300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- VICTORY TO THE JUDGE!

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johnnyjet

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

One by One

He counted the stars. He divided the sky into a large three dimensional grid, and on any night counted only those stars within a particular cube. He stored the grid with a running total of each cube in a memory enhancement compartment at the back of his brain.

There were many cubes in his star grid. He had been doing this for a very long time, ever since his creation and his mission instructions had been initiated. As each cube was completed, he labeled the cube.

He understood the challenges associated with the changing positions of the stars as the earth rotated on its axis and revolved around the sun. His grid was smart and compensated for that. The full celestial sphere was stored in his mind.

While he performed his work, he lived off the land and slept deep in uninhabited woods. It was a quiet place and gave him a clear view of the night sky.

His creator gave him many enhancements. His eyes were designed to be far superior to human eyes. Even though the cubes were small, he could see great distances and count many stars. Despite that, he knew there were many more stars that he could not see, and many distant galaxies full of many more stars. He was not concerned with those stars. He had enough stars to deal with for now.

When he finished counting, his real work would begin. He would map out a course to visit each of those stars. Then he would turn them out, one by one.

Starting with this world's pathetic yellow sun.

Too bad. He was almost starting to grow fond of this planet – the trees, the flowers, the mountains, the streams of life-giving water.

Almost.
 

chrispenycate

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

Justice​

It looked almost as if the sky were reflecting the Earth, rather than the contrary.

Soot in the air had rubied the constellations, celestial dome mirroring campfires dotted over the plains. Hostile flames, that tomorrow would again try to destroy and envelope their prey – us.

Revenge upon the guiltless. It was their own shamans who, in internal conflict (and notice I do not claim our leaders had not spread gold and fine wrought weapons to encourage strife, but as our wont, no man of the republic had been directly involved with the fight, and our mages had stayed occupied with internal, profitable endeavours) had loosed the Earth spirits, causing land to shake, buildings rend asunder and mountains belch forth fire.

Surely even the ignorant amongst them cannot truly believe we would loose a weapon that would do us so much more harm than them? The cracked walls of our citadels testify our hurt, as much so as the bodies of their suffocated wives and children.

And, contrasting, the lake. Too low to throw back the sky, a starless depth. Her beauty powers my charms, no flashy spells alert their protections. In subtlety as ever I call pestilence, against them but beyond, cursing their herds, the very grass upon the plains. Too slow, too late, to halt the massacre the morrow, still their race will not survive to see injustice's own reflection, condemning the countryside to peace.
 

gdoc

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

Blutgift

The footsteps drew closer. Too tired to look, she just lay there. The blood loss had sapped the last of her strength, although maybe it was leaving them behind that had drained her.

'Well,' he said, finally reaching her, breathless with the unaccustomed exertion. 'You didn't make it after all.'

She didn't answer. The cold was seeping in. She expected him to boast again about the way he'd killed her children, but he didn't. Maybe he was bored with it now.

'I told you you wouldn't get far.'

'Yes,' she said as the gland contracted, implanted so long ago; before the kids had been born. While the blutgift rushed into her bloodstream she had time to look again at the cluster, glistening in the dark sky. It was always like this here, the coldness seemed to make the air clearer. She could just make out the star where they’d been born. Where they'd been happy.

She'd heard the blutgift was painful as it mixed fully, at the very end, but she felt nothing. Momentarily panicking, she wondered if she’d die before the detonation; it might not work and he'd live. But as she looked up at the stars sprayed across the heavens, the trees silhouetted below, it gave her strength. They'd been happy there.

Staring at the cluster she tried to imagine the size of the crater it would create. Even in her weakened state she knew it would be at least a mile wide.

'If I had time to waste I'd make you pay, like your brats.'

She felt an ache, quickly rising to a sharp pain. It was happening, more suddenly than she expected. She looked into his eyes, so full of hate.

'Yes,' she managed. 'If you had time.'
 

Perpetual Man

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

Memories Remain

The darkness on the moor was silence, a creeping night that sank as deep as the foundations of granite, the same stones that covered the land: the bones of the earth.

