300-word Writing Challenge #35 (October 2019) -- VICTORY TO PETER V!

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Ursa major

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The inspiration image for Challenge#35 is:


1569871383966.png



Image credit: Alex Harford


THE CHALLENGE:

To write a story in 300 words or fewer
INSPIRED by the image provided above, in the genre of
Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Speculative Fiction


THE RULES:

Only one entry per person

All stories Copyright 2019 by their respective authors,
who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here



This thread will be CLOSED until October the 10th 2019
As soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story



Entries must be posted no later than October the 31st 2019,
at 11:59 pm GMT



Voting will close November the 15th, 2019 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


This thread to be used for entries only:

Please keep all comments to the
DISCUSSION THREAD

(Please do not "Like" posts in this thread)
 

Ian Fortytwo

I'm not crazy, my reality is tnereffid than yours.
Joined
Dec 30, 2018
Messages
366
Location
Somewhere on this mortal coil.
The Day the World Ended.

I couldn't believe what was happening I sat there waiting for the show to begin, I arrived early to get the best seat, paying top price. Still the curtain hadn't gone up, and a strange feeling was overpowering me from within, I looked around and found it strange that there were no other people. Mind you at least I wouldn't have to put up with anyone using their mobile phones during the performance, but surely I cannot be the only one here. It was weird that as I walked in no usher checked my ticket, however I sat in the designated seat number.

What was going on, it was now well past the time that the curtain was to rise. Perhaps one of the cast was ill, yet there had been no announcement, so I sat patiently, for there was no way I was going to miss this chance. I anxiously looked around me, that odd feeling was still inside me, yet I just waited.

Eventually I got up, something was wrong and I wanted to investigate. Timorously I made my way back to the foyer, nobody stopped me, the nearer I got that feeling deepened within me. What was wrong? I approached the foyer I noticed a body trapped in the half open door. I glanced outside all was brilliantly white, like a bright spotlight pointing towards the theatre.

Drawing closer I realised I was gasping for air, my breathing was getting more difficult as though I was suffocating. I wasn't going to make it to the door, and as my last breath was consumed a thought struggled to the surface, 'what a waste of money I paid for my ticket.'
 

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Messages
6,090
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
Fade to White

As Manzetti entered the Cinema Royale, he thought back on his career. Twenty years of following trends, not setting them. That was why he was here, at a theater long past its prime, instead of a luxurious picture palace in Rome. Still, it was pleasant to be Guest of Honor at the Serenissima Film Festival, even if he was surrounded by movie fanatics rather than starlets.

Manzetti settled into his seat and prepared to be bored by a marathon of his films. Maciste Against the Huns, Space Mission Alpha, Secret Agent Triple Seven, Bullets for Django. After the premiere of his latest film, Black Roses on a Lizard's Grave, he would announce his retirement. In this age of Star Wars, nobody lined up to see low budget variations on familiar themes.

Faded colors and distorted dialogue filled the musty theater. Manzetti found his eyes growing heavy. He drifted into sleep, only to be shocked awake by the cold steel of a straight razor on his throat.

A man dressed in black leather, from his hat to his gloves, held the blade. The screen behind him showed only gray shadows on a milky background. The man stepped back and gestured at other figures, nearly hidden in the darkness. A muscular man wearing a loincloth. A woman in a spacesuit. A man in a tuxedo, holding a pistol. A cigar-chomping cowboy.

Manzetti looked around for help. The theater was deserted. Only the clatter of the projector convinced him he was not dreaming.

"Do not forget us," the man with the razor whispered. He melted back into the screen, as the movie reached its conclusion. The others vanished. The film ended, and the crowd applauded. Manzetti rose and bowed to the audience.

"Let me tell you about my next project," he said.
 

Daysman

Newfangled Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2018
Messages
265
Location
east of the crooked house, south of weddell wynd
Ghost Wrangler

Enoch Lunn pulls the lodestone pendant from inside his collarless shirt, sets it in his palm and peers across the stage.

Barnaby whispers in Councillor Turner's ear. "Pendant'll vibrate when a spirit's nearby."

The Councillor nods, stifling nervous laughter. She considered their local ghost hunters scam artists, at first. An hour in their company, she thought them delusional and sad. Now, standing side stage in the town's long abandoned theatre, everything is changed.

She watches her breath swirl in Barnaby's LED torch beam as muted crackles rise from straining floorboards and flutter across the auditorium.

