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  1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England

    Short Story Contest (11) - Theme: Travel

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Oct 3, 2007.

    Short Story Contest (11) - Theme: Time Travel

    Short Story
    11 Theme: Time Travel

    Open to all, newbies and established members alike. Please post your entries in this thread. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a seperate thread. Sadly there are no prizes but honour on offer. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner.

    (I have extended the deadline on this contest by two weeks as there have been no entries and I have changed the theme a little, all entries on the previous theme (Travel rather than Time Travel) are still valid and can be submitted)

    Theme: Time Travel (courtesy of me): Try to have at least two distinct historical time periods included with your character(s) in both.

    Alternatively the theme could include any type of travel: it could be about a journey you have taken, a travelogue, a metaphorical 'journey' or none of the above - your choice providing it is about travel and or time travel.

    Required Length: 800 - 3500 words.
    Deadline for entries: 24th October 2007 18.00h (Uk local)

    There is a ten percent leniency above and below the upper and lower word limits, respectively. Please try to stick within these limits I would hate for your pieces not to qualify.

    Try to make your story be complete and have an end rather than be an excerpt from a larger one.

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

    There have been requests for techniques to be added to the contests as well as themes. I will instead of combining the two elements occasionally run a theme which is an technique. Please see this thread for more details. Time for an update? - Writing Forums

    Thanks and good luck.
  2. Raven

    Raven Banned

    Oct 14, 2006
    Likes Received:
    The NetherWorld
    Once a member wins their prize is stickied for 5 days in short stories. If this doesn't get done. Please PM a Moderator. I will sticky them once I notice them but sometimes I become busy and occupied with other things. So if you notice the winners haven't been stickied please PM any of the Moderation team with a link to the winnining poem.

  3. Torana

    Torana Contributor Contributor

    Mar 13, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Don't forget to post your entries everyone.
  4. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    If there are no entries I'll extend the deadline by a week and create a new contest too with a longer deadline and hopefully a more inviting topic.
  5. Raffles

    Raffles New Member

    Oct 9, 2007
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    Eastern Australia
    Okay as a newbie, I was just wondering - where do we post the stories for the short stories contest?
  6. Torana

    Torana Contributor Contributor

    Mar 13, 2007
    Likes Received:
    You post the entries in this thread.
  7. TMA-1

    TMA-1 New Member

    Mar 12, 2007
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    I'm working on something, and I hope to have it finished in time.
  8. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Contest deadline extended due to lack of entries - please see original post above for details.
  9. Charisma

