300-word Writing Challenge #30 (July 2018) -- VICTORY TO THE JUDGE!

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Ursa major

Bearly Believable
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writing-challenge-july-2018.jpg

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 2018 by their respective authors,
who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here



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


Entries must be posted no later than July the 31st 2018,
at 11:59 pm GMT



Voting will close August the 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


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:

Whistler's Mother.jpg


Image credit: Erin Presley-Froemke


This thread to be used for entries only.
Please keep all comments to the DISCUSSION THREAD

Please do not "Like" posts in this thread
 
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AstroZon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
227
Location
Colorado Springs
Code Whiskey

I kept my eyes closed as I listened to the periodicity of the alarm code: short, long, long - short, long, long. "Whiskey!" I shouted to myself. "There's a ship inside point five AU!"

I'd been drifting in the four crew escape pod for nearly two months. Because of the explosion on my ship, I was, sadly, its sole occupant. The dangers of asteroid mining...

The code Whisky repeated from the scanner as I started sweeping the X and Ka bands. Nothing.

Several hours passed when I noticed a shimmer of light through the pod's thick glass portal. "A ship!" Another 3 hours before I could make out a shape: concave tetrahedral - and massive. I scrolled through the pod's visual ID program until I found it: Debani, long range exploration.

I looked up Debani: Humanoid, considered neither hostile nor friendly, origin unknown, last known contact: 2926. " Incredible," I thought, "almost 800 years ago."

The Debani ship began to maneuver away from me when I felt the pod jerk hard to port. "Damn, they're towing me!"

Two days passed, and I was still in tow. I was helpless as the escape pod was designed for emergency life support only. No propulsion systems were fitted.

I was startled awake on day three by the sudden force of gravity. I knew immediately that I'd been pulled inside the Debani ship. I was on my knees trying to adjust when the pod's hatch opened. I crawled out.

As I stood up I noticed a darkly cloaked and hideously masked figure standing before me. I held up my right hand and managed a meek, "Hello." The masked Debani stood motionless. Finally he removed his mask, and I realized that he was a she. She held up her right hand and said kindly, "Eh-lo."
 

Rafellin

Independent Author & Publisher
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
Messages
509
Location
West Sussex, UK
Going Down

I hate ‘goblins in the lift’ calls. Agoraphobes in a lair where prey just walks in take a lot of persuading to move on.

Tonight, we’ve got drunken trolls lurching around Soho, rogue sprites spinning glamour so thick we’ve had to tranquilise the whole of Harrods, and a wyvern harassing the flamingos in St. James’ Park.

Which, I suppose, highlights the silver lining: in the fight to keep human ‘reality’ undisturbed, I get to do my bit sitting in an elevator.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are.”

Cadences came to humanity from the fey realms; bastardised versions of glamour weaving chants. The more use they get, the better they work. Which makes cliché my best friend.

There’s a blast of summer breeze and a gloriously ugly fellow appears, wearing a duster coat and sporting his cranial fur in an aureole crop to emphasise his blackened features.

“Greetings to thee, Warden of London.”

“And to thee, stranger.”

He bows: “I be Clambel of the Nether.”

A Duergar in London town! Well stuff me in a green leotard and call me a leprechaun.

“You’re a long way from home.”

His face contorts and tears spill down his ridged cheeks: “I’m trapped! This puckish conveyance whisks me up and down but refuses to take me home!”

The Unseelie took to technology so well humanity should have taken it as a warning. So, all this frustrated Seelie needs is an explanation he can understand.

“Clambel, this conveyance is bound to this place. It wants to obey, but geas prevents. By my will, step ye forth and continue your peregrinations.”

“Oh, thanking thee.”

He vanishes in a waft of lavender at evening.

Nice. Now to work out how to avoid spending a couple of hours picking up pink feathers.
 

