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The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Nov 10, 2008
nearly the New Forest


To write a story in 300 words or fewer

INSPIRED by the image provided below, in the genre of

Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Speculative Fiction


Only one entry per person

All stories Copyright 2015 by their respective authors,
who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here

This thread will be closed until JANUARY 10

-- as soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story

Entries must be posted no later than JANUARY 31 2015,
at 11:59 pm GMT

Voting will close FEBRUARY 15, 2015 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

NO links, commentary or extraneous material in the posts, please -- the stories must stand on their own


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

The inspiration image for this month is:

KV-sculpture1 - reduced size.jpg

Image credit: Bryan Wigmore aka HareBrain

Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
Mar 3, 2014
Field Trip to the Home of Miss Bessie McFadden

I stepped from my bath and listened near an open window as the fetishes professor, his students attending, deconstructed my life…

“You’ve examined this home’s magnificent sculpture. Analysis, Renfro?”

“Teacher, it’s a Totem of Sought Love, carved by master fetishes craftsmen and bonded to its owner. The patterns are charm incisions--the front device is that for pure vision, the rear for finding true love. The lovers’ spirits meld in the hollowed core. Gender glyphs here..and here reveal that a woman seeks her male partner. ”

“Excellent. Totem sculptures are foolproof--should fated lovers meet beside one, love is guaranteed. Their charms’ only flaw is that they cannot compel lovers to rendezvous; those seeking love must approach the totem of free will to ensure happiness. They’re single-use objects and always removed once true love’s found. This sculpture’s easily five decades old, thus no love pairing has occurred via its charms.

“Consider the social implications for failure of such a public totem: hundreds of men have likely travelled here for consideration over the years; the love-seeking girl became a woman, the woman a spinster as her quest failed. As hope was abandoned, she’d become a source of unrelenting pity locally. I daresay by this point in life this sculpture has become her jailer; I doubt she could even pass it now to leave her property’s front gate.

“Next we study happier outcomes--the wealth-fetish baths near Prousk!”

And they left; such self-righteous people, professors. I looked in a mirror--my long white hair flowed loosely over firm shoulders. My eyes were bright, my smile inviting. A party of older bachelors would arrive soon; I’d serve tea and cakes, and charm them. Today, perhaps, my totem would reveal my true love. If not this day, another. There’s always time for love.

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Oct 5, 2011
blah - flags. So many flags.

Mum says I shouldn’t worry about the Alien Stone in the back field. Mr Vickers put it there because his crop circles weren’t even oval and no one came to see them. A man’s got to earn a penny, she said, even if it’s a dodgy one.

“But,” I said, “there’re lights at night. They shine through the holes.”

Of course there were, she laughed. Mr Vickers used his Landrover’s headlights when there was a big crowd, and angled them just so. Since he was charging a tenner to get to the UFO fields, he needed to give some sort of show.

I was going to tell her the lights weren’t yellow like a car’s, but she told me to get my jammies on and went to make supper.

So I tried Dad, telling him about the ships in the sky. He nearly fell off his seat he laughed so hard. Jimmy Vickers had lights attached to his gyrocopter, he said, and when he got the nod he let it off. Then he sent me to bed before Mum had finished supper and it was cheese on toast with burnt bits.

I sat on my windowsill. The Stone was quiet, but soon the lights started. I stood on tiptoe and checked Mr Vickers’s house was empty – on a Sunday, he’d be preaching down the hall and Dad said he could numb a Saint’s arse once he got started. The lights got busier than ever until, with a flash, Mr Vickers’s house was gone, and then the church hall.

“Mum! Dad!” I shouted. They’d have to believe me now. I heard them running up the stairs, and then they stopped.

“Oh crap,” said Dad.

“See?” I said. “Aliens.”

But Daddy didn’t reply. In fact, he just vanished.


Wishes she was funny
Apr 19, 2014

I open the fridge door; light spreads into the kitchen. I grab a can of pop. Mum'll shout at me in the morning for coming downstairs at night, but I can't sleep and I'm thirsty.

I push the fridge closed; then I leave the kitchen.

