300 Word Writing Challenge #44 -- VICTORY TO PHYREBRAT!

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Ursa major

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The inspiration image for Challenge #44 is:



1640968923400.jpeg



Image credit: Powder and Pearls



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 winner has the option of having his/her story published on the Chrons Podcast



THE RULES:

Only one entry per person

All stories Copyright 2022 by their respective authors,
who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here



This thread will be CLOSED until January 10th 2022
As soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story



Entries must be posted no later than January 31st 2022
at 11:59 pm GMT



Voting will open on February 1st 2022 and close on February 15th 2022 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! **
 

AnRoinnUltra

Go on the humans!
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The Dipple Fringle of Namibar

Two aliens sat at a table.

In a room. In the capital of The Collective. And the foremost Special Agent in the Universe entered.

Carrying white netting.

Hello, erm…

‘Agents Irene and Spatula’, prompted Spatula.

Good’, noted Special Agent Sockenpowder, ‘I'm looking for two Agents to travel to Earth and convince the inhabitants to join our Galactic Collective.’

‘Earth? the ultraviolent planet –it’ll take more than us two to get them to civilize.’

Spatula kicked Irene under the table.

‘A man of Sockenpowder’s intelligence knows what he’s doing’, he said.

Exactly’, agreed Sockenpowder, ‘and that’s where this comes in.’

He stretched out the netting.

Now if I know alien Zoology, which I do, because I’m brilliant, then the only danger on Earth is the midge. And this netting forms an impenetrable fortress against winged insects. Plus, if you dress in it the Earthlings will think you're both deities.'

'Are you sure?', asked Irene.

Spatula kicked her for a second time.

'Of course I'm sure -I'm a Special Agent, my plans never fail, tell her Spatula.'

'Gladly. Irene –did I ever mention the time Agent Theresa became a Fringle on Namibar? Not just any old Fringle, the Dipple Fringle. She arrived wrapped in netting. The inhabitants thought her so beautiful they insisted she marry the planet itself. Just so everyone could be related to her. The Collective now controls everything that happens there.'

'Exactly', beamed Sockenpowder, and marched out of the room.

‘Ya nearly talked us into trouble there Irene.’

‘We still have to go to Earth, and I never heard of Agent Theresa.’

‘That's because she's made up', replied Spatula, ‘but if there’s one thing I know about Agents like Sockenpowder it’s that once you tell them a story explaining how clever they are, they forget what they were doing.’
 

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
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Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
The Laughing Woman

Manuel sits in the kitchen with abuelito Jorge, devouring the old man's hot and savory molletes with thick, sweet coffee. He's wearing a track suit that's seen better days, while his grandfather is immaculate in a creamy white guayabera and black trousers as sharply creased as a soldier's dress uniform.

"You know of La Llorona," Jorge says.

"Sure. Everybody does. They even make movies about the Weeping Woman."

Jorge sips his coffee. "La Llorona is a story told to mischievous children, that they may not wander off after dark. You are too old for such tales, but now that you are a man, you must know of La Mujer Riendo."

"The Laughing Woman? I never heard that legend." Manuel spoons fiery salsa on his mollete.

"It is not a legend, nieto. Listen, for soon you will marry."

Manuel laughs. "Come on, grandpa! I'm still in high school."

Jorge grips his grandson's hand with gnarled fingers. "La Mujer Riendo is a woman of great beauty. She is tall, slender, graceful, dressed in a white silk gown that flows over her body like a lover's caress. Her hair is a black waterfall, nearly reaching her ankles, stirred by the wind so that it covers her face like a veil." He releases Manuel's hand and closes his eyes.

Manuel knows the old man is lost in memory. "You've seen her."

"Yes, as all men see her, once in their lives. When you see her, you will understand why she laughs."

They sit in silence for a while, until it is time for Manuel to leave.

"Why does she laugh?"

Jorge shakes his head. "It is not a thing that can be said. You will know soon enough, and then you will marry."

