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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 2018 by their respective authors,

who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here

This thread will be closed until January 10th

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

Entries must be posted no later than 11:59 pm GMT on January 31st 2018

Voting will close February 15th 2018 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:

Cotton Bush Plant.jpg

Image credit: TitaniumTi

This thread to be used for entries only.

Please keep all comments to the DISCUSSION THREAD

Please do not "Like" posts in this thread

Warren Kramer

Dec 28, 2017
Michigan USA

Autumn breezes scattered morning mists across distant hillsides. Soon, winter winds would drive Kira to warmer shelter. But for now, fields of wild grain and milkweed overlooking her childhood hideaway offered comfort, if not safety. Milkweed seeds drifted across meadows, merging with the mist hovering beyond her little rocky crevice.

Kira had promised herself, that, should she ever escape, this would be her destination. No one knew of her childhood hiding place. She’d planned to share this shelter with the others secretly awake.

She slipped into her former sanctuary from the woes of this world—woes that were now insignificant. How had the escape plan gone wrong? Had others survived? Escaped? Setting aside these questions, Kira determined to discover their fate—or to mourn them—later.

The Visitors had been unaware that she and a few others resisted the probes possessing other minds in Encampment. She shuddered at what the Visitors intended to do with those minds, those bodies, those friends, those neighbors.

How many towns across the world were now similar camps? Were there others like her and the eclectic few immune to the mind probes? There must be. Were they clever enough to keep their wakefulness secret, awaiting opportunity—one like she’d recognized just before sunrise?

Why did Visitors avoid this place? En route to Encampment, she’d noticed they avoided a similar meadow. She’d also observed her pursuers break off around the field’s edge. Was it something to do with milkweed?

Many questions. Few answers. Kira knew only that she had escaped. Survived. Become a remnant of humanity to someday rise up against the Visitors. That would have to be enough for now.

She huddled into her crevice to plan history’s most impossible rebellion.


Western PA High Tech Country Boy
Nov 11, 2011

Jacob Ripley went to see his old friend Cottonmouth at the Australian Agricultural Research Complex. His transport drone hovered at the magneto barrier, awaiting approval. When the green light flashed, he flew in and alighted on the drone pad.

Cottonmouth waved from the Welcome Center. When they met, they clasped and laughed.

Cottonmouth was an old alien, a stack of pillows with furry, draping ropes. His true name was unpronounceable by Earthmen tongues. Jacob christened him Cottonmouth early in their relationship. The name came honestly enough, since much of their work revolved around the study of cotton bush plants. Also, his voice reminded Jacob of Marlon Brando's mumbling in The Godfather.

"It's good you came back to see our progress."

"It's been a few years since I was reassigned."

"How have you been?"

He shrugged. "I'm retired now. I came mainly to see you, old friend."

Cottonmouth led him through several checkpoints until they reached a private lounge.

"Mind if I relax?"


Cottonmouth stretched out like a flattening pancake on a griddle on his special round, rotating, warming couch. Jacob heard a clear moan.

"You heard I was dying?"

Jacob lowered his head. "Yes."

"Well, almost dying. You remember how it is with us Melancians. We don't exactly die like your people do, dust to dust, ashes to ashes and all."

"What's it like?"

"I get tired a lot. I move slower. But the feeling isn't unpleasant."

"That's good."

"But eventually I will be transformed. I've chosen the cotton bush plant, because they've been so much a part of my life for so long. Ropes of plush white, like me. I will continue on in that new form."

"I guess I'll never understand."

"That's fine. You're human." He smiled. "Will you visit me in my afterlife?"


Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2017
Frozen Flowers

The flower grew alone in the centre of the glade, its leaves rimed with frost. Fog spread lazily around it, weaving between the trees and around Piotr’s feet. He tried to breathe life back into his fingers, his gaze never leaving the flower.

He could run and take it. That would mean leaving the safety of the trees. He could hear the woman weeping, just as he had throughout the forest. Wherever you went, there she was. But she hadn’t found him yet.

