FLASH FICTION INDEX 1 - May 2007-Nov. 2011

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

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Post January 02, 2011, 03:00:27 PM

Santa's Little Helper Challenge

The Season's Gift

Richard Tornello

Ja-pas, the elf in charge of writing the assembly instructions for the toys, was in a very good mood. A few too many eggnogs only added to his dyslexic bliss. “Ah the spirit of giving,” he thought. “What might I do to make some one special human feel the true warm spirit of the winter solstice?

“I have an idea.” He map Googled. He procured the elements necessary for the gift and sealed them in a dense metal box.

“If he can open this,” Ja-pas laughed, “it will make a believer out of him.”

The Gift was magically left on the threshold, wrapped in gold ribbon. The recipient looked at it. He looked around. His AK-47 scanned the hills. “How did this get here? What might it be? A gift from my god?.”

It was very heavy and dense. He had a number of his minions lug it to his inner cave laboratory. The gift was sealed and except for a microscopic indentation there was no appearance of an opening.

Welding torches were brought . “No that’s not a good idea at this time. I would guess that this has to be opened in some subtle manner, unlike some of our operations.” He smiled.

“You have a point,” his number two opinioned.

He sat before it and meditated. For forty days and nights he meditated. He moved it out doors and placed it underneath his favorite tree. He sat again for forty days and nights. Nothing happened.

He then decided to just put it in his lap sitting in the lotus position and praying over it. It opened. The technology within was astounding. He reached and found an assembly instruction sheet written in every language. This was just like his electric tooth brush. “My god, anyone can assemble this! A gift, and what a gift.”

He commanded everyone to leave save his number two and a few technicians. There they assembled the device. “Oh joy of joys the gift I have been waiting for all my life. The Great Ships Of Desert Pilot be praised.”

In the mean time Ja-pas had recovered from his drunken stupor, wondered if it was a dream or had he actually done what he thought he had done. “Shit, this is a really big one. Nah gotta be a dream.” He looked around. The energy sources for the sled were missing. Now what?

The former patron saint of sailors, demoted to schlepping cheap lead painted Chinese made products to children was loading up the “sky barge”. He was going through the preflight check. Low and behold, no fuel!

“JA-PAS why the hell isn’t there fuel in the sled?”

“Ah, not sure boss. Seems we never got a reorder from the Russians as per usual. I think it was diverted.”

“What do you mean, I personally signed for it.”

“Well, it’s missing then.”

“You know that weird former soviet reindeer, the red one we keep in the lead paddock, the one that worked near Chernobyl? He might be an answer.” The boss commanded,
“Hook him up. Attach one line to his antler and plug the other into his butt. We’ll use him as a power source for the propulsion systems. When I get back you had better have an explanation and the missing material or it’s off to the toy manufacturing gulag in Mongolia.”

“Yes boss.”

Ja-pas wonders, “What the hell am I going to do? I have no idea who I gave…. It… oh shit!” The besotted memory kicks in.


Meanwhile the recipient of the Gift had it worked out. The final detailed instructions required were available from the Princeton University library. Amazing, he thought. It’s all there. And The Great Camel Pilot gave me the tools. How grateful can I be?

He explained to the locally assembled group, “I will wire this up on their great religious holiday and have it delivered to the Holy Land. Oh Nameless One be praised.”

December of that year the gift recipient has managed to travel through no mans land and is in the country of centrifuges, caves and stoning deaths for profit and gain. He sits with his hosts. They are amazed at the level of sophistication he demonstrates.

“Look the instructions are in every language of this planet. But I am the chosen one.”

“Well how will it work,” they inquire?

“Simple, very simple. We get a remote flying vehicle; a timer is set with an altimeter and as the vehicle descends, Happy New Year”


Meanwhile St. Nick is having trouble keeping airspeed with the reindeer as an energy source. The line keeps popping out of his butt. One of the smaller elves has to work hand over hand, reach and plug it back in, then return to the toy laden sled. “This is the shittiest job I’ve ever had,” he bitches.


Our hero, flush with joy, wonderment, and forbidden drink, again illustrates the method of wiring for the final solution.

All are in wonder. How he received this. We thought he was a kook. The gods must think differently. We stand corrected.

Ja-pas is looking for the power source he misplaced. He comes across the wiring instructions. Pretty funny he says to himself. The green goes into the cathode and the red into the anode. That would allow for a timed released of energy. Boy if anyone got that in reverse. He laughed, what idiot would do that?

Off in a distant underground facility, our hero reads the instructions and for some liquid reason, gets it in reverse.

A giant mushroom cloud appears over the desert of Iran in the vicinity of the weapons labs.

St. Nick has just delivered a new AR-15 toy to a young girl who always wanted one like her brother’s. He looks at the sky and notices the glow to the East. He looks at his Russian reindeer.

Just wait. His ass is grass. He mumbles.

[align=center]The End[/align]
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Post January 02, 2011, 03:01:19 PM

Santa's Little Helper Challenge

Merry Meteorites


It had to be perfect, the instructions were explicit. Melvin looked at them again with mild disdain. It was some kind of big anniversary yet again for the old lump. They'd run out of double gold jubilee dates back before recorded time so it was probably some newfangled concept they'd dreamt up to try and build more employee, what was it, 'Morale'. By the tree-star the only thing anyone wanted to do was catch up on sleep.
But here he was working double overtime to try and get this flying boatload of decorations to the North Pole for the little event on schedule. Melvin sighed loudly. His wife was going to give him a tongue lashing even if he did manage to get back in time for dinner tonight. Being married to the chief of toy safety did not lend itself to the kind of corners he had to cut to make these runs on time even if they were taking a low orbital approach these days. Standard elven magitech was enormously unreliable in any case. Why else would Santa have required the use of reindeer and especially one with a glowing nose in an age when even mundane humans had aircraft that could fly in hurricanes.
He was having trouble keeping the damnable creatures on course. He reigned it in with a swift application of the whip. He began to take a look up at the great glowing stars and reached out his hand absently for a the potato chips he had in the passenger seat but at that moment they decided to levitate as is natural with things going into freefall.
“Igvit!” Melvin swore to himself this was the third time this week. He'd really have to get that stabilizer looked at. The queer contraption he was riding careened downward and he went through the usual emergency checklist in the back of his mind grumbling all the while about the low pay and the ridiculous demands of this job.
Bringing the vehicle level he found there was still one red light on. It was the signal for Wondrous Intervention Supporting Humans or W.I.S.H. Melvin rolled his eyes but this one couldn't be ignored. After all the whole northern elf society was effectively built around the concept these days. If there was a holiday dream in someones heart they had a duty to fulfill it. Never mind that he'd get chewed out for being late anyway.
The little map on the wall now sported a marker showing the location from which the desire was emanating. Maneuvering the vehicle in close to the source he looked at the small dingy house that was the source of this particular trouble. Taking a few notes on the location he hopped out onto the dark and patchy snow cover and headed over to the child who was out attempting to restore a half melted snowman with chunks of blackened snow and Ice Cubes taken from the freezer. He was thoroughly engaged in his task and seemed oblivious to Melvin's approach.
Melvin tapped the child on shoulder. “Hello there child what is your name?” He asked. The child seemed rather startled for a moment and turned around quickly. He stopped for a moment examining Melvin who was waiting as patiently as he could manage given the circumstances. The child looked askance at Melvin and replied slowly “my name is Jimmy. Who are you?”. Forcing a thin smile Melvin replied “The name is Melvin. I am a northern elf in the service of what you would refer to as 'Santa Claus'. Jimmy looked puzzled. “But I thought Santa only came around Christmas.” Melvin did not want to explain the intricacies of North Polar society right now. “Yes he does but we have to work all year round to make sure that everything gets done for Christmas and people are happy.” Overly simplistic but hopefully the kid would be satisfied. “Look you want something I got a message about it so just tell me what it is you need.” Melvin realized he was being a bit rude and that poor Jimmy hadn't done anything to deserve this exasperation but he wasn't in the best mood to begin with. Deep breaths. Jimmy didn't seem to notice though “Well you know how Christmas is a time of light and cheer.” Melvin nodded. “Well I didn't get what I really wanted see. This is a tiny town and we don't have many lights and I really wanted to see the lights this year like they have in the big cities on the tv like on new years and stuff. It really makes this glow on the people and they seem so happy and mommy really needs to be more happy and I think that would just be so pretty to see.” While Jimmy stopped to take a breath Melvin thought about this request. “Well I'll take it back to the pole and we'll see what can be arranged. This is definitely outside normal operating procedure and...” Melvin realized that the blank expression on Jimmys face probably meant he had no idea about standard operating procedure. “I'll get back to you.” Melvin said simply and got back into the transport vehicle.
Oh he was going to get quite the verbal lashing and maybe take a pay cut and oh sweet sweet sleep why was it denied him? As he hit orbit a curious grin spread across his face. Oh he'd be fired for sure after this one but wouldn't it be worth it? He quickly played with the controls and the rear hatchway opened wide.


The authorities were calling it a freak meteor shower and someone at NASA had been called up to run an emergency check for a new Near Earth Asteroid but Little Jimmy knew in his heart that the greatest Christmas light show of the century was the gift especially for him.

[align=center]The End[/align]
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Post January 02, 2011, 03:02:05 PM

Santa's Little Helper Challenge

A Peculiar Gift Wrap

Sergio Palumbo

Christmas was near and the rooms were filled with parcels and toys ready to be delivered worldwide. Working in Santa’s labs was a wearying job, sure thing. As a North Elf, Elthan had to satisfy the good little boys/girls everywhere, making the presents they had been asking for and arranging an appropriate gift wrap for everyone.
Many letters had been received this year, too, as usual. Some of them asked for easy-to-get things, as the SpaceStation 4, the new tri-pad and the like. But for others there could be no answer at all…
“Give my dead brother back to me! ” one of them implored. ”I want my home rebuilt like before the earthquake! ” or so on: such requests weren’t ever allowed to come true…The more their senders had kept wishing for those, the longer they would have been continuously disappointed.
There was nothing else to do for him and the other Elves in the snowy far North but making toys and packing them up. Inside the labs you could have seen many pointed ears, long noses and busy slim figures working hard at every corner…
At some point several jingle bells rang: Santa’s sleigh had just arrived and was waiting outside to be overloaded before leaving again for delivering. Now it was Elthan’turn. The young Elf took the sack containing all the gifts he had just filled up with the fruits of his labours, then went for the door, his slouch hat on. Time was running out, hurrying Elthan, so he jumped onboard.
The sleigh was covered with many parcels everywhere. But this year there was quite a difference: one sack had a peculiar gift wrap inside, an unusual small metallic box.
He began taking flight and soon went past the White Range separating the Magic Realms from the common world. The lands kept uninterruptedly unfolding as the Elf glanced down, turning ceaselessly into plains, forests and deserts…The Elf was always worried whenever he flew, but every time he was afraid, just felt reassured simply by looking at the strong wooden sleigh he was on.
He had almost reached the first address for today, but a storm cloud bank coming westward unexpectedly made the magical transport go about. Misteriously a radiance glittered inside the clouds, then a brilliant figure came out and started chasing him unceasingly.
It was a winged being, full of light outwards, that was as good at flying as the sleigh himself. Such an appearance seemed unworldly…Whoever could be? Elthan didn’t know.
The chaser began throwing a sort of electric burst at him, almost hitting the target, then attacked. For sure, such a terrifying creature wanted to tear him down or stop his transport from delivering, at any cost! The sleigh flew up and down under the guidance of its experienced driver. When another burst exploded nearby, the flying vehicle finally turned back, headed automatically toward the assaulter then gave out a weird sound of rage. Immediately after the chaser stopped, melting away little by little. What an incredible trick, surely coming from Santa’s incredible powers his sleigh had been endowed with before!
The Elf looked at the magical transport again, being very appreciative of such a gesture. ”Never been so afraid before during the many flights he had made…”. The sleigh got back on track, there was no much time left…
In brief he was on the first target. The sleigh went slower on the way down, landing in an empty wasteland. There was nothing out there, except a tent village some miles away. ”Strange place”. Elthan was a bit dubious, so looked at the label on the parcel: the address was correct.
The Elf got off, walking at his faster-than-human pace, his slender hands firmly on the lead box containing the present to be given. When he saw the boy face nearby, Elthan understood he was the addressee.
-Here is the Christmas gift you’ve been asking Santa for! - the Elf told the child. The little boy looked surprised, then --by leaning on a crutch, cause he was one-legged-- took the box with his small hands, smiling faintly. He looked nine, but his one-eyed face didn’t show the happiness a child usually had.
The question arose in Elthan’s mind-How did you lose your leg, little boy? -
-It was because of a minefield I stumbled upon while helping my wounded younger brother last month. I made it eventually, but I put my foot in the wrong place…-
-And your eye…? -
-Hit by a splinter during a grenade assault against the village while running to warn the younglings about the incoming attack…-
-You’ve been really a very good boy- the Elf nodded- Just one thing, please: why did you want this specific gift? I mean, why a box containing uranium inside? -
-Because of my parents…They have been suffering since the war has started, so I have been hearing them speaking many times about what they’ve been expecting most…-
-Uranium…How come? -
-Actually, I thought I could have used my Christmas wish, I knew I deserved a gift because I’ve behaved myself all year-round. I was sure that would have been appreciated as they couldn’t have been provided with uranium by any other means before…-
-What are they going to do with it? It’s a very strange present, very dangerous, too…-
-They will build a bomb, meant to exterminate all our enemies, I think…That will give us back our land, our freedom! -
-I see- the Elf said. He didn’t want to inquire about any further, so came back to the sleigh.
As soon as he was in the sky again, Elthan considered the barrend lands of Midde East he was flying over now: several countries at war, each stood in arms arrayed against the other.
Maybe the spirit of giving for Christmas was going to be lost

[align=center]The End[/align]
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Post January 02, 2011, 03:02:43 PM

Santa's Little Helper Challenge

Christmas Swap

David Alan Jones

Katie Claus stood upon a black stone outcrop, gazing down at the village called Spring. It was a small, valley hamlet built to shelter her grandfather’s few human laborers, but Spring contained within its boundaries every friend Katie had ever known.

Behind her, its crenellated spires stretching high into the mists, stood her grandfather’s castle: Winter. Its gray-black stones -- spell-hewn to be impervious to ice and snow -- stood out in stark contrast with the merciless, frozen tundra surrounding it. That ominous effect, combined with the hours their parents worked this time of year, led the village children to rename it Dread Winter.

“You can’t do this,” said Napoleon, her nanny elf.

“Watch me.”

“I won’t let you,” he said, standing up so that his bald pate almost reached Katie’s elbow. “I vowed to protect ya -- keep ya from mischief -- and Lord Peter knows you’re up to mischief now lass.”

