300 Word Writing Challenge #43 -- READ FIRST POST!

Ursa major

Bearly Believable
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The inspiration image for Challenge #43 is:


P7110046.JPG




Image credit: Bryan Wigmore


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 October 10th 2021
As soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story



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



Voting will close November 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! **
 

Astro Pen

Write now.
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Preservation



The planet was not completely navigable by boat but her temperate zones were girdled with canals. Sail and sled dogs hauled the barges. No coal or peat because life had not existed here until the monastery was founded.

Their colony ship had brought plants, fauna, fish and insects with them and was afterward ceremoniously dispatched to fall into the sun. All contact with metals intentionally lost.

There were memories of technology but no means available for its making.

So, for 800 years, this idyllic world enabled the quasi religious People of Nature to pursue a life in a land of pastoral beauty.

Aldred sat on deck, moored at The Bridge Alehouse, and played The Wassailing Rambler on his flute for the gathered evening drinkers. Annie was below deck mixing her honey and herb medicines for the Tuesday fair.

Reed Warblers flitted for insects and duck calls followed sunset.

Erwin joined him on the barge, bringing a welcome glass. The pair gazed up into the night, indulging their habit of naming new constellations in the alien sky.

"The Mouse", said Aldred, pointing south.

"More like a shrew", mused Erwin.

To their surprise a new star appeared, glowing bright. With a faint roar it descended toward the village, some seven miles distant.

Aldred scowled and looked at Erwin.

"So, the day has come."

"The day for what?" asked Erwin. "And what is that light?"

"Come below, quickly," ordered Aldred. "It's a ship, likely from the corrupt Earth that our forefathers escaped."

He lifted his bed and hauled out a heavy trunk, opening it with a carved key.

"Knives!" exclaimed Irwin.

"Yes. Now call the men down here, they will have to learn fast."

"But - Learn what Aldred?"

Aldred ran his finger along a blade.

"One last use of metal."
 

BT Jones

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Feb 12, 2020
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502
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Australia

Grand Union


I’ll just swim there, thought Malachi, moulded to his sweat-soaked mattress, staring at his cabin ceiling.

Moored near the torched Boat House pub north of Daventry since sunset yesterday, Mal was increasingly convinced their quest was doomed. When martial law had been imposed, his family had fled their Berkhampstead penthouse and taken a hastily-purchased narrowboat north – all roads were closed – aiming for the UN-arranged ferry to Norway, docking next week. A bridge collapse in Bedford and riots in Northampton had precluded two of their three possible routes, however.

A passing old man in an old-school, diesel-powered narrowboat had disclosed worse news yesterday: The Wash was plagued with huge swells; the ferry wouldn’t be able to dock. When Mal’s father had proposed the more sheltered Humber instead, the man had scoffed: all tidal rivers were unnavigable, he’d said - not that they’d get past Nottingham, which was apparently ablaze.

I’ll just swim there.

Mal got up, donned a tee, grabbed a lukewarm Lucozade, and sauntered topside. He passed the thermometer: 20oc already at 7AM. ‘Novembers were 10oc max in my day’, his Dad had bemoaned. He’d said cities were liveable once, too, before the heat island effect had frazzled modern society.

Mal sat, watching the sunrise. At least their greenboat’s photovoltaic-dependent systems would kick in soon. Aircon: civilisation – but could anything cure their sputtering engine?

He looked ahead at the canal branch the old man had taken, Liverpool bound. ‘Narrow canals that way’, Dad had warned; ‘webs spanning bank-to-bank, we’ve heard’. The man had raised his sleeve, revealing an arm black with poison. ‘It’s the Brazilian Wanderers you want to avoid’, he’d said. ‘Spiders, murder hornets, crocodiles… What difference does it make?’ Then he’d shrugged and left.

Mal glanced down at the murky, tremulous water.

Okay, maybe I’m not
swimming there.
 