I look and there's a man standing on the stairs. I scream and my tonsils scratch. I've dropped my can onto my foot. “Ow, ow ow ow.” Tears blur my vision. The smell of freshly-cut wood creeps up my nose, to the back of my throat.

The light switches on and I shield my eyes. I peek upstairs and the man's gone. I gasp when I see my mum's head.., poking round the corner. She rubs her eyes and speaks in a voice too tired to be angry: “Mimi, put that back and go to bed.”

“But Mum-”

“Do you know what time it is? Put it back, now!”

With my sourest pout I wrench the can up. Humph. I stomp.., then hop back into the kitchen; my foot feels bruised. I put the can back in the fridge. As I turn to leave, the man glides towards me, wriggling tree branches binding him from head to toe. My stomach swirls as a branch grabs my arm.

I'm hoisted at the wall; I pass through like it's a ghost.

My legs shake. I feel like I'm gonna be sick. My arm's thrashing: twigs are digging into me. The man's walking through a tree and the branches are pulling me in with him. I snap branches, scream-

I can't move. It feels like I've been dragged from my body. I th.., I think I'm trapped in a tree.

I hear my mum in the kitchen: “Mimi..!? MIMI!”

I can't answer. I can't even cry.


Delusions of Grammar
Aug 3, 2014
Ballynahinch, County Down
Mouths of Babes

“What do you think it’s meant to be, Pa?”

“I don’t know, son, but it’s been here a long time. Some say it’s a map of the stars, the route to a new world for all mankind.”



Their weapons had no effect on us but their nuclear bombs wounded their planet and they hid underground. For a glorious, brief era dragons ruled the earth.

We sent messengers home with star maps tattooed on them to bring our kin.


“Some say it is a totem, son, planted here by our ancestors to honour the gods.”


You could say that.

A woman laid a trap for us and baited it with her own kind.


“What do you think it is, Pa?”

“Someone’s idea of a joke,” he laughed. “Put here to make us ask these very questions.”


And that was the truest of all.

I am the last of my kind.

The rest are gone. Most of us perished here, buried in the crust of the planet we coveted.

It is a bad way to die, but it is a worse way to live, just the tip of my ear above the ground, feeling the kiss of the sea breeze, hearing gulls cry.

She said it would be my penance, to remain alive and listen eternally. As the leader of my kind I would be the one to bear the punishment.


“What do you think it is, son?”

“I think it is a warning to us, Pa. A warning that there are things we will never understand. Dangerous things. Can we go home now?”


Out of the mouths of babes.

In the distance a faint cry carried on the wind.

“We come, sister. We come with fire and fury. Wait for us.


Interested Observer
Aug 13, 2011
New Jersey

Of course, we didn’t know what to make of the Slab when it first appeared, like everyone else who woke up seeing one in their front yard that morning. Ours was on the taller end of average size, seven feet high, the same bluish-grey colored stone, irregular finger-like shape, intricate patterns carved into it. Damned heavy, for all that they’re hollow-tried moving it, and it wouldn’t budge.

At first we didn’t want to touch them, who knew what might happen? But after the radio announcement by the government that “eminent scientists” had declared them safe, we couldn’t stop ourselves from spending more and more time with the Slab. It just feels…right… when you caress its rough surface. Comforting, and even some kind of pleasurable, is how I’d describe it.

About a week after the Slabs first appeared, the government started broadcasting warnings on every radio station. “Minimize contact with the Slabs”, they cautioned. “Continue with your normal daily activities”, they pleaded. By then, it was too late.

You see, the more you touched the Slab, the more pleasurable it became. Little by little, everyone stopped doing much of anything except Slabbing, as we called it. Farmers left their fields untended, factories shut down due to lack of workers, and generally the entire world is slowly grinding to a halt.

The first deaths, from dehydration, were reported on the radio a couple days ago. Since then, the radio only transmits an automated message. I guess the people who were running it left for their own Slabs, now.

I recall that one fellow, some scientist, who, from the beginning, was saying the Slabs could be dangerous, an “invasion” of some type. Curled up next to my Slab, I think maybe he was onto something. But it feels so good….

