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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 159 (March 10-17) Stories. Topic: Micro

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message 1: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lionesserampant) | 2869 comments Interesting topic, Al :D

message 2: by Laszlo (new)

Laszlo (steampunk) | 12 comments False Alarm

It was a time in which when we gaze upon anything we know that although it looked normal, it was horribly deranged and that it was an important factor in killing us all.
Why was this?
There is a phenomenon occurring in the universe right now. It is making it expand, making it grow bigger, and bigger, and bigger, until it gets so big that it collapses upon itself and kills us all. This can happen at any moment, and especially right now. Two years ago, scientists announced that they found that the universe was expanding at an extremely fast rate. At the moment, the universe is huge. The old universe, compared to this one, is micro. And now, with everything getting bigger and bigger because of the expansion, we are closer and closer to the universe turning into a giant black hole, and killing us all. And that will probably hurt. Most people have come to terms with this, and are preparing for it. Trying to call them selves down.
I am buying groceries with my friend. I pick up a box of pasta. "I like that kind of pasta," he says. "Yeah," I say. "It's great. Very great." After buying the groceries, we bring them back to his house, and set them down on the counter. My friend turned on a TV; there was a news broadcast on. We missed the beginning:

"[...] says that the universe has begun to fall back on itself. He believes that it should end in about four hours. This newscaster is wishing you a happy life. Goodbye."

My friend and I didn't respond. We just continued to watch the television, while eating our groceries. We mainly ate bags of chips. We are not sad or frightened. We knew it was coming; just because death is nearer does not mean that it was not there before. Death has also was been there, and always been near. The picture on the TV was just static; the TV was one of the first of us to die. Sad. I ate my chip, and killed it, by cracking its body into millions of little pieces, and then swallowed them, sending them to a place in which they would melt. That must be a harsh death. I looked around his house. It was dark, and there were shelves everywhere with books and DVDs and such. Movie posters were strewn about on the walls, and the computer rested on a small square, multicolored and patched cushion on a wooden desk. It seemed very cold in the house, and I wondered why.
"I think they cut of the heat," said my friend.

Then the TV cut back on:

"We have just gotten word that the end of the universe--it was a FALSE ALARM!"

We didn't get scared, or become mad. We just walked outside, and saw the crowds of people gathering, angry. They didn't know who to get mad at; this was not a hoax, it was a mistake, that many people who would know about the subject agreed with. The only person they could think of to be mad at was humanity itself; it created the idea of the end of the universe being near, and agreed with it. But they couldn't be mad at themselves; they had to blame someone else. It was a paradox. Me and my friend, on the other hand, became bored, so we decided to talk to the crowd. They didn't listen, so we decided to follow the crowd, and see what they would do. They walked to the news station, and stormed inside. They demanded that it was the news casters' fault, even though obviously this idea was preposterous. The news casters' didn't create the theory, they simply supported it. We became bored with this as well, so we went back to my friend's house.

"You know," my friend purposed. "The reason I think these people are scared is because they realize that things like this just happened, and, they feel that they are just ignorant, and that the importance of their lives is micro."

message 3: by Kelsie (new)

Kelsie (elsiekay42) Hi :)

Just wondering, we're not allowed to swear in our stories, right?

message 4: by Edward (new)

Edward (edwardtheresejr) | 2434 comments You can swear a bit. Try to avoid the more vicious swear words (f-bomb, s**t, and obviously the n-word), but "damn," "crap," and "bastard" used sparingly (or to indicate an unusually foul-mouthed character) won't raise any eyebrows here.

message 5: by M (new)

M | 11259 comments And no s-x! Some of us old people have heart conditions.

message 6: by Edward (new)

Edward (edwardtheresejr) | 2434 comments Implied, I think, is permitted, but nothing remotely explicit. I think even chapter ten of my book, where they (view spoiler) would step right over that line.

message 7: by Kelsie (last edited Mar 11, 2013 07:44PM) (new)

Kelsie (elsiekay42) Alright thanks. :)

Also, is there a limit to how.. Erm.. "horrific" our stories are? Because the one I wrote for this is pretty far on the disturbing side... At least, by some peoples standards.

message 8: by Edward (new)

Edward (edwardtheresejr) | 2434 comments Nope. We're pretty horrible people anyway.

message 9: by Kelsie (new)

Kelsie (elsiekay42) Haha alright good to know. XD thanks!

message 10: by Craig (last edited Mar 11, 2013 08:31PM) (new)

Craig | 23 comments 328 words - Craig - Dot your eyes

I reach up to the shelf and pull off another dusty tome. The cloud of particles that come with it make me sneeze loudly, earning me a hush from several nearby staff members. It never fails to surprise me how seriously librarians take the silence rule. If I was choking to death they would probably come and ask me to please die quietly.

