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Writers' Corner - June 07


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This month's word is spheres.

Here are some nonsensical puns on the word 'spheres':

Britney Spheres.

Spheres And Loathing In Las Vegas.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Red Eyes And Spheres.

Add more to this thread, or your entry, as you see fit.

The rulez:

1. One thousand and one words or less, twelve words or greater.

2. Submission by Thursday 31st June if possible.

3. Votes in by 11.58PM on July 5th, or they're voided, unless there's a draw or if the winner doesn't choose a new word in a timely fashion and you're forced to rig the vote by getting your mates to vote for you.

4. Don't tell people they're rubbish, just give a positive comparison.

5. ENTER THE CONTEST! Even if you're not happy with it, and reading it makes you want to hit yourself. Show the world what you - and only you - can do.

6. Good luck!

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Not for submission:

Someone had left a city by the side of the energy pool. It had been there for a while, and was starting to attract ants.

Bilge found it and scooped it up with a tendril, transporting it across the gulf of the negasphere to the playground where his sister-siblings lived.

“Well it isn’t mine,” said Ynetia, not looking up from her star doodles.

“You don’t know that. You didn’t see it.”

“I don’t like humans. They give me the creeps, with their music and theatre and whatnot.” She plucked a web of stars from the dirt and held it up for Bilge to see. It was a gauzy, lacy affair, tinged red and purple at certain axes, white at the rest. “My new constellation. I thought I’d call it ‘Confetti’.

Bilge rolled his eyes and approached Yneria, Ynetia’s sister-twin. “Is it yours?” he said. “Father always says we shouldn’t leave our toys around for the insects to find. He says humans have feelings, too.”

Yneria scrutinised it. “It’s not mine,” she said, after a time. “It’s pretty, though. It’s all silvery.” She fished around in a sack between her legs and pulled out another, different city. “I’ll swap this one for it. It’s called San Francisco. Look.”

Bilge placed a tendril tip to the grey sphere and noted the bridge, the hills and the bay. It was a fine city indeed. “I don’t think so,” said Bilge, rather reluctantly. “It’s not mine to swap.”

“Please yourself,” said Yneria. “You know where I am if you change your mind.”

Bilge asked the rest of the titans in the playground, but none of them owned the sphere, or knew where it came from. Frustrated, Bilge approached the omnivarium at the crest of the moon in the hope of asking his father if he knew anything about the mysterious city.

Twelve suns – solarblastomas harvested from twelve different sky dragons – orbited the gates that guarded the omnivarium. The gates themselves were twisting, sentient columns that flexed back upon themselves and expanded and contracted to obscure the gateway or allow entrance, depending on who approached them. In the past the negaspherian titans had had trouble with the nearby dragons and cosmic travellers forcing their way into the moon to take their rightful places (or so they claimed) as the grandparents of all universe, but the titans alone had those rights, and had driven them back to their star-wells and camps, back to wherever they had come from. Now the negasphere was a peaceful place, home only to the Father and his brood of children.

The columns seemed to draw their breath in to allow Bilge into the omnivarium, where he saw the incredible mass of the Father spread out across the tear-spun courtyard, sceptre in hand, eyes engulphed by the omniscope. Bilge let out a timid cough and approached him, heels clacking on the sorrowful ground.

The puddled mass quivered and turned, and its eyes vomited the omniscope wetly onto the chest below them. “If it isn’t Bilge,” said the Father. “Come to see me when he should be playing with his sisters. What can Bilge have to say for himself?”

“Father,” said Bilge. “I found this human city-sphere near the energy pool on the far side of the negasphere. I asked around and nobody knows where it came from or who it belongs to. I was wondering if you tell me anything about it?”

“Bring it close, so that I might examine it.” The Father shifted forward, a billion tiny villi working beneath the mass to move him. One day Bilge too would expand to such a size and be moved by his own battalions of villi, but that was too far into the future to even think about, at the end of time’s reach and the beginning of the next cycle. Still, such thoughts troubled Bilge when he saw the Father moving with far less of the grace and freedom he himself had. What would it be like to be anchored to the omnivarium, responsible for all that is and ever shall be? If he’d owned a neck, perhaps hairs would be standing up on it.