A numbing chill stills her tongue and paints her cheeks.

Barnaby clutches her arm and nods to centre stage. "A performance remnant... we've to guide it... convey it to the deceased."

Now Lunn steps out across the boards, loadstone buzzing in his clenched fist. Fine arcs of lightning play along his outstretched arm, stippling the lurking shadow. Therein, it lights a guitarist: mop haired, suited and booted.

The Councillor whispers, "But that looks like…"

Barnaby shushes her and shakes his head as Lunn walks the figure towards the far side of the stage.

"It's what we do most nights," he whispers. "Remnants loiter the streets hereabouts, snared by pain or laughter. Enoch does his best but he's tired. We need new blood. His cousin might do. She'll need training and proper funding."

Councillor Turner remains transfixed by the slowly departing spirit. "Lunn's retiring?"

Barnaby smiles. "He's moving on… you didn't notice, did you?"

"Notice what?"

"Just how tired he is..."

They look again across the stage to see the guitarist step into the far wall and Lunn step after.

"Enoch's all we have... but he's been conducting the dead well beyond his own disillusionment. One day, he'll not return and we'll be completely stuffed."
 

Rafellin

Independent Author & Publisher
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
Messages
493
Location
West Sussex, UK
Child’s Play

“It is said that the world is a stage. If that’s true, then this should be regarded as a world.”
“No, it’s shabby. I can go online to see the world.”
“Not so. You will only see what the cameras permit. Even if you control every one, their placement denies your freedom.”
“Drones, then.”
“Mount every camera on a drone and you’ll be too busy controlling them to appreciate the views.”
“Most can manoeuvre without human guidance.”
“True. However, you cannot take in the whole, raw world. It must be presented to you in essence.”
“How can a primitive version of a flash mob do anything but fail?”
“Stop watching. Be like a child.”
“What?”
“Participate.”
“I’m not going up there and joining in.”
“Good thing too. No. What I mean is you must give your imagination over to the spectacle. Feel what is being portrayed and your imagination will fill the gaps. Let the old magic of playing make believe come to the fore. Join the tale. Stop being a voyeur of life.”
“You lost me.”
“Go with it. Live a little.”
“In a ruin lost in a slum?”
“When this theatre was built, the area was the centre of town. Anyway, try to be like the child playing without care for anything but the story: don’t worry about the place, focus on the happening.”
“I’m not five.”
“Sadly true. So, to start, regard this merely as a way of passing the time until our secure transport returns.”
“You’re not going to call it before this finishes, are you?”
“Correct. I’ve been looking forward to tonight. Now, turn off your devices.”
“Mute?”
“Off.”
“Before this whatever-you-call-it starts, what’s popcorn?”
“It’s called a ‘play’, and you’ll find out at intermission.”
“Inter-what?”
“Hush. It’s starting.”
 

Calliopenjo

Well-Known Member
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Feb 1, 2016
Messages
300
Location
USA
I Found It

Prince’s Playroom had been the influence for countless stories and what inspired several novels. Nothing available gave legitimacy to the legend, and if it did, never mentioned a location.

It spoke of an extraordinary room trimmed with silk, precious metals, and jewels. Brilliant and bold colors adorned the area. Toys tucked in all the closets that guaranteed amusement beyond recognition of time. Bright lights shone without the use of light bulbs or candles. It seemed to come from a mystical source yet it didn’t describe any other origin either.

With such lore, I had to find out if this story was fact or fable, and such a place only experienced warm weather with lots of sun. That didn’t say much so I kept searching. I discovered a man who pointed me toward the Indian Ocean and nothing. No island in his description existed.

After a lot of asking and probing, I thought I had discovered the magical room. It wasn’t so much an unusual ivory castle that the tale spoke of, but an underground area meant to keep the children entertained and out of harm’s way during times of war.

After five years of failure, I found it. All kinds of toys big and small, push and pull, soft and hard, quiet and loud poured out of every closet I opened. No cobwebs or balls of dust. The furniture didn’t have any holes, broken legs, or areas of use. Everything looked brand new.

I could devote a decade in here and not get bored. All of these toys.

There had to be a bad side, although I couldn’t think of any or find it.
 

Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
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Notice of Seizure

Within the weave of my sweater I feel things like rice grains, but squiggling grotesquely.
I squeeze and extract a grub, squeeze and extract others.
“Ruined.”
I walk onto the decaying theater’s stage and look under the fallen curtain. I’ve almost nothing stashed – dirty overcoat, blanket, cowbell. That Hugo novel.
There isn’t even—
Freeze, old man!”
Flashlights blind me, booted feet rush forward, I’m knocked down.
A soldier’s voice: “This area’s being evacuated. The Klavqill requisitioned that old cathedral and they’re boosting it into space tomorrow. Leave – now!”
I gather my things and obey.
I wander, considering options.
There’s opportunity here. The aliens are obsessed with living in our most historically significant buildings – but doing so far away from us. I’d heard rumors about our treaty with the Klavqill; of riders added relating to these building appropriations.
I hurry toward little-known tunnels leading into the cathedral’s basement.
They’ve a low-ceilinged reliquary there, a leaden, infrared-proof room with air enough for my purposes. I enter it, bent double, and hide.

I’d seen videos of the godlike procedure – force fields suffusing a building and imparting structural integrity. Antimatter beams severing building from foundation – atomic engines pushing it spaceward. Massive machines creating livable environment within the alien’s newest home.

An hour after liftoff I hear piping Klavqill voices. Hunched and desperate, cowbell ringing furiously, I rush from concealment screaming, “Sanctuary, sanctuary!”
They bow their heads in recognition of treaty obligations: once aloft, stowaways cannot be returned to Earth.

Our orbit takes us over the Pacific. From a bell tower I watch the nearby Chrysler Building, windows aglow with myriad stars.
A pyramid drifts into view, majestically emulating Eternity.
Soon the Klavqill strip and sterilize me, then lead me to a cage in their zoo, a treaty rider I wish I’d remembered.
 
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Elckerlyc

"I'll rant as well as thou!" - Hamlet
Joined
Aug 27, 2019
Messages
278
Location
The Netherlands
Obituary

The theater could not remember being built, but it did know when it became sentient.
Years of absorbed emotions, of audience and performers alike, had accumulated to a critical level. Towards the end of a near flawless performance of the St Matthews Passion, the build-up pressure unexpectedly breached the barrier to self-awareness.
Self, what a magical word! It did not matter the sudden tremor had abruptly ended the oratorio.
Even more gratifying than the self-awareness was it’s comprehension and appreciation of the concerts, tragedies and comedies that came and went. The theater blossomed on the laughing and tears, applause and cheers, that night after night echoed through it’s corridors. Wondrously, the day came when a new theater-director arrived, a person with strong emphatic abilities. Imagine the moment the theater and the director touched each other on a plane of existence that had no name. Imagine the possibilities that arose. The quality and renown of the theater rose to it’s golden age of excellence.

Sadly, as the director was human, it was also mortal. After the director’s death a touch of sadness invaded and never left. Slowly the number of performances and public declined, until it altogether stopped. Was it because of this hint of melancholia that pervaded the corridors, now dusty and dark? It was not as if people had lost interest in entertainment. Outside the crowd went by, absorbed by slab-like boxes with pictures, hypnotized to the point that they would cross the street without looking up.
Looking outwards made the theater aware of the adjoining building, worse even, the whole block being demolished. The realization hit that being Self, no matter it’s physical nature, also hinted at being mortal.
The theater never knew when it was built, but it did know when it died.
 

D3athw4lker

Druss enthusiast!
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May 23, 2018
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73
Location
Glasgow
A New Frontier

"Must I be a tree, Captain? Need I remind you I’m a Master in the field of Organic and Ecological study? Graduated top of my class from U.U. [University of the Universe], out of billions, I hasten to add," Chief Science Officer Burrell complained as he stretched some sort of thin elasticated body suit affixed with leaf-shaped card cut-outs of various shapes, sizes and skill between his bony hands; his face a vision of abject dismay.

"I have no desire to make a fool out of myself."

"Nor I, Burrell," the Captain said while pulling a furry headpiece with elongated ears over his head. Beside him, his second in command was adjusting his bracers attached to the furry rear legs with a resigned expression.

"However, our best chance at obtaining the fuel we need while maintaining their PATCH [Planetary Advancement of Technology, Culture and History] is by playing our part to help these terrestrials win that golden trinket."

"You know, I could easily rig up a makeshift holo-deck and put on a light show that’ll blow their minds," Chief Engineering Officer Nuttall growled with desire.

