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Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s leading publishers and we are always looking for fresh new voices. Write a story, chapter, or essay about whatever you like. The 50 best entries will be announced by Prose and read by our editorial staff for consideration.
Written by desmondwrite in portal Simon & Schuster

The Opening Pages of "Iron Abbie"

A bird landed on the sill and cheeped. It was a pretty thing, mostly brown with a few blue and yellow feathers like scales on a fish. Abigail sat very still and peered over, not wanting to startle it, and noticed that the poor bird had a padlock stuck on its head—the metal hook, like a curled finger, wrapped around its neck. The padlock was small and silver and it gave the bird a noble look, but it was obvious the bird was suffering. Perhaps it had come to her for help?

"Don't move," said Abigail, and she ran about the house, finally returning with a coterie of keys. The bird stood patiently while she applied the metals, but none fit. Not the one to mother's jewelry-box, not the one that looked like a skeletal finger, not the golden one for the shelf beneath the peering glass, not the one to father's desk. Finally, Abigail went down into the foyer and with some hesitation pulled the key to the front door from her father's spare coat. It was shaped like an F and it fit into the padlock. Liberated, the bird flew out the window, soaring over bowler hats and stone heads to the park across the road. From a branch it looked back, then was gone.

Any euphoria Abigail might have felt quickly dwindled as she realized she was alone again. She scooped up the keys and returned them to their places. Her excitement returned when she thought about telling mother, but then what if father found out? She could imagine him now: plopped on the dining chair, black rings under his eyes, his traveling cloak unfurled over the furniture and his necktie hanging like a beaten snake. And that voice, hissing: “What if the bird had flown off with the key, tossing our spare to strangers?” Then he’d look to mother: “She gets this from you, you know.”

Abigail kicked the closet door hiding Dolly, and went back to her sill—

—to find the bird had returned. Then it was gone, zipping to a lamp post, before it came back and cheeped. Abigial was well acquainted with fairy tales and this seemed a particularly obvious invitation. But should she follow? The parents would be home in a few hours and Dolly might tell. Besides, Abigail would have preferred deserts and duels, dust devils and dragons, although one cannot be picky about childhood adventures.

Down below, a golem – painted yellow to indicate a schoolteacher – led a retinue of children along the fence. Each child was licking a lump of candy-fire crackling in their hands, getting sugary ash around their mouths. They must have visited the carnival. Abigail sighed. She was forbidden to go into the yard. By extension, she was forbidden the street and the park across it. Unless she did something, this was going to be another day spent in her bedroom.

“Well,” said Abigail, clenching a fist around the padlock. “It was the key to the front door.”

* * *

It’s not that Abigail Rollins did not like watching golems. They were an interesting lot to spy on from the security of a high window. Regular people walked hunched over with cloaks and coats thrown over them. Hiding identities, purposes. They looked like passing shadows. But amidst their turbulent wake were golems, animated boulders carved into the likeness of men, expressionless but alive. They came in all shapes and sizes, some painted, some intricately carved. While man confined himself to dark materials, his creations abounded.

She had her own golem, a doll with real hair. It was also her sitter. While her parents worked, Dolly kept house. But she wasn’t good with children. Whenever Abigail wanted to play cowboys and warlocks, Dolly would hide in the closet. Dolly didn’t like Abigail that much.

Neither did father. He didn’t care for a daughter who wanted to be a cowboy. For now, she needed tutorship and manners and fashionable clothes like those worn by ladies in the Arcade. Father’s intentions were never hidden. Politics crept even into bedtime stories, where brave princesses raised their families' statuses by marrying corpulent princes. Abigail would catch his eye when she was old enough to be used in the Court. She would be involved.

But for now, Abigail enjoyed some independence in the house. Too old for nurseries, too young for university or betrothal, she would sit and ponder passerby, or if she was really bored, the trees in the park across the road. Or she’d read the pennybacks mother would give her. They were westerns with titles like Lightfroth Mountain Trail and A Fistful of Soulgems. Stories about princesses turned into swans bored her—she preferred daring escapes from lynch mobs and prairie children kidnapped by shapeshifting natives. Father considered these novels so beneath him to the point of not considering them, but maybe he should have, for they were influencing her ambitions. Already she'd decided she'd someday be Iron Abbie, exploring the Unmade Plains with a six-shooter named Rusty and a horse named Steve.

Until then, she watched, sitting up whenever she saw someone in leathers or grime-brown wools, or wearing a zandy hat with a pinched front, to wonder if they were visitors from the West. Once she saw a golem in a white duster, carrying four pistols with pearl grips. He rode a horse ponderously, looking back and forth at the houses. Mostly the streets were a swish of dark coats, silk dresses, parasols, and golems with plates as colorful as stained glass. The West only peered into the city. Like her, it did not belong.

But today, she would explore.

Abigail made her fists into guns. “Show yourself!” she called from the stairs. “I know you’re down there, Dangerous Doll McGrew.”

“Abigail, I’m busy,” a voice replied, followed by quick steps and the shutting of a door.

Abigail listened to the silence, then went down into the foyer.

* * *

From her window, there was order to the street currents, but down here the wrapped gentry and carriages whisked and rattled and tromped, delivering a panache of smells – garbage, factory smoke, fungus, mint, and salt. A moment’s hesitation, a lost footing, and she’d be shipped to the docks or clattered against cobblestones.

The bird flew across the road. Abigail wondered – no, reckoned, that was a better word for a cowboy – if it was leading her to the park.

“Out of my way!” she shouted, barreling into the crowd. She slipped ahead of pewter cherubs carrying chalices lined with red stones, and in front of chatting and laughing women, their eyes sliding over her quickly. A driver shouted at her when he had to pull his stone spider to an abrupt halt, the cart almost shattering against spinnerets, and distracted, Abigail smacked into a golem.

“Sorry, Jack!” she said, getting up. The golem glanced up and down the street, then picked her up gently and put her down by the park.

“Thank you, Jack,” she said, but it was gone.

The park fence was comprised of iron-blue bars choked by twisting yellow vines. Trees tall as smokestacks and just as dirty loomed overhead. Not seeing a gate, Abigail slipped through the fence and tread down a footpath. She'd been here many times with mother and wasn't afraid of being lost, but she did not want to lose sight of the bird, even if she had some doubts about whether it was truly summoning her. Perhaps all of this adventure was the fault of her imagination – that faculty her father called a ruinous power.

The trees ended and she entered a field of dead grass. The bird hopped onto a bough nearby and looked about, as if unsure of where to go. Ahead, on a small hill, was a sleeping giant – a plainstone golem sitting against a blue boulder.

"Is this where you meant to bring me?" asked Abigail. The bird looked at her. She was sure that if birds could shrug, this one's wings would pop off. "Well, I'm investigating anyway."

Iron Abbie approached the golem, finger pistols drawn. The golem had its head down as if it were sleeping, a bright yellow star painted on its chest. Nearby, a sack’s stomach had exploded, spilling a collection of empty liquor bottles.

A light flickered in the golem’s eye for a moment, before going out.

“Hands to the sky!” Abbie shouted when she was near enough. The golem sat up, sputtering.

“Huh? What?”

“What were you doing?” said Abbie, sticking Rusty right into its painted chest.

“Taking a nap,” said the golem. Its two eyes, lit like candles, pointed directly toward her. The golem slowly put its hands up in mock surrender.

“But golems can’t sleep.”

“Well, I didn’t know that.”

Abbie put Rusty down. “Seriously, what’s your deal, Jack?”

“The name’s not Jack.”

