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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short Story Contest (74): Dream Becomes Reality - Submission & Details Thread

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Aug 9, 2010.

    Short Story Contest 74
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Dream Becomes Reality"​




    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 separate 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: "Dream Becomes Reality" (courtesy of member Thanshin). Any interpretation valid. Entries do not have to follow the theme explicitly.
    Suggested Wordlimit: 500 - 3000 words.
    Deadline for entries: Monday 23rd August 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 next contest will be themed "Flash Fiction Special - Post-Apocalypse" (ilocar), the one after that "If The Shoe Fits" (Borderline Blue). Please feel free to prepare an entry in advance for any of these contests but do not submit your piece 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. Mooski
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    Mooski New Member

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    [noparse]
    The Black Canvas (1449 Words)

    Bright light made crippling white sprites dance across my sleepy corneas as I tried to navigate the staircase. We always kept the lights on in the bedroom; better to be safe than sorry, even if it did make sating early-morning thirst a nuisance. My vision had just about begun to adjust to the darkness by the time I'd made it through the living area and into the kitchen. I squinted in advance as I opened the fridge, anticipating another blast of light.

    The fridge was dark.

    Oh no.

    The fridge door was left swinging as I ran as fast through the kitchen and living area as the veil of darkness would allow. I'd wired all of our appliances and lighting to one ring-main; if the fridge wasn't working, chances are that the bedroom light would be out too. I so desperately needed to be up there right now preventing the worst, though as I reached the landing I realised the almost impossibility of my task. It appeared as though thick bush and shrubbery had grown down the staircase, the lack of light offering no further clues as to what lay before me..

    I was hesitant at first. The obstruction before me could be anything from the suspected soft underbrush, to the tendrils of some ominous entity. I wasn't even aware that I was holding my breath as I reached out, trembling ever-so-slightly.

    Come on. You need to get up there now. You need to get up there now. You need to-

    I thrust my hand forward without further thought, and one of the weakest senses became my strongest ally in this darkness; I felt leaves! I began to push forward with my entire body, almost willing my way up the staircase, the bushes collapsing underfoot or easily being pushed to a side.
    I was closing in on the final steps, ever-so-close to sanctuary. All I needed to do was reach the control lever for the back-up generator and all would be well again. The darkness around the staircase was palpable; and in my haste my ankle became entangled within an obscured vine, or root of some description. I fell straight onto the upper-landing, my elbows burning from their exchange with the carpet. I breathed the slightest of grunts, feeling undeterred; all I need do was push myself a few more metres, past the large Bengal tiger sprawled out in the centre of the room, and pull the lever.

    Oh my Lord.

    It was dark, but you didn't need stadium floodlights to let you know when there was a carnivorous feline sat about two feet in front of your face. It appeared to be licking around it's mouth, and I dare not even so much as contract my diaphragm for fear of becoming that which would next be licked from it's mouth. I was locked up in terror entirely, my form rigid, and as much as I wanted to look away, to tell myself I can make it go away, I feared it would notice the micro-movements of my pupils.

    “Don't be so alarmed, dear.”

    I afforded myself a fleeting glance at the generator lever. I was truly terrified; chiefly thanks a tiger that now it seemed, could tell me in English it was about to eat me just before it actually did. It seemed to notice the direction of my glance, and spoke almost immediately after.

    “You've no need to worry. Come on, make yourself comfortable. Talk with me.”

    As bizarre and frightening as this entire ordeal was, it was hard to not feel somewhat relaxed by the tiger's inviting speech. It's voice tasted like chocolate, so milky-smooth and inviting. It spoke again.

    “Dear, you really must relax.” it said, with an almost comical beckoning gesture with a front paw. “I've been keeping this spot warm for you.”

    I knew what it was trying to do. It wanted to continue to exist, and for that it required my co-operation. The minute I pulled on that lever was the minute that tiger ceased to be, and it would not let that happen willingly. I clenched my fists, and tried to push the enticing few words out of my head. I knew what it was doing, and yet I struggled to fight it.

    It beckoned again.

    This thing was a furry siren, it's very presence beginning to relax. Why not just take a seat and listen to what it has to say? I'd have thought a tiger with the ability to speak would have some interesting tales to regale.

    Grab the lever.

    What did it eat today? From where does it originally hail? How can it speak?

    The tiger brushed his front paw across his face, appearing to be stroking a whisker. “Oh, there is just so much for us to talk about.” it said, the words permeating the darkness around me, cocooning me in verbal silk.

    A couple of minutes wouldn't hurt, would it?

    Grab the lever.

    Probably not. If it was going to eat me, it would have done by now.

    Grab the lever. Now.

    All but the last few strands of fear had been eased away, and all that remained was a longing to take comfort in the tiger's presence; yet this would be it's undoing. A loud snore from the opposite end of the room shattered the almost hypnotic state I was in, and I suddenly became of one very important fact. I was laid out on the floor next to a Bengal tiger.

    As if detecting this, the tiger began to growl very softly, and this time, it's rugged voice made me want to clear my throat.

    “All I wanted was to have a little chat.”

    I needed to act now. The tiger almost entirely blocked my path, but all I need to do was turn the lights on. I clumsily clambered to my feet, and with all the strength my legs could muster, threw myself towards the switch. The tiger let out a much louder, savage roar, and almost immediately was up on all fours and with it I collided, tumbling just out of arm's reach. The tiger followed immediately, pouncing on top of me. The sheer weight of the beast pushed the remaining air out of my lungs, and pain exploded in my chest as I struggled to catch my breath, panicking and squirming to reach those last couple of inches. The tiger reared up and opened it's saliva-lined mouth wide, preparing to make it's final assault; and that was all it took for me worm my way a couple of inches closer. I flung out my right arm, catching the lever with a satisfying 'thud' just as a glob of wet saliva dripped onto my forehead and the entire room erupted in blinding white light. I closed my eyes, and struggled for breath. The weight on my chest was no longer there. Panting and coughing, I rolled over to see Clo sat bolt-upright, rubbing her eyes.

