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Old 06-30-12, 12:24 AM
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Re: Short Story Contest Discussion Thread

so that's why this site is called ADD Forums. it all makes sense now!

Forums cause people to become AD/HD! Correlation and Causation!
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Old 08-01-12, 03:29 AM
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Re: Short Story Contest Discussion Thread

experimental story in military team style kinda like clancy except i'll never be as good as him

Angels Don’t Kill

“Johnson bring them in.”
“yes, sir.”
“ok, listen up boys, you were forcibly extracted from wherever you were at the time of extraction for a reason. things have changed. nowadays, the middle east is about to explode on any given day, and China is starting to act belligerent towards us by giving the terrorists weapons. World War III could happen any day now. in the Cold War era there was a thing called the Doomsday Clock. when it strikes midnight, it’s the end of the world. the closest it ever was to midnight was in 1953 at 11:58, when the USA and USSR tested thermonuclear devices within 9 months of each other. now we’re at 11:58 again. we need to go down, but the situation with China is diminishing. there’s a new arms race with them, it’s a new cold war. and the fact that they’re aiding our enemies is further destroying our relations. I fear that North Korea will follow suit, but we have to stop all renegades and start getting the situation back into our favor now. you’ve been chosen because you’re all the best on the field in your respective fields, some of you are SEALS and Delta, others are Army and Marines. here, it doesn’t matter who you are, who you’ve worked with, and what you’ve done. all that matters is you have abilities and special skills. from now on you all work for me only, you don’t report to anybody else or tell anybody else about who you work for or what you do. you’re now my personal Black Ops squad. it’s like Fight Club: 1st rule of Fight Club, you don’t talk about Fight Club, 2nd rule of Fight Club, you don’t talk about Fight Club. these are missions that are not only black ops, but black black ops. nobody knows except you and me. not even CIA will know of this group’s existence or their actions. when there are papers sent to you, they will be rewritten and blacked out on all words soon after. your names are gone. you will refer to each other by a new name I have selected based off how you are on the field:

1. Victor Pink: “Mr. Purple”
2. Mark Johansson: “Scarecrow”
3. Dan Smith: “Joker”
4. Chris Blackburn: “Cuddles”
5. Steve Reavis: “Reaper”
6. John Reavis: “Animal”

“sorry Victor, but I couldn’t resist making you Mr. Purple since Reservoir Dogs is one of my favorite movies.”
“I don’t mind sir, I enjoy the nickname anyway.”
“Mark, you’re Scarecrow because we’ve got word that in special forces, you were skilled in interrogation and that’s how you left them ‘til they talked or you were sick *******.”
“thankyou sir.”

“Dan, your Joker because…you’re a wiseass.”
“mom always told me I was special.”
“…case in point. Chris, your Cuddles because you remind me of a guy I knew on my lacrosse team who we called Cuddles.”
“thankyou sir?”
“and you Reavis twins are Reaper and Animal respectively because you both are experts at killing and torturing, having the most confirmed kills out of anybody in the history of SEALS, figures you both are tied for that record. *******it I can’t tell which of you is which. which one are you?”

“Steve, sir.”
“so you must be John then. Steve’s Reaper, John’s Animal.”
“thankyou sir.”
“thankyou sir.”

“again, you never refer to each other by your real names under any circumstances, only your new names. to further hide your identities, I’m afraid you will have to undergo a painful yet quick operation.”
“what operation is that?”

“the operation where you all have your fingerprints removed and your eyecolors changed.”
“I didn’t know you could surgically alter your eye color.”
“yeah, from now on, your eyes will be grey. we found that’s the most piercing eye color that can still be scary and threatening. not blue, that’s just piercing and pretty.”
“that **** sounds painful, do we get to be on morphine and ketamine?”

“Watch it smartass!”
“I believe the name is Joker.”
“GODDA-…please stop talking Joker.”
“good. you earn yourself a cookie.”
too bad I don’t eat cookies…
“your uniform will consist of standard issue body armor for military use. only it is black in color. bullet proof armor. we’ve even developed and allowed for test trial a new type of fabric that is mostly bullet proof. it will not be able to protect you from mines, bombs, or anything in artillery. but it will protect you from any handgun, shotgun, and even the highest caliber sniper rifle. but we can only allow enough for testing in the use of your masks, and your upper arms and upper legs. you will have masks, but before that you need absolute identity protection. I cannot stress this enough. you will all have facepaint on that covers all of your face, it will be black and white, the design you want is your choice to make. but your mask will be the bulletproof cloth in the form of a balaclava with only eye holes, none of that goofy middle of eyes and nose crap. the design on the front will be skull and crossbones or you can choose to have a plain black one. you will get standard equipment, grenades, flashbangs, whatever guns situation calls for, etc. after your eyes and fingerprints have been rewritten and destroyed respectively, you will have a cyanide pill inside a tooth, to make sure you don’t accidentally trigger it, we’ve made it into a replica tooth that will replace your premolar tooth, and you can only take it out by actually ripping it out of your mouth. eating and biting down naturally will not activate it. you will use this pill in case of capture. oh yeah, that’s another thing, you keep your mind on the objective. you can see each other by heartbeat on the HUD of your goggles. if one of you is captured, complete the objective first, should you be in a situation where you can escape capture then regroup, if you complete the objective and the captured is still alive then you may attempt to retrieve him. mission objective comes first. should you be injured and it’s neither life-threatening nor debilitating, you will also have an epi-pen in your storage to make it through the mission until extraction.

