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  1. Ferret
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    Ferret Contributing Member

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    The parts of your soul you refuse to recognize.

    SS Comp 02

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Ferret, Jun 11, 2007.

    Okay ,guys, here goes:

    The object of the weekly writing group is to promote writing on an active basis, and, as such, this contest will go on to be done weekly. For those of you who competed in the poetry contest, or those who did the ss contest way back when (and more power to you - I hope we get the same sense of awesomeness that I did, back when I did it then), this will be a pretty much mirror image of the poetry contest.

    All those who submit will be eligible to vote in the contest in which their pieces are entered in, and the winner will get nothing but a warm feeling on the inside.

    I will be "running it", which means I make the thread, and that's about it. I will listen to anything you have to say about the contest.
    Post you entries and questions in this thread, and i'll do the rest.
    Good luck to you all.

    Theme: The Fall of an Empire, Provided by Gannon.
    IT can be the leader of an empire watching his City burn, a dictator being dethroned, the mafia, whatever- I even think business would be acceptable ( depending on what Gannon thinks.)

    Start June 11th- 18th
    Voting: 19-26th
    Word Limit 350- 1205 words
    Challenge: Try to write in the opposite narrative form you're used to. if you guys don't like the idea of a challange like this, say so, and it will go away.
     
  2. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    i like the idea, it sounds interesting. i might give it a go over the next few nights if i find time.
    Heather
     
  3. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    The End of an Age

    Best I could manage whilst supposedly working. I've opted for what I feel is the most obvious approach to the task. Hope there's some more entries by the time I return from holiday on the 20th! I wouldn't want to win by default!

    Creator of conflicting histories and lord of all I survey, I proudly clamber through the debris of my golden empire to a place famed for its beauty. The mausoleum I’ve had constructed stands in unfinished and regal ruin, while my land’s boundaries ebb and flow, just as I breathe. Only now they seem to tighten and constrict. A perimeter of palm-oil torches tongue the dawn air.

    From there, I begin the slow ascent to my temple; rose-marble in build, the rising sun shines off her many columns. No doting wives line the steps, nor crowds, yet nevertheless I carry myself with dignity toward the sky.

    On the horizon a fire burns and a dark stain streaks across the morning sky. The market square in the distance lies empty, a cart overturned – the earthenware in pieces.

    The echoing of rapid footsteps drew close and then pass: my scribe and priest bustled as always with his scrolls. I turn calculatedly and approach the promontory from where I address my people. With arms held aloft and chin held high the Sun greats me, rising from behind the mausoleum. Her light casts onto the gardens illuminating the waterways and great lake. One imperfection tickles her surface. A small gondola and parasol cut across the brilliant mirror heading for our folly. I hoped she’d make it to the pass before they did.

    A took two offerings, one smoldering kyphi and a glass of shedeh to her framed silhouette, allowing the incense to fall and spiral from the temple in her direction. The shedeh I rose to the Sun, the deep red flooding my eyes before I drunk from the goblet and swallowed in reverie.

    Seventeen year ago at the age of 9 I had taken my first taste of the shedeh, and it had been bitter. My father had died in his sleep that morning and I would now go to him. My descent took moments and I floated toward his resting place, a prototype construction of mine own. I’d had it finished in only 5 months after his death. My advisors had told me it stood as testament to my first year’s reign and its success.

    The guards remained at their post. Slumped and bloodied they had only recently been defeated. I stopped to close each one of their eyes and give a small prayer. Entering the cool sanctum of my great father’s hall I calmly knelt and kissed the floor.

    Approaching the centre sepulcher, I withdrew his emerald dagger slicing the palm of my right hand, allowing the blood to flow toward him. Resheathing the ornament I turned to meet a weapon that cut me down. He stood vertically over me, his sandles at my face as I smiled and exhaled my last.
     
  4. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    Walls

    Happiness is an empire; it builds strong walls around you, makes a dictatorship of freedom. It keeps out the hurt in your life. The pain. The bereavement.
    The reality.

    The first sign that my walls were crumbling was the lack of sleep. On all our parts, really.

    My mother traded sleep for vulgar distractions with other men, to keep away the dreams. My father traded sleep for staying awake at night, yelling at my mother in those harsh words that were their loudest when they were whispered.
    My sister and I traded sleep for sitting in the bed, awake, eyes either wide or shut depending on how mature we were feeling. We huddled up in the darkness, and the noise, and waited for the daylight to come and restore our crumbling walls.

