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It was growing late in the evening. Malo the Manatee sat at his desk working hard on his essay for his class, Human Biology. It was far past the deadline but he still had a chance to get at least some credit, that is, if he finished by tomorrow. Though it was unlikely it would save his grade for the semester. He should have been done, but after his roommate had told him his essay seemed far too hifalutin, Malo decided to start over.


However in the marine world parties beacon often and Malo soon got side tracked.


He could not be blamed for it, the sweet nothings that promised him free teriyaki chicken was just too much temptation for him to take. It was a rare treat and those crazy Dolphins were throwing their annual human cuisine party, the theme this year was Japanese.


Malo knew his essay was due the next day but he went anyway. Dinning on all the chicken and saki he could get his hands on, (Manatees are not known as Sea Cow for nothing). It soon got late and he hobbled home quickly passing out at the dorm.


And now Malo sat at his clam covered desk working hard. Though knew he was doomed to fail his Human Bio class, but with the lingering after taste of warm saki and teriyaki chicken he knew that it was worth it.







Edited by Whisky in Babylon

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Milkweed seeds lifted their pale locks in a come-hither to the wind and drifted off from the pod at the slightest gust, or coyly stayed put until a stronger breeze carried them to their fate, each to its nature. Naomi hummed them on their way, or smiled at those still waiting an inch from her nose, a pink bit of tongue showing between little-girl teeth, eyes crossed in concentration on the plant in her hand. She lay on her belly, brown sticks in a yellow sun-dress, stretched out on an enormous ginko root that humped its way out of the leaf-layered earth like a half-buried dinosaur. A still life: "girl with humus", or "dialogue with a seedpod".


The sketch came to life beneath the manic twitching of John's fingers, abiogenesis in dark bits of pencil tips scraped across heavy paper. Here smudged, blended, gray shadows; there, lines sharp and clear, an epiphany in black. In a later painting she would be a sea-goddess at play, lying atop a wave and casting fledgling continents across oceanic cobalt.


"Do you think they mind, papa?"


The hand slowed, the pencils rested. John shook himself and the sound of seabirds faded a little in his mind. "The seeds?"


"No, silly," Naomi said. "Words."


Beyond the shadow of the ginko, sunlight stung bright green shades from the surrounding grass, grass nibbled by a brown and white bunny. John wondered how long the rabbit had been there, in plain view, and pondered also whether it was simply used to people in the park or if it was unaware that brown did not camouflage well against emerald. And then, bright chlorophyll, bold cottontails (they're crepuscular, you know?) and little girls with questions brought the real world swirling in. The ocean stilled, the goddess held her breath. He compared the mental image to the sketch and found it sufficiently preserved there. Pad and pencils went into the soft brown cloth of his Johnny Appleseed bag and then Naomi was whirling above him, tossed laughing into the air and caught, always caught, kept safe.


"What about the words?" He asked, holding her upside down. Long brown hair dangled above the leaves, sweeping the tops of his sneakers.


She giggled. "Do they mind? When you hum a song and don't say them?"


Eight-year-old logic defeated him. John closed one eye and looked at his daughter sidewise, as if this might help. "Why should they mind?"


"Because," she said, "that's when they're free. When you're singing, they can do what they like. Maybe they feel left out when you hum. Cheated."


John laughed. "Not when I'm singing. Then they are begging for mercy."


He looked to the East. The mountains were there, a wall, sturdy and brown in the afternoon sun, like a wool blanket on an old man's knees. Or like ranks of soldiers, colored all alike. Darkness gathered on their shoulders, purple and umber fortifications building higher and higher, clouds blotting out the horizon, encroaching from the lands beyond. Nothing could keep those out. Some day, the storm would come.


He righted Naomi and held her close. "No, child," he said. "Words don't mind if you hum. They love the sound of music, even if they have to dance when it calls."


John stroked his daughter's hair and she nestled her head against his neck. He looked again to the East. "Silence," he said softly, almost to himself. "In silence. That's when they are free. When everyone is gone, then the words can say themselves whenever they want."


Naomi snuggled closer. "That's nice, papa. The words will like that. I hope it's soon."