Face Paint Jobs:

1. Mr. Pink-Mushroomhead ‘X-Face’ paint
2. Scarecrow-right half black with white paint over eye and mouth, left half white with black paint over eye and mouth
3. Joker-white face, black eye paint with vertical lines going through and black glasgow smile
4. Cuddles-cross face paint
5. Reaper-skull face paint
6. Animal-Misfits skull face paint

“your first assignment is to take back a frigate of ours that has been hijacked by terrorists of unknown origin. it’s a weapons frigate that also houses fighter planes, this hasn’t been made public yet, and I don’t want it to be made public. war is the last thing I want right now. oh yeah, your new name is Hell Patrol.”

“…well I’m not looking forward to having my fingerprints removed.”
“I don’t give a flying **** as long as we’re sedated or drugged up whilst it happens.”
“why am I not surprised you’d say something like that?”

“I am a Joker afterall.”
“we seriously look like we belong in a Call of Duty game right now.”
“I’m just curious, do we have to go through that weird ‘Meet and Greet’ phase, or no?”

“I dunno. although I think considering we’re all here because we’re the best and most dark out of all in the military, we probably shouldn’t know.”
“true that. I don’t want any of you in my head.”
“so Mr. Purple, why the Mushroomhead X-Face?”

“I like Mushroomhead, figured that’d be good facepaint cuz it’s awesome.”
“just like Jeffrey Nothing.”
“you like Mushroomhead?”

“yeah, I saw them a few weeks ago. it was awesome! they fired nerf guns into the crowd.”
“sounds awesome. what about you Joker? wait, nevermind.”
“self-explanatory. Scarecrow?”

“2 halves of something. figure it describes my life pretty well, there’s one half of me in life and there’s the other half. Cuddles?”
“figure it’s cool. I’ll switch off between the cross over my eyes like it is now and the cross Waylon of Mushroomhead used to paint on, although he called it Hummingbird paint. Reaper and Animal?”
“I figure that since my name is Reaper, why not have Reaper paint.”
“and I don’t want to be a biter, so I use skull paint of The Misfits Crimson Ghost since they’re my favorite band.”
“you guys are identical twins right?”

“so you both are just the same person, is it safe to assume you both act the same ways?”

“yeah, you probably won’t even know which one you’re talking to unless we have our facepaint on, and even then that’s only if we’re unmasked.”
“I’m going to treat you both as if you’re one person.”
“that’s how it’s been ever since we entered SEALS.”

“hey boys, you equipped yet?”
“yes sir.”
“good, your helicopter leaves in 15 minutes.”

Dossiers on Hell Patrol members

Reaper/Animal: both are Psychopaths, possibly inherited from their father who was an infamous conman and had APD, mother abandoned them at 5’ they felt a need to kill or harm at an early age; they both killed animals in their youth, joined military; moved into SEALS; engaged in torture frequently when situation called for it, outstanding track record, superior above all in sniping and heavy guns such as turrets and miniguns; there’s a joke in SEALS about a generation of ‘arabs’ thinking of them as the grim reapers; married to another pair of identical twins who also may as well be the same person; both are fathers, Reaper is a father of one, Animal is a father of two.

Mr. Purple: entered the army after highschool due to not remarkable grades, although he has shown to have gifted intelligence, possibly in the 150-160 range due to various tests he has taken measuring it, meaning he never applied himself in school; shown to be a good tactician and strategist; was a sergeant before being transferred to Hell Patrol; prefers hand-to-hand combat as opposed to guns; when not at home he is a husband and father of 3.

Cuddles: formerly part of the marines; not much known about personal life prior to enlisting; good with knives and other stabbing objects; has been called ‘the MacGyver of killing’ because he has been known to find any given object in a room and use it as a weapon somehow; prefers working alone but does play well with others; takes care of his handicapped older brother who suffers from Early Onset Alzheimer’s when he is home; has a girlfriend, no prior marriages or children.

Scarecrow: skilled in interrogation and torture, his method of finishing people and as a means of torture/interrogation earned him his name; seen as ‘different’ or ‘unique’; very people person; married, no kids; comes from a wealthy family; has had medical training to improve his abilities; preferred weapons are pistols and submachine guns when not with a prisoner; not much else known.

Joker: not much known about his life prior to highschool, doesn’t like to talk about it; one of 7, married twice, father of 7; typically cracking jokes and being a smartass; did very well in highschool with being in the top 8% of his class; preferred weapons are primarily ones that are illegal and/or hard to find such as PANCOR Jackhammer, G&K G11, and various explosive devices; frequently abuses drugs such as marijuana, peyote, LSD, and mescaline but is deemed ‘too valuable’ a member to delta force to be discharged, although he has passed his last couple of drug tests to knock it off; not married, no girlfriend although he expresses his hopes for a girlfriend

“this place is a black site?”
“according to the president they’re developing new satellite technology and top secret weapons here.”
“what kind of weapons?”

