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Logos
08-04-2007, 11:15 AM
:D :banana: Please vote for the story you like best. :banana: :D

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***IMPORTANT NOTE:

Due to several members in the past having difficulty opening the stories attached as Microsoft Word Documents because of their internet browser or computer operating system incompatibilities, and a number of other issues, starting with this elimination round and henceforth, entries will be posted as plain text only. If you do wish to add formatting to your story such as italics or bolding, please use vBulletin code only. An over-view of vBulletin codes can be found here under "Are there any special codes/tags I can use to markup my posts?": http://www.online-literature.com/forums/faq.php?faq=vb_read_and_post#faq_vb_special_codes

Details of specific vBulletin codes can be found here: http://www.online-literature.com/forums/misc.php?do=bbcode

We apologise for this change in format, but also appreciate your understanding that we wish to have this Short Story competition accessible to all members.

For this elimination round's stories that have indented lines, which now do not show, if you wish to you can re-type and submit your story to me with the vBulletin indent codes and I will re-post it here.

What I have done is copy and pasted the story text into each post, and manually changed the text only to reproduce the following formatting that was lost: paragraph breaks, centred text, bolding, and italics.

The forum software word filter (for swear words etc.) that creates asterisks for the entire word can not be defeated so I have manually changed the text, alternating the letters of the word with the asterisks, so that the word(s) show. Nothing else in text or format has been changed.

If any of the 6 authors in this round have a problem, question, or issue about this change, please send me a private message.



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:D This is our biggest elimination round yet with a total of 6 stories! :D

They are posted in no particular order!

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The winner of this August elimination round will join the other finalists who have won the February, April, and June elimination rounds.
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To be fair to all, please do not discuss the actual stories here, as that could/might influence the outcome of the poll.
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If anybody has any questions, issues, or concerns regarding this elimination, or the competition in general, they should send a private message to Scheherazade or myself, or, email us at [email protected] instead of asking them here in the topic :)

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Please note that the authors agree to keep their identities secret when they enter the competition and until the winner is announced in January of 2008. Those who breech this rule will be disqualified automatically.

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Competition Rules (http://www.online-literature.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18200)

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Please Note: This poll will close in 31 days--11:18 AM -4GMT, 3 September 2007.

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***If you want to enter the next elimination round that will start in October, please submit your stories to the above email address on or before 30 September 2007. They will be entered into the last 2007 elimination round in October.***

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Logos
08-04-2007, 01:31 PM
CTF

Jason’s mission briefing had described the target building as “labyrinthine.” “What a crock,” he thought. “A labyrinth has no forks and one entrance.” As he squinted around the corner, it was immediately obvious to him that such was not the case. Before the underground hallway terminated in darkness, he could make out at least three crossways and half a dozen closed doors. “But no guards. Even though they know I’m here.” From his experiences with these people before, they tended to favor an aggressive search-and-destroy using every agent they could scrounge.

Which left the target prone. Scanning up and down the hallway, Jason jogged towards the first door on tiptoe. He winced at the echo of his soles. “Too loud. I don’t like it…”

Opening the door revealed a pair of idling computers, but a quick twiddle on each, and Jason knew neither held what he was looking for. He did the same with the next three doors, checking every computer for the right file. One of the rooms had contained four walls of PCs, plus three standing rows of tables, and checking all of them took at least 15 minutes longer than he would have liked. What he would have liked was some decent intelligence information, but his superiors had decided it was much too risky to spare the extra overhead.

In the fifth room, he found it, with the file in plain sight, as he’d been told it would be. A copy was on his flash drive within the minute.

Jason heard a soft grunt behind him. “Somebody just took a backswing.” He dropped instinctively to his knees, which landed with a crack on the tile at the same time his forehead collided with the keyboard on the desk. "Owww…" he moaned after he collapsed on the floor. "Might as well just have taken the hit." The guard, thrown off-balance, doubled over when the chair Jason kicked at him hit below the belt. Jason scrambled to his feet as the guard clutched his privates in pain. "Crotch hit – never gets old."

Jason bolted down the hallway as the guard raised the alarm. Sentries mobbed in behind him from the crossways, too slow to cut him off. Jason slammed hard into a door to his left, bolting up the stairs and into the layer of fresh air between ground and perpetual cloud cover.

Two minutes later, Jason sat panting on the sidewalk surrounded by his fellow operatives, his flash drive held triumphantly in the air and his pursuers frustrated on the other side of Massachusetts Avenue, waiting for the signal to change. He managed to stay sitting upright long enough for the fifteenth slap on his back to knock his exhausted body limply to the concrete. "Should we go see if it matches?" asked a teammate.

"Let's go see if it matches," affirmed Jason between wheezes. A laptop materialized from a messenger bag somewhere in the mob. The flash drive went in, and a number key containing 5,000 random digits was pulled up – one file comparison later, the verdict appeared:


FILES IDENTICAL

After the requisite half-hour of gloating by the victors, the losers began the long walk across Cambridge back to Harvard. "When the MIT guys challenged us to Capture the Flag…which one of us said 'yes'??"