AnRoinnUltra

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Aug 15, 2021
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115
Rosie's problem with The Postal Service

The thing about delivering post to Rosemary Scundelboth is that she is house proud and always insists you have a look inside the narrowboat. This generally involves shuffling around her husband Jim to view a tidy cabin.
Not last Wednesday. Jim was on deck.

'Take a look inside', she said.

I stepped through the doorway and down 98 steps. 95 more than usual. Leading to an enormous meadow. Surrounded by forestry.

'Hey, what are ya doing out in the open? There's a Cantabular Glimp on the loose!'

The question was roared by a fat man standing at the edge of the forestry. While wearing a red jumper.

'A what?'
'Never mind what, kick it in the runticles before it mushes you to flungal.'
'Eh?'

My response wasn't the smartest thing I've uttered. If I ever document what happened I'm going to change that 'Eh?' to 'Excuse me sir, but you need to fully explain the doings currently transpiring within the hull of this narrowboat.'
It'll be a lie. There wouldn't have been time. A slap split the side of my head and knocked me sideways.

'Garrastacarrtanuncantuckel', roared a voice.

I didn't hang around to get a proper look; but I know it's owner was huge, hairy, and smelled of cabbage.
My options were to run or fight.
Judging by the slap I knew my chances of winning a brawl were low.
So I ran.
Forwards.
Left.
Right.
In a big circle.
Fortunately Cantabular Glimps are slow. I made it to the stairs and onto the deck.

Jim listened carefully as I told the story.

'Was there a chubby fella in a red pullover there?', he asked.
'Yes.'
'Did you do what he advised?'
'No', I answered.
Jim nodded at Rosemary.
'Good', she said, 'that man knows nothing about Cantabular Glimps.'
 

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Messages
7,514
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
Bindlestiff

Me and a couple of other hoboes sat in a boxcar rattling its way through the Indiana night slower than a one-legged man in a sack race. We had the door partway open so we could catch a little breeze and watch the moon paint rain-soaked fields with silver. I had a belly full of beans and coffee, and I felt good about the way we’d dodged the railyard bulls, so I pulled my mouth organ out of the pocket of my overalls and played “You Are My Sunshine.” Johnny jumped up and danced like Astaire while the Professor kept time, banging on the floor of the boxcar with a tin can.

Fire blazed across the night and the train stopped dead.

“Meteor,” said the Professor. Mud exploded from the field with a sound like kingdom come. “I stand corrected, gentlemen. Meteorite.” The Professor had no more schooling than I did, he just talked that way.

“There’s a man,” Johnny said.

We weren’t going anywhere, so we hopped out to take a look. Somebody was in a big hole in the ground, dressed in loose pajamas shining like wet silk. At first, I thought he might have been a kid or maybe even a lady, as small and skinny as he was. Even in moonlight I could tell his skin was dark reddish-brown, but his face looked Chinese.

“This world is so beautiful,” he said, in a deep voice. He spoke better English than the Professor, but you could tell it wasn’t natural to him. Then he died.

We covered him up and the Professor said a few words.

“Gentlemen, let us pay our respects to a fellow vagabond, riding the rails of the celestial locomotive.”

The Professor had a funny way of looking at things.
 

Rafellin

Independent Author & Publisher
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
Messages
540
Location
West Sussex, UK
Gloriana Days

The webs veiling the thistles look like sprays of surplus patching resin around a hull breach… Everything reminds me of the Gloriana.

I spent eight years as an apprentice interstellar engineer, joining the TCL Britannia straight out of university. Then came nine wonderful years on the TCL Gloriana, working my way from Junior IE to Chief IE. I’d been Chief for a year when the Gloriana got hit by the shadow comet Blitzen.

The raised bridge had been a showpiece, carefully reinforced to meet safety regulations. That reinforcing was what deflected Blitzen, saving the body of the ship from a direct impact. I’d have been on the bridge observation deck, had not Archie talked me into going down to the observation lounge. I watched debris of the bridge sparkle and spin in Blitzen’s wake, my grip locked to a railing in the lounge.