    “What the hell are you doing?” she mumbled, her groggy speech worlds apart from that of the tiger's initial sultry tones.

    I still fought with my lungs, and it was almost half a minute before I was able to construct a response. It wasn't prolific by any stretch, but it would do until the morning:

    “Nothing. Go back to sleep, Clo.”

    I knew all too well what the human imagination was capable of creating, and more importantly, what Clo's was capable of creating. To her, the darkness, that inky blackness of nothing, was like a blank canvas in which her subconscious thoughts and dreams would come alive. It was truly remarkable, and at times terrifying. Tonight was the latter.

    I wouldn't sleep tonight. I stayed exactly where I was on the floor, my mind fuelled by a mixture of adrenaline and relief. I thought about what could have been, but then almost immediately about what I would do first thing tomorrow; place flashlights in every room. Flooding Clo's black canvas with light is akin to throwing black paint all over an artists drawing pad, and if I had to sleep wearing Christmas lights to make sure I didn't have to go head-to-head with a tiger every time I wanted a drink in the middle of the night, I would.
    [/noparse]
     
  3. Alexandra_Riera
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    Alexandra_Riera Member

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    I don’t want to go for a ride (1450 words)



    She hadn’t felt this happy in a long time, so light and bright. Alice stepped lightly down the steps towards the doorway of the house. Maybe the fact that it was her birthday on that day had something to do with it but Alice was convinced that it was the visit of her cousins to celebrate her birthday that was the reason of her excitement. She twirled around in her flowery summer dress and got out of the house.

    The sky was gloomy and grey; it had supposed to be bright and sunny as predicted but she was accustomed not to listen to the weather forecasts, she knew they were a waste of time and she didn’t care anyway, especially on that day.

    Mrs Brown, her next door neighbour, greeted her over the fence; she waved her hand and wished her happy birthday. “Where are you going, Alice?” she asked her.

    She told her she was going to the train station to pick her cousins up and then went off in the direction of the Village. Alice didn’t mind walking to the train station, it wasn’t that far. Her cousins would always come by car, driven by her favourite uncle, Uncle Thomas, but this time, Uncle Thomas hadn’t been able to come as he had been called away on important business, or so Alice’s aunt, Marianne, had explained on the phone the previous day. “Strange,” thought Alice, all of a sudden, “he’s never missed a birthday no matter what.”

    She arrived at the station and checked the arrival panel; that was easy, there was only one arrival. Only ten minutes to spare before the train arrived. Quickly she went to the bathroom to check on her dress and the little make up she had applied; a bit of blusher and some lip gloss she had pinched from her mother. She felt very grown up and responsible, she had been sent to go to the station all by herself. She re-arranged her hair a little more and smiled. Everything was alright. She only hoped the make up would wear off before she got back home; she didn’t want her mother to find out. She heard the whistle of the train and she rushed out of the bathroom. The train stopped and she waited for her cousins to come out. A few people got out but not her cousins. Worried, she went to the engine and asked the train driver if she could look inside the train for her cousins.

    “Yes, but you’d better hurry, I can’t stop for long.”

    Alice ran to the first carriage, got on and searched through that carriage and then the next and the next but just before she got to the last one, the train started moving. In a panic, she opened the last carriage door, hoping she’d find her cousins asleep but was disappointed when she didn’t see them there. No one else was there either. She thought she’d have enough time to jump off the train but when she looked out of the window, she saw the train was moving too fast. She opened the carriage door and a gush of wind almost pulled her out. She grabbed one of the handles and forced herself to remain inside the carriage and steady herself. She managed to close the door and then sat on the floor, tears flowing down her cheeks. “What am I going to do now?” she cried.

    Minutes later, the ticket collector arrived. “Are you alright?” he asked her.

    “I’m sorry,” she whimpered, “I shouldn’t be here, I was looking for my cousins and the train took off. They weren’t in the train.”

    “Oh.”

    “What am I going to do? How am I going to get back home?” She cried.

    “Have you got any money on you?”

    “No, of course I haven’t got any money. I was only going to pick my cousins up from the station.”

    “Alright, we’ll call your home and they can come and pick you up at the next station then. How about that?” the man asked her trying to soothe her.

    Still huddled up on the floor, Alice was in twirl of emotions, if her mum was called, she would get a good telling off for getting on the train but at the same time, if her mother didn’t know where she was she might be worried about her which could be worse; she could have even called the police by now to search for her and then she would have to explain her actions to a lot more people. “My birthday is ruined!” she cried.

    “Is it your birthday then?” the ticket collector asked.

    “Yes, we’re supposed to have a party with my cousins.”

    “Happy birthday to you, then! You sit tight here,” he told her pointing to a seat, “and we’ll call the next station and they can call your home. What’s your phone number?”

    “Oh, forgot! I haven’t got a phone at home, my dad hates those things.”

    “Alright, we’ll do something else then; we’ll put you back on the next train to your village.”

    Alice felt relived. She was going to get back home. The only problem was that she didn’t know what had happened to her cousins. “Thank you,” she said, “thank you very much.”

    At the next stop, Alice was made to wait in the ticket room and when the train arrived she was directed to sit in the first carriage so that not only the train driver but the ticket collector could keep an eye on her, after all, she was still young.

    The train arrived and she got off after she had thanked both men again for their help. She waved them off from the platform and when the train was only a little speck in the distance she walked back home.

