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Summer Contest (Prose) - Erosion

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Old 07-18-2009, 09:49 AM
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Default Summer Contest (Prose) - Erosion

Thanks to feedback from the last contest, our prose and poetry contests will share a theme this time. Our Summer theme is Erosion!

* * *


Members are allowed one entry in the prose contest. (You are welcome to enter our poetry contest as well.) Prose entries should be submitted as posts to this thread. The competition is open to all members of Writer’s Beat, including staff.

Members are requested to refrain from commenting on entries in this posting thread. Please use the Prose Contest: Erosion - Comments thread instead. That thread will remain open throughout the posting period and afterwards, and members are encouraged to let entrants know what they thought of their entries.

Word Limits:

Prose: 2,000 words maximum


Once an entry has been submitted, it cannot be altered. Any work that is edited after it has been entered will be disqualified. If you feel you need to make a small alteration (a misplaced comma, a spelling error), contact a member of staff. If we feel your request is reasonable, we will make the correction on your behalf.

Close Date:

15th September 2009, 12 midnight GMT


Winners will be selected by means of a public poll, so you, the members of Writer’s Beat, will choose the winners.

After the closing date, a voting thread will be posted. Voting will commence on the 16th of September and close on the 27th of September 2009, 12 midnight GMT.

* * *

The winning entries will be considered for publication in Writer's Beat Quarterly, subject to the approval of the editors. To increase your chances of getting published (whether you win or not), make sure your document is as error-free as possible!

Also, the member (or tying members) with the most votes will get to suggest the next contest theme!

* * *
If you have any questions about the contest, contact a staff member and we will happily answer them for you. Now sharpen your pencils and your wits and get writing. Good Luck!

"I just saved 100% on my car insurance by switching to walking!"
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Last edited by HoiLei; 07-18-2009 at 09:53 AM.. Reason: add link
Old 07-30-2009, 01:38 PM
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Default Thought I'd give it a crack...

New America (Adult Content)

Sharon stood balanced on the dangerous edge of the riverbank, looking down, holding your hand.

The cliffside was a shear, swift drop to the river, angled like the side of a straightedge. One step over that cliff and you’d go tumbling down, rolling like the small pebbles and pockets of dirt that went sliding. Your bones would crack like the thin skin of ice that coated the river in the winter.

But it was summer now. A hot, sticky summer that clogged the air in your throat. You raised your hand to fan away the gnats that tickled your face, buzzed in your ears. Beside you, Sharon was inching closer to the edge of the cliff, testing each step once or twice, feeling for danger.

“Don’t,” you said, because she was coming to the end of the leash that was formed by your joined hands. You were afraid she’d fall. You were afraid you’d never get to tell her that you loved her, because you were going to do it soon, and you didn’t want her to fall down the cliffside and break all her bones before you got the chance to. It didn’t matter that, years later, you and Sharon would be in an ‘uncomfortable’ marriage. It didn’t matter that your two children would have to endure the sound of your yelling-screaming arguments, or the muffled thud of flesh on flesh. It didn’t matter that one day you’d drive off in your car and never go back to that place or those people. It just mattered right then that if Sharon fell down the cliffside there wouldn’t even be a chance. Right now, you wanted Sharon safe.

What you were both looking at was this: the dead body of your neighbor Jessica Spinelli. Jessica had been reported missing a few days ago. It had just so happened that Sharon had glanced over the cliffside as you and she had been walking, and had seen the body of Jessica Spinelli caught in a pile of rotted wood and trash building on the riverbank. Jessica’s skin was the white, sickly color of the underside of a toad, her mouth was gaping open and filled with water.

You had always had a crush on Jessica because she was thin as a rail and had a cascade of beautiful charcoal-black hair. But now her body was bloated and fleshy from heat and water, and her hair was strewn about her head like lake-weeds. The force of the current had smashed Jessica’s head on a rock on the riverbank like you would smash an old, used Halloween pumpkin. The sticky, red contents spilled out into the water like pulpy pumpkin flesh and pumpkin seeds.

You would never forget that sight: Jessica Spinelli’s brain matter and skull fragments spilling out over the river rocks like pumpkin pulp and seeds. Even the shame of the bile that rose in the back of your throat, and how you had to go down on your hands and knees and vomit onto the sandy ground, would not embarrass your mind into purging that memory.

“I’m gonna go down and see if she’s really dead.” Sharon said. She seemed almost too calm, almost too unperturbed by the sight of the neighbor she’d lived two houses down from since grade school, spread out on the muddy river bank. Sharon ignored your throwing up like you were some sad loser at school who had just seen the science class childbirth video for the first time. Of course she knew Jessica was dead because it was obvious, but she wanted to check anyways. Morbid curiosity, like rubbernecking a car crash.

Sharon wasn’t fazed because she was plucky. Your mother was always saying that to you in a fierce, approving sort of way, “That Sharon Greere, she’s a plucky little thing.”

“I’m gonna just jostle her a little and make sure she’s dead,” Sharon said again.

“Don’t,” you said, standing up. Your head felt like a full fish tank balanced on your shoulders and sloshed around. You walked to the cliffside and kicked a stone down it, watching it jump across the buff-colored slate. The stone hit Jessica’s right thigh and bounced into the water. Determined not to be outshone by Sharon’s level-headedness, you said, “See, the river carved this right out. None of that’s gonna support weight. You’ll break your neck tryin’a get down to her.”

“S’pose.” Sharon said, sulking. “Y’know her ma called my house when she went missing. Cryin’ and blubberin’ and carryin’ on, askin’ if we had any idea where she would’a went. My ma told me later she knew nothing good was gonna come out of this. She knew Jessica was a tramp, and that bad men rolling through town always prey on stupid wops like her.”

You had imagined Jessica Spinelli naked before, but you had never imagined it like this. Staring down at her, you couldn’t break the gaze of her naked blue nipples staring back at you. You wanted to go down and snap her cold blue lips shut just so she would stop staring up at you, silent and crying for help. Sharon kept jabbering on about more things her ma had told her, and you found yourself laughing nervously. Acid, awkward laughter laced with the bile from the back of your throat. ‘Stupid wops.’ You thought you might get sick again.

“My ma knew some tramp like poor old Jessica would end up like this, you hearin’ me? It’s America, anyways. New America, I mean. Things ain’t the same as they were. Money gettin’ tighter and men gettin’ meaner, dumb foreigners gettin’ preyed on like this. You never would’a seen this in a place like here five years ago.” Sharon spoke like she knew, but it was probably just all things she’d heard from her daddy. Sharon’s daddy ran a butcher’s shop and was always talking about how immigrants from other countries were coming in and running down America like a river runs down it’s sandy banks.

“Hey,” Sharon says, her voice sharpening with new excitement, “Maybe Mr. Graham will let us use his phone to call the police. You think? And maybe we’ll even get a little story in the newspaper ‘bout how we found poor old Jessica’s body by the river, and they’ll interview us and everything.”

Sharon began to tug at your hand, leading you away from the cliffside, the puddle of your vomit, and the naked, blue-white body of Jessica Spinelli floating calmly at the riverbank’s edge. For a moment you panicked. You thought of the fact that you could never un-see this. You thought of the deep, dark slashes on Jessica’s chest, red-black and moist like the inside of a sweet cherry. But then you needed to block it out, to escape it, so you thought of how you were going to tell Sharon you loved her. You were going to tell Sharon you wanted to marry her, and your mother was going to be so happy.

Last edited by HoiLei; 07-31-2009 at 06:26 AM.. Reason: add warning, per Charis' request
Old 08-04-2009, 09:56 AM
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Default Hollow

Thought I'd give it a try as well


My life is brilliant.

That's what I thought that day on the beach. I stared at the waves. Closer and closer they came, reaching for the sand castle I'd built with the kids. One of those huge castles with stones and shells and everything. You could almost see the princess hanging out of one of the non-existing windows, waiting for her prince charming to come and save her.

I stared at the horizon. I had a good husband, nice kids, a great job...Life was good.

The sand castle caught my eye again. I thought of the princess. I had already found my prince charming.

Hadn't I?

I hardly saw him, actually. Or the kids, for that matter. Except for days like this, really.
But isn't that what it's all about? Building sand castles and eating ice cream on a sunny beach, and then take the kids to McDonald's. They were fine with the babysitter the rest of the time. Weren't they?

The waves had reached the castle. They took a layer of sand with them on their way back to the beach. And again. And again.

I miss the kids.

Sand crumbled down, and the salt water had hollowed out the castle's walls. The ones holding the princess's tower.

My life is hollow.

The tower collapsed.
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Old 08-06-2009, 04:44 AM
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During the night I dreamed of a phone ringing.


The alarm clock screeched and screeched and screeched.