He glanced around the glade. The trees gathered like shadows, moonlight filtering through the fog, turning the whole world silver. Somewhere, beyond the forest, lay a summer day.

There was no help for it. He ran, sprinting out from the trees. His hand fumbled at his belt, reaching for his knife. He reached the flower, cut the stem in one smooth stroke and then ran on.

He stopped beneath a fallen trunk, heart racing in his chest. The weeping had fallen silent. His eyes opened wide, and he looked about, searching for any sign of...


Piotr felt a chill settle upon him. She was standing five feet away. Her dress sparkled with frost. Frozen tears ran from her eyes. And she was smiling.

“You came for me.” She reached out to him. “Please. I’m so cold.”

Piotr could do nothing. He stared at her, his fist tightening around the flower. “Please, sister, don’t do this,” he whispered. “The mages this can lift the curse. They can free you!”

But his sister didn’t hear him. She walked over and took Piotr in her arms, hugging him close. “Piotr, you came back for me. I knew you would.”

The breath froze in Piotr’s lungs. He tried to speak, but no words came.

Soon, the weeping began again.


Shropshire, U.K.
Feb 13, 2006
Shropshire, U.K.
Sooner Than Later

I lie twixt a thousand acre sky and the soft grass of a sloping, summer meadow.

I’ve gone down to a musket ball in the shoulder. Ain’t nowt but a scratch. Nothing the surgeon can’t patch up anyways. Reckon I’ll rest a whiles.

Down the valley some, our field artillery gives fire and Reb guns reply in turn. Hope this goddamn tomfoolery will be over sooner than later and I can get back to the farm. Killing and burning ain’t for me. They told us Christmas.

A bee flies cross my vision and lands atop a cotton plant next my head. Reckon it’s cotton anyways. Not that I knows these things. Stranger to these parts. Just my guess. Bee sure is busy, moving around looking for stuff. Come to think, maybe not cotton after all. A breeze plucks at it and the bee moves on some place else.

I hear our guns open up again and our bugler sounding the advance. Colour Sergeant Hopkins gives a fierce roar that would put a cannon to shame. He’s aiming to put it to those sonofabitch yellowlegs for sure. Maybe time to go.

I gets up and sees Trooper Calhoun do the same, carbine in hand. I swear I seen him take a bayonet to the guts. Young drummer boy Jack Collins is up as well and I knows he’s taken a ball through the heart. There’s the rent in his tunic for all to see. And the blood.

I gives them a peculiar look. And here’s a strange thing, they both gives me peculiar looks as well.

Like I say, maybe time to go.


She turned me into a newt.
Oct 26, 2013
The unbearable persistence of memory

Yesterday, I went for a walk in the scrubland behind the hospital.
It was the first time they’ve let me walk alone since we were freed from the enemy’s camp.
The first time they’ve dared.

It felt strange, I admit, not to have anyone there to protect me.
Just as it felt strange when I first arrived a year before,
to know they wanted to help and not to inflict pain.

The enemy;
they have a species number but I’ve been training myself to forget as much about them as I can;
had arrived on our mining world 2 years before that,
and had tried to wrest it from our grasp, because of the di-lithium.
We had resisted.
But we were hardly equipped for it.
Miners, fighting back with nothing but laser drills and pick axes.
Soon we were all locked up in a forced labour camp,
working for them,
waiting to see if we would be sold back to the confederation.

All of us, that is, but a few.....My darling wife amongst them.

My thoughts monitor warned me to think of something else.

This land is beautiful though, in a rather barren way.
Almost like Earth.
The heavy soil and strange red trees. Such magnificence in their winding forms.
Many even have human digestible fruits, although their taste is strange.
And the babbling streams have small, curiously shaped fish, darting in bright vermilion schools.
Only, don’t touch! They’re not as sweet as they look.

I stop to examine a bush.
I have always loved the twisting way of plants, even here on an alien world,
from the root right up to
Oh my God.
For a moment, I see not a thistle, but Elena screaming her last;
entangled in the barbed wire of the camp.


