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Please vote for the piece that you feel is most deserving:

Poll closed Jul 4, 2010.
  1. Nikhil - Phoenix Enraged

    0 vote(s)
  2. Gingerbiscuit - An Univited Visitor

    6 vote(s)
  3. forgebench - Fair Warning

    0 vote(s)
  4. snake - The Gesture of an Animal

    0 vote(s)
  5. profexorgeek - Tasty Burny

    1 vote(s)
  6. spotty11222 - Samantha

    2 vote(s)
  7. Barry G - Dr Jekyll Joe and Mr Hyde Joe

    0 vote(s)
  8. Peregrin - Slither & Speak

    1 vote(s)
  9. Northern Phil - Mousey Tales

    1 vote(s)
  10. Chudz - Coyote Night

    1 vote(s)
  11. The End - Sweet Revenge

    0 vote(s)
  12. MoonChild - Summoned by Blood

    1 vote(s)
  13. Day Dreamer - The Predator CAUTION: EXPLICIT

    2 vote(s)
  14. theSkaBoss - Beserk

    0 vote(s)
  15. phoenixsharpshooter - Apples And Trees

    1 vote(s)
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  1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England

    Voting Short Story Contest (70): Through The Eyes Of An Animal

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Jun 21, 2010.

    Voting Short Story Contest (70) Theme: Through The Eyes Of An Animal

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

    Voting will end Sunday 4th July 2010 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.
  2. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Nikhil - Phoenix Enraged

    “… the sightings of the bird have increased and we have some photographs to show,” said the stupid man on the desk inside the television. Instantly, he disappeared and the screen was mopped by some photographs. Whoever has shot those photographs is possibly a rookie. I’m not that ugly. Well, I may be a bit ugly but… but it’s his fault in the first place, those photographs were clicked last week and I was going to renew my wings. Yeah, by magic, of course! I can’t continue this story if you don’t stop interrupting me. Anyway, coming back to the point, I have wiped the smiles out of those who think they are very, very famous. Yeah, that’s right, remember what that silly boy was saying. You don’t? If you have such poor memory what can I do? Well, he said and I am exactly quoting what he said. No insane additions of my own. He said, “Hey, what the hell is going on? Why are they showing a ruddy bird on the television? It should be me.” And mind you, when he said ‘me’ he pointed his hand towards his neck and looked as if he were telling himself that he was covered with slime!

    What is it now? You humans are real nosey. Ok, what is it you have to ask? Impressed? No, I am not impressed by the television. Hmm…, you humans build interesting stuff. And the television is one of them. Well, it is good. Ok! Ok! But how will you find a thing interesting when you have watched the inventor struggle in front of you trying to get into the news. But most don’t do it for news. Many do it to improve their reputation. Some of those, you know, did it to just prove that their idols had been wrong in suggesting that he could make nothing more than a pile of rubbish. You know, I have watched upon you for centuries but it is only now that you have discovered me. But how could all these years when I was invisible and undetectable by any means. Yes, I am behind you, but can you see me, can you listen to me, huh?

    FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME, I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT MY VOICE IN YOUR HEAD, I AM talkin’ abou’ real senses, pal! Why did I come out of hiding? I am not completely out of hiding. If I would be spotted everywhere then I wouldn’t be the legendary bird. Ha! I just love being famous. I let people with camera spot me sometimes and not every person’s camera. I don’t want to look like a pile of rat droppings on a poor camera. I only choose the best cameras. I am too rare for an ordinary camera! But I had decided to keep myself hidden until my wings would've grown to the best shade! Like now! My wings are ultra-rare.

    WHAT? You know this is an interview and you should learn not to ask everything. I have a personal life, dude. Don’t insist again or I’ll poke right through your heart. Ok, ok, you can’t blackmail me. You were the one who insisted on interviewing me! Alright, I am sorry, it was all my fault that I asked you to interview me. I do not lie usually but I have slipped into the bad habit you humans are so used to. Direct Contradiction? Now look here, I am not a good liar, I still practice it in my spare time. So what were you asking, yes! Well, I do not like to reveal but I would. That’ll make me more famous. Now listen if you can, I will say that in top speed and it’s your job to figure out what I am saying. I’ll have a go: I-admit-to-have-frightened-many-animals-I-enjoy-intimidating-them-especially-mad-tigers-super-silly-elephants-and-stupid-lions. Well, what could I do? It is a great fun watching them run away from me. I know that you classify them as ‘Endangered’ or whatever. But I have seen you humans using those tranquilizer darts on those animals so that they fall asleep. You know what, my reputation about a dangerous bird has been etched into their minds. They’ll scarper at the sight of me now! It isn’t as much fun as it used to be, that’s why I have decided to fiddle with the humans. I’ll do a murder next! No, I was just joking. The interview won’t stop!
    Next question, please. Hmm…, that’s a stupid question you know. What I am and how I know your language? Can’t you see what I am? Well, even if you can’t see me right now, you have seen me on that television just now before you flipped the channel. And, oh! Look at that lunatic; he thinks he is pretty cool catching the snake. Well, I am called, in your mad language, Phoenix. Oh, now don’t start ranting and raving. We aren’t what your idiot ancestors thought. It was all because of a mistake on my part. I just, you know, was frightening an eagle for a change and well, they saw me. I had burnt myself to frighten the eagle. And we don’t burn and die. Truth be told, we are immortal and we never die. And the last part about knowing your language, I know every language created by your filthy race. Well, I have studied all your subjects and you can call me a great scientist. Well, I could create something you know. My knowledge about all subjects is vast and the memory of phoenixes’ is really strong. Scientists of your race are quite stupid. They think that I have been created by a gene mutation but they should know that it takes millions of years for an entirely new species to form. The changes are very slow, you know.

    My family? Well, I am the last surviving phoenix and when I said immortal, I never said invincible. My whole race was killed by the magicians of Carse. I hunted all of those Carsian magicians and none survive. The war between the phoenixes and Carsians took almost many millennia ago. It almost unheard of and we definitely had an edge but we were outnumbered by one to hundred. They were all over with their magical equipment hunting us. There were even bounties on our head, you know. But we were strong, nonetheless. We have the power of fire, ice, water, wind and thunder. But so did the magicians. I am proud to say that I avenged my race by finishing off the last Carsian magician.

    And finally, the interview is complete. I'll leave now. Great! I hope this stupid will take one brilliant photograph of me now. Did you listen? Take a photograph of me and if it isn't brilliant I'll do, do... nothing! Ok! See you then!

    Wow, I have spread my wings after so much time. Feels pretty stiff. Ouch, what was that? A dart, A TRANQUILLIZER DART! HUH! Think this'll work on a phoenix. You thought wrong. I'm not used to betrayal. Not counting movies and humans. I am not used to someone betraying me. Even though this dart won't work at me, you'll pay for it.


    (A month later at the same place)

    If he hadn't tried to get more fame than he deserved, he'd been alive and would've been brandishing that photo of me in his garden. If he hadn't tried to get the revenge that should have died centuries ago, he'd still be alive. That photo however is still in the news. I look great! A majestic bird, something like a green coloured eagle. Obviously not plain green but a brilliant green gradient. Ha! Sad thing that his house is a rubble now. That's the place where his garden probably was. I did love to fulfil my promise of finishing every surviving Carsian. Beats me how a Carsian survived. He'd be a long descendent of that Carsian. Probably there are more of them on this planet. More work for me now. Once this work is finished I'll try to become famous. For now, I'm busy. I'll have to research a spell on revealing the locations of Carsians. Next, I'll have to hunt them out.
  3. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Gingerbiscuit - An Uninvited Visitor

    A hush descended on the hall and the council stared in open-mouthed wonder as two brightly-uniformed guards entered the castle. Between them was a strange looking creature. He was adorned entirely in black, with not a flash of colour to be seen anywhere about his alien raiment. He was also considerably larger than the two guards that propelled him towards the town elders but the most remarkable aspect of his appearance was his eyes, which bulged from the side of his head on thick storks. All was deathly silent, only the sound of the fountain bubbling out in the courtyard could be heard.

    “What is the meaning of this intrusion?” demanded one of the elders, an ancient figure dressed in brilliant blue and sunburst orange.

    “Your graces,” said one of the guards. “We found this creature lurking in the rushes outside the castle. He is clearly not one of us. We thought it best that we bring him to be judged by our most wise and honorable elders.”

    “Your decision was wise,” said another of the elders.

    The stranger glanced nervously around the castle hall. He was at least twice the size of any of the others around him but he was dangerously outnumbered. He knew nothing of who he was, where he was or even how he came to be here and yet something seemed very familiar. Looking around at the expressions on the faces that looked at him and their garish coloration there was something that he DID know: this was an entirely alien world to him and he was in big trouble.

    The smallest of the elders was first to address the stranger. He clearly had much to prove. “What brings you to this place?” he demanded.

    “I…” began the stranger

    “Speak up!” demanded another elder. The stranger received an encouraging shove in the back from one of his captors.

    “I don’t know,” came the stranger’s reply.

    “You must have a reason!” said the first elder, the one of such dazzling Blue and orange coloring.

    “I really don’t!” protested the stranger. “I can remember nothing. I think I might be ill.”

    The council of elders murmured quietly among one another. The stranger could just hear snippets of the conversation.

    “What a freak!” he heard one of the elders say.

    “Um, I’m not a freak” protested the Stranger.

