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  • Short story competition

    Amarth 18 years ago
    A writing competition. Try to write a nice story that we'd like to read. It's as easy as that.

    As you'll see in the rules, there are certain constraints. We really appreciate it that you wrote a 500 pages LOTR-beating book, but please, don't do it again here. Or try to condense it into about 5 pages . There are a lot of things that can be said in 5 pages...

    A few rules:
    The competition ends January, 15. Pretty long, but I didn't want to make it end at, say, New Year's Eve, and I also want you to be able to spend some time thinking.
    If you have way too much time, make a second story. Or a third. But keep them high quality.
    Keep your story under 2500 words. This post contains about 200 words.
    To make the stories interesting... Someone or something has to die in your story. I'm not saying it has to stay dead, though. And a broken vase has died, too. But at least, this ensures some conflict or drama.
    Post your works in this thread.

    Check this post sometimes, rules can be added or changed based on what other people say.

    Competition is closed! Vote for your favorite! We have 5 stories... (Unless I missed one, go ahead, hit me)[list][*]MageKing17's first story[/*:m]
    [*]MageKing17's second story[/*:m]
    [*]HarmlessHermit's first story, Hale's Freeze[/*:m]
    [*]MageKing17's third story[/*:m]
    [*]HarmlessHermit's first story, Old Things[/*:m][/list:u]Oh, voting runs for two weeks... That 'run poll for X days', did it work last time? There were some problems, IIRC, but I don't remember whether it really finished itself... Anyway, I'll try it again .

    Good luck
    MageKing17 18 years ago
    I guess here goes nothing...

    Thursday. Same routine. Get up. Get dressed. Throw on coat. Grab briefcase. Run out door. Start engine. Fly to work. This Thursday was different, though. That was the first sign that something was wrong. Thursdays never change. Never. Unless something was wrong. And then it almost didn't matter.

    The first thing that was different was that my 'cycle ran out of power halfway through Caliron City. That was unusual because I always recharge it Wednesday afternoon, and it took it a month to run out of power when not regularly recharged. Even more unusual was the fact that the flycycle then restarted halfway through the deathdrop plummet. Not complaining, exactly, but still different.

    Then, when I finally arrived at the office, my cycle registered as being fully charged. Not even a record of a power fluctuation. I decided to have a mechanic look at it. Probably a mistake. Now my brain was lulled into thinking it was just one of those things that eventually had to happen and just so happened to happen on a Thursday. No problem, right?

    Then the lift hadn't been working. He'd had to take the stairs. He hadn't had to take the stairs in ten years. Something was definately wrong. When he got to his office, everything was in pristine condition. That should've been the big tip-off right there. But, so distracted my mind was by the other things that had gone wrong, I didn't pay it any attention.

    Nothing seemed to go wrong all the rest that day. Or the day after. Or the day after. My mind decided that it had been nothing; a bad premonition, nothing more. No harm after all. So I was completely not expecting it when a corpse dropped through my ceiling.

    "AAAAGGGGHHH!" I screamed.

    The corpse didn't respond. Corpses usually didn't. Still, I tried again. "AAAAAGGGGHHHH!"

    Still, the corpse stayed motionless. Somehow I should have guessed that. I looked upwards to see the damage it had caused by falling through the ceiling.

    The ceiling had no hole in it.

    I circled around the corpse, poked it a few times. Nothing happened. So, as you can imagine, I was completely unprepared when it jumped up and bashed my skull in.

    So how'd you end up in Heaven?

    The man sipped the coffee he'd wished out of nowhere. God knows why he wanted coffee when any drink he could think of was at his disposal. God wouldn't tell me, though. God also wouldn't tell me why he looked just like me. "Oh, my story's not nearly as wierd as yours, but still pretty wierd."

    "I was working on a project where we could visit alternate dimensions." Maybe that explained why he looked exactly like me. "It was going to be this huge scientific breakthrough. I was about to hop into the portal when something fell through. It was this dead guy. No clue why he was dead, or why he'd just fallen out of my interdimensional portal."

    "So what did you do?" I asked.

    "Tossed him back in."

    I gasped in shock.

    "Oh, come on. What could I have done? I just decided that it would probably be best if he stayed in his own dimension. Anyway, after that happened, I decided it would be best if I closed the portal. But right before I could, the machine suddenly exploded, killing me instantly."

    I shrugged. "There are worse ways to go." I turned to the third guy at the table, who seemed to have an odd expression on his face. "How'd you end up here?"

    "You guys are right bastards, you know?"

    I gaped at him. "Er, no, I didn't know that."

