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Short Story Contest 05 Voting

Poll closed Aug 6, 2007.
  1. crashbang - The Bindle-Stiff - Lonely Thoughts

    1 vote(s)
    9.1%
  2. Crazy Ivan - Holy Ghost

    2 vote(s)
    18.2%
  3. Banzai - Boots

    1 vote(s)
    9.1%
  4. Heahter - Strangers In The Night

    2 vote(s)
    18.2%
  5. Bill - On The Backs Of Words

    2 vote(s)
    18.2%
  6. The Freshmaker - Evangelization

    2 vote(s)
    18.2%
  7. Whitejd - Mind Games

    1 vote(s)
    9.1%
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  1. Torana
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    SS 05 Voting

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Torana, Jul 30, 2007.

    Short Story Contest 05
    Voting
    (Sorry that these aren't links like Ferret had done, I am still working out the details)

    Voting will end 6/08/07. You can vote for yourselfs But I would hope in the name of good sportsman ship you'd vote for a short story you haven't written. But I'll leave that decission up to you.


    Good Luck and happy Voting.

    Torana​
     
  2. Torana
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    crashbang

    The bindle-stiff

    Lonely thoughts
    The bindle stiff had simply walked in the days past. His feet continued to ache as he walked over the hard ground, be it the dusty road which he was now on, on the hard paths through the wood. The sun beat down upon him in the summer months, sun burning his neck as he walked that dusty road.
    He was punishing himself as far as he was concerned. Carrying the bindle on his back, work card, what money he had, a de-licing can. A luger he had picked up on the way out of his last job, along with a few bullets. Maybe, when he was old and useless, he would put himself out of his own misery. A simple, painless and effective procedure it’d be too- an old friend had carried it out on his dog once. It had seemed right at the time.
    He still punished himself for doing the same to his friend. A year past, in the river under the trees. To stop his friends suffering, he tried to think. Later on he would leave another behind, to suffer starving in his old age, useless as people believed he would be. That friend had pleaded to go with him of course, to travel with him, make their own great American dream. The bindle stiff had left him too, sitting on a hard stool outside a whore house in that ranches town, head in his hand. At the time bindle stiff had not cared, not really, so wrapped up in his other friend so he was. And the dream of course. The dream that had looked so possible, for a day at least.
    He didn’t care about the dream anymore. The dream was ashes in a fire, reduced to so little the day he had fired that luger into the back of his friends head, while reciting that dream of theirs of course. That was the way of course, like baiting a mouse into a trap with the cheese. Wave it in front of them, let them sniff it, goad them to it…and then have it break their backs. Wave the great dream in front of them, let them sniff it, almost taste it.
    And then bang. Like the horrible roar of the luger, you were broken.
    He sat down on a fallen tree, sitting in the part that was worn with being sat on over the years. He fumbled for the canister in his bindle, drew it out, took a gulp.
    Warm of course, barely sufferable. Still, it was better then the pond water, the water that never moved. That water could be infected.
    Why did he care? The friend he killed never cared. He would lap it up, like a horse.
    He had left those friends behind. He could’ve kept em. He could’ve stayed. He couldn’t once the dream had fallen apart. Or so he told himself to begin with.
    Eventually he realised that now the dream had fallen apart, it wasn’t worth leaving over. But he had kept walking anyway. Why? Because he was just another Bindle-stiff o’ course. Just another ranch hand, wandering on alone, all great dreams forgotten. He had been living the dream of course, though he didn’t know it at the time, always took it for granted, if nothing else. Jus odd to see guys like you too going round together is all… was that what they had said? It was that what they had said? It seemed so long ago…
    As he walked past the trees, he watched a hare in the trees. Bouncing around like they did, sniffing out for food, watching for predators all the while. It all all alone, just like him.
    The bindle stiff wondered what the hare would do if it had the luger instead of him. Kill itself perhaps, perhaps go on living the loners life. Or perhaps the hare would put him out of his misery with it. Bindle stiff smiled briefly at the thought.
    He had regretted leaving ever since he promised never to go back. Ever since he had had these long times to himself, walking for days on end, setting up a fire in some secluded clearing or roadside, eating cans of whatever he could get. Alone.
    How he missed those last few days at the ranch.
    As he walked along the road, one hand grasping the bindle, the other in his pocket, he heard the clop-clop. Heard the horses pull up besides him. Did not look around.
    ‘You need a ride?’
    The bindle stiff looked up at the rider, cautious eyes judging everything about this man who came from nowhere. Another ranch hand from the look of him. Another bindle stiff. His chequered shirt had a small gash in it, a rip below the arm, and his trousers, thin ones at that, had rough uneven patches over both knees. Both looked too small for a guy who was taller than the average man and had outgrown them. The horse he rode, alongside another which was short the rider, both looked a little forlorn. The bindle stiff wondered if he wanted to take it. Did he deserve to. Did he trust the man?
    ‘Where’d u get that gash under your arm there.’ Bindle stiff asked, nodding towards it. The ranch hand looked down at it with him.
    ‘Got into a little trouble back in town.’ The rancher answered, indicating back the way he had come. ‘Some little punk took offence.’
    The bindle stiff observed him for a while longer, judging his eyes, his stance, his breathing.
    And then, without a word, he walked around the ranch hand, moved to the rider less horse, and mounted with little fuss.
    ‘Did ya say the name of the town back there?’
    ‘No I didn’t mister. It went by the name of Soledad. Didn’t take much fancy to the place myself, was only there for a night.’
    The rancher asked one other question before they would ride into the sunset and onto the next ranch, and the next, and many others. Bindle stiff didn’t know how long he would stay with this one, but did know that for now he would at least.
    ‘You have a name, mister?’ The ranch hand asked suddenly, as they trotted along the dusty road.
    ‘Milton.’
    The ranch hand nodded, accepting the answer for now it seemed, before urging his horse into a canter. Milton followed suit.
     
