300 Word Writing Challenge #42 -- VICTORY TO CAT'S CRADLE!

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The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
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nearly the New Forest
The inspiration image for Challenge #42 is:


1625216954322.png




Image credit: Cliff Jerrison


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 2021 by their respective authors,
who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here



This thread will be CLOSED until July 10th 2021
As soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story



Entries must be posted no later than July 31st 2021
at 11:59 pm GMT



Voting will close August 15th 2021 at 11:59 pm GMT
(unless moderators choose to make an extension based on the number of stories)



We ask all entrants to do their best to vote when the time comes
but you do not have to enter a story to vote
as we encourage ALL Chronicles members
to read the stories and take part in choosing the winning entry!


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 use the "Like" button in this thread! **
 
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farntfar

I didn't so much fly...,as plummet.
Joined
Oct 26, 2013
Messages
2,550
Location
France.
Cross?



Of course she was bloody cross. So would you be.


All her life, well pretty much anyway, she’d bent over backwards for her children, despite the heartache. And he, her favourite, the one they called her reason for being, treated her like shhhh..., garbage. Calm down girl. No need to lose control.

She’d had miscarriages. She'd had still births and cot deaths.

She’d lost her first, nearly full grown child, to a freak accident. And the new one was of half a mind to pretend his predecessor never really existed. “Just a convenient delusion”, he insisted, which somehow helped make his absent father seem more present.

“Well if you want convenient delusions,” she thought,” you don’t have to look much farther than the father.”



OK.

So much for that. That’s all history and she had long managed to sweep it under the carpet.
Well; mostly.

No. What peed her off was how badly the kid treated her. I mean teenagers were teenagers. You hardly expected them to care about their bloody mothers, other than as providers of food, warmth and shelter; plus, of course, emotional support occasionally, when they discovered that they were NOT all powerful and eternally wise. (Not yet at least)

But after a certain level of maturity, you expect them to start to appreciate everything you’ve given them, and to try to stop you getting sick for a change.

That or leave home...

Go find a surrogate mum somewhere else! Wasn’t that the way it normally went? Someone else to make the food and to do the washing? She knew there weren’t any great candidates in the neighbourhood. But what was it Heseltine said? “Get on your bike and look for work!

It was enough to make any planet overheat.
 

Rafellin

Independent Author & Publisher
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
Messages
543
Location
West Sussex, UK
The Forest Ring

Is what I see when I come back to you. After the visual chaos and screaming of the transmission phase, the whirling grey and siren songs of warp space, and the shattered-glass panorama of transition, my pocket universe goes completely quiet as white light surrounds me.

This is the moment most fatalities occur. Some say the light is the one dying people see ‘at the end of the tunnel’. The belief is that after the strangeness of the journey, our souls are susceptible to being drawn onwards prematurely.

That’s never been how I feel about it. The white light isn’t an end: it’s a promise of good things to come. What we do is terrible enough. I cannot believe our return would contain greater threat.

The white light ripples and changes. Colours bleed through. Clouds define themselves against a sky that goes from the brightness of dawn to the clear blue of a summer afternoon in moments. Then it arrives: a looking-glass view of the trees about the landing. Water shimmers into being. I know that before my next shaking breath is complete, the ring will flash gold, reality will surround me, and you’ll be there amidst the crowd of people on the shore, waiting for their loved ones to return. I’ll look down and see myself standing in the shallows, then look up to see your smile.

My one regret is that we’ll argue before nightfall. I’m going out there again. You’ll beg me not to.

But, before that knowledge intrudes, there is the impossible beauty of the forest ring, and the joy of making it home once again.
 

Astro Pen

Write now.
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Jan 24, 2020
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998
Location
Wales UK
Continuations

Alone now at thirteen, he found dreams were unlimited.

At first he made an island for himself. An escape from the cold and hunger of the post gulf stream Highlands

All the dead lived on islands in his dreams.

Mother's island had a cabin overlooking a bay, with a stove and the smell of freshly baked bread. He added a wardrobe full of those long frocks she had so loved.

He gave grandpa a wooded island. Saws, paint, toy making tools and a lathe.

He crafted an isle for cousin Gina, silver sand beach, a bar sporting a martini canopy with Bossa Nova music and tanned men, posing casual, in its shade.

