1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Past Contest Submissions are CLOSED for #175 Theme: "Stones"

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, May 23, 2015.

    Thanks for your continued patience as I work furiously to finish my novel. There are more than two weeks left for entries and hopefully you saw the theme would be drums if you needed the full three weeks to finish your stories.

    Short Story Contest # 175
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Stones" courtesy of @Lancie

    Submissions will be open for ~2 more weeks.

    IMPORTANT: PLEASE READ, Thanks

    If you wish to enter the contest, post the story here directly in the thread. It will show up as an anonymous author.

    This contest is open to all writingforums.org members, newbies and the established alike. At the deadline I will link to this thread from the voting thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. As always, the winner may also PM me to request the theme of the subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Entries do not have to follow the themes explicitly, but off-topic entries may not be entered into the voting.

    Word limit: 500-3000 words
    Deadline for entries: Sunday the 7th of June, 2015 1600 (4:00 pm) US Pacific time.

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

    If we reach 20 entries, the maximum number of stories for any one contest, I will consider splitting the contest into two. Only one entry per contest per contestant is permitted.

    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 basis to decide its legitimacy for the contest.

    A story entered into the contest may not be one that has been posted anywhere** on the internet, not just anywhere on this site. A story may not be posted for review until the contest ends, but authors may seek critiques after voting closes for the contest. Members may also not repost a story anywhere, or bring attention to the contest in any way, until the voting has closed.
    (**We tried one that had been posted for critique before entering but it defeated the anonymity so I've gone back to no stories perviously posted here in the forum.)

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

    If there are any questions, please send me a PM (Conversation). After the voting ends, posting in the thread will re-open for comments.

    ***And thanks to even more long hours put in by our very special mod/member @Wreybies, winners are now awarded with olympic style medals displayed under their avatars.

    Thanks, and good luck!

    Be sure to preview your entry before you hit 'reply'.
    Check italics and bolding as sometimes the end code for bold or italics doesn't copy/paste affecting large stretches of text.
    If you need to fix the formatting, hit 'control a' to 'select all' and clear all bold and italics code. Then re-add it back in using the board's font controls before you hit 'post reply'. Watch those extra line spaces. Delete them directly from the post before hitting 'post reply'.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2015
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Stone Games [words ~2450]

    I watched the heavy stone bounce across the sand, a good throw. Dozens of sand crabs popped out of their holes and raced toward the rock. The winner put its huge claw on the prize, instantly freezing all movement on the beach.

    I threw another and watched the ritual replay. Sand crab society rules were fixed, you get there first, it’s yours, none other challenges the first to arrive.

    Or, were they reading the victor’s cues, it wasn’t food? I didn’t have a piece of food to throw. And what would the beasts do if the ‘food’ fought back, got away? Would that start a new race?

    “What’s the verdict, Doc? Swim for it or run the gauntlet?” Winston’s palms glistened with nervous sweat. “If we wait any longer, the tide is going to decide for us.”

    Six survivors, safe for the moment, paced about on a solid rocky outcrop. Behind us stood a towering cliff face, vertical and smooth, with barely a crack or ledge one might use to climb up and away from this forsaken place. The other end of the small half-moon beach taunted us with the safety of rocks and no daunting cliff barring our escape.

    A wave reached the edge of the rocks. The spray on our faces reminded us our shelter was temporary.

    “What if we acted like one of them?” Spencer said. “You throw a stone, we all run after it then freeze in place like the other losers. Throw another, we go again, getting closer to the rocks on the other side of the bight.”

    “We don’t know if they go on the rocks after their prey,” Tibideau pointed out.

    “They haven’t come near these rocks,” Spencer snapped back.

    “You want to test your idea?” I asked her, dubious.

    “Sure. I’ll go. All this planning’s not getting us anywhere. That last wave said we’re out of time. If it fails I’ll cut the thing’s claw off.” She unsheathed her knife and felt the edge. “Or maybe the eyestalks.”

    Spencer would be the food I needed. It was her choice. I didn’t ask her to do it. Her impatience chose for her. I refused any guilt.

    “Throw one of those stones out. Let’s get this over with.”

    I threw a stone. Hundreds of eyestalks sticking out of half as many holes morphed into giant beasts running toward the stone. Then the scene froze as the winner reached its prize.

    “Throw another one.”

    I looked next to me, expecting Spencer to still be there, but it was Winston telling me to throw again. Spencer was out on the sand, a dozen meters away, frozen in her tracks, unnoticed by the giant creatures.

    Taking the cue the others started throwing stones.

    “No! Stop!” I yelled, but it was too late. Fools!

    Instead of causing a single distraction, pandemonium broke out. The crabs began clawing at anything that moved including each other. Several of them caught Spencer and fought over her, pulling in multiple directions. We heard a scream. She managed to slice off both eyestalks of one of them before she was torn into three bloody pieces.

    Crabs attacked their blinded member. The rules of ownership were broken. Dozens gorged on pieces of flesh from the two corpses. I averted my eyes from the gory feast. At least it was quick.

    I surmised from the turn of events that creating pandemonium was not a useful tactic, and if it’s food and not a stone, it might be a sand crab free for all.

    Another wave reached the rocks. A thin layer of water swirled around our feet and receded.

    “Well that didn’t work. What next, Doc?”

    “How the hell do I know?”

    “I say swim,” Winston said, offering himself up as another potential test subject.

    I was viewing them all as test subjects now, as long as they kept volunteering anyway.

    “Swim? Are you having a short-term memory problem? Did we not just lose four members of our party and escape by the skin of our teeth from that water?” Cederman asked.

    Winston answered. “Do you not see all those eyestalks? Because I see at least one in every square meter of sand out there. Do you see anything in the water now? I don’t. Choose your poison.”

    “You can’t see in the water. That doesn’t mean nothing’s there,” the arguing continued.

    I didn’t care which escape plan was tested next, as long as I wasn’t the food.

    “It’s a long swim to the other rocks,” Cederman said.

    “If I don’t make it, least I won’t be drawn and quartered.”

    Great! You test it, I thought, not cruel enough to say it out loud. Instead I said, “What can we do to help you?”

    “Wish me luck I guess.”

    Another wave reached us, leaving several inches of water hesitating on the rocks before draining away. Winston waded out with the water’s retreat till he reached swimming depth and dove in. He didn’t surface. Instead swirls of red came up on the rocks with the next wave.

    “Oh God! That’s his blood,” Cederman cried out. “We’re standing in his blood!”

    Another failure, I thought. If only it would get dark before the tide came in. The crabs might not be nocturnal hunters.

    The next wave reached some of their holes, causing the eyestalks to disappear.

    “Look, they’re hiding under the sand when the waves reach them!” Tibideau said. “We might be able to walk down the beach at the tide line to the rocks past the sand.”

    “Only one should go," I said. " Let’s see what happens before we all charge out there.”

    “I’ll go. Throw a stone after a receding wave. Let’s see first how close to the water they’ll go.”

    “Excellent idea.” I should have thought before to test their water boundary.

    I picked out a flatter stone and threw it with a side-arm fling, successfully skipping the stone across the receding wave. The ritual of sand monsters racing toward the moving stone repeated. They stopped in unison as the stone sank beneath the water.

    “Let me try a few more,” I said, “to better mark their limits.”

    Another wave swirled around our feet, reaching mid-calf and leaving an ankle deep lake behind. Close enough to amplify our fear, not close enough to do us in and get it over with. Death was playing with us.

    “Forget it, we don’t have time for your experiments.” Tibideau darted out of the cave toward the receding wave.

    The crabs started after him. This time their behavior changed. They stalked him along the waterline, retreating when a wave came toward them like a playing child would run from the water, and charging toward him as the wave withdrew. The line of beasts kept an oddly uniform distance between each other, while the bulk of those higher up the beach returned to their holes leaving peering eyestalks keen on the shoreline action.

    “He’s going to make it,” Cederman said.

    I paid careful attention and was able to determine the crabs would go only so far as the wet sand, but no further. The runner stayed deeper in the water than he needed to. Before I could yell at him, a large tentacle wrapped itself around one leg pulling him dragging and screaming into deeper water. More tentacles emerged covering all of him until the last bit disappeared beneath the surface.

    A wave of waist deep water came in this time. It receded leaving water up to our calves behind. We moved back on the rocks to the narrow step-up lip that rimmed the cliff. I leaned against the cold wall.

    “There are three options left,” I said. Try the sand again but only throw one stone at a time. Try the waterline but skirt closer to the dry sand. Or find a way to scale the cliff behind us.”

    It went without saying the water would force our hand. With the incoming tide came the sea monsters. Chose your poison couldn’t have been more literal: eaten, drowned, and/or torn to pieces. I supposed I should add, or fall from the cliff if climbing failed.

    “Time to choose I guess,” Smith said. He waded back nervously into the knee-deep water, weighing his pockets down with large round stones that lie there. “Not that I want to be torn apart, but I’ve always had nightmares about drowning. Don’t either of you throw so much as a grain of sand.”

    “Of course not,” I said, anxious to see the first option properly tested.

    He threw one of the stones. The sand crab ritual ensued. I could see him shaking, hesitant. He threw another stone as another wave rolled in. The water was black. Whatever was swimming around his legs could not be seen.

    With the third stone he took off, and froze when the first crab reached the stone. He threw another and ran again until the whole gaggle of crabs again stopped in unison. The crab nearest him towered over him. I hadn’t realized just how large they were. A body being ripped into pieces tends to take up your full attention.

