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So You Think You Can Write?

a topic in The Writer's Lounge, a part of the RPG forum.

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A place for original short stories, fanfiction, essays, and the like.

Re: So You Think You Can Write?

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby queen-of-marigold on Fri Nov 09, 2007 7:54 pm

Red Dress

The store was not busy tonight.
Customers wandered in and out, shuffling feet marking time to the muzak that floated down the aisles. Cady watched them with unfocused eyes - her job didn't take a lot of concentration.
"Good evening, ma'am, do you have Flybuys?" Hands moved automatically, packing groceries into plastic bags with unconscious precision. "That will be $11.90, thank you, have a good night. Good evening, sir, do you have Flybuys?"
Her eyes focussed with a snap - he hadn't handed over a card.
"Sir?"
There weren't any groceries on the counter, either.
"Sir?"
The man's face was unremarkable, the kind of face that had passed her a hundred times that night, forgotten before they reached the door. But, his eyes - they were remarkable, a golden brown that drank in the light and glinted hypnotically.
"Arcadia," He said, "Wake up."

-

"Good evening, sir, do you have Fly-" Cady's mouth gaped for a moment, and embarrassment burnt her cheeks. She was on the wrong side of the counter - the cashier looked amused.
"Don't worry, love," He said kindly, "I understand."
Still blushing she paid for her lunch, then carried the tray through the cafeteria to where her friends sat.
"Did you hear, there's a new maths teacher," Amy announced. Her silky hair slipped over her shoulder as she leaned forward, the ends hanging just out of her soup. "He starts today."
"You'll have to tell us all about him." Meg attacked her salad with a plastic fork and Cady frowned inside, wishing her friend wasn't so concerned with her weight.
"I'm sure he'll be boring," Cady replied lightly, "Maths teachers always are."
The words sounded right - her friends laughed and nodded and moved onto another topic - but they didn't feel right. Cady's head felt stuffed with cotton wool. Sounds were slightly muffled, colours slightly dimmer; the conversation felt pointless and inane.
"Excuse me, can we help you?" Amy said suddenly, looking at someone over Cady's shoulder. She turned, and saw a stranger. He was too old to be a student, and too unfamiliar to be anyone else but the new teacher.
"Did you want something, sir?"
"Arcadia," He said, and when she looked into his eyes she felt a tingle of deja vu. "Wake up."

-

"Did you want something, sir?"
"Yes, Miss Jones, the answer will suffice."
Cady's cheeks burned as her classmates laughed. She couldn't shake the feeling that she was meant to be sitting, not standing, and why was she thinking about soup? Her eyes scanned the whiteboard frantically, and she wished she was better at fractions.
"Uh - x equals seven fifths?" She hazarded.
"Sit down, Miss Jones," The teacher sighed, and did not continue until she was seated. "Another volunteer, please, to show me where Miss Jones went wrong."
Cady sank low into her seat, wishing she could disappear, and someone dropped a note into her hands. She opened it carefully, on her lap where the desk hid it from the teacher's view.
Arcadia, it said, and though she couldn't say why, it made her heart sink. She turned around, and the student behind her was not a student at all but a man with sparkling brown eyes. He spoke softly.
"Wake up."

-

"X equals seven fifths?" Cady guessed.
"What did you say, hun?" Her mother called from the kitchen. Cady pulled her robe more tightly around her.
"Nothing," She replied quickly. "Meg and Amy will be here soon, I'm gonna go get ready okay?"
Her room was a mess of course - it always was. There was more clothing on the floor then in the cupboard and her bed looked as if it had never been made. Long-empty coffee mugs were lined up on her desk, and long-undisturbed daddy-long-legs' had built palaces on the corners of the ceiling.
There it was, though, the red dress, hanging in the near-empty wardrobe, soft and wrinkle-free. It slid over her head easily, and molded to her curves like it had been made for them. She twirled in front of the mirror - but her reflection was wrong. The Cady in the mirror had lank and greasy hair, and wore not the red dress but jeans and an old jumper. She stared at Cady, and her eyes were empty. Cady slammed the cupboard door shut; the mirror shattered.
"Arcadia," Said a voice behind her, a voice that tugged at her memory.
"No," She whispered, "No..."
"Arcadia," He repeated, more forcefully, and she had to turn, had to look at him - his brown eyes seemed to glow as he spoke.
"Wake up."

-

"If you don't walk faster we'll miss the bus," Amy complained, tugging at Cady's arm.
"No!" No-" She bit her lip. "Uh, no, we won't. Any there'll be others after that one anyway."
"Leave Cady alone," Meg commanded, linking arms with them both, "You know she's not used to heels."
Cady let them drag her along, but their idle chatter slipped by her unheeded. Her stomach was churning and she didn't know why. A man across the road turned to them, called out.
"Wake up!"
"No!" Cady shouted at him, holding tightly to her friend's arm. A cleaner in a hotel foyer looked up as they passed.
"Wake up, Arcadia."
She hurried on, now moving faster than her friends, but they didn't seem to notice. A policeman stepped out of his car-
"Wake up."
A beggar held out his hand.
"Wake up!"
Cady could see them all around her now, all with ordinary faces and extraordinary eyes that drank in the light until they sparkled.
"Wake up," They said, their voices no more than a whisper beside the roar that seemed to fill her from every direction. "Wake up."
"No!" She cried. She searched frantically for her friends who'd kept moving when she stopped - they sat in the bus shelter, chatting unconcernedly, as if they hadn't noticed the crowd that surrounded Cady.
"No," She insisted, as the bus came into sight.
"Wake up!" They commanded as a cat ran across the road.
"NO!" Cady screamed, and the bus skidded on the icy road, out of control and into the bus shelter where, as if in slow motion, her friends tried to escape.
A hand on Cady's shoulder made her turn, and hypnotic brown eyes caught hers.
"Wake up."

-

The doctor looked into Cady's eyes, searching for a spark of awareness. So far they'd seen nothing - the girl simply sat there, staring into space. Her parents had brought in her favourite clothes and books, but the well-worn jumper and untouched novels emphasised the emptiness of her expression.
"Wake up, Arcadia," He murmured, though he knew it was useless. "Wake up."
For a moment it almost seemed as if she'd heard - her eyes focussed on his, and her mouth opened.
"Good evening, sir," The shell of Arcadia croaked, and her voice seemed to crack in her throat. "Do you have Flybuys?"

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queen-of-marigold
Member for 17 years

Re: So You Think You Can Write?

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby ender_kb on Mon Nov 12, 2007 6:27 pm

A Life For Two

Would you die for a friend? What about family? If you could save one without harm to yourself, but to save another as well you must take your own life, would you?

She spent years searching everywhere for the ingredients she needed. The only thing was that these items she collected were extremely rare. Finding one was hard enough let alone two. She had done it though. She got everything; The heart of the Crying Moss. The tears of the Giant Sea Horse, the breast scale of the Dark Dragon, and a strand of hair from the Balding Forest Sloth. Each of these items was no where near the other. She had to trek across vast amounts of land to go from one place to the other. Some of these were also very dangerous and may have cost her her life just collecting them.

She stood in front of the hut watching the smoke rise out of the top. They had to stay warm especially in this cold. The winters here were not easy to get through. Thankfully she had gotten there before another winter had passed completely. Her family did not know how many more they could withstand. Seeing the smoke was a relief to her.

Her family was well known for their medicinal practices. It was rare that anyone in their village got sick. The only time they lost anyone was from the elements or if something rare came after them. The thought of her brothers made her heart ache. They had been sick for so long and they tried everything, but nothing helped. This was a last resort, but she was willing to do it.

Her brothers were still so young and had so much of their life to live. She had a good life. She was united with a man already and had kids of her own. They were old enough to be able to understand what their mother was doing. She could leave happy. Nothing left unfinished.

‘You alone have the power to duplicate these items, Genia.’ She heard his voice in her head as she stood at the door of the hut. She made no noise to let her presence be known. She had to prepare herself.

She only had the task at hand in her mind before this, not the ending. She knew how it would end, but if she dwelled on it she was afraid that she would come to the conclusion not to do it.

“Iphigenia? My daughter? You have returned. Thank the gods. I thought you may have been lost to the dangers of the wilderness. I feared for your life.” A resilient woman inside the hut leapt off of her chair to greet the tall woman she hadn’t seen in years.

“It is okay, mother. I have returned. Nothing could have gotten between me and the life of my own brothers.” She gazed at their still bodies at their mention. Their chests were rising steadily, but the sounds that escaped were not as comforting. Their lives were miracles at the very beginning. A woman bearing a child after her child bearing age was nearly unheard of, but there they were; Two young boys, 22 years her junior, born after the birth of her own children. A miracle they were.

She broke away from her mother’s embrace and knelt between her brothers’ beds. She opened her traveling sack, torn and frayed from the many adventures she had gone through. Her finger grazed the sliced fabric where the dragon’s teeth had nipped. He was the worst one. Her death was so near in that moment, but she prevailed.

She reached into her bag and pulled out the waterskin. It had powerful magic to keep out the elements. It was great protection for her items. The outside was still damp from the sea water she had to swim through to get to the Giant Sea Horse. He was the trickiest one. Getting tears from a sea horse was not an easy task. Making a sea horse cry was the hardest part. A soft spot right behind the eye had to be punctured just right and then a container had to be placed over the eye without getting any water into it at all. The tears could not be contaminated by anything.

“Where is he?” Iphigenia asked.

“At the lake.” Her mother responded.

“I will go and fetch him.”

“No. Let me send someone else. You have been through so much already.”

“It is okay, mother. I need to speak with him anyway. We will not be long.” She gave her mother a small peck on the cheek and left. She walked out of the hut and turned west. The lake was a beautiful sight. She stood gazing at it taking in everything she could. The reflection of the setting sun upon the water was enough to make anyone rejoice in life. The light blanket of snow upon the trees and ground glistened, beckoning the young ones to play in it.

She saw the old man casting his eyes toward the setting sun. He thought of her, she knew that. Approaching as quietly as only the best huntress could he still knew she was there. That is what she loved about him. He was like a father to her.

