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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short Story Contest (66) - Predetermined Intro - Submission & Details Thread

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Apr 12, 2010.

    Short Story Contest 66
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Predetermined Intro (see below)"



    Open to all, newbies and established members alike. Please post your entries as replies to this post. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a seperate thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. Sadly, there is no prize on offer except pride. The winner may PM/VM me to request the theme of a subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Theme: "Predetermined Intro". Use the following bolded and coloured paragraph as your inspiration. You do not have to follow it verbatim, but may do so if you wish. You may change tense and/or the first/third person perspective.

    I didn’t follow a rabbit, nor an ancient map. I have no spaceship, nor portal to another dimension. I could not be more awake. Yet, I find myself on shores far-flung and very foreign. Something … everything is not right.

    Suggested Wordlimit: 500 - 3000 words.
    Deadline for entries: April 26th 2010 10.00 am (UK local)


    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. As below, any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    The theme of the next contest will be "1 Story 2 POVs" (yellowm&M) and the one after that "Hunter Turned Hunted" (jonathan hernandez13). If you would like to prepare an entry in advance for any of these contests feel free, but do not submit an entry until instructed to do so.

    There is a maximum of 20 entries to any contest. If there are more than 20 entries to any one contest I will decide which are entered into voting based on adherence to the suggested word limit and relevance to the theme, not on a first-come-first served basis.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seemingly outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece manner to decide its legitamacy for the contest.

    Submissions may not have been previously posted on this site, nor may they be posted for review until voting has closed. Only one entry per contest please.

    Please try to refrain from itallicising, bolding, colouring or indenting any text to help avoid disappointment. These stylistics do not reproduce when I copy-paste them into the voting thread. You may use visible noparse BB code to preserve style if you wish by placing [ noparse ] and [ /noparse ] (without the spaces) around the entire text.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story.

    If there are any questions, please leave me a visitor message or PM me. Please do not clog up this, or any other thread, with your questions.
    Please note that only current members are eligible to win
    .

    Thanks and good luck.
     
  2. LikestoChill
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    LikestoChill New Member

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    [A different side of reality 593 words]

    You didn’t follow a rabbit, nor an ancient map. You have no spaceship, nor portal to another dimension. You could not feel more awake. Yet, you find yourself on land far-flung and very foreign. Something … everything is not right. You see dense jungle all around you....You aern't positive at all about where you are....infact you are quite the opposite. your only viewpoint to decipher your location is green, and thats referring to the various natural greens of the jungle...

    Your heart is beating fast because you fear this is a bad place....you feel like you were kidnapped and taken here....you wander aimlessly while your body is nervously shook with fear. Everything feels surreal, yet so vivid. The fear has a strong grip over you as you fight to struggle ahead, you don't know why but you feel like you have to keep moving. Your legs are shaky and feel like jello; the innate feeling of panic is destroying your mental stability as you try to get a grip on things.

    Your can feel your heart thumping hard in your chest and you get the urge to start running. You start off at a jog then start running faster and faster as the greens of the jungle slip past you. The harder you start to run the faster you begin to get control of yourself.

    Before you know it you come upon a short cliff, nearly 50 feet high. The cliff drops to a deep river, which is lined by a thin layer of random sized rocks. You start to thinking that water means safety, but something inside makes you think it's a bad idea. You have a minor struggle between logic and emotion and finally you come to a decision.

    At this point you understand what you have to do...spontaneously you jump before the fear shackles you. You fall so fast that you don't even realize that you misjudged the jump.

    You begin to regain consciousness. All you feel now is pain....your head throbs like it was pressed by bonecrushing weight for all your miserable life. You must have hit your head on a rock when you jumped.

    As painfully-slow times goes by you begin to recover your senses......You start to look around and notice that far down the river there is a man running towards you,with what looks to be a gun....you want to run but fear thoroughly freezes you to the spot....time goes slow as you agonizingly watch the gun toting man run toward you. You now horifficly feel that this is the end of what everything has been leading to.

    Your mind leves your body at the exact moment when you realize your demise. Your spirit floats upwards as you finally leave the hellish nightmare......

    All you feel now is a warmth of ecstasy. From a birds eye view your spirit watches the Vietcong guerilla knife open your insides, with his bayonet. You feel only bliss as you watch your soulless body get mutilated by the passionatly ruthless Vietcong guerilla.

    Your spirit seems to go to sleep in the joy of bliss that you feel. When you wake up you are in the same position that you began. You are again in the middle of dense jungle, back inside your body, no longer a spirit. This time you are even more fearful and long to enjoy the bliss that you just experienced.

    This my friend is why you should never take 5 hits of acid and fall asleep while watching the history channel doing a special on the vietnam war.
     
  3. Brian
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    Brian Member

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    Island of Paradise [1,024 words]

    Island of Paradise [1,024 words]

    April 15, 1912
    I didn’t follow a rabbit, nor an ancient map. I have no spaceship, nor portal to another dimension. I could not be more awake. Yet, I find myself on shores far-flung and very foreign. Something... everything is not right.

    I wake up to find myself on the shores of this island. Where I am, I cannot say. I don’t even remember how I got here. All I know is that I am here, watching the birds fly above me, and watching the waves crash against the sea. But inside me, I know that something strange is going on. I should not be here.

    I lay down on the ground, staring up at the skies, unsure of what I am supposed to do. I’m uncertain as to how I got here, or if I’m even really here right now.

    Perhaps this is all just a very real dream. Maybe I am imagining the waves rolling up against my feet. But something tells me that it is real. I can’t remember anything from before I was here. For all I know, this is the only place in the world. All I can remember is screaming, yelling, terror. I am much better off here.

    April 16, 1912
    My eyes open and I can smell the flowers on this island. I try to sit up, and my back hurts for some reason. I still can’t seem to fathom how I got here, but however I did, I am in pain today. After struggling for quite some time, I have regained some more of my memories.

    I still don’t know who I am, or how I got here, but I do remember people running around, crying out, screaming. They were afraid. I don’t know what there was to be afraid of. I don’t know why they were running. It’s all still a blur to me, and I have trouble thinking.

    April 17, 1912
    I am still on this island which seems like paradise. It would be paradise, except for the strange thought that something weird is going on. I drank from a stream and ate some of the plants nearby. I am feeling a little better now, or at least my back is. My memory is still recovering.

    I can remember more now. I remember being over water, and looking down at the water. I remember a violent hit, as if a giant rock had smashed into me. I remember crying out myself, and I remember others in a crazy to get somewhere. I don’t remember what. But I know that I was afraid. I don’t know what I was afraid of.

    Today, I walk around the island, stretching my back, and looking out at the ocean. The birds are calling above me, and I love to sit down and listen to them chirp. There are no other people here on this island. I am alone. But this does not bother me. I feel safe here. Safe from whatever was out there, whatever made me afraid.

    April 18, 1912
    When I wake up today, my mind felt fully clear. I could think properly. My memory had improved, and I closed my eyes to relive the situation.

    I remember being in a huge place, a large building, maybe. It was floating over the water. I was asleep, and suddenly, I felt a violent shake. My eyes opened, and I began to run. I was crying out in terror. I was afraid. And now I know what I was afraid of. I was afraid of falling into the water. I was afraid of drowning.

    All I can remember was running and running, as far as I could. Some people tried to grab me, and pull me, but I tried to resist. I had to get away. I couldn’t fall into the water. I had to do something. But whoever was pulling me kept pulling me, and they threw me. They threw me into some kind of a small floating raft. I remember falling asleep. And then I remember being here.

    Where was I before? I don’t know. I can’t remember. But as long as I am here, I am safe. As long as I am here, I am not afraid. As long as I am here, nothing can hurt me.

    April 19, 1912
    Today, I wake up feeling better than I ever have. It seems like everything is going to be all right. I spend the morning eating some of the plants around the island, and walking around and exploring. There is a gentle breeze, and it feels good as it hits my face.

    In the afternoon, I decide to walk around in the water. The water is filled with little pebbles at the bottom, and hundreds of little fish. I walk around with them and watch them all day.

    April 20, 1912
    I wake up today to see something in the distance. It is a huge ship. And then I remember where I was. The great Unsinkable Ship, the Titanic. I was a passenger there. But it hit something. What was it? And the Titanic sunk. The Unsinkable Ship, the one everyone was talking about, sunk within five days of its first voyage.

    So what is this ship doing here? It moves along, heading towards me. I look at it carefully, unsure of what it is? Are they looking for the Titanic? Or is this the Titanic, and it never really sunk, and I just thought it did?

    I glance up, and the ship is next to me. A man is standing on top of it, motioning for me to come towards it. Does he want me to leave this island? Doesn’t he realize how incredible this island is? An island without fear, without worry, without terror. This is an island of safety, a place where people can be happy.

    But I know that I cannot stay now. I have a family waiting back home. They are worried. I may have spent five or six days on an island of paradise, but eventually, everyone has to return to the where the rest of the world is.
     