    Her walk wasn’t as happy as it had been when she had first set out on her errand as she was worried about what her mother would say about her tardiness.

    She saw a car parked outside her house. “That’s not Uncle Thomas’ car” she thought as she went near it. She heard a noise in one of the windows; she looked up and saw a hand beckoning her to come over. Alice froze on the spot. She had already lived this before, she knew what was going to happen, “Oh God!” she cried, “Please make it not true!”

    “Come on, Alice, come on in!” the voice behind the hand shouted.

    The hand and the voice triggered something in Alice and suddenly she knew what was coming next….. that that was aunt Marianne’s new car; that was going to be the start of the news… and that she had got a driving licence was next… and then… and then…. It would be the news about uncle Thomas and then…. “Oh, no! She shuddered.

    “Come on!” shouted the voice again.

    Alice hesitated for a moment and then started walking towards the entrance of her house, her heart in a knot. “Coming!” She shouted back.

    She walked in and her two cousins greeted her happy birthday in unison, they even sang happy birthday to her. Alice couldn’t help but smile and relax. She loved her cousins; she hadn’t seen them in six months. She hugged them both and kissed them too; she then went over to Aunt Marianne and kissed her on both cheeks. Alice’s mum looked a bit ashen and she wondered what was up with her.

    Anne, Alice’s mum, saw that her daughter was going to bombard Marianne with questions so she spoke hurriedly before Alice could get a word in, “We’ve been looking for you, you know, Alice?” We went to the station and you weren’t there. We drove around in Aunty Marianne’s brand new car. We went to the train station to surprise and we didn’t see you there, You took so long coming back I was about to call the police. Did you know that Aunt Marianne had just got her driving licence?”

    “Would you like me to take you for a spin?” Asked Aunt Marianne.

    “No, thank you,” answered Alice a bit too quickly to her surprise.

    “Come on! Come on!” shouted her cousins, “go for a ride, it’s much more fun with mum, go on Alice, we’ll go with you!” they urged her.

    “No!”

    “But why?” asked her mother.

    Alice wondered whether to tell them or not for a moment, “if we do, we’re all going to die, just like uncle Thomas.” She shouted in the end and then started crying.

    “How did you know about Thomas?” Asked Marianne in shock. “I’ve only just told your mother!”

    “I had dreamed about it.”


    The end
     
  4. Katherina
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    Katherina Member

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    A perfect dream (1736 words)

    Everyone told him he was nothing but a bad dream. A person who looked so unreal that even if you were standing in front of him you would doubt that he really existed.

    Maybe it was the clothes he wore, always a different color depending on the body part they were covering. Or the way he talked to others as if he were from another world.

    "The sun rays look blue today"
    "This hat has soul, you should take better care of it"
    "Your colors look lovely today"

    And so on forth...

    He was handsome in a strange way and not because he believed so but because he had scared away several persistent women who had tried to date him in spite of everything.

    It always went wrong at one point though. At first, the girl would overlook his obvious flaws and marvel about his stunning eyes, one being green and the other one blue, both contrasting perfectly with his silky raven-colored hair that rose in spikes to the sides. All would be fine for the first part of the date, she would hold hands, laugh at everything he said and flutter her eyelids. But then, nearing the end, he would want to know her better and demand her to show him her "true colors". Sometimes a slap would follow, that or an "I can´t believe you!" and the girl would storm away angry at herself for falling in love so easily.

    Nevertheless, he was as happy as he could be and never gave much thought to what other people might be thinking. At least that was until his charms caught the attention of a certain girl who was passing by a bridge on a sunny afternoon...

    He was sitting on a railing of a bridge that crossed a small lake in a park with a big smile plastered on his face. A warm breeze flew by gently ruffling his hair and creating little waves on the sparkling waters below. Raising his face towards the fading sun, he chuckled lightly as if appreciating the gesture and suddenly fell silent again quickly lost in thought.

    "What´s so funny?"

    It was a sweet voice, probably coming from a beauty dressed in a sunny yellow dress with long caramel colored hair...But of course he never thought any of this for he never judged people at all.

    "A little laugh is all it takes for the lake to smile back," he answered without facing the girl.

    She chuckled as well, catching him a little by surprise. "Oh is that so? Then I suppose its pretty happy now"

    That was the start of it all...

    So, our bad dream, the comic-light character with beautiful eyes and a pure soul that we will now name Ravi, made his first friend.

    Chloe really turned out to be sweet with caramel colored hair and pink cheeks but she hated dresses. Instead, she wore black jeans and t-shirts.

    Ravi spent most of his time with her, sometimes talking about life and others about themselves. She simply loved to rant on and even confide him some secrets he´d rather not know. But in spite of all that, they slowly built a strong bond over time.

    "Ravi, why do you dress like that?" she asked him one afternoon while they were sitting on a blanket having a picnic at their favorite park.

    "I´ve never had any chance to tell anyone, you sure you want to know?" he teased.

    "Is it a national secret or something of the sorts?" she joked.

    He nodded, his eyes locked on hers. "Something like that..." he cleared his throat and then stood in front of her so she could see his attire better. He was wearing a sleeveless vest with a turtle neck and black buttons in the middle that criss-crossed his chest. The turtle neck was black while one side of the vest was blue and the other purple with specks of yellow in the bottom.Some type of long gloves covered from below his shoulder to his hands with holes for the fingers where long digits with black fingernails rested. His pants were yellow, continuing from the specks and then slowly turned to orange and then red. Gray boots with silver at the bottom covered his feet.