“he didn’t disclose that to me. Reaper and Animal, take out your sniper rifles.”

“10 enemies on top of the ship, 5 on the left side, 5 on the right, all armed with an assault rifle.”
“you take the left, I’ll take the right.”
“have to be quick since a few are close enough to notice the others getting shot. headshots are the preferred here.”
“they’re down.”
“as are mine.”
“alright, let’s get down there.”
-nobody seems to have noticed the 10 guards are now dead. Mr. Purple made the signal to advance to the main building. another guard leaving the room for a cigarette break. Cuddles proceeded to follow him and broke his neck outside. further in they found the guys who were piloting the ship, 5 hostages tied up behind them. 3 enemies. Scarecrow took them out carefully with a submachine gun in short bursts so as not to destroy any of the navigation systems.

“do you know who took over the ship?”
“no, they just surprised us and took over.”
“do you remember what language they were speaking?”

“in front of us they spoke Chinese, but I think in private they were speaking Arabic.”
“a false flag operation. ********.”
“how did they get here? helicopter? boat?”
“by boat.”
“how many are here?”

“about 50.”
“****. let’s hope they’re spread out amongst the rooms.”

“also, what technologies are being developed here?”
“we’re not at liberty to say.”
“we’ve been sent by the president himself, he told us that satellite technology and top-secret weapons were being developed. in order to determine the severity of this situation we need to know what weapons are being developed.”
“…some laser technologies. space-earth weapons in satellites.”
“kill all except 2 for interrogation. move out now.”
-advance to the lower decks. 2 careless enemies in provisons/kitchen area. Joker broke one’s neck while using the unfortunate enemy’s gun to shoot the other in the head. advance further, hide under stairs, 7 guards in the hall. wait until a few leave so as not to risk detection in killing all 7. 2 ended up leaving. Mr. Purple shot 3 with a pistol while Cuddles sneaked up on the other 2 and stabbed them both in the neck. engine room, 13 enemies. waste them after they’ve killed the ones in the testing rooms. sneak past the guards. testing room contains blueprints for satellite weaponry to destroy other satellites and objects on earth. the pact for free space seems to be broken at this point if the satellites contain lasers now. 5 contacts in the room, stealing valuable information, scientists tied up. Reaper goes in with a scar-l, manages to shoot them all in the face before they knew what happened.

“what weapons are being developed here?”
“satellite lasers. to destroy spy satellites and to attack structures on earth.”
“did they manage to upload any data to drives or disks?”

“no, but they took pictures of the blueprints and prototypes. including a satellite capable of shooting out electro-magnetic pulses.”
“like Goldeneye?”
“were there any other men in here before the 5 we eliminated?”

“3 others. one of them was the one in charge.”
“****. Goldeneye’s going to exist in real life. although EMP pulses won’t blow **** up like it did in the movie…”
-laser weaponry in the hands of terrorists is a bad sign. move into the engine room, cover at this point doesn’t matter. open fired into the crowd of terrorists with assault rifles now. some terrorists got a few lucky shots in but the new fabric protected them from any harm. the others heard the noise and are coming in. Scarecrow throws a smoke grenade and the team puts on IR goggles. 15 more came in. move silently and take them out carefully while they still don’t know where they are. Joker rushed in and started stabbing at them with his knife. for those who hid behind the tanks. move out before any more came in. keep them out of the engine room, kill them where they are to make sure there’s no more of them. move back to upper decks. keep wasting the ones who come in. all rooms and decks cleared and checked, body count only comes up to 45 now, the pilots said there were about 50, or more. proceed back to the surface where the leader of the group, who had a red helmet on with skull paint on his visor, and 4 more cohorts were waiting with rifles and snipers.

“kill them already, we have what we need.”
-open fire on the team. make the motion to get behind the guns on top for cover from snipers. Animal takes out his rifle and snipes 3 of the underlings, wounds the leader and his right-hand man in the knee.
“who are you really?”
“filthy americans.”
“sir we have eliminated the threats and bring 2 prisoners, the leader and an underling of the group that hijacked the frigate, we are proceeding to bring them in for interrogation about their false flag operation.”
“it was a black flag?”

“yes sir, Arabic terrorists posing as the Chinese.”
“good work Mr. Purple, sending a chopper now.”
“Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”

-Hunter S. Thompson
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Old 08-01-12, 07:18 AM
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Re: Short Story Contest Discussion Thread