  4. Robyn
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    Robyn Member

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    Simulations (741 words)

    I didn't follow a rabbit, nor an ancient map. I have no spaceship, or a portal to another dimension. I could not be more awake. Yet, I find myself on shores far-flung and unfamiliar to my own eyes.

    Something - no, everything - is not right.

    ~~~

    I was at home, cleaning the place for Claire's big party.

    "When I come home, there better not be a speck of dust on anything. Especially my new dress." She had said in her high, wheezy voice.

    Oh, if only that was all I had to worry about right now.

    The island appears to be deserted. I stand up, feeling lightheaded. Looking around, I discover that no matter which way I travel, left or right, I will find myself in a dense rainforest. How had I come to this place? Thinking back, I do not recall anything strange which had led to this predicament.

    Claire had left. I swept the hardwood floors in the parlor (Claire calls the living room the 'parlor'. She says it makes herself seem more 'refined'. Sadly, I do not belive anything could do that for that woman), then I had waxed it, so that it shined like new. I had dusted, swept, mopped, washed, and done much, much more, finally coming to the end of what I call my 'party routine'. Or perhaps I should say 'called'. I don't know what to think anymore.

    You may be thinking Claire is the horrid sister of mine, or maybe my evil stepmother. But I live in no fairytale. Clair is my employer, I being her maid.

    I was working on the bathroom when it happened. On second I was scrubbing dried toothpaste off the sink, the next, I was here. And now, you know the important facts of my story. So, where am I now? Would you happen to know? Well, of course not, you are just a figment of my imagination, a voice in my head. That's what this island is doing to me. I am becoming mad.

    I decide to continue on, search for signs of life, perhaps learn where I am. I look to the left: green, leafy rainforest. I look to the right: colorful, bright rainforest. Have I already mentioned the rainforests? Oh, this is horrid, my insanity. I am alone. I have been for what seems like hours. I am talking to voices in my head. I must be insane, I must be.

    From my right I hear a loud screech, as if from a large bird, or even a pig. From my left, a mighty roar can be heard. Foward, there is nothing, only cold, salty, seawater. I sit down, contemplating my decision. Why, I could sit here my whole life, and never be be found. The thought of that makes me jittery. I must be mad.

    I sit, and think.

    Finally, I stand. I choose the left. I may be mad, but the left seemed the right way to go. I wish to discover what made such a loud noise, one which I have not heard before.

    I trek on.

    I pass vibrant flowers, tall trees, and muddy swamps. Still, I find no sign of animal, or human, life. Finally, I hear a low growl from behind me. Startled, I spin quickly on my heel, winding up face-to-face with a lion, twice the size of any average lion.

    It's jaws opened wide, and I cringe, knowing this is the last moment of my life. The teeth, inches away from my face, finally move, until I can only see darkness and smell lion-breath. Finally, the scent vanishes.

    ~~~

    "Well? Did it work?" I open my eyes. A short, balding man with glasses is standing by me, peering at a computer screen, and taking notes.

    "Wha... oh! Oh, Professor Geratche, it worked perfectly! I completely forgot who I was! I thought I was Merideth Turner, and that I was maid, and there was a desert, and a lion, and it was just... wow!" I sit up, brusing my lond black hair from my face. I then pull the wires from my forehead.

    "So it really worked?" Professor Geratche is staring at the computer screen in wonder. I nod. "Amazing, Monica, just amazing. But, just to make sure, we should run a few more tests. By tomorrow, we could have people entering simulations like these from all over the world! We could be rich! Now, Monica, if you could just lie down and let me re-attach the wires. Then we'll..." his words fade.

    I plunder into another journey once again.
     
  5. ilocar
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    ilocar Member

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    Wayword Travels Through a Wayword World [1909]

    I didn’t chase any white rabbit, didn’t follow some dusty old map. I don’t have any spaceship, no portal to another dimension. I’m wide awake, this is no dream. But here I am, somewhere five miles outside weird central. Something … everything is very wrong.

    This all started on the night of the first of August. I had been out late partying with my friends, not a care in the world, pretty normal Friday night. Anyway, I got home late, something like two in the morning. My parents were fast asleep, there is honestly no better place for them to be. I quietly crept up the steps to my bedroom, avoiding the creaky stairs that I had learned well over many nights of returning home past curfew. But honestly, none of this matters any. What you want to hear about is the night my life changed forever. I went to sleep, intending to get my healthy three hours and start this process all over again. The end. Yeah, I wish.

    The moment I woke up, I knew something was wrong. It was way too dark for six in the morning. And the air smelled terrible, like old socks mixed with rotten food and a poorly cleaned public toilet. My immediate reaction was fear, I swear I could feel the beads of sweat dripping down my body under my clothes, which by the way were just my underwear. Hey, If I had known what was about to happen to me I would have gone to sleep in a parka with a full hiking pack on my back, so sue me. Anyway, I was almost naked, sweating from nerves and fear, trying not to vomit (sometime in my life I was taught that that was unladylike or something) from the smell, and on top of all that it was cold. Yes, it was august and it was cold and I was in my underwear. Things were not going well, to say the least.
    After some time I realized that I was in something that was moving. How did I discern this, you ask? Well, the thing stopped and I hit my head on a wall that I couldn’t see. Ouch. Suddenly, a blinding light appears on the other side of… whatever I was in from the wall I was oh so femininely splayed across. I could see the flare of red bangs that covered my eyes and realized God or the universe or whatever had decided to add insult to injury. I had bed hair.

    Some people, I think they were people, came in and grabbed me.

    “Hey!” I cried out, “Let go!” that was so not a good idea. I got a punch in the stomach for that outburst.

    “Quiet, heathen sorceress,” was the reply. The way the man spoke was unusual but certainly understandable. For some reason two fundamental things about my life had changed overnight. One: I was now labeled a heathen sorceress. Two: that is a bad thing. The men struggled with me (yes, I didn’t put up much of a fight for three adult males) and quickly succeeded to bind my hands behind my back with something like a zip-tie and put a very dark bag over my head. Yay, more darkness.

    The next time I could see anything I was in some huge room adorned in strange décor that was like a Gothic Victorian mixture in a harlequin color scheme. Needless to say, I was terrified out of my mind (still in nothing but my underwear by the way) and sweating even more. I was like this undignified lump thrown into some kind of Tim Burton movie. Anyway, There was this old guy who just made the air sizzle with his authority. He stood as if to give some sort of pronouncement.

    “Child, you are accused of practicing sorcery. How do you plea?” he looked at me like he expected me to know what was going on. So I played along.

    “Not guilty,” I said. There was this huge gasp from the room. For some reason it was at this point that I noticed that all the people at my trial had blonde or silver hair. It was kind of trippy.

    “You bear the mark of sorcery, and now you even lie to this council! Schedule a beheading immediately,” I was stunned. What had just happened? I’ll tell you what happened, I was sentenced to death, talk about a buzz-kill.

    After that I was covered with the bag again and transported somewhere else. This place was colder than before and damp (the lovely smell from earlier was back too) and I was stumbling ahead of who knows how many guards. Suddenly, I was thrust forward and fell onto cold wet stone. A few seconds later there was a massive clang of metal. I was in a cell, a medieval style cell. My life was over, there’s no way this stink would come out (actually it eventually did, don’t worry) and that meant no boyfriend which meant no social life, at least eventually, and ultimately crazy cat lady status. At this point I reached the pinnacle of my unglamorousness, I curled into a ball and began to cry on the cold wet floor.

    The next morning I was roughly pulled to my feet and pulled stumbling out into the brisk air, goose flesh rising on my arms as a breeze passed by. I was led up some wooden steps and bent over. I’m not stupid, I knew where I was, what was happening. At that moment I was more scared than any person should ever have to feel. I was shaking and sweating as they held my head against the wood block. I one last frantic thought I prayed that someone would save me.

    Someone saved me. I heard the thunk of an axe hitting wood but it was far off. Then suddenly the cover on my head was off and someone was sawing at the ties on my wrists.

    “Who are---“ A finger to my lips stopped my words.

    “Alright boys, we saved another one, let’s get out of here” there was some childish snickering as lights suddenly began to flash all around. There was a huge outcry of “get them!” as the execution area melted away and something akin to an underground factory or steam punk bunker of some sort appeared in its place. I fell over (I give up on being feminine, my body just refuses to comply). A red-headed guy who looked about my age helped me up. He was kind of cute, even had that embarrassed look like he didn’t want to stare at me. Oh wait… I slapped the ever-loving crap out of him. I was still in my underwear. The other guys all burst out laughing.

    “Alright, someone get the lady something to wear.” It took them a few minutes to get me what they deemed suitable for a woman. It was a long skirt and a fluffy jacket if you were curious. Then my rescuers led me to an inner sanctum of sorts. There I met the leader.

    “Welcome!” The guy was like Santa Claus with a shot gun and ammo belts, “if you would be so kind as to state your name and world of origin we can make things much faster.” I stared at badass Santa for a few seconds.