“But every golem’s name is Jack. There's cityjacks, housejacks, warjacks... Or are you a doll?"

“The name’s Loon,” it said.

“That’s a stupid name,” Abigail thought aloud.

“I agree,” said the golem. “It’s loony.”

“Oh, you’re like a person!" said Abigail. She was liking the personality of this one far more than her timid housekeeper or the faceless guards that protected father. It was clever, and funny, like how she imagined an older brother would be. "Can I keep you?”

The golem rubbed the back of its neck, suddenly uncomfortable. “I wouldn’t make a very good pet,” he said delicately.

“Why not?” asked Abigail.

“I’m not house trained.”

Abigail laughed again. "You are well-named, Jack." Then she had had an idea. “Play oracles and outlaws with me! Or summoners and scoundrels.”

“Gunslingers and goblins?” suggested the golem.

“I dub thee Deputy Starchest,” said Abbie. “I’m a Marshall, see? Been hunting a dragon rider who’s been breathing trains from here to Lincoln, New Mexico.”

“Deputy Starchest,” said Loon. “The slowest gun in the west.” He sluggishly held up his hand, fingers pointing like a gun, and after a long, dramatic pause, said, “Pew.”

“Whoa, partner,” said Abbie. “Easy with that pistol."

"Good thing my bullets take an hour to leave their barrel.”

And that’s how they played while the sun rolled gently down the sky. Just as it was blurring into pinks and oranges, a woman stood on top of the boulder – a woman with fizzy brown hair like a bottle opened too quickly, and brown skin, and black eyes, and black rings under those eyes. She had – Abigail noticed excitedly – a blue bandanna and a trim frock coat.

The golem stopped, his hands dropping to his sides. “What is it?”

“What do you think?” said the woman. “I need booze. Something aged in a barrel. My head feels like it’s been punched through by artillery.”

“You ever think a little less alcohol might help with that?”

She gave him a look. “You know why I need it.” She nodded at Abigail and leaped off the rock, disappearing from view.

“Who was that?” asked Abigail excitedly. “Was that a warlock?”

“You should go home,” said the golem. He stared in the direction where his companion had gone, then turned back to Abigail. “You should not come back.”

“Will you be here tomorrow?” asked Abigail.

“Y-yes,” the golem admitted.

“Then I’ll be back.”

“At least do one thing for me.” The golem’s tone was serious, and Abigail quieted down. “Cael and I are not exactly on good terms with the people in this city. Keep us a secret, and you and I can play... for now. But tell anybody, even your parents, and we won’t be around anymore.” The golem’s glowing eyes peered into hers, and she nodded, affecting as mature a face as she could muster.

“I swear by the lonesome gods,” she said. “Your secret is safe.” Abigail didn't feel that was enough, that it sounded too much like the characters they'd been playing, so she added: "I promise."

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Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s leading publishers and we are always looking for fresh new voices. Write a story, chapter, or essay about whatever you like. The 50 best entries will be announced by Prose and read by our editorial staff for consideration.
Written by desmondwrite in portal Simon & Schuster
The Opening Pages of "Iron Abbie"
A bird landed on the sill and cheeped. It was a pretty thing, mostly brown with a few blue and yellow feathers like scales on a fish. Abigail sat very still and peered over, not wanting to startle it, and noticed that the poor bird had a padlock stuck on its head—the metal hook, like a curled finger, wrapped around its neck. The padlock was small and silver and it gave the bird a noble look, but it was obvious the bird was suffering. Perhaps it had come to her for help?

"Don't move," said Abigail, and she ran about the house, finally returning with a coterie of keys. The bird stood patiently while she applied the metals, but none fit. Not the one to mother's jewelry-box, not the one that looked like a skeletal finger, not the golden one for the shelf beneath the peering glass, not the one to father's desk. Finally, Abigail went down into the foyer and with some hesitation pulled the key to the front door from her father's spare coat. It was shaped like an F and it fit into the padlock. Liberated, the bird flew out the window, soaring over bowler hats and stone heads to the park across the road. From a branch it looked back, then was gone.

Any euphoria Abigail might have felt quickly dwindled as she realized she was alone again. She scooped up the keys and returned them to their places. Her excitement returned when she thought about telling mother, but then what if father found out? She could imagine him now: plopped on the dining chair, black rings under his eyes, his traveling cloak unfurled over the furniture and his necktie hanging like a beaten snake. And that voice, hissing: “What if the bird had flown off with the key, tossing our spare to strangers?” Then he’d look to mother: “She gets this from you, you know.”

Abigail kicked the closet door hiding Dolly, and went back to her sill—

—to find the bird had returned. Then it was gone, zipping to a lamp post, before it came back and cheeped. Abigial was well acquainted with fairy tales and this seemed a particularly obvious invitation. But should she follow? The parents would be home in a few hours and Dolly might tell. Besides, Abigail would have preferred deserts and duels, dust devils and dragons, although one cannot be picky about childhood adventures.

Down below, a golem – painted yellow to indicate a schoolteacher – led a retinue of children along the fence. Each child was licking a lump of candy-fire crackling in their hands, getting sugary ash around their mouths. They must have visited the carnival. Abigail sighed. She was forbidden to go into the yard. By extension, she was forbidden the street and the park across it. Unless she did something, this was going to be another day spent in her bedroom.

“Well,” said Abigail, clenching a fist around the padlock. “It was the key to the front door.”

* * *

It’s not that Abigail Rollins did not like watching golems. They were an interesting lot to spy on from the security of a high window. Regular people walked hunched over with cloaks and coats thrown over them. Hiding identities, purposes. They looked like passing shadows. But amidst their turbulent wake were golems, animated boulders carved into the likeness of men, expressionless but alive. They came in all shapes and sizes, some painted, some intricately carved. While man confined himself to dark materials, his creations abounded.

She had her own golem, a doll with real hair. It was also her sitter. While her parents worked, Dolly kept house. But she wasn’t good with children. Whenever Abigail wanted to play cowboys and warlocks, Dolly would hide in the closet. Dolly didn’t like Abigail that much.

Neither did father. He didn’t care for a daughter who wanted to be a cowboy. For now, she needed tutorship and manners and fashionable clothes like those worn by ladies in the Arcade. Father’s intentions were never hidden. Politics crept even into bedtime stories, where brave princesses raised their families' statuses by marrying corpulent princes. Abigail would catch his eye when she was old enough to be used in the Court. She would be involved.

But for now, Abigail enjoyed some independence in the house. Too old for nurseries, too young for university or betrothal, she would sit and ponder passerby, or if she was really bored, the trees in the park across the road. Or she’d read the pennybacks mother would give her. They were westerns with titles like Lightfroth Mountain Trail and A Fistful of Soulgems. Stories about princesses turned into swans bored her—she preferred daring escapes from lynch mobs and prairie children kidnapped by shapeshifting natives. Father considered these novels so beneath him to the point of not considering them, but maybe he should have, for they were influencing her ambitions. Already she'd decided she'd someday be Iron Abbie, exploring the Unmade Plains with a six-shooter named Rusty and a horse named Steve.

Until then, she watched, sitting up whenever she saw someone in leathers or grime-brown wools, or wearing a zandy hat with a pinched front, to wonder if they were visitors from the West. Once she saw a golem in a white duster, carrying four pistols with pearl grips. He rode a horse ponderously, looking back and forth at the houses. Mostly the streets were a swish of dark coats, silk dresses, parasols, and golems with plates as colorful as stained glass. The West only peered into the city. Like her, it did not belong.