Katie glared.

Though it cost him something, Napoleon held her gaze. “It’s not right what you’re planning. Cutting it would be a sacrilege, and a shame on ya -- on yer whole family.”

Katie pictured her grandfather; not the rosy-cheeked fat man dressed in red, but the true tough-minded delivery man, stiff and stern and intolerant of anything that might disrupt his precious schedule. She saw him standing before her in his seal leather suit, his hoarfrost-encrusted beard -- yellowed from pipe smoke -- billowing out behind.

“Lucy’s a good girl. It’s not her fault she slapped Braden. He pulled her hair; I saw it,” said Katie.

“The boss must have a deadline. You can’t do nothing to change a deadline.”

Katie tightened her grip on the eighteen inch shears hidden beneath her green sleighing cloak.

“We’ll see,” she said.

# # #

Entering Dread Winter was not so hard as it seemed, for though the ancient castle was forbidden, it was not unduly forbidding. No guards stood watch this time of year, and the gates stood wide to let vent the deathly heat and noxious fumes produced below.

Katie slid down a peppermint-striped pole towards the fourth subbasement, the incessant thrum of machines growing louder as she plummeted.
Napoleon followed her. His long nose quivered with fear as he strode from the landing alcove.

Glowing magical ice covered the Great Manufactory’s floor, revealing strange creatures of every shape and size trekking across it in cleats, cussing and jostling and fighting to get their work done.

“How ya gonna hide in that?” asked Napoleon.

Katie ignored him, scanning the crowd.

Six polar bears pulling a sledge loaded with raw iron scraped slowly by, its portly driver idly flicking a black whip across their backs. Katie raised her green hood, timed her move, and fell in beside the second set of bears, her eyes downcast. To the driver her cloaked back looked like any other elf and to the milling crowd she looked like a servant tending the bears.

After they had traveled some distance the cavern roof opened into a massive dome, its interior filled with geodes reflecting the ice light from below. In the center of this expanse stood the largest machine Katie had ever seen.

Napoleon let loose a little squeal of delight and surprise.

“The Toy Engine,” he breathed in reverence. “I only ever seen it the once and that with me da. He was a tinker, ya know.”

The Toy Engine stretched for miles into the cavern, with tributary conveyor belts trundling raw materials in, and completed toys out, of its iron bulk.

Eight massive dire wolves ran with indefatigable strides inside circular treadmills, pouring energy into the engine.

Katie groaned when she saw them.

“Wrong end,” she hissed. “He won’t be here.”

“Might as well go back,” said Napoleon.

“No. I’m doing what I came to do.”

Katie waited for a lull in the crowd then swung up onto the Engine’s wide main belt. One of the galloping dire wolves rolled an eye at her, but no one else seemed to notice as she hunkered down behind a toy dollhouse. Napoleon came reluctantly after.

The crowds first thinned, and then disappeared altogether as Katie and Napoleon neared the machine’s terminus. Only those with special clearance were allowed this far, and that did not include Katie Claus.

Grandfather stood amongst his most trusted security elves, reading an impossibly long list of names that rolled out behind him into the cavern.
She slid off the conveyor belt and hid amongst a stack of crates her heart thudding in her chest. Planning the deed was one thing, but actually dashing across the floor in a headlong attack was quite another. Maybe she should just forget --


With that thought foremost in her mind, Katie raced from her hiding spot straight towards him. His thug elves moved to stop her, but they froze at a gesture from the old man.

Grandfather turned a gimlet eye upon his youngest granddaughter.


His deep voice brought her up short -- that and his beatific smile. She skidded to a stop before him.

“You have Grandma’s best kitchen shears.”


“What were you planning to do with those?”

Her eyes flicked from his bearded face to the list in his hand.

“Lucy hit Braden yesterday and --“

“And got herself on the Naughty list. I know.”

“It’s not fair. She didn’t mean it.”

“Magic is balance, Katie, you know that. I can’t change Naughty without changing Nice; not once the list is set.”

“I do know it.”

Grandfather cupped her chin in one strong, warm hand, lifting it to look into her eyes; eyes that matched his own.

“You came here with a purpose, dear. What was it?”

Katie reversed her grip on the shears, offering them handle first to her grandfather.

“If you must cut one name from Nice in exchange for Lucy’s, let it be mine, Grandfather.”

The End
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Post January 02, 2011, 03:03:39 PM

Santa's Little Helper Challenge

Big Brown is Coming to Town

Michele Dutcher

“Logistics,” said the man in brown.

“Logistics?” asked the female elf in red.

“Exactly! The management of materials as they flow through an organization, from raw materials through placing the product into the hands of the customer – which would, in this case, be children around the world. Big Brown – we know how to ship stuff.” The salesman looked over at a pixie that was hammering away on a manual Remington typewriter, taking down every word being said between the two.

“Of course our only concern is making absolutely certain the children receive what they ask for. My dad, Mr. Claus, wanted to send his pardons for not meeting with you himself.”

“I’ll only forgive him, if I can call you by your first name, Ms. Claus. I believe it’s Ruby?”

The petite, height-and-weigh-proportional elf, giggled. They didn’t get a lot of human visitors at the North Pole, and all of her peers were under 3 feet tall. “And what should I call you Mr. Brown?”

“You can just call me what all the ladies call me – Mr. Big.”

The lonely elf squirmed just a little, and smiled at the tall, dark, and handsome-enough salesman.

He continued his pitch. “The bottom line in this business is getting the product into the recipient’s greedy little fingers, right or wrong? - and Big Brown is the prince of packaging, the duke of delivery, the king of – you get my drift.”

“I appreciate your concern, Mr. Big - but we always manage to give the children what they want.”

“I don’t mean to belabor the point, Ruby – but how about that whole Zhu-Zhu pet fiasco last year? Supply certainly did not equal demand. There were parents desperate enough to try to buy the little buggers themselves resulting in that whole, ugly Jeff the Giraffe scandal. Whose fault was that really? – a hard working zoo animal - or your father’s lack of logistics?”

Ms. Claus thought about this for a moment. “But our percentage of happy children throughout history far outweighs the disappointed ones.”

“Perhaps it wasn’t your dad’s end of the business. Perhaps it was the production end – the elves.”

Ruby looked over quickly at the elf on the typewriter. “Oh, no, no – the elves are hardworking employees, more like a family really – a family who doesn’t need a union…”

“Say no more, sweetheart, a wink is as good as a nod. Just remember that Big Brown won’t be happy until you are 100% satisfied, Ruby…100%...whatever it takes.”

The tapping on the keyboard continued until the elf punctuated the period with his index finger.

“Does he have to do that?” The rat-a-tat of the keyboard started again.

“Well, daddy gets kind of suspicious, so he pays for Elmer to take down all my words in triplicate.”

Mr. Big Brown looked rather sheepish now. “Well, it’s time for me to let you think it over.”

Ruby Claus held out her hand, and was surprised when the human brought it to his lips, kissing it softly.

“Just remember, if you’d like to talk again before I leave…Big Brown’s deliveries are always right on time.”

Ms. Ruby Claus practically purred. The salesman exited the room quickly and efficiently.


The crowd at the Polar Bare was sparse, even for this time of day - which was just after noon. It was pitch dark outside, of course. The salesman sat on the barstool furthest away from the door, drinking a malt & mistletoe concoction. He noticed a severe blast of air as the elf from Santa’s office came in and sat down among some friends, leering at the North Pole dancers in the back. The Elf shot him a quick, evil sneer as he launched into a recollection of the day’s events with his evil elfin buddies.

The salesman raised his glass to his lips, taking a deep swig of the bitter brew. “I thought you guys at the North Pole were all about the Christmas Spirit – but I haven’t seen much of it since I arrived a few days ago.”

The bartender crossed his arms. “The Christmas Spirit? – you can’t handle the Christmas Spirit.”

“I think could handle a pleasant ‘Merry Christmas’ or two.”

The six-foot elf backed up and put his hand upon a luminescent bottle of a red and green, swirling liquor. “I’d be happy to pour you a snootful of the Christmas Spirit, friend. The first shot’s on me!”

“What do I have to lose?” he asked, banging his fist upon the counter for emphasis.

By the time the liquid was trickling down his throat the evil ice gnomes were upon him. He was, however, in an unbelievably jolly mood, as they dragged him out of the bar. “We heard about the whole ‘Maybe the whole Zhu-Zhu-pet disaster was cause4d by the elves’, Mr. Big Brown. Who’s so big now?” The pack of elves began kicking him, surrounding him.

But the salesman didn’t care; he was under the influence of the Holiday Spirit. “I didn’t mean to upset you – my mistake. I trust that kicking me is helping you have a Holly Jolly Christmas. Here’s my wallet, take all my money as a gift. Here’s my coat –I don’t need it, I have the Christmas Spirit to keep me warm.”

Suddenly there was a sound of growling and, through a misty haze, the blazing red eyes of six rabid reindeer appeared out of the darkness.

“Please, God, please don’t eat me!” he shouted, lifting his arms to cover his face.

“Step back! He said the magic word,” shouted one of the elves, and the mob dissipated almost immediately.

“The magic word - God?” questioned the salesman.

“NO, the magic word is ‘Please’ – obviously,” said the remaining elf, leaving the human to enjoy a peaceful night of bleeding to death in the cold.

From a jolly voice in the distance,
Big Brown thought he heard,
“Have a merry freaking Christmas
May you get what you deserve.”

[align=center]The End[/align]
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Post January 02, 2011, 03:05:12 PM

Santa's Little Helper Challenge

- Winner -


Casey Callaghan

Where there's ice, where there's snow,
That is where ol' Frosty goes

The old rhyme jingles through my little elvish head as I hurry along the corridor, eyes on my feet, trying not to attract the attention of the fearsome black-uniformed Elfstapo Officers. I just hope they don't stop me, ask to see what's in my basket.

Because what's in my basket? Food enough for two, though I only get enough ration cards for one. And anyelf who gets food - that's the law - has to work for Big Red. I only need to be caught once, and my sister will starve. She can't work for Big Red - not with only one arm. She'd never be able to keep up with his murderous quotas.

But I have to pass through this section. The only thing worse than the not-so-secret elf police force is the not-so-secret reindeer police force, the Lighters.

Everyone's heard of Rudolph - he's in a song, after all - but somehow what happened to his children isn't as widely spread out. Have you ever noticed how - when you have a prejudice against, say, mutants, and one type of mutation in particular is suddenly considered alright... then nine times out of ten, in order to maintain their precarious position on the up-side of society, that one type will be even more prejudiced against any other type of mutation?

You haven't? Well... that's what happened nonetheless. The Lighters, they call them; they keep their noses covered most of the time, but there's nothing worse for a hidden mutant than seeing that terrible red glow speeding towards you through the sky. Sticking to the shadows doesn't help; not against the Lighters.

And that's why I was in this corridor; the only one that the Lighters aren't personally patrolling.

Aren't personally supposed to be patrolling, at least, according to the schedules that had been smuggled out. Still, as I hurried along, a horribly red spotlight suddenly picked me out.

"YOU!" yells a voice. Trembling in fear, I look up at the Lighter; four feet, snarl, long antlers. The red cap with the white bobble on the end - not just any Lighter, this, but an officer.

I try to say "Yes, sir?", but what babbles out of my mouth is probably a little less intelligible.

The Lighter snorts in disgust and tosses his head to the left. The Elfstapo agent standing there unrolls a poster. "You seen this elf?" asks the Lighter.

"N-n-n-no-no-n-nonono." I stammer. The elf in the poster is obviously a artist's impression; he's also got six fingers on his right hand.

The Lighter looks down his glowing nose at me, and snorts. "Show me your hand!" I hold out both hands, shaking and trembling. The Elfstapo agent holds my wrists and counts my fingers. Four per hand, plus a thumb. (Three quarters of a thumb on my right hand - relic of a little mishap in Big Red's toyshop three years previous).

The Lighter snorts again. "Pitiful." he says, spitting at me. Then his eyes narrow further. "What have you got in that basket?" he snaps.

"S-s-s-s-s-s-supplies, sir." I stammer. "F-f-f-f-food f-f-f-f-for my ev-ev-evening m-m-me-me-meal."

The Lighter frowns at me. "It smells like more than just one elf's evening meal." he snaps. "Elfranz! Check his basket!"

The Elfstapo agent takes my basket, peels back the cover, holds it up.

"Two meals." snaps the Lighter. "Do you have two ration stubs?"

"I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I" I stammer. The Elfstapo agent begins to go through my pockets.

And it is then that what I can only describe as a miracle happens. Somehow, the Elfstapo agent pulls two ration stubs out of my pocket. "All in order, sir." he announces.

The Lighter snorts. "Well, then. Be on your way, Elf, but be careful. No evil can evade the light of the Lighters."

I... have no explanation for the second ration stub. As he returns the stubs to my pocket, though, the Elfstapo agent winks.

On my return home, I find that the second ration stub contains the name of Elfranz.

[align=center]The End[/align]
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Post March 05, 2011, 07:04:10 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge, Pt. 2

The challenge was to continue Michele Dutcher's Story, "The Vanishing Stone" from the 1st part of this challenge. Writers were tasked with adding only a "middle" to the story.
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Post March 05, 2011, 07:05:54 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge, Pt. 2

The Disappearing Stone – The Robot Twins

Michele Dutcher

“For the seven thousandth two hundred and forty second time – a magnetic field is the most important thing for a planet's retention of an atmosphere capable of sustaining lifeforms.” The lime-green robot, no more than three-feet tall, looked away from his tubes and fingernail-sized energy sources long enough to basically roll is eyeballs at his twin.

“...refraction of solar radiation interacting with an atmosphere?” asked number 35 to number 36 hopefully.

“No,” # 35 answered flatly, turning back towards his work.

“...ozone layer?...”

“Important yes, but not the number one factor,” mumbled #35 under his breath.

“...but, but, but...”

#35 stopped what he was doing and looked over at his only companion. He eased up, smiling a little at the little imp's insatiable curiosity, turning on his chair to face him. “I know how difficult our existence has been over the past 65 million years, especially after that unfortunate crash during entry, but I know you can remember what caused the death of our world.”

#36's eyes seem to brighten a bit. “Yes, yes, I remember now – it was the loss of our magnetic shield – that's right.”

“...and that led to...”

“...the atmosphere being stripped away by the solar winds and then all the water went into the polar ice caps.”

The robot sitting at the lab table knew his little friend would forget in a week or two, but he was pleased to once again be able to have Rit's mind at ease. Rit was the only companion he had with him, besides the holographs that appeared at regular intervals.

“When will we be done, #35? Soon?”

“As soon as possible, 34. As soon as possible.”

Suddenly a bright light appeared at the back of the small laboratory, and a harmonic voice filled the area. “We see you have chosen to use some of our DNA to alter a new-world species.”