    Charisma Transposon Contributor

    Jul 23, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Lahore, Pakistan
    This is a piece I wrote 3 years back and it just came to me that it fits this category.
    Too many Barbie Dolls
    I, Britney Wilson was curled up in my bed sheet, thinking of what would I write in my test. The coming day I was going to write an essay about our future. It was a test, and as I had a wild imagination, I wanted to get an A+. But no idea came to my mind which was sassy enough.
    The clock struck 9:00 pm. Bad luck. Time for bed. I cuddled up in my quilt, still thinking of an idea when I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was lying on a mattress, which was inside a tent. It was extremely hot. I went outside and looked around. All I saw was a sandy desert, and another tent a few paces away. I went towards that tent and looked inside. I saw a little girl sleeping. Above her head was a mirror. I looked at the image in the mirror and gasped. I was wearing a cowboy suit and I looked just like a Barbie doll! I was amazed. Almost immediately, the girl woke up.
    “Sister! I hate it when you sneak up on me!” ,she said.
    The girl looked just like a Barbie doll too! She wore a little frock with hemmed ends on the contrary. “Sorry”, I said, and backed away. At that she got up and said, “Anyways, we have to go to Sir Istanbul”, and trotted towards the east direction of the desert. I followed her, and soon found ourselves nearing towards another tent. We went inside and greeted Sir Istanbul, who looked like an old, wrecked man, but not like the ones I had seen. He too, looked like a doll made of plastic.
    “Ladies! Good thing you came. Rosie today is your test. And Jasmine, you may go”, he said politely. I was about to leave when Sir Istanbul asked Rosie, “Rosie, you may tell me all about the world and its history. Then you will go to work too, like your sister does”. I stopped and said, “I may stay.” and sat down inside the tent. Rosie said,” The world has six kingdoms. The one we are living in is a huge desert and called Mexicana. On its upper right is Poor hole, which is quite big and is frozen. Thus, it is very poor. Under it, is Euroe. It is ruled by Queen Euro, and is the richest land of all. Beneath it is the civilized Austra.” I was amazed. What was that doll talking about? Where am I? What in the world is Mexicana? Will I ever get home? Many other questions whirled around me. Right away, we left the tent and walked back to our so-called home.
    “Umm Rosie, tell me one thing seriously”, I said at last.
    “Sure Jasie. What is it?” she asked.
    “What is happening?” I asked, angrily.
    “Calm down sister. I’m soon going to get a job like you. Really, living here is not easy when only one person works. Relax. I’ll work from tomorrow”, she said.
    “I’m not your sister. I’m Britney Wilson living in the 21st century!” I said, angrily.
    “Really? It’s however impossible. Don’t fool me. You might have a name like Britney and may not be my sister, but you are certainly not in the 21st century”, she said sarcastically, but surprised.
    “Why?” I asked.
    “We are the second generation, dumb head”, she said. I was silent.
    “What is the date today?” I asked, trembling.
    “Hello! We use two calendars. One is the old calendar of the life forms before, and the other is ours. Our calendar says that today is 16th Fairy 80”, she said.
    “And the other one?” I asked, still trembling.
    “16th February 20000”, she said, “You should know all this”.
    My ear rang with the words. I was in the future! How could it be! I was transformed into a doll as I came here and was given this identity! It’s impossible! I better return home. Oh my! Today’s the test! I better go to school or else I’ll be doomed! I looked my self. I was certainly not 13! I looked like an 18-year-old. Suddenly, a charming doll-like boy came in sight. He was wearing a cowboy suit as well.
    “Hey darling! I saw you before, quarreling with Queen Euro. What are you doing here?” he asked, surprised.
    “What are you talking about Ross? She was with me all morning!” she said, surprised. Ross seemed like he'd drop dead in surprised. That instance, a doll exactly like me came towards us. She choked as she saw me. Everyone was as surprised as she was.
    “I remember now! You can’t be my sister! She was gone on inspection yesterday and said she’d return the next noon!” Rosie said out soon enough.
    She gave me a glare and asked, “Who are you, stranger?”
    “Yeah, who are you?” asked Jasie with even more anger,
    “Yeah, who’s messing with my fiancé?” asked Ross, ready to attack me.
    “Look, I can explain!” I said, worried.
    “Oh, most probably you are Queen Euro’s agent, trying to destroy our home”, said Jasie, and punched me.
    Ouch! She hit me so bad that my lips started to bleed.
    “Hey!” I said and ran for my life.
    “Hey, she’s getting away!” said Rosie and everyone ran after me. They certainly weren’t advancedenough, looking at their living and style. As I found one, I hid at the back of a thorny bush. Luckily, they didn’t notice me and I took a breath of freedom. I was about to lie down when some one touched me. I turned around and I saw toy soldiers. Just that they were of my size and were as evil as the dolls were! They tied me up and took me away, despite all ym struggles. After a while, they stopped and put me down at the feet of a beautiful doll.
    “Queen Euro, we have captured your greatest enemy, Jasie” they said.
    She gave me an evil grin and said, “I got you at last, rascal. Now, as I have you in my hands, I will destroy this land, and I will be in total power, and will soon destroy Austra too!” and she laughed.
    “I’m not Jasie”, I managed to say.
    “Oh really? As if I am stupid enough to believe you!” she said.
    “But I am really not Jasmine! I am Britney Wilson, from the past”, I said, helplessly.
    “What?” she said surprised.
    “Yes. I am one of the dangerous life forms and have taken shape of a doll like you. I am here to re-conquer my land, and destroy you! see my eyes? They are glowing because of my identity!” I said, with a plan in my mind. I knew the Queen wasn't very smart.
    “Oh no! I’m dead! The humans are back!” she said and ran away.
    “You’re not the only one dead!” said the soldiers and ran away too.
    “Losers!” I laughed, and freed myself from the ropes.
    As I freed myself, I spotted the dolls running towards me. I was terrified. I ran northwards that moment. They shot me by a gun, and I fell down, injured awfully. In spite of their hatred, they felt sorry for me and took care of me until I woke up. I opened my eyes and saw three dolls, looking at me. I was scared that they might kill me, so I pushed them away and ran out of the tent. They followed me and finally got their hands on me.
    “We got her!” said Rosie, delighted.
    “Yee-haw!” said Ross.
    “So, who are you, stranger?” asked Jasie, smiling with compassion.
    I let out a long sigh and said,
    “I’m Britney. I’m 13-years-old and have no idea what am I doing here”. They stared at me for a minute.
    “You’re not Queen Euro’s agent?” asked Rosie.
    “No! I’m nobody’s agent. I am from the 21st century!” I screamed.
    “You are a human!” they said.
    “Yes. And I must go home. Please help me”, I said.
    “Sure. Don’t worry. Sorry for our behavior”, said Jasie, ashamed.
    Then she rang a bell. And I opened my eyes. I was in my room, lying on my bed. It was a dream! I quickly dressed for school. After I gave the test, Alice asked me, “So, what did you write in the essay?" I looked up and said mischievously, “You don’t want to know, do you?”
    1 person likes this.
  10. Domoviye