I place the book on the desk with more of a thump than is strictly necessary, partially to piss off the librarians, but also to get her to look over. It doesn't work. I idly flip through the pages, pretending I can read the Cyrillic scribbles. I don't know why I picked a Russian book, I suppose I am just trying to impress her. She's not paying any attention to me right now though, she has her nose buried in a book as usual.

I run my finger across the page pretending to read when it catches on something. Curious I pull my finger away and find a tiny black dot. At first I think it's nothing, a simple piece of dirt, but the closer I look the more it appears to be something. I remember back to an old movie I saw years ago, where spies used tiny micro dots to transport sensitive information discretely. Was this one of those dots? What was it doing here? Most importantly of all, how could I read what was on it?

I stare at the dot and wonder how to make it spill its secrets. As I'm thinking this I hear the whir of the microfilm readers and have a brainwave. My female conquest is all but forgotten, I have a new distraction now. I balance the dot on my finger and carefully transport it over to the reader. I carefully place it on the slide and fire up the machine. The screen is fuzzy but it slowly comes into focus. I can hardly believe what appears...

message 11: by Craig (new)

Craig | 23 comments I'm not sure about the beginning/middle/end criteria, assuming I am ok to end on a cliffhanger?

message 12: by Kelsie (new)

Kelsie (elsiekay42) No not yet. But i'm planning on it now. :3

message 13: by Kelsie (new)

Kelsie (elsiekay42) Where can i find them? xD

message 14: by M (last edited Mar 12, 2013 03:53AM) (new)

M | 11259 comments Kelsie, I was kidding. If you want to see how graphic the writing gets here, scan the “Get to Know Your Character” thread or the haiku thread or read the stories posted for the “Seduction” topic (one of the most successful weeks).

message 15: by Kelsie (new)

Kelsie (elsiekay42) Oh thanks so much, i'll definitely go through some of those today :)

message 16: by M (last edited Mar 12, 2013 11:37AM) (new)

M | 11259 comments Craig wrote: “I’m not sure about the beginning/middle/end criteria, assuming I am ok to end on a cliffhanger?”

Craig, I think we came up with that rule because a lot of what was getting posted was stuff that had simply been spit out, with no thought behind it, no structure. For some members (and I’ve been guilty of this) the weekly contest was a place to post installments of a long story, and the rule was set up to put a stop to that (which it didn’t). A short story is completely self-contained.

Not all stories involve conflict, but most do. I read somewhere that a story is a matter of getting the main character up a tree, throwing rocks at him, then finding a way to get him back down. For general purposes, that seems like a pretty good description to me.

message 17: by Craig (new)

Craig | 23 comments Thanks M, that's a great description. I'll leave my first attempt as is for now as I think it's borderline but I'll certainly think about this in future contests.

message 18: by Saira (new)

Saira (herumouni) | 667 comments M wrote: "Kelsie, I was kidding. If you want to see how graphic the writing gets here, scan the “Get to Know Your Character” thread or the haiku thread or read the stories posted for the “Seduction” topic (o..."

Yeah, I surprised myself that week. XD

Not sure about this topic. I'll try something after I finish my history essay.

message 19: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Rogers (tamrogers) | 12 comments M wrote: "Not all stories involve conflict, but most do. I read somewhere that a story is a matter of getting the main character up a tree, throwing rocks at him, then finding a way to get him back down. For general purposes, that seems like a pretty good description to me. "

Love that description - now to find me some big 'ol rocks :)

message 20: by Kelsie (new)

Kelsie (elsiekay42) Gahh I don't know why this topic is so difficult for me. I mean I wrote something, but for some reason, it feels... wrong. When I read it, it's like there's something missing, or something strange, or... I don't know o.O

Maybe because the style is not what I usually do?
I'm not sure...

message 21: by Edward (last edited Mar 14, 2013 04:11PM) (new)

Edward (edwardtheresejr) | 2434 comments What if you have a character that wants to run up a tree?

I'm generally having a hard time coming up with a nice, simple plot I can type out concisely whenever I have a moment. My brain has just been giving me really complicated plots.

I'm sure it'll turn out well, Kelsie. If not, you'll probably learn something and can try again next week a shade stronger.

message 22: by Saira (new)

Saira (herumouni) | 667 comments Nothing's coming to my mind this week. For some reason I keep thinking back to Tuesday and how I ran front line all by myself for an hour, bt I don't see how micro relates to it at all. o.O

message 23: by Tim (last edited Mar 15, 2013 11:05PM) (new)

Tim Protazoa for Breakfast

1270 words

     It was supposed to be an experiment, something educational. I didn't really want Dad to get so sick, I just wanted to know if frogs would grow in his stomach. Maybe I'll never find out.