    "Allright," he said, "here's how I ended up in Heaven. Here I am, having breakfast, not a care in the world. Suddenly, I trip over the chairleg. But for some reason, I don't hit floor. I somehow end up on floor though. It took me a bit to realize I'd just been flung through an interdimensional portal and been numbed by the transfer. 'Wow,' I thought to myself. 'What are the odds of that happening, eh?' So I decide to stand up. But my arms are still numb. Then someone picks me up. 'Just my luck!' I think. 'He'll probably give me something to stimulate my nerves!' I totally didn't expect him to throw me into another god-damn portal."

    I groaned. It was painfully obvious.

    "Anyway, the fall of landing again must've broken my ribcage in an unusual way. I'm a doctor by profession, you see, so I could almost feel the broken bone puncture my heart. I knew I was dying, which somehow sent all sorts of wierd signals through my spine. I could move my limbs again. So I jump up, see someone who, for the life of me looked just like the bastard that had just killed me, and got revenge with my dying breath."

    The guy sitting across from me immediately fainted. A few angels showed up and dragged him out the door. I turned to the man, who was now grinning. "You're a right bastard, you know that?"

    "Of course I am," said Satan. "That's my job."
    HarmlessHermit 18 years ago
    Wha-? That story was... you know what, this is one of those moments where you're speechless, you don't know whether its because the story was good or simply shocking, you're surprised, your mind goes blank, reboots, goes blank again, and you end up with nothing.

    So... good story? Yeah.
    MageKing17 18 years ago
    "Amarth" said:
    If you have way too much time, make a second story. Or a third. But keep them high quality.
    With that in mind...

    The man snuck across the freshly cut lawn, his eyes and ears ever watchful for signs he'd been detected. He stealthily made his way from tree to bush to building corner, all in an attempt to reach the central computer core of the facility. Larial grinned to himself. If he could eliminate Giltar's computer core, it would drop him at least five hundred points. That would put Larial in the lead, giving him more time to complete his research.

    Larial slipped through the back entrance, the alarm not going off due to the virus he'd planted there two days earlier. He crept through the hallways, not making a sound, until he found himself in a giant room with a twenty-story tall glowing cylander. Jackpot.

    He slid a computer interface out of his coat pocket and plugged it into the nearest access port. A green light on the side of the panel indicated the automated program was making it's way through the system defenses. Larial estimated he had about three minutes before he was detected. Then he'd have to run for it.

    Larial passed the time by occasionally ducking back into the hallway to make sure nobody was approaching. A minute passed. Larial started to worry and turned on his computer interface's display screen. According to the log, the automated defense buster had bypassed seventeen passwords. Larial frowned. Giltar should only have been able to construct an eight-layered defensive system at this point in the game.

    Ah well, no matter. The automated program made it's way through the eighteenth password and reported it was now in the main system. It planted it's digital cargo of viruses and watchdog programs and detached from the system. Larial unplugged it, then tossed it into the waste receptical. Giltar's efficiencey had just worked to Larial's advantage. By making his waste disposal system instantly incinerate objects, he'd allowed Larial instant and total disposal of the evidence. Now he just needed to find a way out of the facility.

    Larial made it two steps outside when something caught him the the chest. He staggered back, tripped over something on the floor, and landed flat on his back. Two security guards suddenly appeared in front of him, and he realized they'd had cloaking units. Larial swore. Giltar shouldn't be at this technology level yet.

    Larial looked down as the two guards hauled him up. He'd tripped over a floor-cleaning robot. He swore. To have overlooked something like that was extremely sloppy playing. The two guards half-dragged him down the hall and threw him into a holding cell. Farial swore. Ilran didn't have the technology to rescue him from Giltar's base, so he couldn't count on him. He'd have to find a way out himself. If only he'd brought some backup and a hidden comm unit! But no, he hadn't anticipated Giltar's advanced defenses. He banged his fist on the wall. Even the cages were at far too high a level for him to escape from them. How the blazes had Giltar gotten such a high tech level?

    Presently, one of the guards that had caught him outside the computer core room reentered the holding room. "The boss wants to see you in interrogation room 3. Let's go."

    Larial grumbled something incomprehensible and allowed himself to be led out of his cell. As soon as they were at the doorway, Larial made a desperate strike towards his captor's throat. Something caught his hand. He looked at it. A second guard shimmered into view, tightly gripping his arm. He swore. Giltar didn't take chances. He probably had an entire platoon cloaked and following him.

    Larial was thrown into a small room with only one door and no windows. Not even a one-way mirror. Larial was confused at that. How would he keep track of the interrogation. Then Giltar himself entered the room and he understood... Giltar was to carry out the interrogation.

    "What were you doing in my computer core?"

    Larial spat at Giltar's feet. "Guess."

    "I have made several guesses. I want the truth."

    Larial said nothing.

    "Very well."

    A jolt of pain shot through Larial's leg. "Pain won't make me talk."

    "Not by itself, it won't."