Oliver And The Flying Mare

He had been kept awake by the sound of hooves pounding along the length of the roof again and decided he would, once and for all, take action. He’d rung the local council. The voice on the phone was apathetic to the point of scorn. He suspected they didn’t believe him. Maybe because he was a teenager. The local paper had run a somewhat one-sided report about an incident between himself, the police, a stolen bridle and a bale of hay. They didn’t name him but he knew everyone knew - it was a small town. At school he heard the comments, and in the main street the Red Cross women who always set up their cake stall in front of the newsagents talked about him as he walked past. ‘But his parents are such nice people,’ one of the old ducks said.
His own doctor seemed reluctant to take into consideration the toll that the sleepless nights were taking, the stress at waking in the early hours to the sound of thundering hooves and his own pounding heart could produce.
‘What if we try a change of medication?‘ he had suggested.
That night Oliver climbed up onto his roof and crouched against the rough brick of the chimney with a coil of rope from the garage. He would catch one of the flying horses, tie it to the front fence and ring the police. He would take pictures. He would send them to the local paper. He would stop being laughed at behind his back and the council would take action to ensure the mythical creatures would no longer keep him awake at night.
It was a simple plan. And like many simple plans it became complicated the moment it was put into action. For one thing the night was bone-achingly cold. He pulled the hood of his jacket over his head and wrapped his arms around himself, resisting the urge to jump up and down on the roof tiles since it would draw out his parents and cause them to wave their arms around and call up at him in panicked tones.
Come down Oliver!
What are you doing Oliver?
We’re trying to help you, Oliver.
Instead he blew on his hands to keep them warm and tried to distract himself by counting the number cars that drove past his house. But it was a quiet night. Country towns like his preferred to shut early in Winter, pulling its blinds down against the darkness and leaving the streets almost empty. He heard the far away sound of a car alarm and later, the eleven-thirty train as it roared through town, leaving his ears rattled by the sound. TV antenna’s poked up through the charcoal-grey of a night sky diffused by street lights, and the town dogs barked.
It was almost two in the morning before he spotted the horses, far in the distance over the steel supply store. They were moving together in a lazy canter and as they got closer Oliver could hear their hooves pounding the air currents, the breath bursting from their dark nostrils in frosted plumes that spilled over their necks and shoulders. They swooped down towards him with incredible speed, and before he knew it the first one had landed loudly on his roof, its ears pricked, its eyes purposeful as it ran across the arch, reached the edge and jumped with a flick of its tail. The others were following, the noise deafening as their hooves hit the tiles. Oliver could smell the warm sweat rising from their bodies and hear their hard breathing in rushing air. He jumped up from his crouched position against the chimney and the nearest one shied in surprise, its ears pinning back. For a moment he thought it would kick out at him, but it sheered off and jumped, swooping down over his Dads greenhouse that produced butternuts and broccoli and rockmelon with unfailing regularity before climbing higher to join the others.
The remaining horses raced around him in a half circle, seemingly startled but not fearful of his desperation as his ran towards them, his rope getting tangled around his feet. He almost fell, and by the time he had steadied himself and gathered up his length of rope they had all gone. Except one.
She was standing patiently while he got himself organised. For a moment Oliver faltered -the horse was huge. She seemed to gaze down at him as she settled her wings along her broad sides. Her mane rippled down over her arched neck in waves. Her ears flicked expectantly towards him and her eyes, dark and fathomless as deep water, watched him.
Oliver took an unsteady but purposeful step towards the horse, and when she didn’t move he scrambled towards her, not wanting to miss his chance. Straining up on his toes he flipped the rope over her neck, caught the end and held it snug in a loop.
The mare blew out a loud breath and looked towards the other horses, who were again climbing the sky and quickly growing indistinct in the soft darkness. Down in the dark pool of her eyes he saw the yearning for her herd, her ears pricked towards them and trembling as she sought the sound of their beating wings and fading hoof beats. Oliver reached up to stroke the half moon of her cheek, but at his touch the mare jumped and flung her head away from him. He thought she was going to bolt. Instead she settled, held by something more powerful than her own instinct. She lowered her head again and sniffed carefully at his shoulder as a breeze lifted her mane and made it flow against the night sky like a banner.
For a moment Oliver let himself be fooled into thinking that he could do it, that he could somehow get the horse off the roof, that he could get the local paper to come to his house and print a kinder story, and that his parents wouldn’t be angry that he’d spent all night on the roof. But the night air was too cold to allow him to humour himself indefinitely. He sighed and began to loosen the rope. The horse lowered her head, making it easier for him. He coiled it hurriedly and let it fall, wincing slightly at the strangely loud noise it made against the tiles.
Suddenly the mare was quivering with anticipation. Her massive hooves began to dance impatiently, every muscle in her body rippling with eagerness, and Oliver knew he didn’t have much time. He grabbed her long mane and jammed one foot against the chimney base, trying to get some traction so he could lever himself onto her back. He bounced around like an idiot, trying to pull himself up as he felt her impatience growing. Her wings were unfolding from her body and she suddenly snorted from deep within her chest as if the spell holding her was slipping away and she knew it was only a matter of time before she could take flight and get away from this clumsy, jumping boy. Wrapping her long mane around his hands Oliver wedged his foot against the brick, jumped and pulled himself forward. Panting, he found himself laying across the horses back, her wide spine digging into his breastbone. He twisted and pushed forward until he able to swing his leg around. He sat up and was about to take a deep breath to steady himself when the mare jumped forward. If her mane hadn’t been tangled around his hands he would have simply fallen. He took a last look at his house before the mare reached the end of the roof and a leapt forward. Her hooves hit the air. Her wings snapped and rolled over the cold currents as she burst into a gallop and Oliver could feel her joy and her fierceness as she raced to catch her herd, the cold air sweeping past him in reverence, the stars bowing down as she climbed higher and higher.
"Good job team! Head back to Base for debriefing and cocktails!"
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Old 08-15-12, 03:15 AM
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Re: Short Story Contest Discussion Thread

Comfortably Numb
“hey aunt!”
“oh hiii!!! you are so tall!”
“thanks, I’m still growing too.”
“maybe you will be to tall for the door!”
“how is your mom?”