    “World of origin?” I was so confused, I felt like I always imagined what ditsy cheerleaders must feel like when someone talks to quickly to them. The old man just laughed.

    “Third best all-time response, I think. Anyway, would you please hold out your hand?” I did as he asked. Ouch! The bastard pricked me with a needle and proceeded to quickly wipe the blood droplet on a patina of something like pH paper.

    “What did you do that for?” I asked, pouting more than I meant to.

    “It’s faster than getting you to understand how to tell us where you came from… let’s see…” He examined the patina with minute attention. “Ahh! I see, you’re from Earth. What a dreadfully boring place, I feel sorry for you…” He trailed off.

    “What do you mean boring? What’s going on here?” I was starting to get a little mad at the jolly gunslinger’s flippant attitude.

    “You are in Wayworld. Within a dimensional passage between two states of existence. We are the protectors of Wayworld terminal, it is here where you can find your way back to where you were. Unless you wish to stay and join us. The people of Wayworld don’t understand what’s going on and so they shun the different, calling us sorcerers or monsters. In reality, we are merely people on the verge of death, given a second chance.” That got my attention.

    “Dead?” I nearly screamed it, “What do you mean dead?”

    “Hmmm…. According to your state profile you were overdosed on drugs and you were going to die. Your inherent creative force must have been awakened and it brought you here. The trip to Wayworld cleansed your body of toxins and you stand here a new woman.” I stared more. I was… overdosed. I didn’t think it could be true. I had always tried to avoid overdoing the drugs at the parties I went to. If you use them in moderation there’s no harm right? Well, apparently I died but… something was giving me a second shot.

    “Where’s this portal or whatever?” I asked. The man laughed.

    “Just like in your profile, sharp and to the point. Well if you’re sure you’d rather not stay and join our ranks… come along.” War Santa took me down several winding hallways into a room with completely unadorned walls and a door sitting in its frame in the dead center of the room. If this was an acid trip, I was on the best acid ever made.
    I walked up to the door. As I grabbed the knob the boy from before rushed into the room, frantically.

    “Please don’t go,” He said, giving me those puppy dog eyes that cute boys are so good at, “stay and we can have play together again.” Suddenly I recognized him. I ran over and hugged him.

    “Billy! Your parents were so worried… they think you’re dead! You have to come back with me.” I tried to pull my childhood friend by the hand but he wouldn’t budge.

    “I am dead there. I don’t want to go back there,” Billy spoke the words with an uncharacteristic bitterness. “Stay here… with me, please?” Oh God, not the eyes again. I let go of his hand.

    “No Billy, I’m going home. I’ve got another chance not to screw my life up, I’m taking it.” I walked away from Billy and grabbed the door knob again. “One day you’ll realize you miss our world and come back. I’ll be waiting for you.” Then I opened the door and walked into it. Suddenly I was walking into my bedroom, it was five a.m. when I flopped onto my mattress with the vomit stain on one side. This was the start of my new life.

    I changed my ways after that. I don’t hang out with my old friends anymore and guess what, I’m a cheerleader. Just kidding. Every day is a struggle but it’s worth it. I’m still waiting for Billy but I know he’s coming. He can’t resist my lady-like charms.
     
  6. MarkusC01
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    MarkusC01 New Member

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    Forever Autumn (2,439)

    I didn’t follow a rabbit, nor an ancient map. I have no spaceship, nor portal to another dimension. I could not be more awake. Yet, I find myself on shores far-flung and very foreign. Something … everything is not right.

    A tall figure soon breaks the long silence. “I think it will be all over soon; I fear he’s gone for good. I’m sorry…”

    I hear him perfectly as I lie, still as ice. The words pierce me like a thousand needles. His eyes are filled with an emotion that I can’t fully recognise: deeper than fear, but heavier, like guilt. It’s getting worse. What had once seemed like a cruel, idle eternity now shifts fast and spinning; and the eyes of my observers now seem to pull further away, fading and shrinking like distant black holes in a galaxy of lost hope. I pray that they haven’t yet given up. As the figures now abandon me, I try desperately to stir myself, fighting once more to provoke lions in a cage of numbness. But my roars are muted, and limbs stifled, still unable to match the panicked and furious desperation of my mind and heart. I must speak; I must move. I have to find the will somehow.

    I fear that I don’t have long left.

    The extent of my darkness cannot be measured, but it must have been long since I passed into this pitiless domain. I can remember the day vividly. It was 8th October 1983. A moderate earthquake had just hit New York City, measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale. Not exactly Sumatra territory. I know this because it woke me abruptly at 6:19am – around ten minutes earlier than usual – knocking down and breaking a cherished Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock framed photograph from my bedroom wall. ****, not Jimi, I had thought disapprovingly, as I fumbled in vain to repair broken shards of wild flares and a burning Stratocaster; haven’t you suffered enough bad luck already? Minor seismic waves aside, my morning passed by as standard, and I can remember the harshly trivial detail of my last exchange with Emma, my fiancée. The conversation now plays out through the emptiness, floating endlessly between the subconscious and forefront of my tortured mind.

    “Well good morning honey – have you recovered from the natural disaster yet – you seemed a bit shaken earlier?”

    I laughed. Emma was sharply beautiful, and she knew better than anyone how to deal with me in the morning. She was the only girl I had ever known that could deliver a dry, caustic remark pre-8:00am, and still come over cute and flirtatious. I moved closer to hold her in her warm dressing gown – a gift from me for her twenty-third birthday, almost four years previous.

    “Well – just about. You know – I reckon some of those pancakes just might help me recover…”

    Emma smiled as I approached, before cutely pushing away the plate from the table, whispering softly into my ear.

    “Hmm…that’s a shame Jack; you see I was hoping that something else might help you get by?”

    I kissed her softly, and regretfully declined the sweet and teasing offer, citing my eager watch and New York traffic as the primary obstacles. She watched me as I left, her pure, pale skin and deep brown hair glowing with the warm radiance of any woman who is about to see their dream of being married become reality within two weeks.

    “Ok then Jack, I’ll see you later –watch the traffic”

    “I will honey. See you later.”

    “Love you Jack…”

    And then I went. To this moment I have no idea why I never reciprocated the remark. My love for Emma was never in question, and she knew this. And every other morning, for the last three years since we bought the apartment, I had reminded her that I loved her. But on October 8th 1983, I just smiled and closed the door, my mind rushing ahead thinking of work and finishing everything up in time for the wedding. As I hurried, I remember almost slipping on some fallen foliage outside my west-side apartment: lying like mourning witnesses of the golden summer we had just spent together or perhaps tiny ribbons of amber and gold, just willing me to stop and go back. I thought of rushing back to the flat to tell her, but that would have been simply irrational. No Jack, you can tell her when you get in, no point in being late for work and looking like a total idiot. Today is just another day after all. But it wasn’t; not by a long shot. It was the day of the accident. The speeding car had been a hit and run job from a nearby robbery; the doctors had said I never stood a chance. It’s a strange curiosity that I should have fixed so much on the most irrelevant details preceding the crash. The impatient businessman fidgeting restlessly on the hot dog stand, with the inappropriate orange peels protruding from thick duffel pockets; the two pigeons wrestling for food, one cruelly bullying the other as the sweet sickening smell of bagels combed at my nostrils. I had stopped at the traffic lights and checked right but not left; I had given a brief exhale before crossing the road. And then blackness. When I awoke, it had been to a haze of screams, shattered glass and broken debris. A spinning kaleidoscope of panic. As I soon drifted, in no physical pain, all faces seemed to merge into swirling spectres of colour; voices, which at one time had seemed almost clear, now rung distantly like strange and foreign sirens. I imagined that I must be dead, and felt an unusual tranquillity at the sentiment, before a crushing comprehension soon anchored my heart with an all-conquering hopelessness: My Emma…

    All time that then passed seemed immeasurable as I struggled to consciously grapple with my new foreign habitat. I found myself surrounded in a dark hospital room, being looked on by non-immediate family, colleagues and the one person that my entire will was focused on attracting. Emma had been inconsolable at first, and barely recognisable from the beautiful seraphlike vision that played out the fantasies in my ever-active mind. Her face was hard and pained, and her body drawn and thin. At first she couldn’t look at me. As the time grew she would hold my hand - though I could not feel it any more than if she had held me and kissed my mouth. I was trapped in fate’s cruel joke, screaming inside this stationary shell that I had once controlled without thought, taken as a paltry token for existence. My body was now nothing more than a coffin, though my mind and heart felt as alive as ever. I often thought that had the desperation of my will manifested itself into speech or movement I would have surely shifted the entire earth, but still the blackness remained, and I couldn’t move nor murmur. Long into the darkness Emma would sit by my side; long after the others had departed; long after I heard them discuss the cause and extent of my condition with all of the surgical detail of men convinced the knowledge would fall on deaf ears. But Emma was my salvation all along. Sometimes, she would converse with me, and it was at times like these that I almost fooled myself into believing I was functional and alive. She would talk with me about plans for the wedding and how we were going to have our own family one day; she wouldn’t even recount times that we had spent together and share a new joke or two. It is impossible to describe how much her words would make my heart soar. I remember hearing that when people lose one sense, it amplifies the others. Well I was no more than a hopeless and cursed vegetable that had lost the ability to speak or move, so I figured that when she spoke my heart must have beat harder than the sum of all the rest of the men on Earth. Each time she would arrive I tried harder than the last to move, or scream out her name. When she would tell me that she knew I was still there I became incensed with rage and frustration: unable to release any pressure. It was then that I realised I was neither dead nor alive, and screamed to the heavens to explain what I had done to deserve such eternal damnation.

