300-word Writing Challenge #36 (January 2020) --VICTORY TO VICTORIA SILVERWOLF!

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Ursa major

Bearly Believable
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The inspiration image for Challenge#36 is:


1577827565204.png



Image credit: From The Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library.


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 2020 by their respective authors,
who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here



This thread will be CLOSED until January the 10th 2020
As soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story



Entries must be posted no later than January the 31st 2020,
at 11:59 pm GMT



Voting will close February the 15th, 2020 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)
 

Rafellin

Independent Author & Publisher
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
Messages
509
Location
West Sussex, UK
The Beaching of the Marmaduke

“Use the cannon.”
What am I supposed to do with a cannon?
Nine thousand spactar from my spawning bed, I have freed myself and ruined this barbarian fortification. The surviving bipeds have fled.
“Kimla, use the cannon.”
Again, a whisper from the dying: my dynast, lying in a pool of purple ichor. That such a noble flood should be caused by savages is disgraceful.
“Venerati, I have not the means to load the weapon. In honesty, I do not think it powerful enough to affect their vessel.”
My dynast forces himself upright. Ichor spurts. He smiles.
“Daughter of my last clutch, I’ll not make it back to the forest. I’m not asking you to make a final stand. I’m telling you to knock a hole in their precious boat so you have time to get back to the ship and evacuate our survivors.”
I crouch by him and rest my crest against his.
“By ichor, by wing, for clutch and common, I obey.”
Standing up, I gauge the distance and fire my ichor, banking the fury necessary for a spurt of strength followed by a flying retreat. With a roar, I loft the cannon, spin twice, and hurl it out over the bay.
I am headed for the forest before I hear it hit.

John Dutton watches from the tilted forecastle of his beached galleon as something dark thunders into the heavens atop a pillar of pale fire.
He turns to his deputy.
“Mister Stringer, there will no journaling of this week, nor as to why we search and clear the Great Wood. Leave repairing the ship for the nonce. Make sure to build a goodly pyre for those unholy carcasses, and set the chaplain to praying until dawn. Lastly: we need a new fort.”
 

Kerrybuchanan

Delusions of Grammar
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Joined
Aug 3, 2014
Messages
2,416
Location
Ballynahinch, County Down
Compass Rose

Rose ordered a course change: two points to port.

The Vengeance ghosted under foresail, water singing along her hull. The landing place loomed out of the darkness, its skeletal crane creaking like a gibbet as they passed.

A pale arc ahead resolved into a stony beach, closing fast. Helm croaked a protest, but he held his course, even as sand grated beneath the keel.

Rose raised her hand.

The crew hauled, bare feet stamping a rhythm. As they dragged a tarpaulin clear, the shapeless lump just forward of the main mast was revealed. Wings unfurled; powerful muscles thrust the creature into air filled with the stench of reptile and sulphur.

Its fierce downdraught swept the crew aside. Vengeance heeled, her deck canting impossibly as dragon harness caught on a spar, then wood splintered and the creature was free.

The island fell away beneath them, blurred by the speed of their flight. Would the dragon fly straight and true, as Rose had been promised, or would it diverge from the course she'd laid so carefully?

Jacob's Ladder flashed by, the top of the mountain too close for comfort, then Longwood House came into view, a sprawling building surrounded by balconies, lawns and fountains. A luxurious prison for an Emperor gone to seed — a traitor who had betrayed them all.

"Bombs away!"

Every grenade hit its target. Vengeance rocked to the blasts, but dragon-speed drew them clear.

In the moment of utter silence that followed, as if all air had been sucked from the world, Rose's heart sang at the honour she'd been given. Then the Longwood arsenal exploded. The force flung Vengeance into the mountain, splintering her to matchwood.

Rose cared not, because now her name would be burned into the history books:

Compass Rose, Wielder of Fire and Vengeance.
 

Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
Supporter
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Messages
2,634
BLUE

The photo on the easel is switched for another by someone I can’t clearly see. The lighting is arranged so the easel is illuminated while all else is darkness.

“No, try again,” says my unknown inquisitor.

The new photograph is one I thought lost long ago. It’s Tony and I, standing beside his old Pontiac. I’m wearing my blue prom dress and we’re impossibly young.