    "So it has a meaning," she concluded. He nodded, "Yes. As you can see, the sky today is clear but it started with the darkness of the night and as time passed, the sun slowly rose, giving light and color to everything you see". He pointed to the black turtleneck and lowered his hands towards the colors that followed. "The sun then shone high in the sky, bathing us with its rays but he also needs rest so after some time of being up there, he decides to go back to sleep within the mountains, hiding himself behind the clouds as he makes his exit." He kept pointing to the colors, from the red, towards the gray and the silver.

    Chloe laughed loudly, "Wow, you sure are something else! I didn´t know you were that spiritual." Ravi stared at her for a minute before flashing her a smile. "I´m not that great," he assured.

    "For me you are," she edged closer to him until their faces were inches apart. She waited for his reaction but only found curiosity in his deep eyes. "Have you never kissed before?" she whispered, her warm breath tickling his lips. He didn´t move or answered her, just watched. Chloe shrugged internally and closed the last inches between them, sealing her lips with his.

    That kiss was unlike any other she had given, hot, passionate and strangely eerie. She found herself forcing her tongue inside his mouth, pushing through his teeth until they allowed her access. His mouth was warmer than any other, almost burning her tongue which she found bewitching and delicious. After a few minutes of taking charge, she found herself gasping as he began returning her affections. The kiss was so passionate that it almost made her faint right on the spot. Fortunately, Ravi was sensitive enough to notice her flushed cheeks and released her in time. She gasped for breath, lowering her face to the ground as the long locks of hair covered her from his view.

    He turned his back on her, both hands locked over his mouth, covering it with such force that he started having trouble breathing. A single ashen tear fell from his eyes as he held back a whimper.

    Chloe placed a hand over his own, inviting him to let go, but he roughly pulled it away, startling her. "Ravi... what is wrong?"

    He balled his hands into fists and turned his back on her.

    "Everything is..."

    Scared and startled by his unusual display of anger, she flung herself over his shoulders and embraced him. "Im sorry, please forgive me if I bothered you." He gritted his teeth as another tear fought its way out, followed by a whole army of salty warm drops.

    The sky above them turned quickly from sunset orange to black and then faded to gray as thick clouds joined together above them. Rain followed afterward, heavy and icy accompanied by thunder and strong winds.

    Both stayed there, lost in their own sadness as the storm engulfed them. Chloe held on to him tightly as he fought not to let himself go.
    But it was too late...

    He had fallen in love at last. Fallen for a girl such as Chloe. A normal girl who wouldn´t be able to last a day with him. Why was he being punished so harshly?

    He embraced her as the winds lifted them up high into the sky and held her securely close to his chest. He looked up as thunder roared at his sides, threatening to electrify both of them if he dared to continue with such shameless display. Rain changed its course to hit them directly, its little drops like needles against their skin. But Ravi held on, protecting the fragile girl with his own body, suffering like a normal human would.

    The torture continued until his skin was torn and bleeding, exposing the bone in some parts. But Ravi held on, not making a single sound through the entire ordeal. Slowly, the winds faded and he found himself falling towards his favorite lake. He hit the water with a loud splash and quickly dragged Chloe outside. Lying by her side as he regained his breath.

    Over them the sky was pitch black, only illuminated by a full moon whose light cascaded over them. Taking deep breaths to keep himself from fainting, he crawled towards the girl and checked her pulse. Steady, she would be fine.

    "Once every thousand years," he whispered as he looked tenderly into her eyes. "The sun visits the earth to give life to new beings". Smiling he turned towards the sky, "But sometimes, this human body takes over and the feelings are overwhelming." Caressing her hair, he continued "And just sometimes, a dying sun means a new beginning"

    He lowered himself and gently kissed her lips, "Farewell."

    ---

    Chloe opened her eyes and blinked. The warm sun rays greeted her from the small opening in her window, making her smile. She yawned loudly and stretched. Walking over to her closet, she chose a clean pair of jeans and a plain black t-shirt and quickly slipped in them. There was no time to waste.

    “Chloe where are you going? Chloe! Your food will get cold!”

    Her mom´s screams echoed in her ears but she paid no heed to them, time was almost up and she wanted to see the sun for one last time before it was too late.

    “So why wouldn´t you choose freedom over love, is it really so important?” she placed her head on his shoulder and sighed deeply. A smile crossed his lips as he pulled her closer to him, “Chloe, im old and wise, falling in love was never a choice for me but you just made a miracle.” She looked up at his eyes and noticed they were full of tears. “Thank you.”

    He didn´t answer like she expected, just stared into the horizon enjoying her company. And that evening as two lovers gazed at their last sunset hand in hand, a bird sang and a child cried...

    Later that night, the world died.
     
  5. The End
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    The End New Member

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    Dreaming Blind (2312 words)

    The sun was bright and the sky clear. People were walking and talking in the masses around him. The city was busy as usual. Merchants barked their prices to those that passed by. Most ignored the gestures at the “grand” items and “cheap” prices. It was the normal day in the city.

    Nicolas sat on the ground, very still, against a wall on one of the street corners. Everyone was familiar with him. He sat there almost every day and most nights. He sighed again, which was usual. Even though the sun was full in the sky, he couldn’t see it. Sight had been robbed from him at birth. In his twenties, he didn’t have much potential. Who wanted a blind man? So he sat on the street corner, listening to the bustle around him.

    There was little to hear that was interesting or new. Most people talked about the same old things over and over again. He doubted that the people realized how stale their lives really were. They could see while he couldn’t; it was true. Sight may have added an element of excitement to their lives, but then why did their lives still remain so dry? The women talked of perfumes, clothes, and daily chores, while the men were more intent on their work and only discussed business, which sounded very repetitive. Nicolas could repeat the conversations of the merchants before they even happened. Today was no different; nothing new, nothing exciting, same old same old.