HoopyFrood

Thanks for all the fish
Joined
Jul 13, 2006
Messages
5,459
Location
The Cloud
O. unilateralis

Of all the weird and wonderful things that happen in the natural world, one of the oddest has to be that which affects ants of the Camponotini tribe…

Extract from ‘To New Heights’: It was as if the human race turned its face to the sky and said ‘yes, we will go; we must go.’ Two mere centuries bridged the time between the first powered flight and ships that were capable of crossing the galaxy. The Space Race of the 1960s was nothing compared to the sheer urgency that seemed to possess us in the early 22nd century. We barely even paused within our own Solar System; why would we, when we could go so high, so far…

...leaving its nest behind, never to return, the ant climbs a tall leaf stem, creeps along its underside and, with abnormal force, latches its jaws into the vein…

Dictated lab report: Everything has been transported from the crash site. The ship had certainly come a long way — not one we’re familiar with. Those who opened it up got a fright — I’ve seen the body, the pilot was not in good condition — not from the crash, though, at least not all — its head had a kind of...growth? Gruesome, but it has also proved itself a glorious herald — since the discovery, the ideas my team and I have had...it all seems so simple now! It will revolutionise space travel… We’ll be able to move beyond our galaxy...

...none of which are its own actions — for the ant is driven, zombie-like, by a fungus burrowing into its body, compelled to its own demise; wherein the fungus erupts from the carcass and spreads anew.
 

Calliopenjo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2016
Messages
338
Location
USA
THE WILLOWBROOK FURNITURE COMPANY

The old Willowbrook Furniture Company building. It hadn’t been touched since it closed not long after WW II. It needed to be condemned but no one took the bid to do it. Chunks of paint missing, holes in the walkway that lead up to the front entrance, and broken windows all around the building.

Sandy walked passed the spirit at the front desk. He walked further as the air grew colder. Children’s laughter came from above.

At the end of the hall, a metal door showed itself. An elevator, maybe, but such a thing didn’t seem to fit. A bell hung on the right. The door opened after Sandy rang it.

“Name,” a stranger said. Its red face with big eyes and no nose drew attention. A straight slit that stretched across the face had to be the mouth.

“Uh... I’m... I’m Sandy.” He needed to get it together. Investigators needed to be professional.

“Sandy. Alive. Not spirit born.” The door closed.

What was that thing and what did not spirit born mean? Sandy shook his head. He took a deep breath and tried again.

“You are not spirit born. Why are you here?” It had a deep rough voice.

“I could ask you the same thing.” First time since puberty he had voice fluctuations.

“Stupid. You are a living soul. You do not belong here.”

Sandy didn't want to believe he was having a conversation with this, for the lack of a better word, thing. “I only came to find out what was going on. Could you at least tell me that?”

It laughed in a mousy voice before it disappeared. The elevator vanished as if nothing had been there, to begin with. Faded and torn wallpaper took its place. He turned around and raced out of there.
 

Cory Swanson

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 19, 2016
Messages
453
Gruv in an Elevator

Yes, I is Dr. Gruv and I will thank you kindly to stop staring. I know, I is not what you have expecting, and I sense you is uncomfortable being within conveyance with me.

Here, what floor is you wishing for? No, you is trusting me, sweetest, I is not infectious. I is doctor, I would know.

Ah, third floor. Surgery. Cancer of the kidney I is assuming? How is I knowing? The smell, sweetest. I is hoping you forgive but smell is among your clothing.

Is I salivating? Sweetest, is of my kind to salivate. Tumorses is like candied apples to us Gruvs. Is why we is working here.

Yes, here is my identification, sweetest. Is true I work here. Radiology. I is paid to sniff out tumorses, sweetest. Is unusual, yes, for Gruv to be working in such places. I is such good at what I do, though. The best, perhaps.

What you say? Yes, conveyance is taking very long for three floors. Very long indeed. Is not for worry, sweetest. Mechanics is work hard I is certain. We have pressed emergency button, yes. We is only stuck short time, you is best to relax.

Yes, we is probably to be late for appointments. What is to be done, sweetest?

I is agreed. I is certainly hungry as well. Truth be telling, the hairs on my neck is very raised by smell of your tumorses.

Agreed again, I is sitting rather close, sweetest. Helping myself I cannot. Why you is fearful?

I promise I is skilled. Tumor is to be removed anyway. Why deny the Gruv? Gruv is hungry. Tumorses smells so sweet. Your kidney no need tumorses, I promise to be fast, I promise no pain.

Why is you tremble?
 

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Messages
6,591
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
The Masquerade

Because the party was only a short distance away, Janos and Marya activated their masks as soon as they left their home. The city blossomed into a fairy tale garden of pastel towers, lit by gossamer lanterns.