    But after a while, the sands just seemed to start shifting.

    Faces that had long abandoned me have returned, and they disregard me entirely, remaining focussed on Emma. I hear them turn her away from me and she gets often angry. Her anger is sometimes at me, and other times she breaks and asks for my forgiveness. She need never query such desires.

    “Emma honey, please let him go – it is what he would want.”

    The ensuing shriek’s are wild and passionate.

    “But he’s still there Dad I know it! Please, give him more time. Sometimes I swear he can hear me – can’t we keep pushing for the treatment?? I have read many stories of similar cases – please, I owe him that!”

    “I’m sorry darling…the doctor and hospital both agree. There is just nothing left…”

    It has now been long since she has returned, but as the door now creaks I see a face that I can barely recognise. Emma looks cold and defeated, and her eyes rest meek like weeping willows. Though she does not know it, she is more like me now than since I had first passed into darkness: a stranger in her own body. I blame myself for this suffering. This is my last chance to call for her. My will fights furiously against my stubborn and pathetic cadaver, a desperate battering ram in its final siege against an impenetrable fort. I call to her as the doctor approaches the bleak wires and machines that are keeping me to her, moving slow and heavy with the grim spectre of inevitability. I need some more time to fight this, I won’t give in. I see the hand of my beloved move to hide her eyes, and see that for the first time her engagement ring has now been abandoned. It is only then that my spirit is crushed and I throw myself down hopelessly to the mercy of my fate.

    I picture Emma, and pray that I may meet her in an afterlife.

    And then nothing.

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

    A middle-aged woman sits in her bedroom, her hands trembling as she holds a brown envelope in her hand. It is dated 12th August 2010; she cannot bear to look. From the moment that this whole cruel saga had begun almost a year to the day, she has prayed desperately that it would go away as swiftly as it had come. Why had she been forced to live through this pain again? Why would anyone ever want to inflict this astonishing burden of guilt on someone? Sure, the media had a field day, and every political commentator or Senator jumped straight on the bandwagon – masquerading as knights of a noble and altruistic cause. But what of the people who had suffered and agonized over such a decision almost three decades previous, their only justification being that they couldn’t have done anything else? It had been four years without as much as a movement or sound. But however much she resented it, a force greater than her own will seemed to pull her towards discovering this truth, and the cruellest of all trials against her own humanity was now about to pass. Somehow, she has to know and she hates herself for this. But it isn’t just for her sake; no, it’s for Jack. As she now opens the letter, a strange and icy calm befalls her: an unexpected oasis in what has been a long desert of torment. As her eyes focus, its words read out heavy and deep, like some austere and distant regal announcement.

    Dear Mrs E. Hewitt,
    Following the commission of, and highly publicised enquiry into the deeply regrettable incidents involving coma suffering patients at our hospital between the years of 1980 and 1985, we are writing directly to those friends and family directly affected by any such tragedy, to explain the eventual findings of the enquiry. It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that the hospital and its previous directors have been found negligible in their conduct of measuring patients coma status at that time, and that the decision to ignore many recommended brain scan methods for identifying neurological consciousness, served a gross injustice to the patient and all affected. Whilst we can never know for certain whether the deceased Mr J. Beckford was one of the patients who could have been ‘recovered’ through the following years’ treatments, we expect this will come as no consolation to you (especially in light of your frequent objections in 1983), and we apologise deeply and whole-heartedly for evidence that has brought to light which undeniably shows the covering up of and/or destruction of evidence, and/or deliberate obstruction of justice towards potential patients who may have been wrongly or not fully diagnosed by hospital staff at that time. For claims procedures and enquiries, please contact…

    She now breaks, her eyes turning at once from the page. The room starts spinning as she reaches desperately for a small wooden box, hidden for years below a large queen-sized bed. As she vomits involuntary, the crushing reality of the letter hammers down like dull rage on her shoulders. Why didn’t I trust my instincts? I knew that he was still there, he would never leave me; I have failed him so much… She hopelessly attempts to recompose as she now grabs a fading picture from this secret treasure chest, revealing a handsome young man and woman embraced on a warm summer’s day in New York’s Central Park. The memory cuts her like a dagger. “I love you still, I always have…” She struggles to force the words out, as her weakening limbs crash desperate to the floor, all power and strength now drained as the tears wash freely from her eyes. She is now a prisoner in her own body: screaming for release as she is held by the immovable grip of pain, sorrow and heart-wrenching guilt. She begs for it to end; her chest seizes; her fingers crush through the photograph, almost breaking themselves within their now mad and frenzied pressure. She weeps silent and airless, and feels immeasurably alone, but a young man’s face soon appears in her mind, warm and forgiving, and takes her by the bruised and trembling hand.

    “Oh my God I’m so sorry …
    Please forgive me Jack …”
     
  7. Gingerbiscuit
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    Gingerbiscuit Senior Member

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    Location:
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    The Great Enigmo (2400)

    I didn’t follow a rabbit, nor an ancient map. I have no spaceship, nor portal to another dimension. I could not be more awake. Yet, I find myself on shores far-flung and very foreign. Something … everything is not right.

    “You’d better get a move on or you’re going to be late!”

    Startled, Keith jolted at the sudden intrusion on his reverie. He hadn’t seen or heard his wife enter the bedroom, quite unlikely for a woman of her size, and yet somehow there she was, twenty-six stone of malevolence glaring back at him from the mirror.

    “Dearest one, I do so hate to correct you but I actually have plenty of time left until work. In fact I believe it was YOU who set the alarm an hour early so that I could make you breakfast before I went. By my reckoning it is no more than half past seven.”

    “Don’t you ‘dearest one’ me,” continued the not so little wife. “And it’s half past eight. You’ve been mucking about up here for ages.”

    “But –“

    Keith looked at the alarm clock. It WAS half past eight.
    How strange.
    Had he somehow managed to sleep for an hour on his feet?

    …I could not be more awake…

    “But me no buts,” said the wife. Keith noted with some distaste that there was still some maple syrup from breakfast glistening on her chins. He shouldn’t have made her pancakes. That always made her ratty. “If you don’t leave now you’ll be late,” continued his not so beloved. “And I didn’t go out of my way to get you that job so that you can be late on your first day. Now bugger off.”

    Keith sighed. “As ever you are right my dear. I shall leave immediately.”
    He took a final critical look at himself in the mirror and performed some tie-straightening and suit patting motions.
    Grey tie, grey suit, white shirt and Brylcreamed hair. So this was what had become of the Great Enigmo. Once the greatest stage hypnotist ever to grace the stage at Brighton pier had now been reduced to pushing papers across a desk in a high street bank.

    …something…everything is not right…

    Keith afforded himself another bleak sigh before saying his goodbyes to the wife.

    “And don’t come back until you’ve made me some money,” she called after him. No argument there. If he had his way then he wouldn’t come back at all. He hated that woman and yet for some reason he found himself unable to leave. Almost as though there was some invisible force that kept pulling him back.

    Gravity most probably.

    Keith departed his suburban palace and drove off into the big wide world, on a brand new adventure.

    …I have no spaceship, nor portal to another dimension…

    It was but a short drive from the estate where Keith lived to the bank where he would now work but during that short drive he had much opportunity to bewail his lot in life.
    How had this happened? How was he here? At one time, when he was the top of his game, he would walk on stage to crowds of thousands, entertaining them with the hi-jinks of seven or eight unsuspecting victims. He would make a person think they were naked and everyone would laugh, he would make two men believe they had fallen in love with one another and the crowd would be rolling around in the aisles. And then…
    …and then nothing. It was over. There was no place for his kind anymore. Unless there was a bunch of celebrities eating insects in the rainforest or falling over in an ice rink, trying to skate along to Billy Jean for a panel of judges the public just didn’t want to know. The days of the stage hypnotist were over, and the Great Enigmo was one of the first to fall.

    Keith pulled up outside the bank and parked in a disabled spot right outside. This was a strange thing to do as Keith had always respected the sanctity of the disabled bay. Today, though, he didn’t really feel like respecting anything.

    Outside the bank a robust, red faced man with a vast and bushy moustache was fiddling with some keys in the door. He looked up as Keith approached the building and beamed from beneath his push broom.

    “Good morning!” said the man. It was an extremely merry and boisterous ‘good morning’ that quite caught Keith off guard. “You must be Keith.”

    “I am indeed,” said Keith.