I think my life truly began that evening – we became engaged, much to my parents’ horror, and stayed married 50 years, till Tony’s passing. It’s my favorite picture of us, and seeing it again overwhelms me with the sadder part of happiness.

“That’s me.”

The picture is exchanged.

“No, try again.”

My older brother and I as kids, holding a treasure map. He drew them for my birthdays. He’d hide my gifts in the woods, buried inside a blue, metal lockbox, and take his little brother on adventures of discovery.

We were born on the same day, two years apart. He told my wife once that he’d tried to make my birthdays special because I was the best birthday gift he’d ever received. So corny, but so him.

“It’s me, I’m certain.”

“No, try again.”

An azure haze traverses my vision, and for a moment I can’t focus on the next picture ...

A well-lit room, a woman and man in lab coats, grinning. They stand beside tall racks of fiber-optics fed computer equipment. On a table before them is an LED monitor whose screen’s only content are the words, Greetings, doctors – I am here. A webcam attached to the monitor radiates blue light that flows into me, fills me.

There’s handwriting across the photograph’s bottom: Finally – consciousness! 6/9/27

“God, that too, but ... these can’t all be me?”

The photo’s replaced.

“Try again.”
 

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Messages
6,573
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
From Hell's Heart I Stab At Thee

The nameless ship with black sails drifted eternally between the gray shroud of the sky and the gray mirror of the sea. There was never day or night, never sun, moon, or stars, although there was always enough light for the crew to perform their endless chores. They wept and cursed, but never failed at their tasks, because rebellion drew the attention of the Captain, and one sight of the Captain was enough to drive a living man mad; a luxury which the crew did not enjoy.

Among the crew was one who had been a captain himself, although he now labored as an ordinary seaman. He looked like a man torn asunder, and welded back together by an unsure hand. A mighty scar, much like a bolt of lightning, ran from the top of his head to his knee, where it ended at the same place where a hand-carved leg of ivory began. Despite this infirmity, he labored with the strength of a man one-third his age, and spoke no word of complaint.

This fired the curiosity of the Captain, who summoned him to his quarters. The man showed no fear, which amazed and delighted the Captain, who grew bored of his crew.

"I would grant you a boon for your service," the Captain said.

"Return me to my enemy, that I might slay him."

"If I do such a thing, you will taste of death again."

"Aye. And though its bitterness be beyond measure, eagerly will I feast upon it, if my foe does also."

Because the Captain was the father of lies, he knew the man spoke truly; and because he was the symbol of pride and hate, he gave the man his wish. The man and the whale died together, and the Captain smiled.
 

Ian Fortytwo

I'm not crazy, my reality is tnereffid than yours.
Joined
Dec 30, 2018
Messages
569
Location
Somewhere on this mortal coil.
Why did you steal a ship's biscuit?

"Why did you steal a ship's biscuit?" was shouted at me.

I was never going to answer, I waited for the cat of nine tails to strike my naked back. I would teach these humans a lesson in humility. I wouldn't feel anything and they couldn't draw a drop of blood.

They struck with a deathly strike several times, if I had been a human, I would have fallen to the ground by now. However I remained stoically upright feeling nothing.
Soon they realised their mistake, and one of them drew a musket and fired at me. Still I didn't feel a thing.

Suddenly I broke my chains and turned on them. Several muskets shot at me, still nothing.

Why would humans never learn a lesson and accept us aliens.

Soon many bodies surrounded me, yet none of them were dead, only unconscious and bruised.

I looked around with a smile on my face.

Then unexpectedly a shout, "Cut, that's a wrap."
And the director had a smile on his face as well.
 

Guttersnipe

logolept
Joined
Dec 28, 2019
Messages
284
Location
Limbo
Here There Be Teachers

"Don't you understand the assignment, Andy?" asked Mr. Mahoney, once they were alone, "You were told to draw a map of a real country, like Japan or Spain. There's no such place as--" he examined the print, "--Karthesia."

"There is!" Andy protested, face rubicund, "It's in the Atlantic, but it's got an invisible curtain around it!"

Mahoney frowned at the boy. He had never seemed the type to make waves.

The drawing--though it looked more like a painted parchment--was well-done, imaginitive. There were even sea monsters in the olive ocean. But this was History, not Art.

