FLASH FICTION INDEX 1 - May 2007-Nov. 2011


Writing challenges, flash fiction, interesting anecdotes, amusements, and general miscellanea.

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Post September 10, 2010, 10:10:39 PM

Ice, Ice, Baby Challenge

Superconductor

By:
Casey Callaghan



Norman, the King's ambassador, approached the royal guards.

"State your business." said the guard on the left, in a bored tone of voice, his pike, with its sharp blade of ice, blocking the doorway.

"My business is the King's." replied Norman, in the ancient formula.

"And of what nature is this business?"

"It regards the negotiations with the Hot Ones."

"Is your business of benefit to the King?"

Norman had been wondering about this for some time; the Hot Ones were very mysterious, and he did not understand them at all. "I believe so."

"Then await the pleasure of His Majesty." intoned the guard, before adding in a less formal voice "You'll have to wait until he gets out the bath. He's just warmed up the oxygen."

"My business is not urgent." intoned Norman. "I shall await His Majesty's pleasure."

It took His Royal Majesty, David the Nineteenth, about fifteen minutes to finish his bath; after which Norman was announced, and stepped into the presence of the King, the Ruler of the State of Terp (at least in theory). Said Ruler's face creased into a smile, and he cried out a happy "Normie!", raising tentacles still wet with liquid oxygen.

"Greetings, Your Majesty." replied Norman, bowing to both the young King and the Regent who would be handling the actual business of the day.

"And how goes the negotiations with the Hot Ones?" asked the Regent, sonorously.

"We have learnt more of the languages of each other." replied Norman. "I have not yet learnt from whence came their marvellous flying house; they retain yet the absurd tale of an origin in the sky, which all know is frozen and peopled only by terrible demons."

"So either they are demons or they lie." replied the Regent. "This is not an auspicious sign."

"If they lie, then they lie blatantly." argued Norman. "They also say that they are not demons."

"Perhaps they are demons who cannot tell the truth?" asks the Regent.

"But then they would not come from the sky." replies Norman. "It is clear that some of their statements are not truthful, but it is not clear which are not truthful."

The Regent mused on this for a moment. His Royal Majesty, used to being ignored when the Regent was talking to visitors but not liking it, managed to hit the Regent just below his upper left eye with a small toy. The Regent bore this stoically. "What did they say they wished?" asked the Regent at last.

"They wish to create a - building of some sort. The details were not clear to me, sir. But the size was twenty metres by twenty metres, and the height was twenty metres; and they will make it a cube."

"And where do they wish to create this - this block?"

"They say that it must be a place where the ground is firm, sire, and does not move."

A faint trace of amusement passed over the Regent's features. "The ground moves where they come from?" he asked. "And will the block have the intense heat that emanates from their bodies?"

"They say not, sir."

--------------

Meanwhile, on board the S.S. Iceworld, the same deal was being discussed.

"Hey, Johnson! How's the negotiations going?"

"Too slowly, Tom." replied Johnson mournfully, sitting down with a glass of water. "Do you know that half the buildings here are made of water?"

Tom sighed. "Yes, yes, very interesting. This planet's supposed to be too cold to support life, and you know that. I mean, they swim in liquid oxygen. They can't even touch the supercooled exterior of our suits without injury. How are we supposed to deal with people like this?"

"If we want to build the largest superconducting computer in the solar system, we either talk to them or find some way to build a more efficient cooling system." replied Johnson, firmly. "And you know no-ones been able to do the second yet. Look, this place is perfect. Tectonically stable, absolutely freezing. Once we have the permission of their head honcho, we can go ahead and put up the computer, with nice thick walls in case any of the natives get curious, and we can talk to it from then on purely by radio. We won't need to set foot on this place again."

"And what if they say no?" asks Tom. "We don't have enough fuel to go hopping round the planet looking for a more amenable kingdom. And you know as well as I do that we've sunk every cent into this venture as it is."

Johnson took a deep breath. He knew that Tom was thinking of the ship's booster rocket system; usually used only in deep space, where anti-gravitics were useless, but here capable of wiping out any native objectors with a few second's burst... he was thinking of it himself... but all he said was "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, Tom. If we come to it."

--------------

The Regent considered the question that evening, as he played catch with the King. He wasn't sure that he trusted these strangers, but their request was not unreasonable in and of itself. He wondered whether to grant it...


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Post September 10, 2010, 10:11:25 PM

Ice, Ice, Baby Challenge

Sacred Icy Pole on the hill

By:
Sergio Palumbo



Btew was going along the main street of the mining village of Snowy Lake.That was the last Hu-jun run outpost in that region, just before the Lands of Perennial Ice which ruled over the northernmost part of the planet.
Actually, the whole Gu-ug world was mostly covered in ice, except the thin line which crossed the middle of the planet southwards that was almost milder, especially during the hottest summers.But on the rest of the whole globe ice formations were the common rule…
In those extreme northern areas life was troublesome,according to Hu-jun anyway.There was only a people strong enough to live in such a terrible climate (frequently dropping 100 degrees below zero): the Gu-ug,the native species of this world.
They called themselves “the first inhabitants of Ice” and were believed to be the only intelligent local species who had been living on the surface since ancient times,long before the first Hu- jun colonists came from their homeplanet more than 10 years ago.
Hu- jun settled vast parts of this world, creating a new civilization thanks to their technology.They installed farms under domes and set up mines almost everywhere,so the planet natives were forced to move northwards: they resettled again within the icy boundaries of those secluded regions.
Now the bristly Gu- ug were angry with the Hu- jun and thought they had been deprived of their own world, refusing to live in the vicinity of the “Invaders from the sky”, as they commonly called them.The natives had inhabited even the southern regions of this world in the past, a fact which looked weird as they looked more at ease under colder climates, but some scientists had cosidered that the entire planet had undergone recurring Ice Ages in the past which had made the planet entirely covered in a white layer up to one mile.The causes of such climate change were not well known so far, but the science community thought they were related to some unusual sun activities.
Hu- jun were well fitted to ice,too:they had furry faces, pudgy noses, four narrow eyes and a hairy back, even though they always wore heavy garments protecting themselves from the cold waves outside.Even though perfectly capable of living at an average temperature of 30 degrees below zero, which was usual on their homeplanet for 11 of the 13 months of their calendar,at times the icy winds and heavy snowfalls could make everyday life intolerable even for the colonists.
Today,notwithstanding his clothing, Btew found difficult to resist in open air, maybe cause of the wind blowing harder than any other morning.The ice was covering his blonde furry hands and gave poor visibility, so he tried to reach the nearest store as soon as possible in search of a hotter temperature inside.
Walking with great difficulty, the Hu- jun mineralogist went past the square before the shops lane, but something drew his attention unexpectedly.On top of the hill,next to the village, there was an icy tall structure standing, a sort of statue carved in ice.
He stopped only a while to consider it, then thought ”That should be one of the Sacred Icy Poles the Gu-ug place at times near the northern Hu- jun outposts…it’s a way to dismay us and a try to chase all the Hu- jun colonists away, as somebody says, anyway it looks only ugly…”
Btwe shook his head, looking with a condescending air.He really doubted such a thing could be useful for the Gu- ug in order to regain a planet they had already lost…

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

The bristly snout of the Gu- ug scout named Gggggu,only 4 feet tall, was looking at the Invaders’ village in the distance, in silence.
The placing of the Sacred Icy Poles was going on, little by little…for more than ten years his people, the true inhabitants of that world, had kept quiet, waiting for the right time.They had been carving day after day all the poles they needed before bringing about their secret plan…
The Hu- jun Invaders had always believed his people placed those primitive structures just to prevent strangers from entering their own territory.That wasn’t true.
The Gu- ug native civilization was not so evoluted as the Invaders’, they did not possess starships, but relied on their traditions and beliefs.Even if the Gu- ug had had some science useful discoveries during their history, such as sleds powered by ugggn (which was a valuable mineral present in the underground, very energetic), they had remained a population very fond of their history and spiritualism.The magic, related to ugggn mineral, had always been part of their life.And it was going to save them this time, too.
As the ice magic had always been a powerful ally of theirs!
The Gu- ug shamans had begun carving the Sacred Icy Poles, which had to turn the entire world’s climate into one of the worst Ice Ages the globe had ever seen…that was the cause of all the past ice expansions the planet had sufferred since ancient times, since it had been inhabited by Gu- ug species…Their ancestors had done that way before, just to get rid of previous invaders from some other planets in the sky who had already tried to conquer their world.
His people had remained within the Lands of Perennial Ice, just enough to carve the poles they needed to place all around their lands, in order to create a magic circle surrounding the northernmost region of the globe, which would have been soon activated,releasing everywhere the powerful icy energy the shamans had been breathing into each Sacred Icy Pole…Only the Gu- ug would have been able to survive in the resulting Ice Age!On the other hand, the Invaders would have been excaping to the sky or running away, never to be back.
This time the Gu- ug would have had their victory, again.


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Post September 10, 2010, 10:12:05 PM

Ice, Ice, Baby Challenge

Dolly

By:
Michele Dutcher



“It's just the eyes, Bal – that's what gets me – the eyes.” Gerree sighed and then squashed back into his seat, watching the planet C-421 grow in size until it filled the viewing screen.

“Come on, Ger, this run is almost over. We dock, herd the product into the holding pen, collect our credits and leave. One more trip after this and we have enough in our accounts to retire for good. Not too bad for two guys in their 30s.”

“But why must the product have faces? - faces with eyes? I've been having nightmares.”

“The pigs have faces because the Efians prefer their meat to be fresh. As long as there is Ottic matter in this planet, and the Efians can bring it to the surface – the Efians will get whatever they want . Period.”

Gerree let the idea settle in. Both men felt the outdated starship shimmy a little as it landed on the planet's frozen surface. They both relaxed a little.

Bal looked over at the small man sitting beside him. “Gerree, think of it like this: a man plants a tree and waters it as it grows. Doesn't that man have the right to cut it down eventually and use its wood? This is the same thing – these pigs were cloned by the Cindize Company. The company has the right to use them however they want.” Bal looked at his partner as if what he was saying was a no-duh statement. “Remember Dolly – the first cloned sheep? She was studied for a while and then what happened to her?”

Gerree shrugged.

“No one knows because no one cares what happens to clones.”

“But the nightmares...”

“Have you been taking your pills?” Bal reached over Gerree, grabbing the green and gold tablet sitting on the console in front of him. “What the hell is this? We have a schedule for taking these things.”

“I'll take it, Bal. Just give it back.” The pill changed hands. “It is amazing that there are 50,000 Efians living in a city under this ice.”

Bal nodded yes – happy to change the subject. “At one time this planet was as green as any in the galaxy. C-421 got hit by an asteroid and thrown off its orbit...just a little. Now the inhabitants live below ground, sleep in boxes, and have their meals shipped in.”

A comforting female voice broke in, giving instructions.

“They're ready to receive the product, Jer. Time for you to go downstairs and herd those suckers out.”

Ger started to balk.

Bal looked straight at him. “Just go downstairs and do your freaking job. I can't leave the controls. Do your freaking job.”

Three minutes later, the little man in overalls was on the cargo deck, looking at the pigs from behind an unbreakable window. A hologram of the holding room shone before him. On his left a door opened and swine began to back away. He took his right hand and “pressed” on the hologram and the back wall of the deck began moving forward. Pigs started falling out the open door. The ones in front seemed to scream as their pink bodies were shoved into the Efians underground compound. The holding pen kept getting smaller and smaller as Gerree's hands got closer together.

Suddenly a pig jumped up on the window, his hands leaving streaks of blood as he fell back into the rest of the swine. And then another pig jumped up, and another.

“Gerree! What is going on down there?! Get that back wall moving again before the Efians come into the pen and get the product themselves!”

Then, almost as if the inhabitants had heard him, the Efians were flying through the door – grabbing the product, ripping their throats out with bared teeth. Everywhere there was blood. It was squirting onto the window until the scene inside the pen was hidden behind a thick cover of red.”

“Damn it, you idiot! I'm coming down there myself!”

“Bal. Bal. They're not pigs,” whispered Gerree in shocked revelation. He felt his knees give out two seconds before his head hit the floor.

Six hours later

The office of the Efian diplomat was luxuriant. The couch seats were deep and soft. The tables were made of thick, rich oak. From this location, Bal could see the city's high-rises out the window, shuttles rising and falling from the streets 12 stories below. The city was alive with life, even this late at night – even 200 feet below the ice-covered surface.

The ambassador who entered was tall and welcoming. “I trust your partner will fully recover.” He smiled broadly before handing the human a stemmed glass filled with a chilled, white beverage.

“He'll be fine. I do apologize for any inconvenience, your grace.”

“Please, please – call me Logi – no reason for such formality.” The diplomat took a seat behind the large, box-shaped desk, and motioned for Bal to take the chair across from him.