You have stolen my dreams and my childhood
Sep 9, 2016
Cumbria UK

They spread out around the cotton field and carefully checked their guns. Squeaks were so fast you needed to start shooting as soon as you glimpsed one, otherwise the massive creatures would stomp you into the earth before you could blink.

“Any sign, Sarge?” whispered one of the rookies and was hushed at by nearby troops, all listening for any sound from the neglected crop.
The Sergeant couldn't really blame him, only two days ago he'd been a rear echelon supply clerk but this final push had called for every available trooper to arm up.

It was looking like this was the final mopping up, eight years since the invasion fleet had screamed down onto Earth and since then nothing but war. He looked around at his squad, noting the worn and patched uniforms and assortment of non regulation weapons that had been scooped up over the years.
He gave the signal and a blaze was started at one end of the cotton field, soon smoke clouds blurred visibility.

“Get ready” he said. “Any ti-”
A vast behemoth rose from amidst the smoke and a frantic fusillade of gunfire began, the creature whirled towards them while emitting the high pitched squeaks that gave them their name. Two of his troops were crushed into the sun hardened ground and another dived backwards to dodge a massive flailing limb.

The massed firepower took it's toll and the beast fell dead.
The message came over the platoon channel “That's it! The last one is finally dead, victory day!”
Cheers broke out amongst his soldiers as they chattered their mandibles and crowded around the corpse of the fourteen year old Earth human.

Paul Meccano

Meccano Magic
Dec 4, 2017
In the Cabin

Her voice was supposed to boom, hold within it a depth that could inspire, maybe inform of the type of man or beast that the written piece was trying to portray. Without first hand experience, having been taught by another, it was likely some of the weight, the grit and thrust of the story had been lost. Esh’esleven was doing her best.

‘Is Esh meant to be shaking like that Morna.’ A fair question, it wasn’t normal.

‘Yes Ket, I think she is.’ Morna’tooson tilted her head a little unsure, receiving a different focal perspective perhaps? She tilted her head back, or perhaps not.

‘A rarity.’ Stee’fourenver whispered to herself, was overheard whilst sat working, her emotions stirring. she watched Ket and Morna crossed legged, engrossed in the play of theatrical in Christ-man-time.
‘Everything is this day, we are lucky for this moment, this written history being telled, and in the way of the great……. last men.’ Morna caught herself off guard, a croak of a frog catching in her throat. It truly was an emotional time.

The wind howled through the lower cave entrance whipping up scatterings of seed husk and dust, turning the corner of the woven rug that was warming the edges of Morna’s feet. She left it, scrunching her toes, an expressed momentary comfort.

Laughter filled the cave. ‘Esh had fallen as on purpose, she meant to play the part, making a fall as to make the laugh! It looking almost to flutter the flames of the fat candle and burning sense stick-gathers.’ Ket had eyes the size of plates.

Finally sliding the last of the leather, fold seeded husks onto the spur, Morna patted Ket on the shoulder, showed her. A completed decoration, another to adorn the edges of the stage upon which they played.

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Dec 9, 2012
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
The Menagerie

A timeworn delivery van rumbled through farmland ravaged by dust storms. The driver was a tall, slender man in a linen suit. In the passenger seat sat a dwarf.

They reached a dying town and stopped near a horse trough to refill the radiator. A man in faded overalls emerged from a nearby shack. He pointed at the van.


"What's that?"

Nocturne bowed. "An exhibition of extraordinary beasts, sir."

"That little freak part of the show?"

The dwarf made his way to the back of the van and unlatched the door.

"My assistant, Hugo."

"How much?"

"Given our brief stay in this community, shall we say five cents?"

The man tossed him a nickel and peered into the van. It was full of cages. One held a lizard with leather wings. The largest contained a goat with a single spiral horn. There was a rabbit with antlers. A snake held its tail in its mouth and rolled around its prison like a wheel.

"What's that way in the back?"

"I caution you, sir—"

The man hopped into the van. He pushed Hugo aside and opened the cage. A scarlet bird the size of a raven flew off. The man jumped out and chased after it.

A silent explosion of blinding white light filled the air. When it faded away, a pile of ashes lay on the ground. The bird rose out of them unharmed and returned to its cage.

