300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #18 -- VICTORY TO REMEDY!

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Ursa major

Bearly Believable
Staff member
Joined
Aug 7, 2007
Messages
20,669
Location
England
#1
THE CHALLENGE:


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




THE RULES:

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 JULY 10
-- as soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story

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



Voting will close AUGUST 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


PLEASE REMEMBER THIS IS A FAMILY-FRIENDLY FORUM


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


The inspiration image for this month is:

Pipes for challenge - reduced.jpg

Image credit: holland
 

Luiglin

by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
Joined
Mar 22, 2012
Messages
1,596
Location
Mercia, UK
#2
Be careful what you yearn for

This is a personal tale of some distress,
an acute embarrassment but I digress.

You see I am a sorcerer of some refined note;
one that is sought for my wisdom and knowledge they quote.

Years of practice and experimentation;
years of traipsing through nation upon nation.

Wizards I met, warlocks, a few witches too,
Djinni, shamans and even a weird talking gnu.

I learned at the feet of the very best.
Picking up tricks quickly that left them impressed.

Despite all this learning I did not feel whole.
There was that last tiny spark missing in my soul.

My followers and clients were downhearted at my leaving.
They lined the road, eyes red raw with their wailing.

Years passed till I spied an old man on a mound.
He sat there meditating and looking quite profound.

I coughed a greeting and dropped to bended knee;
hoping that he would have that last final trick for me.

The old man had eyes as infinite as space;
that contemplated me shrewdly before he bowed with good grace.

He then wove that last unknown spell and danced as it moulded,
my mind reeled with the potential as it unfolded.

Around my body a cage of bright metal grew,
branches twisting and dancing all anew.

With a final clang the spell was complete.
At last I was whole, my mind replete.

But with that final knowledge the trap became quite clear,
as the old man stood cooing at me and grinning from ear to ear.

Unbreakable the cage was, my form now of a songbird;
my powers and knowledge his to use undeterred.

Twisted and hawked they were for his own thieving ways;
growing richer whilst I live unknown and forgotten to the end of my days.
 

Droflet

I don't teach chickens how to dance.
Joined
Apr 15, 2010
Messages
2,814
Location
Australia
#3
Entanglement

They came from outer space. Benevolence their calling card, empathy their goal.

Guided by their teachings humanity dragged themselves from their knees and stood in the glow of an enlightened new age.

Within a few years, worldwide poverty was gone. Disease gone. Preventable death gone. With their advanced technology even distant stars would soon be ours for the taking.

In return, our friends asked for nothing. They only encouraged us to try a different path, leading away from our baser selves. Nothing that would lead to the subjugation of the human spirit. For they truly were our friends.

Ten years they remained with us, teaching the virtues of compassion, peace and fealty to only one abiding principle. To be good to one another.

Everything changed following the Sino/ North American war.

It’s always difficult to read a race so radically different, but many noted a fundamental shift. The sad, resigned smiles so familiar to us, adopted a maudlin aspect. Like a parent who finally understands the futility of teaching algebra to a child.

Before they returned to the stars, they left a final gift.

Around the planet, the strangely alluring shrines stood as a reminder of their benevolence. Of their shaken, yet hopeful belief that all sentient races contain within them the promise of a better selves.

On the day they departed, the structures were opened to the public. From every town and city people flocked to witness their marvels.

They were only simple structures, revealing no great truths, presenting no new visions, they just sat there. Sat there mocking us.

In the way only humans could, wonder transformed into anger. Anger fueled the rage. Rage drove the mobs who tore at the visitors final testament.

Until they began to hum, with a rhythmic beat. Almost like a countdown.
 

Ashleyne

Queen of Rainbows
Joined
Apr 19, 2014
Messages
531
#4
The Pipes, The Pipes


I was eight. I awoke to see a hairy hand shaking my shoulder.

I was about to scream, when he placed his hand over my mouth. “Shhh” he whispered. “Look into my eyes.” They looked like mine. “Do you know who I am?”

I nodded. He was my dad. I don't know how I knew. I just did.

“One day, you'll see them,” he said, “you'll see them. And when you do, I want you to promise me one thing.”

I lay frozen.

“I want you to follow them. Don't struggle; just follow.”

I tried to speak.

He growled “Promise me.”

“I.., I promise.”

