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Contest l Fiction l Adventure (July 2007)

 
 
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  #1  
Old 07-01-2007, 07:35 PM
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Default Contest l Fiction l Adventure (July 2007)


Summer is a time for freedom, fun, and adventure. This month, captivate us with a story of an adventurous tale--be it a search for treasure, surviving a chase through the jungle, rescuing a lost hiker in the mountains, or anything else that keeps the reader hanging on every word. Please limit it to 1500 words, and only one entry per person, posted no later than 11:59 p.m. on July 26th.

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Last edited by aprilrain; 07-02-2007 at 03:54 PM.. Reason: deadline date
  #2  
Old 07-02-2007, 05:52 AM
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Default First Dive

The year was 1960. The ocean held adventure for a twelve year old boy living by the beach in South Florida. I followed my older brother out to the end of the south jetty at Palm Beach Inlet. He bought an aqualung and regulator for ten dollars. He strapped the tank to my back and placed a five pound weight in each back pocket of my cut-offs and told me to jump.

Well you know the saying about the young and foolish, so jump I did. Now you have to remember this was 1960, way before certification, the BCs, depth gages, air gages or any kind of information about the bad things that can happen. Weighing only ninety pounds soaking wet and with the ten pounds of weight in my back pockets I descended like a stone. I managed to clear my ears before my head exploded as I landed on the bottom with a thud, about twenty-five feet down.

I realized I was holding my breath when a huge school of Pompano as big as pie plates swarmed passed on their way to the open sea. I still remember how it felt taking that first breath. It was like something magic had bridged the gap between land and water. No longer an interloper allowed only a thirty second glimpses restricted to the shallows. Now I was a sea creature interacting among his peers.

A Moray Eel as thick as my leg pokes its head out of the rocks and seemed to be yelling a silent warning.Large shadows slowly moved in the dingy green just beyond my visibility, nevertheless any fear was completely overwhelmed by wonder. Looking up I could see the sunlight dancing on the surface before it penetrates the shifting currents. Watching from below the schools of fish heading out of the inlet with the tide, making me wish I could join them.

Something to my right caught my eye, lobster. Back in those days lobsters were abundant. You could swim a couple hundred yards out to the first reef on most days and catch all you can eat. Nevertheless it was against family policy to pass up opportunity. Florida lobster have no claws, the tail is delicious, a little chewier than its northern cousin. They huddle together under ledges during the day for protection, for everything loves the taste of lobster. I used to feel sorry for them because they thought they were hidden; yet their feelers stuck out waving to opportunistic eyes.

I put on my glove and pulled one from under the ledge. I didn't have a bag so I twisted off the tail; you have to be careful it's powerful enough to break fingers. As the head drift slowly away things quickly changed. Small fish from every nook and cranny of the rocks encircled the head tearing away bits of food. Some even brazenly nibble from the tail I held in my hand.

All the occupants of the rocks were keyed into the fresh kill. Even the Moray seemed to contemplate leaving the safety of its hole to participate in the free feast. I saw the silver flash of light, as all the fish seemed to disappear. It was a large Barracuda, the lobster head exploded as it was hit. I was startled by the swiftness of the attack and dropped my lobster tail. Another silver flash as the Barracuda hit it again. It swam about two or three yards away, turned and looked right at me. As the little fish returned to eat, the Barracuda's teeth filled jaws opened and closed as it wondered what I was.

It was getting hard to pull the air through the regulator and the Barracuda made me feel unwelcome. The weights in my pockets made surfacing a struggle, but when I finally got back on the jetty my first words to my brother was where do we get this tank refilled.

"THE TERRORIST WILL FIND VICTORY WITHIN THE COWARDICE OF THEIR ENEMIES."-- GEOFFREY ROBSON

Last edited by Geoffrey Robson; 07-02-2007 at 09:05 AM..
  #3  
Old 07-02-2007, 08:20 AM
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Default Everglades Odyssey

(This is well over 1,500 words, but it's a true tale I wrote years ago and I couldn't cut it any further without leaving gaping holes in the narration.)

The day of the adventure began innocently enough. I ran into Rusty Boatwright during lunch at the junior high school we attended in West Palm Beach, Florida.

"You wanna make some money today?" he asked.

"Doing what?"

"Delivering flyers in Haverhill. We'll get five bucks apiece."

"I have to go home after school."

"Not after school," he said. "Now."

I had never cut school before, but the idea intrigued me and I told Rusty to count me in. Five dollars was a lot of money to me at the time. After we found his brother, Bradford, the three of us collected bundles of advertisements at a store and got paid upfront. Then we set out on foot to Haverhill.

We went door to door for a couple of hours before we realized it would be dark before we finished delivering all the flyers. The five dollars didn't look like such a good deal anymore.

Rusty thought of a better idea. He knew that neither of his parents would not be home at this time of day, so we went to his house to get his .22 rifle. Then we hiked to a field behind the Haverhill area. Bradford found an old 55-gallon drum and began burning the remainder of the flyers to get rid of the evidence while Rusty and I took turns shooting at soda cans with the rifle.

Suddenly, we heard Bradford shout and turned to see a grass fire spreading in all directions from the oil barrel. We rushed over to stamp out the flames, but new flare-ups erupted as quickly as we could extinguish hot spots. I felt terrified because the wind was blowing the fire in the direction of the nearest houses. It must have taken close to an hour to finally put the fire out. Although we were exhausted and choking from the smoke, we intended to stick around for awhile to make sure nothing smouldered back to life. That was our plan until we spotted a sheriff's patrol car in the distance. The red light flashed and the car was definitely headed in our direction.

We started running and kept at it until our lungs burned. Eventually, we came out of the bush at the edge of the highway. Rusty told Bradford and I to stay put while he checked the road. All I could think about was the fact that we were fugitives running from the law. If we got caught, my stepfather would kill me. He didn't like me all that much to begin with and this would be the last straw if he found out I cut school, took money under false pretenses, used firearms illegally and nearly started a forest fire that could have destroyed peoples' homes. I would be dead meat in no time.

Rusty returned from the highway and kneeled down to catch his breath. "We're safe for now, but we can't stay here. There's swimming hole out in the middle of nowhere and the trail starts right down the road."

"That's a long hike," Bradford remarked.

"You wanna stick around and get arrested?"

After we rested, we plowed through the bush parallel to the highway until we came to the foot path. It was a hot day and we were all dripping with sweat as we started down the trail in single file. I brought up the rear of the forced march.

I was day-dreaming about cooling off at the swimming hole, looking down, when I saw something move right where I was about to step. I jerked my foot back and jumped off the trail, letting out a yell. Rusy and Bradford ran back to find out what was going on and we all spotted it at the same time. It was a snake about a foot long. Rusty laughed.

"It's a pygmy rattlesnake. Don't worry about it."

Bradford picked up a stick and chased the snake off the trail. I noticed the tiny rattle at the end of its tail.

As we proceeded, I carefully watched every step I took. We hiked across dry land for an hour or so, then waded into a shallow swamp covered with a scum of green algae. I kept thinking about water mocassins and quicksand.

Beyond the swamp, we crossed over a series of small tree-studded hills, some surrounded by water. They were like islands and Rusty called them "hummocks."

We stopped to rest in a clearing. I was winded after struggling to keep up with the two brothers and out of the corner of my eye I noticed Rusty poking around in a pile of leaves with a stick. I jumped to my feet when a small brightly-colored snake slithered out of the leaves and made a dash for the shade.

Rusty didn't move. "Now there's a really poisonous snake."

