all time the entrance to that fantastic trove. Even unburied I don’t know if I’d ever be able to find it again, even if my life depended on it.

Professor Sarwik, however, seemed to know its location by some uncanny sense. I had worried about him since we left Cairo. He had been a portly fellow and his neatly trimmed gray moustache had given him a jovial appearance, and he had a manner that matched. But since that night in the Egyptian Museum studying hieroglyphs, something about him had changed. He had started having dreams at night and then, even more disturbing, visions during the day of a lost crypt in the desert. Fearing for his life, I could only assist my friend in following this obsession to its end and hired some guides to lead us. During our journey he had all but wasted away, his eyes sunken in his skull and his once neatly trimmed moustache devolved into a ragged patchy white beard. He would not eat, and seldom slept, but kept consulting his notes and charts and taking sights with his sextant.

When we finally found the cave, he collapsed from exhaustion, and perhaps… madness. That night, as we finished making camp, our Bedouin guides retreated with our camels into the night and left us alone.

####

“Look here!” the professor said. He took a small horsehair brush and dental pick from his pack with trembling hands and started brushing and scraping encrusted sand from the engravings on the limestone surface. We had worked our way into a recess in the back of the cave. “It’s a funerary stele,” the professor said. “Much like the ones we examined in Cairo. The crypt will be behind here.” As he continued to work I took a seat against the rough rock wall and busied myself by sifting through the curious little fossils that littered the floor.

The professor mumbled as he worked. “The winged sun above, Ra-Horakhty seated on his throne, and here where the figure of the one entombed should be…” Then he gasped so violently I thought he might be choking. He stood transfixed and pointing at the odd thing he had uncovered. It was a carved figure that represented the being buried in the crypt and that being was tall with a long equine head and four thin arms.

Then he translated the hieroglyphs below the image. “Any man who shall destroy this, the god Thoth shall destroy him.” Thick sooty smoke from the carbide lamp’s flame danced around the professor’s face. His eyes took on a mad cast in the flicker of the flame. “A curse,” he said. His brow furled. He looked uncertain for just a moment, and the old professor I had always known seemed to surface. But as quickly as this vestige of sanity exerted itself, it was subsumed, and the mad man I’d been travelling with resurfaced with a toothy grin. “Get your pickaxe.”

When we finally cracked the slab loose, a smell of dry rot filled the air, and to our amazement, phosphorescence flooded out from the room beyond.

The glow was emanating from an open sarcophagus in the center of the crypt. The green light was so bright that I covered my face, but the professor was bewitched. He crept forward before I could get my bearings, and then stood there bathed in emerald light.

“The Tabula Smaragdina,” he said. I crawled forward and forced myself to look. Clutched in the hands of a four-armed horse-headed mummy was a square plate of emerald embossed with alien letters. The green light was emanating from it.

“Legend says it was found by Apollonius in the first century AD. Another legend claims Alexander the Great found it in the third century BC. This proves that there was more than one.”

“What is it Sarwik?”

The professor looked at me with a sinister smirk. “According to the alchemists of old, it holds the secret of transmutation, the secret of the gods.”

And with those words Professor Sarwik wrenched the tablet from the four mummified hands.

The professor screamed as emerald light poured from his eyes and mouth.

“So… much… to know,” he said. He began speaking in an unrecognizable tongue. And as he did so, he looked at me with an air of superiority that was mixed with a lust for the knowledge he was consuming and a hatred for me who was the only being alive who threatened him. He raised the tablet above his head with both hands.

“That which is above is like that which is below,” he screamed.

I thought he had gone completely mad, and I realized I was still gripping my pickaxe. I swung it upwards to knock the tablet away. He screamed in agony and the crypt went black.

####

By the light of the carbide lamp I examined the shattered tablet. It was in shards, and the now dull material crumbled between my fingers. If the legends were true, and these green tablets did hold some secret information, the secret of the gods, I wondered what sort of alien knowledge the professor had been privy to in those strange moments before my pickaxe grazed his skull and took his life.


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Post June 20, 2010, 06:01:32 PM

Aliens & Archaeologists Challenge

The Hiding Place

By:
Joseph Nichols



Tommy tiptoed down the stairs, careful to stretch over the squeaky eighth one from the top. Once he crossed the threshold of the kitchen, he knew he was safe, the pale green linoleum padding his steps. His mind, usually adrift with what his psychiatrist called Attention Deficit Disorder, was oddly focused. He stuffed two oranges and a juice box into his little red backpack. He even considered grabbing some cheese before he remembered the jar of peanut butter safely stored away at his destination.

The Hiding Place.

The kitchen was silent and the mere thought of the Place filled his eyes with wonder, the innocence made complete with the appearance of his dimpled grin.

The sound of the screen door banging against the jamb had, indeed, awoken his mother, but he had already been too far away for her angry calls to reach his ears. Nothing could stop him. For that day, he was an explorer. No, an adventurer! It was still dark as he raced through the tree line at the back of his yard, plunging into the loamy scent of the forest, too early, even, for the birds to fill the damp air with their calls. At eight years old he was an avid reader. Poe. Asimov. Bradbury. They were his closest friends. His only friends, in fact. And it is with their books that he had lined the walls of his Hiding Place. Half an hour passed before he arrived, his shoes wet with dew, small pieces of earth clinging to his calves.

The Hiding Place rose above him like a tower, or so it seemed to his young mind. In truth, it was no more than ten by ten at the base, perhaps eight feet tall at its center, and would have appeared to be nothing more than a large pile of hastily assembled pieces of scrap metal to any other eye. But to Tommy it held wonder. It was dark. It was unknown. And most importantly, it was his.

Two days earlier, Tommy had run into the woods while fleeing the neighborhood boys. He didn’t know which was worse: The black eye they would have given him, or the one his mother would have added in her ensuing anger. What he had never dreamed was that his haphazard flight might lead him to such a perfect place as this little building in the center of a clearing in the woods. That had been Thursday and since then he had been able to make three trips to the Hiding Place. Between the three, he had filled his Radio Flyer with books, a lantern, the plastic jar of JIF, and a rusted, fold up metal chair.

On this trip, however, he had brought only himself and a snack. In fact, he had only one last thing to do. He kneeled and removed the backpack, setting it on the ground beside him. The soft protesting of the zipper bit into the quiet around him and, for just an instant, Tommy felt like an intruder in the clearing. But a boy’s mind, whether diagnosed or not, is easily distractible. As soon as his hand closed around the little padlock in his pack, the feeling was forgotten, and he had looped the curve of metal through the clasp on the door. He pressed it together and heard the satisfying click as it did what it was created to do: Protect his treasures. This ownership flooded him with elation and he longed to be inside. He tried to remove the lock but, in his excitement, his cold fingers fumbled the thing into the drift of dead leaves at his feet.

Watch carefully now as he freezes… see that same excitement draining slowly from the boy’s face.

In every one of his beloved stories, there was a crucial moment, a decision made, or a step taken which plucked the character from one path in life and placed them on an entirely separate one. Sometimes this forebodes good…sometimes it does not. Perhaps Tommy knew that his moment had already begun. Perhaps it was this thought which attempted to rise from his sub-consciousness in warning as time seemed to slow, crickets quieted, and a chill swept through the branches setting them to clickety-clack all around the clearing. Regardless, he hesitated, his eyes following these skeletal branches to where they seemed to close together above him in the dark blue sky.

The moment passed, a decision was made, and Tommy reached into the leaves, his fingers closing around a metal object which was not his padlock.

That faint light of early morning revealed a smooth, pyramidal piece of metal, much wider than it was tall. Oddly enough, it felt warm to the touch. He stood in wonder, his mouth slightly open, as a tiny thread of cobalt light raced along the object’s raised edge and shot directly across the foot of space between him and the latch on the door. There, the light melted as if liquid into grooves in the metal surrounding the handle (grooves Tommy had not previously seen), revealing alien sigils which covered the entire door from frame to frame. Slowly, that door began to swing inward, matching cobalt light spilling from within the building into the clearing, bright enough that we cannot see the boy’s face or what he sees inside. Framed by this light, Tommy is first a silhouette. And then he is completely enveloped in the cobalt glow.

When Tommy should have returned that evening, his mother had been stoned. And so his trail through the leaves disappeared before it could be discovered, days later, in that clearing in the woods. Near that simple, metal shack, now empty of book, lantern, or chair. The only indication that it had once been occupied was one plastic canister of peanut butter on a dusty, metal floor.


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Post June 20, 2010, 06:02:18 PM