"We had best depart before we draw any further attention," said Hugo.

A few minutes later, they were on the road out of town.

"Forgive me for not securing the phoenix properly."

"You are a valuable friend," said Nocturne, "but a formidable enemy."

"Keep that in mind, Herr Professor. Keep that in mind."

EPT Henry

Dawb a dawb dawb...
Aug 26, 2015
Taster Menu

“Gargle flurgle blawk?” Balf said, gesturing to the pale wispy flower by his feet.

“Flumple wob.” Boset shrugged. How would he know? He’d never seen one either.

Balf plucked the plant from the ground and sniffed it. His large black eyes inspecting it from stem to tip. He was so hungry, 3 cycles of the sun had passed since they had crashed and nothing on this stupid planet seemed edible. His third stomach grumbled again. This plant… whatever it was, didn’t look tasty and it smelt like dust but if he couldn’t eat it he was going to have to chew his own leg. Flunk dunk he thought and shoved it in his mouth.

It didn’t take long for Balf to realise his mistake. The long wispy tendrils of the bud absorbed what remained of his saliva like a sponge and wrapped themselves around his teeth.

“Bleuuu” he let out with a moan, reaching inside his mouth to pull out the bud.

Boset chuckled.

“Waaargh” Balf replied grumpily. what was so funny? Play planet roulette Boset had said, abduct a local he said, IT’D BE FUN he said. Well it wasn’t! They’d picked the greenest planet they could find and somehow crashed in a desert! And now they were going to die, unless this desert happened to have an unexplained overabundance of hyperspace modulators lying around that they could use to fix their ship!

Movement caught Balf’s eye, dust was dancing on the horizon. Boset smiled and pointed excitedly. Something was moving towards them. A blob with wheels…a vehicle. It stopped 50 metres in front and two fleshy aliens stared at them from inside, shock written across their faces.

“Gargle flurgle blawk?” Balf asked. There was only one way to find out.
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Level 30 Geek Master
Dec 9, 2015
Machine vs. Man **We fought them for decades! The struggle destroyed so much of what we were! We declared them destroyed – at least to the point they weren’t capable of further destruction on any large scale. **The War Between Man and Machine was over. **There were stragglers, of course. It was my duty to search and destroy these last remnants. But after a few years, we stopped finding any. Finally, we felt, we had eradicated the threat. **I stayed on in the military. I’ve continued searching these last four years – we still feared some were hidden – but personally, I knew they were all gone. I might even have become complacent in my duties. My excuse is that even Central Control feels the Enemy are all dead. **At four minutes past thirteen hundred hours, I found the strange spear stuck in the sand. Several odd things had been attached to it – including an old-fashioned motherboard. I understood the meaning even before the first mortars landed. **I shouted back at the others in my crew. We are now pinned down in our vehicles, and the situation is grim! **The humans are back!
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Yippie kayak other buckets!
Jul 13, 2006
The Cloud
Harvest Time

My sister enters my room before the sun rises. Darkness rings her eyes; the same amount I have slept.

“It’s time to cut the wheat. The wind is right,” she says.

Outside, I agree. The wind is in our faces and the wheat sways, its sound sea-like. I nod. “OK.”

“We can’t go through another a year of the same, Lill.”

I nod again. There were losses since the last cutting, some old and some young, unable to cope with the emptiness gnawing inside all of us. Tragic, yet also the unspoken, secret relief of fewer mouths to feed.

“We learn, Tam. Each year, we learn.” I squeeze her hand.

The cutting begins. Nobody speaks — nobody would dare — and the sibilance of the wheat masks our work. The children, solemn-faced, walk behind and collect what we fell.

Halfway through the field, we send back the children. Three-quarters through and we send back the parents.

“You too, Tam,” I say to my sister.

“A little more.”

We push further than ever before. We have to, there are more of us to feed now. But the uneasiness grows with each swing of the scythe, a building electricity of unleashed terror.

I grab Tam’s arm. “We must stop.”

“There’s not enough!”

I know why there is black panic in her eyes. Saffie, just two, and suffering.