But today, she would explore.

Abigail made her fists into guns. “Show yourself!” she called from the stairs. “I know you’re down there, Dangerous Doll McGrew.”

“Abigail, I’m busy,” a voice replied, followed by quick steps and the shutting of a door.

Abigail listened to the silence, then went down into the foyer.

* * *

From her window, there was order to the street currents, but down here the wrapped gentry and carriages whisked and rattled and tromped, delivering a panache of smells – garbage, factory smoke, fungus, mint, and salt. A moment’s hesitation, a lost footing, and she’d be shipped to the docks or clattered against cobblestones.

The bird flew across the road. Abigail wondered – no, reckoned, that was a better word for a cowboy – if it was leading her to the park.

“Out of my way!” she shouted, barreling into the crowd. She slipped ahead of pewter cherubs carrying chalices lined with red stones, and in front of chatting and laughing women, their eyes sliding over her quickly. A driver shouted at her when he had to pull his stone spider to an abrupt halt, the cart almost shattering against spinnerets, and distracted, Abigail smacked into a golem.

“Sorry, Jack!” she said, getting up. The golem glanced up and down the street, then picked her up gently and put her down by the park.

“Thank you, Jack,” she said, but it was gone.

The park fence was comprised of iron-blue bars choked by twisting yellow vines. Trees tall as smokestacks and just as dirty loomed overhead. Not seeing a gate, Abigail slipped through the fence and tread down a footpath. She'd been here many times with mother and wasn't afraid of being lost, but she did not want to lose sight of the bird, even if she had some doubts about whether it was truly summoning her. Perhaps all of this adventure was the fault of her imagination – that faculty her father called a ruinous power.

The trees ended and she entered a field of dead grass. The bird hopped onto a bough nearby and looked about, as if unsure of where to go. Ahead, on a small hill, was a sleeping giant – a plainstone golem sitting against a blue boulder.

"Is this where you meant to bring me?" asked Abigail. The bird looked at her. She was sure that if birds could shrug, this one's wings would pop off. "Well, I'm investigating anyway."

Iron Abbie approached the golem, finger pistols drawn. The golem had its head down as if it were sleeping, a bright yellow star painted on its chest. Nearby, a sack’s stomach had exploded, spilling a collection of empty liquor bottles.

A light flickered in the golem’s eye for a moment, before going out.

“Hands to the sky!” Abbie shouted when she was near enough. The golem sat up, sputtering.

“Huh? What?”

“What were you doing?” said Abbie, sticking Rusty right into its painted chest.

“Taking a nap,” said the golem. Its two eyes, lit like candles, pointed directly toward her. The golem slowly put its hands up in mock surrender.

“But golems can’t sleep.”

“Well, I didn’t know that.”

Abbie put Rusty down. “Seriously, what’s your deal, Jack?”

“The name’s not Jack.”

“But every golem’s name is Jack. There's cityjacks, housejacks, warjacks... Or are you a doll?"

“The name’s Loon,” it said.

“That’s a stupid name,” Abigail thought aloud.

“I agree,” said the golem. “It’s loony.”

“Oh, you’re like a person!" said Abigail. She was liking the personality of this one far more than her timid housekeeper or the faceless guards that protected father. It was clever, and funny, like how she imagined an older brother would be. "Can I keep you?”

The golem rubbed the back of its neck, suddenly uncomfortable. “I wouldn’t make a very good pet,” he said delicately.

“Why not?” asked Abigail.

“I’m not house trained.”

Abigail laughed again. "You are well-named, Jack." Then she had had an idea. “Play oracles and outlaws with me! Or summoners and scoundrels.”

“Gunslingers and goblins?” suggested the golem.

“I dub thee Deputy Starchest,” said Abbie. “I’m a Marshall, see? Been hunting a dragon rider who’s been breathing trains from here to Lincoln, New Mexico.”

“Deputy Starchest,” said Loon. “The slowest gun in the west.” He sluggishly held up his hand, fingers pointing like a gun, and after a long, dramatic pause, said, “Pew.”

“Whoa, partner,” said Abbie. “Easy with that pistol."

"Good thing my bullets take an hour to leave their barrel.”

And that’s how they played while the sun rolled gently down the sky. Just as it was blurring into pinks and oranges, a woman stood on top of the boulder – a woman with fizzy brown hair like a bottle opened too quickly, and brown skin, and black eyes, and black rings under those eyes. She had – Abigail noticed excitedly – a blue bandanna and a trim frock coat.

The golem stopped, his hands dropping to his sides. “What is it?”

“What do you think?” said the woman. “I need booze. Something aged in a barrel. My head feels like it’s been punched through by artillery.”

“You ever think a little less alcohol might help with that?”

She gave him a look. “You know why I need it.” She nodded at Abigail and leaped off the rock, disappearing from view.

“Who was that?” asked Abigail excitedly. “Was that a warlock?”

“You should go home,” said the golem. He stared in the direction where his companion had gone, then turned back to Abigail. “You should not come back.”

“Will you be here tomorrow?” asked Abigail.

“Y-yes,” the golem admitted.

“Then I’ll be back.”

“At least do one thing for me.” The golem’s tone was serious, and Abigail quieted down. “Cael and I are not exactly on good terms with the people in this city. Keep us a secret, and you and I can play... for now. But tell anybody, even your parents, and we won’t be around anymore.” The golem’s glowing eyes peered into hers, and she nodded, affecting as mature a face as she could muster.

“I swear by the lonesome gods,” she said. “Your secret is safe.” Abigail didn't feel that was enough, that it sounded too much like the characters they'd been playing, so she added: "I promise."


#fantasy  #fiction  #adventure  #childrens  #western 
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Avante Garde.
Written by desmondwrite

These were my brothers

The oldest breathed water and wouldn't stay in the sea. Sprinting across the crags, he lived puddle to puddle. Why not just stay in the ocean? But I think he was broken.

The second found cadavers that walked and talked and kissed but were dead. Second would give them pieces of his soul so they could glow, but soul isn't sunlight.

Third lived in a cloud fishing for people. When he caught them he would reel them up and eat them. Little stink pieces of heart and blood dripped from the vapor. I would have liked Third, maybe. At least he knew there were worse things than being lonely.

Fourth lived by an ugly statue, a humpty dumpty god. At night he burned his hands in fireplaces, and in the morning he pieced the monument together with Third-World tools. Noon, he would write poetry on its corpse.

When the Fourth died, there were no children to complete his work. But dying isn’t disappearing.

These were my brothers. They speak to me and they make me want to do terrible things.

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Avante Garde.
Written by desmondwrite
These were my brothers
The oldest breathed water and wouldn't stay in the sea. Sprinting across the crags, he lived puddle to puddle. Why not just stay in the ocean? But I think he was broken.

The second found cadavers that walked and talked and kissed but were dead. Second would give them pieces of his soul so they could glow, but soul isn't sunlight.

Third lived in a cloud fishing for people. When he caught them he would reel them up and eat them. Little stink pieces of heart and blood dripped from the vapor. I would have liked Third, maybe. At least he knew there were worse things than being lonely.

Fourth lived by an ugly statue, a humpty dumpty god. At night he burned his hands in fireplaces, and in the morning he pieced the monument together with Third-World tools. Noon, he would write poetry on its corpse.

When the Fourth died, there were no children to complete his work. But dying isn’t disappearing.