Bradford looked at me. "Coral snake. The bite will kill you in a couple hours."

I backed toward the opposite side of the clearing, never taking my eyes off the snake.

Rusty doubled over laughing. "He ain't gonna chase you. Can't you see he's scared of us?"

I didn't care. I wanted to be as far away from that snake as I could get and as soon as possible. I started down the trail with Rusty still laughing.

Bradford tugged at my shirt from behind. "Let Rusty lead the way. We might run into a big gator."

It was the last thing I wanted to hear. At that moment going to jail seemed almost inviting. NevertheIess, I put one foot in front of the other and followed Rusty with my head down to look where I stepped.

The sweat ran down my cheeks and dripped off the end of my nose. My shirt was soaked and stuck to my back while the sun baked the top of my head. My leg muscles ached and I could feel a blister forming on the heel of one foot. The air I sucked in felt like steam from a sauna. This was no comfortable stroll in the woods like I was used to back in Michigan. It was more like a death march through jungle hell.

What seemed like hours later we finally came to the swimming hole. It was a circular pond about a hundred feet across and surrounded by cabbage palms. The pond was fringed with white sand like an ocean beach and the water was crystal clear. I had to admit it looked impressive.

"How did you guys find this place?"

"Hunting wild pigs," Rusty said.

"There's wild pigs out here?"

"He's getting nervous again," Rusty winked at Bradford.

We took off our clothes and jumped into the cool water. I swam to the center of the pond and tried to touch bottom with my feet. I couldn't reach it, so I held my breath and dived down with my eyes open. The bottom was sand like the pond bank and looked about ten feet deep. When I came up for air, I heard Bradford scream.

He stood waist deep in the water and clutched one leg." I stepped on something."

When Rusty and I swam over, we saw the water turning red around Bradford.

Bradford leaned on me and his brother lifted one of his feet out of the water. It was gushing blood from a gaping cut on the instep. I had never seen so much blood and I felt dizzy for a moment.

"Don't move," Rusty told us before he dived under the bloody water.
I wondered if alligators could smell blood like sharks.

Bradford's face was kind of pale and he didn't look too good.

The second time Rusty surfaced he was holding a broken beer bottle. "Pig hunters," he said, angrily tossing the bottle fragment into the palm trees.

We got out of the water and Rusty tied his shirt around Bradford's foot as a bandage. The shirt immediately started turning red.

"Can you walk?" Rusty asked.

"I dunno. It really hurts."

"You're gonna have to try."

We helped Bradford stand up and he slung his arms over our shoulders for support. We started down the trail and Bradford grimaced each time he put weight on his injured foot.

"He's losing a lot of blood," I said.

"I can see that," Rusty snapped.

Bradford tried walking only on his good foot, leaning more heavily on Rusty and I, but that made our progress even slower. After several minutes, he was hobbling so badly we stopped to let him rest. I looked back toward the pool and realized we had only covered a short distance. At this rate it would be dark long before we reached the highway. The thought of wading through the swamp in pitch blackness made my skin crawl. Alligators and water mocassins came out at night and we wouldn't be able to see them until it was too late.

"We'll get you out of here," Rusty assured his brother.

"Maybe you should go for help while we wait," I suggested.

"Leave you two idiots in the bush by yourselves? You must be crazy."

"It might not be a bad idea," Bradford said. "I'm not sure I can make it."

"Get up!" Rusty ordered. "We're wasting time talking about it."

We started down the trail again, Bradford hobbling on his good food and leaning more heavily on us. We stopped to rest every fifteen minutes or so and the highway seemed as far away as the Pacific ocean in my mind. We were like an expedition crossing an entire continent, but we would never reach our destination. One by one we would die along the trail and our bones would be picked clean by wild animals.

Suddenly, I realized the heat was getting to me. We had no drinking water and I was as thirsty as a desert rat. I tasted a strange coppery flavor in my mouth and I ran my tongue over cracks in my lips. Bradford's arm felt like it weighed a ton on my shoulder. At our next stop I noticed that the sun was sinking low on the horizon. The swamp still lay far ahead of us.

I fell into a kind of stupor as we trudged along the path. In the gloomy twilight the sound of birds vanished and I noticed a strange hushed silence. Soon creatures of the night would wake up and begin prowling around. I wished I was at home in my bed.

It was dark by the time we reached the edge of the swamp. We sat down to rest and let our eyes adjust to the blackness.

"I can't see the trail anymore," I said.

"I can," Rusty stated. "Just keep following me."

"There isn't any trail through the swamp."

"I know where I'm going."

"You think there might be alligators in the water?"

"Probably."

I could see Rusty's white teeth as he smiled in the darkness.

"What should I do if one grabs ahold of me?"

"Bite him back."

"Will you guys shut up?" Bradford said. "I can't feel my foot."

"It's still there," Rusty said. "Let's get going."

As I waded through the swamp, I jumped every time something touched my leg in the water. I felt like a blind man feeling his way through a snake pit. I hoped the things that touched me were only twigs and hyacinth leaves, but I didn't have the courage to reach into the water and find out for sure.

At last we were out of the swamp and back on dry land. The trail was invisible to me, but Rusty had no doubts. He was like a hunting dog with the scent of prey. Some time later a half moon rose and shed enough light to make the trail assume a vague shape in the leafy shadows. For a long time it was so quiet I thought I could hear my heart thumping in my chest. Then the buzzing noise began when a cloud of night mosquitoes found us. They flew up my nose and into my open mouth. I coughed and snorted and spit, swatting them with my free hand. Day mosquitoes were few and far between, but I was afraid these hungry little vampires would quickly suck our veins dry. I noticed Rusty wasn't fazed by them.

I was so exhausted I couldn't think straight. The trail was endless and every muscle in my body ached. I wondered if we were lost, if Rusty only claimed he knew where he was going so Bradford and I wouldn't freak out. My mind lost hope, but my legs kept moving mechanically as if they weren't attached to me any longer. It was nearly ten-thirty when I saw the lights of the highway glowing over the tree tops. We staggered out of the bush and collapsed on the road shoulder.

I went home to discover that my parents had called the police to report me missing. I explained what happened to Bradford in a carefully crafted story that omitted the part about our illegal activities and being chased by the police, but I was punished anyway as I knew I would be. My stepfather grounded me for a month and told me I would have to help him work on his boat every weekend. I didn't mind the punishment because I felt glad to be alive.
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  #4  
Old 07-02-2007, 06:22 PM
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I went to the Statue of Liberty on a school trip and went to the stairs, but not to the torch. We couldn't go to the torch, the torch was under construction when our school trip was scheduled.

I followed my classmates, going down through the stairs for the instruction, but then reversed my course, going back to the yellow ribbons that read, 'keep out'.

I walked slowly, hey, what did I know? I just figured if the torch was going to fall off, there wasn't a way in hell I was going to be dropped off in the Atlantic and have my father come pick me up -- even though the Verazzano was just completed, so left my schoolmates and went into the torch because I wanted to see beyond the yellow ribbons.

Walking around the torch, there were paint buckets set up, canvas tarps on the floor, there was a pigeon flying overhead, and I was spooked, but I kept on walking. I looked out the torch, the windows on the torch, on the west side, north and east, southside, too, trying to find the Brooklyn Bridge, trying to see the Empire State Building, my block, my block in Brooklyn, then to the east, looking over the BQE, the highway where my dad bucked many a morning in traffic, but I couldn't find anything familiar, I saw only a tugboat down below, I saw my classmates circling a bus, a yellow bus, maybe the same bus that drove us here, drive us back to Long Island, but I really didn't know for certain. I only knew I was way up high in the torch where I shouldn't have been.