    “It’s working!” Cederman said.

    I would wait until he made it before drawing that conclusion. He was only midway across the beach. The crabs were more densely populated around him there, harder to throw the stones and not have the movement noticed.

    No sooner did I think it than it happened. He threw a stone and his arm movement attracted the closest clawed beast. It ran at him.

    Serendipity, I could test another idea. If there was no pandemonium, what would the crabs do when the food fought with the winner or kept running? We already saw that chaos disrupted social order.

    The crab reached him, put its claw on him. He froze just as the losing crabs froze. Was it possible the beast would see him as inanimate, holding still like he was? Which of their senses did they use? Something in the claw gave the crab sensory feedback. I knew because seconds later the claw clamped down on his neck, severing his head.

    “Oh no.” Cederman, the last one besides me, said again, “Oh god no.”

    Other nearby beasts raced toward the body. I didn’t look, couldn’t look this time.

    Another wave raised the water level leaving knee-deep water behind on our last foot of rock refuge.

    “What choices are left?” Cederman asked.

    “The cliff, or the tide line but closer to the shore,” I said.

    “I’m less afraid of heights than drowning or being eaten. Guess I’ll try the cliff. What about you?”

    I didn’t want to tell her I would wait and see how she fared. “I don’t know. Maybe indecision will mean I die by sea creature when the tide gets high enough to let them reach me,” I lied.

    “Wish me luck.”

    “Luck,” I said and hugged her. “I do hope you make it.” What I didn’t say was, I hoped she’d make it because it would show me the way.

    “I need you to make it too,” she said. I don’t want to be alone in this godforsaken place.”

    “All you have to do is survive. There’ll be a rescue party soon enough,” It’s why I didn’t care if any of them made it but me.

    “All I need to do is get high enough to wait out the tide,” Cederman said.

    “Not sure you could hold on that long clinging to a sheer cliff.” I had thought of the option of climbing higher than the tide line, but there were no footholds, no ledges in the wall above us. The watermarks on the cliff said high tide flooded well over the top of these rocks, at least another two meters higher on the cliff wall than where we stood. I wasn’t sure Cederman could get higher than the tide line, let alone stay there for hours.

    The water reached mid-thigh before retreating. Cederman began her climb. She managed to get several meters higher but looked to be stuck.

    “Can you hold on there?” I called up.

    She didn’t answer. She didn’t flinch a single muscle.

    A wave swirled around the ledge soaking my pants to the waist. The rocks below were more than a meter deep in water now. A couple more waves and one would wash me off this narrow perch.

    A dull thud sounded to the right of me, Cederman. I made my way to her, felt her pulse. Both legs were bent where they shouldn’t have been. Her eyelids fluttered.

    “Kill me,” came a weak whisper. “I don’t want to be eaten alive.”

    I took out my knife and asked her if she was sure. She nodded. I plunged the blade into her heart. Blood poured from her mouth and her eyes rolled back in her head.

    “Thanks, Cederman. You’ve given me a new option.” Working swiftly I split off her arms at the shoulders and her legs at the knees. I couldn’t carry more than that. The blood in the water would draw predators; I had no time left. I took off in a run splashing in terror through the water-covered rocks until I reached the sand. I kept running, following the wave edges in and out.

    The sand beasts were much bigger from this close. Just as the first one reached a claw toward me, I threw one of the arms out. It worked. They went for it. All I needed was to stay far enough away from deeper water and avoid the tentacles that were no doubt close by.

    Another arm thrown and I was half-way to the safer rocks, my load lighter. I threw out the first leg. Most of the crabs went for it, but one kept its eye on me, its prize. I needed the other leg for the last stretch. I couldn’t risk going deeper in the water. The beast kept up with my stride, parallel, stalking me. Further down the beach, more of its kind joined it.

    I caught a disturbance in the water out of the corner of my eye. I moved back to the shallowest edge of the wave and threw the last body part, Cederman’s leg, as far as I could up the beach. My destination was only a couple meters away now. I would make it, all the planning, testing, I would make it!

    A shadow passed over me, maybe three meters wide. Then I felt it, talons painfully puncturing both shoulders. My feet no longer felt ground under them as I watched my rocky destination quickly receding below. “Damn this planet sucks.”
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2015
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  3. Lancie
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    The Walkers (2785 words)

    Cara lost her footing as she tried to move awkwardly up one of the hills, unable to see where she was placing her feet. She felt her body tumble down and land with a hard thud that knocked the air from her lungs. She was disorientated, but otherwise unhurt as she stood and dusted herself off, glad that nobody was around to see her.

    It was then that the fog poured into the moorland, so thick and sudden that it was as though the clouds had fallen out of the sky, and Cara felt the damp film cling to her skin as she paced carefully through the dense, white spectre.

    They’d warned her in thick local accents while she stopped off at the shop to pick up a couple of water bottles and some snacks. The shop was made of great heavy stones and had a slopping roof, and perched on the end of the road with nothing else in the distance, it looked like the last house at the edge of the world.

    “Going walking?” asked the plump elderly woman, though it wasn’t possible to tell what bulk belonged to her and what belonged to the layers of thick jumpers and cardigans. “You should be careful this time of year, the weather is on a knife edge.”

    Cara raised an eyebrow. “Looks fine to me, I checked the weather forecast” she said. It had been a brilliantly bright morning. She’d almost been blinded by the low sun as she drove up the lane. The old woman shook her head.

    “It’ll change before you can turn around. Where are you off to?” she asked as she jabbed the prices into her old fashioned till.

    "Along the Grey Tor path"

    “Please, be very careful, especially if you’re walking along the Tor. It’s taken a fair few walkers over the years.”

    I nodded and smiled, anxious to get away from the woman and get out into the open.

    “Of course, I will be.”

    The woman nodded gruffly and returned to poking at the till. “That’ll be three sixty.”

    Cara handed over the exact change and picked up the bag. “Thanks,” she said and left the shop. The sun was still low but the sky looked perfectly blue with only small wisps of clouds streaking across it. It didn’t matter if the weather turned- Cara knew where she was going and she was properly dressed in her heavy hiking gear. It was exactly six miles from where she parked her car to the pub she liked to stop in, and a hot meal would be waiting for her.

    When the sky began to darken and the wispy clouds suddenly swelled, Cara trudged on. It wasn’t until she was nearly at the pub, as she pulled herself up the final steep, incline that she looked over the hill and saw nothing. She frowned, puzzled. The pub should have been at the base of the hill. She scanned the horizon for the old brick and wonky timber structure attached to the whitewashed newer building with benches outside, but it was empty.

    She stood a while, trying to work out where she went wrong. With a huff of defeat, she pulled her phone from her bag, but it wouldn’t turn on. The dead battery symbol flickered before it receded back into the black screen. Cara felt her stomach knot. She charged it. It was fully charged that morning, how could it have died?

    “Back we go,” Cara sighed and turned around to retrace her steps. Her mind churned with irritation. She’d walked this exact path a dozen times. How could she possibly loose the pub? Worse, how could she loose her car?

    The fog was surprisingly chilly. Every step felt like icy breath was puffed against Cara’s exposed skin, and she huddled her coat and scarf closer. She’d taken off her hat and gloves after the first couple of miles made the wool stick uncomfortably to her brow, but now she rummaged around for them. She searched pockets and shoved her hands into her backpack. She groaned heavily. Had she dropped them?

    First a dead phone and now she’d lost her hat and gloves. Perfect.

    She straightened and pulled the bag onto her back, but felt her body freeze. Just ahead she saw the shape of a person, though she couldn’t tell if it was male or female. It was blurry and dark grey and just starring straight at her. Cara felt her breath holding still in her lungs, unable to move.

    As she felt her lips quivering in the effort to speak, to call out to whoever was there, it turned and walked away, quickly vanishing back into the fog.

    Cara finally let out a sigh and shook her head. Don’t believe anything you see in the fog. She laughed at herself, but still, she decided to keep a vigilant watch.

    She trudged slowly as the fog became thicker, stopping every now and then at a choked sobbing sound that burst through the mist. Perhaps it was the wind brushing past a distant tree that was shrouded from view or crows, or maybe owls? Cara reassured herself; owls, definitely owls.

    Though each time it seemed a little louder, a little closer. It made her shiver.

    “Hey!” she heard a man’s voice somewhere, though she couldn’t pin point it. The voice seemed to echo around. “Hey! Hello! Excuse me!”

    Cara’s heart lurched. The voice was painfully familiar. He emerged suddenly, a tall and slim figure, as if he’d just materialised out of nowhere. He was so close Cara couldn’t believe she had almost bumped into him.

    Her mouth instantly cracked and dried. “Liam?”

    The face was not Liam’s. Cara scolded herself, feeling a mixture of disappointment and shame smash into her fluttering stomach.

    “Are you as lost as I am?” he asked. His voice dripped with relief. Cara rested her hands on her hips and looked up into his open, smiling face. He actually could have been Liam’s brother, if he had any. It took Cara a moment for her heart to settle back into its usual rhythmical thud.

    “I’m very lost, too. Is your phone working at all?”

    “No, it’s completely dead. Where are you heading?”

    “I parked at Linton Falls, I’m trying to get back to my car. What about you?”

    He gestured vaguely to the left. “I’m at the caravan park.”

    Cara felt a line of concern knit itself into her forehead. The only caravan park she knew was near the river, and that was a good twenty miles away.

