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Vote for the best short story!

Poll closed Sep 8, 2013.
  1. 私生(My Life) 私全身(My Zen)

    10.0%
  2. "Family Genes" - 1,677 words

    30.0%
  3. The Final Clue - Words: 740

    30.0%
  4. "Scars and Letters" [555 Words]

    30.0%
  5. A Sensuous Hunt (1295 word)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Closed Voting Voting Short Story Contest (140) Theme: The Discovery

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Lemex, Aug 25, 2013.

    Voting Short Story Contest (139) Theme: Fish

    Contest Note: Well, this will be my last full contest before I step down as mod on the 15th of September. It has been a lot of fun, and I hope everyone treats the new contest manager with the grace that has been shown me. - Lemex

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned(maybe). No more entries are allowed in this contest.

    Voting will end Sunday 8th of September 2013 to give you all a chance to read the entries.

    It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under or over the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not in accordance with the theme will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine eligibility. Consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.


    Good luck to everyone!
    And thanks.
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    私生(My Life)
    私全身(My Zen)


    I have had a life like no other. I am sitting in a laundry mat here in Long Beach on Pacific Place and Wardlow Blvd near the Wardlow Metro station. It’s a sunny Friday morning. Very warm, pure like the steam rising from the hood of an old brown Buick sitting in the drive way of a LA suburban home.
    Thoughts are racing through my mind of my past 36 years in existence. This morning seems to have awakened something in me. I am light, levitating, and oscillating into an oblivious rapture. Recollections can really break any silence for it is ambiguous in nature. Ambiguity is safe when in this state, because it is unimposing.
    Why am I writing this? Why am I giving you a piece of what my life? Why not? I want to give a little slice of my life experiences. For, I have been in so many houses, stores, cars, rooms, hotels, wrestling mats, gyms, trains, buses, coffeehouses, beaches, different states in America, classrooms, and movie theaters, etc. So, I think it is time to give you some scenarios as to what life and Zen exemplifies to me. You, the reader, may interpret what ever you will of these episodes invading your intellect into the limbic system processing these experiences from the pitter-patter of my feet walking in your mind. Where shall I start……?
    How about this………..It’s the summer of 1998 on a Sunday morning. I am driving up Highway 55 in Illinois in my big blue Werner Enterprise 18-wheeler Big Rig. It’s close to 5 in the morning. I have been driving a load from Dallas, Texas, I believe. I am on my 8th hour of driving. I am in the zone. I don’t want to stop at any truck stop unless I have to fuel up, use the bathroom, or take a shower.
    This truck has been my home and my refuge for 25 days out of the month. I love driving down these highways early in the morning. No speed traps. No rush hour traffic. No construction barricades pileups. Its just pure driving while I am listening to my front tires revolt on the asphalt highway. Mile after mile; minute by minute; I am closer to my destination and some rest.
    What made this moment special? Well, on this morning, it was the first time while driving up any highway that I saw the sun rise in its entirety. The moment encapsulated my attention comprehensively that I stopped my truck on the side of the road to take a view. While stepping out of the truck, I figured, ‘why not take a leak while watching the sun rise from the east.’ It was beautiful. I wish I had had a camera or camcorder during that moment. My life and my Zen were that joyful moment watching the rising sun from the east……..

    Next place I want to take you to is here…….It’s April 8th of this year around 1 or 2 pm. I just lost both of my matches at US Nationals in Cleveland, Ohio at the city Auditorium across the street from the Crown Plaza Hotel; the spot where I am staying at. I am on the 12th floor in room 1206. It was tough to lose to both wrestlers. These guys were not slouches and neither am I.
    Before my first match, I went downstairs in the auditorium near the weighed-in area to practice my Karate before my match. I had to wrestle a NCAA Division II Champ name Marty Usman. His coach was former Olympic Gold Medalist Brandon Slay. Fuckers! I felt real good and confident after weigh-ins yesterday; yet, something was missing. It was near match time and I went upstairs to the mat areas, where all the action was, to continue my Karate warm-up before match time. I felt good, stretched, and relaxed. I was ready.
    I heard the announcer call both our names over the loud speaker. We were in the hole. We had three matches before ours at Table #7. I started to get nervous, but felt ok. I don’t know what was wrong, but this was the same way I felt at last year’s tournament; a bundle of nervous energy. Why does this keep harboring me?
    Well, no time to think. Action. I stripped off my yellow SOULFLY shirt with the Rasta Lion, and my white Karate pants. I bowed before I walked on the mat in my blue single. Marty was about the same height and built as I. The referee shakes both are hands then touches our bodies up and down to make sure we are both dry. I give Marty the high-five and I crotch low in my stance. What is fucking going on? When will it click! The whistle blows. Damn, I already lost!
    Sitting in my hotel room in reflection. I know my potential, but where’s the fire? It wasn’t always like this. I could have beaten the guys from last year, also; but I didn’t. Why? That question loomed in my mind while sitting in that hotel room. ‘Well, I have no more matches and plenty of statistics homework. There is nothing exciting in Cleveland, so I study until departure time Sunday.’ That question continued to linger all during that weekend at the hotel, on the plane flights, all the way to the front steps of my apartment. My life and my Zen was the agony of my defeats……