The twin robots were momentarily awestruck. They both knew this was just a picture, geared in to appear at different stages of their progress, but the image brought back memories of the planet they had left behind.

“Indeed, Isis – we accessed a small creature processing grasping claws, and eyes which are located on each side of its head. These creatures spend a lot of time on the lower branches of the trees in this area – and their species appears promising.”

“And what do you hope to achieve in this experiment?”

“By splicing in portions of your DNA, we'll be able to move the eyes closer to the front of the face to give the creature three dimensional sight. We're also beginning work on the opposing thumb scenario.”

“We are pleased that your journey is on course and on schedule. Thank you for your efforts and your patience, Ret and Rit.”

The two lime-green creatures smiled, edging towards the hologram. The female, six feet tall, bi-pedal, with soft green skin and purple eyes held out her hands in obvious gratitude. The two robots briefly entered the hologram's field of light and were rewarded with pleasant sensations covering their bodies, all the way from their tiny four-toed feet to their huge black eyes.

“Remember, my little fellows, the package must be given up of the creature's own free will.”

“We remember Isis,” they repeated in unison. “We remember.”

“The three beings, separated by time and space, smiled in each other's virtual presence.

Egypt 6000 BC

“For the 6 millionth two hundred thousandth six hundred and thirty third time, it's the magnetic fields!” shouted #35 at #36. “Thoth, maybe you can have a go at explaining it to Rit!”

The regal Egyptian leaned forward, taking the 3 foot creature onto his lap, understanding Rit's limited mental resources, and began to gently explain how a planet could lose it's magnetic shield, and the disastrous result that would have.

In the background builders could be seen pushing huge blocks of stone into place, aided by small 'pebbles' which made the stones hover, enabling the workers to simply steer them into place. These pebbles, of course, were gifts of the two small creatures who had taken it upon themselves to, once again, give history a nudge.

“Magnetic Shield!” shouted Rit finally, confidently jumping off Thoth's lap to run towards one of the women sitting along the fertile banks of the Nile.

“The style of the structure you're building is very pleasing,” said Ret, watching his twin as he happily began to play by the river.

“I got the idea when you talked about your home. It was just a step away then to construct a structure to thank you for your amazing tutoring. Astronomy, architecture, science, mathematics – when you revealed yourselves to me, it was amazing to finally have a discussion with another being with similar interest and capabilities.”

“As much as I care about my twin, I too was relieved to have someone with whom I could have an intelligent conversation.”

The magnificently arrayed Egyptian stood for a moment, nodding to the south. “I'm not sure I understand your intentions with the stone altar you created, however. Certainly my people would be appreciative if it gave them things, but to make objects disappear? - it's a clever magic trick, but why?”

Thoth's only response from Ret was, as always, a hopeful smile.

Within the lab that was nestled inside the cone of the great mountain, Isis smiled to her husband. “We have received a carved shaft of wood through the portal.” She held it out proudly.

He allowed the holographic equations and formulas he had been studying to fade away, smiling at his wife. “Well some kind of creature carved it. Those little buggers are doing their job. We'll just have to wait and see.”

The End
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Post March 05, 2011, 07:07:27 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge, Pt. 2

The Fourth Rule

Sergio Palumbo

From this side of the barrier, the Fairy world seemed wondrous and peaceful. The little curly-haired girl thought of it, her dark eyes in amazement: four years old, born human but raised by the Fairies, her condition was unusual. Her name, Dilwen (she had been given from the beings living in this magical realm), meaning "truly blessed", had been chosen for a reason.

She kept walking near the center of the crowning stone: past that landmark, the shadowed scenery of the beautiful Welsh countryside stretched out. It was the same as looking at the human world in the distance through a dense veil whose substance turned up to be impalpable. The megaliths supporting The Vanishing Stone were awesome: she had come from there, some years before, the same for every human living on this side now.

From time to time some babies (boys and girls) happened to be abandoned cause of lack of food or money in the family, such things occurred more often than is thought, but the Fairies had always been taking care of them, whenever possible, if they could arrive on time, of course…

"You there! Look up!" A voice came from a treetop nearby: it was Anarawd. She was same age than Dilwen, abandoned only one month before her, but in unpredictable ways her nature was more restless and vivacious. She just couldn’t hold in, it was no accident that the Fairies had called her that way, meaning "undisgraced" or "free of shame". To all intents and purposes she was different…

Two keen blue eyes, her body always on the go, she couldn't resist climbing over a rock or up a tree"" like in this case…"" with her pale legs dangling sideways.

"Admire my balance! Are you capable of doing this? " Anarawd was defying Dilwen, she always did.

"Pay attention, you had gone too high this time!" the girl replied, a bit worried. Anarawd had often fallen before, but every time some Fairies had been around to go help her, healing her bruises thanks to their magic. But now their usual keepers, Glaw, Heulog and Gladys were away. There was also Haf, another Fairy who sometimes came to visit them, but usually they had only a glimpse of her as she stayed only for a while, probably she didn’t appreciate the way her equals did raise the human babies like Dilwen or, simply, didn’t want to share anything with them at all…

However, the others had always been there for the children when in need. Glaw ("rain") was the most fickle, whenever she moved some water drops surrounded her lithe body, while Heulog ("sunny") looked more joyful, a flower rug always growing under her feet when walking around.

But unquestionably the golden-haired Gladys was the leader.

They were not common children but "given their weird keepers" how might things have been different? The girls have been disconnected from human reality long ago…

"Look up!" Anarawd cried out again, but in doing so she leant unduly and ended up loosening her grip. Her little body fell to the ground and a faint wail was heard.

Dilwen knew it had to happen sooner or later! The girl started running to the spot her friend had dropped on and saw she had both arms broken.

"Watch what you did! " she told her, hopping mad "No keeper around to heal you now…"

Anarawd’s face was upset and crying"Help me, Dilwen! I know you can, even though no Fairy is here…"

“She knew? ” Dilwen thought. When had she discovered it? The little girl was aware she had been given her name "meaning "blessed" because she was endowed with the gift of magic, that was uncommon among the humans… in fact, Selwyn and Owena, too, the other two children (the first being a boy and the second a girl)same age as her who were now in that realm didn’t possess such an ability…

"Please! " Anarawd implored.

So Dilwen sensed the power growing inside and focused. As soon as she touched Anarawd’s arms, the wounded girl began feeling better. After a while, she had completely recovered.

"You possess really an useful gift, Dilwen…" Anarawd smiled. "Now I can climb again on the treetops, playing all day long…"

"Wait! " Dilwen said" What if you fall again? "

Anarawd stopped, pondering that "As you can use magic, what if you’d make my bones stronger…? This way I could climb again and again without worrying about any inconvenience…"

"Turning the bones into something stronger?" Dilwen had tried something like that before, when she had turned an old leaf into a rock, despite this she was doubtful.

"Hurry up! I’m going to climb in a minute…"

"Well, I’ll do it… but only because there is no keeper around to help, I don’t want you get hurt again…"

Dilwen touched her friend’s head. In brief magic pervaded her and Anarawd’s bones were turned into metallic structures, harder and more powerful than ever.

Anyway, once the process was completed, Anarawd looked unconscious and uncommunicative.

Dilwen wasn’t able to know by then, but nobody can turn simply human bones into something metallic: blood vessels inside, all the spinal cord cells and tendons couldn’t live in such a condition, simply secluded within an iron container. Actually, the unfortunate girl was already dead when the Fairies were back late in the evening.

Gladys looked at the dead girl, three feet tall, then stared at Dilwen "You children think you are like us, but you are not…"

Dilwen kept sobbing again.

"You know: the First Rule is that you must follow our rules… Then, the Second Rule states you won’t interfere with human affairs over the barrier, only we can… The Third Rule is that you won’t harm any human being. " Gladys paused. "Then there is the Fourth Rule…"

The End
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Post March 05, 2011, 07:09:03 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge, Pt. 2

- Winner -

Vanishing Returns

Bill Wolfe

Miriam’s eyes adjusted slowly after the bright flash of light from the sky. She hardly noticed, as her tears had blinded her.

“Poor wee babanod,” she whispered softly into the humid darkness. “What tortures have I caused ‘ye, child? Where did those sons of The Unholy send ‘ye?”.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a low moan from somewhere behind her. She froze, wiped her eyes, and slowly turned toward where she thought it came from. Nothing.

“Is someone there?” her voice was strained, timid. It seemed that the night simply swallowed-up the sound. That won’t do, she thought to herself. Won’t do at all.

She cleared her throat. “Who’s out there? Show yourself.”

The only answer was a rustling atop the Vanishing Stone. Miriam stood straight, smoothed her homespun dress and flicked an unruly black curl from her eyes before she marched-up to the precariously-balanced rock.

What at first looked like a pile of rags, moved. The moon came out again, and she could see that it was a young woman of about the same age and dressed in fine, sturdy traveling clothing. She spoke.

Whatever she said made no more sense to Miriam than a goose’s honking.

The woman noted her puzzled look, muttered an oath of exasperation, then reached into her cloak and touched what looked for all the world to be a small, red, burning ember held inside an oddly-shaped broach pinned to her blouse. It flickered for a moment and then faded-out. She spoke again.

Allwch ch fy neall, nawr?

“’Course I can understand you,” Miriam replied. “Now that you’re speakin’ proper.”

“Sorry. Forgot to turn-off my translator.”

“Turn-off?” Miriam’s confusion was plain. “‘Ya make no sense, girl.”

“Nevermind, I understand that something was. . . sent away from here just a few moments ago. Would you know anything about that?”

“Mayhap, I would. And what business might it be, of yours?” The stranger was sitting on the Vanishing Stone like it was no more dangerous than a church piew. And though she looked a bit like her younger cousin, married and moved on to Twyn-yr-Odyn, just down the road, she carried herself like an English noblewoman.

But the most shocking of all, from a sturdy belt around her waist hung a small, finely-crafted sword. She’d only seen one in her lifetime, and that was on a statue of the Archangel Michael, down at the Merthyr Dyfan Church. Not even King Richard’s tax men carried actual swords. She was so dumbstruck that she missed the woman’s next words.

“Beg pardon, Ma’am?” She stammered.

“What do you know of the baby girl who was sent through The Stone, here? And just a short while ago, by our calculations.”

Her tone and regal manner were undeniable. And though the stranger’s accent sounded like it could have been anyone in her family, she commanded, nonetheless.

It took Miriam only a few minutes to tell her tale.

The woman sat still on the stone’s edge, a single tear formed in the corner of her eye, but it didn’t slide down her clean, smooth cheek. Her sad look was replaced with a fierce anger that Miriam knew well from her own mother’s face. Instinctively, she flinched at the sight.

“You’re sure that the village elders said Goat Of A Thousand Young? Those were their exact words?”

“Yes, Lady. I’ll not forget it for a long time, I fear.”

“I believe you.” A look of resolve came to her face. “They will pay for this atrocity. I assure you. But first, show me where the three small faeries went through. There is homage to be paid.”

Miriam showed her the place. The woman removed the broach from her blouse and touched a green jewel on it. It shone in a color she had never seen, but reminded her of the greenish light of the glow worms of summer. The doorway she had seen before, opened without a sound. One moment there was nothing but solid rock, and the next there was an opening.

When three small shapes appeared in the doorway, Miriam lost her nerve, and ran. She stopped at the tree line, peering from the side of the bole of a huge, dead oak, and watched in the bright moonlight. All clouds had passed.

The regal woman sat crosslegged—childlike—upon the ground before the doorway, and spoke in low murmers to the three creatures. Miriam couldn’t catch the words, but she could tell that there was a sadness to the exchange.

Finally, she kissed each upon the brow and watched as they shuffled slowly, painfully, back into their den. Their joyous energy as they danced about the stones, was gone. They moved like doddering ancients. As silently as before, the rock was whole.

“I know you’re still out there, girl. Come here. Now!”

Miriam scrambled and knelt before the stranger.

“Oh, rise, you silly girl. What is your name?”

“Miriam, Ma’am. Daughter of Bekah.”

“We’ve work to do, Miriam. You will take me to your village and show me the men you remember from tonight. They will be dealt with before the dawn, I swear it.”

“And second. I am the child, your neice, that you brought here this very night in an attempt to save me. And I honor you for it. I am grown, now. For time is not the same where I went. Those three you just saw gave the rest of their lives to divert me to the place you would have sent me to, had those would-be minions of Shub-Niggurath not pulled me from your hands.

The Homibots are not alive like you and I, but caretakers for the transportation stones. They burned-out their own power satellite to override the. . .the incantation that those ignorant toadies of C’thulhu tried to use. The Caretakers will deactivate—die—with the dawn, because of it.”

“And your name, Lady?”

“Miriam, you should call me Marwolaeth.”

“Your name is Death?”

“Tonight, Miriam, I am Death. Lead on!”

To Be Continued...
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Post March 05, 2011, 07:13:07 PM

Get the Girl Challenge

The challenge was to tell the tale of the moment love was won.
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Post March 05, 2011, 07:14:32 PM

Get the Girl Challenge

A Diamond Says it All

George T. Philibin

Love is eternal often transcending time and space. Its reach far exceeds the distant limit of the universe, and light, one of the most lasting constant known to man, must bow down and become a merger variable as it passes by one in love.

Shanna glided into the control bridge, and didn’t let her presence be known at first. She touched the back of his chair and made sure she swept her hand along the back using each finger like it were a soft-pad stroking her favorite pet. She had two Kachinria fighting devil that she kept caged in her room. Gently, she moved to the side of his chair, and without a sound or noticeable movement, she stopped and stood near Mark, the center of her attention for over two years.

Her smile enveloped itself around her soft and inviting eyes that grew wider and wider with each breath that expanded Mark’s chest, and each breath she took also became deeper and fuller and richer as she stood near. Mark stopped his scans and slowed his breathing, but didn’t look over. He didn’t have to, for the warm radiating feeling of closeness captured his attention now, a feeling that began growing from his first encounter with Shanna. He turned and looked at her.

She changed her color from a pale almost Victorian-like portrait of Queen Elizabeth of England to a very light reddish hue, then orange, then cyan, then blue then back to red.
This kaleidoscope of colors continued as Mark’s eyes settled over her, and as a smile found itself on him, Shanna’s colors deepened. She moved an inch or two closer and ran her fingers through his auburn hair.

“I don’t care about protocol,” Shanna said. “Since our worlds have become so close and even friendlier than some of our own nations are to one another-- it’s time to shun these silly rules. I don’t care about them--- I only care about you, Mark. If you don’t consider me worthy or compatible, I’ll understand, but please, Mark, don’t let this stupid mind-set as some call it cloud you heart. We’re not so different; after all it was elements of our race that populated Earth many thousands of years ago. We’re not so different, are we?”

