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"Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
09-11-2011, 09:02 PM
Post: #21
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
Mufasa, I finally found the time to sit down and read your story - Dude, you could flesh that out and turn it into a novel. Parts of it remind me of Martin's "Game of Thrones" series, which I've just started reading; others like the films "Jumper" and "The Time Traveler's Wife." I'm a sucker for globe-hopping adventures; a focus on immortality that doesn't involve the depravity of parasitism inherent to the whole vampire fad is vastly refreshing; and there's an excellent romance there - dilemmas related to the concept of mortal/immortal romantic hookups are always intriguing too.

Let's get some more up here folks - write something!
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09-12-2011, 08:03 AM
Post: #22
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
A wee bit of something that I have worked on about the loss of a ship at sea.

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I recall little of the first few moments. All I remember was a shrieking voice, screaming “FIRE FIRE FIRE!” I awoke with a start out of my berth on the ship.

Wearing little else than my night clothes, I ran up onto the deck. It was awash in flames. Fire licked up the ropes, and began to engulf the mast. Though the sea was calm and the weather clear that evening, somehow a lantern had been carelessly overturned. The oil spilled out onto the deck, and the wick of the lamp gave life to the spreading fuel. Acrid smoke filled my lungs, and I gagged and gasped. Crouching on hands and knees on a portion of the deck that was not yet alight, I yelled, my eyes and ears searching for the others. But the only responses I heard were the rumbling of the flames as they chewed away at the ship, and the distant slapping of seawater against the wooden hull.

Even given my very limited experience on the sea, I knew that the ship was doomed, and began to look for a way of escape. It was clear that no one was about to come to my aid, if anyone else was even alive.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a rope and block, dangling lazily above the deck, miraculously untouched by the howling flames. I reasoned that if I could run fast enough, I could grab onto the block, swing over the flaming deck, let go once I had swung over the side, and fall into the sea.

My heart pounded. My chest heaved as I sucked in dirty stinking smoke.

Almost as if they had decided for themselves, my legs propelled me towards the dangling block. In my haste, I reached for it too soon, oil on the deck making my feet skid out from under me. Grasping fingertips brushed the edge of the block, and I slid into the writhing flames. I howled in impotent rage, expecting nothing but searing flames and death as I tumbled on the deck.

Part of the gunwale of the ship was weakened, and my body, still sliding feet-first from my aborted attempt at grabbing the block, splintered the blackened wood. My head struck something hard and for a moment I saw a blizzard of stars. In a desperate attempt to keep from falling, I clutched for a broken chunk of gunwale. Fingers wrapped around it tightly, but the weakened wood could not hold my weight, and I plunged into the inky sea.

An immense cold enveloped me, and my mouth tasted of saltwater. Somehow I thrashed my way to the surface, and looked to the burning ship.

I could see no movement aboard, no people running for escape, no one leaping off the side. The only motion was the gentle roll of the ship and the dancing flames.

The light from the flames betrayed the presence of floating debris bobbing lazily in the eerie orange glow. I swam a couple of strokes through the reflecting surf and clambered onto a wooden crate. Hauling myself up on it, and shivering uncontrollably, I watched as the ship gave up her life to the flames and the sea.

The wood from the dying boat hissed and spat and crackled, and clouds of sparks burst forth towards the night sky. Each time the Olive Branch shuddered, a new explosion of sparks appeared. Before long, the main mast began to tilt awkwardly. I expected it to crash down on the deck and into the sea, but the Olive Branch would not give up that easily. As if dying in deliberate agony, the mast drifted down slowly, inch by inch, until it finally contacted the deck in almost gentle acquiescence.
-------------------------------------------------

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain
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09-12-2011, 03:41 PM (This post was last modified: 09-12-2011 03:42 PM by Mufasa.)
Post: #23
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
One of my dread fears OHR; into the sea... miles from land, at night.

Most of us are so caught up in life that we forget to live it.
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09-12-2011, 07:41 PM
Post: #24
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
Thanks SC, I appreciate that.

Most of us are so caught up in life that we forget to live it.
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10-08-2011, 01:31 AM
Post: #25
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
Another! This one is more in the horror genre, but with tongue affixed firmly in cheek...

~ ~ ~ ~

Freak of Nature

The research facility was a nondescript government building that stunk of disinfectant. “I can show you what is new,” said Woronov, “if you will follow me.” He led al-Farouk from the dingy office into a small antechamber adjacent to the laboratory. Overhead lights came on automatically. Woronov pulled a shrink-wrapped cleanroom suit from a metal cabinet. “Put this on, please.”