    “Very pleased to meet you,” said the moustachioed man, “my name is Mr. Bellows. I’m the manager hereabouts.” Mr. Bellows shook Keith firmly by the hand.

    “Pleased to meet you,” said Keith.

    “Well DO come in,” said Mr. Bellows, finally managing to win his titanic struggle with the door lock. “Glad to have you on board. Now let me show you to your desk.”

    Keith took little in as he grudgingly followed his new boss through the bank and into a large open office.

    “I hear you are stage hypnotist,”

    “Well yes, as a matter of fact,” said Keith, “in fact –“

    “Bully!” cried Mr. Bellows, “well here’s your desk.”

    Keith found himself standing before a small desk, strewn with papers. There was a coffee stained computer monitor, the keyboard to which was buried under several layers of office detritus.

    “Frightful mess I’m afraid but you’ll soon get it how you want it.” Mr. Bellows helpfully handed Keith a roll of bin liners.

    Keith sat down at the desk and gave the papers a tentative prod. Something beneath them squelched.

    Desk.
    Office.
    BOSS.
    This was all completely wrong.

    …Something…everything is not right.

    He wasn’t supposed to be chained to a desk. He wasn’t supposed to be taking orders from a BOSS. He was an entertainer! The smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd – that was HIS master.

    Now Keith had never been a necessarily impulsive man and he had genuinely come to the bank with every intention of settling into a life of white collar mediocrity but right now and for no reason at all he decided to do something that he really hadn’t planned for…

    …I didn’t follow a rabbit, nor an ancient map…

    …he decided to rob the bank.

    He had no idea how he had reached this conclusion but suddenly, at that time it seemed like the OBVIOUS thing to do.

    “Right” said Mr. Bellows. “Marie will be along shortly to give you some training but in the meantime is there anything I could do for you?”

    “Actually there is,” said Keith. “Could you please get all of the money from the vault and pop it into this bin liner for me?”

    “What?” said Mr. Bellows. He was still grinning idiotically but a little more uncertainly now.

    “I’m robbing you,” explained Keith.

    A look of full on panic now clouded Mr. Bellows’ face and his moustache started to quiver like a frightened Yorkshire terrier.

    “Robbing?”

    “Indeed,” said Keith.

    “A-are you armed?”

    Keith thought for a moment.

    “Do you know, I think I am,” he said and was almost completely unsurprised that when he put his hand in his pocket his fingers closed around the handle of a gun.
    How strange.

    …something…everything is not right…

    He pulled out the gun and started waving it around.

    “Okay,” said Keith, fixing the gun on the volcanic face of the panic stricken bank manager. “I want you to take me to the vault.”

    “Y-you won’t get away with this,” stammered Mr. Bellows. “I have your personal records on file. I know your address, I… I play BRIDGE with your WIFE for goodness sake!”

    Keith shrugged. “I don’t care,” said he. And he really didn’t. “Come on, off we go.” And he marched Mr. Bellows back through the bank.

    Now that he thought about it he WAS being surprisingly calm about all this. After all it wasn’t really normal behaviour to hold up banks and point guns at people. But it just felt right. It was a GOOD idea. It was what he was SUPPOSED to be doing.

    …I could not be more awake…

    Perhaps he was having a nervous episode?

    Mr. Bellows on the other hand was an absolute wreck as they marched through the building and he was sweating so profusely that it was showing through his jacket. Every now and then he would wring his hands and mumble something like, “Oh dear,” or “please don’t let me die mummy.”

    It was quite sad really.

    They arrived at the vault and Keith prodded the gun into Mr. Bellows’ back while he typed in the key code. The vault hissed open.

    “Here you go,” Keith handed him a bin liner. “Just fill that up for me, there's a good chap.” Mr. Bellows nodded. There was a tear in his eye now and he had begun to whimper. Keith wanted to tell him he was sorry about this whole mess but didn't really feel like there was any need. The more he thought about it, the more normal this all seemed. In fact he didn’t understand why MORE people weren’t robbing banks.

    ...Something...everything is not right…

    Keith shook his head. Where on Earth was that coming from? He was going to have to stop falling asleep watching the Culture Show.
    “Here you go,” Mr. Bellows handed Keith the bin liner full of money. “Will there be anything else?”

    “No,” said Keith and then thought for a second. “Unless you have any cake?”

    What a strange thing to ask.
    Or was it?
    No. It was a perfectly reasonable request in these circumstances. Anybody else would have done the same.

    “Um, it was Trish's birthday yesterday. There might be some cake left in the fridge.”

    “That will be fine, thank you.”

    Keith followed Mr. Bellows back through the office to a small kitchenette. By now people had begun to arrive and the office was filling out nicely.

    “Good morning!” said Keith to one young lady as he passed her.

    “Good morning! You must be Keith,” replied the young lady, and then: “Is that a gun?”

    “Why yes it is. I'm actually robbing the place. Funny thing is I have no idea why. First days Eh?”

    “Oh My God!” cried the woman dropping her handbag in alarm.
    “He's got a gun!” cried another.
    “He's got a gun?!?”
    “He's got all the money!”
    “He's got my cake!”
    “Good morning!” said a latecomer.

    “Look everyone just calm down,” said Keith. “Look at me. You don't see me freaking out and screaming do you? I promise you nobody's going to get hurt.”

    “YOU will if you don't put my cake back!”

    “Well it was lovely meeting you all,” said Keith, “but I'm afraid I must be off now. Shame I won't get to join the lottery syndicate. Not entirely sure why I’ve just robbed you all but I think I might be rather ill. Anyway, toodle pip!” And with that Keith shouldered his cash-stuffed bin liner and made his way back downstairs.

    “Mr. Bellows do something!” cried one of the girls. “Push the panic button!”

    “There isn't one!” wailed Mr. Bellows.

    “What?”

    “I never thought we'd get robbed. This is ENGLAND for God's sake! People don’t rob banks”

    And that was the last thing Keith heard as he made his way from the building. He opened the boot of his car, put the money and the cake inside and then drove calmly away.

    “Hmmm,” he said to himself, “now what was THAT all about?”

    Less than ninety minutes after he'd left for his first day of proper work in over thirty years, Keith returned home, several thousand pounds and a big slice of cake richer. Perhaps desk work was OK after all.

    “Honey, I'm home!” he declared jovially as he strode through the back door. From upstairs he could hear the unmistakable sounds of his titanic spouse negotiating her generous carriage through the house. He was going to have a hard time explaining this away.

    “About bloody time!” the wife’s voice boomed down the stairs.

    “My dear,” replied Keith, “unless I have been grossly misinformed it is customary for a day's work to last above an hour and a half. Nevertheless I have still had a monumentally lucrative day, as you shall no doubt discover when you finally arrive in the kitchen, some time tomorrow.”
    A shadow descended on the kitchen. “Oh I see you've made it down already! You must have been doing the Davina McCall tape I gave you for Christmas.”

    “Shut your bloody trap,” said his wife, showering him with bagel crumbs. “You got my money?”

    “Yes?” said Keith a little uncertainly.

    “And my cake?”

    “I do, yes. Although I must confess I am a little confused as to how you know about either money OR cake.”

    “Ha ha!” the wife clapped her porky hands together, eliciting a deafening boom and causing no little draft. “It worked!”

    “I'm pleased,” said Keith. “But could you perhaps explain? It's been an awfully confusing day.”

    “You want me to explain?” asked the wife.

    “Indeed I do.”

    “Very well. Sit down.” She gestured for Keith to sit. He obliged. She sat down opposite him, causing a creak of complaint from the poor dining chair.
    And then she spoke it a soft and gentle voice that Keith had quite forgotten existed.

    “I didn’t follow a rabbit, nor an ancient map...”

    “What?”

    “...I have no spaceship or portal to another dimension...”

    “Now then,” said Keith. This was all starting to feel awfully familiar.

    “...I could not be more awake...”

    “Now just wait a minute,” said Keith.

    “...and yet I find myself on distant shores far-flung and very foreign...”

    Now the sun came up and it dawned on Keith exactly what had happened that day. He was suddenly very afraid. He covered his ears to drown out his wife but her voice still cut through.

    “...something...everything is not right.”

    Keith's head slumped to his chest, lifeless. Alive but unaware. Sleeping, but not dreaming. His wife grinned and helped herself to the cake.

    “You are under my power,” she said through a mouthful of icing.

    “I am under your power,” murmured Keith. In the distance police sirens could just be heard.

    “Now,” said the wife, “when I click my fingers you will wake up, you will take out your gun, put it in your mouth…”
     
  8. Sezensteal
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    Sezensteal Senior Member

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    Insanity [760]

    I didn’t follow a rabbit, nor an ancient map. I have no spaceship, nor portal to another dimension. I could not be more awake. Yet, I find myself on shores far-flung and very foreign. Something … everything is not right.
    ***​
    My eyelids flutter open and a soft, almost inaudible moan escapes my lips as the pain I could not feel before hurls itself at me. I sit up, ignoring the ache in my muscles as they groan in protest. Good, the damage is little: bruises galore and a slight cut across my right arm but I am otherwise unharmed. My mind however, is blank.