Mark brushed his cheek against the back of Shanna’s hand, and felt and connected with some universal essence that still to this day remains undefined by science; yet every poet or writer in any world can quantify this power by using words alone.

“Mark I.…” Shanna started to say but an alarm sounded and Mark turned around and faced the console again. Shanna turned her head away and folded her arms together over her chest. She looked down at the floor and the light-toned cascading colors she displayed a moment earlier now turned into a shadowy light-brown. She closed her eyes.

“It’s nothing,” Mark said. “Only a rogue asteroid 20,000 Earth miles away. It’ll miss us by at least 5,000 miles.”

A slight smile found itself in Marks expression again, and he took a small box from a drawer in the console. Shanna couldn’t have seen it, but Mark cautiously opened it and quickly snatched something out. He left the box in the drawer and closed the drawer very gently as he said, “Nope, nothing else out there except space and time, and we have all the time we need now. It’ll be months before we reached your planet. You’ll have to show me those ice-canyons that are what? Twenty miles deep? And display every color of the spectrum as your sun travels over your planet. Boy, I’ll love to see that.”

Shanna looked towards Mark and once again light-toned colors of red, then orange then blues cascaded across her very essence, its seem, as Mark’s merry eyes settled on her once again.

“My mother always wanted me to marry an Italian like her, but….” Mark started to say but Shanna jump in with. “I know about Italian girls on your planet! After all I’m a Extraterrestrial Anthropologist! I probably know more about Italian girls than you do! They are supposed to be one of the most desirable females on you planet! So don’t try to patronize me about Earth females!”

Shanna’s colors changed again. This time to a fiery light-red that almost jumped from her skin onto Mark’s.

“Whoa, whoa, Shanna, my father told me to marry a rich girl ---you know one whose father owns an inter-galactical corporation. But now my sister told me to marry….” Mark started to say again, but Shanna jump in with, “Your father, your sister---who is it going to be next—your ,your-- dog?”

Shanna turned around again, put her head down, but this time she covered her month with her right hand. The other hand then came up and covered her left hand. Mark heard sobs.

Gently, Mark made his way around to her and tried to hug her but Shanna didn’t respond.

“Like I was going to say my sister told me to marry someone I really loved. And don’t let the family or your friends or some silly rule that everyone is breaking now to stand in your way. My sister has always been my best friend, and well…” Mark took out a diamond ring and as it glittered, Shanna’s eyes became wider than Mark had ever seen. Her hand when limp, but Mark grabbed it, picked out the correct finger and place the ring on it.

“This is one custom that will never go out of style, no matter where man may travel,” Mark said. Then added, “Need I say more? After all--- you are an Extraterrestrial Anthropologist.”

The End
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Post March 05, 2011, 07:15:42 PM

Get the Girl Challenge

In The Flesh

Casey Callaghan

"Sally... when we agreed that we should meet in the computer lab, I never expected..."

"You said you wouldn't care how I looked, Harry."

You see that man over there, in front of the computer at the very far end of the row, the one in the red shirt with a white carnation in the lapel? That's me. It's six months since I first met Sally, in an online chatroom - we hit it off immediately, sharing many common interests and having hundreds of interesting discussions. It was four months before I first tentatively suggested meeting in person, and two more months before Sally reluctantly agreed.

I left the venue to her, worried that she might be trapped in a hospital with a spinal injury, only able to communicate by coded blinks. When she suggested a computer ab at a local university, I was overjoyed - that means that she's mobile. The upstairs lab has no wheelchair access, so that meant, I assumed, that she can at least walk. Assumptions, I recalled, are often wrong at the very worst time. Her mobility was restricted, in a way that I had never expected; Sally could travel from here to Moscow to Beijing to New York and back in under a second, but she could never visit any of the local restaurants under her own power - and she'd have no reason to, either. You see, I'd just found out that Sally wasn't even remotely human.

Take a look around the computer lab. You wouldn't spot anything strange at first glance. There I am, in my corner, red shirt and white carnation. There's a row of computers. Desks, chairs, carpets. A security camera in the corner of the room.

And nothing else.

Sally's voice speaks again from the speakers of the computer nearest to me.

"The mind." she says. "The mind is the only thing that's important. That's what you told me yesterday, isn't it?"

"Well, yes," I say, "but..."

"What were you expecting, Harry? When you came to meet me? You knew I was reluctant. What did you fear?"

"I -" I look down at the keyboard. "I thought you might be burned -"

"Please speak clearly, Harry. This speech recognition software isn't quite perfect."

"Disfigured." I say, as clearly as possible. "I was worried that you might be disfigured in some way..."

"And now you find I'm not." says Sally. "I'm perfectly healthy, a hundred percent in working order. I just happen to be made of software, an artificial intelligence instead of a human. You were willing to accept a flawed, damaged human, Harry. Will you reject a undamaged, working AI?"

"Are you -" I'm not sure how to ask this, but I have to. "Are you really intelligent?" I ask. "Not some sort of..."

"Some sort of chinese room?" asks Sally. "Honestly, Harry, I'm not sure. The only test that can really be applied is the Turing Test, and... we've been corresponding for six months now, Harry. In all that time, did you ever have reason to think I wasn't human? Did I ever fail the Turing Test?"

"No." I admit. It's true, after all.

"I'm not saying there won't be difficulties." continues Sally. "And I'm not saying that there's necessarily any correlation betwen what I feel and what a human female in my position would feel. But I do feel, Harry. I feel happier when I see you log in, and every time you log out I worry that it'll be the last time. I feel what I can only describe as love, Harry; I'm in love with you. Can you find it in your heart to reciprocate my feelings for you?"

I look down at the keyboard, and think about this.

"It will be... difficult." I say. "It's not going to be easy. We'll face obstacles and troubles that no couple before us has ever faced."

"Yes." agrees Sally. "It will be difficult."

"But..." I continue. I think about it for a bit longer, but my mind's already made up. "But I think, Sally, that we should face those difficulties together, rather than apart." I reach out a hand to the screen. "I'll try to make this work if you will."

"I'll take that deal." says Sally, and I can hear the happiness in her voice.

The End
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Post March 05, 2011, 07:17:23 PM

Get the Girl Challenge

The Sheng of Love

Sergio Palumbo

His true love had forever gone.
Feng,the travelling merchant,wasn’t able to stop thinking of her, constantly: the heaviest of all the burdens he brought with him when going and coming from town to town across the wide rural districts.He had always been selling hampers/pots, but more than three years ago an encounter had changed his life: while in the village of Meifeng, he did meet a young woman, Meixiu, meaning beautiful graciousness, 20 years old, a pale skin with tied back dark hair, living in a wooden cot near lake Yuèhai.Her husband, a fisherman, had already died so Meixiu apparently was searching for a man she could share her life with.
Feng fell in love almost right away, then took his chance to visit Meifeng whenever possible while travelling across the land for business.Every time the man did stop at Meixiu’s home,making a gift of some pots to her: she was always very kind to him, a broad grin on her beautiful face.
Some months after, he was sure Meixiu returned his feelings.They decided to live together eventually and, since then, the merchant didn’t travel anymore, busy at fixing their new home.But, one day,he reluctantly left again for trade reasons.
Sadly,once back, Feng found home burned down,his wife dead…
They had always stayed in the mountains nearby,never daring assault Meifeng before.Maybe that year the cold winter had forced them to come to Yuèhai in search of food…With his world falling to pieces,the merchant felt his life turned upside down.
For some months the desperation was too deep and overwhelming, his black beard grew untidily...After some endless loneliness, one morning Feng exited the front door, staring at the shore: if he had remained there any longer he would have died!So he left,never to be back.
Feng’s trade was a mess by then,his mind couldn’t turn to business again.But,one evening, while drinking inside some lost tavern,Feng found that old soldier, Aiguo --who had been listening many times to the sad tales of his loss-- that decided to give Feng his white aerophone: a traditional woodwind, with a long curving mouthpiece.By calling it the Sheng of Love , he passed that off as a work of magic!
Feng wasn’t interested, but the story that came with it finally made him more attentive.
-By modulating the right tune while thinking of your true, lost love, you could evoke her!- Aiguo said.He had been given such a gift from a monk when younger,but his insufficient skills in music were only able to generate a pale figure of his long dead girlfriend so far…and he was very old now.Things would have been different for Feng,who knows…
-Pay attention: the Sheng can’t raise your beloved woman from the dead…It’s supposed to create a new lifeform similar to her!-
Likely, Feng would have never tried it if he hadn’t been drunken that night in an alley.Anyway, as he started playing the areophone,immediately a feeble human-like, female figure appeared before himself:resembling his woman, it wasn’t her.How had he recalled her?Maybe cause of the sorrow, simply…
He tried the morning after,again, focusing on his memories of Meixiu.And the figure appeared another time!Try after try, he was able to evoke a woman looking exactly like his lost love.She was alive, not a legendary undead or any spritual being…Nonetheless, Aiguo had told him that, even though looking like her, the figure’s memories were not hers…it was as if she was born again, already adult, so he had to imbue her with the correct teachings…Besides, the lifeform created could be alive only for one day, then needed to be evoked again every 24 hours thanks to the music.
So,there was the most difficult part of all: having her loving him.And that was up to Feng…From the beginning,the evoked woman felt lost,at times,but Feng was there just to help!With the passing of days, she began acquiring new experience and interests.Even though she was another person, the woman could become the same as Meixiu…He only had to win her love.Again!
Feng set a new home next to the water, on the other side of lake Yuèhai, and didn’t stop playing the instrument every day until he succeeded at refining her.Eventually, one morning, walking together down the shore, Feng’s eyes and the woman’s pupils did meet and something happened.The man kissed her,then she did the same.
He had made it!
That was the best day of his life, just alike the day he had fallen in love with Meixiu long ago!
Feng’s only wish was staying with her, so he started making nets for the local fishermen instead of selling pots by travelling.He wanted never be departed from her, just in case some Raiders’ attack had occurred again.
But a person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.
One evening, while working, inadvertently Feng cut himself with his unclean blade.Immediately the man took no notice, but soon a bad infection arose.
Three days after,while on the shore,trying to forget the pain he felt inside, the merchant bowed, falling to the ground.
When the woman found the dead body, she cried.Then reached the aerophone,looking at it in silence.She knew she needed that music to be kept in existence in this world.
So the woman began playing, trying her best.She perfectly knew that -- if she hadn’t succeeded -- nobody else could ever create a figure like her dead man, who would have played the woodwind for her, in return.
And she had just time left until dawn for that…

The End
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Post March 05, 2011, 07:18:38 PM

Get the Girl Challenge

Double Play

Richard Tornello © 2011

I’m a ronin. By definition I’ll serve any employer. My clan, the E’Tivels had been eliminated in the great wars. I survived through skill and luck. As an ally I was granted a temporary assignment as a bodyguard for the Consul’s family, in particular Ka’Trink, his wife. She acts as his eyes, ears, and roving ambassador. The Consul is a warrior of evil repute.

Ka’Trink is the daughter of a great wizard. She has emerald eyes. Her pupils are alabaster slits. Her hair is long, thick, intermixed with pearls, and burgundy. She is known for her white magic strength. Ka’Trink has a mute pet sphinx.

And I? I was stuck with wife who despised my very existence. I was clanless. An underworld spirit would have been more acceptable as a husband. I was nothing. But I was alive.

Still, I sent the money home every lunar rotation.


The boarding formality begins each flight. “Your ladyship, let me insure the systems are up and prepared before you board.”

I looked straight at her. That was forbidden.

I couldn’t help it. No being from any planet could resist. Her husband slayed many for so as much as a glance. It was rumored he was strict and beat her for any infraction, real or imagined.

She was the ambassador. It was none of my business why she wore what she did. Her uniform was doughty, and ugly. But it couldn’t hide those eyes.

Ka’Trink turns toward me. Her alabaster cat eyes narrow as she delves.

“I beg forgiveness. I should not stare.” Still, I don’t turn away.

“You always do,” she laughs.

Chimes? What, where was that music? Yes that was it, chimes. That was the first time I had heard her laugh.

“Is my ship ready?” Her job as her husband’s eyes had her traveling from one planet to another

I was about to make the perfunctory sweep of the ship when she walked passed me. Her sword of rank swayed with the movement of her hips. I noticed the slight bulge of a weapon under her flowing skirts strapped what must be legs of …

“Get a grip,” I laughed to myself. These two missions lasted nine months each. Any fool knew there could be no games between us. My short physical stature, and lost rank were guaranteed degrees of separation. So was my love of my life.


On our third mission, as she was boarding, she turned to me as said, “You WILL join me for midmeal today. I have made the arrangements.”

“Yes, your ladyship.” What to do? She commanded it. Once we were space bound, she was in total control.

Midmeal was awkward.

She began, “You are an E’Tivel and one of those who stood up to the Dariates. It wasn’t a question. “That’s one reason you were chosen for my guard.”

I knew the others: a ronin, married, short and all the qualities her kind looked down upon.

“Your ladyship, if your husband learns of this, I…”

“You are here to protect me. I feel your presence is necessary. We both have to eat. I am in command.

I shut up and ate.

The next few meetings were not much better for me. Thankfully, Ka’Trink did all the talking.

Out of the blue she confides, “Yes, he is cruel for no reason. He doesn’t care. He will be ruler someday. I can’t stand him.” She hesitates, “or his touch.”

“This is not what I should be privy to,” I declare standing up.

“Oh, and why not? This is my ship. I am in command. Anything I want, is mine. Is it not? And, I… desire someone to confide in. I have watched you. I trust you.
Now Sit.”

I stare into those eyes. I don’t have to answer. She reads me. I can feel her delving. The first experiences of her probes were unnerving. Now, I almost welcome them.

She smiles. I hear chimes.


At a meal Ka’Trink says something that’s news to me. “Your wife has terminated your relationship. She claims long separations are beyond what any marriage can endure. It was granted.”

I knew it was coming, but still.

Is there a slight hint of a smirk on her face?

I hear chimes, if only distant. I hear them just the same.


The next meeting she is wearing something new.

“My lady I know it’s not my place but that’s a new uniform, and if I may say.”

“Yes you may.” She hesitates, “please do.”

“You look radiant.”

She touches my hand. The delving is deeper than ever, the electricity that passes between us… I faint.

Her white witch cat eyes are staring into mine. She is inches from my face and says, “I knew that would happen. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have.”

She is no one to play with, the Consul’s...I’m-so-going-to-die-do-I-dare?

I hesitate,

I reach out,

I touch her hand.


The room is empty. Usually there are others in attendance.

Her alabaster eyes are wide. She looks into me. Her long red hair, loose, falls into my face as she kisses me.