"Wha- No! We can’t risk a repeat of Planet 24601, poor souls. No, just work with what they give you. I’ve no doubt it will be every bit as explosive. That wasn’t a challenge, Nuttall!"

The Captain could only sigh as Nuttall scampered off with renewed excitement, bumping into Chief Communications Officer Órama coming the other way.

"Prima donna," the Captain greeted with a mock bow.

"Having five sets of vocal folds certainly seems to have its perks on this planet," Órama enthused with a voice as silken as her dress.

Maintaining eye contact, the Captain fought the urge to observe a couple more and simply motioned to the stage.

"To a whole new frontier."
 

elvet

Easily amused
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Ontario, Canada
Shall We Dance?


The Palais Hall was exactly as Mary remembered it. She had met her husband there many years ago. Jacob was a good dancer, a natural, and it was something they continued to enjoy right up until his first stroke.

She looked up at the stage where the band played, framed by ornately carved and gilded wood. The ballroom floor was a large expanse of glossy hardwood, specifically made to be smooth and resilient. Circular tables lined the perimeter where well-dressed people sat in quiet conversation and sampled the latest cocktails. As beautiful as this setting was, the main event was always the dancing. The music’s rhythm got her toes tapping, and she envied the elegant couples moving effortlessly in the centre of the hall. Jewelry sparkled as it caught the soft glow from the overhead chandeliers. Even a hint of Chanel N°5 wafted by. Everything was so realistic.

“How do they do this”? Mary asked her great granddaughter.

“They have ways to get your best memories and turn them into scenes that you can experience,” Jean replied. “The headset you are wearing can do even more.” Jean adjusted the controls.

Suddenly, Mary was twenty-one again and dancing with her Jacob. She gasped in surprise. They were twirling to a Viennese waltz, moving perfectly in sync, floating along with the other couples on the dance floor.

Jean heard the joy in her baba’s voice as Mary reminisced what she saw and felt.
This technology was revolutionizing end-of-life care. You could relive the good times in exquisite detail—an updated version of the photo albums of the past. She reached out to give her baba a hug, a physical anchor for this special moment in her own memory.
 

Peter V

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2016
Messages
476
Location
London
A Toy Story

Milly had lots of toys. She had a dolls house with six Barbie dolls and all the Barbie accessories an eight year old could want. She had an adapted PlayStation (though her parents would not be able to tell you the last game they saw her play on it) and sometimes she would watch her 49” HD television just before bedtime. Mostly though, she liked to play with the little marionette theatre her grandpa made just before he died.

“She has such an imagination.” Her mother would say and friends and family alike would marvel at her wonderful puppet shows. Everyone who saw them agreed that Milly had a rare talent.

What they did not see though, was where she went at night; when the light was turned off and her parents asleep.

Six inches high, Milly would dance upon the stage, her pirouettes with the handsome wooden Captain a blur of colour. She would sing duets with the pretty farmer’s daughter, the rosy glow on her cheeks mirroring the painted spots on the puppet. She would laugh at the antics of the sweet old clown but most of all she liked to teach the black and white sheepdog to do tricks.

“Stay with us.” Her wooden friends implored, each morning when grey light filtered through the curtains.

“One day I shall.” Milly always promised, before returning to herself and waking to spend another day trapped within her palsied body.

And she would. She could feel the time drawing near when she would escape the confines of her prison. To be free to dance and to sing. To play as other children did.

“When Mama and Papa are strong enough.” She would tell them. “When they see how happy I can be.”

And when they stop blaming themselves, she thought.
 

TomUK

Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2019
Messages
8
None of them wanted to be there. The theatre stank of damp and urine, and something else. Ilsa’s palms sweated. A sharp ‘psst’ made her look to see Rio mouthing ‘your bow’, pointing at it with one finger, his face angry. He signalled with two fingers down the length of the auditorium, indicating the far corner to the left of the stage. Then he looked around at the others, holding up spread fingers.
Ilsa shrugged the bow off her back and notched an arrow, then drew in a breath and moved at a crouching run to the point indicated, staying close to the once plush rows of seats. Light coming down through holes in the roof had reduced the darkness inside to a dull gloom, but little could be made out in the deeper shadows to the rear of the stage. Ilsa felt her skin prickle until she was back in full cover. If she had been waiting there in the darkness, the whole group would have sprouted arrows already.