The Efian shrugged his shoulders and gave out an embarrassed chuckle. “It had been a long time between deliveries and I'm afraid some of my people were overcome with hunger. We apologize for our lack of dining manners. My higher-ups have always been impressed by your company's commitment to excellence. We appreciate your continued service.”

“No harm done, I assure you. I'll be sure Gerree takes his pills next time out.”

“I suppose it's only a matter of the credits then,” said the diplomat, giving a little bow before leading the human out of his office.

Six weeks later

The planet C-421 hung in the viewing screen, growing larger by the second. Captain Bal looked over to his 2nd in command. “Have you taken your pill, Gerree?”

“I will, Bal – I will.”

“I'll get you a glass of water,” said Bal – getting up from his seat.


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Post September 10, 2010, 10:12:53 PM

Ice, Ice, Baby Challenge

Burn Out The Day

By:
G.C. Dillon



Snow was general over the land, as it always was. It was early Spring, so the icy water hybrid was fluffy and light. There are over ninety words for categories of snow, slush, and ice in my people's lexicon. Not so much amongst the city dwellers in their ice houses behind stone walls. Today, they were my cargo, not the makings of those ramparts. I wore my tinted glasses to prevent against snow-blindness. I am a stone-cutter guild-man -- as well as a transporter of rock, but it was that second knowledge which found me here -- as guide to a Royal and Religious expedition.

Our Monarch's daughter's hair was even blonder than the twin-trunked woolly mammoth she rode; or rather sat upon in her canopied howdah. It protected her from the wind and drifting watery dander. She was lovely, with a pronounced eyebrow ridge and a long, tapering jawline. Her neck was decorated by multiple strands of tooth necklaces. Both of people's and animal's. I noted several of the the four-fanged sabre-tooths of the snow-tigers. Myself, I rode bareback on my favorite mount, Shelagh, with my ankus crooked baton in my hand. She reached back with one of her two trunks. I gave her a rare peanut that I had gotten from a royal quartermaster.

The Temple Grenadiers marched at our sides; they were large, each of them towered over five-and-a-third feet, almost as huge as a cave-bear. Well, taller than I, at least. Their huge hands hung nearly to their knees. A sign of masculinity that my mid-thigh length arms could not match. Each carried a long musket, too. I knew their explosive black powder was saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal. (But the formula was as secret a as any foul spell of the Heliolater Sun Cult of the far South). I have envied these monkish soldiers' iron guns, but it would take eight summer seasons to purchase one. And that does not include the powder, mini-balls, or the hours of daily training. They did not even own their weapons. The Temple did. No, I will trust to my crossbow with its obsidian-pointed quarrels Its string was made with summer hemp and the arrows had colorful stabilizing lizard feathers, which came from the equator's quasi-warm blooded beasts. The wooden stock made from the Evergreen forests was expensive enough. But transporting massive granite stone blocks (cut from cooled volcano spew) was itself profitable. It is how I make my livelihood.

Our royal guards were less elegantly armed. They carried heavier crossbows than my little bolt-caster, and long javelins with spear-throwers to increase force and velocity. For close work, stone chipped war-hammers graced their hands. One even wore a bronze sword, almost as expensive as a firearm. Higher ranking officers might have gotten iron or even highly prized steel.

The small white dot that was the Sun settled on the horizon. I began to release the ropes to the sleds the mammoths pulled. We would spend the night here. We were at the base of the fire pits. The volcano mountains were a battle-scene of fire and ice, as the melted stone met the glacier and breathed mist and fog. Granite chunks from the spitting maw were building materials I cut to sell to the city dwellers. At least on any normal visit to this place. Tomorrow, instead, we would save the world. I collected the fresh snow into my water-skin. Newly fallen powder made the best potable drink.

The Princess Keilah came up to me.“Quillan. Is that a black or brown bear? It's clearly not one of the great white polars.”

I glanced out across the clean sheen of the snow. “No. It's a giant beaver. You can tell by the tail. They're the same size, roughly. Though some toothy beavers are bigger!” I replied.

But wait! I wore a twin brimmed deerstalker cap, ear flaps down to warm my long earlobes. I am no ascetic. My cap's name had become prophesy -- a small herd of tri-horned reindeer grazed on the tall grass that grew in the warmth of the lava stream. The large hart had a full thirty-nine points. I tossed the upper flap of my hare-fur lined cloak over my shoulder, and I pulled a bollo from my belt. It was made of three good stones and connecting twine to bind the prey. If I threw well, we would eat venison tonight. I released the twirling mass. And (YES!) we would eat well for dinner. We would cook it in a cast-iron oven-pot with hot lava ash under the bottom and loaded upon the lid. Camp chow loses its epicurean charm quickly.

***

“Dinner's ready,” I said to the monks. They wore long black cassocks, and heavy leather boots. Unseen tonsures rested beneath their skullcaps. “I'll take the watch so you two can eat. Won't I need two weapons? One to warn you, and one to defend myself.” I took their guns.

***

The High Priest Ulmer began to speak. “Come here - have we. Because the hot springs that supply our City has dried up. The fire Gods must be appeased, A sacrificed is demanded.”

Keilah, our princess, stepped forward.

Ulmer spoke: “We thank our most gracious Highness for volunteering for this most holy task.”

“Any sacrifice will be yours,” she said.”Our people appreciate it.”

The Temple Grenadiers raised their muskets. The guns would not blast. The new snow is damp and black powder saturated with it will not fire. But crossbows and javelins do fly. Now the only guards were hers.

“Our men of science, alchemists and astrologers, have examined the aqueducts and found traces and evidence of the temple's black powder. It was not the fire Gods. It was your doing. And so you must be the sacrifice.”

Keilah turned away, leaving the rest to Ulmer and her guards.


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Post September 10, 2010, 10:13:28 PM

Ice, Ice, Baby Challenge

PHASE TRANSITIONS or COLD & OLD

By:
Richard Tornello



“Damn, I cut myself.” Sweet, my blood is a bluish color and sweet. Some trainer I am. I cut myself. They look at me as if I’m some sort of clumsy old one. I watch as the skin seals itself against the cold. There are no visible signs of an opening. Good, the quick healing is a sign that I am healthy. “Let’s move on with the task at hand. Where did you say this object was?”

“Beyond the exposed ridges, above the solidcold line,” answers the young one who came to me with the find.

I look around at the young ones. They’re all excited about this discovery. They have no cares, jackets flying open in complete disregard of the weather. Light hats on some. A few will get sick and learn. The world is a cold solid mass and we are the only intelligent beings here. We’ve been here forever or so our myths indicate. There were others, it was said, but they disappeared. What junk. I believe none of that. Show me!

Our bodies are made for this. Our blood doesn’t solidcold like some animals we’ve captured from warmer regions. Warm is a euphemism. Up here we get little light and heat from the local star. The south gets more. Our heat and energy come from the underground furnaces that the planet provides all of us. The industry and technology is planet based and our lives are rather complete. Travel is created through thermal driven vehicles. The core almost liquid, is mined and the hot mass is used as a catalyst to turn all this solidcold into steam to drive our vehicles.

The animals we hunt in the south have a different mixture of bodily fluids and they solidcold at the slightest drop in temperature that we can run naked in. “We know they are an older species, evolving from a line that just barely survives and will eventually die out. Why we know that? Look, as I cut one open that we’ve brought along for food, a red fluid, good to eat, but not at all sweet. And, it solidcolds almost instantly. You see that boys and girls. If you see red, it’s not our kind.”

“Okay young one, where did you see this thing?”

“Just beyond that peak.”

“You all stay here, but You, the finder, you come with me. This is your find.” He’s all puffed up and proud. Can’t say I blame him, especially if he’s correct. The pac and solidcold are thin in this area. I can see the rocks below the solidcold. We’re a few feet above the ground. Most of the time the ground is miles below.

As the two of us round the peak I stop dead in my tracks. Hairless, solidcold and small. An arm reaches through the solidcold. Oh my, this is real. “Get the others, now!” I command.

He’s off and running, jacket open flying in the breeze. Kids. I didn’t have to tell him twice. And they’re all here surrounding what will be a momentous find.

“Who has the digging tools?”

“You three, start 3 measures out and dig around this thing. Keep it encased. Then we’ll decide what to do. Finder, you’re in charge.”

They are yelling and sweating as they dig. The others watch. They switch places after a while.

The time is now High Star, and the two moons are out. They are finished and we look. It’s tiny by our standards, bipedal with material covering its body. “Can they really have lived here,” someone asks?

“How old is it?” comes another inquiry followed by myriad others.

“It’s female, look!” shouts one

I hold my hand up, which is at least 2 times as large as the beings face I’m standing over. “I really have no idea. This is new and will be news to all of us throughout the world.” I think to myself, this changes many a thing, maybe. Looking at the material on the encased being I do notice a degree of sophistication in design pattern and material.


We have all examined this find. We have gone back with sophisticated mining tools to discover any other remains and artifacts. All the artifacts are useless, and so tiny too. A few pieces are large, bulky and unopenable. It takes 4 to carry the large one.

Our legends tell of beings that could fly and manipulate the cosmos. Then came a great catastrophe. The tools that this female had were well made, of metals we’ve never seen and their use can only be guessed at. We wonder about this.

“I think that they may have been another line of being that died out. Or from out there,” pointing up. “This place is not for such a small being. Look, phase transition! WE DON’T,” calming down, “go through that,” I declared.

“Can anyone tell if it’s glycol based?” I was asked.

“It’s not, obviously. What a waste of time this is. Throw it into the core with the tools it had. They are of no use to us. This is a dead end and is no relation to anything were are, were or will be.”

A vote was held. The Finder was give the status and honor of the find and was allowed to throw the being into the heat source. It was melting and stinky too. The tools and all the artifacts were next.
Sometime Later:

We are back to our lives. Most have forgotten the biped incident.

“What a noise?!”

“It’s coming from the core,” someone yells

A great blow up is occurring. In all our time here we’ve never had this.

Our factories are destroyed. Rock and ash are tumbling out of the sky. Homes are melting from the heat.

“This is impossible!” I shout refusing to believe this reality. “The artifacts, that bulky object, my god, that’s what caused this!” I take what I know to be my last look at our twin moons. The planet is dying.


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Post September 10, 2010, 10:14:07 PM

Ice, Ice, Baby Challenge

And So The Wheel Turns

By:
Bill Wolfe



“Heresy! Char-Less. That’s what they’ll call it!”

“But you don’t call it that, do you Pater? You’ve seen the trees buried in the ice. You’ve seen them!”

The old man looked away. Ashamed? “Yes, I have. But the ICE-Goddess is all I’ve ever known, son. Perhaps some will say that this is a trick of the Sun-Demon. He put those trees in place to test our faith. To make us doubt.”

There was a sharp jolt as the huge, wind-driven ice skimmer hit a rough patch, though neither of the men seemed to notice. They’d been on this ship for over a year, exploring the equator. The sailors and the Captain of the vessel had never failed in their duty to take them where they needed to go. And now they were heading home. To The Dome.

“And if we find more? What then?”

“What do you mean?”

“Pater, the whole reason we are on this voyage is because over the last thousand cycles, the temperatures outside The Dome have been rising. The ICE-Goddess Herself instructed us to track temperatures, and to explore our world once it was safe. Once more ice has melted, we may uncover vast tracks of land where it is obvious that this world has not always been frozen, that it once supported life without the assistance of the ICE-Goddess.”

“I am aware of the Heresy, young man. But I also know my Book. And in Genesis. . .”

“And lo, the World was Ice, and Ice was the World. And the ICE-Goddess spake into being, both man and woman. And She gave to them The Dome, so they may thrive. And in The Dome was warmth, and light and many trees, plants and fishes that they may eat.” The naturalist would have continued with his quoting, but for the impatient scowl on the good Pater’s face.

“The Book says quite clearly that this is not a so called, ‘Ice Age.’ You know that, Char-less. Our world is Ice, has always been Ice, and we were made by the ICE-Goddess to populate it, when we have been deemed fit, and may leave The Dome.”

“Pater, you have spoken to the ICE-Goddess, I have not. But I’ve read the manuals she prints for us to maintain The Dome. Surely you’ve heard her call herself the Integrated Computer Entity. The Book, for all its wisdom, was not written by Her. It was written by people like ourselves during the Dark Times, when Her Holy Interface was not functioning. It was the great Leonardi himself, who repaired it. She’s been accessible to us for over five thousand cycles, and yet my understanding is that She, Herself, denies The Book, in its entirety.”

“Her ways are not our ways, my child. We must have faith. And you would be well advised not to repeat idle gossip as to the nature of the pronouncements that the Church receives from the Holy Interface.”

“Yes Pater.”

