300 Word Writing Challenge #47 -- VICTORY TO VICTORIA SILVERWOLF!

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Ursa major

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The inspiration image for Challenge #47 is:


1664572580781.png



Image credit: ChrisG


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 2022 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 2022
As soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story



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



Voting will close November 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



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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



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Christine Wheelwright

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Jan 3, 2022
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549
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Oh Canada!
The Lady of the Light

I had asked my host many times about the rocky island and its ancient ruined lighthouse, only to be greeted with shrugs and evasion. But one night, when wine and good cheer had relaxed his tongue, he told me the following story.

There was once a beautiful witch whose wickedness and depravity so shocked the people of the town that they exiled her to the island, forbidding her to return upon pain of burning. There she tended the light, her only company a ferryman; her lover, slave and jailor all at once.

On some dark nights, while crossing the bay with only a sole male passenger in his boat, the ferryman would visit the island, clubbing the poor man for his silver. The insensible victim he would give to his mistress, for what evil purpose he knew not.

“Why do you bring me such men?” she once asked him. “Never young, strong or handsome.”

“Old men have more coin!” he laughed, blind to her fury.

It is said the Lady of the Light turned the ferryman to stone that night - you see that odd rock by the water? - and then she starved, as no other townsman would venture to her for fear of bewitchment or worse.

The next morning I rowed my host’s boat to the island but found only stones and grass at the ruin of the lighthouse. Nevertheless, a whisper in the breeze discomforted me and I left quickly, pulling the oars hard against the current.

In later life I travelled the world, from desert to jungle to frozen wasteland. But wherever I ventured I could never escape her voice. On stormy nights when the wind whistled through the trees she would call to me; “Are you my boatman? I am hungry, my love!”
 

Rafellin

Independent Author & Publisher
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Oct 29, 2013
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563
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West Sussex, UK
The Witness

The Colestan Dark consumes ships, uncaring of their origin, destination, or the desires of those on board.

After enough ships failed to escape, merchant federations got together to put warning satellites about the periphery of the dangerous expanse. When losses continued, they proposed adding a crewed control post.

The costs involved quickly switched the project from building a new space station to towing a decommissioned warship into place. A small AI was added to manage the thrusters that kept it there.

After the AI came Emeritus Torlan, the first station keeper. A former starship navigator - and a venerable philosopher seeking solitude - he seemed ideal for the role.

Five months later, he stripped naked and shot himself out of a hotwired airlock.

That precedent lasted for three years, and a further five keepers. Their deaths were deemed an acceptable cost as ship losses were much reduced. That was when I arrived. Seven years later, ship losses remain acceptably low, and this station has slipped from the newsfeeds. The monitoring has dropped to nothing bar routine messaging.

Between warning most ships off I exercise regularly, play violin, paint the corridors and rooms of this echoing hulk, and read treatises transmitted from libraries across the multiverse. The insanity that took my predecessors doesn’t trouble me, because I know the name of the one whose dreams echo through my sleeping hours.

There’s a deranged sentience at the heart of the Colestan Dark. It’s been here longer than man has existed, and it’s waiting for something.

Thunderous dreams hint that the stars may soon be right.

My family has waited for centuries: from the waterways and reefs of Massachusetts to this place, we’ve kept the faith. I hope I’m the one who gets to be the Witness.
 

Guttersnipe

mortal ally
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Dec 28, 2019
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Cocagne
The Woman Who Looked Death in the Eye

Shine had only known smoke. Fifty generations hadn't existed when the Earth was whole. Due to her
mutant ability to see better than most in the haze, she was selected by her tribe to discover the
Obelisk of Clarity. It was a structure capable of drowning out the gases with guiding rays of light. With
it, a kingdom was said to be established. Shine set out to find it or die trying.

Far beyond what anyone had traveled in many years, she came upon a bridge. It was old and flawed,
but Shine was light as a feather. However, halfway over the bridge, Death appeared.

"Your death for all the riches in the world," he hissed through his clacking teeth. His bony hands held
beauty, gold enough to tempt an emperor.

"No," said Shine, and walked ahead.

Shine continued through the fields of ashes before coming upon a wood. For a while, she walked in
peace, until luminous red eyes appeared through the smoke. The monster approached, as did Death.
Between whacks of her sword, he tempted her again.