    I look around at my surroundings. I am on a thin strip of sand, too narrow to be called a beach yet, on and on it stretches, in all directions, seemingly endless. In front of me is vast body of water, gentle waves moving towards me and behind me, is a jungle: large trees and wild plants which names I do not know. Perhaps I can find food there and shelter. Maybe, when I'm rested and feeling better, I'll be able to remember what happened, how I can to be here. One thing is clear though; I have to move.

    My pace is swift but I am careful to be observant of my surroundings even though I do not know where I am going. Water. Food. Shelter. These are my main priorities. Far above me, in the safety of the trees, birds sing. Their sound is mellifluous and encouraging; if wildlife thrives here then so can I. I hear it then, a quiet bubbling sound that can be described as none other than a source of water. Then I see it, a small spring and behind it, the entrance to a cave. With a cry of joy, I rush forward...and trip. Thick vines wrap around me, holding me in place as I struggle to break free. This is when I remember. When I remember everything.
    ***​
    They think I am mad, my friends, my family, everyone I once trusted. So they took me here, to this place where people scream in the late hours of the night, plagued by nightmares until the cold nurses come, with long needles, and plunge the haunted souls into oblivion with powerful drugs. I am not like the others though; I still have my sanity. That is why I scream. Not because I have visions of untold horror but because I should not be here. Mad house. Mental institution. Asylum. There are many names for this place. I call it hell.

    In my waking hours, when my body is not so full of drugs and I able to focus, I ignore those who gather round my bedside.
    “We want to help you Maria – can't you see that?” They cry in despair.
    If you want to help me, I think to myself, then you would not keep me here. The words never leave my lips though. Instead, I stare straight ahead, with eyes that to them must appear blank, emotionless. In a way they are right; I am never really with them, in that room. I escape you see, to my Island Paradise.
    ***​
    I lie on the floor and scream in pain as the memories come flooding back to me. Each sob is heart wrenching and I wonder, as I try desperately to escape from the vines that hold me, if I am struggling in that little room. As I move against the vines am I also resisting the straps that pin me to my bed, or is it only in my mind that I am fighting back?

    Somewhere, high in the sky, the birds stop singing and my fear reaches climax. No! No! I cry to myself. I have nothing to be afraid of; this is my Island Paradise, where no one can reach me or hurt me. I am safe here. Yet, with the absence of the song comes the absence of belief. Why then, I wonder, do my bruises appear? Bruises from where doctors have grabbed my arms in a grip of iron and held me down. Even the cut from the nurse is here, despite that I am in a place that is designed to block it all out. Is my defence failing or are they right – am I mad? Is this madness? My punishment?

    The birds resume their song, softer and more beautiful this time - like a lullaby. It does nothing though, to stop me as I begin to doubt my sanity.
     
  9. Kove
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    Kove Member

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    Wasted (732)

    He hadn't followed a dew-covered hare, or the eroded, timeworn work of a masterful cartographer. He was bereft of ship and vessel, no portal or reality-warping passageway to another dimension was available to him. Despite what he could only describe as a surreal assault on his senses, he found that he could not be more awake, no dream haunted him here. Yet, he found himself on shores far-flung and startlingly foreign. Something … everything was wrong.

    His mind was constantly assailed by the myriad doubts and fears that lay within him. His refusal to acknowledge his new and unfamiliar circumstances did nothing to change them, and the wailing cry of his mind struggling for freedom did nothing to make this new land into something he could accept. His hands met the ground beneath him and he felt the earth cry out in agony, its pain was made clear to the man and it pierced the veil of his own torment with such ferocity that he reeled back, jerking his hands back from the shattered earth in surprise.

    Lost and alone in a strange land, he was nearly overwhelmed by desperation and fear. His inability to focus made his task here insanely difficult, and he had trouble navigating the twisted landscape of his partner's mind. Peering about him cautiously, the visitor reached out with his consciousness and explored the fragile membrane surrounding his partner's inner-most thoughts. The mental landscape about him throbbed wildly as his partner no doubt bolted awake, suddenly aware of the intruder lurking about in his mind.

    The machine had limited capabilities, and normally only allowed visitors to enter another person's mind and peruse surface thoughts, but this visitor was different. His ability to sense the emotions of those around him allowed him to reach further than most, ferreting out the desperately needed information buried deep within the mind of his target. He had done it several times before, but never had his target been a friend and trusted ally.

    His partner had been gunned down at his own house and was near death. The visitor had already been informed that his partner would soon perish, but he circumvented his grief by focusing on the task at hand, finding his friend's killer.

    The probe was standard procedure at this point, and after adjusting his senses to the strangeness of a new mind, the visitor headed quickly in the direction of his partner's anguish, its power here was translated as a single point of light, stabbing the perceived night of the mind with brilliant rays of tortured luminescence. This was the place of pain, where the tragedy of the shooting lived on in a memory that seemed to recycle itself in the victim's mind.

    The journey lasted only moments, even though the surge of emotion and memory forced years of images and experiences into the visitor's mind. He surged ahead, removing from himself any doubt as to the righteousness of his course. The visitor reached the light, waded through its luminance like a thousand sheets of silk hung on a thousand lines to dry. Reaching the central point, the waves of light parted, folding about the scene in the center like a curtain of brilliant denial, forcing the reality of the situation into the background of the victim's mind.

    The visitor was stricken where he stood. The shock of witnessing his partner's murder soon gave way to the anger that surged within him as he identified the killer. His mind reeled, piecing together the last few pieces of the puzzle he had been struggling with for months. Now that the last piece had snapped into place, the visitor withdrew from his friend's mind, forcing himself to regain consciousness.

    The man who had killed his partner was the same man they had been hunting for months. A long investigation led to a dead-end that made sense to everyone except the investigators involved. But the visitor had known that it wouldn't over, and his partner had paid the price for his persistence, his inability to let go of a long-dead case. Now the visitor knew he could end it, break the cycle once and for all.

    The visitor checked his gun, double-checked his ammo, and placed his gun in its holster. The he left the MindLab and got in his car, heading home to kill the man who murdered his partner. His father.
     
  10. nettkkr
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    nettkkr Member

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    Aberdeen, SD
    After Death - 465 Words

    I didn’t follow a rabbit, nor an ancient map. I have no spaceship, nor portal to another dimension. I could not be more awake. Yet, I find myself on shores far-flung and very foreign. Something … everything is not right.

    I hear voices around me.

    “Clear,” one says as I feel a jolt of electricity surge throughout my body.

    “He still has no pulse,” another says.

    They have to be kidding! I open my eyes and find a bright cylindrical light ahead of me. Echoes of voices called my name. I find myself moving toward it with no effort. But, what of those left behind?

    I look back behind and see a crowd of doctors and nurses crowded over my limp body, each working hard to bring back to life what is dead. I understand the scene now.

    I fight with the movement, wanting to stay until a voice tells me there is no hope. I turn to my right and find a man with the most brilliant blue eyes staring at me.

    His face was sullen as he spoke. “Your place is no longer with the living my child.”

    I try to hold back the tears that would defy my courage. “I must go back. My wife and children need me. How will they live without me?”

    The man dropped his head, and looked as if he felt my pain.

    I watched as the doctor looked to his watch and covered my body. I died long ago, I thought. I also watched as the doctor came back into the room, this time ushering in my wife. I am sorry Linda. I fought hard against the lights pull, making back into the room.

    Linda’s tears streaked her makeup down her white cheek.

    I try to whisper into her ear, “I’m still here.”

    The doctor pulls the sheet back from my lifeless body. Linda took one look and screamed my name. “James, why James, why you?”

    I still don’t understand how I got to this point. The man from the light stood beside me crying with me. “It’s time we moved on.”

    “Who are you to tell me what is best?”

    He opened his arms to embrace me. “You have been a good man James. Let her go and you will see her again. I promise.”

    I cry on his shoulder as we move effortlessly toward the light again. I yell back to Linda, one last effort to say good-bye. “I love you Linda!”

    In our savior’s arms I am lifted to a magical land.

    I didn’t follow a rabbit, nor an ancient map. I have no spaceship, nor portal to another dimension. I could not be more awake. Yet, I find myself on shores far-flung and very foreign.

    I understand now, everything is very right.
     
  11. Marshall41
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    Marshall41 Member

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    Ella Dawson

    She followed no rabbit or ancient map. She entered no spaceships or portals to new dimensions. She had met no wizards or sages of any sort – and she could not be more awake. Yet, somehow, she found herself on shores far-flung and very foreign. Something … everything was not right.

    Ella Dawson was a very sensible person, and an even more sensible woman. She wore all the fashionable clothes and dinned with all the right people. She rarely spoke her mind, and never spoke her heart. She knew how far apart the forks should be placed from each other and exactly how fresh the flowers should be for entertaining guests of a particular purse. She always took note of the weather, in case was ever needed to fill gaps during small conversation. No one could gossip about her, for she never dirtied her foot with in any scandalous matters, and no one could beat her at her game – being Ella Dawson (to her friends it was an adjective meaning “a step above perfection”). Still, no one is unblemished.