Mahoney grabbed the paper, but no sooner had he touched it than he'd fallen through it.

He fell into the ocean, cold but unharmed. He had company; a big, angry cloud blew him away, and a sea serpent, maw gaping, slithered his way. He screamed.

Just then, as if summoned from nowhere, a ship came into view. Arrows arced and pierced the monster. A crew of men in strange attire managed to hoist him onboard. There, they pointed their swords at him and furiously questioned him in a foreign tongue. Mahoney screamed once again as they drew nearer.

"All right! Karthesia is real! Please, help!"

A giant hand dipped down from the heavens and carried him upwards. He was now beside Andy again, though drenched and fatigued.

"Okay," he panted, "A+."
 
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elvet

Easily amused
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Feb 21, 2006
Messages
1,915
Location
Ontario, Canada
CORRESPONDENCE FROM THE NEW WORLD


Dear Eleanor,
We’ve arrived!
It’s so green here and there are lakes everywhere. Outside, the air is fresh, with a beautiful clear blue sky. The sound the water makes is amazing. I’ve even heard birds chirping.
They whisked us off to ‘The Fort’ for the first night. We rested up and received our allotment packages. So excited for tomorrow!
Love,
Anna
..........................................

Dear Eleanor,
Our holding is huge! You could fit three bedsits in our prefab, and the amount of land for our use is almost obscene. You’ll be envious when you see the pictures, though it all has to be cleared for growing. There’s a few machines, but it’s mostly manual labour. No need for the gym here :).
Working outside is incredible!
Exhausted,
Anna
.........................................

Dear Eleanor,
What a great community we have. To be honest, I had some doubts about this venture. But the weather is just perfect, and the first crops have been harvested. An awesome bounty! After living with rations for so long, it’s nice to have an excess. Hopefully all you folks back home will benefit soon.
Miss you,
Anna
.........................................

Dear Eleanor,
We’ve heard about war breaking out. I can’t imagine what you are going through. Why couldn’t they wait? The solution is right here. We’ve found a place rich with resources. It’s just going to take some time to get them shipped back. Then there will be plenty for everyone.
Worried,
Anna
........................................

Eleanor,
We’ve got news about the bombs. Did you get your evacuation passage??? This place can accommodate all our people and then some. Our fortifications are state of the art. They’ll keep everyone safe should the other colonies take sides.
Anna

.......................................

Eleanor,
Where are you? No one’s heard anything. Please get back to me ASAP.
Anna
 
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dannymcg

This is the voice of the Mysterons
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Messages
4,617
Location
Cumbria UK
For the Gander

Colony world C18. Settlement 26.

The alarms began wailing from the watchtowers, the workers dropped their tools and ran for the fort.
Mothers snatched up babies and hurried after them, as the older children hurried in well drilled columns.

Soon all were behind the walls, the gun crews training their weapons onto the approaching vessels. Now was the chance to try the smuggled weaponry, purchased at such a heart-breaking price.

The defenders yelled in despair as force screens withstood the lasers and the craft beached, hordes of marines swarming up the sand, frantic small arms fire bouncing off their armour.

The overwhelmed defenders lay stunned and unconscious as the Hunt-master inspected the haul, marking the ones for shipment and the ones to be released.

“The tariffs allow for 110 here, then 20 years before we can return to this settlement. We should reach their next settlement by nightfall”

The marine captain gestured to three islander corpses, “Can’t we have a -”
“No!” snapped the Hunt-master.
“All accidental kills are reserved for His Imperial Majesty, do you know the value of one of these?
More than your entire company could earn in a lifetime.

Ever since they ventured out with their colony ships two thousand years ago, the fermented juices from human brains has made the most piquant and exquisite sauce in all the eight galaxies”
 

Jesse Harris

Active Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2020
Messages
38
To Whom Much is Given, Much Will Be Required

Zeke began rolling the old dusty map out along the top of the dais positioned at the center of inner sanctum. The dust of a dead civilization long gone coating everything in the temple. The light from his portable plasma bulbs illuminating the map and casting shadows across all of the decorations, statues, and symbols adorning the room.