  3. Torana
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    Crazy Ivan

    Holy Ghost
    Kingsley Richards did not know where in the world he was, but the world did not know where Kingsley Richards was, and that was the way he liked it.
    If anyone had asked where he was, he would have said, “I don’t know. Somewhere in Russia, I think.” When he stopped at gas stations and restaurants, he always made sure to avoid anything that looked like it might tell him where he was. He was lost, and he liked it that way. He had been for years now; one day he had gone from Chicago to Ireland and started walking. Then he had traveled to London and gotten himself lost somewhere in England; then after a few months he had taken a boat to Germany, gotten his own car. and starting driving east. Now he only stopped for food, gas, and sleep. When he had to go to the bathroom, he used the side of road. At first he had avoided big cities, but now it didn’t matter because no one spoke his language, so he couldn’t find out where he was. (The way they talked was the reason he thought he was in Russia, though.) When he reached an ocean, he was going to stop and go home.
    But until then, Kingsley Richards was lost, and determined not to be found.
    One day, there was a man on the side of the road. He held his thumb out, the sign of a hitchhiker.
    As Kingsley pulled up, he noticed the man’s shirt; it read I WAS AT TURIN AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY SHROUD. Kingsley Richards was not religious; he had no idea what it meant. But it did tell him one thing: This man spoke English. That could be dangerous.
    The moment Kingsley opened the door, he said: “I’ll let you come with me, but you can’t tell me where we are or where you want to go. Just point what direction I need to drive in, and tell me where to let you out.”
    The man shrugged, making his hair tumble around his shoulders. It was long and brown and wavy, a sort of casual hippy look. He had a long beard that was swept to the side by the wind; the arm he was using to signal with showed some massive pit stain. This guy looked tired and sweaty and dirty; he must have been traveling for a long time.
    As he clambered into the car, he replied: “No problem, man. I don’t care about where I am. Just drive, we’ll get where we’re going eventually. But what’s your story?”
    Kingsley shrugged. “I just…like being lost, I guess. It means I don’t have to worry about war or the world or the wife.”
    The hitchhiker bent down to rummage through his knapsack, and Kingsley winced as they passed over an enormous crack in the road. “Damn Russians need to learn how to pave their roads.”
    The man looked up. “Russians? Thought you didn’t know where we were.”
    “It’s just a guess, man. Get off my case.” Kingsley knew he didn’t need to be this harsh, but he didn’t much like other people, which was probably why he was so successful at being lost.
    The man looked back down at his knapsack, and then sighed with relief. “Oh, thank God, I thought I’d lost my bottle.”
    He pulled out a plastic water bottle, but frowned. Kingsley looked over and saw it was filled not with water, but with dark purple wine.
    “Dang,” the man muttered. “I did it again.”
    Kingsley didn’t know what to make of this, so he seized onto something else to talk about.
    “Dang?” he chuckled. “You just come out of fourth grade, man?”
    The stranger looked confused. “What? Why?”
    ‘I don’t know. I guess I’m just used to hearing people say ‘damn.’”
    The man bit his lip. “Oh. I…don’t like that word. You never know who might be listening.”
    “C’mon, man, we’re in the middle of nowhere. I said it just a bit ago, didn’t I?”
    “Yeah, but…I didn’t want to criticize. Ever heard of the phrase “let he who is without sin…’”
    “…cast the first stone, yeah.” Kingsley looked at the man. “Why?”
    The man smiled. “I always did like that one; a little stroke of genius on my part.”
    “What are you talking about?” This was why Kingsley didn’t like other people; so damn confusing. “What’s your name, anyway?”
    “My friends called me Joshua,” said Joshua.
    “Called?”
    “Yeah, they’re mostly gone now. I have other names now, too.”
    “Where’d you come from, Joshua?”
    Joshua shrugged. “I’ve been lots of places. Egypt. The Middle East. Israel. I assume you’ve been lots of places, too?” Outside, they passed a farmhouse. It looked like they were coming into a small town.
    “Yeah, I just never knew what they were.” Kingsley laughed harshly.
    Joshua looked concerned. “But then what’s the point of being there? If you don’t know what you have, you can’t really have it.”
    “Hah, where’d you get that, a fortune cookie?” Kingsley grinned. “First the stones, and now this. You do like your trite sayings.”
    “Here’s one you might recognize: ‘I once was lost, but now am found…’”
    Kingsley shook his head. “That some gospel song? Sorry, man, I’m not big on religion.”
    “Really.” Joshua raised an eyebrow. The houses were definitely clumping up now; Kingsley could even see one or two people in the fields, and some cars in the driveways. Civilization.
    Eurgh. Kingsley sped up, trying to get out of the town, and continued to talk.
    “Really. Personally, I think even if I was a Christian, it would only be depressing. Take Jesus. When we finally get a perfect guy who spreads peace and love and happiness, what do we do? We nail him to a tree.” Kingsley tutted. His foot pressed down on the gas even harder.
    “Yeah, but he did come back,” Joshua pointed out. “Maybe humanity was smarter the next time. Maybe they kept him around.”
    “Sorry, but you know how it goes: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. I’m sure they continued to nail that sucker until he left for good.”
    “I’m not,” Joshua said. “And what’s this? Now you’re talking like it was real. But you’re too smart for religion, right?”
    Kingsley brought the car screeching to a halt, outside a house. He turned, eyes raging.
    “What do you know? You think you can just come into my car and then tell me what’s wrong with my world view?”
    “How can you have a world view if you don’t know what part of the world you’re viewing?” Joshua asked calmly.
    Kingsley snapped his hand over Joshua, slamming the passenger’s door open. “That’s it!” he roared. “Out! And don’t even think of getting back in!”
    Joshua, with great cool and calm, slowly undid his seatbelt, put away his bottle of water-wine, closed up his knapsack, and stepped out of the car. He gave Kingsley a small wave and smile goodbye, then closed the door behind him and stuck out his thumb once more, ready to stand there for who knew how long until someone picked him up again.
    Good riddance. Kingsley gunned the motor and pulled off in a tearing screech.
    As he drove through the town, he fumed to himself. Who did that guy think he was? Jesus Christ? He-
    Something made Kingsley slow down and look out the rearview mirror. He could still see the hitchhiker far behind him. A car exited one of the farmhouses’ driveways, and pulled out. It slowed down when it passed Joshua; surely it was going to stop and-
    -but no, it just sped right back up again, leaving Joshua where he was, apparently undisturbed and unruffled.
    If you don’t know what you have, you can’t really have it.
    Kingsley bit his lip.
    How can you have a world view if you don’t know what part of the world you’re viewing?
    He slowed the car to a full stop.
    I once was lost, but now am found.
    Silence descended on the car.
    Maybe humanity was smarter the next time. Maybe they kept him around…
    Kingsley swore, and started the car up again.