     In some ways it was his fault anyway. He shouldn't have hit me when he found out I'd stolen a peacock egg from the Game Farm.

     It's not as if I was the only one. And it sure wasn't me who came up with the idea.

     We'd been on a school field trip. There were all kinds of weird animals there, like Kudus and Gnus. But when I laughed out loud at the camel because it looked just like Louise chewing gum, it spat at me. That made Louise laugh, but it was really disgusting and I had to wipe the spit off on Louise's sweater.

     There was a buffalo that took a big steaming dump just as Mr. Sterling was explaining about genocide and deliberate over-hunting, or something boring like that.

     "That's enough, Kevin!" he said when I couldn't stop laughing. But for some reason, that only made me laugh harder. I wanted to stop. Really.

     Mr. Sterling rolled his eyes and announced that maybe we all needed a break. "I hope you brought something other than chips, Kevin."

     How did he know? Sometimes I wonder if adults don't have special powers that allow them to see inside kid's lunch kits and desks and maybe even their heads. Adults are probably aliens.

     Even after a full bag of chips I was still hungry, so I borrowed some of Edgar's lunch. He mostly just had vegetables-- what kind of a lunch is that? He did have one oatmeal cookie, and that was OK. I took a couple of bites of his apple, then ran over to the camel and chucked it at him.

     Mr. Sterling wasn't too impressed. He made me sit by myself in the school bus for almost an hour. I scratched my name on the back of the seat with a paper clip I found on the floor. Kevin the Great.

     Mr. Sterling finally let me out of the bus, but not before giving me a lecture. "Kevin, I'm very disappointed in your behavior. This field trip is a special treat, but it's also supposed to be educational. When you run around and act like an ape you're letting down the whole school, and you're letting me down too. I know things haven't been easy for you at home recently, but you really to have to at least try to behave in a civilized manner."

     I thought he'd never finish. What a grouch. There was only an hour left before we had to get back on the bus again, so I had to make the most of it. I found a piece of yak poo, so I chased Louise with it. It was dry and didn't really smell much, but it sure made Louise scream.

     I caught up with Lyle and Jackie in the poplars beside the road. I told them how Mr. Sterling called me an ape. Pretty soon we were jumping around and tearing branches off the trees, going oo-oo-oo-ah-ah-ah-ah just like in the old Tarzan movies I used to watch when I was home sick with the measles. It was the most fun I had all day.

     Pretty soon we could hear Mr. Sterling calling us back to the bus. Lyle and me had a sword fight with some branches, but Lyle got whacked in the eye and started crying, so that was that. We started heading back to the bus.

     Just then Steven showed up, all hunched over with something hidden under his shirt. "What you got there?" I asked, pretending to punch him.

     "Don't! I've got peacock eggs under here!"

     "Baloney!" I said. But he really did.

     "I've got to keep them warm, so they'll hatch and we can have pet baby peacocks."

     Until that moment I'd never realized that what I wanted almost more than anything in the world was a pet peacock. I imagined it following me around and scaring the neighborhood cats with its tail feathers. I'd call it Larry.

     I told Steven I'd smash all the eggs unless he gave me one. He looked hurt. "I was going to share them anyway," he said. "Jeez!"

     I was sorry I'd threatened him, but I really wanted a pet peacock. Maybe it would cheer up my Mom if there was a peacock perched on the clothesline when she went to hang up the laundry.

     So Steven, Lyle, Jackie and me sneaked the eggs onto the school bus. Jackie almost dropped his when it slipped out from under his shirt, but he caught it just in time. I didn't think anyone noticed, so I was surprised when a few minutes later one of the zookeepers, or whatever you call them, stepped up into the bus.

     He gave us a really stern talking to. I thought he went a bit far. I mean, it's not as if we were stealing anything real. One by one the other guys handed over the eggs, shamefaced. Not me. I wasn't going to abandon Larry so easily.

     "Kevin! Get up her right this instant!" Mr. Sterling was really mad, I could tell because his eyes were bugging out. I sighed and walked up the aisle towards him. I could hear the girls whispering behind their hands.

     "I've had just about enough of you," said Mr. Sterling. "Now hand over that egg. I'm not going to ask you twice."

     I don't know how it happened, but the egg slipped out of my hand and landed on Mr. Sterling's shoe. I was surprised that the inside of a peacock egg looked pretty much like the inside of a chicken egg. I thought the yolk would have been a different color, say, turquoise.

     Mr. Sterling was pretty close to hitting me. Instead, he turned and stepped off the bus. I could see him pacing up and down in the parking lot. He stopped and lit a cigarette, his hands shaking.

     Mr. Sterling never did hit me, but he did yell at us to shut up after the twentieth verse of Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall.