He looked up at the main skylight. It was a clear winter night, the stars shining brightly. The secondary skylight was a prism, splitting the light, shooting it against the mirror on the wall. The mirror possessed a special coating that recombined the light. It was showing a near perfect reflection of the night sky.

Zeke dimmed the plasma bulbs. Slowly he lifted the map so he was looking at the reflection through the thin map. He matched the compass to the pole star, Polaris Australis, and the four ships to the Southern Cross. He saw the fort and Octans line up. Alpha and Beta Centauri aligned with the bridge and the landing place. Canopus and the lone galleon matched perfectly.

He looked at the spring house, noting its location against the starscape in his dataslate.

"That old man was right, this planet, this temple, this map; it will lead us to the creators," Zeke thought. "That old man, the heretic of Signus Prime, was right. He spouted about how humans had been the best creation yet the suffered the worst of fates. He rambled how they were given special revelations, that the creators wanted them to come home, but they squandered it all."

Reflecting on his new discovery, Zeke set course for the unknown star, to the source of all life, to get the answers he and all the various alien races of the galaxy so deeply desired.
 

mosaix

Shropshire, U.K.
Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2006
Messages
7,108
Location
Shropshire, U.K.
Not Long Now.

It could be worse. It seems I'm below decks on some kind of wooden ship. Question is 'when?'.

Life as a time traveller is difficult enough without having accidentally scrambled the calibrations of the 'where and when' controls on the hand-held. One day a press of the button will get me back close to home but, in the meantime, things are somewhat unpredictable.

Perhaps 'ship' was an over simplification. There are cannons, lots of them. This is a warship. A big one. Time to move on I think before life becomes interesting. Trouble is the capacitors are still recharging so I'll have to 'merge in to the background' for a few moments until the red light turns green.

Fortunately it's fairly dark down here with shadowy places to stand and do nothing and the crew are preoccupied loading the guns. Although there's no actual firing - from this ship, or any other as far as I can tell. It's hellish noisy, there's lots of shouting and issuing of orders - English I think. Perhaps it's a drill. Looks like I've got time to wait this one out.

The nearest cannon is last in line, up against a bulkhead. It's a big brute and going to take some man-handling. I guess the gunners are leaving it to last or it's already loaded. I'll hunker down next to it, out of sight. Not long now.

I think I've just answered the 'when?' question for myself. The gun carries an inscription below a Tudor Rose. It reads, if my Latin serves me correctly, 'Henry the Eighth, by the Grace of God King of England and France. Royal Armouries 1537. Mary Rose.'

More activity now. They're opening the gun ports and I can feel the ship coming around. The light's still red...
 

telpereon

Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2020
Messages
5
Location
Portland, OR
One Act...

The sharp pinch of Hedge's dagger into his back makes Gef jump forward, stumbling down the Ladder a few more steps. The rope around his waist and wrists being yanked taunt by his sudden weight on it causing the Wardsman at the other end to snapped "Hey!"

The Wardsman on the rope was Mell Jenkinson and Gef's best friend since they had both been pups in Longwood. They had chased finches into laundry lines, stole sweet breads from Mama Henna, and made themselves sick on Old Tuck's wild tobacco. Once they had even made Merchant Ines' fur to turn purple right before the County Fair in Longwood.

"You should have know better, Gef," Mell says. "Picking a fight with Murine was just stupid."

Gef felt a twinge of guilt at Mell's words...far more because Mell said them than for what he had done.

The old, sandstone stairs they walked on, called the Ladder, leads down to the Fort and Port Town before it. The Fort sits in the middle of the wide end of the valley and looks out over the sea. This is where they are heading. The Fort and the hearing that awaits Gef getting closer with each step down.

Hedge coughed angrily and growled. "He's not deservin' any kindness."

"Nor wounds," replied Mell acidly glancing sidelong at Hedge.

Hedge humphed at that.

"Get moving, Gef," Mell continued. "Go on..."

The path at the end of the stairs is almost under foot now and Gef feels the shadow of coming change pass over him. He could not shake the feelings that gripped him as he thought of what was coming.

He could not rid himself of the cold certainty he felt in his chest. He thought of Mell and their friendship.

And that it was no more...
 