I held fast to that railing, Archie held on to me, and eight people formed a chain behind. When the howl of escaping atmosphere faded and the lights came back on, we ten found ourselves alone. Throughout the ship, the same story repeated: a few held on to the right places. Most did not.

The notes about comet Donner contained the warning - for those who read German. The lightshow about Donner hides the fast, eccentric orbit that Blitzen maintains close about to its sibling. Scientists are still working on explaining that, as well as Blitzen’s light-absorbing state.

The Gloriana Catastrophe ended the craze for frontier sector cruises. It also stopped me going into space. I’ve a narrowboat on the Great Glen canal. Archie and other survivors of the Gloriana visit often. There’s laughter, now. But the last glass raised each night is always to those we nearly died with.
 

Dan Jones

A little bit woor, a little bit waay!
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On the naughty step.
The Travels Of Sir Reginald Rigmarole, Part 94!

So! There I was, posting delicious hot bockwürsts down my throat in the dying seconds of the seventy-sixth International Civil Servants’ Eating Olympiad when a hawkeyed adjudicator spotted the illicit serpent’s tail of saucissons trailing from the pocket of my magnificently sequestered eating pantaloons. He alerted the other referees to my infraction, screaming blue bloody murder, but before they could slap a ban on me I activated my escape plan by whistling the opening fifty-two bars from Tristan And Isolde, thereby summoning the four-and-twenty Dutch engineering graduates carrying my Sedan chair to take me hence!

“Ain’t no prison can hold me!” I masticated with extreme unction, riding into the open sky, sausages flying from every corner of my mouth.

Alas! No sooner had I tasted the savoury meat of freedom than I experienced the first pangs of a bout of constipation so violent I had no option but to visit Colonoscopy Jones, the least qualified midwife east of the Ljubljanica. I directed my Dutchmen to her houseboat which, in-keeping with her lifestyle, floated six feet above the river.

Ostanite mirni, Sir Reginald, medtem ko dobim klešče nepremagljive penetracije,” she growled in major thirds. The evacuation was slow, agonising and wildly celebratory. Afterwards we got engaged, and made love.

It was midnight when the houseboat jerked holistically, waking me from dreams of meat trains and meat tunnels to investigate.

“Kdo je ta absolute bastard teč na mojem čolnu?” I enquired erotically in my best Slovenian.

The reply was a flagrant irruption upon the water as the agglomerated mass of the judges’ panel emerged from the undertow as one enormous savoury monster, enmeshed within a gigantic sausage casing!

“No-one escapes a ban administered by the International Civil Servants Eating Olympiad!” they ullulated, reaching for my final, most treasured sausage.

Foiled again!
 

bedyak

Active Member
Joined
May 4, 2021
Messages
28
How Bill and I Doomed Humanity

Webway aliens, sure they had some fancy sounding name with clicking sounds and 3 Q’s but on Earth we called them Webways. Their technology was more advanced than our own. They helped us make Earth a paradise.

Bill was my Webway alien, my job was to show him around, explain history and let him live with my family. Bill, despite being distinctly alien, was a joyous addition to our family. He loved family board game nights and taco Tuesdays. Bill’s tripodal frame and flat body took a bit of getting used to seeing, but once you were over that and the translator voice, he was a delight.

A year before Bill left for his planet he asked me if there was anything I’d always wanted to do. I told him I'd always wanted to do one of those Viking River Cruises. Bill arranged one and even found some dubious excuse that I needed to be paid while guiding him through Europe.

The last night of the cruise, he and I were enjoying our second bottle of Bordeaux, and a sunset on the Seine. Bill suddenly became serious. One of his tentacles placed a rather ugly looking flower on the table. He told me that the pollen from these flowers was altering human thought, making us more like Webways. A second metal box contained a spider that would eventually kill every flower on the planet and lift their influence. He told me the choice was ultimately mine. I considered Bill and his guilty looking compound eye and I considered the metal box. I threw the box into the Seine and ordered another bottle of Bordeaux. Looking Bill straight in the eye I asked him “I was thinking about the cheese plate after this...you?”
 