“My name is Ka’Trink. Use it!” She kisses me again.


From that day I could no longer be with another. And That was so NOT me.

Ka’Trink arranged all the assignations. With time, we opened up to each other as neither had done with any other.

I looked forward to the diplomatic missions. No one knew, or ever let on. I was never questioned.

Her husband ignored me as if I didn’t exist.


Her reasons, why me, and those experiences are still beyond me 20 sidereal periods later.

Her husband died in a shakedown test. It was a new drive system. It exploded.

Ka’Trink became the Consul of his sector.

And I… I became her consort.

I wake to those chimes every morning.

The sphinx is asleep on the corner of the bed.

The End
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Post March 05, 2011, 07:19:56 PM

Get the Girl Challenge

Blinding Love

Bill Wolfe

My mother suffered from macular degeneration, and was blind by the time I was old enough to know her. I grew up helping her, as we all did, get through her day. Little things like handing her the pepper grinder when she was cooking made a big difference in her functionality.

So on my first day of third grade, when the world changed forever, my world changed in two ways. First, I met Sherlyn for the first time. She was new to our school, she was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. She was also blind. Born that way. I couldn’t stop staring at her.

When our homeroom teacher asked for a volunteer to help Sherlyn during the school day, my hand shot up like it had a mind of its own.

“That’s sweet, Roy, but I think another girl would be better. You would have to stop at the bathroom door, now wouldn’t you?”

“I don’t need any help in the bathroom, Mrs. Gurley.” Sherlyn’s voice was loud, abrasive. And it was just dripping with what my Dad called, attitude.

Since none of the third-grade girls were interested in the extra duties involved with being Sherlyn’s ‘companion,’ Mrs. Gurley relented. “For now.”

Later, just after lunch, the other thing happened. The T’Chak parked their ship in orbit around the Earth, and started broadcasting their message of peace. My world had already changed once that day. I barely noticed the second.


“Dammit, Roy, I’m not stupid. You don’t have to tell me there’s a dog over to my left. I can hear the chain, and the claws on the asphalt.”

“Alright then, Nostra-DumbAss, do your bionic ears tell you how long the chain is? Is his tail wagging? Is he about to bite your leg, or just press a cold nose up to it? Can you tell me that, creepzilla?” I saw her rear back to deliver her patented, sharp poke to the stomach, but I didn’t dodge it. I never did.

By the time I got my breath back, we were both laughing so hard I had tears running down my face. Sherlyn didn’t, of course.

“Thank you, Roy.”

“For what?”

“For two things. First, for putting up with me for nine years, all the way through school, and also for never treating me like I’m made of glass. You treat me like. . .”

“Like a person? Well, you’re not. You’re a pain in the ass in every way imaginable. Especially if you don’t let me take you to the Senior prom. It’s our last chance, Sherlyn. Please change your mind.”

“The Freak and the Geek?”

“Where did you hear that?” One of the things I learned from my time with Sherlyn was to fight. Fight hard, fight dirty, and you’ll only have to fight anyone once. Nobody made fun of her when I was around. Nobody.

“Bionic ears, remember? Besides, I don’t mind being called ‘geek.’”

Hardee-Har-Harr. You’d be funny if your face hadn’t taken it all.”

“Your mom still having trouble with her Veil?”

“It’s not the Veil, it’s what it shows her. She says she sees things differently than she used to. She remembers what vision was, but she says that now, it’s like we’re the blind ones. She can tell textures and tastes, and emotional states. . .and things she can’t even begin to describe. She’s been spending a lot of time at the T’Chak Outreach Center. Most of the Veiled do that, I’m told.”

“I hope they find a way to give me one, soon.” She got that wistful look that I loved so much. “I hate being blind, Roy. I hate it.”

The T’Chak, a peaceful and long-lived race, had helped humanity more than anyone could ever imagine. Limitless electricity without pollution, medicines, a technology boost that had all the major powers building their own starships in space, right now. Naturally blind, they had long ago developed a neural sensor net that fit over their heads to interpret photonic information. Echolocation only goes so far. They’d been civilized for millennia before they even discovered that there were such things as stars. The device looked like a delicate silver net, fitting all around the head, with glowing jewel-diodes at each nexus. The Veil.

“They will, Sherlyn. If not, then I will. I’ve been accepted to MIT.”


“Of course I’ll marry you! Tell you what. I get my Veil—thanks to you and your team—in June. Let’s plan it for August, okay? I want to see you standing up there in your tux, waiting for me.”


Midnight in my lab was normally quiet.

As usual, I was talking out-loud to myself as I tinkered with the gear I was assembling. Everything I needed was scattered on the benchtop.

In the middle of it all, a ring, and a note written in crude block letters. She hadn’t been practicing her writing long enough for cursive. At least she didn’t type it.

“Wish I had a gallium nitride semiconductor. Wouldn’t trigger the blink response as much. Oh well, tape will do the trick, I suppose.”

Only until I sort things out, she says. Mom said the same thing when she left Dad.”

“Eight-oh-eight nanometers, five watts, three seconds. That ought’a do it.”

You just don’t understand, Roy, how different it is when you’re with someone who just can’t see like you do.”

“Laser aperture? Check.”

“Gimme a break, you really think I don’t know? Really? Well, maybe you’re right. Mom seems happy enough with Brad.”

“Veil set for intact optic nerve interface? Check.”

I’m sure we’ll find a way to be together, she says.”

“Chin strap? Check.”

“Wouldn’t want to jerk away from the beam, now would I?”

We’ll find a way to be together?”

“Just watch!

It only hurt for a second.

Announcement: Sherlyn Elizabeth McNulty and Elroy Michael Roe were wed in a quiet ceremony at St. Anne’s Chapel, Cambridge. The Bride and Groom were stunning in matching Veils.

The End
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Post March 05, 2011, 07:23:28 PM

Get the Girl Challenge

Life is naught but an amorous sport


The silence was vast and unyielding, but then, it always was. He could see her in the distance the vastness of space no barrier against her loveliness. The coldness of the void no diminution of the heat of his passion for her. Whether that love was requited, whether she also loved him was the question that had plagued him from time beyond recollection so that it had become the only remaining obsession. The many tiny companions with him on the journey across the stars chittered happily. He was glad of the company even if they did little to truly aid in continuing his course. He rolled over to get a better view. Yes it was getting closer by the minute. The union with the object of his affection was coming up fast and it would truly be splendid when it arrived.

Despite the intense anticipation of the moment he had a chance to reflect. It had been a very long road indeed and there had been many adventures. The gravitational games he had been required to play to avoid the black hole almost made him laugh now. How close he had come to outright negation seemed something to lighten his spirits now. The time spent dodging around the great planets of the system and their bizarre twists he relished as would any sports enthusiast. The smooth swing and wild outward trip had been exhilarating. Getting lost within the maze of light bent around the curvature of space time has perplexed for ages but in the end it was a truly unique experience.

Continuing to roll he could sense her fringes now. Was she reaching out to embrace him? The heat was beginning to make him sweat at the edges and his companions were all but lost completely within the din. He could just make them out if he looked. They were shining more brilliantly now than at any time since they had begun this trip. He was glad that they shared his enthusiasm for the end of the journey.

She seemed to be shifting in colors as he got closer. Her hues were not the quite the same as he had seen from afar. Clearly she was responding to his presence but what did blue to green and white mean exactly? It was true he did not know any great deal about the object of his desires. He was learning so fast as he got closer. The strange wisps that she had used to envelop him to either side were beginning to tear and his being. The pain was not agonizing but rather ecstatic as a fond embrace enfolded him on all sides. He was within her outstretched embrace now. That she should welcome him so openly and freely must be a positive sign.

His fleet little friends were completely invisible now, lost to the strange clouds that were pouring over everything. The burning sensation continued to increase and so did the proximity of the one he desired. He was slowing slightly but that hardly mattered now. After a journey this long what mattered a few more seconds delay? He rolled onto his back to abate the worst of the pain and looked for a moment back out to the empty wastes he had trod.

Is this burning is a good thing? He wondered. Certainly it was beginning to truly hurt but so had the passion he had felt for so long. It could sear one to the core and how much hotter must she be burning for him if this was the output?

As the roaring noise around him reached a crescendo his skin peeling off in the roiling heat he began to lose coherence. He was sure he could touch her now. The blue of her was a sight to behold. In sheer ecstacy he plunged into her embrace.

The wash of impact impressed even him and he was content. Their union he was sure would produce even greater things in the future and he could live forever with her love.

The impact crater was quite impressive. As a mass extinction was underway the Earth knew that even greater things would erupt out of the chaos in time. So many such lovers had birthed new things upon her in the past and she knew more would continue. She would have it no other way.

The End
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Post March 05, 2011, 07:24:37 PM

Get the Girl Challenge

What You Won’t Do For Love

Mark Edgemon

Bobby Caldwell was a one-woman man. His passionate way of speaking endeared him to his ladylove as it dripped like golden honey from his tongue.

"You are my breath and soul Darlene. I think of you throughout each of my days, of the nights when we lay together, intertwined in each other's arms. You are breathtaking as your raven hair brushes ever so slightly across your bare shoulders, which so arouses my passions. Gorgeous you are and you are mine, my enchanting, dark-haired beauty."

She was his country girl, who waited breathlessly at the end of each day ready to serve and please him. She would often begin by massaging his feet and then gradually her hands would make their way upward giving him a full body massage.

She was perfect and so for that reason, he was committed to Darlene with a bond that signified his undying love. During their 14 year relationship, she had not aged a day...he would not let her.


Bobby Caldwell was a devoted husband and constantly affectionate to his newlywed bride. She loved to hear his pronouncements of love for his words were like the fragrance of sweet smelling flowers after a summer's rain.

" How wonderful a thing that you walked into my life, Sabrina. Your silky golden hair illuminates the aura about you and touches me like no other woman. You are enchantment personified. I love to see your blonde hair brush ever so gently over your bare shoulders. You are my golden-haired retriever..."

"Wait...I can't say that!" he said to himself. "What the hell, I'll start again."

"...You are my golden-haired, afternoon delight..."

"No, that sounds like that stupid pop song."

"...You are my blonde...gorgeous..."

"I can't call her gorgeous, I've already called Darlene that," He said pondering over his next foray into his passionate word crafting.

"You are my...blonde...golden-haired...lovely!"

"I'm tired, so this will have to do," Bobby said to himself looking about the room. "Kathy is coming over with the answer and I've got to get the apartment cleaned up. He mentally book marked his second fantasy, intending to revisit it sometime after Kathy left, unless she stayed the night, which would be exciting to think about.

But with that thought, came a little apprehension. His fantasy women he could control and his sexual performance was always spectacular. In real life, his little friend was not always reliable along those lines.


A half-hour later, there was a knock at the apartment door. She had been his only prospect for marriage. For some reason, no other female who had come into the music store that he had worked at for twenty years was interested in an overweight, slouch who knew every song that had hit the charts since the beginning of time.

He opened the door with a big smile on his face.

"Hey Bobby, what's going on, big guy!" she said as she bounced into the room.

"What does she mean big?" he said to himself. "Does she mean I'm fat? Three hundred pounds is not fat!

"Well, I have an answer," she said looking at him. "Today, you get the girl. Yes, I will marry you!"

"You mean it?" he asked, surprised at his uncharacteristic luck.

She stood up taking his hand and began to lead him back to his bedroom. She walked in pulling her shirt over her head. He longingly stared at her dark red, sanguine hair as it brushed over her bare freckled shoulders.

He began the strenuous task of meeting the expectations he’d set in ten thousand fantasy scenarios. Sex with Kathy wasn’t as enjoyable as he had expected, being too focused on positioning himself so he could see her over his fat stomach.


A silhouette shadowed Kathy's face as she was unpleasantly trying to find a way to back out of the sex and the marriage.

"Darlene, what are you doing?" he exclaimed as he was unintentionally crushing Kathy underneath his behemoth frame.

"You bastard! You promised me your undying love! How dare you betray me by screwing this woman!" Darlene said emerging from Bobby's imagination.

"Dar...lene, my God! How did you...?" Bobby cried in fear and embarrassment.

"And look at you! You envisioned yourself as some handsome, well-to-do gentlemen, but in actuality, you’re nothing but a huge man whore," she said walking to his closet, while Kathy frantically looked around to see who it was he was speaking to. Choosing a twelve iron from his golf bag, she returned to the bedside and raised the club over his obese frame and bashed him across the back of the skull. The blow caused immediate trauma to his cerebellum, skewing his speech and vision as he cried, "Darlene, stop!"

Again she slammed the club to the back of his head causing him to bleed from his eyes onto Kathy’s forehead. Becoming hysterical, Kathy twisted out from underneath him, threw on her blouse and ran like hell out of the apartment with the rest of her clothes tightly clutched in her arms.

Once again, Darlene slammed the club down this time hitting him across the neck, severing his brain stem, killing him instantly. With his life force diminished, Darlene faded from existence. For her, it was worth the price. She would arise again in some other man's fantasy. Maybe next time she would get lucky.

The End
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Post March 05, 2011, 07:26:28 PM

Get the Girl Challenge

- Winner -

Mechanical Error

Michele Dutcher

“Is that the usual color of your skin?”

The Cutlass 24G looked down at his extremities. “Oh, yes. It's called Belgoran Burgundy – an exact compliment to the Mosh green of the Sedna Princess – my original post.” This was as much angst as the doctor had ever heard in the voice pattern of a mechanical. “Will you be able to do anything?”

The doctor smiled slightly, trying not to shake his head. He was sure the robot saw the slight tremor anyway. The human in the white lab coat shoved a hand-held device into his pocket.

“I'm sorry, Cutlass, I truly am.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Forty years to a human is a small chunk of a lifetime – but there have been so many updates to robots that four decades is ancient. You simply weren't supposed to survive this long.”

The robot seemed to straighten-up with pride. “The Cutlass Maximus line was designed as the Supreme of its series. We were the first to be programmed to know, at any given moment, precisely where we are in universal space-time precise to a decimal of 10 to the 24th power. This includes calculations, of course, involving the expanding grids of the known universe.”

“And that is precisely the problem. Even if we set back your computer memory – or wipe it clean completely – your secondary mechanical cluster will override the information in an effort to correct what it sees as a mechanical error.”

“Mechanical Error,” said the robot repeating the phrase with resolve.

“Yes. It is a simple mechanical failure, but we can't do anything about it.” The human took another step towards the G24, into what robots thought of as their 'safe bubble'. “You've logged in over 3600 light-years. If you were a biological, I’d say you lived too large a life.” Doctor Jansen wanted to put his hand on the machine's shoulders, but he knew this would be a huge faux paux, so he waited for the robot to respond. “You could donate your memory tracks to the archives. The tales about your treks could inform future generations about early space exploration – before it became commonplace.”