“actually she has a headache right now. but she’ll live haha.”
“ah, she always got headaches even as a child.”

“and your dad?”
“he’s doing good.”
“what grade are you in now?”

“I’m going to be a freshman in college.”
“so how many years of school do you have to do then?”

“4 years of school left.”
“what profession are you going into?”
“I’m going to be a doctor. neurosurgery.”
“OH that’s very good yeah! your uncle was also a fine doctor, the only one other than your grandpa to be a doctor.”
“yeah. I look forward to it, despite the work it takes.”
“yeah, this is good! how is your mom?”

“actually she has a headache right now.”
“oh, she always go headaches, even as a child.”
“she’ll be fine though. it’s not a migraine. when she gets those, she just stays in her room.”
“ayeah. and your dad?”

“he’s doing good.”
“do you have a girlfriend?”
“not yet I don’t. I’m definitely going to look for one in college. if not, I’ll just check out the girls in nursing school.”
“that’s good. and what is your brother going to do?”

“oh he’s going to lawschool. he’s gonna be a lawyer.”
“oh your parents must be so proud of you both!”

“oh they are. you were a lawyer too weren’t you?”
“yeah back when I was younger, but then I got old and retired.”
“and how is your grandma?”
“she is doing very good actually.”
“she lives out with your aunt now right?”

“well that’s good because she always loved being with the babies and little ones.”
“yeah, she’s doing good out there.”
“she and I used to be so close and friendly. we would make dresses and toys for the little ones and talk. but now, it’s not the same. due to what your grandpa did.”
“but that is life. life is sad.”
“well it’s only as sad as you make it. you just gotta play by the rules. it’s got its ups and downs, but life is generally good. unless you’re just an unlucky person.”
“but that’s life.”
“yes, and how is your daughter?”

“oh she’s doing very good. she lives in paris.”
“I’ve been to paris before. let me tell you, they really hate americans. they will criticize you without provocation.”
“ayeah. she’s a very good painter.”
“she did most of these right?”

“oh yes. she did that one of the canals of venice from when I went there.”
“you’ve been to venice?”

“I’ve been to Europe many times. Spain, Italy, and France.”
“I would like to tour Europe some time. albeit my stops would be the typical tourist countries, like Spain, Italy, Ireland. but I also would want to visit northern Europe like Sweden. my other grandma is a little Swedish, which is what I can only think of as the only reason I’m blonde. both parents and both sets of grandparents are not blondes, but I for some reason am. but I’m not complaining since it makes me look better.”
“ayeah you are so handsome! how is your mom?”

“actually she has a headache right now. but she’ll live haha.”
“ah, she always got headaches even as a child.”

“and your dad?”
“he’s doing good…it’s 4:20, I have to go to an appointment.”
“oh ok! before you go, here.”

“no, No. I can’t come back here if you keep giving me money aunt.”
“it’s hot out, you need it for ice cream!”

“I’ll just put ice cubes on my body!”
“no, I want you to have it! go get ice cream.”
“I really don’t want to take this, but fine. goodbye!”

“Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”

-Hunter S. Thompson
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Old 01-05-13, 05:28 AM
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Re: Short Story Contest Discussion Thread

my how this thread has fallen from grace
“Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”

-Hunter S. Thompson
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Old 01-06-13, 12:18 AM
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Re: Short Story Contest Discussion Thread

Do the stories submitted here have to be recent? The following was written in late 2003. I’ve made a few minor edits rereading today; the wordcount comes in at 2,272.

Also, I find that without the ability (that I've been able to find) to tab/indent the start of a sentence, readability suffers. Consequently, I've elected to separate paragraphs with an 'enter,' though I would have preferred the formatting to appear as it would were it in a book.

A Long Walk Home

The light on the wavelets shone golden as they waited in the bay. Their boat oiled with the water's slow and heavy rhythms. Its deck was spattered with ash and carbonised leaves that had fallen, and continued to do so. Steven wiped at his eyes, stinging from the smoke that pulled the moisture from them. He coughed.

"Least we don't have to worry about sunburn," he said.

"Yeah," said Julie, squinting at the sky, "Or our eyes frying. Look at it."

She pointed to the sun hanging above them, large and red through the bushfire clouds. The sleeve of Steven’s shirt that she wore ran down, exposing her arm to the shoulder. She moved it, examining the effects of the light on her skin's tones; bronze speckled with ash, greenish in the hollows. She rubbed its grit in her long fingers.

The stays and pulleys of the boat clinked as it swayed from a breeze.

"Ouch," said Steven, " —in my eye."

"Are you all right?" she asked, as he bent down, hands to his face.

"I think I'll need to wash this," he said and went below.

"Do you need a hand?" She asked his descending shock of brown hair.

"I'll be right."