There was an uncomfortable silence as the two men sipped hot tea. The wind howled outside and the sounds of sailors scurrying over the topdeck could be heard. The skimmer was the largest, most complex of its kind ever built. All by the direct instructions and plans printed off by the ICE-Goddess, Herself.

Finally, the younger man ventured the question that both men had been pondering since the first sign of trees beneath the ice was discovered.

“But Pater, what if we find evidence of prehistoric people living outside The Dome, once the ice recedes? How would such news be received? It may not be in our lifetimes, of course, but what if?”

“You come dangerously close to the Heretics’ point of view, boy. You should be careful. Careers have been shattered, for less.”

“Pater, the Heretics have been driven into hiding, but we both know they still exist. My fear is that they would seize upon our findings for their own purposes. Just because there were trees beneath the ice, doesn’t mean that the ICE-Goddess is merely a sophisticated machine, built by our ancestors who came to this world from a mythical paradise, called Earth. But they could use our findings to cast doubt. And if we—Goddess forbid—were to find old human settlements beneath the ice, I don’t know how we could counter their arguments.”

“The ICE-Goddess will provide, my child. She always has. She gives us warmth through the geothermals, regulates our temperature, the rain that falls from Her spouts, and even allows us the gift of marriage in order that enough children of the right mix are born to us, each generation. She molds our lives and determines what work we do for the good of our society. All life within The Dome comes from The ICE-Goddess. This question will not be beyond her.”

“But know that I share your fears, and I will discuss them with the Church Elders, when we return.”

“Thank you, Pater. May I ask you a question about this ship?”

“I know almost nothing about its construction, Char-less. I only know that The ICE-Goddess commanded us, directly, to build it and to send this expedition to the equator. It was begun in my father’s time.”

“Of course, Pater. But did The ICE-Goddess also name this ship in her detailed instructions?”

“The ICE-Goddess names us all, son. You know that. Her ways are mysterious, indeed. I don’t know why She named this good ship the HMS Beagle, nor you Char-less Dahrween, for that matter.”


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Post September 10, 2010, 10:15:18 PM

Ice, Ice, Baby Challenge

- Winner -



Hielo

By:
J. B. Hogan



Our evolution on Hielo had been slow, generations slow – just as the snows and ice had slowly, inexorably covered our glistening planet in thicker and thicker layers of ice. For centuries we had worn the skins of animals to protect us but eventually there was no need.

The far distance of our sun, slipping from us infinitesimally year by year, century by century, allowed us to bleach purely white and when we shed the animal fur we grew hair, also white, over every part of our bodies. We could live without extra protection, except on deep dark nights when we were forced to seek shelter in our ice homes.

Our white body covering allowed us to move almost invisibly among the snow banks where we captured the small hares and larger animals that we consumed. We had created underground gardens beneath large ice buildings and there we grew legumes and green vegetables that balanced our diet. Our lives were harsh, but they had become balanced, too. Comfortable. Familiar. Then came the Others.

The Others, beings rumored to be not white-furred, not like us – not perhaps of our species – aberrations, mutants. These Beings banded together on the furthermost edge of our civilization, in the range called Brown Earth. That was what they called their land and themselves they called Brown Earthers.

They believed the radical philosophy of a discredited scientist who claimed the planet’s only hope against the doom of our withdrawing sun was to warm our planet, to begin to melt the ice. It was a heretical stance and one that had to be dealt with, eradicated, stamped out – the sooner the better.

As commander of the 35th Ice Brigade, I had been given the task of ridding our planet of the heretics who, it was said, had created huge heat turbines designed to thaw out the land. Insane though that was, they supposedly had a trickling of adherents in the Ice Cities who had fallen sway to the absurdity of that ridiculous point of view. As leader of the 35th IB, I intended to put an end to the rebellion and its pernicious philosophy, post haste.

Using heavily fortified Ice Strikers and fast, mobile Snow Skimmers we made our way to the brown land in less than ten days. As we neared the heretical zone, the ice beneath us thinned but not enough to slow our advance. But when the brown earth appeared, we slogged to a slow, stop.

I ordered the troops to continue on foot and within a day were in sight of the rebel stronghold. Sure enough, there was an array of huge turbines there, running it seemed – and of all things – on ice and snow. The turbines pumped out massive blasts of warm air that nearly suffocated my men. We dropped back to the ice edge to rethink the situation and prepare a new ploy.

The Quartermaster came up with an ingenious plan to keep our men cool and the engineers a way of getting the heavy armament to where it could take out the enemy turbines. Each man wore a specially designed suit fitted with ice so that body temperatures would remain cold enough for battle and ice rails were cut and positioned in order to move the Strikers within firing range. On the following day, upon reaching our goal, I used an Ice-o-phone to call on the rebels to quit their posts. They sent out an emissary.

“You have one hour to remove your people,” I told the beastly looking thing – it had almost no hair on its body and a disgustingly splotchy skin that was more than off-white – “before we destroy your turbines.”

“Commander,” the thing answered back, surprising me with its ability to speak intelligently, “you people don’t know what you’re doing. Heating the planet back up is our only hope of survival. It’s the only way for us to exist as a species in the future.”

“Specious reasoning,” I replied, marveling at the unkempt, rebel barbarian’s inclusion of his “species” with mine, “we have evolved to meet all the challenges that our planet has given us.”

“Not this time,” he contradicted me. “There’s no longer enough time. Our sun grows too distant. We must act quickly or die.”

“On that we agree,” I said.

“You don’t understand,” the rebel said.

“No,” I countered, “it’s you that doesn’t understand. Now, will you go back and tell your ‘people’ of my warning or will you let them die for nothing?”

“If you destroy the turbines, Commander,” the rebel warned me, as if it had a valid point, “you’ll kill us all. Your people and, as you say, mine.”

“The choice is up to you.”

“You can’t do this. You’re completely in the wrong.”

“No more discussion. One last chance.”

The rebel waved his arms towards the offending turbines and a throng of people poured out of the huge structures. I waited until it seemed that all of these awful looking things had cleared the area. Then I gave the order.

“You’re setting us back decades,” the rebel emissary cried out. “You may be dooming us all.”

“Fire,” I ordered, then again: “Fire.”

The strikers let loose with a barrage of long range cannons and missiles. In moments, shattered piles of the turbines were strewn across the dirty brown earth. A mournful cry rose from the surviving rebel creatures. It had the high, lonesome sound of an animal trapped and dying alone in the wilderness. My men easily rounded them up with only a few casualties among the ranks of the beastly things.

Marching the rebels before us, I ordered the unit to return home. It was a long way to the capitol. The leaders would be glad to hear the rebellion had been defeated and the rebel beings would make for good conversation in town. Their now discredited, pathetic beliefs would provide a most entertaining subject for the well-to-do at their fancy cocktail parties, a most entertaining subject indeed.


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Post October 02, 2010, 01:57:08 PM

Hated by the World Challenge

The challenge was to tell a fantasy, science fiction, or horror story in which a character had offended fate or the world, and therefore has to face that realization.
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Post October 02, 2010, 01:59:02 PM

Hated by the World Challenge

Before He Was Famous

By:
Casey Callaghan



The paper was entitled "Acausal Signalling In Quantum Entanglement". I'd read through it four times already today. It was after the fourth time that the lab door finally opened, and John Doe, the professor under whom I was doing my doctorate, stepped in. He sighed on seeing me. "Lock yourself in again?" he asked. "What happened to that spare key I gave you?"

"It's currently stuck behind the radiator." I explained. "Just a little too far to reach. And my cell battery's dead. Not sure what happened to the landline."

"Oh, that line that keeps getting knocked down every time there's a storm got knocked down again. Why do these things always happen whe you get locked in overnight?"

I shrugged. "Listen," I said, "you remember those experiments on quantum entanglement that I asked you if I could run last year?"

He nodded. "Yes. A very elegant theory. Pity it turned out to be false; it would have really put our tiny little university on the map had it been true. Time travel confirmed on the micro scale."

I cleared my throat. "Technically, if my theory was false, the results I got were just really, really unlikely."

"Yes, once in the history of the universe unlikely." agreed John. "And very, very expensive to run. The odds are several thousand times higher that you were wrong than that that would have happened, and I can't justify the expense -"

I waved away the objection; it was irrelevant. "Yes yes yes. Someone else did the same experiment." I turned my laptop around to show him the paper. "They got the results I'd predicted and have advanced precisely the same theory to explain them."

He read through the paper, and then sat back and stared at it. "Well." he said, after a few moments. "Well. You know, the chances of that happening are a few million times less likely than winning the lottery? Have you ever entered the lottery?"

"Yes." I replied. "My ticket won, but a gust of wind took it out of my hand on the way to claim it. A sparrow grabbed it and - well, to make a long story short, by sunset all I had left was a handful of ashes."

"Oh dear." said John. "At the very least, you can find your old papers, can't you? Prove you'd thought of it first, maybe they'll let you share credit?"

I shook my head. "You remember that storm last night?" I asked. "Took out out document server and our backup document server with a single lightning bolt."

"We've got it on paper." pointed out John. "In the form of the original lab notes."

"Caught fire. Same lightning bolt. I managed to salvage most of our work, but anything with my name on it is burnt to a crisp."

"Do you have the faintest idea what the odds against that are?" asked John, after some thought.

"Staggeringly against. But aren't the odds against any specific sequence of events as dauntingly against, when you think of the vast plethora of other options that could possibly have happened?" I asked.

"What about your quantum hypothesis?" enquired John. "That alone would imply that the universe hates you."

"The thought has crossed my mind." I agree. "But why? Why would the universe hate me, specifically? It's not even as if I've done anything particularly dramatic."

John leaned back on his chair. "No, but... you're one of the sharpest doctoral students that I've ever had the pleasure to work with. You invented a new quantum theory that's going to revolutionise the world even if it doesn't have your name on it, including at least theoretical possibility of time travel. If the universe really hates you -" he waited a moment, for effect - "maybe it's for something you're still going to do."

This hadn't yet occurred to me. I stared out the window. "I wonder what it will be?"


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Post October 02, 2010, 01:59:59 PM

Hated by the World Challenge

Higher Associative Reasoning Replacing Yarak
Or
HARRY


By:
Richard Tornello © 2010



The Great Organizational Design Association (G.O.D.A.) inserted him. Everything Harry Right did, he did in a proper and correct manner. That’s why HE was sent to this place, Earth. The scientific understanding is now to a level that allowed for a Harry.

G.O.D.A. affirmed, “It’s time to try again. You’re to fit in with the humans and become an accepted part of the planet. You can answer the worlds’ desires making it a much better place to live.”

“Just do it Harry Right. Get the ball rolling.” And do it right, Harry did.

The first major desire he granted was the wish for world peace. Harry contemplated the issues and came up with a bright idea. Delete any word relating to war, violence and associated concepts from the vocabulary.

Equality was the next globally demanded prayer he approached. Harry leveled the planetary playing field so everybody had a fair share of everything.

Harry reported back to G.O.D.A. “What, with the educational levels, socially connected technologies, the instant translations, world-wide communications, this is a cake walk! They love it and LOVE me.”

****

Maybe that’s what Harry thought. The mob outside the World Court Building thinks differently and lets him know it:

“HARRY HARRY go away,
Keep your mind games, we won’t play.
Bla, Bla, Bla, what we hear.
Kiss our butts… HARRY DEAR.

HARRY, HARRY, the old way.


UP YOURS HARRY. NOW GO AWAY.”






HARRY had a few things to clean up. “That wasn’t quite right. I’ll fix that soon,” he says to no one in particular.

****
Harry is summoned into the World Court. He assumes he’s getting some type of award. He’s all smiles as he enters the court room. He ignores the mob outside.

He stands before a judge. Two officials take positions on either side.

This is rather impressive, he thinks.


“Bailiff read the complaint.”

“You are hereby charged with the following,” The bailiff clears his throat.

“Nasty things against humanity, the leveling of all playing fields of the human race and finally, you, Harry Right, are charged with Mass Cultural Loss. We have no art or literature.” The Bailiff shrugs and continues, “You mucked with our language and… The planet is “not happy” at all.”

“Bailiff, enough,” demands the judge.

Somewhere in the back of the judges’ mind sits concepts like, Crimes Against Humanity, Cultural Genocide, and Destruction of the Human Race. These were the words and concepts he would have used, if he was able. Harry had taken care of that.

There was no war, combat or violence, so no need. Those ideas and activities were deleted from the lexicon of the human race. The language and therefore minds had been altered. “Not happy,” was the best they could muster.

And Harry didn’t get it.


“Harry Right, HOW DO YOU PLEAD?” Orders the Judge.



“Plead?”
“PLEAD?”
“What! Are you all crazy?
“I gave you everything, EVERYTHING, as wished for. Peace, equality, food, shelter, balanced use of your resources, AND, a better living standard for everyone. Sure a few of you had to give some things back, but in the long run, LOOK!
And you hate me? You’re all insane.”

