300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- VICTORY TO THE JUDGE

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Culhwch

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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


THE RULES:

Only one entry per person


All stories Copyright 2013 by their respective authors, who grant the Chronicles Network
the non-exclusive right to publish them here


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


Entries must be posted no later than NOVEMBER 2 2013,
at 11:59 pm GMT


Voting will close NOVEMBER 15, 2013 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 favourites


You may cast three votes


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



The inspiration image for this month is:


(picture by Culhwch)

.
 
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Remedy

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Jungle of Broken Hearts

“Genocide.” Stated the malfunctioning AI in Vome’s ear.

Stifling his sobs, Vome started walking away from the smouldering hull of his battered shuttle. He couldn’t look at the spilled cryocrate anymore.

Accident, Terrow-4. It was an accident – a failed delivery,” Vome reasoned, as he staggered uphill over slippery roots. He headed for higher ground in the foreign jungle.

“Extinction, Vome. You caused extinction,” said Terrow-4 in its soulless tone. “You will become unemployed – oyed.”

“Shut up you heartless circuit.”

“Interesting choice of words, Vome – ome.”

Vome punched himself in the side of his scaly head. It did no good, Terrow-4 was surgically implanted. He was stranded on the alien planet with the emotionless AI.

Unwillingly, the image of the spilled cryocrate flashed into his mind.

“Genocide,” repeated Terrow-4.

Vome flushed with anger. “Are you doing that, Terrow-4? Erase the image!” he shouted, breaking into fresh purple tears.

“Denied. The genocide must be reported. Members on the list should be notified – fied.”

“IT'S NOT GENOCIDE!” Vome began to shake. “They can get more, there must be more.”

“Those were the last – ast, Vome. You crashed the shuttle. You caused extinction.”

Vome was crushed by despair and anguish. The AI was right: he was the reason that the last of a dying species would perish.

He began climbing a tall tree on the hill’s brow. It was exhausting, gravity was stronger than his planet’s. He ceased at the top.

“We were the only ones who could grow them successfully?” Vome asked.

“Correct.”

“And the ones back at the shuttle will…”

“Expire – ire.”

Vome looked out over the tree canopy and thought of the spilled cryocrate once more. The scattered organs would have already started decomposing and rotting into the jungle. The only compatible human hearts for transplant.

Desperation possessed him. Vome jumped.
 

Juliana

Juliana Spink Mills. "No capes!"
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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

The Tree-Sworn
On moonlit nights, when the keshi fires burnt high, praise for the Watch Tree rose to the stars. The songs told tales of the godling prince who gave his soul to protect his people and, in exchange, was granted the green life by the wytch wards.

Kari had no use for stories. The old gods were all but forgotten, buried under the weight of many times a hundred years. And the wytch wards had long lost their power, if indeed they ever had any. But the Tree was a fine place for a lookout on a clear day.

She climbed up quickly and perched, cat-like, surveying her father’s lands. Her lands. She could see the distant line of their foes, a dark smudge on the jungle horizon. Three days, at most, until they crossed the river, smashing stone and setting thatch ablaze. The keshi fires would sing no more.

Her village could not hope to hold out against their numbers. But retreat was not an option. To be hunted down like prey as they fled! That was no way to die.

Sudden tears were angrily brushed away. Crying like a useless babe would not help. Kari swept back her long warrior’s braid and leapt down, sure-footed.

Before leaving, she touched her forehead to the ancient bark in a brief farewell. A last teardrop fell unhindered and landed silently. The Tree shimmered with sudden power and a golden voice rang out.

“You called. I serve.”

By nightfall, the great river Kethos ran red.

Days turned to nights, seasons into years. Now the keshi fires sing praise for the warrior maiden and her godling prince. On the hilltop, the Watch Trees stand, boughs touching like hands clasped as they guard the valley below.
 

Jo Zebedee

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

A WORLD IN A BOTTLE.

Pa told me never to shake the bottle, and I knew it was sinful not to listen, but I still shook it every day after school. The big tree inside always stayed fixed, watching over the valley, and some days it snowed real pretty, and sometimes it rained, and twice I heard birds singing in the sunshine.