"Your death for the most beautiful lover in all the worlds."

"No," she said, finishing off the monster.

Finally, she saw the light that was undoubtedly the Obelisk of Clarity. She climbed the rocky shores,
the tainted ocean burning her legs as it washed over them again and again. She climbed the winding
stairs to the top chamber.

Death was there.

"Your death for your legend," he offered.

"Yes," said Shine.

She looked Death in the eye, not for the first time.
 

paranoid marvin

Run VT Erroll!
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A Wrecker's Lament


"Wrecking's a profitable business," I assured my younger brother Jack, "if you've the stomach for it."

"Tell me more about it!" he begged.

"First we wait for a dark, stormy night and a merchantman close to shore. Dousing the flame in the lighthouse, we light a beacon further along the coast, where there's shallow water and treacherous reefs. If the ship runs aground, we sally down to the beach for rich pickings."

"And if any of her crew's still alive?"

"Like I said, you've got to have the stomach for wrecking."

One particularly tempestuous night, Jack asked to go in my stead; foolishly I agreed. "Cousin Jed will be along shortly; look for the signal from his lantern at the top of the lane, follow it and he'll guide you to the beach."

Soon enough the lantern was spotted and off went Jack, leaving our cottage and up the lane after it. Shortly afterwards there was a hammering on the cottage door; it was Jed. "Had to come 'round," he explained, "wind's too strong to keep my lamp lit."

So whose light was Jack following? Swiftly donning my oilskins I headed out into the storm, hollering his name.

Far ahead I spied the lantern's glow, and the silhouette of a figure following; not down to the beach, but up to the clifftop. Despairingly I watched as the light proceeded over the cliff edge; then heard a blood-curdling scream that pierced the tempest as my brother followed, plummeting to his death.

Many's the time I've seen that lantern beckoning me, when the night is darkest and storm at its height. And when I can bear the guilt and pain no longer, I too will follow that light, and me and Jack will be together once more.
 

THX1138

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Mar 11, 2022
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578
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Land Locked Ocean Dream
Stay the Course

“Why was I always yelled at?” I questioned the old man seated across the table, but guilt griped his voice.

The small sailboat fought the storm but was pushed towards the rocky cliffs.


My face tightened as I slammed the table. “You knew what they were doing was wrong, yet you did nothing! You went along with it and afterwards, pretended like it never happened!?”

“I’m sorry.”

“I trusted you! But it continued repeatedly, harassed for no reason!” I struggled to hold back my fury.

“I’m so sorry.” He teared up and I saw the life begin to leave his eyes, like it did that day.

A wave slammed the boat into the rocks hidden within the breakers, its mast straining against the gale winds just to the breaking point.


“I’m so sorry. I was afraid of them. I didn’t understand.” His apology was sincere, he even began to cry. “Please forgive me, son?”

My body weakened as my heart sank; I wiped the tears from my own eyes. “Of course, I forgive you. I’ve always forgiven you, old man.” I whispered to the empty chair across form me.

As the storm broke a surge lifted the small boat up and back from the hidden rocks. A seagull flew just ahead of the sailboat on a steady breeze, leading it away from the danger and further down the coast to safety.



I let out a deep sigh as I wiped away the last of the tears, then drew my hands in close.

The captain steered his small craft to follow the gull as it weaved in and out of view ahead of the sails. Looking around, he reflected on his surroundings, and embraced the peace.

“Pray for me old man, that I hold fast and stay the course.”
 

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
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Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
Malador's Tower

In the ancient port city of Lyaniss stands a tower, taller than the snowcapped mountains that guard the inhabitants from their landward enemies, carved from the spine of a dragonfish. The thaumaturge Malador, with the aid of invisible spirits as swift as thought, raised the structure in a single night. Shining like polished silver, it serves as a landmark for vessels many leagues from shore, whether they be humble fishing boats or the Emperor's mighty grain ships.

The tower has no doors or windows, save for a single aperture at its peak. It is here that Malador receives the rainwater that slakes his thirst, and where enslaved seagulls, once sorcerers who dared to oppose his will, bring him stolen bits of food. It is said that he discharges his wastes upon the city through this aperture as a sign of contempt, but the tower's immense height, combined with the chill winds that shriek endlessly about it, scatter this offal so widely that no trace of it has ever been found.