    Domoviye New Member

    Jan 8, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Proud Canadian. Currently teaching in Nanjing, Chi
    I'll have a story in by tomorrow or Friday. I've been too busy recently for anything.
  11. Banzai

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Mar 31, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Reading, UK
    I'm also working on an idea... It may or may not be ready in time.
  12. SnipSnap

    SnipSnap Active Member

    Feb 10, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Clinton, Illinois
    Hey. The deadline is my birthday. It would be an awesome present if I won ... But hey, no pressure. :D

    A Prose Study On Why Time Seems To Stop In Church.

    Time sat alone. He viewed the church with wide eyes, taking in the rustic alter, the pantomime chior, the people dressed in sunday attire. Time liked that. Time wanted.

    It was never like that when I was a child, he thought. When I was a child we did things differently. We would get into the clothes we had and tried to humble ourselves before the Lord. Momma would dust me off with her modest black hand and wipe my face off with a warm cloth. Momma was so concerned about me. I remember ...

    Time remembered many things during sermon. He sat isolated in the back, a dark, dusty corner. A cobweb dangled posthumously above him, threatening to fall on his thick head. The preacher's voice had an uncanny knack of bouncing around in a raucous all around itself, and Time only got small glimpses of the Word.

    Because he was sprained and beleaguered in his understanding of the gospel, Time would drift into bouts of prayer, and he would hold litanies with God, and Buddah, and all other dieties he had come to know over his many years. He would hum softly under his breath, and reminisce about him and Langhston Hughes huddling in a Black Kitchen, thinking poems in a silence wrapped in tunic.

    Presently, the first sermon ends, and Time watches resiliently as the chior steps up and pantomimes soft noise. SHALL WE GATHER AT THE RIVER?

    Time had never heard softer music in his whole spacious life.


    Time would lose himself in that hushed melody, and he would travel. Time liked that. Time liked ...

    He was outside doing farmboy chores. Cleaning the animals, settling the hay. Momma comes running outside, saying it's time to come in and get washed up for church. He groans under his breath, but comes inside anyway. The Civil War has a way of bringing a family together.

    He lets his mother pick out a shirt, wishing she would go and relieve him the embarrasment of being in his knickers. He combs his hair and fights with his brother over who gets to wear the good pair of shoes. So much for being black folk, he thought.

    Next, he's in a compound valley. He's nestled upon a rock, eating bread. He's grown up considerably. God sits next to him in a throne of stone, pointing to mountains, saying "I created those, you know." He wishes God would go away, to relieve him the embarrasment of being in his knickers. Again.

    Lapse. Time regains composure and flows back into the Mind.

    He's in a whore-house kitchen, cramped between a refridgerator and a hard place, which happens to be a run-down, venetian style wall. Him and Langh wallow over a piece of Poem. He's remembered his pants this time. A relief.

    "What happens to a dream deferred?" he suggests to the poet quietly. Langh jots it down with a smile.

    "Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun?"

    Time has a way of ending up as a poem, doesn't it? God asks him one day.

    "Or fester like a sore, and then run?"

    The refridgerator sings soprano beside them. Poetry is in the air. There is no stopping them now.

    "Does it stink like rotten meat?"

    "Or crust and sugar over like a syrupy sweet?" Langh could come up with his bit of poetry at times.

    "Maybe it just sags, like a heavy load?"

    Finis. Time stops in his Dream Deferred.

    "Or does it explode?" asked the preacher.

    Time woke up from a blue slumber. He looked around confused.

    "What does happen to a dream deferred?" asked Preacher in a deep, hollow voice.

    It explodes, thinks Time, realizing he has forgotten his pants. Again.
  13. Crazy Ivan

    Crazy Ivan New Member

    Dec 26, 2006
    Likes Received:
    The dumpster behind your McDonalds.
    Family [1406 words]

