Friday, September 18, 2009

Wordzzle 81 - Under the sun

This is my contribution to this week's Wordzzle. Wordzzle is a game in which each week word lists, used to create stories, are given on the blog Views from Raven's Nest. Participating users post their stories on their own blogs.

This is my entry number 25, for Wordzzle week 81.

Ten Word Challenge:


An evergreen, left over from last Christmas and brown and brittle now, rolled along in the wind, leaving strings of tinsel and an occasional bauble in its wake. The wind blew sand over train tracks, rusted and twisted and half buried. Once trains came through here, carrying their freight and passengers, but no more. The sun sat sullenly in the morning sky, with a heat that bespoke of the greater heat to come, and of days that were destined to be much like this one.

An old narrow road ran through the barren land, totally empty of traffic. Beside the road was a solitary wooden building, with a couple of dilapidated gas pumps out front. On the building was a sign saying "Engines of all types repaired here." There seemed to be no customers today.

Inside the building, an old man sat, surrounded by electric fans and medicine bottles, listening to the radio. It spoke of the drought, and how it had reached dangerous levels, and of more deaths. The old man shook his head and spat on the floor. "I told them what would happen if they elected them fellers."

Mini Challenge:


The frenetic alien's fizzing feelers, black as carbon, danced a fantastic ballet across the floor, but one of the judges fainted outright and it was only awarded 8.5 out of 10.

Mega challenge:



The freight train roared by, an evergreen tree at the controls. He could swear it turned and looked at him just as it passed. He gripped the steering wheel tighter and gritted his teeth. It was happening again.

The train finally passed, and he pushed on the gas, wanting to get out of there quickly. The engine made a strange clucking sound and a bunch of feathers flew out, some settling on the windshield. The car drifted forward for a while, and gradually slowed to a stop. He got out and began to walk. He heard a fizzing sound behind him, then a keening. He paused, but didn't look back, and began walking again, faster.

Ahead of him, in the distance, he saw what appeared to be large sauropod dinosaurs attempting to do a ballet, and doing it badly. He supposed that it should be wonderful that they should try it at all, but he didn't feel that appreciative right now.

There was a chance that they might be dangerous, but he continued walking toward them. By the time he got there, they would probably have either changed to something else or outright disappeared.

A medicine man suddenly rose out of the sand beside the road, and came toward him. The medicine man walked all around him, staring at him, then took a bauble on a string out of a small leather bag and held it out in front of him and circled him again. Then he took the man's hand and put the bauble in it, pressing his hand against the man's palm and wrapping his fingers around it. A sort of rigid handshaking exercise went on for a moment, and then the medicine man's hand suddenly broke off. He stared at his wrist for a moment, examining it in wonder, then he changed into dust and sank to the ground, and was blown away by the wind.

The severed hand then seemed to turn to carbon, like a piece of wood that has been burned into charcoal, then it changed to a large black beetle and began to crawl up his arm, its feelers waving frantically. He grabbed it and threw it away. The beetle changed into a bird that turned around and swooped back at him, then exploded in a burst of feathers that turned into strands of tinsel, that wriggled and writhed as they fell to the ground, finally burrowing into the sand and out of sight.

The man slowly sank down onto the pavement and sat there, hands at the sides of his head. An eye formed in the pavement and stared at him sullenly. He stared back and after a while it blinked a few times, and slowly faded away.

Why was this happening? What did this mean? Were these signs and omens? If so, what did they signify? Nothing, it seemed. Oddness bespoke of more oddness, and nothing else. Was that all his life was destined to be from now on, just more of this? It sure looked like it. Not having anything better to do, he began to weep, and continued at it for some time.

After a while, he became aware of someone sitting beside him. He raised his head and saw a ghostly figure, dressed in cowboy clothes.

"Who are you?"

"I am the ghost of movies past, and present, and future."

"Sounds like a big job."

"I get around."

"Why is this happening?"

"Your movie, your reality, is being intruded upon by things from other places and other possibilities."

"My movie?"

"You're a character in a movie. In this movie."

"I don't feel like I'm a character in a movie."

"They usually don't. It destroys the illusion."

There was silence for a time.

"Can anything be done?"

"Technically yes, but in reality almost certainly not. It won't get any better, and will probably get worse, until the end."

"Until the end."


"What will the end be?"

"Total destruction. Your world, your movie, will cease to exist."

"What will become of me?"

"You will also cease to exist."

That sounded as bad as anything could be. "Will nothing of me remain?"

"Something always remains, even if its only a memory, or a memory of a memory."

"That doesn't sound like much."

"No, it doesn't."

"Are the memories conscious? Do they know what they are? What they were?"

"Sometimes, though it may not always be enough for full understanding."

There was more silence.

"And yet you are a ghost, and much more than just a memory. You seem to be able to travel around and do things, and know what you're doing."

"Yes, but such things are rare."

"I don't want to be just a memory. I want to be a person. I want to be me."

"There are some that are greater than me, but they are relatively few. Some can even assume all the appearances of reality, but they are fewer still. The more difficult it is, the fewer make it there. Most do not even try, or do not try very much. They accept their fate, and sink into it."

"I don't want that. I want to be me."

"We have to take what we can, from the possibilities that are open to us. The more we try, though, the more the possibilities may open up. Take my hand."

The ghost held out his hand and the man took it. It felt solid, despite its appearance.

"I can't promise that you will be a ghost like me. Or even a ghost at all. We can try, though. It largely depends on your determination."

The ground shook.

"It won't be long now," the ghost said.

The boy sat in front of the computer, frowning. "I can't get the movie to play anymore. It keeps saying the file is corrupted."

"Just delete it and download another copy," his friend said. "That always works for me."

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Blogger Dr.John said...

I enjoyed all three but the last one was the best.
You are today the master of weird.

4:13 AM, September 20, 2009  
Blogger Argent said...

Your first one was so atmospheric, I started to feel thirsty reading it! There was such a feeling a neglect and abandonment about that town.

The mini was great - most amusing. Actually, I wish that would happen on some of these competitions. They should allow aliens in, it would liven up the proceedings.

Your third one was you at your weird best. I did a weird dreamlike sequnece in one of mine this week, but yours was much more vivd, I think. Sweet writing as usual.

10:16 AM, September 20, 2009  
Blogger Raven said...

Brilliant as always. Think the first two were my favorites. The second was wordzzling at it's concise best... and funny too.

2:30 PM, September 20, 2009  
Blogger CJ said...

You are always so creative. I enjoyed all three of your stories. You use the words in unusual ways that make your writing vivid.

My Wordzzle is HERE.

11:29 PM, September 20, 2009  
Blogger Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Yeah - i agree with Argent that the first one was wonderful, i felt like i really knew this person

2:01 AM, September 24, 2009  
Blogger Air said...

Loved them, especially the wordplay in the mini and the twist in the maxi :->

11:39 AM, September 24, 2009  

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