Some have attempted to scale the tower, in search of Malador's counsel. Dragonfish bone being as slick as ice and as hard as diamond, none have been successful. A certain geomancer and his bodyguard made such an effort, using an ingenious device consisting of silk cloaks filled with hot air provided by torches, but managed only to reach a height that rendered their descent a painful reminder of the futility of their ambition.

What is not known to the populace of Lyaniss is that Malador, now more skeleton than man, grows weary of his unnaturally extended lifespan. Wise in the ways of necromancy, able to revive any dead creature from a single piece of its corpse, he prepares his final spell. The city awaits its doom. The dragonfish will rise.
 

Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
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Aphids

She rested on four knees observing the interplay of nature on the leaves of the thorned, native plant. Hordes of small, bright-green creatures were secured to the leaves' undersides, feeding from their essence. A group of larger life forms with gnashing mandibles approached on various stems, and rushed the tiny things – some of these were devoured, some driven down the stalks, some milked for fluid the predators consumed.

Overhead she heard the roar of the descending starship. The Masters were returning, answering the call she'd broadcast weeks before. They'd land on cleared ground near the sea, near the broken, conical tower that evidenced an ancient, ruined civilization; they'd land near the new city her people had built them, with its thousand homes, its infrastructure, its growing-fields dense with fruit trees introduced from the Masters' homeworld.
She'd greet them, then lead them to the myriad of towering preservation tanks, where they'd verify the quality of the sweet syrup distilled from this invasive fruit. The syrup had been her people's vital work, created from unrelenting labor the nearly hundred solar years they'd been abandoned here; the huge, chitinous Masters would feed on it another hundred years, or till their wanderlust overwhelmed them.
She and her kind would today be herded onto the starship and taken to the next solar system, the next raw world to be colonized. They'd be left with the machines and materials needed to create a transitory paradise for their long-lived masters.

She took a last look at the enslavement ongoing beneath the leaves. She acknowledged no sympathy for the smaller, terrorized creatures; every being in the universe had its place and purpose.
Before rising to go meet the starship, and without forethought, she flicked an appendage across one leaf, knocking the predators away from their prey.
 

Perky

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Dec 28, 2021
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9
Odin's Chaos

Ragnar, coming from fire and ice, fought the sea in search of land. Into his bitter mouth he spat his gospel: We are thieves now, Odin doesn't want us, the tales speak the truth!
The longship sailed on the raging tides that were consumed by the storm born by the children of Order and Chaos. From the thunderous skies there was a glamorous screeching, coming from a big coal-black raven, hairy as a bear, feathers like Castamere knives, old Odin's eyes, silver-gold beak.
“Sails to the East”, Ragnar ordered furiously, raising his sword over his northmans.
“Oh Ran, help us”, one whispered as a chronicler.
When they turned east, during the flight, the crow crossed its wings and pirouetted downwards, which soon disoriented the longship. However, the valkyries prepared their enchanted spears, then hurled them accurately, but the cunning crow swept them away as if they were dust. Until one injured and poisoned the right wing, but not too good to destroy the whole mount. With heaven's blessing, the crow was still soaring.
The twilight deepened, a light appeared ahead where there was a land, a lighthouse that dissolved in the dark.
“A tower, is it the gods' help?” asks a young northman.
“I hope so”.
“Ragnar!” shouted a valkyrie.
He looked back. Thunder lurks in dark-spotted clouds. Northmans feel fear. The moon rose. Lightning destroyed the entire sail. The longship is about to go out to the mermaid caves.
The light from the lighthouse slightly covers the whole sea and blinds the crow's eyes. And everything was blank.
On the beach at the lighthouse, Ragnar drank his vodka like a servant, sitting on the porch, watching the sea that had plotted him. He opened his cell phone, but there was no message. Ragnar takes his last sip.
 

Bren G

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Staring into the Abyss

Steady upon the rock, the beacon stared into a bleak night. The dark void stared back, cold and lifeless.

Only recently did she notice it. Long since the last man had imbued her with new perspective. Simpler times before then. Glow at night. Warn with the fog. She still glowed - yes, but no longer did she warn. The last man had asked her to beckon instead. So, she did. He also asked her to watch and listen. She did this too. But in all that time, she had heard and saw no one.