    In fact, blemished was exactly how Ella described herself, but, of course, only behind closed doors – and even then, still only in her mind. Only three people in the world had ever known about her first blemish other than Ella: they were her childhood nurse, her mother, and her husband – and her childhood nurse had long since passed away. Ella’s second blemish, however, was a complete and total secret. Not even Ella knew of it, and yet, it all made total sense.

    The day it happened was in late spring. It was a Wednesday.

    Ella loved reading. Perhaps it was from her long nights listening to her father recite Moby Dick when the weather was wet as the sea and the air was thick as a blanket. Or maybe it was from her unwomanly hunger for knowledge – her only unwoman-like habit and only known blemish. But actually it was from her wish to be somewhere else. She could not be more grateful to her husband for all he did, but Ella was never satisfied with the mundane life she was born into. She would read Treasure Island and imagine herself conversing with pirates or discovering a crypted treasure map. Often she would daydream of the future, of flying machines and magic cures to undiscovered diseases. All of this seemed like a better, more exciting life, but she was being silly.

    Ella rose from the lawn chair, her usual seat for daydreaming and escaping from this incomplete world. But today was an important day, it was her birthday.

    “Honey, do come inside. The sun will blemish your skin. You know how you mother hates seeing you sunburned. She always makes sure to let me know when you are even the slightest bit pink. ‘Improper’ she says.” Ella rolled her eyes and made her way to the porch. Her husband was always so conscience about her mother’s opinion.

    “I’m sorry,” Mr. Dawson apologized seeing Ella’s frustration, “I know how you hate me bossing you around it’s just that your mother has such a sharp tongue. Remember the last time she found out I let you go out to society without your…”

    “Yes of course, I understand,” Ella interrupted, “it’s not a problem. I was coming in anyways.” Ella set herself down on one of the porch chairs and glanced up to her husband. He smiled apologetically and gave her a kiss on the forehead. Ella gave him a fake smile and then went back to gazing at the sky. Mr. Dawson kept quiet and busied himself with the preparations for that night’s activities. Normally he would try and say something to deter her from her imaginative seclusion, but today was her birthday and this was the best gift he could give her.

    She dreamed that afternoon. A sleep that she didn’t even think was possible. It was a deep dream, full of faces she had never seen and places she had never visited. The light was so bright and the people were so alien. Yet, somehow, in some small way, it all felt right – like going home.

    By the time she woke up it was well past four. She opened her eyes to see her husband standing in front of her, but he seemed so distant, like he was waving from behind a panel of misty glass.

    “Honey. Honey? Honey, wake up,” Mr. Dawson said as quiet as he could. She tried opening her eyes again and found more luck the second time. The sun was beginning to disappear behind the trees out back and the tables had already been set out for a night of celebration. Company would start arriving within the next hour, because most of them would have multiple engagements to attend, and the Dawson’s always made sure to provide the best food and the worst wine at all their parties so guests would come early and leave early – Ella never did like staying up late.

    “You best get ready. You are still in your morning gown. The guests will be here soon.” Ella rose from the seat and made her way to her room.
    Her room was rather plain and dull; but Ella never spent much time there aside from sleeping. She got fully dressed and began addressing the nightmare that was her hair, all without the help of any servants – they were busy pulling double duty as servers for the night. She threw her brush to the floor, frustrated with a knot that always seemed to be riddling the back left side of her head. She slapped her hand defiantly on her legs and stared angrily at the mirror.

    What she saw made her scream.

    Gone was the young, glossy haired woman, Ella Dawson, and in her place was a pail white, frail, skin coved skeleton, with dark, almost black circles encompassing blood shot eyes centered about a black pupil void.

    Eventually the glass fogged up and her true form returned in the mirror. Lost in shock and thought Ella stood up from her chair and walked hypnotically down the stairs and out to the lawn. The first few guests had started to arrive and smiled and greeted Ella as if nothing was wrong. She returned their kind hellos with blank stares. They continued their greetings like a broken record until her husband rescued her from the mass. He walked her to the lawn chair and held her hand.

    “Are you ok? Ella… Are you ok? Can you hear me? Ella! Listen to me, can you hear me?” Her husband asked with a deeply concerned look on his face. Slowly the air became thick and liquid. His face began to swim and fade into a blinding light that was rising like the sun from over the horizon.

    “El.. Ell… Ellen? Are you back with us? Hey, it’s me. Ellen can you hear me? Ellen, come on, please wake up.” A man stood above her and was addressing her as Ellen, who was Ellen? She lay in a cushioned chair in a large white room with those alien creatures from her dreams walking back and forth, looking at strange beeping screens. She glanced down at her arms and saw a dozen wires and tubes attached to her skin or imbedded in her arms.

    “Help! Somebody help!” Ellen screamed, “Help!”

    “Ellen, Honey, Ellen calm down,” the strange man pleaded.

    “No! My name is Ella and I don’t know you! Help!” Ellen continued, trying to rip the needles from her arms. The man held her hands with a firm but gentle grip, trying to keep her from messing with the equipment.

    “Please calm down, please! You’re sick, it’s me, you husband – Matt. Please stop or they will put you back to sleep.” Ellen looked at him with a horrified yet understanding gaze. Somehow she knew Matt, and the name Ellen seemed so familiar. Was this the world she was always yearning to discover? Could this be it?

    “No! No! I don’t know you. Help! Please somebody help!” With that, one of the aliens in a white coat and mask swiftly shoved a needle into Ellen’s neck. The painful, horrifying, and strange world began to swim in a mist of fog and haze.

    “Ella? Ella? Are you ok?” Mr. Dawson asked. She was back. The guests were peacefully eating. The evening was still young. And it was a special night – it was her birthday.

    “Yes, of course, I’m fine,” Ellen replied still confused and shaken, “We should get back to the party.”


    Ella Dawson had but one true blemish – and that was, of course, that she did not exist.
     
  12. MetalHippy
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    MetalHippy New Member

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    The research (1250)

    The research (1250)
    ------------------------------------------------

    I didn’t follow a rabbit, nor an ancient map. I have no spaceship, nor portal to another dimension. I could not be more awake. Yet, I find myself on shores far-flung and very foreign. Something … everything is not right…

    The day had started just like any other; the incessant beeps form the despised alarm clock gradually rising in volume until they grated on me so much I could no longer ignore them. My hand reached out from under the covers and thumped down on the snooze button, granting me a few, all too brief, minutes respite from the evil noise. All too soon the alarm started again and after some fumbling my hand managed to find the off button, I rolled out of bed and shuffled around zombie like as I performed my morning routine.

    After breakfast I felt almost human again, I say almost because I haven’t felt fully human for many years. Not since I signed up to participate in the research, it seemed like such a good idea at the time, research into the adaptability of the human race using groundbreaking artificial reality technology – offering to pay for your time as well, sounded good but I should have read the small print instead of the pound signs; I won’t be making that mistake again. I am pretty sure that a small part of me is left behind every time I get hooked up to that infernal contraption, being replaced by a part of what I was in the machine.

    Ten minutes later the transport arrived to take me and the five other “lucky” participants to the research facility for our monthly session, the forty-seventh for our group. I know none of their real names and we are kept in separate windowless but comfortable compartments on the transport. During the thirty minute journey I usually listen to some music or read the paper provided but instead today I just sat struggling to recall details of the previous research days. Flashes of strange animals, unusual landscapes and caverns came back transiently but never enough to focus on. I always remember the journey.

    The transport comes to a stop, I hear the muffled sounds of compartments being opened one at a time; we are kept totally separate never being allowed to see any of the other five outside of the machine, not knowing each other’s names, unable to talk to each other about the experience. All we know of each other is the name we are given in the machine, mine is “Six” you can guess what the others are imaginatively called.

    The door to my compartment opens; bright light hurts my eyes as I am escorted to my changing cubicle. I enter and get changed into the AR suit, as they called it, and leave by the other door. I sit in the chair of the AR machine and let the technicians plug me into the machine, this used to freak me out at first but now I am numb to it. The in suit communication system crackles into life.

    “Right Six, total immersion in 30 seconds” a chirpy female voice says.

    “Where we off to this time?” I ask.

    “You know I can’t tell you in advance”

    “Worth a try though. I was hoping you would take pity on me this time”

    “You know company policy dictates that I am not allowed to pity you”

    “Does company policy dictate everything you can feel?”

    “Only during the normal work day and at any other times that I may be required to perform duties outside my normal hours at the company’s discretion” she says with false seriousness in her voice.

    “Man they have you over a barrel with that one”

    “Indeed. 10 seconds and counting, good luck Six. Have fun”

    “Thanks”

    Everything goes black, not just dark but as if all of my senses have been switched off, then the searing agony of sensory overload as all of my senses are assailed at once. I don’t recall it being that painful before, might just be a glitch, I’ll let them know once they make contact with my instructions. As the pain eases I can start to take notice of my senses again.