    Life can be ugly, so I decide to end like this………….I first met this woman named Aki Saito in the summer of 2006, around June to be exact. She was a fair-skin Japanese woman around the same age as me who spoke English and Japanese. I loved her short chopped black hair, her nice athletic cyclist thighs, and her soft almond skin. She had the look of a dork, but the sensuality of a Geisha.
    I met her while I was working as a security office at the LACMA (LA County Museum of Arts). From what I remember, it was on a Wednesday or Friday warm afternoon in June. I was standing guard at the shipping & receiving dock next to the employee entrance of the museum. I saw her walking up the path from the park next to museum in my direction. She was dressed in light blue baggy shorts about knee length, a white t-shirt, eyeglasses with black rims, and her sexy short-chopped hair.
    ‘Nice thighs and hair.’ I thought as she got closer. I figured give it a try; so, I asked her, “May I help you with something?”
    She had this weird smirk on her face and responded, “No just walking around.”
    I said, “What is your name?”
    She said, “Aki.” “Aki Saito.”
    I said to her, “My name is Dwight.”
    We both shook hands and looked into each other eyes. Oh yeah, there were sparks; lots of them. We talked for a good 30 minutes. I asked her if she wanted to go have lunch with me, my treat.
    She said, “Sure why not. What time?”
    I told her, “I am about to get relieved by another guard in a couple minutes.”
    Five months later, that lunch date turned into a long-distance relationship. She returned to Tokyo in July. We corresponded with emails and phone calls. I had vacation time and we planned for me to visit her in Tokyo. We were very excited. The day I took flight out of LAX to Chicago then to Tokyo, I thought I was dreaming. Those 8-10 hours on the flight to Japan were awesome. I tried to sleep, but couldn’t. I listened to my CD walkman and thought of what it would be like when I see her.
    When I arrived in Tokyo, it was evening. The custom agent was real professional and respectable when he searched my bag. After leaving the inspection area, I was surprised to see some signs in English. I headed straight to the currency exchange with 300 dollars to change it to yen (around 30,000.00 yen- chump change in Japanese terms). Aki emailed me instructions of which trains to take to her apartment. She was at work during my arrival.
    After taking 2 different trains (one from the airport, and the other from downtown), I made it to the Westside of Tokyo at the Yamada station on the Keio Line. I went to the nearest pay phone to call her and let her know I arrived. She was relieve and told me to wait at the station. I waited for 15 minutes in the heated cubicle at the station. When she came downstairs she was bundled up like me in a couple jackets, a scarf, and a beanie. I gave her a huge and a peck on the lips.
    We walked back to her tiny studio while it was lightly snowing outside. When we got into her apartment we cooked some food; after which, we laid down on her futon and made love all night. I remembered kissing her soft lips, rubbing her skin from her neck to her booty, licking the sweat off her neck, back, and breast. It was poetry….passion…..Japan.
    This sort of recollection is the pulp of this experience. In this moment, my mind is distant from conscious. I can feel, sense, and relate to every emotion in that room, on the street, with Aki, on that futon during the sensual embrace. This is what I wanted to capture in my mind’s eye and in my soul. I wanted to tip the scales of reality. This was close as I have gotten, thus far.
    A week later, we walked to the Shinto Buddhist Temple a block from her apartment for the New Year’s celebration. Inside the Temple, I lighted some incenses while praying for a good year for me and Aki. One of the monks was from Sri Lanka and he spoke to me in his dialect. I told him with a smile while laughing, “I am a Latino from America.” My life and my Zen was love in a tiny apartment in Japan; the closest I have ever been in love…...