I ran down the stairs, more stairs than I've ever run, and my chums were laughing in cliques, boys pulling girl's hair, girls singing '100 bottles of beer on the wall'. The school bus driver - he was eating a hot dog, he didn't even know I was gone.
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Old 07-15-2007, 03:08 PM
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THE PYGMY KING


The snake lay in a coil on the smooth flat rock; a thin, forked tongue flickered out of its mouth as it basked in the soaring heat of the jungle. Around it the jungle encroached and from within the other inhabitants of this wild place, called out and croaked to one another, each call competing with each other, until the heavy, tropical air was ripe with an orchestra of feral voices.

From behind a large, shiny, green leaf, a pair of startling white eyes watched the snake. The eyes belonged to a tiny man, his skin was the colour of ebony and his body, although small, was strong and lean. The tiny man was a pygmy and his name was Tam-Cuk. He had been sent into the jungle,on a salvaging mission,by his father.

Tam's fingers curled around the handle of his dagger. The handle had been carved out of the tusk of the very first wild boar he had killed and the blade had been made from a sharp scrap of metal, which had been hacked away from the wing of a Spitfire, which had crashed down in the Great War.

With cautious steps, Tam advanced. The snake sensing the movement, raised its scaly head and began to flick its tail warningly. It observed the slow moving Pygmy with a certain look of distaste. It wasn't big enough to eat Tam, but its venom, was potent and one bite would be enough to paralyse.

Tam's eyes scanned the ground for an appropriate stick, to keep the snake at bay. He didn't want to kill the creature, but if the snake struck, he would. At last his gaze fell upon a pronged stick, if he could get to that, he thought, he'd be able to lift the snake from the rock and negotiate his escape from there. The only trouble was, the stick was within the snake's striking distance.

Muttering a prayer to his Gods, Tam charged, his eyes trained on his target. The snake puffed out its throat and twitched its tail more aggressively, then, sensing that the rushing pygmy wasn't going to stop, it sprang from its coil, as though propelled from a gun. Fortunately the snake missed and fell to the ground with a heavy thud. Tam's flight had not been successful either, the stick was still on the floor.

Not ready to quit, he circled the snake, moving around like a wrestler in a ring as they contemplated moving in for a grapple. The snake, lashed out. Tam leapt back, narrowly escaping the snake's vicious bite. He chose this moment to make a grab for the snake's tail and succeeded. The snake thrashed about wildly and tried to wheel around on itself, hissing and snapping at him, but Tam held on, keeping it at arms length, while making a grab with his other hand, scooped up the stick, diverting the snake's snapping jaws with it as they got dangerously close again.

The fight was over. Tam took the hissing snake over to the thick undergrowth and let it down to the floor gently. It slithered off and disappeared into the jungle.

As Tam turned to set off again, there came a deafening cracking, groaning noise. Tam smiled. He was close.


****


Not too far away a human man awoke to the sound of tree falling in the jungle. It was a deafening, creaking, crashing, groaning sound and from within the mass of shaking leaves the body of a black helicopter fell. The man, momentarily blinded, rolled like a barrel and clawing at the earth scrabbled out of the way, panting in pain as his ankle twisted and his leg dipped under him.

The tree crashed to the ground complete with the entangled helicopter, its blades still whirring and hacking at the bright green leaves.

The man staggered, his steps increasing as the whirring blades grew louder. He threw himself forwards as the machine exploded into a bright ball of fire, the searing, blistering heat and the strong smell of burning fuel surrounded him in a black cloud. He rolled onto his back and strained to look up through the billowing smoke. Then, he remembered his co-pilot and foolishly scrambled back towards the burning wreck. The fallen foliage crackled with the roaring fire and the fuel banged in small explosions as it ignited. The man pulled his shirt up to his mouth and made his way into the smoke.

“Jasper,” he called, “Jasper”.

As the last syllable of his partner's name left his mouth, he spotted the hand poking out from under the bough of the fallen tree, it was curled up and lifeless and a flame licked from the scorched flesh.


“No Jasper, no, please”. He hurried to the hand and pushed and tugged at the unmoveable trunk, but Jasper was already dead. The man started to cry and buried his head in his hands, howling like he had never done before.

The wound on his side, burned as something sharp prodded it,pulling his hands away from his eyes, he found himself looking into the eyes of a little man dressed in a ragged loin cloth, the little man had a dagger and he was pointing it at him.


****


Tam looked into the eyes of the man and the man looked back. Tam held his dagger out in front of him and snarled like a cornered jaguar.

He hadn't expected to find anyone alive. There weren't usually any survivors. He had been able to deal with the bodies in the past, but this was something different. The giant was still alive.

The giant put his hands onto his head and and bowed, keeping his eyes on the spitfire blade.

****

The man drew in a shaky breath. Shivering in the tropical heat. He could scarcely believe his eyes, he considered that he could probably fight the pygmy, but he would have to be patient, strike when the little man wasn't expecting it.

****


Tam blinked and considered his next move. His father was expecting him to bring back the bodies. The tribe was hungry, they were depending on him. But the dagger felt heavy and he did not think that he could kill this giant. What would his father say if he brought back a boar instead, would that be a welcome replacement for the taste of the giant's flesh? Probably not, besides what difference was there between killing a boar and killing this giant?

Tam pounced and before the man could do anything to deflect him, he sank his blade into the giant's shoulder. The giant yelped and grabbed hold of Tam's arm and with new found strength lifted him and threw him against the burning bough of the tree.

The giant took off, running with a stagger, holding on to his shoulder and crying out in pain. He broke into the forest pushing back the leaves which attempted to push him back.


****


The chase began. The man glancing over his shoulder in a panic, raced on, with no idea of where he was going. He could hear the leaves rustling behind him and he knew that the pygmy was in hot pursuit.

The jungle floor was littered with the debris of the helicopter crash, all around him, he saw his ruined possessions.

A tiny dart, shot from Tam's blow pipe, whistled through the air and pierced the Giant's thigh. The giant cursed and lumbered on, losing all feeling in his left leg until, it gave way under him and he fell to the floor.

The man sat himself up and looked around. The rustling leaves continued. The pygmy was close. That was when he saw the flare gun. He hoped that the cartridge was in it.


The rustling got louder. The pygmy broke free from the mass of greenness and leapt, throwing his dagger, with such precision that it broke through the man's chest and punctured the man's lungs.

In reaction the man squeezed the trigger and a bright red star of light exploded into Tam's chest, killing him instantly.

The man died soon after, the gun fell from his hands and dropped into his lap.


As it often does in a rain forest, it began to rain. It came down in sheets and fell on the bodies of the man and the pygmy.

There would be no feast tonight.

Last edited by writing kim; 07-15-2007 at 03:11 PM..
  #6  
Old 07-16-2007, 05:05 AM
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Default The illusive flesh of dreams

( I am no sure whether this is the most efficient way to submit my offering. This story falls below the 1500 word count and is an adventure, though not in the usual sense. At the end I have quoted in full the poem that gave rise to the idea for this story.)

The illusive flesh of dreams…………… by Richard Flanagan

My name is Joe, at least I think it is. I have difficulty distinguishing reality from dreams. For I have many dreams, dreams of another life filled with light. In my dreams, blue skies stretch for miles and the sun illuminates the sleepy landscape that lies huddled below in a festival of curves.. Mountains, valleys, rivers and streams are seen and known and bear witness to the light of the sun.