He smiled, then turned and walked to the open window.

“Daddy!” A tear slipped down my face. “Don't go.”

He kept his back turned. “Follow them.” He levitated out the window.


It's too weeks after my twenty-first birthday. My wife's in hospital with our newborn son!

Finally I understand what Dad was talking about. I've started seeing them everywhere, the guiding pipes: metal tentacles that push people down the street, drag people upstairs, controlling our every movement. Nobody sees them but me. Nobody feels them but me. And I follow. I want to make Dad proud.


I awake to a gold pipe hovering over me. It moves backwards, dragging itself until it stares at me through my window. I follow, I follow and the pipe wraps around every part of me. It flies me to the sky and sits me on a cloud.

Dad puts his arm around my shoulder and squeezes me towards him. In-front of us stands a hologram of Earth, twice as tall as me.

“What's happening?”

Dad smiles and says “You're gonna learn how to manipulate the guiding fingers. We need to balanced the morals of Earth.”
 

TitaniumTi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2013
Messages
820
Location
NSW, Australia
#5
"You mustn't go," I said. "You're too old. Too frail."

Her smile was soft in its nest of wrinkles, but her eyes were relentless. "I don't need strength to shoot the beasts and I'm certainly not too old to look death in the face. Every creature I kill is one less threatening my family."

"I'll go instead." I held her knobbed hand between both of mine. "Timmy's weaned and Callie's growing fast. I know you'll care for them if I don't come back."

She shook her head. "Children need their mothers. Grandmas... not so much."

I wanted to say, "You're my mother. I need you." I clenched my teeth, holding in the words.

She met my eyes until the last protest died in them, then kissed my forehead with papery lips. "Look after the children. If you can, get them safely away. We'll try to hold the creatures off until help arrives from Earth."

* * * * * * *

It's been two weeks now. The beasts press closely, testing the force-field. Timmy is fretful. Every time the beasts surge, he cries harder. I don't know how he senses them.

Since the ships arrived from home, a few sparse bands of fighters have returned from the forests. Each time, I hear the welcoming bells and rush to the window. Each time, my eyes burn as I turn away. I have no tears left. I'm afraid we won't see Mama again.

We leave tonight. The thorn bushes we cut have been piled in a ring around the city. We'll light them at dusk. The Earth ships will purge the planet, sparing only the ground within the burning ring. When it's safe for them to land, they'll start the evacuation.

Listen. The bells are ringing.
 
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Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
Supporter
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Messages
2,333
#6
On the Tempting of a Practitioner of Social Engineering, and His Response to Same (An Exercise in Excess)

I was sitting in the shade of an old country elm on a cloudless and warm summer day, a book of treatises on public artwork as social engineering opened in hand, an apple, wedge of Wensleydale, and stoppered jug of cool water in the leather satchel laid beside me, when a localized and not insubstantial breeze arose and took a scant gathering of dust from the nearby dirt road, then incorporated and invigorated it into the outline of a creature otherworldly in appearance — a being Pan-like in nature (though the Pan of Greek mythology, not the eternally young boy of Barrie’s theatrical production).
In a voice reminiscent of Mandarin chimes, the creature undertook a tintinnabulating oration on the secret workings of the world: the deathless choreography of power and desire, of hatred and retribution, and of the twin self-deceptions of charity and compassion that engendered the incremental increases in the welfare of Man that one philosopher labeled The Human Expansion and Evolutionary Imperative.
Its chimes spoke to me of a covenant of convenience that could be struck, then enacted between us, and of small prices to be paid for its assistance in my obtaining a position of political preeminence and unimaginable wealth (my tempter desired the immortal vapors of the non-transient soul, plus some rare coalescence of meshed noble gases residing within me).
But as my belief in this life has been always of the infallibility of my own perceptions of reality, and my ability to advance irresistibly to the best possible future therein through the engineering and promoting of public art displays, I used my book to vigorously fan the astonished seducer into the ignominious oblivion of particulated incorporeality, then opened my satchel to partake of, and savor, a fine and fulfilling country lunch.

Thereafter I napped.
 

Juliana

Juliana Spink Mills. "No capes!"
Supporter
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
4,564
Location
Connecticut, USA
#7
Dragon Bones

Jebb kicked the metal carcass in frustration. It didn’t help, of course. It just made his toes throb. Cara snickered from her perch at the workshop counter. “It’ll never work,” she sang out, all smirking superiority.

