Author Topic: Fortnightly Writing Competition: TWILIGHT (Voting OPEN until Nov 25th)  (Read 1344 times)

Mandle

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As the days get shorter, for us Northern Hemisphere folk, twilight comes earlier and earlier each day.

Let's see some stories that capture that feel.

You can also write a Twilight Zone style episode if you wish, even including opening and closing Rod Serling narration...

But any story written with twilight (literal or metaphorical) as part of it is fine.
« Last Edit: 18 Nov 2020, 10:52 by Mandle »

KyriakosCH

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The Twilight Zone
« Reply #1 on: 26 Oct 2020, 08:28 »
It's a cookbook!!!
This is the Way - A dark allegory. My Patreon!  My Youtube!

Mandle

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The Twilight Zone
« Reply #2 on: 26 Oct 2020, 09:06 »
I'll just make an entry that need not be included just because I love this story that has been rattling around in my mind for some years now:

THE DOOR AT THE END OF TWILIGHT

Graham Chamber stood on the balcony as he had stood on a similar one all those years ago.

He looked out over the blood-red vista, just as he had all those years ago.

He made a gesture with his hand which would determine his fate forever after, just as he had all those years ago.

And he let his mind drift back to those memories of the events that had led him to this most unexpected destiny:

His one hand gripped the balustrade of the castle balcony. The other came down in a gesture of finality.

Almost as one, over a thousand enemy soldiers were hoisted high onto the long wooden spikes they were impaled on, and allowed to slide down, gripping the poles for as long as their survival instincts held out, until the shyness of the blood-red sun killed the twilight, and the coming night grew quiet of screams.

And then he turned and, without a glance backwards, walked through the door to the room where he had slept for decades, but in which he would never sleep again.

***********************************************************************************************************************************

He closed the arched wooden door behind him and started to walk into his bedroom. His eyes flashed over the red velvet draperies that lined the room to the four-poster-bed at its end.

He paused in mid-stride.

There shouldn't have been an insanely grinning dwarf's face peeking out from above the top of the bed's bear-fur covers.

There shouldn't have been two little stumpy hands gripping the bear-fur covers up to the chin of the dwarf's face, and there shouldn't have been that large disturbing melon-sized lump between what he assumed, incorrectly, were the dwarf's legs under the bear-fur covers.

"What is this?! Who are you?!", he spluttered, still frozen between strides of his cruel steel and leather boots.

The dwarf's grin grew absurdly wider as he retracted the covers with his left hand and a further left arm came out from under the covers where a left leg should have been.

The left hand at the end of the impossible arm gripped the floor with its long nails and then there was a rush of blurred movement.

The bear-fur covers blew backwards across the room in a burst of wind, and the dwarf was standing upright, revealing its true form:

The dwarf was split at its naked midsection into identical top and bottom halves.

Where genitals should have hung, there was another grinning face hanging between what should have been legs but were the same muscular arms its top-section was gesturing with to come closer.

The top and bottom heads spoke almost in, but, disturbingly, just slightly out of sync and said "yOu HaVe AtTrAcTeD mY aTtEnTiOn!"

The dwarf reached back behind itself, with its top-left arm and its bottom-right "leg", and fluidly pulled from behind itself a book in a way that seemed to turn its body around and upside-down at the same time without its other clawed hand leaving the floor.

"NoW sIgN iT, vLaD!", both widening mouths said, almost together, as the the book thudded down in between the only two human feet in the room.

Vlad felt a mixture of fear and exultation as he bent to pick up the book without ever taking his eyes off of the bi-split dwarf standing beside his bed.

**************************************************************************************************************************

"What am I signing for?" said Vlad to the dwarf.

"WhAtEvEr YoU MoSt DeSiRe In YoUr HeArT oF hEaRtS." replied the two mouths.

"Then might I sign on the condition that I will never die, like the men outside died choking on their own feces? And I mean NEVER! I will NEVER die?!".

"tHeRe ArE sOmE cOnDiTiOnS, bUt ThAt Is An AcCePtAbLe CoNtRaCt."