My room is twelve foot by twelve foot. I have used my feet as a measuring tool and so I believe it to be fairly accurate. The walls are six foot high as the ceiling touches my head when I stand up. Here space and time exist together within the confines of this room, where there is no light, except for the ……well, I’ll get to that later. Let me say for now, that for most of the time blackness consumes me and as I have no watch, I have no way of telling what time it is. I cannot tell you whether it is day or night. The only indication I have of time is my conscious awareness of the flow of thoughts, each existing in moments, passing from present to past, like little bubbles spiralling upwards before being carried away by a gentle breeze. I have no means of measuring this process.

I sleep when I am tired and when food is given, I eat. My bed is positioned along the west wall running north to south. A steel door is centred on the north wall. It runs to the height of the ceiling. It is cold to touch and wears an outer skin of condensation. It is exactly four feet wide. On the east side there are no fixtures and this allows me some leverage to exercise unhindered. On the south wall there is a wash basin and toilet.. I have memorised the position of these objects and no longer bruise myself by falling against them.

This brings me to my secret, which up until now, I have kept absolutely to myself. I have few visitors and anyway they are not the kind to share secrets with. During my time here I have been able to cut out a hole in the ceiling about 10mm in diameter. I used a nail file and I can tell you now it requires a great deal of patience. I agree it is not a large hole and obviously would not be big enough for an escape but most days when the sun shines, a small beam of light finds its way into my room. These moments are very special to me as I sit cross legged on my bed, allowing the stem of light to shine on my forehead. I close my eyes and try to imagine myself full of light. Soon I lose all conscious awareness of my body and my mind travels to a world filled with light. I travel to many places but there is one place, that keeps coming back. I would like to share this with you.


I am standing beside a Cheevy Chrysler station wagon, wearing shorts and sandals. The sun is pouring down on my back. A gentle breeze blows up through the canyon and mountains tower above me on three sides. The light is clear and crisp. Through the opening I see a large expanse of open ground, stretching out to meet wider ground. In the distance pale mountains lie along a wide horizon, huddled together like sleeping giants, their tips transparent through a thin veil of cloud.

All around me the spring wild flower bloom engulfs the desert floor with colour. The Ocotillo is in bloom. It’s thorny shrubs burst open with flaming red flowers. Brittlebush hug the hillsides with their yellow bouquet.. Drawn by some invisible magnet, I leave the car and wander among this wild and natural garden, absorbing the feast of colours; the yellow of dandelion and sunflower, the white of dune primrose and chicory, the purple of sand verbena and the blue of phacelia. I scramble onto huge boulders, hoping to see more from a greater height. I slowly turn around, letting my eyes devour the full panoramic view.

As I move along I discover small canyons protected by desert agave and jumping chollas, their full array of spines, testimony to their dangerous reputation. The sand crunches beneath my sandals, gets in between my toes. I am a moving gnomon throwing my shadow where I go. The sweat runs off my face, occasionally stinging my eyes. I stop to view the desert lilies, their soft delicate petals uncurling in the sun, filling empty space with whiteness. I see monkey flowers, still trapped within their armour, reaching for the light that will set them free. The redolent air fills my nostrils as my attention is drawn to the sound of running water. Then I hear it, a woman’s voice. It seems faint at first but gradually it builds.
“Joe, Joe I’m over here.”
Recognising this voice, I move frantically along the canyon floor, trying to decide where it is coming from, as yet uncertain whether it is a figment of my imagination, or in fact the voice of a real person, momentarily hidden from my view. The voice repeats itself, bouncing off the canyon walls. Suddenly the whole canyon resounds with her sweet voice, echoing through these monuments of stone.
“Joe, Joe I’m over here…..I’m over here…..I’m over heeeree”

Overtaken by a desire to discover its source, my quick walk turns to a slow run. I try to recall where I’d heard that voice before, searching my mind for a face, a body, a touch, a smile, some form within which to place it, something

solid on which to build. But it is no good. The more I try, the softer it becomes, slipping out of my grasp, like liquid in my hands. I stop and listen, drunk with the hope of hearing it one last time. There is only the wind…. blowing along the canyon floor, rustling the fan palms as their pencil thin trunks sway to and fro. The soft trickle of water returns and my liquid thoughts evaporate in the desert heat. Then it is gone and as I yield to the inevitable return of darkness, I feel a gentle tugging on my arm.
“Hey, what’s this, what’s going on here.”
“Joe, Joe, wake up. It’s time for you bath”

I slowly open my eyes, but there is no light. That world is lost to me. I hear voices in the hall and the clatter of bed pans, a window being opened, the slapping sound of pages turning, the creaking of old food trolleys making their regular journey through the ward. The serrated smell of disinfectant and decay is momentarily subdued by the sweet fragrance of someone’s freshly washed uniform. This is my reality, the occupier of a body, wasting away, no longer able to function on its own. It has served me well.

But my mind is sharp and quick. My Meridian dreams carry me away on a celestial tour, awakening my senses, putting flesh on my bones, replacing darkness with light so I can see again a life that was, was not and forever is.



© Richard Flanagan 5th February 1998











MONET’S “WATERLILLIES”

(for Bill and Sonja)

Today as the news from Selma and Saigon
poisons the air like fallout,
I come again to see
the serene great picture that I love

Here space and time exist in light
the eye like the eye of faith believes.
The seen, the known
dissolve in iridescence, become
illusive flesh of light
that was not, was, forever is.

O light beheld as through refracting tears
Here is the aura of that world
each of us has lost.
Here is the shadow of its joy.

Robert Hayden












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Old 07-16-2007, 12:48 PM
gary_wagner
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Default Allutia Prima (1490 words)

Allutia Alpha, the bigger and brighter of the two visible suns set behind the towering mountain range much quicker than I was expecting. I should have expected it since I had spent a year studying every detail of Allutia Prima before going into deep space hibernation for the long journey here. Still, the faster rotation of this planet wasn’t first and foremost on my mind while I spent the past two hours running from the monkelopes.

Monkelopes is the name I gave the pursuing creatures. They weren’t in any of the neuro-vids I downloaded and they weren’t in the info-cubes. Every single thing I cerebro-downloaded said that there were no carnivores on this stupid planet, which is one of the reasons I planned it for my post-graduation trip, but when a monkey-tailed furry thing with an antelope-like rack of antlers comes charging after you, being eaten doesn’t matter as much as being gored to death. I don’t care if they eat me or not after I’m dead. I care quite a bit about being dead.

This whole trip has been a living nightmare from the beginning. Our departure date was delayed six weeks when they decided at the last minute to replace the main reverse vortex synchronization drive with the latest and greatest of twenty-third century technology – the virtual anomaly vertical rotation nano reticulator; or affectionately known as the worm hole winder. A geek like me with a major in off-world studies and a minor in rocket propulsion engineering understands the subtle differences in the engine technology but for the common tourist, they just know that the new drive is supposed to be forty percent faster than the old one.

“Supposed to be” is the key phrase here. At the time I left Earth, no one had ever heard of, or even conceived of a worm-hole divergence particulate storm. Our ship, the S.S. Hiram Page, pride of the Mormon Empire’s fleet, was the first to ever experience this interstellar phenomenon. It completely knocked out the worm hole winder drive. We ended up limping on to our target destination on a hyperdrive. Can you believe that? All they had as a backup was a hundred and fifty year old hyperdrive? For Brigham’s sake, we had to crawl the rest of the way at warp 4. When was that heap originally built, in the stone age?

