300 WORD CHALLENGE -- number 2 -- VICTORY TO TJ!!

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Teresa Edgerton

Goblin Princess
Staff member
Nov 1, 2004
THE CHALLENGE: To write a story in 300 words or less

Inspired by the image provided below, and in the genre of
Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Speculative fiction

Only one entry per person

All stories Copyright 2011 by their respective authors, who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here.

This thread will be closed until July 10 -- as soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story

Entries may be posted no later than July 31, 2011 at 11:59 pm GMT

Voting will close August 15, 2011 at 11:59 pm GMT

(unless moderators choose to make an extension based on the number of stories)

You do not have to enter a story to vote. In fact, we encourage all Chronicles members to read the stories and vote for their favorites.

You may cast three votes

For a further explanation of the rules see here
Rules for the Writing Challenges


Three months of Glory and Adulation!
Your story posted on the SFFChronicles home page and added to the 300 Word Challenge Roll of Honor
A book of your choice, up to the price of £10 GBP, from The Book Depository


Image copyright 2010 Shawn Weixelman.

Perpetual Man

Tim James
Jun 13, 2006


It slipped through his fingers, an accident.

It just slipped.

Falling to the hard floor where it shattered in a tinkle of glass, a splash of silver fluid droplets that fell across cold tiles.

Invisible to the naked eye, the nanobots the liquid contained activated as they had been programmed to.

Hungry, on a subatomic level they consumed the world, rebuilding atoms, protons and electrons, restructuring reality in other forms. Micro-cybernetic siblings, that swarmed, consumed, spreading outward as they multiplied, individually invisible; combined, a wave of relentless change.

In the heart of the old city a cold star ignited, a brilliant shaft piercing the shifting clouds of a dark evening sky as the children of the broken phial erupted forth in a wave of consummation and alteration.

Buildings did not fall, structures did not collapse, rather they transformed as though the breath of some deity blew through them. Hard edges softened, aesthetically more pleasing to the eye; crooked roads straightened, the vehicles that transversed them blossomed into beautiful creations passing through twilight like mythical creatures.

With a crescendo like an angels choir, the city was reborn, a thing of wonder, changing the grey clouds into a rainbow of reflected luminescence, pulsing in time to the metropolis’ heart below.

Bullet trains racing along lines of light; planes becoming birds of grace that filled the night with the thrum of unimagined design.

Fingers of crystal and steel raised out of the mountains, arcing over the world below, housing for the masses.

And yet...

And yet...

Unfinished, no consideration had been given to flesh and blood. As transmutation slipped through the city with divine grace, all was swept before it, as it reached out across the world, man, animal bird and insect were consumed. Not even a skeleton remained.

Aun Doorback

Your place is magic
Mar 11, 2011
In a parallel existence Aun works as an Asset mana

Paradise Re-booted

As I press my face against the glass and feast upon the dazzling view outside, I cannot help but feel disappointment.
‘Is everything OK?’ A beautiful woman stands next to me, wearing a chiffon dress that draws my eyes to its transparent nature
‘Is this heaven?’ I ask.
‘Yes’, she replies. Her voice soothes me. ‘You can see from here the geyser of calling, shinning up from the centre of the sacred city. Gabriel calls it’s the Old Geezer!’ She grins.
I glance back out of the window. We pass an avenue of huge monoliths, dark against the sky.
‘It seems so..’
‘Science fiction’.
‘Its been upgraded’. She hands me a glass of sparkling light.
‘ We’re at version 10.4 with all the latest deities and fourteen extra scenarios including the war in heaven gold edition and the battle of Ragnarok, playable from either side now. We’ve just gone past the Siddhartha tower, recently expanded to include a thirty second plane of existence’. She lights a cigar, exhaling a sweetened smoke.
‘Thank God for the new servers, the power that those Devas kick out, borders on the criminal’
Our vessel descends, aligning us to a line of blue energy, drawing us towards the Old Geezer.
‘You were expecting version one weren’t you? The one with the clouds and beards?’ She shakes her head. ‘I’ve always said, leave that old manual down on earth and customer expectations will remain low. Look-’ She kisses me on the forehead, it feels like fire. ‘-You’ll still be backward compatible with all ancestors from the last century. Anything beyond that and you’ll need an Angel converter and it might be a bit two dimensional’
The vessel stops.
‘Enjoy’, she says.

