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Flash Fiction Marathon Entries Index

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Theme #1: Bones



Entry #1:



They say society is nothing without its leaders. They say any given community is simply a pen of fools with those governing it. But what if the leaders become a disease? A plague to the people's body? What if the government is merely the skin of its people, a useless pile of flesh without the bones to fill it? A small town in south Georgia had decided to shed this skin before it destroyed them.It was dead midnight, some time in winter. Two cousins stood outside a barn, both clearly upset. The bigger one held an axe in his hand, the other a shovel. They spoke in hushed tones, as if there were phantoms watching them who couldn't be allowed to hear what they were saying. If one got closer, they'd see the axe-bearing man was not only upset, but outraged."I told you, Sal, they've gone too far this time.""We can't do anything about it," said Sal, distraught blatant in his face."It was my father, Sal! Your uncle! Our kin!""I know that, Gabe. But we can't very well do anything, can we?"Gabe was the bigger of the two cousins, but Sal was much stronger. Gabe looked down at him, fury in his eyes. "They killed him, Sal. In cold blood. We both know he didn't do nothing to deserve it, either.""Look Gabe, you have to face facts. They's the police, we's the farmers. If they kill our kin, we can't do nothing but keep it to ourselves, 'less we want to end up the same as him.""I know something we can do," he patted his axe, a bead of sweat sliding down his face despite the cold."Gabe...no.""Whatever!" Gabe turned and walked towards his truck, tossing his axe away, "it'll be one of us next, I'm telling you."Two months later"We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of Sid Williams, a good man, and a faithful father..."It had been a slow death, they said. The electric chair had malfunctioned, they said, and he hadn't died for at least an hour and a half. Sal had given a speech for his father. He looked to Gabe, nodding, mouthing a single word:"Tonight."Later that day, they gathered, a group numbering around fifteen. They were going to make an example of a policeman. Only one. To them, the mindless carnage was inadequate. But they couldn't kill more than that- any more and the police would send a man hunt after them. This, of course, couldn't be allowed to happen.Most of them were armed with axes. Some were armed with spades. A few, shovels. This was all they needed. Once they reached the town, they stopped. One last chance to leave."Anyone who continues past this line is a marked man. We've all lost kin to the devil, but you may not fancy selling your soul to him. Anyone who wants to leave, leave."None did."Good, good."The break-in was quick. They shattered windows and alarms went off. Police rushed to the entrance, guns locked and loaded. The attack was pitiful. Gabe hadn't accounted for one thing: bullets.Sal's bones still sit outside the courthouse, a warning to all who think they can get away with trying to attack lawmen. In short, the bones do make up the body's structure....but the skin will always trap them inside.




Entry #2:


"Hearts and Bones"


In dreams, I live. Awake, I sleep. In life, faith and desires struggle but in dreams, it flourishes. There is no need for hope to spring eternal if it never dies.

Because she lives there in my dreams. Kathy. We walk the twilight gardens of my imagination. I love everything about her, the generous laughter born of her smiling mouth, the air of mystery that hangs around her at all times, coloring the wilderness of my life. She is perfection itself.

Katherine lives here in my life. My wife. I love her deeply. She has a kind heart but sickness kills her laughter. Her mystique is marred by mundane reality, the mountains we cannot cross.

I love her because Kathy lives in her. Because away from reality’s flaws, Katherine is flawless.

She is part of me and I am part of her. We have lived together for so long but it won’t be long now, I am afraid. Soon our relationship will be nothing but hearts and bones. Eternal love and timeless skeletons.

On the last leg of the journey They started a long time ago The arc of a love affair Rainbows in the high desert air Mountain passes slipping into stones Hearts and bones

“I feel so weak... I’m sorry we can’t go out like we planned.” Katherine shuddered, looking so terribly pale.

“Sweetheart, home with you is paradise.” I smiled at her, hoping she would smile back. I've always hated how worry twists her pretty features.

She didn't.

“I really wanted one last happy night for you to remember... Who knows how long we have?”

“We can still have one. Let’s light some candles and sit down to dinner. It’ll be romantic and we’ll save on electricity,” I said light-heartedly.

She laughed sadly.

“Kathy.” Didn't she know the most special anniversary was with her smiling, her ethereal splendor lighting up the evening? “Dinner with you is a delight, at home or in a fancy restaurant.”

“That’s sweet of you, Reeve, but since we have so little time left-”

“That makes dinner with you all the more special.”

She still sighed.

“Cheer up, beautiful.”

Her hand stole to her hair... the little that remained after the treatment. “How can you call me beautiful still?”

“Love, you’re always beautiful.” I understood her insecurity, the sorrow of a woman who had lost more than her health. I only wished she could be as confident as she once was... as confident as Kathy. I saw only the laughing girl I had first fallen in love with.

“You don’t see me,” Katherine said, pain in her voice. “You love only a memory.”

Her eyes filled, longing for love yet unable to accept it. She wanted so badly to be told that she looked beautiful and I loved her anyway. I loved Kathy. How could I tell her that the memory was who she was to me? My heart broke to see her so sad and thin, worn out from sickness and therapy. It was all I could do to hold Kathy's image in front of me. I couldn't love seeing Katherine in pain but I loved her, the girl I saw underneath. Loving her was all I could do to help.

The arc of a love affair Waiting to be restored You take two bodies and you twirl them into one Their hearts and their bones And they won't come undoneHearts and bones

I laid my forehead against hers, my hands twined around Kathy’s. She smiled, jewels glittering under her eyelashes.

“I love you.”

She smiled. “I know.”

I breathed out softly, reveling in her confidence in our relationship. Her vibrant spirit was my only solace in a world that was so tragically empty.

It had been two days since Katherine died. All I had left was Kathy and I clung to her.

“I’m sorry. I never wanted-”

“Take comfort, Reeve. I am still here.”

It was true. We could not be separated. I had imagined Kathy from the day the doctor gave us the death sentence, determined death would not do us apart. Each time I saw Katherine, every word she said – I stored the memories and Kathy grew, until she was Katherine. Katherine in all her beauty and joy, graceful even in sorrow.

We were part of each other. We always will be.

My bones will one day lie with Katherine but my heart will forever lie with Kathy, the girl who lives on.




Entry #3:



“In the end, all we are is a pile of bones, yellowed and tarnished by nature. Whatever personality we might have had, whatever achievements, impact, or difference we might have made, are, in time, forgotten. You’ll most likely only last a measly few years, seeing how even your corpse isn’t eternal,” he sneered, enjoying the rush of superiority that came with the words. “These are all very obvious truths, and yet they sadden you. Why? Is it because you have some bloated sense of pride, some sickeningly stubborn belief that suggests you actually matter? Your own little world, an insignificant dust mote at best, won’t even be bothered to remember you, and yet you expect the ever-growing universe to?”
She nodded once. It was then that he realised that she, unlike so many others he had done this to, wasn’t sobbing uncontrollably. She wasn’t even quaking, and her eyes weren‘t even wet! In fact, to his great surprise (and amusement) there was a frighteningly large amount of passion and rage in her glorious hazel eyes. Stunned, he paused for a moment, and then recovered both his train of thought and his dignity. “If so, I will politely refrain from laughing. I am a gentle and polite being, but my kind is a rare one, so I wouldn’t expect such courtesy from others.”
The man finished, out of breath, the shadow of a smile at the corners of his lips. He found himself beginning to grin at her, as he had grinned at all the others, that harmless little school-boy grin that conveyed such an irresistible and mischievous charisma. It wouldn’t happen again; he wouldn’t allow it. He strode off into the darkness before his lips could stretch into a full smile.
He reappeared a moment later, his expression now that of frustration. The alleyway he had believed to be the way to the town’s square was, in fact, a dead end. The girl was still standing there, with arms crossed and a cruelly satisfied smile on her lips. She was clearly enjoying this.
He opened his mouth to continue their conversation, and then decided against it, striding down another alley.
He returned to find her still standing there, the smug smile still visible.
“You seem awfully satisfied,” he said, his calm stare slowly seeming to melt into a glare.
“I am.”
With a sneer, he tried again, walking down what had to be the alley he had used to arrive at his current destination. Once again, it was futile, for the light-studded steel walls merely ended with a wall of solid steel, completely uniform with the rest. It appeared that the city had decided it no longer wanted nightly walks. A quick check with his trusty tool revealed that it was indeed nothing more than a normal wall.
Undeterred by the impossible, he arrived once more at the three-way. Of course, she was still there, that smug smile plastered on her face, and her eyes burning with the fire of enjoyment born of his frustration.
“What are you smiling about?”
“You’re wrong. Those things you said; they’re all wrong,” she said confidently, though the gleam of satisfaction had faded from her gaze.
“I’m not going to die and just disappear,” she began, staring at him with the up most certainty. “I’ll be remembered. I’m going to do great things; wondrous things. They can bury me somewhere, but I’ll be a legend. I’ll live on in others’ hearts. My life won’t end with the resting of my bones, I can tell you that. I’ll live on forever, I’ll have left a mark,” she concluded, nodding once as if to confirm herself.
“Is that so?”
“Yeah, it is.”
His smile had returned, but it now had widened into a smirk. “Well then, I see you’ve got an adventurous spirit. I don’t doubt you’ll do great things; I believe you’ll do extraordinary things.”
Somewhere, in the distance, a police siren began to wail.
“Now, when do you plan to start living like this? Where is your legend going to start?”
As the girl’s stern expression slowly dissolved into mischievous happiness, he spoke one final time.
“Come along, my dear. We have a story to tell.”
And with that, they began to run, ignoring the dead ends, and never looking back. It was then that they began a legend that would be told, even when their bones were nothing but dust.
Entry #4:

"Happy Hour"

The bartender drew the glass from the faucet and slid the mug across the hardwood top to Kay. “Here y’go, miss. Enjoy it.” She took the glass wearily, took a sip, looked up, turned, spat, looked back, turned again, looked back again, looked down at the drink, looked up again. She cleared her throat nervously and leaned forward. “Um, excuse me.” “Somethin’ the matter with your drink, miss?” “Er, no. No, it’s just that, um, well…” she coughed. “You’re a skeleton now, and you weren’t fifteen seconds ago.” He nodded. “That I am, miss. That I am.” His appropriately-bone-white hand plucked a rag off the back shelf and began to wipe down a spare mug with it, click-clack-click-clack-click-clack. She tried again. “So, if I can ask… why are you a skeleton?” “Don’t much know m’self, miss. Sometimes things just happen.” He tapped a fingerbone on the stark-white china pate that was his forehead. Was that what you would call it now? Maybe it was a forebone. Kay didn’t know. Kay really, really didn’t know. Her eyes flicked down to the mug still in front of her. Oh no. “Oh my god, you- you put some kind of drug in here, didn’t you-“ “Miss, it’s water. You saw me fillin’ it with your own two eyes. Plus, ain’t those your friends or coworkers or what have you over at the pool table? ‘Twouldn’t be much use for me to try anything when they’d jump down my throat the minute anything went funny.” He tilted his head, raising an eyebrow that wasn’t there anymore. “Plus – I may be nothin’ but bones, but that just ain’t right.” “Okay. Water then. Right.” She took a shuddering breath, closed her eyes, and counted to five. One, two, three, four, don’tbeaskeletondon’tbeaskeletondon’tbea- Still a skeleton. A kind of faint whimpering noise escaped her mouth. The bartender shrugged. “I am sorry about this. It ain’t ever easy seein’ someone get turned into a stack a’ bones right in front of ya, I know. But ‘twasn’t a thing I could do about it. These things happen, y’know?” “No, no, no, I don’t know,” she said, her voice turning more than a little desperate. “I don’t know that people turn into skeletons sometimes. Are you dead? Oh god, am I dead?” “Probably and probably not,” he replied. He tilted his head again and clicked his teeth together in thought. “Well, actually, I’m probably not dead either. So probably not on both fronts.” “If I scream, are people going to look over and see a normal bartender?” “Wouldn’t surprise me. ‘S how these things work, don’t they? Trouble comes outta nowhere, lands right in your lap, and minute you try to offload it on someone else it slips out the back porch, and you wind up lookin’ like a crazy person. ‘What,’ they ask, ‘is possibly the matter? I don’t see the trouble.’” She leaned forward. “Mister Skeleton, please don’t start giving me life advice right now, I think I might be about to pass out.” “Drink some water then. No point in gettin’ all worked up about it. You gotta roll with the punches, right?” “Look, my boss reassigned my account this morning. My deadbeat brother took my car and didn’t say when he’d be back. My girlfriend’s not answering her texts, my dog’s vet bill is three times more than I thought it would be, and now my bartender’s turned into a skeleton. I think I’m allowed to stop rolling by now.” He shrugged, his collarbones swinging up and down like a see-saw. “Alright, alright, I follow ya. But this is what I’m sayin’, y’see? Can’t just let it all get ya down. Ya gotta take it head on. Skull on, in my case.” Kay grabbed the glass of water off the bar and began to chug it. Don’t think about the skeleton don’t think about the skeleton don’t think about it just finish the water, get up, go play pool, give Jen another text, go home, call the vet, send Jim an e-mail, get Mom to call Ted just don’t think about the skeleton. She gasped and slammed the mug back onto the bar. The bartender took it. “Y’want another round?” Primly, she stood, grabbed her purse, turned 180 degrees on her heel, and walked off towards the pool table. Behind the bar, the skeleton clacked his teeth together a few times. Sometimes you just got those customers you had to turn into a skeleton to help out.


Entry #5:
"The Breaking"
The moment the infant mankind turned its eyes to the stars, it hungered to touch them. As mankind matured from nomads to farmers and merchants, and Eratosthenes determined that the Earth was not flat, humanity’s yearning fermented into something akin to lust. With no Earthly boundaries, dreams of exploration soon turned heavenward: to space, the final frontier.It was fitting: Throughout history, mankind attributed grandeur and divinity to space. Early astronomers traced patterns between stars that resembled warriors and great beasts; worshippers, in their prayers, found solace in gazing toward heaven; when John F. Kennedy’s dream of sending a man to the moon was realized, millions of hearts trembled.The next steps were surprisingly fast: by 2030, a lunar colony; by 2050, a Martian colony; by 2180, colonies on Jovian satellites.But these were only temporary mollifications for mankind’s desire to touch the stars. As is always the case, humanity wanted more.* * *The wispy blonde hair and anemic appearance of Doctor Markus Littman, Ph.D., inspired little confidence, but that fateful conference, May 12, 2208, he revealed they belied ferocity worthy of the greatest orators. His inflections rose and fell, his eyes flashed with electricity, and his gesticulations nearly tore his arms from their sockets. Only the elite said he was crazy. The remaining viewers, inundated with dreams of science fiction becoming reality, were more accepting of his claims that flesh and bones were outdated — that man could be downloaded into a CPU and sent to the stars.* * *“We’ve loaded you with painkillers; you won’t feel a thing.”Lawrence Hopkins, ninety-three years old, gazed at the ISS-08’s sterile white ceiling and refrained from wheezing into his oxygen mask. People back on Earth had said he looked young — he’d taken longevity pills once a week — but his hair was less salt-and-pepper, more white, and the cold metal bed upon which he lay prompted thoughts of mortality.The room’s exit was a few meters beyond Hopkins’s feet. In his next exhale, he expelled thoughts of quitting from his mind.Dr. Littman stood to the side, mouth hidden behind the curled index finger of his right hand. After he had outlined the procedure to Hopkins, he had been silent as his assistants made the appropriate connections. Hopkins had been sedated twice already as wires were strung from his brain to a large machine to his left and cables placed in his body to ensure it didn’t shut down before the procedure ended.The man who’d mentioned the painkillers, a lab-coated youth probably fresh out of college, turned from his comrade standing by the machine and gave Hopkins a smile obviously meant to be assuring. “Okay, you’re ready to go.” A pause. “Godspeed.”Hopkins nodded weakly. The two men departed at a look from Littman, whose eyes danced as he approached Hopkins’s bedside.“You’re a brave man,” he said. Hopkins wished he hadn’t.Littman left the room quickly.Now a tinny voice broadcasted through the intercom: “Begin checklist. Subject heart rate...”The list was long and included terms too technical for Hopkins to recall. He closed his eyes and waited until the call-and-response concluded.“...Checklist complete. Begin startup sequence.”Hopkins had expected something grand, like an engine’s ignition. The machine, however, only flashed a few lights and hummed quietly.“Begin transfer.”For a moment, Hopkins thought nothing would happen. Then he heard more than felt an electrical discharge within his head — the painkillers were working. His vision flickered and blurred, but that was expected during his loss of motor control.He suddenly realized he had given little thought to what being a computer would feel like, only that he might die before knowing.Now he was floating. But that couldn’t be — he was still bound to the surgical bed — he could see his eyes, closed in trepidation, and his body, still as death. Yet he was floating higher, feeling himself drawn from his body as if bonds were being stretched and torn—* * *“You feel normal?”The voice that responded from the machine’s speakers was not Hopkins’s for a simple reason: The machine was unable to sound like Hopkins. Nevertheless, it answered to Hopkins, and the transfer had proceeded as planned; thus, Littman reasoned, it must be Hopkins.“Yes,” it intonated. It paused. “Except...”“What?”“I don’t know — my memory’s off, I think.”“All will be explained,” said Littman, mentally noting that memory loss was an unpredicted symptom. It was, however, within the realm of probability. Mostly, it was unimportant. He would give it thought later.
Entry #6:

"Bones of the Past"


Peritus lifted his reptilian head from his studies as his colleague Solum entered the room. “Peritus, you’ve got to see what we just unearthed at the latest dig.”


Peritus followed his friend into the next room, curious as to his discovery. Peritus was many things, among them a reptilian biped, a member of the only sentient species currently living on the planet Earth, a founding member of the local scientific institute, and a paleontologist who studies prehistoric life.


The two reptilians entered the excavation room, where they found a collection of bones strewn across the table. Peritus’s eyes went wide at the sight of them. “You don’t me to tell me…”


Solum grinned. “It’s a full skeleton, sir.”


“And it’s in such pristine condition too!” Peritus exclaimed. “The bones have been perfectly preserved and fossilized; this is indeed a rare find.”


“Do you have any idea what it is?” Solum asked. “We were able to figure out that it was a biped, and it has the skeletal structure of a mammal, but beyond that. . .”


“I believe I do know what this is,” Peritus said. “You have found the remains of a homo-sapien, otherwise known as a human.”


“A human!” Solum repeated, his yellow eyes lighting up. “That is indeed a rare find! All the museums will want to showcase this.”


“Yes, a human,” Peritus repeated. “While we’ve found plenty of remnants of the human civilization, we know precious little of their society.”


“Weren’t they taken out by an asteroid or something?” Solum asked. “Sorry, my geologic history is a little rusty. I seem to remember a mass extinction caused by a major collision.”


“No, you’re thinking of our dinosaur ancestors, who died off sixty-five million years before the humans,” Peritus explained. “The humans were active in the late Pleistocene era, and evidence suggests that they spread into a worldwide civilization. But there was ultimately another mass extinction, and the humans and many other mammals didn’t survive. Only the small rodents remained of the mammalian empire, and the surviving reptiles once again rose to the top of the evolutionary ladder. And, eventually, our species evolved from them, and we formed our own sophisticated society.”


“What took out the humans then?” Solum wondered.


“We don’t know for certain,” Peritus said. “There is no evidence that an asteroid or comet was to blame. Soil samples from the period suggest that there were excessive amounts of carbon-dioxide in the air, so perhaps volcanic activity was to blame.”


“What’s your theory?” Solum asked. “I know you’ve researched on humans in the past.”


“They were quite a species,” Peritus said. “From the few specimens we’ve uncovered, I know that they were far frailer than our reptilian brethren. But they had opposable thumbs, like us, which allowed them to utilize tools, and from there they were able to build civilizations. We’ve found remains of human buildings before, so we know that they were able to construct large structures. And there’s even evidence that they developed agriculture as a means to sustain large populations in small geographic areas.”


“But if they were so good at building stuff, why did they vanish?” Solum asked. “Surely they could’ve survived whatever natural disaster caused the mass extinction.”


“I have a theory,” Peritus said. “Among the human artifacts we’ve recovered are many weapons, some which are quite deadly, even to reptilians. The humans may have been a very war-like species. If they were unwilling to work together, there’s the potential that they could have brought upon their very own extinction. At the very least, fighting amongst themselves could’ve hindered them during the disaster of their time, and could explain why they are not here today.” Peritus paused, and added, “But that is all mere speculation, since we have no solid evidence to tell what happened to them in their final days.”


“Impressive,” Solum said. “I can’t believe you can piece that together by merely digging up old artifacts and looking at fossilized bones.”


“That’s all part of paleontology,” Peritus said with a toothy grin. “There’s a story behind every bone; it’s our job to guess at what it is.”




