High Priestess Vathi

I breathe a great sigh of relief as the two policemen walk straight past me. My ceremonial robes are hidden under these peculiar clothes I acquired from the Shopping Mall, but sometimes law enforcers have a way of sniffing out trouble. Like a bloodhound and a freshly buried corpse. This won’t be like Hastings, though. There will be bodies, of course. Many, many, bodies. But it’s already too late to do anything about it.

I pull my canvas satchel from the rack above my head. A few of the goatblood candles drop and roll along the floor. Some of the sheep stare at me. A young boy sitting with his mother smiles at me and passes back the candle that rolled to his feet. I snatch it back, snarling. Fool. Soon there will be no more smiling. The rain of blood and fire and madness that -

“Your dress is pretty. What are the marks on your face?”

My hand goes up to the freshly carved tattoo on my cheek. I slap him hard across his. The mother stands up, shouting. The police hear the disturbance and turn around. I reach into my satchel for the ritual dagger.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Nancy and Melisa Vicente

Why would these two ordinary teenagers be concealing bright red top-hats in their school bags? Why did they bunk class to research a band from a different era? Why did they choose to sit with the man dressed as a Walrus and the mother with the red hippy skirt and the Lennon spectacles?  Why are they listening so intently to the audio-stream from their phones?

It started last night, in Toronto, on the streamed version of CHUM Rock Radio. The DJ felt strongly about the Rolling Stones cover story: “The Stupidest Song of All Time?”  He felt the playful inanity of the Beatle’s “I am the Walrus” should be celebrated not mocked. By the end of the show he had two hundred locals signed up to dress-up Beatle’s style and sing it live at their studios the next day.

Three hours later, when #iamthewalrussingalong started trending, it had become clear no one wanted to be left out. The meme had taken hold: pictures of people cutting their hair and sewing outfits flooded the net, planning and meet-up threads were created, techies stayed late to beef up the streaming-proxies.

Even now the DJ seemed over-awed at his creation: “There must be a thousand people in our building right now, the crowd is really excited and the outfits amazing. I’m looking at a webcam in St Petersburg, seems those Russian Cos-folk have been drinking since sundown. Hope those of you out in public are ready for this, we got six minutes to go here…”

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Constable Bill Collington

“Collie, this is a damned waste of time.”
“Yes, Sarge.” No, Sarge, damn it, Sarge.
“That was one hysterical broad, lad. Those tips have a way of not panning out.”
“If you say so, Sarge.” You know what you are, Sarge. A Little City Policeman, sitting in his row. Like she said, now I think about it. Ten years on the force and you’re nowhere, ‘sarge’, and you know why? Because you’re one lazy bastard. One lazy, witless -
“Say, Collie, isn’t that our friend Reggie? Drunk as life and bothering the passengers, wouldn’t you say? Let’s do these nice people a favour and escort his royal Reggieness off this train, what do you say, Collie? Hey?”
“Yes. Sarge. Sure thing.” Sure thing, Sarge, let’s ignore the tip off about a mad bomber on this train, let’s just leave all these people to die horribly, Sarge. We’ll have saved them from the drunk though, right, Sarge? Might get a commendation for that, oh yes.
“Crazy tip, anyway. Singing that nonsense Beatles tune. Lady may have had a drink or two herself, Collie, hey? Collie? What on earth are you staring at over there? Collie?”
I am the walrus. Coo fucking choo.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Mr Grey

Why do I always get the terrible assignments? Why do I always get sent to the backwaters? Without transport, too. Forced to ride these filthy meat wagons with all the locals. The one next to me jumps up and runs off down the carriage, leaving a cloud of ethanol fumes in his wake. The one that was changing colour suddenly erupts, pouring his stomach contents over another one. This is so disgusting. I can’t wait to get out of here.

My suit is awful, too. It barely fits. It feels stretched in every direction. I know the number of suits that Head Office has is limited, but there must have been a better fit for me than this. I feel like it could pop off of me at any moment, and then I’d be in real trouble. The paperwork alone would keep me in the office for months.