The door opens, engulfing me in white light

Susan Boulton

The storyteller
Mar 15, 2006

Walking on broken glass. (Apologies to Annie Lennox :eek:)

I watch the harsh light of the transit beam through my window. It shimmers through the haze of smog. It’s trying so hard to reach the surface, but it doesn’t. Like me it is cut off at the knees before the clock on the wall hits eight.

I count the steps from the window. How many slivers under my feet in those few paces to the cigarettes on the table? How many enter my hand as I reach out for the packet? The effort of lighting one leaves me gasping for air, air the smoke tries to deny me, but hell, the bitter-sweet haze will stop the shaking. The second drag is not at bad as the first. With the third pull the glass under my feet has softened; it is bearable for now. I can cope. I stub out the cigarette in the dregs of my coffee, stuff the cigarettes and lighter into my pocket, and walk to the door.

I don’t smile at my fellows, as they too trundle out of their cages and wait with me by the lift. Smiling would mean the glass fragments had reached my heart, that I had stopped fighting the pain and allowed the world to win. I step forward towards the glass lift running down the side of the tower of metal I call home. The others follow me, and I am pressed into the corner, my gaze drawn downwards, as the vehicle slides to the ground, molten, silver smooth. I press my head to the glass. Cold, smooth, unfeeling, uncaring like the hive I exist in. But I care, that’s why I walk on broken glass.


Benevolent Galaxy Being
Mar 11, 2010

The Late Great Professor's Last Contribution

Professor Theron Ware is dead, he was a genius inventor, there are hundreds of his patented technologies that are in use today. Tonight he's being honored, his last invention was completed, just in time for his birthday. I'm in charge of going through his digital notebooks to see if something is useful for the government. I discovered Professor Ware's electronic diary and skipped to the last chapter, there's an audio message about "The Beacon", his final achievement. I decided to play it.​

"I unfortunately won't live to see my Beacon operating. I've worked hard over the years, helping to make life easier for humankind with my machines. Yet, when I try to tell people about the aliens from planet Xenno, they laughed at me, they said I was CRAZY! And after all I've done for them, they call me...mad. Whoever is listening to this message, hear THIS! I invested my entire fortune into the creation of the Beacon. The fools I worked for patronized me, allowing me to build the device while mocking me behind my back...let the old man have his Beacon, let the old kook build his machine, let's make him happy in his dwindling days.

Well...I'll have the last laugh. Once the laser light is switched on, the powerful Beacon will reach the Xenno people.They are far more advanced then us Earthlings, they'll know who sent the destructive laser beam burning into their cities. They'll send warships immediately to devastate our world. I know this, because the Xennon's told me that if I bother them again with my transmissions, they would attack the Earth within four hours of Earth's time". (he laughs)

It wasn't his laughter that chilled my blood, it was the cheering from thousands of people outside...the Beacon was activated......​


Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2007

We sent messages to the stars, we exclaimed our genius. ‘Look at our technology,’ we said. ‘We build skyscrapers that reach for the heavens, we build megaships that soar through the clouds—for the privileged, we even build monolithic structures.’

We sold ourselves because we could, because no-one would hear. When the multiverse was so vast, when the chance of life on other planets was so remote, our posturing was but a dust mote in the vast entirety of eternity. That was the official lie.

We became more confident. Determined. Cities ran on giant power cells, grids of energy that connected every home, person, and machine. We neglected the insignificant—humanity, the lowly, the ambitionless—for the glory of achieving. We looked ahead. Always ahead.

A reply came. ‘We’ll change your world,’ they said. ‘We’ll show you technology beyond your wildest dreams.’

With false modesty we rejoiced—recognition of our intelligence was long-awaited yet never spoken of aloud. The stars were within reach. Our overdue reward.

‘Let us come and we will light up your lives. But it will take time, for we are distant neighbours.’

Brows furrowed. Expectations dashed. Disappointment on the faces of our leaders. You don’t have interstellar drives? Transportation devices? Can you even create wormholes?

Our leaders grew impatient. But we celebrated, we, those considered less fortunate, who lived at the bottom of skyscrapers. We gazed upwards and saw a bright future heading our way.