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Logos
08-04-2007, 01:39 PM
The Whole World is Closed!

Mandy and her mother had been shopping for a new pair of jeans and a t-shirt that Mandy could wear to her cousin's birthday party. The birthday was going to take place in just two days, and Mandy was in a panic because they still hadn't found a pair of jeans or a t-shirt that she liked.
"Don't worry," her mother kept saying, "we'll find something."

But they had been shopping all afternoon, and now the stores were getting ready to close and Mandy's mother announced that it was time for them to call it a day.

"Just one more store, Mom, please. I'm sure we'll find something I like."

"The mall is closing now, Mandy."

"Couldn't we go somewhere else, Mom, please! I'll die if I have to wear one of my stinky old jeans to the party."

But her mother was already heading for the exit.

"Just one more store, Mom, please," Mandy pleaded, walking quickly to keep up with her. "I'm begging you. Please. Please."

"It's a holiday, Mandy," her mother said. "The whole world is closed."

Mandy stopped in her tracks. "That's ridiculous, Mom," she called out. How could the whole world be closed? But her mother was already too far ahead of her to hear.

Mandy looked around. Sure enough, all the stores that she could see were closing their doors or bringing steel shutters down over their windows.

All the way home, the only lights that they could see were the street-lamps. One by one, as Mandy and her mother drove by, store lights were being turned off.

Before she went to bed that night, Mandy went to the window in her room. She opened it a bit, as she always did, so that she might have fresh air while she slept. Looking out, she could see the distant stars, like faraway worlds that would be open all night long.

Sighing unhappily, she crawled into bed and fell asleep. And soon, she was having a dream, a terrible dream. She dreamed that it was the day of her cousin's party and she was still out searching for the ONE PERFECT PAIR OF JEANS AND T-SHIRT.

She was high up, high above the world, flying through the air. The stars were closer than she'd ever seen them before, as close as the kids who sat next to her in class. And the moon was bright and very large.

She flew first to Paris, because she had heard that Paris was the fashion capital of the world. Just as she got there, however, the gendarmes were pulling together giant iron gates all around the city.

Paris was closed!

The Eiffel Tower was closed!

The Champs Elysees was closed!

So was Montmartre, the Louvre, every famous place she had ever heard of, and of course every store.

The whole city was closed. In fact, as she rose higher in the air, she saw that all of France was closed!

"Can I get in, please," she said to the gatekeeper, but he said:

"Sorry, closed."

By dozens, by hundreds, lights were going out all over the country. Around its harbours, ships were locked out and were lying at anchor. Overhead, several 'planes circled around hopelessly or turned back and headed elsewhere, searching for a country that might still be open. And on the ground, at every border crossing, trains and cars and trucks were piled up in long, long lines, unable to get in.

Next, she flew to New York, the one city in the world, she thought, that never closes, never sleeps. But just as she got there, the police were shutting the doors on New York City, and here, too, the lights were beginning to go out.

The giant neon signs on Broadway sputtered and went out.

The Empire State building blinked several times as if in protest. Then it, too, went dark.

The Brooklyn Bridge was closed, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Museum of Modern Art, Harlem, Manhattan...

"Can I get in, please," she called out to the gatekeeper, but he said:

"Sorry, closed, shut."

She went to Tokyo, to Rome, to Toronto: closed, all closed. Sweden, Ireland, China... Wherever she went, it was the same sad story.

Finally, desperate, she flew to Africa. No one could close Africa, she was sure. It was so big, and parts of it, she had heard, were still wild. But when she got there the jungles were just being locked up for the night.

The lions were going to sleep.

The giraffes were laying down their long, graceful necks on soft grass.

The hyenas were retreating into their lairs.

The apes and monkeys were curling up in trees or caves.

A tall bamboo fence had come down around all of Africa. A few restless animals, not yet ready for sleep, stood at this fence and looked out, longingly.

"Can I get in, please," she said to the gatekeeper, but he said:

"Sorry, closed, shut. All locked up."

Her mother was right: the whole world was closed! She couldn't have bought the one most horrible jeans and t-shirt, let alone the one perfect jeans and t-shirt, if her life depended on it.

She turned around, defeated and sad. She would never find the one perfect jeans and t-shirt in time for her cousin's party. She would have to wear some ugly old thing that looked horrible on her.

She was beginning to miss her family and decided it was time to go home. But as she turned around to fly back, an enormous iron cage came down on all sides of the world, fastened with the largest padlock she had ever seen.

The whole world was closed!

She rattled the gates as hard she could, but they wouldn't budge.

"Can I get in, please," she called as loud as she could, but the gatekeeper said:

"Sorry, closed, shut. All locked up. Too late."

Then she saw a window, a window that was slightly open, just wide enough for her to crawl through.