    “Silence freak!” demanded one of the elders. The stranger closed his mouth, resisting the urge to get mad. He thought back, fighting through the depths of his mind but his memory offered him no explanation as to why he was here. He didn’t WANT to be here. Given the choice he would not be here, being scrutinized and called a freak by these strange beings with their bright colors and eyes flat against their heads. He would much rather be at home with his family. If indeed he had either a home or family.

    The council ceased their murmurings and turned to face the stranger.

    “We have reached our decision,” said the first elder. “And in spite of your freakish size and appearance – “

    “Please stop calling me a freak,” said the Stranger. The elder ignored him and continued.

    “In spite of your freakish size and appearance we can see that you have come here unarmed and pose us no threat. However, due to your size we also feel that to have you lumbering around among us would cause dangers of its own. We fear that your presence and unsightly appearance would offend our Gods and so therefore we must command you to leave this place immediately, never to return – under penalty of death!”

    The stranger felt like sinking to the floor with relief. He had stared death in the face this day and had escaped by a whisker. And yet his ordeal wasn’t quite over. He had been ordered to return to his home but had no idea where that was or how to get there. And if he somehow got lost and wandered back into the territory of his captors he knew that these strange little beings would have him killed.

    “Now begone!” ordered the smallest of the elders. “And may your hulking form never darken these halls again!”

    The stranger felt himself being forced roughly from the hall, though he would have happily left on his own accord. If he was called a freak once more he was going to lose his rag. Around him the others in the hall were less than happy with the decision.

    “We should have had him killed,” said one.
    “What if he brings back more of them?” said another. “We’ll be doomed for sure!”

    “Order!” commanded the blue and orange elder. He watched suspiciously as the Form of the stranger disappeared through the castle gates. “See to it that you watch him all the way to the edge of these lands!” he called after the two guards.

    And then he was gone. The crowds in the hall continued to murmur amongst themselves and they were still murmuring when the gates to the castle slammed back open. Everyone instantly stopped their discussion and commentary of the morning’s events and turned their eyes to the castle doorway.

    A hush descended on the hall and the council stared in open-mouthed wonder as the guards returned to the hall with the stranger.

    “What is the meaning of this intrusion?” demanded the blue and orange elder.

    “Your graces,” said one of the guards, “we found this creature lurking in the reeds outside the castle. He is clearly not one of us. We thought it best that we bring him to be judged by our most wise and honorable elders.”
    “Your decision was wise,” said another of the elders.

    The stranger glanced nervously around the castle hall. He was at least twice the size of any of the others around him but he was dangerously outnumbered. He knew nothing of who he was, where he was or even how he came to be here and yet something seemed very familiar. Looking around at the expressions on the faces that looked at him he did know ONE thing for certain: he was in big trouble here.

    “What brings you to this place?” demanded the smallest of the elders. However he had hardly finished speaking when there came an almighty boom from outside the castle. The ground trembled and everyone began to flap around wailing in panic and alarm.

    “It’s the Big Face!”

    “He’s come to get us!”

    “The stranger’s presence has clearly angered the big face!” cried the blue and orange elder. “Quickly everyone, to the safe place!”

    Everyone, the stranger included fled from the castle and as they did so a giant, bearded face appeared to them through the haze. Everybody screamed in terror as a deep voice boomed through the water: “DUDE, WHAT’S WITH YOUR FISH?”

    “Ben, don’t tap on the glass man!” Lance looked over with annoyance at his roommate tapping on the side of his tropical fish tank. “They don’t like it.”

    “But they don’t DO anything. They just hang out all day in that little castle.”

    “Well you’ve got them moving now,” said Lance and he got up from the couch to go over and look at his brightly coloured fish swimming from the castle towards the little model volcano.

    “Weird,” said Ben. “Now they’re all just hiding behind that volcano. Dude your fish are broken.”

    “They’re not broken. You’ve just scared them.”

    Ben looked thoughtfully into the fish tank as the last little blue and orange fish disappeared behind the volcano. “What do you think they do behind there?”

    Lance shrugged and went back to the couch.

    “Do you think they have little parties in there? In that castle?

    “Dude, you smoke too much weed,” said Lance. “Now leave them alone before you scare them all to death.”

    Ben had another last look at the fish tank and noticed one slightly larger black fish swimming around on its own. It wasn’t like the other fish and its eyes poked from the side of its head on thick black stalks.

    “Dude this fish is a freak,” said Ben and just as he was turning to walk away he wasn’t certain but he could have sworn that the weird little black fish flipped him the bird.
  4. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    forgebench - Fair Warning

    The reason I write this is to give all of you a fair warning. The humans have some mind control smoke that we just had to investigate, and we got snared in the trap. This was the first time I’d ever encountered it, but we need to spread the word about this stuff.

    Now Qweeb and me, his real name was Qweebarius but we all called him Qweeb, we were just curious what it was, but let me tell you, don’t come near this smell!

    It all started one day, a fine day at that, when we were rummaging around a garden in a human’s yard. It looked like we might find some good food in there, so we both decided to give it a shot. We saw a fire-pit as well where humans cook meat; they usually leave scraps of food lying around them.

    Well, we’re looking around in the garden for nuts and all of a sudden I hear Qweeb, he says, “Hey Sill, you smell that?”

    Well naturally I sat up on my rear legs and sniffed the air. Yeah, I smelt something strange. I replied, “Yeah what is that?”

    “I don’t know, I think it’s coming from their window.”

    “Maybe we ought to just look for food out here, Qweeb. I have things to do today, my girlfriend wanted to go sit in the park with me.” I knew she’d be pissed if I was late again.

    Qweeb looked at me, “Come on, what are you afraid of? It’s probably food.”

    Indeed it did smell good, so I agreed that it was probably food, and against my better judgment decided to investigate.

    Now the window was high up off the ground, at least, oh – five body lengths. I knew there was no way to jump up there but the tree did get kind of close to the roof, and from there we could drop down onto the window ledge. What a stupid idea.

    Qweeb saw the way over there at the same time, so he jumped up the tree first. His fur is jet-black so it always gleams kind of blue in the sunlight, and the way he runs up trees so fast makes him look like just a streak of black blue. My legs are strong, but he beat me to the branch.

    We both walked out, real careful like. Now remember kids, whenever you go out on a branch like that, make sure to look around. Sometimes a hawk will be in a nearby tree or something just itching for a meal. We’re a little big for them, but if they’re hungry you better believe they’ll come after you.

    Sure enough, Qweeb’s black fur made a very inviting target that day. Across the street we saw the hawk nearly the same time he saw us. He lifted off of the perch he was on and flew over. We dashed to the end of the branch and jumped off onto the roof just in time. We fell onto the roof and ran underneath the overhang for what looked like their attic window. Just as we did the hawk flew by, making it’s screeching noise. It circled around to the left and made an error I haven’t seen a hawk make ever, before or since this time.

    He flew right straight into a fence. Serious, straight into a fence! I think I heard him cussing in his language (I’m not fluent in Hawkian), and then he flew off. All the better, that’s what he gets for trying to eat me.

    Anyway, we sat there for a second until we were sure he wasn’t coming back. We moved over to the edge of the roof and looked down. There was the window ledge, and we could smell it again. It smelled like burning plants, but it was different. Really hard to explain.

    We listened as the humans talked inside. They were talking about the usual inane things humans talk about, at least here in what they call ‘California.’ I’m from East of here originally, but it was too cold for my taste so I migrated. The whole journey took about thirty sun rotations, but our whole family got here, including Qweeb. He’s actually, technically, my cousin. Long story.

    Anyway, we were listening to them talk. Sounded like a couple females, discussing something called tiffany, and how much they want it. No clue what that is, but knowing humans it’s probably something stupid.

    Qweeb says he’s going first, okay, no problem. Go for it buddy! He looked over the edge and deftly jumped down. I followed suit. We stuck our heads right up next to this screen they had over the window and got a good whiff of this stuff. Now I was thinking it was going to be some sort of food, but wow, it was not. I got this instant kind of a head rush, and Qweeb’s eyes got all red. Later he said mine did too.

    We sat there for a minute looking at the humans inside; they were smoking something, looked like a cigarette. Filthy humans always dropping those things everywhere, never ever try to eat one of those! Been there... done that.

    The blonde female smoked it and the other asked her to “pass the weed.” I figure that’s what this stuff is called, weed. It certainly wasn’t like any plant I’ve ever found. So we sat there for another minute, then Qweeb whispered to me, “Dude, Sill, I’m starving and this is boring.”

    I was strangely hungry as well, so I agreed we ought to find some food since this definitely wasn’t anything edible. Problem was I could barely move, my legs felt like deadweight.

    I heard the girls laughing and looked back into the room, they were pointing at us! I heard the blonde one say “Hey little squirrel! You wanna get stoned huh?” Both of them laughed some more. I’ve always remembered this, ‘stoned.’

    One of them got up off the bed, and that’s the last thing I remember. Serious. I blacked out. Next thing I know I’m laying on the ground next to the window with a serious headache. Qweeb was shaking me, saying, “We gotta go! Those females might come out here, or the hawk! The hawk! Let’s go!” I remember barely being able to get up, then we stole away into the bushes and went back home.

    Now this is why I write this, kids. If you smell a strange smell, that does not mean you have to go investigate! I’m firmly convinced that was some sort of magical weed the humans were using as a trap. I think it’s meant to entice and then knock out small animals, which the humans then hit with stones to soften us up, then we get cooked and eaten!