Pa caught me and whupped me good. I had to stand the next day when I went to his room and shook the bottle. I couldn’t not go -- there was a whole world in that bottle and it looked better than mine, with the whuppings – and worse, in the dead of night – and the farm-chores, and school where I didn’t want to be learned to read.

He caught me a coupla times, over the years, and each time I got whupped.

Finally, he sat me down. “Joey,” he said. “Ain’t no way you’re gonna stop shakin’ that bottle, is there?”

I shook my head. “No, sir, I wanna look at that other world all the time.”

“Well, then, Joey, let me give you a warnin’. Don’t ever break that bottle. Or you’ll be lost.”

Well, Lord, I tried to listen, but one day I carried it down the stairs with me a-times, until I slipped and let fly. That old bottle bounced on the pantry floor twice before it broke.

The pantry ain’t here no more and I never saw Pa again, or felt him crawl in beside me at night. I gone an’ done somethin’ to the world, changed it and made it new. Ain’t no one here but me and the old tree keeping me safe.

My Lord, I’m glad I didn’t listen to Pa. I know that’s a sin, but he was wrong: I ain’t lost, I’m found.
 

Tywin

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

It’s, Like, a New Beginning, Man



“It’s, like, untouched, you know? Virgin.”

“It’s beautiful, bro, not like our old home.”

“Hell no, it’s not like that shithole, man. This is like a whole new world. We can do it right this time. Like, live in touch with nature, you know?”

“Totally, bro. We can build a society in balance. Like, totally in tune with the Yin and Yang of the cosmos.”

“Yeah, man, that’s what I’m talking about. No wars. No pollution. Just, like, everyone coming together and helping out.”

“It’s all about love.”

“Hell yeah, that’s what I’m talking about, man! Human society basedon love. Not f#cked up by The Man. No rat race. No stock options. No holier-than-thou as$holes trying to tell you how to live!”

“Bro, we totally can’t let those people in here.”

“Yeah, man, we should, like, lock them up. Don’t let them pollute our paradise.”

“F#ck that, bro. Why lock them up? It’s not like they’re going to get better. They’re not going to just wake up some day and stop being douchebags.”

“Man, you’re right. We’ll have to just get rid of them.”

“Like, kill them, bro?”

“Man, I don’t see any other way. It’s like, you know, for the greater good and all. I mean, think about what we’re working for here, man.”

“You’re right, bro. I mean, look at this place, we gotta do whatever it takes to keep it safe.”

“We’ll need weapons. Those f#cking fascists won’t go without a fight.”

“We could, like, cut down some of the trees, bro. I bet we could find metal in the hills, too.”

“Yeah, man, we could make all the weapons we need.”

“We’ll build an army, bro. It’s the only way.”

“It’s, like, a new beginning, man.”
 
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Victoria Silverwolf

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Daphne and Apollo

They met at one of Ursula’s parties, where the guests drank glowing cocktails. “You have a lot in common,” Ursula said.

Christopher smiled. She meant they were older and less fashionable than the others. Magpies among the peacocks.

Her name was Penelope. They exchanged polite inquiries, the common coin of strangers thrown together by social rituals. She knew more about neurophysiology, his field of research, than he did about her work in number theory. Christopher first became interested in her during a party game, when the guests were asked to reveal something unusual about themselves.

“I want to be a tree,” Penelope said.

#

The second time they slept together, Christopher told her he was divorced and had two grown daughters. The fifth time they slept together, Penelope told him she was dying. Her immune system was at war with her peripheral nervous system. She was often weak and clumsy. Soon she would be unable to walk. Eventually her body would forget how to breathe. The seventh time they slept together, they agreed to marry.

#


Mist filled Penelope’s sealed room, a thin fog that never faded. It was the color of fresh milk and smelled like vinegar. She inhaled bioengineered neurotoxins that slowed her thoughts. Christopher wore a biohazard suit when he entered to clean her motionless body. In a few months she was ready.


#


Christopher’s great-grandchildren often came to visit his grave, hidden from strangers on a hilltop in Kentucky. They wondered about the strange statue nearby, a bronze figure half-woman, half-oak. Penelope watched them. Her useless, withered body, kept alive by Christopher’s miracles, stood within the statue’s hollow heart like a skeleton. Her slow, ageless mind watched the seasons race by, and rejoiced.
 