    Nobody likes a family reunion. Nobody. Ever.
    So why, Yesterday found herself thinking, did they exist? What was their function? Yesterday was a person with 20/20 vision, and so she knew every year that these gatherings brought about nothing but irritation. And still, every year, without fail, she and her siblings would join up and squabble about who was doing better.
    As always, Yesterday was the first to arrive. She sat in the small white room, hands folded across her lap, quietly contemplating.
    A short while later, her brother stumbled into the room, disheveled, leering, and carrying a faint smell of gunpowder and alcohol.
    “Hello, Today,” Yesterday said politely, sighing inward. Every year, her brother seemed to deteriorate further and further into an irate, obnoxious bum. He picked fights with everyone, sometimes even himself when he was going through one of his “phases.”
    “Howdy, Yesterday,” he said. “Looking fatter than ever, eh?”
    Yesterday shrugged, the perfect image of polite whatever-you-say. There really was no point in denying it; it was a fact that every year, Yesterday was a little bit fatter than last year.
    “Where’s Tomorrow?” she asked, tactfully changing the subject. Today looked around for their oldest sibling, and failed to find them. He shrugged.
    “Tomorrow’s been getting harder and harder to get hold of lately,” he said. A touch of worry entered his normally abrasive voice. “They keep going in and out of view…”
    Yesterday knew what he meant, and they were both on the verge of coming to a very bad conclusion when there was a gust of wind, seemingly from nowhere, and Tomorrow appeared in the room. Right now, he looked like a sleek and refined businessman, dressed in a three-piece suit made entirely out of silver silk, and carrying a briefcase made out of what appeared to be platinum.
    Today, always the sucker for spectacle, ogled.
    Yesterday sniffed. It seemed rather…impractical.
    “Let’s get right to business, shall we?” Tomorrow said, sitting down and opening his briefcase. He pulled out sheets of paper filled with small print and passed a packet out for each of his siblings. “The family is, quite frankly, in a mess.”
    “Hey!” Today said, face flushing red with outrage, but Yesterday nodded sadly. She knew it was true. What with Today constantly refusing to listen to her and Tomorrow always going through phases, they couldn’t seem to pull together like they used to.
    As if to evidence this, Tomorrow changed suddenly, now a young and fair-haired maiden in a barmaid’s skirt. Her briefcase was now a handwoven basket, and Today and Yesterday were holding, instead of legal papers, beautiful flowers.
    Yesterday laid hers gently on the table. Today started tearing the petals apart with relish.
    “So what I was thinking,” Tomorrow said, her voice now gentle and sweet, “was that we should…modify. You know, shake things up.”
    “Shake things up? Like, change?” Yesterday wasn’t good with change. Ever, really.
    “Sounds great! You mean, like a fight, right?” Today’s face flushed again, this time with excitement. He leapt up on the table, making “Bam! Bam!” noises. “A few wars, that’ll show people we still mean business!” He looked fierce, but his runtish stature betrayed his status as the youngest, most immature sibling.
    Yesterday shook her head vigorously. “No, oh no. I think you’ve started a few too many wars altogether these past decades.” It was true; and, she noted bitterly to herself, she had been the one who had to deal with them all.
    She looked down at her ample stomach. It hadn’t been feeling well lately. And no wonder.
    “No, man!” Tomorrow said. He was a he again now, a Gen-X punk with green-striped hair and a nose ring. “I mean we need to start a new identity, put a wrench in the system! Here’s what I’m suggesting…”
    Despite herself, Yesterday was interested, and she and Today both leaned in to listen to their sibling speak…