Never discount the happiness of those less privileged. I realised this only now, in my ignorant, wealthy city. While we slept, poor countrymen toiled for pitiful wages. They had keen minds, too, but were nobodies.

Nobodies with resourcefulness.

We looked ahead. Always ahead. We should have looked behind.

The energy glows pure white as our compatriot’s mothership opens above our reactor.
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Karn Maeshalanadae

I'm a pineapple
Dec 2, 2007
My own twisted Wonderland

In the Light of the Blue Gamma Laser

They were running everywhere, screaming and shouting. It was total chaos, the entire city had degenerated into a single, large mob mentality.

Jenson’s thoughts were different. He felt panic the same as the others, but not for the same reason. He didn’t know what was going on any more than they did, but the life he was running for was not his own.

All that could go through his mind was how his twin sister was doing, wondering if she had found somewhere safe. It was not every day that the city’s main defense lunar laser was fired, and it was even more rare to see the backup escape pods launching off. The city usually had strict laws about the activation of the lunar laser, and its laws on the use of the escape pods were enforced just as harshly. Jenson could not recall, in his three hundred years of life in the city, of either ever being used once.

He searched everywhere for his sister, checking all their usual haunts, the dark back alleys, the sewer grates large enough to accommodate elves. He searched the numerous abandoned buildings and other hiding areas that not even the vigilant mercenaries knew of. He found her nowhere.

He collapsed to his knees, time seeming to slow to a near stop as he emotionlessly viewed the city. He stared off for a moment at the beautiful blue light of the city’s gamma lunar laser fired off into space before collapsing from exhaustion, only to feel familiar hands lift him to his feet and hear words from the sweet, lightly musical voice he had been hoping to hear.

“Come on, brother, let’s get you out of here.”

paranoid marvin

Run VT Erroll!
Mar 9, 2007

The Sands of Time

Not long ago it was discovered; a projectile moving through space in a way that heavenly bodies didn't. Initially astronomers dismissed the object as a natural phenomenon; however as it inexorably continued it's pathway towards theim they began to waiver and conceded that it might, just might, be some kind of spacecraft. A concession that was soon proven correct as it began to gradually reduce speed and alter direction the nearer it came to Earth.

Inevitably it wasn't long before word got out, and soon people could talk of nothing other than the spacecraft that was hurtling through the darkness of space towards their planet. Where were they from? What would they look like? More importantly, would they be friendly? There had been stories of extra-terrestrials visiting Earth in the past, and of the astonishing technologies they had brought with them; but nothing had ever been proven for sure.

After hurried discussion by senior officials, it had been decided that a gigantic beacon would be erected in the centre of the capital, it's bright blue shaft of light beaming up into the sky. It was hoped that such a welcoming signal woud indicate not only a suitable landing spot for the approaching craft, but also be interpreted as a gesture of friendship by those inside.

Shortly after construction was complete and the beacon lit, the sky was split asunder and an enormous triangular-shaped spaceship descended. Just as had been hoped, it hovered above the beacon before coming to rest at it's side, embedding itself deeply into the ground. As extra-terrestrial and Man once again made contact, a government officlal came forward and tremblingly announced to the approaching alien beings "We greet you in the name of our leader, the mighty Khufu..."


resident pedantissimo
Staff member
Aug 10, 2005
West Sussex

Launch pad

Silent Light, but this light roared. Noise-cancelling electronics ate the sound, but bones vibrated to the cry of superheated atmosphere forcing the bungalow-sized modules away from Earth, carrying into orbit food and fuel, air and spares, most of the inanimate necessities of life outside the world.

About two percent of launches fail: capsules built to a price, unpredicted weather, human intervention – we’re a high visibility target for any terrorist organisation. The desert to the east is littered with crashed capsules, million dollar satellites mixed with drums of hydrazine, crates of preserved food and LOX cylinders. So most humans take the spaceplane, lifted just above the atmosphere and towed into higher orbit by tugs using the fuel we send up…

Further to the east desert ends, and farmers implore the government to close us. The idea of two hundred tons at mach 5 doesn’t apeal to them; and, although thousands of launches have never fallen there, and odds are it would land on unoccupied land anyway, under the flight path property values have dropped.

Those who know lasers might wonder why the light is white, not one spectral line; but you see a mere colimated xenon flash, only there to warn off aircraft (and UFOs). The light that drives is invisible infra-red.