Entry #7:


High noon. Lovely time to take a stroll through a desert valley in the middle of the summer, no? (The answer, by the way, is yes. As in “yes, it’s not.”) Either way, though, that’s what I was doing. Huh? You want to know why I was doing something like that? Eh, well, fair question, I guess. Long story short, I was leading an archaeological team out here. We’d finally found something, our first lead in weeks, and – me being me – I wasn’t much in a mood to wait a minute longer than I had to to see this place for myself. And so here I was, gulping down my twentieth bottle of water in as many minutes as I scanned the landscape, my carefully trained eyes searching for anything significant they could find. The problem, though, is that careful training of the eyes doesn’t give you much of an advantage when there’s nothing to see but bones. Well, I guess there’s the sand, too, but I guess that’s not really important. Anyway, back to the bones. They were everywhere, layered thickly across the sand all the way to the canyon walls. Human remains crunched beneath my feet as I walked, bleached and brittle after centuries of baking in the desert sun. What is this place? I wondered, popping the cap off another water bottle as the contents of the previous one flooded out of my skin. Or what was it, rather? I came to a halt, glancing around again and still finding nothing of interest. A place of death, obviously. A place of a lot of death. But did the owners of these bones die here, or were they placed here? If the latter, then why? And either way, what killed them? I guess that’s one of the most thrilling parts my job – answering those questions. Figuring out the who, the what, the why and when and how. Taking whatever evidence we can collect and piecing it together, figuring out what makes sense, what doesn’t. A bit like breathing a faint breath into some of these bones and watching them grow back together, come back to life. The problem with that, though, is that to piece evidence together you have to have evidence in the first place. And instead of evidence, what we’ve got is an army of skeletons. I twisted open another water bottle, pouring a drop of it onto the ground. Within seconds it had vanished without a trace. It was gonna be a long day…




Entry #8:


"Littered Bones"


When I looked out into the streets, I see bones. They littered the roads, trees, and even the water. The eyes of the skulls look at me, and say to me, “Help us.” It was a blur when the attack happened. They came out of nowhere.


All I remember was a shining blue light that stayed on for 10 seconds, and then it faded. The earth shook like a 9.5 magnitude earthquake, but no damage was done strangle to my building. As I walked out of the building to see what happened. That’s when I saw the shreds of clothes and piles of bones. What was strange is that, there was no blood or skin on them at all.


I felt like the only one that survived the attack. Bones continued to watch me as I walked down the road. The burning skies of dusk make the event almost eerie for me. Then I saw the return of the blue light off in the distance behind some fallen buildings. Their support beams can be seen sticking out, and the glass just shattered.


I made myself wonder if whatever did this is even of this world. Could it be that this is what happened in War of the Worlds, where people died in the streets like now, bodies without flesh to cover their brittle bones? I really didn’t want to know, but I must if it would make me feel much more at ease. So I continued to follow the path of littered bones on the streets, in search of the cause of the destruction around me.


As I got closer to the light, it shined brighter and more frequent than last time. My skin began to grow goose bumps, and the hair on my arms spiked up. My spine began to become cold as the Alaskan winter, and nerves began to tingle out of control. The light began to glow brighter and blink faster.


The more I got closer, I could see the light being emitted behind a wooden door. I place my hand on the doorknob and prepared to open it. When I swung open the door, a bright flash of white light struck me. I did not know if I died at all, but seeing that I was still in my bed, the bones were just a nightmare.




Entry #9:


"Nothing But Words"

“Sticks and stones may break my bones . . . but words will never hurt me . . .”


You wanna bet?


Night. The moon glows dim and vague behind a looming foreground of smoky clouds. Street lamps lend what light they can, when they don’t flicker off. When they do, some superstitious factory-worker or the little girl who lives next door pick up speed with a gasp or a squeal.


That’s when I strike.


From the shadows behind my window I see them coming around the bend, I watch them come up the street, and then I hit the button. I’ve spent a lot of time wiring these street lamps.


I hear a muffled scream. I’ve had a lot of experience with this. I can tell by the voice it’s a girl in her late teens; nineteen is my guess. I smile to myself, leaping over the sill. Somehow, it’s always the most fun to do it to the women. They scream more often, when they’re not armed. Sometimes the men hit back—when they’re not armed.


I creep silently through the lightless dark. I can see her, though I give her no chance to see me. Not just yet. But I pick up a thick twig and snap it loudly, just for the fun of watching her freeze. I can see her tense from head to toe. She pauses, breathing frantically, mutters something to herself. “Just a cat” or something. Words. Nothing but words. She quickens her step, not quite running but getting close to it.


I jump out onto the path in front of her. She jumps, must be at least a foot in the air. She screams, takes a step back, hand over her heart.


Why is it they’re always so frightened? Could it be the suddenness of my assault? Maybe the darkness of the night? Is it the mask, the cape, the black horns? Yeah, probably it’s the horns that do it. I might be a psycho in a Halloween costume, but on a dark, stormy night, I’m a dangerous psycho in a Halloween costume.


“What—what the—”


I cut her off. “I’m going to kill you.”


She faints right then and there. Words, nothing but words. But it does the job.


I laugh with sadistic glee as she falls; but then I hear a thud, and a sickening crunch. I kneel quickly beside her to look. Something isn’t right about the angle her arm sticks out at. Probably hitting the fire hydrant like that when she fell didn’t help. That never happened before. It wasn’t supposed t happen.


I feel her shoulder. Oh, there’s definitely something wrong here. No, no—is it broken? I hope not. It was just a harmless prank, I didn’t— Is there something wrong with her neck or am I imagining it? Oh, please God—


I pull the cell phone out of her pocket and dial 911. Terrible accident. Tripped over a fire hydrant, broke her neck I think. Is that possible? In a hoarse voice I give the address, and beg them to be quick about it.


Helpless, I can only crouch behind a bush and watch over her until the ambulance arrives.

The paramedics get her on the stretcher with expert delicacy, treating her as compassionately as if she were their own child. And all without a word.


She’ll be safe now. Under the cover of my dear shadows, I slink guiltily back to the welcoming embrace of my lightless room.


Nothing like this ever happened before. It was always just a game.


Nothing but words.




Entry #10:


"The Bones Never Lie"


The old man quietly made his way through the crowd, his head constantly looking behind to make sure no one was following. He knew that getting caught in this place, of all possible places was a terrible idea. No man of a respectable standing visited the vagabond’s carnival, and yet here he was. He had taken every necessary precaution to make sure he would not be recognized, he had worn the most raggedy, used garments he could find. He had made sure that everything about him reeked filth; he did not want to be caught.


Looking ahead once more the old man saw the tent he was looking for. Checking behind himself once more, the old man quickly pulled back the curtains and slipped in. He sighed in relief when no one followed him in, only to be startled by the appearance of a woman right in front of him. She, no, the entire tent, reeked of incense. The old man’s sight, already failing from age, was being obscured by the smoke in the room.


“So,” the woman in front of him began, her voice soothing and hypnotic. It was as if she was a snake charmer and the old man was the snake. Of course many of the old man’s enemies wouldn’t hesitate to call him one anyway. “I see you finally arrived, our land’s great king has fallen as low as to visit a humble fortune teller like me.” Her words would indicate she was mocking him, but her voice seemed to praise him.


The revelation that she knew of his identity startled the old man, he take great care to conceal it from everyone, so how had she figured it out before he had even breathed a single word. However before he could question her, the woman interrupted him again.


“Do not be so alarmed,” she cooed as she circled over to a table, upon which rested a pile of bones. “After, did you not come here seeking my gifts? The bones foretold your arrival, is that not proof enough that I am no fraud.” The way she said the words the king almost felt as though she were laughing, as if this had occurred before, the thought did not please him.


“Uh yes,” the old king responded, “I suppose that is enough proof.” His voice indicated how rapidly he was trying to regain his authority, after all he was supposed to be the one in charge, not her. He was the king, he tried to reassure himself, even as the smoke and incense only seemed to swirl to grant more authority to fortune teller. “I must say I was skeptical of your abilities, but I have come for a single query, I wish to know the meaning of my dreams.”


Even as the king was about to relate his odd dreams to her, the woman began speaking. “Ah yes, your dream of ever rising mountain and an eagle that aspires to fly even higher. However the eagle can never surpass the mountain and every time just as it reaches the top a bolt from the heavens strikes it down. Yes,” she mused, as her hands began to circle above the pile of bones. “I can see it very clearly. Your dream has been consuming your nights. Let us see what the bones have to say about your fate.”


No sooner has she said the words, were the bones thrown into the air, the smoke and incense all swirling around the bones. However just as suddenly it was over, and the bones had fallen back to the table with a clang.


“I see. Your dreams are a culmination of your past, present and future. You are the eagle and the kingdoms of the world are the mountain. If you continue to follow this path of trying to surpass the unsurpassable, you will die.”


For a long moment a deathly silence hung over the room. The king’s eyes were wide and in shock, the room suddenly seemed like a vortex trying to swallow him.


Standing up, he spoke, his voice once more containing his full grandeur of royalty. “It seems, that I have wasted my time here. Good day.” With a pull of his ragged cloak, as if he was trying to channel the awe of a king’s billowing robes, he made for the curtain, just as the fortune teller’s final words reached him.


“Caution my king, the bones have foretold this and the bones never lie.”




Entry #11:


"Dust to Dust"
"Alan, I think I've discovered an ancient mass grave."

Alan looked up from his book. His younger sister was standing before him, wearing a slightly disturbed expression and a bathing suit.


"Really," he said. "So where was this? In our backyard? Or in the swimming pool parking lot?"


Cecily rolled her eyes. "I'm serious, Alan. I was coming home by the bike trails, and I saw something white from the corner of my eye." Her voice dropped. "It was a finger poking out of the ground.


"So I went closer, and I saw more white sticking out, here and there. It looked like - well, like a big pile of bones covered by a thin layer of dirt and lots of plants."


Alan looked at her skeptically. "Really?"




He swung his legs off the sofa and sat up, tossing his book down. "All right. Where is this, exactly?"---


Approximately fifteen minutes later, Alan was kneeling on the ground, examining the protruding finger. "Well, it's not as though I'm an expert on bones," he said, "but I'd say this is the genuine article." He frowned. "The question is, what are they doing here?"


"Some sort of historical massacre, right? Or maybe a pre-pioneer tomb from an Indian civilization?"


"But it isn't, Cessy," her brother responded. "Look at the dirt - it's freshly disturbed. And the plants-" he moved a few steps and pulled on a creeping vine. It came out of the ground at his first tug "-look, they're barely planted at all. Someone put them here just to cover up the fresh digging."


"But that doesn't make sense!" Cecily protested. "I mean, I'm convinced, but why would someone be burying skeletons in the woods? Where would anyone get all these bones?"


"I can tell you that," a new voice said. Alan and Cecily whipped around to face the edge of the clearing.


A tall man wearing glasses stood there, smiling. He was wearing working clothes, and had one hand casually in his pocket; the other balanced a shovel on his shoulder.


Alan glanced at his sister, and moved closer to her. "Did you bury them?"


"Yes, I did.

"I only buried them yesterday, actually. I knew it was a shoddy job - especially with that heavyrain last night - but I thought it was an acceptable risk for one day, until I could finish it properly." He frowned at them. "Apparently you defied the odds."
"But...where did you get them? She was right; people don't normally need to hide bones. Bodies, yes, but by the time they're skeletons, bodies have usually been dead for quite a while." Alan really had no idea what to do. His thoughts were mostly What the heck is happening? and How do we get away? Until he came up with an answer to at least the second question, he figured heshould keep stalling.
Besides, he was curious.
"The key word there is 'usually'," the man replied. "To give you the short answer, I obtained the skeletons in the process of my experiments. I've been experimenting on ways to alter the aging rate of the human body."
Alan's eyes widened and he heard Cecily inhale. Seriously? "Why?"
"Why do you think?" the man replied impatiently. "Immortality, of course.
"I haven't perfected it yet, but-" his eyes narrowed "-it's quite capable of having the reverse effect on you." His hand began to lift out of his pocket.
So much for stalling. "RUN, CESS!" Alan cried. He threw himself at the man, trying to buy his sister time.

He was bare bones before he could see if he'd succeeded.




Entry #12:


"Bones In Space"


"Bones," the lookout reported numbly, "Crossed bones on a black flag."The captain's face hardened. It was the year 3177 AD, but the flag still meant the same thing. Pirates, in inter-stellar space.There had been reports of a rogue vessel trolling the spaceways between Alpha Centauri and Sol. The route was crucial to the war effort, and had implications far beyond the Alpha Centauri system."Sound battle stations."The captain rose from his chair and engaged his microphone. "Give me the enemy ship, lieutenant.""Yes sir."With a hiss of static the green light blinked on."This is Captain Throne of the SLS O'Kane. Unless you power down your weapon systems we will commence our attack.""This is Collestus of the free ship Enemiga. It has been awhile, old friend."The captain showed no reaction, but within his heart was in turmoil. Collestus was one of his mentors from the Royal Academy, and there wasn't a better ship-to-ship combat strategist in the fleet. There had been rumor that Rear Admiral Collestus had disappeared, but he had never connected them to the appearance of the Enemiga. Collestus a traitor... It was unbelievable."We will power down our weapon systems and surrender our ship to your prize crew. Opening main hatch now to receive your shuttle."Throne's eyes narrowed, and he smiled slightly. Treachery was always a safe strategy."Surrender received, Enemiga. Our shuttle will deploy shortly. Over and out."The captain gestured the first officer to his side."Load the shuttle craft with all the proton torpedos that it will hold, and a skeleton crew of our lowest grade ship livestock.""Yes Captain Thorne."The captain thought for a second. What if Collestus fired on the shuttle craft while it was still in the O'Kane's hold? The torpedoes would detonate in the explosion and the ship would be broken in half."Cancel the proton torpedoes and load the shuttle with magnetically activated Gauss bombs.""Yes Captain.""Game on, mentor."




Entry #13:


"Dust and Stone"


Waves of intense light and blistering heat crashed down over the landscape, forming a swelteringly dry atmosphere. Cacti and other plants were dotted across the hard-baked earth for miles around. A dirt road stretched into the horizon, at which point clouds of dust signified the coming of a fast-moving vehicle. As it neared it became more distinct, taking the shape of a white limousine.


Finally, it came to a stop at the crest of some uplands. The rear side-door opened and a pair of fancy black shoes stepped onto the ground. The shoes were accompanied by a pair of long beige pants and a jacket of the same color. The man's outfit was completed by a pair of sunglasses and a fedora that matched the jacket and pants.


An attendant exited the vehicle from closer to the front. "Right this way, Mr. Winston," said he. He took the lead as the two men started across the baked ground. An old cattle skull caught the attention of Mr. Winston not far off and he chuckled. Excitement built within him as they proceeded forward. His team had been hard at work for months on the project he had financed. He couldn't wait to see what they had discovered.


In the meantime, the heat bored through his outer clothing and burned through his skin. Already sweat was soaking his fancy beige suit. Every step became a chore for the man of mid-fifties. Once he nearly tripped over a rock, before the attendant steadied him. As he walked, Winston wondered about what he would soon see. He had refused that anyone should report any news to him before he had seen it for himself, though from the excitement they failed to conceal when informing him that their work was done, he knew it was something special.


His mind continued to wander, filled with images of worlds long lost and ageless wonders. Space and time stretched before his imagination. He wondered if there would ever be found any limit to human discovery. What more was out there, just waiting! By now they were nearing the edge of the upland, and their path turned downwards, and it was there that Mr. Nathaniel Winston stopped to rest. Briefly his eyes turned skyward, and he again wondered where human innovation would soon lead them. He shook his head and laughed. "It is a pleasant age to live in, Mr. Jurik, a pleasant age to live in."


The two men pressed on, the attendant steadying the older as they moved downhill. Finally they reached the place where a section of the hill had been stripped away, leaving a cliff-side. Down below, a team of archaeologists moved around a worksite, in the middle of which lay a good number of fossilized bones. The excavation work was complete, and the bones were placed more or less in the proper arrangement.


Winston stopped dead. His breath caught in his throat. Tears formed in his eyes. "A complete skeleton," he breathed. He laughed, overcome, and giddy with joy.


The lead archaeologist climbed around the cliff to meet him. "Mr. Winston!" he cried. "So glad to see you!" He was beaming brilliantly, his broad smile stretched from ear to ear. "A beautiful sight, isn't it?"




The archaeologist laughed. "And you know what else? It's a completely new species! Never before been described! If I'm not mistaken it's of the family dromaeosauridae."


Mr. Winston positively glowed with satisfaction. "I see my investment was well spent."


"Indeed! In fact we've already decided on a name for it, sir. The Winstonosaurus."


The old man paused and reflected, touched. "No," he said finally. "That sounds terrible. You can come up with something better." He grinned.


The archaeologist chuckled, in relief, Winston thought. "Very well then." The two men sat gazing at the pile of bones for a minute longer.


"Alright, I've got it. How about the Fortiraptor, Mr. Winston?"


"Very good! Sounds much better! Of course you may want to learn more about the creature before making the final decision, but that works for me."


The archaeologist nodded and coughed, suddenly becoming awkward. Finally he lowered his voice and leaned over to Winston. "Sir, I'm afraid I have some bad news to report as well."


Mr. Winston was taken aback. "What is it, Gladstone?"


"Well, sir, you see. . ." He broke off for a moment.


Mr. Winston chuckled. "What is it, man? Spit it out."


"Sir, there was a murder in the camp last night."




Entry #14:


"All Things Considered that was a Poorly Thought out Move from Ben Stiller’s Part"

“This is so cool, like Night at the Museum, but on steroids.” “That doesn’t sound right. I think you need to have muscles for steroids to even work. Using them in this situation seems rather pointless.” “That is…you…you’re being such a characteristically obtuse tool right now it’s a wonder people don’t use you to draw circles.” “That is a terrible joke and nobody is going to get it.” “That just makes it funnier.” “If you say so.” “And what do you mean ‘nobody?’ Are you doing that thing where you subtly imply awareness of our existence being confined to fiction? That is so stupid. This is real life” “Are you seriously doing that thing where you ironically state that this is ‘real life’ despite all evidence to the contrary? That is such a modern day cliché. Hanging that lampshade is so obsolete.” “You just hung a lampshade on my lampshade. If I wasn’t not a cool dude I would say something like ‘Lampshadeception’ right now.” “…if it makes you feel any better, I think you’re pretty cool.” “…” “…” “Anyway, as I was saying, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. But with dinosaurs!” “That movie already had dinosaurs.” “No, it had one dinosaur.” “We also only have one dinosaur.” “What! That is terrible.” “How can you not know we only have one dinosaur.” “I was kind of busy. You know, running for my life. You insensitive foolwad.” “..you said it was cool.” “Irrelevant.” “How are we even having this conversation while running from a skeleton dinosaur through a trailer park? That seems really implausible.” “That is odd. But why are you describing our situation is so much non-detail?” “It doesn’t look like this story is ever going to start using prose.” “What.” “Like. All of it so far has been our witty discourse on Night at the Museum.” “I wouldn’t call that witty. Or discourse.” “…does this conversation even have any literary purpose within the story? It seems really pointless right now.” “I don’t think so. Not unless Ben Stiller shows up later on and uses some special powers to stop the dinosaur, and let’s be honest here, that seems unlikely.” “Why are we still talking about that movie. It wasn’t even that good.” “Walking skeleton!” “I’m pretty sure that movie didn’t invent that concept. There’s probably like an entire genre of walking lizard bones.” “Yes, but do any of them have Ben Stiller?” “I don’t know. Maybe. Who cares?”“Evidently, you do not.” “Now you get it. But also, we are literally being chased by a reanimated dinosaur skeleton. We could be lunch. So we really have bigger things to think about.” “I don’t know about being lunch. I don’t think he has any digesting muscles.” “Hey, it’s not polite to assume. It might be a lady skeleton.” “You’re right. Sorry, skeleton.” “Don’t apologize to the skeleton. It has to say sorry first, for chasing us.” “That sounds really petty. Besides, why wouWhooooooaaa what the heck is that.” “That appears to be a reanimated human skeleton.” “Is that…is that Ben Stiller?” “I’m pretty sure that is not Ben Stiller. He’s kind of alive at the moment.” “And now he’s running next to us.”“Yep.” “I think you’re right, prose would really help this story.” “Yeah I’m not even sure if you’re you at this moment. Whatever that means.” “I’m going to talk to him to see if he is Ben Stiller.” “…” “He says he is Ben Stiller’s subconscious museum guard, possessing the body of a plastic skeleton.” “That is…just…the stupidest thing ever written. This isn’t even a brick joke. It’s just a big stupid brick.” “Personally, I think bricks are awesome.” “Whatever, is there anything special about him to help us?” “Well, he can talk, and run. That’s pretty special, if you think about his being only a skeleton.” “…so no?” “So no.” “Why is he even here?” “I think he wants us to let the dinosaur eat us.” “What makes you think that?” “Well, he just said that.” “…I’m not doing that.” “I don’t think he’s giving us a choice. He just tore off his own arms and now….now he is tripping us.” “…Stop describing everything that happens.”


“…this is stuuuuupiiiiiiid.” “Let’s be fair, that dinosaur wasn’t that well-kept. It’s not its fault it felt apart the second it tried to eat us.” “My whole life is a sham.” “Truth.”