“You’re late.” He said quietly before she could even touch his shoulder.

“I am sorry, sir. The crying moss was very difficult to find. As you said it would be.”

“I thought as much. Where did you seek it?”

“In the Cave of Sorrow, as you suggested. It was there, but finding the heart was the problem. The moss was everywhere in that cave, but the heart was in the smallest, darkest, most penetrating part.” She paused but a moment, then continued. “I…I allowed it to get to me, sir. I am sorry.”

“Do not be sorry, Genia. It was just as I feared. You are the most familiar with pain, and the closest to loss. I had a feeling that the muffling spell would not be enough. Yet, you withstood the crying and sorrow you heard and felt because you completed the quest, did you not?”

“Yes, sir.”

“For that I salute you and give you my respect.” The old man turned his head towards her.

Iphigenia took her right hand, placed it over her heart and then bowed her head, “Thank you, sir. I will hold that with me until I die.”

“Yes.” With that, the old man turned back towards the village and began walking towards the hut. Iphigenia followed in suit.

Inside the hut, the old man went through the items and confirmed that everything was there and properly taken care of. Iphigenia had done well. She handed the old man a scroll where she wrote down everything from her travels, in case something like this had to be carried out again. Maybe it would not take so long the next time.

Iphigenia’s mother was taken back to her own hut where she had to lay in wait. This had to be done right the first time, for it could not be repeated.

The old man took the strand of hair from the tiny bag and placed it on top of the scale. He looked at Iphigenia with a question in his eyes.

“That was the easiest to get. She did not put up a fight, but seemed to feel my pain. She even plucked the hair herself and gave it to me.” Iphigenia explained.

This intrigued the old man and he smirked. He placed the rest of the items onto the scale then looked at Iphigenia once more.

“Are you ready, my child?”

She looked at her brothers. They had aged since she had last seen them, but the experience would not be there when they awakened. It would be like they were ten again, but with 14 year old bodies. Keeping them alive this long was a miracle. No more would they have to feed them through bamboo straws to keep them healthy and hydrated. They would soon be able to do that on their own.

“Yes, sir. I am ready.” She said without looking away from them.

“Place your hands over the items, then.”

She did as instructed.

“Say the words.”

As she spoke the incantation, the old man moved and placed some pillows behind her. He held a blanket in his hands as he sat down again. Tears were building in Iphigenia’s eyes. She hoped and prayed that she would see them awake before she had to leave. She wanted to see their brown eyes full of life again.

As she finished the incantation a light appeared beneath her hands and her heart pulsed loudly. She moved her hands away and saw that the items she had collected over the years had now doubled. Her skin was cold, but sweat started to form on it. Breathing was more difficult now.

The old man went to work quickly for he knew what Iphigenia’s wish was. He split the items up so there were two sets and then mixed each together on top of the scales. He ground the mixture deeply into the scales so the grains of it mixed in too. Once he was finished he looked over at Iphigenia. She was still awake, but her eyes were getting heavy and her face was pale. It would not be long. He must work faster.

He took the first mixture and hovered over one boy. He smeared a streak of the mixture onto the boy’s forehead, then placed some into his mouth, then the rest onto his chest. He repeated the same to the other boy with the other mixture. Now they must wait for the mixture to get absorbed into their bodies. This had not been done in generations, so no one knew exactly how long it would take, not even the old man.

He placed himself next to Iphigenia. She was hunched over and breathing hard, but there was nothing he could do for her.

‘You alone have the power to duplicate these items, Genia. Those items that you need, it is too dangerous to get two of each and will take much too long. The life source inside of you will have to be used. I will teach you the incantation. You will not survive it. Are you willing to sacrifice yourself to save them both?’

She held herself up with an amazing strength. She would not allow herself to pass until she saw them. Minutes passed and the old man heard them start to stir. He looked at Iphigenia, the tears she held in her eyes had still not broken through yet.

Her body started to take control of her. She was not strong enough. She couldn’t hold on any longer. Blackness emerged into her vision and her breath was shallow and inconsistent. She was weak and could barely sit up. Her heart’s pulse had slowed to a point where she had to make it keep going. The air was not there anymore. She clutched her heart. Her body started to fall back.

Before she hit the soft spot behind her, courtesy of the old man, she saw two figures rise from there beds. Her gaze went from one pair of eyes to the other. They both caught sight of her before her eyes closed.

“Genia!” they both yelled in unison. Just as she heard that, her eyes closed and let the tears roll free. A small smile formed on her lips as her last breath escaped her.

‘Yes. There is no doubt in my mind. They are both my brothers and they need each other. I could never choose which one to save. I love them both more than anything in the world.’



Thank you for reading. :D

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ender_kb
Member for 17 years

Re: So You Think You Can Write?

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Zhelir Darkfall on Mon Nov 12, 2007 6:56 pm

This post is for perusal purposes. Attached it the actual document, in correct formatting.

"He did it again."
Zeke turned from his locker, the door slamming shut, its metallic clang barely heard over the din of the hallway. Before him stood his best friend, his companion since the age of seven. He was on the taller side, built like an ox, and had a way of looking imposing when he wished. Today, however, he was far from it. Chris' voice was a mixture of embarrassment and anger. His face would have probably held this same set of emotions were it not obscured by a mass of blonde hair.
"Kramer, you mean?"
Chris nodded. Hanz Kramer lived two blocks away from Chris' house. He had what was quite possibly the meanest Rottweiler in existence, but not many people got to experience its aggression first-hand.
It never got loose unless Chris was walking by. Kramer never laughed and egged it on unless Chris was walking by. Kramer never sat on his porch with a shotgun unless Chris was walking by. Kramer had a unique and -- as far as Zeke could see -- unfounded hated for his best friend.
"I'm telling you, I'm going to kill that dog one day,” Chris mused.
"Or him," Zeke added, leading the way to their first period class: Physics.
Chris said nothing, but Zeke knew he understood him to be joking.
"We could scare him, you know. Really teach him a lesson,” Chris finally responded as they took their seats. Before Zeke could reply, the bell rang. The teacher immediately dove into a lecture, but Zeke was elsewhere. Zeke was planning. He knew Chris’ father owned a shotgun; 12-guage, if he remembered right. He knew he could borrow his brother’s pistol for a night without his finding out. He knew the streets were empty in the wee hours of the morning. He knew Chris would love the idea.
“Care to join us, Zeke?” The teacher chimed in, drawing Zeke’s attention back to the present. He shook his head, giving the impression of fighting off sleepiness.
“Sorry, sir. Late night.” Zeke responded, focusing back on the whiteboard at the front of the class.
“Well wake up. There are few things more important than your education,” he rambled, “And there are few things important enough to miss sleep for prior to getting said education.”
He had no idea.