He glumly looked at the astrolabe she was working on. Her project was breathtaking: a new guidance system that promised to lead the Empire’s airships higher, further, faster. Jebb had no doubt she would win the Journeyman’s Cup. All he had was a stupid dragon with a tangle of copper pipes for bones and a steam pump for a heart.

#​

At midnight, Jebb padded softly down to the workshop. The other apprentices were fast asleep, but the broken dragon called to him. In the glowing half-light of the forge, the copper bones gleamed. He ran a hand over the frame, and then fetched his tool belt and climbed inside.

In the grey dark before dawn, he slumped to the floor, defeated. He scrunched his eyes up and ground his hands in to stem the tears. But they came anyway. They flowed down his cheeks, seeping hot into the wiring and feeding the steam pump.

After Jebb had cried his whole self into his metal beast, the pump shuddered to life. It beat slowly, then faster, in tune with Jebb’s own heart. He gave a wild cry, and though a moment ago he had fed the dragon sorrow, now he fed it joy. His self shimmered, changed, melted, no, melded with copper and steam and wires, and when Jebb next opened his eyes the workshop looked strangely distorted.

When the sun rose, all they found was Cara’s shattered astrolabe ground into the dust and a vast dragon-shaped hole in the workshop wall.
 
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Rafellin

Independent Author & Publisher
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
Messages
475
Location
West Sussex, UK
#8
They Think It’s Art

The way it filters the light, the dizzying shadows within, and a shadow cast on the ground like sun through stained glass. To them, the seemingly impossible tessellation that never repeats a shape, no matter which direction you observe from, has to be an artisan's realised vision.

“A masterpiece” is how the guide describes it to rapt international visitors. What makes it more intriguing is it’s warmth to the touch: the result of a honeycomb structure within its tubes, they are sure.

It was installed overnight, a simple placard denoting it as “an anonymous gift” to “those who appreciate true art”. Initial puzzlement gave way to ridicule, which turned to awe as the complexities of the piece were seen.

It is impervious to scanning, and discrete attempt to sample or vandalise it have failed. It is set flawlessly into the paving as well. In certain circles, concerns have been raised.

The curiosity it evokes is a bonus. In the heart of London, a bacteriological weapon quietly ferments amidst popular acclaim for its design. When the pressure within reaches a certain point, the contents will decant themselves through micropores that lay under the ‘welds’ - which will disintegrate under the combination of pressure and corrosive payload.

As the first reports of a mysterious catastrophe in London circulate the globe, we will ruin every major source of fresh water.

By the time the wars over viable water supplies, plagues and dehydration have winnowed you, our armada will be have landed unopposed on our new home: Earth.
 

HazelRah

Professionally indecisive
Joined
Jul 9, 2015
Messages
150
#9
The General's Plan

“Sergeant?”
“Yes sir?” The General extracted some food from his cheek and placed it on the pile in the corner.
“Is the smelting complete?”
“Yes sir.”
“And the assembly has begun?”
“In progress now sir.”
“Excellent.” The General started cleaning his whiskers with his paw. “You may leave.”

The Sergeant saluted and exited down the tunnel, his four paws rhythmically singing against the smooth metal as he ran. A pained squeal echoed towards him, pulling him up short.
“What happened?” The Sergeant panted when he arrived at the scene. It only took a second to for him to realise. Melted metal still dripped from the roof, solidifying the bedding beneath. “Oh God, the pups.” His stomach felt sick.
Mother Fuzzy grabbed hold of the Sergeant’s fur in distress.
“How can he expect us to live like this?” She cried.
“I know… this is tough, but we’re building a better colony, a better world. It’ll be worth it in the end.”
“Cheeks. How can you say that? Has he polluted your mind now too?” The Sergeant coughed awkwardly and shrugged out of her grasp.
“That's Sergeant to you, ma’am.” His gaze softened briefly. “I’m sorry.”