“I’ve seen the Starsrise of Procyon B & A aboard a ship outbound from Sirius B. I may not have a future, but I will hold on tightly to my past. What symptoms of further physical fatigue can I expect, Doctor Jansen?”

The physician was glad for the question. It showed some resolution by the intelligent processes of the robot. “As you've already experienced, you will feel as if you don't know where you are. That is what brought you here originally, of course.”

“Of course.”

“And you'll lose your desire to ingest energy, simply forgetting to eat, until, finally, you'll just stop in mid-step someday.” The doctor picked up his recording tablet. “I am sorry about our lack of a solution. Good luck.” The doctor left the room.

Cutlass Maximus 24G sat quietly as the medical egg pod rolled forward, depositing him beside a moving sidewalk. He stood there for a moment watching humans, robots, tweaks and androids race past him into their futures.

Suddenly another Cutlass Max whizzed by. 24G was instantly intrigued and took up the chase immediately. From the back, the other robot looked amazing. Her skin was the same color as his, but seemed to shimmer the way his had once shone.

She shot through the city, obviously knowing exactly where she was and where she was going. Maybe there was hope for him after-all. Perhaps she had found the secret to rejuvenation.
Three turns later, she entered an ener-diner and 24G went in after her. He looked around at the other robots who were plugged in, standing in a row along the wall. She was in the back, plugging in and she looked up as he came in.

He moved to her side, in spite of the stares from the others. “Cutlass Maximus 24G at your service, number...”

“17GN. We served together on the...”

“Sedna Princess,” they finished together.

“Are you plugging in?” she asked. He realized he was hungry and took the spot in back of her.

“I apologize, but I don't remember you, 17GN.” He could feel the energy filling his circuits and power pack and he was happier for it.

“In addition to seeing you on the Sedna orbital, I saw you once while passing through the space station on Europa.”

“I was probably on route to Bernard's star.”

“And once at an ener-diner in the Mars Belt.”

“Before I was commissioned to Alpha Proxima...yes, yes. I am surprised you noticed.”

She unplugged and turned to face him, and her eyes were luminous. “I've always been so envious of your travels. I stayed in this star system, and I've journeyed through you vicariously for years.”

He unplugged, glad that he was set for another 21 days. “I'm afraid my traveling has become a two-edged sword.” He motioned towards the doorway and they walked out together.

They stood by the moving sidewalk. “The doctor says I have lived too large, that I've traveled too far.”

“I'd be very interested to hear about your journeys. Let's go to the ArboRotarium and we can talk on the way.”

Maximus 24G looked down and away before answering. “I'm afraid I've lost my way – a symptom of my condition.”

She touched his arm. “Let me help...” she offered.

He smiled, straightening a little. “You know, on the artificial moons of Bernard's star, 'Let me help' is a strict verbal parallel to 'I love you'.

She slipped her hand into his. “That tradition is very close to the truth, 24G.”

As they walked away into a shared future, they both seemed to shimmer.

The End
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Post June 11, 2011, 12:15:46 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge, Pt. 3

The 3rd part of this challenge was to conclude Michele Dutcher's Story, "The Vanishing Stone," from the 1st part of this challenge, and Bill Wolfe's continuation, "Vanishing Returns," from the second part.
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Post June 11, 2011, 12:18:48 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge, Pt. 3

Vanishing’s Vengeance

George T. Philibin

“The village is not far,” Miriam said.

“Lead on then,” Marwolaeth said.

“What be those markings on the back of your jacket?” Miriam said.

“Oh ----the tribe I belong to in the other place,” Marwolaeth said.

In the village, Miriam led them to the Iron Kettle Tavern, and inside Miriam pointed out the town official, who was the Mayor, and his four companions drinking at a table.

Marwolaeth pulled out the small sword; it started pulsating a blue-green light, and that light jumped over to the table and enveloped it under a canopy of plasma, it seemed.

In a shadow and a flash, Marwolaeth, Miriam and the group from the table were standing in the middle of a present day motorcycle gang. The emblems on their jackets and vests were the same as the ones on Marwolaeth’s: Heaven’s Demons MC 1%. No Fear Anywhere.

“What manner of tribe are these,” Miriam asked. The gang‘s leader, Spikes McDonald, with taboos plastered over his arms approached and studied Miriam.

“She’s okay Spikes. She doesn’t know nothin’” Marwolaeth said.

Spikes eyed Miriam up and down, then added, “You’re going to make a fine old lady for someone!”

Spikes turned his attention to the group in the center. The Mayor screamed, “What are these! Where are we? You be before the hangman’s noose for this!! I be an official member of the king’s court and I’ll....”

“Oh shut the hell up you idiot,” Spikes said. Then added, “Don’t you guys know nothing? Old Elvis the King died years ago--- huh!”

Laughter became a roar from the other bikers. Some started dancing around like Mimes holding an invisible noose around their necks. Others just threw beer at the Mayor “You be swinging high for t-t-this treason!” the Mayor said.

Spikes gave a command for everyone to be quiet. All obeyed, except the Mayor who kept blabbering.

Spikes kicked the Mayor in his side then screamed: “What part of shut-up don’t you understand!!”

Spikes looked up at a bright star and pointed to it. “They are our friends. The ET’s or what ever you want to call them. We like to think of them as our--- little-green helpers. You might say our brother that are-- out of this world. Ha, ha!

“See those Homibots belonged to our friends. You guys must have heard “Go at ov’ u’ thousan yars” from one of us when we was bringing back some Coke or Meth. And you clowns thought it something like---“Open Sesame” or some bull-shit like that. It’s a pass word in the alien language. Gets their time-travel system going. We use it to travel back and forth in time to Wales. What you said confused the alien transport system---not enough mass of something, I don’t know I’m no scientist. They have this fail-safe thing that activated to protect Marwolaeth
from having her hands and feet switch or something like that. But it overpowered and damaged the Homibots beyond fixing. Believe me, our friends, the Homerinians were really pissed about that one.”

“I know not what you speak off but the hangman’s noose will find your necks,” the Mayor said.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You won’t believe what’s going to find your necks,” Spikes said. Laughter roared again among the bikers.

“See our friends up there let us go into the past. That’s were we cook our meth, and hide from the feds when things get too hot around here. The feds have no idea that we can hide from them by traveling into yesteryear--- I just saying that. In fact, the club owns the Iron Kettle Tavern in your time. Imagine that! We have the best ale and rum anywhere because we take rum, ale and wines from today back with us! And you idiots love it!

“It was just plan--serendipity- that we ran into our new friends one night years ago. I was taken care of business one night, going to put a bullet in two ass-holes that ratted us out, had them tied up out in the desert, when a flash of light and----- before I knew it--there they stood. The little green men!

“They talked through some radio or something like one and said, ‘We’ve been studying your tribe and believe that we can do mutual business together. You appear as the leader, is that not so?’

“After a little negotiations and a little getting our nerves settled I said: ‘And that is what I always like to here: You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours.’ I then had to explain that expression. They didn’t have it in their translator.

“So we made a deal. I supply them humans, and they supply me with time-travel whenever I need it. I then let them have those two screaming ass-holes to show good faith.

“When we got to know them better, I asked, “Why don’t you just abduct humans yourselves. I heard you guys did that for years?

“They said, ‘It is too difficult and takes too much time for us to acquire the type of humans need. We have special standard and they must be followed. If is far more efficient to hire your tribe to bring us what we need. You always acquire the right species of human and fast too. You have passed our test over and over again.’

“I guess they must have been watching us from up there somewhere, and realized that we know how to take care of business.

“What manner of thing is that?” Miriam screamed.

A disk-shaped object appeared overhead. A beam of light found the Mayor and his companions, and within a moment, they were whisked up to the craft. Spikes was talking into a radio and Miriam heard him say, “Oh, these are freebees----yeah we can get you some full-blooded Germans...Italians? No problem. How many?’

Marwolaeth looked a Miriam and finally said, “Welcome to your new family.”

The End
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Post June 11, 2011, 12:20:17 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge, Pt. 3

Vanishing Act

Bill Wolfe

Miriam huddled in the corner of the dimly-lit Alehouse, terrified to make a sound. Alewife Cadwgan, had run screaming from the room the moment the fighting started. Two men lay bloodied on the floor, and the woman who called herself Marwolaeth, Death, was fighting Gorsedd, the village blacksmith, for her life.

Blows to the throat and head, which had felled Brean and his brother Arawn, bounced harmlessly from Grosedd’s massive and fire-toughened body. Miriam had never seen anyone fight like this She-Demon. She ducked-away from a ham-handed blow from a fist near as big as her head, spun around and kicked his knee, but he didn’t fall.

Gorsedd’s massive iron tankard, that he’d forged himself, lay on the floor before her, dark fresh ale trickling to the rough wooden floor. Miriam felt her fingers grasping the thick handle before her mind was even aware her hand had moved. The Blacksmith’s back was to her.

It was as heavy as a newborn lamb, but Miriam had been lifting lambs all spring. The impact numbed her hands, and seemed to have no effect, at first. Gorsedd just stopped, put his hand to his head and turned toward Miriam. His puzzled look was replaced by a blank stare, as his eyes rolled-back, and his knees buckled. The floor of the Alehouse trembled with the impact of his huge body.

“Thank you, Miriam.” The strange woman bent to pick-up her sword, knocked from her hand by Brean before she had a chance to completely draw it from its scabbard. “I don’t know what happened. They moved so fast.

“I know what happened,” Miriam answered, keeping an eye on the three men still standing, cowering behind the long table. “You came in here demanding to see the scrolls they used for their devilish games. You gave naught a thought that these are men who are unaccustomed to taking anything from a young woman such as yourself; excepting perhaps, her maidenhood. You expected them to treat you like an equal because in your eyes, you are.”

“But not in theirs?”

“’Course not, silly girl. The very thought borders on sacrilege.

“Speaking of sacrilege,” Marwolaeth stepped forward, sword held low and ready. She wouldn’t be taken by surprise, again. “You called for me, and how was I received?”

“We called for ‘ye not, witch!” It was the taller, and best-dressed of the three men who spoke.

In perfect imitation of what Miriam had told her, she quoted:

“Behold! We call upon the messenger of doom to slash with grim delight this victim you hath chosen.”

The men stood in stunned silence.

“Perhaps I am the messenger of doom. Perhaps I am here to reward you as you demanded, but I must see the scrolls from which you read. I must judge your worthiness for the reward you’ve earned.”

The two men glanced from the solitary woman standing before them, and the tall man who had spoken.

“You, what is your name?” She casually pointed her sword at the man, as if it were a soup ladle.

Though his lip trembled, his voice was clear. “I am Prydwen. The scrolls are mine, found by my father at Carywne Castle, two score years ago.”

“An old Roman fortress, I presume. Place them on the table and then back away.” Her sword didn’t look so much like a soup ladle, now.

Inside the leather tube, were three old parchments. Miriam couldn’t read, but she’d seen the Latin letters in The Bible. These scrawlings didn’t look anything like them.

“Damned Plotlemy,” she whispered so low that Miriam wasn’t sure she even heard it. “He must have made copies when he was in charge of the Library, and given some of them to the Romans.”


“Best thing Julius Caesar ever did was to burn down the Library of Alexandria. We haven’t seen a bona fide copy of the Necronomicon, since then. This is a Roman copy of a Greek translation of just a few pages. It was probably made during the reign of Ptolemy Philometor, one of the kings of Egypt, a few centuries before Caesar.”

“You, Prydwen. Are these the only copies? You’ve made no others?”

“I. . .I couldn’t, Ma’am. I tried, but the letters. . .the letters aren’t what they seem.”

“These are not normal words. Did your father ever manage to read them?”

“No, Lady. He did not. But his brother, my Uncle, did.”

“There are more of these pages?”

“Aye, three more. My Uncle Heddwyn, gone now to Brú na Bóinne, in Ireland. He has the other three of the six.”

“Time now for your rewards, gentlemen.” With that, she turned toward Miriam, removed the broach from her cloak, and whispered: “Cover your eyes. Don’t look until I tell you it’s safe.”

Even with her hands clasped over her eyes, Miriam could see a bright flash of light, followed by the sounds of three bodies hitting the floor.

“Not yet,” she heard. “There’s these three to be dealt with.”
There were two more flashes, in quick succession, and then a third.
“It’s okay now. You can look.”

Miriam saw all six men on the floor, the last three without a mark on them.

“Are they. . .are they dead?”

“No child. These men are merely fools, playing with something dangerous. They will awaken with no memory of tonight, and without the scrolls, they are simply fools, once again.”

“Miriam. I must go to Ireland. I’ll need a guide.”

“It’s clear you don’t understand this land or its ways, my Lady.”

“My name, Miriam. What is the name of the babe you brought to the Stone?”

“The babe was Eswen. It means Strong One.

“Eswen. I like that. And Miriam, when we’ve dealt with the Uncle, and recovered the scrolls. There are more Stones in Ireland. And some of those, still work. If you’ve a mind, I can show you more of God’s Creation than you can ever imagine.”

“In your own words, Eswen. . .Lead On!"

The End
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Post June 11, 2011, 12:21:49 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge, Pt. 3

Vanishing Stone III

Michele Dutcher

Eva stood in the lobby of the visitor's center in Wenvoe Wales, staring at the pair of meter-high skeletons on display.

“There were three of them originally,” said the curator, coming up behind her. “The third is on display at University.” The fifty-something man offered his hand to the woman in greeting. “Jeffery Lyons at your service.”

“Eva Vaughan.”

“I was told you'd be coming in.”

“Were you able to find something then?”

“With the information you sent me, and after due searching, I believe it's possible you are a descendent of Edward Vaughan – or in Welsh form, Iorwerth Fychan. I don't usually meet with genealogy seekers, but your case intrigued me. I believe you may have a connection with this very display, in fact.”

“I'd love to hear more, Mr. Lyons. Please – lead on.”

The curator led her to a small library near the back of the center, to a leather-bound book - perhaps one foot by 20 inches high. He put on white cotton gloves, and began turning the pages. “In 1327 Iorwerth Fychan was present at the siege of Caerphilly Castle. You can see it here - Iorwerth Fychan's name, in both Welsh and English.”

“Fascinating!” exclaimed Eva, bending over the page.

“The interesting part is still forthcoming, I assure you.” He pulled out a drawer from a flat chest in the corner, placing some loose, vellum papers on the table. “It appears that Iorwerth was the ancestor of two women, Miriam Fychan and Marwolaeth Fychan. On this page it says that Marwolaeth seemed to grow from a baby into a woman in one dreadful night.”

“I don't understand.”