    I have left the laundry mat a half-hour ago and returned home via the Metro train line. I am sitting my apartment surround by an assortment of books and papers while typing this story. I am not bitter, nor sour, nor happy. I am all or nothing at all. I trust myself in presenting this story to you. There have been no regrets of the people I have met, the places I have seen, the things I have learned, and the love-hate I have experience with myself and others. For my life has been filled with wealthy experiences. However, there will be plenty more to come. My life and my Zen is that this is all apart of the same bubble. Like a long walk on a short pier.
     
  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    "Family Genes" - 1,677 words


    My return from Fiji was greeted by a large dinner, organized by my parents, at their mansion in southwestern Ohio. I protested that I was just returning home and, regardless, wouldn’t be staying long. Ohio State had set my move-in date in less than a week. I didn’t need a large dinner. My parents, however, revealed that the dinner would also serve as my full initiation as an adult member of the Hills. For reasons I could not describe, I felt there was something deeper to the dinner than my family was divulging.

    My younger sister was not invited, as she was not yet an adult. I knew my family probably had secrets, what rich family doesn’t? Perhaps my great, great, great, grandfather once bedded the queen of England? Maybe one of our ancestors was at the signing of the Magna Carta, knife at King John’s throat. My curiosity devoured theory after theory as I walked up the marble steps of my parent’s mansion. As I saw my mother, though, garbed in her typical house dress, I began doubting my absurd thoughts.

    “John! You look like you’ve grown!” My mother announced as she swept out of the doorway, embracing me on the veranda.

    “Don’t be foolish. Hills men never grow past eighteen. We’re quick growers,” My Dad laughed. My father towered behind my mother, his large hand making a deep clapping sound as it smacked my shoulder. My mother, over a foot shorter than I, remained clinging to me.

    “John, are you sick?” She asked, pulling away from the hug.

    “I get much bigger and I won’t be able to play my position,” I joked, ignoring the question. My position is that of a Tight End. In fact I happen to be the best high school tight end in Ohio…ever. I broke the state record with 2,105 receiving yards, and 28 touchdowns. I also stole 90 tackles, 15 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles on defense, but my primary position was as a tight end. I was the first tight end in my high school to start on the varsity team as a freshman.

    If you’re a sports fan then you’ve heard of my family. My father is a hall of fame quarterback who retired several years ago. His father before him was a pitcher who still holds the single season record for the most strikeouts while he played for the Cincinnati Red Stockings. My family boasts a long line of male and female athletes. Even before sports became a way to make a comfortable living, my family was known as fierce war-fighters, which was frighteningly the sport of the era at the time.

    I’ve always excelled in athletics. In grade school, boys hated me for my talents. My skills exceeded the others in such a way that it became glaringly obvious that I wasn’t normal. After pitching a few perfect games in high school, breaking the school record for most points scored in a basketball game by one person, and obviously for my state record setting in football, it became clear to those watching me that I was exactly like my father…a genetic freak.

    “Well come on in, everyone’s waiting for you,” My father said. The dinner was set and the guests seated. My uncles, aunts, cousins older than 18, and of course grandparents, awaited me in the dining room. The eating began immediately, and to my family, with the men so large, eating is a serious affair. I punctuated the clash of knives and tears of bread with questions.

    “What is this initiation all about? Did my great great, great, great, grandfather bang the queen of England?”

    “No,” My father laughed in reply, “But if he did, and we kept it secret, we wouldn’t exactly announce it to everyone.” I shrugged and continued eating.

    “How come I had to wait ‘til I was 18 for this?” I asked.

    “Tradition boy, this practice has been going on in our family for centuries,” My grandfather croaked, old but still giant and able.

    “Centuries? Exactly how old is this dinner practice?”

    “Ancient,” My father said. I knew my family could trace lineage all the way back to Wales before emigrating to the Americas, but I had no clue our knowledge went back further than that. My grandfather turned the conversation over to Fiji, and asked how my summer was.

    “John,” my mother inquired, “where’s Ashley?” I swallowed a gulp of mashed potatoes and gravy.

    “I broke up with her,” I announced to my entire family. Fighting the red creeping up into my cheeks I stared down at my
    plate and picked around my food.

    “Why?” My mother asked.

    “Because of college. We’ll be too far,” I replied. My mother made a, hmmm, sound in reply.

    “Young love,” My father announced. I kept my eyes on my plate.