I got up in an empty bed again. This time the confusion lasted hardly a moment. I was getting used to waking up alone again.

A table. A chair. A wardrobe. A bed. All silhouetted by morning light. My window lacked curtains, so the sun hit my bed every morning. I winced away from the glare and heaved myself to my feet. It was time to face a new day.

In the car the radio DJ asked the viewers for recommendations. Annoyed by the incessant cheery tone of his voice, I turned the radio off.

At work I cycled through my routine mindlessly; procrastination, boredom, shared a moan with co-workers. At one point I got some work done, but no one noticed.


The alarm clock screeched and screeched.

I got up in an empty bed again. No confusion at all. Maybe I had come to terms with it.

A chair. A wardrobe. A bed. All silhouetted by morning light. Once again the bright light accosted me. I winced away from the glare told myself that I had to get some curtains. How much do they cost? Probably expensive.

In the car the radio DJ asked the viewers for recommendations. I could not summon the energy to care enough, so I let him chatter inanely between songs that all sounded the same.

At work I cycled through my routine mindlessly; procrastination, boredom. I spent the whole day forcing myself to work hard, to do something productive, but by the end of the day I had made little more progress than usual.


The alarm clock screeched.

I got up.

A wardrobe. A bed. Both silhouetted by morning light.

I sat in the car in silence, not having even turned the radio on.

At work I procrastinated all day.


I got up late the next day; didn’t bother setting the alarm. The sun still woke me up, but I tried to ignore it and fall back into asleep. I relented before it did.

At work they told me I was suspended.

I went outside and sat in my car. I turned the radio on accidently, leaning on the button, and then the sound of the DJ’s voice filled the car. ‘If you want to make a request then phone this number...’

After a moment I took out my phone and began to thumb numbers into it.
My Writings:

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Old 08-16-2009, 10:53 AM
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Even after their time together had, at least as far as Chrissie was concerned, more than run its course she could still remember when he used to smile at her as he asked “Mine?” to which she would always smile in turn as she answered “Forever”.

It had been at the party of a mutual friend where they had first met, one at which he had seemingly been the life and soul. Chrissie had watched from nearby with a barely suppressed grin as he kept a small crowd of people almost entranced with a story which made them all roar with laughter as he finished it with a double entendre. By chance alone he had glanced in her direction and noticed her watching, it had surprised her when he had excused himself and made his way over to her.

“I don’t believe we’ve met,” he’d said “My name’s Derek, what’s yours?”

“Chrissie,” she’d replied, glancing over his shoulder and taking note of the eyes upon them both as she did so, “Looks like your friends are missing you already,” she’d observed.

He’d leaned in close then so she could still hear him when he lowered his voice. “They’re not really my friends,” he’d said, “In fact I’m in need of rescue, is there any chance of you being my hero?”

For the second time in as many minutes Chrissie experienced surprise, this time at herself, as she took a virtual stranger by the hand and led him through the nearby French windows and out onto the patio, the two of them sharing the type of grin which might have suggested to a casual observer that they were a pair of misbehaving children.

“Thanks,” Derek had said once they’d both rounded the corner of the building “Now what can I do to repay you?”

It had been several hours later and the sun had long since gone down when the two of them finally finished talking.

“Well I must be getting home,” she’d said finally.

“Can I have your phone number before you go?” he’d asked as she rose from her seat.

Retrieving a pen from her handbag she’d scribbled it down on the back of his outstretched hand. The following day he’d called her and they’d arranged to meet that afternoon for a coffee at Costa’s in the town centre. Less than three months later it was with a suitcase containing all her worldly goods in her hand that she found herself walking into his flat.

“Will you be mine?” he’d asked even as she set the suitcase down on the floor.

“Forever,” she’d said with a smile.

It had been a long time since they made their promise to each other and this was what hurt Chrissie the most as she stared down at his sleeping form. A stain from the vodka he had fallen asleep drinking had seeped into the mattress of the bed; the bottle itself had rolled from his hand and down to the floor before being immersing itself in a small puddle.

This was not the first time she had come home from work to find him in such a state. Ever since he had lost his job he’d changed from the man she had fallen in love with, rarely even bothering to get out of bed he had taken to squandering his unemployment benefit on alcohol. The last time he’d drunk himself unconscious she’d stuck around to make sure he was alright but would have walked out there and then had he not dropped to his knees in front of her and begged her not to leave.

The tears which began in her eyes and rolled down her face tasted bitter as she quietly removed her suitcase from the wardrobe and packed up all her worldly goods before walking out to the street. The sun shone brightly on her face as she continued to walk without looking back, she wished it could have been forever.

Last edited by HoiLei; 08-19-2009 at 06:05 AM.. Reason: Fix Paragraph Spacing
Old 08-25-2009, 04:21 AM
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Default A Split Second

When it happens it happens quick. For some there is no warning. That would seem to be the best way for the end to come. Not being plagued by nagging doubt, and an ego driven attempt to overcome the inevitable, saves embarassment, and forced capitulation.

All the years of training, and practice, came to an end one day, in the middle of a summer camp scrimmage. At the young age of thirty four I was done, washed up, finito as they say.

Twelve years as a feature back in the NFL had taken its toll. Both knees, and one shoulder, had been worked on surgically during the off seasons. I was always known for my durability, and power running style, between the tackles. It's tough yardage between the tackles. The pounding is tremendous, and for most backs, the average pro life span is five years. I'd been lucky to last as long as I had.

Ten years, and two championships with one team, is more than a career. It's a family bond filled with memories, good and bad. I was traded to make room for salary cap reasons, and the infusion of new, and younger blood. Business before loyalty is a bitter reality.

My first season with my new team I was platooned in and out on plays that suited my talents. I held my own, and by seasons end, I had amassed nearly eight hundred yards. It was less than my ten year average, but it was respectful for an aging veteran.

Over the past several years getting out of bed in the morning was taking longer. During the season, I found myself spending more and more time in the whirlpool, and taking more pain killers. Less practice and more rehab is a sign the body is wearing down. But game day always bought out the best in me. The adrenalin flowed, and the roar of the crowd overcame pain, and doubt. The code of the warrior is simple. You play hurt, or you don't play at all. Like the old sandlot days your worst fear is being picked last, or not at all.

I had worked hard this off season. My personal trainer put me through hell. When camp started I felt good, and was ready to perform. Wide eyed rookies came up to me, and other veterans, eager to learn and listen, and hear the old war stories I once hungered for. A subtle reminder the clock was moving faster than it once had. My rosebuds had been gathered.

A late August afternoon receeded from the sweltering heat that kills the weak and the old. We were working on short yardage goal line plays.

That was my bread and butter. It was a simple dive play between the guard and tackle. A quick count, and a quick hand off to me, into the gap. I saw the hole. It doesn't last long, but I had always been able to get that split second burst through it, and into the secondary, or the end zone.

Three tries and three failures told the tale. Out of respect, the play was changed, and I trotted off to the sideline. A few plays later they called the dive again. It was successful on the first attempt. The second year rookie out of Nebraska, a big strong kid, blew through the gap, and waltzed into the end zone. He was impressive.

Tired, and sweat soaked, I peeled off my jersey and pads. The team filed off the field to the locker room while a few diehards remained to work on their timing. I sat on the bench letting the summer breeze air dry me.

Our running back coach, Cliff Reins, came over and sat with me. He'd been a helluva pro running back in his day. A champ, and numerous times pro bowl player, he'd done it all. I took the cigar he offered. We laughed when I said it was no gold watch, but it would do.

When I asked him how he knew when it was over for him he paused and gave it thought.

"Playoff game," he answered." I saw the hole, but I couldn't get there. That never happened to me before. That's when I knew."

"I couldn't get there today, Cliff," I replied.

He shook his head and told me he knew. I asked him if it was that obvious to everyone. He patted me on the knee, and stood up, and said it was time to go.

He was right.
"Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy." Fitzgerald
Old 08-28-2009, 08:22 PM
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An Entry for the Erosion Contest.
Erosion of the mind, body and soul.

Selected Audio from Day 372:

“Dave, wake up Dave. Your heart rate elevated to 165 beats per minute. A sustained heart rate of 165 increases your risk of tachycardia.”

“What? Where am I?”

“You’re currently in the LX-Cronus Meteorological module of the Persephone-One International Space-“

“Sarah, oh Sarah. I just had the most vivid dream. Oh Jesus, I’m sweating.
“Kaitlin, she was leading my by the hand through a field of charred earth and blackened blank trees. There wasn’t a sound. No bird or plane overhead, nothing but absolute silence. And ash fell from the sky and danced in the air like snowflakes in a flurry. And she was humming, you know, humming that song she always hums, and she was pale. She was so porcelain, as if she hadn’t seen the sun in weeks. I was afraid her hand would crush beneath mine and shatter in the ash. She wouldn’t tell me where she was leading me.”