“Harry,” his court appointed lawyer said trying to establish calm. “Everything is sort homogenized, no differences, no special who, or superlative this. You gave us equality, but, the place is boring, boring. God, it’s boring!”

“BUT THAT’S what you ALL have been praying for ever since you could walk upright! Harry is at a loss. “What do you mean crimes? What are you talking about? You have this technology and I have the power to grant anything. I granted you your wishes. Yes I deleted a few things, like your vocabulary and ability to conceptualize a few items that were, how should I put it, disruptive to peace and harmony.”

“And now you want me gone? You all hate me?” Harry is incredulous.

“Harry, WE, most of us, like what we were. It was messy but it was fun. Well, not for everyone, but someone has to lose. That’s what makes it life.”

“No it doesn’t, it what makes it strife. Oh shit I’ve just added that back in to the lexicon. I’ll have to take it out.”

“OH NO, No you don’t. Just leave it where it is. We want it. No, just go home and don’t ever come back. If we EVER want you we know where to look.”

“I can’t leave until I’m finished with…”

“Oh you’re finished all right. If you stay here you must have some idea what will happen.”

Harry, proud of his accomplishments states, “Nothing really bad. Ha! I took those word and concepts and stripped them from your brains. I effaced them from your history. This is a fine place. It’s a pleasant place to live. Everything is well ordered.”

“Shit Harry. It’s fucking boring. It’s not worth living. How would you like living like this?”

“I think it’s just fine.”

The lawyer looks at Harry. “Harry, you had better ask to be let go and promise to leave our planet. Go back to your world and tell them ‘Thanks but no thanks.’ You had better do this. I can get you out for that. Have your people come pick you up.”

****


Harry paces around the plush suite he was given as his cell. “Well, at least they’re not putting nails in my hands, or burning me or who knows what they would think of had I not straightened things out.”

Harry gives a universal salute and disappears.


EPILOG:

Harry’s monumental failure forced the Association to scrub his memory of most, but not all that had passed. His talents were stripped away. He was returned to Earth with only human skills and ordered to work the rest of his life.

From time to time, people would point and laugh.

Harry would carry the burden never believing he failed. No one likes to be reminded, but living here, he most certainly was. Sometimes he would cry.


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Post October 02, 2010, 02:00:51 PM

Hated by the World Challenge

When Immortality Ends

By:
Sergio Palumbo



Neville and William were going across the square, accompanied by bodyguards--tall muscular guys in grey, guns on show and a fierce look--surrounded by the usual crowd of fans, trying to keep off the more insistent ones, while dodging the flashes of the press reporters digicameras all around.

Whatever they did became noteworthy, and whenever they moved, their activities proved interesting for the general viewers. Neville’s good looking, blonde-haired face and William’s glowing complexion and red thatch had become well known worldwide, because they were Immortals. They were members of the group of individuals that had taken the entire world over, the new dictators, keepers of the destiny of the best corporations, capable of deciding about the life and death of the rest of the common population, the poor mortals.

Only three hundred years earlier, a well-known Indian scientist, Professor Kumar, had found a way to prolong indefinitely the average life span, by stopping the deterioration of several tissues and removing completely the gene for aging. Such a great achievement had been made possible cause of some natural ingredients (herbs, medicinal plants, etc.) mixed with very rare particles taken out from a precious mineral found only in the underground of a few neglected recesses in northern China.

Mankind was going to reach immortality, finally, but even if the scientist looked eager to release this treatment for the benefit of everyone, the way to obtain it was very expensive. Only some pharmaceutical companies were able to sustain such a valuable research: as ordinarily happens, some men of power who already possessed some huge riches managed to increase their own goods and wealth in the end. A group of important people (bloody tycoons and many corrupt politicians) decided to invest some considerable money in it.

Originally, they were meant only to be the first ones to benefit from such a procedure by becoming immortals, but afterward, something occurred which turned human history towards an unpredictable direction… All the known repositories of the mineral necessary for the process were contaminated cause of several radioactive explosions that made them unusable. Initially, a famous terrorist group acting for political reasons was held responsible, but the truth became evident eventually: one of the rich men --already an immortal-- had moved so to prevent anyone else from achieving immortality…

He was taken in custody and punished, as people decisively asked, but the damage looked unsolvable… apparently, there was no mineral left. So only the ones who had financed such a project at first, got immortality and everything would have to stay that way until some new repositories had been discovered elsewhere, maybe in space, when mankind had reached the stars…

Of course, the new immortals took immediately advantage of their enviable position and in a matter of years turned upside down the world itself. The structure of the states changed, the power of the new Masters rose and the globe was wrapped in a sort of web controlled by those oligarchs only, the immortals, the final dictators .

There was a deep debate among the ordinary humans. In a way, the immortals had personal opinions very different from the mortal way of thinking and a few people thought that having such individuals in the lead (likely forever…) was the same that putting in charge a child prodigy: if he was faster at calculating than any other man, capable of keeping in memory a book only by reading it once and so on, how would he ever been able to comprehend the common needs of ordinary population, the human hopes and limits? Probably, he would have considered all mankind only as inferior…

That’s exactly what happened on Earth.

The Immortals soon became the most important personalities on the planet, they walked the streets as movie stars, sort of saints, kings, or queens, they were living gods, full of admirers around (or of enemies their huge army of bodyguards used to take care of in an unpleasant way…) While proceeding along, the two oligarchs greeted the people, waving benevolently. When they came near the entrance of the building chosen for the next ceremony they were to attend, a young man, getting out of the crowd, succeeded in going past the mounted police heading for the two big names, then stretched out the arm touching the wrist of one of the immortal with his hand…

The policemen soon came to help, but the man didn’t take heed. He looked simply satisfied.

"Everything ok?" William asked.

"Yes… that guy just wanted to touch me!"

As one man touches a god William sneered.

[center]***[/center]

In the following days, when Neville began falling ill and eventually died (and almost all the other immortals, too, soon after him), things became clearer: that young man had infected Neville with a new virus he was carrying, something that a resistance group had secretly worked out just for this purpose. There was no treatment against such an infection.

William was one of the last ones to get sick. During the last ceremony he attended, while sitting on the armchair in the public hall of his palace, he considered that since their circle had taken the world over all the others--still mortals--had started to envy them, wishing to oust the new gods who would have never ceased to be their Masters. While trembling cause of the illness, he felt watched by the many onlookers in there. All of them had been waiting so long for his fall. Today they would be able to see the death of the last of the immortal oligarchs of the world, whose existence offended the laws of nature…


Finally, it occurred to William that wise old saying by Palahniuk:


"We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, but to create something that will."


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Post October 02, 2010, 02:01:49 PM

Hated by the World Challenge

A Harsh Turn of Fate

By:
TaoPhoenix



Dr. Gerald Haslow was stressed.

He was down $1000 in the office pool when the New York Yankees lost the World Series to Toronto when Brett Cecil apparently charmed the Clotho aspect of fate into giving him a Magic Arm in 2011. Yankees? Losing to Toronto? What kind of fluke is that?

Packing it up at the end of the workday, for the first time when it really counted the stupid proximity beeper on his truck also apparently decided not to go off, and he backed into an executive's BMW. The executive decided to be "nice" and only asked for Damages, and didn't bother with the emotional pain and distress BS. The damages to the BMW came to $4,400 (American). His own deductible was another $1500. Grumbling loudly, Gerry called the tow service to take his truck to the mechanic near his apartment, and he hitched a cab ride home.

The cabbie was one of those too-talkative types, smarter than he looked and wouldn't shut the hell up.

"Corner of Spruce and Wimple, please."

The Cabbie fiddled with his custom GPS and read off, "You got $17.50 on you?"

Gerry was by now really pissed. He made his living with math, as he'd been born with a flair for figures.

"Come off it, you know it shouldn't be more than $10 even. I'm no tourist".

The Cabbie replied affably, "Left on Margunning, 4 blocks, right on Hollander, 3 miles on Hollander, right on Dakota, quick left on Isling Drive, 4 miles on MLK Boulevard, and junction with Whimple."

That sounded like a Cabbie Scam route if he had ever heard one. "What kind of horseshit is that? Everyone knows you take the freeway 5 exits on a straight shot for 6 exists and get off at Spruce."

"Sure Mac, that would have worked yesterday. Didn't you hear an oil tanker crashed and wrecked the freeway for 50 miles of toxic sludge when the rainstorm hit?"

Gerry blanched. Sure there had been a crappy goddamn rainstorm, but that just meant stupid puddles to him. He wasn't in the habit of checking local news, so he hadn't heard about the now infamous oil spill. "Fine, just get me home."

"Sure Mac."

Back at home, Gerry poured himself a heavy drink and sunk into his well worn armchair, but left the TV off. He was past being furious and now just completely depressed. Life sucked. No, that's what everyone said. Way at the back of his mind, his scientific instincts began to clamor for attention. Wrong phrase. Not "Life Sucked", but "The World was not fair". He was supposed to be merely wallowing in pity, but with a jolt, he got that "Bing" sensation when he was on the path to a theorem. Dr. Gerald Haslow was an Information Modeler. He called another cab and headed for the Bald Squirrel Bar, where he did his best work. Lenny Luhan, the local seatwarmer, was present on cue.

Calling for a Vodka OJ, he inserted himself into Lenny's always hazy field of attention.

"Listen Lenny, I got a crazy notion to shoot the shit about. Listen, you know that old Cat paradox, where the world is full of choices, and you only find out once you look?"
"Yeah, like when you don't know when you get up that morning whether your girl is going to be nice or be a bitch?"

"Uh... aw hell, sure. Kinda. Anyway, it's a question in fundamental Quantum Theory - whatever the answer will be, will be, and he user looking at something decides the indeterminate state right?"

"Will all that mumbo jumbo get me a refill?"

"Sure, tonight, it's on me. Anyway, what if the user doesn't choose the state? What if the forces of the universe choose for you?"

"What does that mean?"

"It means ... uh... hang on dammit, you and your lucky questions. That's really hard!"
Gerry pondered that one. Putting all the wierd paradoxes aside, that meant life wasn't just a random collection of stupid shit. If some force, some intelligence was making decsions...

"Well, explains a few things, but what makes the world pissed at you, and how do you get it to back off?"

Lenny whistled and stared into his drink. "Jesus Almighty on a Kabob, that really is bad shit huh?"

"Hard to say. Rough guess is anywhere starting with World War I, 'cuz that's then the bad shit really kicked in. But why me? Forget that. Now what?"

Lenny grinned. "You could try to bet against yourself, like your own walking Short Market."

Gerry needed the light moment. "I thought of that, but then that's back to being Good Fortune, just with atypical events. You see how wild it gets?"

"What's the most miserable you could get?"

"Well, somehow I don't think it's on life support with a broken leg and crushed organs or something. I think it's closer to what the French thinkers of the 50's were after, a bleak desolate uselessness of life."

Lenny grinned evilly and flashed a Serpent's Smile through his vodka. "Now I know why it's all over in 2012. Fate has decided to quit playing with her toys."


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Post October 02, 2010, 02:03:06 PM

Hated by the World Challenge

Story removed at author's request.
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Post October 02, 2010, 02:05:04 PM

Hated by the World Challenge

- Winner -



The Applicant

By:
Bill Wolfe



My next appointment announced himself with a bang. . .or at least a crash. Something had been T-boned by a cement truck just outside the small clinic where I was interviewing test subjects for my experiment. We all rushed to the front and watched as the driver and the few passengers staggered-off the mangled remains of what appeared to have once been a city bus. Miraculously, it seemed nobody had been killed. I was close enough to hear the driver of the cement truck on his cell phone, telling his boss that his brakes had failed. He was pretty shaken, but seemed okay.

The last passenger to limp away looked like a homeless man. He was bedraggled, with unkempt hair and a scruffy beard. He was dressed in a mismatched wardrobe of apparent Salvation Army discards, but he moved with surprising nimbleness, and not the beaten shuffle one normally associates with the homeless. It took me a moment to realize that his limp wasn’t from an injury, he was wearing one old boot and what appeared to be a brand new, white sneaker.

He paused in the street once he was clear of the wreckage, and looked up at the sky. Shaking his fist at the heavens, he shouted, “Missed me again! You’ll have to do better than that!” The police car that came screeching around the corner almost nailed him where he stood, but I mentioned that he was pretty nimble. It missed him with whole inches to spare.

After an entrance like that, it was hard to doubt his story—as ridiculous as it sounded.

He brushed through the niceties of the interview, signed both the consent and nondisclosure forms without much more than a glance, and then started with the questions. Real questions, good questions.