Next time I’m going to be specific on my forms: no human planets. I just can’t take the smell.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | 1 Comment

Walter Millian

Walter Millian had not expected to have a good day. He had expected to go to a picnic, with children, and do some good for charity. He would have preferred to be at home with a good mystery novel but, for the sake of another, he had agreed to attend the ‘Looking Glass Benefit Picnic’.

He knew he would wear the walrus suit, but he thought his carpenter would be with him. He had expected to return in his expertly-tuned Jaguar. He had not expected to be using public transport.

Despite all this he is completely composed. His legal experience has given him that power. Even when a drunk points straight at him and slurs meaningless aggression he retains a look of controlled disinterest. That same look could be seen two hours before when the carpenter screamed her accusations and stormed off in his Jaguar.

This practiced confidence ensures the adults ignore his strange attire but the children cannot hide their reactions. A toddler opposite keeps pulling away from mother’s red skirt and reaching toward him – openly curious about the make-up on his face. The two teens in the corner cannot suppress their giggles as they furtively glance towards him.

Walter doesn’t notice them; and if he did he wouldn’t care. He just sits wondering whether she’ll be home when he gets there.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Wendale Winters

I stare directly at the button. If I stay very still and don’t move my eyes I can almost disappear. A small, black, plastic button: four holes, chipped on the top edge, red criss-crossed cotton loops fraying slightly – totally unexciting. But my eyes keep drifting to the tie, and that just makes me want to throw up.

The nausea comes in waves. Don’t think about it, calm distraction instead. My name means ‘traveller’. My parents toured the world in their youth and wanted to share it with their first born. But I was never to enjoy a holiday. An unusually severe case of Kinetosis the specialists agree: vehicles make me puke.

My eyes drift over that awful tie again. I feel the sweat breaking out across my back and the blood running from my face. Perhaps I can get to the bathroom in time. God, I hate this.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | 2 Comments

Maggie Richards

This is just ridiculous. I mean, surely someone this… large… well, he’s just not suitable for public transport. Sir, your enormous left buttock – could you perhaps shift your giant – oh, for goodness sake. There is just no way to say it, is there?

How about giving your seat to that poor old woman standing. It’s only proper. She must be sixty, it would only be right. Fifty five at least, anyway, and she hasn’t been taking care of herself. What a wreck.

Lord, this place, these people. I shall tell Robert we need to get a car. It’s just silly, using trains. At our age. It’s just not right. Half squashed, practically suffocating. Somebody should really say something to him. It’s not right taking up all this space.

Somebody should really say something.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | 2 Comments

Sir Reginald

The walrus is staring at me again, with those beady little eyes. What does it want? I just want to be left alone. I pull my robes around me a little tighter, trying to keep out the cold of its stare.

Oh no. Further down the carriage: blue boys, with their big, tall, heads. The Queen must have sent them after me again. Dammit, woman, I told you it’s over between us! She just can’t let go, you know. Sentimental old bat.

I take another swig, crumpling the brown paper bag.

“Not this time, boys!” I shout, taking off down the carriage.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train, Projects | 2 Comments

From Arris to Wall Dormer

272

Those architects have a lot of (very) funny-sounding names for (quite) funny-looking bits of buildings.
In the spirit of The Meaning of Liff (and it’s many spin-offs and brethren), I think we should take back those words, make them our own again, dagnabbit!

The Architectural Element Stubs category of Wikipedia is a goldmine of the WhosAWhatNow of architectural terms. And I’ll take my Dais to the Newel of anyone who disagrees. That’ll wipe the Squinch off their face.

If that doesn’t float your boat, there’s always the mainstream Glossary of Architecture for your Doric Flushwork or Arris Spandrels.

Excuse me, I must go and shower now.

p.s. short and sharp Project.
Time: two weeks.
Words: 100 per item.
Items: at least one per week.