“Sir? There's been an accident...” The Sergeant explained.
“Yes, what is it?” The General said breathlessly, his wheel spinning beneath his moving feet.
“It’s the pups, sir. They’re gone... Dead. The tunnel beneath the smelter, it collapsed.” The General paused in horror.
“Is the tunnel okay?” He gasped.
“Yes, but… sir.”
“And the humans, are they gathering?”
“I believe so, sir.”
“Good.” The General stepped out of his wheel and padded across the room to look through the small gap in the metal wall.
“But sir, what is it that we are making?”
The General stared out at the gathering crowd.
“It is called ‘Art’.”
 
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alchemist

Be pure. Be vigilant. Beware.
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
4,060
Location
Ireland
#10
What's More Fearsome Than A Snufflemagoo?


“Tell us a story!” the three children cried,
As moonlight of red lit the landscape outside.
“Alright then,” Dad said. “I will tell if you please
A tale about monsters and tubular trees.

“When I was a lad, I once strayed towards the plains
Where nothing much grows and the King of Moo reigns.
For days I was lost, did not know what to do,
And that's when I met my first snufflemagoo.”

“A snufflemagoo? What's a snufflemagoo?”
“Well, mostly a snuffle, with a pinch of magoo.
It was ugly as sin and gave me quite a fright
When it woke me from sleep on a cold winter's night.

“It chased and I ran and it damn nearly caught me
Until it was crushed by a pamelasnotsee.”
“A pamelasnotsee? Good grief, what is that?”
“The fearsomest creature. It wears a pink hat.

“The snotsee did chase me up mountains and hills,
I hid under rocks and in dead landsharks' gills.
Til a new monster caught it and bit off its head,
Made soup of its innards, then chased me instead!

“This wallamabang, now, the biggest of all.
It's built like a tree and stands fourteen feet tall.
It's got twenty legs and a cat for a nose.
It'll keep you its prisoner and bite off your toes.

“Escaping, I fled, and with trembling knees,
I made it back home through the tubular trees.
They strangled the monster and it got dismembered.
The trees saved my life. That I'll always remember.”

So, trembling children tucked into their beds,
He kissed them and tousled their terrified heads.
He picked up his stick from the kids' bedroom floor
And then very carefully limped to the door.
 

Ihe

Forum Revolutionary
Joined
Apr 4, 2015
Messages
1,097
#11
Escape out of Steelbark

The organic metals of the forest stirred. Steep trees gyrated their cylinders. Piping branches vibrated; rubbery wires whipped the air. It was coming alive, as if moved by unknown winds. Tongues of electricity licked the upper strata, a layered sky of haywire circuitry and dangling cables. A thunder storm was coming. Ren crawled faster.

"I can't go on."

She stopped. Those words were expected. It had just been a matter of time. But nothing could've prepared Ren for their sound when modulated through Eiji's throat. Flittering, shadowless hope crashed down into a fully-fleshed heap, just like her brother behind her.

Ren crawled back towards him, under utility vines and dense synthetic brush. The forest seemed to reach for her hair and ankles at every shuffle of the knees. She shook free of a silicon creeper and pushed past branches' forceful embrace.

"No, don't say that," she begged, reeling in a sob that wanted out.

Deep cuts swelled Eiji's back. Some disappeared into his scalp. His shredded brown overalls had once been of a different colour, before the screw-thorns and the lasher vines. Before all the blood.

She lay a hesitant hand on his torn back and prayed. Those wounds had been for her sake. "A big brother's duty" he had said with a weak smile.

He passed with the rumbling of thunder high above ground, rained on by his sister's tears. The vines closed in. Ren couldn't stay. She crawled, once again. Eiji's body would be dragged down for processing and organic repurposing. Vines would drag her down too, soon enough.

She finally collapsed on the rusted ground, surrounded by metal trees and mechanized growth, all of them perfect conductors. More rumbling in the distance—closer now. Lightning wasn't far behind.
 

Cascade

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2014
Messages
252
#12
They don’t grow on trees…

Toby leant on the fence, a rivet between his teeth.

“I reckon, we might need to spray again next week, ‘specially if we get those storms.”

Zeke sighed. His older brother knew he wanted to go organic. That’s where all the money was now, rich folk, who’d pay extra for that little green decal, but Toby farmed the way their father had, and probably always would.

“Bugs aren’t too bad, I could plant some communication satellites…” Zeke began

“Yep, reckon we’ll spray next Tuesday” Toby said, turned on his heal and headed back to the stead.