    “Well it’s not like the boy will have much time for the girl at Ohio State,” My grandfather said,” He’s the best damn tight end in the country. He can run a 4.81 second 40 yard dash. I mean…who his size can do that? At his age eh?”

    “At six foot five and 290 lbs he shouldn’t be able to do that,” my father laughed.

    “John, is something wrong?” My mother asked. I massaged my temples.

    “No. I just have a headache.”

    “I knew you were sick,” She said.

    “It’s nothing,” I reasoned.

    “Let me get you some aspirin at least,” She demanded.

    “No!” I replied, “I’m fine. Really.”

    We ate dessert , hot fudge cakes, and finally finished the meal. My mother stalked off, keys chiming, saying she would drive over to her friend’s house while we conspired. I received a peck on the cheek as she left. My grandfather lead my family out the back door of the mansion as my father guided me, bring up the rear of the procession. I followed my family out into the expanse of our garden and into the pit where my father had his practice green for putting. I expected a present.

    Instead of a present, putters, and golf balls in the pit though, was a small girl chained to the ground. Around her stood candles, blazing in the dusky light of the evening. She was wimpering and crying out. Her wails were useless as our family owned the entire wooded area for miles around the mansion. I let out a cry of terror.

    “What’s going on? Release her!”

    “No John, this is it. The secret,” My father said.

    “That you kidnapped a girl? Let her go!” I screamed. My father grabbed hold of me and shook me.

    “Calm down and listen!” he yelled. I quit struggling and looked at my father, confusion etched on my face.

    “Dad…” My father said. My grandfather pick up his call.

    “For hundreds of years our family has enjoyed being better; Financially, physically, mentally, socially. It is no accident that we happen to possess freakish physical ability and mental capacity far above normal. Since before the memory of our family, we have enjoyed these abilities. Although the original story of how our family became this way has been lost to us, we do know that we have The Old Gods to thank for this.”

    “The Old Gods?” I asked.

    “Before the Romans brought their own gods upon us, before the Christian God, and even before the heathen Germans invaded our lands and forced their Nordic gods on us, our family worshipped the old gods,” My grandfather continued, “We do not know much of the old gods, as far as names and duties. But we do know the most important part.”

    “Our pact with the old gods needs renewing with the coming of age of each family member. When the excessive strength and power of that family member must be harnessed and renewed through the taking of a young, innocent, and weak life,” My grandfather gestured to the crying girl.

    “You’re insane,” I said.

    “Far from it. If you do not kill this child you will weaken into the state of a normal human being. Far from the athletic
    prowess you enjoy today.”

    “That’s ridiculous. We’re just lucky is all. It has nothing to do with fake gods or anything.” I said.

    “Oh? Didn’t you say you were feeling fatigued?” My father asked.

    “I’m just sick,” I said, confused.

    “Have you been sick since right around your eighteenth birthday?” My grandfather asked.

    “No, I—“ I paused. My condition had started around my birthday, worsening with each passing day.

    “You’ll slowly get weaker, slower, and dumber until you take the life of this weakling,” My grandfather said.

    “That can’t be…this is—murder!”

    “It is not murder. A lion does not take pity on the antelope,” My father said.

    “The Old Gods allow us to take their lives for our good,” My grandfather said.

    “No…no. We’re just normal humans. We’re just lucky, like the other great athletes out there.”

    “Oh? A man running 28 miles an hour? A woman who can jump clean over a full grown man without a running start? These
    are normal humans? No boy, they’ve made the same pact we all have.” I stared at them, mouth open.

    “You’ve all done this?” I asked. Every single person nodded their head. I suddenly felt sick.

    “If you don’t do this boy, you’ll never be the same,” My father said. He handed me a large knife.

    “And neither will your sister. She’ll begin to feel the effects too,” he added. I jerked my head at her mention.

    “Pity,” My grandfather said, “And she was a favorite for a starting position on the Olympic women’s soccer team.” Knife in
    my hand I looked about at my family members, meeting their gazes. Each one begged me to kill the girl.

    “There must be another way,” I pleaded.

    “There is no other way,” My grandfather replied. I looked around once more, but my gaze met only the eyes of lions. With tears in my eyes and a cry of desperation, I raised the knife and plunged it into the innocent.
     
  4. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    The Final Clue
    Words: 740


    ‘Did you know that I’ve discovered something?’ Daisy asked as she munched her cereal.
    I munched along with her. ‘Oh?’