Peter V

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Nov 1, 2016
Messages
726
Location
London
Mercy’s War

It was nearly two years since self-styled Lord Simon had taken Mercedes daughter and tonight, finally, she was doing something about it.

But would it be rescue or revenge? She prayed for the former but only a small part of her held on to the hope that Emma had survived unscathed at the hands of that monster, that she’d be the same person.

Her community had fragmented, mostly moving away to the safer highlands, beyond the reach of predation from Simon’s evil regime. None were willing to help, instead encouraging Mercedes to leave with them. She’d refused; staying to scour the ruins of Landfall for batteries and solar panels with which to charge them. An engineer back when the world was still sane, she’d converted a narrowboat to run silently.

Moving only at night, it had taken Mercedes a week to navigate the network of canals to the heart of Simon’s realm. Now, dressed in black and face blackened by charcoal, she stood in the inky darkness of a stand of trees. Before her, expansive lawns led up to the grandest house in what was now called Simonstown.

Silencer fitted pistol in hand (only four rounds, so each one had to count), Mercedes skirted the garden towards the house. She hoped she wouldn’t need the semi-automatic rifle slung over her shoulder, nor the three old and rusty grenades that probably wouldn’t work anyway. She especially hoped she wouldn’t need the C4 strapped to her body for a lose-lose situation.

Entering the house was easy. Two inattentive guards were quickly and silently disposed of, saddening Mercedes that she felt no remorse. Following the sound of gentle snoring, she found Simon’s room.

Mercedes pressed the barrel of her gun to his forehead as he sat up, startled.

“Where is our daughter?”
 

Ashleyne

Wishes she was funny
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Apr 19, 2014
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640
What in the Boggins!



They slid from the depths, from the skies and before our very eyes from a place best described as an indescribable realm. Their mission: one of dominance, make everything like them. Striking was their darkness, enough to say they shone against the light. Microscopic thistles of black, with veins the shade of moonlight, they spun webs of ink and touched everything for everything needed to be as one. Everything needed to be boggins.

Kids sitting in their schools disintegrated. Worldwide, buildings collapsed into boggins. Lions halted mid-feast, torn antelopes too, shattering into the cracked ground which itself became boggins. Mountains crumbled into boggins. Beach lines faded as waves crashed into boggins.

Earth (now boggins) was far from the biggest boggins hive mind in existence, yet no hive mind had ever been too small for its purpose. 5,000,000,000 light-years away, radios transmitted.

“We’re picking up life signals from one of the blue planets. Looks ripe with meat, to me.”

Through a hungry camera stood a throne of bones, every bone a different species, including a torso belonging to one of their own. The hungry queen spoke upon it, her horizontal mouth seeping amidst her stomach scales. “Send ships to collect their meat. I will find the perfect flavour.”

Months of salivating brought the hungry to a planet once known as Earth. Their ships glistened like diamonds. Below, a smooth rock with no atmosphere, no satellites.

“It’s all boggins”, said the queen. “Let’s go. We have other planets to check.”

A second is all it took, and is all it’ll take again when eventually the hungry are far enough away from this ecosystem. Everything that is boggins will revert and reform, never acknowledging the year that passed. And should the hungry target Earth again, boggins will be waiting.
 
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Guttersnipe

logolept
Joined
Dec 28, 2019
Messages
852
Location
Limbo
The Effrontery of Mr. Boggins


While others saw a forest, Mr. Boggins, captain of industry, saw a burgeoning city of steel and glass
and oil. He had already offended the ancient race of faeries who lived there by building a railroad
that cut over both undergrowth and water. Prior to this epoch of effacement, all the faeries had
to worry about was falling prey to the spiders' artifice. Now the noise of machinery threatened to
breach their traditional silence and grace.

