Story a Day (II)

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Camlost

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« Reply #30 on: March 09, 2015, 09:13:08 pm »
The evening's breeze carried up from the field and caused Allowyn to shiver. Blood and steel. He had always thought it funny that that which was spilt might smell so similar to that which had spilt it. Well maybe more perverse than funny; either way, the crows certainly cackled over it. He pulled his cloak tight about him and shuddered to think that all his efforts might have been a carrion's joke.

Across the field, staggered along the foothills edge, fires fought back the cold, the dark, and the encroaching whispers of defeat—or at least that was what they were meant to do. From where Allowyn stood opposite, the sun had still not settled behind the trees and the breeze was truly little more than an early autumn's breath. The flames had been stoked more to ease the men's minds than their bodies, a distraction from the days events and those parties that still trundled back and forth from the field carrying ever more casualties and ill news.

Allowyn couldn't help but admire their hope, despite all the frailties of the body, and he had heaped many upon them, their spirit remained indomitable. He sighed, at least until the light of dawn. For he led an army that had broken the bounds of spirit, for which the cold of night was a welcome surcease from the chill of the grave, and whose ranks grew with every battle—victory or defeat.

Unwilling to consider them anymore, he turned his back on the unsought enemy and descended from his vantage point. If they would not flee then at least his ever-present feathered friends would not go hungry.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 10:46:11 pm by Camlost »

Camlost

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« Reply #31 on: March 13, 2015, 12:14:40 am »
Ugh, just noticed how many times I used at least..

Camlost

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« Reply #32 on: March 28, 2015, 04:18:40 am »
Rain pebbled the surface of the grey waters, its chaotic drumming filling the space between oar sweeps. Molk stared absently at his passenger as he rowed, not concentrating on him, but reluctant to look away.

The steady downpour had turned the man's faded cloak the colour of twilight, and resting across the dark figure's lap, his hand tight about the pommel, was an elson's sword. To Molk's eyes, the preternatural blade seemed to capture the lightning's glow, so that it faintly lit the small skiff between them. His face downcast under his hood, the figure had a revenant appearance, and so Molk began to regard him as such. The thought unnerved him, so much so that before he had made it halfway to the island's rocky shore he was certain that he delivered death.

With each sweep of the oars the skiff pulled closer to the black stone keep in the center of the lake, and with each heave at the oars Molk felt in his pocket the exorbitant fare his passenger had paid. Molk had fished this lake for decades and knew well the safer and more luxuriant ferries that traveled to the island, and so, more than most, he understood that his passenger had exacted a fee from him: all the silence of a storm-driven night.

Francis Buck

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« Reply #33 on: April 25, 2015, 05:38:18 am »
A slice of my off-the-cuff, reinterpreted intro for The Emperor Must Die:


The Planet of Carvalho

     She had consciously detected the animal's presence several moments before any of her typical five senses did. About three meters away a young elk skulked through the dense pole-forest of gefangnis pines -- a veritable prison of tall, arrow-straight trees generally no thicker than a man's thigh. What the trees lacked in mass they made up for in quantity. Random copses sprung up everywhere from the hard, icy ground, so numerous that one's line-of-sight rarely exceeded a few meters.
     Although a pale blue sun shone high above, the forest floor was shaded, narrow tree trunks sheathed in frozen moisture from the night before, glittering now in midday gloom.
     Kulé dropped to one knee and shouldered her rifle, an Mk II Ranger. New model, a recent offworld import. It used the high-pressure gas from firing to eject a spent magazine and chamber a new round. Only a few dozen had made it through the Imperial Blockade and onto Carvalho's surface. Of course, Kulé had made sure to acquire one by any means necessary. That hadn't proved too difficult.
     Something tickled her brain. Another mind, another...
     Hunter.
     Up the ridge, a mountain lion crouched on all fours. There was no sense of anticipation that Kulé could perceive. It was relaxed, statuesque – like a sphinx, some distant part of her whispered, though she couldn't recall exactly what a sphinx was.
     She lowered the weapon. This, Kulé knew, was what the pious called a Holy Moment: two ancient species brought here from humanity's Birthworld,  locked in a circumstance made sacred by their very origins. Observance of such an event was a matter of religious doctrine, especially since neither of the animals knew Kulé was even there. She had first started hunting at the age five, and that was fourteen Universal Years ago. Stealth, among other things, was all but second nature to her. Indeed, the simple fact of killing -- let alone consuming -- a Birthworld creature of any kind was considered blasphemous by some. To others, it could only be done under the most stringent adherence to proper ritual. Kulé suspected that such believers were generally not starving peasants, eking out a modest existence on some far-flung, barely inhabited planet in a remote corner of the galaxy.
     She wasn't exactly a spiritual individual anyway.
     The lion fled when it heard the booming crack of Kulé's rifle shot, a single round pulverizing the elk's skull and killing it instantly. In that final trice, Kulé could sense the fluttering knot of the animal's mind unraveling into oblivion. Death. The bullet had grazed precisely three different gefangnis pines before reaching its target, leaving a fine trail of frosty bark and in its wake. Even at such close range, the claustrophobic pole-forest had to be accounted for with every shot. Weaving through the tree trunks in graceful, deliberate steps, Kulé approached the elk and proceeded to field dress it with long-practiced speed and efficiency.
     Bloodstained, her breath condensing in stinging cold air, she slung the beast over a shoulder and began her journey navigating out of the woodland maze -- a task far more tedious than getting into it. Nearly an hour passed before she finally emerged, barely three meters from where her ramshackle autosleigh was parked. It may have been an old, cantankerous vehicle, long worn down by the harsh elements of Carvalho, but it was fast, cutting through ice and coasting on snow as good as any shiny new skimmer.
     Well, almost as good.
     After loading her kill onto the back, Kulé gently eased the autosleigh's engine into life, setting a course for two klicks north-east -- home. Before leaving, however, she felt a familiar twinge somewhere in her brainstem. The gibberish-whispering echo of some dumb outer consciousness. The mountain lion. It must have followed the elk's freshly-dead odor while keeping at a distance, only temporarily spooked by the gunfire. Even so, the creature was huddled deep in the pole-forest, within the comfort of its domain. Its kingdom. For a fleeting instant, Kulé experienced a bizarre sort of camaraderie with the animal, like it was an old friend she had not immediately recognized.
     Or, perhaps, a glimpse of one she would make in the future.
     
« Last Edit: April 28, 2015, 04:38:30 am by Francis Buck »

Camlost

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« Reply #34 on: April 27, 2015, 02:44:31 am »
Nice work Buck. It's good to see someone else keeping this lonely thread alive. My efforts have been a bit lack luster in recent weeks.

Here's something of an introduction or preface that I just thought up on my car ride home:


I have spent the better part of three decades wandering in flight to the far reaches of a flagging empire. In that time I have worn many names. Some of those names have been praised for their actions, others are openly feared, while even a few have been remembered solely for the mystery that surrounded them; but all, without fail, have come to be associated with an insatiable darkness that follows in their wake.

To whomever may come to find this document, should it survive, I must immediately disabuse them of the illusion that the revelation of my true name or my death—I have lit the last of my warding candles so as to record this confession—might signify an end to the darkness that has become synonymous with my presence. The miserable truth of the matter, one of which I have had the burden of carrying throughout the long sordid years since my flight began, is that my demise will herald the darkest of those days that have yet to come.

My name is Yel'en of Ahktunash. I am the last devotee of a false god, and the sole practitioner of daeinvoc outside of the bonds of the newly resurrected cult of Lamtun—who dare not acknowledge my existence, and when they must refer to me only as venatorem, the hunted.

The ink I've laid has barely begun to dry and the candle's flame has had its first taste of wax, and the ceremonial runes described therein, yet already I can hear the dark promises of their minions whispered from just beyond the encroaching darkness. Since my life is now surely measured by a candle's breath, I hasten to describe those events that culminated in the greatest of my crimes, not so that I might achieve anything resembling absolution—the things I have done are beyond redemption—but that perhaps I might gain even that faintest glimmer of empathy one offers a condemned man.