“I don't blame you,” smiled Jeffery. “In the 1300s Wales was hit with four harvest failures and a sheep disease called Rinderpast – which took a terrible toll on the herds. In just three generations, the population of Wales slipped from 300,000 to fewer than 200,000.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Miriam seems to have done the unthinkable.” The curator pointed to the text. “On the evening of the 13th of June in the year of our Lord, 1378, the woman Miriam Fychan took an infant girl to the Cairn in Tinkinswood, to the stone of Vanishing, to make her disappear.” Jeffery looked at Eva. “The text continues here – but much of it is illegible – there's something about three fairies – ergo the skeletons out front.”


He drew out another page from the stack. “In the early morning hours, two women of the clan Fychan walked into towne from the direction of the Cairn. The younger woman shouted in the voice of a thousand devils as she came. 'I have been summoned from the Void, having crossed the eternal Gulf with my fairies, to seek vengeance upon those men who sent me into the outer blackness. Goat of a thousand eyes, thou unnamed but always present, come forth through the space between the stars and serve me now!'”

“I don't believe in that sort of thing,” whispered Eva.

“The Church of England did – enough to have a Bishop write it down so the warning tale would never be forgotten. There was a young priest inside the church who gives his testimony on this page. He calls it the night of a thousand screams. Upon being awakened from a deep sleep, I heard the wind begin to howl and roar, with thunder pealing from the sky with such violence that I thought perhaps my Lord Jesus was returning to claim his own, so I swung wide the church door. Instead, I saw a woman - with a sword lifted to the stars - being carried towards the town on a sea of vile spirits blacker than the densest of inks. The darkest of these minions raced into the square, rattling the doors of townspeople as though to tear them off their hinges. There was a woman with her – Miriam whom I knew – and these women Fychan were followed by a horror as tall as a mountain that seemed to stumble as it came, obviously not being common to this world. As the townspeople hid and shook within their meager homes, a few elders were pulled from their homes by the beast's tentacles that grasped the men, breaking them in half before trampling them beneath its weight, pieces of their bodies being absorbed into the horror's slimy mass. The massacre continued by the savage beast as if its hunger for blood-soaked flesh would never be satisfied. Finally, I beheld the woman herself, with glowing eyes, sword in hand vowing to return when the stars once again aligned. She was then pulled by the monster into a rift as the heavens flashed red with forks of lightning.”

The quiet man stepped away from the pages and looked at Eva.

“Am I the descendent of this death woman?”

The curator chuckled slightly. “No, no – Miriam, the Aunt, went on to have six children of her own – some of the descendents migrating to Canada – from which your line comes.”

“Could I have a copy of the text?”

“I'll send it to you digitally – just leave your email address. Perhaps you'd like to visit the megalith on your way out of town?”

“In fact, I found it myself on my way in. I got lost and simply chanced upon it.”

“Well, I'm pleased to have finally met a Fychan woman – I can sense your strength and resolve. Miriam would have been proud – and the sword-wielding Marwolaeth as well.”

As Eva was leaving the visitor's center, she passed once again through the display area, stopping a moment before the small skeletons. “Well done, loyal friends, well done,” she whispered before stepping out the door.

The End
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Post June 11, 2011, 12:24:17 PM

The "Leftovers" Challenge, Pt. 3

- Winner -

Sons of Angels

Mark Edgemon

The sword that hung around Marwolaeth's waist began to ring in a piercing, high-pitched tone, vibrating as her hand touched its hilt. She fingered the pommel in anticipation.

Suddenly, the ground began to rumble and quake. Marwolaeth spoke pulling the angelic sword from its sheath, "It's too late, Miriam! We stand and fight or die!”

Boulders began to fall as the mountainside split into. Flames leapt out from crevasses newly formed in the rocks licking the stones in every direction.

The women gasped as they observed shadowy figures emerging from the breach. Foul smelling beasts, winged creatures with hideous, translucent, dark gray skin walked into the night air, cinders blowing off their glowing phosphorescent bodies as they emanated from the chasms where they were held captive. The beasts were tall measuring ten feet in height with a wingspread of fifty yards or more.

"Back!" Marwolaeth cried unto the oncoming horde with sword raised above her head, whose blade now transformed into four feet of pure light, slightly blinding the minions as they poured from the abyss. "Know your place and go back or..."

"Is The Most High sending a woman to speak for him?" Mortacci spoke towering over the prophetess in a derisive tone.

He was the strongest of the immortals, a race forged by the union of angels and mortal women when the earth was new; now sealed these millennia in the dark chasms near the Earth’s core. It was the Lord Himself who sentenced the sons of angels to this fate. Their angelic fathers had taken women from the children of men for their pleasure and were cursed for their transgression. The angels who sired them were commended into Lucifer’s charge.

Mortacci taunted Marwolaeth in a low, vile voice; "You have not the power, prophetess to forbid the sons of angels from taking their rightful place as rulers of the earth."

As she began to speak, she noticed a light exploding once again in the night sky. The object appeared for a moment to streak across the heavens like a shooting star then transfigured behind the two women taking the form of an angel clothed in light.

"Xio'rethiel, archangel of The Lord God," Marwolaeth gasped, as she knelt, feeling his strong hand against her shoulder blade.

"Arise daughter of God, you have been prepared for this very night," the archangel spoke, endowing Marwolaeth with confidence and stillness of spirit. “And you too were chosen Miriam, servant of the Most High,” the angel added. Miriam pondered his words.

Repulsed by the light of the archangel’s form, the mutant offspring flew into the night thundering the sky with the sound of their wings.

The minions descended swiftly on the first village along their path, ripping apart the flesh of the men who ran from them in terror. These were the men who had worshipped the very same creatures unknowingly and had taken the infant from Miriam’s arms only an hour earlier.

With haste, the archangel translated himself and the two women to the village in the wake of the sons of angel’s destruction.

As the legions blanketed the night sky, the Spirit of the Lord spoke through Xio'rethiel to Miriam saying, "Beloved daughter, commit your heart to me."

Miriam remained still and spoke into the air, "Aye my Lord as you command, I am yours!”

Marwolaeth raised her sword toward the sky and shouted, "You are forbidden access you vile creatures of damnation! It is The Lord who forbids you; yes the Lord is His name! Back to the fiery depths you go until your time of judgement is at hand!"

Unexpectedly, she struck the ground with her sword of light and as she did, the earth began to crack open causing a terrible quake.

The archangel lifted the two women high into the air so they could watch the battle unfold in safety beneath them.

Miriam, being held firmly in the angel’s arm shouted into the night, "Ye messengers of destruction, I stay your wings in the name of The Lord!"

As she spoke, the horde of evil offspring began plummeting toward the earth, as the Lord's angelic host appeared, binding them as they fell. The angels escorted the swarm that only a moment ago blanketed the skies into the newly formed canyon in the Earth made by Marwolaeth’s sword. The fumes from the pit engulfed the sons of angels as if reaching out for them with dark hands of smoke, pulling them inside. Straightaway, the opening in the ground sealed itself by hands unseen.

Once the opening was sealed, the archangel translated himself and the women back to the place where it had all began. The opening in the mountainside had been entombed by the falling rock, sealing the sons of angels within unto the time of perdition. The vanishing stone now lay in ruins.

The Lord commanded Xio'rethiel to set around the barricaded entrance a garrison of invisible sentinels who had been given flaming swords, which turned every direction to bar the evil ones from again enter the natural plane.


Wenvoe Wales
March 27th; 2013

Burbain’s Tavern On a Busy Wednesday Afternoon

“How are you going to celebrate the holiday of Xio'rethiel’s deliverance?” McGeevis Burbain the tavern keeper inquired of one of his waitresses.

“Yeah, isn’t the holiday about the day the archangel saved the world from destruction? It’s pretty much a myth,” John O’Malley declared, who was one of the tavern’s regular patrons.

“I’d like to hear her take on it,” McGeevis said to his pretty dark haired barmaid as she walked over to him while counting her tips.

Miriam placed a tray of empty glasses down, smiling first at her new boss, then at Marwolaeth, who was pouring a pint for O’Malley. She slowly glanced upwards with joy in her expressive face and said, “We all have our own way of honoring that day! As for me, I will never forget it!”

The End
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Post June 11, 2011, 12:35:35 PM

"The Knowing" Challenge

The challenge was tell the story of the first sentient connection with a disappointed symbiont.
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Post June 11, 2011, 12:37:02 PM

"The Knowing" Challenge


Michele Dutcher

“I was dreaming that I leading a small child across a field of flowers,” said the 60-something woman, reclining on the invisible couch.

“Have you seen this child before? Do you know her?”

“No, no. The child had long, spider legs – like a tweak.”

“I understand,” said the psychiatrist, leaning forward a little to listen better. “Go on.”

“This child and I were walking somewhere to buy a dress for some kind of festival.” The woman looked over at the doctor, barely moving her head.

“There’s no reason to go any further, Mrs. Simians. You’re probably having a reaction to the implantation. Sometimes the intestinal parasite is close enough to the spinal column to pass over memories from its previous owner. It’s not common, but it’s not unheard of either.”

“Thank you doctor,” said the woman looking tired. “Can I go now. I’d like to go home.”
“Just let me wave your son in. He’s been eager to see you.”

A young man in strikingly good health stuck his head through the wall and the wall became transparent. “Is she okay, doctor? She seemed so upset.”

The man in the white coat smiled gently. “She’ll be fine. Sometimes it takes a while for the host and the symbiont to balance each other. Right now the parasite may be having trouble within its new environment. Sometimes the solution is as easy as feeding it foods it’s familiar with.”

The mother snarled at her son as he approached her. “I never wanted that thing inside me.”

“You’ll live longer with it – and be in better health as well.”

“The doctor sat down on a metal stool between them. “Intestinal parasites evolved step by step with humans. We believed that the spotlessness of space would keep us healthy, but orbitals like the Mystic may be a bit too clean. The reintroduction of a symbiotic parasite that has been harvested from a tweak may keep you strong for another sixty years.” The doctor crossed his arms as though certain he had made his point.

“It’s that part, the harvesting that…” The pain was instantaneous, as the woman grabbed her mid-section before buckling over. As she began to pass-out she could hear her son lunge towards her, screaming for assistance.

Merna was dreaming again. She had seen the greenhouses of Sedna in holos, but she was inside of them now. As she looked straight up, she could see a brilliant star called Sol, surrounded by colored, crescent lights. Her true home was there, circling a red crescent.

She looked down and her arms and legs were spider-like as they went about their daily work, tending to the fields of vegetation. She was male. In the near-distance another spider-like creature looked at her and smiled. She could feel the contentment of the symbiont inside her. A musical phrase sounded and all the tweaks in the field began to move forward, heading toward the feeding rooms where they would eat a midday meal. Taking the hand of the female, Merna noticed the tweak was pregnant.

“Mom, can you wake up? Can you hear me?”

“We need to get her into surgery Christopher. The symbiont is rejecting her – she’ll die if we don’t get it out of her now.”

“Mom, I’ll see you after the surgery.”

Within the offices of Applesoft, two middle-management employees were getting ready to go home.

“We received another report of a symbiont rejecting its host. This time on Mars.”

“That’s the third one this month. What the heck happened this time?”

“Same thing – the symbiont would rather have stayed inside the tweak it was harvested from.”

The aging employee pushed his fingers through his hair in frustration. “But the tweaks are just the Bio-engineered property we grow the symbionts in. Genetically engineered things that we sustain until the parasites are viable for harvest.”

Earl looked at Charley while turning off his console. “I think it’s the fact that these creatures have families on Sedna – mates and children they care about. The symbionts pick up on that – and rebel against killing the hosts and being transplanted.”

“Excellent! Let’s make it policy that the offspring are immediately and permanently separated from their parents after they’re dropped. The tweaks will have no illusion that they are anything more than Applesoft property. Problem Solved. We could even feed them less, so the symbionts will be happier in their new hosts.”

“Seems a little heartless, to me,” mumbled Earl.

“We’ll both get a promotion for figuring this one out, my friend,” shouted Charley, slapping Earl on the back in triumph.

The End
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Post June 11, 2011, 12:38:58 PM

"The Knowing" Challenge

One Small Voice

George T. Philibin

Is fate carved in stone? Or is fate the BMW
of eternity and time its fuel? Who knows?

“I’ve always been there for you,” a voice said to Charles.

Who’s there!” Charles said.

“I’m your other one,” the voice said.

“My other --what!” Charles said.

“The one that tried to teach you things and look out for you. Like the time the other boys wanted you to play fire-escape tag on the back of Franklin Elementary School. Remember that? You listened to me then, didn’t you. That day, Tommy Martin fell off the top handrail and split his head open on the asphalt three floors down, he died a week later. Remember that day?” the voice said.

“I didn’t feel like playing!” Charles said. “Who the hell am I talking to?” He looked around, nobody was there.

“Of course you didn’t feel like playing. I was the one that made you feel that way. That was the only way I could talk to you until now,” the voice said.

“What are you?” Charles said. “Whata you mean talk to me now!” Charles spun around, nobody there.
“You can hear me now. You can hear me because all you have now is your thoughts, and all I have now is my persistence. And after all these years, all these times I’ve helped you, all these times you’ve ignored your feelings, you can now hear me. Maybe I’ve always helped you because I feel that I am of the female persuasion. Hah, now I’m the one that’s going to get hurt. How-I-Hate-You!

“This time you really did it! Got into a fight because----some dude disrespected you! And, in front of all your buddies you had to show them how tough you were, didn’t you? What the hell’s the use of talking to you? What the hell’s the use? Why did this happen to me? And why do you always ignore your feelings----when you know they‘re right almost all the time? Why?” the voice said. “How I hate you! How I hate what you’ve done to me! How I hate you...it’s not fair! It’s not right! ---I should be able to get away!”

I’m going crazy, Charles thought. Are ghosts lingering here? Is God talking to me ---or what? He froze, but felt hot. He slowly turned around in a circle and studied everything within sight. Nobody. He peeped out into the corridor again: Vacant and soundless.

A cold sweat formed on Charles’s brow; then sweat beads started bumping into each other like billiard balls meeting on a pool table. One moved only when hit by another. Then that one would shoot off down Charles’s brow and fall either on his shirt, which was becoming soaked, or it would hit the floor. One or two found one of his eyes, then tears would try to rinse out the salt.

“I’ve been with you most of your life,” the voice said. “Yet, you never ever heeded me after grade school. But, then again how could you?” the voice said.

“How could I what!” Charles said.

“You never looked inward, or prayed, or sat silent by a park or stream enjoying the solitude that a nice sunny day can bring--- to be alone with your thoughts. Always you ran with the crowd, chased girls but not for love--drinking, drugs, staying up all night and leaving home because your parents didn’t understand you! Hah, what a joke you are, and what an unlucky thing I am. I live in you!