     There were some really great mud puddles on the way home from school. I followed Louise and waited until she was walking past a really big one and I ran up and jumped in it, splashing her with lots of chocolatey water. She slapped my face, hard. You're not supposed to hit girls, so I didn't. I kicked her instead.

     Then I had to run because Louise and her two friends were after me, and they're real mean.

     I was out of breath when I got home, but I was safe. I decided to check out how my tadpoles were doing. The water in the pickle jar was pretty cloudy and it didn't smell great, but a couple of the tadpoles had sprouted legs. It was a miracle!

     I ran to the living room to show Dad. Dad needed cheering up since he'd lost his job. A miracle was what he needed.

     Too bad Mr. Sterling had phoned our house. What a fink. If I ever grow up to be an adult, I won't be a fink.

     Dad took off his belt slowly. I hate that. It wouldn't hurt so much if he took it off faster, I bet.

     I concentrated on my tadpoles as he whipped me. They were swimming around as if nothing was new, as if they grew legs every day.

message 24: by Kelsie (last edited Mar 17, 2013 09:20AM) (new)

Kelsie (elsiekay42) Microbots 2000
1,491 words

“Tired of sweeping, vacuuming, and dusting? With the new Microbots 2000, cleaning a house has never been easier!” I glanced up at the TV in time to catch a glimpse of a young adult male with a forced smile plastered onto his face. The screen then dissolved into a white image that appeared to be nothing. “One Microbot is approximately five micrometers wide, making them invisible to the human eye. However, when travelling in a swarm-” the screen suddenly displayed a gray amorphous cloud hovering in the air “-they’re hard to miss! Each Microbot has been fitted with a superior intelligence card that allows them to identify and pick up every single piece of dirt and dust in your house before properly disposing them into the designated bins. Each swarm contains a special communication channel within them that allows them to wirelessly signal each other to maintain the form of their group. These little bots have the ability to take the shape of any object!” I muted it just as the salesman began to explain the various shapes the cloud could make. I tried to focus on the English assignment that was due the next day, but before I could get anything done, my college brother Richie burst through the front door, singing loudly with his arms full of my mother’s groceries for the day. He rummaged around in one of the bags and pulled out a long, narrow box, grinning.

“Look what mom got,” he said, waving it in front of my face. I widened my eyes as I tried to distinguish the words through the blurry movement, but after struggling for a moment or two, I angrily reached out and grabbed his hand, steadying it. On the pale, yellow box was the phrase “Microbots 2000”, printed in an elegant, light-blue script.

“Oh god,” I exclaimed. “Don’t tell me you guys actually believe in that crap.” He frowned at me.

“Well think of it this way- less chores for us,” he replied, annoyed and disappointed at my lack of interest. I sighed and carried my books upstairs, hoping to finish my work before nightfall.

* * * * *

After about a week or so, I found myself accustomed to the Microbots’ presence in the house, and after watching them for quite some time, I had to admit they were pretty damn cool. I couldn’t help but admire them as they skillfully zoomed throughout the house, easily molding themselves around every piece of furniture. They worked diligently as a unified mob of thousands of microscopic robots, somehow flowing freely through the air while still managing to remain as one entity. As I admired them I couldn’t help but also grow to respect them. They reminded me of little, hardworking people who dedicated their entire lives to cleaning some stranger’s house. In a way, it sounded sort of weird but it was true. My brother, however, felt differently.

I was walking past his room the other day when I heard him say “You stupid bots”. I turned back quickly and ran to the doorway just in time to watch him viciously throw a large textbook through the swarm. The Microbots emitted a scream, a screeching high pitched sound filled with terror that sent chills through my body. Richie laughed as he watched the disoriented swarm try to reconnect. He tossed a tennis ball in his hand, waiting.

“Richie, you’re such a jerk,” I snarled, snatching the ball away from him.

“What?” he said angrily. He made a lunge for the ball but I quickly dodged him and hid it behind me.

“Why are you throwing things at them?” I shouted.

“What’s the big deal?” he said, exasperated. “They’re just robots.”

“They’re robots with an IQ higher than yours,” I responded. “Just because they’re not human doesn’t mean you can torture them whenever you feel like it.” He stared at me, horrified.

“You sound like an idiot,” he said. “They’re just machines. Man-made things. You know, like cars and ATM’s and stuff.”

I shook my head. “I don’t think so. Even if that’s the case, show some appreciation for things. This isn’t how you’d treat an Xbox or a PS3.”

“Those things are priceless,” he retorted. “Now get the hell out of my room.” As he turned his back to me, he picked up a Nerf football from the side of his desk and tossed it, with a mischievous chortle, into the bewildered mass.