    Joshua had been standing there for a few minutes, calmly surveying the road, waiting for someone to pick him up, someone to talk to.
    There was a roaring noise, and the crunch of gravel.
    Joshua turned.
    “Hop in,” Kingsley said through the rolled down window.
    Joshua smiled; so did Kingsley.

    “So…” Kingsley said after Joshua was buckled in again.
    Joshua looked interested. “Yes?”
    Kingsley looked to be having some internal debate, then apparently gave in and said:
    “Where are we, anyway?”
    Joshua grinned.
    “I thought you’d never ask…”
    As the car started up and drove away, Kingsley Richards, who once was lost, now was found.
     
  4. Torana
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    Banzai

    Boots​

    I looked down at my boots. My tired, old, mud-caked boots. They had carried me a long way- all the way to the godforsaken dirt road I was sat by. Somewhere in the darkness of Eurasia- Russia, Uzbekistan, or Kazakhstan maybe. I don’t know, it’s hard to keep track of these things so far out of the way. All I was really aware of was the road in front of me, and the dull pain in my feet telling me it was time to find an alternative method of transport.

    So that was how I came to be sat by a dirt road, in the middle of bleeding nowhere, waiting for the next alpaca farmer to come by that road, and offer me a lift and conversations in broken gibberish. But what I got was something surprisingly different. A battered looking Land Rover, clattering up the road to me, drew my attention immediately. It was not a farmer, that was for sure; this was a high-end western vehicle, and in a much better condition that those the farmers drove. Nothing was falling off this one.