Abernovo

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Trespassers and Vandals​


I don't see what they're complaining about. This project's bringing jobs to their community. So, I shouldn't have to deal with people like that crazy cow outside the gate. Someone in security's going to pay for not doing their job, which is keeping nutters like her and her pals away.

This land is hallowed. Yeah, right. It's land. And it's getting built on. Sacred grove, my arse.

#​

"Mr Court? Sorry to disturb you, sir, but there's a disturbance at the site. They've vandalised the portakabins."

Another numpty to be fired. Animal masks, he says. Bloody kids, probably. Still, I'm the developer, it's my name on the paper, so I'd better go check it out.

#​

They're camping outside the fence, now. Good, give them a nice view of the bulldozers. That old crone who screamed at me is down in the dip, washing clothes in the water. Maybe that's what they want -- to live in the middle ages.

The gate's open. Of course. No sign of the idiots I'm paying to protect the site, so I drive straight into the clearing. We start on the rest of the trees tomorrow. I mean, sure, they're pretty, but this is business.

"Hello?" Ridiculous. Almost midnight and I'm stood, alone, in a cold, dark wood. If this is someone's idea of a joke...

The blast of a horn makes me jump. I can't see anyone, but it sounds close. As does the long, mournful howl of a dog. That gives me the shivers. Stupid, I know.

The horn sounds again. Through the trees, there's a figure. Tall, long-haired. He must have antlers tied to his head. Of course -- Hallowe'en. The night for idiots.

There are hounds baying now, and that daft old biddy's back. "The Hunt's coming for you, defiler."
 

Karn Maeshalanadae

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

The Heart of the Unseelie




Aerina hummed as she strove amongst the trees and flowers, reading from her favorite book as she avoided the limbs of trees and small holes in the forest floor.

Just the day before, one of her friends, who had simply been gathering berries only a couple meters within the boundary of the trees, came back pale as fresh milk and cowering, unable to get out any intelligible words beyond one-faerie.

The only one to believe her was Aerina; and indeed, the red-haired maiden begged questions of her frightened friend, but the dark-haired girl said no more, only running away home, her bucket spilling berries all the way.

It was only about ten meters or so within that Aerina was caught. It was by one of the Unseelies from her grandfather’s storybooks-a dark faerie, one to prefer the darkness of shade and night, one that was not so benevolent to humans.

But it was not ugly to look upon-indeed, quite the opposite. It was of a complexion similar to obsidian, though not as dark, with straight, smooth black hair and sharp, handsome features. It also looked down upon the teenage girl with a benevolent smile; saying nothing, it ran its hands through her hair and along her cheek.

“Stay with me, fair maiden,” it whispered in a hollow voice. “I can protect you from the ravages of time and the debilitation of disease. I can give you your every heart’s desire, if only you will stay with me…love me…”

Aerina swallowed, her breathing quickened as she stared at the handsome, dark figure. As it smiled down at her, her heart slowed, and with a smile of her own, she took its hand.

“I will love you forever,” she said.
 

alchemist

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

MIA




"Martinez? Sarge?"

Just static. Damn.

"Where are you?"

Silence. Keep moving! Gotta get back to the shuttle. Green everywhere. Branches and creepers and bloody fern ... things ...

"If you guys are messing with me, I'm gonna cut your –"

Something moving! Shoot!

Hell, used half a clip on a bloody tree. Idiot! Better not tell anyone. Nearly there. Half a click, maybe –

"Yeargh!"

My ankle! It hurts! Stuck in something, what ... some sort of vine ... it's moving! Fire, fire!

"Aiieeee!"

My foot! Jesus Christ, I've shot my bloody foot off. Oh God, it hurts. It hurts so bad.

"Sarge! Sarge!"

She'll save me, right? Cos she likes me, yeah? And – It's climbing up on me!

"Get away! Get off!"

It's smothering me. Can't breathe! Can't move! Oh God, no, I'm gonna die out here. Please, help me.

That noise ... the shuttle! She's coming for me!

#

Sergeant Valentina Asimova wiped a bead of sweat from her nose and ducked under the awning by the shuttle's door. "Anything?"

"No, Sarge," Martinez said, peering at his screen. "Just jungle for a ten click radius. No rebels, and no Walters."