    “I’m glad I bumped into you, I thought I saw someone else about half an hour ago. I think the fog is playing tricks on me,” he chuckled and stuck his hand out. “I’m Edward.”

    “Cara,” she said and shook his enthusiastic hand. She wondered how long he’d been out walking around, his hand was frozen.

    “Do you mind if I walk with you?”

    “No, that’s fine,” Cara said cautiously, considering her new companion who stood easily and smiling. Perhaps it would be good to be lost together she thought, and turned to look out into the blanket of mist. Somewhere else she heard and noise, like the gallop of a horse but softer. A silhouette darted through the fog before vanishing again. “Did you see that?”

    “Yes, that’s more or less what I saw earlier,” Edward said, he folded his arms across his chest and scanned the misty landscape.

    “Maybe if we go up one of these hills the fog won’t be as thick? We’ll be able to see where we are.”

    “Alright,” Cara agreed.

    They set off up the gentle slope, their feet almost silent against the moss covered rock.

    The same noise of hooves on soft ground swept past as the wind blew against Cara’s face and tangled through her hair. There was another sound that Cara only heard for a moment before it too vanished, something a little like muffled sob.

    “Is someone there?” Cara asked quietly, more directed at Edward than the mysterious sounds and shapes.

    Something with a dark and blurry edge moved in the corner of Cara’s vision. She jumped and turned to see it fading back into the fog.

    “Hello?” Edward called and began to walk off quickly, his form almost vanishing. Cara jogged after him and quickly caught up, though thought it best to stay behind him. The same noise came and went, swirling around them like an echo, and Cara wondered how something could echo in fog.

    “So how come you’re out here on your own?” Edward asked.

    Cara shrugged lightly. “I enjoy the peace and quiet.”

    “Do you come out here often?”

    “Yes, a few times a year.”

    “But not lately?” Edward asked softly. He turned with a quizzical raised eyebrow. “And not usually at this time of year?”

    Cara felt her cheeks flush against her will under the intense, wide open gaze of her companion. His eyes were burning into hers.

    “Well, not lately,” she said softly.

    Edward laughed, though not unkindly, and turned back around. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable. It’s just a pretty lady out on the desolate moors, on her own, in the middle of winter to me seems like something out of a novel,”

    Edward grunted as he pulled himself up over a crop of jagged rocks. “Here,” he absently held out a hand and helped her up. Again, Cara felt the heat rising in her cheeks as their skin touched.

    “So what happened, if you don’t mind me asking?”

    “Oh,” Cara sighed. For some reason, her usual urge to gloss over the events of past couple of months didn’t creep up and hold her tongue.

    She concentrated deeply on her feet as they continued to make their way up the hill. Had she been so completely obvious, or was Edward just very intuitive? Perhaps it was strange she came out on her own, after so many happy outings with Liam and enjoying the wild beauty of the moors with him. Was that so strange? Anything would be better than sitting at home feeling like she’d been split apart and turned inside out. Her friends offered her an outing here and there, or a girls night, but she always declined graciously.

    I’m alright, honestly! It’s fine! I feel much better.

    It seemed like the wilderness might offer her some solace, like it somehow understood how she felt. And maybe, she thought, she’d be able to say goodbye once and for all.

    “My fiancé and I broke up. We’d been together six years and we knew each other as children and…” Cara felt her eyes beginning to sting.

    He left you?” Edward filled in the silence and Cara nodded bitterly. “How awful, I’m so sorry.” He reached into her pocket and handed her a tissue.

    “Thanks,” Cara mumbled and gulped back the tears. They continued to walk silently, but Edwards close presence made Cara feel a little better.

    Without warning though, Edward stopped and Cara bumped into his shoulder blades.

    “Sorry!” she exclaimed.

    “No, I’m sorry, but look,” Edward said and pointed ahead. “Do you see those lights? What do you think that is?”

    Cara stood next to Edward and peered into the fog. There were lights dancing ahead of them, a dozen bobbles of silvery-grey light that circled and swirled. Cara felt the hair on the back of her neck stand as she turned left and right. The silhouettes, not quite human shaped, had returned.

    Cara plucked at Edwards sleeve but he was walking towards the lights. “Edward,” she called weakly. “I think we should go back.”

    “Come and look at this!” he called. Cara swallowed and moved quickly to the sound of his voice. The fog began to thin out as she approached him. Before them was a stone circle. In the hazy light, the stones gleamed blue-black and the fog radiated out of the bare rocky ground beneath them. The grey light bobbed danced and quivered among the stones.

    “What on earth is this place?” Cara stepped into the circle. An icy feeling began to drift down her skin. “It’s like the fog is coming out of the stones…” Cara turned back to Edward. Her stomach lurched when she saw he wasn’t there. All around the stones now were the silhouettes, standing as still as the stones themselves, all of them watching her. Cara felt her breath catch in her throat.

    “Edward?” she called, and spun round. “Where are you?”

    “I’m here,” she heard him, and relief flooded her body. But when she turned to meet his gaze a moment later, the relief shattered and cold fear began to fill her gut. It was Edward, only he was no longer wearing his walking clothes and thick coat.

    Instead he was barefoot, his feet slathered in filthy mud and cut to ribbons. Old and dry blood clotted between his toes. He wore some old knee high tattered trousers; possibly made from wool, certainly not a modern material. His top half was loosely clothed in a white shirt that was ripped at one shoulder, hanging off against his arm. That, too, was smeared with filth.

    His open, kind face looked harrowed. Deep ink black bags hung beneath his eyes, his skin pale and mottled, and his blonde hair fell around his shoulders unkempt and greasy.

    “I don’t understand,” Cara whispered, her voice shaking. She began to back away but the dark shapes began to close in.

    “It’s sad, isn’t it? The feeling when you realise you’re alone in the world? When you’ve been completely abandoned by the one you love. The sadness is consuming.” he said. His eyes were wide and unmoving.

    “Where am I?” Cara tried to ignore the dark shapes at the circles edge.

    “Grey Tor, although the stones are also called The Weeping Maidens,” he said, a small sad half smile slipped onto his lips. “These stones are ancient. See how the lost spirits gather around them? They call out to the dead. You heard them, didn’t you? You heard the weeping in the mist? They were calling out to you.”

    Cara looked quickly to the stoic dark shapes. The weeping seemed to echo around her, reverberating off each of the stones.

    “Forgive me for deceiving you. I felt your sorrow and rage and I saw myself. I walked along the very same path, barefoot, freezing, robbed and broken, fighting to get home to my love. Only I found her with another. I was walking alone for such a long time.” he tilted his head to one side, his smile widened. “And then today I saw you, walking all alone as well.” Edward said and extended a hand to her.

    Cara shook her head and took a step backwards. “I’m not dead. I’m not a lost spirit,” she spat through gritted teeth. “I don’t belong anywhere near these stones! Let me go!”

    Edward’s eyes softened. “You’re safe now, Cara. You can stop walking.”

    “No!” Cara barked.

    “It’s too late. I’m sorry,” he said, the kindness returned to his face, though the pits of his eyes still burned deeply into her.

    Cara spun round. The sobbing sound was starting again, at first just a trickle of sad little sobs that were quickly turning into a roaring cacophony of deep, heart wrenching cries. She pushed her hands to her ears and screamed back at them, “No! Get away from me!” The dark shapes began to move violently, flickering in and out of the stones. Cara fell to her knees, her hands pressed hard at her ears.

    Edwards hands gently rested against hers, drawing them away from her head. “You fell, Cara, remember?”

    The weeping ceased. The stones fell silent as the slow, achingly painful realisation washed over her.

    “I fell?”

    The fog around them began to gently sink back into the earth around the stones. Cara stood, the desolate, churning feeling that had been tearing her up seemed to be filtering away with it. She began to feel light. Her hands fell to her side as she saw the grey silhouettes around her begin to brighten and melt into the warm daylight.

    “I fell.”
     
  4. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    The stone pulled west.

    The pull was always west.


    The traveler placed his small worn stone back in its pocket only to mindlessly retrieve it a few steps later. More than anything else, the stone and it’s pull had been his closest companion throughout this journey. Any memories there may have been before the stone or about its discovery faded long ago; as far as he knew, he'd always possessed the stone. The westword pull had guided him through life. His family knew of the boy's 'lucky rock', but he never trusted them with the secret of the pull. It was his, and his alone.


    Years went by and fascination turned to curiosity, curiosity to questions, and questions into an unquenchable need to know. He did not think of things as others his age did. The traveler had started no family of his own, never attempted to gain position, or even thought much of his future in general.


    He drifted slowly at first, unaware of the small signs. The pull decided what side of the classroom he choose to sit, what part of town he worked in, and even his walks that followed the setting sun.


    There had been a time, and a very uncomfortable one at that, when he had resisted but there were no roots deep enough to resist the pull. Ultimately the boy drifted, unaware of the small signs. Why must he sit on that side of the classroom or work on that side of town? Why did all of his walks end with the setting sun?


    Why?


    He never cared.


    Why was for those who were unsure of their direction in life. What. What did the pull lead to? What had hooked him, dug it's fangs into the fiber of his being, and refused to let go?


    His aimless drift became an overwhelming rend. Every inch he gave, the pull grew. The stone tugged at his mind and tore at his soul until it dislocated his body. Without much time left, he followed his pull.


    Nothing in life had felt as rewarding as giving in, every step was a certainty, every day a blessing, and every year... year?