    And wonder of wonders it stopped. Not that a motor vehicle picking up a hitchhiker is anything unusual out here, but a westerner stopping? Such a thing was almost unheard of. I stood, dutifully, wondering if this person meant to make some money out of ferrying me, and how they would react upon discovering that I had no money and no food. The Land Rover slowed to a stop beside me, and the cheery driver opened the door to me. As soon as he spoke, I knew I was safe.

    ‘Hello there, mate!’ he said, with a smile almost the whole width of his face. ‘What’re you doin’ all the way out here?’

    An Australian. What the hell an Australian was doing out in the middle of nowhere, I hadn’t a clue. But then, I didn’t really care. When you spend your life walking from place to place, and depending entirely on strangers, you learn to live by certain stereotypes. One of those is that Australians are always generous and are always good company.

    ‘Just trying to get to the next town, sir,’ I answered, climbing into the passenger seat. ‘Just trying to get to the next town.’

    ‘Well, I’d be glad to give you a lift as far as Chelkar,’ the Australian said, hitting the accelerator almost as soon as I’d hit the seat. ‘Call me John, by the way.’
    ‘Rich,’ I said, holding out my hand nervously. He took it, and the Land Rover lurched to the side, worryingly. It kept to the road, but next time we might not be so lucky, so I took back my hand, and fastened my seatbelt.

    Looking into the footwell, I saw that my new friend was wearing a particularly fine pair of new hiking boots. They looked pristine compared to my war weary specimens. I had looked down because John’s driving made me nauseous. I know you’re supposed to look forwards if you feel carsick, but it was the very view of the man’s god-awful driving that was causing me to want to upchuck. As it was, looking away didn’t make things any better, my imagination made things appear worse than actually seeing them. Looking up didn’t seem so bad, any more.

    ‘So what are you doing in Chelkar?’ I asked, as much to absorb myself in something as out of any desire to know. It was only after asking it, that I realised it would only further distract him. Damn.

    And as expected, the vehicle gave a slight hiccough in its path, its wheels screaming as the tore up dirt from the road. ‘The Kazakhstan-China gas pipeline,’ he answered. ‘I’m working on the planning for it. It’s gonna stretch all way from Chelkar to China, don’t ya know?’

    I was almost embarrassed to say that I didn’t know, but then he couldn’t have seriously expected such topical knowledge from a poor hitchhiker. This John character was an unusual man, to be sure. The things he asked me… We spoke of politics (apparently, in my absence, Mr Blair has retired as Prime Minister), of culture (the 2012 Olympics are to be held in London, don’t ya know?), and all manner of other trivial and meaningless things. In all honesty, his talkative manner was quite annoying, and had I not been grateful to him for giving me a lift, I probably would have told him in no uncertain terms to be quiet.

    But I weathered the constant talking as I weathered the bad driving, for the simple sake of making it to my destination. In fact, after a while I simply became immunised to the swerving and near misses. They were still there, I just didn’t think of them. He always seemed to just avoid disaster at the last moment. Well, for most of the time…

    It was around three hours into the journey, when I began to feel a sense of imminent doom. I suppose the helmsman of the Titanic must have felt a similar sense just before he hit the iceberg. I didn’t try to squash it down inside me, and ignore it, simply because I didn’t have the time. No sooner than I had felt it, a deer appeared out of nowhere, in the middle of the road.

    ‘Bloody hell!’ John roared, and flung the car to the side, off the road and into a ditch. I saw my life flash before my eyes. Cliché, I know, but it actually does happen. And it was probably a good thing, considering that it meant that I didn’t see the ground approaching us at a frightful speed.

    The first thing I remember, was hanging in my seatbelt, looking at the grassy ground pressed against the windscreen. We had flipped over. But despite the violent nature of the accident, I felt alright. Shaken, but alright. As miraculous as it seemed, I didn’t appear to be injured at all. I breathed a sigh of relief.
    ‘Well, that was close, eh John?’ I asked. John didn’t answer. Then I saw the blood splattered across the windscreen.

    I have seen a great many things on my journeys on the roads of the world, you can’t help it; but a man impaled on a wooden fence post is by far and away the worst I’ve seen. John was slumped on the offending stake, with his blood running down its length. It looked to have hit fairly close to- if not dead on- his heart, and his lifeless eyes were still wide open.

    I quickly undid my seatbelt, and scrambled desperately out of the upturned car, spraying vomit from my mouth as I did so. I don’t know how long I spent, pumping my stomach’s scant contents onto the grass. Most of it was bile by the end, so it must have been some time indeed. But when I looked back at the scene of devastation, I felt no less sickened.