Edited by Disco-neck Ted

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Sand choked the street as I made my way slowly. The sun was in it's 3:00 PM position, making my already poor vision almost nonexistent. I stumbled across the unevenly laid cobble stone, tripping once or twice. The howl of the wind was my only companion. Groping blindly, I felt the wall of one of the many ancient homes. Hope returned as now I had a manner with which to find my way. I felt along the wall, moving carefully. After some indeterminable amount of time, I cam to the entrance of one of these basalt dwellings. I pulled myself inside. I stood there for a moment enjoying the feeling of the calm as the wind angrily whipped outside. Shaking the sand off of my tunic, I pulled off the headpiece and goggles. I dropped the head accessories in the pouch slung over my shoulder and grabbed my water satchel. I took a mighty swig. My mouth went from mirroring the climate outside to being the damp marsh it usually was. I took a small amount of water and splashed it on my face, rubbing away the dirt. I stared at the leather puch. On it's side was imprinted a smiling narwhal giving me the thumbs up. My daughter was always leaving these little prints all over my things. I dont think she realized just how much they meant to me. I slung the water holder and began looking around. It was like every other one of the archaic dwellings, large entrance room, smaller rooms to the immediate right and left and what had been come to be known as "the closet". These claustrophobic rooms were only two feet wide and barely six feet tall. My eyes scanned the room. Nothing...wait. As I looked right, my peripheral vision caught something in "the closet". I turned back to see something nestled in the right back corner. Something green. I knelt down in it's entrance excitedly. My hopes were dashed immediately when I realized that, yes, it was a plant life, but it wasnt alive. In my excitment I had completely ignored the fact that my ACD hadnt gone off. I should have realized that the plant wasnt alive. I examined it none-the-less. It was badly singed, but some green still showed through the blackened tissue. But it was dead, and dead for some time. There wasnt any viable RNA left. I ripped the dead thing out of the crack in the floor and hurled it across the room. It landed at the threshold of the entrance. I slumped down against the cracked wall and closed my eyes.






Edited by Nyarlathotep

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Warning: contains quite a bit of strong language...no idea why I was inspired to write this. :P If you don't want to read, just scroll down for the four new words.



"Would you stop fucking flaunting your oh so marvellous abilities!"


"Hey, could you be a bit less direct?"


When Joe and Tom went drinking together it always degenerated into insults and a shouting competition between the two of them, but despite, and possibly because of this they were the best buddies.


"This one...," Tom shouted, clutching himself on a barstool, "I call the metamorphosis of the cunt!" He prompty pushed his trousers down.


"Well, that sure ain't a cunt I'd fuck my dear Tom. A bit too hairy for my liking."


"Stop insulting my beautiful vagina Joe!"


"Boys! It's time for ye two to go home." Sean was the bouncer of the small pub and both of them knew him pretty well. He had kicked them out on numerous occasions.


"Come on Tom! The scenery ain't liking us here. Let's go. I need to piss..."


Next words:






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In the mirror land

Rejection is impossible

Ever been stood up

By a ricochet of light?


Faithful silvered friend

Socially impeccable

Always there to dance

Or talk away the night


See the looking glass

Growing paradoxical

Something dark is here

And not reflecting right


Little looking glass

Clearly quite uncomfortable

Physics should apply

But can't enforce its will


In the mirror land

Impossible is happening

I see my face and yet,

I'm disconnected still.


-Disco-neck Ted


(sorry, couldn't pass that one up)









P.S. Some nice stuff up above. Nyarlathotep, Gwaihir, too many to mention. Good show.

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Whoops... I would have SWORN that someone had posted their four-word story in verse, but obviously not. Apologies for the gaffe. Trying this again with mirror, rejection, ricochet and disconnected.



Danny drew a wide swath in the shaving cream on his face and knew immediately that something was wrong. Blue eyes stared back at him from the mirror, eyes without a trace of red despite a sleepless night. The wonders of Visine. Still, despite his alert appearance he felt disconnected from himself. Off balance. Wrong.


That sleepless night... amazing. She was still in the next room, living, breathing, occupying his bed. The one. They had talked over dinner while the food went to waste and the wine remained untasted. Invented new constellations in the night sky afterwards, roared back at the crashing waves on the beach, danced without music and laughed until the sun had come up to share in the joke.


And here he was, the morning after, nervous suddenly. Fearing rejection that would shatter his joy like skeet. Showering and scouring, cleansing, flensing, scraping, and even re-tinting his eyes, eliminating any mortal imperfection that might mar his chance at bliss.


"Oh, dear God," said a voice from the bathroom doorway. She was there, long honey-colored hair cascading over one shoulder, down the front of one of his shirts. It looked fantastic on her, but she was shaking her head pityingly. "You're a morning person... this is never going to work out."


Danny couldn't move. His eyes would not focus, nor breath pass from his lungs. Thoughts flashed to the past, to the women he had known, friends or lovers, that rose each day an hour or more before their husbands and boyfriends, making certain the men in their lives never, not once, saw them without their makeup on. This tension, or conflict, this fundamental dishonesty had so appalled him that he had never looked at them the same afterwards and certainly could not ever trust them. Had he crossed that line this morning, become like them? Striving against fear to be something he was not, not quite, was he losing his dream even now as a richochet of what had passed?


She smiled then and moved towards him, pressing her body against his and kissing him full on his Barbasol-covered lips. Snuggling against him, she tilted her head back and said, "Did you know you were trying to shave with your toothbrush?"











Edited by Disco-neck Ted

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"When you are in the wild, in the regions where man is not master of the environment, you have to adhere to different rules than in the city", my uncle always used to tell me. He had been one of the last full-time hunters of the wild north-west. As a spartan warrior defending his homeland against an invasion, so had he always continued on, never hanging up his spurs, hunting until his last breath. I brushed a vine off of his gravestone. Plants had overgrown the grave in the middle of the forest, but no animal had decided to disturb his remains. He had been a creature of the forest as much as them, and when he was buried in the forest that he had loved, his eternal rest was not disturbed by those he had hunted during his life.