“How will you balance the alpha interphase transposition with the sodium/potassium ionic wobble?” Somehow, he almost seemed to know more about brain function transfer than I did. Some of the problems I’d faced had never made it into any journal. Not yet, anyway. He asked about how the lasers were tuned as his brain was mapped, and about the storage capacity of my mainframe, where his brain functions would be stored for a few microseconds prior to electromagnetic overlay in the ‘new’ brain. He seemed very concerned that the recipient brain wasn’t physically damaged by whatever trauma had caused the vegetative comatose state. He insisted that he be allowed to review the entire medical history of the ‘donor.’

His questions had left me a little dazed, but all-in-all, he seemed satisfied with my answers. Now it was my turn.

“You understand that this is a very dangerous procedure, Mr. Alvara. If you’re chosen for this, it can’t be reversed. Your brain will be completely destroyed by the mapping lasers.”

“You’ve got all the problems solved, Doctor. It’s going to work. Your technology is barely there, but it’s good enough.”

“You sound pretty confident. How do you know? You don’t seem to have a death wish.”

“Just the opposite, actually. I need a mental function transfer, it’s my only hope of survival. You see, your universe hates me. I know how it sounds, but it’s true. I’ve been lucky so far, but sooner or later, it’s going to kill me.”

My universe? You think it’s alive and out to get you? I think you’d better explain.” He’d seemed like a good candidate, but there would be some fairly comprehensive mental studies performed on whoever was chosen. If he was crazy going into it. . . .

“You’re a scientist. Well, so am I. My field is physics, transdimensional paraclivity, to be precise. I’m not from this universe. I’m from a parallel universe where we are quite a bit more technologically advanced. I’m here by accident and ever since I arrived, your universe has been aware of me. I’m an irritant to it because I don’t belong here.

“Extraordinary claims. . .”

“Require extraordinary evidence. I’m well aware of Doctor Sagan’s truism. This is about all I brought with me when I was caught in the gravity field surrounding the boson bridge. I was trying to send a sensor pod to a neighboring universe we’d detected. Yours.” With that he produced an octagonal ID badge, very official looking, with what appeared to be a holographic image of him—shaved and clean-cut—on the front. The logo wasn’t an eagle, it was a turkey. And it claimed that it was issued by the United Provinces of America. It could have been faked, but it felt right.

“I know your procedure will work, doctor, because we’ve been doing it for over a hundred years. I’ve been through it myself, when I was eight. Shuttle accident on a vacation to Luna. My mind was transferred to a force-grown clone. I went to sleep crippled, in pain, and woke-up whole.”

“But the universe can’t hate. Can it?”

“Probably not like you or I, but I’m an irritant to it. An itch it keeps trying to scratch. Every atom in my body resonates on the wrong quantum frequency. I have to keep moving, living off the discards of your society because anything I try to do will always go horribly wrong. You saw what happened when I decided to try and catch a bus across town, didn’t you?”

“I’m beginning to understand, perhaps. But there are so many things that could go wrong with this procedure. If the universe is really after you. . .”

“Doctor, you’re about to destroy my brain with a variably pulsating, multifrequency Excimer-Argon recombination laser. I don’t think the universe will interfere with that. And once I’m in a body that does belong here, it shouldn’t be able to tell the difference. It’s my only hope.”

I realized suddenly that I believed him. “When the world hates you, hate it back. But when the universe hates you. . .”

A faint smile graced his lips. The first I’d seen.

HIDE!


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Post November 14, 2010, 04:30:49 PM

The Classic Horror Challenge

The challenge was to craft a classic horror story with zombies, werewolves, or vampires, and also make it scary.
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Post November 14, 2010, 04:32:10 PM

The Classic Horror Challenge

The Vourdalak

By:
Sergio Palumbo



The day Mihai, Snegur’s blonde son, left the castle to go to war was a sad day. He was uncertain about his own survival in the course of the incoming battle and, mostly, Lord Ond_ej, his revered elderly stepbrother, was very ill so the young man doubted they would see each other when back again…
Anyway, Alexandru, Moldavia’s Voivode, had recalled every knight to defend the town of Cetatea Alb_ from the invading Turks and the call to arms couldn’t be refused.
Unexpectedly, after the enemies were defeated and Mihai safely got home, he was informed that his stepbrother had completely recovered from the deadly illness. However, something had changed.
Very surprised and happy at the same time, the knight was so fond of his stepbrother who had cared about him after his parent’s death because of the black plague ravaging the county more than 20 years before. The Lord had raised him until today. The young noble couldn’t have shown more respect to any other man, as Ond_ej had made him a religious knight of the Principality, too.
Weird fact, Mihai had not yet been able to meet him again after returning. He had been frequently asking to be received, unsuccessfully so far. As far as he knew Ond_ej showed himself publicly no more.
Then, he discovered that some other members of the Lord’s family- - as niece Nika- - had been visited by the elderly stepbrother at night. It seemeed quite that Ond_ej had seen everyone around except him. Why?
So, one day, Mihai decided it was time to know more. While heading for the Great Hall, he didn’t notice any guardsman around: the passageways looked ominously in the dark. Then he found his stepbrother, finally.
The Lord was on his knees next to young niece Nika, her curly hair laying lasciviously on the armchair. Ond_ej had bloodshot eyes, a pale skin, some blood seeping from the open mouth. His look was disquieting and terrifying all the same! Mihai restrained himself from crying out, then turned back and left.
But he hadn’t been unnoticed, as Ond_ej had sensed his presence

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

Yearning to forget the night before, Mihai didn’t want to call his revered Lord’s acts into question. But his own religious education required some intervention!
The morning after the knight asked some members of Ond_ej’s family for an explanation about that strange behaviour, but no one seemed eager to speak and did nothing but telling him that Ond_ej was still recovering…
It was the Lord himself who sent for the knight that night. Mihai found him seated on his throne, right as rain. No sign of the paleness he had seen on his face yesterday, now his eyes appeared blue as usual, like his own pupils.
-I pay homage to you, Lord stepbrother. Glad you have recovered…- the knight said.
-Pleased to see you alive!You held high Snegur’s lineage in battle!- he articulated his words piercingly.
-You look differently. May I ask what happened during the war…?-
-Our court physician made me undergo an old treatment…some ancient ritual which could have been of help-the old man replied.
-What ritual?- Mihai pressed forward, warily.
-He had me bitten by a rare bat, living in the the High Tatras range, that possesses some special properties. Actually, the bite can breathe strength into you and make you feel better, healthy…but there is a price to pay: you have to feed only on your next of kin’s blood, no one else, henceforth…-
-I see…-Mihai nodded, heartbroken. That was blasphemy, he well knew!
-Now are you ready to accept to feed me, as the others in the family already do in turn every night, like Nika. . . ?-
-I…sure, Lord…- the knight nodded.
-The next night will be your turn, see you at midnight!-
-As you like…- the young man replied and took leave.
On the way back to his quarters, Mihai felt as if a terrible burden had just fallen on his shoulders…

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

The evening before, the knight prayed to God, then took his broadsword and went before the Lord at night. Mihai said he was ready but, as a favor(as he didn’t like such a thing to happen before anybody else’s eyes), asked the procedure to take place in the old secret chamber where the castle treasures were usually kept safe.
-Granted- Ond_ej stated.
But while in there, as the Lord approached his neck, Mihai hit him with the heavy scabbard, then went for the the hidden device meant to close the stone door.
While the gear activated, Ond_ej shrilled-What the hell…?-
-You have become a monster, one of the fabled Vourdalak, a Vampire…!- Mihai adjudged- I regard you and I couldn’t ever kill you…But such a blasphemy must be stopped. I seal you in here forever, in the name of God!-
-Don’t!!!-
Trying to forget the yells, Mihai got to the family’s quarters at once, killing all the members he found in the castle. That was the punishment for they have behaved in such an unblessed way!

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

While supervising the excavation of the old medieval castle remains within Orhei county, finally the archaeologist Stefan Snegur was going to unearth the last layers of ground. As a descendant of the once noble House of Snegur, he was fully entitled to be the first academician to unveil the truth about the sudden fall of that fortress occurred more than 600 years before. Likely, cause of some bloodshed or a siege…
As the last hindrance was taken away, Stefan stepped into, being soon enveloped by the surrounding darkness. Sensing the presence of a shadow nearby, he exclaimed”Oh my…“
Then one feeble old voice whispered-My young guest, the smell of your blood sounds like something familiar with my taste…-


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Post November 14, 2010, 04:32:57 PM

The Classic Horror Challenge

THE LAST HURRAH

By:
David Alan Jones



Jordan’s Lake in Bedfordshire lay placid and silent under a thick midnight blanket of mist and darkness. In the center of the lake, upon a rowboat enveloped by the curling mists, sat an old knight named Guy Smoke, waiting patiently for a friend.

Guy did not wait long -- Bex had always been punctual. The rowboat began to bob as something tugged at its anchor rope. Guy leaned the opposite direction, keeping the boat right, and watched the impenetrable depths with calm, gray eyes.

Soon the water rippled and a skeletal hand grasped the little boat’s gunwale. It was black with decay and slick with algae.

The skeleton hoisted itself aboard opposite Guy and sat staring at him with its empty sockets as water dripped from its bones. It smelled of fish.
“Hello, Bex,” said Guy.

Bex titled his skull to one side.

“I know I said we had retired,” said Guy, anticipating the question Bex could not ask, “but I can’t ignore this one. There’s children involved.”

Slowly, silently, Bex nodded.


# # #


With a rattling thump, Guy dropped his leather satchel in the grass by a cheery picket fence.

“Time to work,” he said, giving it a light kick.

Bex rose from the bag, bones assembling piece by piece with the snickety-snak sound of magnets slapping together until he stood gazing at the suburban scene.

“It’s in there,” said Guy, pointing to a small, suburban house, “but it’s too fresh for me to tell. I need you to point it out.”
Bex headed that way.

“Stop,” hissed Guy. “You can’t go in, mate.”
Bex regarded the living man. He knew what Guy wanted and he hated it.
“I only need one and then only for a few minutes.”

The skeleton did not move.

“Burke would do it,” said Guy.

Bex stiffened then made a rude gesture at Guy. Ever the opportunist, the old knight promptly snapped off the offending digit.

If the skeleton could have sighed, he would have done.

“Hide nearby. I might need you.”

Ringing the bell wasn’t Guy’s style, but he felt odd about kicking in the door. He settled for pounding on it like a disgruntled landlord.

Commotion on the inside: shuffling feet and whispered conversation. Guy concealed Bex’s middle finger in his right palm.

“Who’s there?” A man’s voice.

“Police. Open up.”

More whispering: a woman’s voice. Guy had a sinking feeling his prey wasn’t either of the parents.

The door opened two fingers width. Guy stiff-armed his way inside.
“Hey,” cried the man, “you’re not police.”

Bex’s finger didn't move. Guy’s heart sank.

“We got a tip your children are in danger,” said Guy. “Where are they?”

“Asleep,” said the woman.

“Take me to them. It’s life and death.”

The man still wanted to hedge, but the woman shot down the hallway. Guy followed.

“Tina?” said the mother as she approached a white wooden door bearing a framed picture of a blonde teen delivering to the camera a sultry smile beyond her years. She started to push it open, but Guy stopped her and did it himself.

The room beyond was dark. Light spilled into it revealing a small figure crouched beside a large bed.

“George?” said the mother.

The little figure turned. In the darkened room it was hard to see the gore on his chin, but Guy had seen that sort of thing before.

Bex’s finger tugged hard towards the boy.

“George has been sick,” said the mother.

“Too right,” whispered Guy.

He switched on the light.

Tina had no face. The cartilage that had been her nose was gone. One blue eye dangled, flaccid, on her bloody cheek. The other socket was empty.
The parents’ screams were nothing compared to the sound that issued from little George who looked perhaps six. His ghoul’s scream was high-pitched, earsplitting.

He crouched to leap. Guy didn’t hesitate, but threw Bex’s finger. The joint, drawn by the undead, shot across the room and took George in the eye like a dart. The ghoul howled and shuffled back a step.

In the same instant the father pushed the mother into the hall behind Guy. Good man that.

Guy whipped his dueling knives from his coat and stood in his old fighting stance. His arthritic knees complained, but he ignored them.

George scrambled on all fours over one end of the bed, his remaining eye watching the knight. Bex’s finger tracked with it in the other socket.
Guy moved to intercept him and George attacked, flying at Guy’s face, his nails raised like talons. Guy knew they were nothing more than what any boy would have, but the ghoul, with the strength lent him by animated death, could use them like little razors. He lifted an arm to shield his face, but George raked at his neck, tearing out furrows.

“George!” screamed the mother. She was hysterical and the father could barely keep her from dashing back into the room.

At her voice the ghoul turned, using Guy as a springboard to leap. He bore her to the floor even as his baby teeth sank into her throat.
Blood flew.

It happened too fast. Guy could not reach her and even as he dashed to save the father he knew it was too late.

Bex appeared.

He lifted the ghoul child up by its scalp. It howled and kicked and scratched at the skeleton, but to no avail. The father scrambled backwards and, gaining his feet, ran from the house screaming.