The Father conjured another sphere beside the one at the end of Bilge’s tendril, and pawed at it until it was swollen, bloated and blue. “This is the human planet,” he said, prodding and touching it into shape. “If this is indeed a human city then there will be a space for it here. All humans have a place here.” He took the silver sphere from Bilge and span the planet around, trying to force it into place here and there, ultimately without luck. “This is strange,” said the Father, peering that globe. “It would appear that I am wrong, and that there is no place for it. Perhaps we should open it and have a closer look.”

He clasped the sphere between six tendrils and pierced it with the tips, opening the city into segments that shone and basked them in a bright, silvery light. Then (while never leaving the omnivarium) they stood together in the city and looked at the humans surrounding them. The humans were shocked and cowed by their presence, and knelt low in worship. Bilge barely noticed them; he was too busy looking at the shape of the city, noting how different it was from the cities he’d previously seen “Why, this isn’t a city at all,” he said. “It’s some kind of vessel.”

“Or a city within a vessel,” said the Father. “Where the humans live and toil, and raise families and die. I believe the term for it is generation ship. They are so frail and die so easily, they have to build such a craft so that their descendants might survive to reach their far-away destination.”

“But where could they be going?” asked Bilge.

“Let me see,” said the Father, and let his eyes open wide enough to swallow the city.

After a time they reappeared in the omnivarium, the sphere still clutched in the Father’s tendrils. “My word,” he said, his voice a deep susurrous. “The humans were coming here in their craft. They were coming to see us.”

“But that’s impossible!” said Bilge. “No human can ever come to the negasphere unless we bring them here.”

“Nevertheless, they were. Their collective consciousness has reached such a level that they are not only curious about where the universe comes from, they’re actively trying to reach the birth-point of everything. They wish to come here and meet with us, and understand who we are. Some of them even wish to worship us as gods.”

“But there’s no such thing as God,” said Bilge.

“Indeed.” The Father handed the sphere back to Bilge, who looked deep into the silver to see the humans running here and there, going about their unfathomable duties. “Here. You may keep the city. It has been quite pleasurable talking to you.”

“And you, Father.” Still watching the sphere, Bilge left the Father to the omnivarium, walked through the infinite gates and back to the playground where he was met by Yneria.

“Well,” she said. “What did Father say?”

A human city, drifting in space. So much skill and imagination, setting an entire city – an entire world - to sail the cosmic waves in the hope that they might come to the titans and commune with them, and finally understand where they come from.

So much misplaced hope. So many dreams waiting to be shattered.

“Not a lot,” said Bilge. “Do you still have that San Francisco? I‘ll trade you.”

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Also not for submission:

The call comes in at three-thirty.

“Brahms.”

“You dirty son of a bitch. You bastard. I’ll kill you. If anything happens to her, I swear to-”

“Whoah, wait up. Who is this? Mac?”

“Damned right it’s Mac, shithead.”

“What’s going on, Mac? For Christ’s sake, it’s late.”

“It’s Maria. She’s had a bad reaction to your shit.”

That gets me. I sit up, take notice.

“Where are you, Mac? I can deal with this, but you have to tell me.”

“Half-Crescent street. Number fifty-four. If she dies . . .”

“I’ll be there, nomo. Just hold onto her, don’t let her slip away on you.”

I hang up, grab my tools, and get my shit moving.

* * *

It’s late enough to hide in the shadows, still early enough for it to be early. There’s no light swinging down from the core but I can feel it out there, behind the sheets of night King Billy has swinging around the interior of Tartarus. Yeah, Tartarus, some Greek shit or other. Wish I was rich enough to have my own Dyson’s sphere and give it whatever shitty name I like.