* * * * *

I opened my eyes and checked the clock; 1:17am. Groaning, I sat up and stretched, annoyed at myself for not having the sense to go to the bathroom before bed. I quietly tiptoed out of my room and into the upstairs bathroom, trying as hard as I could not to wake my sleeping parents or brother. I felt around along the side of the wall for the light switch and flipped it on, wincing as the bathroom flooded with excruciating brightness. Out in the hall, I heard a slight hum that gradually grew louder, and I could recognize the distinctive high pitch from the Microbots as they passed by the room. Weird, I said to myself, I thought they were dormant at night. Confused, I opened the door and peered out into the eerie blackness. I was unable to see the swarm but, listening furiously, I was able to hear its faint hum down the hall. Then, I heard a quick, sharp click, and off to the right I watched Richie’s room door slowly creak open, the faint green glow of his alarm clock barely shining through the crack. I stood there, frozen, as a shadowy blur sluggishly passed over the light. The door then suddenly closed with a snap and the humming was gone. Heart pounding, I took a deep breath and headed towards Richie’s room. My ears were ringing from the piercing silence, and as I approached the door, stretching my hand out to turn the knob, I picked up the sound of the high pitched humming again. This time, however, I could vaguely make out a series of other beeping, some high and some low, and as I listened to the exchange for a moment it suddenly dawned on me; they were talking. Or maybe not talking, I thought, but communicating in some strange way. I shook my head, overwhelmed by this discovery and slightly ashamed of not noticing it before. I opened the door and turned on the light, and as the room became washed in a yellow-white glow, I was able to watch the swarm of Microbots fly full speed at Richie. They quickly formed around his entire body, giving him the appearance of a vibrating silhouette.

“Richie!” I yelled. He jumped up at the sound of my voice.

“What?” He glanced down at his body, covered with the bots, and in a shaky voice he asked, “What’s going on?”

Before I could say anything, he let out a scream filled with agony and pain. Tears began sliding down my cheeks.

“Richie!” I cried, running to his side. I stared in horror as the Microbots sank into his skin; they dissolved through easily and effortlessly, as if he were made of putty. He was still screaming and thrashing around, and as I sat there sobbing trying to figure out what to do the Microbots suddenly materialized from within him and flew into a corner of the room. Richie lay still on the bed, and I looked at him, terrified. I watched his skin gradually shift into a dark, murky red as blood oozed from the miniscule holes in his body. Out in the hall, I could hear my parents running from their bedroom.

“What’s going on in-” began my father, freezing mid-sentence in the doorway. My mother came in a second behind him, took one look into the room, and screamed.

“Oh my god!” she yelled. “Quick! Call the police! Call the hospital! Get an ambulance here now!” My dad ran quickly out of the room and down the stairs to the phone while my mom rushed over to Richie’s bedside. She grabbed his hand and pressed it to her face, rocking back and forth as she let out large body shaking sobs.

“Oh Richie,” She cried. “My baby, my son. I’m so sorry, this is all my fault. I’m sorry.”

I sat beside her and buried my face in her shoulder, bawling. The tears gushed from my eyes, showering my face and drenching the top half of my shirt. I didn’t know what to think, or what to say, or what to do. As I sat there sniffling, my left ear picked up a familiar high pitched hum from the corner of the room, and looking up I caught a glimpse of the gray cloud of the Microbots 2000 before they quietly drifted their way out through the open window and into the obscure night.

message 25: by Nicholas (new)

Nicholas Tellis He had been tinkering with his little friend for a few days now, long days that seemed to stretch forever as he worked diligently. His friend was a portal. This portal that he had created himself, was his only friend when it came to work. It was a physicist with a specialty in Astro-physics and Higher Mathematics. He named his friend X1-PQR, or Franklin for short. He discovered that Franklin was a portal to the Mircoverse. In it was a realm that which had not yet be seen by anyone but the Physicist. He felt such great joy about his friend, and his work that contributed into this great discovery.
"Oh Franklin, we are going to change everything together. Everyone will want to get a piece of you" he laughed as he spoke. Franklin was his only friend since the beginning.
Many years previous the Physicist was on the verge of something great, the creation of a doorway to another dimension. One of which would show them the many parallel worlds that of which to draw upon the energy disperse from it to use as a means of ending the energy crisis.
"As you see my follow colleagues, with this doorway we will be able to harness the full potential of the energy being released to fuel the world forever. In doing so we will be able to travel between universes and study the great multiverse." He said with determination, having worked on his project for so long, that most deemed him irrational and egotistical in his search.
"Your theories are sound, but we cannot take such a risk. What you have outlined for us is undeniable and unethical in its pursuit." One colleague spoke with a wavering voice, he glanced at the other men in the room. They all nodded in turn. "It is with this group of members that we deny you such and request all materials and documentation to be turned over for further study. We also hear by restrict your access until such time as we can fully understand the avenues you have brought before us. This is ground breaking work, but we must study it further for safety."
The Physicist stood frozen, betrayed, and fueled with hate. The board members all stood say one, and left. The last one sat looking at the Physicist with his eyes sincere. But behind them stood a look of horror. The Physicist left the board room, returned to his lab, and turned on the doorway. He had defied all of them in his search to be not the greatest, but the man who would bring an end to a great demand. He smiled at his creation as it began to breathe life into the inner workings of it. A low hum began, slowly, then bellowed into a roar. The panels near it shook, sparked, fuses blew out of them, and lights exploded. The doorway opened and a deep blue vortex erupted open. The look of horror and wonder became of him. He gazed at his beautiful creation as the lab began to shake and fall apart. Small items that weren’t attached to anything flew in and disappeared with a small white flash and “boop” sound. The Physicist looked still at his work as it came to life.
This was many years ago. So long it had been since the event, so long ago that his own creation came into being and sucked the lab and parts of the building into it that had been destroyed in the event, but no one knew what had happen. When the aftermath of the breach happened, it calmed after a few moments later when enough material had entered the vortex to feed its birth into our verse. The good Physicist was one of the many casualties in the building, though he wasn't dead, no not at all. He was just at the right spot at the right time to be the one to enter first and come out into the Mircoverse and live. There he would spend his remaining days hunched over smaller vortexes that lived there, these small and harmless ones were his prize, his life's work. He had found his friend, has new family in the kingdom of silence.