As I walked back to my four-wheel-drive I heard a thrush sing overhead. The bustling of civilisation barely a dozen miles away hadn't disturbed the natural order here. Yet.


Next words:





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Lisa hadnt been there in quite some time. Death has a way of preventing you from enjoying the small things. The path through the sunless pine forest was the same as it had been 6 years ago, though now a bit less worn. Pushing thoughts of her life out, she cleared her head and took a deep breath. The pine scent made her dizzy with it's strength. She looked up into the perpetual dusk of this place, her sanctuary, and smiled. Plopping herself down onto a particularly comfy patch of needles, she took off her jacket and laid back. The cool breeze had died down and now the temperature was comfortable. Fixing her gaze on the still branches of the canopy above her, she could almost see an imaginary reflection of her and Peter. Laying there, napping, possibly talking about school, and maybe even getting him to talk about himself. She was crying again, but there werent any sobs. Tears fell down her smirking face. She flipped over her jacket and pulled out from the front right pocket a battered paperback. It was volume four of the DrangonLance series, Peter's favorite. She could never understand why he read such drivel, considering what a literary elitist he was. Guess everyone has their guilty pleasures. It had been on him when they dragged his bloated corpse out of the longest British river. Now she was alone, with the only possession of his left half crying in the woods she had raised him in. She slipped the book in the waist band of her jeans. Laying flat again, she pulled out a cigarette from her pants pocket. She sat there with it hanging in her mouth, her unfocused eyes staring at the black tree tops, seeing nothing. An hour went by before her cell phone rang. Pulled from her trance, she answered it. Few words were said before she hung up. She stood, lit the cigarette, pulled the book from her pants and flung it. It twirled in the air a dozen times then landed open on the ground. She left the forest without her jacket.






Edited by Nyarlathotep

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"This would be fine if I was the bride at a pagan wedding," cried Moire, naked in the downpour since she had locked herself outside wearing only a thin blanket that was now sopping wet and completely see-through. She banged on the metal casings of the nearby drainpipes shouting, "Let me in!" at the top of her lungs, praying for deliverance before her neighbours could see her.



New words:






Edited by Elvina

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"This is a mistake," shrilled professor Wagner as the headsman walked him towards the chopping block. "Neither lewd nor lascivious, I was simply studying your culture."


"Quite the pocket feudality," the executioner agreed, showing unexpected eruditeness. He rubbed his grubby upper lip and wiped fingers on a black cloth tucked into his studded leather belt. "Nearly unchanged since the Medieval days. The astute anthropologist will note the zealous adherence to strict chastity laws."


Wagner stumbled at this and nearly fell, weak with dysentary, but the iron grip on his upper arm kept him upright. More, it kept him moving forward. Straining against his bonds, the academic turned and stared at the balding giant at his side.


"Isolated incidences of cross-cultural contamination have occurred," the other continued. "For example, in the charge against you the word 'lecher' has been combined with the Spanish word for milk, leading to amusing, and in your case dire, anatomical associations that extend beyond the mere act of, hrm, observing as it were."


He clucked. "At least you kept it above the waist this time. Punishment for cultural studies of a more in-depth nature is much starker here than what you encountered amongst the Tak Islanders."


Wagner continued to peer at the other. "Costers?" He hissed. "Is that you? Dammit!" The last was a curse as the hard wood of the block banged his knee. The pain was blinding and his other leg gave way in sympathy, leaving him kneeling with his chin resting in a shallow groove running the width of the block. Several deep cuts furrowed the grain. They were black with old blood, and the professor quickly looked up and forward at the crowd. Serfs in crudespun, brightly-robed merchants, and the occasional armored knight or bejewelled noble had all gathered. Jeers arose amidst laughs and crude pantomimes. The friendliest expression he could see was boredom. A scene he had illiminated in many a paper, it was gratifying to note the myriad details he had gotten right. With a start, he recalled that they were not here out of academic interest.


"Costers," he said, speaking quickly, "Everyone thought you had died. You disappeared and none of your crew returned. We came to find you. We're here to help!"


The headsman stepped into the professor's line of sight. A black hood now obscured his face, but the sneer was obvious in his voice. "Help?" He nodded. Forearms bulged and relaxed as he worked snug leather gloves onto his fingers. "Yes, you must have shooed the little co-eds off your lap and hastened to help just as soon as you could have me legally declared dead and transfer my grants into your name."


The axe was a piece of timber with a slab of iron for a blade. Costers hoisted it like a baton and moved to one side. Wagner's eyes followed until the executioner was a blur in his peripheral vision. My God, he thought, the man has put on forty pounds here and most of that is muscle! He tried to speak, to argue, to break his bonds and fly away. But the other's realness held him still.