Waking, he donned his waxed cotton and ventured outside. A rabbit had been snared and some mushrooms were sprouting. With some freshly dug swede a stew would be possible. Knife out he prepared the ingredients.

That night he dreamt an island for uncle Dan. A fort with its armoury, gun turrets on the corners, fatigues and dress uniform hanging, all in order. Bed, neat, with khaki blankets.

For Miss Sanderson he crafted a church, protected by dense pinewood. A warm glow emanated, with a faint Gregorian chant as she walked the graveless path to its door, bible clutched to her breast.

Then for father.
An island prison cell, all doors now open to a valley of woodland, wild flowers and deer. A small rowboat on the jetty to reach mother's island. He cried in his sleep.

The following night, back on his own Island, he found he was no longer alone. A girl with long flowing hair and sun kissed cheeks was walking up the path from the beach. He felt strange new emotions, unknown hungers.
Perhaps this was his time, he would sleep forever.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Messages
7,586
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
Eclipse

Summer was new and school was a million years away. David ran barefoot through sweet-smelling grass until he ran out of breath. He fell on his back and closed his eyes, so the sun would paint his eyelids with gold.

Darkness came. David opened his eyes and sat up. A black sphere covered the sun, growing as it descended with the slow grace of a dandelion seed. It landed near him with a whisper.

A balloon! A man in top hat and tails stepped out of the basket with the ease of a grasshopper.

"Your name, boy?" The man carried an ebony cane and wore scarlet gloves.

"David Green."

"Green in experience and green with promise, I dare say. And yonder community?" He pointed at the village. It lay near a lazy bend in the river like a sleeping cat.

"Fairfield, sir."

"And does it wear that designation properly? Are the fields as fair as the unkissed cheek of a maiden?"

David pondered the question. "I guess that depends on how you look at it."

"Wise lad! Are you apprenticed to blacksmith or cooper? Pledged to shopkeeper or tinker?"

"No, sir."

The man removed a glove, revealing fingers like white serpents. Sparks flew from their tips. The tiny flames danced in the air like butterflies. They vanished, leaving behind the scent of roses and violets.

"Would you work miracles? Carve dreams from clouds? Float above the Earth, descending only to awaken gray and empty souls?"

David nodded.

"Then come! I have need of an heir, to carry on the work of Morgan le Fey, Prospero, Marie Laveau, Rasputin! Fly with Thoth and Hermes! I will make you a crafter of omens and wonders."

David climbed into the basket. The balloon rose into the sky. Life had always been magical.
 

AltLifeAStory

Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2021
Messages
11
Symmetry

Symmetry spoke a word, and it became the clay of making. Symmetry spun the clay, molded it with his will, and it became the Earth. Symmetry formed its masses with his perfection – smooth untroubled land enfolded by beautiful ocean.

Perfect, Balanced, Pure”

Symmetry took the sphere and turned to his daughter, giving it to her.

What do you think my daughter?”

Asymmetry examined it, tossing it about. She divided the lands with her creativity. She lifted the mountains with her inspiration. She interwove the waters with her playfulness.

Beautiful, isn’t it Father?”

*****


Symmetry spoke a word, and it became the essence of life. Symmetry sprinkled the essence, enriched it with his mind, and it became reasonless creation. Symmetry organized the life with his structure – refined plants, fish, birds, and land creatures.

Perfect, Balanced, Pure”

Symmetry took the life and turned to his daughter, giving it to her.

What do you think my daughter?”

Asymmetry marveled it, overlooking its beauty. She bent the trees with her gentleness. She painted the birds with her joy. She sculpted the creatures with her kindness.

Amazing, isn’t it Papa?”

*****


Symmetry spoke a word, and it became the soul of humanity. Symmetry wrapped the soul, imbuing it with his intellect, and it became a human. Symmetry filled the human with his reason – capacity to grasp the greatness of Creation.

Perfect, Balanced, Pure”

Symmetry took the human and turned to his daughter, giving it to her.

What do you think my daughter?

Asymmetry embraced it, filled with compassion. She infused its heart with her love. She filled its mind with her imagination. She architected its spirit with her purpose.

Beloved, isn’t it Daddy?”

Asymmetry
 
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WhitneyW12

New Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2021
Messages
1
Peace

Sitting by the pond, the sun shone brightly above me. My surroundings felt peaceful as they were a perfect reflection on the still water. I picked up a rock and cast it in the pond. As it plopped onto the surface, ripples formed breaking the stagnant mirror.

