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The Tower At the sound of his cries I was instantly brought awake. I tried to get out of bed quietly, but it was too late; she was already awake. “I’ll take care of him,” my wife said next to me from under her covers, beginning to rise. “No, no, I’ve got him. Go back to sleep,” I insisted. She relented, knowing better than to say anything else. Most couples fight about who has to get up to take care of the baby; we “fight” about who gets to get up and take care of the baby. Even the intense wailing put a smile to my face. Most are annoyed at being awoken in the middle of their night by their newborns, but I cherished the moments as I knew they wouldn’t last forever. I loved my son, unconditionally, and every moment – even time taken away from sleep – was worth spending with him. A gift. To see his beautiful, brown eyes. His adorable smile. His pink tongue always sticking out so ridiculously. His tiny arms, hands, feet, fingers, and face. I walked into the nursery room, quickly advancing to where the crib was. I swiftly picked up my son, Liam, swinging him back and forth gently in my arms. “Shh,” I whistled to him in a soothing voice. His big chocolate-colored eyes staring back at me; his mouth still mewling. But after a few moments, the noise began to silence. I walked around the room, a bounce in my step for his enjoyment, and the crying ceased all together. His eyes were still focused on mine, and the smile on my face finally brought one on his. “You hungry, buddy?” I whispered. I moved to a dresser on the far side of the room on top of which stood a bottle. I grabbed it and carefully placed the nipple of the bottle in his mouth. But he wasn’t hungry, so I removed it and placed it back on the dresser. “Alright, come on,” I said to him, carrying him out back into our room, then hastily into the hallway so as to not disturb my wife. I took him to my study where I had various case files lying on top of a large wooden desk. On all four walls stood bookshelves and various other items. On top of one bookshelf was a small model of the Eiffel Tower. .“You see that, Liam?” I said, pointing to the object. He followed my finger, but if he actually saw what I was pointing at I wasn’t sure. Still, I continued. “That’s a tower. Probably the most famous tower in the world. An iconic landmark.” He smiled back at me as if fascinated by my tale. Of course I knew he had no idea what I was saying, but my voice was soothing to him. And that was enough for me. “Your mom and I went there for our honeymoon.” I paused for a moment before continuing, thinking back on the memories. “I still remember that day, that whole week. The most amazing week of my life. Your mother is amazing woman, Liam.” I kissed the top of his head lightly, eliciting another smile from him. “One of these days you’re likely to get married to, and you’ll find the perfect woman just as I did, just you wait.” I heard movement behind me and turned to find her in the doorway. “Hey,” I said softly. “Hey,” she answered, advancing toward me and giving me a kiss before giving four to Liam. “Not fair,” I mutter, laughing. She laughs with me, kissing me again. “Come on,” she said, “let’s put Little Liam back to sleep.” I smiled at the alliteration used in his nickname. We must've said it a thousand times, but it never got old. I nodded and smiled at my son. “Let’s go, buddy. We’ll learn more about towers some other day,” I said, following her into the hallway and back toward our room and then his. ~ :: ~ Author's note: This was written for a 15-minute write-off among 55555, Kakaru, and others. The dad in this story is the main character in a murder mystery story I am writing (Detective Calvin Duster), so this is just a story showing a part of his character and way of thinking. However, for this scene at least, that character also represents who/what I want to be when I get older; that is, a dad like this. I honestly really look forward to being a dad. But so anyway, this was just a short character exploration that I did, and is personally one of my favorite write-off stories (I've only posted ~3 on BZP, but have around 20). Anyway, enough from me. Enjoy! Comments are very much appreciated. ~ Velox
In conjunction with this topic, this was done for a "write-off" between myself, John (55555), Micah (Kakaru), and another guy from Flickr (and other sites) that they know (we have since had several other write-offs with more participants -- I'll probably write up a blog entry later); just a very short vignette. We were to write a short story in 15 minutes (with no time for preparation) based off the theme "The Forest" -- any interpretation valid. As such, this story is not the usual quality of my work, as it is completely unedited and was planned, thought-up and written in fifteen minutes. I may or may not be posting more of these later. The Forest I walked alone through a dark forest, nothing but the beasts of the woodland to accompany me. Yet I was content...........The moon shone ever so slightly through the thick foliage so that every few minutes I could glimpse the milky light. Occasionally I even had the chance to see a star or two, there for one moment, but gone the next as I took another step. My feet travelled over rocky terrain, covered in pine needles, leaves, roots of trees, and much other frondescence...........A squirrel scurried up a tree next to me. I turned to look, smiled. It was always so comforting here. So peaceful. There was no one to disturb me. Not a soul. Just me