And she was back in her room, in her own bed - awake! She looked toward the window, where the sun was shining through. Getting out of bed she went to the window, and yes: there it was, bathed in sunlight - the whole, beautiful world!

She ran to her parents' room and entered quietly. "Mom, Mom," she whispered, shaking her mother gently:

"It's time to get up - the whole world is open!"


- § -

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Logos
08-04-2007, 01:48 PM
Truth

The dark haired man sat in the chair and gazed with slightly cold grey eyes across the table at his two inquisitors. His face was strangely youthful above a mustache that was peppered with almost every shade of hair known to man, giving way to solid white tips. Funny, thought the male FBI Agent. You knew the man was big, but not really how massive until there was something against which to compare him. Here, at this table, the man seemed a giant. He reached for a one-liter bottle of cranberry-flavored water, and his hand seemed to engulf the bottle.

“Exactly what do you guys want out of me?” The man’s voice was deceptively soft. FBI Agent Doris Reeves had heard the man speak in a tone that would almost make a gravestone kneel down and pray. The utter authority behind the man’s personality was shocking. “How about the truth for a change.” She said. “You are notorious for managing to somehow take over these questioning sessions, until it seems that we answer your questions, not the reverse. It grows tiresome.”

The big man steepled his fingers together, nodding slowly. “What is truth? As I recall, history records that a condemned man named Jesus of Nazareth was brought before Pontius Pilate for trial, and Pilate asked that question. Afterwards, he did all he could to free the unjustly condemned man. Now—“

“How is any of this relevant to the case at hand? You are trying to sidetrack again, this time drawing on your experience as a minister!” FBI Agent Gordon Powers, Reeves’ partner thrust his snarling face into the other man’s. “I don’t give a rat’s what you pound across a pulpit, preacher! You are going to face up to the truth.”

The other man never flinched. “You really should be careful what you ask for, Mr. Powers. It might just reach out and take a bite out of you.”

Power’s snapped out several words he didn’t learn in church, and grabbed for the big man’s jacket lapels. “I’m warning—“ The words choked off. Reeves’ jumped to her feet and pulled her gun. Power’s hands were up and open, and his eyes were suddenly bright.

“Loose the gun, little lady.” The big man’s voice was still soft. His right hand had shot out in a flash, and his thumb and two fingers were locked on Agent Power’s larynx. “I move this hand by an inch in either direction and your partner is dead Even if you shoot me, my falling body will snap his windpipe. I won’t ask again.”

Reeves tossed her automatic behind her. The big man turned his head toward the window, and a half-smile formed on his face. “You goons out there just settle down. When Agent Powers quits acting like Dirty Harry, we will get back to our little talk.”
He looked at Agent Powers. “You always get the Chatham Brothers as backup. Assistant Director Daniel “Fancy Dan” Chatham really pushes his four brothers as a crack SWAT team. When will you people stop laying politics with me?

“You’d be dead before Special Agent Michael “Iron Mike” Chatham, got through the door, and her as well. Then we’d see if four of a kind can beat a real ace. Now, set down and act like a man, for crying out loud. And cuss me again and you will regret it.”

Agent Powers sat down rubbing his throat. “I should just have the guys come and get you and forget the whole mess. You love to rack up the felonies, don’t you?”

“Felonies consist of what you can prove, Powers. What happened to the last recordings from our little meetings? You went into court and thought you had me all sewn up. Blank videos and blank tapes were all you could produce. You can’t handle the truth. You can’t even catch it when it passes in front of you.”

“What is the truth, Mr. X? “ Agent Reeves said softly. “Exactly what is the truth? No double-talk, no riddles, no philosophical rambling—just a clear, precise statement of the facts is all I ask.”

“She’s a smart lady, you could learn a lot from her.” The big man told Agent Powers. He sighed. “You are never going to believe me anyway. No one ever does. That is what happens when you turn out the way I am. I can tell you this, however: it goes back a lot further than anything you have managed to unearth.”

“You don’t seem to have much respect for our credentials, Mr. X.” Agent Powers remarked. “How would you know what we have in our files? We might surprise you.”

Mr. X smiled slowly, taking a sip of his cranberry water. Eyes half-closed, he began to recite, never once looking up: “Albert Gordon Powers, age 38. You graduated valedictorian from your high school. Entered the army, where you trained as a medical officer. Specialized in forensic pathology as part of covert operations to ensure return of remains of American Soldiers. Also trained as a Psychiatrist, dealing with those who are shell-shocked or prone to excessive violence.

“You came to the FBI where you honed those skills into your current position as a profiler and crime scene pathologist. There doesn’t exist a better man or woman for the job.

“Angela Dolores Reeves, nickname “Doris”, age 36. Also graduated valedictorian of her high school class, her university class, and Harvard Law School. She has a reputation as the “Sherlock Holmes of the FBI,” which is well deserved. She is one of the highest clearance ranked African-American law personnel in the world.

“Did I miss anything?”

Both Agents were taken back. “Now, what do you have on me, since I know so much about the two of you. It just might be entertaining.”