    No I’m not making this up. There was a fire-pit back there where they cook meat, and a shovel. Put all of this together and what do you have – squirrel shish kabob! No thank you, I’ll be staying away from that smell for now on, and so will you if you don’t want to become human food.
  5. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    snake - The Gesture of an Animal

    The glass sits still and placid on the table in front. Condensation surrounds its circumference, chilled and cool. A dribble of brown liquid and a mound of jagged ice cubes fill the bottom of its shape.

    I’m sitting, just sitting, sitting at a table, at a bar, a bar nowhere, alone. I think it’s somewhere in the arse end of Camden, down the dodgiest ****-stained alleyway i could find.

    I glance about the place. It’s trashy and drab, an amalgamation of various outdated styles. Each one seems placed on top of the other, the remains of the previous still there, still present, still lingering. The odd body occupies the space, loitering and skulking about the far edges of the bar. A thick layer of cigarette smoke obscures the space.

    I sigh...
    My hand reaches for the glass in front. It swirls the liquid into a whirlpool. A low clink can be heard as the ice collides with the glassy edge. It’s soothing. I glare at the spiralling current, my attention mesmerised. I gulp back the contents.

    It’s funny. We’re always waiting for things. We wait for people, we wait for meaning, we wait for anything really. We wait and wait and wait. We wait for something to happen, and when it does it’s usually never as good as what we thought it would be waiting for it. I think of this, as the liquid astringently leaks down my throat. I make a face. I waited for that drink. But I get no catharsis, no relief.

    I turn and glance at the bartender, a big bulbous old school biker. He spots my gaze and glares back. I raise my index finger and beckon him with it. He sighs, grabs a bottle of whisky and wanders over.

    He stands over me, this towering man, large and heavy set.
    “Keep the bottle”, he mutters, then sharply turns to wonder back.

    I smile shrewdly and pour myself another glass. The new helping is downed immediately. This time the liquid feels more agreeable. It numbs me and now I know for sure i’m drunk. It satisfies me, a warm solace resonating in my stomach. Was it from the booze, or from pure pleasure? I didn’t care. The self destructive animal shines through this tattered shell.

    My eyes are bored, and wander away on walkys’. They flitter past the clientele, hurried and brief. Conjecture now comes into it, each person summed up, each life story fabricated. It starts. Sid over by the gambling machine was always in debt. Last week he sold another of his son’s kidneys to buy his way back in on the table. He’s now realizing he could be running out of kidneys and kids. Tracy, sitting over on the bar stool, had a confused upbringing. Over the years things hadn’t gotten any more apparent. She now contemplated the baby growing deep in her womb. Was it her brother’s or her father’s? The honest response was that she just didn’t know. Then there was Brian sitting at the far table. He was a drunk. The quadruple vodka in front celebrated the news that his liver would give up in a week, one last farewell drink.

    This ceases to become fun. It’s the same old dark and depressing assumptions, one after the other, presentation and look informing the hypothesis. I’m bored. I search for some new kind of inspiration. Then, i zero in on something.

    Something elegantly stands leaning over the bar. It’s tidy and lean, beautiful and pristine. I watch, working my way up a pair of long firm legs to see the rest of this figure. It’s gorgeous, a woman dressed in a smart working suit. She stands out, disassociated and foreign, the epitome of everything this place and its clientele isn’t. She is a beacon in this smog filled squalor. She asks for a drink with pert and supple lips, her voice a siren calling for obedience.

    The moment of discovery lasts for a lifetime. It suspends itself in my mind, time slowing to a subtle nod. I make it last, staring at her.

    Her drink comes and she thanks the bartender, turning around to glance about. I realise I’m overtly staring. I quickly glance down, not sure if she’s spotted me. I grab a quick mouthful of booze for a distraction.

    I look up. She’s still there, leaning on the bar, sipping her drink.

    Awareness sparks. I turn my attention to the other side of the room. A trashy guy in a biker jacket leans against a wall. He’s tall and skinny, looking like a crack head junky. His face appears pale and unhealthy, his eyes blood shot and bagged. His eyes narrow intensely focused at the girl, his next hit in sight. He’s interested, interested like everyone else, but there’s a keen purpose in his eyes. Apathy and disinterest is thrown aside as he gets up off the wall and wanders forward. He invades her space.

    I down another gulp of my drink.

    He gradually circles her, one step after the next, slowly slipping up to her. She notices and looks up. There is some sort of awkward greeting. He keeps to a safe distance for now, loitering about her space. She obliges him and reciprocates, a friendly nod being her action of choice.
    They’re both too far away for me to hear, but i recognize all the usual signs.

    She stands rigidly still, her body not facing him.
    He stands awkward, his weight shifting.
    Her eyes filter from him, glancing to somewhere else.
    His foot shakes nervously.

    I down another gulp of my drink.

    I play the role of voyeur. That’s my position. Distance is my advantage as I watch this tragedy unfold. The first mistakes take place. I spot his hand gradually slither across the bar, creeping gradually closer to her hips. His feet also take a step forward, a step closer. It’s so obvious. It’s so seedy.

    They continue.
    She laughs and smiles politely.
    He slides closer.
    She takes a break, sipping a drink.
    He slides closer.

    I down another gulp of my drink.

    I want to be her shinning white knight, her ultimate saviour, the one to whisk her away. I want to stop this. I want to prove that she could be mine, that i could be more. But i’m just a casual observer, a spectator, just the drunk in a corner.

    Once again a suspension of time occurs. The last few actions take forever.

    He whispers in her ear... closer... breathing on her cheek... inhaling her scent...
    She indulges in his words... with a snake like grin... followed by a flirtatious giggle...
    ... And...
    ... shakes her head.

    The interaction concludes.
    Finally he breaks from her position, making his long shameful trek away. She is left at the bar, still leaning against it and takes another brief sip.

    I smirk.
    I look back down.
    I pour myself another drink.

    We’re all animals, all trying selfishly to get what we want. I wanted to sit back and admire her. I was going to do that now.

    I down my drink and look up.

    ... She’s wandering this way, her eyes focused on me, her eyes like an animal...
  6. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    profexorgeek - Tasty Burny

    “So then what happened?” Fuzzerd asked.

    “Well, like I was saying, I was lickin’ on some grubs. I got this real good spot I found where there’s some berries and some grubs and all kinda goodies.”

    “I think I know that spot!” Snorg piped up.

    “No you don’t, this one’s a secret,” Grizz said, indignant.

    “Snorg, shut up. Let Grizz get through the dang story or we’ll be here all night,” Fuzzerd growled.

    “So, I’m just a lickin’ on these grubs, reeeal squishy ones,” Grizz continued, “When I smell tasties cookin’. You know, the way the Pinkies do? So, I goes and I investigates. Shore enough, they’re out there ruinin’ some fine chunks of tasty by lettin’ it get all sizzled in the burny.”

    “Mmmmmm,” Snorg said.

    “Snorg? Shut yer berry hole.” Fuzzerd growled.

    “Well, you know me,” Grizz chuckled, “I can’t let the Pinkies ruin a good tasty. So I marches up to explain, tryin to be all friendly like. But, right away one o’ the Pinks spots me and panics. She start’s a-hollarin: ‘Bear, Charlie, bear! Oh lordy, BEAR!’

    “Well, I still got some grub with berry sauce on my paw. So, I sits down on my rump and I watches the festivities, just a-lickin’ on mah paw.

    “The lady Pinky hits the dirt and curls up like a dead grub-”

    “I never understood that!” Snorg interrupted, “I mean, do they think that we think they’re dead? Why would you do that? If I really thought they was dead I might try a little bite. I bet they wouldn’t like that at all.”

    “Snorg, darn it, if you open that dad gum trap o’ yers one more time I’m gonna stick my paw in thar an’ tear yer darned tongue out,” Fuzzerd bellowed.

    “Right. So, the lady Pinky’s on the ground. They got a couple o’ Pinky cubs that are runnin’ away like their butt’s in the burny and the man Pinky is waving his arms and yellin’ like to deaf me.

    “Still tryin’ to make nice, I give him a big nice smile and say hi. I has to do it purty loud cause the whole family is makin’ a mess o’ racket.

    “Well, he don’t like my hello and he runs for their den,” Grizz paused to scratch himself.

    “I reckon he’s afeared like most of the Pinkies. I’m still just a-sittin’ there hopin’ to make off with the tasties but I’m feeling sorta bad because it’s all goin’ wrong. Anyway, he comes back out with this little stick in his hand.”

    “Uh oh!” Snorg said ignoring Fuzzerd’s glare, “Was it a hurty stick?”

    “Well, I was a little worried because sometimes those things go Kerpow and it hurts inside. That’s what ol’ Silver was saying. Remember?”

    “Yeah,” Snorg said, “He told me-“

    “THE STORY!” Fuzzerd said.

    “Right,” Grizz continued, “So, he points the stick at me but instead of going Kerpow it just makes a little hiss. Like the Slithers do sometimes.

    “Then, my eyes and my nose get all burny and hurty and my mouth starts watering.”

    “Woooo,” Snorg said.

    “I know! So I licks my nose and it’s all burny but it tastes real nice. I thinks to myself: Griz? You just made nice with some Pinkies. He’s tryin to feed you.

    “Then I feel a lot better. I give him a big wave and he runs off, maybe to get the cubs. The lady’s still layin’ there but she’s all peaceful. I think maybe she just got tired and went to sleep ‘cause she was all curled up a-snorin'.

    “Anyhow, I grabs a few tasties on my way out and rub ‘em on the burny juice on my face. I took ‘em back to my,” Grizz looked at Snorg, “SECRET berry spot and had some tasty with berries and burny juice. It was real nice.”