"Do I look all right?" Marya stepped back so Janos could study her costume. Her mask projected the image of a butterfly. Her rainbow wings glittered in the moonlight.

"Fine." Janos knew his disguise, the ghost of a death's-head moth, was dull compared to hers. He never minded standing in the shadow of his lovely wife.

They were the last to arrive. The masks of the other guests created all manner of illusions. A pine tree chatted with an eagle. An emerald serpent danced with a sailing ship. A golden-eyed Martian laughed at a vampire's joke.

Time passed too quickly, as it always did. Midnight chimed.

Unmask! Unmask!

The guests turned off their masks, one by one. The crystal hall melted into crumbling brick. The beautiful costumes vanished, leaving only rags.

Janos pulled Marya's mask off. She was always reluctant to reveal herself, although her face bore fewer scars and weeping sores than most.

The synthetic voice of their inhuman host echoed in the ruined building.

Go now, and remember.

The guests left silently. None of them looked back at the site of their celebration.

The moon was down. The stars hid behind thick clouds. The only light came from softly glowing craters filled with poison rain.

"I'll need to find more food and water tomorrow," Janos said. "I better take the rifle."

"There aren't many bullets left."

"I'll be careful. Most of the dogs are dead by now anyway."

They entered the underground shelter and sealed the door. They whispered in the darkness, already planning next month's costumes.
 

mosaix

Shropshire, U.K.
Supporter
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Feb 13, 2006
Messages
7,109
Location
Shropshire, U.K.
FAKE Story!!

“First, Mr President, let me congratulate you on your victory and your inauguration speech.”

“I was pretty good wasn’t I? Anyway, I'm a busy man, what can I do for you?”

“I’m from NASA. I have a confidential meeting with all new Presidents to inform them of some high level state secrets known only to a very few.”

“The Moon landings! They were a hoax? I knew it!”

“No, Mr President – we really did land on the Moon…”

“You sure? Pity.”

“…however, you remember the Roswell incident? 1947?”

“Sure.”

“Well, there really was a crashed UFO. We have it under wraps at Area 51 – and its alien pilot.”

“Male or female? No! Forget I asked.”

“We have absolutely no idea, Mr President. It's learnt rudimentary English but it refuses to co-operate with us in any way.”

“I want to meet it!”

“What!? With respect, Mr President, that’s out of the question. We keep it heavily quarantined to avoid any possible risks. We have absolutely no idea what its powers may be.”

“Its powers? What about mine? Have you read my book? I could do a deal. We could be trading, or even playing golf, with these guys before you know it. Arrange it, or you’re fired!”

––

“Wow! That’s pretty grotesque. Anyway, let me in there. And I don’t want any interruptions!”

––

“I may not look like it but I’m the President of The United States of America! Let me out of here!”

“Yeah and I’m Michael Jackson. So now you want to talk to us.”

––

“I want the Senate and Congressional leaders, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the heads of NASA, the CIA, and the FBI, here, in this room, in the next twenty four hours. Oh yeah – and maybe a barber. There’s gonna be some changes around here.”
 

SPoots

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2017
Messages
188
Describing a Nightmare

“Good evening,” said the Quiet Man.

I said nothing. I tried, but I couldn’t. No words escaped my mask.

“Please, do not distress yourself,” said the Quiet Man. He walked around me and I could feel his fingers drift across my arms, tracing the bones that jutted out against my skin. “There is nothing to fear in dreams.”

The Quiet Man held up a glittering implement. It shone like a star in that dark place and I felt my skin slicken with sweat.

He touched it to me, a sharp pin-prick of pain I couldn’t escape. “Don’t worry,” said the Quiet Man, “tonight’s work will be swift.” And he let the scalpel glide gracefully across my body, skin and muscle parting with its passage.

I tried to scream, but I was trapped inside my mask. The screams piled up inside my chest as the scalpel cut.

I woke up sweating and screaming. I think I wet the bed. It took me three showers to wash the clinging fear from my skin. Even then, it lingered in my mind. I made my way through work in a haze, didn’t look up, didn’t make eye contact in case they could see my fear in my eyes. When I got home, I felt drained and lifeless. I went to the basement to check the bonds still held, then returned to my bed to sleep.

The Quiet Man was waiting for me, as was my mask.

“Good evening,” he said, fastening it in place.

“Why?” I managed.