Aliens & Archaeologists Challenge

The colors of the rainbow on COROT-7a

By:
Sergio Palumbo



Rainbow colors on COROT-7a differed from all the others visible elsewhere. Such an occurence was caused mostly by mist here- there was not much rain- and their shades went from infrared to red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet and then finally to the far deep ultraviolet frequencies of the light reflected in the air.
Actually, the limited sevenfold bands of any rainbow were an artefact of Mankind’s traditional color vision,but OUUhrr’s peculiar photoreceptors made him able to look at them within about 150 to 1300 nm wavelengths- as he was a RRRjjy from planet RRRjjy Prime- much wider than the Earthling couple from his team ever could.
They had been sent to COROT-7a, a planet (half its surface was made of water and half a huge mainland) orbiting [i]COROT-7 [/i],a yellow dwarf star slightly smaller than the Earthlings’ Sun.His human collegues had been glad to join that expedition as this place was pertinent to RRRjjy space (so the only way Earthlings could get here was by “invitation” from their alien RRRjjy allies in the area…) and they were pleased to work together to discover the secrets buried in the ground of this long- dead world.
Assumptions were that creatures similar to the RRRjjy species once lived on COROT-7a, maybe spread here around from some RRRjjy planets nearby, but with the passing of centuries the local living beings had disappeared, supposedly cause of climatic disasters or the like.Whatever, they had never evolved into a civilitazion more advanced than ancient Egyptians (just to refer to an old human culture) and left many ruins of their past existence…
The lost people of COROT-7a were well renowned for their interred buildings- maybe a peculiarity of this extinct species- even though RRRjjy academicians believed there had to be many other burial-grounds still hidden no one had found yet…Therefore, all the treasures/secrets present inside were safe, theirs to discover!
Actually, two previous expeditions sent here had proved unsuccesful, no report had reached homeworld…but that was a sector very dangerous due to unpredictable emissions from the dwarf star, likely they had been lost en- route before descending upon COROT-7a...Only the modern navigational equipments made the starships capable of going safely through such threats nowadays.
Their team was made up of two humans(a French female archaelogist named Edmée- two clear eyes- and a middle aged male scientist, Frank, brown haired and a bit fat…) and two RRRjjy (one of them- that was OUUhrr- stationed on the planet, while the other was on the orbiting probe engaged in supervising the surface from above, coordinating his activity with the three on COROT-7a).
Actually, the frequent magnetic storms made rare some good images of the underground, so the job was mainly fieldwork: the old excavation tools were not less necessary than they had been in ancient excavation camps…
OUUhrr was just taking a break from his research, eating a light meal wide- mouthed while sipping a drink with his second pore, and was contemplating the rainbow above when Frank came out of the tent.
-Hey OUUhrr!- the human scientist said, in his weird soft voice, much fainter than usual RRRjjy tone-Come see this door in stone undeground!Lots of alien artefacts around…-
OUUhrr,the archaelogist looked at him in return.He stopped over examining the strange little creatures short ears and a piggish look- holding onto the man’s shoulders.Of course Frank was unable to notice them, not by means of his eyes, at least.On the contrary,the RRRjjy could distinguish perfectly their size and appearance, but did reveal nothing.
- Lissssteeeeen to usssssss [/i]…[i]Folllooowwww usssssss …- the little beings were telling OUUhrr from afar.Obviously, their voices, too, were not audible to Frank, given his limited Earthling ears…
- Doooo as we assskkkComplete your tassssk …-they kept saying.
The RRRjjy stared at Frank, smiling“After all, I see the world with different bulb eyes in a way no human could ever see, as for the rainbow…”.
It had been since they had arrived in this area that OUUhrr had been listening to those “suggestions”, which became stronger especially when he came closer to the place their camp was next to.Probably the tombs they were looking for lay down there…
Anyway, time to hurry up!Since OUUhrr had began hearing such voices, he had understood what to do.Now everything was almost planned out…
In the next hours he would have killed by surprise both the human collegues, then destroyed their equipment and leave no trace around.Moreover, he would have sent a distress signal to the probe so to make it come down using wrong coordinates:that way his remaining collegue would have soon disappeared, by simulating an accident.
Eventually, he himself would have been told from the creatures where the tombs really were!
- Kiiiiilll the humanssss belllievvve in usssssss …-the words were always on his mind…He didn’t know if the beings he was watching or listening to were true or fictional, maybe they were only created from some substance present in the soil which was able to provoke anyone nearby (or only RRRjjy photoreceptors…)to have visions.Otherwise,it was them who desired to show their existence to him alone…whatever the reason, he liked to think he could see them only cause of some great destiny
When everything was accomplished as ordered, finally OUUhrr was allowed to enter the hidden entrance of the underground tombs…
Only when inside he considered - maybe- that could be only a defensive system to keep intact the burial- grounds, a sort of mythical curse, able to prevent any thief from coming too close to the building by putting into his mind strange thoughts, making people fight each other to forget their task…
Only when inside OUUhrr found the bony remains of the plunderers who had preceeded him there…Those were the ones intended to keep him company soon, forever


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Post June 20, 2010, 06:03:44 PM

Aliens & Archaeologists Challenge

- Winner -


From Antarctica with Love

By:
G.C. Dillon



Leslie St. John-Smythe felt each day of his eighty-one years as he trod the gangway from the Cessna seaplane. He held his left hand to his brown fedora to stop it from flying away in the airflow still generated by the plane's propellers. His right hand had a death-grip on a thin wooden cane. An armed member of the Strategic Air Services met him. The man held a semi-automatic rifle, its muzzle pointed downward, and a seasoned index finger straddled the half-circle of the trigger guard. Who Dares Succeeds was their motto – what were they daring him to do, he wondered. The soldier led him inside the nearest building.

A tall and thin Latino American lieutenant-commander with Navy Seal insignia and patches met him next. His skin was dark, his hair was short, and his speech was quick and clipped. CATALANO was spelled out upon his chest.

The only easy day is yesterday, their motto – would his words tell the same to St. John-Smythe?

The American officer opened a manila folder. “You come well recommended in a long lasting, impressive career: an antiquities finder for several prestigious museums, a linguist specializing in ancient and “dead” languages, a, umm, philologist.

“Your latest paper, I see here, was on the influence of Phoenician grammar on Modern English.”

“Not latest!” St. John-Smythe removed his wire-rimed glasses. “Last. I am Professor Emeritus, and retired. I spend most of my days tending beehives in Sussex today.” He shoved the eyeglasses back upon his nose.

“Sussex? My most current intelligence places you at Yale? In Connecticut. The States.”

“My ancestry is more British than the Queen's.” St. John-Smythe snorted.

A young black man entered the room. He wore civilian clothes. His hair hung in dreadlocks. He nodded to the Navy Seal and held out his hand to St. John-Smythe. “Rondell Jaspers, University of Chicago. Professor, I've read your work. It's been an inspiration.”

St. John-Smythe took his hand in a firm and hardy handshake.

“We found the doomed Pan-collegiate Expedition of 1929!” the man blurted out, excitedly. “Or at least one site they explored.” St. John-Smythe was momentarily impressed. That scientific project had been a consortium of geologists, botanists, archaeologists, engineers and a plethora of other fields from a dozen different colleges and universities. It had set out to do the most comprehensive study of the frozen continent of the last century, and it disappeared with nary a clue as to its dire fate.

“We have one artifact that defies analysis. It seems to have two tablets written in two scripts. I've examined it. Seen elements of Cuniform and Sanskrit. Ogham even, I think anyway. But frankly, I'm more than six feet out of my depths. Make that six fathoms.

“I believe it's alien.”

“By alien, you mean --” St. John-Smythe raised a finger (not to say which) heavenward. He shook his head disapprovingly. “You have read too much science-fiction and perhaps not solely the best of that particular genre.”

“I said I read your stuff so I know the symbol recognition software you pioneered. When we have to confirm fuzzy letters and numerals to utilize an Internet utility, that's helping some program of those that followed your attempt and perfected the concept to read what our ancestors wrote. So Champollion, here's your Rosetta Stone,” Jaspers said, with just a smidgen of anger to his voice.

“He had Greek and a familiar form of Egyptian with which to work,” St. John-Smythe groused.

“We have a network of super-computers at your disposal, and a crew of programmers, for Java, C++, dotNET, whatever you want. Even cobalt,” the Navy Seal reported.

“You mean COBOL, I assume; however my nascent computer-based diagnostic tools were written in Lisp!”

The Navy officer only stared at him blindly.

The professor said, “But I'm sure you do not need to find someone with a speech impediment.” He smiled at a private joke. “Any adequate application developer should suffice. It's not rocket science, you know.” He smiled all the broader.

“Now I assume I must trek to the permafrost and ice flows to view this marvel,” St. John-Smythe said. His old bones could already feel the cold, and he instinctively stifled a shiver. His most recent bout with frostbite was when...

“We brought it here.” St. John-Smythe heard. “To the Falklands, our British cousins' isles,” the American finished.

St. John-Smythe thought a moment. “May I see this 'it'?”

* * *

Professor St. John-Smythe began his PowerPoint presentation. His laptop's display was cast upon a wide canvas screen by a small projector that had a fan that projected whirling noises more successfully than its blurry, out-of-focus image. It was the “find” found on the Southern-polar continent. St. John-Smythe clicked on his laser-pointer. He depressed a button on his keyboard and the screen repainted into a close-up of the artifact.

“Thank you all for joining me. I am here to dispel all rumours and reveal the truth – or the closest there to, which we can suss out.”

There was a bee's buzz of murmuring amongst the invitation only crowd.

“This artifact I liken to the plaque Earth sent out with Pioneer 10, showing two naked specimens of our species – Adam and Eve sans fig leaves. Or banana leaves I'm told our Muslim neighbours speculate. More coverage I presume.”

“Good for Adam,” came the voice of a commenter/heckler. Nervous laughter followed.

St. John-Smythe coughed. “We have a tale of two cultures. One overflowing with prosperity, health, and grace. The other in ruin, poverty and starvation. And there is a suggestion as to which we can achieve...”

He advanced his slideshow:

TRANSMIT THIS MISSIVE TO ONE THOUSAND PLANETS AND YOUR CIVILIZATION WILL PROSPER, MULTIPLE AND FLOWER. FAILURE TO CONTINUE THIS RIGHTOUS COMMUNICATION'S PROGRESSION WILL RESULT IN CALAMITY AND BLIGHT, DESPAIR AND RUIN.

“Perhaps we need to contact NASA...”


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Post July 31, 2010, 11:28:07 AM

Obsession Challenge

The challenge was to tell the best tale of one or more obsessed characters.



A Sister's Passion

By:
N.J. Kailhofer



Sister Catherine frowned at the half-melted ice sculpture in the middle of her plain, side table. Mr. Theopolous the custodian had made it especially for the occasion, although she was not at all sure the image of a grim reaper was a good choice, but Theopolous had strange tastes. Encircling it were half-empty plates of crackers and simple dips. Light from the rose-scented candles flickered against the stone walls, illuminating her room along with a single oil lamp on the bedside table. The smell was a welcome change from the ever-present incense that permeated every inch of the Convent.

An oversized, black leather trunk stamped with 'Sister Margaret' sat open on the floor, mostly full. She told me at the conference in Utah everyone bought a lot when she had one of these parties. And they are such good products, too. I do not know why someone would not want one…

A knock on the door jolted her out of her musings. "Sister?"

For a moment, Sister Catherine considered hiding the evidence of the party, but she knew it would not do any good. She opened the door.

"Mother Superior," she welcomed. "We don't see you in this wing very often."

The ancient nun's deep-set eyes swept the room. Clutching her Bible to her chest with worn, bony fingers, she said, "From the sight of this room, it may have been too long."

"I'm sure I have no idea to what you are referring."

Mother Superior walked into the chamber and began examining objects from the sample case.

"Sister Catherine," she said, "you have been here with us for forty-seven years, but I have been here for far longer. In all those years, I have needed only one tool, the one our Lord intended."