"Conditions? Do these 'conditions' mean that I could still die?"

"nO! YoU sHaLl NeVeR dIe."

"Then be damned with your conditions! You need me to sign in my own blood, if I have guessed correctly who you are."

"YeS. hErE... aLloW mE tO hElP yOu WiTh ThAt!"

The split-dwarf cartwheeled across the room towards Vlad like the finest circus acrobat would. THUD THUD THUD-THUD. On its final planting of the two hands that ended up at the bottom it spat out a feather-quill from its top mouth, caught it in its hand, and deftly stabbed Vlad in his neck with it, puncturing his jugular vein.

As Vlad collapsed to the floor, clutching at his gushing neck, he saw the book land in front of him. THUD!

The quill was pressed into Vlad's left hand and the dwarf said "bE sUrE tO sIgN bEfOrE yE dIe!", before he started into a series of cartwheels so tight and of such increasing speed that they ended with a final POP as the air imploded back inwards upon where he had stood.

Vlad looked at the quill.

There was not enough blood left on the tip to sign his name.

Vlad looked at the spreading pool of blood pouring from his neck over the wooden floor of his chamber.

His vision began to fade as the life-blood gushed out from the wound in his neck.

There was no way he would be able to sign his name in the book by just dipping the quill into the pool of his blood. It would run out before he could complete the signature.

He had been tricked!

His soul would belong to the dwarf and he would be tortured for all eternity instead of living for all of it.

Vlad was just a little bit smarter than that though.

He stabbed the nib of the quill directly into the pulsing jugular vein of his neck that was still pumping forth a steady stream of blood.

He waited a split-second, as his vision faded down to a tunnel with black walls that would encase him forever if allowed to shrink further.

As the tunnel walls grew inwards, he reached out his hand with the quill full of his blood and scrawled his signature onto the page of the dwarf's book.

It was good enough.

**************************************************************************************************************************

Vlad's  neck-wound knitted itself back together with only the thinnest of scars  the very moment he completed the signature and the quill fell from his  strengthless hand and then flew into the open page of the dwarf's book  which slammed shut on it and then spun around faster and faster and  finally imploded out of existence with a noise that sounded very much  like somebody shouting the word "FUCK!!!".

He awoke the next morning when the sunlight from the doorway reached his feet. A rude awakening into his life to come.

Hiding  in the corner furthest from the intrusive sunlight and blowing out the  tips of his toes like so many birthday candles, no matter how symbolic,  was not something Graham Chamber was proud of all those years later.

Graham  thought back and was surprised that he actually could remember every  name-change that he had been through and every false life that he had  "lived" bringing him to this "final" balcony.

The "conditions" that the dwarf had spoke of took some figuring out at first.

He  tried eating bread and meat, and then even vegetables, to sate his  hunger but they all came back up the same way they went in.

He  learned to feed by drinking the blood of people and animals, and he  slept in the cellar of his castle, although never in a coffin.

The  stupid coffin lore was born centuries later on a perfectly normal boat  voyage to the exciting modern nation of England he embarked upon under  the undramatic name of John Smithie. How he wished he had never poured  his heart out to that drunken Irishman at the railing of the quarterdeck  as the hunger grew and the moonlight rippled across the inlet of the  Thames.

If he had only fed on that idiot Bram he wouldn't have  had to spend the next few centuries in fear of being hunted by the  curious throngs for either his death or a gift of eternal life.

And then, just when everything looked like it was forgotten, Hollywood happened and the whole thing started all over again.

"John  Smithie" had become "Frank Oswald" by that time. It was the 1950's and  it proved easy for a pale and gaunt man to make his way in the new  business era of post-war America.

Frank had learned to control  his predatory hunger over time. All he needed was a steady stream of  wives over the decades with a penchant for high-collars and a decent  enough constitution. He had learned the delicate balance between feeding  just enough and killing accidentally.

By now "Frank" had grown  disgusted by the act of killing and avoided it whenever possible. It  never ended with the creation of another like himself, like in the  ridiculous books and movies. It only ended in emptiness and regret.