He must've snuck back to the ship somehow, the useless b******. She'd known he was a screw-up waiting to happen ever since he'd copped a feel at the ship's Christmas party, but a kick to the nads evidently hadn't been enough to sort him out.

"Sarge?" Martinez asked. "What do we do?"

Sweat trickled down her back and it itched, just under her bodyarmour where she couldn't reach. Damn, she hated jungles. "We complete our mission. Take the shuttle up to sub-orbit, drop a gravity bomb and clear this zone."

She stepped inside. Sooner she was out of here, sooner she could acquaint Walters with her boot again.
 

Mr Orange

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

The Lost Temple of Wotxalotxanonsenstl: A British Adventurer Club Expedition


“Senyor, on de ‘orizon. La montanya de pezon!”

“Montanya de… what?”

“No worry senyor…. On de montain, is …. Uhh… el paso de la pierna de la mujer… and den ees de temple.”

“Sir! I really don’t think that this chap is trustworthy. Honestly, this all sounds like poppycock! Pass of the woman’s leg? Mountain of the nipple? Atochi, I ought to slap you for coming up with this drivel!”

“Watkins keep quiet! Now, Atochi, tell me about the path to the temple. Is it fraught with…. jeopardy?”

“Yeopardy senyor? No senyor, no yeopards...”

“Not leopards Atochi! Jeopardy! You know, danger, peril.”

“Uhhh no senyor, no danger.”

“Oh, really? That’s disappointing. I was hoping for some peril you know. Are the legends not true?”

“No senyor, no legend. Ees safe.”

“A terrible shame. At least we’ll beat the damn Spaniards to the gold! Watkins, get the men ready!”




~​



“Sir! Braithwaite and Simpson are dead! And that damned native has fled! We’re in terrible strife!”

“Nonsense Watkins! This is just getting interesting! Stuck in the steaming jungle, odds against us, peril everywhere! This is life my boy!”

Grrrrrr....

“Sir, what in God’s name was that?!”

“That, Watkins, is destiny! I knew the legends were true! This is where we make our name!”

“But we’ll be killed!”

“Well, naturally. But our names will live on in history! Now, is your diary up to date?”

“My diary, sir?”


Grrrrrrrr.......

“For history you simpleton! Nevermind, I’ve written enough for both of us.”

“Sir…. Maybe we should flee? Owww! Sir!”

“Watkins, snap out of this cowardice and draw your weapon! Let’s face this unimaginable terror with our revolvers in our hands and a smile on our faces! For Britannia and the Quee-!”


Grrrrowowow!
 

Bowler1

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Paradise Lost


We couldn’t believe our luck when we discovered New Eden, after traveling so far and sacrificing so much.

I pushed to be the first, with the hopes of all resting on my shoulders, and I succeeded; only my mission was chosen. They sent me, just me alone, the first to go. I remember cracking open the seal on my suit and holding my breath before finally pulling the air of a new world deep into my lungs. That moment of discovery and ultimate risk, would the microbes of this world kill me?

Well…. I’m still here.

Yet it would have been better if I’d died that day.

I was the test subject, first to eat and drink of this oasis among the stars and I was ill. Days passed in delirium with all hope fading, yet I hung on. My fever broke on the sixth night, leaving me hungry and thirsty as the sun rose. A sign they said, a new world for the taking on the seventh day.

So they came, shuttle after shuttle making this world their own, living as we had on the old world. We ripped into the land, tore it open in our desperate need, never once understanding what we did.

But now we know.

We’re being sent on our way.

Green tendrils slither up and out of the very soil beneath my feet and crawl over trees that surround me.

‘They’re leaving,’ I say, ‘give us the cure our children need.’

A cool breeze ruffles my hair smelling so sweet and yet so deadly. My communicator beeps and I know they’ve been released, finally free to go back into the cold dark depths of space, leaving me alone with the most alien of life.




I was the first.






Now I am the last.
 

johnnyjet

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

How Many Shades of Green Was My Valley

Miranda was asleep at the foot of the big tree. Rock smiled as he watched her. She was beautiful in her silken silver robe that flowed across her curvaceous body like a gentle stream over a hillside. Her breathing was ragged but steady. He touched her flushed cheeks.

When will the Doctors arrive? No one could tell him for certain.

He stepped away from the tree to get a better view of the valley. The view was breathtaking. They never tired of the many shades of green layered under that deep blue sky and a few wisps of clouds.