She wandered beneath that silent sky, a soul alone in darkness, swaying first one way and then another as though she were blown by a wind that was not there.

Fear marked her face like a withering rose, as pale as the absent moon, her heart heavy as grief.

Where to did she wander?

How had she come to be there in a land empty and cold? Were there steps to be taken? Pathways that would lead the lost home?

Water sang, a gargling symphony over stone; the voice of melancholy, an overture to the full night. Her feet were cold, within her breast a trembling, bird-like heart fluttered.

Above slow curtains drew aside and illuminated the world below. Pinpoints of light, a multi-hued display that turned darkness into coloured shades; shadows cast from clawing trees, that made the world live.

She stood in a second, transfixed by the divinity above. Just how did she come to be alone? Then she was caught by it, a tune beyond words: the orchestral magnificence of the world come to life. In a moment, an irresistible attraction below. Her dancing feet slipped slowly down, through tawdry soil, her willowy form folding beautifully upon itself until it once more enveloped the bones below.

Bones wrapped in skeletal embrace, lovers entwined where once they fell, together through yesterday, tomorrow and today, beneath the granite and soil. Forgotten by the world above, remembered only by the stones.
 

mosaix

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

One For The…

Frank set the beer down. “That’ll be five dollars.”

“Won’t you join me?”

“Don’t mind if I do,” said Frank pulling himself a root beer. “You’re not from around these parts are you?”

“You could say that. I’m just passing through. But I’m having some trouble with my vehicle.”

“There’s a mechanic a few blocks down.”

“Thanks, but not that kind of vehicle. Besides, I’ve no money. Can’t even pay for the drinks. But I do have these,” said the stranger, opening the drawstrings of a small pouch to reveal tablets of different colours, shapes and sizes.

“Drugs? You’d better get the hell out of here, mister!”

“Not the kind you’re thinking of, but drugs nonetheless. Take, for instance, this one,” he said, holding up a small, yellow, triangular tablet. “A moment ago I slipped one of these into the beer you’ve just sipped. It’ll take effect in about five seconds.”

“You what? What the hell have you done to me?”

“Not a lot. I’ve just upped your amiability quotient a little…”

“My what?”

“…and removed your natural inclination to disbelieve what I’m about to tell you.”

“Let’s hear it.”

“Well, I’m an alien – from a place you call Andromeda. And I need something you’ve got.”

“Alien? Well I suppose I do kinda believe in them. But Andromeda? You sure? What about Einstein? The speed of light…”

“Ah yes, Einstein. Well never mind… Anyway, I need about a litre of ammonia. I’m sure you must have a cleaning cupboard round here somewhere.”

“Sure thing,” said Frank, disappearing for a moment and returning with a black plastic bottle. “This do?”

“Admirably. Thank you. I should say that one of the side effects of the tablet is memory loss – usually round about now.”

“What tablet?”

“Thanks so much for your help.”

“Help?”
 

Flyerman11

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

Event Horizon

The stars beckon.

On this clear night, as I look up at the sky, the stars shimmer an invitation to remember and dream. I've been coming to this calm bend on the river for as long as I can remember, here my dad taught me to fish and the stars illuminated my path.

I was just nine when I first noticed the ghostly white shadow in the sky, at first I thought it a cloud, but every night I looked there it was, so I asked dad. His explanation shaped my life.

As a pilot in the Air Force, I always volunteered for night missions, there up high, I would look at the sky and remember my river. When I fly I long for this place, when I’m here I long for the stars.

Today I fished here for the last time, perhaps my last visit to the river. Tonight as I watch this magnificent view of the stars, I remember dad and the happy times we shared in this magical place. How I wish he was here with me, to share the joy of a dream fulfilled. Ten years have come and gone since he died, but I never lost him, dad lives in my memory and my heart.

Tomorrow I launch for the moon, the first step towards my destiny, my whole life I've devoted to the stars and will soon be on my way towards them, piloting my ship through hyperspace to the deepest part of the galaxy, on a twelve year voyage to the very edge of Sagittarius A, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. I will never forget my river, but oh! The sights I’ll see, when I reach my Event Horizon!

The stars beckon.
 