Edited by Velox

"As a writer you ask yourself to dream while awake." ~ Aimee Bender

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Theme #2: Character Story



Entry #1:


"A Heart Torn"

Elizabeth always carried a pebble in her pocket. It was one of her quirks, she supposed. Her mom had beseeched her to throw it back into the woods or river, “where it belongs.”In Mom’s eyes, it was a weight on Elizabeth’s shoulders.In Elizabeth’s eyes, it was a good luck charm and perhaps the last vestige of her father’s life.Elizabeth had known her father had a bad heart by the tender age of seven. Situations weren’t much harder for her to solve than jigsaw puzzles: She had noticed the pills on Daddy’s bureau and the low-sodium foods he ate and casually asked Dad one night if his blood pressure would continue to rise if he didn’t take precautions.He had given her a what-did-your-mom-tell-you look and had said, “Yea- yes, Ellie. I’ll balloon up and explode if I don’t eat those foods!” He had puffed his cheeks for emphasis.“No, you won’t,” Elizabeth had said.He had paused abashedly before sobering. “And how would you know?”“I looked it up.”“Does your mom know?”“I guess — she could see me.”He had sighed. “Ellie, I’m fine, okay? As long as I follow a strict diet, I can live a life just like anyone else—”“I know that, Daddy.”Daddy had sighed again and turned on the TV.Traipsing along an impromptu path, little more than gaps in the underbrush widened by years of walks out here, Elizabeth took out the rock and admired its surface, worn smooth by years of rushing water. It gleamed faintly.The trees about her were tinted shades of sunset by autumn. The orange vista was calming to her whenever she found herself thinking of Dad.It was odd — on this very path, down near the river, Dad had died of a heart attack right after giving her the pebble she now held.She had been thirteen. She vaguely remembered screaming as he fell and running for the house, but it was blurry. Mostly, she remembered impressions: the humid air, the pounding of her footsteps, the feeling that the world was tipping under her as she had flung open the back door and called 911 before even telling her mother what was happening.But she had known Dad would be dead when she returned. She had told the 911 operator not that her Dad was dying but that he was dead. And he was.Even now, at seventeen, she felt alone.Her cell phone beeped. Mom had texted. Elizabeth looked up at the sky once more before turning back along the path, but she took her time.




Entry #2:


"The Elixir of Youth"


The life of an alchemist was not for the weak of heart. But when it worked, when you could take a series of ingredients, focus it through the catalyst and burn it into that sweet-smelling blood orange elixir of youth, it was all worth it.
Hanabelle had trained since she was a young girl, when she started on the alchemist’s path by cooking up explosive firepowder using her mother’s common cleaning powders, and burned down her house. She was kicked out of the village for it, but found by a master alchemist. She toiled under him as an apprentice until it was obvious that she outgrew him, that she was grasping concepts faster than he could , that she was making improvements on his formulas, she left him to make her fortune in the larger world, to find herbs and metals from all across the three continents. And when the King of Talisia asked her to become his court alchemist, well, how could she refuse his library? There she studied for the elusive elixir of youth, which alchemists from ages past had dreamed of finding.
And all the while she carried the same catalyst she made on the first day she was apprenticed to a proper alchemist. That was always the first thing an alchemist made, a catalyst, which appeared to be a small stone to uneducated eyes, which imbued the mundane of the natural world with the magic that made the alchemist’s trade possible.
And she had finally perfected it, the legendary elixir, the secret of immortality, here in her old age. The liquid bubbled and seethed and turned completely clear of all impurities when she dipped her catalyst into the muddy mixture by its chain. She knew all the old books, all her research, all her studies. It was by them that she knew she had reached her goal.
She took a sniff of it. It looked and smelled sweet as oranges and was the consistency of blood. But she now had to test it. She had no intention of testing it on herself. She had already tested on the rabbits she captured outside the castle, but it was difficult to tell the age of rabbits. But when they turned into small infant rabbits when she fed it to them in their water, she knew it was working. She’d have to get more tests to perfect it, but she had a good working start.
She asked for an audience with the king, and when she told him that she had found the elixir of youth, he was thrilled. He knew long ago not to be skeptical of her abilities. He promised to increase her funding tenfold. She walked away happy, wondering what new possibilities she could follow with all that money.
The next time she woke up to go to her laboratory, she found it locked and guarded.
“What is this madness?” she asked the guard “This is my lab! Get out before you spill something toxic in your eyes! You’re not even wearing proper protective gear!”
“Sorry ma’am,” the guard said. “King’s orders.”
The king came out of the laboratory, looking ten years younger, his grey hairs gone and his wrinkles smoothed out. “I had to try it for myself, you know, dear mistress alchemist.”
“You scum!” she said. “It’s not complete yet!”
“Your little discovery could make this kingdom a target,” he said. “Word gets out, everyone’ll want it, and it belongs to the king. And besides, is that a way to talk to your king? If I wasn’t in such a generous mood I’d have your head chopped off right here for disrespect. But for now, your funding.”
“I don’t care about the funding! Only about my work!”
“And your work has done great things. But it belongs to me. It always has. Now, I suggest keeping quiet about your little discovery and maybe I’ll let you have some of it.”
“Never! You’ll regret this, I swear!”
She left that night with nothing but her catalyst and the money he gave her, not knowing where she was to go, now that her greatest work had been stolen from her.
But nothing brought joy to Hanabelle’s heart like hearing that the court was in a tizzy, now that the king who had reigned without an heir was now inexplicably an infant babe.
Entry #3:

"Days of Strife"


My name is Story.


It is a strange name. At least, that’s what my friends say. Or maybe what’s strange is that I have a name. That’s never been clear to me.


What is clear is that my life is currently pretty terrible.


My father, Reality, has explained that this is natural—to me, at least—and that it will continue for as long as I live, which, he says, will be a very long time. Father has always been rather blunt.


My mother is Imagination, and she tells me that one day things will be different, that in time my life will change, become more interesting, more complex,different. She never says it will be easier.


But it’s hard, living as I am.


Every day I go through all these odd phases. I’ve never known why I go through them, but it’s been happening since my birth. Mother, always on the lookout for things new and novel, gives them names.


First the “introduction” occurs. Physically it’s the easiest to go through, but it is the slowest, least exciting of all. Mentally I start out too sluggish to carry on my own. Typically it doesn’t take very long, as I slowly gain more and more of my faculties.


After that I leave my home for some time and make new friends. Maybe they’re new friends each day or maybe I just forget them at the end, but every day has me met with strangers. My mother calls this the “rising action,” but I think she’s just teasing. I don’t enjoy it much at all. It’s always very tense for me, and I worry to make everything as perfect as possible.


The “climax” follows. Invariably, some of my friends will clash, with each other, sometimes even me, my family…


Physically this struggle manifests within me as well. My mother calls this “internal conflict,” because she’s just like that.


This climax is always resolved, but not always well. Sometimes one of us will be victorious, leaving some parties in defeat. Sometimes we will all, bitterly, leave each other at a stalemate. Rare is the day when we all walk away happy.


After the climax comes the resolution, when I regress to a state similar to the introduction. However, this time I have to reflect on what happened before, and it pains me greatly. I wake the next day with no memories of the past, save for the knowledge that it caused me great pain.


Every day, I wake in fear.


My name is Story, and my life is a wreck.




Entry #4:


"Poetic Assistance"


He runs down the street

The ground pounds his feet

He pushes on without a prayer

Shadows are complete

My revenge is sweet

As I watch him sink into despair

My heart he had broke

Swept away like smoke

When the sky is colored blood orange

The devil hath spoke

My love I revoke

As I chase him and…


Malinda paused, and dipped the top of her pen in her mouth as she thought up her next rhyme. She was stumped at how to continue, and looked up at her colleague across the desk. “Penny, I need your help with this poem.”


Penny set down her textbook. “Shouldn’t you be studying for our exams tomorrow?” she asked.


“What exams should I be studying for, exactly?” Malinda asked, bored.


“Well, there’s World History. . .”


“I remember all the facts already,” Malinda said with a shrug.


“And there’s Advanced Mathematics. . .”


“I’ve aced all the assignments, so that shouldn’t be an issue.”


“And aren’t you also taking Molecular Physics?”


“That class was a bad choice,” Malinda admitted. “I was hoping the professor would have something challenging for us to study, and instead he just covered all the basics.”


Penny shook her head. “I don’t know how you do it,” she said. “And if you’re such a genius, why are you bothering with poetry?”


“Art knows no genius!” Malinda exclaimed. “Besides, this is for my personal growth and a way to sooth my soul. . .”


“Oh, you’re writing angry poems about your exes again, I see,” Penny said with a yawn. “Very well, I’ll take a look at it.”


She accepted the piece of paper from Malinda and looked the poem over. “Gee, this is rather dark,” she said. “What did this guy do to you?”


“He insulted my stone,” Malinda said simply.


“What?” Penny asked, perplexed.


Malinda lifted her necklace, which had a dull opal attached to the end of it. “He said that this stone wasn’t very pretty, and now he shall suffer the wrath of my vengeance!”


“Look, I know you’re attached to that family heirloom, but you don’t have to go all berserk on him just because. . .” Penny started, but fell silent at the look on Malinda’s face. Quickly changing the subject, she asked, “So, what about this poem do you need help with?”


“I am stuck on the last line,” Malinda explained. “I cannot seem to find an adequate rhyme that could describe the horrors that I wish to inflict upon him.”


Penny looked down the line. “But that’s because you need to make it rhyme with orange. Nothing rhymes with orange!”


“The word ‘nothing’ does not rhyme with orange at all,” Malinda pointed out.


“That’s not what I meant,” Penny said, shaking her head. “It’s just. . . orange is almost an impossible word to find a rhyme for, unless you’re willing to make something up.”


“Preposterous, there must be something.”


“Why not change the wording up a bit?” Penny suggested. “Like blood red instead of blood orange. Red is much easier to find rhymes for.”


“No, it has to be blood orange!” Malinda insisted. “It is a very particular color which directly conveys the mood and tone of the poem.”


“Okay, okay, calm down,” Penny said. She paused for a moment to think, and then said, “Perhaps you can switch the words around. Instead of ‘When the sky is colored blood orange’ you could say ‘When blood orange colors up the sky.’ That way, you can keep the color reference, but get the rhyme off an easier word.”


“That is good thinking,” Malinda mused. “But I still need three syllables for my last line that rhyme with sky. Ah hah, I got it!”


And she scribbled down on the paper, “. . .make him die.”


Penny frowned as she read it. “That’s morbid! It makes this poem even darker. Do you really want him to die just for insulting your stone?”


“Well, die emotionally speaking, of course,” Malinda clarified. “After all, if he can’t appreciate the beauty of my stone, then he’s dead inside already.” She nodded at her friend. “Thank you very much for your assistance.”


“Well, I might not be a super genius like you,” Penny said. “But I’m still an English Major.”




Entry #5:


Laughing, Beatrice ran into the forest after her parents. Finally a holiday from research studies. Plus, she was proud to see the forests her work had helped save.

Then Beatrice stopped short as she lost sight of her parents. And caught sight of another girl glowering at her.

The girl’s hair flew about her face, dried mud and sunburns caked her arms and her clothes were ragged. The overall contrast between her and Beatrice’s immaculate hair, skin and clothes was stark. Pity welled up in Beatrice’s eyes for an impoverished girl – for such she assumed the interloper to be.

She was about to offer some little charity when the girl spoke.

“What are you doing in my forest?”

Your forest?”

“Yes, mine. You don’t live here.”

Beatrice drew herself up – she had every right to be there. More than this ragamuffin did anyway.

“No, but you- what’s your name?”

“Serafina. You’re Beatrice, I assume.”

“How did you know?” Beatrice gaped.

Serafina shook her head impatiently. “Your parents woke the whole forest calling your name. Typical city-dwellers, coming and disturbing our peace.”

Disturbing?” Beatrice spluttered. “We just saved your forest.”

“From what?”

“The men in the village were going to cut it down for wood and the paper mill wanted to plant pine trees instead.”

Serafina laughed. “So city-dwellers ‘saved’ a forest from other city-dwellers. Brilliant people, cutting a rainforest down for paper.” The mockery in her voice was obvious.

“We’re not all like that!” Beatrice felt rather defensive. “I just spent months working on cheap, cellulose-free paper. I’m an environmentalist.”

“Those people who come asking us to sign bits of paper saying the government isn’t doing enough for rainforests?”

“Well, yeah, those are environmentalists too.” Beatrice bit her lip – it was obvious Serafina considered the term a poor recommendation. The girl turned her back and began playing with a dark orange stone that she carried in her pocket.

“Hey, that’s a nice stone.” Beatrice pulled a similar one from her pocket. “Where’d you find it?”

Serafina shrugged. “Mountains. Was following a loro. You?”

“I, uh, bought this one. It reminded me of my cat’s eyes.”

“You have a cat? How do you keep him?” Finally, Beatrice thought, as a glimmer of respect came into the other girl’s eyes.

“Oh, it’s not hard at all.” Beatrice pulled a photo from her wallet.

“Oh. That cat. The small one. I thought you meant a puma.”

Beatrice laughed. “You can’t keep a puma in a city. Why do you carry the rock?”

“Colour like Hawk eyes. Most magnificent beast of prey there is. King of the skies.” Serafina sighed with admiration, looking at a bird circling far above. “What wouldn’t I give to fly like that...”

“Me too. The forest must look so amazing up there, so colourful and bright.”

“You like it here?” Serafina’s voice held a note of surprise.

“Of course. It’s so pure and beautiful.”

Serafina glanced at the other girl and laughed slightly. “You’re different from the others. They were so busy talking about climate change and some such, I wondered if they’d ever looked at the forest they said they were protecting. I guess you’re alright.”

Beatrice brightened at her words. Clearly this uneducated girl didn’t understand environmental science. Here was a chance for her to teach her.

“You don’t know what climate change is?”

“Never needed to. I know how to find anything in this forest without book learning.”

“Yes, but you see-“

Beatrice spoke for five minutes, explaining about climate change and its dangers to the rainforest (the only part Serafina seemed to listen to).

“So it could flood if the outsiders cut more trees. No. I won’t let that happen.” Serafina’s eyes glittered dangerously.

“You can’t stop it yourself. That’s why the environmentalists are working to save the planet.” Pride suffused Beatrice’s voice.

“Give me a break!” Serafina laughed. “You’re not saving the planet.”

“Excuse me?”

“This climate change? It’ll kill city-dwellers first, because you don’t have trees. You’re only saving yourselves from a problem you created.”

“No, we didn’t, well, industrialization did but it was necessary for world economy. You wouldn’t understand the money involved, you’re just a village-”

“Can you eat money?”

The question silenced Beatrice. The scales fell from her eyes with the exceptional clarity of Serafina’s question, cutting through familiar political rhetoric.


Beatrice started, seeing her parents in the distance. She rushed forward. Then the brilliant girl stopped, looking back at the uneducated Serafina with respect at last.




Entry #6:


"Avoiding That Awkward Moment"


Antje was born in the Netherlands and moved over to America when she was eleven. She never truly felt at home there until she went to Dordt College, with its strong Dutch heritage. When people found out where she came from, and that she spoke fluent Dutch, they treated her like royalty. She was their golden girl, their goddess. Everybody loved her.


Those were good times. Her only regret was that she let it get to her head when she was a freshman, since she lost her focus on academics. Still – good times. She didn’t think she could have been such a good student in the following years if it wasn’t for how loved she felt. And she earned a triple-major, so she knew it made a difference.


She was finishing up on her doctorate in engineering now, feeling as sharp as ever. Many people called her a genius, though she didn’t like that description. It didn’t feel right. She had struggled in high school, and her success came from hard work.


Antje sat at a library table pouring over her notes, trying to figure out her latest project. She was almost literally looking at rocket science, and it was beyond her, no matter how hard she worked. She clenched her short blond hair with her hands, taking out her stress and trying to focus, but regardless of catharsis she couldn’t think far enough outside of the box to solve seemingly unsolvable problems. Sometimes genius needed a little help.


She thought back to her Dordt friends. Who would understand this stuff? None of her friends went into her particular focus.


Antje called Carol. “Hey, how are you doing?”


“Antje? Antje! It’s been forever!”


“Yeah, you bet,” said Antje. “Carol, I have a question. What do you know about jet engines?”


“I haven’t the slightest – but hey, since we’re talking, did you get my wedding invitation? It’s next week and you haven’t responded!”


Antje raised an eyebrow. Carol was getting married? It seemed like everyone she knew was getting married nowadays. Meanwhile, she was twenty-five and had still never dated. “I might have,” she said.


“Well, you’re invited,” said Carol.


“I won’t have the time. Sorry. This doctorate is a monster.”


“Well Jack is coming, and he’s super-busy, more than you. If he can come, then you can come. And I know you so much better than him, so it would mean a lot to me if you came to the wedding!”


“Jack? Jack who?”


“Jack Zilver!”


Oh. Antje knew him all too well. Back when she was a freshman, he was a senior and had just come back from a junior semester in the Netherlands. He spoke with her in Dutch for an hour every day to stay fluent, but she could tell he liked her. She liked him back, but they only had one year together, and then he went and joined the Air Force and never had time for the outside world ever since.


“And he was an engineering major, too. He works on airplanes, so if there’s anyone qualified to help you, it’s him. Just come, Antje.”


Antje bit her lip. Suddenly she wanted to go even less. Jack was the only person she had ever really had feelings for, and she didn’t want those to reemerge after all these years. That would be a heck of a way to appear needy.


She packed up her blueprints and headed home.


“Moeder!” she cried. “Waar is uw verlovingsring?”


One week later, Antje attended Carol’s wedding wearing a blood orange dress. After the ceremony, Carol went into the crowd and pulled out Jack, easily distinguishable in his captain’s uniform, and introduced him to Antje before leaving them along together.


“Hello, Jack.”


“It’s John, now.”


Antje flinched. That was a very handsome name.


“How about I just call you Captain?”


“For you I can just be ‘Mister.’” It was then that he noticed the ring around her finger. “You’re engaged?”


“Yes. He couldn’t make it, but he’s a wonderful man.”


“That’s awkward, considering that Carol just made a very obvious attempt to set us up. You’d think she would have noticed if you were carrying an expensive rock around your finger.”


“No, I was looking for someone to help me with my engineering doctorate.”


“Will I be calling you ‘Doctor’ from now on?”


Antje clasped her hands behind her back. She didn’t like the sound of that – not when it came from him. “No, you can call me ‘Mrs.’”






Entry #7:




A lone figure buries a cardboard box two feet underground. Contents include Mr. Slithers, the family garter snake. An unusual pet for an unusual girl.
Work. Papers are strewn around a girl’s bedroom; articles, photocopies of textbook pages. A hunk of alabaster sits on a wooden desk. Symbols are painted across the walls, all in orange, finger-applied paint strokes. One of those aforementioned papers details how orange represents illumination in Buddhism. Illumination -- the highest state of perfection.
Plus, orange goes with just about everything. Win-win scenario.
Enter: a discussion around a dinner table, participants including an unusual girl and an unusual girl’s parents. Questions fly like musket balls -- wild, messy, inaccurate -- regarding her newfound obsession--
Not an obsession; a science project.
What about?
Geology and stuff.
Oh. Good for you, darling.
Silence and rapid-fire clinks of metal and ceramic follow.
Mom? Dad?
Can I please get a rock hammer for my birthday?
Chips of alabaster chase each other down to the floor, abandoning their mother stone to reveal legs, arms, a head, a torso--
Hammer meets fault line.
Fault line wins.
Chunks of alabaster fly through the air in a cloud of dust and frustration.
Stephen King made it look so easy.
Science class. Meticulously crisp notes written on the board, blood-orange symbols scribbled in the notebook. A faceless alabaster figurine watches the unusual girl, head bent down as if in disappointment at her lack of attentiveness.
Its mocking nature begs for destruction.
The perfection found in crooked lines and jagged edges save it.
I’m not crazy.
No one’s saying your crazy, dear.
Then why are you taking me to a psychologist?
High noon; the perfect time for a little alchemy.
Figurine at the ready, standing straight in the center of the desk.
Orange, finger-painted sigils circling its feet.
Let’s do this.
Science fair. Papers are sorted neatly on a backboard. Symbols are painted neatly between the white sheets. An alabaster figurine takes center stage. An unusual girl in a lab coat stands just to the side, repressing an excited grin as the first group of students approach, eyeing the display with deeply-ingrained skepticism.
Instructions are given: wave to the figurine.
Snickers slink through the air, and eyes roll to the tops of their sockets -- the girl is patient.
Someone gestures to the figurine.
It gestures back.
Entry #8:

Kylie was a genius, yes. But she was always taken as just another dumb blonde. She saw the nature of rocks, and how they were related to Blood-Oranges (Blood-Orange is her favorite color, so why not her favorite fruit?). When you look past the obvious, everything is connected. Especially rocks and Blood-Oranges. Kylie always carried her favorite rock, Bob, around with her for no apparent reason. She h He was just so smooth, and a little soft, and he also tasted a little like Blood-Orange when you licked him. He was also tinted a little orange-ish, rather than gray. "Oh, Bob, I love you. You're the perfect rock." Kylie said. "Are you the offspring of a Blood-Orange and a regular, everyday rock?" She asked as she sat him down onto a picnic table.