    ‘Yes. It’s quite extraordinary, actually. I’ve been thinking of telling you for a while.’

    Grinning, I slurped down my milk and stood up, putting my used dishes in the sink. This was typical Daisy. She would let you wait and wait and wait until you could wait no more. But then sometimes she would just blurt the thing out. No warning, no explanation.

    This was not one of those times, and I was going to have to work it out of her.

    ‘Okay,’ I said quietly. ‘Okay. I’ll play your game.’

    Her turn to grin. ‘What game? I’m just trying to tell you something, and you’re turning it into some sort of drawn-out ritual.’

    Damn, I both hated and loved the way she did this. It was like my Christmas holidays as a kid: I would ask my parents on Christmas Eve what presents I would be getting for Christmas day, and they would conspire and give me subtle clues that I would never crack at such a young age. It drove me crazy, and I loved it. And every time Daisy gave her own clues, I was reminded of those past days.

    ‘Come on then,’ I said, sitting down at the table again. I stared deeply into her eyes, foolishly hoping that I would put her off.

    ‘Come on what?’

    ‘Give me my first clue.’

    ‘Your first clue?’ She leaned back and looked up at the ceiling. ‘I’ve not even thought about giving you a clue. But I suppose if I have to, I will.’

    Finally, some progress!

    Daisy stood up, gazing out the window as if she were alone. ‘Your first clue…all right. I suppose I should say that it’s about someone.’

    ‘What?’ I growled. ‘That’s it? My first clue?’

    ‘Yes.’

    ‘Damn you, Daisy!’ I roared in half-jest, pounding the table with both fists. ‘I need a better clue, or I’m walking.’

    She sighed and turned to me. ‘Fine, if you must have another clue, then it is this: someone is coming to visit you.’

    It was better, but it sure wasn’t enough. I racked my brain, thinking of people I hadn’t met in a long time. There were aunts and uncles abroad, but I’d barely mentioned them to Daisy. Who was so close to me?

    ‘Next clue,’ I said.

    ‘You’re not very good at this, are you?’ she snickered.

    ‘Just gimme the damn clue.’

    The early-morning cars whizzed past our open kitchen window, a flurry of colours distracting me from the matter at hand. The unknown visitor. The breeze coming in was fantastic, but Daisy was having none of it. She was staring right at me, as if someone had just died in a car accident.

    ‘Okay, here’s your final clue. If you can’t tell me what I’ve discovered, then you have to give me a foot massage. Deal?’

    Ugh. Foot massages. Bane of my life.

    ‘Deal,’ I replied, sticking out my hand.

    She did not take it. ‘Your final clue is this: the person visiting us is quite unknown, both by society and you. And me, I guess. But this person will definitely know you, when they come, and when they speak to you, you’ll know who they are.’

    Now if that didn’t get me thinking, I didn’t know what would. My brain felt like it would overheat. It ruled out Mum and Dad, and my two sisters. Someone I didn’t know, but I would know once they’d spoken? I was in a fluster; I was collapsing from the shock of having to give my wife a foot massage. I crossed my fingers and prayed that there would be no bunions.

    ‘I hate myself, and my brain, to be honest. But I really can’t think. Riddles are my only short-coming,’ I said, desperately trying to make a joke out of my failure.

    ‘You give up?’ she said, smiling like there was no tomorrow.

    ‘Yes, Daisy, I give up! Now will you please tell me who’s visiting? At the very least tell me how I’ll recognise them with only what they say.’

    ‘You sure?’

    ‘Yes. Tell me what they’ll say when they speak to me.’

    Daisy was smiling so much now, and I hadn’t realised. Tears were even pouring down her cheeks. She outstretched her arms and I went in to the hug.

    ‘Hello, Daddy,’ she said.
     
  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    "Scars and Letters" [555 Words]

    The outside world seeped through the window of the dully lit living room. I paced between the doorway of the living room and the kitchen. I held an envelope in my hand, thinking if this was right. The chair waited for me patiently. I was just about to get on it, when I heard someone come into the house. I froze, wondering if my parents had come home early from work for some strange reason. Instead, a woman I couldn't recognize walked into the living room. She looked around before asking me, "Hey, what are you doing?"


    I responded with a question, "What does it look like I'm doing?"


    She also responded with a question, "Why?"


    "Why what?"


    "Why are you doing this?" I hesitated for a moment, before I choked up and shed a tear.