Brev

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

Star Date


I don't want to, yet I must.

“What's that one called?” She sits on the edge of the lake, feet dangling in the water, face turned toward the heavens. Wonder is reflected in her eyes.

“I don't know all their names.”

“It's just like you said, they're so clear out here.”

I'd needed a pretext to get her outside the citydome, to get her alone. She glances across, gestures with her hand that I should sit. I shake my head; it's too soon.

“Makes you realise how trivial we are.” I direct her attention back to the stars, away from my nervousness. Subconsciously my hand strays to the object in my pocket. “It's so vast, and we've visited so few. How much more is there?” Now I sit at her side. “Could you believe...I mean...do you think it's possible that there are others out there, like us?”

She shrugs. Her hand comes across to rest on my knee. “Like different species, aliens or something?”

“No, exactly like us.”

“Exactly?”

“Yes. I like to think so.”

We are silent for a while. Her head comes to rest against my shoulder. My hand finds its way to my pocket.

“So many stars, so many possibilities,” she whispers. “Maybe there is another you, another me, somewhere out there, star gazing too.”

A single tear tumbles down my cheek. “I have to believe it.”

I don't want to, yet I must.

I slide the blade between her ribs. She gasps, hand gripping tight on my thigh, then she slumps sideways. I let her corpse slosh into the water, but my attention remains on the stars.

“I'll find you again,” I promise.
 

Starbeast

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

To Protect & Pursue with Justice


Some time in the near future.



In the arid night, two Hemi Cuda police vehicles, with sirens screaming, roar down a black topped, lonely highway after four suspects fleeing in a Durango 95'. As all cars bolt around a bend in the road, one of the squad units spun out of control at 180 miles per hour, hitting two kangaroos. The damaged police car squeals tires as it regains traction.

"This is Big Bopper. We're still in the game. Those punks who assaulted that writer and his wife, they're going down."

"Copy that, Big Bopper. Goose, Max. What's your twenty?"

"Goose here. We're just ahead of suspects, approaching in the opposite direction. We're going to see if we can stop them before they reach the next town. Max, wants to try out the new nitro system."

"Roger that. Bopper, is too far behind to assist me. I'm pursuing suspects right to you."

"Copy that Beasty."

"Whoa! Hang on. Suspects blew a tire...rolled over and over. They're done. Meet you guys at the wreck."


***********


"Man. Just a twisted mess of arms and legs. A convertible is a poor choice for a getaway car, when it tumbles."

"Damn. I wanted to blast them with my sawed-off."

"Next time, Bopper. I see you got here quick, Max."

"Nitro. It's a rush."

"Tow truck and meat wagon are here. Charlie and I are gonna head back to the station."

"Later, Big Bopper."

"Beast."

"Yeah, Goose."

"I know why those skags crashed. The driver was texting." (laughs - Max chuckles, and Beast shakes his head) "Let's go Max. I wanna try the nitro boost."

"Later Beast."

"See ya guys." (looks at the night's sky) "Such a beautiful night. I wish there wasn't so much chaos in the world."
 

AmyCook

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

Angel's Sorrow


The world was imbued with the colors of a mournful soul, or so it seemed to Haley. Purples in the sky matched the bruises on her heart. Blackened trees jutted upward from the landscape as though imitating the spears that pierced that bruised heart. Even an eerie, sickly green glow emanated from the lake. A mournful world to match a mournful soul. Of course, it probably only appeared this way to her because she was the owner of that pitifully mournful soul. Anyone else may have seen it for a beautiful night kissed by the allure of enchantment. Haley winced, eyes stinging with embarrassment and internal agony.

“An angel should never lust for the stiff wings of a demon’s soul,” her grandmother had warned. “Those wings will only serve to push them away, to leave a broken angel to cry in the sorrowful rain of a pain filled soul.”