Manuel makes his way home, pondering the mystery of love.
 

Guttersnipe

mortal ally
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Dec 28, 2019
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1,074
Location
Cloud Cuckoo Land
What Am I?


The Princess was alone now; an unsightly monster had mutilated her Prince to the point of death.
He had been telling her about a truth--a truth that she must seek from a mystic of long tooth.
One he couldn't disclose, and also something he couldn't explain. So the Princess left her
golden palace and ventured into the cold darkness.

The ground was cracked. Strange creatures lurked within the Princess's vision--ones employing
bizarre locomotions. Stars could be seen. A shrieking hellkite attacked, but she beat it off of
her powerfully, albeit blindly. The darkness itself began to howl. All she had to do, she reassured
herself, was to find this mystic before she lost her mind, though she found herself wondering
whether he was only borne of her prince's delirious state.

Finally, with the assistance of otherworldly lights, she spotted the mystic of long tooth standing
high atop a staircase. Up she climbed, her breath shallow. At the top, the mystic greeted her.

"Are you the mystic?" she said.

"Yes," he said, "I am a professor of psychological truths."

"What--" the Princess asked, "--is the Truth?"

The mystic scratched his wild beard.

"The Truth is," he said, "that you are not real. You and I and everyone here, we are all toys."

The Princess laughed unreservedly.

"I'm not real?" she asked.

"Not in a strict sense," he answered.

The Princess laughed again, somewhat bitterly.

"Then this shouldn't hurt me," she said, and dove out the window.

The nutcracker was surprised, but perhaps not more so than the humans below, who had never
before seen a doll that bled.
 
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Rafellin

Independent Author & Publisher
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Oct 29, 2013
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554
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West Sussex, UK
All Rise

How exactly am I meant to be stealthy in a wedding dress? More relevantly, didn’t someone stop to think the groom night notice his fiancée is eight centimetres taller, with a tattoo that says ‘Bite My Bullets’ across her left forearm?

Never ever let artificial intelligences do tactics. They just can’t intuitively grasp that individual humans can tell each other apart without needing to scan an ID chip. You can program for it as much as you like, add behavioural rules until you’re blue in the face, but you let the tinbrains do the planning and suddenly I’m Special Forces camouflaged in vintage Elie Saab. This aged piece of rustling fluff cost more than my entire field kit, drones and lasers included.

The bridal march starts as I enter.

Ready.

I see Junior - the groom - gazing at my face with a look of puzzlement. Dictator - his dad - is staring at my chest, mouth starting to open. He’s spotted my bust is the wrong size. Lecher. I swish my slit skirt to one side. His mouth closes as his eyes flick downward, looking for a thrill.

Steady.

The grip of the slivergun meets my seeking hand. I pull it from where it’s bonded to the back of my thigh, losing skin in the process. Without further ado I aim down the aisle and let rip. Dictator gets a face full until Junior throws himself in the way, saving nobody while dying messily along with his dad.

Go!

Screaming chaos kicks off in style. As stampeding guests prevent security getting to me, I grab the cable that drops nearby in a shower of roof debris. Definitely time to leave.

We always plan our own extractions. No mistakes when escaping is a very good thing.
 

Astro Pen

Write now.
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Wales UK
Here, inside.
I didn't think it was real love. Me and the therapeutic replica of my dear departed wife.

The technology was impressive. Sensitised Neolatex skin, voice that whispered sweetly at night and croaked slightly in the morning.

Emma had agreed to the memory copy as she lay in the cancer ward. I didn't expect much, maybe a few "Remember when we..." token memories.

It rode a bicycle , chose wallpaper, was slow in the morning, all like Emma. Even danced her foxtrot, clipping around the dance floor.

I actually felt guilty at the first kiss. More so as we became lovers.

Then it happened:

"I want my old job back." It said.

"But that's stupid, you're a ..."

"I'm a what, David?"

"A replica. A very good one, but just a machine."