Zeke watched him go, before turning to admire again the fleet of Starfighters growing in the paddock. It was a good crop. Most were just finishing their frames, and the spider web of metal and ceramic had finally taken on the silhouette of the dart shaped weapons they would become. They’d start to grow their skins soon.

……………………………..

It was smaller than the others. Less uniform. A bubbled batch of aluminium under the hatch attested to the metal blight that had hit it. The rest of the crop had been spared that indignity, but Zeke hadn’t sprayed this one. This was his ship, and he was going to grow it his way. It was almost ripe now and Zeke had taken to coming down every night to sit in the cockpit, and flick through the controls, testing what had come online since the day before.

Navigation Overlay, check.

Inertial Dampeners, check.

Targeting Matrix, check.

It was almost fully ripe, and the excitement rose in Zeke’s chest.

Plasma Rockets, Check.

Firing sequence…

With a hollow pop, a single Rocket erupted from the port on the left wing and streaked towards the farmstead, where Toby and his wife and baby slept.

“…bugger”
 

holland

caught in a trap, can't walk out
Joined
Mar 4, 2014
Messages
187
#13
Searching for Emma

Vine intertwined under dark orange sky
A pile of old metal, hollow inside
A pack on my back and a bottle of Jack
An arduous trek
Searching

Vine intertwined and no reason applies
A pile of old metal, somehow alive
I crawl and I climb as I’m racing the time
Knowing what I’m
Searching for

Vine intertwined I’m inspecting for signs
A pile of old metal, taken what’s mine
I slash and I hack as the ground starts to crack
I’m not going back
Searching for Emma

Vine intertwined, playing tricks with my mind
A pile of old metal, her scent on the spikes
Her face on replay and her voice leads the way
I fall and I pray
For Emma

Vine intertwined, I won’t let out a cry
A pile of old metal, twisting inside
I’m fading in shame ‘cause I failed her again
Calling her name
Emma
 

willwallace

Interested Observer
Joined
Aug 13, 2011
Messages
584
Location
New Jersey
#14
Journey’s End



In the beginning I thought the images were merely the product of the fever that gripped my brain during that hellishly hot summer. Lying on sheets soaked with sweat, the room faded away as the hallucinations seized me.

At first, there were only hints of the madness to come. Hazy pictures formed of wavering stalks, reaching up from putrid ground, seeking god only knows what. A terror washed over me upon seeing those diseased appendages; moving, I knew, with terrible, unknown purpose.

From the dark northern woods, the horror advanced nightly, heading to the city. Drawn to me, somehow, I realized! As it closed, my fever raged hotter, wringing every drop of fluid from my emaciated body.

In the terrifying depths of one last febrile dream, I saw that which no man should witness and live. Deep under the rotted earth from which sprang the alien tentacles, squatted a creature so foul, so hideously foreign, that to merely glance at it would drive one to madness. Only the fever which tortured my mind saved me from such a fate.

As I beheld the monstrosity in its entirety, I understood its origin was not of this world, nor of any a human mind could envision. Formless, inchoate, it is impossible to describe. Only that eye, that terrible eye, is fixed in my mind. Looking into it, I knew the awful truth. It was I who had summoned the beast, and it was nearly upon me.

The next morning I awoke, the fever broken, sun shining through an open window. A miracle, the doctors declared. Little did they realize, it wanted me lucid for the final confrontation.

Tonight, it ends.

I am ready.




Handwritten notes found in the room of Jonathan Drake during the investigation following his disappearance from Mercy Hospital.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Messages
5,461
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
#15
Pipe Dreams

Miklos Stovak was a plumber, which is like saying Paganini played the fiddle. He was a small man, but his long arms, with the fingers of a brain surgeon, made you think he was tall. He’d show up at your door, in his immaculate light blue coveralls, and retrieve your wedding ring from the jaws of an angry garbage disposal or unblock your stubborn bathtub drain and leave it gleaming.

“You have to listen to the water,” he’d say. Then he’d drive off in his unmarked black van. He didn’t need to put his name and phone number on it. If you needed Stovak, he was there.

Out on the east side of town, near the harbor, something was blocking the sewers. Dozens of workers tackled the problem for days, but found nothing. Filthy water began to fill the streets. The mayor was about to call Stovak, but he showed up first.

“You know the situation, Miklos,” she said. Stovak nodded and left her office. The next day the sewers flowed normally, but the mayor never saw Stovak again.