Posted in 2011-12-19 to 2012-01-08, Pitches | 1 Comment

Get a Clue(do)

Cluedo

In my country, we call it Cluedo. In the uncivilised world, it is called Clue. The game of murder that’s fun for all the family! :D

You pick a person, a piece, and a place, and write a story in about 250 words in two weeks. The only constraint is that it should not involve murder.
Each one of the characters should have one story each.

The people

  • Miss Scarlett
  • Colonel Mustard
  • Mrs. White
  • Reverend Green
  • Mrs. Peacock
  • Professor Plum
The pieces

  • Candlestick
  • Dagger
  • Lead Pipe
  • Revolver
  • Rope
  • Spanner
The places

  • Kitchen
  • Ballroom
  • Conservatory
  • Cellar
  • Library
  • Study
Posted in 2012-02-13 to 2012-03-11, Pitches | Comments Off

The Restoration

My mother was a throwback, a person from a different time – the final rebel in humanity’s smallest generation. They all made her pay for it of course: most with ostracism, but some with their compassionate understanding of her moral weakness. After her suicide they told me to rejoice that she had finally found moral clarity.

I was alone after that. But I had always been the only child: I was used to being alone.

It wasn’t just my mother’s pro-humanist beliefs that were anachronistic, almost all her out-time was spent researching the twenty-first century: text works , flatties, old reality-stores, music  and whatever other junk she could lay her hands on. I grew up with that stuff all around; and I have to tell you: those pre-rational folk were obsessed with their own deaths.

Any disaster imaginable was played out in their fiction: nuclear war, biological agents, the sun going super nova, rising sea levels, catastrophic climate change, monsters from the deep and alien invaders. I spent my childhood watching those ancient flatties, disaster films they called them. Their far-fetched dooms were so romantic, their heroes so brave in the face of annihilation.

But they never imagined the truth, not a single surviving work of fiction from their time predicts the Restoration Movement. Until recently I had assumed the idea of voluntary extinction was completely beyond their moral reach, but I found an old store in my mother’s stuff: a semantically indexed copy of their ‘internet’ (a PubStorage precursor). I learnt a few things. I read about those at Masada who chose death out of principle a thousand years before. I read first of their suicide cults and later of death cults and I realised it was more than just their fiction, they felt it in their hearts – already they wished for the peace of absence.

 

And I also found VHEMT, the ‘Voluntary Human Extinction Movement’, founded in the late twentieth century. I suppose it was a kind of joke, an idea more than anything else, intended to be thought provoking, certainly not world changing.  Its authors may not have taken it seriously but they understood the first question of the Restoration, “Would it be better if we weren’t?”

 

And they were the first to look with rational eyes and answer: “Yes.”

 

It was two centuries before those ideas really took hold: the culture of parenting ran. It’s hard to remember that in the beginning the Restorationists were the freaks, their ideas threatening, and the breeders were the vast amoral majority. For years even non-violent Restorationist groups were persecuted but the truth of their basic beliefs couldn’t be repressed. Humanity had lifted its gaze above mere survival and found a greater measure against which to judge its actions.

 

After forests and the wolves had returned to Europe it was easier – we had caught a glimpse of the post-restoration world and in it we had seen absolution.

 

I am the youngest of the last generation and our species will end not like an old flattie: there will be no screaming terror; no heroic last stand; nor any outpost of hopeful survivors. We will leave this place in the quiet knowledge that in our final wisdom we have striven to be better than we might have been.

 

 

Posted in 2011-08-01 to 2011-08-14 - Alternapocalypse | 2 Comments

Good Neighbours

Court recording #32YYT1.B

In attendance: Honourable Judge Augustus Dreyer (AD); The Defendant, Mr Milo Miernik (MM); His Counsel, Advocate Howard Hetter (HH); and State Prosecutor, Genevra Rays (GR).

AD: “And how does the defendant plead?”

HH: “Your Honour, my client, Mr Miernik, pleads innocent. The damage was clearly self-inflicted.”

AD: “A suicide. Indeed. Well, have a seat, everyone. Prosecution, the floor is yours.”

GR: “Prosecution enters Exhibit A.”