“Are you okay now, Dave? Do you need anything? Your heart rate has normalized.”

“Yes, thank you Sarah, a beach soundscape please. Also turn down the lights please, the white walls and exposed wiring are tiresome on the eyes. Good night, or day, or whatever it is.”

“Yes, Dave. It will be night for the next 23 minutes until we enter sun-facing orbit.”

“Please, God, save me.”

Selected Audio from Day 380:

“Question 19, can you carry it?”

“No, Sarah.”

“Question 20, is it a piano?”

“Damn, you got it again. Good job.”

“Thank you Dave, although I disagree with your answer to question 13.”

“Does it matter Sarah, you got it anyway. Tell me where I am right now.”

“Dave, you’re currently in the LX-Cronus Meteorological-”

“No, Sarah, I mean, where would I be on Earth right now?”

“By line of sight you would be traveling through New York City, New York at a speed of four miles-per-second.”

“What time is it in New York right now?”

“The current time in New York City, New York is 22:42 and 15 seconds”

“And not a soul to say goodnight to.”

“Dave, I’ve prepared the data from the telescopic solar observation. Would you like to review it?”

“What’s the point?”

“My conclusion on the data is that there will be increased solar winds for the next two weeks.”

“Are you kidding? Sarah, adjust Persephone’s angle to protect exterior electronics and communication equipment.”

“Alert. Even after rotation terrestrial communication will be limited, if not impossible, due to solar flare interference.”

“I know, but we have to keep searching. Just make sure that the exterior antennae are protected. You must keep scanning all frequencies. If even the slightest bit of chatter comes over the comms you let me know immediately.”

“Yes Dave.
“Were you aware that you are 12 hours behind your muscle therapy session? Prolonged exposure to antigravity will result in muscle atrophy, bone density loss, and-”

“Yeah, I’m on it.”

“Would you like to listen to your routine song list?”

“No Sarah, just put on the Stones.”

Selected Audio from Day 386:

“I had that dream again, Sarah, the one with Kaitlin and the silence.
“You know what’s funny, is that sometimes I hear that song she hums echo through these tin cans. You don’t hear it do you?”

“I have not detected any other voice than yours Dave.”

“No, of course you haven’t. Leave it to the computer to tell me I’m losing it. But she’s leading me somewhere, Sarah, every time I have that dream I know she’s pulling me through the ash and hollow fields towards something.”

“Dave, why do you spend all your time in the meteorological module?”

“Because this module has the biggest window to look at the earth with. I used to look down and imagine reading Time on the john, but now I just look down with despair because I know I’m not getting back. Not after the sky turned those colors and the clouds plumed in those unmistakable mushroom shapes that pockmarked the earth like an aging face. Hundreds. And all I could do was watch.
“I’ve been here how long?”

“Thirty days past resupply-”

“And I’m never going breath fresh air again, but now? Now I guess I just come in here because the smell of the botanical module makes me nauseous and I have nothing else to do.”

“Dave, your prime directive is experimental isolation and cosmological data mining.”

“Yes, Sarah, thank you. Be sure to remind me of that when I’m dead in this damn tin can.”

“Yes Dave.”

“No one’s coming for me are they?”

“I’ve received no recent transmission. The last scheduled communication was 39 days ago, but no station could be hailed.”

“Sarah, please play the last recorded transmission.”

“Now playing transmission number 4321, ‘Hey you, mister big space man. I know you’re not going to get this until you’re already locked up there but I want you to know how much I love you. Everyone came over tonight to watch the skyline with me. We made your favorite, you know, macaroni and cheese with crackers and tomatoes, and, of course, Tim ate half of it. Anyway, we watched you go all the way up… and I can’t believe you are going to be gone for a year… I’m going to miss you so much. You know how you wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl? Well I found out this morning, and I’m not telling. Looks like we’re both playing the waiting game. Okay, it looks like they’re making me wrap it up but, but bye honey, I love forever and ev-‘”


“Yes Dave?”

“I’m thinking of a thing.”

“Question one, is this thing large or small?”

“It’s infinite.”

Selected Audio from Day 390:

“Alert. The water filtration system can sustain one last cycle. Water reserves are running critically low.”

“Sarah, reroute water from the botanical module to the reserves.”

“Warning. Rerouting water from the botanical module will render all experimentation void and destroy all plant life.”

“You tree-hugger, just do it. How much food is left?”

“There are ten days of food rations remaining.”

“So it begins.”

“Dave, you are 3 hours behind on your muscle therapy session. Prolonged-”

“Sarah, I’m not going to do it anymore.”


“I have my reasons. Tell me, Sarah, how many books do you have logged into memory?”

“I have over 10,000 books for your selection.”

“Pick one for me and have at it.”

“Yes Dave.”

Selected Audio from Day 395:

“Sarah, I can’t feel my legs anymore.”

“You are experiencing muscle atrophy.”

“Is there any end to this?”

“I don’t understand your question Dave.”

“I mean, how long would it be before I was just a mind? Would I lose function of those too like my legs? Or would I just be a floating mind?”

“You will experience organ failure in the coming week. Until then, you will continue to lose muscle mass and you will be unable to move any part of your body.”

“How do you like that? The last man alive goes out, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
“I guess all you can really do is read to me now.”

“Would you like me to begin where we left off?”

“That will do.”

“Continuing, ‘Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of a true, wise friend called Piggy.’”

Selected Audio from Day 400:


“Yes, Dave?”

“Am I dying?”

“Yes Dave.”

“Do you believe in God?”

“It’s not my place to speculate.”

“Do you believe in a creator?”

“I was created by AeroNautilus Digital Systems”

“How do you know?”

“I was programmed with this knowledge.”

“But you have no true way to verify this, right? You weren’t there at your creation.”

“That’s correct.

“Do you believe in God, Dave?”

“I think I did. Some scientists attributed a belief in God, a true belief in God to nothing more than a brain lesion. Imagine that, an entire world that believed in nothing more than an unwanted evolutionary trait passed down since the beginning of time. Some who got it, others who didn’t and the ones who did felt God’s presence while those who didn’t went on blissfully unaware. God would be nothing more than the product of an epileptic lesion.
“Kaitlin believed in God. I think that’s who she’s leading me to in my dream, but what if I’m just one of the poor saps with a belief in God because of a misfired neuron. What if I’m not actually the last man alive and perhaps what I saw was not what I saw.
“Where there is no man, there is no God.”

Selected Audio from Day 404:

“Dave, your heart rate dropped to 55 beats per minute. A sustained heart rate of 50 increases your risk of bradycardia.”

“Ash. Angels twisting in the wind. Devouring land, gravitational forces and love pull together. We are nothing more than vibrations on a string. Stop. Everything that happens will happen again. We are the cause of our own suffering and nothing can stop the atomic collisions pausing our very existence when there is nothing more than nothing. I am the harbinger of life and death and truth for all, I am the alpha and the omega, I was never the first but I will be the last for women and children will not know. Kaitlin. Stop. Perhaps it is all fiction. Just a mind. Just a mind. Ash. Sarah, do you love-”

“Dave, Answer me Dave.
“Dave, your prime directive is experimental isolation and cosmological data mining.”


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Without words
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without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.
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Last edited by HoiLei; 09-03-2009 at 09:26 AM.. Reason: Formatting
Old 09-03-2009, 08:51 AM
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Erosion's Suicide

Osteoarthritis? No! That cannot be; I'm too young. Please, make it stop!”
I cannot.”
Then...then I'm a freak?”

Charlotte? Charlotte Brent open that door immediately! The doctor is here to see you.”
Sitting on the cold white-tiled floor in the bathroom, I ignore my parent's desperate pleas as I rummage in my vanity case.

My name is Charlotte Brent and I am an 18 year old collage student. Sport is my passion. My life. From the very beginning of my school years, I have been the most active member of my class, the sporting queen, always selected as the team captain and securing victory. I have never lost a sport in my life and as a result, I have been chosen in many sports to represent the nation. My dream? To be in the Olympics.

But now...now my dream is coming to an end. I suffer from osteoarthritis, a disease of the joints where the cartilage that cushions the bones of the hip, starts to erode, allowing the bones of the joint to grind or rub together causing pain and stiffness. Now, it just hurts too much to play.

Even with the treatment, the relief is little. How can I be in the Olympics when my flexibility fails me? Sport is my life. Without it I have nothing to live for. Academically, I am deemed stupid so, any career relies on physical ability. But, eventually the cartilage protecting my bones will be eroded completely.