The  '50s gave way to the '60s and Frank became "Guru Vlad" for a while and  was able to feed at will from a constant stock of "hippie chicks"  without ever killing a very large percentage of them by accident.

The  new drugs that the humans were taking didn't affect him to a great  degree but, now and then, he did bite down on a girl who had just a bit  too much in her bloodstream and got carried away.

The '70s passed  in a blur of regret and reexamination. "Guru Vlad" became "Harry Wise"  and entered the '80s completely guilt-free of having killed anyone  during the disco-era.

Harry had learned enough about human greed  during the past centuries to rise as a star stock-trader on Wall Street.  Harry made hundreds of millions. His photo once appeared on the cover  of Fortune magazine. Yes, the not appearing in mirror-reflections and  photos was also a myth from books and movies.

Harry had a good run for quite some time.

Then Harry disappeared, along with his boat, on a yachting voyage out of Trinidad.

"Justin  Blake" inherited the fortune, posing as the same-sex married partner of  Harry,  seven years later, in 2019 after some facial and documential reconstruction in  Thailand and after Harry had been declared legally dead.

Graham gripped the railing of the new balcony he stood  on after all these years and looked down into the void below, his  immortal memory shuffling through the next few centuries. They were  particularly interesting ones.

**************************************************************************************************************************

Humanity invented the cure for death all on its own and suddenly he wasn't such an oddity anymore.

Everyone got to live forever, in as far as they stopped aging. People still died from disease and injury, but "Killian Howard", as he was now known as, no longer had to hide his longevity, only his invulnerability, which he would test soon enough.

Mankind went off the planet and set up colonies on Mars at first, which grew into cities and then nations as the terraforming increased, and then expanded out to Venus and, a few centuries later, onto the moons of Jupiter.

Over these centuries Killian developed a human blood synthesis that eventually was perfect enough for him to stop drinking directly from the tap entirely.

And then he was bored. Without the occasional thrill of the hunt, and having developed enough morals to not hunt just for the fun of it, he was bored.

He had already pushed his immortality to the limit with extreme sky-diving without a parachute. He just bounced. A few times.

He once pretended to be a corpse, which was not hard to do without a heartbeat or other vital signs, and went through the cremation process at a fake funeral under a false identity. The funeral parlor attendant that was supposed to retrieve the ashes for the mourning "family" had a bit of a shock when the disappointed "Fred" came out of the oven uncooked, said "BOO!", and then exited both the crematorium and the attendant's life, the former unchanged, the latter very much so.

Bullets from firearms and knives just passed through him, which made him think back to when he had plastic surgery in Thailand all those years ago. The scalpels had cut and altered his face then.

So, he underwent some surgeries.

A heart transplant went without a hitch. The new heart did not begin beating again though. The hospital staff was paid a lot of money to stay quiet.

Then he paid a LOT more money for a surgeon to do another heart transplant but leave out the "putting the heart back in" part. The surgery began. The scalpel passed through his skin as if it or he were a ghost.

That's when he realized that it was all about intent. The dwarf's contract was solid.

Nobody, himself included, could harm his body with the intent of doing so. If the intent was positive, then his flesh could be sliced by a scalpel, but if the intent was negative, nothing could harm him.

He tried riding with drunk drivers to see what would happen if and when they crashed their ground-based and/or sky-bound vehicles. He just got a bigger tailor bill the next month.

Killian ever tried launching himself into space on a ship bound towards the human colony on Mars and depressurized the airlock without a spacesuit while in orbit around the red planet. It took him a few weeks to stop orbiting Mars, plunge back into the Martian surface, and then get a ride back to the hub dome of the colony onboard the rover of an elderly prospector who wouldn't shut up about "The Motherload" the entire time.

Killian resigned himself to the dwarf's unbreakable contract. He spent the next couple of centuries just pretending to be a "normal" immortal human.

A few close friends learned his secret of invulnerability one way or the other, but they stayed quiet about it, one way or the other.

A position as head librarian came up at the "New Library Of Alexandria", on a space station city orbiting Jupiter, and Killian was quickly rushed to the head of the list of applicants due to his vast knowledge of history.