    Someone kicked his foot and yelled at him for being in the way. Pulling his legs in, Nicolas yelled back at them to watch where they were going. The disrespect everyone showed him was shocking. Very few people pitied or helped him. Occasionally someone would give him a piece of bread or a drink. He was grateful for those small gifts. Food was hard to come by for a blind man.

    Sitting back against the wall and turning his face towards the sky, he felt the warmth engulf his face. He tried to imagine what the sun looked like. A few people had attempted to describe it to him, but that was difficult. A big bright yellow ball? What did that mean? What was yellow? Or a ball? He’d never seen yellow before. Once he had the privilege of holding a ball for a few seconds. It was smooth and circular, but it still didn’t represent a good description of the sun. He had a hard time picturing that in a huge blackness.

    He decided it was impossible for the seeing to describe the world to the blind. How could they when they didn’t understand? He had never seen anything before. A wild concept for most. His other senses had to make up for his loss of sight. His ears and sense of smell were keen. For the most part, that is how he maneuvered around the city when he wanted. Touch helped, but people usually laughed when they saw him groping around in broad daylight. So as a general rule for himself, he tried to only move during the evening when everyone was heading home or already asleep.

    The day lasted forever. When night finally came, Nicolas was able to lie down and sleep without people stepping on him. His dreams played a mock image of him running and laughing in the sun. He loved dreams; they were the only thing that gave him hope of sight. He always welcomed the fantasy.

    The next morning people kicked him awake and he had to sit up. The chatter going on around was a little more subdued than normal. A new subject had finally reached the city gossip. Nicolas listened intently, mainly because he didn’t have anything else to do. As he listened, his intensity and excitement grew. It was unlike anything he had ever heard. There was a man in the area that could perform miracles. Some people said he was coming to the city, while others argued against the possibility. Nicolas hoped greatly that his man was real and could actually heal him. From time to time, rumors of such men came and went, but no real man ever appeared. Nicolas didn’t give up; there was always a little hope that it was true.

    The rumors grew more excited as the day dragged on and Nicolas determined to wait at the gate for the man. The idea was absurd to those that watched him. No one offered to help him get there. He had to stumble along by himself. At first he stayed by the wall for support and guidance. Later he moved into the road as the crowds thinned. A few times he fell and people laughed and kicked him. The angry merchants spit on him in disgust and called him a cursed blind. He didn’t believe it and growled defiantly at those claiming such. He would make it to the gate and meet the man.

    On his journey he learned that the man had entered the city. Desperate, Nicolas struggled through the crowds as fast as he could. He had to meet the man before he left again. The minutes dragged on and still he wasn’t at the gate and the man could be anywhere by then. A harsh shove from behind knocked him to he ground. It didn’t hurt, but tears trickled down his face. He just wanted to see. Everyone else took it for granted. To him it was a gift – a precious gift that he didn’t have.

    A hand touched his shoulder. With the help of the stranger, he stood up. He quickly wiped the tears away.

    “Thank you.” He said quietly.

    The stranger still rested his hand on Nicolas’ shoulder. “Hello Nicolas. You’ve come a long way.”

    Nicolas was surprised at the use of his name. Almost no one knew him. He didn’t have any friends. “How do you know my name?”

    The man laughed gently, “I am the one you came to find. I’ve heard about you, the blind man.”

    Nicolas’ heart jumped. “You’re the one who can heal me?!”

    “Yes, and I will.”

    The man let go and Nicolas heard something that sounded like spitting. He readied himself to get wet, but nothing came. Someone scratched in the dirt and he felt the dust settle on his bare feet. A second later Nicolas could feel the man close to his face.

    Wet fingers touched his eyes and Nicolas’ first reaction was to pull away. The man grabbed him and held him still. “Just wait. I’m healing you.”

    The wet fingers touched his eyes again; something sticky and musty smelling clung to his eyes. The man worked until both eyes were completely covered. Nicolas didn’t understand how this would help him see, but he was no physician, so he waited patiently. Hoping it would work in the end.

    The man stepped back and said, “Now, you need to go wash your face in the river outside the city. Then you will be healed.”

    Shock hit Nicolas. “What? Wash in the river? I won’t be able to find it! And I might fall in or drown. I can’t see! How am I supposed to get there?”

    Nicolas heard the man chuckle, which annoyed him. “You will be able to find it,” said the man kindly. Nicolas felt a staff placed in his hand. “Go out the gate and head left. The river is not far from there. Use the staff to find your way. If all goes well and you will wash your face. You will be able to find your way back.”

    Nicolas started to protest, but the man interrupted him. “I’ll be here when you get back. Hurry! Don’t you want to see?”

    Since he didn’t disagree, Nicolas decided to do as the man said. It took him a second to gather his bearings, and then he was on his way. People were obviously around him, watching and listening. He could feel them and hear their whispers. They must have been there the whole time, but didn’t say anything and just watched. The man had a great affect on everyone. No one bothered him and he had little trouble getting out of the gate. Here was the problem: finding the river. He’d never been outside of the city. It was suicide for a blind man. There were wild animals, bandits, and harsh weather.

    Confused and frustrated, he followed the man’s directions and went left. It seemed absurd for him to wash in the river. He wondered if the man was just trying to get him killed. As he walked, he heard the people around him whispering that the man had put mud on his eyes. The news almost blew his temper over the top. It was insulting! Putting mud on a blind man’s eyes, and then telling him to wash it off in a river! Nicolas had thought this man was a physician or healer. Not a mad man. He had assumed the sticky stuff was an ointment, not mud. For a moment he almost turned back, but the idea of seeing kept him going. Even as crazy as the idea seemed, he didn’t want to give up. If he could actually get healed like this, he would do it. Besides, maybe it would be better to die in a river trying to get healed than to live blind.