    Larial raised an eyebrow. Pain shot through his leg again. "So why don't you use something else?"

    "I am."

    Another jolt of pain shot through his leg. "Planting viruses!" He shouted. Then his jaw dropped. He hadn't even thought of saying anything, it had just come out somehow.

    Giltar grinned. "I'd surmised as much."

    Larial grinned. "Activate virus seven eight one!"

    Giltar's utility belt, no doubt carrying all of his tools, disintegrated. Giltar shook his head. "Antivirus one one eight."

    The belt magically repaired itself. Larial frowned. "Virus nine one nine!"

    The belt disintegrated again. Giltar shook his head again. "Antivirus two two four."

    The belt reintegrated itself again. Larial growled. "Watchdog two eight one!"

    Nothing happened. Larial turned to the ceiling. "Damnit, computer! I said watchdog two eight one!"

    A voice appeared from nowhere. "Watchdog two eight one was detected and eliminated by sweep seven seven three."

    Larial scowled. "Watchdog three five nine!"

    The voice reappeared. "Watchdog three five nine was also detected and eliminated by sweep seven seven three."

    "Do I have any watchdogs still active?"



    "Negative. All eliminated by antiviruses and security sweeps."

    Giltar laughed aloud. "You never could grasp the nature of defensive systems, Larial."

    "But I've perfected this strategy! It should have worked, damnit!"

    "What level are your viruses?"

    "I'm not telling you."

    "I can end the game now, you know."


    "I have a deus ex machina."

    "The game doesn't allow deus ex machina."

    Giltar grinned. "Watch me. Bring in vehicle eight nine one!"

    Giltar opened the door and motioned for Larial to follow him out. Larial obliged. Giltar headed for the exit. Larial followed. Giltar brought out a commlink. "Land it in docking bay seven!"

    Larial's jaw dropped. A huge, sleek starship glided down from the clouds and settled into a gigantic docking bay. "Damnit, you had to have cheated! All of your technology is way too advanced! Starship research costs nine trillian research points! Even stargate access costs eight billion, so you can't have stolen it!"

    "Tell me. What level is your research station?"

    "Eight. Just the right level for giving me my level 87 viruses."

    "Mine is level seven hundred and fifty. My antiviruses are level eight thousand. My security sweeps are level ten thousand. There's no way in hell you could have dealt with me. I have interstellar travel level twenty, with weapons and support tech to match."

    "Damnit! That's impossible!"

    "What did you spend your first year doing?"

    "Building and upgraded a computer security lab. Why?"

    "I spent my first ten years doing nothing but upgrading my research center."

    Larial's jaw dropped. "But that's... there's no way... how could you..."

    Then it all clicked. If one did nothing but upgrade research for ten years, all the points would accumulate exponentially... "You bastard. You're the one who wrote the paper on infinite point accumulation. I never thought you'd actually figured it out."

    Giltar grinned. "Quite right. I wrote that paper in the early stages of the game's development. The designers didn't believe me. Now I have proof. They either believe me or I dominate the game. I kind of like both outcomes. Because if they believe me, that means I automatically get a bonus for helping in game development. And a big bonus, considering the bug I found."

    Larial's face contorted into an expression of rage. "That's it! I forfeit. Have your stupid victory. But know this... I'll be back."

    Giltar chuckled. "Suure you will. Anytime you want your ass handed to you on a silver platter just call me."

    With that Giltar turned his back on Larial and headed back to the base. Larial paused. He hadn't actually fully forfeited yet. One had to issue a direct command. Giltar's back was turned. He grabbed a dagger from a hidden pocket and lunged.

    Then "vehicle eight nine one" opened fire.

    Larial awoke five real days later. It was sometimes hard to compare real time to game time, since the gamer experience all of the game time as if he'd lived it. But in actuality, the longest real-time a game ever took was two weeks. In game-time, however, the two players had battled for six centuries. That was why the Game had become so popular. Live out the lifespan of a civilization! Who could say no to so real a simulation? Especially when one got to take part in the action! But when someone really kicked your ass, like Larial's ass had been kicked, sometimes the side effects were unpleasant. Like being knocked out for a week.

    Larial groaned and sat up. He was in a hospital bed. He turned to locate the call button, then stopped and turned back. Something was wrong. There was a glowing... something on the door. He couldn't tell what it was. It was all fuzzy. Larial realized one of his eyes was closed, and the other was mostly closed. He opened his eyes and nearly fainted.

    It was a hologram. It read, "Giltar Medical Center." First of all, hologram technology didn't exist. Second of all, there was no way Giltar could own a medical center. He turned to his bedside table. There was some sort of handheld computer, a wristwatch, and... no, it couldn't be. Larial gaped. It was the computer interface he'd used to hack into Giltar's computer core. He rubbed his eyes and looked again. It was still there. He picked up the handheld computer.