message 26: by Tim (new)

Tim I really enjoyed Microbots 2000. What a fun idea!

message 27: by Kelsie (new)

Kelsie (elsiekay42) Thanks! :)

message 28: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Mornington | 39 comments Pay-back Words:497

There once was a little girl in a little world surrounded by big people. Henrietta was born small, and never really grew to her expected height. By her 16th birthday, she was only 1m 40, and wasn’t expected to grow any taller. She was happy with her life. She didn’t mind being smaller than everyone else; it just meant that the world was a lot more interesting to her. She saw things other people couldn’t, and it just generally seemed like a lot more fun. But not many people understood this, especially not the ones in her year level. Up until this age, she had enjoyed being short, but now, she prayed every night that she would grow, but always woke up the same height. They would taunt her, calling her Shorty and Midget, names that weren’t very imaginative, but still hurt. /

/One day, as she was walking to class, a group of her classmates called out to her. She turned and smiled her cute little smile, but it faltered when they started talking to her. “How does it feel to have your head so close to your feet? It must suck to have to smell your stinky feet day in and day out.” One of them said. They kept jeering at her, but she stopped listening. All she could hear was her heart pounding in her ears. The leader of their group, a male named Jackson, was about to call something, when he suddenly noticed her glaring at him. He looked a bit shocked, even a bit scared, and then Henrietta let it all go. “You think it is funny to make fun of people who are shorter than you?!” She roared. “Well fine then. You try being the short ones for once. As God is my witness, you will feel the pain that I feel right now within 24 hours.” She grinned menacingly. “See you later...or not.” She said, as she walked off. The group of kids stared at each other and burst out laughing, unaware of what was about to come to them./

/Returning home from school, Suzie heard her phone ring, and pulled it out of her pocket to find it was her friend, Karen. Answering it, she began laughing. “I know, right? It was hilarious. The midget freak, trying to be threatening? As if I’m scared of her.” When the call was over, Suzie put her phone down on the bench, only to find her phone had gotten bigger. ‘What the...’ She thought as the table started growing. “Oh, dear lord!” She cried. She had started to shrink, and didn’t stop until she was only 30cm tall. She screamed, only to realise that there was no one around to save her. Suddenly, her front door was pushed open, and in stepped none other than Henrietta. Realisation flowed over Suzie./

/“Hey.” Henrietta said, picking the tiny girl up and laughing at her. “I told you I would make you feel my pain.”

message 29: by Gerardo (last edited Mar 17, 2013 09:24AM) (new)