“Terminal” was the only word I heard, and it had disrupted everything like my rock. I knew my time was almost up. I felt the pain of the cancer not only inside me, but all around.

I stretched out on the grass with my face to the sky, closed my eyes, and laid there.

Shapes began to form behind my eyelids. I began to make out faces. Most I didn’t recognize, but some I did from throughout my life.

The people, wearing sparkling dresses and extravagant robes, were cheering as they came into view. Two magnificent, pearly gates appeared as my eyes drifted further and everything became clear. As the voices became louder, I realized they were cheering for me!

My Grandmother Blair, my Grandfather Jack, my Aunt Mary, my Uncle Marlin, and so many more people were at the gates celebrating and waiting for me to go inside to join the party.

I made my decision. I walked towards the gates, and they started to open.

The flash of white light was breathtaking! I could see crowds of people smiling and laughing inside. The excitement was electric as I stepped through the gates! Feasts of fruits and sweets covered the tables, streamers and confetti floated through the air, and everyone was excited I was there as I was welcomed in.

It felt like I was home, and I was happy.

The ripples slowly faded away. All the pain was gone.

Just like the water, there would be peace again.
 

G.T.

The Tain
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
84
Location
Erynnmor Plateau
Pareidolian

“There’s a face in the water. Can’t you see it?”

“You’re imagining things again. It’s simply a reflection, pareidolia perhaps.”
“But the ring appeared only last year and everyone wants to know why it is here.”
“It’s here. You can see that, of course. But it hasn’t moved, hasn’t made a sound, hasn’t done anything since it arrived.”
“Maybe it’s waiting, watching for something.”
“This face, you imagine it’s watching you?”
“It’s not watching me, it’s watching everything.”
“That seems unlikely, it’s in the middle of the ocean. What could it possibly see?”

“And what about the ripples? The sea is calm for miles around when it should be a roiling mass of waves at this time of year. Instead, it is flat and calm, except for those ripples, rippling out from it, always outwards. Is it trying to communicate with us?”
“You’re imagining things again. This penchant to anthropomorphize something inanimate will be your undoing.”
“But you said it yourself, it arrived! How can something arrive if it didn’t set out to go somewhere first? That implies intention, right?”
“Well, I mean, because I use certain words to describe it doesn’t mean those words actually apply. I’m as fallible as anyone else, even you.”

“Just look, really look. There in the water, at the centre, there’s a face, and the ripples, they ripple out from the centre. This is all connected, somehow. Perhaps I should ask others what they see. If there are others that can see the face, without being told it is there, you might come to understand that this is not some madness that has come upon me.”
“I don’t see it, there’s nothing there. I see a reflection on the water. That is all.”

“There’s a face in the water. Can’t you see it?”
 

atsouthorn

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Jul 13, 2021
Messages
45
The Fourth Dimension

“This is it,” he said.

I glanced across the glossed plane, weightless in flight, searching for a point in time to ground myself. “I … I don’t understand.”

“You weren’t designed to.”

The water, once flowing towards my feet, retracted. Reversed. It filtered inwards, up, left, down. My eyes pulled away in all directions as the forest began to part, birthing new trees and life from nothingness, ripping the clouds above and piecing them back together.

“That was where you ended.” His voice echoed, somehow. With no air to breathe, his voice travelled across space. “Where would you like to go next?”

“Can I travel through time?” I aimlessly asked the only question that sprung to mind before her face entered my thoughts.

“Time?” He chuckled. “We are simply observers. We have captured and stored the full spectrum of the light you have produced for millions of years. Where would you like to go next?”

Without a thought, “Mother.”

“I see.” His voice grew crisper but I could still not see him. “You were given the key to everything, yet you chose her.” Footsteps faded from beneath me towards the point where the land met the sea. “Test subject four-four-three-one-nine. Failure.”

The trees swarmed inwards once more, dispersing the water towards me so fast that it became a pane of bright light, shaking in fury. The clouds surrendered. The trees collapsed. And then nothing. Darkness.

I opened my eyes. My ceiling, my walls; the familiar pressure of my lungs expanding against my ribs. Home. And there she was, leaning over me, resting her cold palm upon my forehead. I had given everything just to see her face once more.
 

BT Jones

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Feb 12, 2020
Messages
514
Location
Australia

Glossing the Globe


“Heavens beneath, what’s that?”