    Before long he could hear the river rushing in front of him. Using his stick, he weaved in and out of the scattered trees to the rivers edge. The bank wasn’t steep at all, but rather merged with the river. Nicolas slowly walked down to the water and felt it nip at his toes. It was cool and refreshing from the heat. Uncertain, he waited for a moment. Was this really the moment he had been waiting for? Was sight sitting before him? Waiting for him to snatch it before it slipped away? A breeze hit his face and he once more imagined the sun glowing above him.

    This was the moment. Pushing his thoughts down and without a second thought, he leapt into the water and eagerly rubbed the crusty dirt out of his eyes. It hurt and burned. The mud was thick and didn’t want to come off. With more determination, he cleaned it all out. He came to the surface and the world met his eyes for the first time.

    The water was blue and rushing around him, shimmering beautifully in the sunlight. He looked at the sky and saw the sun, bright and yellow, shining down on him. Tears rushed down his face and he laughed as never before. He soaked it all in. The green trees and grass, brown dirt, the grey stone city, and anything else he could see.

    Nicolas looked at his own hands and arms. Catching a reflection of himself in the water, he quickly tried to find it again. His long hair was brown and he had deep brown eyes. He blinked and watched as the water disappeared and returned. He laughed again. It was amazing! Absolutely amazing! A bird flew out from a tree, and for the first time he saw one of the gorgeous creatures that he loved to listen to in the early mornings. No more dreaming. No more imagining. He could really see now!

    Catching him by surprise, he took notice of the people watching him from the shore. Their faces displayed their astonishment. No one had witnessed anything like it. Most of them knew Nicolas his whole life. He was always the blind man to them. No longer was it true – Nicolas was now a seeing man.

    He rushed out of the water and observed all the faces. He didn’t recognize anyone. That was of little surprise, he only knew what they sounded like. Someone said his name. He recognized it as his mother. She hadn’t come and seen him in almost two years when his father had died. She had been so bitter that he was blind and couldn’t take care of her. A short woman, slightly overweight, in dark brown garments walked towards him. Tears streamed down her face.

    “Nicolas,” she choked.

    He rushed forward and clung to her; all wrongs forgotten. She shook and cried in his arms. Unable to control his own emotions he joined her and cried his heart out. He could see and she came back to him. He didn’t know how long they stood there hugging and it didn’t really matter, but when they pulled apart, he remembered the man who had healed him. He was probably still waiting.

    Nicolas pulled his mother with him, and they walked through the astonished crowd back towards the city. It was much more difficult because everyone wanted to see Nicolas the blind man. Everyone was talking and pointing, hardly believing their eyes. Nicolas ignored them and focused on reaching the man. He had to thank him. How could he not? His life was completely changed forever!

    When he reached the city, everything was far different than how he remembered as a blind man. Nothing looked liked how he dreamed it would. They were only dreams, this was reality. He grinned, he could see.

    A man stood in a group of twelve men, and they all seemed to be waited for him. Nicolas hurried to the man who looked in charge. He had brown hair and deep eyes. A smile lit his kind face.

    Nicolas fell at the man’s feet. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” He said over and over again. The man bent down and hugged him; then pulled him up. Wiping away Nicolas’ tears, the man said, “You’re welcome Nicolas. Go home and bless others as I have blessed you.”

    Nicolas nodded, “I will. Thank you…?”

    The man smiled, “Jesus.”

    Nicolas beamed, “Thank you, Jesus.”
     
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  6. martinjonson
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    martinjonson New Member

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    Soft, Sweet, Deadly (608 words, 7 minutes)

    I couldn’t tell you when the world changed. Not exactly, anyway. I remember a day when peaches were peaches, and there was a distinct difference between golf and polo. Those days are long gone, and it all changed four minutes ago, or was it a decade? I don’t really know, okay? I’ve said that already so stop hassling me will you? What matters is this; things aren’t what they used to be, so assume nothing! The fact that you are even reading this probably means that I too have become one of them, the immortal, the undead, the blood lovers, the soft, the smooth..The highly sensitive and easily squashable, unlikely rulers of our beloved planet.

    I am writing this letter as a manual, if you will, on how to survive in a place like this, because it’s not as easy as it may seem. There are some unwritten rules that must be obeyed, and with these in mind you may just be lucky enough to survive until the world changes back – if ever it does. Firstly, don’t go out in daylight; the sun appears to make them softer and smoother by the minute, and their need for attention grows stronger and stronger. Second, never put your nail through the skin of an apple in the supermarket to see if it’s ripe, it’s absolutely disgusting and I’m sick and tired of purchasing an apple only to find it has been forcefully penetrated by a stranger in the shop. Third, don’t play golf, it has become quite the mindfudge. Lastly, don’t let them catch you.

    What will happen if they catch me, you ask? How bad can it be? Surely their smooth, pink skin and sumptuous soft flesh cannot be a source of anything but pleasure? The short answer to your query is this; don’t be an imbecile! Sure, it is great at first – I’ve heard men groan in pleasure for days, weeks even. Come join us, they shout, this is fantastic, like a dream! What seems like a cuddly fantasy at first soon turns into a hellish nightmare, though. Once you give in to the peaches, once you let them catch you, they will love you unquestioningly and without end, forever. They will rub their skin against yours, and like the touch of a young maiden it will arouse your senses, they will keep going until their delicate skin rubs away to nothing and their juices run down your body like a sickening syrup of sugar and death. As soon as one dies, another takes its place, and so it continues until your own skin gives in; I couldn’t tell you how many nights, if any, I have lay awake listening to the screams of pain coming from my fellow men and women as their skin finally bursts and the sugary blood of their tormentors enter their wounded bodies – it goes on for hours, until finally they are more peach than they are man.