Would you read on? [I used some weak Latin as filler for the time being. Whether I change names and places to reflect that choice or just wing it on a made up language depends on where things go with it]

Francis Buck

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« Reply #35 on: April 28, 2015, 05:48:06 am »
FB pretends to know everything about writing:

Quote
I would read on. You do a good job of presenting a particular, driving mystery that makes one question the perspective of the POV they're reading. The fact that the POV itself exhibits self-awareness is very good; it's the first hurdle of obtaining a semi-skeptical audience. Self-awareness often means self-deprecation -- the acknowledgement of ANY weakness is also the acknowledgement of being human. Flaws are essential, lest your characters becomes a Mary/Gary Sues.

I think this is incredibly important, yet is nonetheless often ignored in fiction or otherwise. Even our greatest modern paragons of justice -- Gandhi, let's say -- displayed highly visible qualities of "moral deficiency". I don't believe we should think LESS of such figures, but instead simply realize they're just as human as the rest of us.

As for the Latin...there's nothing wrong with that, be it temporary or otherwise. Don't think about what language/culture/religion is most interesting to you at the moment, think about what is most relevant to the characters you're trying to tell the story of. That is what (most) readers care about. Unless you're intentionally writing something equivalent to The Silmarillion, it ultimately doesn't matter WHAT language/culture you choose to emulate, so long as it feels genuine to the reader. And this is coming from a legit world-building junky. Just like dreams, no one really gives a fuck about what the specifics of what your imagination has conceived. It is only after digesting and formulating this information that it becomes overtly relevant. And even then, you still have to convince others that this is so.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2015, 05:52:01 am by Francis Buck »

Garet Jax

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« Reply #36 on: May 01, 2015, 07:00:10 pm »
Nice work you guys.  It's great to log in with new material posted here so I can get a quick reading fix ;)

Camlost

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« Reply #37 on: May 01, 2015, 10:34:59 pm »
Thanks for the encouragement Jax. Now that I know we have an audience I'll try to be more productive. Although I don't think any of us can match sciborg

Camlost

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« Reply #38 on: May 07, 2015, 01:51:43 pm »
The music had ended hours ago and only the regulars and weirdos remained. Jim, the salesman, occupied his weekly spot at the end of the bar, wallowing in the dregs of his beer and premature baldness. Situated across the room in a booth chosen for its proximity to the men's room sat a fake blonde with nicotine stained skin and a dubious reputation for her nocturnal business affairs who went by the name of Pam. Tucked away in the opposite corner, a couple of college students of doubtful age were nursing their unlikely opportunity with tequila and cheap beer. And seated at a table next to the stage was a handsome performer from earlier in the evening who had introduced himself as Troy and an old man who could have been mistaken for his grandfather.

The bartender crossed the room, offering Jim all the obliviousness he did the rest of the world at this point and pretending not to notice Pam counting the profits of her solicitations, and set another pitcher down between the older man and the performer. Up close it was immediately apparent they weren't family; there was certainly a familiarity between them, but with that an undercurrent of awkwardness that only accompanied strangers. Despite that though, the resembelance between the two was uncanny. Kelly observed and came to these conclusions all in the span it took to clear their empty glasses. They were an odd pair, each in their own way, and their conversation was even stranger.

"—why I came back her isn't important right now, you'll learn that in time. Thank you, my dear."

"Oh, ho, 'in time', aren't you funny! If I'm to believe half of what you're telling me, I'll need to be at least twice as drunk as I am," Troy replied, his tone a peculiar mix of incredulous and excited. He gave Kelly a wink and refilled his glass feeling he had gotten the better of his companion. He held up a guitar pick he had been tapping on the table, "Thanks again by the way. I might not have had a set without you."

"If that's what it will take," the old man interrupted, turning to Kelly with a pained smile and a few crumpled bills, "We'll have two shots of Jack and your best ceaser."

She had been searching for something casual and flirty to say to Troy, but leaned on duty when nothing seemed forthcoming. She nodded to the two of them and made off for the protection of the bar before a blush could make its way to her cheeks. Excepting Pam, who made a lewd gesture and offered to "distract the old one", no one seemed to notice her embarrassment.

With each successive trip to their table that night Kelly had been shedding her professional indifference and after this last, she had to admit to herself she was outright curious about the two of them. So as she set to making their drinks she sought to inconspicuously listen in on their conversation, and if something came up that she might use to chat with Troy, then all the better.