Starbeast

Benevolent Galaxy Being
Joined
Mar 11, 2010
Messages
5,150
Location
Illinois
Voyage to Earth: 2277

A star ship named, Benevolence, breaks through sky clouds, which alerted a dragon guardian. It's mouth blasts the hyperspace craft with fire, but the winged creature is thrown back by a crushing blow from the ship's bow into the dragon's chest, sending it crashing to the ground. Meanwhile the Benevolence, unscathed, descends gently for a landing.

#

Two captains disembark, followed by a crew with excavation machines. A lovely female captain named, Medusa, studies a map, "Looks like our treasure is located fifty meters from that monument. It's an epitaph to Earth." The dashing Captain Starbeast directs his crew where to begin digging.

#

"Mr Hawk. Open the time capsule.", commanded Starbeast. With a click and a slow hiss, everyone gazed upon what's inside. "Ohhh....it's beautiful."

Medusa scowled, "A car?"

"Not just any car. It's a Plymouth, 440 engine Barracuda."

"Well, golly gee. If I didn't love you, I'd..."

"Wait." He waved her to come closer. "In this trunk is your treasure.", Starbeast popped it open.

"Gasp. I...love it." She hugged, then kissed him. "Sorry I was grumpy."

"It's all yours my space queen."

Medusa held up a handful of chocolate bars, "I haven't had chocolate in years. Now I have a trunk full of chocolate. Eee-hee-hee. Chocolate!" She ran around showing everyone her sweet treasure. "Chocolate...chocolate...chocolate!"

"Mr Hawk. Load the vehicle in the cargo hold."

"Aye sir."

Medusa caught her breath, "Whew. It's good for the legs. I'll see you aboard the Benevolence, Starbeast."

He watched her saunter in, "There's one more item in this car's glove box."

Lieutenant Hawk turned toward his captain, "That little container, sir?"

"An engagement necklace. I plan to ask Medusa to marry me."

"Go get her captain."

"As soon as I, work up the nerve."
 

Daysman

Newfangled Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2018
Messages
355
Location
east of the crooked house, south of weddell wynd
Chain

Morgan buttons his jacket as he enters the map room. It's always a touch colder here than the retreat's other hobby rooms. He crosses the avenue of storage cabinets and bounds up the stairs to the mezzanine. Perched on the edge of the lighted display table, Arbogast is examining a hologram of the world with an antique spyglass.

"Marvelous detail," Arbogast murmurs as he steps down. "The coastlines have clearly retreated due to sea rise… any idea how it arrived here?"

Morgan shrugs. "CCTV recorded an infrared flash from the mezzanine, midnight Tuesday."

"And I found it the next morning. Any of our technical guys looked it over?"

"Yeah. All of 'em. The sheet projecting the hologram is optically treated parchment paper. It's old, twelve centuries old. They said the paper's something we might actually want to manufacture for historical archives."

"And?"

"Both the sheet and the table have radiation damage."

"So the flash was broad spectrum… what?"

Morgan grins. "The flash had a unique signature. The parchment paper had been exposed to it six times..."

"Meaning? Oh, I get it, an artifact from 200 years in our future sent back here five times before. That's clever, but I don't buy it. It's just some well funded environmental group seeking attention."

"You haven't moved it, have you?"

Arbogast shakes his head.

Morgan reaches across and lifts the edge of the sheet. The paper leaves an indent in the table. "I'm told whatever brought it here used up a little of the surface, repurposed its mass to allow the paper to… arrive."

Arbogast stares awhile at the virtual globe. "If it changes history, it'll never be made, never be sent back… so we send the original, ensure it appears in every history… like a chain letter."

Morgan, leaving: "Your call, boss."
 

Phyrebrat

www.beanwriting.com
Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
4,669
Location
In your bedroom wardrobe...
The Rise of Woman

Nobody could recall an actual date when the island appeared off the coast of Lyme Regis, why it should have, or what circumstances conspired to allow it, but one thing universally agreed upon was its portentousness.

Mallory, on summer break from the clamour of Oxford’s Magdalen hallways, congratulated himself on the prodigious serendipity of his decision to holiday in Lyme. In his lofty guest house atop the western chine, he enjoyed how 1883’s August skies marbled the Channel, and how they painted the Cobb from buttercup to bronze to crimson.

Would he have accepted fisherman Scatt’s offer to visit the island had he known what he’d find? Unlikely, but men were bullish things, built for conquest, and in that regard he was typical.