They met at Chris' house that night. Zeke sat in his car, parked just a few feet down from their driveway. He tried to calm himself with rationalization. We’re just going to scare him. Old man won’t know what happened, and maybe he’ll think twice about sicking that mutt on Chris again. He went on for a minute or two, slowly bringing himself under control. Chris needed him to be strong; God knew Chris himself wouldn’t be. He exited the car and made his way up to the front door, not bothering to knock. He knew Chris would be waiting. When the door creaked open after a minute, he was unsettled by the sight before him. Chris was shaking slightly when he opened the door, and his skin had turned a bloodless white. He looked how Zeke felt. Zeke set his free hand on his friend's shoulder. "Relax, man,” he cooed, "We go in, wave that shotgun around a bit, and get out. That's all."
Chris nodded. A little color seemed to return to his skin, but he was still shaking. He fetched the shotgun from beside the door; the touch of steel on his hands seemed to calm his shaking. Together, they set off down the pitch-black street. "Hey Zeke?" Chris' voice came out of the darkness.
"Yeah?"
"What if that dog comes after me? This thing will wake up half the neighborhood, and--” Zeke cut him off, pressing a hand against Chris’ mouth.
“You’re going to wake up half the neighborhood if you don’t calm down. Give me the shotgun.” He felt more than saw Chris pass it to him, and took it gratefully; as much of a wreck as Chris was, he might well accidentally fire it. He reached back and lifted his shirt, pulling from his waistband his brother’s beloved pistol. It was an old .357, its silver frame gleaming in the weak light. He passed it over to Chris grudgingly; this was not much better of an alternative.
"Try not to shoot yourself in the foot."
They continued on in silence. As Kramer's house came into view, Chris' voice again came, barely a whisper, "Zeke?"
"Yeah, man?"
"Thanks, man."
Zeke did not respond. He couldn’t respond, for fear of vomiting, and if he cracked, Chris would probably take off like a shot. They walked up to the old man's house, silent as the grave. All the lights were out, the doors and windows shut; no sign of life anywhere.
"Looks like a damn tomb..." Chris said it more to himself, but Zeke agreed all the same.
Noise came from the side of the house. A soft creak, like an old door or chair. It had to be the old man; if the dog knew they were there, it would already be on them. He nudged Chris slightly, pointing toward the noise’s origin.
As they rounded the side of the house, they saw him. Tall, stringy, dressed in muddy overalls and a pair of sandals. He had the dog with him. It growled a warning to its master, but it was too late. This was it, time to set this old man straight. Zeke hefted the shotgun, the metallic click of the pump echoing through the air.
"Freeze, you old bastard,” Zeke’s voice was threatening -- lethal. The old man turned, the monster leashed to his hand frothing at the mouth. In this light, the beast looked huge, its entire form black, with only a set of gleaming yellow eyes to differentiate it from a shadow. The old man's eyes widened in recognition of Chris, and an unearthly hatred seemed to fill them. Without a moment's hesitation, the old man opened his hand, allowing the dog to take off like a shot. It was almost a reflex; Zeke pushed the shotgun down and fired, sending a rain of red-hot lead through the beast's body. He turned his head away on instinct, knowing that, having fired into the dog’s skull, he was in danger of being struck by ricochet. Yet something was wrong. The blast had been loud, but not entirely correct. The sound was just a little too high-pitched, and seemed to last just a bit too long. Zeke looked up, dread filling him as he did. The old man was still standing, but the left side of his face was completely gone. Blood and brain fragments dotted his shoulder and shirt.
Zeke turned in time to avoid seeing the body slump over, but what he did see was far worse: Chris, trembling harder than ever, held the smoking gun. His blue eyes were wide and his breath was short. "He's... dead." His voice was shaky, uncontrolled, "Oh my God, he's dead!" The words chilled Zeke’s spine. They stared on for a moment at the old men’s corpse before it finally sunk in. The two boys broke and ran.
Two hours later, they stumbled back to Zeke's car, both nearly out of breath, Chris seeming to be on the verge of tears. They had made a dead sprint to the river to dispose of the guns, about mile apart from one another. It had taken forever, but it was done, they were clean. Zeke looked up at his friend, still heaving. "Relax, man. He was one grumpy old man, and there are hundreds of people with those kinds of guns. When they do find him in a few months, minimum, the guns will be long gone."
The next few weeks at school were not easy. Around every corner, Zeke was terrified of running into a cop, or perhaps worse, Chris confessing the story to someone. The boy had been an absolute wreck since it had happened. He skipped class some days, left early others, showed up late still others. His bizarre activity and its emergence the day after the old man had died were no doubt suspicious, but relief soon came for Zeke with the appearance of a serial killer drew the attention of both the town and the police. There had been five men killed in a twenty day span, a farmer here, a mill worker there, all lower middle class men that didn’t contribute much to the world. Kramer fit right into that category, and that suited Zeke fine. No doubt they would lump him in as part of the group of murders; let some sick freak take the fall for it, he had it coming anyway. Kramer had been an accident, this guy was no doubtlessly doing it out of joy or hate or whatever disturbed emotion drove him. Chris, as opposed to Zeke, was growing worse. He was thinning out, losing sleep, and his skin seemed to be a permanent shade of deathly white.
“You feeling all right, man?” Zeke had asked one morning before school. Chris was, after all, his best friend. He would give him what reassurance he could.
“Yeah, man, I’m good. It’s just, these murders…”
Zeke took a nervous glance around, making sure no one was within earshot. “Look, they’re a good thing, as much as I hate to say it. These murders look an awful lot like Kramer’s, the cops are bound to pin it on whatever guy is doing it.”
“That’s the thing,” Chris responded, “I—“
“What if they think you did them all?” Zeke interpreted, “Not a chance. To even think we had a hand in… what happened is a long shot. To suspect us of all of them? Not a chance. Quit your pouting and get it together, man.”
Chris did not respond. His locker slammed and he made his way up the hall.
That had been on their last day of school; graduation was the day after. Chris had gone home early – shortly, in fact, after speaking with Zeke, supposedly at his parents’ request – and missed one exam. Zeke was not concerned, however. For one, that particular class had been English, Chris’ strongest subject, and even with a zero on the exam, he would pass with a seventy percent or better. For another, Zeke was too damn thrilled to be finished with school. He was enjoying the prospect of never having to drive to school at 7:30 in the morning again when his cell-phone rang.
"Hello?"
"Zeke, you haven't heard yet?" It was his mother. She was worried.
"No, what is it, ma?"
"Chris' parents are being held at gunpoint. They think it's the serial killer."
The cell phone dropped from his hand, only to be replaced by the lever on the emergency brake a split-second later. As he was slammed into his seat from the force of his car doing an about-face to make any drill-sergeant proud, the pieces fell into place. He released the brake and rocketed toward his friend's house.
When he arrived, the scene was too surreal to believe: A large crowd of the neighbors had gathered, all pointing, staring, and pretending that this was anything but an attempt to attain gossip firsthand. A disturbing sort of rage built in him for these people, making a scene, making light of the horrible predicament his best friend was in. There were urges attached to this rage, but he pushed them from his mind with more than a little concern. The moment his car was set into park, he bolted from it, slammed his way through the crowd, showing little in the way of concern for bystanders. He barely felt his feet hitting the pavement beneath them. All that mattered was getting through that front door. As he neared the perimeter, a police officer grabbed him.
"Let me go!" His voice was desperate and feral.
"You can't, there is an armed man inside." The cop sounded as though he couldn't care less. Just another pathetic cop looking to ease his way into the next paycheck. Why hadn’t the killer targeted a few of them while he was at it? As this thought occurred to Zeke, he stopped fighting for a moment, a chill running the course of his spine. What was he thinking? Regardless of what he had been thinking, he felt the officer’s hands loosen a little, and with a primal grunt, Zeke jerked his shoulder forward, managing to tear the seam on his coat and take off once again. He was pursued, but all he wanted was confirmation. They could drag him out after that if they liked, as long as he could see it for himself. The lock sealing the door shut gave way to the impact of his shoulder and he stumbled into the living room, forcing down the urge to vomit.
There was blood everywhere. The walls, the floor everywhere. Dead in the middle of it all lay the bodies of Chris' parents.
"It's like an addiction, man." Chris stepped from the depths of the kitchen, one very long, very bloody knife held loosely in his left hand. "After Kramer... they all just kind of happened." Zeke could hear footsteps. Rapid, worried, just like his mother's words. "Each one satisfied, and each one made me crave more. Each another cold, cruel man, each deserving his fate."
Still Zeke did not speak. How could he? What could he say? Sorry? Anything he could offer would be in vain. As Chris turned toward his dead parents, the police burst in, weapons drawn. "I don't think I could stop if I wanted to. It's a part of us, man.” He turned toward Chris, hefting the knife to point toward him, “Don’t tell me you’ve never wanted to; never hated someone so much that you just wished them dead.” Zeke shook his head, not in denial but to try to wake himself from the nightmare around him. It wasn’t possible that Chris had done all this, it just wasn’t.
“Deny it all you want, man. We're all just animals on the inside."
With that, Chris, his friend since childhood, the one who would never stomp on an ant, never run over a cat, leapt, intent on killing Zeke. He didn’t make it even half way. Zeke winced as a cacophony hit his ears. Shotguns, pistols, even what sounded like an assault rifle. They went on for an eternity, suspending Chris in midair, his hair caught in mid-motion. Blood sprayed Zeke's face as Chris was hurled backward, slammed into the wall, and nearly fell to pieces. One trembling hand came up to feel the last traces of Chris scattered across his visage.
"You're lucky, kid. Other than that old man he whacked, the murders have been pretty gruesome."
Zeke gulped. He could feel a light sweat beginning to thin the blood on his face. "Old man?"
"You remember an old man that got his face blown off? We found the shotgun that killed him. It's only a matter of time before the prints on it come back as his. I guess the old guy had harassed the kid something fierce."
"Do you know why...” he couldn't get the words out; couldn't ask why his best friend had massacred his own parents.
"We called about the shotgun. We think he overheard the conversation."
"One thing, then. The papers said they thought a three-fifty-seven had been involved."
The officer nodded, and Zeke hoped he would explain quickly; his world was, little by little, losing coherency. He remembered shooting the dog, ducking away at the ricochet, but he definitely remembered Chris obliterating that man's face.
"The kid used a three-fifty-seven afterward, but we found three shot pellets from the shotgun in the man's skull, probably ricochet from when he whacked the dog. Kid probably didn't even realize the old man was dead when he hit him with the magnum. We couldn't find the pistol, but that's not our big concern. After all, it wasn't the murder weapon."


All characters and ideas in this story are the property of Justin J. Adams.
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STAVE: Commala-come-ki,
There's a time to live and one to die.
With your back against the final wall
Ya gotta let the bullets fly.

RESPONSE: Commala-come-ki!
Let the bullets fly!
Don't 'ee mourn for me, my lads
When it comes my day to die.

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Zhelir Darkfall
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Re: So You Think You Can Write?

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Clyodna on Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:18 pm

Well I'm probably too late :? but whatever here is my entry. I tried experimenting with a new style, don't know if you will like it.

Road to nonexistence


The heavy rain begins to be annoying. It turns from a warm and refreshing shower, to a cold downpour, the drops hitting the naked arm like small metal pellets. Trying to escape the sensation is useless; it is best for it to be perceived as pleasure, not discomfort as would be normal. The natural gloom created by the rain is comforting as well should the right memories exist. These being currently present, the long wait for the tram is not bothersome at all and would be even more interesting without an umbrella. The ever increasing clatter announces the tram’s approach. The number is the right one and the ticket has been purchased. A movement of the body to the interior and it is completely protected from the rain. The eyes now search the carriage and the desired image is found: and empty seat. A new movement and the body is left to relax, while the mind works fervently to get the nose used to perceiving the smell of cigarettes, sweat and many other unidentifiable sources. Such a perception is never desired in the conscious mind.

The rain stops and the sky gradually clears up. Gravity makes its presence felt, pushing the body in the seat during the ascension of the hill. A polite question reveals the relative location of the station before last: the fourth stop. Yet, it is here that the tram becomes empty. The fact is peculiar but not important. The sun, shining brightly, offers in the beginning a comfortable sensation of warmth that quickly turns to one of heat, only to be completely ignored in the end; another insignificant detail. What really calls for attention is the state of the garden and the house, which is quickly classified as very bad. The garden is unkempt, all the plants being now dry, of a dark brown colour. The smell is nonexistent since the water vapours are completely gone and not even the buzzing of insects burdens the hearing. Everything is dead, a true wasteland. These observations having been made the attention is now directed at the house.

The dust on the door handle is repulsing, as well as the peeling paint. After a deep and careful intake of air, considering the situation, the door is opened. The loud creak would have been just right for a horror movie, but considering it is the middle of the day no cold shiver runs through the body. The house is in the same state as the garden. The layer of dust is more than visible and the spiders, having taken over all the available corners, are preparing to spin their silky curtains throughout the rooms. Work must begin immediately. Until the sun sets, at least a floor must be completely clean. The effort required for this is carefully assessed as more and more footprints form on the dust covered floor. The luggage is opened on a table previously wiped with a paper tissue. The clothing is changed and the cleaning begins. First the windows are opened to their full extent to allow for an adequate airing. The every room is dusted. The hand moves the cloth slowly over the surface of the furniture, carefully, almost caressing the wood. The reason is simple: the first quick and careless swipe lifted a cloud of dust into the air, which then caused a coughing fit ( the lung are not the most welcoming hosts, they only accept oxygen and nitrogen, with a well known small retinue, as guests, strangers are expelled ).