“You have heard that dreams make sense of our day?”

I nodded.

“Consider me the dream of your deeds.” The Quiet Man held up his scalpel and I saw my mask reflected there. The face I wore to work each day.
 

Danny McG

This is the voice of the Mysterons
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Messages
4,631
Location
Cumbria UK
Interspecies breeding

Jim swayed slightly as he walked home, Mike beside him flicking angrily at his lighter, the breeze kept blowing it out and his cigarette was getting soggy in his mouth.

Jim belched and then grimaced at the sour beer taste.
“See, what it was right?” He opined loudly. “That bird in the club was gagging for it, you could tell just by looking at her. Dunno why she yelled so loud the bouncers put us out. I hardly touched her”

“Tell you what mate” slurred Mike. “Sheesh prob’ly one of them leshbians, thash why the bitch screamed”

“What the-?” yelled Jim as a blinding light shone and they found themselves inside a white sphere.
As they blinked drunkenly around a door irised open and a strange being clad in black entered, it's face hidden by a mask.

It approached the two trembling men and peered carefully from one to the other.
Turning back to the door where a similar being was appearing, it spoke in a weirdly accented and creaky voice.
“Too late, I get first choice, and mate, I don't fancy yours much”
 

Cathbad

Level 30 Geek Master
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
9,201
Location
Everywhere.
The Alien Threat

As Franklin began cutting the alien’s protective gear, I saw a bit of smoke escape the interior of the suit. It cut easily, and Franklin was soon ripping off the vestiges of the fabric concealing these creature’s torsos. More smoke rose, mostly concealing the body from mine and Brenda’s sight.

I stepped closer. Brenda caught my jacket sleeve and propelled herself forward with me. She was still frightened by them, despite how easy it had proven to knock the alien out.

I could see Franklin’s eyes were watering from the torrent of smoke. I prayed it wasn’t some deadly gas. There was a terrible odor too, somewhere between cooked bacon and sulfur.

But the smoke was lessening, and I could make out the body. The creature was bipedal, and even in the body gear that had covered every inch of its skin, we’d known it was not much different in form from us.

The alien’s skin was bubbling. Under the bright sun, it was cooking!

Franklin was pulling at its head cover. At that very moment, it regained consciousness. It began writhing and emitting a horrid wail.

For a brief moment, as the suit’s headpiece was wrenched free, I could see a face – not much different than my own – save it was crying.

I realized in that moment, I was crying, as well. And I could hear Brenda screaming for it to stop.

Franklin stumbled back, his eyes filled with horror. We watched, transfixed, as the alien’s face quickly melted away.

It stopped screaming. In a mere few minutes, its body had been reduced to pulp.

The government hadn’t lied to us. These aliens truly were no threat to us at all.

And now, we three must live with the atrocity our paranoia has made us commit.
 

Graymalkin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2018
Messages
305
This One's For You​


Celebrated stuntman, Hjalmar Bergqvist, tested positive for MS in September 2019. Clinical trials suggested nematodes and other helminths produced a powerful immunoregulator and so could retard the rate of neuron destruction.

Due to Hjalmar's duodenal ulcer, established gastrointestinal vectors were unavailable. On advice from an acquaintance of his wife - practising at Aleris Specialistvård Elisabethsjukhuset - Hjalmar signed up for the ground breaking procedure.

The experimental treatment required the robust and outgoing stuntman to spend nearly six weeks with 10,000 parasitic worms embedded in his face. He was to wear a frequent release nutrient applicator mask (FRNA) to provide nutrients to the parasites until the end of the forty day treatment period.

In August 2020, just after Hjalmar arrived at the hospital to have the mask removed, a faulty motor caused the lift to stop on its way up, leaving him trapped for fifteen hours. When he finally got to the consultant, the hungry worms had macerated the flesh on his skull leaving his wide blue eyes unbelievably intact.

Months of reconstructive surgery followed, during which, Hjalmar began to behave strangely. Unable to cope with his worsening behaviour, Hjalmar's wife left and the distraught man committed himself to a secure unit in Stockholm.

Three months later, having stolen another FRNA, Hjalmar walked out, intent on killing anyone vaguely connected with his ordeal. A witness identified Hjalmar during his attempted murder of hospital porter Marko Dub, repeatedly screaming “This one's for you!”