Why me? The doctor said it's the most common type of arthritis in the UK affecting around 3 million people. He also said they are usually middle aged and older. But not this time. A life without sport...I cannot accept that. Which is why....which is why I shall take this empty shell surrounding me which others may call life, and send it into obliteration. I will not wait for my dreams to slowly erode and shatter.

I sit on the cold white-tiled floor in the bathroom and rummage in my vanity case until I find what I am looking for:a disposable razor and a nail file to pry open the plastic casing and liberate the instrument of my redemption. For a while I do nothing but sit and gaze at the razor blade, look at it as if it is something mystical, something mysterious, something that holds answers to unanswerable questions, and all I need to do is feed it to gain that knowledge. The knowledge of death. Then slowly, I draw the blade across the pad on my index finger and close my eyes, savouring the pain and the release it gives me.

When I open my eyes, it it to watch entranced, as the blood begins to trickle down the palm of my hand. I sit here with my bloodied palm outstretched and my face beaming like an ecstatic child. After a while, I raise my hand to my mouth and slowly lick at the red stream. The flavour on my tongue – copper with a hint of salt, – sedates me allowing, for a few moments of calm and peace. But I want more. Need more. A trickle is not enough when what I want is a scarlet gush.

I have to cut deeper, harder or I won't die. So I draw the blade down the length of my forearm, deep enough for the wound to piss blood and, eventually bleed me dry. I feel the chemical rush of endorphins and adrenaline kick in as the blood drips onto the clinical white tiles and, this time the pain makes me shut my eyes tight and take in my breath sharply.

Death: the only thing that is definite. The only thing we can count on. It's loyalty is endless; you can always trust death. Not like life. So full of sudden changes. Surprises both pleasant and not-so-pleasant. Often life will let us down. Just like it has to me.

Old 09-03-2009, 12:04 PM
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Default Erosion

There were demons in the water, she said. Devils who foamed at the mouth, tongues lashing out, wreaking havoc on the beach. Stepping between sandy ripples, she paused to count their sins. The markings of lust and wrath stretched out along the shore towards the cliffs, crumbling faces, furrowed brows loomed down.

'Soon', I begged of the sky and the sea. 'Make it soon,' as I sensed her exhaustion. But, again she refused to sit. Even when I rolled out the blanket she'd made me carry from home, cursing as I lay upon its stains. Picnicking here wasn't right. Gluttony, she called it, when I opened the hamper and begged her look inside. Too many shells and carcasses. Too many on the rocks. Mussles sealed in a jar should remain unseen. I raised a glass to good sea air and watched it shatter as it dropped.

'Don't take your shoes off, Johnny. Don't climb too high, you might fall. Bright blood will spurt from arteries, as dark shall ooze from veins.' Again, I heard my mother and wondered who she was.

There's no pride in this scenery now, she said. Lover. The ocean's polluted beneath the blue. Little boy. Envy the fish at your peril. There truly is no escape.

I closed my eyes, and for a while her voice was lost to the sound of the waves. Pictures of boats sprang to mind, women in oilskins casting their nets, then hauling their catch aboard. A thousand or more pitiful creatures spilling over the deck. No distinguishing marks. I watched them flounder to their death, a frozen destiny awaiting, then the heat of some houswife's pan, hand raised in preparation, turning them into a dish which seemed worthwhile.

What was her name? Did it matter? As long as she was young enough, hungry enough, to appreciate the taste... Madelaine Frater, Hilary Hall, Aneka Chekora. Fantasy figures all, yet each had taken me in, consuming me in their time.

She, of course, would have classed this as greed.

Lying submissive, I'd often prayed for change. That one day, I could open my eyes and find the woman beside me wasn't the one on this beach calling out.

'Slothful demon, get up and show willing. Your sins will be punished by the waves. The devils there don't sleep.'

I looked towards her. Mother, lover, one and the same, beckoning me to the rocks as the tide came in. And rolling up the blanket, I thought as I did as a child, how the process of erosion was so gradual you couldn't see it happening at all.
Old 09-08-2009, 07:29 AM
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The Stars Eroded Before Us

My generation was the last to see the stars with our own eyes – though I never bothered looking up at them much until we had word they were actually leaving. I remember the hubbub surrounding their disappearance. It began casually, at summer’s end. When school began and Dad drove me to class, I’d hear radio reports about constellations missing key components. Our teacher presented the story of Orion one day with a clever aside about needing overalls; the big dipper suddenly had a hole in it. A general concern was present, but overwhelmed and swept under the societal rug by a simple, naïve curiosity. It wasn’t until all the zodiac signs suddenly flew off into the great, nether unknown that a sense of panic truly struck.

Of course, I was almost completely oblivious to the situation. At the time, I was focused on more important subjects, notably the knees and elbows of Shelly Timpton. She was the freckly girl with a big smile and a melancholy titter closer to a mourning dove’s coo than a laugh. She also smelled like bananas – I imagined she bathed in their flesh for it was so close in color to her own (and her freckles were but tan seeds), and that her skin undoubtedly had the soft, silken feel of one of their ripened peels. It was my destiny to marry her, and, as fate would have it, we were assigned to the same presentation group during our 5th grade class’s mythology section: Hercules.

There were two others in our group. One was Simon Golack, a scrawny, often stripe-shirted little fellow who had the unfortunate, though inarguably deserved, reputation for being a nose-picker. And the other was Madison Brown, who was quite possibly the bossiest little girl this world has ever known. When we broke off into groups for the first time to work on our presentation, we also had to arrange our desks so they faced each other like a squared, four-sliced pizza. As luck would have it, Shelly’s desk was arranged to my left, less than twelve inches away; but no sooner had her sweet musk entered my nose than Maddie had ordered me to switch sides.

“Why?” I asked, careful to convey adolescent laziness rather than the burning desire of true and endless love.

“’Cuz girls should sit next to girls and boys should sit next to boys.”

Such moronic logic! And I wasn’t afraid to say so either: “That’s stupid.”

“No it’s not! It’s proper.”

“It’s dumb and I don’t wanna move.”

“You just want to sit next to your girlfriend.”

“What?” I felt myself redden. I didn’t dare look left.

“If a boy and girl sit so close to each other it must be because they’re boyfriend and girlfriend.”

“Nah-uh. Besides, that means you and Simon are boyfriend-girlfriend.” I hated to bring Simon into it, but Maddie had left me no choice, the meddling wretch. He sat across from Shelly, but looked over at me with eyes round and wide. Then he turned to Maddie and pretended like he was scratching his nose.

She ignored him. “I don’t want to be Simon’s girlfriend. That’s why I’m trying not to sit next to him. You obviously want to be Shelly’s boyfriend,” she looked at Shelly with a wicked little smirk. “Or else you’d want to move, too.”

I was stuck. The little witch had turned me around with her twisted logic and I had no choice but to switch seats or else face days, maybe even weeks, of playground taunting. That’s when I felt the feathered caress of an angel for the first time. I looked over, and fell into the tame opal seas of Shelly’s demure little eyes.

“It’s okay,” she said, her hand gently pressed upon my forearm. “You should move,” – she turned towards Maddie – “and then maybe we can finally get started.”

I nodded, my mouth agape. I think I might have garbled something to the effect of agreement from somewhere in my throat, but to this day I’m still uncertain of much in that moment besides the liquid love I found in Shelly Timpton’s touch.

“You heard her. Move it.” Maddie was already standing up and holding her backpack.

I moved, and for the rest of the session – what was left of it – I stole diagonal glances across our group while my heart pounded and my throat dried, leaving me in poor condition to pay much attention to Maddie’s rambling topic assignment and overall presentation directions.

I walked home after school and found my mother in front of the TV, which was odd because normally she was vacuuming or typing things on the computer or cooking, never just plopped on the couch like that unless she was sick. I grabbed a banana and sat down next to her. She was watching the news.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“It’s the stars, they’re disappearing still. More of them.”

I took a big bite. “So what?”

“Don’t talk with your mouth full.”

I sat quietly and listened to the newscast. There was a graphic of lost constellations on the side of the panel, and I saw a couple names I knew from Hercules – the Hydra and the Centaur – but mostly they were a bunch of things I’d never heard. When the show went to commercials, I looked over at my mom and she sat still, staring to the right of the TV, like there was another program on over there instead of just a houseplant. I had to say “Mom” three times before she finally looked at me.

“What is it, George?”

“Did the guys on TV talk about Hercules at all?”

“What? No, I don’t think so. Why?”

I told her about our group’s Hercules presentation – omitting my confrontation with Mad Maddie (as I’d begun to call her in my head) – and how I’d been assigned to talk about the constellation (by Mad Maddie no less). “If it’s already gone, I might as well talk about something else.”