These were my brothers. They speak to me and they make me want to do terrible things.
#avantegarde 
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We all write right? Maybe you've written a book or a poem or something. Describe one of your book characters to me. or maybe a character you've made up in your head but isn't on paper. No Poems! Don't forget to tag me @Famewriter
Written by desmondwrite

Introducing Dredge

Dredge hunted among green ribboning leaves for the purple tongues of hyssop, which he plucked and tossed in a pile of creambells and kidney-colored roses. Except for the strains of songbirds, it was quiet in the bog garden. The ghosts and wolves had faded with the night, and the creatures of day were still shaking dew-licked bodies and blinking stupidly at the sun. This was the time Dredge enjoyed most. When there was nobody around to—

"Someone's coming."

Dredge jolted, crushing a coterie of petals in his hand, releasing a musk of mint. He glared at the brown spider on his shoulder. "For muck’s sake, Nook! Don't sneak up on me."

The spider stood very still and spoke again in a voice that sounded like a grown man with a beard imitating an adolescent girl. "There's someone coming. A boy-hero."

Dredge returned to the cull of his flowers, beheading those in full bloom and re-arranging them on the forest floor in red, white, and purple, although he was cautious now, an eye on the trees. "How do you know?"

"I received word from the Tame Lion,” said Nook. “A longlegs who stays in the corner window of Madeline the Mad (she keeps him for the flies and he stays there for the view) overheard the hero bragging about a prophecy to free the kingdom from a grave evil. I think he took the word grave literally.”

"So he wants to kill a necromancer?" said Dredge, thoughtfully. "What kind of hero?”

"A boy. Some fifteen years."

"Let me guess, a farmer?"

The spider was surprised. "How did you know?"

"Family was killed."

"His uncles and aunts were murdered by crow people—agents of a dark empire."

"Has a weapon of power?"

"A fire sword so sharp it can cut a horse in half by pointing at it."

"A Birthmark of Destiny?"

"Born with the word Destiny printed on his lower back. Do you know this boy?"

"No, but I know the trappings of a hero.”

"Should we summon the Hands and Teeth?

“Hmm.” Dredge pondered this. Then, gathering his flowers, he walked through the bog garden to a clearing punctuated by pools of algae bloom and crowned by old trees. In the center of the clearing was an oak, its spray of leaves creating the impression of a great turtle shell. Dredge climbed through a split in the tree to its interior—to a room coated in shelves of broken, moldy books and jars with labels like I think this is nightshade. Dredge took a tindertwig and lit an iron brazier; the twig cracking like a firework, emitting a red-blue flame. The brazier lit, Dredge heated a kettle then poured the steaming water into a shallow bowl, into which he sprinkled fresh-picked flower sheaf. Finally, task complete, Dredge sipped his tea, said “Hmm” once more, and peered through the break to the marsh. “Do you think if I stayed in here, he’d find me?”

“Probably not,” said the spider. “So, what’s the plan?”

“Stay in here."

"That may not be wise," said the spider. "If he stumbles on your door, you'll be cornered."

"Did the scouts say when the boy's to arrive?"

"Well," said the spider, tapping a leg on Dredge's shoulder. "It takes the longlegs about half an hour to reach Nuzzle in the cellar. You remember Nuzzle? Missing a couple legs. Likes hair."

"Right, right, right," said Dredge, sipping tea.

"Nuzzle dispatched fourteen scouts to carry the message. Just to reach the town boundary stones takes two hours. And the marsh is pandemonium for spiders. There's frogs and birds and squirrels. Squirrels, those bastards. The scouts were delayed by a sleeping hill giant. And then– and then, they were discovered."

"Discovered?"

"By a blue tit. It began to take the scouts as they crawled on the forest floor. They hid in a knot of a tree, only five scouts left, the blue tit sitting on a branch above, waiting. And they would have stayed there, only Wamble, you remember Wamble? He had those stripes on his rump that looked like a violin."

Dredge sipped his tea.

"Wamble said, 'Listen, men, our boglord is out there alone and defenseless. He doesn't know that there's a fifteen-year-old boy coming to kill him. We pledged him our lives—our souls.'"

"I never asked for either," said Dredge.

"'We must warn him. Or die trying.' Then Wamble distracted the blue tit by running out first, leading it away. The other scouts were able to make it out alive. Well, except for Balkis, who fell in a puddle. But if Wamble hadn't given us his life, if those scouts had not made their brave trek—"

"Right, right, but how long did it take for the spiders to reach us?"

"About three weeks."

"Three weeks!" shouted Dredge, dropping his tea. "That means he could be here already! We need to summon the Hands and Teeth!" The old necromancer leaped to his feet, interrupting the spider's petulant: "That's what I said." Taking an iron skull from the mantle, Dredge whispered into its eye, then brought it outside as smoke began to pour from its sockets. A green glint, like the flicker of a strange candle, flicked in its cavity. Dredge held the skull ahead of him, like an oil lantern, and in a cracking voice, said, "M-my Hands," coughed, and now in a deeper voice, "My Hands. My Teeth. Rise."

The patchwork of ponds tremored, becoming a lattice of ripples. Then black skulls emerged, bilious water pouring out of grim smiles. These skeletons had the countenance of puppets, except wiggling vines that had woven through their bones commanded their movements. Some carried rot-worn shields, or old brown swords, relics from an age of unrest. The creatures stomped out of the muck and stood about the necromancer, eyes quiet, betraying no sense of fear, only the calculating automation of undeath.

Dredge heard a manly shout from past the trees: "Necromancer!"

"Muck!" said Dredge. "If anything were ever to make me believe in the gods, it'd be my awful luck."

"Do not worry, boglord," said the spider. "I have a small army ready to take him out."

"Where?"

"By that forked tree over there. They'll drop off that lower bough when he passes underneath."

Dredge glimpsed brushstrokes of his enemy: a gleam of silver-green armor, a rustle of golden hair, a tall, armored silhouette. "But the boy's not going to pass by there."

"Oh," said the spider. "We didn't plan on that."

The boy appeared now, in the armor of a knight-errant, his sword leaping with yellow flames, a blue cape whispering behind him. "Necromancer," said the hero through gritted teeth, and Dredge could imagine what the boy was seeing: some twenty ghouls – the fodder things of a hero's quest – and a fell sorcerer behind them, a man with green skin the sheen of a plant stem, eyes white without pupils, almost pearls. A man wrapped in a tight brown monk's habit (although Dredge wore pants, having found a billowing skirt a detriment among the clawing roots of the forest), with a mustache that curled down into a chin-beard.

"I've come to ... smite ... guh ... you, you m-m-monster," stuttered the boy, and Dredge suddenly realized the hero was crying. Upon closer look, Dredge noted the boy’s face was coated in grime and tears, and some of his armor was missing or badly dented, and his undergarments, once a plain cotton, were stained in various shades of blood and mud, and he was missing a few fingers. The boy raised his sword toward Dredge, slipped to one knee, and vomited something black-and-green that looked like algae. When he spoke, he sounded drunk. "You've terrorized this ... swamp ... this hellhole ... for far too long." The sword dropped impotently from his nearly fingerless hand, blackened with gangrene, but the boy didn't notice. He pushed forward, lost his balance, smacked against a tree, and fell over – but the will was strong where the flesh (the horribly swamp-flayed flesh) was weak. "Your days are ... oh no ... oh gods ..." The boy's head dipped down, and he passed out.

Dredge pointed to the boy. "Bring him here." The Hands and Teeth creaked forward, and brought the boy to a stone table. It had once been used by the Old Religion to sacrifice youths of similar age, but now it was covered in alchemical vials and bowls of mashed leaves. "Clear it off." Dredge winced as the skeletons swiped the equipment onto the floor. "Gently," said Dredge, a little too late. "Now put him down." Then the skeletons dropped the boy on the table, and retreated.