"Why yes, I am." A voice said.


"Wait, Bob, you talk?" Kylie said.


"Well of course I talk, you talk to me, why can't I talk to you?" The voice said, a stifled giggle was heard shortly after.


"I've been talking to you for hours and you never talked back." Kylie said.


"Oh come on." The voice said. "How thick are you?" Kylie's old frienemy, Katy, said as she stood up from under the table. "Bob is just a Blood-Orange that was painted gray." Katy said as she ground Bob underfoot. "I just proved that you're not a genius, you're just another dumb blonde." Katy said as she walked away laughing.


Kylie was now in tears, after being insulted and fooled, what else was she to do?


"Kylie..." A voice moaned.


"Stop making fun of me, Katy." Kylie said, upset.


"I'm... Not... Katy... I'm Bob..." The voice moaned again.


Kylie looked around, but no one was in hearing range. She had to believe that it really was Bob who was talking.


"Don't believe what others say to you... You really are a genius..." Bob said on his final note.


With her self-esteem replenished, Kylie walked back to her flat and found another Blood-Orange to talk to. And even though it didn't talk back to Kylie, it mouthed off to Katy whenever Kylie saw her.




Entry #9:


Andrew had always been short-tempered towards his little brother.
But this time, the seven year old had run away. He supposed he could've seen it coming- the tension had been growing in the past month or two since their dad had left. Then again, Daniel hadn't displayed this kind of behavior in the past.
Andrew climbed into the car and headed off towards the next block where Daniel would probably be. He remembered last week when he yelled at him, telling him to go away and not come back. Evidently, his wish had been granted.
Another block, no Daniel. Andrew stopped, stepping out. "Danny! Danny!" There was no sign of the little boy. He stepped a little further, turning the street. "Danny! Danny!" Still no sign of him.
Andrew sat down on a nearby park bench. He vowed at that moment that if he saw Daniel again, he would treat him right. He sat there for what felt like days before he heard a voice.
"Andrew!" he whipped his head around to see his brother standing there.
"I want to go home now."
Maybe they had all grown in character that night.
Entry #10:


A young woman stood high in a tree upon a wooden platform built upon a thick branch. Her red-orange hair waved in the slight breeze. Her stocky frame was covered with an animal skin dress of similar color to her tresses, with intermittent black stripes.

Off in the distance, the sun was setting, casting a plethora of similitude colors that radiated across the heavens. Clouds of pinks and heliotropes drew sluggishly across the vista, in no particular hurry to get anywhere. A small herd of mammoths ambled along across the horizon.

The woman slid her hand into a fold in her dress, her fingers lightly enfolding a small stone in their warm embrace. She did this habitually, just to be sure it was still there. Her father, Tiberius, had given her this stone two years ago, just before he had set off on a long journey.

"Uthina," he had said. "Our people need to find a new home, but we can't all go traipsing off at once. A few of the other men and myself are off to find this home, and while I'm gone I need you to be brave, to take care of your mother and younger brothers. Here, I want you to have this, so you will never forget to keep watch for our return." He had smiled at her and handed her a small stone, even as the tears were streaming down her face.

Uthina now withdrew the stone from the fold for a moment to look at it. It was dark ocher in color, like a stone cast right out of the impact of a sunset, and its ovoid surface was perfectly smooth and symmetrical, though tendrils of various shades of the staple color ran in veins and streaks that criss-crossed across its surface. Somehow just looking at it made her feel warm and safe. When she was feeling particularly imaginative, she would think of it as an egg and wonder what kind of terrible beast had lain it.

Ever since her father had left, she had often come to this tree of hers, where she would tinker with her materials and keep watch for his return. Other watchmen were posted farther on, but she had promised her father she would watch, and she intended to keep her promise. Since then the color of the stone had been her favorite of all hues. It was the color of her dress, it was the color of the ferocious striped cat. It was the color of her hair, of the sunset, of her precious stone. It was the color of her father's smile.

She gently set the stone back into its fold and returned her gaze to the sunset. Then suddenly her eyes widened and her jaw dropped. A streaking ball of fire was flying high in the sky, heading towards the soil. She watched, motionless, mesmerized. When it landed it made a noise like thunder, and up into the air spread a great fiery cloud. The color of the cloud seemed to speak to her, calling her by name.

When the smoke and dust settled, a big hole was left in the ground, and her insatiable curiosity was piqued. Turning from the wooden platform, she stepped onto a smaller one and pulled a lever. A system of ropes and pulleys activated and the platform lowered many feet to the ground. There she stepped off and ran past much of her collection of oddments and inventions, from a wooden wheel to a stick-and-rope device she called a fish-catcher, and out into the grass.

On she went, until she finally reached the hole. It formed a broad crater, and at the bottom sat a great silver rock. She marveled at the rock, a perfect symmetrical circle. Its surface was almost completely smooth, sparkling and reflecting in the fading light, more like the surface of a pond than a great rock. In the center protruded a smaller stone, like a great shimmering orange gemstone. With a gasp she retrieved her own small stone. They were nearly the same color, except the gemstone was of a solid color, whereas hers was veined.

She started when the great gem suddenly twitched and moved, and a cloud of reddish smoke rose from it as something emerged. . .




Entry #11:


"The Wishing Rock"


When I saw the girl sitting at Wishing Point, gazing out over the valley, I didn't think much of it right away.


Then the girl made a jerking movement, flinging something from the outcropping. I paused to watch, curious. She picked up another stone and threw it. Soon she was tearing up piles of pebbles and dirt and hurling them over the precipice. Finally she gave up, fell to her knees, and began crying.


I stepped off the path, blending into the dense branches of a pinewood. Half of me wanted to let her be; the other half couldn’t turn away and leave her like that.


I watched, and she did nothing. It was one of the pebbles that did it. It flew suddenly back up over the precipice and landed beside the girl, glowing red.


It glowed brighter, then stopped. A pool of dark, reddish-orange liquid bled from the rock, pooling on the ground beside the girl. She jumped up, backed away, staring in disbelief as a human woman began to rise from the pool. She was clad in coppery robes that cascaded from her shoulders like a waterfall of fabric. A jeweled turban concealed her hair.


"Yes, mistress?" she droned.


The girl's mouth hung open, but no sound escaped it.


"You have wishes, mistress?"


The girl gasped, "You're--a--a genie?"


"A genius," the woman corrected. "There is a difference."


"And you'll give me three wishes?"






"Come, you were wishing yourself silly moments ago. I have not all day."


"I wish for--a dog?"


Her hearts' greatest desires at her fingertips--and she wishes for a dog! By her tone, however, I guessed she was only testing the water.


The genius nodded. "Granted."


The girl looked around. "… Where?"


"Patience! It will come. Your next wish?"


The girl squeaked, "I--I wish my mother were alive."


Now we were getting to it.


"I cannot bring the dead back, my child," said the genius irritably.


"Oh--I--I'm sorry …"


"Your next wish?"


"There are so many things … A friend?"


The simple, childish desperation of this request twisted my heart.


"I cannot grant what you have already."


"But--but I--"


"Broaden your mind and you will see what you do not realize you have. Your next wish?"


"I wish for a boyfriend!"


"I cannot alter such things as are destined to be."


The girl hesitated. "You--you really grant wishes?"


"I do."


The girl shuffled her feet. "I wish my big sister didn't have cancer."


The genius eyed the girl. "Are you certain?"


"Of course!"


"I am sorry. I cannot grant a wish that is destined to be."


The girl looked up. "You mean--she'll be all right?"


"Your sister's cancer will not last much longer, my child. I--" The genius hesitated, as if her next words were foreign to her. "I am truly sorry."


The girl hugged her shoulders. Voice shaking, she said, "I wish someone would help me!"


"I cannot grant what you have already." The genius put a hand on the girl's shoulder. There was a new compassion in her flat tone. "You want help, my child. Let me give you this: You have all the help you need if you look for it." She straightened and went on monotonically, "Your next wish, mistress."


The girl looked out over the valley. What she was thinking, I couldn't imagine. Probably the same as me, wondering what the genius meant by what she said. It was a long time before the girl spoke again.


"I only have one more."


The genius said indifferently, "If that is your wish."


"Yes it is."


"Will you watch the sunset with me?"


There was a pause. The girl, her face unreadable, gazed up into the eyes of the expressionless genius. Finally, the woman spoke.


"If it is as you wish."


They sat together and watched until the final rays of the sun had faded into the starlit night sky. With the sun's last ray, the genius disappeared. Silently the girl picked up the colorless pebble, put it in her pocket, rose, and left.


I followed at an inconspicuous distance until I had seen her safely home. I lingered on the sidewalk across the street, watching her front door, until a tired-looking, poorly-fed puppy padded up to the door and pawed at it, whimpering. I turned and walked away.




Entry #12:


"Oranges in a Thunderstorm"


I was… oh, I don’t know, eight years old, maybe, kind of a weird kid, didn’t have many friends. It was midway through summer; the few kids my age I got along with were out of town. I was bored, really bored – couldn’t think of anything worth doing inside, and it was way too hot to do anything out in the sun. I figured I might as well head into the woods behind my house, see if I could find anything interesting, a deer, maybe, or a creek or a pond I didn’t know about. The woods went back quite a ways, see; you could spend every afternoon out there for a decade and still find new stuff each day.


I grabbed a couple granola bars and a bottle of water and walked off, wandering aimlessly until I found a neat little waterfall sort of thing. I sat there for a while, watching it, and eventually decided to follow it upstream for a while. Somehow, I made it to a road cutting through the trees.


The road was narrow, but it was paved, paved with cobblestones, anyway. I started down the it, curious to see where it would lead, and I glanced up at the sky as I did so. It was darkening; storm clouds were gathering above. It would be raining before too long.


I’d been on the road a while, never seeing anything but trees and the same cobblestone path, when I realized how hungry I was. I’d finished off my last granola bar a good hour ago already, and trekking through the woods was taking up a lot of energy. What with the rain and the hunger, I was just thinking it would be a good idea to turn around and head back when a dark building loomed into view, a house that was really more a mansion than a simple house. It was on a cliff, and behind it, I could see the ocean churning in the building storm.


I walked forward, a bit apprehensively, I guess, but my eight-year-old mind was more concerned with getting indoors before the rain began in earnest (and maybe getting some food in the process) than the potential danger.


It wasn’t until I’d banged the wolf-head-shaped knocker against the door a couple times that I remembered the stories the other kids told about the house at the edge of the sea, the house where the witch lived. The witch who cast magic with some weird rock and—


The door creaked open, and, well, not that I knew much about witches, but the woman who stood there didn’t seem much like one. I don’t really remember much of what she looked like – she was young, I guess, and pretty. She did have a rock in her hand, I noticed, but it didn’t look very magic to me – just an ordinary chunk of granite.


She smiled down at me, somewhat amused. “How’d you get all the way out here, huh?”


“I, uh— I walked,” I stammered, more confused than anything. She wanted to know how I’d gotten here, but not my name?


“Walked, huh.” She laughed softly, though I wasn’t sure what was so funny. She shook her head. “Never mind. You probably want to get out of the rain, yeah? It’s not looking pretty out there.” As if on cue, a bolt of lightning flashed across the sky, chased a half-second later by an angry roar of thunder. I didn’t need much more invitation than that. “Hungry, too, I bet? Uh, here. Have one of these.” She grabbed an orange out of a bowl resting on a shelf just inside the house and tossed it to me.


She turned and walked off, a bit of a weird thing to do when you’ve got a guest, but I didn’t think much of it. I followed, peeling the orange as I did so. Suddenly I stopped – the fruit’s flesh was a deep, dark red. She turned, seeing my surprise, and laughed again. “What are they saying about me these days – the oranges are red from the blood of my victims or something?” I blinked. Actually, I had heard that. “It’s their natural color,” she continued, “and a rather nice color, at that. A genetic mutation.”


I cautiously popped a wedge of the orange in my mouth. Tasted fine. The rest of the fruit was gone in seconds. She smiled, pointing a thumb at another bowl of the oranges. “Help yourself.”


I did so.




Entry #13:


"My Little Angel"


It was days like these I always missed him the most. My father had always been by my side, always calling me his little Angel and while I couldn’t quite rationalize why someone would believe in something like Angels, I must admit it felt good.


We’d come down to our spot on the beach, skipping pebbles along the water, it had always been our little thing, and he’d always beaten me at it. I’d always try and calculate the best angle to throw with, and he’d always beat me, just by throwing it without a care in the world. Whenever I got frustrated, he’d always laugh and say.


“My little Angel, brains are good and all, but sometimes you just need a little fate and a little gut.”


This of course would only serve to make me angrier and I’d call him a fool, but even still we both cherished our time together. Even as the sun began to set, we’d only sit there marveling as the sky and sea turned a shade of blood orange. Under the beautiful, fading rays of sunlight, we’d slowly begin our walk back home, along the way my father would brag to anyone he knew about how his little girl was the most precious thing in the world.


Back then I’d feel mortified, what kind nincompoop has to brag about someone else so much, however now all I could do was tightly clutch a pebble, much like the ones we used to throw, and cry at the memory. Why’d you have to leave me dad.


The night it happened a storm was supposed to be coming our way; I had gotten fed up with the constant bullying at school, the kids always calling me out for being smarter than them. So I ran, I ran to our special spot and cried my heart out, I never wanted to go back, what was the point of me being smarter than everyone else if it only brought me so much pain.


Then I had felt a hand at my shoulder, my dad’s grinning face was looking down at me. His smile was so warm that night, yet his eyes were filled with a deep sadness at seeing his little Angel crying like this. “Your mother’s been crying her heart out dear. Won’t you come home already?”


I only shook my head, muttering about not ever wanting to go back anywhere, that everywhere was terrible. Still my dad only laughed and asked if that included our special spot. The words hit me, deeper than I could have imagined, and I replied that in that case I’d stay here.


Once again he laughed and said, “Angel, you’re a smart girl, smarter than your old man. Do the math; if the world is so big, what are the odds that the only good place in this whole big world exists only here? Pretty darn lousy I’d say, of course I’m no genius, but I’d think you’d agree.”


He then lifted my sobbing face out of my arms and knelt down in front of me so our eyes met. “Now look, the world can be scary place at times and yes there are some bad people out there, but for every bad person there’s a hundred good people out there waiting to be met, so do your old man a favor and keep your head up high to find them. After all Angels like you came from above, not below.”


Sure I found his words irrational at the time, but they managed to cheer me up a bit. So when he asked if I was ready to go home I just nodded my head, unfortunately that was when the storm decided to rear its ugly head. My dad picked me into his two arms and ran as fast as he could towards a nearby shelter, throwing me in and then, my tears began to flow freely down my face as the memories came back, he knew there wasn’t enough time to get in, so he, well, he... shut the door.


That was the last time I saw him, and even then he’d been grinning like a maniac. That next morning I awoke to find the storm had died down. The moment my mind started working I rushed out the door, but all I found were some pebbles my dad used to carry when we came to the beach. I’m sorry dad, I’ll hold my head up high from now on.




Entry #14:


"My Hero"

I still keep Dwayne the Rock in my pocket. Even when I give speeches or read out reports, his form makes a little bulge in my pants, announcing his existence to all who see me. His aura forms a shield around me which no hurtful words nor thoughts can penetrate, and his mere presence scares away any potential threats. He is my Guardian, my Champion, my Knight on a white steed.

Every day, I wake up with him on my bedside table, his Watchful Eye having protected me while the night slipped by. Every day, I put him in my pocket and roam the world without fear or hesitation, knowing that I'm able to conquer any foe with him by my side. Every day, I read with him, write with him, discover with him, laugh with him. And every day, when it's time to go to bed, I put him on my bedside table and let him dutifully stand guard for the eight hours I slumber.

It's been routine for as many years as I can remember, albeit not one I'd risk breaking. I still remember, quite vividly in fact, the day that he first arrived to my rescue. Without him, I doubt I could ever have become the young woman I am today.

I was five when it happened. See, regardless of what anyone tells you, genius children do end up isolated moreso than the average child. Even gifted, but not genius, children are able to make friends faster than we are. It's Psychology 101. I took that in 6th grade.

Anyways, I was this

Edited by Velox

"As a writer you ask yourself to dream while awake." ~ Aimee Bender

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Theme #6: The Mask




Entry #1:


"The Jester"


I wear this mask to hide my name,

Cover my face, cover my shame.

This painted grin, burden it's been;

A laughing glance, cover my pain.


I laugh and dance, I joke, I sing,

For peasant low, for queen, for king;

I make you smile, and all the while,

Deep in my heart, my soul crying.


I show the world a merry face,

I spread good cheer all round the place:

Ever after, behind my laughter,

Behind this mask, sulks sad disgrace.


Long years ago, I had nothing,

No paint, no lies to force a grin;

I walked for miles, wore joyous smiles,

Now that's all lost, slain by my sin.


Who knew a chain could be so weak?

One small blunder, my joy could take?

Hard to believe, that I should grieve,

For all this time, for one mistake.


One word let slip invokes a curse.

A desperate try tightens the noose.

For the stars sailing, all else failing,

All demons, worms, and fears let loose.


Buried beneath earth damp and cold,

Those eyes once bright, that heart once bold:

The remnants of my long-lost love;

Now laid to rest like pirate's gold.


Of joy and grief I've been bereft,

A hopeless void, an empty cleft.

I've danced and twirled, made laugh the world,

But in my heart there's nothing left.


I wear this mask to hide my tears.

The sun is gone, shadows are here:

This painted grin, burden it's been;

My sad heart can still offer cheer.


I wear this mask to play a fool:

A puppet and a broken tool . . .

Though I am dead, joy I can spread;

And make this world less dark, less cruel.




Entry #2:




It’s really quite simple.


More than anything else, people fear what they don’t understand.


Everyone hates not knowing. Everyone wants to feel like they’re in control, like they know why everything happens, what everyone else thinks, why everyone else thinks what they think.


What they don’t understand, they rationalize away in simple terms. Everything has an explanation. Everything is perfectly rational when you give it some thought, really.


So why do I do what I do? It’s perfectly simple, perfectly rational, when you give it some thought.


Surely I was traumatized as a child. Surely I witnessed some heinous act of violence, from which I could not recover. Surely I come from a terrible, abusive family situation. Surely I’ve suffered countless losses. Surely I am a victim in some way, and I only lash out because I’m lonely and lost.


Surely, beneath this mask of violence and joyful hatred, I am a perfectly nice person.


Perfectly rational.


Perfectly simple.


Just one of many, a victim of circumstance.


And it’s true. So long as it’s convenient, they are right. I only mask my inner, placid, peaceful self out of fear and desperation. My mask is not physical, but a fabricated feeling of loathing, a false, if overwhelming, desire to see every last thing in ruins and every last person in pieces.


But, it’s perfectly rational.


It’s perfectly simple, when you think about it.


It isn’t my fault. I don’t want it. I definitely do not enjoy it.


But here’s a question.


When you give it some thought.


Who is behind the biggest mask? Those that hide their fear and their lack of understanding behind half-hearted explanations and rationalizations, or I, who wear my feelings on my sleeve?


The answer is quite simple, once you give it some thought.




Entry #3:


"Masks of a Sith"


Kleskizhae took deep breaths as he put on his helmet, preparing for the coming battle.


“Why do you wear that mask?” Aeziya, his Twi’lek lover asked him.


The voculator of his mask gave him what he thought was an intimidating monotone. “Don’t want anyone to ruin this pretty face.”


She snorted. “Right, what a shame that’d be. Bigger shame you have to hide it.” There was a fine line between sarcasm and a compliment in there. That’s what Kleskizhae liked about her. She was always willing to speak her mind. She hid behind no masks.


She gave him a kiss on the cheek of his helmet as they leaped down to the landing zone, with Kleskizhae’s red lightsaber blazing and Aeziya’s pistols ready and aimed. The battlefield was almost empty, they had come for clean up after a larger battle, to make sure that the Jedi Master leading the attack on Ilum was dead, and there were few better Jedi killers than Darth Kleskizhae and the infamous mercenary, Aeziya.


Master Illius was a Miraluka, and a veteran of many battles. She’d been on the Empire’s most wanted list since the Battle of Balmorra, and in numerous battles since then, had won victory for the Republic. That was unacceptable. She had to be eliminated.


The battlefield was a mass of bodies, unidentifiable save for the white armor of the Republic, the black armor of the Empire, the brown robes of the Jedi and the black robes of the Sith. But Kleskizhae sensed that a powerful presence in the Force still lingered.


Illius stood over the body of a Jedi, one of her comrades, and the body of a Sith, who presumably was the one who killed the Jedi.


Kleskizhae pointed his lightsaber at her, getting into stance to prepare to strike. “One last chance, Illius. Surrender or be destroyed.”