Julie returned to examining the sun. For a moment, she imagined their boat a spacecraft, the orb Mars. Almost close enough to land on it. More ash and leaf-fragments fell, and she dropped her gaze from the sky. An answering red light rose from the source of the smoke, a way away inland. The hills around the bay seemed black, a solid wall; indistinct through the haze. Rounded shapes of trees silhouetted by the bushfires beyond lined their heights.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last year it had been different, blue skies and clear sailing. Winds had billowed the sails as they cut along, the white streaks of the eucalypts along the shoreline blurring. Long, lazy hours of sunbaking, the phosphorescence in the waters when they skinny-dipped at night. His hands sliding between her thighs as a prelude to his hurried love-making. At first, then she'd slowed him down, taught a few tricks people don't talk about, and things had gotten better.

They'd bought the boat together; he'd saved all he could, and she matched it, but they still needed a loan from the bank. She found it difficult to tell, at the shipyard, that they were yachts. Without masts or rigging, up on skeletal legs, queued, they looked something like aeroplane fuselages.

"It's not exactly what I had in mind," she said.

"What's wrong with it honey?" asked Steven, turning away from the salesman he'd been chatting with.

"Well, it just doesn't look much for the price."

"But Julie, I thought we already talked about this," he whispered at her.

"I think we can come to an arrangement," said the salesman, "If we leave out a couple of the extras, I could drop off about five thousand? How does that sound?"

"Which extras?"

"Oh nothing major. I understand you're just going to use it round the harbour?"

"Maybe up the coast to Pittwater, or down to Jervis," said Steven.

"Well, if that's all you're going to do, you'd be right with just a radio, so we could leave out GPS. And racing sails—that’d take off four grand alone."

"What else?" Julie asked.

"Well, lets just call it five then," said the salesman, smiling from face to face.

The extra cash she saved them came in handy. Their wedding was properly white, with orchid place settings. Her dress was sleek and accentuated her form. At the ceremony, all eyes were on her, and during the reception dances, whispers of promises if needed. Then the honeymoon sailing, down South. They'd found their own private bay, steep valley walls that cut off the Boxing Day Test, the outside world. Picnics by waterfalls.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

They were in the kitchen when the topic of holidays came up.

"Should we go back," she asked, "can we step in the same river twice?"

"Oh come on," Steve said, "Who cares about all that philosophical crap? Let's just go and have fun."

"You just want the safety of familiar ground."

"Hello? We're going sailing."

"What about Tuscany this time?"


"Well why not?"

"I didn't buy that boat for nothing you know. If we don't use it, we're just throwing money away," Steven said as he stood with his hands on hips, head tilted the way that used to be endearing.

"Don't use that tone with me."

"What tone? Oh come on Julie. Let's go down to the bay for Christmas again, just you and me, like old times."

"Old times like last year?"

"You know what I mean."

It was funny how Steven tended to do all the talking while she did the actual work toward making events happen. Still, it was her forte. Manipulating schedules, moving meetings and tradesmen's appointments to other weeks. All done with a smile of warm love, an irresistible glow that would melt the most taciturn heart. Like he said, she could sure turn it on when she needed to. Besides, apart from the maintenance he did on the boat, it left him free to dream and bound him closer to her. There was the shopping and packing of provisions, the menus she planned for each night. For the last, a candlelit dinner. A nice wine, in the good glasses. It could work.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Julie glanced at her watch; how could it be so dark so early in the afternoon? The wind blew harder, curling over the surrounding hills, causing whitecaps to form on the water. The mast of the boat swung through a widening oscillation and the clanging of the stays increased in clamour. For a moment Julie looked about for snakes, before she realised the intermittent hisses she kept hearing were those of air-born embers extinguishing themselves in the bay. The heat of the wind scorched at her nostrils, dried the sweat on her skin without cooling.

"Steven," she called below, "I think we'd better get out of here."

"What's up?” he asked, as he climbed up to the deck. His bloodshot eyes traced the path from her finger to the shore.

"I think the fire's coming," she answered, pointing at the smoke that now carried across the heights and down toward them, in a serpentine undulation, sparks and embers gleaming among black roilings. As they watched, fireballs rippled across the hilltops in a cascade of trees exploding.

"Wow!" he yelled, turning to Julie, "did you see—", only to have his words drowned as the roar of the fire hit, loud as jet engines, like a train overhead. Soot and ash, embers and burning leaves began raining into them, onto the deck, to be blown into the bay on the next gust. Through the flurries Steven pulled her down into the cabin.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Crouching down before the drinks cabinet, Julie pulled out a dark velvet covered box. She took out a glass and held it up to the light, catching the rainbow diffractions from its crystal edges. She tapped it on the rim, holding it up to hear the pure hum of its resonance. Only three of a dinner set left. Family heirlooms bequeathed at the wedding. Her mother would be so sad if she were still around to hear of it.

"You w****," he'd yelled in a voice she'd never heard before or since, though she can remember it like it was yesterday. Then he'd hurled that chair across the room, to smash into the drinks cabinet.

"It was your idea in the first place," she'd yelled back.

"What are you talking about?"

"You and your f****** threesomes!" she screamed, "You brought other people into this."

"Me!" Steve sputtered, "You were the one who said we should experiment."