Of course, they didn’t bother to tell any of us that while we were in cryo-sleep. They simply told us when they thawed us out that, “Oh by the way, you were asleep for twenty-six years, not the four weeks you were expecting.” I may be exaggerating their callousness about it, but it’s what it seemed like. You know how those Mormons are. Nothing bothers them.

Then they dropped the other bombshell on us; that we were going to have to use the hyperdrive for the entire trip back home – all forty-one years of it. By the time I got back home to Smith city, it would have been fifty-eight years since I left. That’s a third of a lifetime. Some of my friends will probably be married and might even have applications for children submitted by then. How crazy is that?

Always the optimist, I tried to take the news in stride and still enjoy my adventure. I was one of a group of twenty-three adventu-tourists that were the first ever allowed in to explore Allutia Prima. That is still the most exciting thing I have ever been involved in and I decided I would deal with almost sixty years passing by back home without me when I got there. It’s not like I could do anything about it now.

The first view from the observation level put all of those thoughts behind me in an instant. Three of the tourists died during crypto-sleep but every one of the remaining twenty were standing there on the deck in excited anticipation when they opened up the anti-omega shields and we got our first glimpse of the Allutia solar system. It was more spectacular than I had ever imagined. No matter how real they make the virtual reality neuro-links, nothing can substitute the feeling that comes from knowing that this is not simply an extremely realistic image – you are actually there and this is reality.

Allutia Alpha filled half of the view through the observation window. Even through the digital polarizer filters, it was painful to look directly at the core for more than a few seconds. It was hard to fathom a sun that could swallow up Earth’s sun as if it were a pebble in the ocean until seeing it live and real while standing silently on that observation deck. It made Allutia Beta appear as a dim glowing disk off in the distance even though it in itself is a huge sun by Earth standards. Allutia Gamma could be seen for a few hours but disappeared behind Allutia Alpha as we approached Allutia Prima.

Allutia Prima sparkled like a diamond. The ice packs, three kilometer thick caps of crystallized ice covering the tops of mountains stretching up an amazing forty kilometers in places caught the suns light and sent prismatic rainbow beams out like an invitation to paradise. That’s where the planet picked up the nickname of “The Diamond Planet”. When this planet was originally discovered they thought the sparkling came from a thick coating of diamonds. Little did they know at the time that instead of being coated with worthless minerals, it was covered in the most precious substance known to man – fresh pure water. That’s what made this planet so mind-boggling. As expensive as an ice-crystal engagement ring is back on Earth, imagine some of these caps the size of Australia.

We weren’t there as part of the ice-mining crew, though. We were simply tourists on a four week vacation. Allutia Prima had been promoted as the ultimate adventu-tourist destination. The atmosphere matched Earth in its pre-pollution days. There were no known toxins in any plant, animal, or other creature. There were no carnivores, no predators, no insects. A layer of arcanicol gas covering the planet provided protection from the damaging radiation of the suns so there wasn’t even any sunburn on Allutia Prima.

Maybe I shouldn’t use the all inclusive term, “we” when referring to the group of twenty who survived cryo-sleep. Turns out that the three who died and me had something in common. Also turns out that nineteen of the survivors had something in common that I didn’t share. They were all Neo-Baptists. I was raised as an Apathist and had never met any of the radical Neo-Baptists prior to this trip. They were every bit as unpleasant and obnoxious as I had read they were.

They weren’t tourists after all – they were colonists. Colonization wasn’t legal on Allutia Prima yet but they aren’t much for laws and such. When they opened up their crates of supplies, they pulled out guns. I don’t mean gamma-stream projectile weapons – I’m talking about ancient history, wild-west, gunpowder and metal bullet guns. I’ve seen these in virtuo-museums but never in my wildest dreams thought that people would actually still use them. Neither did the ship’s officers until one of them had his left arm blown off from the elbow down when one of the Neo-Baptists shot him for refusing to obey their command. I mean, that guy could have died if the medical technician hadn’t slapped a proton-tourniquet on there quickly. I’ll bet that really hurt, too, and will be pretty annoying for him until they can grow the arm back in the cloning tank.

I guess it could have been worse. I could have never woken from cryo-sleep like the other three the Neo-Baptist took care of. They don’t even see what they did as killing anyone. They believe that someone in cryo-sleep isn’t actually alive so they were simply “preventing resurrection”. Since I survived in spite of their attempt to get rid of me, they gave me a little bit of respect and gave me a choice – convert or leave.

I chose to leave because I guess I still had the foolish notion that I would get my four week vacation and I would return to the ship when it left. I left on a skitter-craft with my supplies and equipment at the same time they left with theirs to set up their new Neo-Baptist colony. I was shocked when only minutes after leaving the landing sight, I saw the Hiram Page lift off and leave Allutia Prima for good. I didn’t think the Mormons would give up so easily.

My skitter-craft died two days ago. I’ve been running from monkelopes and trying to find the Neo-Baptist camp somewhere in this great big empty world. I think I found their trail and it looks like I’ll be a Neo-Baptist soon. I can’t beat them so I guess I’ll join them.

Last edited by gary_wagner; 07-18-2007 at 05:32 PM.. Reason: Fixed a typo
  #8  
Old 07-18-2007, 02:23 AM
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I received your story as an email and have now read the same. I have not read any SF work for some time and don't feel equipped to comment in any great detail on this genre of writing. I am prepared to offer my opinion but must emphasize that it is just that, an opinion. I do find the whole idea of in-depth analysis somewhat ambigious so I would be reticent irrespective of the genre I was commenting on.

The landscape you painted was quite facinating and shows great imagination. The pace was good and I felt compelled to read on until the end. Great ideas and story. Thank you for sending it to me.

Be well
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Old 07-18-2007, 06:31 PM
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ah well, i suppose any entry is better than no entry. not my best work and not really suited to this audience...





Chalk Art


Looking back, that summer when I turned thirteen was the beginning of everything for me-just like I suspect this one will be for my grandson. How I wish his mother was more tolerant of her dad’s crazy stories. Still, at least this ‘fiction’ piece might help prepare him a little….

Ryan’s mother didn’t mean to make him miserable, but she was doing a great job. Moving to a new city right after the school year, making him stay home alone while she got to go to work and make friends….

He tried not to whine, but the “Are you okay home alone?” phone calls were too much.

“You are to have a library book half-read by the time I get home.” Mom’s voice carried just fine through her bedroom door. “Come straight back! No wandering around the downtown by yourself!”

He sighed. Parents just never got summer. You stayed up late to watch anime and ate Doritos and played Warcraft until 2 am….reading homework wasn’t fair!

Ryan tried to put it off….but he’d watched all his DVDs six hundred times each and none of his friends back home would be online this early. He didn’t have any comic ideas so his drawing tablet was out too. Saturday couldn’t get here fast enough. Waiting two whole days for that Yu-Gi-Oh tournament just sucked.

Around 11 am, he gave up on being lazy. He’d never see his friends if he got grounded from Warcraft….

…and the library gave him an excuse to put off the dishes.

Cyan Falls was hot and busy, all rows of cars shimmering in the heat and exhaust haze. The place smelled nasty and forget about seeing anything except concrete. Ryan hated it. You had to break your neck to see the clouds and the park was always full of little babies running around the playground toys.

The library, he soon discovered, was just like the one back home. Boring! But at least it wasn’t the apartment.

An hour later, Ryan stood in front of his apartment door and started cursing keys, divorces, mothers, libraries, and most especially the key he’d left locked inside.