Reeves held up a folder with a curious mark on the front, a marble circle with a stylized P engraved into it. “You recognize this symbol?”

Mr. X snorted. “Is that the best you have on me? Yes.”

Reeves began to run a slide show on her computer. Faces began to pop up, one at a time. “Who is she?”

Mr. X glanced at the pretty young woman in the golden sari, with a tiger snuggled to her side. “Who are they, you mean. If you leave Shere Khan out, you highly underestimated your person. Madhauri Vasin, code name for the pair: “India.”

“So you admit you have ties to this terrorist operation!” Agent Powers snapped.

“Boy, what I said was, I knew them.” Mr. X took a long drink of cranberry water. “And you people are so blindly paranoid, that if you don’t strictly authorize a group, then they are terrorists by default. Nothing The Protectors have ever done has been except for the common good of mankind.”

“They work outside the law—“

“The world is going to hell in a hand basket and you quibble over what the law is! Your own hands are far from clean, Mister Powers! I know about the incident you and Ms. Reeves so conveniently covered up out at Innsmouth, a town most people think a figment of Lovecraft’s imagination. The Government thought they could control it this time, make super soldiers, yeah?

“What was it like having to gun them all down in cold blood and you a Doctor? And them having to autopsy the very men and women you and her killed? Just to find out what went wrong with the experiment; beautiful picture I’m getting here, Powers!” Mr. X’s voice was icy cold.

Both Agents had guns pointed at Mr. X’s head. “How-how did you get that information? It had highest classification clearance only. The President doesn’t have that kind of access.”

“I’m not the President, Powers. And you already tried killing me once. What makes you think you would be any more successful now? Shut up and listen to me very carefully:”

The Agents slowly lowered their guns. Mr. X had taken over the computer Reeves had used. His fingers flew over the keys:

“Daniel Donovan McCray. Code name: Blaze. Scottish. You know as well as I that he was part of a failed British super-soldier experiment. They thought they had cleaned up. They missed him.

“Ophelia Angelica Ricco. Code Name: Dark Angel. Apparently Italian, but perhaps a real Angel. Love to dissect her, wouldn’t you, Powers?

“Angelo Arno Montague. Code Name: Edge: Creole. Expert thief and knife fighter. He is their information source. No place is secure enough to keep out Arno. Funny thing about that is, you tried to recruit him before he went to work for the Protectors.

“Dakota Little Crow. Code Name: Falcon: Native American, Cheyenne. A Shaman, who is deeply in touch with the animal world. As you found out to your distress, correct, Agent Reeves?”

Reeves absently ran a hand over her right arm. The scar would still show from the alligator bite.

“Alona de Mere. Code Name: Mermaid, for obvious reasons. One of Doctor LeMans successes in genetic manipulation, she escaped from his laboratory on the River Sine. Another you wish to dissect, per order I believe, Powers?”

“The world has to be made safe, Mister X. And sometimes, sacrifices have to be made. It is something that is out of your hands.”

Mr. X smiled slowly. “Is it now? Perhaps out there it really is out of my hands. I can do nothing to change the world as we know it. But in here…”

“In here. Old Man, you have two guns pointed at your head and a fully armed SWAT team in the hall. The whole building went on high alert and lockdown when you pulled your little stunt a while ago.” Agent Powers ground the words through his teeth.

“You are now ‘collateral damage’. No one saw you come in and we will make certain that your death is ruled a homicide, with The Protectors to blame.” Agent Reeves said coldly.

“No, I don’t think so.”

“You aren’t the one doing the thinking now, Mister X.” Agent Reeves told the old man.

“Oh, but I am. I am writing this story. The Protectors are too good to let you ruin. Not only them, but also the guy you list here the spook inspector, the psychic detective, and the mindless man. He only has amnesia, you know. And you’d eventually track down the others, the Infinity group in Washington, the African-American cowboy, The Cheyenne bounty hunter, the vampire cop, maybe all the way back to The Warriors of Eternity.

“You guys have been fun, but I think it’s time I end your story.”

The old man quit typing…

--

Logos
08-04-2007, 02:01 PM
Disappear

The wind howled in the storm, as Julie stared out her bedroom window. As the rain came down with such anger and misery, the window weakened, and began to crack.

Julie’s face was blank, her expression lost in the blackened expression she saw in her cracked stormy mirror. Her soul trapped in a reality no six-year-old should experience.

“Damn it Darla!” her father yelled, from the kitchen, “If you want the damn sink fixed, then I hope you don’t want the mortgage paid!” A gust of wind pounded the window.

Her parents had been yelling for hours. Julie’s mom had drank a little too much and like usual started some drama that she seemed to enjoy. “Oh, Trevor why don’t you love me?” she would say and he would response, “You know I love you.” and then she would raise some irrelevant point that would have nothing to do with love. Today it was the broken sink, yesterday it was the daycare payments for Julie’s brother Todd.