Travelling by foot’s too slow, but transport to Half Crescent’s kind of sparse. I run a bit, walk a bit, eventually hitch a ride with an unregistered cabbie who takes me exactly where I need to go. I pay him off, get out and see Mac pacing in the street. He’s a wiry guy, looks sick by street light, but he comes at me with rage enough I’m worried he’ll knock me to the ground.

“Brahms you bastard, you gotta get in there, you gotta help her.” He looks half-angry, half-desperate. Probably is, too.

Their place is pokey, smells too dry, like a riverbed in a drought. Mac’s got Maria chained to the bed with wound-around bedclothes. There’s a spoon jammed in her mouth, keep her from swallowing her own tongue. It’s a nice thought, a good move.

I open my bag of tricks.

“What’s she on, Mac?”

“I don’t know. Spiders, I think.”

“Spiders?” Spiders is the most innocuous scare you can get. It’s a gateway drug to get you moving onto harder, psychological shit, like the sFear that makes you think your momma’s eating you. Nobody ODed on Spiders. You take too much Spiders, all that happens is you get used to it.

But this girl here, this Maria – she ain’t used to whatever she’s on. She’s fitting like a pig hit by a cattle prod.

I take out a wrist and monitor, strap it to her. This’ll tell me what’s going on. Press a button and twin vampires dig into her arm, leech off a little blood, and the monitor starts running tests.

Three minutes later the tests are done and the results are clear: She’s on Spiders, nothing more.

“Shit Brahms. What does that mean?”

Means I’m boned, what it means.

* * *

There are no antidotes to the sFears. Once upon a time people thought you could dose up on something happy and that would bring you out of your own personal nightmare. In the real world, more often than not the happiness would fuse with your fear, and you’d end up dribbling, laughing and screaming for the next half-hour. Not that there aren’t some wackos into that, but that’s never been my ball. I sell sFears, little grey balls filled with nightmares, and people buy ‘em. It’s like being on a rollercoaster, watching a horror movie, jumping canyons in zero-G all rolled into one. You get scared – you get real scared – and then it’s over and you’re all okay. Some people say you don’t know who you truly are ‘til you face your fears. Those people come to me by the drove.

But this is something new, and it scares me in a bad way. Maria’s not the only one tweaking tonight. I get another call, and another, and I’m moving around this one sector of Tartarus seeing boys and girls fitting their jeans off, all the while sadly shaking my head, saying there’s nothing I can do. I’m not a big guy, but I got some training and weapons on me, so nobody tries anything, but I can see they want to. I’/m lucky my head’s still intact come seven.

Then I get a call. A special one.

* * *

The royal palace exists in a cocoon on the outside of Tartarus, slapped on the side of the sphere like a nose on a face. There are other palaces, other places where the royalty like to hang, but this is King Billy’s home, this is the place that existed orbiting the sun long before they harnessed it and built a shell around it. This is also the place I’ve been summoned to. I answered my phone and some real big guys jumped on me, said the King needed to see me. So I said yes. What am I, stupid?

King Billy’s an old guy, old and fat. Parts of the palace I went through were low-G, but this is usual, Earth-grav, or so I’m led to believe. It makes his jowls and tits sag. Technicians can care for his body all they like but if he doesn’t put the effort in it isn’t worth shit.

“I spiked your supply, Mr. Brahms,” says King Billy. “I spiked it and now I have your attention, I want you to stop dealing in sector H. There’s no more business for you here.”

“You wanted me to stop? Hell, you could have just asked me.”

He ignores me. Ten minutes later I’m dumped back in H sector, minus my tools. And that’s it.

* * *

I wake up. Some weakass shit if ever I took it. I’m supposed to be scared?

But the guy at my side grins and tucks away his sFears and tools and says: “This is the new shit, Brahms. You’re trapped in this one for life. Every dip will take you further away. What you’ve just been through is like the kiddie pool. Wait ‘til you get to the ocean. You won’t know what’s real and what’s killing you. It’s all about the escalation.

“Now stop dealing on my turf.”