"You never were much of a field man," Costers said. "Not much of an explorer. But think of this as a research fellowship. Think of it as your chance to go beyond what you could learn merely from being alive. "


It remains uncertain whether Wagner's mind benefited when the axe swung, but his body was enlightened by a good ten pounds.








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It hadnt occurred to Nate 'till this very minute that everything was about to blow up in his face. The runes he had carved into the skin of his half-dead girlfriend hadnt cured her at all, they merely exasperated the problem. Her soul was now fragmenting at an exponential rate, leaving maybe 6 hours at best before she became nothing more then a fleshy husk. The bounty on his head (put there by his father...of course) was drawing in more then the usual group of Techno Mages, Neurodancers and plain ole' Mercs. Now he was contending with an Æther Sting Squad, that group of oh-so-lovely magic gestapo who used reality itself to carry out political assassinations. And finally there was that matter of his familiar gaining sentience. Having a magical cat was one thing, having one that could now bitch when you werent paying enough attention to it was a whole 'nother ball game. Hard as he tried, Nate couldnt really see how he was going to come out of this one both physically and spiritually intact. He was going to lose something along the way this time, he could feel it. And it wasnt going to be his lucky acorn...he'd make sure of that.






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"Blue, what are you doing with the guns and mask??" asked a frightened young woman who was huddled in the corner.


"Ah what a tangible feel of fear that permiates in this room!" said the boy. "I am the Outlaw Onigumo and you shall be my 2759 th victim in 1000 years."


"Svengali, Save me!!!" she shouted as the was set upon.








(*shrug* so its a D theme sorry)

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Steve looked in disgust at all of the new Dungeons&Dragons books lining the shelves. He picked one up and leafed through it. It was the Draconomicon. It was like all the rest. These new rule books required no imagination what-so-ever. They gave sample descriptions, sample dungeons and even sample encounters. It was as if Wizard's no longer thought people were imaginative enough to think of these things themselves. It saddened Steve to think that kids no longer had to put in the effort to play D&D, let alone most other D20 based games. He put the Draconomicon back on the shelf and reached for the revised World of Darkness rule book. Ok, so White Wolf wasnt doing much better then Wizard's, but at least they left some things up to the imagination.






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Day 1 of my Captivity:


My cell is 5 feet by 6 feet, and nearly twenty feet high. That is because it is directly under the tower, where they carry out their methods of torture. I can hear those poor unfortunate's screams day and night, their wailings and blabbering. I wish I could find a bit of wax to clog my ears, and I even considered ripping my shirt to plug my ears with, but I changed my mind. I will need this shirt when winter comes, should I live that long. There is a little window high in the wall that spills a tiny square of light down onto my little cell. Every now and then I can hear the wind howling outside of the cell and I feel such a longing for open spaces again.


The plasma that they call food is delivered once a day. I do not touch it, no matter how hungry I am. I would rather die of starvation than of disease from whatever they put in those bowls. The bars of the door are so close together that no bi-pedal or quadruped could hope to pass through. If only I were a lynx, then I could squeeze through. But I am not a lynx.


It is my fortune that I have been placed here due to a strange condition of mine. I have no feeling for pain. While I can indeed feel touch and sensations like the wind against my cheek and the touch of a hand, I cannot feel any discomfort. When the Finders of the tower discovered this, they promptly placed me below the tower to be undone by sound alone. And it is nearly working.


Day 3 of my Captivity:


There is a man here called Monk. It is not his real name, and I know for a certain fact that he is no religious man in any sense of the word. He comes and sits in front of my cell cross-legged every day and watches me, searching for a weakness. He has a lean, hawkish face with large dark eyes that catch every detail of my behavior. A small crescent scar carves through the flesh under his left eye, and his long dark hair is swept back from his crown to settle dispassionately across his shoulders. He is like a granite man, a person of stone. Nothing moves him. I have never seen him smile or frown, or show any concern whatsoever. He is an untraceable man. And as a servant of the Tracer, he has quickly risen to the top due to this very fact.


He watches me to see the progress of the screams on my mental condition, but he shouldn't bother. I was able to ignore them after the fifth hour on the second night.


Day 7 of my Captivity:


I saw the most terrible thing today. Monk smiled. A man came to him while he was sitting there, and we were staring at each other. The messenger whispered something in Monk's ear, and he cocked his head to the side to listen. I could not hear what was passed, as a sudden cacophony of screams covered my hearing, but I saw the messenger glance at me, so I knew that it involved my person in some way.


And then Monk smiled. The corners of his lips twitched into a crooked, sneering grin, and his eyes turned to dark pools of ice encrusted stone. I felt the cold from those eyes travel through my body to freeze my life blood and stop my heart. I pray never to see anything ever so terrifying.


He stood and left me then. I believe these are my last hours. I might not write again.


Day 8 of my Captivity:


I will die this day. The Tracer has discovered my true name. He now has complete power over me, and I will be powerless to stop him. They will take me up to the tower to the Naming Room and there they will milk me of any and all information I possess, useful or not, for their pleasure.