Time had widened the cracks in her resolve now too. So many nights. Alone. Without cheer. Without the warmth of reunion. Just four beeps. Two long. Two short. Yes! That would be enough to rekindle her spirit.

Time had other plans indeed. Her battery waned now since her solar panels failed from decades of punishing rain. And so, she came to ponder, upon the cold, wet rock - why bother? An existence wasn’t really an existence without the other. Am I not simply a reflection of their eyes?

She looked up again into the vastness of space. She was so small. The universe so large. How could she, this, anything matter amidst this austere backdrop? But purpose – yes – purpose was the thing. The last man had given her purpose. And it had been enough - until now.

She could draw this out, power down to subsistence levels only. But no. It was time. And so, in a final act, she summoned what was left of her power and called out through the mist again.

And listened.

When after a time, a sound pierced through the fog.

Beep… beep. Beep-Beep.

From death’s door, the beacon lit up, called out again and stared into a blissful night.
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
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blah - flags. So many flags.
The Sentinel

What use was a lighthouse? Weren’t all the aids to navigation available for implant? But the lighthouse remained, sentinel of a dying age, protected by an exclusion zone. Even Caleb, hired to patrol the perimeter, didn’t know why.

He frowned, hating that it had a secret and he did not.

***

“Think he’s a problem?” Ned asked.

Ted picked his nose and examined a particularly meaty extraction. “Naw. Addicted he is.”

They watched Caleb until he drew down his visor. Discreetly, they upped his virtual-world time-allowance. Ned drew the poker pot, and Ted met his stake.
***
The secret had to be big. No one ever dared to cross the sea. Not the thrill-seekers, nor the government ministers, lording their knowledge over all others.
Caleb removed his headset, his visor, his earpieces. Silently, he crept to the bottom of the stairs while Ned took his winnings and Ted turned down the console sound to concentrate on the game.
Caleb climbed to the third floor. Warning lights flashed. In the opposite wall a a door waited. He frowned. There was no door on the outside at this level. He’d paced the rock too many times, staring up at his tower prison, to have missed it.
He crossed the floor as a red light flashed in a room far away, ignored as the poker game became more focused.
Caleb flung the door open, revealing stars and an all too familiar blue planet, the sweep of a warning light and a voice stating that quarantine had been broken.
“Ah, crap!” Ted jumped up, knowing it was too late. The sentinel in space had been alerted. Earth had broken its promise to remain in its boundaries.
Ned joined him as the sky filled with fire, and then the end came.
 

BT Jones

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Australia

The First Lighthouse of Lost Earth​


Cape Spear lighthouse in the new-found lands of Lost Earth. Whether it was the last working lighthouse of the old world, or the first of the new, no one could decide.

In practical terms, the weather-beaten tower was a beacon – one a fourth rescue party had just overshot on their way to an abrupt, watery grave.

Well, ‘their’ wasn’t strictly true. Unisurve was too scrupulous to send anything other than automated expeditions after failed attempt #1 – much to the chagrin of the planetary surveyor trio that needed saving, who promptly remarked on the latest set-back.

“I don’t get it,” said Syphan, thinker, blinker, calculator. “There’s nothing actually in the atmosphere to cause these malfunctions. They shouldn’t be crashing!”

“You’re wasting your time.” Cassiopeia was the realist, the cynic, the senior surveyor that had witnessed far too much misfortune befall others to know she wasn’t due some herself. “We’re stuck here.”

“And the sooner we except that, the better,” Jex said, the optimist – a strange man of indeterminate years. “Secretly, this was all a ploy to-“

“Do not say ‘repopulate the planet’,” Cassie said. So Jex didn’t. He just grinned. Cassie shook her head. “You couldn’t do it anyway.”

Syphan turned away from the lighthouse, the stunning fire trail having dissipated. “Actually, the radiation would only be fatal to us, not our children.”

Cassie eyeballed her Chief Tech chidingly. “I meant there’s no way I’m procreating. At least not with either of you.”

“There’s a syringe in the stores,” said Jex. “You could-“

“No!” Cassie spun about in mock outrage.

Jex shrugged before returning to his fish-snaring rig. “Well, at least we’re exercising that long-forgotten human instinct to adapt and survive. At least we’re eating real food.”