He walks away. I try to tell him to stop, but he’s gone and I’m alone. Alone with the spiders.

I take a look at the empty canister the sFear came from. The side reads “Storybook”, which makes me wonder. For the moment, though, I try to brush off the spiders, get up and get on with my life. It’ll be easy, I think.

I’m lying, though. I’m lying because I’m scared.

I'll try to come up with something else later on.

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Campfire, liked your stories both. But what does the second one have to do with Spheres?

Here's my effort:

“My, my” said David, approaching the thinner man with a gleeful look on his face “if it isn’t Fez-boy!”

“Hello David” Fez-boy – aka Michael – replied with a weary, guarded strain vaguely evident in his voice. “How are you?”

“Still got it!”

“What the Fez??”

David laughed and clicked his fingers, “No! I’ve still got it! You asked how I was.”

“Oh” Michael almost smiled but just looked a little distressed instead. “Oh good.”

“Yeah, moved to Mast Incorporated late last year, got decent pay rise and a new motor – a choice of Jag and BM. BM, no contest. They’ve got a stunning set of offices …”

David droned on as Michael switched off. This ‘chance’ meeting was more nauseating proof that the circle was getting smaller. If he could break the real codes and use them instead of falling foul of this seemingly random spinning of the circles; then he wouldn’t be here at all!

They were stood, in a small conference room next to a poorly laid out buffet of pathetic meeting-foods. Soggy sandwich quarters of thin ham and non-existent cheese competed with a bowl of wrinkled fruit for attention from the throng of grey salesmen. The coffee was burnt, the tea was stewed and the biscuits looked like factory rejects. All in all Michael wasn’t really sure why he was here, just that he was trying to re-cycle his life and so far it hadn’t worked. I’m ending up in the land-fill, he thought.

“…and that’s where I stepped in!” David said. He paused for a moment looking at Michael to see if there was going to be a response. Michael gave a little nod, not enough to be certain but enough to show that he’d been listening; well probably anyway. “So, uh” David struggled, Michael wondered whether he even knew his real name “Fezzy, what are you doing here? Thought you’d jacked sales some time ago.”

“I have” said Michael, pondering at what seemed a loaded question “Quit some time ago”

Not sure precisely how long ago, he continued in his head, it was definitely around the time that the circles became clearer. David waited for a further explanation but when none was forthcoming said his goodbyes and ambled off to bother someone else. Michael glanced past him and saw another face he recognised, this one filled him with dread .

Michael left the room quickly. He headed down a bland hotel corridor and found the toilet, clean thank god, stumbled into a free cubicle and practically collapsed on the closed lid. He felt weaker than ever, why? It didn’t make any sense. Unless, he wondered, unless he was travelling the wrong direction along the paths.

He reached for his PDA and started the circle program again. The familiar sprig of leaf, curling, the ocean falling. He’d found the program (when he was a salesman, selling advertising space in diaries and whatnot, very boring) whilst sat on the bog, playing with his new phone that had net access. In amongst so many programs, with so many names, he’d found the utility, Circles. A small description underneath read Create a new life! He’d downloaded it, out of curiosity and as he’d booted it, so he’d watched the leaf fold, the ocean falling… his life changing.

History goes in circles, they say, life goes in circles. A twist of the values and perhaps the circles could be spirals. Perhaps the spirals could lead wider, further, bigger. Better. The screen flashed a message, time to think of a new code. Think man, think, he thought.

History goes in circles. Ride the circle until the end, ride the circle… like a snake eating its tail his circle had got smaller and smaller. Each time he adjusted the code, rode the line, he’d ended up worse off. Had his life been so bad to start with? He was losing at a game for which he didn’t know the rules.

The main door to the toilet banged open.

“..thought he came in here.” Said a voice Michael thought belonged to David. Another voice shushed. Michael strained his hearing, he could hear someone whispering something. The lock on his door twitched, he made a grab for it . The door shook, he held tight,

“We know you’re in there Michael” said a voice he didn’t recognise; but that fitted a face he did. “Just give us the device and we’ll let you go.”

