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Character Story Preliminary Poll - Rock


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Poll: Character Poll - Rock (8 member(s) have cast votes)

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#1 Offline Velox

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Posted Jul 02 2013 - 02:22 AM

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Vote here for your favorite Character story; entries have been randomized. Please MAKE SURE YOU READ ALL ENTRIES BEFORE VOTING.Voting begins now and will end on July 3rd at 11:59 PM EST. Entries that do well will move on to the Character Final Poll, which will be posted at the conclusion of the 10th round preliminary poll.

 

 

Choice #1:

 

"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.”

 

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

 

Choice #2:

 

"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 little, isolated five year old girl who just so happened to be “blessed” with the sort of IQ that would make anyone jealous. And like any other genius, I was sitting alone on the playground, minding my own business. Back then I had no one to comfort me, nothing to hold and gain happiness from. I was tiny, shy, and envied.

 

Not a very good combination.

 

My schoolmates also happened to be a bit ruder than your average people. For instance, they formed a clique under the leadership of the boy called Leroy, but whom I referred to as “Savage”. And in this clique, there was a rule that if you stumbled upon anyone wearing orange, you'd make them regret it.

 

As per the course, I wore orange. Not only that, but I adore orange. It's my favorite color. I wouldn't mind having orange everywhere I went. Even the labs I work in need some form of orange in them.

 

And lo and behold, the boy to walk past this poor creature was none other than Savage. Oh, I remember his defining details. The jam smeared across his face, the disgusting food stains on his shirt, his putrid smell and flabby elements, and that sneer. Oh that sneer.

 

I'd already been harassed by this monster before. Multiple times. Not only in class, where I was relatively safe, but also whenever his mother brought him over. Ironic, isn't it? Best friends gave birth to mortal enemies. Their relationship was so opposite ours, it sometimes made me laugh.

 

But he never had to beat me down because I wore orange. Or rather, he couldn't; I usually had some protector around when I did wear that color.

 

That moment, I didn't.

 

“HEY LAURA. DID THE LITTLE BABY NOT HAVE ANY FRIENDS?”

 

Typical lame insults. I let them fly.

 

“LAURA I SAID SOMETHING. YOU KNOW THE RULES ABOUT WEARING ORANGE?”

 

I could feel it coming on. He beat me down before, twice. Both times, I cried. I cried. I still feel the tracks those tears made on my face.

 

“GUESS WHAT LAURA? ORANGE IS STUPID! AND WE DON'T LIKE STUPID PEOPLE!”

 

I looked around for someone, anyone, to save me.

 

And there he was. My knight in shining armor. Dwayne.

 

Savage ran at me, full speed. But as David slew Goliath, so too did Dwayne defeat Savage.

 

The monster fell, tripped over my hero. His face hit the ground, and I heard a crack or two. The monster was slain.

 

Well, figuratively. Savage erupted into tears and started to cry. Cry. Harder than I ever cried.

 

I kept him for company, but I only named him once I found the proper name. My dad always went on about how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was an amazing wrestler. And so I knighted my rock Dwayne.

 

 

And so far, he has never failed to protect his princess.

 

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

 

Choice #3:

 

"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?"

 

"Correct."

 

"Well--I--"

 

"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.

 

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

 

Choice #4:

 

"Unusual"

 

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?
 
Hmm?
 
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.
 
Bugger.
 
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.
 