    But practicality quickly took over. This wasn’t Britain. I couldn’t wait here for assistance to come; it might take days, or even weeks. I had to get moving. The Land Rover was unsalvageable- at least to me alone. I could never turn it back over alone. I would have to walk, all of the way to the next town or village. Chelkar, perhaps. I dreaded the thought of it. It was only then that I noticed again the boots that John was wearing still…


    Don’t judge me. I did only what I had to. Others would have taken more than his boots. But as I walked along the path, away from that upturned Land Rover, I felt better than I had in the vehicle. I was alone. I had nothing. Nothing but the sky above me, the road beneath me, and the world all around me. And the last kindness of an Australian man named John helped me on my way.
     
  5. Torana
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    Heather

    Strangers in the Night


    A bright moon shone in the starless sky above casting an eerie glow over everything in my sight. I pulled my cloak closer to my body as a cold breeze blew up the road and swept around my ankles, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Trees lined either side of the dark path on which I travelled, their branches stretching out into the night air and tickling the sky. Behind me I could hear the sound of a carriage approaching and I stopped to listen for voices. Straining my ears hard, I could just about make out the voices of two men talking to one another, apparently arguing about something.

    Looking back at the carriage I could see that I was very grand. Deciding that it was not the carriage of highway men, I pulled down my hood to allow my dark red curls fall down my shoulders, and waited patiently by the side of the road for the approaching coach.

    It didn’t take long for a big black carriage to roll to a stop in front of my feet. As I walked closer the little red door flew open and the shadow of a tall man looked down at me.

    “Who goes there?” he asked, his voice holding a high tone of authority. Trying with all my might to make my voice sound strong and important, I replied.

    “It is Isabella Harvey, the daughter of Master Harvey. I am travelling to the city of Reachton, and was wondering if you fine gentlemen could offer a young maiden a lift?” I looked straight up as I spoke to the man, my face held high with the light from inside the carriage making me appear white and ghost like. He hesitated for a minute, before stepping down from his perch to aid me into the carriage.

    “I am Edward Thomas, at your service young maiden.” He said, taking my hand in his and kissing it lightly. The whiskers upon his chin tickled the back if my hand, causing me to shudder, and he placed a tight grip around my waist as he lifted me into the coach.

    Although there was not much space inside the carriage it was very comfortable and looked amazing. The seats were lined with thick red velvet, as where the curtains and a gas lamp hung from the ceiling, swinging precautiously as the coach travelled on. The other man in the carriage sat opposite me. Seeing both men in full light, I realised that they were both much older than I had originally thought. Edward, the man that had helped me up had dark brown hair with flecks of grey, and his beard was completely grey. The other man was even older still, with completely white hair and beard, and wrinkles lined his hollow face.

    “So, what is a young lady such as yourself doing travelling on her own at night, especially in such dangerous times?” he asked, his face full of care this time as he spoke. His eyes were a deep brown and they seemed to glint in the light as he watched me fiddle with the bottom of my frayed cloak. Noticing that I was shivering still, even in the warmth of the carriage, he pulled off his own cloak and wrapped it around my shaking shoulders. I tried to smile at him, thanking him for his generosity.

    “I need to retrieve something for my father,” I started, glancing sideways at the white-haired man. He was listening to our conversation, making me nervous when talking. “He has something hidden in Reachton that he asked me to get for him, so that is where I am going.”

    “And what exactly is hidden that is too hard for your father to retrieve himself?” he asked, his voice seeming slightly harder this time. Taking offence at his tone when speaking about my father I raised my voice slightly also.

    “I am sorry but I do not think that it is any of your business.” I told him sternly, before turning my head to watch out of the little window.

    For the next hour or so we all sat in silence, and I watched the fields and trees and villages pass by the window. Regretting that I spoke to Edward as I did, I looked at him and thought about how to go about an apology, when the carriage stopped violently. Outside I could hear men’s voices, loud and clear in the otherwise silent night.

    “Highway men!” Edward proclaimed looking worried suddenly. From inside his jacket he pulled a revolver, something which I had never seen up close before. I knew that my father owned one, but, being a woman I had never held one myself. Edward played with the gun for a minute, clicking bits and pieces into place, before handing it to me.

    “Hold it like this,” he said, positioning the gun in my hand so that the trigger rested between my fingers, “And just squeeze the trigger to shoot.” He pulled on my finger slightly as he said this, but not enough to emit a bullet. The feeling of his hand, soft and big closed around made me tingle, and I smiled up at him. No sooner had I looked into his eyes did he pull away and remove yet another gun from its holster beneath his jacket.

    “Wait in here, and shoot only if you must!” he told me sternly before leaping from the carriage into the dark night. The white haired man followed, and I was stood in the bright of the carriage on my own, the cold seeping in through the open door.