    It was the next year.
    Everyone arrived on time.
    Everyone looked shocked.
    “My God, sis, how do you deal with this blubber?” whined Yesterday, the man formerly known as Today. “I have my own freaking gravitational pull!”
    “Oh, hush,” The former Yesterday said. Her shock was that of someone pleasantly surprised. After becoming Tomorrow, she had lost all her poundage, and also her sense of responsibility and duty. Who cared about the natural order? She was tomorrow! She was everything and anything she wanted to be!
    She giggled like someone on a drug high and floated around the room, gazing at the whitewashed walls like they were intensely interesting.
    Today (nee Tomorrow) stared at both of his transformed siblings, and with a sinking feeling realized this had been a very, very bad idea.
    “Um. Erm.” He still tripped over his own words. Becoming a fixed identity had made him feel like he was always wearing chains. He felt so clumsy now. He seemed to be the only sibling left with sense, but how could he do anything when he was trapped in this hideous, hideous form? “I…how did you do as Yesterday, brother?”
    Yesterday (aka Today) shrugged, causing ripples along his gigantic body. “Uhh…I’ve been productive.”
    “Productive?” Today winced. Yesterday was supposed to be fixed and predictable. Yesterday wasn’t supposed to be productive. He should have known, assigning a firestarter like Today to tend to the past. But it was too late…
    “Yeeeah. You know how there just used to be the World War?” Yesterday said. “Well, uh…I was looking at the 1940s AD, and I noticed America was still going through this really rough depression, and they needed more jobs, and what better to make jobs than to…”
    “Oh my God,” Today said, burying his head in his klutzy hands, “You didn’t start a new war, did you?”
    “Not new, really. It’s technically old by now!” Yesterday whined.
    “And,” Tomorrow giggled, floating by, “it wasn’t so much a war as the senseless slaughter of millions. I found out about it when I was looking at history.” She laughed like she had just told a very good joke, and then became delightfully fixated on a speck of dust on the table.
    Today made a slight whimpering sound. “Yesterday!” he said.
    “Yes?” Tomorrow and Yesterday said.
    “The one that’s Tomorrow!” Today snapped. “What is wrong with you? The future must be attended to, not cast away to float on the wind! The future isn’t supposed to depend on…on luck, or chance!”
    “You ain’t exactly one to talk, bro,” Yesterday advised. “I recall you changed around quite a lot before our little experiment.”
    “He’s quite right, you know,” Tomorrow chuckled gleefully.
    “Would you stop giggling!” Today snapped. “I was changing because of…because..”
    He stopped. Why had he been changing so much, anyway? He had always been so strongly against chaos and throwing possibilities about willy-nilly.
    Oh, God. He never should have changed them around. Now Yesterday was littered with fighting, Tomorrow was a vapid ditz, and he was…he was the kind of person who said willy-nilly.
    “That’s it,” he said, standing up. “We are changing back to the way things were. Now.”
    “But that would be quite unpleasant!” Tomorrow said, blue eyes wide and watery. It made Today sick, it really did.
    “Besides, I have so much work to do!” Yesterday protested. “So much of history is boring! I wanna spice things up! For the kids in school, you know? I’ve got this great new series of adventures planned for sometime in the earlier AD, I’m thinking of calling them ‘The Crusades,’ good wholesome fun-“
    “No!” Today cried. “I won’t-“
    Just then, there was a knock at the door.
    Everyone froze.
    With a sickening clarity, Today suddenly realized why he had changed so much, back when he was Tomorrow. He had been searching for a way out. He had known the end was coming, and he had been searching for a way to escape…
    Someone came through the door. They were big and dark and had black holes for eyes.
    “Wh-who are you?” Tomorrow asked, trembling.
    “We? There’s only one of you!” Yesterday snapped.
    WE KNOW.
    And the end had come, Today thought, because I had decided to change things too much. I decided to mess with the natural order. This is all my fault…
    The black man suddenly grew bigger.
    Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow disappeared.
    The room was dark.
    And then it simply wasn’t.

    THE END.

    (PS. Hey, SnipSnap. You might want to give your story a once over- all stories should be over 800 words, or at the very very least 720. Yours is 640 words long.)
  14. SnipSnap

    SnipSnap Active Member

    Feb 10, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Clinton, Illinois
    ... Looks like you did the once-over for me.

    Not to worry ... I actually realized I was short earlier. I've been working on it ... Not to fret.
  15. scintilla

    scintilla Member

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Miami, Florida
    Untimely Born (3353 words)

    It started like a dream. John stood just inside a door, next to a coat rack, having come in from the night outside. A servant took his coat off for him, carrying it to a closet rather than hanging it on the rack. The foyer was magnificent - a stairway at the far end, marble floors, a chandelier, and rich lacquered wood walls. To the right stood a set of large white double-doors, one of which was partially open. Through it came the sound of many people talking with the clinking of glass and silverware, laughter and music. He went in.

    Everything, everyone, looked out of time. In his life he was only aware of fashion in passing, but was familiar enough from magazines and television for him to know that these fashions were wrong. It was as though he had walked into a period movie. What period it was supposed to be was lost on him.

    The party was well started, and almost everyone was standing. This room was filled with small groups of people, talking and nodding, smiling and occasionally breaking out with laughter. He could see another room toward the back, through another set of doors, where the music was coming from. It sounded vaguely jazzy. Dancing bodies flowed by the door’s gap. Another servant came by with a tray of champagne. John nabbed a glass. As John moved forward his eyes scanned the crowd. Suddenly his vision caught, and he froze.

    She was beautiful.

    Not the ordinary way people are beautiful, the way everyone noticed. No, she was a magnet for him; his eyes, his spirit. He felt himself drawn over to her without being aware of traveling the distance between them. She had the face of a detective novel femme fatal – she was wearing an alluring red dress. Her hair was light brown, full and healthy, rich and thick, picking up highlights even in the dim room. Her lipstick was heavier than he was used to. Her blue eyes were intelligent, alive. As her eyes met his, they paused. She smiled as if she knew him.

    “Hello,” she said, her voice a rich musical tone. “What’s your name?”

    “John Murray,” he said, stiffly.