Eventually, all the tribes of faerie banded together and sent an ethereal parchment to Mr. Boggins,
threatening violence if they should see him anywhere in their forest. Mr. Boggins, not one to
truckle under harsh words, told his men to bring him there posthaste.

Mr. Boggins arrived via locomotive over the faeries' most sacred river. On phonographs, he played
music so loud it scared away all the creatures nearby. But not the faeries. They loaded their bows
with thorns and bee-stingers and opened fire. The arrows had no effect on the hide of the vessel,
but a few connected with Mr. Boggins' bulging face and left him fatally disfigured. He collapsed
into the river.

But the man had prepared for this eventuality. As he lay dying, the men all came out with pistols
and a Howitzer and opened fire into the trees. Scores of faeries fell, but the wee archers out-
numbered them in a magical tongue. Eventually, the mortals were quashed.
It was another victory in the war against the mortals, a war that was working well in the faeries'
favor, whose realm dwarfed that of these industrious mortals.
 

Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
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Mar 3, 2014
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2,855
The Righteous Path Is a Two-Way Lane

He has trouble looking at my scarred face, but I have trouble, even after many years.
We’re cruising the Potomac near DC, alone – I’d hired his tour boat for the day. Chitchatting’s been painful but the camp, and my purpose, are just miles ahead.
“I’ve something to discuss with you,” I say.
“Sure. It seemed the scenery wasn’t impressing you.”
“Albert, I’ve worked in President Trunin’s administration for eighteen years. Our country’s in jeopardy,” and I reveal the near future…
Congress infiltrated by communists; our borders eroded by floods of would-be immigrants fleeing famine, persecution, and other lies.
Our predestined, cherished lifestyle in ruins.

He regards me now, looking confused. Good.
“Albert, there’s a terrorist camp just ahead.”
“They’re refugees – mostly families.”
“Terrorists. I want you to accelerate the boat. There’s a beach where they bathe. You’ll steer into them.”
“No. But... your voice.”
Damn.
“And those eyes… my eyes.”
I punch him…
then again. I hadn’t really expected he’d be deceived – I’d not been by my own older self.
I quicken the boat, set the cruise control; splash gasoline across him, set him alight.
I’d been scarred on this day – he’ll be, too.

As the boat speeds ahead and the flames spread, the future’s righted course floods my memory. Many die in this river. Trunin’s private militia guards the camp – their commander will swear the refugees died rioting, protesting Democracy.
Trunin-endorsed uprisings spread. He’ll declare martial law, execute rivals; proclaim himself President for life.
He’ll welcome this younger me, mend and mentor him. He’ll believe Albert’s doppelgänger story, divert a trillion dollars to secret research facilities.
Time travel will be invented in eighteen years.

I prepare to jump overboard – I’ll surely die, but Trunin needs only one Albert.
I whisper, “Godspeed, Mister President,” then leap into the water.
 

Phyrebrat

www.beanwriting.com
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Feb 13, 2011
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In your bedroom wardrobe...
Johari's Window

Narrowboats dawdle under skies carrying the menace of weather. It takes a special type of person to see The Spinning Jenny, though. One who can read the leaves, or at least hear their autumn wisdom.

I first saw the waterways, not the vessel, and for a moment I wondered if I’d been magically transported to the Fens. Until I realised the windowpane I looked through was one unseeable to most.

Around me slender channels fed larger ones. Irises towered like triffids amongst marshy banks of nettle; within submerged jungle meadows, tiger-striped terrors hung waiting to ambush bream and roach.

The day I saw her, every ornate pot planter on The Spinning Jenny had faded, our Roma colours a mix of brown and grey, and mould-green. From them came the sound of wind blowing through skulls as they spun technicolour gossamer filaments into the water behind, like a dragnet unspooling from a trawler.

Her cargo?