    Outside I could hear little of what was going on. Screams and shouts echoed through my ears, disturbing the silence of the peaceful night. I could hear a man shouting and a face appeared around the door of the carriage, staring straight at me. The man was young and wore an eye-patch over his left eye. His toothy smile and stubbly chin gave me the impression of a pirate, and I half expected him to shout “Argg” into the night. However, he did not. Instead, he held a gun up and pointed it straight at were my heart was beating fast inside my heaving chest. I gasped, and stumbled backwards, falling through the other side of the carriage, landing in a pile on the hard, cold floor below. My head hit the land with tremendous force, nearly knocking me straight out.

    It was the piercing sound of a gun-shot that broke the noise, throwing the night back into silence once more. Only this was a new type of silence, it was deathly. From my spot on the floor I peered under the carriage to see a man lying face first on the floor, and a pool of deep red blood pouring from his body. My heart nearly stopped there and then as I came to the realisation that it was in fact Edward who was lying on the floor, and I jumped to my feet with such tremendous force that I nearly jumped right into the carriage. Running around to the other side of the coach, I saw that the highway men had scattered, retreating back to horses and galloping off into the night, not to be seen again by myself for many years.

    Ignoring the men, I ran to Edwards’s side, landing on my knees in the pool of blood that surrounded him. I pulled him onto his front so that his deathly pale face looked up into the sky, and he looked directly into my sobbing face. His eyes looked empty and frail, like that of an old man, and his lips quivered as he tried to speak.

    “I . . . I . . . . am . . . . . sorry.” He told me as the light left his eyes and his head lolled to the side. Silvery tears poured from my eyes, trickling down my icy cheeks and landing with splashes on Edwards’s no longer moving chest. My hand trembling, I closed his eyes for the last time and leant forward to kiss his lips ever so gently.

    With that I stood up and looked around. The white haired man and the carriage driver were no-where to be seen; they had fled the scene and left their friend dying. Anger boiled in my blood; how dare they do this?! My mind raced as I jumped into the driver’s seat of the carriage and sped off into the night. That night I vowed revenge on the men that killed Edward, the only man that had ever helped me.
     
  6. Torana
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    Bill

    On the Backs of Words

    He walked down to the café. It had always been a place he had wanted to go, but he had been afraid. There were giants there, huge beings who sipped from little cups while their terrible voices rang out. People could hear those voices miles away, though muffled and incomprehensible, so all that came through were rough, rumbling sounds that no one could understand.

    He wanted to understand. So he walked down to the café. The sounds of talk and breathing were loud as he came to the door. The clinking of cups and plates seemed almost as loud. Taking a deep breath, he stepped in.

    The room was small, as were the tables and chairs. The giants were twisted and bunched up as they sat. Shoulders hit the ceiling. Knees were forced up near their ears. Long arms kept knocking into other giants and pieces of furniture. There were a couple of little people, like him, who wandered through the mass of giant bodies to fill cups and put down plates of tea biscuits.

    Words were visible in this place. Little words and big words and enormous words fell from giant lips and clattered to the floor. Some went speeding around in the air, then out the doors and windows to fly away. He didn’t understand many of the words. They were too much for him. Then he saw one that looked pretty, all purple and shining. As it blew by him, he stuck out his thumb. It picked him up and threw him on its back.

    He hitched a ride on the word as it soared out the door and up into the sky. The word carried him with great speed, so much that he couldn’t see the world around him. It was all a blur. The word didn’t ask him where he was going or where he would get off. It just carried him without a care. He soon got tired of the word and hopped off.

    He fell for a long time before he landed with a thud on the earth. It was a while before the pain passed and he could open his eyes. He was in a forest of tall golden trees with silver leaves. Wandering through, he began to hear the voices of these trees. Soft, gentle voices. The words drifted slowly through the branches. Some were prettier than others. One of the prettiest was silver like the leaves. He could barely see it, but what he did see stirred his blood. He stuck out his thumb and it lifted him onto its back.

    All of a sudden, the word began to race. Branches and leaves smacked him in the face as he rode the word. It carried him out of the forest and through the skies above the earth. Again, all was a blur. He soon got bored. He asked the word to let him off. It turned over and dumped him. He fell a short way and landed in something soft.

    The something soft was the sands of a desert. He looked around. All he could see was white sand and blue sky. There were sounds, the wind blowing over the dry ground and through the scant plants. There were no voices though.

    He wandered, without direction, for a long time. The sun beat down on him with all its weight and the dry heat sucked the water right out of him. He was so thirsty. There was nothing in the desert at all. It made him feel small and weak, and his thirst nagged at him.

    The nothingness of the place began to wear him down. His thirst grew until it was all he knew. The sun sank, and as it did, the cold came in its place. It was as brutal and crushing as the heat had been. And still there was the dryness in his throat. He walked and walked all through the night, but saw nothing but blackness and waste. It ground on him until he had to lie down on the cool sands and rest. He had never felt so alone. He drifted into sleep, and he dreamed. He dreamed simple dreams, but there was something else in them. When he woke, he spoke.