    “Oh, John Murray,” she said, deepening her voice and drawing her head back in an imitation of pomposity. “Is that your real name?”

    “My real name? Of course it’s my real name, why shouldn’t it be my real name?”

    “Well, I don’t always give my real name. What do you do for a living, John Murray?”

    “I’m an underwriter.”

    “I like writers.”

    “Um,” he stammered, feeling embarrassed, “I’m not really a writer at all. An underwriter is more like a risk assessor, a backer for insurance projects. I work for an insurance company.”

    “That sounds awful,” she said, completely un-self-consciously.

    “Well, it isn’t a romantic life. It pays the bills though,” he said and smiled. What a stupid thing to say! He was very unhappy with his presentation to her. What uninspiring conversation. Boring. Could he take it all back? Above all else, right now, he wanted her to like him - no, to love him.

    Really?, he asked himself. He did? A strange feeling, he thought.

    “You haven’t asked my name yet, John Murray. I think that’s rather rude.”

    “Yes. I am so sorry. May I have the pleasure of…?”

    “Elizabeth Canfield. Everyone calls me Liza though. You may call me Elizabeth.”

    “Is that because you want me to be formal with you?”

    She laughed. “It is a special name, only used by one other before you.”

    “Really? Thank you then.”

    “Oh, John, you are such a funny man! I can’t ever tell when you’re joking, and then I think you never are! How does the war end?”

    This caught him off guard, confusing him. “The war? What war? The war in Iraq?”

    Elizabeth smiled again, this time a smile leavened with pain. She reached up and touched his face. John was a tallish man; about six foot two, well built, with broad shoulders and good arms. His hair was curly, cut short, but long enough still to curl some. His eyes were deep and slightly wrinkled at the corners. His face had character, would age well, and he was quite handsome. He made you think of Gypsies, or a biblical character - Solomon, perhaps.

    “No,” she said. “I know there are always wars. I mean the war with the Nazis.”

    He looked at her. She didn’t seem to be kidding him. He looked up again at the inhabitants of the room, noticing their slightly odd clothing. The light in the room seemed a different quality too, more orangey or yellow-gold. Things were indeed strangely out-of-time, so he answered the strange question.

    “We won. It was a very bad war though. The Nazis…” She placed a finger over his lips.

    “I don’t want to know too much. Just that.”

    “Okay,” he whispered. Her finger was still on his lips. There was a long silence while they just looked at each other. Then she stepped forward, dropping her hand to his wrist. It seemed natural to kiss her, so he did. It lasted a long time, and he stepped back first. She looked up at him, her face rendered more beautiful by its happiness.

    “John, you won’t be here long. Do you think we might get married? Soon?”

    John looked at her, her eyes, her face, her hair, and he was overwhelmed with emotion. What a strange situation. What a fantastically odd situation. What an incredible woman. He was happy in a way he hadn’t been in his entire life. Happy in a way he wanted to keep forever.

    “Yes,” he said. “Yes, I think we might.”


    The harshness of the blaring alarm was an affront, waking him rudely. He rolled over and banged the snooze button, sending the clock into an eight-minute coma. Rolling back over, he draped an arm across his forehead and remembered the dream.

    It had seemed to last quite a long time. He and Elizabeth had left the party and wandered the gardens, the night lit by a gibbous moon. The flowers had scented their walk, and John had never felt so involved in his surroundings. He had kissed her again outside, then he had walked her home, holding hands, while the night bugs and birds made music. The road was a two-rutted affair lined by trees on one side and fields on the other. They had to walk on the tree side together, and the curve of the rut forced them closer until he was walking with his arm around her waist and as happy as he had ever been. She asked questions, and he told her about his life. After a while they just walked quietly.

    The alarm went off again and he shook his head vigorously. He couldn’t delay any longer the inevitable need to get ready for work. He turned off the alarm and got started.


    Work that day was the longest, slowest, drudgery he had ever had to endure in his thirty-three year existence. The people he saw and knew everyday seemed hollow and shallow, the generation that surrounded him seemed the most vapid, self-centered, and unimaginative which had ever been. Somehow, he knew that this life was more dream-like, that it was less real, than the world he had existed in the previous night. Passing a television he saw life, dramatized for him on the news. And he mourned for his real life’s loss, the waking that had scattered the dream.

    He got to work, evaluating risk, toting up the numbers, excluding the unreasonably expensive, so on and so forth. The actuarial work equivalent of a beetle pushing around his ball of dung. He did it all in a daze, thinking of the night, when he would sleep, and perhaps see her again.