The vibation ceases a few seconds – time for the mirror to swing back, and cool, and the next capsule to be loaded into its electro-magnetic cannon.

My room shudders as its capsule settles into the accelerator rings. The crystal window blanks, flattens paper-thin, and I lower myself into my gel bed.

Let others take the easy route, the safe way. The shout I ride to heaven will be the thunder I’ve created, nurtured, fought congress and innumerable environmental agencies for.

Let there be light.

The Spurring Platty

I am the wild blue yonder
Mar 10, 2011

To Answer The Beacon

Will you come to me?
Traverse heaven’s great expanse,
Will you come to me?

“That one caught my imagination most. Mom would sing it to me. ’Will you come to me?’ There was something pleading about it. Like we weren’t the only ones out here, nor the only ones that could feel… alone. What was yours, Captain?”

“I always preferred the translation ‘Here we are’, like a challenge. And it was, considering all the international cooperation it’s taken. Two generations passing away before our technology became advanced enough.”

“Scholars never could agree. They would keep inventing nuances of meaning and different translations of The Message embedded in that light. I think what matters most is what it means to us personally, and to our civilization. We are not alone.
Have the crew prepare: we are nearing their atmosphere.”

The ship plunged from the sky, its descent slowed by parachutes and precision thrusters. Designing a spacecraft capable of reaching and then navigating a planet that was one massive ocean had been a collaborative engineering triumph. It splashed down, the aft section breaking away and sequencing itself into a transmission relay for beaming messages back; the command section submerging beneath the waves.

Diving deeper, a vast, sprawling city nestled in an underwater trench came into view. At its center the great beam of light pierced upwards to the surface, reflecting off floating ice like stars in the sky. Welcome ships, sleek manta ray shapes, converged on them from below.

In time the explorers would learn the history of this planet, third from the sun. They would discover the surface was once part land, supporting great civilizations and diverse life. They would learn of its remaining inhabitants, who ages past sank from history into the depths and who called themselves Atlanteans.

southron sword

Master of none
Aug 4, 2006

A gift to the Gods

They had removed her eyes and replaced them with silver coins. Cruelly they had left her ears intact. They wanted her to hear. She was trembling, her knees felt weak. She knew this day had to come, and she had tried to prepare herself. Her Mother had told her this was a glorious thing, that she was a saviour. She would go to the Gods and save her people. Her Mother had been a sacrifice too. She was loved by all. The truth was hard for her to experience.
The sound was deafening as thousands of voices called for her death, a sacrifice. The Gods were unhappy. They needed a fresh soul. She knew where she was, the largest structure in the city. A massive beam of blue white light the people called “Gods Path”. It was the passage to the Gods, whether a person was given willingly or no, all entered it in the end. She was one of the “Chosen”, a select group of girls and women whose sole purpose was to appease the Gods in hard times.
The people of the city crammed into the arena that surrounded “Gods Path”. Some praised the wisdom of the Gods, looking up at the heavens with arms spread wide. Some thanked the young girl with tears in their eyes and pride in their hearts. And some came solely to see death, their mouths salivating, and their taunts vulgar.
She felt a prod in her back and moved to the edge of the platform. She could hear the low hum of the light and her breathing got heavier. An announcement was made, booming throughout the arena. “THIS IS OUR GIFT!” A simple message to the Gods.
She thought of her Mother and smiled, she would see her soon.


Currently working in the Big Bang Burger Bar
Mar 8, 2010


I’ll never forget my last day on Bgroolha IV. Everything in minute detail from the frenetic packing to the final look at our doomed planet. What to take? What to leave? How to pack your worldly possessions into 50 kilos?

My wife insisted on taking a wooden Buddha statue she’d bought in Chinatown. “That weighs too much; there’s a limit,” I exclaimed. “Take more clothes.” She replied it had cost a fortune and she felt it wanted to be with her, so that was that!

We approached the brilliant white Space Elevator Beacon in our flitter, noting that the buildings were eerily silent, even though a thousand lights still blazed. There was no point in saving energy against the green invasion. They would absorb it all soon anyway.