and the forest around me...........I came to a shallow river, the water flowing gracefully through the woods. I took a step in, allowed the cool liquid to inebriate my being. It was already cold with the spring night, but it was something I welcomed, so I allowed the glistening liquid to cool me even more. I crouched down, cupped my hands, and washed my face. Immediately it seemed as though my sense were doubled. I could see sharper, and the slight wind on my face became all the more apparent, chilling my cheeks...........Taking a large gulp, I stood up again, stepped out of the river, and made my way north, following along the bank of the river. After what may have been hours I came to a cave. It was my home...........I pushed aside the leaves I had strung as a crude door and stepped inside. I sat down on the cold, dark surface. I let my eyes wander, and they came upon a series of markings on the walls...........Memories flooded my mind. Memories of how I came here; unhappy times. I remembered how I was banished from where I lived, dumped in to the middle of this forest. At first I hated it, hated God, hated everything. I found this cave, making inscriptions on the wall showing my disgust, telling my story. But as the years went by I began to embrace the life they chose for me. I came to realize the beauty of the world we live in, and how the only way it could possibly exist was through a God...........I stopped trying to find a way out, stopped caring to get revenge on those who put me here. Instead I continued to live my life. To embrace it. To cherish it. To love it...........This forest is my home. ~ :: ~
HANGING BY A THREADA Vignette In Which Chronicler Takua Holds On For Dear Life Things were looking up for the Chronicler - which was good, as he had little energy to do so himself, and looking down wasn't an option. It didn't help that he could still feel the chilled winds of Ko-Wahi raking across the soles of his feet, taunting him. His breath came ragged and erratically, and when it did, icy crystals scraped along his throat, torturing him from the inside. Not that they needed to, as the burning in his muscles was providing pain enough, straining against the unrelenting tug of gravity. 'At least the storm has passed,' he thought to himself as he stared up at the blue sky beyond the stony precipice. With vision blurring from the brightness, his thoughts turned to an altogether different blue expanse, where he had begun his present journey what seemed a lifetime ago. The gentle waves of the ocean lapping the edge of the beaches south of Ga-Koro, the serene stillness of the waters as they stretched to the horizon. Warm sand underfoot, cool breezes off the sea, and vast possibilities before him. Had he known where he would end up, perhaps he would have stayed on that beach, embrace that tranquility, if only for a short while longer. 'No,' he decided, 'even then I would have taken up this mantle. Besides, any peace I could find there would have been fleeting. No sense in fighting my Duty for the sake of false security.' Even before he began his present journey, darkness had been spreading across the island, insinuating itself through the forgotten corners of the wilderness and, slowly, almost imperceptibly, into the homes and hearts of the Tohunga. The Chronicler's travels served only to cement that notion in his mind, as he bore witness to the many ways in which Rahi, Tohunga, even Toa, could be corrupted - a testament to the imperative for action. Now all he bore witness to were empty, blue skies, bitterly chilled winds, and taught hemp rope, straining against a snow-worn cliff edge. Nothing to hear but the high pitched whistle of winds pressed between jagged mountain faces, and his own hoarse breath. Wait. On the edge of hearing, a faint roar, carried from Mata Nui knew where. Up here, an echo could carry for several kio just as well as it could a few bio. Then again, it could just be an illusion, his mind playing tricks on him after so long in the thin, mountain air. A paranoid manifestation of Ko-Wahi's desire to swallow him alive. 'Paranoia.' He had seen much of it during his travels, perhaps nowhere as much as his first destination - the city of Ta-Koro. So distrustful were they that they had even attacked their own Toa Tahu on sight. They had little love for travelers such as he, suspicious perhaps of the corruption he had seen during his journey. Maybe they were victims of that very corruption, seated at the foot of the dark Mangai volcano, at the heart of the island. He hoped that same force hadn't come upon him here in this mountain chasm. How had he even gotten here? The blizzard from the night before had been blinding, but why did he take the risk in the first place? Perhaps he thought fortune on his side, and it may have been. After all, despite his inauspicious step over the cliff's edge, he lashed out and grabbed this tattered rope, perhaps part of a rope bridge that once spanned this gulch. Surely, if fortune did not favor him, he would have plunged to his death on the jagged rocks below. 'Last thing I need on my mind are those rocks,' he quickly thought, trying to turn his mind to more pleasant memories. Fortune and misfortune - ever had the two gone hand in hand during his voyage. How fortunate had his friend Maku been to escape the beleaguered village of Ga-Koro, and how fortunate had she been to meet him there on that tranquil shore. But these had only served to make up for the misfortune of the Tarakava attack, of the people of Ga-Koro finding themselves trapped beneath the waves. But with his help and that of the Toa Gali, their plight had turned around. 