"And you jumped at the idea; I was just testing you."

"So you were playing with me?"

"Yes, and I decided to do a little more experimenting on my own!" she jeered, and then he'd thrown more about, bellowing until the flat was a shambles and the police were knocking on the door. So much fuss when she'd only slept with George the once.

Julie replaced the glass in its lined hamper beside the remaining two of its kind. Well, only the once that Steven knew about.

* * * * *

A red light washed the smoky space of the cabin, exploding trees were visible through the small windows lining eye level.

"Look at that!" Steven yelled.

"We've got to get out of here," Julie said, pitching her voice through the roar, "You start the motor, I'll get the anchor, take the tiller and stop any spot fires."

Steven began coughing, still staring outside. The cabin's rocking increased in fervour, so that they had to stretch a hand to keep balance. He pointed outside to a miniature twister of fire that spiralled down the hillside and out across the water before dissipating into the smoke.

"A willy-willy! We've got to get out of here!" Steven yelled, pushing past Julie to the engine.

She made her way on deck, squinting against the wind and smoke, to the anchor, and pulled it in. The fires had crept over the crests all around the bay. Fierce winds whipped the flames sideways across the hillsides. Another willy-willy span off the fire-front, slithering down to the water, spreading the fire in its wake. She grasped the tiller in hand, swung it around for the heads while flicking the gear lever to drive. There was no lurch from the motor kicking in, the mast’s oscillations broadening as the boat turned side on to the swell. Amid the roaring and flying embers, Julie watched as the flames whipped around the bowl of their bay. What sky there was of smoke glowered a dense red cloud above them. She joggled the lever again; nothing. The boat began drifting toward the shore amid the wash.

Steven clambered up from the cabin's doorway.

"It was out of fuel," He said into her ear, "I've filled it up but I still can't get it to turn over."

"If there's an airlock we're screwed," she said as she started for the hatchway, "but you've probably just flooded it."

On the first rung down Julie could smell the petrol. A skein caught in the sway of the boat washed against her feet as she checked the engine. Letting in the choke, she pushed the ignition button. The light in the cabin flared a brighter orange. Julie looked out while the motor rumbled beneath her finger, at the flaming willy-willy bearing down on them, spinning out across the intervening gap that had grown so alarmingly small. The roar grew louder, and for a few moments the boat juddered while the windows cracked and popped from the flames that swirled against them.

For moments she stared, hand to mouth, until the motor's vibration brought her back to herself. Grabbing the fire extinguisher off the wall, she rushed to the deck. Flames licked the length of the boat. To port, the bushfire was right at the rocks lining the water's edge; she could feel its’ greater radiant heat against her face. Julie sprang past the burning sail, tied down so neatly to the beam, for the tiller, bore away to starboard and felt a satisfying jolt as the gear lever pushed into drive. Once headed, she turned the extinguisher onto the sail until it was mostly doused.

"Steven!" Julie called above the inferno, searching the nearby waters, to catch sight through the haze and sparks of his upraised arm a few meters to the stern. She waved and slipped the boat into neutral. While he swam to the boat she finished off the sail. She hauled him aboard.

"Steer," she yelled, pushing him aft, while with quick spurts of what remained in the fire extinguisher she saw to the lingering flames on the wood trimmings.

As they made for the heads, Julie looked at Steven. The skin on one half of his face was an ugly red, the hair burnt from the same side of his head.

"Are you all right?" she asked, feet braced against the swell.

"I thought I was dead.".

"I did too," she said, "You need a doctor; I'm going to radio for help."

"You'll have to wait til we're out on the open water."

"Oh yes," Julie said beneath the fire's roar, "I forgot."

The sea beyond the heads held a different colour due to the sun shining on it direct.

"It's changed to an onshore wind," Steven said as they breasted the entrance to the bay, the salt smell of the ocean coming to them, mingled with petrol, "that's weird."

As they gazed toward the horizon, a eucalypt leaf, incandescent among the ash and sparks, swirled at the entrance to the hatchway. For a moment it hung, caught in an eddy of crosswinds, before plunging into the space below.

"You spilled the petrol!" said Julie, just before a gout of fire flared out the hatchway. They reeled back, out of the way. Down in the cabin the flames spread through the compartment. The extinguisher spat its last as Julie watched the velvet on her glassbox crisp.

"It's over," said Steven, "Abandon ship." They dove over the side and swam to the cunjevoi covered rocks. Watched as the flames licked from the cabin windows and consumed the yacht, while sparks and embers whirled on the winds from the bushfire behind them, the sea in front.
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Old 01-09-13, 04:47 AM
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Re: Short Story Contest Discussion Thread

Check Your Head

“i’m bored.”
“me too.”
“there’s no good movies on tv, or onDemand right now. I thought you owned Saw.”
“for the last time, no I don’t. that was onDemand. Ivan’s house?”