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Dec 9, 2012
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA

Darby and Whisper stood at the edge of the cliff and looked down at City. Pastel towers and glowing domes stretched toward the horizon. Clouds drifted above City, bringing soft rain to its billion inhabitants.

The snow was ankle-deep. Darby breathed deeply. The air was thin and icy, without a hint of City’s perfumes.

“Let’s keep going,” Whisper said. She was part of the same somatic class as Darby. They were both tall and muscular, with amber skin and bronze hair, but Whisper seemed more tolerant of the cold. “We have to get back before dark.” They had left City long before dawn, and the sun was already beginning its descent.

They trudged up the last few hundred meters in silence. A pair of monitors flew by, steel hawks with scarlet eyes. Darby imagined he could feel them probing his body for forbidden enhancements. No one was allowed here with alveolar transplants or skin protectants. The risk of hypoxia and frostbite was the price paid by those who sought the peak.

Whisper pulled him up the final rise. In a shallow depression, its base hidden under packed snow, the device waited for them, as it had waited for many others over the years since its arrival. It was a tall gray slab of stone and metal, pierced with dozens of slits surrounding a central hole. The wind shrieked through it.

Darby pulled off his gloves. “I’m ready.” He put his naked hands in the opening. Whisper made her way to the other side. She joined hands with him. Together they sang with wise and ancient beings floating in warm yellow oceans, tendrils wrapped around each other in the slow dance of life.

A moment later the monitors chased them away. They began the long and melancholy descent.


Juliana Spink Mills. "No capes!"
Jun 28, 2012
Connecticut, USA

The Blessing Bough

When the Murphys left the stony shores of Galway for the Argentine, they took all their worldly possessions: three small children, two steamer trunks and a piece of driftwood with a number of regular, even grooves on one side, deeply carved and smooth to the touch.

The family settled in Tigre, worked hard and thrived. Eventually the eldest son, Thomas, got married. Soon after, a package arrived. It was the driftwood.

Thomas counted the grooves on one side and noted there was one line less than before. He said not a word, but wrapped the wood and set it in a drawer.

Thomas prospered and moved to the capital. He had four daughters, beautiful and well educated. They held dinner parties, tea parties, and played croquet on the lawn.

Eventually the eldest, Marianne, married. The young bride’s first visitor was her father. He set a bundle of oilcloth on the table and unwrapped the piece of driftwood. He counted the lines: one more gone. Thomas smiled. He turned to his daughter.

“Keep it safe. It is the secret to our success. A deal, bartered over a century ago. You need do nothing but care for it, and pass it to your first born after their marriage.”

Marianne, being an enlightened, erudite sort, thought it quaint. She framed it and hung it in her study. When her only child married, she gave it to him. “For luck.”

The new wife grimaced. “Really, darling? Such an ugly lump of wood.”

The driftwood went into the dumpster. That same night, the family home burnt down with everyone inside. Only two generations before the debt was paid, the curse took everything.

Once again smooth and uncarved, the driftwood lay upon a stony shore waiting for someone to barter with.


Well-Known Member
Dec 25, 2014
Of a Pict Song

The full moon shone through the eye of the needle bathing the Shaman in a liquid silver light and glinting off the tips of his long sweeping horns.

He stamped and danced kicking up dust, and the gathered congregation did likewise, a low rumbling thunder rolling through the dark.

The Shaman grunted, his brown eyes rolling back in his head as the spirits overcame him. He wore a golden ring in his nose and it glistened in the moonlight, smeared in mucous and the sweat dripping from his leathered brow.

His father had once led these rites, and before him his father, and before him…

Their numbers dwindled though, and now no more than a score gathered before the moon needle where once there had been hundreds. The Shaman looked to his young son standing trembling now beside his mother, and wondered if he would be the last.

He threw back his head, roaring, and those gathered answered. A lowing chant offered to the old gods and echoing across the moors.

This was a sacred night, the last full moon before the solstice. This was a wild night and though they might be slaves on other days, tonight, in this moon, in this season they were one with the wild places that slept beneath the ordered rows of road and field.

The forests had long ago been felled, the tallest straightest oaks turned to barricades and barriers. The hills fenced for pasture and the valleys sown with barley, but on this night they gathered to chant and howl and stamp and reclaim for a single night the freedom of their ancient country.