    “Shucks,” Snorg said, “That sounds pretty good.”

    “I don’t believe it,” Fuzzerd said, “Them Pinkies is always mean. Why would they just give you their burny juice and tasties?”

    “I dunno but it’s the truth,” Grizz said. “Tell you what. Let’s go back and find ‘em. I bet they’ll share some burny juice and tasties with you two!”
  7. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    spotty11222 - Samantha

    "Paula, are you ready yet?” Samantha asked her closest friend as she waited by the opening in Paula’s quarters. “We’re going to be late for the Queen’s speech.”

    “I’m almost ready. What time is it?” Paula asked.

    “It’s almost the end of speech time and the beginning of foraging time. Hurry up already!” Sam said. Sam grasped Paula by her claws and dragged her through the earthen opening. She motioned to Paula to follow her by using her antennae and touching Paula’s head, but Paula was busy staring at something. Turning around, Sam heard a deep, commanding voice. It was a guard.

    “You there. Kid, how old are you? You know better than to miss the Queen’s speech.” The guard said.

    “Sorry guard.” Sam replied, her head bowed. “Four days old, Ma’am. I promise it will not happen again.”

    “Whose your friend here?” the guard asked sharply.

    “My friend? Oh, this is Paula…”

    “Not your play name kid, your birth name!”

    “1119 Ma’am. My friend here is 1098.”

    “Alright. Now, I’m giving both of you a warning, seeing as how it’s your first offense. Now go and see the Queen, and pray to Formica that you will be forgiven.”

    “Yes, Ma’am.” Sam replied. Paula was silent, and merely bowed her head.

    “Now go!” The guard said. “And Formica save the Queen!”

    “Formica save the Queen!” Sam and Paula said simultaneously.

    Sam rushed past earthen corridors and twisting caverns while Paula tried desperately to keep up.

    “Slow down!” Paula shouted.

    “Calm down. We’re here.” The duo entered the room, pushing a few grains of dirt and sand away to enter the crowded arena. Hundreds of tiny bodies were crowded into the room, antennas prodding everyone and everything. Sam and Paula could not go any further into the crowd, so they waited by one of the exits.

    “As you all know, there is a new threat out there.” The Queen said.
    Whispering, Paula asked “What is she talking about?”

    “Shhh.” A nearby worker said.

    “I don’t know. Quiet, let’s see.” Sam replied. She wasn’t nervous about the new threat, whatever it might be.

    “New traps and invisible killers are decimating our people. But I resolve to say, we were here first! We will fight them to the last, because it is we who are righteous. It is we who have built society and functioning order, while the outside oomuns hunt like savages and kill our kind for fun.” The Queen spoke with such fervor that the crowd was roaring. Thousands of workers replied in unison “We serve the colony! We serve the Queen!”

    At that, the Queen raised four of her arms and allowed the waiting crowd to touch her. Sam could see that the speech was over, and the workers inspired and ready to forage.

    Now that the speech was over, crowds of workers began to pour into the exits, where Sam and Paula were stationed. Once the crowd began to die down and order restored by the guards, Sam and Paula spoke.

    “Are you worried?” Paula asked.

    “No. Why should I worry. The guards will be out with us today to protect us. Besides, it is not our place to wonder about safety.” Sam replied.

    “Yes, yes. I know. But…”

    “It is our job to supply the colony, and if we die, it will be for the greater good.”

    “Yes. I know.” Paula’s head sunk a little lower as he followed Sam, both of them scurrying on all six legs to their designated foraging area.

    “Look!” Sam exclaimed as they arrived in their quadrant and immediately found an edible item. “Start to lay down the food trail, Paula.”

    “Got it, Sam.” She replied.

    “Hmm.” Sam thought about the flavor of the object as she took an exploratory bite. “It’s umbugger!”

    “It’s what?” Paula asked.

    “Umbugger! The senior workers told us about it on training day. Don’t you remember?”

    “Not really. I’m getting old. Remind me.”

    “Well,” Sam said. “One of the workers said to me during class that this food was high in protein, and makes for good nourishment for the Queen’s eggs. If we notify the guards, we can get more workers here to help us!”

    “On it!” Paula answered with joy. She turned around and began to lay down another trail of pheromones. “Be right back!”

    Sam didn’t respond. Biting into the umbugger, she cut away with sharp mandibles that sliced cleanly. She had just begun to cut away a section to carry away back to the colony when Paula returned with a worker and a guard.

    “There’s more workers coming, Sam.” Paula said.

    “Ok. I got this piece" Sam said. "Why don’t you and your friend cut away some other pieces.”

    “You got it!” Paula said.

    As Sam crawled down from the giant piece of cooked beef, the guard turned around and patted her on the thorax with one of her six arms. “That’s some nice work 1119. You’ll get a commendation for this find. Good work, and Formica save the Queen!”

    “Formica save the Queen!” Sam replied. She followed the trail of pheromones Paula had left behind earlier.

    A deep and penetrating sound suudenly permeated the air, causing Sam to stumble a bit and nearly drop the piece of umbugger. Grabbing it tighter, she turned around to face the general direction of the sound. Her six arms were ready to sprint off if any danger came. But none came. Then she saw Paula scurrying.

    “Where’s your food?” Sam asked.

    “Shh. Didn’t you hear that?”

    “Yeah, so. Why’d you drop the umbugger?”

    “Forget about that for a minute Sam and focus!” Paula spoke, for the first time that her friend could remember, in a raised and disturbed voice.

    “Hey, you two, get out of here!” the guard who had followed Paula previously said. Now, she was running back the way she had come just like Paula was.

    “Hey,” Sam yelled. “Where’s the other worker?”

    “I don’t know. It was…” the guard yelled but as suddenly cut off.

    Sam couldn’t believe her eyes. A giant yellow object with a green top had rushed over the counter like a hunter, and took the guard. All that remained was a thick line of water on the flat, shiny floor.

    “Run!” Paula yelled. But she didn’t have to tell Sam. The young worker was already scurrying as fast as her legs could carry her. The pheromone path had somehow disappeared — probably due to the yellow object — and Sam turned left blindly, hoping to run to shelter. She saw a shiny pillar that stood erect from the ground and scurried under it. Paula was already there.

    “What was that?” Sam asked, out of breath.

    “I don’t know. It must be the oomuns.” Paula said.

    “Do you still have the food?” Sam asked?

    “No, I dropped it.” Paula’s antennas dropped to the floor in shame.

    “It’s ok. I did too.” Sam looked from side to side, trying to see her fellow sisters. She spotted movement to the south, and she took Paula by one of her arms and dragged her there.

    “Look over there!” Sam yelled to the distant workers. “Hey! Over here! Send reinforcements!”

    “Oh my Formica! Sam look!” Paula screamed as a large white object holding another colorful cylindrical object descended upon her sisters. A stream of mist erupted from the object, and blanketed her sisters in what looked like water.

    “Come on Paula, we have to go!” Sam yelled.

    They ran to the relay site, where food for the colony was processed and delivered, and found their sisters dying. Stumbling around, the dozen or so workers were speechless as they died a slow and agonizing death: Sam could see it in their eyes.

    “Come on,” Sam said. “We have to go before the oomuns return.” She pulled her companion away from the death spray and ran towards the colony entrance. Sam entered first, Paula followed. Before entering, however, Paula turned around and struggled to lift her head up as far as she could. She was shocked, nearly, falling backwards. The oomuns was a tall creature, upright and colorful. It had a red upper half and a black lower half, with white extremities. Paula was shocked into silence.

    Sam quickly realized that Paula wasn’t following her, and she backtracked her steps looking for her friend. “Paula! Paula! Where are you?”
    As Sam neared the entrance to the colony, she heard another booming voice, but different from the one she had heard previously. She thought she could make out the loud words. “Moom. Cal thah exhdhermeenateher. Thah eents argh bach een thah keechen.” The deafening noise nearly stunning Sam and forcing her to stop dead in her tracks.

    Sam found Paula by the entrance. She had the same expression on her face as the workers at the relay station had. “Paula. Oh, Paula.” Sam stroked her best friend’s head. Several guards approached, dispatched by the alarm pheromones Sam had released.

    “Ma’am. What happened?” One of the guards asked.

    “It was the oomuns.” Sam said, not taking her eyes off her dying friend. The guards nodded and set to work sealing off the entrance to the colony temporarily until the threat of the oomuns was gone.

    Sam took the body of her dead friend and brought her to the disposal heap. It was known to all members of the colony that they should bring their dead to this site where they may be properly disposed of. Sam cried as she dropped the dead body in the pile.

    She heard another ant come by her. It was one of the guards. “Formica save the Queen.” The guard chanted over and over, so as to drill into Sam’s mind. She heard the Queen give an emergency speech. A new war was proclaimed against the oomuns and that the ants of seven different colonies would be participating. Sam heard the distant smell of pheromones released by the crowd, and she heard the Queen continue “Several thousand soldiers will march on the enemy lands and teach them a lesson that they shall soon not forget. They will not be allowed to perform terrorist attacks on the Children of Formica without retribution!”

    Sam noticed the crowd, and how complacent they seemed to be. However, she felt upset in a way she had never felt before. Her best friend that she had known for the four days of her life was gone. Somehow the Queen and the colony didn’t matter as much as they used to, and the guards seemed to notice this change in her. They swarmed her, cutting her into pieces and preventing her from spreading the new pheromone she was unconsciously releasing. It was a new, noxious, smell that filled the nearby workers with the will to dissent.
  8. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England
    Barry G - Dr Jekyll Joe and Mr Hyde Joe

    Well, it should have been our third fun ride up in the woods but it did not turn out to be a funny day. BG, that’s me, and Joe, he is the horse, were planning a jolly. I had anticipated the ride and prepared my Joe ready for it. Joe was looking strong but he’s not that tall at 15h1 but he is undoubtedly a Big Boy. For a horse originally bred to pull instead of carry he is a magnificent animal. His jet black coat grows fast and glistens and he has a deceivingly kind eye.