In a bedside drawer three milk teeth, wrapped in silk, rattle softly to the weft and warp of wavelets. And in a neglected chiffarobe hangs a girl’s frock, laced now with cobwebs instead of broderie anglaise. A man’s bowler wobbles on its stand, nodding as if its owner were still wearing it — though invisible.

All through the summer she came and went; an undernourished, drab thing like a legless millipede, criss-crossing the town on waterways none but I beheld.

"You can’t take it with you when you’re gone," they say, but some things are too meaningful to a wandering soul to leave behind. Ann-Margaret’s teeth, Sukie’s frock, and—

Ah, my bowler!

I was ignorant of what those trailing lines meant till now.

But as she navigates the Final Lock, I recognise scenes in those filaments.

The yarn of my time, history; tapestry of my life.
 

Betok_Haney

Active Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2020
Messages
41
Location
Portland, Oregon
Wanderlust

“It’s a shame,” Henrietta said as she munched on a fly, “She seems like such a smart girl.”

“Her poor mother,” Celia said while her back legs worked on her web. “She must be so embarrassed!”

“You know I can hear you, right?” Maggie shouted as she affixed a web strand to an overhanging branch.

Henrietta and Celia both paused to look down at the small spider working diligently on the expanding mass of webs and interconnected branches below.

“Sorry dear,” Henrietta apologized, “But you are so talented, and could have such a nice web. You know, good webs attract good mates, which leads to –"

“A husband I have to eat, and a swarm of babies. No thanks!” Maggie said, rolling her eyes.

“Well, you’ll likely die alone in that mess,” Celia said, connecting the final strand on her perfectly symmetrical orb web.

Maggie sighed. They were right, she likely would die alone, and she was fine with that. Maggie had ideas…big ideas.

She scrambled down through the matrix of interconnected branches, twigs, and web strands to a small opening that overlooked the river. Her eight eyes sparkled as she gazed over the flowing water.

She smiled. She was finally ready.

Maggie touched two exposed twigs with her back legs, and one descending webbed branch with her front. Then she froze, intently watching the river.

The boat suddenly appeared, gliding through the water beneath the tree that she and countless family had called home.

She pressed down on the twigs and branch with her legs. Webs moved, twigs snapped, branches fell, and counterweights rose from the forest floor. Then, in a blink the eyes, she was flung into the air toward the passing craft.

“Freeeeeedoooooom!” She screamed as she soared to meet her destiny.
 

Ian Fortytwo

I know where my towel is.
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Dec 30, 2018
Messages
969
Location
Somewhere on this mortal coil.
A Canal Ride to the Past.

I have been travelling these canals for years. However I was now going to challenge myself to using a couple of Shire Horses to traverse one particular stretch.
I was sedately moving along at a steady pace.
Soon I would be approaching the main obstacle on this canal. It was a one kilometre long tunnel. I knew exactly what I had to do. My two companions were going to take the horses via the long route over the tunnel.
The surroundings were changing quite rapidly, the sight of thistles covered in Spider webs were becoming common place. I hadn't really noticed them before, but I wasn't going to be deterred.
The horses departed with my companions and lay on my back on the top of the barge, with my feet ready to walk on the ceiling of the tunnel.
Movement was slow and steady. Darkness prevailed and I progressed through the tunnel. I had seen this procedure several times on documentaries and is reasonably easy if fit, which I was.

After quite a while I could see light at the end growing larger.

However when I exited, the world around me had changed dramatically. There were real life dinosaurs everywhere. I glanced back and the tunnel had disappeared.

Panic set in immediately, yet I knew I was trapped with no way of going back several hundred thousand years.

What happened next, well that's another story for another day.
 

Mon0Zer0

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May 24, 2021
Messages
378

You Can’t Run From The Night


The only other humans I’d ever seen were the bodies we found on the Dusky Warbler. They’d appear on mornings after the visitors came. Dad would spend all night behind the barge door with a machete in one hand and a crude makeshift shield in the other and, at daybreak, we’d find them lying on deck, mauled but unmistakeably human.