    Time had ceased all meaning long before the man realized the path had reached its conclusion. A massive pile of stones, too numerous to count, impeded the path. Another life, wrinkled and lined beyond reason, patiently waited for his attention.


    "Oh, well isn't that lovely." The ancient’s eyes only glazed over the stone, but the man knew that his weathered gaze had seen more in that brief glance than an entire life's worth of care...


    Gently, slowly, inevitably but somehow all too quickly, the ancient grasped the stone, brushing the tips of the man's fingers.


    "Yes, yes... very good. Exquisite" the mad mumblings from the dusky figure continued. Every line on the stone, every atom of it's being told the story of it's recent journey through time and the old man was desperate for every tale. Without pause he hungrily devoured the stones essence, gorging himself on its unique adventure, pouring his mind over its every aspect.


    And then he was finished.


    In canyon's depths under the ancient's eyes, the free flowing tears dried up. With a flick of his wrist, the stone was carelessly tossed into the pile.


    "I require another." No malice accompanied the word, it was said as a stated fact of law. Gravity pulled down, life pushed up, this being required another and the stone pulled we-


    The stone!


    "Back... give it back" The man futilely wished . He would willingly sift through the unending mass until he found the part that had value to him.


    "You can’t,” the ancient must have been trying to appear understanding and a bit sad but he couldn’t hide his impatience, “I've finished with that one, but over there is another.”






    The boy didn’t know why or when he felt compelled to pick up the stone, all he knew was that he didn’t want to put it down even though he was at the dinner table. No one seemed to notice his new companion, even his unusually observant mother hadn’t.


    “It took you a while to get home, did school let out late today?”


    “No, i just decided to do a little bit of exploring.”


    “Really? That sounds exciting, where’d you go?”


    “No where in particular, just west.”


    The pull was always west.
     
  5. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reflections on a Stone [747 words]

    Tom stared out of the SUV’s passenger-side window as the valley came into view. A monotonous sea of dirt and cacti expanded for miles in all directions. He scanned the environment for anything protruding out of the flat expanse, but the area was too large and he quickly gave up.

    He pulled his phone out of his pocket, opened his voice recording app, and hit ‘record.’

    “Interview with Border Patrol Agent Carlos Martinez on June 3rd, 2015,” he stated. After checking that the app’s timer had elapsed, he continued, “Is this a common place for illegal immigrants to travel through?”

    Carlos shrugged but kept his eyes on the road. “It can be. You’ll have coyotes leading groups of people across the valley, but they don’t generally cross over here.”

    “Do you think the person we’re looking for was with a coyote?”

    “I don’t know. If he was moving too slowly or he didn’t have enough money or even if the coyote just felt like it, he could have easily been left behind. Immigrants are not the real issue. Most of them are just trying to find a job and be with their family. It’s the coyotes that are causing the problems, all for the sake of money.” He paused before adding, “That’s the real story that you should be writing about.”

    Tom replied, “I think I’ll be the judge of that.”

    The SUV slowed and turned onto a dirt path that led deeper into the valley. A few seconds later, Carlos pointed towards something past the windshield. “There.”

    Tom followed Carlos’ finger to a stone structure that stood about 500 feet in front of the car. It couldn’t have been more than six feet tall.

    “Why do you think the person will be there?”

    “It’s the only shade for miles. If that woman is right and someone is hanging around here in this heat, that’s the most likely place.”

    As the dirt road dissolved into a rough desert terrain, Carlos parked the SUV. “We can walk it from here.”

    Tom paused the recording app, pocketed his phone, and stepped out of the car. The stone structure now stood about 100 feet away. “This is safe, right?” he asked, only half-jokingly.

    “It should be. The coyotes affiliated with gangs are the ones who have shot at us, but this isn’t that. Actually, this guy should be happy to see us—we might be saving his life.”

    As they neared the stone structure, he could see it was roughly shaped like an ‘L’ with an overhang that cast a wide shadow beneath. A figure was leaning against the structure in the shade.

    Carlos approached and said, “Estamos aquí para ayudarle.” He leaned under the overhang and studied the figure. “He’s dead.”

    Tom joined him under the overhang. It was a kid, maybe 15 or 16 years old, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. Carlos added, “It’s fresh.”

    “How can you tell?”

    “There’s no stench yet. If the body had been cooking in the desert for days, you would know it from the smell.”

    They continued to stare at the body. “I have to call this in,” Carlos said as he started to walk back towards the SUV. “I’ll be right back.”

    Tom wiped the sweat from his forehead and pulled his phone out of his pocket. It listed the current temperature as 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Other than this stone structure, there was no protection from the sun or heat for miles in every direction. And even that couldn’t help this kid.

    Carlos returned and placed a body bag on the ground. He threw Tom a pair of gloves and asked, “Can you help me with this?”

    After packing the body and putting it in the back of the SUV, they headed back to the station. Neither man talked for the first minute until Carlos said, “You’re being quiet. Did the body freak you out a little bit?”

    “No, it’s not that,” Tom said. “The station is, what, a few miles away from where we found that kid?”

    Carlos adjusted the rearview mirror and continued to keep his eyes on the road. “We didn’t know he was there. How are we supposed to help someone when we don’t even know he’s there?”

    Tom didn’t respond, so Carlos continued, “We’re not trying to get anyone hurt. We’re just trying to do our job and support our families.”

    Tom nodded and stared out of the SUV’s passenger side window. “Aren’t we all?”
     
  6. bumble bee
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    bumble bee Member

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    The Cherry Stones Word count [1470]


    I’ve heard it said that families are funny things. I always thought funny isn’t the word for something that carries so much weight. Growing up, my family was my mother, my little sister Alice and me, living together in a two bedroom terrace: a lot of oestrogen and not a lot of space.

    Like most single parent families, we didn’t have a lot of money, which meant not a lot of treats. We trundled round the supermarket together every week and every now and then- according to some internal whim we could never predict- my mother would ask us what we wanted for dessert. I don’t remember what I picked when it was my turn to choose, but Alice would ask for cherries and ice-cream.

    We would get home and have whatever it was for dinner (something easy to throw together, Mum wasn’t much of a cook) and then it was time for dessert. She’d get out the bowls and the spoons and let the ice cream soften and wash the cherries and Alice would take one look at them and start whinging about the stones. She was scared she might swallow one, and they felt funny in her mouth, she had a wobbly tooth starting and might bite into one by accident. She would ask mum to de-stone them all, and mum didn’t want to because she worked all day at the boring, low paid job she'd only taken because fitted in with childcare. Not to mention she had two kids to look after, all the housework and all the shopping to do and not even someone to talk to at night when we had both gone to bed. She never said that of course, but we knew it without being told. I’m going into a lot of detail here but the upshot of it was that Alice ended up having extra scoop of ice-cream to make up for the cherries she didn’t want. The ones she had chosen.

    I probably could have pulled the same trick and got extra ice-cream if I’d wanted but that wasn’t the point- I liked cherries. It just frustrated me that she was being so manipulative. She could have asked for something else in the supermarket but the point of the exercise was that she got more ice cream than she would have otherwise or, significantly, more than me. She would smile at me as she ate and make a show of staying longer at the table to finish her extra big helping. I would be irritated but I would try not to show it- to complain would have been to concede defeat. So I’d flounce around being mildly annoying to everyone until Mum snapped at us both and retreated to the kitchen to wash up with added vigour. My memory is that Alice did it all the time but I realise it probably only felt like that to me.

    **********

    Years passed and we were living our own separate lives. Mum had re- married and re-divorced and finally found some kind of peace with her own company. As far as I could tell she spent a fair amount of time and money on long walking holidays with other slightly-past-middle-aged women, drinking red wine and comparing notes about the men who had left them and the children they had given their youth to.

    Alice got a job as an accountant and met Tony- 3 years into his career path to the top of a big firm. They got married and reproduced and lived in a house with large windows, soft carpets and sleek cars. Tony earned enough that she gave up accountancy when the first baby arrived. It all seemed rather tedious to me- an upgraded version of our childhood- but I suppose she was happy. That was certainly the impression Mum gave when she fed me news about my little sister’s big life. She must have passed information both ways, although Alice seemed to be painstakingly unclear about basic facts of my existence when we met for big events and family holidays.

    For me, it felt like leaving home was the start of the life I was always meant to have. I tumbled into university and fell in love with the late nights, the drinking, the people and the sheer anonymity of it all. I made mistakes and friends with equal abandon, scraped a half way decent grade in medieval literature and crashed and burned as a teacher before starting my own antiques restoration business. I began very slowly establishing myself in a market town that attracted just enough tourists to make it a viable career. In other words we were all doing fine; perfectly content in the way that people are when they aren’t haven’t even considered that there might not be a happy ending.

    **********

    Mum broke the news to me first. She had kept it from us both until they had exhausted all the avenues of treatment and there was no hope left to soften the blow. I got in the car and went straight to her. I hadn’t seen her since Christmas and I was shocked by the change the last few months had brought. She’d lost weight. Her fingertips were dry and her hair was greasy. Her breath caught if she tried to speak for more than a few minutes and she had to stop and sit down. I asked what I could do to help but there was very little by that point. I washed her hair with a jug as she leaned over the bath, too tired to manage anything more. I phoned Alice that night and she arranged to visit at the weekend.