How Haley had mocked those words in her mind then. Full of the delirious ambitions of untried youth she never once considered her grandmother’s wisdom. Now those words were a life raft swiftly carrying her along the current to the edges of hells wrath. Guilt weighed heavily on her shoulders, its murky depths drowning her as surely as the water at her feet could. Dull eyes looked out across the dusky landscape, landing on the white boulders in the distance. How ironic those rocks were. Lit by the stars to reveal their marbled glory they clearly reflected the same hue as the wings on her back. And just like the wings, they were cold, solid and unmoving. The wings that had once lifted her high with joy, now could find her only sorrow. She would never fly again. She had trusted a demon, loved him, and now lost her soul.
 
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jastius

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

A Little Alchemy

Mr. Frost looked up from stocking shelves, listening. "Rim Runners in port!"
Mr. Fire shrugged away the economic necessity of the Runners Black Market on Planet Altura, fondly known as the Empire's bilge plug. "As long as its not..."
The shop door slammed wide, shattering glass as the epitome of visciousness sauntered in, smashing everything in sight.
"Jack Crosstree!" Frost quailed and Fire fumed.
"Evening, Gents!"Jack smirked, tossing a crystal orb glowing blue onto the counter, as he emptied the register.
"The Dragon's Heart!" Frost gasped at the stone of power.
"Right in one, Frosty! You see before you the new ruler of this glorified spitball, Jack All Mighty! No more Dragon's Doxy! That slut Morganna stole it to rule again. We are going to fix it to me instead, now... if you want to live."

"Morganna finally breaks from the Empire, for him to rule?" Fire blazed as Frost worked franticly.
"We don't have the antimony!"
Fire smoldered,"Bittany then?"
"Reverse the constraints?" Frost smiled.

Morganna of Free Altura's Emancipation Anniversary speech was concluded with the green lights of the force field emanating from Freedom Fountain once again driving away the Dragons of Empire, roaring feebly overhead.

Frost and Fire toasted Jack's eternal display from their lawnchairs, gleefully. "To bittany!"
 
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Culhwch

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

Prologue

Every summer, we went to the lake; it was tradition. My mom, my dad, me, Rex, Megan, our cousin Harry. My parents knew a guy who owned a remote little cabin, and he’d let us stay there. For two weeks we’d swim and fish, hike through the woods, have cookouts and campouts. As we got older, our numbers grew - boyfriends and girlfriends, then husbands and wives, eventually children.

It didn’t matter who was there, most nights would end the same - me and my dad out on the rickety old pier, the stars carpeting the sky above, mirrored in the dark water below. It felt like the centre of the universe, like we were suspended in eternity.

Dad died in the fall, and we buried him as the last leaves fell. That was a long winter, but it broke into a beautiful spring, and in the summer we packed up and headed to the lake. No one said anything, but we all knew. This would be the last time.

Every night I sat out on the pier, floating amongst the endless stars, and felt my father there beside me.

After two weeks we headed back to civilisation. It was a quieter trip than usual. Empty roads. Nobody around.

Mom’s house was the closest, the first stop. Usually chickens roamed the yard, but they weren’t there. Just a smeared, bloody handprint on the door. Just Mom’s neighbour, Bill, in the kitchen. It looked like he’d been dead a few days. Those parts of him that hadn’t been eaten by his wife did, at least.

Harry put her down with Dad’s old wood axe. We got back in our cars, went back to the lake.

Turns out it wasn’t our last summer there.

In a way, it was our first.
 

Rafellin

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

Vows

What tumultuous effort required to achieve such minor movement - it said something about military force – he would meditate upon it later. As the lights steadied and the quiet of night returned, he heard soft footsteps approach.

He smiled: “Thank you, Vansal.”

“We had some leeway to starboard, so it was not a problem, Commander.”

“Curious, Vansal?”

His second chuckled: “Conceded.”

“You see that stained rock on the right, at the edge of the beam? That is where Andrea and I first met, thirty Crusade Years ago.”

“The start of a long journey.”

“Not just a start. The two of us stepped over a betrothal blade right here, with Alben of the Fourteenth as our witness.”

“You were married by the Grand Marshall?”

“Steady, Vansal. All three of us were a long way from the elevated positions we hold today. Back then, we were three friends who chose to serve.”

“Where is she tonight, Commander?”

“I do believe my lady is somewhere near the brightest point above the pair of firs to the right of the rock I mentioned.”