Five years ago we received the message about the green haze from deep probes, before they simply disappeared. We quickly realised that it wasn’t just an unusual interstellar storm but an extremely virulent space virus that only destroys, converting everything to pure living energy. The only solution we realised was global evacuation of the populace to a safe haven. We were the last of those evacuees. Over five billion people were evacuated!

We were strapped in and the ships clamps engaged with the Beacon. The powerful energies thrust us spaceward at a rate of 3g’s. Minutes later, we reached the rendezvous point and linked to the carrier ship. We accelerated rapidly away heading for the Pranxx system.

Looking back, the Borealis had now surrounded our home planet as the virus gorged itself and glowed ever brighter. We had just escaped in time!

Meanwhile, unseen in the hold, one of the Buddha’s eyes turned green and anyone looking at it would have fancied that its mouth curled upwards ever so slightly….


New Member
Jun 28, 2011
Iain M. Banks, Alistair Reynolds, Peter F Hamilton

Tramsar Beacon
Tramsar beacon shone brightly for all to see.
Bursting through the eternal night to the very core of the known universe.
Visible for years and visible from years.
A whole planet provides the energy to keep the beacon bright.
No organic life form can survive its’ power.
No human can go within 5km of the perpetual vertical beam of pure white energy.
Only the Tramison can bear its’ brilliance. Only they can harness its’ awesome power.
To the Tramison the beacon is life. It is home.
The Tramison are photonics. Life forms or photonic energy. They feed at the beacon. The beacon feeds from the Tramison.
The beacon has a purpose.
Tramsar is the oldest and as far as is known, the first star system in this universe.
The beacon says ‘Here we are. We are the first. Come to us.’
Humans first saw the beacon as soon as they could look to the sky. But they didn’t know what they were looking at.
They made the journey to the Beacon a soon as they learnt to fly, eight billion light years they travelled.
They were not alone. Eventually all the species of the universe made pilgrimage to Tramsar.
The species that would survive the journey would discover the true purpose of the Beacon.
The Tramison had no fear of hostiles. The pilgrims may have started their journey to the Beacon with hostile intent but arrived as Tramison.
That was the purpose of the Beacon.

No One

Orange Aide ;)
Dec 17, 2009

A Summary of the Solus Paradox

A century ago the planetoid first observed and provisionally designated as 2502 NM13-g was given the nomenclature of Solus for its singularly isolated position on the fringe of known space.

Noted for its tremendous mass to weight ratio, Solus was colonised and mined for an abundance of Osmium, a venture responsible for the tectonic shifts five decades later. For the regrettable loss of life, the upheaval saw fit to recompense by the disclosure of something extraordinary, marking Solus as the most unique territory within the province of humanity.

The artifact was rapidly excavated: an arcing pylon of non-human origin and the first evidence of intelligent life beyond that accumulated on Earth. Analysis of the object and the surrounding topography suggested an age of six million years and a civilisation long dead before Man qualified for the intelligence he now quantified.

Throughout the next two decades the Solus colony expanded in size and funding to little effect. The construct’s purpose remained unknown. Nor did further excavations of similar structures – a dozen aligned in two rows of six, inclined toward their opposite and resembling the ribs of some deity’s carcass – yield any conclusion that wasn't fiercely disputed.

The pylons, however, were surmised to continue deep into the world’s upper mantle, perhaps meeting at a central hub, and approval of comprehensive excavation met with little resistance.

The final transmission from Solus consisted of a single image. A beam of light, microseconds from impact on the colony. An investigation of the system would reveal only a field of debris where Solus once orbited its star.

As years of unthinkable invasion were answered by years of obstinate silence, it was decided that humanity was not at war, but had been warned; that we are not alone, but must abide in isolation.


Holding down the fort
Staff member
Nov 26, 2009

Honor the Charge

“All in the valley of death
Rode the 600.”

From the main tower of the complex, I could see hundreds of the cenotaphs across the valley floor. Hewn from bones and scales, illuminated by the power pipeline running through the backbones, and protected by the looming walls of the ribcage, our Heroes' monuments rose from the belly of the Beast in triumphant defiance.

My family was directly descended from two of the Heroes, and Grandfather had managed the Light Generator all his life, so the Brigadier in charge of his service was paying full homage to our ancestors as well as to Grandfather's own contributions to the Colony. When it was finished, his eulogy would be etched on our family's monument, the tallest visible from the window where I now stood, listening to the historic tale.

