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Balta's FFM Compilation - OTC

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#1 Offline Baltarc

Baltarc
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Posted Jul 24 2013 - 11:05 PM

Figured I'd post a topic both for my own reference and maybe to get a bit of feedback.
 
Theme 2: Bones
 
This is pretty mediocre. I was kind of lacking in inspiration for this one. It was initially submitted without a title.
 

"High Noon"

 

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… 
 
-----
 
Theme 4: Character Story
 
I think it was raining the night I wrote this and I wanted to write about a thunderstorm? I don't really remember. I could've made this one a lot longer - I think it originally came out to almost 900 words, and that was already cutting out a lot of stuff I'd planned to include. I think it came out pretty well, though.
 


"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.
 
-----
 
Theme 6: The Mask
 
No periods in this one. Also pretty much the only reason it's fictional is because it involves an Iron Man costume.
 


"Halloween"

 

Halloween, fifteen years old

Sitting on my bed, staring at the plastic mask in my hand, picked it up from the dollar a few hours ago

Trying to decide, you know, whether I’m too old for this

Trick-or-treating and all

I mean, I’m fifteen years old

Too much, right

Well maybe, not like there’s any set rules for this or anything

Flip the mask over, rub my thumb on one of the creases

It’s Iron Man

BecauseThe truth is

I am Iron Man

Haha that line is so great

Tony Stark is best Avenger

Haha

Look over at the rest of my stuff

Dark red shirt and pants, got ‘em cheap

Bottle of gold paint, for if I decide to do this, actually

And some light blue, too

Obviously

Look at the mask again

I mean most people I know are just staying home

Passing out candy

Some are going out, sure

But they’re all going with a bunch of people

Friends

All planned out and everything

No one invited me to do anything

SoI guess I’ll just

Stay here but

Like

It doesn’t seem right

Somehow

I’ve been doing this

Trick-or-treating, I mean

As long as I’ve been alive

So to just

Stop

Is

Weird, I guess

Knock on my door

It’s my mom

“Are you going”

“Dunno yet”

“You should decide soon”

Yeah, I know

Look back down

Iron Man’s eye sockets stare back

Empty

Soulless

Well no duh

He’s a mask

So should I go or

Hm

Think of last year and the few before that

House on the end of the street gives out full-size Snickers

And I mean

Usually there’s plenty of Crunch bars to go around

Things are amazing

You like, can’t get those anywhere anymore

Except that one drugstore I never go to

But

Still

Another knock

Little sister

“You going”

Look at Iron Man again

“Dunno”

“Please”

Back to Iron Man

Tip the mask a little

He smiles a little

Sort of, if you squint

“Yeah whatever”

Screw it, I’m going

And by God I’m gonna have fun with it 

 
-----
 
Theme 8: Glass
 
I was severely lacking in inspiration for this one. Nuile gave me the theme "Windows to the Soul," and this was the first thing that came to mind.
 

"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.
 
-----
 
Theme 10: The Forest
 
I put a lot of effort into this one, it being the last theme and all. Apparently it paid off, since it won its category and tied for first overall in OTC.
 

"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.
 
-----
 
THE END. Feedback is appreciated.


Edited by Baltarc, Dec 06 2013 - 06:56 PM.

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