She smiled without looking up. “Not often a Sith offers a chance at mercy. What would happen to me if I surrendered, I wonder, what would happen to me? Would you send me to Imperial Intelligence? Would you try to break me?” She looked up at him. “You’re an odd one. I can see it in every swirl of your aura. You try to mask it, but the Light is with you.”

“Nonsense,” Kleskizhae spat. “I’m a Sith.”

“There’s more to this than Sith and Jedi. This is a battle of balance in the Force. I’d like to counter your offer. You can take off that mask and come with me, where you will be safe. Those with compassion don’t last long in the Empire.”

“So that you’d have me murdered? Or worse, made a Jedi? Aeziya, let’s kill this Jedi and be done with it.”

Aeziya smiled. “Taking out chatty Jedi? Always a pleasure.”

“Fine then,” she said, drawing her green lightsaber. “Someday that mask will come off, and I won’t be able to help you then. I only hope that I will be the only one who can see your true self.”


She was injured, and despite her power, she was no match for one of the Empire’s best lightsabers, much less the Empire’s best shot.

After the battle, Kleskizhae took off his helmet and sighed.


“Something wrong?” Aeziya said, placing her hand on his now exposed face. “We killed a Jedi, we get paid. You don’t actually believe her, do you?”


“I . . . I don’t know. They say Miraluka can see your alignment in the Force, attunement to the Light or the Dark side of the Force. You don’t suppose I use the Light side like a Jedi?”


“That’s a bunch of nonsense and you know it. Light side, dark side, who cares? I wouldn’t be with you if you were a typical Sith. And I’d definitely never be with you if you were a Jedi. All that matters is that we’re alive and she isn’t.”

Kleskizhae smiled. “I suppose you’re right.” But inside he worried. She didn’t understand Sith politics, not the way he did. There were days when he felt like he was wearing more masks with his fellow Sith than he did on the battlefield. And they served the same purpose. Protection. Survival. Saving his pretty, pretty face.




Entry #4:


The monotonous drone of marching sentries fills the air. I crouch in a dark corner as I wait for them to pass. Not impatiently, no, I cannot afford impatience. A little haste and the whole operation could be ruined.

Perhaps I should introduce myself. I’m a spy and saboteur. My name is not important and you don’t need to know my affiliations. All you need to know is that this base contains the deadliest weapon in the enemy’s arsenal and we need to blow it sky high. If we can do that, this cold war will finally be at an end, the Antarctic will be restored to its natural beauty and the world will be saved. You know the drill.

It’s a tricky job. The sentries here shoot on sight and their weapons are specially modified lasers, designed to first freeze and after a few shots, kill. And if I get rustled out, my team has no chance. Yeah, I have a team. No, I don’t need to mention where the rest of them are.

Being a spy is complicated. You constantly have to maintain a mask behind which you hide your emotions, your ambitions - your very personality. As the leader, you cannot show the slightest doubt to your teammates, who rely on your judgment. You have to be perfectly impassive and suppress any internal turmoil when you do what’s necessary.

Fortunately, most agencies prefer their operatives to stun rather than kill. Equally efficient and fewer legal ramifications.

Quickly, I shoot the two sentries in my path, leaving them frozen for five minutes.

I advance towards the inner chambers, creeping from shadows like a lynx stalking its prey.

The door has a clever mechanism. It requires another operative in a separate location to operate a switch, which in turn can only be accessed by the cooperation of two other agents. All of whom are in danger of being detected by guards who will trap them and sound the alarm.

That’s why they choose us. We’re one of the most trained and cohesive teams in the agency. We’ve been working together for over ten years, well before this war even began. My agents are stationed right where they should be, so well-disciplined it’s like our team has a hive mind. I barely need to use the radio to signal Radia.

There, you see? She’s got the door. The epitome of a well-trained operative.

Silently, I slink forward and am about to finish wiring the explosives when-

“Go Dash! Wooohoo, we finished the game!”

Where on earth did that come from?

I look up at the ceiling and then straight out, at the wall opposite. No, I don’t believe it.

I, Dash, leader of the Alpha team, cannot be made a fool of like this.

This entire set-up, the fortress, the mission – it’s all an illusion, a form of entertainment for these untrained youth. My actions and this scenario form the veneer, the professional mask of espionage for a simple action computer game. Spy games evidently hold considerable glamour.

There are two children on a computer, treating me as a simple puppet. They tug their controls like a marionette’s strings. Whatever happened to free will?

Helplessly, to my immense frustration, I wire the detonator and leave the room. Safely outside of the fortress, I hit the button.

Kaboom. The fortress is gone, the Artic is safe and two children have won their video game. And all that it took was my disillusioned dignity.




Entry #5:


"A Vigilante’s Mask"


Some call me a vigilante. By one definition of the word, they’re right. I seek out those who choose to break the rules, and I punish them accordingly. Only I do it outside the law.


Nobody knows who I am. Most of my victims are in no state to identify me when I’m finished with them. Few witnesses ever get more than a passing glance at me before I’m gone. The police search for me, in addition to those I hunt, but they don’t even know where to look.


But, most of all, nobody knows who I am because I wear the mask.


It’s a simple, featureless mask. Its sole purpose is to hide my facial features, and disguise my true identity. I made it with my own two hands, and I wear it when I embark on my missions. It is the mask I hide behind when I fight evil.


Oh, but don’t think of me as a hero. I am not wearing the mask to become some sort of symbol. There are criminals who know who I am, and others who do not. Some fear me, and some underestimate my abilities. None of them escape my wrath.


The mask is not a means of protection either, for myself or those close to me. I did not start my fight because a loved one was killed by the gangs who roam the street. My relatives live far away, and I am not close to them at all. I have no true friends or acquaintances. I was already a loner, and I have nobody to shield from the evils of humanity.


The mask doesn’t offer me any powers, any special abilities, any edge for a fight. The mask itself is barely important; it is my fists and knives that take down criminals. The mask has one simple purpose; it hides my identity.


But why must I hide my identity? I’m not hiding it from those I punish for breaking the law; I’m hiding it from the law itself.


Why am I hiding my actions from the law? Why am I fighting crime in the first place? Why have I embarked on a journey of vigilantism with this mask?


It’s not for some personal grudge or revenge. It’s not for some perfect ideal of right and wrong.


It’s because I like to fight. It’s the thrill of the conflict. It’s the pain I cause to those who deserve it.


I realize it’s not a healthy reason. It’s an adrenaline addiction; a crave I cannot help but give into. My morals are too important to me to take out my lust for battle on the innocent, so I do not engage in crime directly. But to join the police or the military stifles my actions and would not be enough. So I take matters into my own hands; I’ve found my own way to satisfy my needs, by fighting fire with fire in the darkest regions of the city.


I hide behind my mask, because it is the only way society will accept me for who I am.




Entry #6:


"Thinking cap"


"Wait a moment!" I yelled; I couldn't let father go yet. "I have a request before you retire for the night."
I could see his hands fiddling with the elastic bands, hear his impatient feet tapping. It was understood that he was not to be disturbed when he wore the mask; this was my only chance.
He seemed annoyed at my hesitation, not curious as to what was so important that I interrupted him so rudely. He was never himself when pining for the mask.
"What's so important about this?" I'm sure if, God forbid, something should happen - a fire or some such - when he was immersed in that mask, he would just sit, oblivious and useless, in that old chair of his, even as all the wires and tubes were slowly burned and melted. He would remain motionless, absorbed in his useless fantasies.
He grumbled and grasped his mask more firmly, disentangling the wires, tubes, attached to it. This was, with no doubt, my last chance to speak to him tonight.
He graciously offered me a reply, making little effort to hide the sour note in his voice: "I have told you too many times, that your mind could never conceive of what I see." He raised the mask to his face. The conversation was over, and I would lose him once again. Determined to see that prophecy deemed false, I snatched the mask from his hands.
"Let me at least try it," I pleaded, as his hands pulled uselessly at my fingers.
He, in turn, pleaded for me to return it to him. It was a pathetic scene. "You wouldn't be able to take it. You won't understand!" His quivering hands snatched the mask from my fingers, and his fingers toiled over all the wires, switches, and buttons as he readied most precious possession for use. He raised it to his face once again, and again I parried, taking a firm hold on the curved metal, freeing it from his hands.
I stood for a moment, considering what to do next, and he stood across from me, his eyes praying that I wouldn't harm his masterpiece. A minute passed. I could simply end this harmful device, but the pitiful sight before me troubled my conscience. How could I just destroy the greatest prize of my genius father? Yet how could I let I live on, ruining him, ruining me, ruining us all. I lifted the mask high to let it shatter on the ground. Taking a breath, I urged my fingers to let go, my eyes religiously avoiding my father's.
But the mask didn't fall, bend, twist, shatter on the ground. I found my face enveloped in its smooth, cool curves. Darkness obscured my vision. All noise was blocked out and I found myself the beholder of a curious sensation, of floating. It was relaxing beyond anything I had ever experienced and likely ever will. It was beautiful, more so than the most amazing landscapes or brilliant sunset.
Suddenly I knew everything. I was sure that if I only thought for a moment, I could solve the world's greatest problems, discover wonders beyond comprehension, invent machines too great to behold. Nothing was beyond my grasp. Everything I had ever hoped for could be achieved with no effort, my every dream realized. It then dawned upon my transcendental mind that my hopes and dreams, everything I strived for or would, was so utterly pointless. My joys and sorrows became insignificant blips in a dull life.
Now I could see, yet I was blind to everything that seemed worthy. Now I could understand father, how his evil thinking cap had taken his life. Then I felt fear. Fear of having this sensation taken from me, of the horrid, boring life I had. I panicked, and my imagination fled, leaving only the darkness of the mask. The feeling of cool metal against my face returned, I could feel hands, and light punctured my panic. Father kneeled above me. His face displayed anger, but in his eyes I saw fear. He looked tired and thin, but more alive than ever before.
I vaguely saw my hands, quivering. Beyond them father came into focus again, and mother. Now both looked relieved, and I felt them drop onto me, pulling me into a hug. As the daze left me, the horrific memories of wonder faded. I made no effort to hold onto them, instead embracing mother and father, inviting them back into my life. Father gripped me tighter, accepting the invite.
Entry #7:

"Happy Hour"


On the way back my mask slowly came on, of course don’t be a moron, this isn’t a real mask I’m talking about, it’s just the hollow nincompoop I use to get by during the day. The stupid fool I’m supposed to be like, this normal man, is just your average run of the mill Joe…

And he sickens me.

I mean really? What’s the point of being this perfect person, the guy who worked hard in high school, then hard in college, and then got a good job. The guy who’s apparently a blast to hang out parties with, despite the fact that he doesn’t actually fun when there. Not to mention this moron is also unable to let me do anything.

So every morning I leave the house without the mask on. I run around the city having fun, of course most people would are too stiff to even want to go out in these parts of towns, after all the crime rates have been pretty darn high, there’s even been a slew of murders. I however needed to meet with Joe’s boss, guys who didn’t leave their front door were cowards.

Now you see, the boss had been pretty annoying to Joe recently, and normally I wouldn’t really do any favors for my mask, but he had making him stay overtime which meant he was cutting into my time, and that, well that’s just not acceptable. More than that…

It’s downright terrible, and I needed to fix things.

That had been my thought process as I entered the arrogant slob’s house, he hadn’t exactly invited me in, but the window was open so why not? Well it was open once I found it, may not have been the case before. It was also in pieces when I was done with it, but hey the guy had plenty of other windows, who cared if one ended up broken.

Anyhow, sorry, I got sidetracked; I tend to have a habit of doing that. You understand though, right? Who am I kidding of course you do, you’re on the internet right. And ugh, you made me break the fourth wall.


Sorry, moving on.

So yeah I entered the guys house, all sneaky like, picture a Mission Impossible movie, you’ll get the idea. Play the soundtrack as well, it’s rather fitting right now. Regardless of the chosen OST playing right now, I entered the slob’s bedroom and gently woke him up.

When I say gently I mean I threw him onto the ground but all’s fair in love and war right, and I just loved seeing that moron hit the ground.

“Joe?” He asked in confusion, the old man was still half asleep. “JOE!” He yelled this time, horror entering his eyes as he realized the predicament he was in. “My god Joe!” Yes we get it old man, I look like Joe, can we please move on? I have only 750 words and you’re wasting quite a few of them.

“What the heck do you think you’re doing Joe, barging in here in the middle of the night and throwing your boss to the ground?” The old man was now berating me, funny that he still thought he had the power to do so.

“Calm down man,” I cooed with my very charismatic voice, “I’m a friend of Joe, and well let me put it this way, you’re keeping Joe so busy and well I can’t have that. You understand right?”

“I’m not sure I follow,” I’m still not sure why I let the moron continue talking, “Joe are you okay? Do we need take you to the hospital or something?”

Have I mentioned how much I hate this guy?

“POW!” I yelled as my hand slapped across the man’s face, I really love making sound effects. Then I grabbed the man by his collar and held him against the wall. “Do I really have to explain it again? I’m not Joe, now I think we’re done here.”

The old man’s eyes widened when he saw the knife in my end, and suddenly they went blank when the eye was now in his gut.

Remember those murders I mentioned before? Yeah, my bad.

Anyhow, satisfied with a job well done, I departed from the fool’s house. Once I made it home, I made sure to give back control to Joe, he was going to be quite surprised tomorrow when he found about my present to him.

Yup, life’s awesome.




Entry #8:



Halloween, fifteen years oldSitting on my bed, staring at the plastic mask in my hand, picked it up from the dollar a few hours agoTrying to decide, you know, whether I’m too old for thisTrick-or-treating and allI mean, I’m fifteen years oldToo much, rightWell maybe, not like there’s any set rules for this or anythingFlip the mask over, rub my thumb on one of the creasesIt’s Iron ManBecauseThe truth isI am Iron ManHaha that line is so greatTony Stark is best AvengerHahaLook over at the rest of my stuffDark red shirt and pants, got ‘em cheapBottle of gold paint, for if I decide to do this, actuallyAnd some light blue, tooObviouslyLook at the mask againI mean most people I know are just staying homePassing out candySome are going out, sureBut they’re all going with a bunch of peopleFriendsAll planned out and everythingNo one invited me to do anythingSoI guess I’ll justStay here butLikeIt doesn’t seem rightSomehowI’ve been doing thisTrick-or-treating, I meanAs long as I’ve been aliveSo to justStopIsWeird, I guessKnock on my doorIt’s my mom“Are you going”“Dunno yet”“You should decide soon”Yeah, I knowLook back downIron Man’s eye sockets stare backEmptySoullessWell no duhHe’s a maskSo should I go orHmThink of last year and the few before thatHouse on the end of the street gives out full-size SnickersAnd I meanUsually there’s plenty of Crunch bars to go aroundThings are amazingYou like, can’t get those anywhere anymoreExcept that one drugstore I never go toButStillAnother knockLittle sister“You going”Look at Iron Man again“Dunno”“Please”Back to Iron ManTip the mask a littleHe smiles a littleSort of, if you squint“Yeah whatever”Screw it, I’m goingAnd by God I’m gonna have fun with it




Entry #9:


"Three Forms of the Mask"

Once, in three different cities, there lived three brothers, who all had become superheroes. They each took their own approach to the problem of a secret identity.The eldest brother was named Lawdog. He performed his heroic deeds unmasked and under his own name, scorning any secret identity. Man and hero were both Lawdog, with no separation of personality.

The second brother was named Tyrannis. When he had moved to the city he protected, he had changed his name, and constructed a quiet, average life as James Blackwell, salesman. But when he donned his black and deep red mask, he became the hero Tyrannis, guardian of the city, and his true self.The youngest brother was named Cosmas. He had developed a civilian life under his true name and as the person he truly was, and did his duty as a hero under the name and silvery mask of the Protector. In this guise he spoke as little as possible and suppressed all individual character.

Each of them thought his own solution best. None of their solutions were perfect.




Cosmas considered his best, for no criminals would be able to gain a personal advantage over such a characterless adversary, and in his own time he could simply be himself.Of course, he felt stifled whenever he wore his mask, and it was only when he took it off that he considered himself free. And even unmasked and himself, he carried the secret of the Protector with him.

Tyrannis considered his best, for he had his secret home to retreat to when life as Tyrannis became too much, but formed no attachments while living the lie of normality. His "normal" persona led a solitary and uneventful life, while, as a hero, he showed his personality freely, concealing nothing about himself.
However, his method meant any true friends he made could be targets for his enemies. Also, he loathed his bland, dull life as a salesman with all his heart. He could never be himself then. It was only when wearing his mask that he felt without disguise.
Lawdog considered his best, for he had refused to live two lives and make either a lie. He had said, when he first revealed himself to the world, "I refuse to wear a mask."But in that move he had lost privacy. He had a secure base, but every robber and hitman knew its location, and he was too exposed to risk many friendships. Moreover, in the attempt to live his entire life as a crime-fighter, some aspects of himself were inevitably lost, sacrificed to the necessities of being a hero. The suppression of these traits was a mask he could never remove, but must wear permanently.
And so, though all the brothers tried to live honestly, it seemed none of them could entirely avoid the mask.
Entry #10:

"Dr. Acula"

I halted before the entrance to the dentist's office. I don't know, something about it just gave me the creeps. Maybe it was the old and rickety-looking wooden door, maybe it was the little cracks in the window-glass, or even the faint, eerie light that emanated from within. Something just didn't feel quite right.

Dr. Acula had just recently arrived in town. He came from a European country, I had forgotten which, but the reputation he had brought with him was phenomenal. People had been flocking to see him during the short few weeks that he had been here, and people were always ranting about the fantastic work he did.

Thus despite my trepidations, I boldly stepped forward and through the door. If I had been a little spooked before, now I was downright nervous.

Cobwebs hung from every corner of the room, and all the furniture was of an old Victorian-style, while the light I had seen from before came from from various candles around the room. There weren't any electric devices of any kind, as far as I could tell. On one side was a door, which assumably led to the operating room.

To one side sat a receptionist behind a desk. I must admit I found it strange to see that instead of a computer, a long piece of parchment sat before her, along with a quill pen and ink bottle. Her physical appearance seemed normal enough, her clothes seemed respectable and all, and she wore a nice pair of glasses. But did I only imagine that she looked a little pale? It was hard enough to see clearly by the candle-light, much less through the obscurity of recollected memory.

"You have an appointment?" she asked with a smile. Her voice bore a heavy accent, though I couldn't quite identify it. Dutch? Bulgarian?

"Y-yes," I replied. Something about the way she was smiling at me put me off a bit. "My name is Norville."

"Norville. . . Ah, yes, here ve are."

She nodded to me and then directed me to a couch. "The doctor shall be with you shortly."

I hesitated for a moment, my eyes darting unwarrented towards the door, before I obediently retreated to the indicated seat. It was old and uncomfortably soft, and a spring stuck into me, but whether by good manners or something else I didn't complain.

As I sat, I continued to find my eyes darting intermittently towards the door, almost without my consent and awareness. When the door of the inner room finally opened, I must admit that I jumped.

"Vell vell, our next victim has arrived?"

As the man entered the room, I finally recognized the accent. It was Transylvanian.

He stood tall but thin, and had a somewhat antiquated taste in clothing. The black pants and the jacket with its tails; the stiff, clean undershirt; the ruffed collar; and the high society shoes completed an outfit that I felt would look quite at home in a museum exhibit. Although I had to admit that it fit the atmosphere.

But strangest of all was his face. The high cheek bones and wrinkled forehead looked almost unnatural, somehow. It looked a bit stiff and artificial, to be completely honest. I also imagined that his hairstylist must be very well-paid, to put up with a man who wanted such an elegant and triangular cut, not to mention how much work and hair-gel must have been involved.

Somehow I managed to find enough of my voice to offer a greeting and extend a hand. "Dr. Acula, I am here for my appointment. It is a pleasure to meet you, sir." Somehow I felt obligated to apply my highest manners.

It was when he shook my hand that I got a close look at his eyes. Strong and penetrating, and was it just my imagination that made them look a little bloodshot? I hoped so.

"Yes," he replied. "Vell, the public will exaggerate. They vere probably 'under my spell' as it vere." With that he laughed, and the receptionist and I laughed with him, although after a moment I wasn't sure if I was laughing or crying.

As he led me into the operating room, I couldn't help but notice a small sliver of white skin on the back of his neck, as if the outer skin had been cut through to reveal a different skin underneath.

In that moment I wondered what in the world I had gotten myself in for.



Entry #11:


"Truth Behind Lies"

When you think of the word “mask,” you’re more often than not thinking of an object to be worn on your face. Whether for protection, for veiling, or even for the purpose of being annoying, more often than not we conjure up images of these faces on top of our faces.

When you think of those masks, you’re thinking of the kind we see every now and then. Every day, we walk around other people, each one wearing a mask of his or her own. We’re all filled with lies and secrets, with horrors and terrors, with things we’d rather not reveal to the outside world.

Our masks never truly come off. Oh, we’ll carve slits for eyes and noses, maybe a few cuts here and there to unveil some things. Best friends, lovers, and family are often allowed access to these areas, but as with a real mask, you can’t really determine someone’s identity just by looking through one or two holes.