    He did. In the weeks, then months, then years that followed he saw her every night. Elizabeth showed a great spirit of caring about life that caused John to find a spirit of intention he didn’t know he had. It was as though they meant to make the world more beautiful, more kind. Never a fight, never a moment between them when pure joy waned. Happily ever after.

    Perhaps I’m crazy, he thought. I have an imaginary life, one that occupies my thoughts more than my real life. That’s crazy.

    But he had no intention of fixing it, or in any way disturbing the unbalance that permitted it to be so. He was content. Elizabeth of his dreams was love, she was life. Without her, he would lose all reason. Thus, his insanity was sanity to him. What was it he had heard of insanity? “…a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world?” Yes. He understood that now. His dreams felt like the calm eye at the center of a hurricane of insanity.


    One year and ten months after the dreams had begun, John became dissatisfied. He would sleep, and wake, and his heart would yearn for her, he would feel a stab of regret as he realized he couldn’t be with her, live with her, love her. His waking life without her became unbearable.

    At first, he tried with fatality to find a way to make his waking life more fulfilled. He went to a singles meeting, to see if he could match in some way what he dreamed while waking. He began giving to charities. It was a futile effort. Elizabeth made him a better man. He was dedicated, committed, faithful, and loyal. Women were drawn to him. The women were normal. They were not Elizabeth.


    Where the thought came from, he did not know. Somehow, it occurred to him.

    Elizabeth Canfield was a real person. She could be found. He had been really visiting her in the past. It gave him encouragement, direction, a plan. He was in the insurance business. Everyone in the United States had insurance. If she existed, the means to finding her was right at his fingertips.

    He knew her name, and the year of her birth, and set out to find her, but there was no Elizabeth Canfield born in 1910. He did a web search and found a birth record that could have been her, but it led nowhere. He needed to find her in the present.

    Then he thought of his own marriage to her. Elizabeth Murray! He searched for her in the insurance database and immediately found Elizabeth Jane Murray, Born Dec. 8th 1910, living in New York City. Still alive! Nearly one-hundred years old and still alive! He knew that he must go there immediately. It couldn’t be, but it might be. Would she be old? Would it be the same person?

    He informed his supervisor that he was sick and would be out for a few days, and went to the airport. Bought a ticket, and was aboard a flight to LaGuardia in two hours. He had her address in his pocket, written on a sticky note. He could feel the paper. His heart could not have been gladder, and more full of hope. Dream and reality were intersecting. He was going to meet her!


    That afternoon he found himself standing at the base of a set of stairs on a wrought iron and shrub-lined street. He rang the bell on the door, and a few seconds later the door was cracked open.

    “Can I help you?” asked the eye peering out. It would seem that Mrs. Canfield had a housekeeper of some sort.

    “I’m here to see Elizabeth Murray. Does she live here?”

    “Yes. May I ask who’s calling?”

    “Well. I’m, um, John Murray. Tell her that. It’s John Murray.”

    “Just a minute, sir.” She shut the door and left him standing on the street. He turned away from the door and watched as a gust of wind made a scattering of leaves and dust whirl down the road. He heard footsteps returning and the door open behind him. He turned to see a small Hispanic woman, her hair tight in a bun, smiling at him.

    “She says you may come up. She is very happy.” John stepped inside and stood a moment in the vestibule.

    The house radiated wealth, an opulence that spoke of someone who had little concern for cost and whom only beauty guided. There was little that was new, but everything was classic. In shock he recognized the work of the Arts and Crafts movement at every turn, particularly noting the William Morris wallpaper. A Rossetti? Was it real? What was that quote? “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Yes. Hadn’t he and Elizabeth discussed it? Didn’t they pursue the work of artisans? He saw her personality. It was a house she had designed. He knew it.

    He followed the domestic up the stairs which led in grand manner from the left side of the entrance hall curving up and to the right, to a landing opposite the entry where there was a window beneath which a flat upholstered bench sat, and ultimately to a landing directly above the entry door. Paintings adorned the walls as he made his way up. He was led left through a long hallway with many doors on both sides, terminating with a window at the far end of the hall. The last door on the left was partially ajar. The housekeeper held it open for him, and closed it, staying outside, when he went through.

    Here was her room. He was so far from doubting it before, but as he entered he smelled her again, he could sense her presence, and knew. It was a large room with a vanity, a desk, a dressing area in the corner, and a four-poster bed with curtains. He walked over to the bedside, and drew aside the curtains.

    It was Elizabeth, but old and frail. She looked at him with eyes slightly opaque with cataract, yet still shockingly blue. She smiled.

    “It’s strange to see you. Foggy, but you look just the same,” she said.


    “It’s okay. I know I have changed. It’s been so many years.”