It adopted a distressed expression.

"Jeez David I thought you had worked it out. Do I actually have to say it? It's ME. I just have a synthetic body. I'm still with you and I love you so much."

"But Emma's dead. You are just her scanned memory!" I blurted, in shock.

"No," she started to cry. "You don't understand, even THEY don't understand. The memory is the person."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean I didn't die, they just transferred me from the wet brain to the holochip. I'm still here like I always was."

I understood. Realisation came, an epiphany. This would take time. I wept over hurtful things I had said.

"Honey, you can't get your job back, you don't exist as a legal entity."

"Oh, just set up a design consultancy and front it, I can run it."

"Crazy, but you always were."
We hugged.

Suddenly she started to cry again, huge sobs.

"What?"

"I, - I just can't bear to watch you getting old."
 
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Aknot

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Dec 30, 2021
Messages
55
The Old Ways

The Barrowshire estate had not been managed properly for years. Most people in the nearby village were dependent on it for their livelihood, so times were hard. When news came of a young bride going there it caused much excitement.
“I hear she’s from around here!”, mrs Edwards said with a touch of pride at the pub.
“It’s old Turner’s youngest, Mildred”, mister Parker chimed in. “Since his wife passed and he lost his sons in the war, things have been difficult. Apparently she’s glad to do her old dad a good turn.”
Everyone got quiet as they contemplated this. It was the vicar, mister Andrews, that broke the silence:
“There’s always good years following a wedding.”
This got them all going again and everyone went home in a better mood.

When the day came everyone in the village turned up in their finest.
They stood expectantly in front of the estate’s main building when the bride arrived. Slim of waist and in a white dress, she was the picture of young innocence. The only sound from those present was the quiet sobbing from Mildred’s father. She stopped at his side, kissed him on the cheek and whispered something only he could hear. Then she walked up to the wide double doors.

A shudder went through the mansion. It seemed to stretch and grin. A hungry predator waking up. The doors swung open and a damp gust of wind, smelling of rot and decay, washed over Mildred. She hesitated for a moment then stepped inside. She did not look back. The doors closed and those gathered sighed with relief. It was done. In other parts of the land the ways of old were gone but not here. Not yet. The village served the estate and it took care of them.
 

BigJ

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Oct 2, 2012
Messages
155
To dream, to dance, to love . . .

I opened my eyes to see her at the foot of my bed, her figure obscured by the folds of her faded white evening gown, auburn hair framing her pale face. Though her lips curled a soft smile at my waking there was sadness in her emerald eyes.

I smiled. “My darling, how I’ve missed you.”

Her smile broadened in return, but she did not speak.

“I’ll be home soon, and then we can start our family.”

Her eyes welled up, and she turned away.

“I know, but it’s only a few months more.”

She turned back, tears streaming down her cheeks, a thin line of blood trailing from the corner of her mouth.

And I understood.

A loud boom echoed in the darkness, pushing her away.

I reached out as she floated beyond my fingers.

Boom.

I strained; leaden feet betrayed me.

Boom.

Her bloody mouth agape in silent scream as she faded into black.

Boom.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I bolted upright, gasping for breath in my bunk below decks in the crew’s quarters. Damp hung in the air and sunlight peeked in through the cracks; it was already mid-morning, and I was alone. I could hear the sounds of the crew above me as they worked the sails, and the thunder of the first mate bellowing orders.

Thirteen months. Thirteen months I had been at sea; thirteen months since I had seen my love. And never again.

I buried my face in my hands and I wept.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The watch that night noted a warmth on the wind beneath the cloudless sky. He didn’t see the couple dancing in the moonlight, cheek to cheek on the deck below him, the man in his Sunday best, the woman resplendent in white.

Amidst the snoring sailors was one who would not wake.
 