Gerardo | 222 comments Title: Ale Asylum
Words: 1,965

He held the glass above his head, the light passed through the auburn liquid, a fizz of bubbles bounced about within the glass like fine champagne. He brought the glass to his nose, soaked it in, and took a long sip. A burn seared his throat as it went down, overcoming his mouth and numbing his tongue. Warmth hugged his insides like a winter coat, but he exhibited frustration. The recipe was not yet complete
“A little something missing,” the man said, pouring the glass down the sink.
Alfred Stone stood alone inside the cream brick building of Stone’s Brewery, the best microbrewery in Wisconsin, and worked towards his masterpiece. He looked at photographs of rugged loggers, butchers, and mustachioed fur traders that lined the walls of the tasting room, seeking inspiration. Above the fireplace, a quote from his father was sketched into the wall. A picture his father rested just below.
“Put yourself into your work, and you will always succeed,” read the quote, a simple idea that was ingrained within Alfred’s soul.
Alfred Stone, owner of Stone’s Brewery looked out the large window overlooking the Macabre Valley River. He watched as it snaked along below, forming a beeline toward his brewery and as sharp as it came in, it directed southwest towards Minneapolis. He admired the north woods, evergreen as always, lining the river, standing like quiet giants watching the waters flow by like a funeral procession. He thought of the many times he toasted his father and admired this view, and how it would never return.
Alfred Stone had not chosen this life of brewing, but it in fact chose him. Despite attending university, attaining various degrees, the man felt the calling well within his body and returned home. He worked with his father creating the finest of ales, the robust, flavorful kind that the most discriminating pallet appreciated. Alfred was a natural, and he knew it. His life could have taken any number of directions, but he felt that there was no other way. Writers write, composers compose, and brewers brew, until it consumes them. He had no choice; it was just what he was meant to do.
Outside, winds picked up and howled like rebel cowboys in a saloon. He heard that a blizzard was on its way. Despite the weather, Alfred would not be seeking safety. His father had passed on almost a month before and Alfred took it upon himself to shut down production until he created the finest of brews that would memorialize Mr. Stone.
“Put yourself into your work, and you will always succeed,” the words of his father echoed within the empty brewery.
Alfred had decided that for the recipe to be created with great faith, honesty, and passion required for a memorial drink, that he would be the only one that would work on it, putting himself entirely into the process. The ale would have to be so hearty with flavor that his father’s spirit would taste it.
The process was long and arduous. It required patience and a cunning determination. Alfred remembered learning from his father. He remembered the long nights, how the mash could singe your eyebrows off during the cooking. He remembered how the fermentations smelled the first time, sour and sticky, unlike anything else.
His father had created the brewery, and as Alfred returned home, they created masterpiece after masterpiece, achieving numerous awards and praise, and through philanthropy, brought the town back to a vibrancy it had lost. With his father gone, Alfred felt a lull within his hometown, and thought perhaps the memorial ale would be uplifting.
Alfred worked through the winter, hoping that the recipe would strike him like an arrow, but nothing seemed to work. Ideas came and went, nothing stuck.
“The key is in the waters,” his father always emphasized.
The Macabre Valley River was some of the coldest water in the world, his father believed, and therefore allowed the brewery to create concoctions that would never work anywhere else. The waters forced hard flavor out of various ingredients. Ingredients and recipes were used that most brewers would not attempt, but the waters were able to manipulate the ingredients in the most tactful ways, creating marvelous products year in and out.
Time passed with the flowing waters of the river. The moon rose and illuminated the landscape, mixing with the forest, creating a creamy, dark green. Alfred Stone heard the swift rush of winds scratching at the large wooden doors and a fluster of insecurity and fear trickled down his spine. He sat in his chair, disgusted and fatigued at his inability as a craftsman to create anything worth memorializing his father.
Losing time, and losing energy, Alfred stepped outside to walk to MctTee’s General store. The air was filled with Mount Everest cold and silence to match. Most of the town was nestled into their homes, stoking fires, eating stew, and drinking ale that he created.
A glowing light from the old white building showed that McTee’s was still open for business. A gust of wind ushered Alfred inside with an unexpected bump. Dom McTee stood at the counter and eyed Alfred as he entered.
“Closing in fifteen minutes, sir,” Dom said.
Alfred lifted his head and nodded, “I know, Dom. Just need some cigarettes,” he explained.
“Chrissakes, Al, I didn’t recognize you,” Dom said with a weighty surprise. He eyed Alfred’s ragged, gaunt face, looking like a defeated soldier at the end of war.
“Carton of cigarettes,” Alfred said. He noticed Dom’s concerned look and felt the need to a get a move on.
“Sure you don’t want anything else, Al? I have sandwiches in the cooler, some fruit, maybe some milk? You’re looking like you could use a hot meal,” Dom McTee encouraged. He saw agony upon the weary man’s face.
Alfred waved him off and said, “Just the cigarettes, please.”
Dom made the transaction and Alfred went on his way. Back in the elements, Alfred began his walk back to the brewery. As he walked, a sudden howl echoed across the land and Alfred caught the glimpse of an image dashing off into the forest. A wolf, possibly, but he also recalled some words his father had expressed to him years before.