Giant Orb Superintendent Fatima appeared in the Orion Spur control room doorway, face crumpled, studying the distorted image on the main screen.
Giant Orb Technician Klaus stood at his console stroking his chin. “I can’t think of a name for it.”

G.O.S. Fatima tilted her head. “It looks like a… forest-haired… water monster stalking some swimmers. Let me guess… Earth? Still persisting with disaster-induced moral evolution?”

G.O.S. Klaus nodded wearily. “I tried subtle, I tried obvious, now I’m going for ludicrous; Planet Earth, so peeved at man’s climate inaction, conjures giant elemental monsters to... just... smash everything; the Godzilla approach, without the cold war subtext. I’m scheduling it for summer 2022, blockbuster season.”

“You don’t have that long. There’s an inspection scheduled, Easter 2022; he gets sentimental that time of year.”
He? Not…”
Fatima nodded. “Yup. The Director, and he’ll be miffed with how your numbers for the quarter century are shaping up.”

“My numbers are impeccable, thank you very much,” railed Klaus. “One scratchy marble out of four-hundred and thirty-three-thousand.”

“The only one with anything actually on it, though – his ‘children,’ no less,” chided Fatima. “Aside from sprinkling a little fish food on Europa, dipping your brush in Jupiter once in a while, and a bit of spit and polish on Glacialis to keep it nice and glassy, the rest practically take care of themselves.”

“I vacuum Mars every other week," said Klaus.
Fatima glared. “Don’t mention Mars – unless you’ve miraculously found the oceans and atmosphere you lost – and I won’t mention catching you toasting marshmallows on Volcania.”

Klaus stared glumly at the floor.
“Look, bring it forward: Australian summer 2021/2022. Australians are pretty expendable," sighed Fatima. "If that fails, who knows, maybe G.O.D. will fix it himself. Loves the reset button, that man.”
 

PigMonkey

New Member
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Jul 16, 2021
Messages
3
Hortense Sepsentia

Hortense sat in the gilded carriage and fumed. She beat her fists on the seat cushion, each strike punctuated with breathy fury. She was fueled by righteous fire and was not going to be ignored. The winter maines had arrived early to her family lands this year, with them always came the cold death. Rather than staying to fulfill her duties as a scion of the house of Sepsentia, it was decided that she should be sent to winter at the family villa on the Sea of Teeth. Again! This was the third year Hortensia had been sent away. She wedged her elbow into an arm rest and with dramatic zeal, dropped her cheek into her hand and stared murder at Miss Atkins.

She screwed up her voice and spoke through her nose mockingly. “A lady doesn’t fight the undead.” She punctuated the last word with her fury. Then she intentionally looked out the window ignoring Miss Atkins entirely. The Governess, for her part, did not pay any attention to the girl. This was just a continuation of the fight that began two days ago and she was enjoying the quiet of being aggressively ignored.

There were four leviathans in the bay, two of them were porting small hamlets of roughly one to two hundred people. The Leviathans yearly migration meant any who lived on their back made a living transporting and trading to settlements along the inland sea. Hortense envied the freedom.

The scenery became familiar, a copse, a crossroads, other family villas. The carriage crested the hill where in the full view of the local village stood the shining Sepsentia… It was gone. The whole building. Three stories of wood and stone, just gone. Not burned, not destroyed, missing, like a giant toddler grabbed it and walked off.
 
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Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
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Mar 3, 2014
Messages
2,882
Tommy in Time

They stand at the kitchen window regarding the boy reading outside. She examines again the man’s identicard – ‘Time Agent’ it states, over his name and facial hologram.
“I know these IDs can’t be faked... and you’ve got his eyes.”
“Mom, I’ve got his everything. I’m that boy, your Tommy.”
She winces. “You’re not... You are, but look – if I accept you’re truly him then I’ve lost the joy of discovering naturally who he’ll become.”
“That’s why I’m here – Tommy loses you tonight. Please listen, I’ve only minutes...”

He’s risked everything, travelling to see her. The Time War goes poorly, just senseless slaughter – the other timeline’s agents kill our agents, ours kill theirs, and everywhen, betrayal.
He’s come with a message, then can’t return here again.