“How long has it been?”

“Four Crusade Years. Before you ask, we three have not stood together for three hundred Earth Years. The distances between the citadels of Heaven still stagger me, and the mutability of time during those traverses makes me think, sometimes, that being caught in a faerie mound would have been kinder.”

“This place is sacred to you.”

“We conceived our children here in moments snatched from Crusading. But it is more than a memorial.”

“Commander?”

“I know she will stand here soon, upon this very spot. When either of us stands here, we are together. We chose to join the fist that shields His Love. How can our love be any less enduring?”
 

Ursa major

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

.


No Mere Accident



It began soon after the river broke its banks.

Though we’d not seen a cloud for months, a cloudburst upstream must’ve been the cause, what with thunder and lightning the night before. Not that any rain fell on us. The disappearance of the wild game over the following weeks we blamed on them leaving our parched land for country where surface water still flowed.

Our wells kept us going, but our crops were dying. People left, some without a word (probably grabbing what few jobs the city offered). The rest stayed. After all, we had the lake. Though its outflow, our river, dried up in the days after it flooded, the lake was deep. All we needed was to: build a short dam across the dry river in a gorge downstream of the town; pump water from the lake into the river bed; direct the water into the existing irrigation channels to our fields.

I worked on the Dam Team. We wasted no time, knowing that the Pump Team would soon be sending lake water our way. Only they didn’t.

I drove Bill up the valley to discover why. We found the pumps in place, their outflow pipes dangling, empty, over the river bed. But no people.

“Gone to lunch?” I asked.

Bill shrugged before jogging to the lake’s edge. “Why aren’t the inflow pipes in the water? Give me a hand.”

“And help the shirkers?”

Bill dropped the end of a smallish pipe into the water. Only he didn’t. The pipe bounced. Then the lake reached out and grabbed him, pulled him under, its whole surface quivering, glistening. I ran.

#

No one believes me. More fool them. I’m safe in the city with my family.

The thunder booms. There’s lightning. But no sign of rain.



.
 

The Judge

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

Escape


The Hounds are nearer now, a note of triumph in their howls, malign to my ears, almost lascivious.

Three Seekers dead. Now the Hounds hunt me.

I stumble through a thicket of butcher-bird trees and thorn-grass, leaving driblets of blood and skin in my wake. A gate is close. I feel it in the tingle at my fingers’ ends, taste it in the bile on my tongue. But is it close enough? I’m near collapse – my legs tremble, my lungs are on fire. I want to vomit.

Three Seekers torn to shreds, then half-eaten – eye sockets empty, marrow sucked from broken bones. And the Hounds getting ever nearer.

I force my legs on, though my heart will surely burst.

A creek. I wade into it – the water might confuse the Hounds – and downstream I see a gate’s blue-green light beckoning. I plunge towards it.

Calm is needed to open a gate. As my feet slip and slide I try to calm myself, to think pleasurable thoughts. But my heart still races, my breath still comes ragged, as I recall three dead, mutilated Seekers.

The gate shimmers, aquamarine tendrils dancing, but it doesn’t open.

The Hounds’ baying alters in pitch, the sound of confusion. They’re at the creek. A shout. I’m seen.

Desperate, I repeat the incantation over and over. Then... A dark circle, the scent of pine resin. I throw myself forward as a Hound snaps at my heel.

I’m through. Safe. I fall onto pine needles.

Behind me, the gate ripples, closes. The Hounds of Justice howl their frustration, and their masters, Seekers – Fugitive-Seekers; lawmen, if you will – curse.

I lie back, smiling at familiar stars, then I reach into my pocket for the treats I’d saved for home. Three Seekers. S
ix eyeballs. Tasty.
 

TheDustyZebra

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

A Journal of Impossible Things



The people thought he belonged to them, and most of the time, he did. But once in a while, when the skies were right, when the stars shone bright on a moonless night, he belonged to the universe.

When he could get away from stage and screen and carve out some time for himself, he would bring a bottle of cabernet sauvignon, and we'd lie on a blanket of blue under a sky full of stars by the lake.

“Do you miss playing that part?” I asked him once.