Of course Julie held no animosity toward her caring mother, who went to school and talked to the teachers. She feed her the most delicious foods and held all the knowledge Julie’s curious heart desired.

“Then let me work Trevor!” the yelling from the kitchen ensued.

“Jesus Christ!” Julie could hear her father’s fist slam on the table, forcing the crack in her window in a second direction. “I have told you, no wife of mine will ever work.” Lightning struck passed Julie’s window. The dark reflection of her pink bedroom lit up to reveal something that had been hidden in the shadows.

It was a figure that laid in Julie’s bed, a dark tattered looking creature, who’s skin was of a dirty grey and eyes black holes that to draw every essences and emotion from those who look upon them. Julie starred at the figure, she did not feel fear she was not even startled. She felt nothing as she stared at the creature who had taken form in her bed.

‘Hate’ the creature spoke in what seemed a voice of gasping air, ‘You hate their yelling. You hate their fighting. Right now you hate them don’t you?’

“Who are you?” Julie quizzed the mysterious creature before her.

“Shut up you misogynistic prick” the yelling continued.

‘I am your muse Julie’ the creature spoke, ‘I am Mneme.” A gust of wind shot a crack straight down the middle of the window.

“What do you want?” Julie asked, still no emotions stirred.

“If wanting to treat you as a goddesses is misogynist, then fine I am a misogynist.” the yelling continued.

‘I want to inspire your soul, little one. I want to put you in the stars.’ Mneme stood up from the bed, and waved her hand. Julie turned to look out her storm torn window, but all she saw was a Lillie covered meadow.

Julie heard in the distance her mother scream, and the window brake, but all she did was walk into the meadow and dance. She felt nothing but the need to dance.


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“Julie, it’s dinner time!” Julie’s mother yelled up the stairs, to beckon the daughter she did not know. Julie didn’t come. This came of no surprise her mother, Julie was probably in one of her trances again and cannot hear her.

Julie’s mother trekked up the hall decorated with various awards and plaques, “Best Satirical Work, Orwell Foundation” , “Most Promising Author, Random House Publishing”, “Most Provocative Modern Tragedy Writer, Mnene Foundation”. The hall stood more as a timeline of the 17 year-old Julie Aoide’s life, then a household hall.

Julie’s mother opened the door, to Julie’s empty room, and asked Mneme to please return her from the meadow.

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Logos
08-04-2007, 02:03 PM
I Wanted To Play

She was different. She was different from all other women I had toyed with. She was not pleading. Neither shouting nor complaining. The thing that astonished me the most was that there were no tears either falling from her eyes. “You hate me, don’t you? I used my pet-sentence. “But it’s all over anyway.” She didn’t reply, and asked no questions either. Another shock for me! I, the cleverest child, the most playful high-school boy, the handsomest man at my job was from early childhood used to receiving special attention from people, especially charming young women. I loved this attention given to me. It had always made me happy and of course proud. I was never even hesitant to pay back that attention. The only difference was that after giving a woman that attention, I used to get the biggest enjoyment by making that attention ‘transitory.’ It was the way I used to be. I couldn’t stick to a single woman. Getting women into bed with me and then throwing them out was what I was good at. Breaking promises was also a habit I never could escape and never wanted to escape.

Sarah was one of those women I had fallen for. I wanted to get her. But she was difficult. She was difficult to get because she was different. But her being different didn’t mean she couldn’t fall for me. Just a few promises I made and the girl who believed in, ‘Man overboard, Alarm,’ fell for me. My innocent face never gave her the hint that my face was nothing but that of a deceiver! And she was not like me. If she had taken my hand, she had wanted to take hold of it all her life. She thought she and I were in commitment, because I had said so. And she did all she could to make me happy. But the poor girl didn’t know I was not one from her league. ‘Commitment’ was not my thing.

After sometime I grew tired of her as well. Found Selena, a very attractive blonde, perfect for that moment. I don’t know how Sarah found out about our relationship. I guess it wouldn’t have been too difficult when I was brave enough to openly travel around with my new girlfriend. Any friend could have told her. She came to me to ask about it. And again bravely, without any reluctance, I made it clear to her I was not what she thought. Then I asked her if she hated me for that. I loved this question, had always asked it from the previous ones and the scenes they used to make was really exciting. But the end was always what I had wanted it to be! But Sarah didn’t make any scene. I asked the question again, “Do you hate me for this?”

She looked at me for a long time. I felt my face was getting hot, and she said quietly, “No, I don’t hate you.” Her answer took me by surprise and I was left speechless, but she continued, “You are miserable enough to be hateful.”
“Miserable, I?” I lauged hard.
“Yes, your conscience would one day haunt you, John. Why should I hate you? You don’t deserve this hate because one day you would hate yourself. And I consider that person miserable who despises himself for more than anyone else! I am not like you, John, I don’t want it to happen but I know it would happen if you remain like this. Get out of it. Don’t make those who love ‘love’ hate you! You have already played enough with me, but I don’t hate you. Because I love you and I pity you. If not in this world, there is this next world too!”
“Holy crap! F*u*c*k* your Jesus and after-life!” I said. Now, tears were falling on her pretty face.
“I wish I could hate you John, I really really wish,” she said quietly and moved back towards the door to get out of my house.

