Writing Contest - Submissions
Posted 15 February 2011 - 11:32 PM
No word limit, but I should warn you I have a short attention span but really go crazy. Deadline iiiiiiiiis...
March 11. Get to it!
earth much? Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of
Posted 22 February 2011 - 12:20 PM
by Tyler Edwards.
He still remembered the war. He remembered the sting of shrapnel and the screams of his friends. He remembered the thunder of artillery, and he remembered death.
He remembered the funerals. He remembered the grave markers, row on row, before the church, and he remembered the weeping of friends and family. He remembered, too, when the war had spread, and this place had been abandoned. He remembered watching the church fall into disrepair, and the graves of his friends go untended.
Now, alone on this mountaintop, he remembered, but no one else did. He knew not if the war had ended or if it continued still, but years had passed, and no one, friend or foe, had come in all that time. He alone of all the people in the world still kept to this place and remembered the sacrifices of the past.
He could not rest. To do so would be to betray the memory of his fallen friends. And so he stayed by their side, as he had in life, through the cold mountain winters and the bright summers, through rain and sleet and the passage of time. Alone on the mountain, he kept his endless vigil, and he remembered.
Posted 05 March 2011 - 08:14 AM
They say there is a road.
A bridge, really. Kinda, sorta. It is where the mists part and the way is clear.
My grandmother, she was ninety-four when she traveled it. She had been one of those people, they were called smokers. A bit of rolled paper concealed a substance called tobacco or maybe it was taback because I certainly don’t know anymore and you would light it and inhale something. No one these days remembers what that is, but it was just something you breathed in and, I suppose, got some benefit from. No one really remembers, now, what that benefit was. Or maybe they all thought it would look interesting, or be fun, or something. But she was my grandmother, and she was ninety-four, and I scarcely think that fun or appearances mattered to her that much anymore. But she was still a smoker.
And it brought her to the road.
My father, he was sixty-one. He was piloting. He was a transport flier, a professional; he used to like to say. I remember him, with his big green uniform on, with the cap and the fake medals on it, giving him a vaguely military appearance, although he was as military as my grandmother had been. He was high up, over Proxima Centauri, and a small child was crying in the back. Its mother tried to shush it. You know how mothers are. They want their infants to be quiet, but they just don’t want to be too loud or unsubtle or angry about it. I imagine the female asked the child nicely to be quiet, but asking makes no sense when it’s so young a child. The child, of course, ignored her. She had asked again, and again, and the other passengers had become annoyed. At least, that is what the black box recording said. My father was distracted and angry, and tired. He had had one too many, they say, that’s what they say, isn’t it? One too many? Or was it five too many? It hardly matters now.
He was flying the transport, and the child was crying, and the female was inadequately shushing it, and the ground came up far too quickly and the inquest said that he was almost one hundred percent at fault but I say that kid was at least as much at fault as he was.
And so my father was brought – or I suppose he brought himself to it – to the road. As were all of the passengers. And that female was brought, as well – sentenced, I expect, to carry that bawling child along for all eternity.
And here I am, at the start. And I shall tell you my story.
I am an artist. I paint with light and shadow, with chemicals and pixels and metals, working them into fabric and canvas and paper and stone and glass. My work is not that popular. I am hardly recognized beyond certain art circles but I do my best and I leave it all out there. I hold nothing back as I create figures, both realistic and wholly imagined, and try to make sense of it all.
Have I made sense of it all? I suspect not, for to make sense, I think, implies knowing the mind of God or being able to see the face of forever. And I am but an artist, a transport driver’s child; a smoker’s grandchild. I am no one.
Yet here I am. And I am about to start on that same road.
I do not know how I got here. One moment, you are mixing chemicals. And in the next, you are here. Perhaps there was a spark. Or the fumes, maybe they were too much. I am not always careful. I know this. I blame no one.
And now I find myself on the road.
Posted 10 March 2011 - 06:00 AM
by Alyson Lee
I position my elbow just left of the elaborate bird droppings, leaning forward to perfect my view. I blame the heightening sunshine for my lack of focus, to avoid admitting I've let you get to me. I've got a job to do and I refuse to let our little situtation commandeer my attention. I slowly blink away the sun in hopes you will follow, leaving me alone in the present. I've got mere seconds to get this right.
I replay the gameplan in my head. . . once. . . twice. . . while escorting you to the back of my mind. Once more, I find myself steeped in a most comfortable, steely reserve. I scan the clusters of baseball-hatted, sunglass wearers until my eye settles on the building's doors. A nondescript, modern structure surrounds the equally unimpressive entrance.