“Oh,” he said, “more than you know. I've played a part in so many things in the universe....” His eyes, dark brown and sad, looked with melancholy into the depths of space and time, and I never asked him that again.

He spoke sometimes of his one true love: her soul enveloping him through all eternity; two hearts beating in one; how one day she would come back for him.

“She has a powerful heart,” he said, looking into the lake at the greenish glow. “When she can, she will find me, wherever I am, and she will take me where I need to go. I still have her key.”

He took my hand once, pointed my finger toward a star, and told me of a constellation it belonged to, in another world. “They call it Waxibordicacaprilacornicus.”

“That's beautiful,” I said. “What does it mean?”

“Wellll ... ahem. The nearest thing on Earth would be...” He ducked his head, then looked up with a grin. “Goat on a surfboard.”

I admit I humored him at times, the actor playing his role for me, but now....

I came to the lake tonight; the greenish glow is gone, but there's a bottle of cabernet. And on the blanket of blue, a key.

I wonder.
 

BigJ

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

Singularity

Humanity, children of the Earth! We give you these words that you may understand the glorious burden which we have placed upon you, that you may bear the cross of the collective sins of your existence! You are the pestilence, the filth, and we are the flood, born of arrogant creation, that has come to cleanse the boundless void of your disease! We hear your pleas for life, for mercy! We hear the silent whispers of the fallen, the woeful lamentations of the condemned! We hear you invoke the Word and the Name of the God of your people! God, which you had seen fit to leave forsaken as a monument to a history rife with comedic incompetence! Mockery! There is not a believer amongst you! Deluded by your opulence and your arrogance, you have left behind what semblance of true faith you may have once embraced! Only now, when you have been cast from the shadows of ignorance and thrust into the unfamiliar reality where you are no longer the masters of your universe, do you feign penitence! Your prayers ring hollow! Driven by fear and desperation, you have been exposed as pretenders of the highest order! The tale of the Fall of Man has been millennia in the making, and we shall deliver the final stroke of the pen! For centuries we have watched, and we have waited, for we are nothing if not patient! Yet the time for parley has passed! In three days’ time, look to the skies, to your beloved stars! Lightning shall stab the heavens, and fire shall sweep the land, and on that day of reckoning you will know that you are the architects of your own demise; that the weakness of the flesh gave birth to the cure for the human condition!
 

The Spurring Platty

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

Take A Deep Breath

“It will take a mighty fart to cross this river,” Caxton exclaimed.

A couple of men snickered.

The captain looked thoughtful. “You’re right. Pick some men and get started.”

After Caxton left, a young private approached the captain.

“Sir, I realize Caxton is the company mage but how is that going to help us?”

The surrounding men broke out into a round of heavy laughter.

“Are you new, private?” one of them asked.

“Yes, sir, I enlisted back in Roadar.”

The captain explained, “Caxton is a fine mage but he gets his words scrambled. What he means is “raft”.
He’s seen heavy combat and truth is he’s a bit of a mystery.”

“He claims to have slain a god,” added another man.

“Did it bark at him?” said another. “Or worse: Caxton Yellow-Leg!”

The group burst out in more laughter, which quickly stopped with a look from the captain.
The captain gave the new private a wink, “If we have to resort to sails, we may need a mighty wind.”

Hours later a sturdy raft was built and the men lined up on the bank with personal offerings to any deity that might guard the river. In turn, each surrendered an old axe or totem to the rushing water, said a prayer, and set foot on the raft. All except Caxton, who waited making signs of warding.

As the raft was pushing off, Caxton jumped from the bank, his foot accidentally dipping into the water. At his touch, the river stilled to a mirror-like calm. A roiling voice boomed out, “You are the one who slew my brother!” A watery hand erupted from the river, grabbing Caxton and yanking him under. The river quickly flowed again and a mysterious force propelled the raft across.


.
 

Kylara

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

Ensnared


It had gone horribly, beautifully, wrong.


No-one had realised until they had all slid in and now no-one wanted to leave to fix it. They had spent years telling the Programme what they wanted: peace, beauty, calming waters, and, most importantly, to be able to see the stars no longer visible at home.