    We let the other riders go off early and later set off with Sara from next door, who was mounted on her big cross country eventer. There were no problems on the way out; if anything Joe was a little sluggish. Joe doesn’t do much cantering these days not that he forgotten how to do it. BG was even a bit concerned as to whether Joe would be fit for the eleven mile fun ride through the woods. But Joe is deceptive, he’s fit even though he is carrying, all over his body, an inch of wobble from eating grass. We signed in at the car park. We took our number and made our way to the start. Off we went down the path at a gentle walk. For the first half mile all went well but then Joe began to realize where he was and what he was doing. He’d been along this path before in April on Paddy’s ride, yet another long distance fun ride.

    Sara, who kept her horse on the near by property was coming along for the ride. Her chestnut gelding had a long stride but Joe always wants to be along side. She had said that she wanted her horse to be careful so as not to hurt himself. However the pace began to speed up regardless. At one stage with Joe following behind, Sarah put her fellow into a trot and Joe immediately went into a slow canter. The stage for racing had been set. BG could still keep the Boy in check but it was obvious that the new bit, a Waterford, was not going to hold Joe back for long. Joe could ignore it if he wanted to. After a short time, Joe got very stressed and started to pull hard. He was doing his light infantry trot on which it is easier for the rider to stand to rather than to rise to. Then he made a move to canter because a woman was coming up behind on a light arab and was making good speed. Joe had already heard the other horse’s fast hoof beats and wanted some of it.

    Sara was mumbling something about the possible need for her to pull out early because her horse was going too fast for its own good. This was not the first time that BG had heard that sort of comment from an accompanying rider. Joe was at this point going like a steam engine. Finally BG had to let him go, it was the only way and off we went at the gallop and an uninhibited gallop it proved to be. Riding Joe at the gallop can be quite hairy. The rider is very well aware of the mass, almost 700 kilos, which is moving forwards at speed and that the rider has little or no control over Joe once he gets going. One can’t slow him, you simply haven’t got the strength in the arms. The best way to bring him back into canter is to aim him at a hill with the view to tiring him but if a flat level path stretches out in front of you both, then you are going for a fast ride and make no mistake about it. The first gallop BG managed to contain. The female rider on the arab, still following on behind, was invited to overtake us, the idea being that we would walk on. But the lull didn’t last for long. Soon Joe was to be off again.

    The second gallop came to a halt when the aforementioned lady on the arab, who had obviously heard a commotion behind her, stopped and blocked the path by placing her horse across the path. BG was amazed. The lady sat there calmly at right angles whilst Joe charged up towards her. We stopped literally with an inch to spare before we might have crashed into her. BG listened to a lesson from the lady about Pelham bits and martingales and the need to change tack set ups for different types of outing. What she said was nothing new to BG. Eventually the lady headed off down the track on her very obedient horse and so, in politeness, BG held Joe back to give her room. That lady would have been tricky to stay alongside in an amicable fashion. Joe, did manage to hold back for a bit, but then, all of all sudden, up went his nose, down went his head, the reins came out of BGs hand and Joe was off at the full bolt. Sara, became a long forgotten memory. By now BG had no strength left in his arms and shoulders. He could barely hang on to Joe. Together they went charging down the next stretch of path, completely and utterly out of control and at full tilt. But just around the next corner there stood this stack of straw bales with tyres laid over the top. There was no way around. Joe can’t in the training arena step over a pole nine inches off the ground without kicking the pole with one of his four feet. How were we going to take this lot? BG knew that there was no option, it was either over the obstacle at the gallop or through it at the gallop. In the event we sailed over it. We did not stop and we galloped on.

    Somehow BG managed to get Joe back under control. BG got Joe to walk, even though he was puffing and jigging like a steam train. Together we came up upon some youngsters who were standing gossiping about how they would take the next series of small official jumps. BG knew that if even one of their horses went to jump any of the obstacles along the track then Joe would be off in pursuit. It was one of those touch and go moments. There was BG trying to hold on; there were the kids gossiping that the old man on the black cob was having some trouble. Not that milk cart horses like Joe are supposed to give trouble.

    The urgent consideration now was that Joe would undoubtedly create angst amongst other nearby horses and riders. He was already calling out to any other horse up in the woods that might listen. Luckily just along the track was a check point. BG pulled the Boy in and held him at the halt, facing away from the track. Joe jigged and turned and reversed and jigged. Eventually he cooled down and stood still.. But other horses were coming up the track and every time one came past at speed then things got bad again. BG’s shoulders ached. If BG were to fall off at this point, then undoubtedly Joe would go off riderless after the other horses. He would represent a danger to other riders many of whom were youngsters. At the this point just up from the crossways we could turn off the main path and make our way back to the start on our own. So the management decision was made: we would come home by the short cut. And home we went. As we passed by the event officials we gave our number tag back and apologised. No, we would not accept a rosette, we had not completed the course.

    To be fair to Joe, all he did on the way home, initially through all the horse lorries, was to jig about a bit. Yes BG got every three minutes or so a faceful of horse spittle when Joe threw his head up in the air but there was no need at any time to have cause for concern. Three quarters of an hour or so later, the pair were back at home having come down the steep slopes through the woods.

    Back in the yard, Joe reverted to pseudo domicility. “Where’s my tea?” demanded Joe, somehow knowing that I had made him up a mix of sugar beet and nuts. As Joe ate his tea; I drank my flask of whisky sour. There was no need to make a fuss of washing Joe down for he wasn’t even sweating. Joe was back to being his usual kindly self at peace in his own stable. In Joe’s mind, I am sure he felt he had done no wrong on the fun ride. He looked across to me from his stable door and checked that his master was OK. I had not fallen off and Joe had not expected me to fall off. Joe had had a good day and he could have had even a longer day, if I had not pulled him out of the ride. Joe was up for it all, if only his rider was strong enough to keep control of him. What a day it had been.

    Against a thorobred over open soft ground, Joe will lose. However, against most horses over winding but level, stoney ground, Joe has few equals. He’s simply got to get to the front and if necessary he will barge his way through. Joe has got no manners. He is a war horse. When calm, Joe can probably be trained to be more sensitive and responsive. However when out on a fun ride with the bit between his teeth, his dark side comes to the fore. Not that he means bad, he is just enjoying himself. Joe believes it is all a game. He’s his own man. But deep within him lies an excitable, strong, thug.
  9. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Peregrin - Slither & Speak

    There it is; the weakness for which I have been seeking. She’s so young and naive I hardly have to do much more besides make my approach and simply take her. Caution is not even necessary. And to think that this opportunity has been practically given to me!

    What’s happening . . .? What am I doing . . .? My brain hurts . . .

    Oh yes. It is the female. The one I have had my eyes on. She does look delicious. But where is the male? He would certainly know how to stop me from getting what I want. Hmmm . . . it seems that he is not present. This will be much easier than I originally intended! I must make an attempt now.

    . . . Attempt . . . what? Ouch! The pain is almost making me pass out. Should I . . . Just give in and let it take over?

    Ahh. . . . I do not even have to be quiet, but why create unintentional risks? The male could be somewhere nearby and put my hunt to an end. But no, he is not. I do not smell him. Mwahahaa. . . . I cannot even laugh, but it is so hideously funny, the skillful way I am about to capture my prey. And the best part is that she will not suspect a thing until I have already closed in upon her and . . .

    . . . This isn’t even right. I want to go hunt something easier to catch and eat, like a mouse or a rabbit . . . Ohhh, my brain . . .

    Now, I have to stay in control. Cannot allow her the simplest chance to think or else she will become frightened, run away and I will have lost this most opportune chance. I knew they were stupid, but my goodness . . . so trusting and friendly. That is why I am about to devour her and all her children right along with her. If I simply creep along at this casual pace no one will ever suspect a thing. Cling to the tree. Branch to branch and limb to limb, make my way ever closer toward her, the fertile-minded and unaware creature.

    Owww . . . I don’t like this. It’s not my nature at all. If I could stop this ringing in my head . . . the pain . . . I’d go back down to the ground . . . where it’s safe.

    Oh, it is safe here. Everything is safe, and that is the problem. That is where I come in. I just want to challenge myself, to elevate myself just as I have elevated you, No more scurrying about after whatever happens across your attention. Today you will start at the top. That is where I am supposed to be and I am bringing you along with me. You are part of my plan. This is your undertaking just as much as it is mine.

    But . . . who are you? What . . . are you?

    Never mind. Just let me take control. That way the pain will be lessened. It may even go away. Just let me run things.

    Okaaaay . . .

    Again, I want to laugh to myself right now, but we cannot. So . . . up the trunk a bit more . . . and through these last bits of leafy branches where she awaits, unknowing to the challenge I am about to present her with. Oh, how I relish her surprise as she turns toward my rustling through the leaves. I cannot wait to see her reaction. This is perfect.