Most days were like this, except for the scheduled rain days and the cooler months of winter. He remembered when winters were harsh mistresses of ice and snow.

Their home was down there. A Builder by trade, Rock built their home and many others. Seamlessly integrated with the forest, they were nearly indistinguishable from their natural surroundings.

A familiar humming sound caught his attention. He glanced eastward and spotted the ugly flying machine that was driven by a dozen wings with large spinning blades. The Climate Controllers were making their regular circuit of their world. They flew over once a day, making sure all the processes they put in place were running smoothly. It was a good day when they didn't come down and send out their robots.

In a few minutes the machine disappeared into the west. It was a good day.

Rock went back to lay with his wife. Their world was about as perfect as one could hope for. They lived in a bubble separated from the rest of the world. He often wondered how bad it really was outside their bubble, uncontrolled. He couldn't imagine.

He held Miranda, warm with fever, tightly in his strong arms.
 

martin321

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Killing Time

The megalosaurus lumbered along the forest trail, brushing aside the viridescent foliage. A deep throated roar suggested it was angry in the way that only a gigantic carnivore could be.

Harvey pulled out his massive blunderbuss and took careful aim, waiting for the perfect moment. Wait to see the whites of their eyes, that was his motto.

The dinosaur saw the tiny machine blocking its path and charged, bellowing. Harvey fired a broadside, all twelve barrels. A palpable hit. Only...the dashed beast appeared not to notice and continued rushing onwards.

As Harvey reloaded, the beast crashed into the time machine, snapping off the Heisenberg disruptor coil and releasing a cloud of steam. Then the creature's brain finally realised something was wrong; the monster paused in confusion, its legs crumpled, and it rolled over, crushing a couple of unassuming trees in its death throws.

An hour later, Harvey was beside a roaring bonfire, cooking steaks on a long stick. After enjoying his meal, he pulled out the service manual and thumbed through to the section on dinosaur damage.

Unfortunately, it seemed he'd failed to purchase the necessary 200 million year warranty extension. The repair shop wouldn't open until the year 1895, anyway. Disgustedly, he threw the manual back in the machine. A brass frobnicator knob fell off the control panel with a clatter.

Harvey glanced at his watch. Nothing for it but to wait for rescue. He lit a cigar and leaned against a mossy tree, smoking contentedly. The head would make a fine trophy, mounted on the wall next to the mammoth tusks.

Then a disturbing thought wandered across his mind like a spider crossing a patterned carpet. Surely he'd remembered to sign up for the temporal rescue service?
 

The Spurring Platty

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Whispers on the Wind

Even a whisper has power. It is seduction on a lover’s lips. It is a wizard’s curse that heralds death on the wind. Rowan and Koa both knew the key to getting into the forest at night was a whisper. The only safe way was to use the Faery Lanes. A whisper, a soft breath on any tree, was all it took for the faint light trails to appear. And then you follow them. To be a successful tree poacher you had to know the tricks.

Armed with axes and a cross cut saw, they went deeper into the forest following the trails. They were searching for the very rare Bloodwood. It was the strongest and most flexible wood, if you could find it. It was even said to be magical. It was the only type of tree without growth rings, which gave rise to tales that it did not grow but was made.

The fourth night they found two modest saplings and one large tree. Just the saplings alone would make them very rich men. As Kao’s axe bit into the bark they both heard a whisper on the wind. It was a whisper in an ancient tongue they could not understand, but they knew it was full of rage.

They felt the breath of the whisper cover them like a hot forest wind. They stiffened in fear, rooted to the ground. Helpless, their axes fell from their hands. Their limbs began to harden and elongate, arms and fingers stretching up to the forest canopy as their toes burrowed into the earth. When the whispering stopped, the wind began its own whisper. And as the wind moved through the forest, there were two new trees adding their sound to all those around them.

...

 

ratsy

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

No Regrets

There are times to talk back and there are times when you should keep your mouth shut. Unfortunately I don’t understand these basic rules and I occasionally pay the price. The last thing I remembered was a fist flying at my face. It seemed to slow down before impact as if displaying the large emerald set in gold to me, as if my face was a prospective buyer. I guess in a sense it was as I did pay the price.