He spent the next few centuries studying, and improving upon, all known sciences, and celebrated New Years Eve of the coming year of 3000 surfing the rings of Saturn with some close friends.

Millennia passed.

************************************************************************************************************************************

Not much changed for Killian.

There was the occasional mention of his incredible luck at becoming the longest-lived human of all time, but, by about 4200 A.D. most humans already had nanobot implants that repaired damage to their bodies almost instantly and accidental death almost became a thing of the past.

Humanity had spread to new planets on nearby solar-systems and, despite the loss of Earth itself to a cataclysmic asteroid impact in 3823, was doing well.

Wars were a thing of the past. There was nothing to fight over. Territory was now infinite. There was no more need for food or water, except as a luxury at parties, thanks to the nanobots. Killian still needed to produce and ingest his own supply of faux-blood, but he did so in private. Resources could be produced by massive plants orbiting several solar systems.

In the year 5890 A.D. alien life was detected on a new planet several light-years from humanity's original home in the Sol system. It was bacteria.

No other alien lifeforms were ever found.

Billions of years passed.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Killian had become, by now, the leading authority in all sciences. He had revolutionized physics, chemistry, and biology.

He won the Nobel Prize 74 times, and then dread set in for him on his 75th major breakthrough.

His new model of the universe showed that there was only 2.1 billion years left until the universe died from heat-death.

So as not to be bothered by his celebrity, he faked his death in the most embarrassing way possible and re-inherited his wealth as "Graham Chamber", the supposed trainer of the walrus the late Killian was found dead in bed with.

"Graham" now knew real fear. The heat-death of the universe meant that he would be left alone, floating in a neverending red bath of disentangled particles, forever. And not just the kind of "forever" he had already lived through over the last several billion years. No. The real forever.

He realized that this was the Hell that the dwarf had planned for him all along. Not the one of fire and brimstone that people used to fear, but one of unending loneliness and the insanity that would come from that.

It took the next two billion years of experiment, theory, experiment, recalculated theory, experiment, thrown away and re-imagined theory, and on and on, until Graham stood on his new balcony, so much like the old one of his castle, deliberately so, on the side of his solar-system spanning flagship.

His theories worked, finally. He had built his flagship, "The Vlad", and smaller planet-sized vessels gathered around it in their multitudes as the universe tore apart the very particles that it consisted of.

With barely a million years left before entropy reached its final endgame, Graham made a gesture with his hand which would determine his fate forever after, just as he had all those years ago.

Every ship in the fleet fired its own energy beam into the center of the mega-structure of the galaxy-sized rotating ring before them.

The condensed energy from the beams collapsed the space into an infinitesimally tiny point which absorbed all the incoming power.

The mega-structure of the ring started rotating faster and faster, and its magnetic potential kept the singularity stable.

Soundlessly, the point started to spread out wider and wider. At first as big as an egg, then to the size of a planet, and then to that of a solar system, and then even wider.

Graham pointed his finger at the new big-bang his technology had created and his vessel, "The Vlad", and the rest of his fleet containing the survivors of humanity, headed through that doorway as the twilight of their universe faded behind them.

THE END
« Last Edit: 16 Nov 2020, 07:02 by Mandle »

Sinitrena

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The Twilight Zone
« Reply #3 on: 29 Oct 2020, 19:04 »
I'm missing a deadline here...

Mandle

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The Twilight Zone
« Reply #4 on: 30 Oct 2020, 10:31 »
I'm missing a deadline here...

9th of November. Sorry.

Mandle

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The Twilight Zone
« Reply #5 on: 06 Nov 2020, 07:03 »
I plan to continue my story over the weekend. The deadline ends on Monday, but extensions are always a viable option if anyone needs one.

I have updated my story twice since first posting it.

The rows of asterisks are supposed to represent page endings as if it were a short story written in an actual book you were reading.

Sinitrena

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The Twilight Zone
« Reply #6 on: 07 Nov 2020, 17:25 »
Could I have an extension, please?
I didn't find the time to write anything the last two weeks (and I don't know what I actually did with my time - weird...).