“Tonight you’ll walk with Tommy to the trout pond behind Anderson’s barn. You’re attacked by a mother bear. Tommy– no, I abandon you. Mom, this is terrible to say, but you die and I never forgive myself. I’m put into foster care, and the Time Authority recruits only orphans. That life’s hell.
“I’m saving us by warning you: don’t walk tonight, and live. I’ll never become an agent.”
She takes his hands and reassures him. Their foreheads press together till he fades into time.

Then she thinks about yesterday’s visitor, Johnston, Director of the Time Authority. He’d uncovered Thomas’s plan to change his past, thus avoiding Authority recruiters. He’d told her of Thomas’s vital role in a defining campaign of the War... shown proof their future would be lost if her son wasn’t there to defend the timeline.
He also told her what the Time Authority needed her to do.

She goes outside to Tommy.
“Hey lazybones, let’s get some exercise. How about we walk up the valley to that pond behind Anderson’s barn?”
 
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Lawrence Twiddy

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Feb 7, 2021
Messages
90
Forgotten Shores


She wakes between yellow sand and blue sea, a lagoon of paradise and confusion.

Memories evade her completely. Her name, who or where she was, were a frightening void of black.

A native man appeared in the tree line and walked towards her.

“Are you okay?” He said.

“I think so.”

“Come with me.”

She followed the native across the hot sand and into a beautiful tropical forest. She felt no apprehension having only a few minutes worth of memories.

They came to a village of wooden huts.

Sun-kissed natives with painted faces and wooden jewellery were communing with tourists.

The native man took her to the shade of his hut. He gave her fruit and herbal tea, she explained she had no memories past waking on the lagoon.

He told her tourists drank island hallucinogens in the evening and it was safer to rest here until morning.

That night she woke and wandered out into the starlit village. Natives and tourists surrounded crackling fires that could be heard behind the babble of conversation and song.

“YOU WON’T GET AWAY WITH WHAT YOU’VE DONE!!!” A tourist in face paint screamed in her direction before the locals subdued him.

Scared she ran and was caught by another tourist holding a knife, he stumbles before the attack and falls. She picks up the knife and puts it to his throat.

“Who am I?” She asks desperately.

“A f**king child killer! A tourist attraction! You killed your own children and now hide out, away from extradition pretending to have amnesia. Jog any memories, you psycho fraud!!!!”

The native arrives.

“Is it true?” She asks.

He nods.

She runs away towards the shore to swim home to the truth.

She wakes between yellow sand and blue sea, a lagoon of paradise and confusion.
 

Mon0Zer0

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May 24, 2021
Messages
437
The Wounded Sky

Standing on the deck of the hover platform, Out could feel the wormhole’s heat even through the ceramic fibres of her spacesuit. Fractal colours seemed to bleed at the transition from perpetual daylight to Pacific night sky. The fissure was already closing, they had to move now if they were going to find out where it came from.

Out gave her partner a thumbs up. “A small step?”

Marvell shook his head. “A giant leap.”

Her stomach lurched from fisheye gravity. The world unfolded. What was once a ball of vegetation and a clear blue sky at right angles to reality was now a vast azure ocean, sparkling waves, and a horseshoe shaped island.

Motion from the corner of her eye. Out screamed, “Marvell!”

Far below, An unrecovered drone plummeted to earth, Marvell’s torso fused to its hull. Too late for Marvell. Too late to realise she, too, was in free fall.

Behind her, the tether had pooled into a flat disk. Dead weight. It accelerated past, dragging her down with it.

Instinct took over. Trembling hands tore at the karabiners, unhooking the harness. Free of the tether she hit the ripcord. The parachute unfurled and shot up into the sky.

Suddenly, her visor turned jet black, reacting to a light brighter than the sun. Followed, seconds later, by a boom like cannon fire. Her returning vision bought with it new horror. Wilson clouds hit, enveloping her in roaring white ash, collapsing the parachute and buffeting her about like a rag doll in a centrifuge.

The grey shockwave had barely dissipated when a whooshing sound dragged her in the opposite direction towards thick belching grey smoke and a fatal realisation: Growing before her, taller than the atmosphere itself, the crest of an enormous mushroom cloud, piercing the heavens.

“Castle Bravo!”
 

Guttersnipe

logolept
Joined
Dec 28, 2019
Messages
875
Location
Limbo
"Home Beyond Stars"


"What do you see, Shiara? asked old Dr. Kantaro. The girl stopped shifting the kaleidoscope when
her vision centered on a symmetrical lake and island, the pieces binding with crystal clarity.