Her fingers drummed her Bible, the hint obvious.

Sister Catherine's temper flared. "With all due respect, Mother Superior, just because something is new doesn't mean it won’t work as well or even better than the old, outdated, traditional tools of two thousand years ago. I mean, in this age of internet access, you won't even allow us electric lights!"

The old nun's eyes narrowed to slits. "Is that so?"

Sister Catherine looked down, feeling the cold glare. "I apologize. My zeal to do good works with these tools got the better of me. It's just…"

"Just what?"

"That they work. It makes our task easier that we may better guide the souls who come to us. Technology is not evil. If only you would allow me to prove that to you!"

Mother Superior paused in thought. "Very well. Let the two of us go out into the world and you can try to prove the value of these things to me to my satisfaction… or you will never use them again."

[align=center]***[/align]

The City was unaware of the two Sisters on its sidewalk, quietly observing those who bustled by. The cacophony of a thousand noises assaulted their ears and exhaust from the cars rushing by burned at their nostrils.

Mother Superior bristled. "One approaches."

Sister Catherine looked up from the iPhone she had taken from Sister Margaret's case. "There are three on this side of the street alone."

Mother Superior raised a thin eyebrow.

"There's an App for that." Sister Catherine smiled. "And across the street is an escapee."

Mother Superior's eyes burned with intensity. "Where?"

Sister Catherine pointed. "There. The gray-haired man in the red shirt with rings on each of his fingers."

Mother Superior withdrew a small rod from the folds of her robes. Instantly, it grew in taller than her and a long, curved blade sprang from the tip. She flew unseen across the street and swung her full-sized scythe in an arc, slicing the invisible spirit inside the man in two. Just as quick, she reached into his chest as he stood there and pulled out a ball of white-hot energy. His body fell to the ground.

People on the street saw him fall. A young man moved to help him, stepping right through Mother Superior's black habit as if she were not there, unseen and unheard. He knelt beside the escapee's body.

"This guy is dead!" the man announced to the gathering crowd.

Sister Catherine landed beside her invisible superior and held out what looked like a plastic cup. "Put it in here."

"What?"

"Put it in and I'll put the lid on so it won't escape again. You'll see."

Doubtfully, the old nun dropped the energy ball into the cup and her younger partner clamped on the lid. Inside, they could see the light moving back and forth, battering against the sides.

"See? ReaperWare keeps the souls safe and secure. These vessels go inside a larger, flexible carrier that can be worn as a large purse or a backpack for those times when you want to be visible, and your hands stay free for the scythe. Instead of one soul per trip, this holds fourteen. Our productivity will soar! We can give it to everyone in the Convent--"

Mother Superior's scythe plunged into Sister Catherine and the old nun plucked a bright blue ball of light from her chest. She held her Sister's soul in her hand and bent low over her astonished face.

"Sorry, my dear. I have held the record for most reaping for over two thousand years. I am not about to lose it to some upstart. ReaperWare indeed!"

She picked up the soul carrier and placed Catherine in one of the vessels, next to the escapee. The carrier zipped closed, and she put it over her back.

She mused, "It is awfully comfortable, though. I think Sister Margaret has a date with the Well of Souls, too, before she sells these to anyone else."

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Post July 31, 2010, 11:28:52 AM

Obsession Challenge

Teresa

By:
G.C. Dillon



I have loved you all my life, as long as I can remember.

But to you, I am only your brother's best friend. Everyone calls you 'Teresa', but only my heart truly names you. I am so glad to live near you, to lay my head down in rest so close. Many a night I will stand upon the black-and-white Cimmerian grass just outside your house, wanting to howl out my joy to the big moon or the little moon. (Our elders inform us that our original home had only a single globe in the Stygian sky.)

Yes, I spend so much time sniffing about your stuff, learning your movements, knowing your business. But you have nothing to fear from me. I swear and promise. Truly, I do.

You are tall and slender with light hair and bright, watery eyes. I have looked to you when younger, skipping on that same grass in pony-tails and shorts, wanting to join in. But I always stayed playing ball with your brother. I have seen you grow from a gawky girl in thick, black eye-glasses into a beautiful woman who places clear lenses to her orbs. My eyes are forever tracing out the gentle curves of your form; my ears prick up at the pitch and tone of your melodious voice; my nose twitches at the fainest scent of your wonderful, odoriferous perfume. I stare, I hear, I smell -- all at the very edges of my abilities, the very best, the zenith of my talents -- all to be with you though cursed by a vast distance. Distance of cruel space, and distance of your unkind indifference. I know some day, you will choose to cross that gap and see me for the one I am truly, the one who should be with you, care for you, protect you. One day you will let me fully be myself and do all I hope for, and strive to, and know I should. One day I believe you will – you must. You need only to command my heart.

And how many times do I stand by a wide window in a dark kitchen to watch you come home from dates with boys? Too many to count, sadly. Boys like the one who sits at your patio table now. I am near (as always) burying my face in some tasty victuals.

I listen. A bunch of words are said. I pay attention to none. It is just meaningless noise.

Deimos and Phobos,” he swears. Not for the first time that day, nor in his short life.

You scowl. You shift about your feet in your sandals, nervously. “Are you trying to make me angry? People just want a reaction. That's why you do what you do.”

“Me wanting a reaction! You're just upset about the party,” he says.

“You were there with me. Not there to play attention to her. Did you sleep with her – No! I don't want to know.”

“You told me you didn't want a commitment,” he replies.

“Just because I don't want to wear your Varsity jacket or high school class ring, doesn't mean I don't want some faithfulness, a little fidelity. Maybe I just love too much. I don't know.”

“I'm out of here. Text me when you want to be reasonable,” he says, stands and walks away from you. He strides past me without meeting my glaring eye.

You seem so sad. You dab at your eyes with a tissue. You stare a moment into space, at the distance, at the landscape, at the extinct and dead volcano that people have named Pavonis Mons.

Is this my moment? Is this my chance? Is this my destiny?

I must know!

I approach you; I would speak to you today, confess my love.

Arf! Arf!” I pad my four paws close; push my cold, black nose to yours; and kiss you with my tongue. “Oh, Fido,” you speak, rubbing me behind one ear. My left leg begins to scratch upon the tiled patio floor. And I love you all the more.


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Post July 31, 2010, 11:29:41 AM

Obsession Challenge

Slow Racing

By:
Casey Callaghan



It was an excellent idea at first glance. It would be simple enough, at least at first, we'd make a good honest living, Sam and I - though he wasn't particularly concerned with that part of it.

You see, Sam collected racehorses. Oh, not personally; he wasn't nearly rich enough to own his own. But he collected everything about them. He knew every horse by name, by age, by reputation. He had photographs of them on their usual training runs, he had schedules of how they spent the day, he used to be up on the downs every afternoon with binoculars to watch the horses go by. And, almost as an aside, he could tell me the odds of any particular horse winning on any particular day.

Not the odds that the bookmakers give you. Those have a safety factor built in, which is the profit margin for the bookmakers. No. The real odds. I'd done just about enough maths that I could do the accounting, add on the profit factors, and so on; between the two of us, we could make a betting firm. Which, despite what anyone else might tell you, is the only really sure way to make money on the racetrack unless you're a professional jockey.

At first, everything went wonderfully. Sam and I would get into my old van (actually my Dad's old van but he let us borrow it) on race days and drive down to the course; I'd give Sam the day's weather report (straight off the weather department's website) and Sam would immediately write down the odds for each horse. When we got there, we'd set up the stand, I'd add the profit margins onto the odds (and sometimes they were very slim margins), and take people's bets; after the races, I'd pay out the winners and Sam and I would split the take.

Sam's odds were rarely wrong, so things went mostly alright. There was that day that Bright Future fell at the first fence, and bought down the rest of the favourites with him; we ended up paying more than we'd taken to a few lucky people who'd decided to go with their gut and bet on a no-hoper; but days like that were few and far between, and on average we were showing a profit.

Then the problems began. At first, I thought it was just another bad day; Sally's Dream came a distant third in a race that Sam had given eight-to-one odds on chance of winning. Sam was a bit less calm about it; he insisted that there was no way that Sally's Dream could possibly have done that badly, and when I'd asked what he'd meant he gave me a worryingly long list of ways that a horse could be sabotaged (fed a laxative, for example). Of course, the course checks for that sort of thing; drugs, to either speed up or slow down a horse, can make millions for an unscrupulous person. Sally's Dream came out clean; but Sam's list had included at least three methods that they apparently didn't check for.

So did the next four favourites to fall foul of whatever was going on. But by then, Sam had found the pattern. See, he was obsessed with horses; he could tell you every detail of their lives, from the colour of their bedding to what they'd had for lunch last Tuesday. He'd also convinced himself that he and I were going to find out who was doing it and stop them; he dragged me back and forth at the dead of night to watch the horses that he said were nearly certain to win the next races.

And it was him that spotted that the same stable-hand had been in the last four of the five stables shortly before their horses started failing. He wasn't sure what the stablehand had done, but he was sure it was something; and no-one messes with horses in Sam's mind.

I should have spotted the problem back then. I really should have.

Sam saw that stable hand at our last race meeting. And filled with righteous anger and armed with nothing but a shrill voice, he blew the cover of the Jockey Club's top investigator.

Sam's still fine, of course. That scene, above all others, was what pointed the investigator in the right direction; because once introductions had been made, and once Sam had been convinced that the introductions were correct, the investigator discovered that there had been two other people near those horses before their races; Sam and I. (Not Sally's Dream; I'm still not sure who stopped that one. No, just the other four).

It had been perfect. Slip the right mix of stuff into their feed, and a horse will slow right down the next day; I used to mix it up in the kitchen in the afternoons. If it hadn't been for Sam, I would never have known what to mix up; I would never have been able to get near the horses; and if it hadn't been for Sam, I would never have known how rich one could get by fiddling the odds; and if it hadn't been for Sam, I would never have been caught. If it hadn't been for Sam, I would never have ended up in prison.

I hear he's working for the Jockey Club himself now; they're closing in on the man who slowed Sally's Dream.


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Post July 31, 2010, 11:30:18 AM

Obsession Challenge

Obsession Happily Ever After

By:
Michele Dutcher


Happily Ever After

The aging superstar fled across the crowded spaceport – and the obsessed fan followed.