“Alright then, tell me how it is girls think. Tell me what women want,” Troy spat out following a muffled burp. It was subtle, but now that she was paying closer attention, Kelly noticed that the disbelief she had heard before was slowly beginning to fade from his tone.

“That I can't do, for two reasons--" the old man began.

“Oh, come on. What good is access to all of one's wisdom before they've learned it if you won't share it?”

The old man smiled and shook his head, the kind of action that is generally reserved for children who simply can't know any better or teachers who are about to correct a misconception. He held up his finger and continued, “The first is this: all men must learn to fathom the female mind in their own time. It is a measure of growth that one comes to such an epiphany and only then through experience. The second reason being, and more importantly, I don't know. The unfortunate truth is that women are simply unfathomable, at least in all this one's experience. Every shining moment of elucidation on the subject is very often followed by another and that another too, and all of them often as false as the ones proceeding.”

“Just wonderful, so I suppose love eludes me for the rest of my life and that's why you're here, to warn me against my follies.” Kelly caught this last exchange as she arrived at the table with their drinks.

“On the contrary," the old man rummaged through his jacket before producing the contents of his pockets. As he began seperating cash and coins from all the other detritus that collects in one's pockets, Kelly could have sworn she noticed a guitar pick nearly identical to the one Troy still drummed atop the table. Before she had time to give it more attention, the old man offered her a handful of money with a wistful look in his eyes and continued, "You encounter a woman who absolutely captivates you, who stirs a passion in you like nothing else has or—and take my word on this matter—will.”

Troy's cloudy demeanor cleared immediately and he leaned in, "What does she look like? Can you tell me that much?”

“An absolute vision. She was like an autumn sunrise. Cool and calm, and radiant”

“You say was, as in something went wrong”

Having retreated to the bar, Kelly watched the old man flick a shot of Jack down his throat and wince, "Imagine how desolate my life had to have become for me to have spent the waning years of my life desperately, and nearly futilely, developing a time machine"

Francis Buck

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« Reply #39 on: June 17, 2015, 03:13:34 am »
Meant to comment earlier, but GJ reminded -- I'm really digging that piece there, Cam! Great hook and very intriguing. Have you worked on that idea/premise any more, or was it just a kind of one-off thing? Seems like it has a lot of potential!

Garet Jax

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« Reply #40 on: June 22, 2015, 08:05:50 pm »
I'm with FB on this one.  This one really caught my attention and imagination. Good work.

If there isn't any more and this is just a one-off, you should add some to appease me!

Cheers.

Camlost

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« Reply #41 on: July 02, 2015, 09:30:49 pm »
Hah! I appreciate it guys. It was originally just meant to be a one-off, but things began to proliferate once I started writing it. I had to keep it short or else the feeling of completion kept getting awaying from me.

As soon as the weather gets nice around here I usually fall off the grid. I'll see if I can't find my notes and resurrect something resembling what I was originally chasing.

Thanks for the feedback again

Camlost

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« Reply #42 on: July 28, 2015, 01:26:23 am »
“Every crash is always the same. You remember each one like it was the last, because each time, no matter where you managed to drop that thing, you haul yourself out, bloodied and bruised, and you get your ass movin'. It's the only way to survive in my line o' work, cause if you don't follow through on your job there's a hundred black flag crews out there that would just as soon melt your feet to the floor and leave ya then hear excuses.

'All that's the easy part though.' The scarred man leaned back and settled languidly into his chair, bloated on the self regard small men get from being the center of attention; even if it is only the admiration of a wide eyed twelve year old. He was pausing for dramatic effect, and so took a long draught from his mug before continuing, 'The real trouble that comes after any crash is getting away 'fore any one notices ya. This time though I wasn't nearly so lucky.

I managed to claw my way from the twisted metal and billowing smoke, far enough away to not have to worry about the flames. I wiped some of the blood and sweat away and pulled a battered flask from my belt, but before I could even unstopper it I heard a movement in the bushes. Never a good sign mate. I tell you this, you come down in the woods and any animal that even caught a whisper of it is going to be headed in the opposite direction. And fast.