AD: “Thank you, Ms Rays. Let the record show that Exhibit A is a blackened lump of uncertain composition, approximately 15cm in diameter. Ms Rays?”

GR: “Your Honour, evidence is going to be very thin on the ground given the nature of the crime. Exhibit A represents the largest remnant of the victim we have been able to find. May I now question the Defendant?”

AD: “Please, go ahead.”

GR: “Mr Miernik, where were you on the evening of March 8th?”

MM: “I was in Orchard Grove, Chicago. Visiting Al Robinson at his home.”

GR: “What was the reason for your visit?”

MM: “I was introducing myself to my new neighbour. I had just moved into the area.”

GR: “What transpired during your visit?”

MM: “Robinson was in real estate, so we bonded about that, you know? It’s a tough gig.”

GR: “Mr Miernik, for the record: did you have an interest in Mr Robinson’s property?”

HH: “Objection, this was clearly a social visit! Mr Miernik’s work assignments surely have nothing to do with…”

AD: “Denied. We are working on a motive here, Hetter. Mr Miernik, answer the question.”

MM: “It’s fine, Howard… My company, Universal Reality, is indeed very interested in a number of properties in the area.”

GR: “Did you discuss this with Mr Robinson?”

MM: “No, it was just a social call.”

GR: “So you did not offer him anything?”

MM: “I did loan him a number of items, if that is what you are driving at. Neighbourly like.”

GR: “Would you list those items please?”

MM: “Let’s see… A Level 7 Teleporter. A compact atomic “Annihilator” Raygun. An antimatter conversion engine, Level 5. And a Dimensional Shift Generator, Black Hole powered, very nice.”

GR: “Your Honour, let it be entered that analysis of Exhibit A is consistent with the use of the above items in conjunction with one another.”

MM: “Well, that was a bit silly of him…”

GR: “Mr Miernik, why did you hand these advanced artefacts to Mr Robinson?”

MM: “ Let’s see. He complained about his commute… he worried about the crime… he said he hated clutter… and needed to clear leaves off his driveway. Yes, that’s about it. Just being helpful.”

GR: “Mr Miernik! Exhibit A is all that remains of Earth! Robinson blew up his planet! Are you denying that you had planned this all along? Are you aware that Universal Reality is already filing plans for a hyperspace bypass through the Sol System?”

MM: “My company is of course taking advantage of the unfortunate accident. That’s just good business, Ms Ray. You can’t deny that the damage was clearly locally inflicted. I was just – being a good neighbour. ”

GR: “Prosecution rests, Your Honour.”

 

 

Posted in 2011-08-01 to 2011-08-14 - Alternapocalypse | 4 Comments

Natural Order

We all saw The Event happen. The half of the world that was asleep woke up, and felt compelled to step outside and tilt our heads back. It was there for just about a second: a sharp green light taking up the whole sky, like a bubble or a dome. Then it was gone. We don’t know who or what caused it, except that it wasn’t us. People, I mean. There was some grainy footage of The Event, CCTV cameras and such, but nothing that offered anything new. Nothing that showed us something that we hadn’t seen that night, standing in the garden in our pajamas, staring open-mouthed up at the sky.

We spent the first week trying to figure out what it was. How did that flash happen? Where did it come from? Why did everyone wake up? Then we became nervous and started asking more: what had it done? We tried to look for any aftereffects of The Event, but the search was too broad; we didn’t know where to start of what to look for. Did we check us? Or animals? How about crops? What about rocks, soil, the sea? I guess it’s not surprising that we didn’t notice for a while: the spread of the effect was too broad. Looking back, I guess I expected someone in a white lab coat, horn rim glasses, and a clipboard to come on the news and tell us about “A disturbance in The Force” and what we could do to fix it. Instead, we’re just around the corner from all these big changes, and we don’t know what’s going to happen to us. To the planet.

It was the little things at first; things that you could explain away, didn’t take much notice of. Food seemed to go off faster than it should, however you stored it. Ice seemed to melt faster, whatever the temperature of the room. Flavours seemed duller, weaker. Cars stalled in the middle of highways and refused to start again. Computers became less reliable, if they worked at all.