Bergqvist spent eight years in rehabilitation.

Released in 2029 to his wife, Hjalmar went on to play himself in the controversial movie, Ten To The Four Mouths. The cinema poster used a CCTV still from the hospital lift shortly before it broke. Sources say the lift audio system had continued to function, looping Barry Manilow the entire fifteen hours.
 

Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
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Mar 3, 2014
Messages
2,634
The Bathroom Speech

I make eye contact in the mirror – I look terrified. “Ladies and Gentlemen – and you too Fred.” It’s a human-appropriate joke, there should be laughter – everyone loves Fred. I practice smiling ... my chitinous breathing adaptation grinds loudly.

“God, I forgot! They see no difference between our smile …” *grind*, “our grimace ...” *grind*, “... and a fart!” Scratch that smile.

I massage mustard into my face, then wash it away with scalding tap water. I remember the horrified looks from the first human who’d watched me rinse off here in the office bathroom. “It’s okay,” I’d blurted, “it’s invigorating to us, like your kind with cold water. I can’t tell you how mortified we are to see humans kissing – it’s revolting!” The comparison hadn’t comforted him.

Dammit, I’m a Näurskälimponszkä demon – a farewell speech before the staff of Goldberg and Däusklunelkowszkä shouldn’t make me brick my boxers!

Ahem. Decades ago my people were expelled from their dimensional home by the Gelatinous God. We were exiled to Earth … cast adrift on your seas … persecuted and starved, against the laws of your nations. Many humans wished us dead so their lives would be unencumbered by the guilt of living amongst those rejected for being different from themselves.

“Then a coalition of human rights attorneys spearheaded by Fred Goldberg volunteered to help us. After I earned my law degree, Mr. Goldberg – the finest person I’ve ever known – asked me to join his firm to represent my people before the United Nations. Today, he’s retiring, but his legacy of aiding the disenfranchised–” A toilet flushes.

A nose is blown, a stall door opens, and Fred walks toward me.

Because he knows I’ll accept it only from him, he kisses my cheek. “It’s a good speech, Däusklunelkowszkä, but honestly, we can tell when you’re smiling.”
 
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scarpelius

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
336
Location
Bucharest
Panspermia 2.0


In 1986 when Halley passed by Earth, it broke into several pieces and one of them crashed into the Mediterranean sea. It was the beginning of the end for the old world.

Europe was hit hard and did not survived, but for the rest of the planet it only meant several months of raining. Eventually the rains stopped and the sun shined again.

I was a tech employee, spending hours upon hours in front of a computer screen, in a dark room. Work hard, play hard. During the massive rainfall caused by comet, the humidity inside our offices caused a strange mold to grow on walls. It started as green regular moss, which turned into brown-black crusted mushrooms, when it got exposed to direct sunlight. It looked like cancer.

We've tried everything to remove it, from scrapping to chemicals, blow torches and ultrasounds. It adapted to our means of destruction and consumed what we threw at it. It didn't take too long to infect us. Bob, our overweight database administrator was the first one to start itching, by the end of the week he turned into a walking bush. The hospital refused to admit him, as long as he could walk and was lucid. They had bigger problems than him.

That was then. Fighting.

Now, each year we celebrate the event. Halley brought us the gift of alien life, made us sick but cured us of many other fears. Right now I'm in an elevator with several others, going to a party a top of the building. The petals from the two flower girls in front of me, tickles my shroom mask, but I am not going to complain. Is better than next to the cactus man.

This is now. Accepting.
 

Stable

Watching you from upside down
Joined
Oct 7, 2016
Messages
359
Those Buoyant Depths

Bevi’s mother often sent him out of the house to play so she could get things – anything – done, so today had been nothing special.

“You stay away from those bubblers Bevi,” she called. “I don’t want to see you float away up a roof vent.” He wasn’t the most biddable child, but the thought of the ragged tears in the cave roof gave him the shudders.

Bevi’d had a great morning with a gaggle of kids teasing carnivorous glow worms, when his stomach reminded him that he’d left lunch on the counter. It was simple to climb the rock wall their house abutted and slip in the window. His mother would never know he was home. Except there she was on the kitchen floor, all intertwined with a priest. The priest’s ugly red mask slowly raised to see the paralysed boy.

Out the window. Skinned down the rocks. Away from the town lights into the deep dark of the cave.