I have contemplated killing myself so that the secrets of my people might remain secrets, but they have placed me in an entirely suicide-proof room. Alas, even if I had the means, I have not the courage, and I despise my own disgusting fear. Even if I had the chance I would not be able to do the deed.


Monk told me that I should be honored. The Tracer himself will be at my Naming to take pleasure as Monk wrings my last thought and dream from my mind. I feel only sick and horrified with fear.


I can hear their footsteps and see their flickering shadows on the wall in the light of the torches. So I will freely tell you my true name. Remember it when my 5 foot by 6 foot cell lies empty yet again. Remember it when my mind is stripped from me and my last thoughts are laughed and pooled over by the Tracer. Remember my numb nerves and the screams I witnessed below the tower. Remember me as











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I've long dreamt of seeing my first dawn...the cooling breezes of morning hinted with the colors of the sun, glancing off of clouds like the penetrating mists of time and filling them with life in a glorious dance that heralds the new day to all. But, you see, there is no dawn on my side of the moon: the dark side. There is one side full of light, but the glaring whiteness is a scandle against the blackness of the void. One can barely look at it and retain one's sanity. I know this because once upon a time I visited this side of my little space rock. There I learned of the dawn.


I placed a single, slender foot upon a rock and gazed around me at the surrounding darkness. There was very little sight, only the senses of touch. There was no smell or sound, and certainly nothing to press me into attempting taste. At the time I did not know what these things were. I looked out of the blackness and saw the tiny specks of light framed in a cloud of chaos around me. The spirits smiled and tittered, beckoning me to join them in their dance of light.


I leapt, my feet leaving the rocky surface of my home. Reaching out my frail hands I reached for the light, only to fall back to the hard shell of the moon. Crumpling to my knees I slumped my face into my lap. Many times I had tried to join the stars, and every time I had suffered the crushing defeat that now robbed me of my peace. A tiny tear dropped from my eye and lazily traveled through the darkness to finally break into little pieces against a rock.


I looked up as a glimmer of light caught my eye, a small shine I had never before seen. On the horizon of my home there was a sliver of silver. My wide eyes observed it softly, and I stood, cocking my head at the sight.


Immidiately I was filled with hope once more. The muscles in my legs bunched and I threw myself forwards, caressing the rocks with the bare touch of my flight. The guazy coverings of my insubstantial body floated around me like wings, though I possessed no appendages of the sort. Still, it was entertaining to imagine.


Scarcely a minute had passed till the glimmer began to grow in size, now a sliver, now a crescent, until a whole field of the white glow was before me. Light assaulted my eyes as it had never before, and I raised my hands before my eyes, observing the moonlit skin, pale as the rocks beneath my feet. I touched my hair and brought it before my eyes as well: it was as dark as the contrasting shadows cast by the rugged floor beneath my feet.


I looked about me in wonder and noticed a strange lump upon the surface. It was curved in shape, a box with a rounded top. Movement about it sparked both my curiosity and fear, but the first overcame my trepidation and I bounded towards it. Something was descending down its side.....


The creature turned and immidiately began moving very quickly, its upper limbs waving in a frantic up and down motion. The lower limbs shot up from beneath it and it floated to the rocky ground, lying on its back.


I moved over to stare down at it, mouth slightly open in surprise. Beneath a curved surface of something clear stared the frightened face of a man.


I had heard of such creatures before. My father had told me many stories about man, and how they lived upon the blue world that circled our rock. He had told me of how long ago many of our kind had traveled to the blue world to observe them, disguised as the mists we even now took on (one can never know the pleasure of floating, free of body and mass until one can become a mist). Even then we inspired fear within the men, and so we had returned to our planet. It was safe to assume, my father had told me, that men were extremely fragile and would never learn the skills to travel to our home. Standing over the man then, I decided that it was safe to assume that my father had been wrong.


"How did you get here?" I asked softly, relishing in the sound of my voice. I had not entertained the sense of sound for many years and it tickled me in a way that produced fidgeting in my limbs.


The man pointed a shaky finger at the domed vessile. "What are you?" he asked. His voice could barely be heard through the large covering on his head.


"I cannot hear you," I said, reaching down and pulling him up. "Perhaps if you take off this...."


"NO!" the man cried, backing away quickly. He paused as I stared at him curiously. "Erm.....we come in peace."


"Of course you do," I said with a small chuckle. "If you didn't you'd be dead. None with evil intent gets past the guardians." I gestured widely at the glimmering stars overhead. "Beautiful, aren't they?"


The man was apparently at a loss. "Houston, we have a problem," he said.


"My name is not 'Houston'," I said, frowning. "My name is Ikkelamarianlaiphendalar." I looked past him at the vessel in which had had come. "May I have a look inside?"


"S-sure!" the man said, hurrying back to the side of the structure. "Here, let me help..."


I took his offered hand and stared at him, confused. What was I to do next?