    The second battering ram was red.
    The early morning light, viscous and thick, filtered through the sparkling bay window, illuminating the kitchen with red.
    My father, reaching hungrily for something from the fridge, knocked over the pitcher of fruit punch. It splattered all over the floor, like watered-down blood. Red.
    When my mother tried to clean it up, the brilliant hue on my father’s cheeks as he yelled- was red.
    When he got home late from work that day, I couldn’t resist noticing that the lipstick mark, not quite scrubbed off of his collar, was a juicy red.
    Neither could my mother.

    The third attack upon my walls, my empire, my happiness, was a brutal army.
    It could have been night time, for the way my sister and I huddled together on the couch, scared, staring.
    “What did you call me?” The words weren’t so much words as choking smoke in the air, filling up the room, hurting my mother just as much as the fist that jarred her shoulder.
    “Please, Maurice, I-“
    “I didn’t say you could speak!”
    Our father reinforced this in the way his large, alcohol-soaked hand grabbed her mouth; his other went for her hair, pulled it back.
    The smell of sweat and alcohol; the noise of roars and screams; the atmosphere of fear and animal rage; that was what we were breathing. Not the air. The hate.
    That was what my sister and I were putting in and out of our bodies in ragged, sobbing gasps. Even when we tried to hold our breath, we had to open our mouths.
    And let it back in.

    The fourth attack, the one that stripped my empire away and weakened my walls fatally…
    …came from inside.

    “You told? You actually walked into a government office and you- you told them?”
    I grabbed my sister by the shoulders and shook her. It was a gesture I had only ever seen acted out in movies. But we couldn’t afford movies any more, so maybe this was my own way of putting Hollywood back into my empire…
    She calmly put her hands up and removed mine from her shoulders. It wasn’t fair; how could a twelve-year-old have so much grace? Especially now? Especially here?
    “Jo,” she said. “Joanna. I had to. You saw. It was getting worse. I-“
    “No!” I raised my hand up; perhaps to slap her, perhaps to silence her- but then I catch myself.
    We both do.
    We stare at my hand, like it is not a part of my own body, but some ethereal force that has made itself visible to us.
    We’ve been breathing the hate for too long…
    At least, that’s what I tell myself when the cars come.
    Because my sister told.

    My empire is gone. My walls fallen. There are no more attacks, for there is nothing worth conquering. There are just vultures, circling over the ruins, casting shadows on the shifting sands…
    The car is long and black. It circles in the cul-de-sac, passing small suburban houses one after the other, and then pulls up to ours.
    Slamming noises follow: The noise of the cars opening and shutting. The noise of my father looking out the door, and then throwing the lock into place when he sees who’s coming. The slap of the door being broken down, hitting the ground. And the slamming of doors on us; my mother and sister in one car; my father in another; and I in a third.
    I look out one of the windows. My mother smiles at me, red-eyed, weary, fragile, but still smiling for her children.
    Mothers are smart.
    Maybe one day we’ll see each other again, after the black cars have reached their destinations and the doors are done slamming.
    Maybe some day, we can join and work on our own little empire…
    But until then, I have no walls. No defenses. Just ruins and shifting sands…

    I curl up in the back of the car, and cry the sand out of my eyes.
     
  5. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    Men of Dreams

    ok, my entery. hope you like it and good luck to everyone else who enters. :)
    Heather



    Smoke billowed from my once beautiful city, black clouds hanging in the already dark night sky. The blanket of smoke covered all stars in sight and prevented the moon from shining, making the flames the only light available. A tall wall ringed around the city, half of it collapsed towards the North. For years it had held strong, keeping my people safe from invaders, but suddenly the wall was no longer there and soldiers, foreigners were piling into my city. My beautiful city.

    I watched the scene unfold from the temporary safety of a balcony on my castle. Below in the streets people ran from house to house, being chased and tortured by the invaders. A tear seeped down my wrinkled cheek as I watched my city collapse around me, the buildings burn to cinders and the people turn to ash. My people in my bloody city.

    Suddenly a feeling of anger overcome my body, springing my up from my seat and making me lunge for my sword that hung on the mantle. I placed it in my belt and ran downstairs to gather people, anyone who would be willing to fight for his leader. His city. His life. In the kitchen a group of about twenty men lounged around drinking ale. The men were lazy and not skilled warriors, un-prepared to fight.