He punched the door.

That hurt, so Ryan sat down on the steps. Checking his pockets, he found a couple of dollars and ‘Ogre, Ogre.’

There’d been a hot dog vendor back by the park.

Chewing on a hot dog, Ryan glared at the sidewalk ‘masterpieces.’ The babies had left a big chalk piece behind so he grabbed it before he moved on. It was just the right weight for throwing at something.

His feet led him to a weird grass lot between two run-down buildings. The place was a tiny bit of overlooked green in a giant, grown-up city. Somebody had thrown in an old bench. Ryan plopped on it, ignoring the pigeon poop, and put his head in his hands.

It just wasn’t fair. This place sucked.

More than anything, he wanted to go away-to go home.

Ryan knew he was being a baby himself, but he couldn’t resist. Chalk in hand, he shuffled over to the nearest wall and drew a simple doorway with a round handle. Putting both hands flat on it, he wished it was real, that this door could take him far away from here…

Bright lights exploded in front of his eyes like he was staring into the sun. He stumbled-everything started spinning-and he wondered if this was heat stroke.

Suddenly, throwing his hands out for balance, Ryan touched wood. He found a brass handle exactly where he’d drawn one.

This was insane, but he didn’t care. Everything had been miserable since the divorce. To escape all that, to get away and have an adventure would be the greatest thing ever.

Ryan pushed on the handle…

The concrete whooshed the air right out of his lungs. Gasping, he heaved himself up on hands and knees. It was cold in here. Ryan opened his eyes and stared at the star-shaped stones. Nobody built floors like this one.

Then he saw the beautiful girl staring down at him. Boy, did she ever look mad.

“Whatever are you doing here?” She gave him a hand up. Braids, long blue dress, and funny speech-all of them straight from a renaissance faire.

Ryan glanced around. Cobwebs and candles laced the creepy statues and faded vault plates. Yep, this was your basic horror movie set. The girl, at least, wasn’t as scary. He hoped. “What’re you doing here? Shouldn’t you be sewing or something?”

She snorted. “We were on a tour of the Beldavieu Monastery, sir.”

“And you decided to play hookie. Good for you.” Ryan caught her puzzled look and sighed. “Hookie-you know, running off ‘cause things are boring?”

This girl was sure sticking to the SCA people’s party line. He didn’t know where he was or what was up, but he thought she was cool, doing her own thing despite dressing like a Final Fantasy princess.

“My name is Aegis.”

Ryan made a face at the hand she held out. That kissing thing was just gross.

Her arms folded, she tapped one foot against the stones. “A ghost walks these halls, seeking what he’s lost. Are you going to help me look for it?”

A hot, miserable bench in Cyan Falls-or running around in a mysterious place with a beautiful girl? He knew the answer in a heartbeat. “I’m Ryan. So, there’s a ghost?”

She kept talking without any help from him so he checked the wall behind them. Sure enough, his door was still there. He could always go back.

“Michalego still wanders these halls, looking for a way to return to other worlds...”

After five minutes of her rambling, the silence felt wrong. Ryan shivered. Why was she being quiet? Girls were never quiet. Then he saw the cobweb dancing over the stairs in a breeze which didn’t exist. Ice cubes poured down his shirt and Aegis’ eyes were as big as plates.

“You’ve come. The key between worlds has come!” A voice slithered out of the darkness below.

All around them, the candles started going out.

Ryan suddenly understood, and panic exploded like fireworks in his head. The voice was talking about him. It was a real ghost-and it wanted him!

Grabbing Aegis’ hand, he ran for it.

The hallways flew behind them as he charged ahead. Aegis’ shoes were bad-she kept slipping-so he hauled her along in spots. She didn’t complain. Behind them, everything was going pitch black and bitter cold.

Keeping ahead of the ghost, making it from one still-lit candle to the next was the only thing that mattered.

The dead Michalego whispered of glories lost, of blood he yearned to reclaim….

Ryan almost ran down a weird monk guy at the top of the third staircase. It was a relief to see somebody alive! This monk’s face, though, was snow-white and he kept chanting in some weird language. Latin?

Then Ryan saw the guys behind the monk in plate armor. What was going on here?

Aegis was in tears. “They found me again. Sorry, Ryan. This adventure is over.”

He ignored her. The lead fighter-dude was swinging a giant axe straight down at his head! It was unthinkable, and he just stared at it…then Aegis screamed and he stumbled aside. The steel hit the floor with a very real metallic clank.

“Unhand the princess!” The fighter shouted, raising his axe again.

Ryan stared at Aegis. She shrugged and mouthed “sorry.” When she yelled for the fighters to stand down, they ignored her and charged instead.

He sighed. Apparently these guys weren’t into listening to the management.

Behind him, the monk finally finished his chant with a shout. Light blasted throughout the lower hallways so intensely that Ryan could feel it like the sun. Then it dawned on him. If Michalego was gone, he could run to his door and escape before the fighters chopped him into fish bait.

Panting as he pulled his door open, Ryan wished he could’ve said goodbye to Aegis.

Back ‘home,’ he discovered worrying about being stuck home alone and Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments seemed stupid. Aegis-the princess!-was in tears at the sight of her own fighters. His life suddenly looked pretty good.

Of course, Ryan knew he couldn’t say anything to his mother-except that he hadn’t read the book. Oh, and he’d locked himself out all day for good measure, too.

Getting grounded from Warcraft was a bit of a joke, really.

He spent the evening with his drawing tablet and pencils. The chalk had a place of honor on the table. Ryan knew he’d go back to help her. She needed him. But, for now, all he could do was record the greatest adventure he’d ever been on.

There. That should do. Just need to add those copies of my drawings. Not too much at once, though, or I’ll scare the boy. Time to wait and see what he thinks of what’s in store for him…
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  #10  
Old 07-24-2007, 04:30 PM
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Default Lights,Camera,Stop

Lights,Camera,Stop

The setting takes place on a stage in Hollywood. The actors and

actresses are practicing their lines. Then, out from nowhere, BOOM!

The lights go out! Noone says a word. Some voice starts to laugh in a

somewhat evil tone. The voice starts to get louder, and the voice says

that noone will leave tonight. People start to hear noices that sound

like chains. Next, the lights come back on. They look toward to the

only way out. The double doors are chained together. What irony! The

movie they were working on had to do with some people who get chained

in one room in their house. They all then look towards one of the

walls. It was covered in red paint. They looked more closely and saw

that that they could make out a word. The word on the wall was cheese.

Some guy all in camo jumps out with knife. After, he takes out a plate

of cheese and starts to cut a huge piece of cheese and says cut.

Everyone's mind was so baffled. One actress looks more closely at this

guy in camo, and she notices that it is their beloved director. They

all start to laugh. How could he pull this off? They then look behind

the scenary and see all of their stunt doubles. The stunt doubles were

laughing. One of them had a can of red paint with him. One of the

actors notices that the film was still rolling. The director next

tells them about how he couldn't figure out what to put in the bonus

feature section. This was his resolution. The director goes to take

off the chains, but before he could get to the chains, the lights go

out again. Everyone thinks it is another harmless prank, but then

there is scream. The lights come back on, and they all relise that the

lead actress is missing. The doors were still chained. How could she

get out? There was no way out other than the doors that were chained.