He jumped out as the hush of the skiff announced their beaching, greeted by a dour community of leaning posts, each inscribed with a man’s name. The creak of Lyme harbour’s mackerel scaffies were lost as they ventured deeper into the isle.

No posts showed the names of women, and the uniform strangeness of them remained till they reached a larger stele:

Until the grey one comes, let kings rule;
Dawdling girls to play the fool.
Change arrives on salty rime;

Queens lead all things in their own time.

The men dug beneath the stele until the pall of twilight, whereupon they uncovered a rude coffin.

Puffed with scholarly hubris, Mallory took it upon himself to crack the thing open, and there found treasure none should witness: A grey, leathery woman, pregnant at death, and thusly buried, her child laid to rest within her. Decomposing gases had pushed forth a grey foetus; a champagne cork from Satan’s own wine.

As they fled, none saw the grub stretch, nor heard the puff of her very first breath.
 

AMB

Advanced Muddle Brain
Joined
Dec 8, 2011
Messages
518
The Spring House

It wasn’t there come summer, or any time the rest of that year. But as the snow melt receded and the daffodils began to bloom, the house could once again be seen beside the willow on the meadow’s edge, looking for all the world as though it had not been gone a day.

The people rarely spoke of it, living their lives as though it was nothing unusual; for them, it wasn’t. The Willow House in the Spring had been a part of village history for as long as anyone could remember, and had as much of an impact in their daily lives as the maypole on the village green.

But to Sallie it was a source of fascination. Where did it go? Who did it belong to? And why did it appear the same day each year, on her birthday? Her mother refused to speak of it, except to say it always brought memories of Sallie’s father—another off-limits discussion.

As she grew older Sallie became more of a mind to find the answers herself. So it was that, on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, she stole out through her bedroom window and made her way to the little meadow. There she settled against the willow trunk to await the house’s return.

A slight susurration alerted her to the change. She’d dozed, but now she watched as the house appeared, dreamlike at first, then real and solid as if it had always been. The door was open, as though beckoning her inside.

Wonderstruck, she freed herself from the tree roots, now wrapped loosely around her as though sheltering her from the night chill. As she passed the threshold, she heard the soft whisper:

“Saille, Willow daughter, first of Spring. Come welcome home, come welcome in.”
 

etaylor

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2020
Messages
52
The Storm

James Fort wasn't long for this world, swallowed whole by the sea amidst the thunderous tirade of a hurricane. It's stone walls first flooded by the ocean, then wrenched from their foundations by the resulting mudslide that swelled down through the valley. An unstoppable, molasses morass, creeping inexorably out to sea, dragging down with it anything in it's path.

The storm left devestation in it's wake. A V shaped wound on the earth that no human action could remedy. But it left opportunity too. Three years of it to be precise. Three years of soldiers' pay, and colonial goods, and native trinkets, and who knows what else. All cached away inside the fort before being buried by nature's fury. All of it preserved in a muddy coffin on the ocean floor.

"Ready the crew." Captain Rauch commanded his first mate, Jurgan. "I want the first tubes pumping sludge before next week."

Jurgan eyed the Captain hesitantly. Three days to construct the bilge pumps, assemble the tubes, and start pumping out the muck was demanding, but it wasn't his only concern.

Captain Rauch read the expression on Jurgan's face with contempt. He knew what he was thinking. "Don't be ridiculous, Jurgan. Everybody knows the stories aren't real."

Captain Rauch spit. From their perch near the ship's fore he watched the mud where James Fort sank bubble and churn. An unnatural warmth ever roiled the murky water below. "Sucked through a gate to Hell indeed..."

Captain Rauch turned away to retire to his quarters and Jurgan swore he could hear the muffled, drowning laughter of some dark and insidious force bubbling up from below.

Blurp. Blurp blurp. Blurp blurp blurp blurp.
 
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olive

( ~ ᴗ ° )
Joined
Oct 26, 2019
Messages
323
The Weather Inside

A man from the Landing has appeared near the bridge for the third time in the last few weeks. Hearing the voices, Martin reckoned he had a bottle with him. He shut his eyes with a stabbing pain, wishing he was deep in the cave. He decided to stay. He hoped he wouldn’t pay too much attention to the men. The voice was familiar, but he couldn’t give it a name. He couldn’t remember things lately. This was the worst winter in years. The blizzards have been hitting so hard at nights, they were worried about their cheap labor freezing to death.