    It was the first time he had spoken. His words came out pitiful at first. Then there were stronger, prettier ones. They weren’t as beautiful as those he had ridden to this place, but they were nice. One that came out was quite nice. He struggled to raise his arm, and when he did, stuck out his thumb. The word lifted him onto its back and started off. He could see the world all around him, this word going at his pace, and it turned at his direction with a little pressure from his knees.

    His word carried him to an oasis. There he drank his fill of the clean blue water. He spoke other words, and if they were pretty, he would hitch a ride, and they would take him where he wanted to go. He went many places.
     
  7. Torana
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    The Freshmaker

    Evangelization

    He saw a cloud of dust way in the distance. Someone was coming. It would be the first someone since he's been dropped off at the Pump-n-Pay at 7:18 this morning. Thank God. If he had to look at one more damn cactus, he'd have a fit.

    He looked forward again and saw that everlasting shimmer on the road, that shimmer that looked deceptively and tantalizingly like water. It only reminded him how hot and thirsty he was. The water in his pack was warm by now, and wouldn't taste all that good. He'd save it for when he was really thirsty. If only it would rain like it had yesterday. But of course there wasn't even one blessed cloud in the sky to do so much as block the sun. Damn and blast.

    The car was closer now. Of course, now, he could see that it wasn't a car but a truck. Big, square face; large tires; white and navy paint job. He stuck his thumb out, and began walking backward so that the driver could see his face. He prided himself on having an honest face, a face that strangers could trust. His grandmother had told him that he could make a wonderful salesman.

    As the truck came closer, the roar of the engine faded to a quick put-put-put. It was slowing down. He could see the driver clearly now. A skinny man in a grubby white shirt. His skin had the look of one who would be quite pale under common conditions, but on whom continuous exposure to the sun had had a lasting effect. Atop his head was a mean mop of greasy, sun-faded red hair. The driver came even with the hitchhiker and brought the truck to a stop, studying the boy for a minute with beady gray eyes.

    "Goin' far?" he asked in a gravelly voice.

    "However far you're willing to take me," the boy replied. "I ain't going any place in particular. Just as long as you're headed in my direction."

    "Hop in, then." The boy ran around to the other side, threw his pack on the floor of the cab, and hoisted himself into the seat. The driver pulled off. The boy inhaled deeply, relieved. The air felt good blowing against his face, rather than sitting stagnant around him.

    "You got a name?" the driver asked.

    "Yeah."

    "You gonna tell it to me?"

    "It's Perry."

    "You got a religion, Perry?" the man stared straight ahead as he talked.

    "No, not really."

    "You pray?"

    "Only when I'm desperate." Perry drew his knees together and clasped his hands in his lap, drawing his pack closer to him with his foot.

    "Well," the man said, pausing to pull out a blue handkerchief and blew his nose, "what if I told you that I knew God personally?" The man looked over at Perry as if expecting an anser. Of course, Perry had no time to give one. "What if I told you that God doesn't respond to prayers, but to faithful, unfaltering service? What if I said I could prove to you that God doesn't exist on a spiritual plain, but on a physical plain, far away from here?" This time he waited for an answer.

    "I'd have to question your credibility," Perry said after a pause.

    "Well, I'll tell you this right now," the man said. "Now don't get befuzzled, because I'm not one of those kooks you read about in the newspaper. This is for real. God has spoken straight to me about this. He has not a heaven, but a planet that has every comfort and provision that a human being could possibly want. Every thirteen year he comes to earth, and takes--"

    "Oh, f#ck no!" Perry shouted. He wrenched the door open, threw his pack out--

    "Hey, come back here, I'm not done!"

    and jumped out himself. He stumbled and rolled into the sugary sand on the side of the road. When he stopped, he looked up. There, sitting about six inches from his face, was a round, squat, prickly cactus.

    "Damn it all," he muttered, and got up to retrieve his pack.
     
  8. Torana
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    Whitejd

    Mind Games

    Consider the thumb. Thumbs up, thumbs down, rule of thumb, Tom Thumb, thumb protectors, all thumbs, green thumb, opposable thumbs, thumb wrestling, thumbing. Thumbs are useful and, in fact, a necessity to human achievement and societal development. Just imagine a world without the thumb. Reflect on the artist, the pro wrestler and the emperor. What would they do without the thumb. How would the artist judge perspective without a thumb to hold to his subject. How would the pro wrestler break a half-nelson without a thumb in the opponents eye, and yes, how would the emperor show his displeasure without the gesture of a thumb pointing to the ground. Of course many a hapless gladiator would prefer a Nero without thumbs, but then without thumbs the gladiator would find it difficult to wield a gladius.