Now I found myself in a slight predicament; wearing nothing but my breeches out in the middle of nowhere. At least they left me my sword. I was not sure if what I did was worth it, but the memory of her lips and hot breath reminded me it was.

I knew this jungle, but not well. I have never been what one would call an outdoorsman. I prefer dances, duels and drink to weather, worms, and work. I could see the towers of the city in the distance and judged it to be a good day’s walk. Now I knew the oafs had flung me on the back of a horse and brought me out here.

The sun was raised high now and beating on the green canopy above. After a couple hours of walking I sat on a stump. My feet missed their custom leather boots. That was when I saw the smoke. It was billowing in the sky from the city ahead. As the sun descended, the sky lit up from flame.

I approached the gates hours later and could see the whole place was a burnt mess. I turned around and walked back the way I came from. I never liked those bastards anyways. I guess my big mouth paid off.
 

David Evil Overlord

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Just Add Water​

You ask why I don’t want you marrying her, boy?

Look how green our mountain be. Other mountains be bare grey rock, snow capped come winter. Our mountain be green all year round.

Look how white that valley be, like old bones. Other valleys be green and sweet with life. There be a desert.

Wonder why?

When I were your age, the valley were green, the mountain were bare grey rock, and Harald Miller took himself a wife from outside our lands. She were different, like your girl.

In our valley, there were a river then. Don’t look so surprised. Back then, water hereabouts ran downhill. Truly.

Baron Greenvale wanted “tourists”. Eh? Them’s people with too much coin, who wanders about instead of staying where they was born. Foolishness.

The Baron, he built a water park where the mill once stood. You can see it down there, rotting away. Pools and slides and splashing things, useless without water.

What happened? Harald died o’ Red Fever. Baron used the law to take the mill from his widow. Guess buying it fair would have cost coin he didn’t care to spend.

Opening day, in front of all them tourists, she told the Baron he’d stolen her land, but she owned the water.

Baron stabbed her, in front of all them tourists.

She owned the water, all right. She were an undine, a water spirit, and water fled from her death. Uphill. Forevermore.

Last anyone saw the Baron, he were on his knees, crying over all his dry lands.

Had to move our town up the mountain. Learn new ways. How to hitch mountain goats to our ploughs. Harvest crops growing up cliffs. Fish from a waterfall that falls up.

That’s why I don’t wants you marrying that dryad!
 

Glen

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Lost

My identity, my knowledge of who I am is being stripped from me in tatters. I have only disconnected fragments of memory that provide no reference or foundation, leaving me lost and adrift in a sea of perception.

I recall the face of a woman. A glorious series of valleys stretching forever in afternoon light. Running down hot sand into the cooling, roaring ocean.

These things seem real, part of me, and everything else is false. These monoliths towering from our hive cities to the skies. Where they always there? The days spent tending egg sacs in vile fluids. Was that always the way? The stench stays with me into my dreams of recurrence and dislocation.

We are expendable. We shuffle from our bunks to our work to our troughs. Each day men are destroyed, absorbed in the vats, lost. We do not speak, though surely we once did. We are fallen. I see this as if through some film or fog of awareness that should not be there, as if my mind has been taken but some vestige remains. I retain a shadow of myself. My thoughts are secret, stolen.

Am I the only one who sees this untrammeled horror?

I dissociate. I long for my own cognitive demise, to be a drone, without thought or memory, lost in the crowds and mobs that spill through the pestilential city streets. Yet I dread the loss and cling to what broken shards are left of me, fearful of the diminishment that constrains my thoughts and pulls pieces from me with each brutalisation.

I fear that I will be found out, or I will allow myself to let go, and then the woman’s face, the valley, the ocean, all will be lost.
 