What happened to craftsmanship? Who takes pride in "designing" these buildings of no aesthetic interest?
No matter, I've got a job to do, the less distractions the better.
I shift in an attempt to keep my leg from dozing off. In my line of work, I need to move quickly. . . at a moment's notice. Suddenly, I hear a noise that I'm sure has never been made by a wiggling foot. I freeze to audibly take in my presumed secure surroundings. Soon, the stray piece of lumber I'd wedged beneath the knob, falls away with a shove of the roof door. I quickly reposition, on half tingling leg, to keep myself as far out of sight as possible.
They are a couple. . . a couple of freak kids with questionable taste in clothes and hairstyle. They have chosen this
roof. . . my roof. . . my hiding spot to do what? Ah, wondeful. Just what I need. . . two kids not afraid to express themselves and their apparent affection for one another on my goddamn rooftop. I check my watch. . . 3:40, I've got no time. The job can't be done and now I've got to hide here until they leave.
So much for keeping my leg awake.
I turn to check my sight - for the hell of it - just in time to watch my bullseye carry on in his usual manner - unaware two punk kids just extended his miserable life. I make a mental note to work on my wood-wedging skills as I turn back to get comfortable and watch the freakshow. Something about their hair reminds me of skunks. . . unnaturally colored skunks, crossed with mohawked porcupines. I don't imagine they are at liberty to run their fingers through each other's multi-colored quills and they don't attempt it as I study them. Were I careless, I'd have gotten rid of them to complete my job, but I like to keep things nice and tidy. . . even if it means letting two more freaks roam the land.
They treat my perfectly scouted rooftop as if it were their personal love nest, blissfully ignorant of their intrusion. I almost feel as if I've broken into their home. Then it hits me. . . maybe I'm the intruder. Maybe this was their place first. As I contemplate this, I take the opportunity to study them more closely. I find myself hating them less. . . accepting them, even. There is a sweetness to them, masked by the pleather and chains and the hair that offers protection from their natural predators. There is substance beneath their appalling exterior. They understand the importance of living in the present. They are not afraid to be themselves. They are open to the vulnerability of truly loving someone.
I crouch further down in my hiding place. I laugh to myself, for a brief moment, at the irony of my situation. The beauty of this job is I'm always learning something new about people. Today, I have learned something about myself. Of the three of us here, it is I who is the freak. They are in each other's arms, carefree, honest, pure, real. I avert my eyes out of respect. . . and envy them.
Edited by Allee, 10 March 2011 - 06:03 AM.
Posted 10 March 2011 - 03:57 PM
Clarice read her mother's personal journal, searching for clues. The pristine lab was silent, current studies halted a week ago for the investigation of the accident that erased the existence of Dr. Clara Stansbury, premiere cosmic string theorist and Clarice's mother, in a blinding flash of energy. The doctor's last entry, as was the visual record of the events prior to the flash, was recorded in the lab's computer, stating her intention of testing the newest biolumin converter, alone, thus circumventing the protocols she so often struggled to derail in her long, tempestuous career. Clarice, knowing the stubborn nature of her mother, was not surprised when the devastating news reached her of the results of this experiment.
Now, Clarice was combing the journal, aching to find an explanation of such a rash and ultimately fatal choice. Her mother was not suicidal, as the directors of the facility claimed in explanation to the rattled project funding committee, grasping to save their careers at the expense of true scientific answers….much like they had done while her mother fought for continued expansion of the biolumin converter project. After hours of perusing, she came upon an odd notation, on the side of the page dated from Clarice's last birthday. It had been overlooked by the investigators when they first read this journal, deciding there was nothing of value for them before they gave it to Clarice along with all of Dr. Stansbury's personal effects in the lab. Glancing up, Clarice noted that she was still being ignored, all others focused on the lab's computer logs and odd residual energy readings. Raising the journal horizontally to reach her eye level, she read the hidden note left by her mother. A quick intake of breath brought some attention to Clarice, causing her to turn aside, appearing as a grieving daughter to the others. They gave her a sympathetic nod, turning back to their work. Clasping the journal to her chest, she addressed the lead investigator, stating her desire to leave, and walked out with her mother's possessions.
Now in her own study in a condo across town, Clarice revisited the horizontal puzzle. She and her mother had often played games using these elongated letters and numbers to write their own coded messages, just for fun, or so she thought. This coded message left no doubt to its serious nature.