"A blue and green world," answered young Shiara. Kantaro raised an eyebrow at her, then added
some notes to his cyberdoc.

"A world, you say? Interesting."

Shiara returned a cocked eyebrow to the scientist.

"What does that mean?" she asked, annoyed. The doctor smiled. He'd forgotten that, though
she was only three years of age, her overall intelligence was through the roof.

"I was only noting, Miss Shiara, that you also saw a slide of pieces of red coloring, of
yellows, greys...yet you did not associate those scenes with worlds. Do you know why that is?"

"No," she confessed. Then the appointment was over, and they made measures to meet again.

Later.

"Earth," Dr. Kantaro said to Dr. Weptingam, "It existed, I think, and I believe that it's been
stored in our collective memory."

"But that's impossible!" Weptingam barked, pounding a fist on his desk, "Our ancestors
created Earth in our ancient religions! Based on Martian legend!"

Kantaro sighed, then said, "Maybe the girl thinks she's some kind of--what do you call it--Earthling?"
 
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JS Wiig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2020
Messages
319
Location
SW WY
Cave of Illusion

Cassandra rowed the dingy across glass smooth water. Ahead, framed by light blue sky above and it’s own reflection below, jutted a small island with a small cave. Her eyes sparkled like the sea with rumors of treasure hidden within the cave.

Sure, there were warnings. There were always warnings. But Cassandra didn’t believe in ghosts, nor shy from threatened psychotic fantasies of unattainable desires. She certainly didn’t let tall tales dissuade a treasure hunt. So into the cave she went.

The hallucination began immediately. She was back home on the planet Kovar, twenty-five years ago. The smell of a meal wafted from the kitchen. On the couch her older sister sprawled, immersed in her tablet. Boyish play sounds emanated from an adjacent room. And in his favorite chair, her father sat reading.

“No,” Cassandra whimpered.

Her father peered over his glasses. “Ah, just in time for dinner.”

“You’re not real! You’re all dead!” she shrieked.

Grasping for one last thread of sanity, she pulled hard against the oars to extract herself from the cave.

Breath came in ragged gasps. Burning arms heaved against swells until the island was a speck in the distance. With aching body and heart, she stopped to curse an empty sky.

Damn you Kuiper Mafia! You murdered my family and destroyed my life! I spit on you! Her eyes watered.

Damn you Cassandra! The warnings were true and you did not listen! Her fists clenched.

And damn you cave! For your empty promises of fortune! Her face burned.

After a long sob, she resumed rowing.

Back at the ship, her first-mate greeted her. “You look like hell. I told you not to go alone.”

“Prepare the ship for takeoff.” Cassandra’s gaze wandered wistfully back over the water. “There’s no treasure here.”
 

Peter V

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Joined
Nov 1, 2016
Messages
730
Location
London
Worlds Apart

Just as she has every morning for the last thousand days, Collette walks into the forest. The pathway, worn by repetition, makes the journey to the clearing easy.

The broken portal sits innocently in that serene space, framed by colourful, flowering lianas, their heady aroma soporific. The ripples on the pond it straddles cast confusing reflections in the bright mid-morning sun and it is all she can do not to close her eyes and sleep. She knows it is halothane, released naturally by the native creepers and concentrated into potency by the sunshine and still air.

Taking a breath of precious oxygen from the mask at her hip, she wades into the pond, until her forehead rests against the portal’s relativistic membrane. Her skin tingles.

On the other side her daughter, Evie, raises her hand, which Collette mirrors; flesh separated by microns and two hundred light-years. She mouths I love you, as sound cannot breach the gulf that divides them. A tear traces a path down her cheek, for this is likely the last time she will see Evie; the indicator on her oxygen cannister has been hovering on zero for three days now. She stifles a sob at the sight of her grandson playing in the background. She has never held little Sacha.

But Evie is smiling.

As is Paul, her husband, as he walks into view. He is holding something and brings it close to show Collette. It is an ancient tome, an alien artefact of the Builders, to whose world archaeologist Evie has been posted. On its worn, faded cover is a picture of a portal. Paul is writing something on his tablet and turns it to show her.

We have deciphered it

Collette takes another breath through the mask. The cannister beeps.

I can fix it
 

Ian Fortytwo

One day at a time.
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Joined
Dec 30, 2018
Messages
997
Location
Somewhere on this mortal coil.
The Green Giant.