    "You have one new message," came a voice. He opened it up.

    From: Giltar
    To: Larial

    Welcome to my private server.

    "That explains one thing," muttered Larial.

    I'm going to assume you've never explored the tech tree. Let me tell you something: It has no limit. There is absolutely no limit to how much you can research. As such, I theorize that a Game can last indefinately. The AI behind the game is ingenious. To test this, I created this server. On this server, a few of the normal rules are suspended. For one thing, there are approximately seven hundred AI players.

    Larial's jaw dropped. The computer running this server couldn't possibly exist. Nothing could handle that many civilizations, plus all the people inside of them.

    For another thing, not having a civilization doesn't mean you're out of the game. You leave the game when you decide you want to leave. As such, you can stay as long as you want.

    Giltar must have a large fortune to be able to have both the hardware and the software required to run this Game server.

    Last but not least, here is ten thousand credits. I recommend you start a business somewhere. I have given you full library access, so you can learn about all the various factions. I'd personally like it if you stayed with my empire, but it's up to you what you do. Oh, one last thing. This game has been running for two thousand in-game years, and with no end in sight.

    Larial gasped. The implications were huge. Giltar had created a pocket universe, and was giving Larial a chance to live in it. Larial had a sudden idea that this was the perfect Game, and he was one lucky bastard.

    I hope you've realized the implications of that last sentance. In any case, here's something so you're not totally confused beforey you reach the library. This is Voltair V, one of my colonies. The Elenars have been trying to attack it for the past two years now. If you want some combat experience, taking care of their raiders is a good place to start. And I gave you back your computer interface. No viruses though. You'll have to start over there. Goodbye, and goodluck.


    Larial set down the handheld computer and nearly fainted. Giltar had done something no one else had done. He'd taken a game with potential and turned it into a full-blown universe. A universe with as rich and detailed a history as our own, and it's own rules. It was any gamer's dream.

    Larial picked up the computer interface and the wristwatch, sticking them onto his right and left wrists respectively.

    "Excuse me, sir, are you all right?"

    Larial turned. A nurse had come to check on him. He smiled. "Yes... in fact, I'm fine. I'm better than fine. Everything is fantastic. Excuse me..."

    And with that, he half-leapt through the door, feeling like dancing. There was a whole new universe out there. It would be a shame not to experience it to it's fullest.

    And there you have it. Every gamer's wet dream come true. Fantasize about it and VOTE FOR ME WHEN VOTING COMES AROUND!

    ...or I won't make this game!
    HarmlessHermit 18 years ago
    Nose is bleeding so I typing wit 1 hand and holding tissue in other.

    Good story, but the parts where rules are explained bored me. You don't need to defend yourself there. I know why you added them but less of those parts would've been better, while still maintaining the image that the game is incredibly hard yet Giltar can still own.
    burgerking 18 years ago
    Incredible Stories, Mageking. I will probaly vote for you if someone even posts something. Wow.... I read a book once called Paycheck that was a similar style to those. they were shot stories like those. see if you can find it coz you'll definatly like it.
    HarmlessHermit 18 years ago
    Hey, who died in your second story Mageking?

    [Edit] Upon reading the rules again, I think the belt dying would satisfy the requirement. What an easy rule to keep. In my story, I'm going to kill inanimate objects. Rawr!
    Amarth 18 years ago
    "HarmlessHermit" said:
    Hey, who died in your second story Mageking?

    [Edit] Upon reading the rules again, I think the belt dying would satisfy the requirement. What an easy rule to keep. In my story, I'm going to kill inanimate objects. Rawr!
    Or the watchdogs... Or perhaps Farial himself. It's meant as an easy rule to keep, well, it's especially meant to make you think a bit how to implement this in a unique way... But do with it what you want to .

    Anyway, those are two excellent stories MK. Makes me wonder whether it's save to give that much time, if you're going to write a story every day...

    And I've been thinking... In the other thread, someone said 'and what if someone is going to write a haiku?' Well, in fact, it's allowed under current rules... And then I thought, ah, so what. Try what you want to, the members vote anyway. So if you create, say, a new palindrome story, you're not prohibited to do here. Perhaps you'd get a lot of votes that way... Think about it. Or, of course, just write a good story.
    HarmlessHermit 18 years ago
    My story is well underway. I completed the first draft just recently, and at the end of it, my heart was pounding, and I was feeling the intensity of the story. If even a little bit of the excitement I felt gets expressed in the story, then its mission success.

    First draft = 1,700 words btw.