The cleaning continues by vacuuming the dust from the floor. The carpets are vacuumed as well, after being hung on a line to allow for a more efficient removal of the dust. The spider webs are disposed of in the same way. Then windows, floors, furniture and doors are washed, each with the appropriate substance. After these and a few other actions have been repeated in each room, joy and content feel the spirit. The mind wakes from its latent state. The rest has been welcome and activity is resumed instantly. Not that it had stopped working all this time, but it experienced a change from its daily routine and the tasks did not require as much effort on its part, only minor indications compared to the usual activity.
Now the body rest in an armchair and the mind is free to wonder. The sun’s rays, which shine on the now clean carpet, gradually change colour from white to yellow to orange to red only to disappear in the end. Darkness gradually shrouds the house and stars start lighting up the sky. The bed with its white sheets calls to rest. There is silence all around, the most profound and tranquil silence possible. The tired eyes slowly close and sleeps takes over almost instantly.

The hours pass, flying away in the night. Had a grandfather clock existed to strike midnight, now its heavy toll would have spread throughout the house. Heavy, muffled steps can be heard inside the house. Although the mind has registered this change in the night’s silence, it pays it no heed. The sleep is too profound to be interrupted. The steps will be eventually included in one of the dreams, but no more than that. Still the steps grow closer and their sound is more and more distinct. The eyes open but the sleep is not interrupted. Only when a transparent, ghostly figure is detected is the sleep abruptly cut short and a scream lodges its self in the throat, failing to come into existence. The rather realistic looking sword that the being is holding having been detected, the hand hurriedly spring into action, removing the blanket and the feet start moving as well, putting the body in accelerated motion. These efforts are made with hope that they will help avoid the imminent danger that seems to be looming ahead.

The details of the apparition are rather normal for a frightening specter that haunts at midnight with a desire to kill. The clothing is moth-eaten and full of dust; the flesh is that of a rotting body, with peeling pieces of skin and dried blood, here and there; bulging eyes and a sword eaten by rust in places. All things considered it seems to be pretty well kept for an immaterial zombie: it still has all its hair, no pieces of bone are sticking out, even the teeth are in a very good state, all in their place and shining white as if they had just been brushed.

The last of the mentioned details are of no importance to the frightened mind. Finding a way to escape this potentially deadly situation is at the center of its processing and not and evaluation of the “health” of the ghost. Out of inertia the feet have gone up the stairs, finding it unthinkable to go without any protection down the street. Amongst thoughts on how to escape a ghost appears the idea that the aunt’s stroke might have in fact not been entirely the work of old age. It seems that the poor lady’s spirit was helped to separate from the body, though the top priority now is that another untimely death does not occur.
While these and other thoughts run their course in the mind, the chase continues. The ghost and its sword seem to be unimpeded by the solid walls although the weapon still seems equally solid.

After running from room to room the door at the end of the hallway is reached. It is unknown what lies on the other side, though it should certainly be a room. Why would a door be built that lead to nowhere or that could be a window just as well? Still the minds of men do not always function according to the laws of reason and the motives behind many of their actions are never revealed. The memory is searched frantically for the recollection of the front of the house, while the eyes take in the view of a long, narrow beam that seems to have eluded the initial perception as well. The mind, having assessed the current situation, suddenly decides that the sword can’t be that real and even if it were being stabbed is preferable to dying due to an impact with the ground. One, two, three, go! The moment the chest area and the heart passed through the sword it was realized that while the weapon was not completely real, further contact with it would lead to certain death. At about the same time it was also decided that the feet can run unprotected down the street considering there seemed to be no other possibility of escape. So, with the phantom in pursuit, the body exited the house and moved with increasing speed down the street. Various questions arise as the ghost is seen to exit the house with no problem and the problem of the area it haunts comes into focus. More questions form as grey shapes are perceived to loom in the distance and as the fact that they are other ghosts becomes clear, the possibility that the aunt might be one of them is taken into account.

Of course these seem like silly questions considering the situation, but they are forming somewhere in the back of the mind while the focus of the current flurry of activity is the frightening perception of the park. Behind the first few rows of trees an impenetrable darkness looms and the upper portion of the iron fence, with a fairly high stone base, is covered in rust. Behind tall gates alley overgrown with weeds can be seen, while the even darker forest on the other side of the road, that looks more like an alley, completes the picture. And certainly in this desperate chase though such frightening surrounding the terrifying beings that seem to be tied to the body though an invisible thread must not be forgotten.

It is in such moments that fear takes over the mind and all reason evaporates. Thus the structure at the edge of the forest is perceived as no more than another frightening thing and the sight near it of another group of ghost standing across the road leads to a rash decision. The unknown is preferred to death and the park seems to be the only escape. Darkness slowly swallows the specters and breathing slowly returns to normal while the heart resumes its normal pace. Unfortunately time seems to have run out just like the sand in the stone hourglass. The transparent casing begins to glow and the unearthly light slowly covers the stone altar, which seems to be dedicated to every religion on earth. The knees give way and the fixed sight slowly blurs or maybe is lost or maybe the altar disappears. Seconds become hours, all sensations fade, everything seems to pass into eternity. An absurd illusion created by the mind loosing its configuration as in Chaos there is no time or place or spirit. Actually there isn’t even chaos because there is nothing to be chaotic. There “is” only Nothing.

How could the mind have been fooled so easily, fallen into this deadly trap? Actually not exactly deadly, as death cannot be said to occur when you simply cease to exist, when you don’t even leave a spiritual self behind. A “death” that seems so gentle and that is in truth so painful. A continuous fall into abyss, a subatomic disintegration only felt by the mind, a unharmed observed at first. Death beyond death, passing into nothingness.

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Re: So You Think You Can Write?

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Circ on Tue Nov 13, 2007 7:51 pm

“When did you become such a cynic?”

“What? You want the exact moment?” I sneer.

“Sure,” replies Lynn in her usual, contradictory blend of sarcastic sincerity.

I sigh, shaking my head. “Fine, I’ll tell you a little story.”

“Okay.”

She is smiling, and bumps her shoulder against mine as we walk down the street. God, I love that woman. Still, she asked for a story, so she is going to get one. I begin talking.

“He can’t take his eyes off the deep, muddy ruts in the hillside. It is all too convenient, an errant sunbeam darting through the overcast to sparkle on the streamlets pouring through the furrows, pulling his eyes back down to the filthy wash and averting them from the spectacle. It is nothing, really, just a truck and a box; a truck lowering a box into the ground. If only guilt let them stay down, but it keeps pulling him back to the ghastly vision on the slope.

“Soon there is no box. If any people were present, they are gone. Now the truck rolls out behind them, splashing his dress shoes with sludge in its deepening of the tread marks in the torn sod and taking away his retched, shimmering, serpentine stream. Without light, water is cold and dark; like death.

“It is devastating to leave but, seeing no use in reading lies etched on a monument, he turns and walks away. After all, he has the truth in a sweaty, tear-stained note caught up in his fist, reading,
‘I want to die. Join me.’

“A week earlier, he had been smoking weed in his basement with the boy in the box. A few days later, he found the note in his pants, but by then the scene was playing itself out in perfect cliché fashion—like the typical television drama they would mock while jerking off all drunk and high, not caring that life was passing them by because they were too busy enjoying its lascivious proffers.

Join me.

‘No!’ he bursts, startling himself and attracting revolting, sympathetic stares from the people gathering at the parish far below. Stacking their false compassion atop the recycled rubbish of he is in a better place and you will see him again someday is rock-bottom on his list of things to do.

Join me.

“The thought grinds into his sense as he walks off the opposite direction of the black drab, poorly dressed mourners.”


“Wow,” soothes Lynn, this time quite seriously, “I’m sorry you lost your friend.”

I shrug as we walk beside a sidewalk in disrepair. There is a reason we avoid it, and use the abandoned road. At least the road is flat.

“He died a few days later; drove a car straight off of a cliff.”

“A few days later? I thought—”

“He thought it was me in that box,” I cut her off, pushing my hands in my pockets. She is a smart girl. She’ll figure it out.

After a while, she does. I try to ignore it, but I hear it anyway.

“That’s horrible.”
conditio sine qua non

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Circ
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Re: So You Think You Can Write?

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Midnightrose on Tue Nov 13, 2007 7:52 pm