    Obey these rules, and you shall live. I have also heard of a grassroots movement called ABBA (Agricultural Bashes are Blatently Apricot-spies – this name was presumably thought of before realising that our juicy fiends are in fact Peaches, not Apricots), they are searching out and collecting illegal literature which is believed to hold the answer to our salvation, how to finally extinguish our cruel yet loving rules. These mythical scriptures are known as ‘Gardeners World’, an unlikely name for a book on the black arts of death dealing if you ask me. Come sundown, I shall attempt to locate this group and join their ranks, but for now.. I shall go eat my ‘Five a day’.
     
  7. yellowm&M
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    yellowm&M Contributing Member Contributor

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    Silvery [1,513 words]

    A vast expanse of water spread out directly in front of Erica. It looked beautifully inviting and each wave seemed to beckon Erica to jump in, but she resisted its calls. She knew that the second she touched the silvery waves she would wake up. Though everything appeared to be solidly tangible, Erica knew this was a dream. For one there was no water like this around her in reality. There were no oceans or lakes or vast rivers; only a couple of ponds that were nowhere near as beautiful and certainly not the size of this water, which seemed to stretch past the ends of the earth without ever stopping. She also knew this was a dream because she had had similar dreams before. It was always some form of water that vanished the second she touched it, forcing her unwilling eyes to open as she tried to grasp at the last twisting strands of the dream before they vanished completely. None of her dreams had reached this level of grandeur until this point though. This dream was easily the most stunning of them all.

    The water continued to reach towards her feet but it always stopped just short as she carefully stepped back. A deep longing sat in the pit of her stomach begging her to just step into the water, to feel it for the merest second. But Erica resisted the urge; this dream was too beautiful to not hold onto for as long as possible. Suddenly the ground beneath her changed. The sand hardened and lengthened into planks of wood that formed a sun warmed dock. She found herself standing at the edge of it, her back to the sandy beach she had just been standing on. Sitting down, she let her feet dangle over the water as she leaned her head back to fully absorb the sun’s rays. This, she thought, was more proof that she was in the midst of a dream. Erica closed her eyes and sat there for a while without thinking, only feeling the comfort that the dream was providing.

    Soft footsteps made their way up behind her but she didn’t notice them until a pair of hands shoved her straight into the water. She fell in with a loud splash and panicked at the realization that she was about to wake up. However seconds passed without her eyes opening to see her bedroom walls. It was only now, that she began to appreciate the feel of being in the water, which was every bit as wonderful as it had appeared. Her head broke the surface and she saw a blonde boy standing on the dock laughing at her. Thought she was sure she had never before seen the boy in real life she instantly recognized him as a friend so close he was practically her brother within this dreamscape.

    “Not funny Dylan. So not funny.” But a smile had curved her lips nonetheless.

    “You kidding me? That was perfect! Come on, you gotta admit that was perfect.”

    “Ok fine, you kind of got me.”

    “Kind of?!” He smirked at her and she smiled back. Swimming over to a ladder she clambered back onto the dock as silver drops of water dripped onto the wood from her. Stretching out her arms wide she began walking towards Dylan.

    “You want a hug?”

    “No I’m good. Don’t hug me!” He stepped back away from her trying to ward her off.

    “Oh come on, you sure you don’t want a hug?” She attempted to grab him and he managed to push her away. Both of them were laughing again. “Come on, let me hug you!”

    “No! no! ohhhhhh! You got me all wet!” There was no anger in his voice as she hugged him then released him, drops of water now sparkling on his chest.

    “Oops, my bad.”

    “Yeah, because it was totally an accident.” His voice was chalked full of sarcasm.

    “Oh course it was!”

    “Yeah right.”

    “I love you little bro” She smiled at him and held her arms out again, “forgive me?” He contemplated for a second and then embraced her back.

    “Ok fine, I forgive you.” The two of them then sat down on a bench in silence, but a companionable silence. It was the kind of silence that is comfortable and easy and doesn’t require any noise to fill it; the kind that is only achieved in the closest of relationships. After a while she got up and wandered back over to edge of the dock and Dylan followed her. Slinging her arm around his shoulder she turned to him.

    “Have you gotten in the water yet?”

    “Nope.” Without warning she shoved him in.

    “Now you have!” She yelled as his head popped up, “You had to have seen that one coming.”

    “Yeah I did.”

    “It was pretty perfect too you know.”

    “It was ok.” He answered with a huge grin at which she just shook her head. “Come on; get back in Erica!” Hesitating, she worried that if she got in it would wake her up, but Dylan’s calls and a desire to feel the water again propelled her back into its depth which stayed tangibly there for her. She came up to a face full of water as Dylan splashed her.

    “Hey!” She chased after him, splashing him back. They swam for a while, filling the peaceful atmosphere with splashes and laughter. Eventually the two of them took to floating next to each other on their backs, staring up at the endless blue sky. Never before had Erica felt as at ease with a person and her surroundings than at that moment. The longer she remained there, the less she thought it was a dream and the more she realized she was content to stay like that forever. She glanced over at Dylan her eyes meeting his. He was wearing a serious expression, his mouth open as if he was about to speak.

    “Erica, I think-“

    “We’re here. Wake up honey.” Her eyes snapped open and Dylan’s face faded from her sight to be replaced by the inside of the family car. Disoriented, her mind raced to figure out what was real and what wasn’t. Slowly she was forced to recognize that everything that had happened with Dylan had been a dream. Tears choked her throat and it took a huge effort of will to not cry. The dream had been amazing and waking up from it was worse than waking up from any other dream she had ever had. This one had felt so real, she had been almost completely convinced it was real; and Dylan had felt like someone she truly had known. However in reality she didn’t know him or anyone like him. Sighing she got out of the car and grabbed the remaining bags out of the trunk, following her parents sadly over to the cabin they were renting for the summer. After everything was put in its place her father turned to her.