    Oh, do you all happen to know what cryogenic freezing is? It's a silly question to ask, but you never know. There might be people who have no idea what it is.
    Amarth 18 years ago
    Yeah, sure we do... Like, we play video games, you know? So we have a basic understanding of the world around us... Or... Anything like that.
    HarmlessHermit 18 years ago
    Cool, cause my story might have something to do with that.
    HarmlessHermit 18 years ago
    Weee! It's about as done as it ever will be so I am posting it. Weee!

    Hale's Freeze

    Silence within.

    This is how it began. With a foggy memory, like the glass, the frosty glass window. The casket ensuring that he never leaves. Time will give him up to the cold. Time will tuck him away for safekeeping, and he will never remember the sterile, motionless solitude of the freeze.
    It doesn’t bite, nip, or refresh. It’s numbing, a surrender to death, and the cold.
    So cold.

    Moments pass. Time has approached him again, tentatively. With its arrival, the cold was disappearing. It retreats reluctantly. Its loosening grip allows him to feel his blood pulse again. It enters his eyes, and he is once again endowed with the strength to open them. The window in front, smooth as it was before, though fine cracks ran along its length. He was aware of the familiar dull grey walls. Meanwhile, the temperature inside rose, his awareness again reached normality, and fully formed thoughts crept back into his fully thawed brain.

    A hiss. The bottom of the chamber ejected. Tubes snapped back from his veins; their freezing liquid no longer needed. He was thrust into the same hospital as before, but the clean white lights were gone, the white plaster was torn and decayed. The room was empty. He turned. What used to be a few chambers, perhaps nine at the most, there were now over a hundred lighted receptacles, with peaceful faces propped up behind the windows. There were names above them. Jesse Burton, Kyle Woodall, Serena Lele, Hale Hansen.
    “That’s me.” he mouthed silently, for his tongue was dry. Hale. It was not as if he had forgotten.
    The sign above had bright red floating letters dizzily swirling and shifting until it read:


    A sign that was not there before, using technology that could only exist in the future.

    “Here I am.” Hale said aloud, as people often do when they believe they are truly alone.
    “The future.”

    He stepped back out of the operating room/storage room, into what he remembered to be the main lobby. Suddenly, Hale was startled to hear a hum from behind him. The doorway was blocked off by a shimmering, almost-invisible screen, which slowly darkened until it was impossible to see through.

    He pounded it with a closed fist, but it felt like solid wood. Triggered by this disturbance, a holographic screen switched on by the side, asking him for a bio-scan. A wide beam of light searched him from all directions, and it took only a few seconds for it to finish.

    “Hale Hansen. Age: 465, Biological Age: 42. Registered member of Boston Medical Center Cryogenic Patients Society.”

    The artificial door disappeared.
    Not wishing to return yet, Hale began to explore the changes in the building. All his life he had been told the future would be glorious and… clean. But the walls were festering with mildew, and the ceiling tiles were yellow and brown in various splotches of sewer leaks, though it was unlikely that anyone had flushed a toilet in this facility for the past few years.

    The outside must be better, thought Hale, his head filled with images of flying cars and beautiful buildings stretching to the sky. The future should be better.
    He walked up to the main door, and it vanished.

    There used to be a lawn, trees, and sidewalk leading to the streets of Boston. But quite disappointingly, yet another door barred passage, except this one was solid metal, and around it was a curved wall high enough to block out his view of the sky. There were no windows and the wall was not made of any special material; it was concrete.

    “Open.” he commanded the gate.

    It was silent. Apart from the muffled “plick, plick, plick” from the other side of the wall, the gate did not respond.

    When he returned to the main lobby, Hale saw a man. He was plainly dressed, with dark brown hair, and he was staring at Hale with interest.
    Hale cleared his throat. “Hello. Who might you be?”
    The man smiled, “Archaic English. No problem. I’m quite fluent myself.”
    “Sorry, I’m… confused. Who are you?”
    “I am your great-great-great-great-great-great… well, you get the idea. It is strange to meet my ancestor in such a way. You aren’t much older than me. Hmm, care for a drink? The freezing process sucks up lots of water.”

    Hale took the water bottle, eyeing the man suspiciously. He gulped the cool water down, which only made him realize how thirsty he was.

    “I don’t believe you. I only have one child, well, had only one child.”
    “Brian Hansen.”
    “Yes. That’s his name.”
    “And I am Zaccheus.”
    “What are you doing here?”
    Zaccheus took the water bottle and slid it back in his coat.
    “I’m here to save you.”
    “I’m perfectly fine.”

    Hale was uneasy. He had no great desire to be whisked away by this stranger claiming to be a descendent of his family.
    Zaccheus merely walked towards the elevator door and beckoned with one finger.
    “Come. Let me show you.”