“This is old Native Burial land, Al. The wandering spirits always make their presence known in times of trouble. Usually, I make the best beer after seeing a spirit. It always happens when I’m struggling. When the world feels like a mad place. I don’t know why it happens that way; maybe they like the beer.”
Alfred stood inside the empty brewery and felt the bite of the winter chill against his nose, ears, and hands. He stoked a fire in the stone fireplace and added some logs and kindling. He admired the prominent fireplace, large and powerful, warming the entire bar area. He filled a glass of fine ale and sat in the bar, smoking and stretching out his thoughts. Ideas floated, but nothing he caught sparked flames. He was a defeated man near the end of his rope, feeling like a disappointment to the man whose remains rested atop the fireplace. The man felt his insides burning up along with his muse.
“Always use natural ingredients,” another expression his father emphasized. It was scrawled on the glass from which Alfred drank. A thought entered his mind, but he laughed it away.
Alfred Stone puffed away on his cigarette and drank the ale fast. He poured himself two more. Outside the large windows, flakes fell and blanketed the town. The fire burned, the winds beat against the windows like drums. Odd sounds emanated from the wilderness and Alfred Stone became soggy and lightheaded from his drinks.
As he lit another cigarette, burning through an entire package in an hour, he let the ember grow until it cracked and dropped into his glass. He watched the ember mix in with his drink, and decided to take a gulp. It was hearty, it burned, but the flavor was…unique. The river waters worked their magic, masking the dirty flavor of the ash.
A mad fury of ideas rushed Alfred’s mind. He went to his desk, reviewed his old ideas, plotlines without endings, and a hideous thought arose within him. He looked at the fireplace and a smile spread across his face.
Alfred Stone worked like a dog over the next several days. He bandied about the brewery, his mind at ease. The town was frozen in time after the blizzard and Alfred felt that his muse had finally returned. The spring would bring rejuvenation.
Spring rolled in with a hearty pleasantry. The brewery had a re-opening ceremony, and Alfred would be putting on display his latest creation. The entire town gathered for the celebration at Stone’s Brewery. Whispers of the new drink drifted throughout the crowd. Anticipation was heavy amongst the attendees.
“It was a cold winter. My body has not fully recovered yet, but in the midst of the turmoil, a child was born,” Alfred explained.
The crowed quieted.
“To preserve my father’s memory, I wanted to craft a well thought out, exquisitely designed, recipe that would pay homage to the legacy that he built within this community. It was my father’s dream to make this town a better place. He did it through the gains made in this brewery, and I knew that when he passed, only the finest, exclusive of crafts would suffice to appropriately memorialize him. He lived by the motto, ‘Put yourself into your work and you will always succeed’. So I chose to do just that. We all lost a part of ourselves when my father passed away, and today, I give a part of him back to you! I present you, ‘Stone’s Fire Stout!”
The crowd cheered. They hooted and hollered. The bottle was a large pint and a half of dark, black liquid. On the bottle, the stout was described as robust, flavorful, and filled with the heart and soul of a man that felt beer was not only a drink, but also a way of life. The face of Mr. Stone toasting friends was spread across the label. It was a fine product.
As the celebration went on, Alfred Stone received high praise. He felt camaraderie of souls throughout the day and his face was relaxed and filled with joy. The craftsman had struck gold once again. Along with the memorial stout, two more new brews were created, and these were for immediate mass production. They would go on to become two of the most treasured and celebrated ales in Stone’s Brewery history.
And with the celebration, the citizens of Macabre Falls brought in the joy of spring, the feelings that the doldrums of winter were well behind. They knew only the happiness of that moment, of that day, of that hour. Underlying fearful thoughts and worries were buried and hidden behind wall-cracked joy.
For on that spring day, in the midst of all the celebration, within the microbrewery, in plain sight of the world, and plain view of all patrons was a prominent fireplace. Above, a picture of Mr. Edward Stone, and below, a stone urn filled with emptiness. Though, nobody would address it, for they certainly did not know nor would assume it, but it was a thought that drifted in and out of the minds of some of the citizens of Macabre Falls.
The urn, the resting place of a man that was so cherished within the community sat empty on the fireplace, ashes dissipated into thick liquid. And Alfred knew, he always did. Writers write, composers compose, and brewers brew, until it consumes them, or they are consumed.
“Put yourself into your work, and you will always succeed.”

message 30: by Kelsie (new)

Kelsie (elsiekay42) I really liked Ale Asylum, Gary :D It had a nice twist at the end. Nice job! :)

message 31: by Gerardo (last edited Mar 17, 2013 09:49AM) (new)

Gerardo | 222 comments Thanks, Kelsie. I appreciate it. Your microbots will keep me up at night. They reminded me of the little guys from the film, "Batteries Not Included," but much more sinister.

message 32: by Craig (new)

Craig | 23 comments Now I really want to watch batteries not included!

message 33: by Kelsie (new)

Kelsie (elsiekay42) Me too xD

message 34: by M (new)

M | 11259 comments Hear ye! Hear ye! All pirates of the W.S.S. The Week 159 polls are up. Cast your votes!


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