Evelyn, Darrel, Rio and Geoff crouched to her right, spread along the front of the stage, straining to see or hear anything. A few heartbeats came and went. Rio looked to each side, slowly and deliberately, then – go! Rio led, scaling and pounding across the stage, kicking in the door that led to the rooms at the back, the rest of them rushing after him.

Nothing. Nothing but –

‘If the world is a stage, who is writing the play?’

Written in elegant script on a scrap of parchment. The ink was still wet. Ilsa, at the back of the group, smiled to herself. A job was a job, but none of them had wanted to hand a single soul over to the inquisition.
 
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dannymcg

S.S.D.D.
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Messages
3,769
Location
Cumbria UK
Out of the frying pan

Trish tried to dodge, she’d spotted the slavers too late on the rubble strewn street, she struggled in the net but there came a dull thud and she blacked out.

She came around slowly, where was she? Opening one eye and overcoming waves of nausea she peered warily.
A naked girl, chained by the neck, gazed hopelessly at her. She sensed others and glanced quickly around, at least a dozen girls, all chained and naked, a further glance down confirmed she’d been stripped as well.

One at a time they were led onto a stage in a long abandoned theatre and furious bidding took place, the crying girls were dragged away by their lecherous new owners, Geiger counters clicking monotonously.

Finally Trish and two others were hauled up their neck chains. They stared in bemusement as a new set of bidders crowded into the auditorium.

“Now, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for our monthly meat auction”
 

mosaix

Shropshire, U.K.
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Shropshire, U.K.
They Have Their Entrances and Their Exits ...

… Twenty Second March 2044 … Glasgow Maternity Hospital … male … James McBride … Father Unknown … Mother Valerie McBride …

… taking all these factors into account we recommend that James is taken into care. Glasgow Welfare Services. July 2051

… James continues to abscond at every opportunity ...

… the mentoring program seems to be finally bearing fruit although James still has problems expressing his emotions. Lothian Psychological Services August 2054.

… considering James' problematic background he continues to perform well in school although he finds socialising with other pupils difficult … tries, with limited success, to engage in team sports … excels at science … M. Watson. Head of Year Eight.

… so, where do I really want to be in, say, 25 years time? Diary - January 1st 2059

… please find enclosed your pass to the Royal Academy library.

No guests for mcbride. LOL. Degree day and not a soul turns up. Thank god it's the last we'll see of him

... your book Overview of Psychological Testing has been dispatched.

… inform you that your application to join the Royal Air Force has been successful.

WTF! seen the echo? swot mcbride makes test pilot on the new euro fighter!!! how did THAT happen!!!

… ESA selects the first group of pilots for its manned space programme. Amongst them are Ernst Fischer, Adrina Villa, James McBride, Lucas Valenta ... ESA Press Release 1st November 2077

McBride continues to excel … scores highly on dedication and commitment to mission completion … ESA Mars Mission Psychological Evaluation Unit

and we have ignition. God speed the ESA Schiaparelli mission to Mars.

… over to our space correspondent at ESA Mission Control, Darmstadt. Thank you, Martin. The crew are preparing the descent module ...

ominously, visual and verbal communication with the crew has been lost. Rumours abound that some life signs have flat lined ...

Mars Log. Day 1. Alone at last.
 

Star-child

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
168
The Fourth Wall

The colors stole her attention first. Bright, rich hues that felt floral and oriental – like her aunt’s ancient Keshan carpet. The pigments swam for a time, then dredged themselves into islands of mixed tone that bloomed more variation and contrast.

Later, a sense of place grew. It was either from excitement or wariness; being in a place where safety of home isn’t understood and the press of strangers likely. She wondered if that feeling was owed to way the islands where organizing their borders between each other. A moment of sick vertigo came and went as blocks and borders flipped into raised lines and panes, like a neurologist’s optical illusion.

The emotion of place doubled, reinforced by anticipation. She starred at the geometric pattern filling her vision – the Mondrian flatness of it collapsed and she fell forever into the depths as borders and lines converged to a vanishing point of dimensionality. She wished for the relief of a moan, but had no breath. She fell and fell.

Like a pilot wrenching at the controls, she pulled her perspective out of that dive and forced a horizon into her vision, ending the illusion of an endless shaft. The vestibular war ended; she came to rest in what was most importantly a recognizable location.

Where?