“Let me bite him!” said the spider, on Dredge’s head now, jumping up and down. “C’mon! Let me at him.”

“I think a brown recluse is the least of his problems,” said Dredge, surveying the child. “Look here. A hobbleray licked his leg. And these rash stripes are from a strangler vine. These spines are melee-grove barbs and wow, he’s got bite marks from four different types of bear. This gauntlet was melted by a gelatinous ooze, I’m sure of it. And that pauldron was bitten by a basilisk – that’s why there’s so many bubbles in the metal. And is this mice? Mice bit him. A lot.”

“Don’t eat me,” croaked the boy.

“I don’t like leftovers,” said Dredge, plucking green spores growing on the boy’s neck and examining them closely. “I can cure you, but you must make an oath to me, on your heavenly virginity or something, that you will not try to smite me when I’m done.”

The boy nodded, and Dredge set to work like a gardener on a sour spot in the yard. Then for two days, the boy lay on the altar, mewing softly like an injured kitten, while Dredge drank his tea and waited.

When it was time, a vine-ghoul took the boy in its hands. Dredge touched the boy on his forehead, leaving a small, black dot, and told him, “Come back to kill me when you’re older. All right?” The boy put out his hands and Dredge recoiled. “I’m– I’m not going to hug you.” To the Hands and Teeth, Dredge said, “Carry him to the Tame Lion. He’ll have a fever for a few days, and Madeline's syphilis for the rest of his life, but he’ll be fine.”

The battle over, Dredge went back into the garden.

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We all write right? Maybe you've written a book or a poem or something. Describe one of your book characters to me. or maybe a character you've made up in your head but isn't on paper. No Poems! Don't forget to tag me @Famewriter
Written by desmondwrite
Introducing Dredge
Dredge hunted among green ribboning leaves for the purple tongues of hyssop, which he plucked and tossed in a pile of creambells and kidney-colored roses. Except for the strains of songbirds, it was quiet in the bog garden. The ghosts and wolves had faded with the night, and the creatures of day were still shaking dew-licked bodies and blinking stupidly at the sun. This was the time Dredge enjoyed most. When there was nobody around to—

"Someone's coming."

Dredge jolted, crushing a coterie of petals in his hand, releasing a musk of mint. He glared at the brown spider on his shoulder. "For muck’s sake, Nook! Don't sneak up on me."

The spider stood very still and spoke again in a voice that sounded like a grown man with a beard imitating an adolescent girl. "There's someone coming. A boy-hero."

Dredge returned to the cull of his flowers, beheading those in full bloom and re-arranging them on the forest floor in red, white, and purple, although he was cautious now, an eye on the trees. "How do you know?"

"I received word from the Tame Lion,” said Nook. “A longlegs who stays in the corner window of Madeline the Mad (she keeps him for the flies and he stays there for the view) overheard the hero bragging about a prophecy to free the kingdom from a grave evil. I think he took the word grave literally.”

"So he wants to kill a necromancer?" said Dredge, thoughtfully. "What kind of hero?”

"A boy. Some fifteen years."

"Let me guess, a farmer?"

The spider was surprised. "How did you know?"

"Family was killed."

"His uncles and aunts were murdered by crow people—agents of a dark empire."

"Has a weapon of power?"

"A fire sword so sharp it can cut a horse in half by pointing at it."

"A Birthmark of Destiny?"

"Born with the word Destiny printed on his lower back. Do you know this boy?"

"No, but I know the trappings of a hero.”

"Should we summon the Hands and Teeth?

“Hmm.” Dredge pondered this. Then, gathering his flowers, he walked through the bog garden to a clearing punctuated by pools of algae bloom and crowned by old trees. In the center of the clearing was an oak, its spray of leaves creating the impression of a great turtle shell. Dredge climbed through a split in the tree to its interior—to a room coated in shelves of broken, moldy books and jars with labels like I think this is nightshade. Dredge took a tindertwig and lit an iron brazier; the twig cracking like a firework, emitting a red-blue flame. The brazier lit, Dredge heated a kettle then poured the steaming water into a shallow bowl, into which he sprinkled fresh-picked flower sheaf. Finally, task complete, Dredge sipped his tea, said “Hmm” once more, and peered through the break to the marsh. “Do you think if I stayed in here, he’d find me?”

“Probably not,” said the spider. “So, what’s the plan?”

“Stay in here."

"That may not be wise," said the spider. "If he stumbles on your door, you'll be cornered."

"Did the scouts say when the boy's to arrive?"

"Well," said the spider, tapping a leg on Dredge's shoulder. "It takes the longlegs about half an hour to reach Nuzzle in the cellar. You remember Nuzzle? Missing a couple legs. Likes hair."

"Right, right, right," said Dredge, sipping tea.

"Nuzzle dispatched fourteen scouts to carry the message. Just to reach the town boundary stones takes two hours. And the marsh is pandemonium for spiders. There's frogs and birds and squirrels. Squirrels, those bastards. The scouts were delayed by a sleeping hill giant. And then– and then, they were discovered."

"Discovered?"

"By a blue tit. It began to take the scouts as they crawled on the forest floor. They hid in a knot of a tree, only five scouts left, the blue tit sitting on a branch above, waiting. And they would have stayed there, only Wamble, you remember Wamble? He had those stripes on his rump that looked like a violin."

Dredge sipped his tea.

"Wamble said, 'Listen, men, our boglord is out there alone and defenseless. He doesn't know that there's a fifteen-year-old boy coming to kill him. We pledged him our lives—our souls.'"

"I never asked for either," said Dredge.

"'We must warn him. Or die trying.' Then Wamble distracted the blue tit by running out first, leading it away. The other scouts were able to make it out alive. Well, except for Balkis, who fell in a puddle. But if Wamble hadn't given us his life, if those scouts had not made their brave trek—"

"Right, right, but how long did it take for the spiders to reach us?"

"About three weeks."

"Three weeks!" shouted Dredge, dropping his tea. "That means he could be here already! We need to summon the Hands and Teeth!" The old necromancer leaped to his feet, interrupting the spider's petulant: "That's what I said." Taking an iron skull from the mantle, Dredge whispered into its eye, then brought it outside as smoke began to pour from its sockets. A green glint, like the flicker of a strange candle, flicked in its cavity. Dredge held the skull ahead of him, like an oil lantern, and in a cracking voice, said, "M-my Hands," coughed, and now in a deeper voice, "My Hands. My Teeth. Rise."

The patchwork of ponds tremored, becoming a lattice of ripples. Then black skulls emerged, bilious water pouring out of grim smiles. These skeletons had the countenance of puppets, except wiggling vines that had woven through their bones commanded their movements. Some carried rot-worn shields, or old brown swords, relics from an age of unrest. The creatures stomped out of the muck and stood about the necromancer, eyes quiet, betraying no sense of fear, only the calculating automation of undeath.

Dredge heard a manly shout from past the trees: "Necromancer!"

"Muck!" said Dredge. "If anything were ever to make me believe in the gods, it'd be my awful luck."

"Do not worry, boglord," said the spider. "I have a small army ready to take him out."

"Where?"

"By that forked tree over there. They'll drop off that lower bough when he passes underneath."

Dredge glimpsed brushstrokes of his enemy: a gleam of silver-green armor, a rustle of golden hair, a tall, armored silhouette. "But the boy's not going to pass by there."