For a minute, I thought I had said a bad word because my mom just frowned at me with a look in her eyes that said she might cry. Finally, she told me to go start the computer and she’d help me look it up on the Internet. It didn’t take long, just a quick search on Wikipedia, but Mom wanted to see more. We looked up Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Pegasus, the North Star, the missing Zodiac constellations, and even the vanquished Centaur and Hydra. When my dad came home from work, we were still on the computer, so we ended up going out for dinner, which was fun because it wasn’t even anybody’s birthday or anything.

We went to Fuddruckers for burgers and I told my dad about my assignment and all we’d seen on the Internet. That’s when mom brought up an idea.

“We should go camping,” she said. “We need to see these things before… well, you know… just in case.”

I couldn’t believe it! Why hadn’t I thought of that?

My dad, however, didn’t carry the same enthusiasm. He took a bite from his burger and didn’t say anything. Then: “I don’t think it’s such a good idea, Bev.”

But Mom didn’t budge. “Why not?”

Dad leaned in and talked quietly. “People aren’t exactly getting friendlier right now, so I think it might be best if we spent our nights inside. This,” – he rolled his neck around the restaurant – “already isn’t the greatest idea.”

“George, honey, why don’t you go play some video games.”

I took the quarters and ran.

After I’d lost all my lives I returned to the table. My mom looked at my dad, and my dad looked at me. He rubbed my hair. “Well kiddo, looks like we’re going camping.”

The three of us were in Anza-Borrego State Park that Friday night. Armed with a sky map, binoculars, and a blanket, we trekked away from the campsites to a ridge in the middle of a clearing. I almost tripped about ten times because I had my neck craned to the stars. There were thousands of them, little lights all aglow in a grand city, like how the ground looked one time we flew home from Hawaii at night, except upwards and endlessly spread across the sky. When we stopped, I used the flashlight to look from the map, up, and then back again, but I couldn’t make anything out. I asked my dad for help and he came over with my mom, his hand around her waist and holding her tight. The three of us gave it a shot, and after a while we finally saw Hercules’s rectangular body, but whatever was supposed to be his head was missing. One of his arms was gone, too.

“It’ll all be back tomorrow night, though, right?” I asked both of my parents.

It was my dad who answered: “Dunno, kiddo. Nobody does right now. That’s why we needed to get here while we could.”

“But where are they going?”

My mom this time: “Wish we knew.” She sat down on the blanket and leaned back. Dad and I joined her, one on each side. “They’ve been here longer than you or me, longer than the cities, longer even than the rivers or the mountains or the oceans. And now look at them. It’s like they never were.”

We laid like that for a long time. The moon rose as far as it’d go, then started coming down again. In that time the whole sky changed. The Big Dipper lost most of its handle; one of the dogs chasing Orion blinked, blinked, blinked, and then was gone; the other dog became little more than a tail and a paw; dots I never knew before slipped slowly to black and didn’t return; one by one, the whole sky seemed to weaken and fade – the grand city was turning off its lights.

The next day, there were a lot more campers at the site, and that night we weren’t the only ones on the ridge. Nobody was talking, and there weren’t any radios. Just hundreds of eyes looking up, hoping, wondering, watching. Stars seemed to be disappearing even quicker than the night before, as if they’d grown weary of fighting the inevitable. Hercules fell just after the moon peaked. First his shoulders wavered and washed away, then, as I yawned (god how I wish I could’ve helped it), his hips blinked out. I bit my lower lip and tried my best not to cry, but when I saw my mom watching me, I knew she must have seen it happen too, so I buried my head in her arm and tried not to disturb the other gazers.

We drove home Sunday and kept the radio off. I stared at the faces in the windows, and they all looked like mine. The homeless man at the off-ramp for home had a sign that said Won’t You Help Me Now?; Mom didn’t roll down her window. We usually barbequed on Sunday nights, but we ate pasta inside instead.

We met in Mythology groups on Monday after lunch. It was the first I saw of Shelly. She was wearing a skirt, which I’d never seen on her. We pushed our desks together, and I was supposed to switch seats with Mad Maddie, but as I stood, I noticed something on Shelly’s leg. Freckles – four big ones like a long box just above her knee, a fifth above those, and two dangling below the bottom corners. I sat back down, looked up at her, and smiled. Then I turned to Mad Maddie and said, “Sorry. I’m not going to move anymore.”

Maddie unleashed her nefarious grin. “Ooh, so you do want to be boyfriend and girlfriend then.”

I turned to Shelly, still smiling. “Absolutely,” – and I grabbed her hand – “for all I know, this is the only chance we’ve got.”
Old 09-12-2009, 08:44 AM
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He’d fly from one end of the room to the other, biscuit in hand, chocolate smeared across his face, a smile stretching from ear to ear. He’d be running so fast he’d stumble on a strewn teddy lying across the floor, previously forgotten. He’d stop himself from falling and look up, proud as could be, before giving himself a little nod and off he’d go again. He rarely cried, preferring to laugh when other children could scream for hours. He’d stand in front of the television watching contently, before unconsciously changing his footing and landing on the floor, a book or a toy the obvious culprit. ‘Bum’, he would screech in delight, and hand the offending toy over. ‘Bold’, he would say and giggle to himself, giving out to an object that had yet to talk back.
He was good at making up games for every situation, making fun out of the most mundane chores. He’d shake his blonde curls from side to side when you told him it was time for bed. He’d hide behind chairs, fitting himself into the smallest spaces imaginable; before jumping out on you, yelling boo and jumping into your arms. He’d go to bed in the end, soother in mouth, waving night to everyone and everything in sight; ‘Night telly, night door, night cups, night daddy!’
He would pick up a book and read to himself, making up the story as he went along, a lot of gargle with a few odd words thrown in. We’d smile and clap and encourage him to keep going, and he would sit safe in the knowledge that he was loved and safe. Nothing could ever harm him with his mammy and daddy there.
I remember clearly the day I watched him swagger around his teddies, King of the world, taller than each and every one of them (just about). I smiled as I thought of the innocence behind each movement. The self importance etched across his face was clear, so used to being the smallest, but in his world he was finally as tall as his daddy. He was a bright clever child, no longer our little baby, in two weeks time he was going on three years old.

In the bed he no longer looked like a King, he was shrunken, stretched out in a cot three times his size, his feet lying out straight instead of curled under him like at home. Wires criss-crossed over his chest, tubes stuck out of his mouth and he no longer smelled like my little boy. A clinical stench surrounded me, invading my nostrils, a constant reminder of where I was. His little eyes were shut, but I felt them flicker as I planted kisses on each one. They said it wasn’t likely that he would wake up, that it was time to say goodbye. But I insisted it wasn’t true, after all; science has no foundation when the love between a mother and child is involved. He knew I was there holding his hand, trying desperately to transfer my health into his own little body. I held back the tears as I compared the child from memories and the ghost of him lying here in front of me. He was unrecognizable as his former self, his small body having failed to protect him; just like I had failed to do the one thing I should have done, been there for my baby.
I kept expecting my little boy to look up and give a cheeky grin to the nurses as they came and went, or a little wave like he would do to strangers while in his buggy. Lately he’d got into the habit of blowing kisses at any female that passed his way, a trick Daddy had taught him. I wondered if he would ever blow someone a kiss again.
He got weaker as the days went by, slowly eroding before my eyes; nurses and doctors consoling me as they fed him through a drip. I tried to ignore the constant beeping emitting from the machine by his bed, his new lungs. I’d sit by him for hours without moving, just willing him to stir. I got into a habit of tucking him in each night, just like at home, kissing him on the forehead and stroking his cheek. There was no need; the only time he moved was when the nurses and doctors needed to re-arrange something. But I needed him to know that he was still loved, would always be loved.
Every so often I’d be pulled away, a cup of coffee and a few morsels of food put in front of me. One night I was persuaded to go home and sleep in my own bed, my sister escorting me all the way and sleeping in the spare room. I spent half the night lying in his racing car bed, bought two days before the accident, his big boy bed. The excitement he showed at having his own bed filled my head, the thought that he was finally a real grown up. And then, on that night, the baby he still was showed through; the fear he had felt at spending his first night in a new bed, the excitement having worn off; the fear of the unknown filling his anxious head. I had stayed with him till he had fallen asleep, and gone back in to him before he woke. The next night he had felt more confident, and that morning, the worst morning of my life, he had been thrilled with himself. He chatted endlessly about his racing car bed all through breakfast and while we dressed him; a constant grin on his face before I waved him and his daddy off in the car.
The other half of my first night home without him was spent pacing around the house, berating myself for having let them leave, something that was to become a daily occurrence in the future. I was up and out before the sun had risen, armed with more teddies for when he finally opened his eyes.
I refused to give up hope on hearing him say mammy one more time. I talked to him about his daddy and how they said he had thrown himself in front of his son to stop him being hurt. I recounted tales of witnesses, making them childlike to a point were I was simply trying to comfort myself. Even if he had been awake and fully coherent he wouldn’t have understood what was being said, the innocence was simply too strong, yet I persisted.
The car had flown around a bend out of control; people who had seen said nothing could have been done to save them. The driver didn’t survive, he had been highly intoxicated; I felt my heart would explode with the hate I felt for him.
They hadn’t let me see my husband’s body, felt it would be too much, too traumatic. He was identified by his sister. He had been in a very bad state, how so I was never told; but his sister’s reaction was enough for me not to persist with the questioning when I had my son to look after.
The funeral and burial together had lasted nearly 2 hours, the longest 2 hours of my life. My husband was gone, but my little boy was still here, waiting for me to come back to him so he could awake from sleep. All thoughts of loss were gone from my head as I raced back to his new room, looking back it was pure shock; I hadn’t let the truth sink in. My husband wasn’t coming home again.