Phyrebrat

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

[FONT=&quot]Café[FONT=&quot] au Lait: Big Easy Style[/FONT][/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Even after Katrina we carried on digging up our dead. Old Nawlins demanded it, New Nawlins honoured it. [/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]So did Old Vic.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]
Nawlins caf
é[FONT=&quot] au lait ain[/FONT]’[FONT=&quot]t made, it[/FONT]’[FONT=&quot]s growed. So: spring and winter we dig our dead, spring and winter we wash they bones.[/FONT][/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]These days we don't dig deep; most of the topsoil’[FONT=&quot]s sand now and drifts round Galveston, susurrating with grief - if you'd been to Galveston, you'd grieve, too. Still, we inherited a new island off the coast.[/FONT][/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Then there’[FONT=&quot]s Old Vic - a worldwide rarity; who ever saw a chickory tree? Rare enough, but how bout one uprooted and dropped slap bang in the middle of an island? We took it as a bon augure and carry on the custom regardless, before he[/FONT]’[FONT=&quot]s harvested.[/FONT][/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]These past 8 years I've often thought the soil - that flesh - must've been trapped behind those roots and the island growed from there. That old bastard growed too, though how he throve on salt water I don't know, but that's where the bone washing takes place; 36,000 Nawliners paddle out there, wash them bones, then return them to the grave.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]2005 was cold; ground even froze. Hard to dig frozen bones, so I let my sweetheart be. Every year since, we been visited by tragedy. I ain't mean Bush, I’[FONT=&quot]m talking bout wrath. We wash them bones, pour the water over Old Vic's roots as always, but I guess I broke the charm. [/FONT][/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Each year those blamey Nawlins fingers aim pointier at me. They got in they heads something bout me, so here they put me, up in Old Vic with a length of vine looped around my neck, bout to do the Nawlins gallows jig.[/FONT]

Next time you have some Nawlins coffee, mayhap you’ll taste me, too.


 

AMB

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Lonely Places

The sun had risen, yet fog lay heavy on the moor. Occasionally a hare would bound out of the haze, startling the nesting birds and disturbing the morning stillness.

No one else dared the moor at this time of year; the frost- topped tors and icy vales made passage treacherous for the unwary. For Dale it was a bastion of solitude against the noisome clamour of civilisation.

He'd been here since the previous evening, when the urge to flee the gathering struck him with such force he barely made it home to retrieve his gear before he was away, out of the town and among the mossy crags and hillocks and wide open spaces.

It had been clear then. The stars shone brightly in the sky, a full moon lighting the way clear as if it were day. Now, his cold- damp clothes stuck to frozen flesh, and the light from his little camp stove offered neither warmth nor illumination. He knew it was morning only by the sickly pale hue of the world beyond the mist.

Cocooned in the velvet stillness, none of it mattered. He was more at ease than he'd ever been.

``Are you content here?'' came a voice upon the breathless wind. Dale startled, looking around as best as his frozen body would allow. Nothing moved in the formless landscape.

``Are you at home here?'' the voice asked again, and Dale could have sworn the wind itself was speaking to him. Highly flustered, he surprised himself by giving answer.

``My desire is for lonely places.''

``Then ever more shall you walk in lonely places.'' The voice whispered, and was gone.

A lightness of spirit overtook Dale then. The haze lifted, freeing him from all worldly care.

A lonely eternity spread before him. He began to walk.
 

Perpetual Man

Tim James
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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #11 (October 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Illarion

This is the tale of Illarion the last days that he led,
For all the elves in all the world believed him gone and dead.

When most of them, those ancient fae,
Toward the sunset sailed away,
Few remained to face mankind's rising day.
Love for a human fair, the reason he did stay.

But such a coupling is surely doomed,
In the way life’s tapestries are loomed,
Man is able to live life short but free,
While the elves are blighted with immortality.

So Illarion remained in a youthful grace,
His love did wither with times pace,
And when at last she succumbed to deaths cool touch,
The ancient fairie found eternal life too much.

He wandered back to his ancestorial home,
Empty of song and life: a forest of trees alone,
He stood in silence looking over the green,
Let go of his mind and stepped into a dream.

More like a tree he became suited,
There he stood to the spot so rooted,
Time passed and he did not die,
No final breath or ache filled sigh.

Rain and wind accosted his skin,
Verdant moss began to cover him,
Around him ivy entwined,
The old spry life left behind.

Through seasons hot and seasons cold,
The figure stood resisting old,
Skin drew dry, cracked and blasted
Living flesh in mummification wasted.

Blood to sap in veins inside,
Body by vines entwined,
Become like bark a heart denied,
Lost in wood a life petrified.

Upon the top of a rocky esplanade,
There stands a tree legend made,
A sentinel across a great divide,
It watches all and never dies.

A testament to the curse of never-ending life:
Here stands Illarion forever mourning his beloved wife.
 
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