An inhuman screech tears through the wheat, its closeness filling me with terror that feels like a sickness. All composure is lost: our people throw down their tools, screaming, running. I harden inside, for her, for all of us.

“We all die...or some of us.”

Her eyes meet mine, spilling tears.

“Some of us,” she whispers, and we turn and run.


resident pedantissimo
Staff member
Aug 10, 2005
West Sussex

It's not an attractive plant. Nothing garden centres would be pushing as decorative, that stately homes would be using in their borders. Essentially, a weed that no-one's grubbing up in quantity because nobody's interested enough to apply the effort.

"But now," Silessa explained to nobody in particular, wiping her hands down the white coat she was even wearing outdoors,"that's finished for you, plant." And it had mainly been her fault, too - basically experimenting on the plant's biochemistry because it looked so odd. But the results had been there, anyway - reduced degradation in human DNA with replication, meaning longer life expectancy and reduced risk of dementia. Yeah, just what the world needs- more human beings living longer and using up more resources. The rich get a little more comfortable, while the poor aren't much worse off. And it was too late to change her mind - the thesis was already being adjudged, the secret was out. And when the formality of the doctorate was finalised there were a dozen universities offering positions, and several commercial pharmaceutical offering well-paid, permanent posts, when all they really needed was licence fees. And a number of foundations were suggesting awards she might be suitable for - including a trip to Stockholm for the big 'N' (totally ridiculous, evidently – all she'd done was the job of a good lab technician, applying care and precision, and could maybe generate an extra ten years of retirement. But the sort of people choosing might just consider those years important).

"I hope you appreciate cultivation, little weed – I have a strong suspicion I'm not going to."


by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
Mar 22, 2012
Mercia, UK
To Dance

The cotton plants that grew in the valley below danced in a gentle breeze. For a moment it was the most beautiful sight that the soldier had ever seen.

The breeze, as if foreseeing the bloodshed to come, dropped. The cotton plants, bereft of their joyful partner, became stilled. The heat of the noon day sun descended over the dusty valley once more, tucking itself up and around the soldier like a blanket pulled close on a winter’s night. Comforting then, oppressive now.

The heat shimmer blurred the lines of the opposing army giving them monstrous, unearthly forms who twisted and cavorted. A call to ready cascaded down the line. Repeated one after the other from a host of vicious, scarred faced sergeants, the crash of arms from the host following the command like a faithful lap dog.

Trumpets blared behind and horns answered from across the valley.

They started at a walk, then a trot and finally a charge, both sides clashing together amongst the cotton plants with a sound like thunder on a humid summer’s day.

Within that heaving, lethal grand ball of flesh and steel, he fought not with skill, but desperation.

Thrust, smash, kick, bite.

No longer human, more beast, striking out at any lump of meat that came before him.

Thrust, smash, kick, bite… thud.

He fell to his knees but no further, the haft of a spear that jutted from his chest keeping him there like a child’s doll on a stand.

The chaos of the melee moved on. Before him, one cotton plant still stood, the rest adding to the bloody mulch of the ground. The breeze, sensing the end, returned to set it dancing once more.

As his eyes closed, the soldier smiled. It was the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen.


Benevolent Galaxy Being
Mar 11, 2010

"How came you here, Loki?"

"I wanted to help you fetch, the Thistle of Life."

"I have it. Doth nought attempt to deceive..."

"No, Thor. Odin, is my father too. I don't want him to die. I risked my life coming here to, Nidavellir. I used my enchantments to save you from, the Dark Elves."

"Tis true. You have my thanks."

"But...who will save us from, that?"

"Myrkr, the Abyss Beast! Loki. Take the Thistle to Asgard. I will battle yon merciless attacker."

"You trust me?"

"Our enemy is time. Save Odin. Mine battle against Myrkr, will give you chance to slip away."

"Take care, my brother."

"Make haste, Loki."

"Prepare to die, Asgardian."

"Have at thee, evil one. Face the fury, of Thor's thundering hammer!"

"A useless weapon. I've never tasted, defeat. I shall destroy you."