May 15, 1894
The reference was clear. Placing the journal aside, she went to her floor safe in the hallway closet and retrieved a small metal lock box. Sitting cross legged on the floor, she pulled a key from the locket around her neck, gifted to her by her mother on her 21st birthday with instructions to use it when she found the next coded message. As she suspected, her intuition was right, the key fit perfectly. Opening the box, she saw her fifth-great Grandmother Clara's worn journal, wrapped in a silk cloth., a letter and a large envelope resting underneath. Opening the letter first, she read:
This is yours. Please recall all the hours we spent reading Grandmother Clara's journal, sharing in her escaping that catastrophic Atlantic hurricane with the ship's first mate, landing ashore and salvaging for several days as the wreckage washed treasures from the deep onto the beaches. You know she and Grandfather Oscar married, at first out of necessity, eventually becoming the devoted lovers of our family legends. You always wanted to be read that part of their story again and again.
What you do not know is that I never shared the last few entries of her journal, and soon you will understand why. Before you read them, look in the white envelope."
Puzzled and intrigued, Clarice lifted the envelope and peered inside. She gently pulled out a picture, gazing at an image that could never have been taken at the time it represented, not to mention the clarity of the snowflakes drifting across the lens, as if frozen in a time capsule.
Her mind raced as she sat, turning it over and over, apprehensive and curious. Finally, she read the last of her mother's correspondence from the grave.
"This is the first test of my biolumin converter device, which I set precisely at 11:49 am, May 15, 1894, which you know is the time that Grandmother Clara states as the turning point in her life of knowing the seemingly impossible escape she and her first mate, your Grandfather Oscar, experienced on that fateful day. I have recorded this event using the prototype of our device to prove my theory of using time and space to look back at specific moments in time. I know this was possible , from the writings of our ancestors, as well as the perseverance of our family in preserving this knowledge through the generations, until such innovative concepts could be accepted in our scientific community. You are now the sole recipient of this knowledge, and the rest of our family's legacy is in your hands. Please read Grandmother Clara's journal, from her last entry. "
Seated on the wooden floor of the hallway, illuminated in the open closet's prototypic biolumin bulb, her mother's first invention, Clarice solemnly brushed her fingers over the ridged leather cover, allowing the cool touch to calm her. Centered, she opened the precious journal to the last page. Upon reading the words, the blood drained from her face…..
If you are reading this you now know that I am gone, and I am so very sorry for the pain you will endure. You must know that I love you with all my heart and I have done what I could to put you and your future onto the best possible pathway. You will have access, if I am successful, to the full details of this from the lab reports, once any investigation, and I have no doubt there will be one, is complete. The last piece of the puzzle is this picture, as well as one that I hope is in my personal effects from the lab. I did all I could to make the last data sheet from the lab's computer printout seem as if I left it in the machine by accident. You will know it is the one I left for you by looking for our code one last time, which I place in the corner of the parchment in the printer, just before my launching of the experimental converter. Just remember what I say, and know it is true. By now, you know this truth, as I have tried to tell you for all of your life. I am Grandmother Clara, this knowledge passed through the generations of our family as needed to rest finally with you. Each parent was given the right to share the knowledge with their children as they saw fit; I chose our codes, simply because you were the child to be most affected by this knowledge of your legacy. You are able to make your own life decisions from this knowledge, the last link from the past and the first to create a future with a completely new perspective. I hope in time, you will be able to understand why I chose to fulfill this legacy, our family's triumph and deepest secret, all encompassing. I leave it to you to determine in what way your path is to the ongoing history of our family.
I will always love you then, now and forever.
Clarice remained still for long moments, gathering her strength, then reached once more into the box retrieved from her mother's office. Placed in the file was a copy of the picture she found in the white envelope. However, is was not truly a copy. There was a flash of bright light on this one, not visible before. Looking closely, she ran her gaze over the face of the woman in the boat. Her eyes, previously downcast, were raised, looking directly into a lens that for all rights and purposes the woman would never know existed, and she was smiling. It was Clara, Dr. Clara Stansbury, giving her daughter that special look and smile saved only for those moments when Clarice reached a new plateau of understanding.
It was her mother's final lesson, and Clarice, always a stellar scholar, was a perfect scion to continue their legacy.
Edited by tishkajaku, 10 March 2011 - 04:28 PM.