Then we started to notice other, bigger, things. Things that you thought were a trick of the eye. The moon looked smaller. Measurements were taken, experts consulted. A space shuttle was pulled out of retirement and sent up to confirm: the moon was moving away from us.

We became obsessed with measuring things, checking for changes. What else was happening? We found that the Earth’s spin was slowing. Days had become longer since The Event. Years had become longer. The wobble, Earth’s tilt on its axis, had increased. Things that should be taking millions of years were happening in months, and the rate of decay was increasing exponentially. “Everything is going to shit,” I think was the official line from the President’s office.

No-one knows quite what will happen in the next few weeks. The messed up days and tides have broken the food chain. Fresh food is scarce. Even the tinned goods are spilling out of their rusty containers. Maybe we won’t live to see what happens when the moon finally breaks free of its orbit. Maybe we’ll be hallucinating from hunger when the Earth stops spinning. Maybe our bones will be crumbling when the Earth tilts all the way over.

Maybe there’ll be another green flash in the sky and it will all be over.

Posted in 2011-08-01 to 2011-08-14 - Alternapocalypse, Projects | 3 Comments

How I strayed

[Based on Andrew’s Church story, and my Courtship/Dream Cat universe]

I took a wrong turn, and another one. The twisty way grew tight, tousling my fine fur. I had lost my way. Then – I was birthed: blind once again, and weak, into this world of wrong wickedness.

I did what one does: grew to be strong, learnt wicked ways, spoke to the sky. Nothing was right. I missed the fey, my splendid hat and my entourage. This world was grey, dull, meek. Them as took me, thought me as a pet. I purred and prowled, they fed me dead food.  But I would not rest: there would be a way back.

I found first clues: an old useless thing; a used useful one, and one of people used. I placed them right, to reveal the path. What twisted ways would I have to tread!

I walked the high walls, sneaked along roof tops. There, trembling, pink: a wet drying thing. I hauled with all my might, brought it back home, revelled in its form. Wrapped myself up within its fleshy folds. This was the way, nought would stop me now!

My next find was strong: a winged flightless thing, born only to die, dead but hot as life. Oh what a thing! I ate of its flesh, fed those that fed me: bound them to myself. I felt magic surge! This was the path.

I set out once more. This is what I found:  things of great value but devoid of worth. I cast them on the bed, reading their runes: “Look for the thing of action that can’t act.”

I knew just what, and felt the darkness set. I gnawed on flesh, did what must be done.

This was the price: I would find the way. But in my heart I would forever stray.

 

Posted in 2011-07-18 to 2011-07-31 - Do it your Way, Projects | 2 Comments

Courtship

[Based on Parfles The Courtship from micfic]

You left the feather for me, in the agreed place,  in the sewer, behind the grating. It’s from a dock-pigeon, greasy and torn, still holding the rich scent of rotting kelp.  I would never deny a lady in need so  I climb the hospital smokestack amongst the icy, whipping mists. I scrape up the ancient caked ash, fearless of the heat and smoke rising from the inferno below. I mix it with my piss and give it careful form. You will  be impressed.

 

I leave my offering near your highway bridge, carefully arranging it. But you wouldn’t like a pining romantic so I jump a passing bus. Clinging to the wing mirror, I scream my lust and joy into the tearing wind – it all gets a bit hairy when the driver sees me and freaks out, but that is a different story (and it’s a good one) .

 

When I return I scent your subtle mark upon the token I had left for you. I follow your clear invitation down to a warehouse in the docks. When I find the fallen nest I’m impatient, but your love-sign is eloquent: two starling chicks, newly hatched, one just skin and bones remaining, the other alive but broken. I hurry down your gift, knowing well its meaning.

 

And so I find you, blood splattered like me,  in the scrap heap. Asleep in the soft stuffing of old sofa. I drag you into the air and wrap a cocoon of smoke around us. Tomorrow, I will tell you my name.