No matter how hard we try, no matter how much strength we believe we have, we will never take off the masks we don. We will never unmask our true selves, the selves that are who we really are. We never come out in the open, we don’t dare reveal ourselves. What the world sees is a boy wearing a mask, a girl wearing a mask, a man wearing a mask, a woman wearing a mask. All we do is fake, all we see is fake, and all we share is fake.

We’re never real. Nothing we do, nothing we see, nothing we share is real. All of it is a lie, some way or another. We lie with our masks, too afraid to unveil the sinister truths hidden behind them.

So it’s really a simple question, then: who can you trust in this world where everyone wears a mask, but no one dares take it off?

Edited by Velox

"As a writer you ask yourself to dream while awake." ~ Aimee Bender

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Entry #1:


"America Discussing the Glass Ceiling"


On July 4, Monosmith sat on the porch with fellow great American authors Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe. They talked about things that writers talked about, which turns out to be the exact same things that everyone else talks about, only they had a propensity for covering a grand spectrum of subjects.


“Suppose we were to arrange the legends our culture has produced, and they could talk,” said Monosmith. “Each one would be a true-blue representation of America – but lo, how different each one would be!”


“As far as I am aware,” said Poe, “There is Columbia and the Bald Eagle.”


“Uncle Sam,” said Twain. “Not to mention Lady Liberty. They, too, have come to personify our country.”


“Since your times,” said Monosmith, “I grew up with Rosie the Riveter as a symbol of the people, and Superman as a symbol for our ideals, become not just a symbol, but a brand new idea ingrained in our philosophy. He is the American Legend.”


“I grew up with Uncle Sam,” said Twain. “He is my favorite incarnation of our collective conscious – but alas, I do confess to bias. I like the name Sam.”


Monosmith didn’t smile, but nodded approvingly at Twain’s wry humor. “I wonder what it would look like.”


“Well, we are writers,” said Poe. “Let us imagine this scene and together watch how it unfolds.”


So Monosmith, Twain, and Poe looked out from their porch, and this is what they say:


At the base of the Statue of Liberty, Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter stood. Columbia stood beside Sam, his muse, offering him cryptic words of wisdom.


Barely a speck in the open sky was the Bald Eagle, looking down sagely. It was more than just a personification of the country, but its true soul. Only it knew fully the American way, but it said nothing, leaving those below to figure out for themselves.


Before these great personifications stood Wonder Woman with a traveling back. She clung to Lady Liberty for protection as Uncle Sam pierced at her with his gaze, and Rosie looked on contemptuously.


“This Amazon came to our lands wearing our flag as her underwear,” said Sam. “Send her back to Paradise Island, where she belongs. She has no right to associate with us.”


Rosie added, “Yes, and I think it’s absolutely terrible that we claimed her as our own for this long in the first place. Why does the world have to be so much about us? Why do we have to take other people’s things and claim them as our own? This is ridiculous, and I don’t want to be seen as a jingoistic reader.”


Wonder Woman held her head in shame. She looked at the little girls on the NYC shore, and realized that she had just been an accessory. She fought for the rights of these people, but ended looking silly and doing more hurt than healing.


“I’m sorry,” she was about to say, but before the words could leave her mouth, Superman swooped down from the sky.


“Don’t apologize!” said Superman. “They can send you off this land, but that will be their loss, and it will be up to another nation to take you up as their mantle to progress human rights. You will only lose if you apologize, but you did nothing wrong.”


“What am I?” said Wonder Woman. “I only stand for feminism. I stand for girls and women, but not America.”


“No,” said Superman. “When I walked around the moon, thinking about American way, I saw down on Earth men with WW t-shirts. You’re a symbol for more than just women. You represent all of us. You are these things for all human beings. Uncle Sam,” he said, switching his attention to the government, “If you expel this woman, you betray your wife, Lady Liberty, and I have nothing to stand for. I fight for truth, justice, and the American way. She is truth. She is justice. She is the American way.”


“You are beneath my authority,” said Sam. “You do not have my permission to be here, friends though we may be.”


“Not the way I’ve been written lately,” countered Superman. “You accepted me, a Kryptonian. For God’s sake, a poet even gave us a Greek goddess, Columbia, for which we name our capital!” Columbia blushed.


Sam looked for the Eagle. If the truth was anywhere, it was in his soul.


And just then, Monosmith winked and stopped imagining and let the story hang.




Entry #2:


"Just One Hit"


“And CRASH!”






“Why crash?”


“Well, because it breaks, obviously.”




“…Because I’m going to hit it.”


“I got that part. But why are you going to hit it? And why do you think you can break it?”


“Don’t be a moron. It’s just a glass eye. It’s just stupid glass. One hit and it’ll shatter. Crash.”


“Okay, stop saying crash, it’s annoying. And putting aside that that’s not what a glass eye is, tell me why you want to hurt Mike.”


“What do you mean why? He’s a freak. His eye is creepy, and so is he. You’ve seen the creepy looks that friendless creep gives.”


“You’re a moron, Adam. He hurt his eye. He can’t help that you think his stare is creepy.”


“Oh, shut up, Dick. That guy has no friends. Nobody cares what happens to him or his stupid glass eye.”


“That’s not true at all either. That girl Beth is always with him. She’s been for a while.”


“Yeah. I know.”


“Oh God, is that what this is about? Adam, why do you always do this?”


“What are you talking about?”


“You beat up Thomas in fourth grade because Liz gave him a hug after he sprained his ankle. Where did that leave you?”


“Shut up. That was different.”


“And in sixth grade? Seventh? You have been suspended far too much for you to pretend that you don’t have a problem.”


“Shut up.”


“And now you’re going after Mike? What in the world is your problem?”


“Shut it! I don’t care what you think. I’m breaking that kid’s glass eye.”


“Yes, you do. Say what you will about Mike, but you aren’t surrounded with friends yourself. Who else but me is there? Trevor never forgave you for what you did to his car. Or his sister. Or his cat.”


“That guy…was a complete loser.”


“And breaking Mike’s eye? It’s not made of real glass, stupid. Even if it were, how in the world does anyone ever think that breaking something inside a guy’s skull would be a good idea?”


“It’s just some glass…”


“Don’t be a moron. Don’t do anything to Mike. Heck, don’t do anything to anybody. You’re going to end up in real trouble.”




“It was just some glass…”


“What the blazes did you do.”


“It was only glass...”


“What did you do.”




“I told you not to do anything. And now you’re arrested. What were you thinking?”






Entry #3:


"Hard to Break"


"It's easy to break a promise..."

"No come on, I did my best to get the cup for you and I di-"

"You were in the restaurant! How could you forget?"

"I didn't! Hear what I'm trying to say. I got a whole story for you."



He sighed, taking another swig of his pint of Guinness. They were in an Irish Pub, a special Irish Pub, that Alex and Mitch had decided to stop at. Alex lowered the drink to the bar. Out of all the places he'd visited while in the Big Apple, the Empire State Building, China Town, Times Square, and wherever else Mitch wanted to take him, this bar was high on the priority list.

However, as he stared down at his buffalo chicken pizza, which was nasty with all the added blue cheese and celery in it, he hung his head.

"We look like a gay couple, wearing matching plaid shirts..."

"Hmm," Mitch correctly responded.

His friend gave him a side glance.

"I don't care what other people think..."

"Harder to pick up girls if we're giving the wrong impression."

"Let's just get the cup and leave..." Mitch said in his easy voice. He had a casual demeanor. "...it's been ten minutes. Go find the guy."

Alex ran his hand through his hair. They'd been here for an hour now. The meal had been okay, but nowhere near the great pizza that New York usually offered. But the service... had been horrible.

"This cup, does your sister care about it that much?"

Alex looked at his unfinished beer.

"She doesn't get to come with me on these trips anymore. She's got too much work to do, responsibility, the kids."

He paused, lost in thought for a moment.

"…And so the last time she was here, years back, she talked about how she wanted the glass pint. These glasses in our hands that say, "I'm gonna make it, anywhere". But we never got it."

Mitch lightly laughed, with a rare smile on his face.

"Bah... I just love her, you know?"

Alex felt a firm grip on his shoulder. "Yeah, I know." Mitch looked him in the eye, and nodded. They both smiled in their plaid shirts, thinking it’d been a good day to wear them.


"Eventually our server came by, and when we told him about the glass, he told us that because he ruined my pizza by adding all the extra toppings, that we could just walk out with the glass when he wasn't looking..." He hadn't told her all the details about their trip at the bar, or at least not the parts that were mentioned about her.

"You can't do that..."

"Well that's what I told him! I'm like ... 'So you mean steal it.' and Mitch is just staring at the guy like he's an cool dude... So we told the manager about how terrible the guy's service was... guess what happened?"

"He gave you the glass?"

"Yeah. But first he fired the server. Told us he had gotten a lot of complaints and was giving his friends free food. Anyway, we got your cup... well...”


The breaking of glass hit the cement floor of the subway station. Just for a second, the people rushing by all stopped and took one moment out of their busy lives to see what had broken. The two young men just stood there in disbelief.

"I... I …" Alex fumed.

Mitch reached down and started picking up the main piece with the handle. It was ultimately unusable. A middle aged woman, who stood near Alex, muttered a sorry before continuing on her way.

"She bumped into me."

"It's alright, pal. Come on..."

"She's gonna hate this."


"It's not worth giving it to her now." Alex held half the glass in his hand.

"Yeah it is."

"Can't drink from it, just half a mug of glass... part of the quote's missing too." He said, dishearteningly.

"Yeah. But give it to her... alright?" His friend took the glass from Alex's hand, and inspected it. "I think what’s left is good enough."


"'Gonna make it,'" she read aloud. A small smile crept on her face as she looked at the glass that was taken from her brother's bag. She pulled her hair back and let out a choked laugh. She did like it. And somehow it was just what she wanted.

"Thanks..." she whispered under her breath, as she moved forward and hugged him.




Entry #4:


Four little feet pounded on the ground, four little legs pumping like a steam engine, two little mouths puffing like kettles. The little eyes were wide with terror and red with the oncoming wind, and their cheeks were red. Yet still they kept on, their bare feet ruffling the throw rug.
Four more feet rejoined the stampede, a tongue lolled and panted after them. Guilty paws pursued shamed children, spreading dirt down the hallway and shedding hairs on the stairs.
A yowl broke the parade and the cat joined in, pursuing those annoyances, sharp claws longing for the flesh of the loud people
Soon four creatures found themselves in hiding, concealed in a little corner, of a large closet. Clothes hung to obscure their guilt, and tired lungs held their air, silent, ears listening for footsteps. Hearing none, two boys sighed, one dog slobbered, and a cat hissed.
"Is it safe, do you think?"
"I hope so. What should we tell Mommy?"
Two little minds toiled, brainstormed, pondered.
"I know!" Said one, using a blouse to absorb the puddle that pooled beneath a dog's mouth. "Fido did it!"
"Of course!"
Two little boys congratulated themselves on their cleverness while downstairs a mother came upon a mess. With a shake of her head, she called out.
"Boys? Did you break Mommy’s plate? Now, where are you hiding?"
Of course she knew very well where they might be. Two tired feet followed trails of dirt, hair, drool.
“Oh no, she’s coming!”
Dog and boys huddled as cat licked herself. Stern footsteps approached and stopped. A doorknob turned and breaths were held.
“Where might those boys be?”
A light switched on, more revealing than a prison watch light; a grown-up loomed, taller than the watchtower. Terror wriggled into two little hearts. In times of terror drastic measures must be obtained.
“Oh Mommy, we broke it! We’re so sorry!”
“We didn’t mean to, it was an accident!”
Repented and redeemed, two little boys and a dog ran of, to make more mischief, as mother and cat retired downstairs to put things right.
Entry #5:

"Windows to the Soul"


They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. How do I know that? Um, because it was in an old book of Foxtrot comics I have laying around somewhere. Jason and Marcus are building a giant T-Rex or something and they need to study Paige’s eyes to figure out how to make it look evil. Kinda funny how things like that stick with you, huh?


But yeah, that’s what I was thinking about now, for some reason, as I sit here, bored, a bit apprehensive, too, for some reason. Idly I pick up my pencil and flip it around between my thumb and forefinger; its ends fly back and forth like a seesaw on stimulants. I barely notice the action, barely notice anything, really, as I just sit here in class, waiting for something to happen.


Well, okay, there’s something I notice, namely the girl sitting one row right, one seat forward. Hard not to notice her, really, at any given time. For a second my gaze lingers on the back of her head before flitting over to the window. Not much to see outside. A tree. Must be a bit of a breeze ‘cause the leaves are shaking a bit. The glass could probably use some cleaning.


My glasses could do with cleaning themselves, now that I think of it. I slide them off, turn up the corner of my shirt, wipe off the dust. Glance down at my paper as I do so; everything looks right. Except for number 6, which could really be one of two answers, and whichever I pick’ll undoubtedly be the wrong one. Oh well.


I fish a sheet of paper out of my backpack; might as well get some writing done. Writing about, um, um… Yeah I don’t know. Maybe I’ll draw something. Predictably, a couple seconds later, “something” has amounted to a few random lines. I slide the paper beneath my book. Back to pencil-flipping.


My forefinger slips and the pencil falls next to her desk. Wordlessly she reaches down, grabs it, hands it to me. For the briefest of moments I can see her eyes.


Windows to the soul.


Then I blink and take the pencil. “Thanks.”


She turns back around. “You’re welcome.”


I slide the paper back out and try again to think of something to write. Still nothing, surprise surprise. But for some reason that’s not quite as annoying as it was a few minutes ago.




Entry #6:


"City of Glass"


The skyscrapers pierce the azure sky, rising until up and up even after they reach the clouds, going up and up thousands of stories tall, up--up, always extending.


The City of Glass. The Kingdom of Skyscrapers. Skyscrapers taller than any others in the whole universe. They rise, up, up, up--seemingly never ceasing in their elevation. The architecture is magical--fictitious even in this advanced age. It is only when one visits do they finally believe the stories--stories that have been passed on from father to son, from mother to daughter, from grandparents to grandchildren.


It is a legend, surely--a legend and nothing more, they all say. A legend inside the homes of many--until they actually see for themselves. Until they witness the awe-striking, amaranthine beauty.


Walking through the streets, below the alabaster, crystal, glass, emerald, ruby, amethyst, and sapphire towers, one walks in a fantasy. The feeling is like a dream--a dream of imagination and disbelief, where one expects to wake up and discover that it was all fake. Yet none ever wake--for it’s not a dream.


The towers are real. Very, very real. And when you walk up to one, the wall of the building rises farther than you can see. But when you enter it is a different experience entirely. Some are filled with translucent stairways, circling upward and leading to different floors. Some are filled with clear boards, raised by transparent strings, all moving together and shifting here and there in perfect grace, taking people to various floors and rooms, never colliding with one another.


In the heart of the city lies perhaps the most magnificent of them all. A Cathedral made entirely from pure diamonds, as clear as glass, said to rise far above all the others. Yet once again one can hardly believe it, nor can one even confirm the tale as each building rises higher than the eye can see. The top of the Cathedral holds a bell-tower--bells that ring above every other commotion of the city, a magnificent ringing that reverberates throughout the entire planet.


When the bells toll, the whole population stops to listen to the beauty--the sounds that never get old or become any less amazing then the first time one hears them, ringing morning, noon, and night. They are entirely captivating and bewildering, amazing and awe-inspiring, fantastic and fanciful.


They are the Glass City Bells--perhaps even more captivating than the towers themselves, for the pitches and harmonies, tolls and chimes, all create a beautiful symphony.




But one morning, the bells miss their toll. The cityfolk slowly stop their work, looking at each other’s watches to make sure the time was right. But the bells never ring, and the first tower falls.


Admist a giant uproar of shards of glass and dust, the Cathedral crumbles, shattering, showering the town with the powder and splinters of broken diamonds. People scream in panic and confusion, shrilling voices piercing the air. Some don't even move as the building falls on top of them, still stuck there unbelieving of what their eyes tell them. In a matter of moments the Cathedral has completely collapsed.


The day ended.




Entry #7:


"Through the Window"


Years ago, it was . . . decades, probably centuries for all I can remember these days. But some things you never forget.


And of course I can't forget that day, when my life changed forever. Not in a small way like walking a different way to work or brushing your teeth with your left hand in stead of your right. But it wasn't a big way, either, not like winning the lottery or having a near-death experience. It changed my life, not too much and not too little, for the better, or for the worse. I don't know what it will mean for you, and I don't know if it will change your life like it changed mine--probably it's the sort of thing you have to experience for yourself; but still I hope, in some small way, you'll be a little wiser a few moments from now.


I was traipsing through a woods, and wise would be the last word to describe me that day. Nothing was going right for me. I had recently lost my girl, not long after I'd lost my job; and I'm not sure the two were disconnected. I'd had little luck finding a new job since then, and even less luck finding a new girl.


The woods was the only place where the world was simple, but unfortunately it wasn't simple enough to be distracting. My feet shuffled along hiking trails, but I'd left my mind pretty far behind me in a world of commercial horror and romantic despair.


I'll keep this short. A bright glimmer of light caught my eyes, and everything else seemed to vanish, in my mind and all around me. You know how it is, when the most trivial thing becomes a sudden obsession, taking over your being. Well, it was that way with this light, only I'm not sure if you would know how powerful this was. It wasn't just my mind playing a trick on me and trying to escape from heavy thought, it was an engrossing enchantment.


I followed the glimmer through the trees. There was something warm and inviting and beautiful about it, or at least the spell made me think there was. Not that it matters why I followed, I just did, and when I came out the other side of the trees into a clearing, I gasped in surprise and delight.


Right there I found a huge glass wall, tall, broad, like a giant window; and through this window I saw the most incredible sight I'd ever seen. It was a city of gold: golden buildings, golden streets, golden-haired women. The sky was tinted with it and the sidewalks were littered with it, shining in the sunlight to take my breath away.


There was El Dorado before my very eyes, mine for the taking, here in the backwoods behind a rustic middle-of-nowhere town. All I had to do was step through the window. Dazzled, spellbound, eager greed eating away at my every nerve, I stumbled forward.


And then it was gone. There was a loud plunk and the glass rippled, El Dorado shivered and disappeared. The window was shattered. I looked up at into the very real, very black-haired face of a pretty young woman wearing an indescribable look of grim fear, of shock and relief, all misfitting the handsome smile she wore.


And you know, I only just remembered why that day was so important to me. To tell you the truth, it probably won't have the same effect on you as it had on me, because it wasn't the lake at all that changed my life . . .




Entry #8:


"Broken Glass"


The choices that we make

Determines what is to pass

And when one’s a mistake

It can sting like broken glass


The problems people face

Could I solve them, every one?

But much to my distaste

My solutions could solve none


I did my best to try

And do right by everyone

But I aimed up too high

And got burned down by the sun


I wanted to do well

With my facts and science

But my high ideals fell

And my skills lacked compliance


I’d make the world better

But I only made it worse

Now my eyes are wetter

The memory makes me curse


It was results I craved

From that one experiment

I wanted to be praised

Oh, I was so arrogant


It had started out strong

But I miscalculated

And then it all went wrong

I was far from elated


An unwanted flame rose

An explosion did follow

A debris cloud arose

Until my lab was left hollow


Beyond my lab, it reached

Spreading toxins in the air

Into water they leached

Spreading poisons everywhere


The public was not split

Onto me they placed the blame

My life was now forfeit

My actions brought only shame


My lessons has been learned

But it’s too little, too late

My reputation’s burned

I’ve only earned people’s hate


A mad scientist, they say

That is what I have become

Now they all stay away

I’m treated lower than scum


This world, can I still try

To make it a better place?

Now my hands they do tie

From actions I can’t erase


And now I must repent

For my faults and past misdeeds

Now all my time is spent

To find where redemption leads


The choices that we make

Determines what is to pass

And when one’s a mistake

It can sting like broken glass




Entry #9:


"Just a Glass"


A young man was nervously tugging on his collar, the anticipation and fear was making his suit feel all the more uncomfortable. He was sitting at a table with an older man whose face was that of a man who had seen all the horrors and joys of life. In the corner of the room was a double door, at which stood a young servant standing tall and straight whilst awaiting the older man’s instructions. Other than him there was very little furnishing in the room, save an old fireplace and a large window overlooking the city.


However there was a very good reason for the young man’s fear, the old man of the city was none other than the Father of the city and the young man still wasn’t sure why he had invited him. Dinner with the Father was either a death sentence or a beautiful blessing, the trick was figuring out which.


“So Richard,” the Father finally spoke, breaking the awkward silence. “Do not be so on edge, laugh, have fun! I want my guests to feel welcome, now would you care for a drink?”


Richard nearly gulped on the spot, barely struggling to maintain his composure. A drink was one of the worst things he could be offered, refusing would be spiting the Father, however if the Father wanted you out of the way there was a good chance the drink might be poisoned. It was a no win situation for someone who lacked the reason for his summoning.


“I don’t wish to impose,” Richard began only to be cut off by the Father’s wave of a hand.