Offerings, that’s what Dad called them. I think this was a joke because whenever he said it he laughed from a dark place. Once, I asked him what the visitors looked like.

“You’ll find out soon enough, lad,” he replied.

Sometime around my twelfth birthday we had gone to scavenge supplies from the island but come up short. The supermarkets shelves were barren and nearby fields yielded but a handful of mushrooms and nettles. Barely enough to fill a belly.

Dad was already at the meeting place when I arrived. He was pained and his eyes were lined red like he’d been crying. The only other time I’d seen him like that was when he taught me how to shave.

“This is all I could find,” I said holding up the bag, sure he was going to be mad.

He gave me a strange look and tousled my hair, “Let’s go. It’ll be dark soon.”

On the barge, Dad gave me his share of the bounty.

“You need the strength,” I said, but he still refused.

When I awoke it was already dark. Dad was sat on the couch, glass in hand, door wide open.

I began to cry out but froze as a hideous, furred shape stooped through the doorway. Wolfman.

“Aiden,” said Dad, “meet your mother. She’s here to teach you how to hunt.”

The pack took Dad back to the farm. I was powerless to stop them.
 

Deke

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2021
Messages
82
Mercy, of a kind

Laura pressed a hand to her ruined throat, feeling where the claws had cut through the armor.

The creature that had cut her, killed her most likely, was lying at her feet, smoking holes in its diseased flesh.

She sat with her back against the decaying remains of some ancient boat, a field of purple topped thistles whispering in the wind in front of her.

She could hear bursts of gunfire nearby, someone screamed, the shrill cry cut off as another member of her squad found their own grisly end.

Another beast came for her now, the dry rustle of the thistles hissing as they made way for her own personal apocalypse.

She lifted her pistol, feeling it click dry as she pulled the trigger.

It stopped in front of her, teeth like misshapen daggers protruded from its mouth.

Sniffing the air, it hissed, watching her through bloodshot, yellow eyes.

Slowly she let the weapon fall to her side.

She glanced up, sunlight flashed, crimson rays like bloody gold filled the sky.

She could hear it, closer now, it hissed and sniffed as it shambled forward.

Laura kept her gaze on the setting sun, better something beautiful to close out an ugly life.

Sunlight flashed off a warship in low orbit, it screamed across the sky, far faster than anything had a right to move.

She watched, entranced, as missiles streaked down.

At least someone is fighting back, she thought.

One missile grew closer, moving faster as it burned through the atmosphere.

She smiled as it flashed overhead, hearing the monster shriek as it’s flesh burned away.

Her last thoughts were of home as she disintegrated in atomic fire.

One last mercy, fired from her fellow humans in orbit. How long they would last, no one could be for certain.
 
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paranoid marvin

Run VT Erroll!
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Joined
Mar 9, 2007
Messages
3,350
Human Error


It was such a heavenly morning as Lisa skipped through the marshland and down to the waterway, that she felt she simply must share her joy with the world. She waved to the willows, and they waved back in the light breeze. She smiled at the swans, but they just hissed and paddled away, waggling their tailfeathers in annoyance as they did so. She called 'Good morning!" to a spider, busily spinning his web amongst the heather, she...

"Morning" came an unexpected response.

"Oh my, a talking spider!" Lisa exclaimed.

"Oh my, a stupid human!" the arachnid replied sarcastically.

"Whatever do you mean?"

"Well," the spider explained "if you didn't expect a reply, why address me in the first place?"

"I hadn't thought of that" she admitted.

"Humans never do."

"But I didn't know spiders could speak" Lisa said uncertainly "Or be so articulate".

"Shows what you know" and twanging the strands of it's web like a harp, burst into song:


Oh butterfly
Passing by
In the sky
How would I
Like to catch your eye

And bake it in a pie


"Eurgh, that's horrible" she grimaced. "Anyway, you oughtn't to eat butterflies; they're beautiful creatures."