'I wish I could get a bit of that help now.' The ache came back into focus, burning his arms and lungs, freezing his feet and face. Second, minutes, perhaps hours passed before the worst of the pain subsided and he could think again. Now he thought of pain, but not his own - the pain of the people of Po-Koro, struck ill by virulent plague. Their village had seemed a ghost town when he entered, save for the wracking coughs of the afflicted. Even their Toa Pohatu was stricken with blindness, but with the Chronicler’s help, he had been able to put an end to the corrupt source of the villagers’ infection. There was no malicious entity behind the Chronicler’s present pain, however. No great beast that exhaled this frozen air, that tricked him over a deadly precipice towards its waiting jaws. This was simply the apathetic cruelty of nature, the other side of the widget that bore the bountiful splendor of natural harmony. The only blame he could place here was on himself – that was reason enough to endure it. It wasn’t the first time he had witnessed the vagaries of nature. The miners of Onu-Koro placed no blame for the lava flow which had blocked their work – an outstretched hand seeking to bring community with the people of Le-Koro. They simply persevered, and even without his help in diverting the flow, they would have persevered still. It may have taken longer, but they would have found a way around their obstacles. ‘I suppose I should do the same,’ his conscience chided. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could hold on, and with the burning in his arms, climbing wasn’t an option. His neck creaked stiffly as he diverted his gaze to the side, looking for some foothold – anything that might provide a way out of this predicament. He scanned the cliff face to his right for any protrusions, when the urge struck him. Look down. He wished that he hadn’t. The surface of the cliff slipped away below him, leaving nothing but open air and sharp, snow-covered stones far below. The slowly drifting silhouette of a cloud cast its afterimage on his retinas, and he closed his eyes in disbelief. It hadn’t been that long ago when he had flown through the open air with Kongu on the back of his Kahu bird, but that was an entirely different experience. He forced himself back through the memories of that flight, soaring over the treetops of Le-Wahi, trying to free the villagers of Le-Koro from the Nui-Rama. Slowly, visions of the clouds below him were replaced with those of leafy canopies, terror ebbing away to be replaced with thrill. Calm came to the Chronicler again, until he recalled the crash landing in the hive. Cold sweat ran down the inside of his mask, as he recalled the hive floor rushing up to greet them, but now the jagged canyon floor came up in his mind’s eye to swallow them. By the Great Spirits, he wished Toa Lewa were here to pluck him from his perch and put him back on solid firmament. But after receiving the Golden Kanohi, the once-tainted Toa was needed elsewhere, and certainly wouldn’t visit this part of the island just to save a foolish Chronicler. ‘Come on, Takua,’ he urged himself, ‘keep looking. You’ve only got yourself to blame, but you’ve also got yourself to save.’ Slowly, he opened his eyes, his gaze glued to the surface of the cliff. With his breath coming in even shallower rasps, he turned his attention to his left. The winds in this ravine had long ago worn the mountain’s face smooth, as featureless as the snows that had enveloped him the night before. But even then, much had been there that had been unseen – the frozen Kopeke, who the Chronicler had tended to, for instance. ‘As well as this blasted pit,’ he added to himself, eyes darting about in search of any hint of a foothold. And there was one, half a bio to his side. It might not be much, but it would be a start. The only obstacle was getting to it. ‘Guess I’ve got to swing.’ The Chronicler pitched his body to the right, gently, to avoid tearing his sole lifeline. Back to the left he swung, slowly gaining momentum. Soon he had become a precarious pendulum, straining to gain precious height. It would all be worth it, though, as he could almost reach that foothold and the hope that it brought. ‘Just a little more,’ he pleaded, stretching his leg to catch the stubby protrusion. Arms crying out with pain, he let out a yell and grasped the tiny platform with his toes, for just an instant, before he heard the sharp report of snapping rope. He looked up to see the frayed rope splitting against the edge of the cliff, dropping him into freefall. His voyage flashed again before his eyes, and it surprised him to find that he feared more for the loss of the Chronicle than of his own life. He braced himself for impact as the smooth cliff slipped away from him. For just an instant. His hands nearly slipped from the rope as it jerked to a halt, pulling his gaze back to the cliff’s edge and the sky beyond. A pair of white hands firmly grasped the rope’s end, slowly lifting it back on to the plateau. As the Chronicler rounded the edge, the faded blue of his rescuer’s Kanohi came into view, locking eyes with him as he crawled up onto the solid ground. “Thanks for the save,” he whispered to the Ko-Koronan, before a wave of relief and exhaustion took hold of him. The last thing he felt was the stranger lifting him up and carrying him towards safety, before sliding into the undisturbed darkness of sleep. The End