    Hale followed reluctantly. As the elevator rose silently upward, higher than any hospital Hale had known, Zaccheus was keenly examining him.
    “You know, Hale. I am well-versed in our family history, and though I ask this question to many, I am dying to know why you chose cryogenic preservation.”
    Hale responded as if he were stating the obvious. “To survive, of course. I didn’t want to die before my time.”
    “But,” Zaccheus pondered. “400 years later, are you satisfied with your longevity?”
    “Of course not! I’m only 42 years old. I still have a life to live, things to experience, a future to see.”
    “Indeed!” said Zaccheus “And here we are.”

    The elevator ended its ascent, and the doors slid up. They were on the roof of a tower, on the hospital, and there was no wall to shield them from the sky. The clouds were the first thing Hale noticed. They were black, thick clouds, and the sun was completely blocked out. White lightning flickered, but with no thunder to accompany it. The clouds released dark raindrops of foul water, acid rain, but an invisible force shunted them away from the building. Hale’s nose crinkled at the thick, noxious stench of polluted air.

    Zaccheus ignored it, and continued on to the landing pad reserved for the emergency helicopter, but there was a sleek black vessel so strange in its design and shape that Hale could not imagine how it could fly, even with those enormous engines.
    “Hale, I need to take you away from this wretched world. We will travel to the Hansen colony in the Beta Pictoris system, where our family has thrived for decades. That is where you belong.”

    Hale stood, dumbstruck. He looked again at the black spaceship, and said, “No.”
    “There is nothing left for you here. You may have been born here, but your family needs you now. There is civil war breaking out within our lands. Foreigners have landed and some of our own kind have sided with them. We need to have proof that our dynasty is real. We need you.”
    Again, he shook his head.
    “God damn it, Hale. Why won’t you come?” Zaccheus pleaded.
    “I… can’t. I live here. Just south of the harbor, on Winchester Street. It’s the third house over, lovely neighborhood, lovely house… I did the landscaping myself. That’s where I live.”
    “Hale!” He dragged the bewildered man over to the edge of the roof and forced his head downwards, so that he could see the city streets, all of them, all at once, all of Boston.

    The mob of skeletons surrounding the hospital; he realized that they were actually people, crawling out of the ravaged buildings, making fires of wood and bricks for warmth. The skyscrapers had all crumbled to the ground, and entire throngs of naked men and woman huddled amongst the rubble. The muffled sounds Hale had heard behind the wall were of sick and desperate people pounding at the gate, chiseling the wall, and colliding against it with their own frail bodies. Twisted silhouettes of steel structures, streets flooded with sewage and rain, the dried up Charles River; Boston goes on for miles, but all of its inhabitants were gathered at the hospital, vying for entrance.

    “This is your precious home. Do you see them? Those people know that for the first time in centuries, in a locked down hospital, one of the cryo tubes is open, and every last one of them want it. They want it more than anything else; more than food, water, shelter. They want to escape the suffering that they inherited yet do not deserve. Look at them. Is this your home?”

    Hale did not need further explanation. He was wallowing in the worst kind of despair, and he was unable to lift his eyes from the ground below. His mind rejected what his eyes saw so clearly.
    “No.” he whispered. “No. No. No.”

    Zaccheus let him go, but he remained in the same ridiculous bent-over position. It all sunk in, the reality of his situation. He could never go back. He would never see his wife, his son, or his dear city.
    “No. No… NO!”

    Hale launched himself into Zaccheus’ chest, pounding, clawing. Despair turning to fury, rage against the one he felt was responsible for it all.
    Zaccheus yelled in pain. He tried his best to defend against the enraged Hale, but fear can never overcome passion. Hale grabbed Zaccheus by the throat. He stepped to the edge of the building, and let Zaccheus’ head hang back.
    “You… fool…”
    Hale threw Zaccheus’ head back and forth, shaking it with both clenched hands and screaming while he did so. Zaccheus let out a groan before his neck snapped and his lopsided body slid off of the edge.

    Hale wanted to cry, but his tears were suppressed by intense hatred. He hated the future that was now the present. There must be a better one. There would always be a better one. He entered the elevator and slammed the “ground floor” button. Shaking, stressed to the point of insanity, he ran back to the storage room, the door slipped away to let him pass.

    A tremor. The outer wall was breached.
    Shouts broke out from the main entrance. They had broken through, but they were too late. After finding the empty tube under his name, Hale slid back into it. It was like returning home. Zaccheus was wrong. This is where he belonged. The tube sealed shut. Nobody would be able to break in.

    Hale’s emotions cooled off and the angry noise of the mob died away. Time was abandoning him once more. Screw it. He hated it all anyway. His eyes closed; the feeling in them had been sapped by the low temperature. Slower breaths, calmer breaths, until they stopped altogether. Fingers and toes, then arms and legs, his head, then his torso; all becoming numb. Anti-freeze surged through his veins, and again, he was plunged into the cold.
    So cold.
    Vacuus 18 years ago
    Ahhh, finaly, something I'm 1/2 decent at...