Posted 11 March 2011 - 01:42 PM
When Beacons Die, I Shall Join Them
“Good evening, and welcome to the September 4th, 1926 broadcast. I hope the listener will forgive my hastiness, but I wish to be frank from the outset. Tonight’s usual news will be replaced by something of an emergency program.
[shuffling of papers, momentary pause]
In 1923, the world ended. In 1926, on this very night, radio will die.
Tonight will be our final broadcast. Tonight will likely be the final broadcast of any professional radio program. I will spare you the details, though curious you may be, for you have likely already experienced more hardships than a human should be meant to suffer, and to recount with specificity our final fate would be an act of cruelty to the staff that have chosen to remain. Yet I don’t doubt that even the most gruesome of descriptions would shake their resolve.
I would like to take this moment to thank every single friend present, for there is no man or woman here who has not earned my deepest gratitude, friendship, and admiration. And, if this is a time of graciousness, then I would also like to extend gratitude to the receivers and rebroadcasters, and those who have taken recordings of our program into the dismal world as Apollo would bring the sun to the ancient Greeks, and bring truth and prophecy to those willing to hear it.
I wish to impose the enormity of our decision upon you. I have said we have chosen to remain, and this is true. It is also true that we could have chosen to flee, and though our chances may not have been all the more improved, we could have run. I must also say that it was not an act of cowardice to leave here today, and if any of my colleagues are listening, somewhere, I wish them luck and Godspeed. But it is to be understood that those who have remained have remained out of professionalism and integrity, and the will to never let this beacon peter into nothing, the will to keep the aerials speaking our voices to the world, even if it means death.
[pause, turning of a page]
There have been times when we have whispered our messages to the dark night and not known if it was heard. I have personally never been told that my words have ever reached a single soul with regularity. We broadcast in spite of this. If you hear this, and if you have known of our efforts, remember that there still exists human kindness and altruism. Remember that we here have given our health and mental well being for only the vague hope that we have helped someone, somewhere. If we even have touched a single soul, and made one life all the better, then this venture has been worthwhile. And if we have not, then we did not die in vain. We at the least have proved a point. These radio waves will crumble into so much background noise, and one of the last pillars of the world will fall along with it, but we have proven our point. Remember— [static, garbled words] along with it.
There is news here, and if we have time I will read it, but like a father on his death bed, I strive to teach lessons in this limited time rather than indulge other conversation. But I am at a loss. My words will seem too weak to matter, but I have tried all the same.”
In the background, a roar begins low, increasing in volume. The broadcaster’s only acknowledgment is a slight pause, quickened speech, and a slight quaver in his first words. White noise blurs some of his words.
“Do not lose hope. There still exists something salvageable. There still… us. Do not lose hope. Do not lose the light. Do not—”
And then, with sudden cessation, there is crashing noise of static, the blank sonic canvas of the empty sky. Somewhere in the world, wires have corroded and snapped, and radio towers have fallen into themselves, twisted into shapes of dead animals, and the sky was on fire with the sun.
"Oh, come on... be reasonable. You can't destroy everything; where would you sit?"
Posted 14 March 2011 - 12:02 PM
Allee: WOW! I loved this picture, and you put a wonderfully creative twist on it. Your story was narrated from a perspective that I would never have thought of in a million years. You have a very subtle attention to detail that I think greatly enhances your stories. And it had a happy ending, yay!
Apoco: Holy phlox, dude. This is one of those stories I wish I had written myself, and kind of want to steal. I also feel like it would have made a good black and white movie with Vincent Price. It seems like most of your stories are grim and fatalistic, but I think they're all the better for it. I'm also fascinated by radio as a medium of communication for things besides just music, so that made me like your story even better.
EE: Very neat, and once again almost entirely different from what I expected. Your submission's brevity made it particularly poignant, though I'm bummed we didn't get to hear the rest of the story You have (once again) used parallelism and structure to wonderful effect.
Jespah: Very pretty. The first-person narration was a nice touch. I have to say... I've read yours probably three times now, and I'm still desperate to figure out what exactly it's about I will perhaps read it again further down the road (ha ha). Yours was maybe the most aesthetically pleasing submission.
Tish: Loved it! This read like a really good mystery (for lack of a better word), and I liked the historical aspect. I think that not many people could delve so deeply into a family's complex relationship dynamics in so few words... a commendable achievement. Like Jespah's, an emotionally evocative story that got a huge amount of mileage out of such a simple picture.
I frigging loved all of these... I know I always say that but it was like physically painful to pick a winner but the winner, by like 1% (i have a weird grading scale ) is....
earth much? Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of
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