Brian gazed out into the dark and took a long slow draw on his pipe before turning to his wife.

“Something has spooked old Fleming’s cows again”

J.L. Borstlap

I call it my home from home - Fantasy
Nov 25, 2014
Gonubie, South Africa
The Gamble

Things have never been as I wanted them to be. I have had moments in my life where people just stare with amazement and others where they just shake their heads. No one truly understands the greatness of my deep dark pool, sucking me dry day by day.
Recently I have decided to change things, I have gone and found a place no one really ever speak or write about. A small island just north of my hometowns shore. Getting there was the first challenge, second was to make sure the place is what I was looking for.

The waves slammed my boat into a steady rocking motion, feeling my insides climb the ladder to my face. I could see the shoreline. The sand was bright and untouched while the trees stood still even though the wind blew.My feet touched the sand and I closed my eyes as I gave my life's biggest but most satisfying sigh.

"I am free!" I shouted, knowing that no one can judge or say anything to me this day. I was alone and free from the hate and strict rules of our world. The morning went by quick, exploring the place up until I found the circle. 27 Perfect rocks placed in a circle, all leading to a single long high rock. It was hypnotizing. As I walked towards it a man appeared and raised his hand.

"Move no further." I stopped feeling my heart race and waited. "You have a choice Kody, be where you want to be, live here where no one will find you. Or touch the rock and gamble the decision."
This was it, my own moment. I took three steps, felt the pulse of energy from the rock.

I reached, wondering what to do.

Then felt the pull.


Well-Known Member
Jun 30, 2011
Air on a Hill

It was darker than darkness in the blue-pink predawn, even so El traced the lines and holes of the Urii, feeling her fingertips smooth along the ancient wood and slot into place. A breath of breeze played catch with her hair and she felt another soft thump inside her.

Arun still clambered up the hill, his young legs couldn’t match her determination. The too-early start had left lines beneath his eyes, and he frequently knuckled sleep away. Her brother was used to being carried up by their father, but not this time.

Another thump and El rested a hand on her belly. “You’re ready, aren’t you, little one?” she said too quiet for Arun to hear as he reached the crest.

“Are you sure?”

“We’ve waited nine months, it has to be now.” Her hands never left the Urii, though her belly was thumping furiously. It knew.

Arun nodded. A moment later he hummed a soft tuneless note, caught and chorused by the breeze. Immediately, El felt the quickening vibrations in the Urii, as the wind passed through. It strengthened with Arun’s voice and the first notes pulled from the wood beneath El’s fingers.

With the wind blowing full, El played. As rehearsed a thousand times with mind and magics, the Gate opened. A hole of brilliant light in the night stillness.

El played just long enough for Arun to find the familiar inked hand and pull the man through. The Gate snapped shut at others trying to fight their way in.

Their father stood, alive again. Arun hugged his leg, desperately tired from his spell.

El’s scorched fingers twinned with her fathers and she smiled. She looked down as the sticky trickle tickled down her thighs. “A life for a life, like you taught.”

Her smile was gone.


by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
Mar 22, 2012
Mercia, UK
A midsummer night's fun

“They’re here.”

“What the ... they’re naked!”

“I know disgusting isn’t it, all wrinkly and droopy. There’s more ... here they go.”

An eruption of laughter.

“I’ve got to get that recorded.”

“Quick before they finish.”

Further laughter.

“Is that meant to be dancing?”

“I think so, always around the Stone Gate. I haven’t a clue why. Record ok?”

“Spot on, I’ll share it around later.”

“We get others every now and again with weird boxes and big dishes. They’re boring though.”

“Does your Mom and Dad know about them?”

“Yep, they think they are stupid and should be ignored. Every now and again Dad chases them off but when he does more seem to come back next time.”

“Can we get close to hear what they’re saying?”

“Err ... I suppose so, yea why not.”


Moonbeam Silverflower, Beryl to her friends in the Cat Club, was the first to catch a glimpse of the ethereal golden light. At first she thought it was some hallucination from Towering Oaktree’s, Frank to the regulars at the Red Lion pub, herbal roll-up.