Peter V

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Nov 1, 2016
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784
Location
London
White (Lie) Wedding

Earlier, when the wedding music started, Prince George had turned and observed Lady Isabella for the first time, witnessing that word of her beauty wasn’t exaggerated. Nerves turned his legs to jelly and long suffered feelings of inadequacy rose to the surface, threatening to overwhelm him.

“Beauty and the beast” he’d imagined the gathered guests whispering. Somehow he’d remained standing.

Born with a withered arm and far from handsome, George compensated with bravery, but a duel had left him scarred and even uglier. Giving up on being the heroic prince, he’d instead taken the advice of his loving parents, studying past kings to learn what had made them great men. He couldn’t look like his father but one day, if he became even half as good a king, maybe that would suffice.

Shunning contact with girls as a boy had left him awkward in their company and thinking he’d never marry. Until he’d started corresponding with Lady Isabella.

“She is blind.” His mother had told him. Though she had never looked upon him with eyes other than those of a loving mother, she understood how he felt about himself.

Isabella’s letters were wonderful and he’d quickly fallen in love with this woman he’d never met, this woman who was now his wife. Alone for the first time, he nervously held her hand, lost for words and already fearing he would be a disappointment.

“Don’t be shy George. I’m your Bella, so just be the man in your letters.”

“I could never say half of what I wanted to, knowing someone read them for you.”

I read them George.” Bella looked into his eyes before leaning in and kissing him on the lips.

“But…”

“Sorry we had to deceive you, my love.” Bella smiled and kissed him again. “I can see.”
 

Mon0Zer0

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May 24, 2021
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671
In Time

You’ll be late for your own wedding. Mother was three years gone, but her barbs still drew blood. Even now, sinking through her hotel bathroom floor, bridal gown billowing around her like the bell of a jellyfish, her words rung in Emma’s ears. Not that it matters, they all leave in the end.

Therapy could not neutralise the poison that sloped Emma’s shoulders and shrunk her voice, and the threat of eyes on her, even loving eyes, made her want the ground to swallow her up.

And it had.

First, the air had grown thick as syrup until it was as if she were on a deep ocean bed, the full pressure of water bearing down on her. By the time she noticed, she could not rise.

Then, the floor, too, was quicksand. The more she struggled, the lower she sunk. Hands scrabbled at the tiles, tearing deep gashes into the once solid surface. She tried to cry out “Help!” but no sound left her lips. Her lungs gasped for air but she did not drown. Instead she sunk down, down into the black beneath.

For an age she fell through the inky dark, no trace of light, save for the images a mind creates when robbed of all sensation: Her fiance on one knee. Mother after father had left. Memories crested her mind’s ocean, to be replaced by something unfamiliar. A sandy beach. A maternity room and the scent of joy. A doorstepped child. The touch of hands in the autumn sun.

Finally, a woman’s voice and Emma’s weight fell away.

She arrived without noticing. All was still and calm. Blossom hung motionless in the air. She reached for the church door and threw her shoulders back. As one, the crowd rose and the wedding march began to play.
 

Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
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The Colors of Fireflies

I pin back the left cuff of John’s new shirt then stitch it below the elbow. Before knowing me he’d let the sleeve hang over his stump, but my husband won’t look unkempt.
It’s dusk as he finishes plowing the field. I sit in his mother’s rocker on the porch, waiting. I think of her whenever I sew here; she’d gone missing before we met. I wish I’d known her, but John says she’d have stabbed me–
loved me.
I stop sewing. There’ve been moments lately when my mind has whirlwind-confusions, flashing-synchronicities–
the petunias cloying from their baskets clot my sinuses, the crickets’ relentless chirruping destabilizes reason, the tractor’s chuffing engine reverberates within me.
Fireflies spark yellow about the yard, flares lingering like flashbulb photography, unsynchronized till sparking simultaneously at a cacophonous overload–
I’m falling from the chair.