"Climb this," he said, pointing at the set of bars attached to the side of the dome.


"Ah, I see!" I cried, and I scrambled up, entering through another dome, this one smaller.


Immidiately I felt squeezed. I had never been in air before, but my father had told me about it and that it was not something to be feared. When the man followed me in and closed the door, he pressed several buttons and the squeezing became tighter. It was all I could do not to be afraid.


The man pulled the covering off his head and sighed, pulling the rest of the thick covering from his body. I stared, rapt with curiosity. I reached out and snapped a band on his chest. "What is the purpose of this?"


"Oh," he said somewhat sheepishly. "Those are suspendors. They.....well....suspend things."


The man was not used to explaining the ways of his kind, apparently, so I let it go at that. I looked about me and picked up a picture awash with color and a bright light. "What is this?" I asked. "It's beautiful!!"


"That's a sunrise," he said. "It happens back on earth when the sun comes up. We call it dawn."


"Dawn...." I repeated, feeling the word frisk about on my tongue.


We continued to converse for several hours, until the man began to show signs of fatigue. "My, you men are frail, just as my father said!" I laughed. "I will leave you. Will you still be here later on, when you are rested?"


The man smiled. "Yeah. I'll be here."








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He ran down the hall. Terror followed him even better then his actual pursuer. It was black as pitch, his hands the only thing keeping him from running into anything. Of course this slowed him down tremendously. As he half ran, running his hands along the ancient stone wall, a sound issued forth behind him. It was impossible to describe that awful noise, save for that it was a scream of an unworldly sort. He was delirious with fear by now. Throwing caution to the wind, he let go of the wall and ran full speed. A huge mistake he realized momentarily later when he tripped over a particularly uneven cobble stone. He fell face first, his chin crack against the old stone. His knees suffered the rest of the damage, as his kilt served no protection whatsoever. After. a moment he stood, shakily. The immense pain was, for the moment, overriding his fear...but not for long. Repentance roared again, much closer now. His fall had cost him dearly, the thing would be upon him in seconds. His fear welled up in him like methane in a swamp. He turned to face his hunter with all the will he could muster, which, incidentally, was very little. The long hall lit up with ethereal blue light as the mechanical construct turned the corner. Oddly enough, the clockwork beast's head reminded him of a tuba. While the rest of it's body was lupine, it's head of twisted brass came to a large mouth with no teeth. Of course it had none, the thing never ate, it merely hunted. The creature stood not two feet away from him as it seemed to consider what to do for a moment. The man took a defensive stand with his fists; a meaningless gesture. Gears churned and ground where the rusted sheet metal covering the creature had worn away. The kilted man opened his mouth to say something but wasnt given the chance. The machine, after a moment of what appeared to be thoughtfulness, pounced. It shredded him in seconds. The beast's claws made short work of his leather armor, then flesh. He didnt land a single blow in defense. After reducing the man to a bloody quagmire, that sound came forth once again from deep inside the creature and it took off, searching for it's next prey. If it had been possible for the machine-beast to feel anything, it would have felt joy. It had not slain this many men in one day in centuries.


Ice Tea




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"Ice Tea, please," the girl sighed wearily as she slumped into a booth. She wore all dark clothing with a tiny fox engraving hanging on a chain around her neck. Exhausted, she put her head into her hands, trying to block out the world, trying to forget that she was a fugitive on the run. Trying to forget that she was hunted far and wide. Trying to forget everything.


The tea was placed in front of her with an endearing lemon brightening the ensemble. The girl stared at it from over her crossed fingers and became lost in the shard of yellow; that tiny flicker of color swamped across her thoughts, turning the terror there yellow, the blood yellow, the death yellow.


She swallowed a hefty gulp of the tea at this next thought, her hands shaking and spilling much of the tea onto the table in front of her. She slammed the cup down and slid back, again covering her eyes with a trembling hand. She jumped with a small moan: her hands were pitch black. Hastily she hid them under the table and glanced about the restaurant with terrified eyes. No one had seen. She looked at her hands again: normal skin color, pale and ghostly, gave her cause to sigh with relief.


Someone slid into the seat across from her. The girl dared not look up, knew she had been found at last; and, of all places, in a Joe's BBQ.


"It's been a long time finding you."


The girl looked up into the golden gilded eyes of the young man across from her. He was maybe a year older than herself, with ruffled black hair standing up in odd directions. Odd to think that this young man was here for her; for her death.


"It's been a long time running," she whispered back. "I'm tired of running."


"So are we all, sometimes," he said, inspecting pristine nails critically. "The lack of fellowship, the terror, the ghostly despair of the hunted. But at least you have a purpose: you provide a duty for the hunter. The thrill of the hunt, of the scent of your prey, the frantic searching and chasing," the young man's eyes glittered with wild, malicious joy. "You would have to experience it to understand."


"Yes," she said. "I suppose I would."


"Of course, you need not to feel shame. You who were such a prominent hunter for so long; it is to be expected that you would forget the ecstacy of the hunt, so strong like a drug. I suppose you broke yourself of the addiction. But of course then you understand why we do this dance of death."