    Our mother had already become fluent in the vernacular of sickness: morphine, palliative, end of life care. Alice and I were running to catch up. Things moved very quickly. Most of the arrangements fell to me, because however old she got, Alice was still younger and more in need of sheltering. Not to mention she was heavily pregnant, with a toddler to look after. Tony found it hard to get time off work. I was- it seemed- lucky enough to be self employed and able to put my life on hold without asking anyone’s permission.

    That’s not to say she didn’t visit. We sat in the hospice, the three of us, looking out into the gardens. I found myself tongue tied at the prospect of mentioning the future. Alice talked brightly about her curly headed son and upcoming baby and how supportive her husband had been, taking the evening shift of childcare so she could rest and giving up wine so she wouldn't feel too jealous.

    Once she reached across our mother’s sleeping body to hold my hand.

    “Have you got support as well, Beth? You know a friend or something?”

    “Yes, plenty of friends. Not that it helps. How are you holding up?”

    “I don’t know. Ok I guess”

    We were both blindly trying to find a response that made sense in all of this. I remember being overwhelmed with a sudden desire to comfort her but it was too late in the day and my resources were low.

    I sat by that bed, day after day while the nurses told me how lucky I was to have this time. They meant it kindly. At the end I asked them if Mum knew I was there. They assured me she did and it must be a great comfort to her. It seemed churlish to say I was hoping they would say no so I could go outside for a breath of fresh air with a clean conscience. Dying is a tedious business.

    After the funeral, Alice and I ended up spending a lot of time together. The whole process was like a bizarre rendition of our childhood. We sat side by side in the solicitor’s office, nodding along to concepts beyond our comprehension. We cleaned our old bedroom, among other chores. We divided up Mum’s belongings, deciding who should have what: pressing each other to take old favourites; finally being able to share her when it was far too late to make a difference. Emptying the house left me feeling dry and cold. I was already worn out from the weeks of waiting and aching to get back to my own life.

    One day, I came back after driving bags of clothes to charity shops, to find Alice resting a bowl of cherries on her bump.

    “Do you remember having these with ice-cream when we were little?” As she spoke, she pulled a stone out of her mouth and held it out to show me.

    “I’m going to plant it in the garden before we go. I want to leave a piece of us all here.”

    I didn’t know whether to hit her or hug her. She was all the family I had left.
     
  7. TyChristy92
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    TyChristy92 New Member

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    “Stone-heart" [Words 2902]

    “Damn it!” David cursed while throwing pebbles into the river with a rage of anger overflowing in his system. He sat down on the side of the river bank hoping that the strong blows of the wind would blow away his worries.

    David is high school student who had just lost in a under 17 swimming competition. It was a close call, he merely lost in a split second, that’s what making him mad to the core. He’s been swimming from when he was just 3 years old. His parents would often take him to the swimming pool near their house to teach him how to walk. David development was rather late compared to the other kids, he had just learnt how to walk at the age of 2 after much practice in the water.

    All the hard work paid off, he would enter every swimming competition he could find and he often takes first position. He’s achievement was rather amazing for a kid his age, it would seem like he’s on the other level of the competition. People would call him child prodigy, David excel in both studies and sports. Because of his capability and how he takes first place at everything every now so often, media started focusing on him. David’s name could be found anywhere in sports magazine or television.

    David attended one of the renowned High School in town with sport scholarship. Among the best of those under 17 swimmers has attended this school altogether, but none of them could beat David’s record. Even with so much great swimmer, nobody had ever broken David’s record. He thought it was useless to put so much effort into winning, he couldn’t find anybody that could beat him and take the first position from him, or so he thought.

    “I can never win against that person! I’ve lost against him at the competition, and now he’s here!” He shouted in angry tone.

    “Dude, you’re here, I’ve been looking all over for you.” A fellow teammate and a dear friend of David called out. “I see you’re still pissed.” Christian said with a glistened of excitement in his eyes.

    “How can I not, Chris!?” David gritted teeth.

    “At least you’ve found a rival right? The person you thought could never beat you, shouldn’t you be more happy about it? You’ve waited a long time after all.”

    “How can I be happy while I’ve lost so many times to him during practice! I can’t stand him! Never once in my life I’ve been disgraced.” David said with a proud-full voice.

    “So it’s your pride then? You don’t want to lose, yet you’re pissed because nobody could ever beat you, is that it? Man, how high could you’re pride be?” Christian teased his angry friend.

    “As much as I hate to admit, I think you’re right, Chris.” David admitted defeat.

    “Oh! That’s a rare sight to see, and not so often too!”

    Sun has finally sat, the two young man heads to their respective houses before dinner time. They headed to the same direction since they live near to each other. “I’ll see you tomorrow, David!” Christian said parting ways on the intersection, though David didn’t respond.

    A new day has come, sun has begin to show while the two young man was having their morning run before going to class. David seems out of it, while Christian just follows him around like usual. “Oi, David, snap out of it already will ya!” Christian snapped.

    “Huh? What do you mean?” David cluelessly replied his concerned friend.

    “I’ve always known you’re a prideful person, but I didn’t know that it bothers you that much, losing that is. What’s you got to worry, man. I mean all you’ve got to do now, just practice harder and beat your own record. He’r record is not so much further than your’s, right? So that just mean if you could beat your own, than may be, just may be you could beat the guy?” Christian suggested thoughtfully, choosing the right word so he would not hurt his dearest friend.

    “If it were that easy, Christian, I think I would’ve done that.” Dejected.

    The bell rang shows that the first class has begin, David and Christian attend the same class together. “David!” Christian called out. “David, I say!” David wasn’t responding, Christian decided to kicked his chair.

    “I don’t know the answer, teacher!” David stood up and blurted out in a loud and strong voice.

    “I see you’ve been spacing out, David..” The teacher said.

    It seems clear to Christian that his friend has totally lost it, his cool and his sense, on top of it how could he possible be acting like that in literature class knowing that our teacher is a killer! The class read out passage by passage of what’s written on the book of ‘How to Kill a Mockingbird’, when the bell of the end of first period rang.

    Teacher give an instruction, “Read the next chapter before-hand, and we’ll be having quiz next class, and before I forgot, David, please come to my office after class.”

    “David, you’re so dead.” Christian stated.

    “Shut up, Chris, it’s you’re fault to begin with.” David has some how lost the will to fight.

    All class has ended, it just mean that it’s finally time for club activities. The young men was heading to their locker when David bumped into someone, “Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.” David apologized.. David looked up and realize that it was Vince, “tch.” David clicked his tongue, “it was just you.” And walked away. Vince stood there in doubt while he looks at them who’s walking away from him.

    Christian who just realized that David was missing for a moment from his side, and ask “Where’d you went off to David?”

    “Nowhere.” David pointed.

    Christian consciously stop asking knowing that his friend here is totally unwilling to speak, nor is he willing to hear another word from him. David seems to be on the edge, he would go into a complete rage if he’s provoked, and Christian knows best not to provoke him before everything takes turn for the worst.

    David had once been told by the coach that, if he were to create any problem or if he gets into trouble in anyway, he would be banned from the club, which means the rightful owner of the sport scholarship will be taken from him, and he’s bound to pay for the tuition that has accumulated during his stay in the school.

    Club activities has now begin, before one could enter the pool everyone needs to have a proper warm up in order to avoid any unnecessary accident during practice. Coach is being very thorough now since there’s another competition coming up, and pushing one to the limit to improve.

    David went ahead of the other and dived into the pool without proper stretching, coach don’t bother him as much. Coach think that it’s only nature that he knows what’s best for his own body, since he is after all the champion for 10 years straight. Unexpected thing happened, Vince who’s always following and playing by the rule of the coach has decided to not listen to the coach for once, and had challenged David for a freestyle duel, without doubt David had excepted. David thought that he could easily win the bet if it were freestyle, it was his specialty to begin with.

    “Coach, are you sure about this?” Christian doubting the decision coach made. He didn’t think it was a good idea, if David were to lose again in this duel, he might break-down totally to the point he won’t function anymore.

    “I don’t mind at all, you of all people know how David condition is currently.” The coach said undoubting the two kids who’s already in the pool.

    “That’s because I know exactly how David is, coach, I’m concerned.” David mumbled so the coach wouldn’t hear him.

    Whistle was blown, Vince and David dived in and have their run, the two juniors stand on the pool side with stopwatches in hand accordingly. It was a 400m swim, which mean they have to go back and forth two times round before finish. The first 100m they were swimming effortless going neck to neck, one would simply thought that they’re enjoying it. Make no mistake, it’s crucial to decided the outcome of the winner this point on.

    David seems agitated, the rapid splashing of the water that those knows of his style would think he’s under-pressure. Christian sharp observation has complete shows that something is wrong with David in that water. Christian went nearer to the pool and see for himself, “Coach!” Christian shouted calling out for the coach.

    “Christian pull David up!” Coach instructed.

    There was something off with the way David was swimming, if it weren’t for Christian’s observation nobody would’ve noticed. David had slowed down the pace on the third turn where he usually goes faster. Christians fear ensued, David was unable to move.

    Christian dove in the water and drag David out. David seems to be grasping on air like he’s drowning, his face turned pale and lips turning blue. He got a cramped on his leg making him unable to move, and he had swallowed some of the water that’s making him out of breath. Christian trying to stay calm as he instructed the other to call for an ambulance, but David insist.

    Vince got out from the water and walked towards them, “stop being stubborn and go to the hospital.”

    In a split second David lost his consciousness, while Christian carried him to nearest bench and had him lay down there covered with few towels. Not too long after, the ambulance had arrived taking David to the hospital accompanied by Christian while the coach went to the principle to announce the situation. The coach asked the principle to help him call for David’s parent, while he head down to the hospital where David has been taken to.