Guy severed George’s neck with his knives. It didn’t take long. With a wet thump George’s small body fell atop his mother. Bex dropped the head then retrieved and reattached his finger.

Guy glanced at the grisly pile and shuddered, not for the gore, but for the hearts torn asunder by this work.

“Now we retire,” he said.

Bex regarded his master in silence.

“Don’t look at me like that. I mean it this time.”


The End
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Post November 14, 2010, 04:33:58 PM

The Classic Horror Challenge

HARVEST MOON

By:
Richard Tornello © 2010



Blood torn and muzzle fully feasted red, Her fangs reflect the distant moon, full, She glared up. WE both knew I was powerless. She in her blood lust is gorged full and dangerous.

I knew I’d see Her later, after She cleaned up, calm and sated.

I had to bury the victim. Being Her slave, the dirty work was my claim to life. Full moons were bad omens, and a harvest moon, tonight, the worst. She does not have to speak. Her mind is known to me. I am the only one allowed in.

During the day, She a normal being, except she sleeps. She is exhausted. But come the rotation of the planet far from the facing sun, She is renewed and She became an animal, a huntress.

****

Again the screams, Hers as She attacks, and the chosen one. Then comes the thud of a body being driven to the ground, flesh torn from bones alive. The last breath is taken but I know the brain continues to know its fate. The body drowning screams for its life giving oxygen, fuel from its own blood, now gone. I dare not witness.

Too soon it could be me.
Where to run?
She would sniff me out.
To the police? An accomplice? That would never do.

****

Turning to our new guest and thinking to myself, let me calm you down. Let me calm myself. “Did I mention, as you can see, our home is an old thick walled Victorian building? It is set well back from the road we live outside of the city limits. A tall iron gate surrounds the compound. The interior is magnificent. The tall walls are of plaster, not the pasty boards used in the homes erected today. We decorated the large walls with the finest tapestry from India, Persia and China. The art, which we both love, is placed just right. It leads you through time. Her favorites periods in order are, Modern-cubist, then some early Renaissance and finally the in the drawing room, you will discover a fine collection of impressionist paintings as well…”

Our conversation is interrupted by Her presence. She is beautiful and feline graceful. One rarely hears Her approach.

“Yes, your business has been attended to,” I give a slight bow and wait further direction, just watching her. Her eyes glow at the sight of our guest. I know She is recalling a past event. It’s as if She was a cat, purring, content and waiting for the right time. Then She turns and glances again in our direction, pupils narrow vertical slits. I shiver.


We see Her leave. Our guest is mesmerized by Her. I can tell.

I cough, “I’m sorry; my train of thought was disrupted. Yes, back to our home; our art. The stair- ways holds Japanese prints juxtaposed to 16th and 17th century European etchings. She likes the obvious different approaches to an issue. Aesthetics are
de rigueur.” Together the sight is beautiful with a concomitant benefit, and I have to laugh to myself, extreme sound deadening. “The choices were Hers, of course.”

Please excuse me Miss, I must attend to something. Your room is this way.”

****

I look in as She sleeps in the darkened suite. Who would know from such beauty and grace, this evil? She lures her victims, smiling Her smile. She plays with them. A show, of art, small talk, wine and… Her deed completed, I would clean up.

Why the authorities had not found us is beyond me. We have come this far in time. Maybe Her choices are not those that have family? I do not know how She picks them. I am not privy to those decisions. No one appears to inquire as to missing individuals.

Tonight another full moon. Oh please, make it quick. Have mercy on this young one. No need to torture or play cat and mouse. Just go for the neck. You love the warm blood, the sweetness, the life it provides you. You said so yourself.

Dead weight is dead weight and another hole is to be dug and another tree planted in our little forest. “This must be completed before the rigor sets in. Be quick about it,” She always commands. I can hide no thought. I am transparent. I must be careful. Enough of that musing.

I have to laugh, we do have a beautiful garden, vegetables and a tree lined road the branches are a cradle to the front portal. Ages ago, what was once an open field are now hectares, thick and wooded. Funny though, every fall the leaves, the colors are of odd blacks, auburns, reds, browns, and even unnatural shades of yellow appear. We have one that occasionally has a streak of purple. I wonder who that was?

Oh well, my job, my task and my burden. The latest one was heavy. That was an effort. I will sleep well.

****

“By the way Miss, we dress for dinner. I will see you there. 7 PM. Do not be late! She does not like it.”

****

I wake to the crunch of bone. I can tell, tonight Her approach is different. This one is still very much alive. She like this one in a most special manner. She will be eaten and consumed slowly with marrow sucked from severed bone. The fresh fully mature red cells, the treat. Dining is an art.

Ah yes, my yellow earplugs.


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Post November 14, 2010, 04:35:32 PM

The Classic Horror Challenge

- Winner -



Heirs of Atlantis

By:
Michele Dutcher



How were we to know, at the beginning of new millennia, that two of our most intriguing mysteries would be solved at the same time. Those who revealed the answers called themselves the ‘Heirs of Atlantis’ and introduced themselves to Heads of State as first cousins to humans – and there were often humans in their entourages. These beings insisted that they had reappeared in the surface dweller’s world to help humans in our efforts to clean up the Earth’s oceans – which had been their home for the last 20,000 years: first as inhabitants of an island chain in the middle of the Atlantic, and then as an underwater empire in the same vicinity.

As an expert in mythologies both ancient and modern, my curiosity could not have been more stoked; I was delighted when a friend from ‘across the pond’ proposed an informal meeting to discuss the amazing events of the past year. “I have a surprise”, he told me.

The five of us met in a hotel bar, which was our habit. When we were seated comfortably, Marshall rose to his feet, directing our attention to a tall stranger who approached us quickly through the dimness of the elaborate room. Marshall and the pale man clasped hands before the rest of us could come to our feet. “My friends, it is my pleasure to introduce to you one of the Heirs of Atlantis – Berigo of the 7th House.”

The five of us were enthralled by our amazing visitor, some offering handshakes while others bowed slightly to acknowledge his presence.

“Please, please, let us sit,” insisted the visitor in an accent reminiscent of ancient language groups surrounding the Mediterranean. “I heard of your small gathering through a friend and became eager to meet with such distinguished experts in ancient mysteries.” His broad smile revealed the protruding canines which were so much a part of the legend. “Please do not hesitate to ask me anything – this is why I am here tonight. Nothing would make me more happy than to talk with you about my home and the seven Houses of Atlan.”

So we began to talk, the six of us, about an Atlantic-rim commercial power that suffered physical destruction. “Millions of us were killed when an asteroid hit our capital city.”

“Incredible”, I said.

“Sure, sure, sure. Having been born in the middle of the ocean, our nation had always seen to it that our cities were watertight and could survive tsunamis and hurricanes. After the disaster, it took the better part of a century for our inhabitants to dig out of the sediment that covered our watertight cities – which is why we prefer the darkness…there is very little light at the bottom of the ocean.”

Only then did I see her in the darkness behind him. Her tiny hand was upon his shoulder now, and he brought it to his lips to kiss it in recognition. She whispered something into Bergio’s ear before looking at all of us. As clearly as Bergio was a vampire – this amazing creature was clearly a human.

“Allow me to introduce my symbiot – Merleah.”

She was the model from which all women should have been cut. Her thick auburn hair curled about her face before plunging down to her waist. Her eyes were as green as emeralds, her skin softly freckled, and her lips were as red as fresh blood. As she came around to the table, it became obvious that she was pregnant. Immediately the men began to grab chairs so she could be seated.

“You use the term ‘symbiot’,” said Marshall. “Could you explain what you mean?”

“Sure, sure, sure. When we made it to land in our vehicles, we found our metabolism had changed. We now took our nourishment in liquid form. We took humans back to Atlantis with us and these humans were bred to be our symbiots – those who supply our need for nourishment, as we supply their needs.”

We had all been trained by our academic disciplines to view societal deviation simply as a variant, but Lucinda was obviously outraged. “Isn’t what you are describing merely slavery in a disguised form?”

Bergio drew a breath as though to answer the attack, but Merleah answered instead. “I am Bergio’s symbiont by choice. Bergio protects me and supplies me with all the luxuries I could possibly imagine.” She looked around the table once quickly. She looked at me a second time, longer now. I felt myself falling into her jewel-like eyes, as if the rest of my colleagues and Bergio himself had disappeared.

“Griffin!” I heard Marshall whisper frantically, his voice piercing the mist. “Griffin! Bergio was talking to you!”

“I apologize.”

The creature chuckled softly. “She is amazing, isn’t she? Her ancestors were bred for their beauty.”

“My beauty encourages Bergio to feed deeply – so he remains healthy.”

The seven of us sat for hours. Each time Merleah spoke, I fell deeper in lust with her than I had ever imaged possible, so I was delighted when she sent a message through the desk clerk to meet her privately – so we could talk.

When I got to her room there was barely enough time to shut the door before she was in my arms and naked on the bed. My desires were so strong that I hardly realized her moans weren’t those of ecstasy, but of pain. I barely backed off the bed in time and said, "Your baby's head is beginning to crown."

“He must have smelled dinner,” she laughed.

Suddenly Bergio was in back of me, his hand on my shoulder. “How wonderful, you found us a midwife.” He pinched my spinal column and I fell to my knees – paralyzed. The baby had clawed his way out now – and it smiled, revealing its sharp, pointed teeth. The last thing I remember was the infant leaping from the bed to the floor, his claws ripping into my chest.


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Post January 02, 2011, 02:45:48 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge

The challenge was to select a "leftover", an unfinished story opener from a previous challenge. In the next part of the challenge, writers will compete to write the best "middle" section of the story that wins this part of the challenge.
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Post January 02, 2011, 02:47:31 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge

The three me of Christmas

By:
Sergio Palumbo



Nick was working on his last invention. The lab in the basement of his house was full of every kind of building material, tools and machinery, all of them in disarray. Many boxes were spread throughout the floor here and there, too.

Then his brown eyes did meet the presents on the table: gifts for his two sons, already wrapped in a decorative paper, ready to be given for Christmas…only one day to go.

The man considered he had been very busy lately but fortunately he had proved very provident, too, by buying them more than one week in advance so to have them already hand packed for the holidays. Nick knew he wouldn’t have enough free time during the following days so he didn’t want to make the same mistake of the last year when almost forgot to buy something for his sons, saving himself just by entering a toy store on the way back home, four hours before deadline!

Almost ready to leave his work for tonight, he closed the utility cabinet and went for the switch near the stairs. Anyway, just before he could turn the lights off, he noticed-- or so he believed-- a sudden flash, then some movements, likely a figure at his back. ”What the hell…? ”

Nick turned to the right and saw something unexpected. A middle aged Afro- American was inside his own lab: a strange yellowish suit on, a big nose on a skinny face, greying…he would have cried out or backed off, but the surprise was simply so big that he almost wasn’t able to speak!

-What…who…? - he baltered out- Are you a thief or zonked? There is nothing valuable in here…please go away and don’t harm me, my family is upstairs…-

The newcomer smiled.

-I wouldn’t harm you, be sure…I’d never damage myself, that is me in the past…-

-WHAT? - Nick exclaimed.

-I’m you, Dr. Nick Dayes. You…but twenty year from now in the future…-

-WHAT? - he came out again. Then Nick considered the face of that weird man…he really had something familiar, in fact: same height, same pupils, same skin, only the haircut was different and the age…“What on earth is going on? ”-Are you me? - his voice asked in the end-Are you mad or whatever…? -

-I’m not insane, Dr. Dayes, as you are not…- the man replied – We are the same!Actually, none of us will be mentally ill in the future…-

-So…why are you here? - he finally said, too much disconcerted to answer back, putting an hand on his hair the color of ink.

-I came back to the past to meet you here just today, because this is a very famous day…-

-What kind of day are you speaking about? -

-Tonight you completed the project of a component that will be important for a future invention which will be operative ten years from now…the time machine!-

The time machine... ? ” Nick considered. ”My God, from bad to worse…

-You don’t believe me, I see, but all I’m telling you is true. Just let me explain…-

-Then explain it to me…-

-You are not a scientist working for a sort of time machine project or the like, I know…but you developed an essential component for factory machines that will prove very useful in the next years, perfect to be used for the body of a top secret project known as “time machine generator”-

-Actually, I am working on a component that -- I hope -- will be saleable on the market, but it’s nothing precious nor secret so far, surely not meant for time travel…Why is it so important? -

-Wellthen, it is not the component in itself that is important but the metal you decided to build it with that matters…-

-What do you mean? - Nick inquired about.

-You chose to build such a component, the one on that table over there, in iron…and that’s it, as the material you used turned out to be decisive and unexpectedly affected the way the time machine worked for the first time-

-What…? -

-You see, when that top secret device began functioning, things went in a such a way that the future the first time traveller visited was one specific future instead of another…-

-The Quantum theory about many universes? - he asked. Nick remembered he had just watched a documentary on TV last night.