“yo guys.”
“hey Ivan.”
“what’s up?”
“nothing much. we’re kinda bored.”
“yeah, me too. it’s just a boring wednesday.”
“even tv has nothing today. it’s the mid-morning of a summer weekday, how do they not have old cartoons on?”
“you watch old cartoons still?”
“yeah, i prefer Tom & Jerry and Looney Tunes to most of the crap they put on MTV or Cartoon Network, or Nickelodeon today. i miss the old stuff.”
“fair enough. MTV has very few shows worth watching now.”
“actually, the only shows worth watching are on MTV2 now. that’s where all the ******* shows are, Headbangers Ball, Celebrity DeathMatch, and other stuff.”
“yay for MTV2.”
“i’m hungry, anybody else hungry?”
“now that you mention it...”
“yeah, i’m hungry too. but my house doesn’t have any food in it.”
“how about we go to the Kwik Mart?”
“i don’t feel like buying food though.”
“where else will we get food? plus they have way more stuff than we ever get at the grocery store for junkfood.”
“sweet, let’s go.”

“oh ****.”
“how is this place not open right now?!”

“look friends, a note!”
“you have got to be ******* kidding me.”
“it’s only 9something…what time is it?”


“well there’s only one thing to do now: we wait.”
“for 3 hours?!”

“you have any better ideas?”
“…fine. Let’s sit against it then.”
“this kind of reminds me of the movie Clerks.”
“never seen it.”
“me either.”
“really? i would’ve thought you’dve seen it Mark.”

“well then, nevermind.”
“jesus, i’m so BORED.”
“would it be illegal for us to break the door open, take what we were going to buy, and leave our money right on the counter?”
“I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.”


“should we go to Jim’s house?”

“hey, is this place open?”
“nope. we’ve been waiting for it to open.”
“damnit. I need my smokes, and I’ll probably be late for my meeting…you kids want to see a magic trick?”
“alright then, how about you, come up here.”
“call the cops if things go bad guys.”
“now take this card and put it between your hands. yeah, like that. now sammich it between them, sammich it really tight.”
“alright then, good. abra kadabra. now lift up your right foot.”
“oh my god! That’s so cool!”

“yup, gets them every time. well I’m gonna go now then, I’ve probably spent enough time avoiding my job for today. see ya.”
“that was pretty cool.”
“yeah seriously, I half expected that guy to be some sort of pedophile, cuz who goes up to a group of kids and asks them if they want to see a magic trick?”


“I’m asking since I’m pretty sure it’s out in theatres now, but have you guys seen Grindhouse?”

“I saw the Planet Terror movie, it was awesome!”
“was that Rodriguez or Tarantino?”
“Rodriguez. Tarantino did the other one, Death Proof.”
“ah. so it’s totally worth seeing.”
“yeah dude.”

“aw *******it, the Kwik Mart isn’t open now is it?”
“crap. I want an Amp right now.”
“yeah, we all want candy and junk food since our houses are empty.”
“we’ve been here since 9:40.”

“and now its…11:30.”
“wow, don’t you guys have school or something right now?”

“no, our school year ended earlier than usual.”
“which is good for us.”
“aren’t you in highschool or something?”

“psh. No, I’m not. thanks for the complement though.”
“well, you’re really young and pretty, and you’re not in high school, college?”

“no, I’m in law school.”
“so then you’re what then, 20something?”

“damn. you seriously had us fooled. we thought you were a highschool girl, probably HF or Marian.”
“oh stop it. In law, flattery doesn’t get you very far. However if you 3 keep it up in school you might have a bright future.”
“…what’s your name?”

“how fitting, all girls named Chase seem to be extremely pretty and hot.”
“and you know other Chases?”

“my brother knows some, he’s in highschool.”
“well I’m gonna split. I need an energy drink for some studying I have to do if I want an internship this summer. bye boys.”
“don’t’ go.”

“…I miss Chase.”
“quiet you. we all miss her. she was stunningly beautiful and had an awesome body.”
“yeah. oh well. we can reminisce about her later when we see some nudity in a movie at Mark’s.”
“at Mark’s?”
“yeah, we’re going to your house when we get our foodstuffs here.”
“I didn’t know that.”

“now you do.”
“I really wish we had music going at least. you know, like a radio with some cds.”
“yeah but that wouldn’t work for me since im the only kid in our school who likes rock and metal only.”
“we like rock.”
“yeah but our definitions are different. Yes I’m sure we have common likes such as Nirvana, Black Sabbath, KISS, Motley Crue, The Rolling Stones, etc. but I like more and further metal as well.”
“metal sucks!”
“to each his own.”

“wait, you didn’t mention The Beatles.”
“I do not care for The Beatles.”
“how can you say that?! The Beatles are the band that started rock and are loved by anybody who calls themselves a rock fan.”
“for the record, The Beatles didn’t start rock, modern rock maybe, but Chuck Berry and Elvis started rock music. and also, I just do not care for The Beatles. I like a few songs by them, but overall not as much. I probably am the only person I know who doesn’t like them.”

“yeah yeah yeah.”

“oh my god.”

“the storekeeper cashier owner man is back!”
“HOLY ****. what time is it now?”
“we’ve been here little more than 3 hours…No.”
“ok if this ever happens again we just go to one of our houses and find something to do to kill time.”
“I needs my skittles.”
“I’m getting me some spicy Dorito chips.”
“slushee for me. if they have them. If not then I’ll get…a hostess treat thingy.”
“Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”

-Hunter S. Thompson
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