A luminous fish promptly appeared on the line.
Jex grimaced. “Still better than Synthmeat.”
 

Daysman

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Oct 14, 2018
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east of the crooked house, south of weddell wynd
The Fitzgerald Contract

The maximum payload of a weather balloon is twelve pounds. The weight of ash from a cremated body is less than ten. It was all the math I needed…

I hired Salma to design the lightweight scattering mechanism, manage video streaming, and after several mishaps, our launches too. Harry came aboard to deal with balloon recovery, and I did everything else: advertising our services, handling clients… we'd been in business maybe a year when I met Mrs F.

By then we'd launched from stadiums, bridges, skyscrapers and numerous clifftops, but never from a lighthouse. It wouldn't be difficult, we decided, given good weather, but pulling a balloon from the ocean would be a chore, so Harry said.

That morning the wind was onshore, and slight, so Harry was happy.

Mrs F cried, naturally. Spouses do when they sever the ground line.

The balloon hovered for a moment, out of reach of the circular walkway, before leaping into the predawn sky — a little theatre arranged by Salma.

A thousand feet up it escaped Earth's shadow. It shimmered in the sun, the new day's brightest star, and continued on.

As we turned to the camera feed for the release, Mrs F asked, "How far will his ashes scatter?"

Uncertain, Salma glanced my way. I shrugged.

"Heavier grains will land miles apart," Salma said, "but the fine dust will circulate at altitude for years. Some particles may never land."

"I burned him once but I need to be sure," Mrs F called out, descending the spiral stairs. Her voice echoed back. "Just bill me when it's done."

Given Mrs F had departed, I triggered the mechanism myself.

Our screens filled with flames.

Salma whispered: "She insisted she load the dispensers herself."

Above us, the dust plume etched a shining scar in the blue.
 
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AnRoinnUltra

Go on the humans!
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The blather of Ailnasearcagh


‘We gave beetroot to them.’

‘Is that a fact.’

‘Yes, they love beetroot.’

‘Well, there ya go.’

‘I never thought I’d meet aliens.’

‘Uh, huh.’

‘You’re not listening, are you?’

‘I’m gonna hang up. Get some sleep, you’ve been on that rock for too long. You’re starting to sound like Terry.’

I don’t blame my wife for not listening. If somebody had told me that story three hours ago I’d have thought it nonsense. But that was before I knew it was true.



My heart sank when I was posted to Ailnasearcagh lighthouse with Terry ‘tall tales’ Doherty.

After two months I developed a knack of ignoring his wittering, and giving three stock responses:

‘God when I think of it myself and the rat used to have great craic. We’d go wild on shore leave. I could drink thirty pints and fight any man back then.’

‘Is that a fact.’ (response one)

‘D’ya know why they called him the rat? Because he ate anything. He once ate a box of fishing bait.’

‘Well, there ya go.’ (response two)

‘He was there the first time I spoke to Zomboonians. It was a night like this. I think the fog signal attracts them, the vibrating column of air from the diaphone probably resonates with something in their dimension.’

‘Uh, huh.’ (response three)

If I had been listening properly then I would’ve been less surprised answering the door to nine blue humanoid lizards. Who asked if Terry was about, and if I had any beetroot. Terry must’ve been listening because he arrived out with a bag of roots, much to the gratitude of our visitors.

‘We need to report this.’ I said.

‘I wouldn’t bother -trust me, nobody's gonna pay any heed to ya.’

Terry was right. But. A story’s a story.
 

chrispenycate

resident pedantissimo
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West Sussex
Horn

The foghorn blasts another mournful slice of time, and the gulls hardly twice as the rock vibrates under them. This is no sign of riches, as the siren of one of the great liners might be, signalling the emptying of vaguely edible rubbish into the murky sea.

Again, and teacups rattle on their hooks in the bleached-stone fishing cottages, knowing visibility is perfect, that everyone can sea the rocks by now. Old gulls snug up - the season where no chicks steam starvation, but no tourist with chip bags or ice cream cornets, either. New-plumed youngsters haven't yet learnt a gale means search and squabble, that a wreck is always good news, but bright sun no longer calls picnics. Older, wiser wings know the boats will be in, with scraps, heads and offal, in their own time, and then was for swooping and screaming. For now, economise the effort; there is never enough winter food.