Baron

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The Twilight Zone
« Reply #7 on: 08 Nov 2020, 02:25 »
Yeah, I'll need to apply for an extension as well.  Unlike Sinitrena, I know exactly what I've been doing with my time (falling head-over-heals in love with Kamala Harris  :-D), but as for the writing thing... yeah, not so much.  Extension please?

Mandle

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The Twilight Zone
« Reply #8 on: 08 Nov 2020, 06:21 »
Yes, my story has also grown a bit in my mind and I don't want to rush it through before tomorrow...

A one week extension is hereby granted!

The new deadline is November 16th.

Mandle

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The Twilight Zone
« Reply #9 on: 11 Nov 2020, 15:34 »
Updated my story tonight with a new page. It's a bit rough and raw but maybe it should be. I'll just leave it like that.

Sinitrena

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The Witch Hour

It is the time between the times,
when moon awakes and church-bell chimes,
when sun awakes and we do too,
just for an hour then, or two.

You see our doing in the clouds,
in blooming flowers and in sprouts,
in dawn’s and dusk’s confusing light,
in secret words and hand’s quick slight.

There’s magic still that will be sought,
in long forgotten game and thought,
when sun and sky turn red and cold,
and icy fingers take their hold.

We hear you scoff and see you sneer.
What, let us ask you, do you fear?
The whispered words from long ago?
That made us enemy and foe?

You shake at words so softly spoken,
and fear a promise never broken:
That we return, that we succeed,
that magic finally is freed!

But you would see all magic gone,
and just for that choke every song,
of love, of death, of hope and dream
and leave a world too cold to scream.

We lost, we know, we lost the war,
are banned to shadows now and lore,
to wake at twilight, dusk or dawn,
to live in circles quickly drawn.

Don’t fear us now, for we return
to our graves and buried urn.
In twilight’s shadows will we stay,
to sleep again for night and day.

---------------------------------------------------

There's a plot. I think it's still recognizable.  (roll)

Mandle

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Updated my story. For better or worse, it is finished.

Mandle

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Waiting on Baron to yay or nay, then I will close entries and start the voting.

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   The Inside Track
   
   “Mom, can we go now?!” Gregory pestered, tugging at his mom's shirt.  He'd just been to a dentist appointment, but there was hardly enough time to deposit him back at school before the final bell rang.  In 30 minutes they could pick up her daughter Samantha when her middle school let out, but until then they had a bit of time to kill.  Usually she would take her son to the park to burn off a bit of energy, but as it was raining they were stuck for the time being at the thrift-shop around the corner from the dentist's office.

   “In a minute, sweetie,” Macey said absently, trying to brush her son off.  Her eye fell onto a stack of the community paper with a headline featuring another abducted woman, and immediately she looked away.  Instead she idly browsed through the children's clothing to see if anything in decent condition might fit either of her children.  She turned to catch Gregory trying to wipe his nose on the sleeve of one of the garments on the rack, and she quickly yanked it out of his hands.

   “But MOM!” Gregory whined.

   “Try to be patient, dear,” Macey told him, moving on to the electronics.  Most of the wares were outdated enough to be quite useless, but not nearly old enough to be valuable as antiques.  A flicker of movement in her peripheral vision made her turn just in time to catch her 8 year-old son trying to stick his tongue into the empty light socket of an old lamp.  “Gregory!” she scolded in exasperation, causing the boy to grumpily recoil.  Honestly, she wondered at what went on in that boy's head sometimes....

   As the pickings seemed pretty thin today, she decided to cut her losses and head for the cashier.  She had found a rather nice jacket for Samantha and a sharp dress shirt for Gregory (“grrrr,” he had helpfully commented).  As they were lining up, Gregory smeared fingerprints all over the glass of the jewellery case, causing her to scold him again.  She was about to launch into the familiar lecture about respecting others when her eye lit upon an old ring in the case.  It was tarnished with age and lacked any jewel, but the Celtic loops of the design were mesmerizing and it was priced at only five dollars.  Money was tight and Macey usually didn't indulge in luxuries for herself, but as her son slouched to the floor to make a scene by wrapping his arms around her ankle she began to seriously consider spoiling herself just a little bit.  How nicely the ring would look on her left hand where the faded tan-mark of her hawked wedding ring still stood out like a scar....