    “Men, this is your bloody city! Your women and children are out there dying right now and you want to hide in here and drink! I tell you, wield your weapons men and get out there!” At my speech the first man jumped up, then another, and another. They followed me from room to room, the group increasing as I gathered more men.

    Eventually I had enough for an attack. There must have been nearly two hundred men in front of me with their swords and knifes and crossbows and clubs, all ready and willing to fight.

    “Men, this is the day we make history. We can either hide away in the castle, which before long will be broke anyway, and we can die cowards. Or we can get up and fight! Fight like we have never fought before and we will win this war! We are the men of the future! We are the men of the city! We are the men!” At this the crowd roared with anger and agreement, holding weapons and fists into the air and ready to go.

    “Men, we are the men of dreams!”

    The main gates to the castle burst open and we spilled out into the city grounds. It was a disaster. Fire burned from everywhere possible and dead bodies piled in the streets. Sifting our way through the rubble and dead, we collected more men ready to fight. Finally we saw the first foreigner. He held a cup of wine and drank heavily from it. My bloody cup! Anger bubbled inside of me and I lunged forward with my sword held out before me. The blade pierced deep into his chest, breaking several ribs along the way. Once it was half was through I twisted me hand, ripping out his insides as I pulled my sword from his body. He fell dead at my feet.

    Surged and wanting a fight we continued, checking houses and market stalls along the way for stray invaders. At last we came upon the main group of them; all drinking and singing around a big bonfire. At the sound of us they turned to view their enemies, and at once charges. My men and I pushed forward, blades swinging and stabbing all over the place. Blood poured from the wounds of men, both my warriors and the invaders, staining the floor forever crimson. Screams filled the once silent air, echoing for miles across the open lands past the city. My city! I slashed another foreigner, taking relief in the pain I caused his blood covered face.

    Over the next few hours much blood was lost and many lives taken. My men died in the battle, every single on of them. I was saved for last. Like a true leader I never surrendered, not even when it was all the invaders against me alone. I died at the sword of Patrico, the well known leader of the invaders. And with me I took as many bloody foreigners as I could.

    We lost the battle; in fact we lost the war. I watched my city crumble to ashes before my very eyes, and I tried as hard as I could to prevent it. But we died fighters, warriors, fighting for our city, our family and our lives. We died the men of dreams.
     
  6. chase42
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    The Coward
    1131 words


    Todd Giesen always ran away. He was always afraid of consequences, even after he was encouraged to do something as bold as stage a political coup. He was afraid to challenge the powers that manipulated him like a marionette. Thus, when the disgruntled public of his empire staged a coup of their own against the puppet government, he fled. He could have stood up, claimed his innocence, and lived a peaceful life under house arrest or perhaps in tropical exile, but he was too unsure of his odds to consider that option. Running was all he knew how to do.

    He tightened his grip on his motorcycle's clutch and depressed his right foot, clicking the six-speed transmission up a gear. He knew how to ride, but that was only a form of running. Perhaps his time spent on speed-bike lessons could have been better spent giving his people audiences, the money better spent on public works or healthcare. Well, it didn't matter now: nothing could change the Commoner's mind.

    Emperor Giesen remembered his lazy afternoons in the palace, a dozen begrudging harems at his service. He remembered the adrenalized mornings on his private racetrack, making ever-quicker circuits in his elegant cars and motor bikes. He remembered the vehicles themselves. The classics, from the Triumph to the TVRs to the low Ford GT40. The modern supercars, from the Mercedes imported from the German Union to the Enzo hailing from Socialist Italia. His heart sank as he realized yet again that he couldn't go back, couldn't run his delicate fingertips along the glossy paint of his Bugatti. His right hand quivered on the throttle, sending a shudder through the Kawasaki's frame.

    A traumatic blow to his back knocked Giesen out of his reverie and off of his Ninja, sending him tumbling at incredible speed onto the asphalt and into the underbrush along the forest highway. The last thought that Giesen had before he hit the ground was: Buying this protective vest for two million quid wasn't a half-bad idea. The reaction-plastic hardened as Giesen's torso contacted the shoulder. He blacked out.