It was familiar and not. She sought it in memory, reliving moments and people. Her aunt’s house, flavor, lust, appendicitis, a disappointed parent, a cold mountainside. Re-focusing, she favored a different theory: This was a new place. Iconically obvious in purpose, but unique to her direct experience. It was a place that effortlessly held interest, and she stared at the center with new anticipation.

A white costumed performer took the stage, clearing her throat to test the acoustics.

“Sara, I’m Doctor Myers. You are in a coma.”
 

Dan Jones

Free Omar!
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Nov 14, 2014
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Here, Now
The Travels Of Sir Reginald Rigmarole, Part 94!

So! I was as proud as a pair of freshly shaved plums of my fine English carpentry, but outrageous aspersions were cast about the structural integrity of my asparagus climbing frame when Knuckles, the four-year-old son of Lyonnaise villain Francois “Epidural” Fissurriere (a known associate of Ballsmasher McAdams), fell awkwardly as the structure collapsed, and suffered a severely fellated underflange.

Not desiring an impromptu chiropractic session, I abandoned the stupid little bastard’s birthday party (without bequeathing my fabulous gift of a voucher for one Llandthenohenoheledd leek and mutton pie) and laid low in Wetwang with Extinction Rebellion, who were enjoying a street performance of Merchant Ivory-inspired Afrojams. Bein’ Hank Marvin, I whipped a capon from my thigh pocket, only to be accosted by a revolting scrubber whose face was covered in rust.

“Oi! Meat is fackin’ MURDER!” she romulated with uproarious precision. “In Extinction Rebellion we only consume inane vegetables! Select something from my father’s egregious farming empire or die, depraved imperialist crypto-carnivore!” She duly presented me with a vast crate of fatuous, woke pumpkins.

“Your father’s an agricultural magnate?” I enquired rambunctiously.

Rustchops nodded, and I was about to erotically propose when she pointed towards the performance and exhumed, “Ohhhhh, dis is dem bestest bit doe!”

We watched a dancer do a kwassa kwassa interpretation of the 1st Earl of Devonshire’s massive erection, before he invited me for a boogie. I modestly agreed, throwing some boom shapes before he grasped me in hold and squeezed me so tightly two of the discs in my spine popped!

I howled in agony as he peeled off his Chatsworth House costume, revealing the ailing mug of none other than Francois Fissurriere! “Avez-vous pensé que vous échapperiez à donner mon fils un underflange gravement soufflé?” he honked.

Foiled again!
 

Mouse

ejtett.weebly.com
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Jun 2, 2006
Messages
10,048
Location
in your face
The Peculiar Incident Experienced by Mr Nempnett Thrubwell

Nempnett Thrubwell didn’t believe in fairies until Queen Camel paid him a visit whilst he was in the bathtub, dozy on painkillers after an argument between himself, his bicycle, and a lamppost in which he did not emerge as the victor. He wasn’t surprised to see her, of course, because the painkillers filled his head with fluff and he was quite convinced that fluff and fairies went hand in hand.

What did surprise Mr Thrubwell was Queen Camel’s insistence he put on some clothes and join her for a tea dance down at the local pub. For Mr Thrubwell was not known to dance. Queen Camel, although small, winged, and with teeth to frighten a dentist, was extremely pretty and so he couldn’t very well refuse.

Upon entering the pub Mr Thrubwell quickly sobered up, which is usually quite the opposite thing to happen to people upon spending any time in a pub. The place was empty and the stage at the back of the room strewn with tiny corpses. Everything was very red and everybody was very dead.

Mr Thrubwell could only scratch his head.

“These are my people,” Queen Camel explained. She sounded as though she was holding in a great deal of rage. “You killed them.”

Mr Thrubwell wasn’t the type of person who killed anything. He blinked.

“My kingdom lived within that lamppost. Its light shines no more!”

Mr Thrubwell said, “Oh.” He wondered what possessed the fairy to drag the bodies to the pub and lay them out on stage as if they were on show. He also wondered where the occupants of the pub were.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“You will be.”

Queen Camel, and the bodies, vanished. Nempnett Thrubwell shivered in the empty room. He vaguely wondered if his bathwater was getting cold.
 

Kharn

World Eaters 8th Assault Company
Joined
Oct 21, 2019
Messages
15
Location
Unfortunately, California
Sic Semper Tindalos

It was perfect, he thought as he entered the theatre. The doors closed roughly behind him, shaking the glass panels set within the frames. There was history here, he could feel it. Being close to death made a person sensitive to such things. Perfect.