   Impulsively she asked to try the ring on, and it fit so well it seemed meant for her.  Go on, buy it, the cashier seemed to say to her, you deserve a little something nice after everything you have to put up with!.  Macey bought it on the spot and wore it out of the store.

   It was still raining outside and she had to drag her son quickly to the car.  “Ow!  You're hurting my arm!” he said, and she had a pang of guilt.  She stopped and apologized to her son, who stared at her with a confused look on his face.  Then he looked away.  Why don't we just splash in puddles for a bit? he seemed to think.  Macey looked down the sidewalk pock-marked with little puddles dancing with raindrops.  “I wonder who can splash in more puddles before we get to the car?” she suggested aloud.  Her son smiled at her for the first time that day, and he splashed merrily down the street (she just pretended).  That was so much fun! he seemed to think.

   On the drive to her daughter's middle school Macey kept admiring her new ring. “The rain drops look like magic characters shifting shape,” Gregory said from the back seat.  Macey checked the rear-view mirror to see her son staring at the raindrops as they ran down his window.  “What an interesting thought!” she remarked, turning her attention back to the road.  When she glanced back she saw her son staring at her again, his brow furrowed in confusion, but she shrugged it off as Gregory just being weird like always.

   At the middle school Samantha dashed to the car in the kiss-and-ride loop, slamming the door as she got in.  “I've had a TERRIBLE day!” she shouted.  “Meghan Jones said my jacket looked like it belonged to an old bag lady and Meghan Forester said my breath smells like I ate dog food for breakfast and Simon Holditch laughed when I dropped my binder in French class and I'm really starving because I didn't eat the yucky tuna sandwich you packed me for lunch and-”

   “Well, tomorrow's another day,” Macey interrupted.  “How about we have supper early and try on the new jacket I bought you?  I bet Meghan Jones would be jealous!”

   “What the hell?!?” Samantha exclaimed.

   Macey looked into the rear-view mirror to scold her daughter for swearing at her, but stopped when she saw the girl staring gobsmacked back at her.  Samantha and Gregory cautiously exchanged glances, but after that Macey's attention was distracted by the road again.

   “Mom's finally having a good day,” Samantha said from the backseat.  “I guess she finally learned to accept all those grey hairs....”

   “I don't have that many grey hairs!” Macey shot back, but when she glanced in the mirror again she saw that same awestruck look from her daughter.  Macey decided her children were not in the mood for conversation and so resolved to drive on in silence.

   Soon her kids began prattling aloud as children do, but she was amazed at how non-stop and completely unconnected their verbal streams were.  Samantha was airing some rather private thoughts about her feelings for various boys in her class while Gregory was going on about how he could attach eye-patches to worms in order to sell them as pirate-worms at school.  Macey shook her head in disbelief at the weirdness but when she glanced back up into the rear-view mirror she noticed both kids staring silently out the window even as their train of thought continued in her ears.  She glanced back to the ring on her hand, then back to her children still prattling away in her mind although clearly they were sitting silently.  She surreptitiously removed the ring from her hand and suddenly all was silent in the car.  Slipping the ring back on, she immediately heard the trains of thought once more.

Three weeks later....

   Macey had made the most of her newly acquired ring-power to read people's minds.  She had rekindled the romance with her unemployed husband and successfully renegotiated their underwater mortgage at the bank to cut the payments in half while barely changing the amortization period.  She had also discovered a knack for picking up quality goods left on the curb-side in the rich neighbourhood and selling them at a profit online.  She had managed to secure a new job at a marketing firm that paid three times what her old factory job had while having more flexible working hours.  And, happiest of all, she had begun to nurture the relationship with her children that she had always dreamed of having.  All in all, things really seemed to be looking up for her.