In the dawn of the Colony, there had come a great Beast from out of nowhere. Even now, all the world wondered how, and why, and from where; the Beast simply materialized, and then it began to kill. There was no reasoning with it, there was nothing to do but fight. And so the 600 charged out to do battle with the Beast, armed with everything they had brought to this world, armed with the cunning of countless millennia of human enterprise, armed with boundless courage and endless desperation.

The 600 gave their lives to save the Colony from the Beast, and here in this valley they were buried. They have long since returned to dust, but these days everyone is turned into light by the Generator that powers our world.

Concluding the service, the Brigadier consigned Grandfather's body to the stars in a beam of light; out of our history, glory that never fades, illuminating our present and powering our future.


Shropshire, U.K.
Feb 13, 2006
Shropshire, U.K.

Anyway, I Think This Is What Happened…

“Professor Dixon, thank you for attending. Perhaps you’d be good enough to bring us, on the Alien Sciences Board, up to speed on your group’s research into the Martian artefact?”

“Of course, Chairman. But first, for security, may I suggest that members refrain from taking notes?”

Pens were laid aside.

“Thank you. For those of you unfamiliar with the device, it’s a cylinder about three inches long, approximately an inch in diameter and with four rotating rings around its centre. It contains two intersecting laser beams and a good deal of exotic micro-circuitry and components that, as you’d expect, are entirely alien to us.

However, we’ve discovered that it destroys memory. Sorry, that’s not strictly correct. It implants false, replacement memories. Two rings define a time period to falsify and the others control range, spread and direction of the effect.”

The Chairman interrupted. “If this thing got out into the wider world, the ramifications for the justice system alone would be catastrophic. The term ‘witness’ would become meaningless!”

“Quite. So one area we’ve been researching is the device’s potential for criminal misuse – should it fall into the wrong hands,” added the professor.

“I hope you’re taking all possible precautions to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

“Of course. But, if you’ve no further questions, I’ll be off. Two or three of us are taking the Roller down to the yacht in the South of France. The Med is wonderful this time of year.”

Roller? Yacht? I don’t understand…

Dixon smiled, extracted a small cylinder from his pocket, rotated the rings around its centre and then made for the door.

“Thank you for your time, Professor. Lack of progress must be very frustrating. Please pass on the Board’s thanks to your colleagues for their hard work. We’ll see you again next month.”


within the depths
Jan 29, 2011

[FONT=&quot] Cleansing the Waters[/FONT]

. .
They sat against the wall, pressed elbow to elbow. Their bodies jostled and swayed with the uneven movement of the tram. Light pierced the grimecaked windows -- sharp, searching, blue-white; shadows of chainlink caged their quiet faces.

. .
He was among them. In the middle of his years; old by comparison. They were young. Faces round and smooth and untouched by time and minds like dull knives that were only beginning to sharpen. They did not deserve this, the man thought. No one did.

. .
His gaze lowered again at his hands clasped. He turned one over in the dim light. The skin mottled and taut over raised veins. The dry cuts in the peaks of his knuckles. The snowy loss of pigment overtaking his fingers. Vitiligo they said. He didnt know what that meant. Didnt matter much now. One flaw was as good as another. In the end one flaw was all it took.

. .
A scuffed boot nudged his own. He looked up and saw the boy seated opposite, grinning. The cleft in his lip spread as though it were a zipper slowly undoing his face. He felt sorry for him.

. .
The boy motioned toward the window at the front of the tram. The man followed his eyes. Ahead of them the great city sprawled on the horizon, blackened in the pale of dawn. At its center was a brilliant shaft of light that burned the heavens.

. .
Are we going there?

. .I think so.
. .What is the light?
. .I dont know.
. .Its beautiful.

. .
The man smiled and felt his lips split. He did not agree with the boy. Nothing here could ever be beautiful.

. .
Do you think so?

. .
He looked into the boys eyes and thought of all the things the boy would never see. Yes, he said finally. Yes, its beautiful.


Be pure. Be vigilant. Beware.
Sep 22, 2010

Pseudoku - Art of War

Barrett sat in the observation tower, oblivious to the pulsing strobes of the lance outside. Only the numbers mattered. Not just numbers that fit mathematically, as he always used to tell his students. Any fool, or AI, could do that. But the right numbers; as much art as science.