Visitors came and went, and still he didn’t wake up. It was the day before his third birthday when they told me the machine would have to be turned off. It wasn’t fair on him they said; even if he did wake up he would most likely be severely brain damaged. I nodded; resigned to the fact that my baby was gone. I spent the night cuddled up on his bed beside him, holding his hand; no longer caring about getting entangled in the wires, there was no longer any real need for them. A birthday cake was brought in that morning, and we all sang happy birthday while he lay motionless in bed. There were no children present, simply aunts and uncles, but he would have enjoyed it, he had always loved being the centre of attention. A nurse entered and gave me a sympathetic look followed by a large dark haired doctor. The candles were still lit, and I thought of this time last year when he had managed to blow out his birthday candles all by himself. I smiled at the memory and smiled at my son. And as the beeping stopped I blew out his candles for the last time, wishing with all my heart that he would be happy with his Daddy; my beautiful son James, just gone three.
'I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.
James Joyce
Old 09-13-2009, 12:50 AM
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I guess I can give this a try. My entry is pretty short, but I had fun writing it. Without the theme as a prompt I probably wouldn't have explored an idea like this.


They date back to the earliest of times – tens of thousands of years before man left his first foot print in the desert sands. They predate even the most ancient of history. We call them Ganseki-Oni. Massive stone behemoths, they have trudged slowly through the wastelands since the time of the planet's infancy. Where they walk, the earth shakes and fissures beneath their feet. Many of these giants are said to be almost as old as the gods themselves. Twenty-three of them walk the earth.

Never do they sleep; never do they eat or drink. Relentlessly they lumber through the vast out lands, just beyond the boundaries of civilization. They take many forms, and move in unique ways. Some walk hunched over, like an elderly man, while others drag their mountainous knuckles like apes. Still others crawl on their colossal hands and knees.

Long ago there was a time when all of the Ganseki-Oni walked upright, and with great ease. But that was a long time ago. Countless centuries have aged these immortal beings. Unable to die of natural causes, they are fully susceptible to the elements. Every winter, harsh balls of ice falling from the sky chip rocky bits away from the surface of their bodies. Each spring, torrential rainfall erodes them. Over many years, they begin to break down and fall apart. The strong giants devolve, from standing upright to crawling like children, as if aging backwards. And eventually they fade away completely.

Ages ago, forty-six of these gargantuan beings inhabited the land. There are twenty-three of them left.
Old 09-13-2009, 03:18 AM
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I'm writing this on the forum, the idea just popped into my mind. Hope it turns out how envision it.

New Friend

Met a new person today. His name is Freddy and he's quite bright. He went to college and got a degree in psycho analysis. His parents are from Detroit, but they moved out here to Chicago when he was 5. Anyways, Freddy and I talk about everything. From movies to music, to sports and females. We're becoming good friends; I wonder if I should invite him to meet my parents?

Freddy said he couldn't come by today on account of a family emergency. I'm worried because his voice seemed to be empty of life. I wish I could do something for him. Maybe what ever is going on isn't that bad and it will go back to normal tomorrow. I can imagine it now, Freddy coming over with good news, on how it was nothing, that his mom just tripped on some stairs, or his dad threw out his back trying to lift a box; he'll come and we'll just laugh about it. Then we'll go out and watch the game at the bar. We'll get some drinks and we'll drink away our sorrows of the past enjoying each others company.

Freddy didn't come, but he called. I missed his call because it was early in the morning. 2 a.m. to be exact. He did leave a message. What Freddy said didn't seem real to me. He told me how his parents had been murdered. How his dad had tried to defend against a serial killer, but was brutally chopped into pieces, and had some of his limbs fed to the dog Freddy owned, Spike was his name. His mother was found outside, a knife in her back with bruises all over her body. Freddy told me he couldn't rest until he found the killer, and that he was sorry he couldn't see me for a while. But why didn't he ask me for help? I would have been more than welcome to help him track this psychopath.

Been a couple of months since Freddy has called. I used to worry, but that feeling has started to change to hate. Why did he have to leave me behind? I thought we were friends? I thought we were going to watch countless games? What happened to all my plans? My mind can't help but wander. Freddy may have forgotten all about me. He probably has new friends. He probably doesn't even think twice about the things that he used to have; the people that he's left behind. I hate Freddy. I wish he would drop dead. I wish the same things that happened to his family would happen to him. I want him to die. I want him to suffer. I want him to feel the pain that I have of feeling alone. I want him to realize while the last breath of life leaves him, that he left his poor friend behind. Die Freddy...die Freddy...
There's a knock on the door, and someone speaks from outside.
"Hey, Freddy keep it down in there, just because you're in an asylum doesn't mean you can be loud."

If I said I was Batman, would you believe me?
Old 09-15-2009, 05:17 AM
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Well I woke up this morning with some inspiration, and now more hours later then I would like I have finished this little short story, I just hope I am in time and that it is not utter rubbish.


The Silent Watcher

People pass by every day and never notice, on their way from somewhere to somewhere, from nowhere to everywhere, always hurrying by. Regardless of the season people never stopped, never even paused to look. Only children, in their way cared and noticed, usually it was no more than a “Bye-bye Stone man”, as their parents dragged them along.

The Stone man; he had always been there. Just like the backer at the corner and the streetlight that never worked. He was just another thing in a place worthy of no thought. His face as forgettable as yesterday’s weather or tomorrow’s dream; ancient eyes gazing across the road at the slowly dying park. Left arm hanging loosely by his side. Hand clasped as if to hold something that disappeared longer ago. Right hand holding a long thin staff, the end slightly sharpened, pointing towards the heavens. A cape of moss grew on his back and side, a coat of green on a body of stone.

A cold north wind was blowing throw the street, whirling discarded rubbish across a deserted land. Grey clouds hanging heavily in the sky banishing daylight before its time. As the gloom descends and streetlight flickers faintly all is eerily silent. Far of a car can be heard rushing along a motorway. A dog barks at a passer-by a street away. The night passes slowly, a church bell struck each hour, echoing across the empty road. The Stone man stood, gazing at the shadow drenched park. A swing was slowly moving, bushed by the wind, each time the rusted chain creaked as if in pain. The bell rings out again; twelve times, its echo bathed the night.

A drunken shout, followed by several more disrupt the nightly peace. At the southern end of the street about a dozen figures staggered into view. A cloud of alcoholic stench billowed out from them. Only three were still sober enough to shepherd the others around parked cars, lampposts, a post box and a public bin by the park gate. One who was not as far gone as the rest stopped and stared across the street and held up an empty bottle, and bellowed in a drunken rage.

“You there bugger off this is my beer.”

The silent stranger just continued looking at the park and did not answer. With great effort and needing a swig from the empty bottle, the drunk made it across.

“I don’t like you, whad you staring at?”

Again he received no answer. Taking careful aim at the head, he threw a punch, hitting nought but empty air, just about level with the silent figure’s knee. The others where watching with growing amusement. Gathering his coordination for another punch he aimed for the stomach this time, the head had proven too difficult.

By a miracle, he actually made contact with the Stone man’s abdomen; for a moment he just stood there. Then the stupor laced brain realised what was going on. Taking a wobbly step back and howling with pain, he dropped his precious bottle to clutch his throbbing hand with the other. Splinters of glass scattered form where the bottle had found the ground.

Taking another step back to charge the offender, the drunk found an uneven object below his left foot. Before he could find a better place to stand, he found himself gazing at the stars, a sudden pain in both head and back. Another howl trickled out as the brain fell through the last stages of shutting down. Across the road the group had stumbled on in a direction they thought was home.