She watched as the light skipped across the meadow beyond the stone, weaving a merry haphazard path through the long grass towards them.

Moonbeam caught her breath as the Sidhe Stone was haloed in a fey light, transfixing her and the rest of the Worshippers of Aquarius.

Without warning the outline of a body leaned out beside the stone, emitting a roar of unearthly sound.

As one, the Worshippers of Aquarius fled, a desperate naked stampede pursued by eerie echoing cries.


Tears of laughter.

“Why’d you do that?”

“I just felt the urge to go ‘Boo!’”

“Let’s get back and post your recording on Feyscroll.”


Unseen, the fey light winked out from this world and back into the other.


Well-Known Member
Jul 24, 2008
From the Sun comes the Dark

“Hurry up!”

Fred grabbed the slop buckets and headed over to pig pen. He knew his brother was just trying to get a rise out of him. Last time Fred had ended up with a bloody nose, and wasn’t going to be prodded into it again.

The visions had come again that morning. He was watching the sun rise over the distant hill and the beams shone through the wood pole in their yard – the one that had just always been there. The light had shone brightly into Fred’s eyes, and for a moment he could see it. The Dark Things world.

He could see them everywhere, their shadow forms lurking around the farm. He figured there were dozens of them, maybe even a hundred. Everyone told him he was crazy, or simple, but he knew what he saw. The Dark Things were real, and the pole brought them there. He just needed to find a way into their world.

“Fred, you worthless cur! Get yer work done and hurry up!” Father yelled from the porch, holding his belt in his hand.

Fred felt his back twinge; memories of yesterday. The Dark Things wouldn’t hurt him, he was sure of it.

He waited until the sun was about to set and he watched it through the pole. He’d never thought to look at the Dark Things from this side before and he shook in anticipation. The sun fell slowly, and once the rays shone through and into his eyes, he saw them. Dozens of the shadows crawled and scrambled towards his house. Soon he heard screams; his brother and father’s voices. He saw the Dark Things dragging out their screaming bodies. Then the sun was gone and so were they. Just a trail of blood remained.

Fred smiled.


And so, armed only with my magic sword....
Oct 26, 2013
Despatch note.

Well you know,

or maybe you don’t,
(funny old thing language. Isn’t it?

I really don’t know anymore.
It just all seems so pointless.
Here we are, every day,
just trying to justify our own existence, and not make too much of a fool of ourselves in the process,
and really just stumbling from one absurdity to the next.

Sometimes I’d just like to stop.
Stop entirely and just watch.
There’s so much to look at.
So much beauty in the world.
It’s a marvel really, I know.

But none of it’s me.

Of course there’s an awful lot that’s just plain ugly too. And most of that’s not me either, but somehow I just associate with it better.
Why’s that do you think?
I could probably do with getting rid of that too. And just now it seems to be getting worse.

Everywhere there’s rules!
And people breaking rules.
And rules that’s made to be broken too, daft as that seems.
And folks as make their own rules and get upset when no one follows ‘em.
And I just can’t cope any more.

I blame the government myself.
Well, I would, wouldn’t I. They’re such an easy target.
And all these other people;
people who aren’t like me.

Lucky sods!

But I know I can’t really.
It all just comes back to me in the end.
My problems.
It’s all my fault!

Do you think if I just stood here,
very still
and stretched up.
If I twisted a bit
faced into the sun
and thought it all through
the good bits and the bad.

Well mostly the bad bits obviously, given how many they are, but..

Do you think I could turn to stone?
Do you think my heart might crumble
and fall out?

Anne Martin

Mar 30, 2011
Circular Breathing

Claiora stopped short. The form carved into the stump was undoubtedly Henran.

"It would be easier to pass through the eye of the needle ..." Ouron, had often said.

Weaving a longing tune in a clear soprano, Claiora’s voice had once consigned men to their dooms, but today it would save Henran. The dry wood quivered as she turned a phrase. Bark grew. Life surged from her. The oak reached for the sky. It was whole again.

Still no Henran.

Concentrating, she closed her eyes. Her back itched between the bases of her wings. He loved that spot! As she pitched higher, the grass matured at her waist. The path disappeared, but it burned deep in her memory. Inspecting the bark with her fingertips, she traced the carving underneath. Instead of saving him, she had trapped him there forever.