The keeper appears in his crystal globe, cleaning, polishing light and reflector, desooting everywhere, preparing for the night.

Not that many ships would be risking those rocks (or the gulls) these days, and the winds aren't going the drag any in. But keeping them informed isn't a job, but a calling. And not a casual one - lives may depend on him. Cargoes for sure.
Now, night fishers arrive, nets and lines drip dawn. They know the rocks individually by name, but had there been fog…

He'd have been ready. No children orphaned this (or any) night.

Disappointed the gulls shuffle and murmur.
 

johnnyjet

Western PA High Tech Country Boy
Joined
Nov 11, 2011
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1,642
Location
Pennsylvania
There Will Come Hard Waves

The display on the damaged console flashed over and over, "READY! READY!"

A bottlenose dolphin nudged the corner of the console panel. It shifted against the rocky outcrop where it was lodged; a wave washed over it, slipping it further underwater. The curious dolphin circled a couple times, then returned to his traveling companions. The waves continued to slam the rocky shoreline.

In the distance, waves also battered a tall, narrow, conical structure which stood alone at the end of a rocky isthmus. Unlike the metal panel, which was rusty, twisted, and partially submerged like a sinking ship, the structure stood unchanged and unmoved by the relentless waves.

Angry dark clouds rapidly filled the sky from the West, anticipating a powerful storm. The winds grew stronger in ever increasing gusts; the waves climbed higher, reaching with scrambling fingers.

Thunder rumbled, then roared. Lightning flashed from all directions, dancing over the purple horizon like frantic ballerinas. Soon heavy rain poured down in torrents, drenching the lone structure. Waves surged high and fierce, licking its very pinnacle.

Darkness consumed everything, except for a faint silhouette of the tower. Soon, however, no living creature could see anything.

When the storm finally subsided (time stood still throughout the tempest; how long did it truly last?), the sky gradually cleared. The sun made a sudden surprising appearance dropping toward the West.

The structure remained standing, though it leaned a little.

Bright sunlight cast a long shadow from the structure toward the half-sunken panel. A metal sign washed toward the rocky coast following the elongated shadow. Presently it rammed into the panel whose dull display no longer flashed.

The bold words on the sign had faded: "ESCAPE VESSEL #325."

The next hard wave sent it under.
 

Phyrebrat

www.beanwriting.com
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In your bedroom wardrobe...
Beach Music

Love, when blended with a languor of life, conjures a brew so potent, anything might manifest…

Kerr’s Lighthouse is the perfect place for a reclusive composer; the only company on our twilit beach walks are the distant trawlers late home to their sweethearts casting “just one more” onto the loom of the sea.

Even planes don’t fly overhead.

And you, catching your own haul of fancy shells, painted in Nature’s pointillism…The magic you summon with them inspires my music, eludes my grasp — but I can play their allusive motifs.

Whistling arpeggios fill the opened windows, to dance out like gulls holding up the skies. Who can’t be inspired to love and music where magic abounds? From alchemist bees’ transactions, spinning sea thrift to gold, to the codas trumpeting from the shells you line our garden with.

Rapturously, we spoil the perfect sand of the bay; a canvas cleaned smooth under the plasterer’s float of every day’s high tide. We become panoramic; our footprints leading to a crashing surf that embraces us as we embrace each other; clothes scattered on the littoral like beached flotsam.

Is this paradise real? After our whirlwind romance, I keep anticipating some Manderley unhappy-ever-after; lost in you just as Merano sunsets lose their way across the Dolomites.

And somewhere between breathing in and breathing out: the eyes.

Slashes in mid air, reality’s fabric torn. Unlike the rocky coast (which appears as if land mass has been simply broken off), but clean, elliptical, open seams.

And behind them, scores of black, lashless eyes regard us.

What do they perceive? The hush of your shells? The songs from my flute?

Or my mind’s denial?

Do they only see a single line of footprints in our sand, from here to eternity, where I see two?
 

BigJ

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Oct 2, 2012
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186
Morning Star

You’ve seen the ads? “A new world, a new life, a new you!” Wonder what intern at Interstellar Colonialism dreamed that up. Always seemed a fat shtick to me. But things change, I guess.

You remember what it was like? Being young? Did you have everything you wanted? I didn’t. The “death of scarcity” didn’t trickle down to the orphanages. My life was full of enemies and I had to fight for everything. No friends, no family, no love.