I revive lying on porch boards. John’s in his mother’s chair rolling cigarettes.
He’s never smoked.
An old woman watches me from the porch’s stairs, I recognize her.
Scarlet bursts draw my eyes. Fireflies large as hummingbirds flare, the piercing red of emergency lighting.
John comes and kneels beside me, he’s lean, angry.
Mind spinning, I’m lifted, his right hand underneath shoulders, my knees gripped by–
his left hand…

I awaken in my bedroom to near-darkness. I rise, go to a window, look into the yard. John’s digging an oblong hole, a crumpled figure nearby.
Everywhere fireflies spark yellow except… our field flashes emergency red. A swarm abandons it, enters the yard, red fireflies arrowing each for yellow. When the sparks meet, the yellow are extinguished until only red remain.
Understanding wells – the invasive red cannot bear the yellow’s existence.
This… other John stops working, he stares up at me, holding the shovel.
His hands grip it, strangle it.
 
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paranoid marvin

Run VT Erroll!
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3,807
The Night Stair


Samuels was most satisfied with his appointment as Canon of the abbey. "Pride is a sin" he had to remind himself; but nevertheless he couldn't resist a smile when regarding the magnificent edifice with it's intricately detailed stained-glass windows and tall Norman arches. What most impressed him was the Night Stair; a flight of forty worn stone steps that rose from the North transept and led to his rooms, formerly the monk's dormitory before the Suppression.

One thing puzzled him. "Why is a lantern left burning every night on the Stair?" he enquired of the churchwarden.

"It's always been the way" replied the warden. "Ever since a young monk late for Matins hurried down the Stair without his candle, tripped and broke his neck. From that day to this, a lantern has been left lit."

"Superstitious nonsense" declared Samuels " And a waste of good oil. If I ever wish to descend those stairs at night, I'll use a torch." And so the light that had burned for centuries was extinguished.

That night Samuels woke from fitful sleep to the sound of loud crashing, accompanied by a blood-curdling scream. Leaping from bed, he ran from his rooms and to the top of the Night Stair.

As his eyes started to become accustomed to the gloom, he sensed the presence before discerning the outline of a cowled figure.

"Who's there?" he demanded.

The figure said nothing.

"Churchwarden, is that you?"

The figure said nothing.

Samuels started to feel a little uneasy. "Look, I'm sorry that I put out the lantern. I'll make sure it stays lit from now on, I swear."

The figure said nothing.

His voice now shaking "What... what can I say, what can I do to make things right between us?"

The figure said "NOTHING."
 

johnnyjet

Western PA High Tech Country Boy
Joined
Nov 11, 2011
Messages
1,624
Location
Pennsylvania
The Bridal Trance

My husband-to-be bid me come.

I drifted down hallways as though in a dream.

Was I dreaming? It felt unreal. He never called me to his private study. That room was off limits. Why call me there now when we were not to have contact before the ceremony?

I had just put on my wedding gown. It was pure white, like driven snow.

I stopped several steps before the great doors which were spread wide open.

"Come, my bride," came his voice from out of the darkness beyond the doors.

"Why bid me come," I said, "when I have so much to do before our nuptials?"

"Come. I wish to show you something of great importance."

"Yet I am forbidden to enter here."

"By my orders which I now rescind."

I took a tentative step, then two, and paused as my heart beat more rapidly with each step and my legs grew rubbery. Then I heard an awful sound, a low growl, as though from a wounded animal.

A voice snarled, "Come, hurry. Why do you hesitate?"

I stepped back. That wasn't my bridegroom's voice.

"Who are you?"

The growls grew fiercer. "I'm your bridegroom. Come now."

Sparks lit the room's interior. In that instant, I saw a towering man-beast hunched over a table filled with strange equipment, wires, and bubbling flasks. For what evil purpose did this mad scientist want with me? This wasn't my future husband. He mimicked his voice in order to entrap me.

I shouted, "You'll have no part of me."

I rushed forward and slammed the great doors shut. A loud explosion resounded within. Smoke trickled from under the doors.

I ran off. I still had much left to do to prepare for my wedding to a most wonderful man.
 