They all look at the floor. They see a note. It tells them that they

must follow his clues if they want they want their precious actress

back. They look up and see that one of the ceiling tiles is missing. A

rope is hanging from it. Another note is hanging from the rope. It

tells them to start climbing. One by one they they start to climb the

rope. One guy tells them to toss up a flashlight. Another person does

so. They then start to crawl. The guy with the flashlight takes the

lead,but then he falls down and yells. They all look down and see that

another ceiling tile must have been taken. On the other side of the

missing tile was another one of the notes. One guy with really long

arms gets it. It tells them to go through where the missing tile is.

They then make a human chain, and they start to go down. The lights in

the room they enter go off. A voice then tells them to all put their

hands on the walls. The lights go back on, and all of the people run

to the walls. Unfortunately, none of them noticed that the walls are

covered in sticky paper. All of them can't seem to get their hands off

the wall. The voice they had heard then reveals himself. He jumps out

from behind a curtain with the head actress. The head actress's hands

are tied together. He then pulls down the rope hanging from the

ceiling. He chains the doors so noone can get out. He then smiles.

They turn their heads to see him. It is the head actress's ex-

boyfriend. He then tells her to tell him that she is sorry. She tells

him that she will never say she is sorry. He then lits a match. He

askes her if she is sure. She then changes her mind, and she tells him

she was sorry that she stole his last piece of cheese. He blows out

the match, and then he pulls on the fire alarm. Water starts to come out,

and everyone on the walls get free. Her ex unties her arms. The lead

and her ex then hug and get back together. Her ex then unchains the doors.

The director then yells at everyone to get back to work. They all do so. They

all then relise the importance of asking for the last piece of cheese before

you take it for yourself.
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" Where did the last doughnut go!"

Last edited by Brittany; 07-24-2007 at 04:43 PM..
  #11  
Old 07-24-2007, 06:34 PM
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Default A bit over 1500 words...

BE ADVISED. THIS CONTAINS SOME GRAPHIC LANGUAGE.


The Fringe. An exciting place to play many speculate. Not many actually accomplish such a feat, in spite of a good sixty-percent claiming they like to “live life on the edge”. Posers, push-overs, newbies, all of the above. Only a select few have any idea of what The Fringe truly is – and it isn’t your local gang-banger.

My endeavors there were fruitful and vindictive all the same. The nightly laser light show of the city was of no interest to me, I was too busy at home ripping through the and confidence of every self-proclaimed genius. Mr. Random Mind Jock wasn’t any test for my cunning capability to slice and dice his well weaved walls into a finely eviscerated pile of waste. I was a true genius, I created The Fringe.

This was a haven for the underground for the witty and bright, the true masters of society. We didn’t run for any governmental positions, hold important jobs in major corporations or stand out to anybody. And if any of us did? They were quickly exiled from our clique of super intellects and given a scarlet letter. Those greedy bastards have no place in our playground.

The Fringe offered the opportunity to test others of equal intellectual and wise standing to challenges of wit, cunning, and cutthroat negotiation. Nobody is safe here, you pick your friends and you know your foes, but everyone in the end just wants to be the Wizard. I know this because I was the original punk on this network.

I never saw it coming – not from a mile away. One minute I was being praised by hundreds of cyber jockeys like me and the next I almost died. The Fringe had no rules, I know this because I made it that way. There was nothing holding anybody back from pulling out all the stops. From the very beginning of the network, I had made my fatal flaw.

“Maybe we can talk about this?”
“The time for talk’s over.”
Shit.” And that’s all that ran through my head. When the barrel of a revolver is pinned against your head, you don’t think of anything more profound. I pushed back so slightly, and I felt the nozzle of that hand-cannon already warm against my sweaty face. I know Seth, he is a really vindictive man.

“Seth, we can come to an agreement.”
“No, we can’t.” He was a cold-hearted son of a bitch. He always was angry being second to me in hacking ability and general computer knowledge. Then again, I went to college, he went to Juvenile Hall. I was always a solid ten rungs over his game., but I screwed myself over here. This self-righteous delinquent had spoken volumes more than I had with only a couple of syllables clicked by his steel weapon.

Honestly, I did fuck him over. He tried to intrude on my hard drive one day while I was on vacation, and I destroyed his world. I know Seth, he is a really sore loser.

My set-up of monitors, switchboards and CPUs was all but rendered useless. It took weeks to cleanse my drives. I might have taken my revenge a bit too far, though.

I set out to find all the information I could on him. This was my grandest endeavor yet. I knew he did all of his banking online, less need to leave the house, the fat swine that he is. I tapped his transactions, and redirected his deposits right into an alternate account. I had access to this account, of course, and I then tracked the trail of checks and cash that filed into my hands.

His name was Seth Trevor Dylan. I laughed. He made money as a private computer tech, hired to fix network problems and the sort straight from his living room. This was too easy, and I ran with it.

That damn gun was still against my head.

I took his identity. I was now Seth Trevor Dylan. Online, I was known as “The_Great_STD”, and nobody knew the difference. I took over Seth’s job, his finances and all of his property. I was fixing peoples’ network problems from my home and making money from his business. He was still working too, and I was getting two pay checks instead of one.

The barrel was quivering with an eager bullet loaded.

I continued to roam the net as this great STD to destroy his name. He had such a deep social cancer when I was done, he was exiled like Moses. I know Seth, he is very competitive and always wants to be ‘in’. He wasn't anymore. He couldn’t step foot within this community as long as he lived.

He no longer had any validation as a computer genius among anybody who knew what they were talking about.

It was only a matter of time until he realized that his funds were running out. I was happily rolling in all of his money and he was about to roll onto an eviction notice for overdue rent. That's when it collapsed; I didn’t make it hard enough, and that really messed up my game. He found the tap in his account, and trailed the whole line back to me. Its funny that you can either go up or down a rope.


And this is where my true adventure begins. It was a mad dash to protect my own identity and at the same time destroy his. It was hard for him to do any dealings with any official creditors or banks, as we were both the same person. I had stayed a step ahead of him the whole time, opening dummy accounts in every major bank in his area. His credit score was so terrible he could never get a loan. Financially, I blocked him from all of society.

I fortunately realized he couldn't pull off identity theft, but he did know how to use a gun. And I’m still here with his stench hovering over me.

It all crashed on top of me when I legally claimed that he was deceased. In every book, he was dead to the world; even his family believed it. To my dismay, he was actually very much alive. Where I went really wrong was how much I put myself out there in order to smear his name. Even if you’re someone else, if you’re out and about enough, you’re still who you are.

I was just leaving the courthouse that wrote him off as dead. I had forged records and everything. A flawless frame. I got on my bike and took a deep breath before starting down the electrically lit road. I was hitting an easy ninety, hundred miles per hour. The kid had some skills though. That day was the biggest traffic incident in this city’s history.

That selfish prick had nothing left to lose and shut down the traffic grid. The lights went out, no longer was the techno-tripped city a viable one. There must have been thousands of deaths, and forget about the injury count. I was hit by a bus myself and dead on arrival at the hospital.

I still don’t know how, but I was kept alive. This man wanted me alive because he cared that much. I didn’t know it was the vengeful sort. Seth had saved my life, and I destroyed his. I suddenly felt some remorse. But now he has a gun to my head. I’m glad his life is over.

On my knees, hands bound behind my back, I couldn’t scratch my nose to try to avert the stench that he emanated. He was filthy and rotten, to the core. Nobody on The Fringe held a grudge if they were beaten, but this man had the advantage of having no more identity or soul. He was nobody to everybody; yet to me, he was everybody.

He dragged me from that hospital bed, a battered and bruised mess that I was. I had a moment of clarity and knew it was he. The sedation was so heavy; it was hard to break such an orgasmic spell. Who didn’t love the feeling of nothing? But now, I needed to get out. And I did.