"It worked, Professor. The test worked!" Smythe, sporting a beaming grin, sat beside him without invitation. "Your nine by nine grid; we plugged it into the lance’s array and it killed the subject. A tramp in their main park."

"Good," Barrett said, but he couldn't force himself to fake a smile.

"We'll have your sixteen by sixteen...tomorrow, yes?" He nodded to indicate the paper on Barrett’s table. "That will eliminate over a thousand people. And then - you said it would be ready four days later - the 25 by 25 will decimate them." He sprang to his feet and clapped Barrett on the shoulder. "Fantastic work, Professor. I can see why you’re hiding up here; not wanting to hog all the glory. But it will all be down to you."

Smythe left the tower with an exultant “Yes!”, leaving Barrett to contemplate the incomplete grid. All down to him. He rubbed his eyes. Eighty cells to fill. If he stopped now, they would find someone else to finish it; probably someone whose conscience had been worn away by a decade of war.

Unless...he could finish it. Scan the sheets himself. Let nobody else in on it. Just make one small alteration first. All they would know was that it hadn’t worked. They would have to stop the war and sue for peace instead.

He wrote the next number. 10. Then more; two dots, a curve, and shading, for a flourish. That should do it...

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Mar 14, 2007

John’s Last Gift

“Good morning Betty,” I said as I came into the kitchen and kissed her on the cheek. She gave me a strange look, but helped me to my chair and gave me my breakfast.

Later, my knees ached as she helped me get dressed into my best suit. As she did my shoelaces, I gazed at my wrinkled face and rheumy eyes in the wardrobe mirror, and wondered how I had ever got so old.

Next Betty was driving us past Joe’s old dock, the trader’s concourse, the double-spired Veteran’s Memorial. But between these were stretches of buildings and lights that were unfamiliar to me. Something didn’t add up.
I blinked hard and then turned to Betty, who of course wasn’t Betty. She didn’t have Betty’s eyes, her dark hair was too long.

“Where are we going?” I asked softly, knowing it was somewhere important.

“Today’s your Light Day, Dad,” Jessica replied, her voice cracking only slightly.

“Yes, how could I have forgotten?” I said, and turned my attention back to the city where I had lived all my life.

* * * *

A few hours later, we stood on the Last Platform with nothing but the glowing white-blue light in front of us. I held her for the last time.
“You don’t have to go,” Jess whispered into my ear. “We don’t have to do this.”

“But I want to, Jess,” I stroked that long dark hair. “This is the only meaningful thing left that I can do.”

She pulled back and gave me a small brave smile. My heart broke.

“Goodbye Dad.”

“Goodbye my darling.”

I turned from her and remembered Betty being here fifteen years ago, her body emaciated by cancer.

Then, firmly and surely, I stepped off the platform and let the Light take me.


pixie druid
Staff member
May 4, 2005
I may live in Yorkshire but I'm a Scot


The pull of what I once called the city of light is getting stronger.

Astral travel, astral projection, out of body experience, call it what you will.

Doesn't matter if you believe or not, its something we all do. Our subconscious takes over well we sleep, our souls traverse the first plane. When we wake it's a vague dream.

We can teach ourselves to travel the planes/ other worlds, choose where to visit, have total recall of what we've seen and done. I won't say how its done but a good start is to keep pen and paper by your bed, record your dreams before they fade.

I've been doing it for years, first through dreams, then by meditation. It was so much fun. I'd visit sleeping friends, eavesdrop on conversations.

There was nowhere on earth I couldn't go. I used it to my advantage, became rich, destroyed my rivals, was completely ruthless.We can't bring anything physical back but we can use what we hear and see.

I met the spirits of the dead who hadn't fully passed to the other side, I suppose you would call them ghosts.

When I spotted a beam of light in the distance, I asked a spirit what it was, forget it, they said. I couldn't, so beautiful, the pull irresistible.

Each time I traversed the planes I'd get closer, I saw a great city,crafts circling around it. I yearned to be there. The spirits warned me away, pleaded with me to resist the pull.

Now I know better, its not a city but a place of woe, calling to those with evil hearts.

Three days, since I've slept but I will succumb and my soul will join the city of the damned.
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