-In a way…-he conceded- Suffice it to say that, had you used another metal to build it, the influence on the machine would have been very different…For example, if you had decided to use some titatium, well, things would have gone in another way-

-You sure? -

As soon as Nick pronounced his words, there was a flash in the lab and another figure appeared into the room. Both men looked at him with awe, as his appearance made clear soon that he was another Dr. Nick Dayes.

-Do not listen to him!His suggestions could change the future and that’s unacceptable!Please, do not decide that way!-

As things were getting astonishing, still embarassed, but trying to play along, Nick brought forward-What if I build it in dural? - Nick asked.

And then, unexpectedly, there was a flash again in the lab whence a new figure emerged. Another copy of the future Dayes, but this one looked ladylike apparently.

-Both of them are wrong!- the newcomer exclaimed- Stop your research now or the dangerous effect caused by the component interference in time travel will be discovered later than science would have supposed to do, with unpredictable consequences…-

Nick didn’t know what to think. Likely that one was mad, too…but probably all of them were mad, including himself. The present himself...


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Post January 02, 2011, 02:48:35 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge

A Zombie Tale

By:
Bill Wolfe



There are a few advantages to being a zombie that the living never take time to think about. Breathing, for one. I can hold my breath for hours underwater before the engineered virus that brings the dead back to a semblance of life, forces me to the surface. It’s gotten me out of a few sticky situations when I’ve been caught in the crossfire.

You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I’m one of the first of the undead. I look like a fresh kill, with relatively clean clothes and no gaping wounds. Fortunately, I was sporting a buzz cut when I died, so my hair doesn’t have that wild maniac look to it. With a lot of time, effort and concentration, I can even tie my shoes. All the other zombies look just like Hollywood depicted them. It’s one of the few things they got right.

In four years, I’ve picked-up a lot of useful information about the disease. The living believe that everybody has the virus, by now. It was definitely engineered on purpose, and spread through the global population for four or five years before it ‘activated.’

Makes sense to me. When I went into the hospital for a severe viral brain infection, the first unverified reports of the recently departed coming back to life, attacking—and eating—the living, were barely even news. I don’t know if it was the fact that my brain was infected with another, active virus, or that the massive doses of antiviral drugs they were using on me is the reason that I’m somewhere between the mindless undead, and the living. I probably died of a fever as the hospital fell to the undead, and by the time the local zombie population got around to eating my corpse, I had already converted. We only eat each other when we haven’t fed for weeks.

I’m not nearly as bright as I was, of course. But I’m smart enough to duck into a side alley when the conveniently slow-moving squad of tasty soldiers leads my pack into a street with all exits blocked and flamethrowers stationed on all the rooftops. Zombie life is tough, sometimes. The living are getting a lot better at handling us.

And when I smell canned salmon, I have the willpower to walk the other way. It draws us like almost nothing else. The living smell like food, but canned salmon smells like ambrosia. The closest I ever came to being killed and eaten by other zombies is the time I found a whole stash, while scavenging. If I hadn’t smeared it on the first one to break down the door, the rest would have torn me apart to get to it. I’m the only zombie I’ve ever seen that can open a can. The living have learned how we react to salmon, and they use it to draw us into a killing zone.

I can’t talk, I just walk around moaning like the rest. But I can still read, pretty well. It takes me a long time, but I can also type. And I am typing this now to tell the world three important things.

First of all, it hurts to be a zombie. I find newspapers, sometimes, and I know that many of you think that your Aunt Millie is still herself somewhere in that shambling, moaning, dangerous thing that looks a little like her. She’s not. Shoot her in the head like you would any other zombie. Your yapping about ‘Undead Rights’ and the existence of a soul just gives us a chance to locate your position better. Then we will come to kill you.

And that goes for me, too. I may be a little smarter, but I pause every few hours in writing this to go munch on the frozen limbs of three children—aged five to ten—that I strangled, and then dragged into a walk-in freezer that is run by the same back-up generator that runs the power for this computer. More about that story, later.

I am not your friend! I will kill you and eat you. If you see me coming at you, put a bullet in my brain if you can. The virus won’t let me kill myself or intentionally walk into the line of fire, but sooner or later some sniper or one of your artillery rounds will kill me, again. And only then will this endless, unimaginable agony end.

Second, by pure dumb luck I discovered the ‘Terrorists’ who developed and spread this disease. They are all dead now, and except for the three children in the freezer, they have all been eaten by the zombies I brought here.

Third and most important, there is a cure. I will give you directions to a place where your scientists should be able to find it. You see, these people were immune to the virus. They made it, they cured it.

How do I know? Well, you smell like food to us. Salmon smells like ambrosia, but an uninfected human? I have no words at all to describe it. The virus drives us to try and infect as many of the uninfected, as possible. Perhaps in the early days of the reawakening, a few uninfected were still around. They wouldn’t have lasted long. Every zombie for miles would kill themselves trying to get to them.

And everyone in this compound was uninfected. Not one of them reanimated. Not one.

I remember my name, but I won’t tell you what it was, even though I may have saved the world and punished those who unleashed this horror upon it.
Here’s my story.


[align=center]The End?[/align]
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Post January 02, 2011, 02:49:25 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge

Average Joe

By:
G.C. Dillon



I am at my favorite coffee-shop – yeah, the one with the hybrid fish and human logo. The barista places my paper cup down, but the lid slides off and its contents spill across the counter. I grab a bunch of their environmentally friendly napkins and attempt to stop the small, black, caffeine river from flowing to the floor.

“Oh! The world hates me!” she says.

I smile, remembering someone whom the world really does hate.

I was a sophomore in high school, and I needed to put in X (or was it Y? ) hours of community service to get confirmed in my church. I did mine at the homeless shelter downtown. I exited the bus and went to the brownstone building. Sister Margaux ran the joint. She was sweet. She always dressed in a brown or black pants-suit, not the traditional scary, black habit. But she had a death stare that made Lindsay Lohan's machine-gun toting sister in Machete seem like Sally Field's Flying Nun. I, of course, dressed in a blue jumper, blue and white skirt and tall white socks -- my Catholic school-girl uniform. I know!

I finished helping to serve dinner. It was meatloaf, peas and pearl onions, and soupy mashed potatoes with gravy. The carrot cake for dessert was pretty good, though.

I went over to Smelly Joe with my AP Calculus class homework. He always helped me. He grabbed a brown paper napkin and began to calculate. He never wrote in my notebook. I never asked him what he was figuring as he grew upset if I couldn't follow his math. After four or five lines of writing, he finished and double underlined his answer. My #2 pencil's tip broke.

“The world hates me,” he said.

“Me, too,” I confessed, “especially my parents!”

“No,” he stated, “the world truly hates me.”

“Doesn't everyone feel that way some times?”

“I'm sure. I'm not paranoid or schizophrenic. I know. I hurt the world, you see.” Joe tossed a roll at creepy guy at the next table over. “Hey, take a hike!”

“Careful,” I said, “the Sister will toss you for making trouble.”

“He was staring at you.” He paused. “Just looking out for you, Jessie. Me and a few other trustworthies.”

Back then I naively had no clue as to his meaning. Of course, I know now, but thanks to Joe through no personal experience.

“So, how did you hurt the world?”

“It was during the War – sorry, make that WWII. There have been too many since. I was with the Manhattan Project. Remember it?”

“Yes.” I sighed. I had AP History, too. “The A-bomb.”

“Oppie did that! But we had other lines of investigation, too. Like mine.

“Atom is a misnomer. It's a complex union of various particles, held together by strong nuclear bonds. But it's a coalition with weak nuclear forces wanting to fly free. I worked on eliminating 'the bonds that tie'. A true Buck Rogers disintigrator. And it worked!

“But hurt the world.”

“And fission didn't?” I asked.

“The universe started in a Big Bang, our Sun is a fusion furnace, and lightning is hotter than its surface. What I did was different. There was no explosion, not even a flash. There was just a void where matter used to exist. Then a sonic boom as air rushed in. See, it was a wound, a rift in the structure of the world. And I caused it.”

“And now the world hates you?” I repeated.

“Of course, I didn't realize it right away. I did my research, even dated one one of the computer operators at Los Alamos -- they were the girls who ran the adding machines.


[align=center]The End?[/align]
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Post January 02, 2011, 02:50:19 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge

Octoberland

By:
N.J. Kailhofer



"David is a good boy. He'll be home soon."

Ansonia's husband, Alex, ignored her unflappable confidence and paced to the window to peer through the shutters yet again. All he saw was the dark lawn in the moonlight and the woods waving in the wind beyond.

"Still, it's past eleven. He knows better." Ansonia continued, "Must be that new boy, Billy, that's keeping him out late."

Alex drawled, "I told you there was somethin' not right about that boy."

Ansonia scoffed. "They're just boys out together on Halloween. They're bound to get a little wild. As long as they're together, they'll be safe."

Alex tried to make a noise that sounded confident, then whispered to himself, "Shoulda stayed home."

Ansonia plopped onto the couch and held a pillow to her chest. "I heard that. He's got to get out, got to see his friends. I don't want him to be a shut-in. How's he ever gonna meet a girl like that?"

The thought of his son unsupervised with a girl made Alex uncomfortable. He remembered what he was like at seventeen and checked to see if he'd left the front door unlocked for the third time.

***

Alex heard it above the moaning howl of the wind. It was faint, distant. Ansonia didn’t seem to notice, engrossed in a PBS show on faux finishing.

The shutters clattered and he pulled himself out of his worn leather recliner to peer once more out between the slats. Was there only one, or more?

Involuntarily, he found himself glancing at his rife above the mantle. Even if the boys were being good, there was trouble to be found in the woods between here and town if you weren't careful, like coyotes, wild boar, or even the Chupacabra Ansonia insisted she saw one night. He'd tried to teach David how to be careful and alert, but he didn't know how much Billy and that pack of boys that followed him would notice. Too many boys together always led to something that wasn't good.

The front light turned on, startling him.


[align=center]The End?[/align]
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Post January 02, 2011, 02:51:07 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge

Bastard's Luck

By:
David Alan Jones



Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad being the target of a god’s eternal affection if that god weren’t Loki, the lord of chaos, bad jokes, and angry drunken pissing matches. Dan Gelfing, son of nobody important, thought it would have been nice to win the undying devotion of say Venus or Thor or maybe even Apollo. But Loki? There wasn’t a god or goddess or quasi demi-something-or-other the little rascal hadn’t duped, tricked or screwed (literally in many cases) in the last three thousand years. Their collective, righteous anger hung like a fist above the little god, ready to pummel whatever he loved, aided or even showed the least bit of interest. Too bad, over the last seven years, that interest had been leveled on a UPS driver named Dan.

For instance, there was the time Dan won an all expense paid cruise to San Rafael courtesy of his patron, Loki -- or so Loki claimed. The day Dan boarded his ship, the sea recoiled from the coast like a blanket pulled back from a bed. It seemed Psidon wouldn’t have Loki’s favorite riding his waves.


[align=center]To Be Continued…[/align]
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Post January 02, 2011, 02:52:12 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge

NEKO

By:
Richard Tornello © 2010



Neko The Foundling, ward of The Great Sorceress looks out over where there was once glistening marble in the piazza. It is encrusted by mould, moss, and algae the color of bile. The sanitary system is an open sewer. The stench of death and offal are the springtime perfumes.

Neko’s ebony sword of unobtanium is beside her as it was when her tiny body was discovered by The Sorceress years ago. The sword has features that only Neko can incite. The sword, light and indestructible, will open up a claw like feature in the hilt upon close quarters combat. If any but Neko attempted to take the sword, it would instantly acquire a mass that was beyond the ability of that being to lift. The sword is hers, a gift from the gods.

Launching herself from a rooftop, spinning, Neko ricocheted off the building walls, and planted her landing. Her facial complexion, flushed from exertion, is a pleasant mixture of black, ginger and white with dark green eyes.

There were a few beings, having this pigmentation. It was believed they were the distantly related, possibly bastards of the deposed royal family assassinated in a coup.

“I’m a foundling. Where, who is my family? I must know, please.” Neko would question incessantly, receiving only silence. No one dared speak loud of it, looking toward the sorceress’s enclave.

The sorceress’s once beautiful body, covered in art tattoos, was now a walking horror of color that ran from a decaying green mush to smeared black and blues. It reflected her being. She kept a close watch on Neko.

****
Neko was petite, agile, and fearless. Neko brooked no insult.

“Out of my way,” he spit, “foundling.”

“I have a name!”

“Neko the Foundling? That’s a name?” the warrior scoffed.