I couldn’t move properly though. I stumbled away like a zombie into the street. He tackled me down and dragged me back to his lair. In his building I made my second attempt to flee. I jumped out of one of the hallway windows on the second floor. I didn’t care; I felt nothing. I broke my legs though, but had no idea. I was on my way to death, and a dead man was already following me.

I was haunted by this corporeal wraith, who was bent on bringing me beyond the grave with him. I was bloody and alone on the floor, in the middle of this empty neon street. He tied my hands with some duct tape and then there was that damn gun.

“Seth…”
“Fuck. Yo—”
Bang.

That psychotic nobody was truly a dead man now. I was no longer haunted, and the body of a soulless man laid bleeding beside me. I’d never seen a real man die, and having all of the effects of those painkillers in full effect made the event that much more lackluster.

My legs were limp, my body numb, my hands bound and an uncontrollable drool took hold.
That gun. That damn gun. He broke the rules of The Fringe.

The lines have been blurred between superficial reality, and true reality. Seth broke that invisible boundary of zeroes and ones, all because I did. I might as well be a dead man too.
  #12  
Old 07-25-2007, 01:45 AM
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Tau (Offline)
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A fire for Elllshi

The sun was in its last hour of the day, sinking towards the sealand, the sky was emerald blue, though shades of yellow and orange danced around the whisks of white clouds. Camp had been made early today, the great herd had not crossed the river yet, so everybody was enjoying this evening. Soon the winds would come and with them the storms of winter. Isash herds and Vachah clouds were already scarce, having departed with the first great winds, the clouds catching currents going sunland and the Isash following.

A fire had been lit a little way from the camp, up on the hill; from here one could keep an eye on the herd while enjoying the end of summer. Oshera, the oldest member of the clan had announced he would tell a tale of his youth tonight, only the youngest and their mothers were not attending the fire and those designated for guard duty. All clans kept watch over there herds and camp at night. Otherwise gamli packs could raid the camp, or panic the herd and in the panic make a kill. Most gamli were small and no threat to the heard or the camp, but here on the plains the packs could easily number in the hundreds and in such numbers they could kill even the strongest prey.

Oshera with his white fur and grey scales looked his age. He had a long scar across his face and neck onto his shoulder. He was already sitting in front of the fire, intending to warm himself. The ranchva mat he sat on was one he had woven himself when he could still see well enough for the delicate work required to create any ranchva item. His staff was lying across his knees and a bowl containing some nuts was resting in front of him.

Everybody was waiting patiently for Oshera to begin but he just sat there, staring into the flickering light of the fire. Somewhere somebody coughed and was eminently shushed by those surrounding them. The sun by now had almost set and the air was gathering a slight chill. After taking a sip from his water flask Oshera stared up at the stars before beginning.

“Long ago when I was still small and my fur a strong healthy yellow there was a year where the winter storms simply did not come, the rivers had dried up in the dry summer. The herd was dying from thirst. The old could not take the heat, the very young the lack of water. With the numbers reduced we dared not take any for ourselves.”

This is one of the laws of the plain; never take animals from a weakened herd. If one did one would risk that the herd would not survive, and that was a death sentence to any clan. Uneasy glances flicked between the listeners, Oshera had never told this tale before.

“It looked grim for us, I have never seen a year like that, and everything was starving, dying. We had to clear the soil of all things to burn, or the funeral pyres would have set the plain alight.”
Here he paused staring into the fire; there was another uneasy glance around the fire. A burning plain was dangerous, only Isash could escape the sea of flame; all others were too slow, being bound to earth. The grasses would regrow but that took time, any surviving herd would die from starvation, any clan went the same way.”

“Then the gamla attacks came, over three nights there where five or six raids, these gamli were fierce from hunger. There was a single large one that led the pack, taller then all gamla that I have ever seen or heard of. His fur was jet black, the scales glinting in the moons light. He was as taller then us children, and probably as tall as any adult. What spirit cursed us those nights, I don’t know. At night they would descend onto the herd, driving it in panic into traps to slay the weak. The herd still in panic ran all day; we barely managed to catch up that night. On the third night the herd had fled too far for us to catch up. The gamli turned on us.”

Oshera lapsed into silence again; the only sound the crackle of the fire and whispering of the wind. Minutes passed. Mava was slowly coming out of Migach shadow. Down in the camp a child’s cry rang out before being quieted by the mother.

“Little Elllshi died that night, the attack came shortly after sunset, gamli running between the yurts snapping at all that moved, raiding our depleted food stores. We thought we had been prepared this time, all that could were armed to defend, and yet we failed. Little Elllshi dragged into the plains by the black gamla.”

“Some of us set out after the pack that had dragged her away. Honour demanded that we tried. I was excited by the prospect; finally I could prove that I was old enough to be a hunter. At first the other hunters were reluctant to allow me to come, I was too young they said I would be a liability they said” a note of bitterness had crept in his voice. “In the end they aloud me to come along, Elllshi was my cousin and both our parents lent their support.”

“We set out shortly after that, me at the rear. I did not argue. I was going along even if it was at the end, and that was the start of my little adventure that earned me this scar”
At this he stared into the fire once more, murmuring to himself: “Elllshi, Elllshi, Elllshi”

“That night Migach was in Mavas shadow, so by the light of one moon and our torches we almost ran across the plain. We could still hear the occasional gamla, sometimes to our sides but mostly ahead of us. The gamli where heading towards the herd. We assumed that they would have another go at the herd before it moved out of their territory. With such a large pack it would need more food then most gamli packs, and in this dry season food was even more scarce.”

“To our surprise the pack turned off the herd tracks and headed towards the sunland, we should have known that they had spotted us, but we were all so taken in by the prospect of revenge against the beast that none of us spotted the trap. There was an overgrown cave and we plundered straight in. one of us broke there leg, I can’t remember who but the scream of pain seemed to have been a signal for the gamli to attack. They came from everywhere, out of hiding holes, from behind boulders, jumping down on us from above. They would snap at our heels, our faces, our hand, and any other area unprotected by scales. Even then some tried to bite the tough scales. We hit them with out galoms, and tried to shoot them with arrows, but in the dark this proved difficult. We managed to escape the cave with only minor injuries.”

“Then the black gamla charged. Right at me. I tried to jump aside, but failed to escape in time. I felt a giant jaw close on my neck and face. By the time the others could come to help I had been dragged several meters. Two arrows bounced of the beast’s scales above me. His scales must have been incredibly tough. Blood was flowing down my body; I was beginning to feel light headed.”

Once more Oshera stared into the blazing fire. Several of the closer sentry were now also by the fire having abandoned there place to listen to the old ones tale.

“I awoke shortly after, pain burning from neck to shoulder. I could hear gamla around me, moving, waiting for something. Then I could hear the others in the distance they had come to save me. Struggling to sit up I saw the gamli rushing past. My hand closed on something sharp; biting back the pain I looked more carefully. In the moonlight I could just make out a rusted metal blade. I was not the first to have been dragged here.”

“Something knocked me back. Above me the snarling face of the black gamla appeared. He snapped at my head but in so doing exposed his unprotect stomach. Grabbed the blade and rammed it into his fur. He let go of my head and snapped at my arm. By chance he bit on the blade. I passed out again from the new wound.”

Turning towards the crowd Oshera paused for a moment.

“Remember little Elllshi, we never found her body. No funeral pyre ever burned for her.”

“No fire for Elllshi”
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