    Finally, I may speak:
    “Has God indeed said, ‘you shall not eat from every tree of the garden’?”
  10. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England
    Northern Phil - Mousey Tales

    In the darkness I smelt it, food. Without seeing it I knew what it was, they were delicious meats roasting on an open fire. In my dreams I could see those tasty meats and it made my stomach rumble, the noise was so loud that it echoed throughout the tunnels. I opened my eyes, but all I could see was the dark. I made my way through the tunnels following my nose to the exit of my home. I waited there for several minutes as my eyes adjusted to the harsh light. When my eyes adjusted they revealed the day to me. I cautiously poked my head out of my home and scanned the long yellow grass for signs of enemies and hunters. Nothing stirred in the grass so I tentatively walked out of the hole. I slowly made my way to the source of the smell continually checking that the route to my den was clear. It was so I scampered on. I needed the food, I hadn't eaten in several days due to the fact that the flying predators were out in force.

    The previous day I had investigated another smell similar to this one, when I was close a flying hunter swooped out of the sky, with its claws drawn it tried to snatch me out of the grass. I made a quick jump to the right and barely avoided it's attack. I ran for my life back to my hole and I barely made it before it had attempted another attack. I may have made it back alive, but my expedition had cost me dearly. The predator had badly scathed my body with it's claws and the energy that I had exerted in my dash to safety meant that I had exhausted almost all of my energy reserves.

    I could cope with the pain in my body, but I needed the food if I was going to survive the dry season. I continually scanned the sky for signs of the flying hunter, luckily I did not see it or others of its kind in the sky. I could only assume that they had gotten bored and decided to look for prey elsewhere. Their boredom would hopefully serve to my advantage. That was until I heard a familiar voice, there standing in front of me was Attik.

    Attik had once been my brother, as we had gotten older our competition for territory, food and women had been so great that we had come to blows on more than one occasion. I had beaten him every time, but today I was badly wounded and suffering from extreme exhaustion. He on the other hand looked the picture of perfect health. Attik challenged me to combat.
    I shouted to him, 'Not today.'
    He wouldn't take that for an answer and he rushed to attack me. I took a deep breath and summoned all the energy that I had left in my body. I waited until he lunged at me, I jumped to the side and as he stumbled to regain his footing I bit hard into his neck. I had used this move on him many times before and in the past I had only applied enough pressure to subdue him until he surrendered. Today, I was exhausted and I had little desire to squeeze him into submission. I bit on his neck hard, I heard the bones break, the skin tear and I tasted the blood flow into my mouth. I heard him squeal before he went limp in my jaws. I relaxed my grip on him and I let his body drop to the ground.

    I carried on my way to the source of that tasty smell. I was breathing hard and I knew that unless I reached the food soon I would die. As the journey continued it felt hard to put one leg in front of the other. The mental strength required to move my feet was enormous and I could feel my body wanting to give up and collapse. I did not allow it to give up, I carried on and eventually the long grass cleared and I could see far. The clearing was the source of the food. There was a stack of it placed on a red and white area, normally giants used these squares to mark an area where food should be placed. The two larger giants used to guard this area while the smaller giants went to gather supplies. Today was my lucky day, there were no giants guarding the food and I could approach without having to sneak or be stealth.

    It was as I entered the clearing that I made my fatal mistake. I was walking towards the food and out of the corner of my eye I saw a flying predator approach me at high speed. I had not checked to see if it was clear and now I was easy prey for it. I had neither the energy or the mental strength to move or avoid it's sharp claws. I was picked up in an instant and I felt the claws dig into my body. It felt as if I was being toyed with as the creature let me drop, I fell far and I hit a rock. It shattered my body in an instant. I was barely alive, I tried to move my legs, but there was no response from them. The flying beast landed right next to me, watching me as I slowly died.
  11. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England
    Chudz - Coyote Night

    The cooling, night-air of the desert stirred in playful gusts, ruffling my fur with each breath. This was in sharp contrast to the sand that clung to the memory of the day, warming the pads of my feet as I loped along one of my favorite trails. Then there was something arresting in the air.

    I skidded to a stop, nose twitching, tasting the aroma of cooking meat as it wafted through father sky. My stomach rumbled in response, not completely satisfied with the trio of mice I'd found too far from their burrow earlier. Then someone yipped in excitement.

    Ears on alert, I gazed around the gray-tinged landscape, looking for the interloper. But I was alone, and the next breeze carried with it the sound of light laughter. I cocked my head slightly to one side, wondering. Then I realized the great wind-spirit was laughing. He was laughing at me, because I was the one that had yipped and then cast my gaze around in bewilderment. Truly, one of the many blessings of having fur is no one can see you blush. I let out a soft whine in embarrassment and continued onward, nose leading the way.

    It wasn't long before I spotted the light from their fire and began to move with more caution. Most humans that come out here are just looking for a bit of escape from cities of steel and stone. They are amusing creatures, drinking their bitter water and acting like children amongst the untouched land that is too old to remember them. They are usually careless, leaving food out for easy taking. And I must admit, I do so like their food. But there are also other humans that come out here, which is why I was slinking forward, body low to the ground. These others bring thunder and pain to the unwary, just as predatory as any of my furry kin. So I would need a better look before I decided on a course of action.

    As it stood, I needn't have worried. There were four humans, two males and two females, gathered around a fire that was blazing away, its flickering light revealing two tents in the background. I lifted my nose slightly and beyond the scent of charring wood and cooking meat, I caught the scent of burgeoning sex. I smiled, tongue lolling out of my mouth as I did so. For I knew that their minds weren't on hunting or even protecting their belongings. All I had to do was wait. So I lay down, snout resting easily on my forelegs, and kept watch.

    The silvery eye of the moon-god hadn't traveled far along his normal path before the humans split up into mating pairs. Each pair gave the other coy looks as they made their flesh-entangled way toward their fluttering dens. I came to my feet as they entered and ultimately heard the whispering sounds that meant the entrances were sealed. Now it was time for me to see what they had left behind, and I slunk forward on silent paws.

    Their fire crackled and spat as I approached, warming one side of my body as I homed in on the remains of their meal. Two of their white, serving platters were nearly empty with just a smear of grease on them. But the other two were bountiful, each holding half of what they called a “hamburger”. I wolfed them down with a great thrill, tasting, yet not tasting, as I did so. Then I surveyed my surroundings, making sure things were still safe.

    I was still the only hunter around. So I let my gaze travel over the rest of their camp as mating sounds blossomed in one of their dens. It wasn't long before I spotted my quarry, a colorful box with a white lid. I knew there was treasure inside. I crept toward it as pleasurable sounds from the other tent joined the first. I couldn't help myself and gave an approving huff that went quite unnoticed. Then I was there. I nosed the lid off of the box and peeked inside. I was immediately greeted with a chill and saw the dark cylinders amongst the heap of ice. Brimming with pleasure I clamped my teeth lightly on one of the bottles—as they would call them—and drew it out, feeling the cold against my tongue. Luckily, there was a good sized stone not too far away and I was able to dash the bottle against it. And when it shattered, I was able to enjoy the prize, carefully slurping up the puddle of bitter water before the sand took it all.

    I repeated the process a number of times. Long enough that both of their dens went silent, before one was filled with snoring. And when I'd had my fill, I stumbled back to the colorful box and lifted one hind leg, marking my territory. Then chuckling to myself, I loped unsteadily off into the desert, my home.
  12. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England
    The End - Sweet Revenge

    Nothing helped the bitterness in his heart. The beginning hadn’t been bad, but ever since the fall, everything was hell. Lucifer had taken possession of the first of their kind to deceive the woman Eve. It had worked and humanity was plunged into darkness, but at the cost of every snake’s pride and glory. All snakes were stripped of their wings and legs – their curse. Before that day, no creature had been as creative and clever. Now revenged consumed their thoughts. No time for creativity, only vile plans.

    Wings and legs, Zehn hissed at the thought. If he had had wings, he would fly to the heavens and bite Yahweh himself for cursing his race. Every snake knew the story. It had been passed down from generation to generation, flaring new anger with each offspring. Lucifer had ruined everything for them. Just by taking their form, they were cursed for eternity. Yahweh hadn’t forgiven the father of snakes for his crime and they all suffered for it.

    Zehn’s tongue tasted the air – and dust. Annoyance made him hiss. The dust of earth never grew sweeter, only drove him insane. All legged creatures would suffer. The scurrying mice never ceased to mock him. Slithering on the ground for life wasn’t something anyone wanted. All animals feared him; even the arrogant humans that tried to claim him.

    The days of freedom were over. He would never forget how low he been brought. He was even below the rodents who were despised. Once upon a time his kind would have soared among the birds, walked the earth, and swam with the fish; gods of the sky, kings of the earth, and lords of the sea. And now, his throne was confined to dust and dirt. Even the death of the other creatures brought no joy. They always returned to dust, only to remind him even in death they were as high as himself. Only their suffering brought him pleasure.

    Many thought that the venom in his fangs was a result of mutation or some generational change, but they were wrong. It was bitterness, malice, and hatred that filled his fangs. Remorse is made him what he was: a snake. Vile and dangerous, ready to fill others with the same misery he possessed.

    Venom dripped from his fangs as he hissed again. His prey approached slowly, checking the ground as it went. He watched with green eyes as the squirrel dashed about. Slowly moving towards her, he prepared to strike. In an instant, he lunged forward and bit the squirrel. Full of dread, she screamed and struggled to escape. Cruel pleasure burned through Zehn’s blood. She clawed and kicked in all attempts to stay alive, but the sight of limbs only increased Zehn’s disgust and anger. Crying for help, the squirrel screamed for friends that abandon her. She shouted her love to her family and friends. The venom entered her veins and her face distorted and she wailed miserably. Eyes rolled back in her head as he dropped her and let her slowly faded to the afterlife. “Die,” he hissed.