    “How? How is this possible?” He was struck with pity for her, with a feeling of helplessness to see his beautiful wife advanced so far in years.

    “I don’t know. We cannot know. It just does, it happens and happens, and keeps happening, over and over. It is perfect love, completely out of sync. You won’t see me again, you know.”

    “What? You mean tonight? I have to. We have a date…”

    “I remember that date. You never show up, and I know you are gone, gone until I see you this one last time. That’s how it works.”

    “What do you mean?” He was beginning to feel shaken, adjusted to her presence, but concerned about her words.

    “Once you see me awake, like now, after that there’s no more dreams. That stops it. You won’t ever go back to me again.”

    “But I have to! You know that!” He was beginning to well up with tears as he leaned over her. “Elizabeth, I need you!”

    Elizabeth smiled at him, that same smile leavened with pain he had seen just two short years ago - seventy-odd years ago for her. “John, I know you so well. I have loved you, and I have been happy to do so. Did you love me too?”

    “I did! I… I still do.” He looked down at the old woman on the bed and saw through the years, past the wrinkles, gray hair and thin skin. He saw the love of his life. He saw her in her beauty. He saw her as she had been. Timeless.

    “You have taken good care of me, John. Remember those talks we used to have? The ones about the world you knew, here, what it was like? I listened to you. I waited and invested in companies you told me about. I was wealthy before. I am richer now. Richer in all things. As are you. I have left you the money in my will.”

    “Your will?” He saw her again as a ninety-seven year old woman.

    “Yes. This is my final day. I have seen you now, and everything is complete. I will go now. I love you John.”

    “I... love you too, Elizabeth.” He did. She was his life’s love. There was no doubt.

    “Kiss me then. One more time. A sweet kiss.”

    He leaned over, breathing in her fragrance as he did, and closed his eyes, imagining her again as his Elizabeth, the only woman he had loved, the only one he could ever love. He kissed her gently, a soft peck, then stood and looked at her. Her eyes were closed, and her face relaxed. It was over. She looked peaceful, and she did not move again. She was truly gone to him now. They had been happy with what they were given. What an odd, beautiful life he had. He touched her cheek one last time.


    The housekeeper had confirmed what Elizabeth had said to him in the bedroom, that the will was in his name; he was now a wealthy man. It had been so strange; her talking about him taking care of her, but of course the information had been so valuable that it had indeed. Now, she was taking care of him, as it had always been, and as it seemed it would always be. She seemed to know so much, to have lived it all before, to understand the way their love would proceed, this warped-out-of-time love. Yet how could she? What could she know, except that she met a man at a party with a delusion, married him, and made him happy? What else? He was so puzzled by the situation that seemed so natural to her, but was not.

    The next few days were strange, as he arranged for Elizabeth to be buried, met with the attorneys, gave notice at the insurance company, and slept without dreaming. She was gone in every way - real world and dream one. He vowed that though he would always miss her, the world never would. He committed himself to continuing her spirit, and created a charitable foundation. Without her he felt empty yes; and yet somehow, expectant, and not hopeless.

    Why? What did he have to expect now? It was as though his life were over. But no, he found his heart quickening as he rounded corners, hoping to see… what? He found himself turning abruptly with the feeling there was something there, but there wasn’t. Strange.


    He had moved into the house Elizabeth had lived in. It was huge, with a grand ballroom to the right of the vestibule that reminded him of the one where he had first met Elizabeth. December 8th, in honor of her birthday, he threw a charity ball benefiting orphans to which notable philanthropists were invited. The evening was organized by his foundation, and well attended. Things were in full swing, everyone seemed to be having a fantastic time when he saw over by the door a woman.

    She had been looking at him. As their eyes met he paused, and then saw her coming toward him as though drawn irresistibly. She ended up standing before him. There was some strangeness in the way she stood, dreamlike. Nevertheless, it was Elizabeth.

    Suddenly he knew, knew just how it must be, how it had been for Elizabeth when she had first seen him, the new incarnation of her old love. He smiled at the woman, and knew what to say.

    “Hello,” he said, “What’s your name?”

    “Mary Carlyle,” she said, stiffly.

    “Oh, Mary Carlyle?” he said. “Is that your real name?”

    “My real name? Oh, all right. My name isn’t Mary Carlyle, it’s Jane Alexander. But what made you think to ask?”

    His smile deepened. “Well, people don’t always give their real name,” he said. “What do you do for a living, Jane Alexander?”

    Comments, Criticisms, and Suggestions welcomed. Thank You.
  16. Raven

    Raven Banned

    Oct 14, 2006
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    The NetherWorld
    After reviewing this from now on all short story contests will be fortnightly 11 days for submission and three days for voting.

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