    “The lake is just down that path that goes behind the cabin; do you want to go for a swim?”

    “Sure I guess…” Still upset over her dream, Erica grabbed her suit and changed into it before grabbing a towel and walking out of the cabin and down the rocky path. Huge trees shaded everything in, hiding the lake her father had mentioned from view. Suddenly the path opened up onto a long, sandy beach. At the edge of the beach was a sparkling lake with silvery waves lapping against the shore. Erica caught her breath as recognition blew through her. Though she could see the opposite shore some distance away, the water and its silver color was identical to the water she had so recently dreamed about. Sitting on the dock was an indistinct person with light hair. Slowly, she made her way over to the person who seemed to notice her presence when she had gotten within a few feet, causing them to turn around and face her. It was a young boy with blonde hair and a face that was an exact copy of Dylan’s. Erica caught her breath, shocked into a recognition that she noticed in his eyes as well.

    “Hi.” She said to him uncertainly.

    “Hi.” His tone was also hesitant.

    “Are you staying in one of these cabins?”

    “Yeah, I’m in cabin six. What about you?”

    “I’m staying in cabin eight.”

    “Oh you’re next door to me.

    “Cool.” They stood there for a moment in silence that was strangely comfortable. “I’m Erica by the way.”

    “I’m Dylan,” He paused for a moment, and then continued his voice very unsure, “I don’t mean to sound creepy or anything, but you seem really familiar.”

    “It’s not creepy; I was actually thinking the same thing.” Erica gave him a small smile that he returned, “do you want to go swimming?”

    “Sure.” The two of them began to walk down the dock together, and Erica couldn’t help but feel that there was something special about this lake and this summer.
     
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  8. thecox
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    thecox Member

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    Meat (778 words)

    Tepid water droplets collected in the crossbar of the prison bunk above my head and dripped. Drip drip drip on my forehead. Steady, just like that. I ignored them and tried to sleep.

    But at the edge of my thoughts I heard something else, something worth hearing. I heard commotion. A riot maybe. I sat up on the edge of the bottom bunk.

    I drew my right hand down across my face to feel the flesh there.

    Could I be sure it was me underneath all that meat?

    I looked around my prison cell, a five by five cube filled with grime and excrement. There was nothing but a stained steel toilet and two hard bunks.

    I noticed that my cellmate Skim was gone and the door gaped wide open like the mouth of some monstrous beast. There were no guards patrolling the halls. No seven-foot convicts scouring the open cells for fresh meat. But the sound of crashing metal and shouts echoed through the ghostly chambers. I groped beneath my mattress until my hand met cold steel. I pulled out a hand-made knife crafted out of a cafeteria spoon.

    I wandered through my cell door and looked down over the second-floor railing. The rows of cells stretched on and on into infinity. I stood in the middle of this maze, at the precipice of some great discovery. The shrill screams sounded inhuman now. The sudden pop pop of rifle fire made me flinch.

    “Onward onward,” I said. My voice sounded hollow.

    The commotion seemed to resonate from the main guard house to the east so I began to wander in that direction. I shuffled along like the walking dead. The length of cells seemed to continue on into oblivion. I walked down several flights of stairs, through another cell block, past solitary confinement.

    Every level the light diminished a little more until I could barely see my hands in front of my face. I began to panic, to lose track of myself in the labyrinth. All I could hear of the riots was the occasional crack of a rifle, muffled now and far off.

    I gripped the knife tighter. Deadly and comforting. What a strange security blanket.

    I felt something watching me. It loomed in the darkness.

    “Liam.” It was a soft voice, one that I recognized from far off. Still, I held my knife in front of me.

    “Who’s there?” I felt my throat tighten, licked my lips. The air was stifling.

    “What are you afraid of, Liam?”

    “I’m not afraid. Not afraid. Just show your goddamn face.”

    “Which face?” The voice deepened. It surrounded me.

    I kept my knife up and paced forward. I heard footsteps scraping the concrete behind me. They shuffled off further down the rabbit hole.

    “Come back!”

    I ran, pushing myself forward. The screams and shouts dissipated now. The crack of rifle-fire stopped. The sounds of a riot were replaced with more subtle noises: a broken wine glass, a muffled argument. My lungs burned but I kept running. In the distance a bright light shined and flickered. The silhouette of the stranger stood with its legs spread. I trembled at the sight.

    “Who are you?” I shouted and jogged forward.

    “You can still turn back, Liam. I’m trying to protect you.”

    I was running now but it didn’t matter. The light and the stranger seemed to keep their distance.

    “What are you?”

    “Whatever you need me to be.”

    “Answer me!”

    And with that, the distance shortened and I was face to face with the shadow, with the shade of a man that I hardly remembered. The man’s black hair was disheveled, his eyelids drooping. The stench of booze and cigars filled the air.

    The room was hauntingly familiar. An old shag carpet and amber lamps highlighted the décor. A full-length mirror across from the fireplace reflected the scene that I had so long tried to bury. A broken wine glass crunched beneath my feet.

    That disheveled son-of-a-bitch at the end of the hall, in the mirror, was me, always me.

    I watched my reflection draw its hand down across my face, across all that meat and bone and cartilage.

    The smell of booze was overpowering and I knew there was more than that. A crimson stain stared at me from the collar of my button-up shirt. Behind the brown couch, a pair of feet stuck straight up. They seemed peaceful almost. But the shag carpet surrounding her body had become sticky and dark. I dropped the bloodied knife to the ground.

    I sat down on the edge of the couch.

    I wondered what was left of me under all that meat.
     
  9. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for all the entries. Voting and the new contest will be launched shortly.
     
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