    "Because they don't love me." I say cowardly. The woman gives me a shocked look.


    "Of course they do."


    I burst out, "How do you know?!" She looks at me sadly before looking to the wall.


    "Look on the wall." She points to the wall the couch is up against.


    "... What?" I had no clue why she wanted me to look at a dumb wall.


    "Just look."


    "Yes... It's a picture of me with my parents."


    "Why is it there?"


    "Because it looks nice on the wall."


    "There are other walls in this house."


    "Yeah, but it looks best in the living room."


    "Don't you think they'd find something prettier for that wall though?"


    I knew they had wonderful paintings in their room, and they've bought me paintings for my room as well. I couldn't think of a reason why they’d choose the family portrait over those paintings other than the importance of the photo.


    "Exactly. They love this picture, not because it's pretty, but because it’s a picture of all of you together."


    "That's probably to give people a good image of us. They always yell at me."


    "It's for a good reason."


    "Why is yelling such a good thing?"


    "Do they yell at you for no reason without feeling bad about it? Think about all the times they've yelled at you, and think about what happened before they yelled at you."


    "Most of the time, they tell me I've done something wrong."


    "Have you?"


    I remember as a child all of the things I've done wrong, and I also remember what happened with my arm. I quietly say, "... Yes."


    "They want you to grow up to be a good person because they care about you.” I look down because I know she has a point. She notices this, and then says, “Now, if all those weren't obvious enough, I have one more thing to say." I look up at her with some confusion on my face.


    "Yes?"


    "I'm not a normal person."


    "What does that have to do with anything? ... Hello?"


    I stood next to the chair, holding the envelope with a letter written to my parents. I just stood there, amazed at the fact that the woman who stood in front of me just disappeared. She took the noose with her, and replaced it with a photo that lay on the chair. I studied it, and realized that the woman standing in front of me was my grandmother who died five years ago.
     
  6. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    A Sensuous Hunt (1295 word)

    The jungles sprawled across the land, rising out of the swamps. Florid, green tendrils from the roots of Gjars great quagmire were the mother of this slow march through a mist steeped continent. Embedded within the waterline like a perennial and ancient rhythm of nature; rising and falling, inhaling and exhaling; havens of amphibious, wooded islands and islets gave myriad creatures a rest-bite from the sucking muds, squelching luteous mosses and the perpetually shifting aqueous fingers of rivers and streams that sought each others tips, from spiny mountain tops to the yawning estuaries that lay spilt along the coasts.


    ***


    Dusk was falling; the nightingales sang their lyrical songs with warbles and tweaks that bristled the hairs on the back of my neck. The calls they made were thick in my ears as the declining vespertine mists oscillated and feathered around the forest and the syrupy heat drained into the darkness. The taste of mulch on the tips of my forked tongue teased my hunger. My fast continued...


    I sat up all night.


    The act of “honing” was tough in this wilderness.


    Every thought that passed through my state of mind altered my state of mind. Every alteration became a sleepy death of myself as I whiled away the hours until dawn...


    In my makeshift hide on my makeshift pew I sat; still as the forest in my makeshift thoughts. Statue like. Waiting and watching for a Gjar beast to appear with nothing but a forlorn and bemused hope. But nothing came with the invading morn light other than a pesky spatter of mosquitoes that cycled on the ebb and flow of warmth that seeped in below the leafy roof of cathedral-like trees. Prisms of brisk, succulent light cascaded through the thick, canopy; drawing the scene before my eyes into a miasmic swirl of silver lined fog. The acute beams sliced the damp night away leaving a heavy burden of moisture in the air; I was sodden and lethargic as the nights vigilance ended.


    It was time to move on to one last spot before I met with the rest of the “pilgrim hunters”. One more night of “honing” alone and it would all be over. No more knocking at deaths door, no more pain on the mental hook; that is said to bait the Gjar beasts. Best of all, soon I could eat again and release my mind from this intense process.


    For generations in Leplon my people had ventured out of the mangroves and city into the forests to “hone”. It is said that every decade they used to snare at least two or three Gjar beasts; generations ago that is. Those times, if they ever existed, were long gone. Still the tradition remains, even if the Gjar beasts do not. The craft of “honing” now remains as a mental discipline and as a means of inner sanctuary for the few, and as a process of moral and spiritual guidance for the many.