"Do thy worst, creature of the dark. I fear thee not!"


"Sire. Thor, lives!

"Stand ye back. Let my son approach."

"I'm overjoyed, my father. You're healed. Where's Loki? I sent him forthwith, to bring you, the Thistle of Life."

"Then Loki, spoke truth. Guards! Release, Loki."

"Loki, exhausted his magic rescuing me, from Elf warriors. I entrusted him, whilst I fought a netherworld giant."

"Thor! You've, returned. I'm glad."

"My sons, embracing. Makes me, glad."

"Great Odin. Thor, is the better choice to rule Asgard. Forgive my jealousy. I shall, retreat to my forest realm. Where I, belong."

"Nay, my son. When Thor is King, he will need a trusted adviser. Therefore, you shall both, rule Asgard, together."

"Thank you, my lord. I will prove my worth to you."

"You already have. You saved Thor's life, and mine."

"I'm proud of you, my brother."

"Thank you. I was never good at expressing, how I've always been proud of you, Thor."


Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016

The only computer left on the planet did what it had been left to do. Scan for life forms before signaling for the return of its humans.

Date: 2020/12/25
Scanning... no viable life form present. Air quality: Unsustainable. Water: None detectable. Atmospheric Temperature: -73.33°C.

It had been doing that since the end of the great war. The only bomb that got sent out to destroy the enemy did that, but it had annihilated all life forms. It seemed to be the only thing present on that vast wasteland of what used to be called Earth.

Centuries later, something sprouted out from the soil. Simple in its design but it still held a ray of hope.

Date: 2220/05/15

Scanning... northwest Los Angeles. Possible intruder. No sign of weapons or life signs.
Scanning... unknown.

It did that without ceasing. It couldn’t identify what had sprouted from the ground. No life signs for identification. No decorations or words to read.

It sent out information but nothing returned. Due to lack of reply, it destroyed the little symbol of hope.

Scanning... Atmospheric temperature: 6.11°C Air Quality: Minimal life sustainable. Water: Undetectable.

Scanning... Unknown life form. Northwest Los Angeles.

It had returned from an origin unknown. The computer kept scanning and sending out information as it had before. Without reply, it destroyed it.

Through the centuries it had done this to the only thing that seemed to have found a way to revive itself. Without a human to repair broken pieces, the computer stopped working after centuries of trying to scan the mysterious life form.

It grew one bit at a time. How or where it came from, maybe a human would be able to tell. At that moment, the only thing that mattered hope grew anew in the form of a simple plant.

Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
Mar 3, 2014
Thank you, Diamond Man!

I was walking to work one sunny morning, awfully late and worried: Mr. Johnson, the bossman, gets real angry when anyone is tardy. I was blinded for a moment by a flash of light near McKinney’s Hardware, so I approached the storefront and the crowd gathered there. I saw a figure of my height, and made of clear, faceted crystal. It was using the sharp point of its left elbow to etch a circle into the store’s main window – this, then, was a creature made of diamond! It was clearly a ‘he’ (diamond ‘drill bits’, if you catch my meaning), and had a podding milkweed inside its chest which pulsed every few seconds – surely the beating heart of this glorious being. As I left I smiled and waved; he made me so happy – there was wonder left in the world! I didn’t mind going to work that day, even late as I was.

Whenever I had a bad workday after that, I’d think about Diamond Man. When Mr. Johnson yelled at me in front of everyone, I’d laugh and think that if one person could be made of diamond, maybe another could be made of poo. I always wished I could see Diamond Man again, to thank him for his inspiration.

I had a nice life after that, even found a little gal to marry (sadly, no children followed). On the day I retired from work, I came home and noticed a long scratch on the side window of my garage – surely a sign from Diamond Man that he knew how grateful I was to him. It was the best day of my life – partly because when I'd left work I finally told Mr. Johnson that I thought he was made of poo! Thank you, Diamond Man!
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Cory Swanson

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2016

“Why do they call this place ‘The Milkweed?’” Chuck asked the barkeep, taking a sip of his beer.