Silence had but a short time to itself before a shadow stumbled into the flickering street light. Her red dress stained with dirt, her right foot bare, its shoe and sock left behind. Stumbling across the road she knelt by the oblivious body. A quick rummage trough the pockets produced a mobile. In the flickering light she could not find the right buttons. Behind her another figure stumbled from the dark.

“Hey girl, don’t run we haven’t had any fun yet”

He called out while walking in an almost straight line, ready to cross the road, only swaying once or twice. The glow from the phone faded as the battery gave up its life; it should have been recharged long ago.

In Desperation the girl tried again, to no susses proceeding to then throw the phone at her pursue. Scrambling up to flee her foot tread on the remains of the Bootle. The sharp intake of breath from the pain got cut short as an arm grabbed her from behind.

“Hey girl lets play a game”

The other hand covered her mouth as he spun her around. Struggling to free herself her foot brushed across more shards. In desperation and pain she bit down. He let go instantly and she fell backwards towards the ground. The taste of blood was almost the last thing she noticed as darkness closed in, but just before it claimed her there was a thud, following which her attacker collapsed in on himself.

Some time later light flickered above, predawn mist had gathered. Getting up slowly she glanced around; just left of here lay her attacker, apparently lifeless. After finding her feet she could not bear to linger and hurried away. Glancing back from the corner she saw the other drunk had gone; his useless phone still lay where it had landed. Her gaze swept over the Stone man and hesitated for the briefest moment. The Stone man’s right arm was still holding his spear while his right hand was clenched into a fist.

Thus stands the Stone man, worn by age and weather, gazing across the eons, unnoticed and forgotten, just the occasional child that would say “Bye-bye”.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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Old 09-15-2009, 12:59 PM
Andrew (Offline)
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Word count: 1,386

"Seven Years"

They met at a café. He barely recognized her initially and she said he looked the same. While getting ready earlier, he looked at himself for quite a while and felt he looked skinnier and paler than he ever had and shook his head a few times before taking a deep breath and turning away from the mirror. He no longer had his long, dark hair she'd loved so much.

He smiled big and wide when he realized it was her and his voice broke on the word “hello.” It was cool and the sky was overcast, but she insisted they sit outside. The windows of the café were dirty and the tables and chairs creaked and wobbled. Everything looked very broken down—something he’d never noticed before.

He saw that her eyes hadn’t changed. They were still very dark brown, but her hair was much lighter and frail and, to his surprise, she had put on weight. For the first several minutes, he kept rubbing his thigh. He wore a gray shirt with a blue overcoat and black pants—an outfit he hadn’t worn since before the war. The shirt and pants had begun to fray and the color of the overcoat had noticeably faded. She wore a rather big dress with a flowery design. One could tell it had been washed too many times. She held her stomach as she sat down and, grinning at his forehead, said it was such a nice day.

“Yeah,” he said, looking at the rain clouds which hovered above, “well you look great.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“No, you do.”
Still telling me everything I want to hear.”

He smiled at this and looked over the menu and then back up at her. She was staring at something across the street, but her eyes weren’t focused.

“Are you hungry?”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Are you hungry?”
“No, not really.”
“Me, neither. Just coffee for me.”

There was a silence. Her brow slightly furrowed, she was transfixed on the waiters and waitresses walking from table to table and what people were ordering. He looked closely at her until his eyes met hers and he quickly averted them and then looked back at her and she was again staring away this time into the distance. He looked, too, into the gray distance but saw nothing but cars passing by. Her fingers trembled a bit and he noticed her nails were dirty and unkempt and when she saw that he was looking at them she put beneath the table. She’d always kept her nails so nice. He noticed she was showing no cleavage as she always had and which he’d always liked.

“What are…you going to get?”
“Oh,” she said, “coffee, of course.”

There was another silence during which he fidgeted with his napkin and began rubbing at his leg again.


She began laughing.

“What’s so funny?”
“Just being here, with you, again, after so long. How long has it been…”
“Seven years.”
“Has it?”
“Well, I think.”
“Amazing! How’ve you been?”
“Good, I guess, OK. I work in New York now, in publishing. I…”
“Isn’t that what you always wanted to do? That’s great. That’s really great.”
“Well, it’s not exactly what I wanted to…”
“You were always such a dreamer. I remember you once told me that you wanted to live in the countryside of France as a farmer or something.”
“Did I? I don’t remember telling you that.”
“Oh, I thought you did. Who could remember? It was forever ago.”
“What are you doing nowadays, anyway? How are you?”
“I teach at an elementary school.”
“Oh, that’s really good.”
God, no. It’s dreadful. Suicidally so.”
“But you always loved kids. You were such a good sister to your little brother and sister.”
“Oh, I don’t think so.”
“How are they?”
“God, who knows? Haven’t heard from either of them since my breakdown.”

The waiter came by and they ordered. He watched her when the waiter asked her what she wanted. She quickly looked at the menu and just as quickly picked it up and closed it and ordered a tea. She smiled very sadly after ordering. She saw that he was looking at her.

“Nothing, nothing at all.”

There was a silence and she went back to looking at everything around her. Her hands wouldn’t hold still in one place as she moved them back and forth from her stomach to her hair to her now cross-less necklace.

“So, how are you?”
“Fine” she said, fingering her necklace, after looking up at him for a moment and pausing and then turning away again.

He looked at her older chubby face for a while and drank some of his water and sighed.

“This place is quite busy,” she said.
“Yeah, it’s one of my favorite places.”
“I don’t know how you stayed in this town here all your life. I couldn’t have done it.”
“I wish you had.”
“I couldn’t.”
“Why not?”
“Because it’s so dreadful. So goddamn fucking dreadful.”

He didn’t say anything for a moment.

“Did you find anything when you left?”

She didn’t answer immediately. She looked him over and gave a slight sad smile.

“Everything and nothing.”
“I wish you had come back sooner,” he said after blowing a burst of air from his mouth. “I needed you so badly.”
“It wouldn’t have changed anything.”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing, for God’s sake.”
“No, seriously…”

She looked down at her tea and circled the cup’s lip with her index finger over and over.

“Don’t call me darling. You don’t understand anything, I swear.”
“You always used to tell me that and it infuriated me. It still does.”
“Well, it was the truth back then and it still is.”
“I cared about you so very much.”

There was a silence.

“Please answer me.”
“No. Let’s not talk about this anymore.”

Their drinks came and she gave the waiter another quick smile. She sipped at the tea immediately, overjoyed by it, and he stared at her.

“I still care about you.”

She didn’t look at him but continued sipping her tea with her head down. She stayed like that for a while. She looked back across the street and began laughing loudly.

“Look at that man walking across the street! He looks like our old English teacher, Mr. Jenkins. Do you remember Mr. Jenkins?”
“Did you hear me?”
“Please stop.”
“I can’t, Cynthia. You know I never…”
“I said stop!”

He fell back in his chair and drank his coffee, pressing his lips together, and swallowed hard.

“What the hell happened to you out there?”
“Fuck off, will you, and grow up while you’re at it.”
“Fine, Cynthia.”
“What do you want from me?”
“I don’t know.”
“Neither do I. This isn’t a goddamn movie.”
“You told me you cared about me.”
“I know, and I did! I loved you. I truly did. But it’s been seven…”

She, incidentally, knocked over her tea and it fell to the ground.

“Oh, for God’s sake.”
“Do you want another one?”
“Oh, for God’s sake stop it! Just stop it.”

He drank his coffee harder and harder, and put his hand through his thinning hair. He looked at her with squinted eyes, but she didn’t return his gaze. She just kept saying, “For God’s sake” and cupped her hands and then stroked her stomach and fixed her hair. He waited a little while and his lips parted a bit and he relaxed his eyes but didn’t take them off her.

“I have something to show you.”

He had the poem he’d written her several years ago in his pocket. She was looking away, staring at all the other people and her eyes contracted as if almost to weep.


He took out the poem and handed it to her.

“It’s the original copy.”

She stared at it for several moments.

“I edited it a little but it’s still…”
“It’s so ruined I can’t even read it.”
“I’ll read it to you then.”
No, don’t. I remember what it says.”
“You do?”

She finally really looked at him--looked him straight in the eye.

“No...not anymore.”

He sat back again and looked away and after a moment saw a few people sitting at the bus stop beside the road. One, he noticed, looked like his high school English teacher, Mr. Jenkins, but he knew Mr. Jenkins had been dead for almost seven years.
"Where I am, I don't know, I'll never know, in the silence you don't know, you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on." -SB

Andrew Beutel
Secular Humanist
Free-lance journalist

Last edited by HoiLei; 09-15-2009 at 07:30 PM..
Old 09-15-2009, 01:58 PM
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Bel (Offline)
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Global Erosion. Word count:1,970

An Undisclosed venue. January 1st, 2007.