    She twitched expending the last of her energy and giving herself over to the venom. Revenge, sweet revenge was always beautiful. Death was nothing; it was the suffering, the twitching, the struggle, and the pain that made revenge so delicious. In one gulp the cycle was complete and the squirrel was no more. A bitter smile played with Zehn, but he didn’t let it take over. This was only the beginning. He glanced up and saw the birds above him. They sat so high and proud of their lofty position. They would be next to feel the misery. Then the fish that never seemed to forget their joy.

    Zehn snarled; revenge was his life. Father like son, the curse and duty to pass on despair and suffering was his. He slithered on to find another victim, the dust of earth again agitating his senses. Madness began to take over and he raced to fulfill his anger. A smell hit his tongue and he saw a bird hopping on the ground. With evil delight Zehn hissed, “Welcome to hell.”
  13. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England
    MoonChild - Summoned by Blood

    The air was thick with the rusty scent of her blood.

    I dashed through the never-ending darkness, blindly following the trail which would lead me to her. The clumps of fur which circled my face were whipped back by a violent wind. I felt nothing but withered grass beneath my paws as I flashed through the gloom, bounding through a world entirely masked by a veil of shadow.

    Moments later, the rapid airstream faltered and became still, leaving behind a stronger trail than before. The land steepened, forming an almost vertical slope. My hind legs burned in agony as I adjusted my body and tore up the incline, chasing her scent.

    Then the ground levelled out once more, and I could see her.

    She was sat at the edge of a riverbank with her back to me, her feet submerged in the water. The surface of the stream resembled frigid glass, unmoving and eerily peaceful. Lights glowed from underneath the water, illuminating a circular portion of the landscape above and encasing her in a dome of radiance.

    A white, lifeless tree loomed over her; its leafless branches rising up and jutting through the roof of the shimmering dome, becoming lost in darkness.

    I came to a halt, pausing outside the dome of light, lingering in the shadows so I could watch her.

    Her hand slowly rotated in her lap, her blood-stained palm now facing me, as if she were showing me what she had done. A thin, shining line of crimson ran from one side of her wrist to the other, and a constant river of red gushed from it, trickling across her skin and staining the skirt of her grey dress.

    All was still as her blood continued to flow.

    “I know you are there.”

    Her calm voice chilled me to the bone, causing me to sway on the spot. She giggled, sensing my surprise. Her laughter was like the trill of a thousand bells ringing in unison and echoed far into the night.

    “Please, come closer,” she said. “There is no need to hide from me.”

    I moved closer to the edge of the dome, but hesitated, stopping before I entered the light. “I might frighten you, child.”

    Her head twisted in my direction and her luminous green eyes flashed up to meet my gaze. “I have seen hell. You cannot frighten me.”

    “Very well.” I slinked forward, breaking through the wall of the dome and allowing the light to wash over my mane. I kept my eyes fixed on hers, bracing myself for a scream that wouldn’t come.

    As I stepped further into the light, my gaze fell from her face, and I looked to my paws for the first time in my life. I was instantly spellbound by the brilliant golden shade of my coat and the way in which my paws left a slight depression in the parched ground as I moved. I longed to see more of my body, but I knew I would have to wait, for I could feel her burning stare on my face, summoning me forward, transfixing me. I sat in the wilted grass beside her and glanced down into her pale face. The striking scent of fresh blood burned inside my nose.

    A smile curled at the corner of her mouth. “I suppose you know why you are here, Lion?”

    “Because you made it so,” I said, eyeing the cut on her wrist.

    She followed my gaze to her wound. Her smile broadened as her lustrous eyes fell on the laceration she had made. “I did this to ensure you would find me. The scent of my blood beckons you, does it not?”

    “It does.”

    Her eyes widened, bright with amusement. “Try not to move.”

    She leaned forward and plunged her bleeding wrist into the lifeless river. The water did not ripple or show any signs of her breaking its surface. For a while, nothing happened. All was calm. Moments passed in silence.

    Then, without warning, the dazzling light which shone from the bottom of the river grew brighter, flaring up and setting the world alight. The sudden intensity blinded me. I closed my eyes, a low growl of discontent rumbling in the back of my throat.

    I waited for several minutes, my eyes clamped shut, my body frozen in fear.

    “You can look now,” she whispered. “It’s safe.”

    I opened my eyes to a different world.

    The darkness had faded away, revealing a deep blue sky peppered with an assortment of white, fluffy clouds. An orange sun hung directly above, shining down on the fields all around us, coating them with a warm glow. The dead tree had come to life. Bark had grown over its white skin and hundreds of sharp leaves fluttered from every branch.

    The light at the bottom of the river had vanished, but the water remained just as still as before.

    I sighed in relief, breathing the now fresh air, no longer tasting the burning aroma of blood.

    “Not bad,” she said. She rose to her feet and surveyed the land, her eyes gleaming with pride. Her dress was no longer blood-stained and the cut on her wrist was gone. “Most don’t do so well on their first try. You should rejoice, Lion. You have done well.”

    “I did this?” I asked, my eyes widening in awe. “How could that be?”

    “I shaped this world in your image. Look around you. This has all come from your mind.” She reached out and stroked my mane, burrowing her fingers into my fur as she spoke. “You have roamed a world of darkness since they day you first opened your eyes. I have been observing you for a while, waiting for the day you would be ready to begin the task I designed you to complete. That day has finally come, and the task I set you is this: Fill this land with life. Look after it and love every creation you make. You are a guardian, the protector of this world. Watch over it for me, Lion. It is under your control now.”

    I tilted my head to one side and stared at her pleadingly. “I don’t understand. How? How could I possibly use such magic?”

    She withdrew her hand from my mane and backed away, nearing the edge of the riverbank. “Your imagination is a powerful thing, Lion. Soon you will learn

    She winked, and in one fluid motion, executed a perfect swan-dive into the river. The moment her body was entirely under the surface, the water came to life, instantly rushing downhill with a roar of crashing waves and pulling her deeper into its depths.
  14. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Day Dreamer - The Predator CAUTION: EXPLICIT

    I awoke as usual and began my early morning ritual. I took a quick shower after looking at the alarm which, as usual, had broken and stopped at the time of half past seven. The shower itself was full of grime and lime scale, it was disgusting, but I showered in it none the less. After the shower I went into the kitchen and began to munch on the usual, a bacon and sausage sandwich. I then brushed my teeth and put on my clothes for work. I locked my apartment and ran down the three flights of stairs leading to the ground floor. I was bored. I walked down the crowded streets and out towards the towering Daily Mail building, there weren’t many people about but those that were gave me a penetrating luck, pure hatred filled me, idiots, I thought, it was a newspaper agency and I was a journalist. When I was younger I had always seen it as a fun and exciting job now though the truth hit me. Boredom. I wasn’t given the job I had always wished for, instead I gave out coffee to the real employees. I had my degree but they would never give me a chance, not someone who looks like I do.

    I decided to continue to work and do the usual. I arrived at the building and saw the young receptionist, she was such a flirt, even to a grotesque man such as myself. You see there is something I didn’t mention, I am deformed, far more than that. My face is full of strange lumps on my misshapen head, I was bullied as a child but am now ‘acceptable’. The receptionist moves towards me, “Billy,” she smiles, “Looking great as always,” she’s wearing a very revealing dress and seemed as if she was pushing her breasts towards me. I grabbed them. She screamed. I stepped back horrified, “I, I’m sorry.” I said, but I saw what she thought of me in her emerald eyes. I felt angry, furious. I looked around, no-one saw what happened, because there is no-one here. Outside the rain tumbles down, not many people would be outside. I came to a realisation, I liked it. I grabbed her again. She slapped me, but I kept hold of her. “You’re mine,” I whispered softly into her ears, and began to unbuckle my pants. I dragged her into the bathroom. She kept screaming, yelling over and over, it would do no good.

    She looked at me with pure hatred, “Billy what are you doing!” she yells and I can smell the fear in her, it makes me feel powerful and strong. “Shut up!” I shout back, I was lucky. Today most of the buildings inhabitants were out at a conference, so I had a few hours to play. I lowered my pants and ripped the scarlet dress off her. “You will enjoy this!” I shouted menacingly, but in the back of my mind I felt sick. What are you doing Bill, it said, this isn’t right. I didn’t listen. “You animal!” she wailed. She was right.
  15. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    theSkaBoss - Beserk

    His senses were flooded. Like some canyon beat down by a torrent of water as a dam broke, his body was taking everything around him in. As he ran, his DCs punching the pavement, he marveled at the feeling. He wouldn't remember that he marveled at anything, of course. The sensations of his world were rushing by so fast, there was no time to commit anything to memory.

    Sight... The darkness didn't matter a bit. The faint starlight above somehow illuminated everything as if the world was filled to the brim with well-placed mirrors. But there were no mirrors here in the streets and back alleys of the city. No windows. No eyes. None that could see him, anyway.

    Hearing... he could hear past the heavy slaps of his shoes on asphalt. He could hear past his breathing. Past his heart. Past the drip-drip-dripping of blood and sweat falling to the ground behind him. Beyond that, there was the close-yet-far vhirr of cars on a night street. The buzzing of two flies hanging out by some trash cans. Far behind him, sirens. All else, silence.

    Taste... a sense without a job right now that was doing as much work as the rest. The taste of his blood drizzling lightly from a recent blow to his lip. The back of his teeth. The proof of recent turkey sandwich and coffee. And two energy drinks. The threat of bile from deep within. The cold night air.