“Funny you ask,” she responded. “Seems like the ranchers’ve been ripping all of it up. Killing it with herbicides.”

“Your bar?”

“No, milkweed. Say it makes the cows sick.”

Chuck nodded, put out his cigarette in the empty bottle and gestured for another. She obliged.

Jeez, he thought, she can’t be but barely out of high school. Kind of an ugly duckling, too.

“So it’s named ‘Milkweed’ ‘cause you got something against ranchers?”

“I was born here.”

“Oh. Your parents own it, then?”

“They’ve been here, yeah. It’s been my bread and butter. I’ve lived and grown off this place.”

“Oh, I see,” Chuck said. “It’s a metaphor for how butterflies lay their eggs on the milkweed plants. The caterpillars eat off of it until they’re big enough to go into their cocoons.”

She looked at him with confusion. “What’s a mettifour?” she asked.

“It’s where you use one thing…to compare…never mind,” he said, shaking his head.

The bartender slapped down her rag. “I’m gonna need you to clear off.”

“Did I offend you?”

“I need you to leave.”

“Can’t I just finish my—”

She shoved his beer onto the floor and climbed up onto the bar.

Chuck stumbled backwards.

She grabbed onto the rack of wine glasses that hung above the bar and swung herself upside down, hooking her feet into the slats and vomiting a thick mucous onto her feet. She then proceeded to cover her entire body with the disgusting substance. When she had finished, a hard cocoon hung above the bar swaying gently.

“Wasn’t no metaphor, was it?” Chuck laughed, pulling a ten out of his pocket. “Keep the change. You’re gonna need it.”


I have my very own plant pot!
Jan 4, 2018
North-east England

Kota watched as, at the touch of a breeze, the plant released its seeds

Such a plain thing, he thought, and yet full of such powerful medicine. The strangers taught us that. How could they have known when we who are a part of this land never suspected?

He caught a seed in his fingertips. And such a flimsy thing, yet worth more than any hide, any axe, any pretty shell. Worth so much money. The strangers taught us that, too. “Money,” the fat one told me, “is why we are here. It is the foundation of empire. It is why we rule and you are ruled over.”

A smile played at the corners of Kota’s lips. He must have thought me too stupid to understand.

Kota stretched out his right hand, the one holding the torch. When you know how to build an empire, he thought as he set the dry stalk aflame, you also know how to destroy one. With the plant burning brightly, Kota lifted his gaze to take in the black smoke and burning fields that stretched from horizon to horizon around him.


Well-Known Member
Nov 16, 2013
NSW, Australia
Nine Parts of the Law

The man behind the desk tapped his fingers on a wooden box. “Are you sure you want this in your mind, Chloe?”

His words echoed in her skull, forming waves of pain. She swallowed. “I’m sure.” She could live with anything except the migraines - even another entity monitoring her consciousness.

With a sigh, he opened the box.

Chloe leaned forward to see, but sprays of coloured pain masked her vision. She closed her eyes and concentrated on breathing.

Reaching out, he placed something in her palm. It quivered like a mouse, soft bristles tickling her skin. When she tried to pull away, he held her hand between his. “Be still,” he said. “It won’t hurt you.”

“What is it?”

His face, seen through eyes half-closed against the light, shimmered like a mirage. “It’s a solution, Chloe. I’ll ask once more. Are you sure?”

She hesitated. “Let me see.”

He lifted his hand and she recoiled. “You’re not going to put that inside my skull.” She’d imagined an implant, a device comprised of computer chips and wires. Or maybe the organic equivalent, an acorn of flesh and membrane. This was untidy - an amalgamation of husks and fibres that parted to reveal an eye-like shape.

He laughed. “I’m a shaman, not a surgeon. I’ll send you into a trance for the transfer. Think about it as something akin to wi-fi.”


“Get-it-out-get-it-out-get-it-out-” Chloe batted her hands against her head. This was no implant. Someone - some thing - had invaded her mind.

It laughed. “He can’t. You got what you asked for. I’m here to stay.”

“What I asked for?”

“There’s no pain, is there? I had to make my new home comfortable.”
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