“But I don’t want to be here!” He yelled, involuntarily. The door shook again, but he held on.

“Michael” from above, Michael looked up into David’s smiling face “Just hand it over and nobody need ever know.”

“It’s mine!” he yelled, then threw a punch up towards David’s head, who ducked back out of the way. The door shook again. Michael held on with one hand while fumbling with the PDA in his other. Then, he got his foot against the door and pushed hard, keeping it shut. He got both hands to his PDA.

“Open the door!” shouted the other voice. The door banged again, harder than before, it opened a crack but Michael managed to push back.

“Balls!” said David suddenly and Michael heard him hit the floor, a hand scrabbled underneath the cubicle wall.

“Code accepted” said the PDA and Michael stared in horror as the circle opened up on the little screen. The word balls, faded from the screen and the world twisted…

Enlightenment comes at funny times, thought Michael, as the universe seemed to back-flip around him. Waiting in a queue for a bus or while a boring person talks to you or even while you’re in the toilet. Balls! Who’d have thought it. Time, of course, bears no relation to two-dimensional space. Circles are flat, unending. You want to go places then you should trust in a sphere, a ball. Something that can move.

They say history goes in cycles, it doesn’t. It rolls in circles around a sphere, sometimes crossing, sometimes not. Always moving.

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Well, here we go. One has to start somewhere, I guess.

Molly sat in the armchair opposite, her legs slung over one side whilst she propped her head on the other. With rhythmic timing she threw the rubber ball down, bouncing it off the laminate flooring into the wall opposite and letting it sail back in a perfect arc into her left hand. She had it perfected. Save for the occasional cough, the thud of the ball as it found its way across the room had been the only noise. The soundtrack to our Sunday morning.

The first throw had been erratic, zipping with pace between the potted plants that line the wall, taking a deflection off a corner before careering into the photograph in the mantelpiece, taken on a cold winter evening four years prior. We were lying on our backs on the snow-covered pavement, a warming "one for the road" too many having eroded our balance in the name of fun. The first to slip, I clutched at the nearest support - Molly - and took her with me crashing into the ground. A friend had taken the picture as we lay in hysterics, unable to do anything but giggle and enjoy the moment. A few days later, we had our first proper date.

The early months were the best, a period of exploration, every new adventure bringing forth yet more understanding and unveiling a vibrant passion that I had never before encountered. Before, in my world people just liked things, but when Molly spoke on a favourite topic she did so with increasing vigour, her hands forming shapes and communicating detail, her lips pursing to one side as she spoke. There were no attempts to conceal her feelings of the subject matter, and as her bold green eyes met my own, I could scarcely help but share in her delight.

Those days had been and gone. Molly still possessed her spirit but we had long since shared our feelings and discoveries, and heard all of our independent stories. Our circle of friends gradually diminished as they each sought careers across the country, and they were friends we never tried to replace. We used to spend long weekends in the company of others, conversations bounced across tables between drinks, reminiscing about the past, planning and shaping the future. As the group dwindled we spent increasing time reclined on the sofa, my head resting on her breast as she stroked my hair, mindlessly watching anything we could find on television.

We had been ploughing that furrow for so long, there were no surprises any more. As the daily hours progressed the chances of an interesting moment, a spark that might ignite a new fire and a new experience, dissolved. Our peaceful silences, wrapped in each others arms at the end of the night, merely signalled the end of a sequence that would begin anew tomorrow, an endless cycle. Yet comfortable, I had thought, the predictable nature of our relationship bringing with it security that enveloped and reassured me. I was happy.

Molly caught the ball, closing her fingers around it for the last time before placing it on the coffee table. Letting out a deep sigh, she swivelled in the armchair until her feet could reach the ground, and stood up.

"I'm bored," she said to no-one in particular, despite me being the only available recipient.