    I'm afraid I mightn't get a chance to post a story, though - as I've been offered a job, and that mixed with school...

    Alas, I still don't think I can compete with you people - you're too good!
    Somagu_21 18 years ago
    HOLY *BZZZT* fark *BZZZT* MAGEKING! Your stories are the coolest things evar!

    Too bad my imagination has been totally obliterated by fps's.
    Anonymous1157 18 years ago
    Frames per Second obliterated your mind!?!? What is wrong with your computer!?!?

    I can no longer compete in any competition that involves flamers and/or veteran winners as I have a chance of succes equivalent to an ant killing a human inside-out. And that COULD happen if it was like a fire ant or something...
    HarmlessHermit 18 years ago
    "involves flamers"
    Hey look. If you're going to goad Mageking, you might as well do it up front.

    "veteran winners"
    Mageking and I haven't won anything yet. It's all Neogangster.
    Anonymous1157 18 years ago
    Dude, that's exactly what I meant.
    MageKing17 18 years ago
    Heh. Here's an interesting factoid for you all:

    Time spent working on first story: 5 minutes.

    Time spent working on second story: 7 minutes.

    And that is one seriously awesome story you've got there, HarmlessHermit. As you can all see, there is a huge difference between stories have spent a long time working on, and stories people spent... five minutes working on.

    I think I'll dig up the story I wrote during the summer. Obviously it can't be put into the competition (it's more than three times the maximum word limit and I wrote it a long time ago), but I think it's still one of my better stories.
    MageKing17 18 years ago
    Yes! Another one!

    The train slid to a halt. Barol picked up his briefcase and stood up, expecting the doors to slide open. They didn't. Barol looked around. The train was empty except for him. A blinking light on the automated control console declared that the doors should be open. They stayed resolutely closed. Barol scowled and sat back down. He waited ten minutes. Then twenty. Finally, he stood up again, pulled out a laser pistol, and blasted the nearest door to peices. He stepped through the smoldering wreckage and ended up on a deserted underground platform.

    Barol calmly stepped around the skeleton of someone who must have died hundreds of years ago. The platform was scattered with them. They might have disturbed a more squemish person, but not Barol. He made his way to the moving stairway (which apparently hadn't moved for half a century) and climbed up it. He emerged onto a ruined cityscape, covered by a gigantic dome. He smiled.

    He strode down an apocalyptic street at a leisurely pace, whistling as he walked. He made a right turn at a ruined street sign that proudly proclaimed Barol to be walking on "hoe street." Barol didn't notice. He was too busy whistling.

    He stopped in front of one of the many ruined buildings and examined the charred street number. 11786-- no, 8--2947. He pulled out his datacomp. 117882947. Yup. He'd found the right building. He donned a presure suit he'd been keeping in his briefcase, kicked down the broken door, and stepped inside.

    The suit's sensors registered high levels of helium in the air. This was definately the place. He quickly made his way over the the bookshelf and slightly tilted Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Empire. The bookshelf slid aside to reveal a staircase leading down. Barol followed it.

    He ended up in an underground chamber. In the center was the humming machine he'd come here for... the first successful fusion reactor. An antique like this was worth at least six hundred million credits. He quickly disconnected it and shut it down, then slid a small belt-like device around it. He activated it and the fusion reactor floated up on the floor. He pulled a small clip from his pressure suit and attached it to the antigravity belt, then walked up the stairs. The antigravity belt and the fusion reactor it was embracing followed.

    Barol carefully made his way back to the train platform, making sure the fusion reactor remained undamaged. Any scratches could cost him millions of credits. He finally ended up in the abandoned station. He quickly hurried over to the train. He didn't want to remain on this backwater wasteland any longer. Who cares that we conquered it in 38.73E9? That was 1.39E8 ago. Now it was worthless except for one thing, and he was carrying that off the planet.

    The train deposited him at an abandoned spaceport fifty miles north of the city. His ship awaited him, it's sleek design in stark contrast to the bleak world. He loaded the fusion reactor into the cargo bay and took off. Once he was past the gravity well of the planet he set a course to take him out of the system and leaned back.

    Barol looked out the window. The planet was the third closest to the sun, a rather unremarkable yellow star. How like our home system, he mused. Only our planet looks blue from space, not green.

    The ship computer beeped at him to notify him that they had just passed Pluto. "Computer, set course for Ponona."

    "Affirmative. Would you like something to drink?"

    "No! I've only got three hands, damnit! I can barely fly as it is."