She would take this journey alone and could not release the spell until she reached Ouron's tumulus. Her lungs were already failing! Only Ouron could save Henran now, and she would be too weak to resurrect him if she stopped.

Wildflowers blossomed as she passed. Breathing through her nose as she sang wasn't easy, but it kept her from passing out. This was no longer a game. Soon the village men would be here. Still, Claiora sang as if her faery life depended on it.

It did.

The tumulous rose before her, still old and dead, in spite of her enchantment. Reaching it as her first victim grew close, she climbed the dead mound.

Splitting her voice into two melodies, she raised her arms to the sky. Slaves to her will, the 13 men tunneled into the mound. The ground shook, trapping them below.

Ouron awoke. “That was careless,” he reproved, as Claiora collapsed. “You wasted a perfectly good dwarf. Try again.”


Only Forward
Jul 14, 2008
As Cassandra Whispers

Professor Halon laughed. “I stand corrected, Leon. These carvings do resemble the magnetic flux patterns we’ve been experiencing. How strange! Definitely one for my blog.”

I forced a smile. Halon was a pompous fool but the only man who could halt the experiment at this late stage. “No more than ‘strange’, Professor? You have read my paper on the theoretical cultural influence of a chronometric backwash?” The wood felt like ivory beneath my fingertips, ”Does this artefact not suggest that the attempted creation of a singularity may have unforeseen consequences?”

Halon took a deep breath of country air, and coughed. “Really, Doctor Prinz, we’re back to that? It’s your work in the field of gravimetric stabilisation that interests me, not some flight of fancy concerning the temporal collective unconscious.”

I held up a hand. “My apologies, Professor. Director Massingbird is a brilliant theoretical physicist, but at times I fear we are dazzled by him, blind to the obvious dangers. However, if I have-” My wrist chronograph chimed. The outer dial was spinning, indicating the build-up of displacement energy. I frowned. “Do you have any woodworking skills, Professor? Carving?”

“What?” He blinked, “Well, yes, as it happens. Merely as a hobby, but-”

The vortex burst into being; causality expressed as a zero-sum corrective backlash. I seized Halon by the lapels and thrust him into the cold fire. We were of a similar build and it was the reduction in life-force that mattered to the time line, not the specific source.

Both man and vortex vanished in the blink of God’s eye.

Birds began to sing again. I stood, hands on hips, glaring at the sky. With Halon gone my only option was to murder Massingbird before he opened a window on Hell.

“Very well! No more Mister Nice Guy!”

Karn Maeshalanadae

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

Dr. Crowley grinned as he studied the computer screens. The markings in that stone had provided just the key they needed. To think…faster than light travel was finally possible. Wormholes, portals across the universe, able to explore galaxies far beyond their scope before…it was incredible.

“We will finally be able to claim the stars for our own…” he muttered to himself. He hit a button and an electric field crackled around a circular monument against the back wall.

It was then all hell broke loose. The portal was stable…too stable. It refused to close. Dr. Crowley panicked, running algorithms into the computers, but it was to no avail. Horrible, evil creatures were pouring through, nightmares only dreamed up by twisted minds. Crowley dropped to the floor, shaking, his eyes wide in fear. The creatures spotted him as he scrambled out the airlock doors, slamming the button to close them…a second too late. The creatures fell upon him.

* * * * *​

The team stepped through the portal, weapons drawn. The leader removed their helmet, staring in horror.

The research lab was a complete wreck. Computer systems were smashed and fried, parts of the walls and support torn apart, and the power was flickering. The airlock door buzzed and crackled, trying to close repeatedly.

“Captain…” a squad member started.

The captain held up a hand. “They went through here, alright.” She looked around grimly. “Another planet we were too late to save. A planet this size, with their antique technology, wouldn’t last twelve hours against the beasts.” She shook her head mournfully and sighed, then spied the rune stone on the table near the largest computer system. She rolled her eyes and examined it. “When will these planets learn they are not ready for this technology?”


Well-Known Member
Jan 14, 2015

Jon found his studies of quantum theory opened new directions. When he drifted out of his body he could catch glimpses of the universes just beyond his reach.