   Macey was so pleased with the current trajectory of her life that she decided to treat herself to a smart new dress at the new dress shop out on the highway.  The advertisements stressed the brand-name quality of their wares at discount prices for the aspiring working woman.  Sure, these type of places usually had products with slight flaws and hidden defects, but she was confident of being able to sleuth out a good deal with the unwitting help of an expert sales person.  She smiled to herself with glee at the prospect as a little bell rang over the open door and the stale sound of muted 80s pop wafted over her ears. 

   The store was surprisingly empty, but it was early on a Tuesday.  Poshly dressed mannequins struck stylish poses on pedestals interspersed in a labyrinth of clothing racks.  Macey worked her way more deeply into the store, the silly thought crossing her mind of a fly being ensnared ever more deeply in a web.  Here was a stunning red dress that she could never dare to pull off, there a smart looking suit-dress made for someone forty pounds more slender than she.  And over here....  She stopped, head tilted, listening.  She could make out the faintest trace of muffled voices, as if wafted from a distance on the wind.  At first these things had bothered her, but she had grown to accept that she could sometimes catch the faintest hint of thoughts from people just beyond the range of the ring to hear.  Usually it was intense thoughts, which tended to register louder in her mind, as when the neighbours fought.  These distant, muffled thoughts sounded more sad, however.  Almost anguished....

   There is no escape now, my pet.  Macey jumped and turned to discover an elderly salesman approaching.

   “Can I help you, ma'am?” he asked politely, smiling.  Soon you will be part of my lovely collection.

   “Uh, sorry!  You startled me!” Macey replied, accidentally on-purpose knocking into a rack and causing a few dresses to fall to the ground.  She took a step backwards, allowing the salesman to rush to pick up his wares.

   “No worries!  I'll get those,” he said.  That's it, little fly.  Soon I will have my teeth in you.

   “Do you know,” Macey said, snapping her fingers, trying to hide the sense of dread that was washing over her.  “I think I left my wallet in my car.  I'll be right back!”

   Oh you might think that, the man thought as he gathered the dresses from the floor.  But soon you will discover the door locked and your car being towed away.  They will find it on the other end of town and wonder whatever became of the juicy little fly....

   Macey thought quickly.  “Um, actually....  And I'm really sorry about this, but could I use your bathroom first?” she asked.

   “Of course!” the salesman replied in a friendly tone.  Even better!  The back hallway makes for the best ambushes!

   “Oh, thanks!” Macey said, trying to keep her nerve.  Oh, that mannequin had a golf-club!  She just needed to distract the salesman with a few more dresses on the ground.

   Oh how she would squirm if she knew what I have planned for her!  And now here is the helper-monkey to help me get her into the sack....

   Macey caught movement in her peripheral vision and turned to see another salesmen walking calmly towards her from the other direction.  She screamed and lunged for the mannequin....

----------------------------

Edit: So I'm not even sure if it was a Twilight Zone episode or not, but I remember seeing a Twilight-Zone-esque show as a kid where a woman found a magic locket that froze time, which was really handy until she froze time just as the world was about to end and then was basically trapped forever.  So this is kind of a hack job on that concept.... enjoy!
« Last Edit: 17 Nov 2020, 04:41 by Baron »

Mandle

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Okay VOTING is now open. As we only have 2 official entries I hope noone minds if mine is also included as a candidate?

If anyone disagrees with that then just don't vote for it.

Please vote 1st Favorite, 2nd Favorite. No need for the 3rd. Comments on anything including characters that stood out, turns of phrase, world-building or whatever are appreciated but not compulsory.

Baron

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    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
    • I can help with voice acting
    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Well I was all for an extra official entry until you took away the third place vote.  Now I'm not sure I want the extra competition....  :P

Mandle

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Well I was all for an extra official entry until you took away the third place vote.  Now I'm not sure I want the extra competition....  :P

Hmmmm, I think you are joking, but if this is a legit concern that I have overlooked then let's just put the 3rd vote back in maybe? It doesn't do any harm. I just thought it seemed like an "also ran" kinda thing.