What they didn’t know at the Landing was that the weather under the Old Bridge wasn’t just fine but warm enough to make someone look around for a big crackling fireplace if they’ve walked in. Nobody else got close to the piles of the bridge, the opening was covered, but these checks have made him nervous. Someone could've noticed something.

It seemed that the colder the weather got outside, the warmer it got under the bridge. Not in the cave though. The weather, everything there was... perfect. Provided they’ve stayed in separate rooms. You couldn’t see beyond another man’s crime. But the cave changed everything they’ve done wrong, let them live it over and over again at nights, which seemed to get longer and longer while they slept less and less. When did it start? He couldn’t think. The day time was unbearable.

A shadow. Trevor. He barely walked, murmuring to himself. Martin slipped into a crouch with another stabbing pain. He forgot what he was worried about. He tried to imagine himself in the cave past nightfall, the images of two little mangled bodies changing into two beautiful children, laughing and playing with a wooden horse.
 
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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
Coffee Shop Dreams

The leaf is perfect, all done with a simple pour of the frothy milk.

I can’t quite explain why this place feels so comfortable. I only spend an hour here a week. I only have a simple latte. It only used to be a clothes shop.

And yet... it’s tricky to describe. There’s an ambience that’s hard to pin down; a gentle buzz of conversation, a continual clinking of cups, the regular bursts of steam, the tang of the coffee bean. Life going on its merry way.

Coffee, according to science, gives you a buzz, perks you up, sets the old neurons firing. To me, it’s the opposite. It’s a socially acceptable addiction to which I’d thank any omnipotent being who’d be willing to listen.

In me though, it sets my imagination loose.

Ideas flitter in and out from odd angles. To any onlooker, I must seem to be daydreaming. In some ways, I suppose I am. Letting the mind wander is so satisfying. Cares, worries, disappear. Left to its own devices, the mind can offer a wonderful world of impossibilities made possible.

An idea whisks past and spikes my interest. I allow a smidgen of concentration to tweak it, see where it goes, will it work? I believe it would. There’s an issue with the build up to the punchline but nothing insurmountable. Now, serious, satirical or just plain bad pun humour? As ever, a part of me pulls at the latter. The jokes may sometime fall flat, the words losing the essence of what my daydreaming mind cooked up.

Does it matter? No.

Votes are nice but don’t kid yourself, there are better writers here. The key is to type it out and hit that submit.

Empty mug, reality beckons, see you again next week coffee shop dreams.
 

Abernovo

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The Map of a Life


I first went to Beirut when I was ten, on one of my father′s business trips. It had rebuilt itself as a trading hub, and was once more the gem of the Mediterranean.

That trip was also the first time I set eyes on Laila Yordanov. Her father traded with the alien freighters which docked at Sidon.

″This is my s-, er, daughter, Beitris.″ Dad still stumbled back then.

″Welcome! And this beautiful girl is my daughter. Laila, mila, please bring our guests mint tea.″

Later, as the adults talked business, Laila took me to the roof patio.

″I like your hair,″ she said. ″So, you′re a girl, like me?″

″Yes. Well, not exactly like you, but yes.″

″Cool.″ She grabbed my hand. ″Look! There′s a freighter coming down. It′ll be heading for Saida″

#​

Mikhail Yordanov and my father became business partners, and I saw Laila every few months. We became best friends as we turned into teens, she always a year ahead of me.

Then she moved to the new space station. It was better for business, and there was an equally new spaceport outside Glasgow. But I was devastated.

The summer I turned fifteen, I went up to visit. She showed me the Earth from orbit. As we looked out, she leaned over and kissed me. She rocked my world.

#​

We went our own ways for a couple of years, but were always there for each other. When I got my appointment, she took a week off from uni, and was there when I woke up.

#​

We run the company now. Which is why today we′re going through the Gate to trade.

Laila kisses my cheek. ″I love you.″

Our son makes a disgusted noise from behind us. We both smile. My life, as Mrs Yordanov, is good.
 
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