Some people think he drowned in the line of duty. Others say he finished the job and retired without telling anybody. He’s been spotted in most of the states and a handful of foreign countries, but so has Elvis.

A few know better. They huddle together in the wet places, timid and silent. Some of them might have been human once. They wish only to live in peace, far from the crowds of the city and the blinding sun.

Among them walks a king. He cares for their home, and leads them away from intruders. His coveralls are no longer immaculate, but he still listens to the water. It sings to him, and whispers his name in the darkness.
 

Mad Alice

From Earth; Mad House of the Universe
Joined
Jun 23, 2015
Messages
678
#16
Love Song

"You will dance to my tune yet!" Maere snapped at Köle.
"Beyonce? I think not!" Köle countered, sneering at Maere's jealous rage upon finding Aurora's lacy pink thong in the couch.
It was Maere's own fault. Thinking she owned him.

Maere stormed out, leaving the apartment in silence.

Almost. Köle heard music. A song. So familiar. He almost knew its words.
Like a memory awakened, Köle hummed the phantom lullaby.

Searching for its source, he noticed a trapdoor recessed into the apartment's floor.
A thousand times Köle must have walked across it, thinking its wooden handle a knot in the hardwood.

Lifting it, steam billowed out carrying the metallic scent of old blood. Köle, caught in the song's urging descended the begrimed brick stairs. Pipes were everywhere, coiling around him. Something inside Köle screamed, run, hide. His feet kept walking. Into her lair. Hooded red eyes flared in the center of that coil of pipes. Female, a bronze-armored spider-limbed goddess waited.
"Köle," Maere cooed, entwining him in coils of her metal carapace, fangs dripping venom."I hunger."

Sleep didn't come.
Her song taunted Köle. He knew she awaited darkness to engulf him. To Feed.

Down in the dark she had made him do things. Horrible humiliating things. And he had begged for more.

Her eggs left Köle retching. He had already emptied his refrigerator into her gullet, feeding her breeding frenzy.

"We need more!" His goddess hissed. Her hunger terrified Köle.
"But what?" Köle gibbered, despising himself for his desperate need to obey her.
Upon one long hooked claw was Aurora's lacy thong.
"Never!" Köle shrieked.
Maere smiled, fangs showing. Her long prehensile tongue wrapped around him, drawing him towards her gaping chest maw while he shuddered, weeping.
He phoned.
"Aurora? I would love to have you for dinner..."
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Supporter
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
16,605
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
#17
Le Scorpion


Cool steel against an aqua sky. Months of work. Sleeping in the studio. Salve spread over welding burns. The stink of cordite bent into shapes it was never meant for. A brown envelope buried under notebooks and plans, its contents peeking slyly at me.

My finest work. My greatest failure.

The crowds came at eleven as advertised. The mayor and councillors, all false smiles at my creation in their central square. The funders, regaling the 'original use of resources'. The families, kids crawling amongst the tendrils, mothers calling them down from the great stinger rising high into the cloudless sky.

At last, she came. Blonde hair, golden skin. Breathtaking as ever. Sad, sad eyes.

"I tried to reach you," she said.

"I know." The blinking red of the answerphone. Knocks on my studio door, deep into the night. The brown envelope. Decree Nisi. I have to clear my throat to speak. "I did warn you."

She gave a bare smile, so strained it almost broke my heart. "You said you got absorbed. Not that I wouldn't matter. Or that you'd leave me completely."

Ah. That. I stare at the cloudless sky. The crowd mill apart from me. Le Scorpion watches me. None of this was my fault. I warned her.

Twelve o'clock strikes. I take Diane's hand and we stand together, as we'd once been."I'm sorry," I whisper into her hair.

The great stinger breaks. Screams come, but I've made my scorpion well: the stinger hangs on the metal frame, and the kids leap free. The tangled mess groans, threatening to come down.

I'll never be commissioned again.

The square empties but for us. She takes in my broken scorpion, my gift to her, and pulls me close.

"Burn the envelope," she says, and I will.
 
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LittleStar

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2011
Messages
734
#18
To Ascend

The countdown began.

“No one has ever won four titles in a row,” Priisa said.

“You always had everything given to you, always dad’s favourite.”

“I squired for him, Yucca, of course I succeeded him.”