I don’t know what it was, but some days after it, Selena also left me for her ex-boyfriend. I was angry, first time in my life, a girl had dumped me. I also received the news of the death of my sister who had committed suicide because she was impregnated by her boyfriend who when found out she was with his baby, had left her. My dear little sister, she was brave and so intelligent, how could she have done that? It was extremely painful for me. Beth was the only girl I had ever loved. Not desired like the girls I had dated but really ‘loved.’ I wanted to find her boyfriend and kill him but I couldn’t. And what would have I said to him? Wasn’t I like him? I don’t even remember how many women I made have abortion. It seemed as if depression had found my way. I wanted to repent, I wanted my damn ‘conscience’ to feel okay. I wanted to forget Sarah whose face followed me everywhere like a shadow. But I couldn’t. All that time I had played with my toys, taking pleasure in their distress without realizing I was laughing at my own future. I was laughing at the ten-times more pain I was to get by my wrong-doings.

Just yesterday, I did three good things and felt better.

1: I bought candies for my little cousin and she smiled most wonderfully at me for that.
2: I for the first time in my life offered Prayer and prayed to God to forgive me and I felt as if my heart had got light
3: I helped a young woman who had got her purse snatched by catching those people who had tried to steal it from her. And not because she was very attractive physically. But because I wanted to help her. And because I wanted to please my God, and so myself.

I wonder would this happiness also be ‘transitory’?

--

Logos
08-04-2007, 02:11 PM
Mistaken Indemnity

I went to the grocery store and was astounded at the resemblance of a young man to an old friend of mine, Ira James. So struck, in fact, that I had to look again. Ira had died mysteriously not long after I had left for college, and the talk was that he had had AIDS. I'd heard about it quite a while after it had happened, a year or more. I didn't know his family. I don't think I had ever been to his house, couldn't even remember where he lived. He played the drums quite well and we practiced with our little rock group in the shed at my house when I was a junior or senior. His appeal was almost cherubic, curly haired and quite good looking, I think. This was back when I denied myself any appraisal of the relative handsomeness of men and boys, back in my more homophobic youth. As I continued past the checkout area and started down the far aisle of fresh vegetables, I considered the possibility that Ira had a son in this town. He'd have been about the right age.

I, having returned to my home town after a 20 year absence, recognized many an obvious combination of school mates from my youth. More interesting even than this however, is the recognition of vaguely remembered but eerily familiar eyes, noses and mouths, altered by time, sunken among the folds of the faces of my left behind contemporaries! It'd be 15 minutes or more, then, I'd remember who one of these apparitions was, or had been. Typically, I couldn't think of their name, but I would suddenly recall their class picture smiling, or pimply, or how ever it was that I remembered them. "Yes, that was Peter so-and-so", I'd muse, amazed at the curious effect that time and lifestyle had had upon my old pals. Lots of folks had stayed around or come back. Often, people who seemed total strangers at first, would casually greet me by name, passing by in the stores.

It was a nice change of pace to see Barney, the butcher, hacking away, with his clean, white, bloody apron and garb, back behind the opened, sliding, one-way, mirrored back of the meat display. God, Barney hadn't changed a bit! Barney always had a smile and never let my mother pick anything already packaged. She'd be prodding through the hamburger or pork and suddenly, a mirror would slide open and there'd be Barney, wiping his hands standing back on his heels in friendly disbelief, as if he couldn't imagine my mother selecting anything set out for the commoners. He would always give her the extra lean or better trimmed cuts at a discount price, and my mom would always scold him. I nodded friendly to him, and couldn't remember seeing him at all since I'd been back. I thought he had died, but then I remembered it must have been his brother who was kind of a rummy around town. I think it was "Barry Whitmore", not Barney, I'd seen in the obituaries. They may have been twins and I was never really clear which one worked at the grocery. They say it takes more muscles to frown than smile, and it was evident in Barney's youthful visage.

Suddenly, I panicked! Who was that? There was Susan Glendale, plain as day, beautiful as ever. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE??? I turned away suddenly, almost hiding my face, dashing down the canned goods aisle. My heart was pounding, I could hear it rasping in my breath, OK, OK, I'm going crazy, right? This girl is definitely dead, died tragically nine years ago, killed by a drunk driver. I mean, I saw this on the news. I'm crazy, am I crazy? It was terrible; the whole town marched in a candlelight vigil. This is not someone who looks like Susan, this is her, and she's just pawing through the dairy case, just like no big deal, getting a Yoplait, or something, right? Come ON man, WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH ME? I am not dreaming, I just woke up a little bit ago, and walked down to the store. Alright, alright, calm down, there must be some reasonable explanation.