A familiar trepidation gripped al-Farouk as he tied the gauze mask over his bearded face, pulled the bouffant hat over his ears and stepped into the sterile garment. The quarterly on-site inspections bothered him despite the fantastic things he had seen in the last six years - Woronov’s creations were frequently as sickening as they were fantastic. “Always an adventure,” he muttered, self-consciously, but silently reassured himself, “All for the cause of jihad.”

Woronov typed his code into a keypad and pulled open the heavy door when the latch buzzed. They entered a large, antiseptic lab that reminded al-Farouk of the upscale garage back in London where he got his Volvo serviced. Modular work stations stretched across two hundred feet of immaculately-polished floor to the far wall. A half-ton overhead crane sat atop a pair of heavy yellow rails that ran the length of the room. A technician, ghostly in his cleanroom gear, was closing the glass door to one of hundreds of compartments built into the left-hand wall. The sheer variety of research animals he had seen within them had always impressed al-Farouk, and Woronov seemed to relish showing off his new acquisitions. He led al-Farouk briskly to a large window, “Today we have received this pair of wild horses from Spain,” he said with an unnerving grin. One of the animals cropped lazily at a container of vegetables; the other, alert and wary, stared at them through the glass. “We believe their genetic makeup will provide a stable platform for a morph we have planned.”

The Islamic Alliance had contracted Woronov to develop advanced offensive systems and biological weapons shortly after the start of the Iraq war, but Woronov had been active in bio-weapons projects since the Soviet days. A steady stream of funding had allowed for some startling technical progress since the terrorists had hired him.

“Come,” said Woronov.

He led al-Farouk to a door on the opposite side wall and held it open. Al-Farouk stepped through and Woronov followed, closing it carefully behind them. They stood in a small control room facing a single wall-to-wall window. A pair of remote control handles extended from the ceiling to a paper-cluttered workstation at the center of a low table. The room beyond the window was dark but al-Farouk saw movement within. He swallowed hard and felt his stomach tighten involuntarily.
“Are you squeamish, Ahmed?” Woronov gave a derisive chuckle. “We have very good results with this one,” he said. “Just a moment, please.” Woronov stepped to the table and twisted a circular knob on its surface. The lights within the cell brightened.

“WHUH!” al-Farouk grunted.

“Impressive, eh?” Woronov laughed again. “As you may guess, this unit is designed for covert surveillance, but she must have some fine-tuning before field tests can resume.”

An adult mule deer stood motionless, surveying the men from behind the glass. Al-Farouk lurched involuntarily when it took a single step toward them. Military-grade optics darted between the two men in precise, mechanical twitches from within the eye sockets; its ears, now wire-mesh transceiver antennae, maintained a lock on some unseen point above the men, independent of the creature’s head movements. Its shanks and legs, enhanced with digital motors and hydraulic actuators, shone with a dull, metallic polish.

“We call her ‘Odoco’ for short, from the Latin. All of the mechanical elements are morphed directly into the framework of living skeletal and connective tissue - for all practical purposes, animal and machine are one. This one is a reconnaissance drone, capable of penetrating enemy territory at high speed and transmitting high-resolution intelligence back to her controller in high-bitrate burst packets. Her brain is biomechanical too, but we’ve left enough of the original cognitive function for complete autonomy – under our constraints, of course. We can direct her to any destination, under any conditions, and she will go, yet she is capable of all of the instinctual stealth and survival behavior of a typical mule deer, with no additional programming.”

Woronov darkened the room and held the door open for al-Farouk. “Next chamber on the right, please.” Al-Farouk held back, staring. Woronov gave him a toothy grin. “I understand that you are repulsed, comrade, but that is part of our design, you see. If our morphs are shocking to you, imagine the benefit – the shock value only further serves to disorient and demoralize your enemy.” Al-Farouk narrowed his eyes and said nothing.

Woronov turned and led the way to the second room. It was equipped the same as the first but a technician was seated at the table, scrawling notes onto a loose-leaf pad. A second after the door closed a brown blur within the inner chamber launched itself at them and crashed savagely into the glass window. All three men jumped. The German Shepherd, larger than any al-Farouk had ever seen, recovered immediately and attacked again, leaving a smear of foamy saliva amid dozens of dried smudges. It snarled, then began an agitated side-to-side pacing, its greenish glass optics fixed on them. Its teeth were enormous chrome steel spikes fitted to a massive mechanical jaw, and like the deer, its legs and haunches were biomechanical morphs. Without warning it leapt forward and slammed into the glass again.