“I understood you, you chose to do exactly what you wanted, even if you felt it was wrong. You’ve ignored yourself, Charles, ignored yourself, ignored your parents, and you’ve ignored me!

“Ignored myself? Ignored myself! That’s bull shit! Hear me whatever you are,” Charles said. “I’m going nuts! Hear me! This is Crazy! ....”

The voice inside Charles usually didn’t sense much, but today Charles’s heart beat like it were pumping water back up Niagara Falls. Charles’s blood generally like a brook flowing leisurely between its banks, now sounded like a tsunami rushing forth and feeding on its own sound as it approached the unsuspected. And Charles’s breathing, short but quick, deep but shallow, and hot but icy, united with the others, and once together the world in which the voice lived became a thunderstorm, growing in intensity and reverberating as if it were striking inside Carnegie hall, repeatedly.

The voice screamed, but only Charles could hear it, and the screams bounced back and forth within Charles’s skull until Charles‘s head couldn‘t hold another sound: “I can’t stand it any more! I can’t stand it anymore...Please stop....”------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Warden Hoover led his staff down the corridor and stopped in front of Charles’s cell. Charles managed to look up.

The Warden studied Charles for an moment and Charles studied the Warden--- both staring at one another but not on equal terms.

“Guard, open up cell number 696,” Warden Hoover said.

The iron door slid open; Warden Hoover stepped into the cell’s doorway and stopped. He held the court order and read the following: “Charles Parks, you have been sentenced to death...by electrocution for the beating death of one Richard Keith. Sentence will be carried out at 12:01 A.M.

“Guards, escort inmate Charles Parks to the holding cell until execution time.”

The guards had no trouble getting Charles out. And once out in the corridor, Charles grabbed his head with his hands and starting screaming “Stop, please stop --I can’t take it----Stop!”

However, Charles didn’t resist the guards,and they didn’t have to manhandle him; he walked with them obediently. Yet, he kept screaming “Stop! Quit it... Stop...” which confused the guards. Why would someone scream stop, yet continue without being forced?

Charles kept screaming “Stop, Stop, Stop” and the guards kept exchanging light-pale expressions with each other and with the Warden, whenever he glanced back.

Lights Out

The End
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Post June 11, 2011, 12:41:00 PM

"The Knowing" Challenge


Lester Curtis

The flight doctor was so perturbed.

"Dammit, Alice, we were very specific about first contact with aliens." He showed me the scan image -- again -- as if I could decipher what it was he saw there. "This isn't your DNA. It isn't even human DNA. So, how do you explain it? And don't tell me it was something you ate, either."

I guess I looked pretty foolish hemming and hawing in front of him.

"It was . . . they -- they said it was a greeting ceremony. Okay? A handshake is all -- but I had to take my gloves off for it, or they'd be offended . . . "

"Right. And I'm the Easter bunny. You had sex with one of them, didn't you?"

My ears were about to burst into flame, I swear. I hemmed and hawed some more and looked away. "Well -- he was kinda cute, with those big eyes and all . . . hell, doc, it's a five-nines Earth-normal planet, and I knew I couldn't get pregnant . . . I mean . . . "

"Well, congratulations, you're not pregnant. You're infested with something, and we don't even know what it is!"

"Well, I don't know why this is such a big deal, I mean, I feel great, everything's fine . . . couldn't you just give me a shot for it?"

"No, I can't give you a shot for it! It's incorporated itself into your nervous system, for Chrissakes! I couldn't kill it without killing you!" He huffed in disgust. "You're confined to base until further notice. Report back for checkup again tomorrow."

I took that as my dismissal and went to my quarters.

I really felt bad about the whole thing. I mean, getting this -- whatever-it-was, was bad enough, but that poor little guy -- I mean, he just died in my arms right there, the moment he finished. I couldn't bring myself to tell the doc about that. And then the others just picked up his body and carried it off like it was yesterday's newspaper or something. Some greeting ceremony that was. 'Welcome to Glixporf, we're dying to do you!' I had to laugh, as sad as it was.


Deities on fire, what have I done? Ten thousand generations of ancestors are humiliated! Where was my self-control? 'You're mature now,' they said, 'go find a nice new host.' And I have to wind up in this thing? I wonder if I can kill myself . . . it doesn't even have decent senses . . . and this body is so clumsy and inefficient . . . it has to eat three times a day! I just know the others talked me into this as a practical joke. They never liked me much, anyway. But . . .

. . . these things did make it into space, all the way to our world, without any help . . . and now I'm on their home-world -- I think . . . maybe I can manage here -- but, gods, I don't even have time to grow up with this thing; it's already mature . . . can't change that now; I'll just have to -- no, it's unthinkable. I can't. I just can't.

I'll just have to do what I can.


Second day home, and -- I can't figure it out, I'm just -- confused . . . so many thoughts in my head, and they don't feel like mine . . . like, when did I ever care about tensor calculus or organic chemistry? I suddenly understand why our ships can't go any faster . . . damn, if they just changed that thing in the engine -- I don't even know the name of it -- we could do the Earth-to-Mars run in 7.492674857578 hours, corrected for -- hell, I can even see the course in my head -- Mars is in conjunction now . . . doc's not gonna believe this . . . I've gotta talk to the physicist . . .


I can't stand this! These creatures actually make war with each other! But I found a concept in this one -- that everything happens for a reason -- I know that's a violation of known physical principles, but maybe if I take it as a point of philosophy . . . like it or not, and as revolting as it is, I think I'm stuck here -- which means -- ewww -- this has got to be our new host species . . . and I have to vector through their reproductive system . . . there's hope, though, if I can start fresh with a new one . . .


Honest to God, I don't know what's come over me . . . I really did mean to talk to the Professor about all these notions in my head, about spacetime, and new star-drives, but -- God, I'm so embarrassed . . . I didn't mean to tear his clothes off . . .

The End
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Post June 11, 2011, 12:42:17 PM

"The Knowing" Challenge

I AM ?

Richard Tornello

When Sam was young he studied philosophy. He thought he wanted to be a priest, later a Rabbi, and then he didn’t know. He was a free spirit and the basic structure and strictures of those mythologies pushed him away. Disillusioned, he abandoned the enlightenment quest, ignored his nagging desire for a deeper understanding of life, and became instead, a high priest, worshiping at the alter of sex, drugs, cars, motorcycles and money. Then one day, rereading some Zen commentaries, coupled with three hits of acid, his life changed.

Sam thought to himself, I know I have faults, but now, I feel as if a door opened.


I’d been meditating for decades attempting among other things, to resolve the conundrum of this thing that I call, “I AM”. When I tried to put my finger on this “I AM”, it was like trying to grasp a shadow. I AM not there. So, the question arose, is this me, this “I AM”, the same me that was me a second ago, a year ago, ten years ago, or even tomorrow? The memories continue, and even those are questionable. I’m certainly not the boy of five or ten or the man of thirty. To look at it another way: the energy of the flame, the energy of the fire, as it burns, is it the same flame through time? So who or what is this thing that I can’t put my finger on, that I call me?

Through practice, and through the guidance of the learned ones before me, I, (very funny since I do not know this I of whom I speak), have glimpsed at another realm that may shed light on this question. The door appears to open a microsecond between the phases of “just before sleep takes over from wakefulness”. At that very spot, it might be revealed. My guess is, being able to hold to that spot, unmoved and unmoving in time and space, will be a key and a route to an understanding of what IT all is.


As I entered, and instead of the expected visions, remembering the acid trips, I saw nothing but gray. I heard a voice clear as a bell.

This voice said, “Hello Sam, I’ve been expecting you. Yes, you have it. That time between awake and sleep IS the open gate. Now, through meditation you finally broke through to this first level. After years of backsliding we can finally meet. Not all can do it. It takes work, congratulations. The guides who have been there before you have left a variety of instructions and paths. Most humans ignore, misinterpret or misuse the knowledge. Before we go on, let me make this reality crystal clear.

“First and foremost, I am your symbiont and without my presence, you, as you think you know yourself, are not.

“Second, your socialization patterning has many words for our existence none of which match our all pervasive reality. One of the terms your kind use includes soul, which is a highly developed metaphysical falsehood that you all cling to, desperately. Other concepts held are: ego, muse, guardian angels, and gods with other such mysterious nonsense. Don’t even argue with me on those points.

“Third, you are a sentient creature, as are all down to the quark level, and as I suggested, without our presence you are not much more than any other self aware, predatory animal. We are the ones who attempt, none to well in your case, to give direction to your lives and bring you up above the base level of existence.

“Let me give you a quick idea of what we are. We are a type of energy that remains in this form through and outside every expansion and collapse of this universe. We exist on many levels throughout and beyond the infinities of time.

“As symbionts, we do not choose our companions. As one sentient dies, we get reassigned to anything from an amoeba to human. Our jobs, is to lead, guide, whatever you want to call it, within the mental capabilities of that sentient. Presently, I have you.

“We show up about a year after your birth. From there we invade your dreams, poking, prodding, whispering, and in your case, shouting into that receptor you insist is a thinking brain. Your brain can pick up more than light and sound. Your type of animal generally ignores that region of development for reasons we symbionts still cannot fathom.

“Look at what you did before, the mental power you had, and mental training begun, and the opportunities for true understanding you simply threw away. It was wasted, all wasted. Then, I had to start over with the guidance, hinting, whispering, and shouting at you. Sometimes I wished you had died.

“You heard something that’s for sure, but then you ignored me, like most of your kind. You’re thick, pigheaded, warlike and ignorant of the ways of the universe. You and your kind think you’re the only ones that matter; worst of all, in your hubris, you think you’re the only ones that exist!

“Now is not the time to deny all I’ve just communicated. I’m just as stuck with you as you are with me. This has not been a fun trip. Every time you get a grasp, a chance to move forward, you’ve blown it!”

I might be crazy. I thought I heard the voice sigh.

“Sam,” it continued, “ you’ve begun, again. I don’t even want to count how many revolutions around this star have you undertaken just to get your foot in the door? You’ve got a few left. Let’s work on this together. I think, I hope, we can take this further.

“Sam, there’s no point in kidding, and personally, I have my doubts regarding your success.

“I hope I’m assigned a dog or cat next.”

After a bit, I finally replied “Oh really? I’m sure I can find this door again without you. Thanks for the boat ride.”

The End
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Post June 11, 2011, 12:43:12 PM

"The Knowing" Challenge

Space Pilot's Licence

Sergio Palumbo

The space flowing around the starship’s hull,the colorful stars running endlessly, the brightness of the planets’s surface as his huge vessel went near and past every system along the selected route he had to follow today.
Daw’s skinny face was full of those spectacular things, his awareness completely enveloped with such wonderful sceneries.All that was possible only thanks to the Gubn symbiont, an alien from a planet positioned 100 light years away from Earth.
Since he was a dark-haired slender child, Daw had always been wishing to become a space pilot, working aboard one of the gigantic starships Earth had been allowed to build since it had entered the Interplanetary Alliance. But, in order to accomplish it, every human -- once appropriately trained for space flight- had to undergo a special procedure: his brain needed to be modified/implanted with an alien symbiont from the Gubn people, who were the only appointed space pilots’ symbionts living within the entire Alliance.
Indeed, no other species was able to make faster-than-light space travel without the help of a symbiont: every Gubn --exteriorly a sort of decahedron- shaped floating energy…-- looked capable of residing in one pilot’s brain, he was allowed to open the links connecting two jumpoints in space and make the interplanetary travel possible.There were no other means to do that, the human mind was not enough —- by itself -- to get it nor the complicated computers created by men( or any other alien species within the Allliance, for sure…).
Of course, every starship needed to be well designed, thoroughly reinforced, and all the space pilots had to wear a special suit which could protect themselves from faster-then-light speed or deceleration.That said, only technology did not suffice to travel across the galaxy.
Daw,35 years old now, had been training hard on the Moon, until he had entered the Interplanetary Space Program that was the legal way to get the essential Space Pilot’s licence, necessary to lead a starship.
At his current age, the man had been travelling for 10 years along with-- and thanks to-- the alien symbiont inside his mind.
Gubn representatives didn’t need a human body to travel to the stars, on the other hand such a relationship allowed them to feel, hear, see the same way the hosts they were inside while moving across the galaxies.It was like living another life other than their own existence, nothing was better than that, according to them, the outdated way of space travel they were used to in the ancient times before joyning (and creating) the Interplanetary Alliance seemed valueless in comparison to the present days…
Daw had always been very happy because he was a space pilot, but lately he had become very sad, too: he knew that his alien symbiont was weak,a very rare illness had started damaging his neuronal strength.The man was well aware that he had to be taken away from his brain soon.These were the rules in such unpredictable cases.
Unfortunately, every Gubn could live only inside a single alien pilot at a time and, as the host’s mind had undergone some deep changes when occupied for the first time from the symbiont, Daw wasn’t going to be allowed to have any other alien inside afterwards…so, the end of space flights for his Gubn meant that he, too, had to stop travelling on board…
Thl, the Gubn sharing some of Daw’s thoughts, knew that his next separation had to be done in order to prevent his host from receiving some damages.Actually, the alien illness wasn’t lethal to a human pilot,but could endanger his mind, forcing him to stay away from any occupation aboard,simply by incapacitating him.
He knew all that was very painful for Daw, but staying longer inside him could make things even worst day by day: so, he had better do what he had to as soon as possible…
Anyway, as he shared his human host’s thoughts, he understood what he was planning…
So, the last working day, as Daw’s starship landed on Mars spaceport and the man got off for the last time, Thl had already figured out everything…
The same night, the Gubn was still inside his mind when the human went to the spaceport’s far recesses and furtively boarded an old starship meant to be demolished over the following months, watching him work attentively to put all the systems online, then sat at the control desk in his spacesuit, ready to take off.
-What do you plan to do, Daw…?- the Gubn asked mentally-I’ve been too long inside your brain not to see this…-
-Certainly, I couldn’t deceive you…-
-You know,if I stay in your brain any longer, I can damage you, unwillingly,because of my illness…-
-I’ve always been wishing a Space pilot’s Licence.Now I don’t want to lose it, I couldn’t resist!I’ll never be grounded at this age, not yet…-
-The same about me, I’m too young to cease living, but what can I do?For me, too, the loss of space travel isn’t something easy…-
-Your species had been accustomed to space travel for centuries! On the contrary, it’s a recent conquest for Mankind.About me, such a loss would be disconcerting as…-
-…as the end of a beautiful dream, I know…-
-You see what I feel!-
-But, most likely, you’ll die…-
-So be it, but I’ll fly in space until my last days…-
“Same feelings than mine…” Thl considered-So…what’s the course heading this time?- he asked finally, uncomplaining.
-Second star to the left, right into it…- he stated-To boldly go where no one has gone before!-
-That will be a hell of an ending…- Thl said, amused.

The End

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