    Standing on the edge of a two-lane blacktop some 30 miles east of Winslow, Arizona I contemplate the metaphysics of my right thumb. What is the ultimate nature of reality, being, the world, and what is the thumb's place in this, or any, universe? My right thumb, at this moment, is held at arms length, pointed at a right angle from my curled fingers, waving in the heated air of the midday high desert.

    A mile or so down the road a cloud of dust is kicked up by the approach of a brownish vehicle. My spirits lift. A ride in a truck cab or the cabin of a car, air-condition, after a five hour vigil, would answer a four hour payer. Even a ride in the back of a flat-bed ford would be a godsend. The glare of the sun reflecting from the chrome of the car, I can see it is a car now, causes involuntary blinking of my dry eyes. I lift my left hand to shade my eyes from the glare. My right thumb, still hanging in the air, signals for the car to stop.

    The approach of the car pulls my attention from the thumb to the the ethics of the person behind the wheel. Does his life encompass the Christian ethic of the golden rule, or could he be a social Darwinist? Will she have a fear of strangers stemming from the latest radio report of a serial killer lurking somewhere along old highway 66 or, could this be the serial killer searching for his next victim.

    A bead of sweat forms near my right temple. For a moment the moisture cools that one, small spot and is gone. More moisture gathers and, failing its attempt to overcome gravity, trickles down my cheek, jaw, neck, and at last is absorbed by the white cotton of my T-shirt.

    In my mind visions of cool glasses of water compete with thoughts of blood pooling on black plastic trash bags covering a passenger seat and floor board.

    My blood, or that of the driver?

    The car is slowing now. Its brown color just an illusion caused by its coating of dust. Under the dust the car is blood red. The windshield, dusty and bug splattered, allows me to see only a vague form behind the wheel. More beads of moisture form high on my forehead and trickle down my face. The salty sweat stings my eyes causing me to blink more rapidly. My vision blurs. My heart beats faster. My breath comes, short and shallow.

    Another 100 yards before the car reaches me. The smell of blood fills my imagination. Its taste causes my throat to constrict. I use the back of my left hand to wipe the taste away from my lips. The taste remains. Fifty yards away the car's two right wheels roll onto the shoulder, throwing up a new wave of dust. Slowing still the car is almost upon me. I clear my eyes.

    Sweat streams from my head and neck soaking the T-shirt. My right hand throbs with the effort to hold it away from my body. The shaking begins at the end of the clinched fingers, now white in the creases where the nails dig into the palm. The spasm travels through the writs, the elbow, and to the muscles in my upper arm. Fear fills my mind and body. My arm drops as the dust, rolling forward, and heat, radiating from the hood, reach me from the now stationary car. My bag has found my hand as I start to turn away from the car. One step down the embankment toward the flat desert. One step to the safety of the scrub brush and sand.

    “Need a lift?” echo muffled words from inside the car.

    “Sure do” comes the answer from my dry, cracked lips.

    I close the car door and, sinking into the seat, relax. The cool air flowing from the vent starts to evaporate the moisture from my body. As the car pulls onto the blacktop I consider the acceleration of the vehicle. Acceleration, defined as the rate of change of velocity. A vector quantity with dimension of length divided by the square of time. Should I compute it in meters per second or miles per hour?
     
  9. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    wooo hoo!! i'm pikn again :D sorry, i like being pink. Good luck to everyone, all the enteries are amazing and deserve to win. :D
    Heather
     
  10. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    lol heather you make me laugh
     
  11. Whitejd
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    all of a sudden everyone is Torana.....Must be the revolution that has been talked about??? why am I always the last to know
     
  12. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    She posts up all of the stories, because she is the new Queen of the Writing Contests (as well as Queen of the Forums, of course :p)
     
  13. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    The dumpster behind your McDonalds.
    Besides, she attacks us with whips if we don't let her do what she wants D=
     
  14. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Yeah, but we don't mention that, do we Ivan...

    *cowers*
     
  15. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    excuse me?

    I am a reasonable person!
     
  16. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Yes, of course you are.

    *kneels in reverence*
     
  17. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    good good :D
    yep, that's right. and i am the queen of England. no, seriosly, i am like 10000 and wear a crown and rule England. :D
     
  18. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    OMG Torana!!! you spelt my name wrong on the poll thingy!!! how could you!!!! *sob*
     
  19. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    So I should keep this avatar up for a while now hey?
     
  20. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    hahaa, probably. :p lol, nah you can take it down now if ya really want to, i forgive you. :D
     
  21. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    awwwww what a sweety! Now I have to find a new avatar......decisions decisions!!!
     
  22. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    hahaa, oww the choice you do have.
     
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