Check Yes Or No


“Christ, kid, let me tell you...my love life is in shambles.”
“Gee, uncle Nate, I’m sorry.”
“Jesus, Mims, it’s Nathan. How many times do I have to tell you?”
I swirled the ice cubes in my glass, producing a pleasant tink sound, and then I took a very loud, slurpy sip of the last dregs of coke.
“Ugh.” Nathan made a disgusted face. I wasn’t even going to go in to the injustice of everyone calling me Mims when my real name was Melissa.
He took a dramatic look at his watch. “You almost done? We’ve gotta get going.”
“Yeah, I know.” Every minute I was late was a minute I didn’t have to sit in there spilling my guts to some psychiatrist. I guess being abandoned by your mother technically qualifies you for therapy, but I didn’t think I needed it. I’m pretty normal. I got friends, even a few guys I go out with every now and then, hobbies, and a permanent, safe home (albeit with an impudent single man in his mid-thirties).
I took another tremendous slurp and Nathan sighed like a martyr. “Please, Mims? Can we go now?”
I glanced at the clock. At this rate we’d be five minutes late. I guessed it was all I was going to get. “Yeah.”
“Great.” He paid the bill and we stood up, walking through the diner to get to the door. There were a couple of middle-aged ladies sitting at one table, and I saw their heads turn as he strode by.
“If you’re love life’s really in, what was it, ‘shambles,’ you could give them your number.” I suggested, sniggering. He glanced them over, smiled charmingly, and then stuck his tongue out at me when they weren’t looking.
“Anyway, like I was saying,” Nathan continued when we were outside, “It’s not like women aren’t attracted to me anymore. It’s just that I never really see them anymore. I mean, I can’t go out anywhere with you at home. And even if I could, what woman wants to go home with a guy when there’s this kid in the next room? I mean, even if my apartment didn’t have pretty thin walls...”
I shuddered. “You can stop now!”
“Sorry. But it’s true.”
“Well, why don’t you just go to the girl’s apartment?”
“I ain’t leaving you alone, kid.”
I snorted. He shrugged and we kept walking, headed for a building a couple blocks down that housed the psychiatrist’s office. It was a pretty nice part of the city, and the shrink’s place looked old and official, with a Roman Numeral clock over the door.
“Never got the point of those clocks.” Nathan commented as we stepped through the revolving door. “Why have a clock if you can’t read the numbers?”
We were in a plush, air conditioned waiting room with a marble floor and velvet couches. I guess my family has to use the money for something, even if it was getting me therapy. Hey, I was the future of the family, after all.
I plopped onto one of the couches, and Nathan went to the desk to check me in. We were the only people there and his footsteps echoed eerily.
Even though there wasn’t anyone else waiting, we still had to sit there for a while, just because it was a doctor’s office. After he did the paperwork, Nathan came and sat down next to me.
“Why do they have to have that damn mirror there?” He asked, pouting at his reflection in the gilt-framed mirror opposite us on the wall.
“You know you love it.” I studied our reflection. Not half-bad. Okay, so Nathan’s pretty good looking, and I say that objectively. He’s got light blondeish-brown hair and these gorgeous (objectively) gray-blue eyes, and some pretty nice cheekbones. I’ve got green eyes from my dad, and this wavy light brown hair from my mom, but not the cheekbones; I have a round face. People say I’m pretty; I think I’m just average. But what do I know?
Nathan, who had started flipping through a magazine, glanced up at me. “You’re the one staring at yourself.”
“I don’t have anything better to do.” I picked up a magazine, an old New Yorker, and went through it just reading the cartoons. In a few minutes a secretary came out. “Miss Farley?”
Like there were any other people in the room with different last names. I stood up. “That’s me.”
“Hey, good luck.” Nathan said, waving at me as I followed the secretary. There was that creepy feet-on-marble sound again.
“Your father seems so nice.” The secretary commented when we were out of earshot. She was blonde, tall, and probably enjoyed tequila shots. I smiled tightly.
“Yeah, I have some great parents. Such a nice, stable relationship there, too.”
“That’s nice.” Her perkiness faded a little. She led me through an old-fashioned door and into a hallway. She knocked on one of the doors and then opened it.
“There you go.” With that, she strode away, obviously disappointed at my failure to give her my uncle’s number.
Inside the room was a pretty standard psychiatrist’s office, with a wooden desk, lots of bookshelves, and, yes, a couch. Behind the desk was a thirty-something brunette with stylish plastic-rimmed glasses and a friendly look to her.
“Please, come sit down.” She said, smiling. “I’m doctor M.” Her name was something that started with M which was unpronounceable. “Or you can call me just Doc, or even Annie, if you want. Whatever you feel comfortable with.”
“Okay.” I started to sit down in one of the chairs, but then I stopped. “Can I lie down on the couch?” It just seemed more appropriate.
“Sure, sure.” She rolled her desk chair out and positioned by the couch, and I lay on my back. The couch was purple, and so were her glasses.
“So, you wanna talk, or do you want to do the silent treatment?”
“Uh...” I focused on a Hungry Hippos game that was on a shelf. “How about a game of Hungry Hippos?”
She raised an eyebrow. “If you say so.” I sat up and she stood, walking over to the shelf. She was kind of short. She brought the game over and put it on the couch.
“I’ll be the green one.” I said.
“I’m red.” She said. There wasn’t a purple hippo. We played for a while, and I actually got sort of into it.
“I really like that game.” I said, once I had beat her. “Uncle Nate gave me it for Christmas when I was six or something. My mom gave me a furby that year. All the kids wanted one, but it scared me. I hid it in my closet.” Unintentionally, I was talking.
“Hmmm.” I waited for her to write something down, but she didn’t. “How do you like living with your Uncle Nate?”
“It’s Nathan.” I corrected her. She did that eyebrow raising thing again. “It’s okay. He’s pretty cool, I guess. It’s a little weird, but so was living with mom. There’s this park near the apartment I like to go to.”
“How was living with mom weird?”
I shrugged. “She was always working. I feel like she didn’t know me. Sometimes she would even leave me alone in that big house when she went on business trips.”
“That’s sad.”
“Yeah, I guess.” At this point I felt pretty detached from the whole thing. “But next thing I know, she’s off to rehab. Some co-worker turned her in. Probably wanted a promotion she was going to get or something. I mean, I didn’t even know she was a drunk. She didn’t drink that much.”
“So, why’d you get sent to your Uncle Nate?”
“He’s the only close relative she’s got. My dad’s long gone. Cheated on her with some secretary when she was pregnant. I never even met him.” I shrugged. Didn’t want to, if he was that much of a scumbag.
“Hmmm.”
“Lives of the rich and famous, gotta love it.”
A timer dinged. We had spent more time playing Hippos than I’d realized. “Time to go.” She smiled ruefully. “Thanks for being so cooperative.”
“No problem.” So that was it? We were paying Doctor M how much for me to just get some stuff off my chest?
“I’ll buzz Joelle to bring you back to the lobby.”
“That won’t be necessary.” I said quickly.
She raised her eyebrow. The third time, it was kind of annoying. I knew she was thinking I must have some thing against secretaries because of my cheating dad. No, I just didn’t want an obvious whore hitting on my legal guardian. Annie and I said our goodbyes and I walked back to the lobby.
“How’d it go?” Nathan asked, standing to greet me.
“Fine.” I answered, truthfully. It hadn’t been painful, as much as I felt called upon as an angsty teenager to despise my therapist.
“That’s good.” He grinned and patted me on the back like some football player. We were just turning to leave when I heard someone calling my name. I turned around and saw Annie running towards us, holding a box.
“Melissa, do you want to borrow this?” She handed me the box. It contained the Hungry Hippos game.
“Uh, sure.” It was a little weird, but I could go for a few rounds of Hippo against Nathan.
“Oh, we used to love that game!” Nathan grinned and looked at Annie. Their eyes met.
“I’m Doctor M.” Annie said, reaching out and shaking his hand.
“Nathan Farley.” He smiled (a little shyly?) and shook her hand firmly before letting go.
“I think you must be doing a wonderful job. Melissa’s a great girl.”
“Well, Mims hasn’t given me too much trouble yet.” He couldn’t seem to take his eyes off her. I sighed.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Farley.”
“You too, Doctor M.”

-----------

That night, I went for a walk in the park. It was late by the time I headed back, and even the evening dog-walkers were gone. I had pepper spray, as well as some karate training, so I wasn’t too scared.
That was, I wasn’t scared until some guy came out of the darkness and hugged me. “Melissa!”
I screamed and flailed around for the pepper spray in my purse. “Get your hands off me, you creep!”
The creep held me at arm’s length. “Jesus H. Christ, kid.” It was Nathan. “It’s practically midnight and I had no idea where you were! You had me scared shitless!”
“Look who’s talking.” Then I noticed that his cheeks were wet. He had been worried...about me. “Hey, don’t cry.”
“Don’t ever do that to me again.” He ordered.
“Okay.” I said indifferently.
He looked at me a little weird and I wondered if I was in trouble. Then he gave a little shudder and a loud sob escaped him.
“Oh God.” I muttered, giving him another awkward little hug. “I love you, okay? I’m sorry.”
He held me tight, sniffling. “I love you too, kid.”
I patted his back, a little embarrassed by the emotional spillage. He took a deep breath. “Let’s go home.” I nodded, more than ready for things to get back to normal. We started walking in the direction of the house. Nathan tried to hold my hand, but I shook it away, rolling my eyes at him. I said I loved him, but that didn’t mean I was five.
Everything seemed like it was going great, but then we got back to the apartment and saw a black cadillac parked out front. I heard Nathan swear under his breath, and I felt myself go tense. Nathan squeezed my shoulder and we walked up to the steps together.
“Mims!” My mother, all blowdried hair and steely eyes and business suit, gave a little squeal and rose from the steps, hurrying towards us as fast as her high-heeled pumps would carry her.
“Nancy.” Nathan said, his voice colder than I had ever heard it.
“Hi, mom.” I greeted her unenthusiastically, standing stiff and wooden as she hugged me. This was way too much hugging for one night.
“It’s late, Susan.” Nathan said, still in that icy tone.
“Aw, Nathan, don’t be such a downer.” My mother said childishly, pouting. “I drove here as soon as I got out. I didn’t care what time it was, I wanted my daughter.”
Nathan scowled, his blue eyes burning. My mother looked at me. “Go get ready, dear, I’m taking you home.”
I hesitated, then obediently moved towards the door.
“No.” I turned, surprised by the strength of Nathan’s refusal. “Mims, get back here.” Confused, I hovered between the door and my family.
“Nathan, what are you saying?” My mother said, narrowing her eyes at her brother. “Mims is mine.”
Nathan’s hand balled into a fist, and for a moment I was scared he was going to punch her. “That’s it, isn’t it? She’s just a possession to you. I’m not going to let you take her again.”
She put her hands on her hips, glaring at Nathan. “Oh yes you are.”
“Susan, I am taking this child, and nothing you say or do is going to stop me.”
My mother’s mouth dropped up and she looked like a fish gasping for air. “Nathan, I can’t believe you.”
“Can’t you? First you go off and marry a man just like our father, and now you’re becoming our mother. We both said we didn’t want that, but I’m the only one who upheld that promise.” He crossed his arms, meeting my mother’s gaze steadily.
She smirked, the falsely affectionate smile vanishing. “Maybe so, Nathan. You’re not our father. But you’re not really anything, are you.”
I stared at her, wide-eyed, appalled. The mocking cruelty that had so often been turned on me enraged me now that it was directed at someone I cared about.
She turned to me, smiling again. “Mims?” I knew what she expected me to do, and I was going to surprise her this time. Slowly, guiltily, I moved to Nathan’s side.
“Leave me alone.” I mumbled.
“What was that, Mims?” She asked, taking a step towards me.
“LEAVE ME ALONE!”
She stopped midstep, her foot lifted in the air. Her heel ground into the dirt when she placed it down again. For a moment she showed her true self, her eyes wide and afraid, hurt. They looked wet, like she might start crying. Then the hardened look returned and she turned, stomping off into the night. I heard the cadillac start up and pull out of the driveway.
“Oh, Mims, I am so sorry.” Nathan murmured. I put my head on his shoulder and he wrapped an arm around me. It was my turn to cry.