Phyrebrat

www.beanwriting.com
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Feb 13, 2011
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In your bedroom wardrobe...
Third Player

In a Devon chapel, surrounded by trees pressing so close the quality of light inside takes on the aspect of being underwater, we wait. I’ve always waited. She did things in her own time; this moonlight wedding was testimony enough.

Eventually, the organ swells and she appears at the narthex, framed by notes. Even over its blast you can feel the intake of breath, an anticipatory silence.

There she is, walking to her appointment with the man her parents are delighted she’s marrying. I get the idea she’s not human, but a translation of the Gospels in human form; female Messiah.

She ignores me. I squat, malingering with unfinished business, in the backmost pew, hidden from the judgement of the congregation’s earthbound eyes.

As she passes, I recall I always considered her taller than I, even though the reverse is true. But the dress that seems somehow upholstered upon her rather than worn, towers above me, its crepe, grey folds as dramatic as the White Cliffs.

Moving imperceptibly, as if only my expectation divines movement, she proceeds from nave to knave. I tell myself her legato is borne from reluctance. She has no love for him: the safe bet; the accountant.
What does he know of her needs? What does he know of the touch that electrifies her just below her ear, or how she wriggled with delight under my fingertips?

Can he sit with her in silence in the same room without the need for trivial talk, in a love that transcends words?

It takes a woman to know a woman.

I hang on her words, dreading the “I do”.
Hanging on her words
a sick pun.

As the bouquet is thrown, I return to the lament the keening wind blows over my grave.


 

WSDuffy

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Joined
Oct 1, 2021
Messages
70
The Sun Queen

Elaine knew the stories. About Clymene. About Leucothoe. And about thousands of others who didn’t find their way into myths. About passions that burned hot, but also burned out. But how else could it be for women who loved the sun?

The wedding had been magnificent. Helios, or Leo as she knew him, had suppressed his natural brilliance so she could shine at the wedding. Friends, family, and disguised gods mingled together. The food was wonderful, the venue divine. But now the festivities were over, and all that was left was the wedding night.

She walked up to the stairs to Helios’ bedroom, now her bedroom. The light already pouring under the door showed her that her husband was, finally going to reveal himself to her in his full glory. She knew it would be life-altering, transcendent, and temporary.

Helios loved today’s Elaine, and she loved today’s god. But tomorrow, she would be a changed woman, and he would still be “today’s” sun god. And eventually she would change too much, even if she accepted her husband’s offer to be made young forever. Eventually, he would grow confused by her, or she would become bored by him, and she’d leave. After that, well the stories made clear there was a cost to leaving a god’s side and bed. But that would come later, hopefully much later. For now, there was just one flight of stairs, and the door.

The light in Elaine's bedroom grew brighter by the second. She smiled. Yes, someday things may fall apart. But tonight, she was the beloved of Helios himself. In the morning, and all future mornings, he belonged to the world. But tonight, the sun belonged to her. She walked up and opened the bedroom door.
 

farntfar

I didn't so much fly...,as plummet.
Joined
Oct 26, 2013
Messages
2,630
Location
France.
PRAY SILENCE FOR..


Stay quiet in here please. You gotta understand how important silence is in this company. They have very sensitive ears,
or at least the auditory receptors that more or less correspond to their ears.

It’s the only way that they have of recognising the space they’re in. Like bats or whales
or something. Clicking’s also the only way for us to communicate; what with them having no eyes nor anything nor any appendages that can feel.
They basically have no physical form at all, of course. And they have no normal way to communicate back, having no way to make the sounds themselves.

People say I’m mad even trying to talk to them, and certainly for this long.
I moved into this room years ago, and we’ve been talking all that time.

The cleaner says I’m just imagining things. She says,
“How do you know that they understand you, when they don’t click back.
How can you know that when you go “Click, clack, click click, thump” it means “How are you this morning?” And not something about a hovercraft
with eels in it?