    "Confirmed. Now leaving Sol system."
    Anonymous1157 18 years ago
    You're killing the point of the competition, dude! Now nobody can compete.
    HarmlessHermit 18 years ago
    Ah well. At the end all contestants (probably about... three, if someone else joins, or writes a haiku) will have a nice pile of literary works they can keep, sell, send out, improve on, or just admire.
    NOSBoi 18 years ago
    You all counted me out. BIG MISTAKE
    MageKing17 18 years ago
    "NOSBoi" said:
    You all counted me out. BIG MISTAKE
    Considering the amazing literary prowess demonstrated in this post... I don't really see how it was a mistake.

    And come on, Anonymous1157! I've got nothing better to do! I own at TA, I've beaten EVN twenty times over, once you beat Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries the third time it gets really boring, there are no new Notrium mods out, I still don't have a creature graphic for Wazzal II, I'm too lazy to continue work on my FS2 campaign when it keeps crashing for no good coding reason, I have no clue where I was going to go next in my Space Empires IV mod, and there's nobody posting in the AETAS! The only thing I have left to do is write short stories.
    Anonymous1157 18 years ago
    Well if you're tired of MW4, i'll gladly take it! You still killed it though. Find a better output, like for example... 3D modeling? Yeah! 3D modeling! And while i'm here, might I recommend Wings 3D 0.98.32b (Holy crap I have to update mine)
    Lochen 18 years ago
    "MageKing17" said:
    Farial looked down as the two guards hauled him up. He'd tripped over a floor-cleaning robot. He swore. To have overlooked something like that was extremely sloppy playing. The two guards half-dragged him down the hall and threw him into a holding cell. Farial swore. Ilran didn't have the technology to rescue him from Giltar's base, so he couldn't count on him. He'd have to find a way out himself. If only he'd brought some backup and a hidden comm unit! But no, he hadn't anticipated Giltar's advanced defenses. He banged his fist on the wall. Even the cages were at far too high a level for him to escape from them. How the blazes had Giltar gotten such a high tech level?

    Presently, one of the guards that had caught him outside the computer core room reentered the holding room. "The boss wants to see you in interrogation room 3. Let's go."

    Larial grumbled something incomprehensible and allowed himself to be led out of his cell. As soon as they were at the doorway, Larial made a desperate strike towards his captor's throat. Something caught his hand. He looked at it. A second guard shimmered into view, tightly gripping his arm. He swore. Giltar didn't take chances. He probably had an entire platoon cloaked and following him.

    I found a big problem there, read it over again. I believe that Farial changed to Larial and stayed that way til the end.

    Awsome story btw, now you made me want that game...
    MageKing17 18 years ago
    "Lochen" said:
    I found a big problem there, read it over again. I believe that Farial changed to Larial and stayed that way til the end.
    Oh f***! I'll go change the earlier Farials to Larials since I think there are fewer of them then the later Larials.

    By the way, I modelled Giltar's strategy in The Game to match my own strategy in Space Empires IV. Research everything as fast as possible, then own them with Deus Ex Machina!
    Zombie 18 years ago
    I might decide to compete. Maybe. If you're good... or something like that.

    I suck anyways so I'll lose with flying colors.
    The Gemini 18 years ago
    I'm working on my story in this moment! And it's going to be something complete different than MK's stories
    HarmlessHermit 18 years ago
    Aye. Sci-fi is fun and all, but I'm looking forward to seeing some more diverse subjects. Some, perhaps, from me.
    MageKing17 18 years ago
    Sci-fi is basically the only genre I read, apart from Fantasy. There's a simple reason, too.

    We live in this world. Why bother reading about it? Let's read about something different and interesting.

    As you can guess, my favorite authors are Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, and Larry Niven. Their writing styles heavily influence mine, I'm not ashamed to admit. After all, the best way to learn how to do something is to imitate a master at it, then diverge from that.
    MageKing17 18 years ago
    So far, it looks like the voting is going to be

    MageKing17's story 1
    MageKing17's story 2
    MageKing17's story 3
    MageKing17's story 4
    MageKing17's story 5
    MageKing17's story 6
    MageKing17's story 7
    HarmlessHermit's story

    HarmlessHermit 18 years ago
    Hey, hey, hey. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. I've got 5 hastily written one-line poems I can easily submit to pad the polls a bit (for people who just randomly choose an option).
    Anonymous1157 18 years ago
    I think that at this point, we should all write something even if he'd beat us all.
    ...And then we wont put him in the pole just to be ruder!
    Inane 18 years ago
    Yar! I might submit something, I had an idea for a story, but I was gonna make like a 6 page long thing... How do you tell how many words are in your story, though?

    And I think because of the deadline we should have a limit of stories per person (Maybe 3), so there aren't 35 stories by MK.
    Anonymous1157 18 years ago
    It's called "secrets within".

    Hopefully if i'm vague enough MK wont figure it out but everyone else will.
    Forum » Short story competition
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