-------------

Very early in the morning, we were both still up, trying to drown our sorrows in mindless television. We had fallen into a deep silence when Nathan spoke up. “I really liked meeting Doctor M. today.”
I grinned. “I could tell.”
He smiled back, blushing a little.
“I could ask for a kid-gaurdian joint session if you want.” I suggested. He shook his head.
“No, no. I don’t know how to talk to a woman like that.”
I shrugged, and he looked at the ground. “But your mother was right. It’s about time I settled down, and the women I’ve been dating aren’t the right kind for that.”
“You could write a note.” I said. “That’s what we do in high school.”
“You know, that’s actually a good idea.” He perked up, standing and heading right into the kitchen to grab a piece of paper. I settled back into my Nick at Nite induced stupor.
A while later he was back, humbly carrying a scrap of paper. He handed it to me almost reverently. “What do you think?”
I opened the paper, commanding my expression to remain serious.
“Do you like me? Check yes or no.”
A giggle escaped me, and I quickly disguised it with a cough. I guess he took the high school thing literally.
“Is it okay?” Nathan asked anxiously, wringing his hands.
“Yeah, it’s great.” I handed it back to him, and he folded it into an intricate origami envelope. I wondered if Dr. M. would even be able to get it open.
“So you don’t mind me dating your shrink?”
“Not if it gets you to stop talking about love shambles.”
With a sigh, he plopped back down onto the couch next to me. We were both exhausted. It had been a long day.

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Re: So You Think You Can Write?

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby HorusTheHeretic on Wed Nov 14, 2007 4:53 pm

So, when will we know who won?
"It used to be that our elected officials were veterans of World War II, Vietnam, or the Civil Rights Movement. But with the election of Jesse Ventura in Minnesota and Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, I foresee a day when all our leaders will come from the movie Predator. Think about it. Governor Carl Weathers. No wait: Senator Predator. I bet he has some pretty interesting things to say about tort reform."
- Stephen Colbert

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Re: So You Think You Can Write?

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Circ on Wed Nov 14, 2007 6:11 pm

I imagine it will take Treize a bit of time to realize he has to judge this, and then a bit more time to read it over.

We should start complaining after a week.

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Re: So You Think You Can Write?

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby ender_kb on Thu Nov 15, 2007 12:27 am

Sounds good. A week should be a sufficient amount of time. I can't wait to find out who won so I can read their story. I was too lazy to read everyone's here.

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Re: So You Think You Can Write?

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Treize Khushrenada on Thu Nov 15, 2007 1:08 am

Thank you all for your submissions. I've already read a few of them, and the results should be up at least by next weekend (hopefully). I appreciate everyone who participated, and regardless of who won, the effort was worth it.

Also, I have an idea of starting a RoleplayGateway Anthology with a few of the stories, etc. which will be built upon more and more as I see more things to put in, but not yet.

So, officially, the So You Think You Can Write? Writing Contest is over.

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Re: So You Think You Can Write?

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Treize Khushrenada on Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:26 am

On the 15th of November I received a private message by someone who had just missed the deadline. I am willing to bend the rules slightly in this exception and allow their story to be considered in this contest.

Also, for all of you curious, I am still in the process of reading the submissions. The only con to receiving so many good and lengthy submissions is that it will take longer to get through them all. Expect a decision sometime in the next week or so, but don't be too angry if it goes a bit longer.

The story I am adding to the contest is reposted below:

KNUCKLEBONES

by Kahiros

“Please sir, can I see them?”
“No, no, and a thousand times, NO! What have I told you about ‘them’?”
“They are only for magicians, not for snotty-nosed, little-brat apprentices.” The boy sighed glumly, picking at one dirty fingernail. A candle’s light flickered across his young face, catching in his dark eyes as the boy looked to his master once more. The old man shook his head, his wrinkles creasing even further as he grimaced.

“Twice today you have asked me about those bones. Why do they interest you so?” His gnarled hand went immediately to the belt, where a number of bags and knickknacks hung. He found what he sought for in a small, red velvet pouch, tied off with a length of golden string. The bag was plain, but inside lay the standard tools of any soothsayer. The hand was removed as quickly as it had been placed, and instead rested on the old man’s head, rubbing at his head, which had long been devoid of hair. “These are no mere toys for some young boy to throw around to impress the village girls.” His apprentices sighed again, angrily this time and rolled his eyes.

“Yes, yes I know that. You’ve only told me every day. Give it a rest!” He strode to his small pallet, throwing himself down and turning away. His master shook his head, sighed, mumbling to himself.

“Mikal, you are far too impatient, and though you say you listen, you do not seem to remember. These bones… These bones know me and only me. They would not listen to anyone else. They may even prove dangerous if tossed by some fool.” The hedge-wizard shook his head again, finishing the letter he was writing with a dab of wax before retiring to his own chambers, leaving the candle to flicker in a tiny way. Mikal’s eyes did not close, even when the snores of the magician filled the small house, even when the moon rose to its zenith. Slowly, silently, he got to his feet again, tiptoeing over to the desk. He found the book he was looking for instantly, a massive leather covered thing with golden clasps. He held the book open, but no words or illustrations showed on its pages. Mikal bent closer, nose almost brushing against the page.

“Show me knucklebones.” Instantly, as if someone wrote on the page, words appeared in a long spidery writing.

“The knucklebones of a human skeleton are one of the most potent tools in a wizard’s arsenal.” The boy smirked to himself, reaching for the candle to see the writing better. “To obtain these wonders of fortune-teller, you must find a graveyard, and a skeleton on the night of a full moon and only on the that night, can you harvest these wonders of magic. Once you find the bones, you will be able to discern the past present and future, as well as use them for protection.” Mikal flinched, almost dropping the candle on the desk as he looked to the foggy window. It was the full moon tonight! He set the candle down as quickly as he dared, rushing to the doorway where his cloak and boots lay. In his impatience he did not even stop to grab the protective wards and charms his master always insisted on him carrying.

The apprentice slipped through the door and into the cold night, moving quickly, adrenaline rushing through him, making his head feel clear and his limbs light. There was, in fact, a graveyard nearby, the town’s only cemetery. It lay up on the only hill in the county, and in his haste he scaled the mound easily and with speed, reaching the top as the moon reached the last quarter of the sky. He gazed out across the little hamlet, breath frosting on the air, nose tinged red. He burrowed his hands deeper into warm pockets, trudging along the pebbly path more slowly now. The graves were old and overgrown, flowers where scattered across the green, all glowed in shades of white or grey beneath the moon’s frosty gaze. As he moved further and further into the cemetery, the graves grew older, rougher, worn smooth by the bite of wind and water. The last grave, sitting at the very center, was the grandest. It towered above all, and tilted slightly, rising out of the earth like the prow of some old, stony ship. The statue itself held no details now; time had seen fit to erase whatever had been engraved there before, now it was a simple pillar of granite. Mikal nodded to himself, the confident smirk returning before disappearing once more. He cursed loudly; in his rush he had forgotten a shovel! The boy glanced to the moon; it had sunk even lower, and had begun to grace the tops of the distant trees. He cursed again, sitting in front of the grave, brooding. He couldn’t dig up a grave with his bare hands, and if he returned to the house to get a shovel, it would be dawn by the time he returned.

“Damnit!” He leapt to his feet, kicking at the statue. It did not give way, but he heard a definite crunch as his eyes watered. He dropped to the ground in an undignified heap, holding back tears and cradling his broken foot.

“Such language for a young one! Tell me this, who taught you such vile words? Surely not your mother?” Mikal was still hunched over, in a daze from the pain, replying to those words seemed to be a grand idea at the time.

“Not from my mother, she’s dead.”
“From you father then?” The genteel voice questioned. Something was out of place here; the timbre was high, and cold, like the wind whistling through dead trees.

“He’s gone as well.” Mikal sat up swiping the tears from his eyes, still not looking at the stranger. The sharp sting had begun to fade, replaced by a dull ache. He gritted his teeth, using the statue for support. The a noise akin to the rustle of a bat’s wings filled his ears, and in the slight breeze Mikal was almost completely covered by the long, black coat that blew around him. He felt his hands removed from the stone as the stranger hissed,

“Careful! You’ll get fingerprints on my grave.” The apprentice looked up to see the lowering moon glint off bones, the rounded cranium and the empty jaws of a boneman. Mikal screamed hoarsely, pushed himself away from those thin, cold hands, falling flat on his back. “Dear me, did I give you a fright?” The skeleton clattered, staring at Mikal through vacant eye-sockets. He was shrouded in a torn cloak, with lining as red as blood, that reached to his feet and an old, battered top hat sat at a jaunty slant on his head. The apparition bowed low, extending one delicate hand that had long been bare of skin and muscle. “Wilfred T. Shaeder is the name, but I prefer Bigsby.” Mikal goggled, at a loss for words, as the skeleton, no, as Bigsby swept upwards to perch on a gravestone, sounding miffed. “Now, really. That’s no a proper way to greet someone, gaping like a goldfish. Do you have any manners?”

“Y-yes. I do!” Mikal retorted back, still a bit stunned by the sudden appearance of this corpse. “It’s just… I’ve never seen a live skeleton before.”

“I should hope you haven’t.” Bigsby replied, sounding haughty now, “It’s a fairly rare occurrence, and you can never be sure that all skeletons are good skeletons. What I mean to say is, though I am a shining example of chivalry, but I’ve met a couple of bad bones in my day.”

“Right…” Mikal muttered weakly, trying to struggle to his feet. “This is just a dream, I’ll wake up, I’ll be home in my bed, and I won’t have any wish to go chasing knucklebones ever again.” He set his foot down, and gave a small cry, sinking down to his knees once more. “I guess this isn’t a dream.”