He walked through the doors to the theatre proper, finding a seat in the back near the corner. Corners were important, so he had been told. Something about angles.

A familiar figure appeared beside him. He had a hooked nose and a slightly receding chin, below which an angry red scar ran around his neck.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Chalmers asked, his voice melodic and distant.

“Yes,” he replied sadly, “there will be a play tonight, Our American Cousin. I wish to see it before the end.”

Chalmers nodded and departed, leaving one small capsule on the seat where he had been. The Liao capsule would be enough to get there, or rather, then. He had to focus on the date to ensure he made it.

Swallowing the pill, he watched as he was dragged back to the heyday of Ford's Theatre. He saw the patrons, past performances, and much more as time pulled back, bringing him to this place on the desired night.

From his seat he could look up and see the President and his wife, with the assassin standing behind him. He flinched at the gunshot and stayed quiet during the screams.

As the assassin vociferated from the stage, an acrid smoke began to bleed from the corner. He nodded and stood, turning to face the Hounds encroaching through the angled space.

He smiled as the Hounds leapt for him, slavering jaws wide. He had beaten cancer on his own terms.
 

Shyrka

Friend of Ulysses
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Never Too Proud

The great hall’s splendour had been defiled, its warm grandeur sullied by the Baron’s grotesque taste in luxury. The baroque architrave lay fractured and split, hanging loose in places, missing completely in others. It hurt to see her ancestral home reduced to this but the tumult of battle was already starting to dim. It would be over soon. Her men preferred to work fast.

---

“Father!” Yolanda’s cry seemed thin and childlike in the great hall. Baron Von Horstadt stepped past her father’s slumped form, his blade still wet with blood. Every fibre compelled her to rush to forward but mother’s grip was iron-hard.

“Please,” Lady DeMontford stood ramrod straight, her whole form tensed as if anything less and she would collapse like a broken puppet. “You have what you came for,” her voice was strident, defiant, but cracked at the edges. Her grip tightened painfully. “Spare my daughter!”

The baron swept forward, lips splitting into a leer.

“Beg.”

---

The ‘captain’ was a pirate, Yolanda knew as much just from looking. Worse – from the fear in her fellow prisoner’s eyes – a slaver too. She cleared her throat, stood straight and looked him square in the eye. “I can be of use to you,” she stated calmly, heart fluttering. “All I ask is safe passage and a chance to earn my keep.”

The captain sniffed, looking her up and down.

“Beg.”

---

She found the Baron huddled behind a curtain of rotting velvet. He was older, fatter, but she recognised the cruelty in those dark eyes as clear as she had twenty years before. With a slash of her sabre, she rent the curtain asunder. Von Horstadt recoiled, squealing like a hog.

“P-please!” he cried, cringing away from her blade. “Spare me!”

Yolanda rested the sabre’s edge on his swollen gullet.

“Beg.”
 

chrispenycate

resident pedantissimo
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A Stage in our Progress


"Glorious," breathed Markus, our resident optimist (every touring company needs one, just like his cynical counterweight). "A real stage after all those barns and church halls."

Our donkeys were in the village pound, costumes distributed to dressing rooms (real dressing rooms with mirrors and potential hot water), there were lights aplenty, flies and even a demon trap. Never mind our repertoire tending toward the gloomy, and even our royal costumes looking shabby next to the local paint. We could give them a show they wouldn't forget fast, and perhaps even find time to rehearse 'Faust's Exculpation' or 'Hail Dracula' - the flying harnesses could make either spectacular.

If the lord who had ordered this structure was enthusiastic enough to pay for the company to stay in the region for a month or two. Surely he must be an thespian enthusiast, or this hall, even garish as a mummers parade, could never have seen light, with not one troupe passing in a year. Oh, probably the lord would expect a starring rôle in each play, or perhaps the post of director, but whatever it was, for a space like this we'd live with it.

Unless (he though with a shudder, and a gesture to avert bad luck) the lord considered himself as a playwright. But they could stand even that for some time to recuperate, to mend costumes and props, repair carts, eat without setting out still chewing, sleep under shelter…

Still, even a week's residence, a dozen performances, would be a show-saver. I had no fear of him recognising us, for drama, and its actor offspring, are protean, and their moral sense comes from becoming other men, living their sins. Judgement follows knowledge.

"For plays are things
in which to capture consciences or kings"
 
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