“We need to be at the gate by 1500 hours,” she told the provolved iguana sitting on her shoulder.

It looked at her and nodded in agreement. “You worry too much, Margi,” he told her reassuringly. “He loves you and will hold the hover-yacht if we’re late.”

“I don’t like being late ever, Sawsa. It’s like I always tell you – ‘It is just as easy to be ten minutes early as to be ten minutes late.” She tapped the reptile gently on its spicy green nose. “Am I right or wrong, Sawsa?”

“Right as usual, King Friday,” he clamored joyfully. It was true that provolved iguanas could talk and think for themselves, but most were simple, agreeable companions.

The fifty-something woman passed an advertising motion detector and it flashed a promotion for the holo-zine she always read. On the cover was a moving holograph of Margi’s true love and his girlfriend blissfully hovering over the Great Red Spot of Jupiter.

“Look at that skinny little witch, Sawsa.” Margi wrinkled her nose, as though smelling something revolting. “Someone should force feed her packets of cheeseburger rations, so she would gain about 20 kilos. Women look better with a little meat on their bones. Right or wrong, Sawsa – right or wrong?”

“Right again, King Friday,” sung the iguana, swishing its tail about slightly. Within another 750 generations, the provolving of iguanas would take a nasty turn and the talking reptiles would become unfriendly, hissing violently at humans while talking only amongst themselves. “You are so lucky you responded to that email at work. It looked suspicious – the whole ‘Spend a Lifetime of Joy with a Superstar’ in the subject line. I still can’t believe that he sent you that boarding pass to meet up with him at the spaceport. You are so lucky,” said Sawsa dreamingly.

“So lucky,” agreed Margi, hovering with the rest of the spaceport guests, racing towards their appropriate gates. “He must have read all my fan letters. I knew my proclamations of true love would win his heart.”
“The holo-zines say he watches all the fan-holos himself.”

Margi could see him now, her true love, standing beside his hover-yacht. He seemed to be agitated and nervous for some reason. She held out the boarding pass and the gate shimmered and let her through.

The superstar saw her now and ran to embrace her. “Thank god you made it! I thought I’d need to hold the hover-yacht for you! We’re headed first to Venus and then to Europa for their deep-sea festival of lights.”

They embraced again. Margi suddenly became worried.

“What’s wrong, Margi? – I don’t want anything to mar our time together.”

“What about your girlfriend and your children, Stevie Deep?”

“I’ve wasted enough time with that skinny witch, Margi,” he told her. “I’m tired of making love to a stick.” The Superstar put his arm around Margi’s ample waist. “I need a woman with a little meat on her bones! And don’t be concerned about my children. I have so much money that my children will never want for anything.” He stared deeply into her eyes. “I loved the screenplay you sent to me. You really are a spectacular author.”

They were hovering at the yacht’s door now, just a step away from an eternity of joyful bliss. Stevie Deep drew her closer to him. “After reading your brilliant screenplay, I watched all your fan holograms and realized we were meant to be together forever. I love you Margi, more than I could ever say.”

“I love you too, Stevie Deep,” she said. And they lived happily ever after. No, really – that’s the ending: and they lived happily ever after. Hooray!


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Post July 31, 2010, 11:31:20 AM

Obsession Challenge

The Colebank Continuum

By:
J. Davidson Hero



“Please describe it as best you can Mr. Colebank.”

Colebank tried to form the image in his mind, but what he was trying to conjure was the vision from a dream and he realized in his attempts to meet the man’s request his imagination was filling in gaps, creating something that hadn’t originally been there, a color maybe or a slight luminescence, and the result was artificial.

“It was nothing. How can I describe a nothing? It was an empty meaningless nothing. I’m sorry, it’s…” Colebank tried to relax, but he could feel perspiration forming on his upper lip. He dabbed at it with a white handkerchief. The old man across the table jotted something on a pad.

“It’s okay,” the old man said. He reached out his hand, and in what Colebank thought was an odd gesture, he placed it on Colebank’s arm. “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

A large robot rolled into the white room. Aside from a few lights, it was all shiny chrome. It had nothing Colebank would have called a face. It had a tray in its metallic hand with two tall glasses of icy lemonade. The ice clinked as the robot came to a stop. It set a glass in front of each man. Colebank watched as beads of condensation slid down the sides of the glass. Right then he realized how perfectly thirsty he was and how the lemonade was exactly what he wanted.

The other man took a sip. He had steely eyes and was bald. A gray Van Dyke brought his face to a point.

“What is the meaning of this?” Colebank asked at last forcing himself to ignore the lemonade for some reason.

“Mr. Colebank, I’m going to do something that’s against my better judgment. I’m going to tell you the truth. It won’t be easy for you to hear, not at all. But I have always believed in the truth and I think it is essential now.” He smiled.

Colebank cautiously nodded.

“Mr. Colebank, do you know who I am?”

Colebank thought for a moment. He didn’t remember ever being told the old man’s name.

“I’m sure you don’t. My name is, in fact, Abraham Jesup Colebank.”

Colebank felt a strange prickle on the back of his neck. “Are we… related?”

The old man chuckled. “Isn’t everything related in some way?” he asked.

Colebank’s face flushed. Was the old man patronizing him? “Well, I’m not related to this robot. It’s a machine.”

The old man laughed louder this time. “Actually, you are as related to this robot as you are to me. Would you like to meet the common progenitor of all three of us?” he asked. “What you are about to see will shock you. But it is the truth and there is no denying the truth.” The old man pointed to the table and right in front of Colebank’s eyes a large specimen jar materialized out of the air. The jar was filled with a blue liquid and submerged in the liquid was a human brain.

Colebank was so startled he nearly fell out of his chair.

“This is Abraham Jesup Colebank,” the old man said.

“But I thought… that was you.” Colebank whispered.

“A lucky coincidence,” the old man said chuckling again.

“What are you talking about?” Colebank felt a surge of anger. This was a sick joke. He clenched his fists and felt his face flushing. The old man jotted some more on his pad.

“This is insane,” Colebank yelled standing abruptly. “I want to leave. I want to leave right now.”

For the first time the old man put his pad down. He walked around the table and came up to Colebank’s side. There was a look of sadness and empathy on his face. “It’s okay. We don’t have to go any further. Let me show you out.”

They started walking toward the white door on the far side of the room. “You see,” the old man said, “A. J. Colebank is searching. He will settle for nothing short of unraveling all of life’s secrets and achieving godhood. You might say he’s a man obsessed.”

Colebank could have sworn the door was only a few steps away, but as they walked it seemed to be taking forever to get to it.

“He did everything he could to preserve his physical body. When science failed him, he tried cloning himself. I am the happy product of that experiment. However, he found that while I was identical to him, I was not him. Next he tried transferring his entire consciousness into the body of a machine. The robot is the result of that experiment. But sadly that did not work either. That brain in the jar is just an illusion. In truth, A. J. Colebank’s brain has been spread out over the area of a square city block, his brain cells embedded in a superconducting material to create neurochips in a supercomputer. And his consciousness presides here in this simulated reality. The robot and I are jacked in to help.”

The door seemed to be about half as close now, but the old man seemed to be done talking. Colebank started to worry that if the old man didn’t say anything else, the door would be there and then…

“Help with what?” Colebank blurted out.

“He wants to try his hand at creation. Not just physical objects, but an autonomous consciousness, so he can populate his reality with free thinking beings. If successful, he might someday even be able to reincarnate himself.”

Colebank swallowed hard. There was a lump in his throat and his eyes began to water. “What does this mean for me?” The door was fast approaching now. “I’m sorry about the outburst before…”

The old man patted him on the shoulder. “Not to worry, we’ll keep working on it. You have nothing to be sorry about.”

The old man opened the door and Colebank walked back out into the empty meaningless nothing.


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Post July 31, 2010, 11:32:11 AM

Obsession Challenge

COMPULSIONS

By:
Sergio Palumbo



Stephen woke up in the middle of the night, only one worry on his mind. The temperature in the bedroom was cold, outside a terrible storm was beating down on the county ( and his farm was just in the middle of it ! )and his legs were trembling with weariness cause of the hard work in the fields of the day before. The young man didn’t want to go out of his bed, but he knew he had to. He didn’t remember if he had extinguished the oil lamp which was in the shed near home.What if he hadn’t? That was a dangerous situation, he couldn’t allow such a thing within his premises.
He had sometimes heard terrible things about the people who had forgotten such precautions: buildings in flames cause of the lack of attention of their owners, several dead and wounded men cause of such an oversight…
So he stood up, tried to set in order his shock of brown hair, then put on an old overcoat, went downstairs, crossed the meadow notwithstanding the incredible amount of rain which was falling heavily on his backyard, reached the wooden shed- fully drenched with winter downpour…- and found the oil- lamp near the straw. Stephen cupped his right hand at the back of the glass- paying attention not to touch anything because very hot- and blew towards it, so to extinguish the fire completely. Immediately after, he got out, went home again, climbed the stairs, put his cold body- without drying at all- into his bed and felt into a deep sleep.
But it didn’t last for long…

Stephen woke up in the middle of the night, only one worry on his mind. The temperature in the bedroom was cold, outside a terrible storm was beating down on the county and his legs were still trembling with weariness. The young man didn’t want to go out of his bed, but he knew he had to. He didn’t remember if he had extinguished the oil lamp in the shed nearby.What if he hadn’t? That was a dangerous situation, he couldn’t allow that within his premises, of course…
He had sometimes heard terrible things about the people who had forgotten such precautions: buildings in flames cause of the lack of attention of their owners, several dead and wounded men cause of such an oversight…
So he stood up, tried to set in order his hair, then put on an old overcoat, went downstairs, crossed the meadow notwithstanding the incredible amount of rain which was falling heavily on his backyard, reached the wooden shed and found the oil- lamp near the straw. Stephen cupped his right hand at the back of the glass and blew towards it, so to extinguish the fire completely. Immediately after, he got out, went home again, climbed the stairs, put his cold body into his bed and felt into a deep sleep.
But, after a while, Stephen woke up again, his blue eyes exhausted: the young man was gripped by a doubt, once more…