"Well, what should I eat?"

After a moment of consideration of things she didn't like, Lisa suggested "Bluebottles and wasps?"

"Ha! You know nothing. Have you tried catching a wasp? Nasty, stingy creatures. And bluebottles taste disgusting." It licked it's lips "Butterflies are nice and juicy, especially the eyes."

"Well, there's something I do know that you don't!" she declared indignantly.

"And what would that be?"

"The difference between a human and an ogress" and as she spoke, Lisa scooped up the spider and popped it into her mouth with a satisfying squelch. This really was turning out to be a wonderful morning.
 
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Luiglin

by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
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Livid Lou​

As my life diminishes, all that I have left are memories of anarchy and madness in this devastated world. Yet, I still see the navvy warrior, the woman we called Lou. To truly understand her we have to go back beyond this now blighted realm; to an age of tarmac, burnt rubber and choking fumes. A time when those in the halls of power bickered over petty things, as they raped and pillaged the world, until in the end, they destroyed the only thing left... themselves.

Only the waterways provided a haven. For a time, those savvy enough to understand the lock system and remember the long-forgotten routes, survived. Then, in bloodied narrowboats decked out for war, the marauders came, to take as they want, kill as they desired. Souped-up engines bedecked in chrome, achieved unheard of speeds beyond even a jog, their bow waves sending ripples of water to dampen the tow paths.

In this forsaken world, ordinary folk became battered and smashed, folk like Lou. In the backwash, she lost everything, becoming a burnt-out shell, devoid of anything but the instinct to survive. A husk, haunted by demons of the past, harried by devils of the present, and without thought to the future.

Yet here, in this old coal basin, besieged by the horde of Hefty, she came to us. Here, where our dreams of the wild unspoilt promises that were the Broads of Norfolk, lay sunk in the mire of shopping trollies, traffic cones and wheelie bins. She laid the plan, piloted the cargo boat down the off spur. Gave us our chance. The coal, the precious coal that had driven Hefty to madness, hidden within our narrowboats.

And the navvy warrior? We never saw her again. She lives now only in my memories.
 

Droflet

I don't teach chickens how to dance.
Joined
Apr 15, 2010
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Location
Australia
NARROW MARGIN

The violent snow beat against their bare faces.

Snow, this time of the year?

Ahead, encased in the solid ice sat an old narrow boat.

They clambered aboard and entered through the tiny door. The warmth inside immediately eased their frigid extremities.

“Where’s the heat coming from?” Maddy asked.

The boat looked to be deserted, yet everything seemed orderly.

By the time dusk fell they had investigated their sanctum of security. Bedding, heat, food and water would ensure their survival. It appeared to have been set aside solely for their convenience. What luck.

Exhausted, they took bunks and fell asleep. And slept and slept and slept.



#

David could not recall a more oppressively hot day. They needed to find shelter .

Then off in the distance, a boat. Out here?

The narrow door opened to his touch and they entered. They were surprised by how cool it was inside.

Where’s the power source?

After filling their bellies with surprisingly cool water, Alice surrendered to her exhaustion and fell asleep on the nearest bunk.

David felt compelled to investigate the old boat. His better instincts told him that something wasn’t right.

A solid door barred his entry toward the bow. Suspicion assailed him as backtracked into the boat. He checked on Alice and gasped. Her chest still moved as she breathed, but a cocoon had formed around her body.

The exit door had jammed tight.

“You can’t have us,” David screamed.

Above the bunk, a narrow window.

Sweating, Dave pulled Alice onto the bank and tore the cocoon from her.

The boat shrieked.

Alice awoke.

“The boat -”

“We’ve got to go, now!”

Over the following years, David kept alert to any news similar to their own terrifying experience. Nothing.

“Yes,” he mused aloud, “purgatory comes in many forms.”
 

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