    I keep my eyes closed as I always do; I like to try to guess what the environment is like by using everything but sight, I am getting more accurate each time. I feel a cool wind against my skin, sand under my feet and the heat from the sun. I hear the gentle rolling surf and the rustling of leaves being moved by the wind but no other sounds; that’s unusual I should be hearing the others by now, maybe I am first for a change.

    I open my eyes and find myself staring out at a cobalt sea, it is not right I hear the surf but the sea is not moving. I look at the sky it is also wrong; the sky shouldn’t have cracks in. I hear five screams behind me and then nothing. I turn round to look and there are 5 bodies lying motionless in various twisted positions.

    “Okay guys, good one.” I say.

    No reply. I walk over to the nearest body and look at it. It was ‘number three’, body and face contorted in pain, unmoving. I gently shake their arm and say

    “Nice joke, don’t draw it out”.

    No response. I shake their arm harder, still nothing. I move to another body and shake that, no response there either. I run to the others and check them – nothing. One by one they pixelate and disappear.

    The communicator crackles, I hear white noise interspersed with the odd fragment of speech but not enough to make out any words.
    “Hello can you hear me? What the hell has happened” I shout, no response. I shout it again, louder this time hoping that sheer volume will get the message through. No response.

    Suddenly the communicator burst into life.

    “Six, are you there? Are you OK? Can you hear me?”

    “Yeah I’m here, what the hell happened?”

    “Something has gone wrong, we’ve lost the others.”

    “Yeah, they disappeared in front of me, at least they’ll be having a nice cup of coffee soon.”

    “No Six, something has gone terribly wrong, when I say we’ve lost the others I mean lost as in gone for good”

    “You’re kidding right?”

    “No Six”

    “Holy crap, get me out of here right now”

    “Sorry Six, I’m so sorry. We can’t”

    “What is it against company policy?”

    “No! The system has frozen and locked us out; it took us 3 hours just to get the communications working.”

    “What? Three hours? I’ve only been here for a few minutes.”

    “Yes but you were in transfer for a long time, you are very lucky you made it.”

    “I don’t feel particularly lucky; you just told me I’m stuck here” I snapped back.

    The communication unit started to crackle.

    “Listen Six, the comms unit is losing power. We are doing everything we can to try and fix the system.”

    “Can’t you just re-boot it?”

    “Not with you inside, no. Power is just about to fail Six, sit tight we’ll do everythi.....”

    “Hello! Are you still there?” I shout.

    No reply...

    I didn’t follow a rabbit, nor an ancient map. I have no spaceship, nor portal to another dimension. I could not be more awake. Yet, I find myself on shores far-flung and very foreign. Something … everything is not right.
     
  13. s.knight
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    s.knight Banned

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    Tea for Two
    Word count (approx): 529

    There is no pickwickian rabbit. No ancient map. No goblins. No witches. No demons. No long awaited prophet. No stargate. No time machine. No alien overlord. At this very moment I feel like one of Huxley's kangaroos gambolling the antipodes, where all manner of unknowns loiter in strange clefts.
    I follow the hum of distilled grains and pipe tobacco down a hole in the ground, and a most extraordinary scene materialises: An Edwardian tearoom with hanging drapery of hues so mouth watering I actually want to put them on my tongue. A small hearth crackles. The flame spectre illumines a Kashmir rug. The rug itself boasts floral motifs and exotic birds. There are paintings of aristocrats on horses; of noblewomen regally adorned; of a Grecian oracle.

    The walls are coloured Lilac o' Wisteria with mounted oil-lamps shedding soft light into dark corners. In one of those niches are two chaps, lounging on bamboo thrones, holding discourse. Between them stands an oak-wood table upon which are teacups and butter rounds, and a rather fine looking Art Nouveau teapot in the middle.
    One of the chaps is somewhat of an ogre. At once, I identify him with the tang of distilled grain. The other is comparatively small and wizened. Ah, pipe tobacco.
    There's a strong pragmatic aura. I'm drawn to their foamed accents, to the philosophic sweat. I move closer- No! it can't be! but it is. The small gentleman is none other than Carl Gustav Jung! And no! it shouldn't be! but it is, without a doubt, the Russian braggart! Dare I utter the name Grigori Rasputin?
    Dumbfounded is what I am.
    The great exponent of modern psychology and the infamous drunk magician together in the dark recesses of the collective unconscious, having tea for two.
    Remarkable!

    I'm gawping at Carl Jung's wrinkly face. His tweed jacket reeks of pipe. I'm so close I could touch the wispy silver- my word! he's old and shrunken. I'm being rude, of course, but I don't give a damn, it's Jung for godsake! look at those sharp, penetrating eyes, and cavernous brow trenches.
    ''I mean, you are the source of all coming evil,'' says Jung, leaning forward as if to measure his companion. I look to Grigori. He's big. Very big. His black hair is long, lank and oleaginous- and that beard! such a sprawling bush, so wildly overgrown you can't see his mouth. But it's clear he acknowledges Jung's profundity with a fair-cop-smile, it's revealed by the split groove around the eyes- and my! those eyes are firestones cast deep in the furnace wielding a molten glare. He speaks, and does so with such charm that an inkling of warmth rises in my heart for the debauched monk.
    ''I'm just a lowly rogue, and it's you who is the source of all coming boredom.''
    The remark causes Jung to burst out a harsh guffaw. ''That's coming from the 'lowly rogue' who once claimed to've conquered mighty Russia with his penis.''

    I awaken to the i-pod playing The End by The Doors. I know where I am. I'm lazing on a summers day. I'll slop cold cha and let the high noon beat me into submission.
     
  14. Rajikai
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    Rajikai Member

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    Occ: Didn’t really have much time, but here it is. Though the ending it crappier and could've been better...

    The Mind of My Mind {669 Words}

    I didn’t follow a rabbit, nor an ancient map. I have no spaceship, nor portal to another dimension. I could not be more awake. Yet, I find myself on shores far-flung and very foreign. Something … everything is not right. My surrounding made no sense. Below my feet contained purple sand, above my head was a scorching crimson sky decorated by a black sun and before me was a golden ocean which boiled every living thing in it. I felt as if I were in a trance, lost, and trapped. I pace myself across the bay, sinking my feet deep into the liquid grains until I finally notice a creature from afar.

    A quite thrust from its neck, reveals its silver eyes and ferocious fangs. Goosebumps jumps across my entire neck, and fear pulls my entire body back, allowing me to notice that my feet have sunken into the ground, and knocking me completely backwards, smashing my body on the concrete sand. My body stings as if my entire body had become completely paralyzes as the creature slowly begins to approach me. The cold breeze, from the sun, strikes my entire body with every creeping step the beast takes and I’m completely lost.

    My vision begins to cloud, until the point I lied down on the smooth, silky sand, unconscious, yet fully awake. The beast opens its mouth, as the fangs begins to extend allow a vocal combination of sounds to escape its jaws that could please anyone who hears it. “I don’t know how you got into your mind, but this is how demented you really are. When you finally wake up, it’s guaranteed that you’ll be sleeping back at home, and wake up in your dreams, but for now, let me play with you. I want us to enjoy ourselves as long as we’re here. “

    Quickly the creature that lurks in the dept of my minds pounces upon body, causing me to sink deeper and deeper violet grains until a burst of colors begins to flash within my eyelids. Slowly I tighten eyes, just to find they have been fully open as if my nerves have been reversed. Laughter begins to echo around the empty space around me, as the color begins to dim into white, and reveals the abyss of the island. Nothing… I’m completely surrounded by nothing except that echo ring in my ear. That taunting voice, as silver eyes begins to creep up behind me. The pressure of the intent they carries causes me to shudder, and sharply turn around, facing the silver eyes.

    My arms swings forward, as I attempt defend myself, while simultaneously let out a screech, but nothing appears. I have been muted. My arms remain frozen in the air in front of me, and the smell of cake makes its way into my nostril. This soon shot me. Why the scent of cakes? As well as these hideous pair of floating eyes in front of me. Something to sweet and sometime to hideous paired together? Why?

    “Hideous? Me? That isn’t true, just look at yourself! I’m a way better looking figure that yourself!!” And as soon spoken, as soon as a charcoal mirror crystallized in front of me and reflect me and showed the true demon I am. White blood soaking down from my forehead, wear a black horn was placed. Broken wings soar from my back, both inverted from one another. My eyes appeared golden with an oval shape similar to that of a feline. I couldn’t be any more pleased with this image. And with that, an image of cake began to materialize, and suddenly explodes, causing the silver eyes and charcoal mirror to crumble into dust, and slowly hover into the sky.
    The remains of the cake soon begins to shift into colored needles which shapely flings at me, one by one, cause sudden urges of pain to shimmer down my spine. But all that my mind occupies is, “I’m going to eat bacons this mourning…”
     
  15. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you for your entries. Voting and the new contest will be launched later today.
     
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