Actually, the man named Stephen was completely tied on the metallic operating table, his brain fully linked via thousands of sensors to a robotic system placed above sending every single minute a given stimulus which caused the human to think of the oil lamp, to see it inside his mind, to perceive even the warthm coming from that…The machine made him go downstairs, pressed him be worried for the danger which the flames could provoke to the house, forced him to face the storm in the open and enter at night the shed outside the building, all this just to extinguish the oil lamp…but, of course, there was no fire, no storm, no shed or bedroom around, and, more than that, there was no lamp lighted…except on his mind. Only empty walls all around, the cold operating table he was on and the robotic instrumentation above his head.
That was all part of a multilevel experiment the alien species of the so-called “Tall Ones” had started 50 years before. They had been studying the Earthmen for so long, taking on board many of them from a lot of countries on the planet, imprisoning them into small rooms, exploring all their neural paths, their feelings and their doubts, too, even dissecting some of them at times…
Now, they could say they knew almost everything about the human brains: they knew how to make them feel pleased or worried and how to convince them to act accordingly… ”Compulsions” , or “obsessions” , the humans called such impetuous needs that way…but, according to the aliens, that was the road to find a way just to rule all Mankind, steer men an women towards a deed, control them, make anyone fight against something or someone else, or surrender at a given order….
On his spaceship, the representative of the alien “Tall Ones” , sitting on his central supervising position, was looking at the data flow displayed on the holo videos all around, with medical updating about all the people kept uncounscious, placed on the several tables in the many rooms, more than two hundred...He was listening to the several voices - audible on the headphones –coming from the inside of the many prison- rooms all around the one mile long disc- shaped spaceship orbiting Earth at present.
-I must destroy that shop selling chocolate bars to my babies…they are too expensive, my sons will make me poor by buying them every day….I must destroy that shop…-
-I need to swim the whole ocean to get to Antarctica, no matter how cold the water is, I know I need to…-
-I want to drive my private aircraft, even if it has got no fuel, but I do want to…-
-I will fly out of that window, I will soar up in the air without problems, definitely…-

And many, many others, too…


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Post July 31, 2010, 11:33:07 AM

Obsession Challenge

The Burden Borne
or
MANIA


By:
Richard Tornello © 2010



The art critic was strolling through the gallery’s new exhibition. Peering over his shoulder to his left, his head stayed in one space as his body attempted to continue in the direction it had been traveling. The critic approached the drawing slowly and swore, “Got in himmel.”

****

His paintings were wooden, but his drawings, they were different. Some would claim they actually had a life of their own. Those statements were made by the serious collectors, grabbing every drawing offered. The price was never an object. They sold for a pretty penny too.

He cared little for the fame. Success allowed him to live a comfortable semi-reclusive life of his own choosing.

He could cross the street. He was able to walk down the stairs. He couldn’t drive his vehicle. The mania, when it pounced, hit red hot, was mind searing accompanied with mental tunnel vision. He never knew when or why. He had to do it. He wanted it. He could do little else. He had to finish the drawings. When it left, he was both physically and psychically drained to the point of fever. No force except death could stop him until it was completed.

And then, his creations stood there in front of him, if only for awhile.


****

As a child he had the same “fits”. That’s what they were called back then. The monster is what he called her. She would wake and demand. She wanted something. Heat, rage, pin point focus-desire and then attack. When they occurred during his childhood, the end result was an altercation and violence.

His parents withdrew from most social events that would have a potential for the monster to strike. He became meek if only to protect himself as well as others, but the monster lurked. When she struck, he never had control over the burning desire. As a child he rarely remembered. He just did whatever it was. Regret was the by-product.

After some time, and severe mental training, he found that he could actually channel that energy and solace with literature and art. Later, these channeled fits allowed him to see and do things he wouldn’t understand for years. It was as strange as it was ineffable.


He matured learning to live with these attacks of mania. He studied art but never mastered the pigments. The paintings were mediocre at best except for one or two and they got him an interview at an art academy. “You know son,” they said. “Have you thought of teaching?” That was a polite manner of suggesting his work was not up to the quality they expected.

And then She hit like never before. She knew what she wanted. Graphine transmitted, then imparted life from his fingers to the paper, to the physical beauty portrayed. Then gone. Exhausted, “Here,” is all he said. The drawing was handed to the committee. There was silence. He was admitted.

****

When the mania took over, when She was hungry and turned her eyes toward him and pounced, there was no concept of space or time, and no need for food. He could never explain it. He knew better than to try. He had an internal burning fever of desire for? They just happened. He created the renditions and they were alive. He was the only human who ever got to meet them.

“Please don’t send us back.” They would beg. They didn’t want to return to the paper, or to the sketch books, but they had to. He had only so much energy he could funnel into his work to make them come alive. They would live for those brief time periods.

He loved his drawings too. They were his children, some his lovers and others just passing friends. They always came alive if even for seconds, minutes and rarely, oh so rarely and so lovely, sometimes for a few hours.

“Thank you,” is all he ever said.

.****

People said, “We could see them breathing in the frame.” They were quoting from one critic’s art review. “…an alchemist, a genius, or a devil…” was what he wrote. The critics love his drawings. “Why do you waste your time painting? Your draughtmanship is a god sent gift.”

Some viewers would retreat, fearful or awe struck by the reality staring back at them. Others fell in love and paid any price. One patron, as he left the artist’s studio with his new purchase noticed what he thought looked like water stains on the face of one of the drawing.

Over time, the constant loss of all his art was too much. He drew very little.

****

The completed drawing was different than any of the others. The long flowing hair was typical, but the wings, he never drew wings. You could almost feel the feathers. The woman had a seductive smile, and a warm loving presence, that if she were alive, would bring a man to his knees and women would step back in awe and respect.

The corner’s report stated heart failure. They found him with this one in his hands.


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Post July 31, 2010, 11:34:37 AM

Obsession Challenge

- Winner -


Only If You’re Wrong

By:
Bill Wolfe



Angela didn’t yawn like most people did. First, she would scrunch her face into a tight pout, lips pursed and eyes squinting so hard that it was evident that she could barely see. She would exhale loudly through her nose. . .this was the warning stage. The sharp intake of breath that accompanied the expansion of her face and immediate, ridiculously wide-mouthed, closed-eye rictus of apparent agony, made a whistling/squeaking noise like you’d just stomped on a dog’s playtoy. After this, she didn’t make a sound. Dead silence. The whole ordeal took at least fifteen seconds, start to finish. How she didn’t dislocate her jaw when she did it, had been a mystery to me, for years. I promise you that if you’d never met her, and if you just saw a video of her yawning, you’d swear it was a Hollywood special effect. Maybe those weird CGI mummies from the series of the same name could have outdone her, but barely. It was a fascinating thing to watch.

And scary, too. At least this time it was. It was dark, we were on a winding Kentucky backroad at the time, and she was driving.

Dammit Angela!” I shouted as I reached across to grab the wheel, barely managing to keep the car within the boundaries of the narrow road. “You’re going to kill yourself—probably somebody else—one of these days.” My heart was still pounding in my chest from the instant adrenalin rush. “You just scared the living crap out of me!

“Sorry.” Her face had just snapped back to normal, no apparent harm done. “I didn’t get much sleep, last night. They were buzzing the house, again.”

“Oh Lordy, girl,” my voice was exasperation, itself. “You didn’t call 911 again, did you?”

“No, you were right about that. They said that the last time was my final warning. They haven’t even sent a car out since last year.”

“They can charge you with misuse, you know.”

“That’s what they keep telling me. Bob, I know you don’t want to hear this, but I’m telling you that UFO’s are freaking everywhere!

“Ang, you know how I feel about it. When one of them walks up and bites me on the butt, I’ll believe it. Till then. . .”

“I’m not the only one, Bob. Angela’s Space Angels gets more hits than Top10UFO, Informant News and TruthSeekers, combined. Only MUFON’s website gets more than me. I hear stories from all over. Just the other day. . .”

I looked over at her, fearing another yawn, and she was staring up through the windshield into the moonless sky.

“Look!, UFO!”

Without even thinking, I looked. “That’s a plane, Angela. See the lights on the wings? We’re maybe a mile from the Harlan airport.”

“Yeah, I guess it is.” She sounded disappointed. I couldn’t tell if it was because she would have had me as a witness, or just because it wasn’t little green men from Mars. “But when I was passing-out flyers at the mall, yesterday, one lady told me that she sees them all the time around the Lexington airport.”

“Maybe she doesn’t know the difference between a plane and a flying saucer, either.” I wasn’t proud of myself, but it had to be said. “When you saw an obvious small airplane in the sky, your FIRST thought was ‘UFO’, Angela. I have to say it doesn’t help your case.”

“But I have thousands of photos and hours of video that people have sent me from all over the world, it’s on my website. There are literally thousands of people in the chat sites and blogging about their experiences. . .I read them all, every day.”

“Any of those pictures yours?”

“No.” She paused to concentrate on the road. We were on the switchback that lead to Highway 90, almost home. “Whatever that green glow is doesn’t show up on film or digital pictures. I’ve tried dozens and dozens of times.”

“So how come other people can take pictures, and videos?”

“Oh, the pictures they take are never the same as what I see. I think the ones around here must use a different technology. Though I did get a very good drawing of one in my email, yesterday. I haven’t put it up on the site, yet. From a teenage boy down in Somerset.”

“A drawing?” I tried to mask my interest, if she thought she was making headway with me, she’d just go on and on and on about it.

“Oh yes. The kid’s got some talent. It’s a perfect depiction. He’s definitely seeing the same craft I am. He says that he’s seen them his whole life. Same as me.”

“I thought you said in one of our meetings that you didn’t start seeing them till you’d already been drinking for years?”

“I did, but it wasn’t strictly true. I saw them when I was little, but then they seemed to fade—eventually to nothing—until I started the binge drinking. I killed so damn many brain cells, maybe whatever changes as you age that makes everyone else blind to them was damaged, or something. I know you’re not supposed to lie in AA, but I kind’a forgot that I’d seen them till I was three or four.”

I got a funny feeling when she said this. It sounded like it might be something important. But we were almost to my home, so I started gathering my stuff. “Thanks for the ride, Angela. I’ll pick-you-up, next week. Carpooling to AA was a good idea, seeing how close we live.”