OH, JESUS! There is Tammy Ridgeway! She's dead too! Damn. I'm bonkers, I'm dreaming! I slapped myself hard in the face. It hurt. Nothing. But Tammy looked up, looked right at me, she heard the clap. She committed suicide, senior year - I see now, why. She's out there, about eight months, but that was, what? 25 years ago, she hadn't changed a bit. She was pregnant, that was all it was, poor thing. Her parents were religious zealots, driving around town in the "Jesus Van". Praise the lord all over it, they have a big marquis on the side, and display various warnings, often referencing scripture. "There are no cool breezes in the pit of hell", “He's coming, are you ready?", stuff like that. She's smiling at me, that dreamy Tammy Ridgeway smile, she was always a little misshapen but now, she looks really quite pretty, pregnant. I wave funny like "yeah, sure, the sky is falling, I know." Her smile is that funny, accepting smile, like in The Birth of Venus, head cocked and the whole deal. Ok, whatever, I think I'll go now. Go home, back to bed. I walk briskly right past Tammy, back toward the checkout end of the aisle. I have a strange resolve. I don't even need to prove to myself to this dream; I just need to get out of here right now. The basket rubs against the side of my right knee as I hurry along. Hey! In a dream, you pinch yourself and wake up, right? Only, when I'm actually dreaming, I never, EVER, question the crazy things that happen. I will be dreaming about being at work, and then, in the dream, I open a door to an office, walk in, and I'm in my living room of the house I lived in as a kid, no big deal. Like that could happen. When it's a dream, I don't even think to pinch myself. But right now, the two big cans of whole tomatoes and the half gallon of skim milk are heavy to my arm and they are hurting my knee as the sharp edge of the plastic basket chafes along my leg with each step.

I round the end of the aisle. I'm getting out of here. Looking outside, I see, or rather can't see the parking lot, it's completely foggy - right white outside. That's ok, it's fall, we're near the ocean. It was sunny before, doesn't mean the fog can't've rolled in. Anyway, I don't care, I'll feel my way home, just get me out of this store. I nearly bump in to Mr. Thompson, hair still jet black. Let's see he died, when? It was four or five years ago. He looks at me puzzled, am I friend or foe? Suddenly, I see the Ronald Reagan resemblance here, he's gaunt and serious, and with that wet looking black hair, quite an ample crop. Then he starts to nod, imperceptibly at first, but then growing more pronounced, and with it, a smile sprouts. "OooH", is all he says, he can't think of my name but he knows the kind of thing I am: his son's friend. I think it was Alzheimer's he had, and a bad case, he is remembering that he should know me, but no more. I nod, yes, it is me, it is ok, I am late, gotta go.

Ah damn, NO, NO, NO!!! At the end of the last aisle, there she is, blocking the way, my mother. I drop the basket. This isn't fair. C'mon, C'mon now, this isn't right. She pulls up to me, "What are you doing here? I told you to look after your father! Where's Nancy?”

I just let out a little squeak, I shut my eyes tight, shake my head. Doesn't matter, I can still see her plain as day even with my eyes shut. She's all emaciated with the cancer, but her skin is still soft and supple. Her face is softly wrinkled, oddly like the waffling of a glazed donut. I feel a little sick. I'm gonna cry. "Mom!"

"You're not supposed to be here, get out of here, now… I'm serious.” She never scolds me like this, I must be having a psychotic break. "You need to get out of here, William, right now." She never calls me William, unless….I am in trouble.

I am filled with a strange resolve. My mother died last year, and I don't know what is going on, but ghost, apparition, spirit, whatever, I am obeying her. I take a couple of steps away. Then I come back, I pause, then, I move to hug her. I half expect her to pop like a soap bubble, when I touch her, but, no, she is really there. Her body feels thin and frail. I begin to cry. At first, her arms are limp, but quickly, she embraces me. I can feel a little shudder of a sob from her. She speaks low and deliberately, "You are a good son.” Tears flood down my face. Then she pushes me suddenly to arms length. "Now, go. Go and do what ever it is you're supposed to be doing".

"But, mom, what am I supposed to do? How is it that you are here, where are we?” I feel stupid, this can't be happening….but, it IS happening. An odd acceptance floats over me. I begin nodding my head and take a few steps backward toward the exit. I turn, more quickly now, I begin a stressful cantor. I pause, look back, my mother simply points her face, more serious now, sort of a quick deliberated nod, to show her unnegociacablity.