"Oh," said the spider. "We didn't plan on that."

The boy appeared now, in the armor of a knight-errant, his sword leaping with yellow flames, a blue cape whispering behind him. "Necromancer," said the hero through gritted teeth, and Dredge could imagine what the boy was seeing: some twenty ghouls – the fodder things of a hero's quest – and a fell sorcerer behind them, a man with green skin the sheen of a plant stem, eyes white without pupils, almost pearls. A man wrapped in a tight brown monk's habit (although Dredge wore pants, having found a billowing skirt a detriment among the clawing roots of the forest), with a mustache that curled down into a chin-beard.

"I've come to ... smite ... guh ... you, you m-m-monster," stuttered the boy, and Dredge suddenly realized the hero was crying. Upon closer look, Dredge noted the boy’s face was coated in grime and tears, and some of his armor was missing or badly dented, and his undergarments, once a plain cotton, were stained in various shades of blood and mud, and he was missing a few fingers. The boy raised his sword toward Dredge, slipped to one knee, and vomited something black-and-green that looked like algae. When he spoke, he sounded drunk. "You've terrorized this ... swamp ... this hellhole ... for far too long." The sword dropped impotently from his nearly fingerless hand, blackened with gangrene, but the boy didn't notice. He pushed forward, lost his balance, smacked against a tree, and fell over – but the will was strong where the flesh (the horribly swamp-flayed flesh) was weak. "Your days are ... oh no ... oh gods ..." The boy's head dipped down, and he passed out.

Dredge pointed to the boy. "Bring him here." The Hands and Teeth creaked forward, and brought the boy to a stone table. It had once been used by the Old Religion to sacrifice youths of similar age, but now it was covered in alchemical vials and bowls of mashed leaves. "Clear it off." Dredge winced as the skeletons swiped the equipment onto the floor. "Gently," said Dredge, a little too late. "Now put him down." Then the skeletons dropped the boy on the table, and retreated.

“Let me bite him!” said the spider, on Dredge’s head now, jumping up and down. “C’mon! Let me at him.”

“I think a brown recluse is the least of his problems,” said Dredge, surveying the child. “Look here. A hobbleray licked his leg. And these rash stripes are from a strangler vine. These spines are melee-grove barbs and wow, he’s got bite marks from four different types of bear. This gauntlet was melted by a gelatinous ooze, I’m sure of it. And that pauldron was bitten by a basilisk – that’s why there’s so many bubbles in the metal. And is this mice? Mice bit him. A lot.”

“Don’t eat me,” croaked the boy.

“I don’t like leftovers,” said Dredge, plucking green spores growing on the boy’s neck and examining them closely. “I can cure you, but you must make an oath to me, on your heavenly virginity or something, that you will not try to smite me when I’m done.”

The boy nodded, and Dredge set to work like a gardener on a sour spot in the yard. Then for two days, the boy lay on the altar, mewing softly like an injured kitten, while Dredge drank his tea and waited.

When it was time, a vine-ghoul took the boy in its hands. Dredge touched the boy on his forehead, leaving a small, black dot, and told him, “Come back to kill me when you’re older. All right?” The boy put out his hands and Dredge recoiled. “I’m– I’m not going to hug you.” To the Hands and Teeth, Dredge said, “Carry him to the Tame Lion. He’ll have a fever for a few days, and Madeline's syphilis for the rest of his life, but he’ll be fine.”

The battle over, Dredge went back into the garden.
#fantasy  #undead  #necromancer 
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Abusive Relationship
Written by desmondwrite

Caución Caución Caución 

A dónde vamos? she says

as he walks to her.

But he is not a train coming to station.

There’s something weird

in his eyes

and his feet are aimed

to take him past her.

He is a train in passing.

This station – quarantined.

Yellow ribbons of Caución Caución Caución

wrap her breasts;

abandonada stamps her head.

And she realizes why.

She’s been careful,

but he knows.

For him,

she has been una damisela in distress;

but for others,

damisela in undress.

A dónde vas?

she says

before a black bottle

which reads: Tratar con cuidado,

which reads: No poner en los ojos,

and in sober black:

Sulfuric Acid

(ácido sulfúrico)

before this bottle appears in his hand.

Or maybe it was always there.

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Abusive Relationship
Written by desmondwrite
Caución Caución Caución 
A dónde vamos? she says
as he walks to her.
But he is not a train coming to station.
There’s something weird
in his eyes
and his feet are aimed
to take him past her.
He is a train in passing.
This station – quarantined.
Yellow ribbons of Caución Caución Caución
wrap her breasts;
abandonada stamps her head.
And she realizes why.
She’s been careful,
but he knows.
For him,
she has been una damisela in distress;
but for others,
damisela in undress.
A dónde vas?
she says
before a black bottle
which reads: Tratar con cuidado,
which reads: No poner en los ojos,
and in sober black:
Sulfuric Acid
(ácido sulfúrico)
before this bottle appears in his hand.
Or maybe it was always there.
#poetry  #relationship  #abuse 
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Explore your thoughts. Overthink your thoughts. Question your ability to think. Then write the next that comes to mind down.
Written by desmondwrite

Geography and Centipedes

Today, I had a rather innocent and ill-informed student inspect an atlas on the wall (one with only the boundaries of countries but no printed names), point to Vietnam, and say, "I think that's South Koran."

He meant Korea.

I asked him if he was 100% sure and he said, "Well, no, because I thought Korea was near the Middle East."

"No," I said, pointing to Africa, "It's closer to East America, although Middle-Earth is between them."

"Oh! I should have known that."

"And across the ocean is the United States," I said, pointing to Greenland. "And Canada," I said, pointing to Canada. The student screwed up his face in confusion (was something finally getting through?), and I added: "the map's upside down."

We had fun, I corrected the mistakes, and we moved on.

Later, someone made a disgusted snort at the mention of The Human Centipede (I didn't bring it up, they did). My student, perceiving a mean remark, protested. "Hey, human centipedes are cute, too! All bugs are, even if you don't like how they look."

We (that is, the class) quickly surmised that he didn't know what we were referring to, and so we stalled at a certain crossroads. We wanted to end his ignorance on the subject, to enlighten the little fellow, but we didn't want to corrupt his innocence. The human centipede is a concept contrary to decency and goodness. It embroils oppression and futility and the depravity of man's imagination into a singular, iconic combustion.

Instead, we tiptoed.

"We're not talking about a bug, exactly."

"It's a way... for people to get together."

"It's like a team building exercise."

"It's not a sexual thing," someone assured him.

"Is it hard to do?" he asked.

"Not if you have the right attitude."

"But it's exhausting."

"Is there also a human caterpillar?" he asked.

"No, no, no."

A human caterpillar made me think of a human cocoon, and I shuddered at the image of a wet sack of living, struggling flesh. For a moment I envied the know-nothings and little-minds, only to realize that really, the degrees of difference between myself and this student were relatively minor, only I'd been shielded from the world's true evils by Rated R movies and comic books, cloistered in a school that looked like a prison, secreted into a suburb with invisible but tangible walls, as ignorant of greater powers and principalities as a centipede, its face turned ever-downward in its small, contained clamor.

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Explore your thoughts. Overthink your thoughts. Question your ability to think. Then write the next that comes to mind down.
Written by desmondwrite
Geography and Centipedes
Today, I had a rather innocent and ill-informed student inspect an atlas on the wall (one with only the boundaries of countries but no printed names), point to Vietnam, and say, "I think that's South Koran."

He meant Korea.