As I watched her drive away, I pulled out my cell and dialed a twelve-digit number. “Harris here, sir. Altering the distortion field frequency had no effect on the Subject. I’ll file a full report tomorrow, but I’d like to have Research to look into early childhood Immunity slash subsequent brain trauma, and there might be an unregistered adolescent Immune in Somerset. Only this one, can draw.”


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Post July 31, 2010, 11:36:13 AM

That New Car Smell Challenge

The challenge was to tell the tale of a person with a near super-human ability in just one of his or her senses. The story had to be told in first person from the perspective of an assistant, henchman, or opponent to the person with the extra ability.
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Post July 31, 2010, 11:37:13 AM

That New Car Smell Challenge

Synesthete

By:
Casey Callaghan



I must disagree. There's nothing 'intrinsic' about the human perception of colour at all. What you see in your mind's eye when I say "red" and what I see in my mind's eye when I say "red" may be completely different, and we'd never know. Think about colour-blindness for a moment; a colourblind person is either seeing red very differently, or seeing green very differently, or more likely both.

Yes, I'll admit that a colourblind person can use an instrument to measure the wavelength of light and thus tell red and green apart. But what instrument will tell you the colour of the number four?

No, not the colour of a specific printed digit. The intrinsic colour of the number itself. Most people don't even realise that numbers have colours; that's because most people are colourblind. My brother Sam is one of the few who aren't. The doctor calls it synesthesia, but the way he's always put it is that he feels like the only man who can see colour in a colourblind world. Four is a sort of yellowy ochre, by the way. Letters, too; A is always red, for example.

...no, if you write 4 in blue in he'll still recognise it as blue ink. He tells me that it's the ink that's blue, but the four is yellowy ochre. Yes, I have asked.

No, Sam was seeing the colour of letters and numbers before anyone even knew about the Pox. He was one of the first to decode their messages, incidentally.

I remember I once tried painting a picture for him, when I was five, using a scalable pattern fill to copy small letters and numbers over an area. I think he's still got it somewhere. Anyhow, it turns out that that's what the Pox were doing, more or less.

I remember the furore when it was first discovered. A clear message from space; just over fifty thousand numbers, delivered as groups of from one to sixteen radio pulses, short gap between numbers then a big gap and the message repeats. At first dozens, then hundreds, of people tried for months to figure it out; then thousands; finally they put the entire sequence out on the internet. The only even vaguely relevant thing that anyone had found out before then was that the number of numbers was a perfect square. 'Course, some people tried writing them out in a square and looking for patterns in the columns. Found all sorts of stuff, none relevant.

Sam took one look at the square and said "It's three somethings with four arms and wings." Oh, he wasn't the first - that was that guy in the Ukraine, by about four hours. Turns out there are enough synesthetes worldwide that figured it out that no-one could hide it had happened.

Of course, once we knew what the secret was, it was dead easy to figure out the rest; this message was their equivalent of Pioneer. Pioneer had a silhouette of male and female humans; this one had three silhouettes, all with slight differences that no-one knows how significant they are or what they mean.

They worked out where the Pox message came from and radioed one back, of course. Radioed a lot back over the past seventeen years. Best we can tell, the Pox got our first replies about eight and a bit years ago. That is, if they were still looking for replies at that time. Which means we should be getting their reply back any day now.

Sam says he can't wait to see their idea of art.


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Post July 31, 2010, 11:37:57 AM

That New Car Smell Challenge

The Smell of Death

By:
Sergio Palumbo



Smell of rain. Smell of trees…

I go down the slope, following Max, my dog. The ground under me is slippery, full of autumn leaves.

My old comrade Harry is after me, his dog, Jake, preceeding him.

Then, we stop. Jake stops too, staying near his Master. The nose game of the day is going to start…

-Good boy, Max-I tell my dog putting my left hand on him.My touch is special, I need only to brush him to make Max comprehend everything at once.It’s an unusual ability, no other man possesses as far as I know.Well, actually Harry has got his own special skill,too, as he could even look at the ground in the distance magnifying a single detail by using his upgraded sight…All of us are veterans from the Army and obviously our labs had made some strange experiments upon us…but when they discovered our abilities were not enough for their purposes, we were simply “discarded”, they had had some better results with a few younger soldiers. We were allowed to maintain our physical “improvements”, anyway…

Actually, to successfully complete the game my dog- or Harry’s dog- are to find the ball one friend of us had buried in the woods before. Well, I can “guide” - using my special touch - my dear dog almost everywhere I want to, so I have only to figure out where that is and make him go for it. On the other hand, Harry may see where there are traces in the ground or footsteps even very far from here and try to convince his dog to go exactly to that place….

That could looks like a fair game, but it isn’t.Max, too, possesses a special ability. His olfaction is more evoluted and augmented than common dogs’ sense of smell… probably because of the experiments they did upon him while operating for the Army. In the end, we have more chances than them…

-Now I count on you: find the ball! Good boy!- I tell Max and then gently put my young hands on the shaded sable furry pelt of his elongated head. On my mark he begins running.

Jake hurries, too, after him…

Past the trees, after the potholes on the path, the dog perfectly knows where he is to go… Jake is following, his sense of smell is very good too, but not as good as Max’s!

But, while going away, my dog begins perceiving another weird smell, a smell he had already sensed before…. ”Oh, my!” I think “It’s that kind of stench…”

I know something is going to happen…Max’s olfaction never misses…!He turns his head to the left and to the right, his eyes stumble on grey and white Jake, approaching: It’s him!

“What could I do?” I consider “How ever could I prevent all that from occurring only in a few seconds from now…?”Max looks at Jake and Jake looks at him in return: he goes a few steps forward, then back, trying to figure out why my dog stays and doesn’t run anymore. He puts his brown eyes on Jake, in silence, the smell coming from his pelt becoming stronger and stronger…It’s near, it’s now!Jake puts his rear extremities into a bad place, very slippery, his front paws lose their grip and begin falling down the slope, very fast. An unstoppable tumble. He barks, flails, but everything he does can’t thwart what’s going on…

In the end there is a plonk, and the cries cease.

Jake’s head has hit a big rock at the bottom of the slope, he does breath no more. Harry, my friend, arrives, looking for his dog fallen, saying- Damn’!-

And then the man curses the wind.

I swear, too, looking at Max and patting on his head to calm him at once.

But Jake is dead. That kind of smell can never be mistaken, nor forgotten. I am sure Max knew that in advance, but there was nothing he could do.

*****************************************************

One month from then, Max sits near my armchair at home, his four paws laid on the cold floor. It’s late evening and I’m watching TV. He looks at him and my quiet blue eyes reassure him: he knows that in a matter of minutes I will stand up, going to the potting shed in the garden to attend my usual business, after which I will be in the kitchen to make dinner for both of us.

As soon as I step out of the living room, he surges forward, raises my head and waits in silence. Max religiously keeps following with his brown eyes my feet walking away: only on my mark he’ll go after me.

But, unexpectedly, something happens: Max senses again that smell, that kind of stench…He runs out, goes to the shed outside and looks at it, worried.

In silence he enters the wooden outbuilding and finds myself at work on my hunting gun: I am just cleaning it for the next day.

Max seems to be sensing that smell again…: I know that it’s the smell of death only he may “feel”!

He barks, yelps, trying to make me look at him, to stop what I’m presently doing. But I can only look at him in return, smiling, nothing else.

Then the shot is inadvertently fired… An accident, a damn’ accident, the bullet is thrown out of the gun barrel and violently hit me while working on it!

The smell of blood, the smell of gunpowder, the smell of death, again!Max whines, runs about, tries to call to anyone.

But there is nothing he can do.

If only he could, he would cry, shedding all his tears on the ground, desperate for his Master’s death.

But he can’t cry.

Dogs may only mourn alone.


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Post July 31, 2010, 11:38:34 AM

That New Car Smell Challenge

A Breakfast of Champions

By:
Michele Dutcher



“I doubt it, Dezmond.” I looked down at the human's face, shaking my head in disagreement as we hiked along the moonlit trail.

“I can hear the cynicism in your voice, my huge, fiery friend, but my statistical memory is impeccable. If you take a person 20 miles away from their place of birth, and tell them to point towards home, 78% of humans will point in the correct direction.”

I flexed my wings twice before giving in a little. “I guess it's possible for humans to do something useful. However, that means your kind would head in the wrong direction 12% of time.”

Dezmond snickered, slightly. “You seem to distrust me so much, Simon. Have I ever lied to you?”

I looked at him, almost shooting fire from the audacity of this statement. “Of course you have. I know you can't help it, being a lawyer and all.”

“Please! I prefer to think of myself as a man of letters: a person of leisure who has fallen on difficult times and been forced into a bourgeois life using my mastery of languages, common and foreign.”

There was silence between us for a moment as Dezmond looked around. “I think our journey has us quickly approaching a town. Perhaps, in case we meet others, you should do your magic and downsize your reptilian presence into a less horrendous form.”

“You mean make myself small...”

“Exactly, yes.”

And so I did exactly that, shrinking from a dragon ten feet tall at the shoulders, down to a loveable dragon the size of a small poodle – which are good eating by the way. Tasty. Yum.

Dezmond picked me up, and placed me on his shoulder. “I know it exhausts you to shrink, so let's rest.”

We sat in the moonlight, upon one of the five hills overlooking the village below. We watched as one oil-lamp after another was put out, leaving just a gray silhouette of the town below us.

It was so quiet, in fact, that Dezmond took out his earplugs. He took a deep breath, as though to begin a sentence, and then stopped cold.

“What is it?”

“Shush.”

I floated upwards a little.

“Can you stop all that fluttering about?”

I grabbed my wingtips and landed on the soft ground with a thump.

“Ouch! You know how sensitive my ears are!”

“Sorry boss.” I sat quietly, trying not to breathe.

“I hear money,” he whispered finally. “Someone is digging a hole – two someones in fact, named Ken and Louie.”

“And..”

“Who digs a hole after midnight when everyone else is sleeping?”

“True, boss, true!”

He reached into his pouch and threw me some fresh meat. “Let's get a room in this village.”

***

Dezmond was already awake when I opened my eyes.

“I found them,” he told me.

“Already?” I rooted around in a nest of sheets I had made on top of the bureau. “Is it daylight yet?”