The girl downed the rest of her tea and set the glass in the puddle of spilled drink on the table. She stared at it for a moment, knowing that any second the man would take her by the arm and lead her outside where he would silently and efficiently put a blade between her ribs, or perhaps a gun to her temple. It did not matter; she knew he would kill he with the respect of one to his fellow hunter. No maiming or torture before death for her. It was a death not to be feared.


But deep in her heart she knew she was not yet ready to die. No, the hunt was not yet over.


A spark filled the dull blankness of her eyes and she looked up at the golden, fevered glare of the young man before her. "I do understand," she breathed, her fingertips dangling in the small puddle of tea.


In a flash she had flung droplets of the sweet tea into his gaze, the extract of lemon stinging his tender eyes and causing him to flinch back. He swore loudly as she bolted from the booth, slamming through the doors. There was a forest just behind the bar, which was why she had chosen it. She could lose even the best hunter in the trees; this was her element. She would find a den to hold out in. Putting a yet again blackened hand to the fox emblem at her throat, the girl ducked down into the branches.


The young man burst from the restaurant, his eyes livid as he looked at the trees. The yipping of a fox far away laughed at him, and he spat on the ground with a crooked smile. Shouldering a long bag onto his arm, he set out with long strides into the trees, an inhuman, fevered light to his golden eyes. The hunt continued.







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The heat of August squeezed my flesh of all moisture, the sweat running down my face and back as I strode beneath the beating sun. Not a single breeze stirred the heavy air, no zephyr cooled my skin. Not that there was much skin to cool beneath all of the thick, dark clothing I wore. I hurried on, fearful of suspicious glances, for I did look suspicious. And scared too.


I ducked into the cooling shadows of the library, hugging my package to my scrawny chest. This...this my chance for power. Or death. Whichever the master chose would be fine with me. On one hand I thirsted for something better, another chance at life. On the other hand I had grown tired of this world and gladly welcomed the next. I only feared the passage between the two. And perhaps of what the next world really was.


Slipping into the darkness of a hidden corridor, I began to spiral downward. My feet echoed noisily on the twisting, metal stairs. I shuddered as I imagined the many nights I hand't heard the master creeping down the stairs without a sound, his footsteps muffled not by the soft boots he wore but by something else. I could never put my finger on it, but something guided his feet with a secrecy not even the most astute would dare reveal.


I pressed my hand against the wall to guide myself, as the lamps were far between now. They cast dancing blackness along the wall and I sped up, almost falling out of the end of the stairs to burst into the chamber beneath the library.


"Must you crash about like a babboon?" a voice hissed irately.


I looked up, panting, to realize in horror that the master stood before me. He was turned in walking, his head the only part of him facing me. His eyes were filled with anger and, at the same time, a concern for my sanity. His hair swept down behind him to the floor, long raven locks that, had they not been so ethereal in their looks, would have been quite cliche. In his thin, pale fingers he held a book: apparently he had been reading while walking (a task he did often) when I had entered.


"I-I have the package!" I gasped.


His eyes sparked and he reached out a hand, snapping the book shut with the other. I crept forward meekly and placed the brown paper covered box in his grasp. As our hands touched the same object a shock snapped at my fingers, making me jerk backwards.


The master sneered softly at my movement, but said nothing as he turned to place the package on a table. With deft movements he cut the strings with a knife that he pulled from his pocket. Inside was a black box, intricately carved from stone. That was odd.....it had been so light......


He opened the lid, lips parted in a slight smile that twisted into a grin. He pulled out two limp objects, vaguley shaped like humans. Little burlap dolls flopped in his grip.


"What are those?" I dared to ask, curiosity opening lips that would have otherwise been sealed. He snapped his gaze back over to me, a full glare now, and I fell silent.


"Come with me," he growled, turning away. He kept the dolls in one hand and moved to the door to his office. It was a simple room, dimly lit like all the others, but the shelves that lined both sides were stuffed with books, loose papers, chemistry tools, and other items I couldn't identify. At the back of the room was a door I had never been allowed into. The master had even forbidden me to ever touch it. He pulled a ring of keys from the pocket in his robe and pushed a skeletal, jagged looking one into the key hole. The door groaned and pulled itself inward without a single push from the master. A puff of painfully cold air breathed out of the gaping maw.


I new that if I entered the door I would not come out.


The master, sensing my hesitation and fear, reached back and fastened one of his chill hands around my wrist. The shock came again, more intense, and this time with it came the feeling that I had been touched by a rotten cadavre. Disgust filled me, and though I struggled, he pulled me into the room. My mouth was sealed without my consent.


Once inside I saw a black stone table, tall and round, but barely larger in diameter than I could reach with my arms. The master let me go. I turned to run, but the door had already closed behind me with a frighteningly human groan.