I asked him if he was 100% sure and he said, "Well, no, because I thought Korea was near the Middle East."

"No," I said, pointing to Africa, "It's closer to East America, although Middle-Earth is between them."

"Oh! I should have known that."

"And across the ocean is the United States," I said, pointing to Greenland. "And Canada," I said, pointing to Canada. The student screwed up his face in confusion (was something finally getting through?), and I added: "the map's upside down."

We had fun, I corrected the mistakes, and we moved on.

Later, someone made a disgusted snort at the mention of The Human Centipede (I didn't bring it up, they did). My student, perceiving a mean remark, protested. "Hey, human centipedes are cute, too! All bugs are, even if you don't like how they look."

We (that is, the class) quickly surmised that he didn't know what we were referring to, and so we stalled at a certain crossroads. We wanted to end his ignorance on the subject, to enlighten the little fellow, but we didn't want to corrupt his innocence. The human centipede is a concept contrary to decency and goodness. It embroils oppression and futility and the depravity of man's imagination into a singular, iconic combustion.

Instead, we tiptoed.

"We're not talking about a bug, exactly."

"It's a way... for people to get together."

"It's like a team building exercise."

"It's not a sexual thing," someone assured him.

"Is it hard to do?" he asked.

"Not if you have the right attitude."

"But it's exhausting."

"Is there also a human caterpillar?" he asked.

"No, no, no."

A human caterpillar made me think of a human cocoon, and I shuddered at the image of a wet sack of living, struggling flesh. For a moment I envied the know-nothings and little-minds, only to realize that really, the degrees of difference between myself and this student were relatively minor, only I'd been shielded from the world's true evils by Rated R movies and comic books, cloistered in a school that looked like a prison, secreted into a suburb with invisible but tangible walls, as ignorant of greater powers and principalities as a centipede, its face turned ever-downward in its small, contained clamor.
#nonfiction  #school  #knowledge 
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What is home? Create a poem or a short story about home. Bring me there. Make me feel at home or not.
Written by desmondwrite

Chee Chuk

Chevron landed the oil camp in the center of a Sumatran village previously unspoiled by Western advances except for Disney Princess shirts and dirty motorcycles. There they placed us, protected from brown-skinned neighbors by fences and barbed wire and border guards armed with clubs and slingshots until the Bali Bombing when they upgraded to rifles.

It was always raining except the days they burned trash. Then the misted air filled with the green acids of plastic. Sometimes when it rained I would let out the cats. There was a gray sidewalk that wound around the house, kept dry by an extension of the roof and gutter. The cats, mewing softly in dialogue, would scour the perimeter for shelter-seeking beetles. We didn't have to watch them; the rain made an excellent cage.

At night, the windows went chak chak chak. Mom thought the villagers were tapping sticks against the glass. I will return to this.

My room takes some explaining. Our house was a one-story American imitation, but it had a porch that made an L across two sides, and this porch was enclosed, sealed by walls and long windows with metal bars that made a lattice instead of stripes. My room had been created by partitioning some of the porch, so it had incredible length but a squat waist, and I had a strip of glass that peered outside but also a strip of glass that looked into the living room, and I had two doors, one that led into the house and the other onto the cement path and green furry grass.

I made the discovery in the middle of the night. Lying in bed, two cats forming a ying-yang on the covers, woken by the purple-white call of lightning, I heard beyond the tah tah tah of rain the relentless sound of chak chak chak.

Now, there's a recklessness you get when you are young and have a theory and animal companions (even if they are selfish little cats). I crept to the window and peered into the wine-dark. Finding no one, I unlocked the external door and pushed until the wood-rust cracked and it swung open. My memories of this moment are faint: wetslick air, the cascading wall of water, the creep of feet and paws, meows emitted by cats (or meong meong in Bahasa), no one in sight but me, and still the sound of sticks.

I paused, the cats padding softly around me, and looked to the window. There, a brown lizard with splayed legs emitted the sound: chak chak chak. The lizard noticed us and leaped, was caught by the cats, squirmed out of its tail to distract them, and, dignity lost, escaped into the grass. Relieved, I closed the door, and as I fell into slumber, I return from the backwaters of memory to my home in Texas – a place far-flung from the fantasy of the jungle, but no stranger to mystery and the hug of humidity.

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What is home? Create a poem or a short story about home. Bring me there. Make me feel at home or not.
Written by desmondwrite
Chee Chuk
Chevron landed the oil camp in the center of a Sumatran village previously unspoiled by Western advances except for Disney Princess shirts and dirty motorcycles. There they placed us, protected from brown-skinned neighbors by fences and barbed wire and border guards armed with clubs and slingshots until the Bali Bombing when they upgraded to rifles.

It was always raining except the days they burned trash. Then the misted air filled with the green acids of plastic. Sometimes when it rained I would let out the cats. There was a gray sidewalk that wound around the house, kept dry by an extension of the roof and gutter. The cats, mewing softly in dialogue, would scour the perimeter for shelter-seeking beetles. We didn't have to watch them; the rain made an excellent cage.

At night, the windows went chak chak chak. Mom thought the villagers were tapping sticks against the glass. I will return to this.

My room takes some explaining. Our house was a one-story American imitation, but it had a porch that made an L across two sides, and this porch was enclosed, sealed by walls and long windows with metal bars that made a lattice instead of stripes. My room had been created by partitioning some of the porch, so it had incredible length but a squat waist, and I had a strip of glass that peered outside but also a strip of glass that looked into the living room, and I had two doors, one that led into the house and the other onto the cement path and green furry grass.

I made the discovery in the middle of the night. Lying in bed, two cats forming a ying-yang on the covers, woken by the purple-white call of lightning, I heard beyond the tah tah tah of rain the relentless sound of chak chak chak.

Now, there's a recklessness you get when you are young and have a theory and animal companions (even if they are selfish little cats). I crept to the window and peered into the wine-dark. Finding no one, I unlocked the external door and pushed until the wood-rust cracked and it swung open. My memories of this moment are faint: wetslick air, the cascading wall of water, the creep of feet and paws, meows emitted by cats (or meong meong in Bahasa), no one in sight but me, and still the sound of sticks.

I paused, the cats padding softly around me, and looked to the window. There, a brown lizard with splayed legs emitted the sound: chak chak chak. The lizard noticed us and leaped, was caught by the cats, squirmed out of its tail to distract them, and, dignity lost, escaped into the grass. Relieved, I closed the door, and as I fell into slumber, I return from the backwaters of memory to my home in Texas – a place far-flung from the fantasy of the jungle, but no stranger to mystery and the hug of humidity.
#nonfiction  #home  #Indonesia 
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I have been feeling so very dull and uninspired lately, I challenge you to write a prompt for me to do. Be sure to tag me! I will try to complete as many as I can.
Written by desmondwrite

Occupy Hurricane Matthew

Activists plan to protest the devastating power of a tropical cyclone which has been targeting disadvantaged communities in Haiti and Jacksonville, Florida, by occupying the storm until it wreaks havoc on the rich and poor equally.