“Not yet. You know how muddy sounds become when a village wakes up – better to give a good listen before that happens.” He was leaning out a window overlooking the street. “Louie and Ken are in the pokey. I heard them whispering to each other in Erithian. They robbed a pawn shop yesterday and got $7000 of the Mob's money.”

“Where is it, boss? Where did they bury it?”

“They weren’t talking about the location – not even to each other.”

“That's bad boss. We can't get close to them while they're in jail.”

Dezmond looked down the street, putting one figure to his lips. “I think opportunity is presenting itself. Four men are talking five blocks away. They are going to pay the foreigners a little visit and get their money back. They need an interpreter. And now they’re saying something that they were once the #1 Snooker team in the county. I will go to the sheriff, introduce myself, and by nightfall the money will be ours.”

***

The office section of the jail was small, especially for a sheriff, four mobsters, two prisoners, Dezmond and myself – so the sheriff accepted a bribe and left. The mob boss pulled out a gun. “Tell them I will let them live if they tell me where the money is.”

Dezmond nodded and began speaking in Eritian. “Ken, he says tell him where the money is or he'll kill you. Louie, in two minutes I'll make a deal with you.”

Louie puffed up. “I will never betray my partner.”

“And I will never tell you where I hid the money,” said Ken.

“They say they will never tell you where the money is.”

The angry man put the gun's barrel beside Ken's temple and drew back the hammer. The foreigner began to speak hurriedly. “We buried the money below the oak tree, behind the barbershop!”

Dezmond turned to the Mob boss and said coolly, “He says he'll never tell you where the money is, and you don't have the stones to pull the trigger.”

The boss blew the man's head off. Dezmond looked at the little guy in back. “Are we partners now?” he asked in Erithian. Louie furiously nodded yes.

Dezmond turned to me and said 'now'. Finally! I could feel my body growing as I began to spit fire at the four gangsters. A second ball of fire blew out a wall of the jail.

Dezmond and Louie ran out through the smoldering hole, eager to grab shovels and get out of town with the $7000. But I decided to stick around for a bit – how could I pass up a breakfast of champions? Tasty. Yum.


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Post July 31, 2010, 11:39:18 AM

That New Car Smell Challenge

THE SENSE OF IT ALL

By:
Richard Tornello © 2010



“When I was a youngster I had an extraordinary sense of touch. I remember being able to taste almost anything through my fingers. I’m talking about food, metals, and even feelings. It was so weird. I never spoke about it. I didn’t know how to handle this gift.”

“The first time it happened, I was playing with my brother and a friend. We picked up some pennies and I could taste the copper. They were copper then, as was silver and nickel. I asked them if they felt anything when they touched the money.”

“They said no. Had they affirmed my senses, in themselves, I probably would have asked my mom to explain. But already aware, that being different brought on repercussions, I remained quiet.”

“As I matured, the gift of touch never left me. I could tell a lot about a person by a hand shake and I’m not talking about limp wrist or bone crushers. My parents always wondered about my resistance to certain members of my family. One hug and I knew if something was wrong, not warped, necessarily, simply not right and the feeling was off-putting. Especially; think about it, if you’re a kid.”

“I come to see you, as my dearest friend. I resigned from my career that had become so evil that I couldn’t even state I was a part time Buddhist, considering the rule for Right Occupation. I thought you might be able to help.”



****

“Those were the words he used on the interview. He offered me his gift for my medical facility. I have a General Family Practice. I needed an office manager too with strong science schooling. He had the management experience. And he was a dear friend. I didn’t care about the gift as he called It.”

“I remembered when we were in high school he was the only guy I didn’t sleep with. He was always there for me. In fact now I do recall, he did have a way with the massages. He always knew what was bothering me too. He was able to take away the pain.”

“Little did I ever imagine he was telling the truth.”



“With that in mind I paid for the medical assistant training and license. He never really required the certifications. He had skills beyond any doctor I had ever met. It was magical. I was in awe. If I wasn’t married I think I would have fallen in love with him.”


“That man would bring a cup of water to a patient. With a light physical interaction, a finger, brushed against the patient, he had the diagnosis. It was uncanny. He never took credit. He did it for me he said. I was his only true friend through all these years. It was a pay-back.”

“It was something else!”

“My husband thought he was a gold mine. ‘You should expand the business.’ So I did. I promoted him so he could accompany me on my hospital rounds. He never said anything. He simply nodded, helped with the examinations, and once out of the room wrote it down.

“Here are his diagnoses. Amazing, every last one, correct, and not one test. No human can do that. ”

“I did notice, as the business grew, he began to give me strange glances. Nothing that was bad or evil. He gave me a touch on the hand, then would step back and look at me with some surprise. What’s wrong? I would ask him.”

“Nothing, no nothing at all.”

“Be straight with me, I finally demanded.”

“As he put it, ‘You know I can read body, and mind, with a touch. I’ve been able to do that since I was a kid. Some how the wiring in my skin and some connections in my brain created a hypersensitive condition from birth. I can taste with my fingers too.”

“You may not know this but I saw my own conception as a wordless dream from my earliest memory until that biology class on life we took in school together. Remember when I shouted out “My Dream”? You thought I was nuts. That’s when it hit me. I have a gift. I can see into people and more. I denied it all these years.”

“He continued, “When I met you again, and held you I knew you have a gift too. You have strong loving.”

“So I asked, “Yes I get you have a gift, call it what you want. What has this to do with that look?”

“I know you and your husband’s game. It’s been difficult for me to accept. It’s become money, not health; not love as it was. Something is gone.”

“We’re helping all these people. I was beginning to raise my voice, panic was setting in.”

“Yes we are, no question. But you’re not even doctoring any more. You wheel me around as if I were a machine. Plug me in, touch, spit out a diagnosis, send to the specialist, and NEXT!”

“I was yelling, So what?” You came to me. I gave you a chance to redeem your past transgressions, cleanse your soul, and get ready for the next jump.” I knew in my head, I the doctor, had been relegated to the assistant and technician. He was the doctor. I was jealous.”


”He said, “Yes you did. But that was then. My time here is over. I think you can manage. You’re rich now.”

“He turned to leave me.”

I saw red! I saw nothing. He betrayed me! My oldest and dearest friend.”

“He lay bleeding with my scalpel in his neck I cried, ‘Oh, my god what have I done?’”

“HE grabbed my hand and looked in my eyes. “Brain tumor, inoperable…six months maybe… sorry to wait so long to inform you.”

“He died in my arms.”

“I don’t need my rights read detective.”


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Post July 31, 2010, 11:40:04 AM

That New Car Smell Challenge

- Winner -



Rank

By:
Bill Wolfe



My father is a Bird Colonel, so waiting in the General’s antechamber ain’t nothing new to me. I’m in for an ass-chewin’, and I know it. We either screwed the pooch—big time—or we’re all heroes. And even though I’m just a snot-nosed Private, I’m the only one of the survivors who can talk, right now, so I’m going to be the one in the hot seat. The word FUBAR was invented for my situation. It reminds me of the time I got caught playing hooky from school, and Dad found out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m not worried. I’m sweatin’ bullets. It’s just home turf. The GS says the General is ready for me.

Wish me luck.

“At ease, Private. And have a seat,” he says after I report in and he returns my salute. Of course, he keeps me standing at attention for a minute while he pretends to study a sheet of paper in his hand. I learned these tricks at my Daddy’s knee, but that doesn’t mean they’re not effective. Despite the AC, I feel the sweat trickle down my back as I take the only other chair in the room. Metal fold-up. His is leather, and looks like it weighs a ton.

“Now, Private, I’ve read your report, and I’ve reviewed the recordings that Lieutenant . . .M’Benga made during your patrol, so I’m familiar with the basics. Good report, by the way. Much better than I’d expect from someone who’s only been in uniform for a few months.”

“Thank you, Sir.” I’m waiting for it. First the compliment. That makes ‘em relax, a little. Now comes the stick.

“So tell me, Private. . . .In your own words. . . .What in Hell’s holy name were you fine soldiers thinking when you violated orders, broke radio silence, and started shooting the hell out of a cave that was so small it wasn’t even on our best maps of the area? I don’t know whether to bust you all out of the Service or give you all medals.”

I’d thought about how I was going to explain this. I know what worked with Dad, and I figure the General is the same. Well, here goes nothing. My career either ends right now, or I’ll be a Corporal by the end of today.

“Sir, do you know why our squad’s callsign is Bloodhound?” He isn’t expecting me to answer a question with a question, and it rattles him, though he covers well.

“Go on, Private. I’m listening.”

I take a deep breath. “It’s Sarge, Sergeant Trollier, Sir. He’s the reason. The first thing any new recruit or new officer in our Division learns is that you never play poker with Sarge. Not for money. Some of us have to learn the hard way, but we all learn it.”

“Son, I don’t see what this has to do with anything, but I’ll give you a chance to explain.”

Which is just what I was hoping for. “Sir, Sarge can smell a bluff. I mean literally smell it. It’s like he has a built-in lie detector and a gypsy crystal ball, all-in-one. You can’t fool him, ever. He can tell if you’re lying, or sick, or dogging it by your smell alone. When Corporal Lansing came back from leave, Sarge took one whiff and told him someone in his family had cancer. Sure enough, when he called home he found-out his mom had been diagnosed, but they didn’t tell him because they didn’t want him to worry.”

“I’m beginning to understand, Private.” And I can tell he does. “So. . . . the day of the patrol?”

“Well Sir, it was a routine RECON patrol. All we knew was that they were moving HQ forward, since we’d been driving the Sku-Doleen back so fast. This valley would have been perfect for it.”

“In hindsight, a little too perfect.” I wouldn’t have said it out loud to a General, but he’s right. The Skuds had been drawing us toward that place for a year, at least. It would have been a massacre, if it weren’t for Sarge.

“The wind was at our backs, so Sarge didn’t smell them until we were in the trees. He knew they were there, they were all around us, but we couldn’t see anything. Those hidey holes that they built were perfect. We never did find one, till they all opened-up after we hit the cave where the one conscious Skud was bunkered. You have to give them credit, Sir. It was a beautiful ambush. Ten thousand of their best shock troops in armored suits, all zonked-out with hiberzine, barely breathing, maybe one heartbeat an hour. All just waiting for the wake-up signal. We’d have our HQ working and staffed in two, maybe three days. That one Skud in the cave wouldn’t have been found, we couldn’t even see it till we were right up on it.”