“It is most definitely not. I am as real as you, or this grave.” Bigsby rapped on the stone, seemingly unconcerned when the entire statue sank into the ground, leaving a dark hole. Not even the moonlight seemed to reach into the dark; it looked as bottomless as the sea. “Now, I would suggest that you come with me.” The skeleton murmured, kneeling by Mikal.

“What? But, why? I should go. Go home, not with you by the way.” He warded off the hands, scooting back and grasping at a stick that lay by his hand.

“There’s no need to be so jumpy. Here.” Bigsby reached forward, faster than Mikal could move away, clutching the hood of his cloak and lifting the apprentice into the air. He tossed the stick away and Mikal got the fleeting impression that the skeleton had winked at him, then Bigsby chuckled. “Better hold on tight.” He leaped into the hole, trailing Mikal, who, despite how he clawed at the edge of the pit, was dragged down as well.

--------------------------------------

It was dark; no light invaded this small closed space. Mikal could hear his own breathing, the quick patter of his heart, and nothing else. Something brushed by him, and the sound of a match striking flint was followed by the small light of a lantern.

“There, that’s much better, isn’t it?” Bigsby clattered, that eternal grin of his seeming to get wider. Mikal shivered

“Why did you take me here?” He leaned against the wall, taking his weight off the bad ankle. He wanted out, this was too far down the rabbit hole for his comfort. “I need to be back before my master wakes up.”

“Nonsense! Haven’t you heard legends of places like this? The realm of the fairie is a strange place, nothing is like it “should be”, and even the time is kept in a different way.” Bigsby reached within his cloak, nonchalantly snapping off an arm. Here, you can use this as a crutch. Mikal suppressed the growing wave of nausea as he accepted the limb, steadying himself and following the skeleton, who had begun to wander down the passageway. “This is just the entrance to our domain. It’s much larger and brighter where we spend most of our time. In fact, I’m the only one who goes up there.” He trailed a finger along the ceiling, a trail of dust following the digit.

“What?” Mikal caught up to him, knuckles growing white from his grip on the bone. “You’re the only one to walk around in the graveyard?”

“Yes, No one else is allowed up there. Something about scaring you people. I’m something like the leader of graveyard, I’ve been here the longest after all.”

“How long is long?”

“You ask far too many questions, I haven’t even thought about my age in decades. What year is it up there?”

“Um, I think my master told me it was 1556.”

“Well, I was born in 1221, so…” The boneman counted on his long fingers, looking thoughtful, if that expression was at all possible on a face with no muscles. He nodded to himself, obviously coming to a conclusion. “I am three hundred and thirty-five in your time.” He chuckled, leaping into the air and clicking his heels, “But I don’t feel a day over two-fifty.”

The hallway opened up, and the sound of dry whisperings and murmurs grew, like thousands of book pages being turned at once. Even the air felt stale, like it had been choked with too much dust for far too long. Mikal coughed into his hand, hobbling forward, gazing up at the tall ceiling, which was lost in the gloom.

“This, my friend, is Spiridion, the town below the town.” He spread his arms wide, his coat flapping out majestically, but the dramatic flourish was lost on the inhabitants. The cavern wasn’t very large, and though it was filled with many skeletons, they weren’t doing very much, in fact, they none of them were moving at all.

“Are they… asleep?” Mikal nudged the nearest one, who was slumped over an ancient chair. It looked like it was supposed to be. Dead.

“Not at all, they’re merely… waiting. Come, come my friend.” Bigsby looked to him once more, cocked to the side like a curious dog. “I didn’t get your name.”

“It’s Mikal.” The absurdity of exchanging words with a skeleton dressed in a top hat was beginning to fade and he followed Bigsby once more, as they crossed to the center of the room.

“You see, when I’m away, up gallivanting around on the surface, these good old chaps tend to get into trouble. You know about those stories of skeletons leaving their graves and wreaking havoc? Well, those were my fault.

“All of them?! That’s ridiculous! There are thousands of graveyards in the world, you can’t possibly be in all of them.”

“I can and am, young one.” Bigsby hefted a long, thick piece of wood with a grunt, “You see, Spiridion is the one and only cemetery. There is no other. All the skeletons here are archetypes. Young boys and girls, teenagers, adults, elders. Whenever a new person is buried, their spirit merges with whatever archetype they are closest to. It saves from confusion.” The caped skeleton swung the wood, hitting a large brass gong that Mikal had not noticed before. It was old, and had turned green, but writing still lined the outsides of the bell, spiraling haphazardly across its surface.

Bigsby noticed him gawking, and grinned, offering up some information, “The Book of the Dead.” As Mikal stared at him, the spirit shrugged his bony shoulders, “Who said it had to be a novel?” The gong’s reverberations trailed through the cavern, setting the bones to rattle and dance. One by one the skeletons moved, drawing themselves together, assembling in a clicking and clattering. Hundreds of empty eye sockets looked to Bigsby and Mikal, countless grins that were identical and yet different.

A skeleton approached, watching Mikal like he was a tiger about to pounce. The boy could almost see what this man looked like when he was alive, probably some huge, muscle head with three times as much brawn as he did brains.

“We have a visitor.” Bigsby’s voice had changed again, growing nobler, more aloof. “And he is injured. Do we have anything for broken bones?”

“I will go check with the healer, Lord Wilfred.” The caped and tophatted skeleton actually cringed at those words, and rubbed where his temples may have been hundreds of years ago.

“For the last time, it’s Bigsby. Bigsby! Not Wilfred… never Wilfred.” He turned away, quieting the last rumbles of the gong with one finger.

“Why don’t you like your name?” Mikal piped up curiously
“Well… I never chose it, that’s for sure. Even when I was young, ‘Wilfred’ was never a popular name.”

“So, why Bigsby?”

“Well, when I was alive, I was a magician. Not like you, I didn’t have “real” magic; I played the fools with tricks and illusions and grew quite rich. Eventually I took to staging productions. The crowd took it upon themselves to give me a new name, there isn’t much magic in Wilfred. So I became the Great Bigsby. And it stuck.” The skeleton paused, then chuckled, leaning against the bell; “I remember those times fondly. The best days of my life. And I was the greatest, the most amazing magician anyone had ever seen, maybe ever would see.”

“How did you die?”

“Hmm, haven’t really thought about that in a while either. Have I said that you ask too many questions?”

“Yes, and don’t change the topic.”

“Fine then,” Bigsby sighed, “If you must know… I… Was eaten by a tiger. The stupid blighter… I should never have bought him, the regular tigers were much less jumpy.”

The big skeleton returned shortly, holding a sort of glowing moss. “Put this on your ankle. It’s good for your bones.” The fungus wrapped around the already swelling joint with a mind of its own, removing the pain and making his ankle feel sturdier than before. He handed the arm back to Bigsby and got to his feet.

“It feels much better now. What is this stuff?”

“It only grows in Spiridion, even we skeletons break bones. Now, down to business.” Bigsby clambered to the top of the bell, standing as solidly as a statue. He looked out across the sea of skeletons, clapping his bony hands together. One by one lanterns lit up, filled with a strange blue fire that flickered and leaped, casting the cavern in an eerie glow. “Brothers and sisters! We have a guest. And I know that you are not usually good at dancing, let us make an exception.” Bigsby flared his cape out, drawing from within a large wand, like the kind a magician would use. “Let the skeleton ball begin!”

------------------------------------------

The party carried on for hours, the cavern a mass of whirling bony limbs. Music filled the air, the strange piping of many woodwinds, the low thrum of a deep brass. The clattering grew, and the dancers sped up, or slowed down, moving with grace despite their long due expiry date. Mikal found himself swept up into the ocean, dancing a jig with one skeleton, a waltz with another. The hours stretched on, moving like molasses along the trunk of a tree, and as the lanterns flickered and jumped, the apprentice twirled from one partner to another, exchanging grins and the occasional bows before moving on.

He lost track of time, laughing and kicking up his heels amongst the unholy cacophony. After a time he felt himself tugged towards the dais and the gong, his shoulder held in a vice grip by no other than Bigsby. He was out of breath, his face flushed. Mikal’s eye’s burned with delight and joy.

“This is amazing!” He shouted over the din, trying to free himself and return to the dance.

“Mikal. Wait! Listen to me.” Bigsby caught his other shoulder, holding him in place. “You don’t look so good.”

“I’m fine! I feel great!” He chuckled, waving his arms. “Let go! I can see someone who wants to dance.” He tried to slip away once more, but the skeleton’s grip tightened.

“I have been foolish, I should not have brought you to this place.”
“What’s the problem? Don’t look so gloomy. Dance! There’s plenty skeletons to do the foxtrot with.” Around them the dance had begun to break up, the music had turned sour, almost sinister. One by one, skulls turned to the pair, watching them with a collective, ceaseless gaze.

“You don’t understand. You’re in danger!” Bigsby muttered from behind clenched teeth. He had noticed the current silence and glanced furtively at the crowd. Mikal shrugged off the dire words, finally turning around.

“You’re worried about nothing. How could I be in danger…” His words trailed off, echoing faintly. The skeletons had begun to move, pacing forward, reaching with cold, dead hands. The large one that Mikal had met before spoke, his voice no longer so friendly.

“The Lord is right, you shouldn’t have come here. But it’s too late to leave.” He laughed grimly, reaching for Mikal. “You will stay here, and eventually pass away, and become one of us. Do not struggle, there is no point, there is one of you, and many of us.” He reached for Mikal, his touch sending cold shivers up the boy’s spine. The apprentice broke away, trying to put distance between himself and the spirits. It was no use, however. They surrounded him on all sides. He felt the brush of cloth against the sleeve of his jacket, and suddenly, Bigsby’s tall, bony, caped covered shoulder filled his vision.

“The boy will not be harmed.” There was an air of command to him now, a steely assurance that his orders would be followed.