“Richard, loosen up, it truly is no trouble for me,” with that said the Father snapped his figures and almost immediately a servant came out with a glass of wine, before gently placing it down in front of Richard.


Once more Richard barely restrained himself from gulping on the spot. “Thank you,” he mumbled half-heartedly as he raised the glass in the Father’s direction, before taking a sip. After all refusing would also be terrible. When he realized he was still alive, Richard could help but let out a sigh. However by the time he realized the momentary drop in his guard the damage had been done.


The Father was now laughing from hearing Richard’s sigh. “My dear boy, did you really think I was going to poison you?” He let out a hearty bellyache, “I would think you had more faith in me by now.” The man replied in a rather joking tone.


“Heh, one can never be too cautious,” Richard chuckled nervously, desperately trying to salvage the situation. “One can never be too careful right?”


“Hah! It’s just a glass, if that scares you so much I can only imagine how you’ll react to what’s about to be become.”


“A glass can be viewed in many different ways, half empty, half full…” Richard began only to be cut off by the older man.


“Or, in your case, poisoned,” The man added.


“Yes, that too.”


“Well,” the old man chuckled, “Now that you’ve overcome your first hurdle I can’t wait to see how you handle the real fun that’s about to come.”



Entry #10:


"Magic Glass"


It's glass, but it's magical glass.


Through it you can see a garden, or maybe a tree, or a driveway. Maybe you can see another house, maybe you can see someone else's lawn, or maybe all you can see is a dumpster.


Or maybe you can't see anything at all. Maybe it's entirely blank, nothing but pure blackness.


But it could even be a jungle. Tall trees stretching their being into the heavens, creeper vines stringing about the place, animals noisy or quiet but always beautiful, gorgeous flowers and vistas of indescribable wonder.


Another possibility is the ocean. Maybe you see a beach, with endless sand stretching in either direction, the waves gently caressing the land from across unfathomable distances and flowing back out to touch the edge of the sky.


It could be a prairie, with a sea of another kind. A greener one. Maybe there are grunting bison or wild mustang, thunderstorms or great birds of prey as free as the wind.


A great precipice, with stony walls threatening you with a thousand foot drop but also promising an incredible view. A waterfall cascades over the side while a peaceful forest stands invitingly in the opposite direction.


A mountain peak looming above you, while mountain goats or grizzly bears shuffle along. Conifers stand erect like soldiers in a line, dotting the steep incline here or there while great boulders offer some variety.


Or perhaps you see a dump, an amplitudinous array of things once having a home with good people, or even the not so good, forming itself comfortably in a high peak all its own. Old belongings now staining our world with unnatural death and decay.


What if its the tropics you see? Crystal-clear ocean waves with a small island and palm-trees in the distance. The merciless sun beats down on you, but with your SPF 50 you hardly notice anything but warmth and peace.


Maybe endless desert sand stretches as far as the eye can see, while hazy lines offer spectacles of interest and dances of exotic variety. A camel or a gemsbok passes by, on an epic journey of survival.


Or the stars. A sprinkling of light spread across a handsome black carpet. Here and there a red star, or nebulae of enormous wonder and beauty. Maybe a planet, or an asteroid, comet, or meteor. Interstellar bodies on endless voyages of discovery.


All this and more can be seen through the glass.


It's glass, but it's magic glass.




Entry #11:


"Sand and Lightning"


A dark figure stood on the shore of the cove, long hair falling to her feet. The waxing moon shone down clearly on the scene. Around her curved the beach of fine white sand, with jagged cliffs surrounding on all sides. Before her stretched the ocean, dark waves glittering as they rolled in.
She dropped to one knee, placing a square, unfilled frame upon the beach. It was made of painstakingly fitted yew and alder wood, carved with mystic signs. Many hours she had spent speaking incantations over it and brewing spells.Now she began tracing patterns in the sand it encompassed, delicately using one forefinger. Her other hand scooped up more sand, letting the granules sift through her fingers and join their brethren in the frame. After a few moments of this, she began chanting lowly, hands never ceasing their rhythmic movements.
"Gather to me, chosen grains. Gather to your brothers, separate, single grains, and become one. Pure sand, sand of power, gather to your destiny. Come! Be one! Gather together!"
She lifted both hands, rising to her feet and stretching her arms to the sky. Her voice raised itself, a high cry to the heavens. "Gather in the sky, celestial energies! Come, O swift spear of the heavens, to strike these disparate elements and fuse them into one! Unite them, that their powers may reach their zenith and run freely through the whole - that all here may be completed!"
Wisps of cloud began to gather, obscuring the stars.
She bent once more to the sands, fingers running through them and voice chanting to them once more. She paused her hands only once, removing a tiny bag from her girdle and pouring its contents into the frame. The dark purple grains contrasted starkly with the white of the beach, and she began sifting and stirring once more.
And so it continued for hours, her voice and body rising and falling between the sands and the sky, occasionally adding something to the former as the latter grew ever more threatening. The clouds never obscured the moon, however, which shone serenely down on the scene below.
Finally, her chant ceased. She straightened, holding her arms in a circle at the level of her waist, embracing the air above the frame.
"Now is all gathered, all is complete. Let it be finished!
"Strike, O Lightning! Unite, O Sand!" And a bolt of blinding lightning descended between her encircling arms, striking directly in the center of the frame's hollow with a deafening crash.
When it had ended, she withdrew her arms, pressing her hands first to her eyes and then to her ears, as if to undo the effects of the lightning's glare and noise. Then she knelt down to examine her handiwork.
The frame was no longer empty. It was filled from edge to edge with a smooth sheet of glass, mainly white but with barely detectable streaks of color swirling across its still-warm surface.Picking it up, she stroked it tenderly. "I have made it, just as I intended," she whispered. "In this, all that is shall show its true nature, without artifice or concealment, whether beast or flower, star or man. This night I have created a Sight-Glass of True Sight."
Entry #12:

"The View"


Lenny faced the glass, towards the source of the light emanating from the summer sun.


Children played, laughing and frolicking among the many flowers in the fields. Their parents conversed about lively subjects such as the results of the Super Bowl and what move their kids would pull next. A slight breeze moved the blades of grass so that they were leaning over at an angle of no more than 16 degrees. The trees swayed as well, and the branches moved like distorted limbs. The sun, radiant as ever, shone its light on the populace below, blinding those foolish enough to gaze into its stare. Picnic baskets, surrounded by litter, were a source of food for those wishing to help themselves.


It was a beautiful summer day, the first of many to come, and it was such a beautiful view.


But Lenny saw nothing, for he was blind.



Edited by Velox

"As a writer you ask yourself to dream while awake." ~ Aimee Bender

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Theme #10: Art-to-Fiction




Entry #1:


The Treasure

Almost there… I thought Soon I’ll confront the dragon to seize the rubies of power.

I had been scaling this mountain for days and never seemed to get any closer to his destination, but now he could see the rocky outcropping clearly.

Made it! I thought when I finished scrambling over the last few boulders. The view was extraordinary, I could see the entire kingdom from my vantage point. “I made it!” I yelled. I then heard a distinct growling behind me. My eyes were wide with fear; the monstrous lizard was behind me, preparing to strike. I readied my sword, spun around and was greeted by a large mass of bones. None of which were the dragons’. I walked inside carefully and immediately spotted the rubies, they were stuck in a small crevice and I could not reach them.

The growling continued…

I ventured further into the cavern; Finding other long lost treasures. I eventually made it to the center of the large cavern and was greeted by a large pile of gold, silver, and gemstones. I looked around, but found no sign of the dragon that supposedly guarded this trove.

Where is it? I thought, then I found the answer; there was a large bronze door on the other side of the very large room, but it was locked. I dug out the key that I had found at the foot of the mountain and put it in the lock, I turned it, and the door responded with many clicking sounds as it opened. I walked inside, and there I found the dragon, asleep. Dragons never sleep. But that wasn’t the strangest thing, I saw that the dragon was made entirely out of rubies! Experimentally, I grabbed one and yanked it off of its body. The opening was not one of flesh, but rather one of bones. It’s dead. I thought.The mighty beast died of old age. That makes things easier. And it’s encrusted in rubies!

I pulled more and more off and stuffed them in by bag, selfishness and pride overwhelmed me as I continually grabbed more and more. Then I noticed a slight change in my hand.

Since when do I have claws? I thought. But it was more than that, my whole body was changing. I grew larger, scalier, and more dragon-like. Then I made the connection: The rubies of power referred to the dragon, it possessed power like nothing else. And I was the one growling!

By the time that I had emptied my bag of the treasures that I had collected, it was too late. The conversion had finished, I let out a mighty roar and left this room to guard my treasure, not knowing who I was, or why I was here. There was one selfish, prideful thought that dominated my mind:

My treasure.




Entry #2:




What is this piece of junk supposed to be? It’s an abstract spaceship


Doesn’t look like a spaceship well that’s ‘cause it’s abstract, you see


What’s the blue stuff? It’s aliens, he keeps asking aliens? I say aliens.


Why aliens? Well they ride spaceships


Most of this canvas is blue, is everything aliens?




This is garbage nobody is going to buy it he says




I was worried he’d say that


‘S Only the truth


I’ll try again I guess.


Don’t limit yourself to spaceships, try a pony or something that seems to be popular


I’ll…give that some thought?


I’ll be leaving. You work on something else


Right. Bye.




This painting is terrible. I should go burn it outside. Maybe after I drink my coffee…


Man that was not a good idea. The neighbor got all up in my case again about burning paintings and what’s that smell and why are you even using arsenic paint and just




That guy needs to calm down. I didn’t even step on his Chihuahua this time, or drop searing hot coffee on it either. Also I’m only burning one painting, not that he wasn’t exaggerating on last month’s bonfire but seriously just




So I guess I have to do something else now but god I am tired.


I need another coffee.


I shouldn’t have burned that painting, such a moron. Should’ve tried to sell it anyways or painted over it






Guess I need to do something else. Another spaceship? I guess I could try but doesn’t sound that fun


He mentioned something about ponies I should look that up on the internet


God I hate going outside. Is too bad I dropped my coffee on the modem, not that I can afford the internet right now but you know convenience.


Internet café what a freaking joke who even goes to these things anymore


Other than me I guess but I got an excuse


What are these hacks doing here


Such hacks


Guess I’m going to buy some time now and also some coffee


Okay so ponies look up ponies and














Oh god oh god oh god


What the #### is this I’m just




What is wrong with people






Oh? No I wasn’t looking at that stuff.


No you definitely didn’t see me sir you must have been mistaken I was just looking up…salad!


What do you mean I’m banned from coming here again I wasn’t even doing anything this is just such communism




At least let me keep the coffee I paid for it with money


Back at home, just so tired.


I need more coffee.


Agh this isn’t working.


I’m going to bed.


Oh great I forgot I also dropped coffee on the bed I drop coffee on everything so clumsy


(Maybe I should start drawing with coffee?)




Good night.


Dreaming like a baby dreaming like a baby, there’s a race track in my brain and there’s no stoppin’ me


Coffee waterfall!

Don’t I drink too much coffee?

Haha so silly you can’t drink too much coffee

Is a medicine or something



Where am I

Where is the coffee

Why is everything dark

Is this a nightmare

Are the ponies gonna show up

Please don’t be ponies

Oh okay the lights are coming back up

This is some creepy aura I’m getting from this place what are these

Lightning trees

And okay then there comes a spaceship

That’s a nice shade of purplredrange.

What a weirdly abstract scene of lightning trees and a purplredrange spaceship.

I should plagiarize this.


He’s asking if I plagiarized this spaceship I say of course I did don’t be a cool dude


He’s like why did you call me a cool dude I’m just saying


What are you even saying


Where did I get it it’s just from my sexy subconscious, you tool


Hey don’t get feisty now (I don’t even know what that word means)


Anyways he says I can sell this


No duh


It came from my subconscious that stuff is downright sexy.

Entry #3:
"Rules of Combat"
The rules of combat are clear to us.
There are always two combatants.
There are only two weapons.
Victory is called when one person’s fighting spirit is broken.
Bones may be cracked.
Blood may be spilt.
Lives may be taken.
But there must be a victorious soul.
There must be a defeated soul.
The rules of combat are clear to us.
I fight against Him.
The Blade-man, the Knife-artist, the Steel-stinger.
All assembled know what He will choose as His weapon.
A leather handle...
...topped with seven inches of cold, iron death.
He steps forward; His eyes gleam in the dark like His blade does in the sun.
His smile is a wolf’s grin.
His stance proclaims Him as victor of a thousand battles.
The common consensus:
He will win.
I will die.
It is prophecy -- written in the stars by the divine.
Divinity cannot be beaten.
And that is why I challenge it.
I reach down to claim my weapon.
Fingers slither through shallow undergrowth.
A rigid ovoid is trapped in my grip.
I rip upwards, dragging my prize into the light.
Reaching out, I reveal my weapon.
It is met with laughter.
Because how can He, Knife-soul, lose to me, Fruit-bearer.
Quietly, I take my own blade and slice my weapon in two.
I keep one part; the rest is thrown away.
We enter the circle.
The battle commences.
He charges, steel aimed for my throat.
I step aside, raising my left shoulder, making a new target for his blade.
Blood splatters, and I keep turning, twisting his knife deeper into my arm.
Pain burns in my flesh, but I am stronger than it.
I endure.
I always endure.
He tries to wrench his weapon free, and I raise my free arm -- my fruit arm.
Step back in front of Him, push my weapon forward, towards His eyes.
I focus my pain into my right hand.
My fist clenches.
Acid flies.
He screams, grabbing at His face.
Drop my weapon; draw His.
Let His blade land on the ground.
My fist moves like lightning through the air.
It finds His face like flies find dung.
he joins his weapon in the dirt.
Victory is called.
The rules of combat are clear to us.




Entry #4:


"Search for Atlantis"


Rory entered the underwater cave. It was not a safe place to be; there were sharp rocks that could tear through his wetsuit with ease, and potentially damage his oxygen tank. One little mistake could be fatal.


Rory was not alone; he was diving with his partner Dave. Dave was a thrill seeker; he liked to challenge himself by pushing his body to its limit. But they were not here for an adrenaline rush; they were searching for something.


The surface world, as Rory called it, was a mess. There was war, famine, poverty, and corruption everywhere. That world sickened Rory. He wanted to find someplace new, someplace with peace and tranquility.


And that’s when he heard of Atlantis.


Atlantis was supposedly an ancient kingdom with technology well ahead of its time. They had prospered for hundreds of years, but then the kingdom had vanished without a trace. Some legends said that it was sunk during a natural disaster, while others hinted that a rival kingdom destroyed it. But others claimed that Atlantis got fed up with the outside world, and they broke off contact and hid away.


If this was true, then perhaps Rory could locate and visit Atlantis. At the very least, they might have a way to help deal with the horrors of the surface world.


Over their underwater intercoms, Dave said, “The cave drops downwards up ahead, so that’s promising. I’ll take the lead.”


Rory followed his partner. Dave was less concerned about the world than he was, but Rory needed his friend’s expertise in scuba diving to help him on his search. Atlantis was not an easy place to locate. It had been lost for centuries, and few sources offered any reliable clues as to where it was hiding. Using these and undersea charts, Rory had selected a few areas to explore.


The two were currently on their third trip, in the southern Mediterranean Sea. Upon diving down, they had discovered a series of underwater caverns, and they were exploring them to see if one led anywhere.


The two dropped down through a shaft, and reached yet another level of tunnels. They were narrower now, but Dave used his lantern to illuminate the way. The light gleamed off the white rocks that formed the cave walls.


“There’s something up ahead,” Dave said suddenly. “What is it?”


Rory followed his partner’s gaze. Crimson tendrils lay adrift on the stone floor. They shifted eerily in the lantern’s light.


Rory swam closer to inspect it. “It seems to be some deceased creature, perhaps a sort of Cephalopod.” He reached forward to touch it, but it sudden moved back. “Wait, it’s not dead at all!”


Something rose from the dust that had settled on the cavern’s floor, and Rory and Dave suddenly came face to face with a giant octopus. Before Rory could swim back, one of its arms reached out and wrapped around his body.


“Rory, look out!” Dave shouted through the intercom. He drew a diving knife and swam forward. He sliced at the octopus’s skin, but his cuts were too shallow and didn’t appear to hurt the sea beast. Instead, the octopus wrapped another one of its arms around Dave.


“This is bad!” Dave shouted, as the octopus began to squeeze. “If we don’t get free, it’ll break our oxygen tanks! Rory, try stabbing it in the eye, since you’re closer!”


Rory tried to move, but he was now immobilized by the octopus. Dimly, he wondered if this was how it was all going to end. He couldn’t escape from the pain and suffering on the surface after all.


But then another thought came to mind. He was invading this creature’s territory, and had started the fight by surprising it. No wonder it retaliated. No, Rory deserved what he was getting, and he ceased to struggle.


But to his surprise, that caused the octopus to release him. Struck by this revelation, Rory called to Dave, “Stop struggling, that’s what’s getting it riled up.”


Having no other choice, Dave quit his thrashing, and soon the octopus released him too. And then the Cephalopod slipped away into another dark corner of the cave.


“How did you. . .” Dave started.


“Just call it a hunch,” Rory said. “Like maybe it was a challenge, to make sure the violent and foolhardy wouldn’t continue forward.”


“A challenge? Do you think Atlantis is near by?”


“Well, it won’t hurt to check,” Rory said, and he pushed forward.




Entry #5:


"On the Edge of Existence"


I was running through the woods. It wasn’t a day for walking. With each exhilarating breath I felt the power of life tingle throughout my body. I was breathing heavily, feeling all the more, living all the more.As each step fell on the soft, spongy mosses and leaf-molds of the forest floor, I thought I was walking on clouds, flying through the forest, flying through life, flying through the world.I had never lived before. I realized that then. Here, lost in Nature, lost in my own spirit, I had found true Life. And I never wanted to let go of it again.Unfortunately, Reality has a way of forcing itself back into your hands whether you want it or not. Reality, not life, gives you lemons. And sometimes, it throws them at you hard.A celestial being, with wings of ether and sunlight, soared through the heavens until his foot got caught on a tree root and he fell flat on his face.Ah, but Reality, he didn’t want your lemons! You can keep them!I picked myself up. The angel in my heart spread his wings and prepared to fly again when I distracted him by taking notice of a pale, multicolored light through the trees. At first I thought it might be the setting sun, but there was a strong, definite tone of blue in it. When you’re Living for the first time, you don’t balk at making new discoveries. Curiosity is as much your ally, your tutor, and your guide as it is a newborn babe’s.I immediately followed the light. But it was not a goal, it was not an end, merely a means; it was the path that led me through the trees only. The trees, covered with moss and mushroom; the birds, singing sweetly in the trees; the babbling brooks, I passed, the gentle breeze that swept my face; this was the reason I was here, the reason I was Living, and not even curiosity gave me any other reason to walk through that forest.Which I found the source of the light, it was not a source of shock or surprise, only of wonder. I had left Reality far behind me. And, so, as to the possibility of what I saw, Why not?I pushed my way through the hanging tendrils of ivy and moss and lichen, and there, nestled in a hollow between an oak’s embracing roots, sat a gap in the world.It wasn’t a hole, or I didn’t think it was; it couldn’t be, unless it was the Rabbit Hole that leads to Wonderland. But it wasn’t anything, because it just wasn’t there; it was an emptiness, glowing brightly with mingled oranges and blues; it was a seam between the stitches, or a part of the world that had accidentally been left out. Whatever it was, it was a gap torn in Reality itself, and why not?Any other day I might have hesitated. I might have thought of all the things I was leaving behind. But that day, I knew what was behind me; Reality, cold, harsh, and forever dull.I didn’t know what lay ahead. But I was ready to find out.It was one small step, or a flying leap of faith into the unknown. I walked, I flew through that portal; or perhaps I had always been on the other side, and I was just waking from a strange dream.Wherever I was going, I knew this: I was leaving Reality, and stepping into Life, the greatest unknown.