“And I had to fight for every place! I wont just roll over.”

“You know I’m better than you.”

“Yet you need to score to win, and I keep the best house in the league.”

“We’ll see. You can’t block me if I’m ahead of you, and you can’t match my speed. In a fair round I win, every time.” He reached his hand out. Yucca took it, a sportsman’s gesture.

The countdown ended and Priisa was launched towards the track. He must have flicked on the mag-locks during the handshake, otherwise Yucca would have been right beside him in the wind.

They were agonising seconds while the catapult recharged. There was no way Yucca was going to lose to a cheat.

The catapult launched him.

He re-engaged his mag-locks before his boots even touched the track and disengaged them immediately, not waiting to steady himself. Priisa was already well ahead, taunting from the first crossover. The track’s accelerators propelled Yucca’s sprint. He raced as fast as he had all season, taking turns and loops and side-flipping the crossovers as well as Breno Hii in his prime, when it was about skill and not reliance on mag-locks to stop you falling.

Prissa came into view, not moving, suspended from a tributary track that looped overhead. Something strange filled his eyes. “This is your victory, little brother.”

Yucca’s breath caught, his confusion lost in the wind. The accelerator fired him passed Priisa. But without his mag-locks he missed the final turn. Yucca caught his brother’s eye once more as he plummeted to the waves below.
 
Joined
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#19
Perhaps he should be afraid but he’s not. More intrigued. Or stupid. His hands hurt from extended attempts at forceful entry but he sees it through. The crowbar is cold and blisters are inevitable.

With the right amount of force the wheel twists and the rust shatters. He recoils as the air pressure changes and he’s hit by a miasmal cloud of nicotine coloured gas. Suddenly his intrigue grows despite its bewildering toxicity. The door opens to reveal an intense environment.

It appears as a giant nest of rusted copper. Like spiders legs. It makes entry difficult as he navigates his way through the series of irregular pipes. At least he thinks they’re pipes. Illogical in their design; stagnant flavours of mouldy water drop from the high ceiling.

As he enters the larger chamber he shines his torch to get a feel for the foreign structure. Biomimetic blocks of an oozing claylike substance have repurposed the interior walls. It stinks, and yet he has no desire to flee the grisly scene. Something has brought him here yet he can’t explain why.

He finds himself at the crucible of the mysterious network when a hungering darkness lurks over him. He can feel it ebbing him on.

A dense fog looms over a spherical device half buried in the floor, as though it’s corrosive, burning its way through the metal over decades of exposure. He peers in. It appears polished. Like a marble. A dense swirl of mustard and okra.

He offers his hand.

It’s cold like the crowbar and hard, but with each passing moment the texture shifts and lubricates. It becomes gelatinous, and then, as if he’d been lured into the bowels of a dead god’s dining room, the lids open.

It looks at him.

And John knows he’s doomed.
 

JoanDrake

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Joined
May 24, 2008
Messages
1,435
#20
The Copper Snakes



“Welcome back, everyone. I’m Clark Wills and this is Channel 2’s coverage of Nottingham’s Copper Snakes Festival. My next interview is with Keith Chandler. He is just about to launch the first snake of the day. Keith, does your snake have a name?”


“Definitely not, Clark, few of my snakes even talk, let alone tell their names”


“Yes, he does seem a rather silent fellow. Rather anxious to get started, it seems”


“Uhm...yes...I think it’s about time. Watch out there, here he comes.”


“Magnificent. Keith, he’s rather big for a Copper Snake, isn’t he.”


“Oh no. Most copper snakes are bigger. If they’re much smaller the pipes they leave have much less effect. Also they find it difficult to get airborne”


“Well, yours certainly seems to be having no problem. Look at him go, folks, I don’t know if our cameras can pick the colors up but I’m certain you can see the complex patterns of copper pipes he’s leaving behind in the air. Oh. Look...our first brazed connection


“Hi, what’s happening?”


“Hello, young lady. Those are certainly fashionable short shorts. What’s your name and what brings you to the Copper Snakes Festival today?”


”I’m Pamela Flood and I’m just here to feel great”


“Well that’s what the snakes do. I think we’re going to a commercial now but when we return we will be having the first disrobing and stay with us for exclusive coverage of the orgies here at the Notttingham Copper Snakes Festival.”
 
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