    Smell... the smell of old city. Old tar beneath his feet. Old masonry on all sides. Dust, smog, and all the muggy smells of the air. Trash and litter around him. His own sweat, a mess of unique odors from various parts of his body. The blood on his lip. The blood running off his hands. Overall, metallic smells from everywhere.

    Feeling... His legs and sides protesting his flight. His throat wailing at the rapid breathing of frigid air. His leather jacket urging his arms not to move so much. The hardening, caking blood on his fingers.

    He could not think. Only act on each new sensation. Footsteps ahead? Detour to the right. Sirens coming from behind? Faster. These decisions didn't remain in his mind longer than the time it took to execute them. All he knew was that he was running. Danger behind. Safety ahead. To be seen was to leave a trail. Stick to shadows. Hide in them. Become them. Adrenaline was already coursing through his body, and more was constantly flowing in. Little did he know it, but his body was made for this. A chance genetic makeup combined with a latent, mostly harmless, undetectable mutation of his own. As the adrenaline coursed through his bloodstream, his body responded by demanding more. Addicted.

    His body got its wish soon enough. Sirens couldn't follow him where he was. They knew that. He knew that. But then he heard the dogs. Dogs behind. Dogs sniffing the trail of sweat and blood. Dogs snarling at his footsteps. Something snapped within him. Adrenaline could not physically be at a higher level in him. That and fear and anger and pure animal ferocity clouded his mind. It was no longer a matter of his senses being at their peak. He was no longer thinking. What he was doing was drooling a bloody froth. He was flying as much as running. He wasn't tripping so much as switching to running on all fours.

    Shadows didn't house him anymore. He found himself on the street. Onlookers who didn't catch sight of him quick enough would have seen a phantom in their periphery. Some kind of wolf, clawing at the sidewalk, ripping past street lamps, jumping over cars. And then they'd see him. Black leather jacket, blackish red hands, pink froth, glistening sweat, feral hair standing on end. Jeans stained with blood, or else deep blue. Torn at the knees. Frayed at the cuffs. White shoes. Comfortable-looking DCs. Then it wasn't a phantom wolf on their periphery. It was a phantom wolf in plain sight.

    Women screamed. Men shouted obscenities or oblivious calls of “Watch it, buddy!” before seeing who it was that had bumped them. Suddenly, there was a mass of people in front. He saw them. He jumped. While onlookers would recall the impressive jump for weeks to come, he didn't make it. He came down on them in a fury. He was scared, and so he was attacking, clawing at the nearest faces, biting at the nearest hands.

    Hands dragged him away, tried to hold him. Sirens. Dogs. Screaming. He let loose a burst of energy and movement, and two men who'd been confident in their power to hold him before now found themselves flying through the air. People watched them fly, watched them land.

    The phantom was gone. But then the police were there. Fingers pointing after. A mush of voices telling a mush of retellings of the events of the past fifteen seconds.

    The man was found in a dead-end alleyway. He was found clawing at brick walls. He was snarling, even barking. Not like a dog or a wolf would bark. He was tased. He was tackled. He was put in cuffs, both wrists and ankles. He was thrown into the back of a patrol car.

    When the berserk's adrenaline receded... when all had died down... he found himself in a cell. Not prison. Yet. His senses didn't pick up a lot. He couldn't remember a lot, but he wasn't surprised to be here. The last thing he remembered... it was the man. The man who was apparently married to the woman he'd taken out. He remembered the fist meeting his mouth. After that, he remembered something awakening in his brain. Then he remembered his own fists retaliating. He remembered the woman screaming. He remembered the man's blood leaking away on the pavement. Remembered that he wasn't moving anymore.

    And he remembered passing out, and remembering no more.
  16. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    phoenixsharpshooter - Apples and Trees

    Saying thank you, Johnny turned and made his way back down the stairs. Something heavy had been dropped into his bag this time. Maybe it was a real piece of treasure. Or maybe it was an apple. Turning the corner, he met back up with Craig.

    “What’d you get?” Craig asked as soon as he saw his friend.

    Johnny looked into his orange jack-o-lantern bag. He had been right the second time.

    “A stupid ****ing apple.”

    “Again? Man, I hate the people on this block. It isn’t even worth wearing these hot as **** masks if all we’re gonna get is some fruit.”

    Johnny and Craig looked at each other, both at the same time reflecting on how ludicrous they looked, Craig with his Scream mask and robe on, Johnny with his werewolf mask and black robe. Thirteen is an awkward age for many things, Halloween included. The two companions had been indecisive for the past month on whether or not they would actually dress up this year. Finally, their greed for free candy made the decision for them. Now, here they were, four houses down and all they had to show for it were two apples, an orange, and some peppermints.

    They began to walk to the next house. Neither one of them had much hope for what they would find there. Incensed by the smell of cheap rubber and sweat, Johnny spoke up.

    “Hey, you wanna do something fun?”

    “Better than this, you mean?”

    “**** yeah.”

    Craig paused. “Will we get in trouble?”

    Johnny had a mischievous glint in his eye, making the wolf mask look utterly terrifying for a moment. “Only if we get caught.”

    Craig laughed. The sound was oddly hollow coming from behind his ghost face.

    “Okay, what you got in mind?”

    Johnny held a finger to his snarling wolf-mouth, and then ran off toward the woods on the other side of the street. Craig laughed his empty sounding laugh and chased after him.

    Five minutes later, Johnny was sweating far more than he had on the street. It was truly some work jogging through this place at night. His robe kept tripping him up. Brambles kept popping out of seemingly empty space. His face was covered in sweat and the mask felt like a second skin. He was already regretting this decision. Craig, faithful as always, was huffing a few feet behind him.

    “Hey, man, c’mon, where are we going?” Craig panted.

    Johnny had been waiting on him to ask again. Glad for a reason, he stopped. Craig skidded to a stop on the leaves beside him. His specter mask caught the light of the moon shining through the trees, giving him a sinister look. His eyes looked expectantly at Johnny.

    “We’re going to the Hanging Tree.”

    Johnny could see Craig’s eyes grow. Fear, apprehension, whatever had caused the reaction didn’t matter. It made Johnny laugh with mixed humor and excitement. The sound caused Craig’s eyes to look down in embarrassment. Johnny was sure Craig was blushing under that mask. After a moment he looked back up, and this time it was resolve in his expression.

    “You know that place is supposed to be haunted, right?”

    Johnny nodded.

    “And you know that if anything is ever going to happen there, it’s going to happen on Halloween, right?”

    Johnny nodded again.

    Craig sighed. “Alright, well, I’m not gonna let you call me a chicken, so let’s get this over with.”

    Johnny giggled and clapped his friend on the back, then began to move again. It was only about fifteen minutes or so to the famed Hanging Tree, where it was said that hundreds of people had died back before the Civil War. Those hundreds supposedly still walked the lands, but only at midnight, and only to hunt little children they found in their woods. It was the perfect reason for two thirteen-year-olds to go tramping in the woods after dark.

    Ten minutes later, Johnny saw a glow through the trees. They had come quite close to the ancient tree of legend, and it looked as if they indeed had company there. It wasn’t a light that either of them associated with ghosts, however. It looked like the light of a fire. The two boys looked at each other, both coming to a silent agreement, and continued to make their way to the area, although now they were sneaking instead of moving casually. There were worse things in this world than imaginary ghosts.

    As they made their way closer, they began to hear voices. Curiosity had overcome them, and so they went on. The voices sounded happy, at least. A few more feet and they could now confirm that the light came from a rather large fire. Two more strides and they could see people. There were three of them over by the fire, one sitting down, and the other two standing over the one. Johnny looked through his wolf’s mask to Craig, signaled him, and they both crept over to a largish tree a few feet away so that they could see what the intentions of these fellow ghost hunters were.

    They could tell that the three were men. One of the standing guys had begun pacing. After a moment he spoke.

    “Where is it, Donald?”

    The sitting man looked up, sweat causing his face to flicker and shine with the fire.

    “I already told you, Bill, I don’t know what happened to the damned shipment. Carlos was supposed to have it to you on Monday.” Donald was shaking.

    Bill stopped pacing in front of Donald, bent down and looked into the man’s face. “Well, you see, here’s where we have a problem, Donald, because I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you one ****ing bit.” He stood back up straight and turned around. “Ed, grease this son of a whore.”

    “Bill, no! I swear to ****ing God, Bill, this is Carlos’ fault not mi—!” Ed had not been idle during Donald’s pleas. The gunfire was loud. It made Craig scream.

    Both living men by the fire looked directly at where the two boys were hiding. Ed started moving in their direction. He didn’t like witnesses, especially when it was his head on the line.

    Johnny knew what had to happen. He began to run. He didn’t even know if Craig was behind him or still at the tree, but he ran. Tears leaked from his eyes. He knew if he could get away, they would never know he had seen him. He silently thanked his mother for helping him pick out a mask that covered his whole face.

    He heard a shriek behind him. It sounded like Craig. He turned his head around, trying to sneak a look at what was going on behind him. The man called Ed had his gun pointed at Craig. There was another flash and bang. Craig crumpled. Johnny looked back to what was in front of him and tried to run even faster. That was when his foot snagged against the tree root. As he fell, he wondered if it was a root from the Hanging Tree. He saw the ground rushing up at him. He hit the merciless turf, knocking the wind out of him. Struggling to breathe, he rolled over. Ed was standing a few feet away from him. One last time he saw a flash through the eyes of his mask. He heard no bang.
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