The master placed the little dummies onto the black table and drew a pen from his pocket. The feather on it was crumpled and stained with a substance that had caused the membranes to stick together. Its end was incredibly sharp, and with a swift movement he brought it across his own wrist.


Blood spattered the floor from the violent cut, but he payed it no attention. With the pen clutched firmly in his fingers he drew two crude faces upon the dolls. They grinned leerily up at him, heads lolling. He placed them down once more, the blood running freely down his arm now, and spoke words in a language that I cringed to hear.


A shuffling noise all about me and suddenly the little dolls stood erect, staring straight ahead like soldiers.


"I only need the one for my purposes," the master said slowly, turning to face me again. He raised his arm and clenched the fist. The divided flesh on his wrist wiggled and came together as if it had never parted. The blood trickled back up his arm like ant lines, sealing the wound with a red line. "And I believe I should....practice."


He turned his terrible eyes on me and once again I couldn't move. My mouth, however, stayed open. "W-what are those?" I gasped, shocked at my found voice and terrified at why he let me speak once more.


"Tools of an ancient trade," he said smoothly. Picking one up he pointed at me and spoke once more. My limbs felt rigid, as if large hands held them, ready to move them at any moment against my will.


And then I knew my fate.






Edited by Degorram

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He stared down from the catwalk on which he was perched and sighed for what seemed the thousandth time. He knew he was the only one fit for the perch, so precariously placed above the theatre. But he was lonely. Pulling a pretty pout, he tried practicing appearing beautiously pitiful to adoring fangirls to pass the time. No luck-- he was still resolutely bored.


With another sigh, somewhere in the millions this time, he was sure, he stretched out along the thin wooden beam and stared up at the dim stage lights overhead. They were the only things higher up than he, and then the stars beyond. Whimsically he raised an arm and stretched his fingers upwards to touch the bright dots of light he could not see...


The catwalk undulated violently, shaking him fiercely. With a short bark of a cry he grabbed the wood with the tips of his fingers before the heaving could drop him the hundred feet to the stage below. The shaking stopped and he paused to catch his breath, ignoring the strain on his fingers to ponder his very unique situation. Of course no one was here-- he had arrived early to be alone...or had he? No, that had been the club, with his red embroidered jacket of mysterious allure and that pretty girl who just could not resist his charms...


Another shudder brought him back from his reverie. He craned his neck to look at the ground below. Where was everyone, by the way? He opened his mouth to raise a tentative haloo but changed his mind. How dashing would it be if they found him in this precarious situation, only to save himself at the last moment with his swift reflexes and skills of strength. He smiled smugly and crossed his one free arm, nodding with satisfaction. And when this was all over, as a treat, he would go and buy that absolutely marvelous purple and black jerkin. He had an undeniable need for purple and black these days...


An hour later his fingers were getting tired, as well as his shoulder, and he had grown more lonely than ever. He was sure that the sigh-number had reached well beyond billions, and his need for purple and black was growing unbearable. Maybe he should just get himself down now and go buy that jerkin to make himself feel better. No one was around, they had left him alone in the catwalk as a joke, and were probably laughing now. With a small private growl he began to lever himself up...


"The whole group is no better than chunks in the sewage," he belched sometime later. The two identical girls sitting in front of him nodded absently, swaying back and forth. "I say, sit still," he said uneasily, holding his head. "You're making me ill. But I'll show them. They won't find anyone else to sit in their catwalk for them, and I'll just sit to the side and look unconcerned and terribly beautiful, and then all the girls will swoon for me. Say, do you like my purple and black? It does so well match my hair, don't you think?"


He blinked and squinted. The girls were gone...where had they run off to? In fact it was very hard to see, as if someone were covering up the sight on either side of his eyes. "Here now," he grumbled, standing shakily up. The floor seemed to heave under his feet and he looked down at them with what he was sure was a reprimanding glare. "Stop that," he mumbled. "Now where did those lovely ladies get off to?" With a small grunt he shifted and fell over, his eyes shuttering closed with another faint "purple and black...yes..."


The single girl who had been listening to his complaints for the last hour looked at him with faint concern. "Is he going to be alright?"


The bartender chuckled. "I'll take him home later tonight. He does this every week, poor chap. Thinks he's a tightrope walker or something. But he's harmless enough. Shall I walk you home?"


"Yes, that would be acceptable," the girl agreed with a smile. The bartender put down the glass he was cleaning and opened the door for her, following her out into the dusky streets. The unconscious man on the floor gurgled and turned over, paddling his legs as if riding a bicycle. "Yes isn't it dashing..." he mumbled. "Why thank you for saying so, I quite agree..."

Edited by Kikuyu Black Paws

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OOC: Kikuyu, that was awesome! Remember this, since you seem to forget so often. ;)

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Naru looked at her twin with an angry look, " the hell do we need for a giant, magenta shield?"


maki looked innosent as hell in her nurses outfit, "for the spiked, fucia mace coming our way," she said as she moved away from it.


"And the plunger?" naru asked as she blocked it.


"sneasing on the controler." was the reply as she threw it.









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