Entry #6:



I think that within this universe, in the journey of every sentient species, there is a threshold.On the near side of the threshold is prematurity: space-faring civilizations whose hops and skips onto stellar stepping stones are fueled primarily by hubris, temerity, and more than a few careless decisions; societies still consumed by civil war and turmoil, who have not found a common enemy to unite them and so turn on themselves like fever on the human body — i.e. adolescence. The mountain lies before them, but they only have the faintest idea it exists and know not what it means. Humanity belongs to this group.The far side of the threshold is maturity. I don’t know what lies beyond the threshold, for I’m only human. I don’t know what a species in adulthood would be. Maybe species beyond the threshold are as burdened with war, dissonance, poverty, and mortality as the rest of us primitives are.The threshold itself, however, must not be discarded. It (theoretically speaking) must be a trigger, what event or discovery that awakens a race to its potential and, like spurs in the sides of a horse, accelerates its pace.Why am I relating this? First, I’ve been on a science fiction binge for my past month on Europa: Speculation has become a part of my daily routine.Second, I believe I’ve discovered the trigger.* * *If I had to describe Europa in one word, I would choose “interesting”.Its tenuous atmosphere contains oxygen, the product of water molecules on Europa’s surface being broken into their base components and hydrogen atoms’ nominal mass. The temperature about the area of Outpost EU1-E, to the best of my knowledge, has never risen past negative two hundred eighty degrees Fahrenheit. Naturally, being on average over three hundred degrees Fahrenheit colder than the freezing temperature of water, Europa’s surface is frozen solid; but it is covered with canyons and rifts that we still need to explore.Jupiter, however, is massive. Its gravitational force kneads Europa’s core like dough. The warping generates heat. Subsequently, the heat melts some of the ice. Thus, water — two and a half miles below the surface.It was into that water that we tapped perchance a month ago. (Most of us celebrated not with water but with alcohol.) We still haven’t named the ocean, but we are fully expecting those of us more inclined to mythology to brainstorm a name posthaste.No human could (or would) squeeze through the hole that we bored in Europa’s surface; thus, we deposited a robot, ignored cries about pollutants, and began exploring.I was on duty when the discovery occurred. Actually, I was nearly asleep at the control board. The putta-putta-putta of our robot’s propellers served as a sleeping machine in a pinch, and three hours of looking at flashing lights like the ones on a Christmas tree does not adrenaline trigger.Because I was drowsy, I almost didn’t notice the screen. We’d discovered a form of cropped seaweed, probably modified algae, on the Europan ocean floor; it was by now a familiar sight, so it nearly concealed with its familiarity my discovery.Between the verdant filaments of seaweed lay a colored object — three to be technical, but they were pieces of a whole. I slapped myself so I knew I wasn’t dreaming, but there it was: broken pottery on Europa’s ocean floor.I reported it. The higher-ups came back to me (a full day later) and said to do tests. We did them. The pottery wasn’t from us.We recovered it. It was worn so the designs weren’t legible, and much of the pottery had been worn smooth so it wouldn’t perfectly fit together again, but it was enough. A report was prepared. I was told to sit in the background of the video, and I waved when my direct superior, Dr. Ian Miller, pointed to me and said I had made the discovery, but otherwise I said nothing. Maybe I should have — who knows?What I do know — what we all know — is that the pottery belongs to someone else. It’s a mystery, but its existence has answered another question that has burned in our hearts for millennia:Are we alone? The answer is no; we are not.Now I’m waiting for someone to answer, “So what now?”Perhaps the answer to that question will be the trigger, and my discovery will be the trigger of the trigger, if you get what I mean. It’s just speculation, mind you.




Entry #7:


"On a Mission"

“Tell me again why we’re trekking through the middle of nowhere,” said a short young man with scruffy brown hair as he nearly tripped over a log. “Because, if you want to keep flying those solar-sailers hither and yon, we need powerstones,” replied his companion, a seven-foot-tall automaton clad in stark-white armor, with ‘ZAG’ plastered across the right pauldron in black. “Besides, you hardly do anything around the ship. About time the Captain gave you a field-mission.” The young man – known simply as Tobi by the crew of the H.M.S. Thunderhead – rolled his eyes and quickened his pace. The sooner they got this over with, the sooner they could get back to the airship and get out of this blasted jungle. “Shouldn’t be too much farther,” Zag said after a time as he glanced down at the device in his hand: a brass box with various gauges on its sleek face; some newfangled device for tracking energy-signatures, apparently. “Good; I’m getting tired of seeing nothing but trees,” Tobi replied, eyeing a gnarled ficus as though it intended to harm him. “Tobi, watch were y—” Too late. Tobi had already fallen, and was now lying face-first in the mud. He scrambled about and slipped repeatedly before finally regaining his footing, standing as still as possible with his arms stretched out to the sides to steady himself. The automaton couldn’t resist. From his perch atop a massive log alongside the pool of mud, he leaned over and poked Tobi’s shoulder, sending the poor boy flailing into the mud again. “Are you kidding me?!” Tobi spat as pulled himself out again, cursing along the way and trying to wipe the mud from his face and trousers. Zag simply chuckled and followed his companion without a word, for he considered it well-deserved payback for the energy-viper he’d found in his satchel this morning. Were it not for the tree-hour recharge he had to go through, their little mission would have been over with already. Zag looked away for only a second, and suddenly Tobi was nowhere in sight. The automaton glanced around and picked up the pace, muttering “darn it, Tobi…” as he went. The boy was notorious for getting lost, even on their own ship, and Zag was convinced it would one day be the death of him. “Hey! Zag! Come ‘ere!” The automaton backtracked a bit, and after squeezing through a rather thick clump of foliage, he finally found Tobi sitting at the edge of a small ravine, looking at something below. “Don’t do that again,” Zag warned. “Now, what did… you…” They found themselves looking down at what appeared to be a cluster of powerstones, but these were bigger than any they had seen before; the largest of them the size of a skiff at least, by the looks of it. Tobi glanced down at his bag. “We’re going to need a bigger satchel.”




Entry #8:


"Terra Atmo Resto"


With the attentive and delicate care of a mother, I gently tucked the earth over the head-sized nut. My little seed, who would soon sprout and undoubtedly outgrow me before long. Eventually the tree would stand over one thousand feet. That is, if it survived. I stepped back and surveyed the desolate red landscape. "I don't know, Mom," I said through the vocal transistors of my planetary atmospheric life-suit. "How is he going to survive in this wasteland?"

* * *

The memory faded, to be replaced by the starry vista outside my window in the family cruiserhome. If I craned my neck, I could just make out the red planet we were approaching. Nublar-6, the planet that my father had bought for the family many years ago. Or rather, he had bought a part of it. The Zarrulian government was selling land on the planet, recently purchased from a neighboring intergalactic nation. The resources and finances of that nation were running low, and they found themselves unable to apply the proper terra atmo resto (sorry, the lingo, it means "terrain and atmosphere restoration") process to this planet.

Ten years ago we had come here to plant some vegetation, biologically engineered specifically for this planet's climate. We did this in several locations, and if all has gone well we should find some expansive pastures when we arrive. Once the atmosphere is finished being prepared (it nearly was now) we would be moving here permanently so we could better help develop the ecosystem. We would introduce some animals, herbivores and later predators, and try to keep the growing ecology in balance. Being only eighteen and not the smartest girl around, I don't fully understand the process myself, but that's the basic idea. My dad's something of a genius and he understands it all perfectly.

But more than anything, in regard to this particular visit anyway, I was excited to see the tree I had planted back when I was just eight years old. If all went well, and I hoped with all my heart that it had, my tree should have sprouted and it should already be a good three dozen or so feet high. Most of our vegetation had been planted in large groups, but my father had let me pick out one special location for my own seed.

"Buckle in, everyone," my father's voice commanded over the intercom. "We're nearing the atmosphere now." The family strapped in, each to their own seat in the cruiserhome. Altogether there were about twenty-five of us, although it was mostly extended relatives. We would be the first settlers in our part of the planet, but more would undoubtedly follow.

Soon we were jostling through the atmosphere. We passed through a cloud, and I gasped. Those hadn't been around the last time, not that I could remember. The atmosphere restoration was coming along well. Soon we passed over our pastures, and were delighted to find many miles of fields and forests. They surpassed our expectations.

My father had promised that we would visit my tree before arriving at the homestead, though not for long. I closed my eyes as we neared it. I didn't want to see it until we landed.

* * *

I hurriedly put on my atmospheric suit (which would not be necessary for much longer) and raced out as soon as the airlocks were open. And there it was. My tree. It must have been forty feet high! And to my surprise, he was surrounded by a dozen or so shorter trees. It took me a moment, but I soon realized that my tree was a parent! I can't describe the happiness I felt then. I now owned my own little forest.

My father was surprised, too. My biologically engineered tree wasn't supposed to have borne any seeds yet, and certainly not these trees reaching up to about twenty feet. "Even in this age," he said, "I guess there's no full accounting for nature."

He let me stay a little longer, and I wandered within the small forest, crossing over the leaf-strewn floor. Already a soil was forming. At the foot of my original tree I found myself in a small forest clearing, with him watching over as the maternal guardian that he was. It was a nice snug spot covered in moss and lichen. Between two of his big roots, a small head-sized nut was nestled, like an egg in its nest.

I was so happy I cried.

Entry #9:

"God's Garden"


Beautiful trees and flowers towered above me; colossal beings that inspired both awe and a little bit of fear. Such was the case with all things in this garden, because this wasn’t just any ordinary garden, this was the Garden of God.

All around me I could see Angelic Beings, hard at work, cultivating these gargantuan beings. It was marvelous seeing them at work, seeing them take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. Never in my life had I seen such sheer beauty, such sheer magnificence; no earthly being could accomplish such a task.

However this also means that no earthly words could possibly describe this wonder and so I will cease with all attempts, instead I will merely relate to the things I experienced and bore witness to.

The first thing that must be mentioned are the Angels. My god, pardon the phrase, were they brilliant. Spectacularly divine beings of unparalleled beauty, once more words fail to properly convey their radiance.

These majestic beings were scurrying back and forth from the far reaches of the garden tending to and from the plants. They were carrying out a variety of tasks: Some Angels ferried with them a golden liquid that I can only postulate was a heavenly equivalent for our mundane water. The plants soaked up this liquid and grew nigh immediately.

Other Angels were trimming the plants akin to how one would a show dog. Hence it is my belief that the proper word would be grooming. They were grooming the plants to become towering beauties like the rest of their brethren. However it still bears mention that, even at this infantile state, their beauty was leaps and bounds beyond anything on earth.

Even more Angels were diligently administering an odd green liquid into the soil, the only explanation my mind can formulate is that this was a some sort of heavenly fertilizer. Still, this explanation does not sit well my soul and I believe its true nature is incomprehensible by our minds.

These are but a few of the countless tasks I saw the Angels partaking in to make this garden so divine. I cannot fathom the nature of a tenth of these tasks and I understand even fewer. However it was never the tasks or even the plants within in the gardens that truly inspired me. What truly screamed brilliance and will remain embedded in my soul for all eternity is the most beautiful event one can see on any plane of existence:

The birth of a new soul.

Still, do not mistake my words of praise as claiming this sight was on par with any in the mortal realm. This event was still a multiplication tens of thousands of times greater than its earthly equivalent. The births I saw can never be surpassed by anything except, perhaps, the birth of a new god.

Of course, considering how unfair to you it is for me to prolong my explanation with any more embellishment, I will now offer my explanation. I had been walking through the marvelous garden, thoroughly enjoying the heavenly spectacle, when a flower, that had previously remained closed to me, decided now was the right time to open. Inside it rested an even more beautiful creature, a tiny little gift from god, an infant angel. Even as new born it still conveyed that it was a majestic being.

Still reeling from my shock and awe at seeing such a beautiful creature I slowly looked up and down the rows of flowers. Another fantastical sight lay before me as I saw more and more flowers opening to reveal their true splendor. That was the moment it dawned upon me:

I, Andrew Caldwell, have truly walked down the path of God and seen the majesty of his garden.




Entry #10:


"The Forest"

A dense fog shrouded the Forest, clinging to my skin and soaking into my clothing. The branches of the gargantuan trees were slippery beneath my feet; even after years of travelling this way, it was still a challenge to find my footing in these conditions. It was difficult too to find my way forward – not only did the weather severely limit my vision, but I hadn’t come this way in… how long? Months, at least.

Why I chose to travel here, I can’t quite say. Maybe I just wanted a change of scenery. Perhaps I was guided by my subconscious or some other force beyond my comprehension. Whatever prompted my journey, though, one thing was certain – I was really starting to regret it. Wandering aimlessly through the Forest in a fog such as that one is rarely a wise idea.

I suppose I should introduce myself: I am the Man. Once, perhaps, I was called something else, but whatever that name may have been, it means nothing now. The inhabitants of this place know me as the Man, and there is no one to call me anything else. They refer to me as such because I am the only human being to live here, on this planet known to us as the Forest. Perhaps, in the distant reaches of space, there are those who refer to it in another way, but none here could fathom what that might be, nor do we care to.

Of course, “we” is a relative term. There are several species in the Forest that whose intelligence equals mine, certainly: the apes, the wolves, the cats. The birds, too – some of them, at least. And, of course, surpassing us all is the Lord of the Forest himself. But none of these associate with me, nor I with them. Occasionally we make contact, interact in some way, sometimes as friends, others as enemies. But rarely is it long before we part ways.

My foot slipped on a knot in the branch that I hadn’t seen; I lost my balance despite a quick attempt to right myself. My fingers caught a groove in the bark and for a moment I hung there, suspended in fog. Then they slipped out.

Time slowed as I fell. It was surreal – all around me there was gray, gray, nothing but cold gray fog. It was impossible to tell which way was up, which was down; I has no reference point of any kind.

And then I felt hard wood beneath me as I collided with another massive tree branch, this one even wider than the first. With some difficulty, I pushed myself to my feet and glanced around.

Surprisingly enough, I could actually see something – off to my right, the colorless fog transitioned seamlessly to a dull reddish glow. Intrigued, I stepped forward, though I did so tentatively. I wasn’t sure how badly I’d been hurt in the fall, and on top of that, well, the Forest holds many dangers. I’d never seen glowing red fog before, but it could easily be one of them.

Within moments the source of the light came into view: in the branches of the tree was nestled a nest, a nest so massive that it looked to be constructed of saplings rather than twigs. And within the nest lay three eggs, nearly identical, their coloration a beautifully marbled red-orange-purple. From each egg radiated a dull light, illuminating the nest and refracting through the fog that surrounded them. I stared at the sight before me in awe. Only one creature in the Forest could have produced such a marvel.

A faint rustle of leaves reached my ears, and I slowly turned. Staring out of the fog was a single massive eye, a vibrant orange ring surrounding a pupil bigger than my head and darker than a starless night. Immediately I dropped to one knee and bowed my head. The eye blinked and moved in closer, bringing with it a beak that looked sharp enough to slice me in half with the barest scratch.

Fortunately, though, the Lord of the Forest didn’t seem to be in a slicing mood. Instead, he clucked softly, offering a greeting and not a threat.

I rose. “It is an honor, my Lord.” Only thrice before had I ever laid eyes on the great bird, and never had I seen him so close.

He clucked again.

I nodded silently and turned back into the fog. Within moments I could see nothing but gray.




Entry #11:



Everyone's a refugee at some point in their livesIt takes a lot less than war and famine to drive you out of a home, in search of something better,Sometimes we all overdose on life a little, or a lot,Sometimes we need to escape the pain of heartbreak, but mostly it's the pain of hiding behind a mask,Watching from behind a window, pawing at the glass and wishing you could get out there and be free.Life doesn't happen, it never does except to those who don't want it.Here I am hiding behind my walls hearing the muffled joy, wanting to reach out,But I'm blocked by wood and paint, in my little office,Chained to my doghouse. Today is the World Series of repression, and I'm a proEveryday is a fresh start that starts as a beautiful fruit, rotting from the inside,Until tonight I peel the orange and find the flies have got to it,And it has me going bananas. How I can't CHANGE!What if I never do, what will I ever do?God, help me from my hospital bed, spread the sheets and sign the cast no more,Cause I'm breaking free!I'm going, away from this pressure cooker and into the fire!No stress in this frying pan though, it's all hot and coolIn the kitchen where I belong. No living dead where I'm going,No zombies of the first world will feast on my brain today,No more vampires sucking all my blood away!To say nothing of the Mosquitos.No more nonsense, I'm combing it all out like the tanglesThat flee from the no more tangles conditioner, today there shall beNo more tears!No red eyes or tired minds in my refugee camp,I don't want any piece of your mind where I'm going, justPeace of mind.I'm going to the red tents in the green hills, the shades of a bouquet,That sits like a blossom pollinating my life, welcoming the overworked beeTo feast on some honey, no price, no fee.I'm a wise old man with my life blowing away,And I'm sitting in my tent, just waiting to sayTo all those lost fools how I broke freeFrom my life and battles plaguing me.Today I'm a refugee.




Entry #12:


"The Flower-Ship"

Flower-Ships are native fauna of the planet Vogrius. Xenoarchaeologists commonly considered them to represent the zenith of the ancient Vogrians' work in the field of botanotechnology. Though all intelligent life on the planet was long extinct, their creations lived on, blooming amidst the ruins of their civilizations.No human scientists professed to understand the science behind the making of the Flower-Ships, though many human pilots had successfully controlled them. They began simply as buds growing out of the forest floor. As they grew, however, the buds developed into massive green spheres, and finally, the outer cover fell away, revealing the sleek one-man craft within. Each ship held one humanoid pilot, and though their controls were alien, there appeared to be a telepathic component to flying them which made the feat not only possible but in some ways intuitive. They were said to be the greatest individual spacecraft known to humanity.

People hunted for them for many different reasons. Some were professionals, spending their lives obtaining rare goods like the Flower-Ships for the price they could get at auction. Some were hired teams, for men who wanted ships and were rich enough to get others to do the work for them. Some, like Charles Alcock, just wanted to fly.The legends concerning the Flower-Ships had fascinated the young space pilot since childhood. What's more, if he was lucky enough to actually find one, he would finally possess a ship of his very own at no more expense than his ticket to Vogrius. Interstellar law stated that any man who found a Flower-Ship and severed its stem became the owner, unless he had previously signed away his rights.
So Charles, along with a ship full of fellow prospectors, had flown to Vogrius. He was now in his third week of hunting.
He had found two already, but they hadn't suited him. Stories said once you had picked a Flower-Ship and flown in it, ship and pilot were inseparably bound together. He wanted no regrets when he had his ship.
So he pushed on through the Vogrian jungle, searching for any sign of another ship. Was that a flash of color to the left? He turned, pushed his way forward a few more steps...and stopped dead.
Before him was one of the small clearings left by an eroded bud-shield. The remaining green ribs arched inward around the edge, and in the center sat his ship.As soon as he saw this one, he knew it was his. Slim and curving, the gleaming surface seemed to be primarily orange with purple highlights, although the way the colors blended into each other made it hard to reach a definite conclusion, and its upper surfaces were covered in lighter-toned foliage patterns. A shaft of light struck the ship from above, making it almost glow in the pale sunlight, and all Charles Alcock could think as he looked at it was,She's beautiful.

He ran one finger along a smooth curve. "Hello, flower," he said, smiling. "We've got some flying to do."


Entry #13:


I'm running. Harder than I ever have, and hopefully harder than I ever will.

The human body really is amazing, isn't it? When it comes to impressing girls, it'll lock up and prevent you from moving even a few steps. But when it's a matter of life and death, suddenly you become your own little Superman. You run faster, jump higher. Sadly, though, there usually aren't any girls to impress in these moments. Like right now. I'm running, but I'm all alone. Or rather, without companions.

Because try as I might, I won't be alone, not until I leave this jungle. My hunter's still stalking me, playing this real life version of The Most Dangerous Game. He's Zaroff, I'm Rainsford. He's got the advantage, I have nothing but my own wits. And a human body.

“Oh, Mr. Lancaster? Dear Mr. Lancaster, where are you?”

At least he doesn't have his hounds.

I've never been very athletic, so really, the above comparison wasn't too accurate. I've never hunted, let alone been hunted. I have no clue about how to make traps, how to obtain food, and so on. I don't stand a chance. This won't end with me sleeping in the best bed I've ever slept in, unless one counts a crude grave as “the best bed one can ever sleep in.”

I run deeper into the jungle. It's dark, all of the Sun's light being blocked off by the canopy above. I can barely see. All I can make out are the tree trunks ahead.

My body's losing power. Even Superman goes down after a while. Getting tired. Can't run. Need...to..slow down.

I collapse. It's over, I can't go on. My captor has me.

Except he doesn't. I hear no sound. But I do notice something. A glint of light up ahead. Could it be him with a flashlight?

I wait, lowering the sound of my breathing as I do so. My chest hurts, my lungs feel punctured. But this is life or death, and I can't lose.

The light doesn't move. It's a set source. Could it be salvation? It's either try or die in this situation.

I vote try.

After five minutes, I pick myself up and walk towards the light into a lush, green meadow. The trees decided to let light shine through in this area, and for the better. The circular area is skirted by beautiful trees, their leaves turning the light into a dazzling lightning green. There's the outlying darkness, but it contrasts so well with the green that it adds to the picture.

And in the middle of it all is something beautiful: a large plant, red and laced with white flowers. It beckons to me. It calls to me. Come, rest, take a break. He'll never find you here. You deserve this.

My body's too tired to let my resolve control it. Without any hint of doubt, I walk over and plop down into the plant's cushiony, sofa-y middle.

Then it begins. The petals rise up and trap me inside. I struggle to get out, but to no avail; I'm trapped. Stuck.

Liquid starts rising, smelling terrible. Some form of digestive juice. Years of science have taught me that.

But they didn't teach me to watch out for suspiciously placed plants.

“Oh, Mr. Lancaster. I expected better of a highly regarded scientist. You almost gave me a good hunt. Almost. Alas, it's sad it ended this way. Good bye.”

I'll never sleep in the best of beds. Unless if a plant's belly is the best of beds.

Granted, it is pretty soft.

"As a writer you ask yourself to dream while awake." ~ Aimee Bender

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