    The Holy Emperor came to suddenly. As he did, his denial was gone, and had a strange feeling of neutrality. He supposed that he was having an out-of-body episode. He looked back on his life, mainly as the His Holy Majesty, the Protestant Emperor of the Great British Kingdom, and saw the grave mistakes he had made. He saw the ignorance, the cowardice, even the procrastination, and indeed the mask of denial he had worn for protection the moment before. It was now ripped from his head like the black crash helmet that lay shattered several yards down the road. His short locks of red hair now curled out from his head in a blaze of glory.

    Giesen exhaled briefly and gasped, his breath lost to the impact. He saw three men over him, silhouetted against the gray sky. They were no doubt Commoners, eager to haul him off to a kangaroo court and hang him for his injustices. Or perhaps they just wanted to shoot him dead on the spot for the sake of time and mobility. Whatever the case, Giesen was oddly without out fear. He was in a state of disbelief: he was actually true to his propaganda posters, a truly fearless emperor. Two of the men lifted Giesen up between them, carrying the careless man to the other side of the road, where a Commoner patrol surely was awaiting their return.

    A weight flapped on Giesen's thigh. He looked down subtly and spied his still-holstered pistol on his hip. Perhaps, without the hindrance of his cowardice, he could draw the weapon and shoot the two men to his flanks dead, take their weapons, kill the third man, and...

    The third man, who was leading the small squad, turned about on his heal, drawing his revolver. Had he spotted Giesen's sly move towards his handgun? Fear stabbed into Giesen's heart, but with less strength than when he dived into a hairpin turn with his Ferrari. He knew he could handle this situation. The man leveled the pistol at Giesen; the latter simply smiled back. His aim shifted, and he pulled the trigger. Giesen blinked; the man to his left fell, trailing an arc of fine, misty blood from his head as he pitched backward.

    “Sodding hell--!” The man to Giesen's left fumbled with his submachine gun. The third man grabbed him around the neck and faced the treeline, his revolver pushed against the man's temple.

    “I'll kill him! I'll kill him!” he shouted. Giesen, left unattended behind him, was thoroughly confused. “In the name of Imperical France, I'll be taking the Emperor and your leftenant, thank you.” The treeline was silent, but there was no doubt weapons pointed downrange from the rest of the patrol. A black military truck neared from the south.

    For the first time in his reign, Giesen felt pride. Nobody, not even the French, manipulated his people under his watch. He drew his heavy automatic and shot the Frenchman in the back of the head. The Leftenant rolled away from the man's grip, blood spattered but without wounds. “Why'd you--?”

    Giesen smiled at the Leftenant. His old cowardice was gone, replaced by prideful courage. The officer knelt. “Your Majesty...we--”

    The French truck squealed to a halt and the troopers began to unload.

    Giesen grabbed the young man by the arm, yanking him upright and off of the road. “Come now, bloke, we have no time for pleasantries.” The officer smiled. The Commoner patrol began to fire from the treeline at the approaching French, casting jagged shadows of trees onto the shoulder.

    “Hastings!” shouted the officer. “Give me some cover!” He pointed the machine gunner towards the truck. The Leftenant then turned to Giesen, who pulled his crucifix necklace out over his black motorcycle armor. “Your Majesty...” He offered the Emperor his submachine gun.

    Giesen's Kingdom was in turmoil, disrupted by a coup, and exploited by foreign interests. Considering the state of his military, Giesen knew that his Kingdom couldn't stand forever, but he was not particularly concerned with that. There was nothing he could do now but be a leader of men, and he had to start somewhere. Even if he died, he was at least, even if for a short time, genuine.

    Perhaps the French would have to deal with his puppet-masters, and he certainly knew that his countrymen would fight ferociously for their independence. He had no doubt given them hope derived from his recent actions. Holy Emperor Giesen let out a raucous laugh. Despite his impending death, he was secured in his fulfillment, something that he couldn't achieve with elegance or power.
     
  7. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    Promised Men

    Walking across the rich dark soil of the unplanted field, I attempt to look unconcerned with the coming battle. The men need all the confidence they can get. The barbarians have spent the entire season raping and pillaging throughout the Eastern provinces. Every Talon sent to stop them has been defeated. Easily defeated.

    All calls for reinforcement are unheard of from the Northern capital. Barbarians are attacking from all sides they say. They have nothing to spare for us. It’s been months since the men were paid in real coin. Scraps of papers are the only payment now. Thin gruel in place of real beef is the only food.