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I have been feeling so very dull and uninspired lately, I challenge you to write a prompt for me to do. Be sure to tag me! I will try to complete as many as I can.
Written by desmondwrite
Occupy Hurricane Matthew
Activists plan to protest the devastating power of a tropical cyclone which has been targeting disadvantaged communities in Haiti and Jacksonville, Florida, by occupying the storm until it wreaks havoc on the rich and poor equally.
#satire  #environment  #occupymatthew 
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In Adrian Barnes’ “Nod,” the apocalypse occurs over a month as 99% of the earth’s populace loses the ability to sleep and slowly goes insane. In Sandra Newman’s “The Country of Ice Cream Star,” the world is full of children because everyone above the age of 21 mysteriously dies. For my challenge, invent your own strange take on the end-of-the-world story. Tell a story set in an apocalypse never or rarely seen. 200 coins to the most original work :)
Written by desmondwrite

Freedom and the Word Machine

Fearing the 60s and the riots, when everyone from academics to assholes were in the streets protesting against the CIA and their machine that could kill words, and wanting to keep their seats in the House, the Republicans in charge of the Science Subcommittee on Research and Technology focused their budget on the antithesis of a dictionary-demolishing weapon: a thing designed to promote and propagate words important to the American people, specifically the Republican party.

A test-run on the word "Recognition" (randomly selected from a Thesaurus) yielded funny results. Peering into a basketball-sized biosphere, the Subcommittee watched an army of ants retire from service and sweep across the fauna, examine every leaf, touch softly the heads of aphids, squint at flowers, knead antennae diplomatically, before they turned rust-red eyes up toward their observers, making the Subcommittee very uncomfortable.

Next the Subcommittee fired "Limited, Representative Government" into a vacuum-sealed glass of bickering Syrian hamsters, and watched the rodents form a Republic of little Ciceros and Caesars, with great orations delivered from the wheel, and mobs of bites behind the igloo. "Technology" led to spiderspun cities of silver, dung cars, silkworm sweaters and sweatpants. A lobbyist suggested "Consumer," and all recoiled as the experiment's population decreased from 19 cats to a groaning one.

I'm not sure what happened next. Possibly there was a leak in the biodome or a fingerprint. Or the machine, in materializing the abstraction, was affected, along with anyone who touched it. But "Freedom" found itself spilling over the planet like an endless, invisible acid, and the Republicans in charge of the Science Subcommittee on Research and Technology found themselves the careless architects of humanity's dissolution.

First, the effects were tolerable. Free from law, we did what we wanted. Free from daily schedule, we enjoined the chaos of self-pleasure. We stayed home, we made love, we took the kids to the park. But soon the acid touched the bonds of family, and we found ourselves wandering away from connections, apathetic to distance. People cried bitterly as they walked, until they were free from emotions as well; free, free, free from logic and madness, from vices and virtues. We ceased speaking the languages. Wild calls, babbling. We ceased needing to breathe, or eat, and our hearts made their own rhythms or crawled from our chests. Some people floated into the sky; others fell through the Earth.

The chair of the Subcommittee tried to turn off the machine, but her interest waned, and free of ration she began to lick the floor, before her tongue fell out, and then she curled up into a spider-like obscenity and screamed in strange bursts. I, free of perspective, or present-ness, of my own life's narrative in Hyderabad, never having met any of these people, watched her.

Our atoms stretched like cigars and detached. We became plasma clouds of skin tones and white gaseous eyes and an internal dispersing pink mist – and then we dispersed.

Free of death, the people persisted in their unraveling.

Free of time, the people unravel.

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In Adrian Barnes’ “Nod,” the apocalypse occurs over a month as 99% of the earth’s populace loses the ability to sleep and slowly goes insane. In Sandra Newman’s “The Country of Ice Cream Star,” the world is full of children because everyone above the age of 21 mysteriously dies. For my challenge, invent your own strange take on the end-of-the-world story. Tell a story set in an apocalypse never or rarely seen. 200 coins to the most original work :)
Written by desmondwrite
Freedom and the Word Machine
Fearing the 60s and the riots, when everyone from academics to assholes were in the streets protesting against the CIA and their machine that could kill words, and wanting to keep their seats in the House, the Republicans in charge of the Science Subcommittee on Research and Technology focused their budget on the antithesis of a dictionary-demolishing weapon: a thing designed to promote and propagate words important to the American people, specifically the Republican party.

A test-run on the word "Recognition" (randomly selected from a Thesaurus) yielded funny results. Peering into a basketball-sized biosphere, the Subcommittee watched an army of ants retire from service and sweep across the fauna, examine every leaf, touch softly the heads of aphids, squint at flowers, knead antennae diplomatically, before they turned rust-red eyes up toward their observers, making the Subcommittee very uncomfortable.

Next the Subcommittee fired "Limited, Representative Government" into a vacuum-sealed glass of bickering Syrian hamsters, and watched the rodents form a Republic of little Ciceros and Caesars, with great orations delivered from the wheel, and mobs of bites behind the igloo. "Technology" led to spiderspun cities of silver, dung cars, silkworm sweaters and sweatpants. A lobbyist suggested "Consumer," and all recoiled as the experiment's population decreased from 19 cats to a groaning one.

I'm not sure what happened next. Possibly there was a leak in the biodome or a fingerprint. Or the machine, in materializing the abstraction, was affected, along with anyone who touched it. But "Freedom" found itself spilling over the planet like an endless, invisible acid, and the Republicans in charge of the Science Subcommittee on Research and Technology found themselves the careless architects of humanity's dissolution.

First, the effects were tolerable. Free from law, we did what we wanted. Free from daily schedule, we enjoined the chaos of self-pleasure. We stayed home, we made love, we took the kids to the park. But soon the acid touched the bonds of family, and we found ourselves wandering away from connections, apathetic to distance. People cried bitterly as they walked, until they were free from emotions as well; free, free, free from logic and madness, from vices and virtues. We ceased speaking the languages. Wild calls, babbling. We ceased needing to breathe, or eat, and our hearts made their own rhythms or crawled from our chests. Some people floated into the sky; others fell through the Earth.

The chair of the Subcommittee tried to turn off the machine, but her interest waned, and free of ration she began to lick the floor, before her tongue fell out, and then she curled up into a spider-like obscenity and screamed in strange bursts. I, free of perspective, or present-ness, of my own life's narrative in Hyderabad, never having met any of these people, watched her.

Our atoms stretched like cigars and detached. We became plasma clouds of skin tones and white gaseous eyes and an internal dispersing pink mist – and then we dispersed.

Free of death, the people persisted in their unraveling.

Free of time, the people unravel.
#scifi  #horror  #apocalypse 
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Give us a little piece of your wisdom. Create your own proverb or quote. This is the quote you'll be remembered by, the quote that will go on fortune cookies and quote books, so make it a good one. 50 coins for the winner. Happy quoting!
Written by desmondwrite

Ruthless

Don't be ruthless with my heart

and I won't be ruthless

with my

farts.

- Desmond White

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Give us a little piece of your wisdom. Create your own proverb or quote. This is the quote you'll be remembered by, the quote that will go on fortune cookies and quote books, so make it a good one. 50 coins for the winner. Happy quoting!
Written by desmondwrite
Ruthless
Don't be ruthless with my heart
and I won't be ruthless
with my
farts.

- Desmond White

35
11
8
Juice
79 reads
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The first line of almost any story can be improved by making sure the second line is, "And then the murders began." Give it a try!
Written by desmondwrite

Fort Dew High School

In an unprompted letter to parents, the new principal wrote that "everything's under control." This was followed by an equally enigmatic: "Oops, too early."

And then the murders began.

36
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1
Juice
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Juice
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The first line of almost any story can be improved by making sure the second line is, "And then the murders began." Give it a try!
Written by desmondwrite
Fort Dew High School
In an unprompted letter to parents, the new principal wrote that "everything's under control." This was followed by an equally enigmatic: "Oops, too early."

And then the murders began.
#fiction  #mystery  #murder 
36
8
1
Juice
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