You know that feeling? Love? Love was just a word to me. I didn’t know what it really meant, just that people used it to manipulate others, you know? It was like that until I grew up, until I got out. Until I met her.

You ever find your person? I hope you have, because man, there is nothing like that. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s slow, but when you fall for someone as they fall for you, well; I never believed in anything, but if there’s any magic in this universe, it’s between two people in love. I found my person, and she pulled me out of the darkness, showed me what it was to love, to be loved.

You ever lose someone? Nothing will ever leave you so empty, so angry, so lost. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s slow, but they’re gone all the same.

I scattered her ashes in the park where we met.

Funny thing, though. When she left she took a piece of me with her, and that pain’s still there. But she left a piece of herself too, and that love’s still there, beating along with my heart. My guiding light, my morning star, showing me the way forward through the darkness.

My ship leaves tomorrow.

A new world.

A new life.

A new me.
 

Parson

This world is not my home
Supporter
Joined
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Messages
11,250
Location
Iowa
Sugar-Sugar’s Needle Enigma

Central’s voice in his earbud kept yammering that he should hurry as Chris clamored over the slippery rocks of Sugar-Sugar and waded through icy water to the “Needle Enigma.”

“Central, please stop complaining. You should try walking on these slippery rocks and through this icy water. I’d have been there already if I could have taken a hover board”

“Tech One, you know you can’t fly in. This backwards world might think you’re a god or something. We can’t have that.”

“Right, right; but you’re not freezing to death. Tell me what I’m looking for when I eventually haul my frozen rear end up to that “Needle Enigma.”

“Tech One, be advised that that the power readings are consistent with a zero-point energy source powering whatever it is.”

“Central, zero-point energy is a mathematical construct with no real-world examples.”

“Which is why you’re hauling your cold wet back side over there as quickly as possible.”

“Roger, that Central.”

(30 minutes later)

“Central, I’m outside this weird-ball enigma. Should I take a deep scan?”

“Tech One, you are authorized for a deep scan.”

“Readings are weird Central. I’m not sure this thing is working.”

“Tech One, read them out please.”

“Youch! Central, I just tossed the scanner. It’s turned burning hot!”

“Please go and …

“Central, a door just opened; should I go inside?”

“Tech One, it’s dangerous. Keep this channel open and go inside. We can’t ignore this opportunity.”

“Central, the door just shut behind me… Central? … Central! … Central!! … Are you still there?”

Chris looks around frantically. Suddenly, he finds himself in what he can only call a gummy forcefield bubble with pulsing lights. Needle Enigma sheds its rock; revealing a gleaming alien spaceship. Immediately the ship rolls into hyperspace.

And that’s how bubblegum rock and roll became cosmic.
 

VRlass

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2022
Messages
126
Location
Bardo (srsly, that’s the name)
The night of harrowing

We call it the night of harrowing.

It is is one night in the year, when flood of the dead comes from the sea. When we block doors, and cluster with families just praying to survive. No one remind’s you, no one help’s. Everyone hopes tragedy touches another house. Another family.

When I saw the glowing green mist i barely managed to draw the curtains, and among all the sudden roaring and wailing I heard… knocking at my door.

I rushed towards it, to save whoever is outside, but as my hand touched the cold iron knob, I stopped.

It was the night of the harrowing, after all.

“Who is it?” I shouted.

“It’s me…” said most familiar of voices.

“Sylvia…?” I whispered, more to myself than to door but in reply I heard a quiet:

“Yes.”

A million thoughts crossed my mind, million words, yet only few quiet, broken ones left my mouth. “When storm took you… I was looking for your body for weeks without rest…” other words died in my throat, as my eyes went wet.

“I know Johny…“ She said, ”I was by your side all along… you just couldn’t see me…” She sounded tired, as if she barely fended off the sleep.

For a while I heard only the wild roars of the harrowing. My heart wanted to blast off the door, not only my chest but my mind was full of fear.

“Have you come to take me?” I asked.

A glowing green hand pierced my door reaching for my head… but froze just before my face.

“No, my love.” she giggled slightly. “None shall take your kind soul… I come to release you… You were mine for too long…”

She touched my chin in gentlest of ways and left.
 
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