Once upon a time a green giant wanted to leave the mountains and hills. So one day he decided to take a look at the forest, however he felt claustrophobic in amongst them. Another day he walked into the desert, but he felt hot and agoraphobic.

He started to get frustrated with his progress and climbed up his favourite mountain. He sat down and pondered the situation. He looked around and saw the beautiful blue ocean.

So one day he started out to discover the sea. He soon reached the beach, and then took strides out into the blue wonder. After a while he was waist deep, and felt very comfortable.

For some time he did not encounter any problems or land, and his going was easy.

Eventually the ocean became quite rough and waves became higher. He kept calm and continued to travel further away. Still the storm raged around him and visibility was becoming unsafe. But he was determined to carry on walking.

Several days later an island appeared out of the darkness. He stepped onto what he thought was the beach, only to discover that it moved.

Soon standing in front of him was the most beautiful earthen giant ever seen.

As they hugged each other something strange happened they became a beautiful paradise. Only heroes know where it exists, and unfortunately I am not a hero.
 
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johnnyjet

Western PA High Tech Country Boy
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Ride on the Crest of a Mighty Wave

The world bulged in the middle, as though it had a terrible infection beneath its surface.

Tradesman Jonathan Spiker and his apprentice Andrew were on a ship in the Pacific when it began. He knew something was funny when he saw tunnels cross the ocean. A fine-edged tsunami carved their ship neatly in two. One half—carrying crew and engine room—dropped into a deep trough out of sight. The other half—with he, Andrew, and Abigail who transported gold coins—arose on the crest of a gigantic wave.

Hanging onto the railing, Jonathan watched distant lands rise up, split open, structures torn apart, lakes and rivers emptied, mountains shattered into pebbles.

Against a masthead, Abigail comforted young Andrew who had a weak disposition. He would offer uplifting words, but he had none.

Higher they soared. This should be an excellent lesson for Andrew to always be prepared for the unexpected.

Abigail came to him and said, "What can we do?"

"Not much we can do. Enjoy the ride while it lasts?"

"We'll go back down eventually."

He smiled. "We can fly."

She frowned.

"I mean it. We need to leave this ship. It's doomed to smash into pieces. We need something that'll glide in the air."

They dragged a lifeboat onto the deck. With pieces of shattered wood, they fashioned crude wings. With a tarp, they made a wind sail. They tossed out unnecessary weight.

They pushed their contraption to the edge, donned life preserver jackets, and boarded the unlikely vessel.

He looked at Andrew and Abbie and said, "Ready?"

Grim-faced, they nodded.

Together they pushed off.

As they hit the open skies, he felt an astonishing exhilaration. He turned to Andrew. "Your next lesson is overcoming fear."
 

Phyrebrat

www.beanwriting.com
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In your bedroom wardrobe...
The Reedy Shoals of Havisham

Under a goose moon, he calls amongst the lament of waves, whispering in ripples.

Spring arrives once more. Is it really time to start thinking about death again? Everything’s a reminder since he lost her.

Yesterday was laundry day for the man that feeds bread to the ducks. He passed his bungalow on Dorsey Road, and did a double-take - he could’ve sworn the breeze that stirred the drying white shirts to motion had possessed them of her likeness: that elegant neck, that way she glides; he always thought it processional, but the word’s funereal.

The spears of spring buds turn coronet to crown to veil, as they’re born, bloom and seed; reap and sow, ebb and flow.

He considers their lineage; forever to be a sole, white yacht lost amongst an ocean of drab tugboats. Or perhaps she still has the energy to make a fleet, after all.

Just not with him.

He casts roses for love, and a lotus for peace, onto the waters that took him. She ignores them for the ranunculus and reedmace she scoops and drapes like bunting for a wedding that’ll never happen.

His grief deepens to see her moving around the now-derelict home they’d made under April showers and the ember sunsets of May. Round and around she goes, an implacable hour hand; Death’s scythe, murdering time. Searching.
For him?

What’s his part in this? To observe? To counsel?

If so, he’d say, ‘Have hope! Enjoy what you have left. Stop this Havishammery - she had nothing to teach except the blessedness of white. Although our next tryst may be one of spirit, I know it’s coming.’

He knows, because he has faith.
He knows, because he has time.
But mostly, because he knows where swans go when their loved one dies.
 
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