    “How’s his condition, Doc?” Christian asked.

    “Yes, who might you be, young man?” The doctor smiled at Christian.

    “My name is Christian, I’m his friend, I came here with him, and his family is on the way. Could you tell me what’s wrong with him?” Christian explained nervously.

    “Alright then, Christian, your friend in there is fine, it seems he was stressing that he hyper-ventilated under the water it seems.” The young doctor explained to Christian. “I thought it was weird for a kid like him to be drowning, I’ve heard of him being the well-known swimmer, isn’t he?”

    “Oh, yes, David is an amazing swimmer.”

    “He must’ve had something on his mind, and was going recklessly diving into the water without proper stretching and have his own body gave up on him.”

    “How’d you know, doc?”

    “Well, you see young man, I wasn’t called as a Doctor for nothing.”

    Christian blushed to the doctor’s statement and realized himself had just blurt out a ridiculously stupid statement. “It’s true, doc. So there’s nothing else wrong with him right? He was just an idiot who had a momentary mental breakdown in the water, right? That idiot!” Christian cursed.

    “That sounds about right, but I would really suggest that he would take it easy, for an athlete it must be stressing to have lost control of their body even for the slightest second. You seem close to him, so it would be nice if you could encourage him and have him ease that mind of him so this won’t have to happen for the second time. The patient was pretty lucky that someone had taken notice so early, if he were to drown longer it might have taken a different path.” The doctor said.

    Christian thought that if it were to happened, David would’ve turned into a literal stone. It was clear to his best friend that, David’s life revolves around swimming without him admitting it. If he were to stop swimming, he would lost all function of his mind and body, and head into a destruction path that Christian can’t possibly imagined.

    “What the hell where you thinking dude!?” Christian shouted as soon as he sees David has regained consciousness. David did not respond instead he look away from Christian, and let out a heavy sigh.

    David’s parents enter the room slowly, not a slight of concerned was noticeable from their faces, it doesn’t shock neither Christian nor the coach, but the person who was standing on the corner was in shock. “Oh my baby boy, it’s rare sight to see.” David’s mother said and continued by his father, “It’s an unfitting image though, don’t you think dear?” They laughed.

    The coach was laughing along with them. Vince on the other hand had his jaw dropped all the way to the ground seeing the only concerned one was him and Christian. David’s father saw the boy who’s standing on the corner and said, “Oh, you made a new friend, David?”

    David sat up and exclaimed, “He isn’t my friend!”

    “Don’t be so modest, you love swimming together with Vince, don’t you David.” The coach teased. “How do you do, Mr. Sebastian, Ms. Sebastian. This is one of his teammate, Vince,” Coach introduced.

    “How do you do, Sir, Ms, I’m Vincent Fanthom.” Vince politely greeted them.

    “Aren’t you a polite one, Mr. Fanthom.” David’s mother greeted.

    “Just call me Vince, Ms. Sebastian, Mr. Fanthom is my father.” Vince smiled.

    “So this is the kid that’s been making my boy stress out to the core.” Mr. Sebastian said.

    David didn’t budge, Christian responded by saying, “He is, uncle! David has been losing to Vince ever since he came to our school.”

    “Oh, is that right, David? Aren’t you happy, that you’ve finally met you’re respected rival that you’ve been waiting for?” Ms. Sebastian questioned David.

    “I’m not happy!” David sulked.

    “For once, I might be exaggerating but I’m ecstatic to found myself a rival like you, David. I often hear of your name, and you’re the main reason I came to this school in the first place.”

    David blushed, “What the hell are you spouting! Shouldn’t you be embarrassed, what the hell is that look on your face! You’re not even embarrassed by what you said!”

    Everybody in that room laughed so hard, it’s the first time they’ve seen David blushed and muttering fluttered words with that heavy voice of his. “It seems like you’ve grown a liking towards this young man, and the way I see it David, you acknowledge him and you wanted to be his friend.” Mr. Sebastian stated. “Don’t you think Christian?”

    “Christian don’t you dare answer that!” David commanded.

    “Well, I agree uncle!” Christian laughed. Vince was blushing beet red, and had his head turned down.

    “David, listen to me, the encouraging words of a mother never fails okay. You’ve been waiting for so long to find someone that’s worthy to be called your rival, you’ve found one now, you’ve been neglecting your passion just because there weren’t anybody that could stand by your side, nor was there someone worthy to be called your opponent. Christian understood that part of you well, these are your true friends that willing to go along side with you, and your childish mind, treasure them as much as you treasure swimming. There’ll be so much bigger hurdle you need to face in the future, this is just a small part of it, out there in the world you’ll find quiet bigger trouble. You three kids, think of this as a stepping stone to the next level, the moment will come when all of you need to work together in anyway possible. Admit it, accept it, acknowledge it and keep it in that small mind of yours’ that one day you might hit rock bottom and you will be needing each other’s help to overcome it. Don’t ever take it for granted, for once David, I’ve never seen you so happy before, I’m overwhelmed with joy! So, bottom line, melt away that stone-heart of yours, take a step back and learn to see the bigger picture once in a while!” Ms. Sebastian spouted.

    David seems encouraged by his mother’s words. David grew up without having his parents tell him what he should and should not do, they support every decisions he makes. All the decisions making was left to David for him to make and decided for his own future. It means so much to David that mother has said encouraging words to him, because mother never really say these types of words. Both his parents would tell him not to give up, and do what he feels like doing, even if it’s just momentary excitement, that’s why the words of his easy-going parents hit him so hard then it ever before.

    David realizes that it’s only in his mind that he loses, and in order for him to overcome that hurdle is to acknowledge it and accept it that this person that has been winning against him so many times is the only person who could teach him and push him to the limit. David decided to make peace with his inner demon and accept that it’s not the end that he couldn’t win against one person. It’s not winning that mattered, it’s the learning process along the way that means more.
     
  8. Spencer Rose
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    Spencer Rose Member

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    Speaker of the Stones (2253 words)


    Cricket song filled the air, soft and chittering as the insects bid the night goodbye. Fresh dew clung to the world, scattering tiny stars of light across dense green foliage. The earth began to stir, waking with the promise of dawn, of warm sunlight and blue skies.

    Amidst the early morning light several figures stirred, silhouettes of black against a pink and peach sky. They moved as one, a single being intent upon a single purpose. Some bore torches, spattering uneven light in a wobbly halo around them. Others held long poles, tipped with sharpened stone.

    A circular clearing of beaten earth was their destination. Devoid of vegetation, a single dead tree arched skyward from the center.

    Long ago stripped of its' limbs, the ancient wood stabbed at the sky, gnarled and indignant. Where its limbs had once been only round, flat knots remained, scarring the trunk in pale yellows. Faces had been painted in those hollows, eyes closed and mouths agape, fixed in eternal anguish.

    The natives called it simply the Tree of Sorrows.

    The clearing's sole living occupant was a boy; too old to be counted a child, too young to be a man. His hands and feet were bound tightly with coarse rope, secured to the tree's trunk. Bruises bloomed about his face and torso in various shades of purple and blue. His lips were blistered and cracked, dried blood dabbing the corner of his mouth.

    "That time already?" He asked with a grin, his voice dusty and dry like the earth around him. "Well come on, get it over with. I don't have all day."

    The figures did not speak. One lifted a torch, while another stepped forward, cutting the boy's ankles free from his bindings heedless of the flesh beneath. Two more circled around beside him, spears thrust forward. The message was clear: one wrong move and you die.

    The boy fell into place amongst a circle of fire and spears, moving at a shuffle. Twice he slowed, and spear points jabbed his back, spilling hot crimson down his back.

    The boy moved faster.

    They marched through the dark, their torches pinpricks of light against the encroaching morning. The air felt heavy, thick.

    It would rain, for sure.

    They made their way down well beaten paths, veins of brown against the lush greenery of the forest. When the trees gave way it was to accommodate simple huts of stone and thatch. Dozens of them peppered the forest trails. Windows of crude glass were dark, fires long since put out. Doors of wood and iron were shut and locked tight.

    No one would bear witness to the procession.

    At last they came to a large building. Long and low, built entirely from stones pulled from the earth, left unshaped. Natural. They lay heaped one upon another in a jumbled pile, held together by rose colored mortar.

    The boy stepped forward and spears raised. "Enough with the spears, alright? I get it. I'm going in on my own."

    Shuffled steps brought him to the doorway, bound wrists raised to knock the door when it swung open.

    "Enter, boy."

    The boy did as he was bade, ducking through the low door and entering the building.

    The room was a sensible mixture of kitchen and living space. Colorful mats of straw lay upon the floor, bare save for a peppering of local made rugs of simplistic design. At the room's center a fire grumbled quietly, little tongues of flame lapping lazily at a great iron kettle, bubbling with aromatic stew.

    As the wonderful smell wafted towards him, the boy's stomach snarled.

    "Don't be afraid." A crone with hair of bone white stepped forward. Her skin sagged off her face in great, slumping heaps; as if the task of clinging to bone had long since grown tiresome. Her clothes were of a similar mind, piles of colorful cloth layered senselessly one atop the next.

    "I'm sure you're hungry." The crone said. "Would you care for something to eat?"

    The boy held up his wrists, "I would, but these ropes would make it rather difficult."