Bevi sobbed and imagined all the creeping eyeless things that might enjoy the taste of small boy. A quiet scuff caught his breath, and he spotted a priest – the same one? – mask lighting his way through the dark. Bevi crept backward, up a slope, until he was wedged into a nook high above the cave floor.

When the footsteps had gone a faint bubbling intruded. He looked wildly, but couldn’t see anything in the dark. If he’d been breathing the gas for too long…

Bevi dashed towards home, but a gust of wind caught him, lifted his suddenly light body off the floor and into a dark crack in the rock above.

The rock chimney was dark and sharp as he swept timelessly upwards. Eventually Bevi realised the grey movement he could see was no hallucination. And above… light?
 

chrispenycate

resident pedantissimo
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Messages
7,307
Location
West Sussex
Tall.

He was tall - at least, she estimated, a third again as tall as she was. And looked hard, as if tapping him would be like the trunk of a tree, not living flesh. She knew the tschäggättä mask was to scare off demons of winter, but the faith behind it had worn thin with central heating, electricity and youth's optimism.

Her glamour moved like prey, not hunter. Mind reflecting thrills of dead, body dressed for spring despite the snow still thick outside – he saw another silly tourist victim, looked no deeper into the

The glaciers are retreating but the catenary curves of the wires between snow-coated power pylons attest to winter's lack of surrender.

Tiny snow granules are ricochetting off the double windows, almost horizontally, and between gusts the wooden structure groans back into shape. She trembles at him "Can we go outside - it's so tame in here?"

"It's below zero out there." He indicates her light frock, bare arms. "That's hardly a costume for polar exploration."

"I'll put my boots on and you can hug me warm. Only for a minute or two, just to sense the chill."

He acquiesces. What choice has he? But even he puts an extra thick coat over his dancing leathers, rationalising that he can wrap it round her when she realises how cold the wind really is. As they close the door behind them, a cable gives up the battle with the elements and breaks – all the lights die, generating sounds of panic indoors, but there's no true danger - they can see by the log fire, if nobody has a torch.

Winter can be subtle, too - it's not all blizzards and avalanches. And not all demons are ill favoured. Frozen, he'd make a good sculpture until spring cycled in.
 

Justin Swanton

Loving the view from up here.
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
451
Location
Durban, South Africa
Truth Day

“You know what to say?”

“Yes.”

“Answer any questions as truthfully as you can and if you have to lie, believe the lie you’re telling is the truth.” Jorge looked at Elloshin. “You can do it.”

Elloshin leaned back on his one rickety chair. “l’ve never seen anyone arrested on Truth Day. And I’ve asked some pretty awkward questions myself. Hell, I think we should ask about the photos…”

Don’t do it.” Jorge gripped Elloshin’s arm. “I only showed them to you so you wouldn’t think I was crazy. The most popular Administration ever and they’re killing people. People who wouldn’t go to Truth Day.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know.”

Elloshin looked around his apartment. One room with a bed, the loose chair he sat on, and on the scored table a laptop – a perk from his recent promotion. Paradise.

“All right, but I don’t think it’s as bad as that. The Administration is doing a good job. Things are much better than even a few months ago.”

Jorge looked at him curiously. “Where’d you get that idea?”

The clock buzzed. Time to go.



“I’ll wait for you outside,” Jorge said once they reached the Admin building.

Elloshin winked. “Piece of cake.”

Bev was in the Admin office as usual. Elloshin settled into the worn couch as she took the Truth Mask off the shelf. “Still the Voodoo theme?”

She shrugged and tilted her head at the Administrator’s door. “He likes it.”

He made himself comfortable as she fitted the mask on his face. Tell the truth and if you have to fib think it’s the truth. Easy.

Ten minutes later he rose up. No problem.

As he left the building a strange man approached him. “How did it go?”

Elloshin looked at him curiously. “Do I know you?” he asked.
 
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Luiglin

by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
Joined
Mar 22, 2012
Messages
1,943
Location
Mercia, UK
EE Con – The Return of Malicious Malevolent Mayhem!

The figure took up so much of the doorway that even light had a difficult time getting past.

The bellgoblin, hat to the side in sartorial cockiness, gave a bored beckon.