“You may be our leader, Shaeder. But humans are our property.”
“What if I decide that he belongs up there?”
“Then you are a fool, and will be destroyed.” The mob advanced a step, grinning hungrily, some dropping to all fours, like beasts. Mikal hid closer to Bigsby, shrouded in the cloak, frozen with fear. Bigsby laughed, his own grin turning cold. In a flash, Mikal could see the human he once had been, tall and noble and proud, with a mop of curly black hair and piercing green eyes. But the vision was gone as quickly as it had come.

“Bigsby… How are we going to get out of here?”
“Just stay close. And Mikal?” Bigsby glanced over his shoulder, smiling slightly. “You might want to close your eyes.” The apprentice did as he was told, clenching his eyelids shut, holding onto the cape as if his life depended on it. A flash of light still seeped through, though, as the spirits screamed, voices clamoring in agony and rage. He felt hands brush along his coat, seeking purchase. He felt himself being hoisted into the air. The skeletons were almost in his head, whispering horrors into his ear, trying to pull him away, but Bigsby was running, shouldering through the mass.

Mikal could feel the air change, as they reached the passageway that lead to the exit. There was the smack of something heavy against bone, and Bigsby began to fall. Mikal opened his eyes in time to see the ground rushing at him but the apprentice managed to push himself away in time, struggling to his feet. The big skeleton loomed over him, wielding the gong baton, teeth locked in a maniacal smile.

“You won’t get away from here. You’re ours!” He threw the stick to the side, and grabbed at Mikal again, who cried out, kicking and punching. “Stop struggling like a little pig!” The skeleton spat, twisting his arm till the child screamed.

“Stop.” Bigsby had gotten up, holding the baton loosely in one hand. “Let go of the boy.”

“Or what? What can you possibly do to me Shaeder?” The other growled. Bigsby merely smiled; it was not a fleeting, unsure thing, but a grin as cold and as dangerous as the edge of a knife.

“Oh, there are many things I could do. Banishing you to the Abyss is quite high on the list, but I think I will do this.” He swung the bat with all his might, dislodging the skeleton’s head from his shoulders. Instantly the body went limp, crashing down on Mikal. Bigsby reached beneath the mile of now inanimate bones, fishing the boy out.
“That was quite satisfying, did you see the hit? I can’t even see where his head went.”

“What about the other skeletons?” Mikal could hear their steps at the end of the passage, clicking and clattering horribly.

“They’re too slow to catch up with us. Let’s get out of here.” Bigsby tugged at a certain root that protruded from the dirt wall, and with a sound like the rolling of thunder, the ceiling opened up, revealing a star-filled night sky. He put Mikal over his shoulder, and clambered up, pulling himself up into the human world. Mikal could see the skeletons below, arguing among themselves. They seemed unwilling to follow, to enter the world of light and life.

As Bigsby set the boy down on the grass, Mikal had to grit his teeth in pain. His ankle, and the healing he had enjoyed before, was gone. It was broken just as it had been before. Before he was dragged down the hole. He watched Bigsby push the statue over the pit with a grunt, shutting out the last of the voices, which had faded to whispers.

“Are you alight?” The tophatted spirit threw himself onto the ground beside Mikal, leaning on his elbows and looking up at the sky. “My deepest apologies, I should not have taken you there. I didn’t realize they would be so… insistent.” The skeleton choked back a grim laugh, staring at the old graves.

“My ankle, I think it’s broken again.” Mikal held his foot gingerly, the pain wasn’t so bad, once you got used to it.

“Well, that was bound to happen. That moss couldn’t survive up here, with all this light.”

“What are you talking about? There is no light. The moon’s set, I can barely see my own hand.”

“You cannot see it as I do, but the stars are like spotlights. I can see them moving, great pillars of light that stretch far into the distance.” Bigsby flourished mightily, but gave a little yelp as his arm fell dropped onto the earth. “That stupid bugger! He split my arm clean off.” He held the limb up to eye level, inspecting the break. “Good thing it held till now. We might never have gotten out of the pit with three good arms between us.” He sighed, “I am truly sorry for this. Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?” Bigsby pulled the cloak closer around his nonexistent shoulders, looking to Mikal who just laughed, an idea flashing through his head.

“You scared me half to death, abducted me and pulled me down into that cavern, which turned out to be filled with homicidal skeletons. Damn right you should make it up to me! And I know exactly what I want to.” Mikal tilted his head to the side, smiling slyly. “Your knucklebones.” Bigsby drew himself up, moving away.

“That is the one thing I cannot give you.” He murmured, a little aura of cold anger surrounding him. “Do you even know what you ask for? A skeleton’s knucklebones are his soul! Take those away… And he is just a piece of dead matter. Dead dead, not dead like me, dead like the way your people picture us to be, all rotting in our graves and being eaten by worms and all manner of disgusting creatures.” Bigsby shuddered, bones rattling like the branches of a tree in midwinter. “Are you a magician’s apprentice? I should have thought so, skulking around a graveyard at the full moon. You were going to steal someone’s knucklebones, weren’t you?” Mikal blushed, looking away.

“I probably wouldn’t have done it… I didn’t have a shovel after all.”
“Didn’t have a shovel?” Bigsby snorted, “Not today you didn’t, but you would have returned. If not during this one, then at the next full moon you would have stolen someone else’s soul.” The skeleton fell silent, thinking to himself, his back to Mikal. “No one knows what happens to those who get their knucklebones taken away… Some say they go to hell.” Bigsby paused, rage diminishing. He looked up, the light of the stars shining on his skull, wistful, the longing clear in his face, even if he didn’t actually possess one. “But maybe they aren’t dead. Maybe they are, merely set free. I would so love to be released from this decrepit cage.” Bigsby stared at Mikal, making a decision. “I’ll never be able to return to Spiridion, I doubt my kind will welcome me with open arms, and otherwise I’m bound to this graveyard for all of eternity. Maybe there is something beyond this half life.” He smiled once more, placing his hands on the brown grass. “When you take my knucklebones, you must remain in the graveyard till the sun rises. That way, whatever god that watches over these types of dealings knows that I gave them willingly.”

“What happens if you don’t give them willingly?”
“Then you will be cursed, and eventually die a horrible death.”
“It doesn’t say that in the book!” Mikal muttered, as another shiver ran up his spine.

“They tend to leave all that doom and gloom rubbish out. Especially when it’s important.” Bigsby grabbed his five digits, and with a mighty tug, the bones came off in his hand. The skeleton winced, but handed the five knucklebones without so much as a glance of hesitation. “You’ll have to take the others, as I find myself rather lacking in a second hand.” Mikal shuddered again, licking his lips, which had suddenly become quite dry. Stealing the bones from a dead skeleton was much easier than taking them from a walking and talking one Especially one who he had become rather fond of. He grabbed the fingers, and pulled, they fell into his hand with a faint popping sound. They were warm in his hand, and even in the murky darkness they were bleached as white as snow.

“Are you sure about this?”
“Very sure, my lad. Besides, what comes after has to be more interesting than sitting around in this graveyard forever…”

Time passed as it always had, and the stars wheeled above the pair. They talked the entire time, exchanging stories, telling tales. Bigsby learned of the current world, and Mikal learned of the past.

Finally, it was time. The cockerel crowed, and the edges of the distant hills were lined with light. Bigsby froze, drawing his cape closer, pulling down his top hat as if to shade himself from the sun.

“I’ve never truly seen it like this,” He murmured, staring in awe as the ball of fire rose ponderously. Abruptly, Bigsby laughed, threw his top hat away and discarded his cloak. He turned to Mikal and bowed so low that his forehead almost touched the earth. “I made a good choice.” He exclaimed, meeting Mikal’s amazed eyes. “I am indebted to you.” In the blink of an eye he was gone, turned to dust and scattered by the wind. Mikal would have waved goodbye, but the change was so sudden, he found himself simply gaping in amazement. He looked at the knucklebones in his hand, and clutched them tight, a smile forming on his own face. The apprentice got to his feet, slowly, using a stick for a crutch, and made his way down to the stirring village. In the glaring light of the sun, neither Mikal, nor anyone else would see the shadow that danced away into the wildmoors. But on cold nights when the moon had hidden below the edge of the world and the stars burned like spotlights upon the stage of life, one could see the skeleton of a long dead magician, caped and tophatted, grinning wildly as he roamed the lonely plains and beyond.

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Treize Khushrenada
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Re: So You Think You Can Write?

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Treize Khushrenada on Sat Nov 24, 2007 1:06 am

Well the deliberation was... difficult, but at last the results are in. There were QUITE a few entries that really surprised me (and a few that actually moved me), and as cliched as it is to say (though I truly mean it), it gives me great pain to select only a few. Conversely it was a pleasure to read them all, and I did read them all, even the ones linked and turned in late.

Before I list the winners (though I know you've already scrolled down to see them), I'd like to put here in writing at least a vague sense of what I was looking for. These stories were read and appraised on their style first and foremost. If the plot itself was mundane but the story was told in such a way that kept the reader (myself) interested, it was considered better than a story with a more engaging plot that was executed poorly. The plot, however, was also taken into consideration when style between stories was too difficult to compare and contrast. Twists and turns, pacing and uses of irony were only a few of the things looked for and noted. All in all, the stories listed below are believed by me to be complete packages, the cream of the crop.

I would also like to announce two honorable mentions, stories I thought were extremely good but did not make the top three slots by a hair (and I really do mean that). The first is Zhelir Darkfall's story with the document name AnimalW3. The second is Road to Nonexistence by Clyodna. Congratulations to both of you, as even honorable mention is an accomplishment in a contest like this.

And now, without further adieu...

THE SECOND RUNNER-UP IS:

Madness by Lithitemir


THE FIRST RUNNER-UP IS:

Untitled by Circ


THE WINNER OF THE "SO YOU THINK YOU CAN WRITE?" SHORT STORY CONTEST IS:

Pseudo by Raphaelz0rz


Congratulations to all of you, and thank you to all who participated. I look forward to reading from all of you again in the next contest which should be underway soon (note: it will not be a short story contest). For those of you who did not win, and to those who did, keep your eyes on your INBOX as I will be sending messages to all those whose stories I want to include in the Anthology I'm putting together of gathered works.

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Treize Khushrenada
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