“Private, I know it wasn’t your decision, but do you know why this wasn’t called-in, at this point?”

“Sir, we were under radio silence for the patrol. We knew that Sarge was right, but violating orders just because one of us smelled them? No visual sighting, no actual contact?. With all due respect, General. . .would you?”

“Point taken, Private. Continue.” It isn’t a request.

“Well Sir, Sarge literally sniffed-out the cave where the Skud was hiding, that one had the code that woke the rest of them and when we hit him, he hit the button. That’s when the sh. . .”

“Understood, Private. I have an idea what happened next.” I can’t frakkin’ believe what I was about to say. To a General, no less. Dad would have a conniption.

He sits there for a few seconds, pondering. Decision time.

“Your squad sprung a trap, and ruined the Sku-Doleen’s whole day. Medals it is, Corporal Tanner.”

Two stripes in three months. Dad’s going to bust a gut.

“Dismissed.”

“Yes Sir!


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Post September 10, 2010, 10:09:09 PM

Ice, Ice, Baby Challenge

The challenge was to tell fantasy or science fiction tale set on a frozen planet with technology equal or better than 18th century Earth.


Example story:


Frozen Designs

By:
N.J. Kailhofer



The drop dangled from his bowed finger for an impossibly long time before tumbling headlong toward its gelid kin. The drop splattered in a perfect ring in the frost, as if in slow motion. One bristly eyebrow stabbed upward, making my tentacles quiver in excitement, like juveniles do when a mating one passes by.

His gnarled fingers caressed the block, probing the flat surface. Finally, Alberto put his hand back in a thick glove. "Where did it come from?" His voice was high pitched now, bent by time. When I was young, his voice was as deep as the bray of the Selach that pull my sleigh.

"High in the Queztal mountains, there is a lake that comes every summer day. I cut this halfway to its center just before the dawn."

He grunted. "It shows promise."

I almost suged. "I will inform the Host."

"Wait!" Alberto said. "The surface is the first test, but that is not enough for the Emperor."

Light flashed and I jumped, as we all do when steel is near. It arced high over his head and his powerful arm smashed the chisel into the block. White spray spattered on me. I skittered to the corner and looked down my body. "Are you mad?! You could have killed me!"

Alberto's voice was deathly serious. "No more than you could have killed the Emperor if this block was no good. It must be flawless."

His words burned me like the Skyflame at the high point.

The long, flat blade was in his hands. He gripped the wooden handles on each end and slid its metal edge along the block. White shavings tumbled down like snow. He moved the blade over the block, each time removing more of the square corner made by the stone saw at the lake. His eyes almost glowed with intensity, fixed on every crystal falling through the air. Between slides, he painstakingly ran his bare finger over the surface of the block.

"Good," Alberto finally said. He held out the steel blade. "Now, do as I did."

"What?!"

"Take the drawshave. Hold the wood, not the metal."

A quivering tentacle reached out. I touched the wood. It was so rough! I would surely die!

He asked, "Have you not noticed how different your tentacles are than they used to be?"

I held them in front of my eyes. They were covered with a thousand tiny scars from the handle of the stone saw. Each cut had been too small to spill me, but only just. Had Alberto sent me on a hundred trips all over the planet for blocks just to toughen up my outer coating?

He smiled at me. "Even my fingers cannot feel a surface smooth enough for the skin of the Emperor. It must be you who makes the vessel."

I took the drawshave by the handles. Summoning all the courage I had, I slid it along the block. It dug in and a jagged, frozen chip of the size of my eye flipped out, missing me by a hair's breath. I again ran for the corner. He laughed.

"You must lower the angle of the blade until it shaves. Then, you will be safe. These crystals are a size that won't cut your skin. This is why you had to look so long for the perfect ice."

I tried again, holding the blade almost flat against the block. Tiny 'snowflakes' drifted down, brushing over my tentacles without harm. I had never felt such relief or felt so… chosen in all my life.

[align=center]***[/align]

He was ancient. He looked out from the aftcastle… and smiled. I couldn't remember the last time Alberto smiled. All was ready, from the mizzen to the elegant statue beneath the beakhead. He said it was the most beautiful female of his species. The illumination shaft he finished this morning in the cavern ceiling made the vessel glisten as if covered in a thousand jewels.

I wept with joy.

The Imperial Guard skittered in, poison stingers at the ready. Behind, the horrible, wonderful, tracks of the bullet-shaped Host rumbled into the cavern and paused in front of our work--a full-sized sailing ship carved out of ice.

The crystal transmitters by the cavern entrance and throughout the world said, "I AM PLEASED."

Just above the left track, a clear tube extended toward our vessel, meeting up with what Alberto called a "gun port".

Pink fluid lurched uneasily through the tube into our vessel. It began to pool up from the bottom, filling the hollow space inside our frozen hull.

I gasped. "The Emperor is spilled!"

"No." Alberto was beside me. "He lost his tentacles, but the Emperor does have a coating, but one thinner than a newborn's. Now you understand why it had to be so smooth, so he would leave the Host."

The empty tube stayed connected to the "gun". Inside the vessel, I saw the enormous bulk of the Emperor ebb and flow, searching his surroundings.

"I have kept my bargain. Your vessel is everything I promised. Beauty and comfort."

"REJOIN THE HOST, THEN."

Alberto paused by the metal entrance port, his gnarled fingers caressing the frame. "Ready to return to Earth, honey?"

The Emperor laughed. "IT TOOK YEARS TO LEARN TO MOVE IT WITHOUT YOUR CONTROLS."

My friend and teacher opened the door, and a single tear rolled down his cheek. The controls and interior were gone, dissolved by the Emperor's fluids to the connection ports on the frame.

"THIS MAGNIFICIENT ICE SHIP WILL HOUSE ME, BUT YOUR HOST WILL REMAIN MY ROLLING FORTRESS FOR BATTLE. KILL HIM."

The poison strike of the guard was instantaneous. As he sunk to his knees, Alberto smiled at me and whispered, "Do you remember where the ice came from? The lake that formed in the midday sun?"

His eyes pointed to the new skyshaft… directly over the ship. "Farewell, my friend. I would have taken you with me."

"If you survive the day, create!"


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Post September 10, 2010, 10:09:51 PM

Ice, Ice, Baby Challenge

Of the Blood that Froze

By:
TaoPhoenix



Blue is the color of the Blood That Froze, in the veins of the Source that Whelped us all.
The tale begins with Methane pure, when the summer light comes to crystals pure.
All souls began in the Pool of Life, when Refraction heated Ice into the Water of Life.
Mere hours remained until it froze, so it scrambled hard to make its way on the land.
Life finds a way when the going's tough, so it coded Mind to spread back to the Pool.
Next to Spawn had the Memory intact, so it built its life on naught but that but Mind Alive.
Look how the Sun bristles bright, on the glacier walls, in the tundras and cliff faces clean.
Ice is tighter than Water based Life, so there's a plan that gives us Life and keep us safe.

So what of now that we have evolved, to eat and mate and carry our message onward?
Blue is the mood of Life serene, that has matured past Whelps to have time to think.
Hours a day is all we can spare, from the cold blooded sleep that keeps us safe,
What shall we do with that precious time, that is our chance to grow and prosper so?
We have a chance to achieve the Stars, if we mind our past and the needs we hold.
Methane has Carbon and that's the key, it can form our soul if only we mold it pure.
Alcohol is a fuel that can propel us out, among the worlds with a Bio-Ship if we build it so.
But care must we take so as not to fade, from exertion strong past our limits to grow.

With Patience and care we can pass the Sun, but we must not hurry the Glacial Flow.
In Time it will Come to Fatefully Pass, that we'll surpass our caves of glistening snow.
Toil we must, heat the Pool each day, to make a new life, to make a new prodigial Man.
Encapture Progress is the way forward, to save each new step as it happens on Plan.
Carbon Fuses, Matter Bursts, Atoms Race, Stars Apace, Fusion Breeds, Ships apace.
This is the source of progress real, that can free us from the lattice mold of ice so cold.
But it's so much work, it's so much risk, how can we make each precious hour go?
According to Plan, when it all blinks out, in a time of drought, not of fire but Mind, not soul but kind.

Records recevied, messages deciphered, a meter broken, a tradition passed in Future's name.
These are the ways we can carry on, when all hope is lost and the future is bleak.
There are asteroids nearby, that can fuel our race, that are not as barren as the Holy Place.
From there the Scientists can develop stocks, that are crucial to progress before all is lost.
We have a chance and the Time is Now, so use it we must to ensure our Plan is Complete.
For our Wise Men have decreed it so, that somewhere out beyond the Star's own edge -
Are worlds rich in Metals and Minerals, that we so desperately need to grow, to nourish Souls.
So leave we shall on an Exodus Holiest, in a single chance to meet our Fate and hope it's well.

Ahoy on deck! A signal comes through our Comm. It's a race that breathes in the gaseous form.
Rumors were heard, and thoughts were shared, in the Pool of Science that such life might exist.
Glad then we are to meet you folks if you'll bear with us, our habits strange and our Culture Cold.
Our Meter expands to meet your kind, we shall try, First Contact strange yet wonderfully grand.
We are sending light, in signals Code, do you read our message or must we Modulo betwixt?
We would like to trade, for you have much to share, but we must think a moment what we have for you.
What would you want of a race so old, full of starts false and errant, with so much time lost to waste?
Though I daresay our Music is a place to start, what better way to structure than to be Crystal Born?

Excuse us now, for we must encapsulate, all the news and hope before the day grows too cold.
We must sleep twenty hours of your day, we know it is tough for us to meet and share and say.
But such is our lot, we are content by now, it is the way we're raised, it is how we're made.
It is how we make our way in the Fateful way, in the Lineage of Cold, in the Crystal Way.
Each day's news must be converted twice, to keep it safe from the melting of our ice out here in space.
But what we lack in time, we made up in Scribes, for all of us know to record each hour, not a moment lost.
We shall see you tomorrow, it has been grand, to meet a new race such as you of the air-gas.
So fluid and free, how do you organize, without a Matrix mind and a Crystal Hive?

[align=center]The End[/align]
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