I look back for her from just outside the door, now it seems like the fog is inside the store. I want to go back in, but there is a commotion out here. People are gathered in the street. A man is lying on the street, people are pointing. Walking over, I see, it is me on the road, a big bump on the head. OH, finally, maybe someone is really dead! I kneel down; instinctively I put my ear to the person's, (my) nose and look down across the chest, and wait. Not breathing. I place my fingers on the carotid, starting at the Adam's apple then sweeping down to the indent - just like on the Red Cross dummy. A PULSE! There is a pulse! Opening the mouth, I observe, it doesn't look like anything is blocking the airway. Tilting the head back and blocking the nostrils, I perform two rescue breaths; the chest does rise up as I blow in air. I hear a siren in the distance. I continue with rescue breaths, counting and listening for breathing. The siren draws nearer. Then suddenly, the person starts coughing, there is a sort of start to the body, a twitch. The EMS van is here. An EMT rushes to me, to the body, and passes right through me and assumes a similar position to the one I am in. We are somehow superimposed. I hear funny noises and a distinct voice, strained but steady, “Got to move him, looks bad, he breathing? Yes he's breathing…” The voice fades; a sound like the ocean drowns everything out. There is a rocking motion, everything is dark, it is as though I am lying half in the warm sea at night along the beach, feeling the waves buffet me gently on the shore. I am light-weight, buoyant. After a time, I hear a clicking, a tinkling, I open my eyes.

A doctor has a light in my eyes, "you are a lucky man", is all he says.

rabid reader
08-04-2007, 04:12 PM
very good stories, there were two especailly that I needed to read twice over before selecting one, it was close that was for sure.

manolia
08-06-2007, 12:58 PM
Nice stories, indeed! I was torn between two :D

Zippy
08-08-2007, 09:06 AM
All great stories, I enjoyed them all.

Pendragon
08-08-2007, 11:11 AM
About three there that I read several times. All in all, an excellent crop of stories.

hedbanger
08-13-2007, 12:46 AM
All browsers are capable of .html files. :F Just thought I'd point that out.

Logos
08-13-2007, 08:20 AM
The point is to make things less complicated for everybody :)

Pendragon
08-13-2007, 11:04 AM
Please give Lady Logos a break. She did incalculable work to get these stories up in the amount of time she had. It was nice of her, since many readers said they didn't vote because they couldn't open the stories to read them. Thanks to Logos, they no longer have that excuse. So where are the voters now and what new excuse will you use?

My congratulations and admiration, m'lady, Logos.

http://i94.photobucket.com/albums/l108/AbsalomKane/Smilies/BlowaKiss.gif

Pen

rabid reader
08-15-2007, 06:11 PM
this is one of the closer races I've seen, with three contendors.

NickAdams
08-15-2007, 08:33 PM
I have until September 3rd to vote, right?

SleepyWitch
08-16-2007, 09:46 AM
Thanks to Logos, they no longer have that excuse. So where are the voters now and what new excuse will you use?


Pen

I will never run out of excuses :) but I'll read them and vote this time :)

Logos
08-16-2007, 09:57 AM
I have until September 3rd to vote, right?

Actually, 4 September :)

"This poll will close on 09-04-2007 at 11:18 AM"

Scheherazade
08-16-2007, 07:13 PM
this is one of the closer races I've seen, with three contendors.Yes, someone should break the tie! :D

Pendragon
08-17-2007, 09:43 AM
You want to know what I think? The poll closes Sept 4. That leaves 11 days to vote. We have 11 total votes on six stories. That's the usual way it goes. Even after the work that Logos did to make the stories accessible to everyone. This is the Literature Forum, Right? We read and write, correct? Your fellow members have written these stories and put them up where everyone could read them and you don't have time to read them or vote? I cannot see who has voted but I could probably name some of them. Why? Because they always vote! So get off your duff and vote! It's your duty!

http://i94.photobucket.com/albums/l108/AbsalomKane/Vote.gif


Pen

Captain Pike
08-18-2007, 07:37 PM
yes, it seems very odd, only 11 votes. I agree with pen, where are all the opinions we usually hear about? When I first joined this forum, I remember bragging to somebody about the tens of thousands of members... WHERE ARE THEY? A lot of us talk about wanting to write, and here, some folks have actually done just that... some of them, pretty good too, so gee, how hard is it for us to at least vote?

Scheherazade
08-21-2007, 08:12 PM
Last 10 days to cast your vote!

SleepyWitch
08-22-2007, 02:20 AM
Last 10 days to cast your vote!

aaaargh, could you post another reminder on the last day before the deadline?

rabid reader
08-26-2007, 11:15 AM
there is only ten days left to vote right?

Logos
09-01-2007, 08:04 AM
oh! there's a tie right now! :idea:

Scheherazade
09-01-2007, 10:15 PM
Hopefully it will be broken by the 4th!

Scheherazade
09-02-2007, 01:32 PM
Going once...

rabid reader
09-02-2007, 06:53 PM
Come on guys, only 17 votes? Do we need to bring in P-Diddy to start putting threats upon your life unless you exersize your right to vote?

Scheherazade
09-03-2007, 06:51 PM
Going twice...

hedbanger
09-03-2007, 11:27 PM
I would gladly convert them to HTML for everyone if I received something like... affection =D

Scheherazade
09-04-2007, 12:12 PM
Congratulations to the author of 'The Whole World Is Closed', who is the winner of August '07 elimination.

You can now send your entries for the October!

:) Happy writing! :)


Hedbanger, could you please PM me regarding the HTML? Thanks.