She rounded the chair and made her way towards the doorway behind her. The words were still hanging in the air as I watched her slowly leave the room, the discarded ball on the table in front of me, and my heart picked up the pace.

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Suicide. A funny old thing that harbours no humour; a cagey lament that keeps no secrets.

The broken virgin who cradles her mind with wants from an artist - words his craft, so potent and flowery in design as to negate the message, to be fully and instantly redeemed by its beauty in all its upfrontedness. His leaf the kind to require a dictionary by bedpost, his love letter the species to breed a dark and lustful hypnosis. Roomy in its path, strategic in its desires, his is that of the author. Hers is that of the reader. The attraction of the fashion whores of literature drives this mechanical behemoth, emotional hope its fuel, flimsy roles its justification. Her shape is that of spheres in silhouette moonlight, his is the crude fashionings of the hand.

Style over substance is the order of the day, and how the whores clamour for it, the paranoia in efforts to hide their minds feverish in its drive.

My mother was one such devourer. Had she but laughed at her own demise, it might have stayed at that.

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Written incredibly quickly I'm afraid, I was trying to get the idea down more than actually writing it particularly well...Anyway, my first attempt, please go easy ;-)

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Although he wasn't aware of the fact, Joseph Patter had more creative ability than anybody that had ever lived before him. In a rather cruel way, you could describe him as a genius. Or at least a potential one.

He wasn't aware of this fact because unfortunately for Joseph, his creative ability was locked away in a perfect sphere, about the size of a golf ball, in the centre of his brain. Throughout his quiet and uneventful life, there had been moments where he always felt he was destined for bigger things, but nothing ever changed. He had now been sitting behind the same old desk, day in, day out for the past 16 years, creating nothing but layouts for promotional leaflets and posters for garden centres.

At the age of 14, Joseph had fallen and cracked his head on the ground whilst running. There was blood and tears that day 22 years ago, stitches too (10 in fact) but that fall also did Joseph a favour. The impact of the fall had not only fractured his skull but also the sphere at the centre of his brain. It was not a strong enough impact that the sphere was broken open, for that would have surely set Joseph on the road to universal acclaim not long after. The hairline fracture on the outside core had however allowed him to discover some of his potential talent.

Joseph went on to make it through art college and then University. He started with a great passion for his Art but slowly his interest and talent faded. He finished his degree with average grades and got himself an average job. He was in every way the ‘Average Joe’.

And so we turn to today. Today was the day that Joseph Patter’s secret, the secret he didn’t even know himself, was unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

Joseph was on his lunch break. He had already eaten his usual daily sandwich on the park bench up the road and was now stood in line at the bank. The cash machine outside had stopped working and he was now faced with a daunting queue that he figured would take at least half an hour to get through. ‘Better this than work’ he thought to himself.

As he stood there he began to reflect on the same old things as he always did when he had a moment to think (which was quite often). ‘I should leave work. I should get out there and do something with my life, turn myself around. I won’t do it yet though, I’ll wait a couple of months and see how things are then, I might feel different by then’. He was the epitome of ‘all talk and no trousers’. By this point he had made it about halfway down the queue.

All of a sudden there was a loud disturbance coming from the entrance of the bank. Screaming followed by a man shouting. “EVERYBODY GET THE FUCK DOWN. NOW!”

A loud gasp washed around the room followed by more shouting from the man near the entrance. He was now waving a handgun in the air. “I SWEAR IF ANYONE IS LEFT STANDING IN THE NEXT FIVE SECONDS ONE OF YOU GETS IT!”. With that Joseph watched as everyone in the bank quickly got down on the floor. The cashier behind window number 7 (one of only two that were currently open of course) also jumped off of her seat and hit the floor, now out of view to the gunman. “NOT YOU DORIS!” The man shouted. “GET UP AND START FILLING SOME FUCKING BAGS! NOW!”.

It was at this point that the gunman suddenly noticed a lone man stood at the far wall, very much not on the floor. It was Joseph. “WHAT’S YOUR FUCKING PROBLEM MATE!? DIDN’T YOU FUCKING HEAR WHAT I FUCKING SAID!?”