--------------------------------
 
Choice #5:
 

"My Teacher"

 

Mistress Alethea is dead. My teacher is dead.I don't know how old I was the day I first met her, though I know I was very young. I remember it was a very wet day, and that I had a particular need for another blood orange. That meant stealing it at the marketplace.I was edging away from the orange vendor's stall, clutching my prize, when I felt two hands grasp my shoulders. I tried to wrench away, but she held on and turned me to face her."Give me that orange, little girl." Her voice was firm, but not ungentle. She had a thoughtful, intelligent face. 
Not that I cared then. "I won't!" I hissed, struggling wildly. "I need it!"She frowned, obviously seeing my sincerity. "Shall we make a deal, then, child? I will buy it and give the fruit to you. I am content with the peel.""But the rind is the part I want!" I protested. "It's the best shade there is for my experiments."Her face changed. "Do you mean to tell me you conduct color-based alchemical experiments? You're a street child, and you can't be more than six.
"What is your name?"
"Blood Orange," I said warily, "because I use so many of them."I didn't trust her, but she was the first person I had ever spoken to who showed knowledge of alchemy. And I craved knowledge."What's yours?"
She smiled. "Alchemical Mistress Alethea Hartwin." 
Next day, I became her apprentice.
---
Some days after, she called me to her side. "Orange?" 
"Yes, teacher?" I loved having a qualified instructor, even if not all her time was spent teaching me. She had explained my first day that she spent time in a private workshop - off-limits to me - engaged in dangerous experiments.She smiled slightly at my promptness. "I think you ought to have a real name, child. Do you agree?""Yes!""I was thinking Kathy, perhaps. Katherine's a good name.""I like that, teacher."She laughed. "Very well...Kathy."---Over four years after that, we had multiple orders from customers, as well as Mistress Alethea's private research. The orders weren't nearly as interesting, being standard alchemy, but they were time-consuming. I decided to do one myself.Some hours later, I had succeeded. I called my teacher and showed my results to her. 
Her eyebrows rose at my work "Kathy...I believe you're a genius."---Exactly eight years after I had become Mistress Alethea's apprentice, I had a question to ask her."Good morning, Mistress Alethea." 
"Good morning, Kathy." She smiled. "What would you like to do today?" 

It was traditional on this anniversary that I could ask for whatever I wanted.I inhaled deeply. "Mistress...may I see your secret project?

 

"Please, teacher ! I'm fourteen-ish now, old enough to be a full apprentice. And you know I've helped with all the parts you've let me see. I'm intelligent enough to help, teacher."She sighed. "Katherine, do you have any idea what this 'project' is?"

"Yes, teacher. I've helped you enough to put together some pieces. It's...some sort of Stone, isn't it?" 
She looked taken aback. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Yes, it is a Stone."It has taken generations to bring it this far, and it's still incomplete. When it's finished, it will have unimaginable powers. Even now, it's extremely dangerous." She met my eyes."And extremely dangerous to be associated with." 
"If you were willing, teacher, then I am too." 
She smiled proudly. "Good girl."--- 
Some months after that day, we were both in the private workplace. It was the most fascinating work I had ever done. When I had seen the Stone for the first time, it was a jagged lump of varicolored minerals, but I could see the outlines of its potential. 
"Teacher, look!" I called to her. "I've bypassed the limitations of the quartz that you were worrying about." 
"Well done, child."
--- 
Over twelve years after I met Mistress Alethea, we were eating dinner when we heard a commotion in the street. We looked out the window and saw a group of soldiers marching toward our house. 
"Kathy," she said, "I heard a rumor in the marketplace that makes me fear the worst. This is what I want you to do. 
"Go into the workroom, take the Stone, and put it around your neck. Don't come in here again unless I tell you to, and if things look bad, go out the trapdoor exit and get away."--- 
One day after they killed my teacher, I write this in a deserted alley. The Stone is in its pouch around my neck, where I shall keep it always. 
I am Katherine Blood Orange, and my teacher Alethea Hartwin's death shall not be vain.

 


Edited by Velox, Jul 02 2013 - 02:45 AM.

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#2 Offline Excelsior

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Posted Jul 02 2013 - 12:18 PM

They're all good in this poll, but I ended up voting for #4.

 

May the best story win!

 

-Excelsior


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#3 Offline Velox

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Posted Jul 04 2013 - 02:16 AM

[color=#000080;][font="'times new roman', times, serif;"]Polling period over; topic closed. [/color][/font]


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