Ropes creaked as the newcomer — bronzed muscle, pressed loincloth, evil mask — stepped in and turned the already cramped lift into quite an intimate encounter.

‘Hi, I’m Bob’ read the name tag. Bob? He had to be one of those fresh college types who boasted they could modernise evil. They gave themselves victim friendly names, drafted business cases instead of war plans and arranged brunch meetings. I mean… brunch. Who’s up at that time of day?

The Dark Lord dropped his eyes down. Yes, tiny and insignificant it may have been, but Bob had a briefcase.

He rolled his eyes at the Minion who gave an imperceptible nod in return.

“So, Bob, first time at EE Con?”

Bob nodded.

“Signed up for any talks or just networking?”

“Talks,” said Bob, in a voice that made the Dark Lord think of a piece of granite being grated.

“Good. Wealth of knowledge here.”

“Giving talks,” said Bob, opening his case to hand over a leaflet.

“Hostile Takeovers: Subsuming Neighbouring Kingdoms via the Council Chamber,” recited the Dark Lord. “I prefer to storm the Gatehouse.”

Bob’s burly finger prodded the leaflet.

“Getting your way, the easy way. Ten steps to deposing a ruler through meetings,” he read out, then handed the leaflet back. “Damn, can’t make it, got to see an ogre about a troll.”

The lift lurched to a halt and the Minion stuffed a piece of parchment into the Dark Lord’s hand.

“Good luck,” he said with a hearty slap on Bob’s back that left a ‘Kick Me’ sign.

EE Con, it just brought out the evil big kid in him.
 

Vaz

We're in the pipe, five by five.
Joined
Jun 7, 2015
Messages
1,430
Location
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Wreathed in Stone


In the wood, everything was still. There was no breeze, no golden antlered deer to dance about the dark hills; what flowers did grow bloomed eternal grey and had forgotten the warmth of summer.

Preeta removed saddle and reigns from her Red Elk setting him free. He lingered a moment, holding her gaze as she said a prayer for his safety. Then he was gone. A red blur against the dark horizon. Next, she took her curved blade and laid it at the feet of one of the statues. Five of them stood guard, silent. Great masks upon their faces mottled with black moss. It had all begun with the blade. The bloody campaigns of Tulomënë. And in Eldorïn, the Tree of Meat. Boys lynched that had barely glimpsed fourteen summers; crows stripping flesh from their feet.

She had returned a hero. Her skin unmarked. And yet, Preetas skill with the sword had bore her a wound so deep no amount of time could keep those horrors from her sleep. Her body ached with the weight of the day. The night picked at her mind like a carrion bird.

She walked to the centre of the wood. A figure stood, it's mask a pale phantom.

Preeta took one last breath, reached out and touched it.

Her skin hardened. The memories faded like the air from her lungs. The fear and dark burden of each waking day gone like words on the wind.

She was still. And free.
 

M. Robert Gibson

I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that
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Joined
Feb 10, 2018
Messages
823
Location
Discovery One
The Eyes Have It

I enter the lift with barely a glance at the existing occupant and press the button for the ground floor.

Wait. Is he wearing a mask?

I turn around. Yes he is and he is staring right at me. I'd better make small talk.

"Hello, that's an interesting costume. Are you off to some fancy dress do?"

No response. No nod of the head. Nothing. Just the stare.

I try again. "Doesn't the mask make your face itchy, what with the beard?"

Again, nothing but the stare. I decide to give up and try to look away but find I am unable.

There's something about the mask. There's something wrong. I move closer, or did the stranger move closer? Regardless, the mask is larger now. I look into the eyes. What is it? There's something missing. I cannot turn away, I must look at the eyes. The mask is growing, the eyes holding me.

The mask grows. The eyes are all I can see. But there is nothing to see.

The mask grows. The eyes are empty. Behind the mask nothing but a black, infinite void.

The mask grows. I step into the eyes, into the emptiness, into the darkness.

All around there is nothing. I look at my body. Nothing. No breath escapes my lungs. No heart beats out my life's rhythm.

I have no form. I am the darkness. I am the void. I am eternity.

Now I see. Now I understand.

I am the mask.

-----

My darkness is pierced by a shaft of light as the lift door opens. A young man enters, glances at me and turns away.

He presses a button, then slowly turns around to look at me. His mouth moves, I hear nothing.

I simply stare, waiting.
 
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