Joseph wasn’t actually sure what he was doing. He just knew that he wasn’t going to get on the floor. He certainly wasn’t planning on being a hero, but something was stopping him. And now he had a gun pointed at his face.

The gunman’s tone changed. Quite calmly he looked at Joseph. “ I think you’d better listen to me mate. Now isn’t the time for you to be a fucking hero, understand?. I will take you down before you draw another breath. How about it?”. Joseph remained still. Just thirty seconds before it was another mundane Wednesday afternoon. Now he could sense something interesting was about to happen, but he couldn’t figure out what.

He remained defiant in his stance for what seemed like forever, his eyes locked with the gunman. Whilst this was happening Joseph noticed a broad middle aged man in the background, slowly raising to a crouched position. Enter our hero. Joseph felt completely calm and ready for what was about to occur.

The hero launched himself forward, tackling the gunman at the waist. There was a gunshot followed by a sea of screams.

Joseph was dead. The bullet had left the gun and hit him directly between the eyes. It passed through him and on it’s way shattered the sphere held at the centre of his brain. It left him and finished it’s trajectory on the back wall of the main foyer.

There was a deadly silence. A woman started crying. The hero had pinned the gunman to the floor but neither man was struggling. Instead they both stared through the space where Joseph had been standing and at the back wall. Other’s had picked up on the silence that now filled the room and slowly raised their heads, their gazes also fixed on the back wall. The woman who had been crying let out a gasp as she saw what everyone was now looking at.

A tear rolled down the gunman’s face and he smiled. “It’s beautiful” he said.

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Forgive me, I'm an infrequent poster, but I always wanted to give this a try, just to say that I had...tried. So here's my effort. I don't usually do these sort of things so this has been very experimental. Thank you to anyone who has the patience.

The sunlight ripples on the lake as he looks out into the horizon. Glistening stars dance on the surface of the water in the middle of the day. There is nothing but the sight of a single boat out on the water. He raises his hands to his eyes to protect his gaze from the sun as it beats down on his t-shirt seemingly burning the fabric to his skin. Should never wear black on a hot day like today he thinks. He looks down and gives a quick ruffle of his feet to loosen some of the pebbles on the beach and he bends down to grab a handful of stones. He surveys what he has in his hand. He puts 3 in his pocket that he reckons could be potential skimmers, he's also managed to pick up a piece of bone, he wonders over its origins. Rather more so in hope that it's not from a human. It seems to be part of a large tooth on closer inspection, and now he reckons it would be awesome if it were from a shark or some other exotic sea creature. The last thing that he holds in his palm is a perfect round stone. A complete sphere, under the white, searing light of the sun he finds it hard to tell what colour it is. At first he thinks grey, but the more he looks the more he begins to see blue forming in this tiny orb. He puts the stone in his other pocket, then fishes for the skimmers with his other hand. A couple of footsteps towards the mouth of the lake, he stands surveying the water again, like a baseball pitcher ready to throw his curve ball. He takes a deep breath and throws the stone at an angle he hopes will skim the surface of the water. His eyes light up when he sees the stone bounce up one time, only to then plop into the abyss. He'd never quite managed to skim a stone before in his childhood, and now here he was in his adult life feeling glee like he'd never felt since he was a kid. For a moment the thought crops up in his head that it would be wonderful to take a swim in the water at this point. He'd always been terrified of the water, scarred by a couple of traumatic experiences as a child. They flashed through his mind, the sudden chill of water on his body, the hyperventilation of his lungs gasping for air when he'd finally managed to free himself from the water. The giggle of two children who had cruelly pushed him face first into a swimming pool at the age of 4. He banished all the memories from his mind. He stood on one foot and started pulling his shoes and socks off. Stopping momentarily to rid the inside of his shoes with sand. Barefoot he waded into the water, letting the waves rise up to his knees and just below his thighs. He felt cold, and then momentarily he felt a sharp pain in his thigh, this was followed all of a sudden by a burning sensation emanating from the pocket in his shorts. The other stone, the orb, was heating up. He made his way back to dry land and fumbled in his pocket for the orb. Almost immediately he dropped it. It was too hot for him to handle and he could already feel a blister forming on his palm from trying to grip it. The round stone, now as black as all the voids of the earth, sat lodged on the pebble beach. It gave off effervescent noises as it singed everything around it. The mysterious stone began to form its own corona of energy, a halo of destruction completely dissolving anything within a few centimetres of it. He noticed the stone growing larger, almost by the second. Panic set in and he ran to the water. Cupping his hands to the water he tried to carry liquid over to the stone. By the time he reached it the stone seemed to be almost as large as a tennis ball. He could see forces of energy pulsating on the surface. He poured what water remained in his hands over the stone. A burst of steam rose up to his face and scalded his cheek. His heart beat had sped up so rapidly that he dropped to his knees in front of the stone and clutched at the pounding in his chest. His hand felt the scalding on his cheek, and with an eye on the stone, he noticed that it had gone grey again. Visibly he could see the stone shrinking down to what he thought was its original size. Life had seemingly drained from this mysterious little orb. He took the last two stones from his pocket and placed them over the orb, he then ruffled his feet so that the stones mixed and he could no longer see it. Slowly he walked to the mouth of the lake and palmed his cheek with the cool water. In the water he glanced at the reflection of the sun, again he could feel the white heat burning through his t-shirt. Definitely not a good day to wear black he thought to himself again.
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I finally got one that was within the size range:

The globes had arrived and the word was out across the planet. Every telephone wire, every cable, the airwaves themselves, all thrumming with that single, most important piece of news: First contact with an extra terrestrial species!

But the news was not alone on the airwaves, for the aliens were broadcasting their own message to the Earth.

A summit was called immediately. The brightest minds the planet had to offer, scientists, linguists, all working together to decipher the message from our trans-galactic visitors. They toiled night and day, day and night, some never sleeping, others never eating, working computers of unimaginable power, searching databanks big enough to hold detailed histories of the entire solar system tens, hundreds thousands of times over. They worked ceaselessly as the moon sank and rose to sink again, leaving the sky dominated by the alien spheres twinkling in the night like lassoed herds of stars, until finally, weeks after they had arrived, the code was cracked and the message was broken.

It read:

“Have You Heard the Good News?”

NASA begins work on 'Operation: Foot in the Door' tomorrow.

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Finding it very difficult to cast a final vote.

I liked both of Campfire's two 'not for submission' pieces but couldn't bring myself to vote for the submitted work because... well because it wasn't as good as your two previous ones!! Sorry.

Rob Rule's piece was interesting, though I didn't quite get the point. Reading these at work doesn't really help!

And I liked empty-c's piece, though thought the killing was perhaps unnecessary, although essential to the story you told I felt that perhaps something "else" could have happened when the bullet hit his brain...

I also really liked Stroppa's piece but you really need to try and paragraph your writing, it makes so much more comfortable to read.

So, my vote goes to Fry for, what I thought was, an ambigious piece that reminded me of times in my own life.

Dan

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Appreciate the comments Danster. It's not that i'm anti paragraph, I just wrote the whole thing in about 5 minutes in TextEdit and never really gave them a thought.

All that I've read have been good, I'd plump for empy-c's submission though. Though i'd love an extra few words on that one :ph34r:

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I really liked all three of Campfire's pieces. I don't know if it's the rather interesting takes, or just the fact that the prose is quite enjoyable to read whatever the underlying story.

Stroppa's was good, although I must say at some times it felt like the sentences were too short, and with it the story became stop-start despite actually flowing fairly well. Naturally, I echo the sentiments regarding paragraphs but that won't get in the way.

Still, I'll have to plump for Campfire's (eligible) one, even if I don't quite get the ending I still liked it a lot.

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