    But I’m not worried that the men will desert, yet. They are all Easterners, they have blood debts to repay. They also know what a promise is. They are the Promised Men of the Emperor. Each one has a copper buckle, shined everyday, with the face of the Emperor. Their most prized possession. They’ll fight to the death for the Emperor, and go with a smile on their face to the stars, as long as they have that buckle.

    Combined with our positioning and the reserves waiting in the woods, that should be enough to see the destruction of the Barbarians once and for all.

    It also helps that I’ve promised them permission to loot everything from the enemy once we have won.

    Cheering? What do the men have to cheer about. I walk quickly to the disturbance, passing hard faced men. They’ve grown thin and sallow from poor food, but they are some of the most dangerous men I’ve ever known for all that.

    I quickly see what they’re cheering about. A whole herd of cattle are heading towards us. Prime quality, enough to feed the five Talons I have here for months. And heavy chests guarded by a Talon of the Emperors Own Men. There’s only two thing they would carry in chests like that. And since we haven’t had any wizards for ten years, it can’t be books. Coins, real, honest to God coins. The Emperor, bless him, must finally be mobilizing the Empire.

    For the first time in months I see my men well and truly smile.

    A red coated Privy Council Messenger runs up to me. “Lord Captain Hollaver?” he asks politely.

    I nod, “That I am. And may I say it is a great pleasure to see you.”

    “You may,” he says, sniffing disdainfully. I frown at his insolence, but keep silent. “I expect that my news shall be welcomed most heartily by your men.” He pulls a paper out of his message pouch and slowly unfolds it, taking his sweet time as he goes. Finally he begins to read.

    “By order of his most Holy Emperor, Holder of the Ten Rings, Protector of the Thirty Provinces, Guardian of the Holy Order of Stars, Center of the Faith, The Great Lord Edwin of North Haven, I am to present you this message. As of the completion of this letter, you are to leave the field.

    “Through the great skill of The Great Lord Edwin of North Haven, a peace has been made between the People of Great Forest, and the Empire. They have agreed to pay homage to the Great Lord Edwin of North Haven, in exchange for gifts from the benevolent hand of Great Lord Edwin of North Haven.

    “No citizen of the Empire shall raise hand against the People of the Great Forest. The old quarrels are behind us. Instead greet them as friends as they return to their homes. Any man, woman, or child that disobeys this order shall be executed, post haste.

    “So say his most Holy Emperor, The Great Lord Edwin.”

    I stand there for several seconds, unable to think. This cannot be. These barbarians have rampaged and slaughtered thousands of citizens. We can finally beat them. With the money and food this, this scum has brought, we could have fielded an army ten times larger then my current forces.

    “Did you misunderstand the message Lord Captain Hollaver?” the scum asks.

    “No,” I snarl.

    “Then why are your men still here? Get them off the field at once. We cannot let our new allies think we mean to fight them.” He looks around, sneering at the soldiers that surround him. “What are you waiting for? Get your men packed up and marching.”

    I see hundreds of the Emperors Own Men lined up in ranks. Armour gleaming, well fed, swords and shields at the ready, with a full rank of archers behind them. If I don’t keep the peace, my men will be slaughtered. They aren’t ready to fight, they’d attack as a mob, half armoured with whatever they have at hand. At best there would be a small handful of men left victorious after the battle.

    “TALONS!” I bellow. “Prepare to move out. AT ONCE! DOUBLE TIME!” I can’t let them have a chance to think. They have to move now, or they’ll attack.

    I march through the camp bellowing orders, keeping the men too busy to think. I kick officers into action. I make them kick the sergeants, who kick, the soldiers. Keep them mad at me and they’ll live through the day. I’ll have to watch my back and hire body guards. But my men will survive.

    Within the hour, the camp is down. The men are lined up, ready to march. The smirking Privy Council Messenger, I never bothered to ask his name, watches us from the safety of the Emperors Own Guards. He doesn’t notice something that makes my already cold blood turn to ice.

    Every common soldier, from the lowliest private to the highest sergeant has defaced their copper buckle.
     
  8. Ferret
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    Ferret Contributing Member

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    The parts of your soul you refuse to recognize.
    Voting Starts tomorrow, noon ferret time.
    Thread will be locked when starts.
    Any theme ideas will be expected to be pm'd or placed in the voting thread.
     
  9. Ferret
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    Ferret Contributing Member

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    The parts of your soul you refuse to recognize.
    Time's up.
     
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