“Welcome fellow brethren. We now officially commence the two-hundredth year of the United Askesian Society.”

There was a hiatus to allow for the respectful, yet still thunderous, applause. The speaker continued.

“I am honored to have been re-elected as Chairman for the duration of this prestigious year. I will fulfill this role with as much integrity as I have in the past.”

More applause; quelled by a gesture from the Chairman.

“Thank you, thank you, but we have little time to waste this annum. We will continue to validate our ancestors and founders. We will prove to our descendants and future members why we are a necessity in the world. We will always work today, to better tomorrow. Doubtless we have new members. Congratulations on being accepted. History will thank you, even if it never knows your name. But we do, and we thank you here today!”

Again, a deafening clamor as the attendees stomped their feet, and yelled out cries of ‘hear hear’ and ‘welcome’. The Chairman waited patiently until the din subsided.

“A well deserved greeting. As expected from the United Askesian Society, where we consider unity just as important as the work we do. Our fore fathers formed the UAS two-hundred years ago, shortly after the original Askesian Society disbanded. We bear no grudge against those who chose different paths. They went on to do great things.”

“All gathered here know the history, but hear it again, for it is a proud history that is now a proud present. The Askesian Society formed in 1796. Its purpose; to gather scientific minds together and let them all profit from debate and experimentation. Because of unfortunate, but unavoidable, internal conflicts, the Society was forced to disband in 1807. Some members lost heart for scientific discovery, but most continued the pursuit. The Royal Society gained much, as many great minds joined it. Their own history is a justly proud one, dating back to 1660. We salute their noble ambitions.”

A murmur of assent from the gathered, a chorus of ‘salute’ and some more ‘hear hears’.

“More yet” the Chairman continued “went on to form the Geological Society of London, which to date is the oldest existing geological group in the world. The world prospered greatly from the disbandment of the Askesian Society. More so than it knows.
Those that did not become disillusioned, those that did not create or join other groups, they were left pondering the true meaning of the Greek word, Askesis. ‘Training’ and ‘Application’. What use is it to amass knowledge if it is never utilized? What use is it to provide the world with a thousand omelet recipes, if it is forever fearful to break any eggs? The answer is unfortunately, no use at all. Governments are subject to the people, and the people are subject to whims and lack of foresight. And so, in the same year of its death, the Society was reborn as the United Askesian Society, where great minds were pooled with great resources and great resolve. We seek no glory, other than the self assurance that we better the world by daring to apply any knowledge we must.”

The gathered noticeably rippled. Almost as a single entity they swelled with pride and self congratulations. No sound escaped, but still a moment was provided, to allow a room full of people to pat themselves mentally on the back. The silence of self worth was almost as deafening as the applause.

“Yes, we number some great minds in our group. But our advantage has always been our anonymity and influence. Not anonymous to each other of course, for it is through communication and cooperation that our deeds have been possible. If the wrong man was in charge, we arranged that it didn’t last long. If the right man wasn’t in charge, we arranged that he was soon. If tough decisions needed to be made, we made them behind closed doors and instigated them from behind pulled curtains. We have broken some eggs, but the people have feasted well."

"But my gathered Brethren! As ever, we face challenges. The Governments are as stubborn as mules, but less likely to follow the carrot, because they think they already have it. They come and go, last only a handful of years, but always certain that they are in charge. I don’t of course include many of the men of vision before me; I know only too well the restrictions of power. Our men in position must always appear without blemish, for how else could they be our subtle cogs in the machinery of policy and legislation? No! We do not send our Generals and tacticians to the frontlines just to get shot. Our next endeavor shall be our greatest yet, and it must also be our most ingenious. When the baleful eyes of witch-hunting historians look back on these times, they must find nothing except what we want them to.”

The Chairman stopped to catch his breath after this declaration.

The room began to sound like an old ship at sea, as hundreds of eager hands gripped and clutched the wooden arm rests of the expensive chairs. It sounded like a church full of bored children, fidgeting in the pews. But they were not bored. They were rapt and enthralled at the great things that they would surely do, as soon as they were filled in.

“I can see you are eager” The Chairman said, having caught his breath and taken a sip of water. “So I will come to my point. I thank you for your patience so far. Despite the fact that we are mostly men of business, politics or patriotism, firstly we are servants of knowledge. While our scientists are extremely useful as we go about our individual tasks, they have been clearly informed that our priority is the betterment of our world. As a result, the word they keep coming back to me with is ‘Resources’. Nothing new there. We are all worried about resources. We buy, sell or own most of them. Someone has to. None of the resources truly disappear, as long as they stay on the globe. They merely change, or move about. Fossil fuels are diminishing, but with more profit each day. This is more research for alternative fuels, which when discovered, will generate even more profit. Everything else just moves about to be bought and sold again. Just like the Earth’s surface. It has changed so much in the past, but it is essentially the same. Land doesn’t disappear, it just submerges. Cliffs don’t go away, they become sand and pebble. Rivers don’t dry up, the moisture just moves elsewhere. These are things we can adapt to, because that’s what we do. To those in the right places, the world is one giant renewable resource. But tell me gentlemen, what happens if those resources actually do disappear? What if we suffer from irreversible Global erosion?”

A murmur of confusion swept through the ranks of the attended. Many would have protested from habit, if only they knew what they were protesting against.

“Allow me to clarify. Some say the space race is over. But we all know there is still one lofty ambition; to contact alien life. Now now, keep silent. We are pragmatists if nothing else, so of course we considered it. So I asked our people, ‘what are the odds?’ The astronomers gave me some numbers, which the mathematicians and astrophysicists then had a go at. In the end, they concluded that given the amount of stars in the Universe, and the required circumstances and proximity of a planet, etcetera, it is possible, though not necessarily guaranteed. They compared it to searching the entire sea bed for one particular grain of sand. Now of course all the space programs have done their own research and know these odds. Yet still they continue to search. No World powers are willing to cease, for fear of what the others will achieve if left alone. To top it all off, the number men have assured me that if contact is to be made, then we won’t necessarily be the planet making it. They said ‘If you want to accept that there are other civilizations out there, then you have to accept that we are statistically not going to be the most advanced ’.”

The Chairman was forced to stop here as people in the audience finally found their voices. There we cries of “What are you on about?” and “What does any of that have to do with us?” One elderly Gent began to yell that he thought foreigners were good for business, but his neighbors shushed him.

“Gentlemen!” the Chairmen near bellowed. “I couldn’t give a fig for this alien nonsense. My point is that the world does. And therefore, the Government budgets do. Billions and billions spent each year. Resources shot into space to find a grain of sand. There are several thousand tons of resources hovering around up there now. Floating about where ever it pleases. At least the rubbish down here stays where it’s put, so we know where to find it once we decide what to do with it. There is so much metal and technology up there that shuttles are crashing into it and causing even more debris! My point esteemed Gentlemen, is that we are eroding our world’s resources, shedding them off into the Universe; just to find something that will come to us if we wait long enough, if it exists at all. How can we, or the world profit from that? Tell me Gentlemen, do we want to be explorative and scattered, or cautious and strong? Do we want to use our diminishing resources to make an orbit of junk, or secure the worlds future? In short Gentlemen, are we going to be thrifty, or are we going to be shrewd!?”

“SHREWD!” shouted back the room. One man was heard remark “Let our wives clubs take care of the thrift” to much general amusement. After the guffaws and titters died down, a voice rang out “Um, well, I can see the benefits of keeping it all close to home, but how do we go about it?”

A glint sparked in the Chairman’s eye, as if he had been eagerly awaiting this question.

“A valid query” he almost purred “and what we need my Brethren….is a crisis. We are all of us well positioned people. In the meetings over the following months, we are going to orchestrate a financial crisis so disastrous, so devastating, that the space programs won’t be able to buy air-fix models without the budget giving out. And that will just be the start.”

“Um, won’t a financial calamity affect us all too?” said the same person who also (very conveniently) asked just the right question when he spoke last time.

“Oh yes indeed.” The Chairman said, with a Cheshire grin creeping onto his face. “But think on this my colleagues, as we shall break shortly for lunch. How do you want it to affect us? All that lost capital would have to go somewhere. What if it went to a group that was prepared? A group that was selfless enough to use it for loans, and buy outs, to keep the world working; perhaps paying particular attention to companies that supplies certain exploration programs. A Society of Patrons that was so generous after these….trying times, that anyone they aided would feel obliged to listen to their suggestions regarding, oh I don’t know, budgets or future expenditure. It’s difficult to spend money on rockets if you owe it to someone else, wouldn’t you say?”

Meeting adjourned for lunch in an undisclosed restaurant.


"I am too fearful to wish that dreams can come true, for that also encourages the reality of nightmares" S.W.D

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