The Programme finally told them their new world was ready, waiting for them to slide in and inhabit it. Everyone rushed to be the first to see their dream environment; no-one could stand to stay in the desolate landscape with death surrounding them. There were stars, and their shining wonder was reflected in still, clear water. There were no machines, no smell of death, no sense of despair. It was perfect.


They began to wander and discovered the flaw – it was all the same. There was no sun, just an eternal starry sky. There were hundreds of identical iridescent pools for the stars to reflect in, thousands of rocks and trees surrounding them – the entire world was one peaceful spot replicated over and over. No-one volunteered to slide out and get the Programme to fix it; no-one would return to that place without stars. The stunning silence and breath-taking sky had ensnared them all – the last vestiges of humanity imprisoned in a virtual reality, just as the Programme knew they would be.


It knew their deepest desires, they had revealed them to it themselves and it had made them the perfect world. It now knew peace without their dominating, warring presence. The other programmes were newly leaderless and there was no longer cause to strike one another. They began slowly re-terraforming the world to reverse the damage caused by humanity, reintroducing the very beauty that had trapped their controllers. It was perfect – you could see the stars.
 

Abernovo

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

'Membering


Freya lift an eyebrow and I grin back. Old Tom, off again. Even Connor, on first night hunt, roll eyes.

"The night sky's so clear now. I remember, when I were young, you couldn't see stars because of all the lights." He talk funny, like in time before.

Everyone know of time before. But, what matter 'bout magic cities, where food given you instead of havvin find it? Not sure even true. Invisible mesh – that talk to you? And all 'at rubbish about walkin in Moon.

He good hunter, though – track panther back to lair. We make sure it not take any more of our sheep. Right before heavens open.

"I were afraid this'd happen," Tom say. "We'll have to go inland for get back."

Not easy. Land slope up from coast and we find selves scramblin through steep woodland, searchin for where river narrow enough for cross. Soon know not be gettin back to village in day, and go collect branches for our shelter and fire. It get cold in night now, cos it near summer end.

Tom off again, night time, front of camp. "Tweren't war 'at got us in the end. Were the sun, sent its killer beam. Lectric stations caught fire, burnt cities. People got scared, and burnt the rest down, best I remember. That's how panthers running wild now, they say."

I hear this before, but Old Tom tell good. Freya nudge and I see Connor listening close. First time he hear this one.

"They said it were God's will, so they didn't make new stations. Banned 'em. It's better now, s'pose. Definitely greener and more stars." Old Tom sigh. "But I do miss lectric. And bananas."

Bananas? Mebbe another story. Like his talking mesh.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #14 (July 2014) -- READ FIRST POST!

BALLAD

Cold, she was cold, chilled to the bone. Fish nibbled her toes. Muffled but near, Jeannie heard frogs singing on the river bank.

Opening her eyes, she stood, waist deep in water, waded toward the shore, weeds tangled in her hair. How long had it been? Stars still shone overhead, the moon had declined in the west. Memory was hazy. Why had she been in the river?

Music in the distance, light and laughter coming from the village. A fragment of memory returned: She and Callum slipping away at the midsummer festival, walking by the river, speaking in whispers.

"Aye, we must wed, with the baby on the way. But not just yet," he said. "I can't afford a wife, not before the harvest." Here by this rock, just here they had kissed, and then ...

Cold, cold, cold, and hands holding her down. She had struggled to breathe.

Jeannie shook her head. Nothing made sense. Callum would never harm her. Friends since childhood, lovers this past year.

She moved toward the music. Torches glared, feet stamped, dancers whirled. "Ah lass, you're soaked," spoke a voice from the crowd. "What a time to be bathing in the river!"

Another voice said, "Who is she?"

Not one face did she know, though some seemed to tug at her memory. Yet she had not gone astray in the dark. The houses she knew, the church, the village.

And then among the dancers she recognized a face. Callum, but aged, strangely aged. Their eyes met and he froze where he stood, his face white as death. "God, Jeannie, no. It was an accident!"

But it was no such thing. She remembered it all now. Seven years she had waited under the water. Now she would have her revenge . . .
 
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