“Mikhail, if you please…,” said Woronov. The technician flipped a toggle at his station; a faint hiss of air began and stopped abruptly; the animal twitched its nose upward, staggered a little, then retreated to a thin pad at a back corner and lay down.

“This one is of course an assault unit. We call him…Fido.” Woronov flashed a maniacal glint at al-Farouk.

“But as you can see we have had some troubles with his, ah, temperament,” he continued, turning to the window. “It seems that our growth hormone treatments also exaggerate the inherent aggressive tendencies of the subject animals. In the case of a mule deer the problem is manageable, but a canine is…another story. An attack drone must be aggressive, of course, but if he is uncontrollable he is also useless, correct? It will be resolved.”

“I like him as he is now,” said al-Farouk, with a smile that did not show in his eyes. Woronov chuckled, led him from the room and closed the door.

“Our next project has been something of a problem,” he said, opening the door to the next chamber. “But we wish to be up front in our dealings with the Alliance. Our arrangement has been good for both of us, yes? We are always making progress, but as you will see some ideas are…how shall we say…more viable than others. Step inside, please.”

The room sat in dim light, but al-Farouk could see the table was piled high with documents in thick plastic binders and strewn with reams of notes; the chamber beyond was darkened. He closed his eyes and swallowed hard, recalling some of Woronov’s other “problems.” Woronov walked forward, turned and looked at al-Farouk questioningly for a moment, then turned up the lights.

“AUUGH!!” al-Farouk shouted. He turned, leaned on the wall and retched.

Woronov frowned. “Oh, come now. Where is your backbone?”

“That…that…is an abomination,” al-Farouk gasped between hacking coughs.

“Nonsense,” said Woronov. “We are merely attempting to create a simple combination of minesweeper and transport vehicle. We based this morph’s mechanical elements on the American ‘Dustbuster’ product because of its general shape and functional configuration. Unfortunately, the only platform we had available at the time was a common opossum, so its size of course had to be enhanced significantly and its aesthetics, well, as you can see... We had to use large amounts of growth hormone here, which I suspect is where we ran into trouble.” Al-Farouk stared, pale and wide-eyed, at Woronov, then inadvertently glanced back through the window.

“We call this one ‘Prius,’” said Woronov.

Al-Farouk turned around and retched dry heaves.


The End.

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10-28-2011, 03:00 AM
Post: #26
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
Hmm, 'disappointed so few people want to take a stab at this. And Halloween is almost here - nobody's got any ghost stories?

Here's one, and this time I'll try the Word attachment method. Lots of ghosts in it, too.

N.B. - It's also got some colorful language, but nothing more sinister than the "bovine waste product" reference - keep out of reach of children, and impressionable cows.
Rolleyes

Happy Halloween! .


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"Waiter...can you stop that noise? What you call 'music.' It sounds like dirty water. How can they eat food - and listen to ****?"
- Sabina (Lena Olin) in The Unbearable Lightness of Being
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10-28-2011, 12:06 PM
Post: #27
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
I love it, Space Cadet! The descriptions were spot-on. Great fun!

If I'd known you were French, I'd have worn galoshes...
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10-28-2011, 08:27 PM
Post: #28
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
Glad you liked it, Gunga - smiles are what I'm after here, mostly.

C'mon people, everybody's got a story inside - it may sound like a cliché, but the first step is simple: Ask the question "What if?" and then let your mind off of its leash for awhile.

Beer helps.
.

"Waiter...can you stop that noise? What you call 'music.' It sounds like dirty water. How can they eat food - and listen to ****?"
- Sabina (Lena Olin) in The Unbearable Lightness of Being
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10-29-2011, 12:10 PM
Post: #29
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
I love this thread. Thanks, everyone!

"I will quietly resist."
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10-30-2011, 03:07 AM
Post: #30
RE: \\\"Small Tales\\\" - Short Stories, Anyone?
I\\\'m sorry, SC - I usually am up for doing some short stories but I\\\'ve been busy on a couple of projects. I have been reading, though. Smile

But I found this for your Halloween listening pleasure....

Thus I Refute Beelzy read by Vincent Price

Cool

... in a world where I feel so small I can't stop thinking big!
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