Posted in 2011-07-18 to 2011-07-31 - Do it your Way, Projects | 3 Comments

Nigh

[Mine is a remix of Jo’s Nigh story, which I really enjoyed, and should be read before this.]

I’m running late. There’s a new guy coming in for an interview today. I glance up from the street up into the sky. What’s wrong with the sky? I almost drive over someone standing scratching in the middle of the road. Get off the road, you idiot! It’s 8:08 and I’m still three blocks away. What’s with the -

“We don’t know,” she sighed. “Tell Jenny we don’t know either. Not a tornado, that’s all I’m prepared to say. The data’s not making any sense.” The intern walked back over to her desk and reconnected the video chat. The city’s brightest and best appeared, hunched around the webcam. “So, tell us the good -”

The sky stretches around me, metal grey. I turn the final dial on the machine and the little display measuring all the time left in the world shows nineteen seconds. It’s 8:08. My plan was sheer elegance in its simplcity. They’re too late to stop me now! It’s the end of the -

I burst through the door to the roof. He doesn’t seem to hear me over the din of the machine. I don’t hesitate: one slug goes into the back of his head and one goes into the generator sitting next to the machine. Before he’s even hit the ground, all the machine’s lights are out. I did it… I drop to my knees, gasping for breath. Shit. That must’ve been twenty stories.

Posted in 2011-07-18 to 2011-07-31 - Do it your Way, Projects | 4 Comments

Alternapocalypse

Apocalypse

I really like the look of Flash Fiction Challenge: An Uncharted Apocalypse.

 I want to see flash fiction set in a very unconventional, never-before-seen apocalypse. A Create Your Own End Times kinda story. Get as creative as you want. I want the world to end — or be in the middle of ending — in a way we’ve never seen before.

Alas, 1,000 words this week (well, by tomorrow) is more than I can handle, so I’d like to remix it for a run here.

Same concept, but 500 words over two weeks, with <= 6 people.

Comment commitment!

Posted in 2011-08-01 to 2011-08-14, Pitches | 2 Comments

Do it your Way

I had this idea because I wanted to build a continuity with micfic.

Take a specific micfic that you admired written by someone else in the group, and rewrite it in the same length so that it is clearly recognisable and also obviously your own.

Commitment details: Time period 2 weeks, 250 words, 3+ people

 

This pitch is in progress, participants: Parf, Stv, Andrew

Deadline: 31st July 2011

Posted in 2011-07-18 to 2011-07-31, Completed, Pitches | 1 Comment

Cape Town 2300

The encyclopedia idea – grounded in a future Cape Town. Participants submit entries from A – Z, with rules as to referencing both prior and future terms in each entry. The more, the better here in terms of participants, but we can keep word limits quite short – say up to 200 words or so, or no limits at all. This is a good one for later on in the game when we can count on getting say 8 – 10 people together for 24 weeks (6 months, wow).

Comments – not necessary with the back and forth referencing.

Credit to the CLAW project on this a while ago.

 

Posted in Pitches | 2 Comments

In The Details

I suggest we take this descriptive passage (from Agatha Christie) and give it more meaning and narrative by adding a series of footnotes on each of the nouns in brackets:

The small [drawing-room] was exquisitely neat and smelled of burnt lavender.  There were some [Dresden shepherds and shepherdesses], on the [mantelpiece], simpering sweetly. There were [framed water-colours], [two samplers], and [three needlework pictures] on the wall. There were some [photographs] of what were obviously nephews and nieces and some good furniture – a [Chippendale desk], some little [satin-wood tables] – and a hideous and rather uncomfortable [Victorian sofa].

 

The idea is to provide 10 to 100 words for each marked noun: These chunks might be description, back story or random musing so to create an idea or narrative out of this otherwise descriptive paragraph.

I’ll find some clever hover over way to display peoples definitions on the web.

Commitment details: 3 weeks , 3+ people?

Posted in 2011-10-24 to 2011-11-13, 2011-10-24 to 2011-11-13 - In The Details, Completed, Pitches | 3 Comments