Sinitrena

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    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
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    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Mandle: I think the tonal difference in the beginning of your story gave me a bit of whiplash. The all in all sinister atmosphere and the dread right at the start, the repetition of "all these years ago", the foreshadowing of never sleeping in this room again... And than the almost quircky double-dwarf, who could be sinister and certainly has a sinister purpose, but the descriptions read like comic relief. I can't tell if this is intentional or if you meant for the dwarf to be menacing.
I like the general idea of your story: Going through all enternity, only to find loneliness at the end, and then doing everything to avoid this outcome. But while we get a detailed scene at the beginning, the rest feels very rushed, going through hundreds of years, then millenia in just a few short paragraphs. One can still get a glimpse of the character development Vlad goes through, but it feels like you're just telling us that that's what he's feeling now. This story should be extended. Different steps in Vlad's development should be illustrated through small scenes like the first one, instead of a contiunous narrative that reads like a summary. (Just my opinion, of course.)

Baron: How ofte do I have to tell you that you shouldn't stop your stories right in the middle of the action?  :P I really like the first part. How she slowly figures out what is going on, how it is possible for the reader to catch on way earlier, without making her seem stupid. The kids are also written very kid-like. The only thing I found a bit weird was Samatha's mental rant when she got into the car. It's certainly phrased as if she would actually speak, instead of just thinking, summarizing something she is well aware of and wouldn't need to think in these terms unless she wanted to tell it to someone not aware of these facts yet. This becomes especially obvious when you later note how unconnected the thoughts of the kids actually are.
Good foreshadowing with the newspaper right at the beginning for the end. But the end is not an end. We don't know for sure whether she will get killed or not. As a matter of fact, I considered the possibility that the ring was malfunctioning untill the very end. No idea what gave me this thought, but I considered her hearing the thoughts of a cat or a spider.
(I'm trying to see how your story mirrors the concept of the episode you mention in your note. The ring only warns her. It's not responsible in any way or form for bad consequences. Yes, you could argue that she would never have gone to this shop without the money she earned due to the ring, but even then the attack is not due to the magic of the ring. The men were doing this before, and if not she, someone else would have stumbled into the shop. On the same note, the only connection to the topic "Twilight" is that it might be similar to a twilight-esques episode, but that's pretty thin without a connection between the magic and the twist ending.)
Still, a pretty good story, where someone forgot the write the ending.



Due to my consistent opinion that the admin should not enter the competition, I only have one vote to give out this round:

1st Favorite: Baron

Mandle

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Baron: I know you love Absurdist humor, as do I, and I know that you are very good at it, and I know that I requested that I would also love to read a story from you where you didn't do that. And now I have. And IT IS AWESOME!!! You drew me into loving every character with subtle lines like the kid distracting the mother's eye to the case he was messing with which made her find the ring. The mother's feelings towards her son were so on point! She loves the little random-number-generator that he is but can't understand or cope with every roll of his brain-dice. But you resisted taking everything off the rails this time, whereas I took everything off the rails (with a playing-card dwarf and someone caught in bed with a walrus). And then you ran out of time and left us with a cliff-hanger right when we were caring about the character the most. I cannot forgive you for that, but I can still give you my vote and hope that I will someday find out what happened to a character that I started to care a lot about.

Sinitrena: I loved your lovely poem! I'm thinking that it is about the war fought between the fairies and the humans and, deeper than that, the war between superstition and science, which still rages on to this day. It actually brought a tear to my eye towards the end when the supernatural ones accepted their defeat and possibly all wonder and magic might be lost and then cold-hard scie... Oh, screw it, I'm switching my vote because of the feels:

1st favorite: Sinitrena
2nd favorite: Baron (Sorry. You outdid yourself but, the feeeeels... I just couldn't)
« Last Edit: 22 Nov 2020, 13:20 by Mandle »

MiteWiseacreLives!

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 :-\ I’m torn..
I choose Baron’s story for #1, I became interested and invested in the characters quickly.. although finding out how she outwitted her foes (or they her) would’ve been great.
Sinitrena, nicely thought through piece of prose.
Mandle, interesting concept. As it went along I was “Oh! I see where he’s going,” .. vampires irritate me, you lose a point there  (wrong)  (laugh)