She drew her sword. Faster than an eye could follow, a mid air leap, rolling to a ball, springing up after rebounding off a wall to gain speed, gave Neko the advantage. Her sword finished the rest of the discussion. This was noticed by a like colored serf.



****


Swinging from the vines in the nearby wood, Neko noticed movement in the bushes below. Flinging herself, using momentum to make herself into a spinning ball, Neko propelled her lithe body toward the movement. Her eyes shown brightly. Her smile was tight but wide.

“YOU, halt or die!” she demanded, landing silently, cat like.

The bush shook. From the other side a serf dropped something, bowing low quivering like a leaf, “please do not harm me I was picking berries. I saw you flying through the air. I was struck by your grace, Your Grace.”

Neko gently slides her wakizashi from its scabbard. Two mons, gold fluttre-bys, reflected the sun, blinding the serf.

“I know you have no name, but what do You call yourself?” Neko demanded.

His hands rose slowly, to indicate no evil intent, blocking the glare of the swords mons.

“Lady Neko, I have no name. I am called Man-child. And that is all.”

“Man-child come closer. I want to see your face.”

Quaking, bowing, he approached.

“Stop. Look at me.”

“I dare not. It is forbidden.”

“I unforbid it. Eye to eye Man-child.”

“If I am discovered I will die. I have been warned.”

“I will never say anything. Now gaze at me and I will the same of you, NOW.”

He looked up.

“Stand straight Man-child.”

As commanded he rose to his full height which was a few centimeters taller than Neko.

She sat down and commanded the same of him. Her unsheathed black wakizashi is laid across her bare, well formed, calico, legs. She noticed him staring.

Nako laughed and tapped him with the sword.

He quickly brushed it away. His green eyes glaring at hers.

She stood instantly. She looked him over, took note, sword instantly mounted, back flipped, grabbed a vine and was gone. Before she disappeared he heard her say, “I will see you again.”

“I knew it,” she said to herself. “She’s hiding something from me. The sorceress is afraid of something. I know I was found in a cove, this sword by my side. No one can use it but me. But He brushed it away.”

Scaling the walls to her benefactor’s quarters, Neko silently entered a passage way that lay behind the study. Therein, the sorceress was confiding to some troll that she used to do her dirty work.

“Kill Man-child. I saw them together on my screen. If she discovers her real name, and his we are doomed. They are both of the royal line. I kept her alive because she gives me the legitimacy to rule. The folk would never rise against me with her at my side. I had no idea about him. How did he stay hidden? I see all.”

Neko’s eyes narrowed, her teeth bared, her hands went to the hilt, and the claws emerged.

The troll died without a sound. The sorceress was next.

She sat in her chair waiting for Neko. “Yes, I knew it would come to this. I was hoping for a different ending, I am sorry dear Nako, but your time is up. I will rule without you.”

“Before I die, tell me who I am. I must know.”

“You’re stalling. I will tell you that you are more than you can imagine. Your pigmentation and wakizashi affirm that. But my little Neko, you are standing on the exact spot you should be. In a few seconds you will be plunging to your death just like the rest of your family.”

“You killed them?”

“Not all. Obviously. You exist.”

“I’ve been searching for my history, my family, my Name. No one would say.”

“As I commanded. Now say good-by dear Nako. I will miss……what?”

Tiapan venom dipped darts, fired in quick succession, pierced the body of the sorceress.

“This… I never ...”

The calico youth, simi-automatic crossbow in hand, pulled Neko away from the trap door as it swung open.


[align=center]The End?[/align]
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Post January 02, 2011, 02:52:59 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge

Cop

By:
Lester Curtis



I like to think I'm a good detective. I enjoy the work, sometimes, when I help solve a case. Most of it is boring drudgery, though, sorting through various case files and trying to correlate people and events.

That's how I found this guy, name of William Mentz. I was working a batch of unsolved muggings, hoping to find connections between them; M. O., fingerprints, time of day, you get the picture.

So I've got eighteen files spread out on my desk, and I'm looking through them to see what they had in common.

Ten of them had a victim in common. William Mentz. Four muggings over the last two years; two auto thefts; three auto break-ins; one armed home invasion. I immediately started looking for any relationships between these crimes or their perpetrators. There were none.

I called his number -- disconnected. I went to talk to him on my lunch break.

He answered my knock; looked me up and down, and shook his head and turned away. "I guess it's time for me to move again, huh?"

I didn't know what he was talking about, and said so.

"You are a cop, aren't you?"


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Post January 02, 2011, 02:55:27 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge

- Winner -



The Vanishing Stone

By:
Michele Dutcher



Wenvoe What’s On, monthly magazine
Wenvoe Wales
March 27th; 2013

New Mystery Near Tinkinswood Cairn

Due to unprecedented floods and mudslides Thursday night, strange skeletons seem to have been torn out of the hills near the megaliths, being carried past shocked bystanders this morning. Onlookers had been pointing at the wreckage of homes floating downstream when metallic skeletons were noticed. Policewoman Clement pulled a total of three of the armatures ashore.

They appear to be human-like metal chassis, no more than three feet tall, obviously artificially made.

The metal components were sent directly to the Celtic Research Centre at University in Aberystwyth.

The disturbing discoveries were, of course, the only talk of the local pubs and kitchen tables – giving residents a much-needed break from the sorrow over the recent fire in Cardiff Square which destroyed four turn-of-the-last century row-houses.

Saint Lythans, Wales 1378 A.D.

Miriam rushed up the path towards the monolith she knew was nestled at the top of Colby’s Knob. Holding her sister’s newborn close, she peaked into its blankets and saw the baby was sleeping peacefully.

“You’ll be better off anywheres but here, my little love.” Her gray-green skirt brushed along the dirt path as she grabbed onto the trunk of a small tree, pulling herself forward. “When I was a wee child, I saw my brother put a twig on the stone and watched it be gone away.” She was talking to herself more than the baby she carried, but the girl cooed in her sleep anyway. “The Connells just can’t feed one more mouth. If only you had been born a boy – we could have leased you out for farm-work.”

Miriam stopped suddenly as she reached the crown of the hill. In the cloud-covered moonlight, she could see a dozen men circling the Vanishing Stone. The megaliths that supported the horizontal stone shot twelve feet into the air. The Vanishing Stone itself weighed in at 40 tons. She could hear the men chanting.

“That is not dead which can eternal lie
And with strange Aeons even death may die.
Goat of a thousand young, come to us, we worship you.”

Miriam drew a deep breath, holding it, hoping these devotees would not see her hiding in the midnight mist. She began to back down the path, forcing herself to find her footing. Suddenly the moon shot out from behind a cloud and the baby began to wake. Now she and the men stood face-to-face. By the time she had turned to run, the worshipers were upon her, pulling the baby from her arms and dragging the pair towards the flat hut-like stones, which were snuggled into a manmade hillside.

The small, crying bundle was tossed from man to man until it reached the arms of a town official. He held it over his head as though offering the baby to the stars.

“Behold! We call upon the messenger of doom to slash with grim delight this victim you hath chosen. May your great black shape rise from the brackish pits and vomit forth pestilence upon our enemies and good fortune upon thine faithful.”

The official climbed a herring-bone stone embankment, placing the baby near the center of the crowning stone. All eyes watched as the ground beneath it began to illuminate and hum. The three standing stones were flashing now in synchronicity, faster and faster until the monolith was ablaze with continual light.

Suddenly the bundle was gone as well as the light. The darkness and the sound of crickets were all that remained. Than came brief shouts of victory from the men, and the quiet sobs of agony from the woman. The small band of men slowly left the site, leaving the monolith with its secrets.

But Miriam stayed behind a moment longer, her knees still too weak to hold up her body. And there, in the late night moonlight she saw what seemed to be three small children join hands by the stones and begin to dance with wild abandon. No, no, as she looked again, it became obvious were not children at all, but rather some species of fairy without wings. They danced, circling round and round, till they came to a huge boulder where a doorway suddenly appeared and they disappeared into the base of the mountain.

What appeared to be a small star exploded in the distance.


[align=center]To Be Continued![/align]
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Post January 02, 2011, 02:56:49 PM

Santa's Little Helper Challenge

The challenge was to to bring the spirit of giving in a non-religious story set in a universe where toy-making elves hide from monsters, a prejudiced Santa needs to deliver on a schedule, and nonconformity can heap scorn upon you.
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Post January 02, 2011, 02:59:45 PM

Santa's Little Helper Challenge

Demons In Disguise With Diamonds

By:
Mark Edgemon



It’s cold this Christmas Eve atop our wintry world as the snow drifts flurry about in a circular motion upon the icy artic lair of the great benefactor of children, Mr. Claus (or Satan as he is known by his little green, slave minions). The blue midnight sky lit by the magnificent North Star, shone brightly across the snow-covered landscape, gracing the enchanted castle, which has been home to history’s greatest anonymous toymakers.

As we approach the rooftop above the factory beneath, we can hear the sounds of heartfelt laboring from the ones who make that special night happen once a year.

“Okay, okay who did it,” the elfin chief screamed. “Who sent Mrs. Claus a gift wrapped bottle of peppermint douche? Was it you, Kaybler?

The elf nodded, head bowed low. Unexpectedly, a shot rang out which found the little green runt gasping for life in a pool of his own blood and urine.

“Just because his uncle is some famous cookie maker who has hollow tree franchises all across the globe, doesn’t cut him any slack up here,” the foreman elf defiantly stated with gun in hand.

The elves continued working, tiptoeing over their former colleagues body as they hastened to keep their deadline, occasionally stepping into his puddle of goo.

“Okay, I want no more of this low level crotch thinking. The elves with the lowest productivity will be hanging around the shop this Christmas Eve when Santa delivers his goods, is that understood?” the elfin foreman said in an ultimatum.

“Does that mean hanging around as in goofing off or hanging around as in by our necks?” another trembling worker murmured.

“What in the elfin universe do you think I mean? Do you think that the Great and Powerful Claus is going to give an elfin tool tinkers damn about some elfin little peon elf, who doesn’t know his elfin head from a hole in the ground.

“It’s time!” the heralding angel proclaimed. “It’s Christmas Eve! Make ready the sleigh!”

And with that, the factory maze became a frenzied precision machine loading the magic sleigh with enough gifts and toys for every child on earth. The only thing was…most children would not be receiving gifts this or any other year, especially if they didn’t fit Santa’s profile. What was secretly known was that Santa planned to take over the world one day through the children who were pliable to his mind control…but that’s another story!

Looking upon this seasonal display of forced gift giving to those who rarely appreciate the thought or the effort, the prettiest of Santa’s helpers, the Snow Angel, stood in the distance with arms outstretched fulfilling her only purpose for the season, to look beautiful in the glistening snow to all travelers approaching the front entrance to the castle. Every time someone would lie in the snow and spread their arms and legs to make an angel imprint, they were secretly paying homage to this loveliest of beings.

And she was beautiful, breathtaking actually and yet this simple task of illuminating her quite grace and loving spirit did not hold the same interest to her as it did in other season’s past.

As Santa’s sleigh was preparing to take off, she hid herself amongst his sacks of toys in hopes of providing Christmas cheer to some lost soul who will be passed over this holiday season. And there were many for her to choose from for most of the girls and boys homes that Santa passed in the night went without consideration, especially if they were of an ethnic color or didn’t speak English or if they just pissed Santa off for no apparent reason.

Later in the evening, when the toy giver was making a delivery for some rich kids on the affluent side of town, the snow angel had translated herself to the poorer neighborhoods in hopes of finding at least one deserving soul to bless this holiday season.

While gliding by a dingy house with faded paint and an overgrown lawn, she viewed through a house window an old woman sitting in an easy chair, her lights dimly lit, heat on bare minimum, watching the lights from the passing cars dance across her walls. She could not afford Christmas lights and did not have the strength to decorate even if she had them.

The snow angel sensed the woman was in fear and could see it from the expression on her face.

She entered the house, passing through the walls as if they were not even there and stood by the chair where the woman was sitting.

“Oh, how I wish my only son would call me tonight,” she said silently as her fears increased being near death. “I’m so afraid! Oh God, help me. I don’t want to die alone”.

The snow angel was filled with compassion and wept along with the old woman who could not see or hear her presence. The angel gently wrapped her arms around the woman, invisibly, yet her loving touch was felt just the same.

As the angel’s grasp grew tighter, the dying woman was encouraged and she began to sing the old refrain, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing…” with a smile that lit up her face. She stood up and sang as if she was singing before God Himself. She had joy, for the first time, in a very long time. After she was finished, she slowly sat back down in her chair and quietly gave up the ghost with a peace of spirit from the knowledge that she was not alone anymore.

As the snow angel was leaving, she blew out a pane of glass in the woman’s front window, so the freezing cold temperatures would preserve her body, in case it was a long time before anyone checked in on her. And then she flew away as she watched neighborhood children making snow angels on the ground.


[align=center]The End[/align]
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