And I say, because they do reply. It comes directly into my head,
like the other voices. It’s not rocket science.

Some of the other staff say they don’t even believe they’re there, because they can’t see them
or hear them
or anything else.

Well I’ve got an answer for those nurses too. The air’s there see. And you can’t see that. Nor the phlogiston we breathe out.
But we don’t doubt any of that now, do we??

So have a little respect for them will you Doctor?
I can tap out any questions you got. But otherwise, just stay quiet as a church mouse.
 

Luiglin

by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
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Mar 22, 2012
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2,246
Location
Mercia, UK

...of the same coin​

She remained apart, born to a duty learned at her mother’s, the Queen’s, breast.

Her maids tittered about love when they thought her out of hearing. They swapped bawdy yarns of stable hands and haylofts, kitchen boys and pantries. Flocks of ladies-in-waiting recounted hushed tales whilst seeking the air in the rose gardens. Legends of bold questing knights rescuing trapped maidens from dragons and the passionate payments in return.

Now of age, it had come to this, a marriage of political convenience.

She stood at the beginning of the aisle, resplendent in a gown of ice silk. A gaggle of maids busied around her train, smoothing out imperceptible creases as if their lives depended on it, which, they did. The gaze of the Queen from the side aisle bore down on them like the sun upon the desert.

As one, the heralds lining the walls of the cavernous cathedral raised their horns and blew. An ocean of heads turned into an ocean of faces. She took her first step upon the red carpet and then another, her mother matching the same stately pace to her left.

Reaching the alter, she drew level with her prince, who turned to greet her, both seeing each other for the first time.

Quite handsome she thought, at least she’d been spared the ignominy of someone repulsive. He gave a nervous smile, his eyes showing only the warmth of a virtuous heart. She offered her finest smile in reply and curtsied low. Startled, he followed with a wooden bow that he’d been obviously practising.

Good, he seemed one that she could work and live with until the appropriate time. And when he became king and she queen? Well, she’d arrange the necessary accident in order for her to rule.

I mean, who needs love.
 

BT Jones

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Messages
571
Location
Australia
The Gossamer Veil

Cursed be time.

Such a treacherous companion it is, to have walked with us all, hand in hand throughout this vacuous expanse, silent and staid, gleefully indifferent to our hopes and fears, steadfast in its pacifism.

Such a deceptive embrace, warming us against the cold truth of mortality, but not the frigid fingers within, clutching our hearts, squeezing ever harder with each passing season.

Such passive malice time harbours, to warn us not which moments to cherish, nor permit us the purging of painful memories.
Such hypocrisy. To erode reminiscences of joy, wonder, and desire, yet embalm the shards of traumas that pierced our hearts – loss, deceit, betrayal.
A fickle friend, no more ably encapsulated than by its adamant advocacy of love’s young dream.
Oh, the lull of the alluring lie.
Love… so lustrous… left lingering… only to languish… then be lost altogether.

That time serenades us incessantly, not with the humble, heartfelt melodies of corporeal love, sung by those we built our lives with, but the intangible, absinthian lament of unliberated lust, of heartfelt confessions never ventured, of roads not taken – regardless of the potholes hidden beyond our wisdom's purview.

Thus, to the woman with the gossamer veil, whose perfect face eluded electronic ensnarement.
Forever teasing – that she could have been mine, and I hers.
Forever deceiving, wearing daily a fresh visage doubtless stolen from the countless spectres that soullessly drift the vast, grey void of static and contradiction that my memory has become – the one thing the aproned angels attending me cannot recondition.

Thus, she shall remain ageless, a study in watercolour, an orchestra of sweet sound, a paragon of purity, gloriously ephemeral – the one I would have gladly lain in earth beside.

She shall forever embody the truth and humanity that time has corroded.

Cursed be time.
 