    One of the plethora of legands held was that there lies an ancient and forbidden city within the depths of the greater Gjar continent called Gjagarapus. Here the Gods play things wandered in free abandonment intoxicated and wild. The Gjar beasts were sometimes said to be these wandering creatures, sometimes said to be the souls of the dead cities inhabitants and sometimes they were referred to as the very Gods themselves, manifested in flesh.


    ***


    It is the strangest thing to sit on solid dry earth when you spend so much of your life on wooden stilts, in wooden boats or ambling through the rivulets and waterways of the mangrove swamps. On these pilgrimages I always enjoyed setting my hides flush up against a large tree, nestled between its buttresses; like an infant cradled in its mothers arms. With a trunk to my rear the world seemed less distant for some reason; almost like I had a sentinel guarding my weaknesses and welcoming me into a new world.


    I pulled down the poles I had used to structure my hide and let the latticed leaves slide down, break and cascade around my waist before tumbling to the earthen floor. Being enclosed in this forest was a wondrous thing indeed. So alien and yet it felt like home, more than home itself did. There was something that called to your soul here, something deeply primal and nascent. Maybe that is why honing always seemed to work so well in here; as difficult as the forest made it.


    With the poles over my shoulder and my grimy knapsack under my arm I trudged off through the undergrowth in search of my next plot. Sweat ran from my brow stung my eyes, hazing my vision; as did the wispy ribbons of steam rising from the clammy, dew darkened earth. I stepped out of the tree line, into a small glade and the baking heat of the fragrant air seemed to burn the sweat clean from my skin leaving a brackish clot across my face that thickened my soiled condition. The direct sunlight was refreshing but I was in dire need of a more literal freshness. I wandered across the opening, lapping my tongue, in search of a puddle or pool to rinse the salty grit from my squalid face; but there was no scent of water beyond the air, nothing to be found, and so I lumbered on through the clearing and back out of the sunbeams into the close forest. The only place in the dry season that had a body of water was over the ridge, so sullenly I made tracks against the rising heat of the day towards the rocky outcrop.


    ***


    An hour later after cresting the ridge I found myself naked and smiling, bathed in the radiant light and partially submerged in a shallow stream of lukewarm, sun kissed water that nestled in a pebbled cresh. It was blissful to feel the water, slowly and sensuously, peel the setulous layers of grit and grime away from my skin as the stream hugged its way past my soothed body.


    Chatters, cackles and calls sounded from below in the lush greenery. The entire spectacle seemed almost too far removed from the vigilance of the previous days and nights. No hints of mist up here, no stagnant pools of bug laden soupy water, and a clear, open sky to wonder at for the first time since leaving the estuaries of Leplon.


    I laid back, dipping my head beneath the waters surface, muffling the songs of the forest, then rose up lighting letting the water “glug-glug” from my ears …


    … >something was different? Silence ensued throughout the forest. No distance echoing cries from beast or bird. Then a sound hit me from within, like a peel of thunder that resonated out of my being and into the sky. I could not move; body rigid; heart pumping with liquid fear. Something far off was coming through the forest. I could feel its taste on my tongue, smell the intricacies of its movements; and then I forgot <…


    … my ears popped and the calls of the forest clicked and clucked timidly; a swift wind picked up behind me sending a wave of cool air over my head, shaking every inch of my skin. I turned and looked into the skies and found myself gazing upon a towering monolith of blackening clouds; as a child would the sole of a great foot about to descend. It was then a saw a bulb of light flash in the vastness drawling above. Like a shard of sharp glass a slither of recollection stabbed my mind. Something far of was coming, something was calling out silently and that something was a Gjar beast.
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I think I should revisit this contest with a runoff vote, maybe staggering it a week from today's poll. There was a 3-way tie and it seems a shame with the entries still being anonymous that no winner(s) have been recognized.

    What do people think?
     
  8. KHamilton
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    KHamilton New Member

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    I'm new here, so if newbie's votes count, I say yes - let's try to break the tie.
     
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  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Of course newbie votes count. Be sure to vote in the current contest, too, BTW. :)

    Welcome to the forum.
     
  10. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    I was going to promise that I'd vote, but then I read them all and now I can't decide. :)
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Do you mean these three that are tied, or the current contest? It's always hard to decide between some or all of the entries.
     
  12. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    I mean these three (or, rather, two of them). I've already voted in the current contest.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Thank you for voting. You'll have a week to decide on these if I post a runoff contest, (which I'm leaning toward doing).
     

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