Then came the breach.

Julie came home and found him face down on the couch, blood puddled and caked on his face, and the remains of a whiskey bottle on the carpet.

“Jon, wake up!” she whispered hoarsely, fear and confusion grasping her. Jon never drank.

He groaned, opened his red eyes and pushed himself up. His hands and chest were coated with blood and Julie screamed.

He began to whimper, “It was horrible. They came on me like they were starving and overwhelmed me and forced me to do things. They had me tear our rabbit apart with my hands and teeth, while they gorged on my horror and revulsion!” and retched uncontrollably.

It took him a while to put it all together. He’d opened a passage and they’d latched onto him and ridden him for the emotions. After the rabbit, he suddenly had the idea to drink the unopened whiskey, the urge separate from the compulsive chittering in his head, and he knew to trust it. Now a new idea came, easily stronger than the invaders who were somehow buffered by the alcohol.

He’d never worked wood so fast, chips flying from the hollow trunk, urged on by the unseen helper.

Julie tied him to the tree. Then he let them feed on his dread until they were frenzied, starving for more. Jon opened his eyes staring directly into the hole, and they rushed from his head into the trap and filtered back to their home.

It still stands there as a reminder and just in case.

Perpetual Man

Tim James
Jun 13, 2006
The Sentinel of Years


The new-born sun rises, golden and fresh. The sky looks almost silver as clouds of burnished copper float high. The grass moves slowly in a warm breeze. Around me, through my roots, on my skin of moss I can feel the world coming alive; from the worms in the soil, to the field mice scampering at my base, the birds that alight upon me. Around me flowers and grasses stretch and grow, their roots drinking deep. It is life!


The sun is higher now, bigger, hotter. The grass is still in the field, longer now, turning gold under the balmy glare. There is a general slowness, a warmth that makes everything want to relax and laze. High above a hawk dips, her cry giving voice to the still season. The heat penetrates my skin to the core. It is bliss!


There is beauty still but a slovenly hand has grasped all things. A cool wind twists the browning leaves from the trees boughs, causing them to flutter and fall, carpeting the receding vegetation. Animals scurry, gathering their supplies for what is to come. Rain falls pitter-patter, darkening my skin, pooling in hollows and shallows. It is wonder!


Snow covers the world, silver in the light of the shrinking sun. Footsteps like shadows mark the passing of a rabbit or hare and the air feels like crystal on my skin. All is quiet and still, ice holds sway over the land. Cold beauty, only the hardiest of shoots pierce the snow. It is a time of death, deep sleep, of patience – waiting for the rebirth to come. It is rest.

Here stand I, observer of all, the passage of time seen through my single eye, cycle after cycle: ad infinitum.


Western PA High Tech Country Boy
Nov 11, 2011
An Outstretched Hand

One early Spring morning, Farmer McDougall found a giant hand poking out of his hay field. Over three times as large as an ordinary man's hand, it was a dirty gray with long thin fingers, six instead of the usual five. Stripes ran down the length of the hand.

His first thought was how was he going to keep from running over the thing when it came time to plow the fields. Unsure what to do, he decided to make a decision about it later. Soon he forgot all about it.

The next time he encountered the giant hand, it was thrusting four feet high out of the ground at the end of a bare arm covered with many straight, curved and angular markings. The arm and hand were distinctly inhuman in appearance. One finger was pointing skyward. Again Farmer McDougall hurried off and promptly forgot about the strange object in his field.

When he was preparing to plow his fields, he again spotted the giant hand and arm reaching out from his distant field, over twelve feet high now. He called his sons and told them to bring a backhoe to help him dig a stump out of his field.

When they arrived, he took them to the stump.

One said, "Doesn't look much like a stump to me."

Nobody wanted to get any closer than twenty feet from the giant outstretched arm. Several minutes later, they heard a humming sound above them and looked up. An odd blimp-like aircraft hovered above them. The ground shook below them. They backed away as the rest of the giant alien arose from the ground, hurling soil and stones in all directions.

Farmer McDougall said, "I guess I won't be needing that backhoe after all, boys."
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