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Dan Jones

Der Vater absurder Geschichten
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I am here to do the thing!
Sir Reginald Rigmarole stars in…
“A TRIP TO THE SEASIDE”

So! After beating Elephantitis O’Connor, New Zealand’s swollen-headed teenage Prime Minister, at baccarat, the Civil Service awarded me some well-earned downtime.

I convalesced at the Best Ghanaian Eiderdown Cleethorpes Beach Hut, when who should accost me but Hildebrand Von Jubblies, the most buxom animal rights activist west of the Urals!

“Hilfe, Sir Reginald!” she jiggled, dischest distressed. “Franklin Assfeeder baggert den Meeresboden der Spurn Bight Nacktschnecken für seinen üblen neuen Chipsladen aus!

My eyebrows raised six inches. What was Franklin Assfeeder, South Africa’s most unscrupulous fisherman, doing in Lincolnshire? “Have no fear, Hildebrand!” I ogled. “No nudibranchs will die on my watch!” I downed my Brown Russian (vodka and Bovril), and vicariously boarded her vegan-powered frigate.

I sailed incompetently into Spurn Bight’s tumescent crests (phwoar!), following the filthy fumes farting from Assfeeder’s steampunk junk. Spying me, he cast into the sea his net, manufactured from the discarded Covid facemasks of forty-seven fallen Zulu warriors, and laughed, “A hahaha! Jy is te laat om die heerlike warm nudibranchs te red!”

“We’ll see about that!” I whaled, elegantly bellyflopping into the sea. Using my colostomy bag as a makeshift snorkel, I dove until I spied Assfeeder’s net descending upon a colony of voluptuous, innocent nudibranchs. I grabbed the net and attached it to a huge, phallic rock. Thinking he’d bagged the motherlode, Assfeeder started winching, but succeeded only in dragging his foul trawler into the depths!

I pushed my fizzog above the waterline just in time to hear Assfeeder cry in sulubrious defeat, “Geen! Ek wens ek het nie met die Britse staatsdiens gemors nie!”

I returned to shore covered in grateful nudibranchs, whereupon Hildebrand violently embraced me, cracking twenty-four ribs with her magnificent bosoms. “Danke! Danke!” she slobbered with default erogenous precision. “Oh, heirate mich, Reggie!”

And I did!
 

Stuart Suffel

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Angles.




The goblin licked his lips. “And the dress?”

“Yours for the keeping, Gorak.”

Gorak looked down at his knife. “Too big. Ruin it, it will. Worthless then.”

Lady Sordra produced a long thin blade. “Use this.”

The goblin’s eyes widened. He sheathed his own knife, clutched the blade’s Dragonbone handle tightly, and moved forward. He stopped abruptly. “Praying she is.”

“What of it?”

“Unlucky, ‘tis.”

Lady Sondra took out a small purse, and let it fall open. Even in the half-light, the six gold pieces shone brightly. Gorak’s eyes glistened in response. He reached for the purse.

“Afterwards,” Lady Sordra snapped.

Gorak grimaced, then nodded. “Aft’ward.” He crept towards the young bride-to-be. Despite his bulk, he didn’t make a sound.

He reached striking distance, raised the blade and plunged down hard.

Into nothing.

The girl was gone, only the darkened altar remained. But the goblin’s body kept its forward lunge. A giant mouth appeared from beneath the darkness, and Gorak was gone, the long steel blade clanging onto the tiled floor.

Lady Sordra called to her daughter. “Mellera! The witch’s assassin is no more,” she cried. “Your groom and his riches are ours!”

Mellera emerged from the room of tilted mirrors. In her hand she held a crossbow. “You thought of every possible angle, mother, congratulations. Forgive me, but you are far too devious to let live.” She loosed the arrow, and Lady Sondra was dead before she could muster a response.

Mellera picked up the exquisite Dragonbone blade off the floor, admiring its shine. It was only then she saw the telltale cloth clasped in her mother’s lifeless hand. She instinctively dropped the blade, but its poison already coursed through her veins.

Lady Sordra had indeed thought of every angle.
 
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