    "Ah yes." She smiled. Her eyes were a sightless blue. "Allow me." From the folds of her skirt she produced a wicked blade, shuffling towards him.

    The boy felt terror clamber up his throat until the woman stopped, hunching down with a great effort and placing the blade on the ground.

    "Forgive me. You'll have to free yourself. I fear I might do more damage then good." She said shyly. "These old eyes aren't what they used to be."

    She busied herself with the kitchen, shuffling through earthenware, while the boy inspected the knife. She hummed a little tune to herself as she went.

    "You could kill me." The crone said, reading his thoughts. "You're a stranger to our lands. I'm sure you find it cruel that we treat and try you so. But it is our way. We must honor tradition. Still, I would not blame you for trying."

    The boy did not respond. He moved slowly across the room, sore but cautious. He stooped to grab the knife, considering her words.

    "I could kill you." He said, more to himself than the woman.

    "You could. But let us feed you first. I'm sure you're hungry. Usually one would fast before the ritual, but there are some rules that can be broken." She laughed.

    While the boy cut away his bindings, slowly due to the awkward angle, the woman ladled a heaping serving of stew into a bowl. His wrists were swollen but intact, there would be bruises but no scars.

    "Here. Eat."

    "Thank you."

    The bowl lingered in the air, but came no closer.

    The crone smiled.

    "Ah. The knife. Of course." He handed it back, blade in hand and hilt towards the old woman.

    In a flash the knife was gone, concealed once more, and a hot bowl was in his hands.

    He didn't wait for a utensil. Dropping down to the nearest mat, he cupped the bowl in both hands and began to drink the soup greedily.

    "This is fantastic. You're people are lousy hosts, but the food is great."

    "I'm glad you like it. Venison stew, my mother's recipe. There's carrots, potatoes, and onions as well. Good for the head and the heart."

    "It's very earthy. What is the herb?"

    "Good tongue. That's thyme. I grow it out back, in a little garden."

    "Delicious."

    When the bowl was empty the crone took it back, and filled it again. And again. And again.

    When the boy could see his stomach swelling from beneath his ribs he paused for breath, "I have to say, this is a strange way to treat a prisoner. I went from getting beaten senseless, tied to a creepy tree all night, to getting well fed? I don't understand."

    "The Tree of Sorrows is a sacred place, for reflection and remorse. As for the rough handling... We treated you as we would treat one of our own. It was neither special nor cruel."

    The old woman took the bowl one final time, but instead of refilling it she sat it down beside the fire. "You were caught trespassing on our land, poaching our game, stealing our crops. Is that the way of your people, boy? Or is that your own creed?"

    The boy shifted beneath the weight of his shame. "I didn't mean to--"

    "You knew what you meant to do, boy. Lying is unbecoming."

    "I did it to save my family!" The boy cried, his hands curling into fists. "They're starving while our King sits on his throne, taxing the people into poverty. My father works the fields before dawn and doesn't come home until the stars are out. And for what? The land is dead. The crops won't grow, the animals die." Tears bloomed into the corners of his eyes. "I've buried two brothers and a sister, and do you think the King gives a damn?"

    "Listen to that heart race. A good, strong heart." The crone tapped one ear, "my eyes aren't much, but I can hear things others only dream of. I can hear your anger, boy, such terrible dark anger. Yet underneath that rage and hate... I hear your passion. Your conviction. I believe your words."

    She moved slowly and with great purpose; an ancient, dignified creature. Her feet pattered against the beaten earth as she went.

    "Answer me this, boy. My people do not collect your taxes, nor do we spend them. We are outside the laws of your king." She stopped at a simple altar of stone, upon which sat a rose quartz bowl, "We have never encroached on your lands, neither to steal your food or taint the soil. We do not hunt your game or slaughter your livestock. So tell me, why steal from us?"

    "I told you--"

    "You told me you have wants. Needs. Desires. You cannot fulfill them on your own, so you seek to take those things from those who have them. To fill the bellies of your family, you take food from my people, who would go hungry in turn. How does that make you any better than your king?"

    The boy's silence was his only answer.

    "But now is not the time to reflect upon such things. You have eaten, as promised, and now I must fulfill my obligations." From the bowl she withdrew a satchel. "Amongst my people I am known as the Speaker of the Stones. In truth, I am a lithomancer. Do you know what that means?"

    "No. Should I?"

    "Once, long ago, you might have. Now I might very well be the last of my kind." She turned her head, as though straining to hear, "I tell truths shown to me through stones. I heal wounds of the soul and flesh, realign Chakras. I can recall the past, consult the present, and in rare cases, tell the future. The stones know all, but have no voice. I am their words, their vessel."

    "And what does this have to do with me?"

    "Stones govern the lives of my people, even outside of my practices. We use them to make weapons and tools, build our homes. When we marry we stand before them, when we die we are placed beneath them. As a ritual of passage from child to adult, we suffer their trials."

    She poured the contents of the satchel out into her weathered hand, brightly colored stones spilling out.

    "But that is not why you are here. The stones have another purpose, some might say a darker purpose. They pass judgement in cases such as yours."

    "Pass judgement... What does that mean, exactly?"

    "Look around you." The stones began to dance in her hand, bony fingers moving nimbly. Over and over they tumbled, clinking gently as the moved against one another. "Really look."

    The boy looked, saw nothing special.

    He rose, slow and stiff for his wounds finally settled, and surveyed the room. "I don't see--"

    The mats.

    The colors drew his eyes; red yellow, orange, and tan. They formed a square around the cauldron, and every mat was square. The rugs were various shades of blue or purple, some with striped patterns or jagged lines. There were gaps between their placement, but draw a line connecting them and they formed a triangle. As for the room itself, while the building was a long rectangle, was circular.

    "Shapes. Shapes and colors. Patterns." The boy touched his head, rubbed his eyes.

    "Yes!" The crone tremble with excitement. "Yes, you see it! The room is a glyph, my boy. This room will tell me your fate."

    Her hands divided the stones, heedless of color or size. She threw a stone to her left, another to her right. Her feet began to move in a spiraling dance, "The room will guide me. The stones will guide you."

    She moved faster, danced around the room with practiced ease, stones flying as she went. She leapt from mat to rug, rug to mat and back again.

    The boy did not see the stones land.

    He watched the crone dance. Her rumpled skirts came alive, fluttering outward around her. Like a flower that had pulled itself from the ground, petals swaying in the wind as it danced to music no one else could hear. She was vibrant and alive and so much more.

    Then it was over.

    The crone's hands were empty. She came to a stop so quickly she teetered forward, and the boy leaned forward to catch her. Her hair fell around her face in spidery wisps.

    There were tears in her eyes. "Look."

    "Look at what?"

    "The stones have spoken. Your judgement has been passed. Look. See."

    "I see--"

    The mats had turned, as had the rugs. Wherever a gap appeared a stone had fallen between them, connecting them. They formed an intricate web, arrows pointing out the obvious.

    The boy's heart began to gallop in his chest, sweat formed on his brow.

    "Everything is pointed at me."

    "Yes. It is."

    "I don't understand."

    "The stones have passed their judgement. They see you for what you are."

    "What I am?" He reached down, picking up a small white stone that had landed next to his foot, the only one that had come close. Held it to his ear. "I.. can hear something. Whispers."

    "Can you?" The crone asked, tears cascading down the folds of her face.
    "And what does it say to you, Speaker of the Stone?"
     
  9. dbesim
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    dbesim Contributing Member

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    The Curse of the Stone Statue (2,746)

    I looked behind me, having just made my way out of the Forest Pleasant. The forest was exactly as its name suggested. Pleasant. Looming beyond me was a long, shaky bridge. I reckoned it would take me at least half an hour to cross to the other side of it. This was the part where nobody had the courage to go. No one dared to stray away from the Forest Pleasant, where the birds sang and the rabbits danced. Nobody was brave enough to confront the dangerous ancient history of the castle.

    I checked my watch for the time and brought my backpack off my shoulders and opened it. I took out an important book. It was all about the history of the castle. I took the book out and flipped to the part about the bridge. An instruction said, tread the bridge slowly and carefully. With a bit of luck this will get me through to the other side all in one piece. My breathing gets heavier as I realise I'm advancing on to a taboo area. I was stepping towards the part that everybody from the neighbouring towns were scared to tread.

    According to legend, anyone who dared enter the tower of the haunted castle was subject to a curse and may never return. Yet within the tower, there was a precious Book of Secrets and the story has it that only one person can ever touch the Book of Secrets and break the curse of the castle. As I made my way shakily over the bridge, I closed my eyes breathing hard. I prayed that that person was me. In fact, I was convinced it was.

    The book of information I had about the castle was very limited for all it knew about was its tales and an assumption about its history but it knew nothing about what the curse of the castle was nor why anybody who entered its tower never returned. The book also had nothing on who would break the spell, what would happen and what exactly was written in the Book of Secrets that was so important to the castle.

    I made a note on where the position of the sun was and as I headed closer to the grounds of the ancient castle, the atmosphere grew more and more dreary. It felt hollow and abandoned. I could also begin to see the building of the castle itself. I still had a chance to turn back and get away from it all, yet I was so sure I was the one who would break its curse. It was the only thing that drove me forward.

    The castle was both tall and wide. It was made of stony pebbles of grey and white. As I arrived over the bridge and towards the grounds, everything seemed to be getting colder. The castle's grounds was made of little and large stones, pebbles and boulders. There was a stony and cold silence looming. I reached the stairs outside the castle's porch. I climbed the stairs and entered the dreary doors. There was still time to turn back and run away. According to the book, the curse wouldn't begin until I read what was in the Book of Secrets. However, the curse wouldn't advance on me at all if I was the one who would break its spell.

    As I entered the castle, I noticed a variety of stony concrete statues. There were so many of them. They seemed to be.... people. They all stood in different positions. Some seemed like statues trying to escape. Suddenly I felt an icy chill on my back and then I heard a noise:

    Cass-an-draaaa

    How did it know my name?

    'Who's there?'

    Wh-y are you heere, Cass-an-dra?

    'Um..' I was shaken, 'I want to see the tower...'

    Wh-at makes you think that you'd be the one who breaks the spell, Cass-andra? It said. Then I heard a chuckle.

    Wh-at makes you so special, Ca-ssandra?

    'Um - ' This was the moment of truth.

    You see the statues, Cassandra - they were all once young hopefuls like you. The fools... they thought they were the ones who could rival the spells of the Book of Se-ecrets. Now they've all been turned to stone... and so will you be...

    'Am I then not the one?' I asked.

    I don't know... a-are you? The voice taunted. We won't know until you touch the Book. Le-eave the castle now while you can, else you too will be in its peril...

    'But I think I might be the one!' I said.

    Al-right then Cassandra... t-ry.. taunted the voice. Then a cackle.

    I was frightened but the only thing that propelled me forward was the conviction that I was, indeed, the one who would break the spell. Yet, as I glanced at the other statues, I began to cry. For all these people were also once as hopeful as me. And looking at them now, they had all been turned to stone.

    I leant against one of the statues and my tears continued to flow. Was it because I wasn't brave enough? Was it because I didn't have faith enough? After a long while of crying, I realised that the voice taunting me had stopped and the castle was now back to its stony, hollow silence. In a way I felt relief. The voice had said that I still had the chance to escape the castle. I won't be turned to stone unless I found out the secrets of the book. Unless, of course... I was the one.

    I moved onwards towards the castle staircase. I supposed that the tower resided at the very top of the staircase. Carefully, I began advancing.

    One thing the castle didn't know about me is that I've been a charity worker. I've helped lots of poor and sick people in the past. A couple of years ago I was one of the fortunate few who won $23 million on a winning lottery ticket. I donated the entirety of the cash to all of the charities I've been working for. I went from being a very wealthy woman to back to my humble roots. Money was never as issue but I was never greedy for so much of it. I strongly believed that my humble generosity made me the right person to challenge the Book of Secrets.

    After four slow hours of climbing the steps, amid a lot of pauses and gasping for breath, I finally reached the top of the castle. There was a small wooden door about half my size. I realised this was the door that leads into the room of the tower. I closed my eyes hoping the door would open. I challenged the bolt of the door and it gave way easily. I crouched through the entrance and into the room of the tower.

    The room was the most spacious and beautiful room I had ever seen. The floors and the walls were a gorgeous shade of pink. There was an open window that breathed in air. Within the centre of the room there was a glass casket. And inside that... it was the Book!

    I carefully walked towards it and lifted the casket. I took out the Book and began reading its pages. What I found out was astounding! I kept turning and turning. I had to know more! I spent far longer time in the tower than I assumed I would, reading the scripts and savouring all the information of each and every page. There were over a thousand pages and all of its scripts were as shocking as the last. I now had all the secrets of this sacred book within my hands.

    The first time I checked my watch, I realised I'd been in the tower for all through until the morning, having kept awake straight through the night. As I absorbed all the revelations of the Book, I realised I still was not overcome by sleep. In fact, the contrary. I felt quite alive. After a couple more hours of reading I decided it was about time to leave. Yet I couldn't go without the Book. It is what I had come for.

    I opened my bulky backpack and stuffed the sacred Book inside it. Its revelations were now entirely in my hands. One important thing I noticed is that I was still me and not turned to stone. I silently prayed that I might be the one afterall. I'd had the Book in my hands for hours so there just might be hope.

    I left the entrance of the tower and proceeded to go down the enchanting staircase. Going down the staircase was a far easier ordeal than climbing up it had been and I realised that I was now moving faster. In no time at all I was down in the hallway where were all the other statues. The castle's victims who hadn't made it. My progress stalled as I realised that the castle might just turn me to stone anytime now. I closed my eyes and prayed, hoping it wouldn't. Gradually, I found myself advancing out of the doorway and through the doors of the castle. I had now reached the porch.

    'Yes!' I shouted realising that I had made it through the hallway and outside of the castle building still not turned to stone. 'There might just be hope yet!'

    However, as I lift up my right foot to tread my next step, I realised that I couldn't move it. I couldn't move my foot! It felt like concrete. I then attempted to lift up my left foot and realised I couldn't move that one either. I looked down the ground at my feet and they appeared to be cemented together.

    'Oh, no...no...no...' I said.

    Suddenly I noticed a greying cement beginning to work its way up through my toes and on towards my ankles.. my shins.. up my legs and my thighs and on to my hips. I couldn't move any part of the lower half of my body anymore. The cement worked its way up to my stomach.. my back.. my chest and through to my neck.. chin.. and head. It now consumed every part of me and I could no longer move at all. I was being turned to stone.

    Cass-an-draaaaa... Did you really think you could defy the spell of the castle, Cass-an-draaa? Did you th-ink you could run off with the Book and tell the world its s-ee-crets? Not this time...

    I couldn't reply even if I wanted to. I was now a beast and a slave of the castle's ancient curse. My mortal humbleness and generosity stood for nothing against the secrets of this book. My backpack.. I had subconsciously dropped that while being turned to stone. It was the only part of me that hadn't been. My clothes.. my watch.. my jewellery.. it was all frozen. I was like them. No different.

    Yes, actually, there was one slight difference. All of the other stone statues were in the hall but I was the only statue in the porch. Why hadn't I turned to stone in the hall like the rest of them?

    Y-es, you a-re different, Cass-andra, the voice called as if reading my thoughts. Anyone who looks into Cassandra's eyes shall be turned to stone... unless.. they're the one. A cackle.

    I stood inanimate waiting for the voice to say something more. I waited hours for something to happen. For her to say something else but she no longer did. It began to sink in that the mortal world was now my prey and I was its predator. Those who looked into my eyes shall be turned to stone. In a strange way that made me happy...

    Suddenly I heard a shuffle as something behind me made a noise but I couldn't see what it was. It arrived in front of me where my backpack was situated. As I remained frozen, I realised it was a troll:

    'You stupid, quack!' The troll said angrily and he kicked me on my leg quite hard. Once.. twice.. three times.. I couldn't move though I heard it vent: 'Take the Book of Secrets from us! No you don't.' He kicked me again. I saw him open my backpack and take out the Book. I knew he was going to deliver it back to the tower where it's supposed to be. He took my backpack too and then he disappeared. He went back in to the castle and left me in the lonely hollow silence of the castle's porch with nothing or no one around.

    Over the next couple of centuries I noticed a few people enter the castle's doors but I never saw them come out. Then one day I saw a young man coming towards me. He reached the steps of the porch when he noticed me. He whistled towards me in appreciation:

    'My aren't you just the most beautiful statue I have ever seen.'

    As he made his way up the stone stairs, he began checking me out. He then inspected my face and looked into my eyes. I don't know what he felt at that moment but it was electric. The man seemed to be hypnotized by me as he gazed into them. If my eyes could speak a thousand words then he would have recognised despair. He gazed at me and as I looked back, he gradually started turning in to stone. Consumed by the overpowering energy of my gaze. He was not the One. He probably deserved that. We were equal now.

    For the first time, I languished at how well my powers worked and eagerly wanted to do it again. Over the next few centuries, I consumed a few more victims. They all deserved it.

    Then one day I saw a mother arrive with a little boy no older than two or three years old. She should have known better than to be in a place so dangerous with a child. The child was crying for what I realised might have been fatigue or a clear disliking of the castle. I saw the woman slap him hard on the cheek and his crying intensified. He was the first mortal I had seen who would rather have left upon arriving and who would rather have not been here. The mother and her son disappeared in to the castle and I saw no more of them.

    A couple of weeks later and to my surprise, I saw the child come out of the castle but his mother wasn't with him. In his hands he held the Book of Secrets. I saw him open the Book and have no understanding of it because he was too young to read. I then saw him take the Book and escape the castle. He went back over the bridge and toward the Forest Pleasant where he was since safe. That little boy had made it out of the castle with the Book alive and he was no longer a victim to its curse! This could only mean one thing. That mysterious little boy was the One!

    Suddenly I saw an intensity of clouds gather and it began to rain pebbles. Moments later I began to turn into my mortal self Cassandra. I couldn't believe it. I could move! I entered the hallway and noticed all the other statues too were turned back to the mortals they were. Then I heard a voice that sounded like an angel:

    'The spell of the castle has been broken. The Great One has arrived and is now in possession of the Book. In fifteen years time the Great One shall be made King of the castle and its neighbouring towns and villages. You are all now free to go. Hail to the King!'

    'Hail to the King!' We all repeated, thrilled that we were all now free.

    So that little kid was the One? The boy had been too young even to be able to read. I was stunned by how easily he took the Book out of the castle like that. That little boy... Who'd be King of our towns in fifteen years time.

    I make my way out of the castle's doors and marvel at the pebbles as they gracefully and gently fall over the building marking the end of its ancient-old curse.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2015

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