Live a long enough, rough enough life and ya learn to slip a shooter from its sleeve as quick and easy as breathing, only this time when my hand shot to my hip it closed on nothing. Damn thing got lost at some point during my impromptu descent. Now, I'm not ashamed to admit that my nerves got the better of me at this point, normally ya'd find a worn leather handle to stop your fingers from shakin'; however, I am embarrassed to admit that I was half way through a string of curses that would make a witch blush when the unmistakeable sound of a pulse battery charging behind me silenced my profane litany.

I turned around slowly to see a tall figure stride from between the trees, blaster levelled at my chest. He was thin but muscled, some how lithe and solid at the same time. He was as graceful as a Horashi lantern dancer and from the looks of it twice as deadly. And here I was with nothing but a dented flask and trembling fists to disarm him. You can be the biggest, baddest bastard on two legs but there ain't nothin' that's gunna turn a gun barrel from ya but a faster finger or a silver tongue.

Now, whether you want to call it luck or misfortune, my whole life I've found myself in and out situations stickier than a barrel a tar and you don't get out of those without being a bit slippery, so I did what any smart man in my position would do—act the fool.

I slowly rose my hands above my head, made sure that he saw the flask before I tossed it his way, as if this were some kind of back alley robbery and not the scene of a pirate crash landing”

“----- Alright, that's enough.' a weary looking man behind the bar interrupted, 'Liam take those mugs in the back and off to bed with ya”

“But Dad---” a stony look from his father cut him off and Liam quickly vacated the barroom.

Once his son had left, the bartender turned his attention to the storyteller, “Look Tal, I don't care if you spin yarns for the crewman to hustle a drink or two. I even look the other way when you rehash the same exaggerated tales for those poor women who have the misfortune to cross your path, but save my son the theatrics.”

Tallan finished all but the last of his drink and settled it down on the bar just forcefully enough to splash its remaining contents on to the countertop.

“Ah Mick, it was all in good fun”

“For you, maybe, but I don't need my son signing on and sailing across the dark to die on some backwater planet because you filled his head full of stories about pirates and space elves.” Now that he had unclamped his tongue, Mick found that he was letting loose some pent up heat. “We both know you weren't more than a third-rate smuggler whose only payout came from a Confederation sting where you managed to slip away with the loot during all the confusion.”

Tal leaned in across the bar, his smouldering gaze framed by his infamous scar, and hissed, “The last I recall, that blundering mishap of mine funded this shit hole you call a tavern. If not for me, this place would still be a hopeless dream in your empty pocket.” Satisfied that his point had been made, Tal pushed the empty mug across the bar and turned to survey the room, “Now, how about another drink old friend.”

Mick's anger wilted when confronted by Tal's sudden ire. He took the mug, sighed, and wiped down the counter. All the heat of his resolve had cooled to a puff of helpless exasperation. He began to draw from the tap, tabulating the cost against Tal's investment and his own freedom.

Before Mick could set the full mug down, Tal spotted two women sitting down to an empty table, “Make that a pitcher Mick. I believe I see a few ladies who look as if they're longing to be regaled with the tales of my dangerous exploits”

Mick dumped the mug down the drain and began to recalculate as he drew a pitcher. He wondered if poison might be better than patience.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2015, 04:15:54 pm by Camlost »

Camlost

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« Reply #43 on: August 21, 2015, 05:17:55 am »
Open boxes littered the room, adding more to the disarray than the organization they were meant to bestow. Sarah dragged out the last drawer of the dresser and unceremoniously poured its contents into one of the misshapen boxes she'd salvaged for moving. Old socks and ripped jeans tumbled into the tired cardboard cube with a soft thump, a lamentation for having been disturbed after long disuse. She gave the drawer one last shake and was confused to find a weathered envelope flop out on top of the pile as if it had been secreted away long ago.

Curiosity swelling, she set the drawer back in its track and retrieved the letter. She recognized the handwriting immediately, the involuntary breath of surprise leaving her chill like an old hearth left to ash. The script was long and thin and crept across the face of the envelope at a hard angle. She traced her fingers along it wistfully, turned it over in her hands, and was halted by a single dry watermark on its sealed face. A tear long forgotten. As if having found it erased all the days between, Sarah remembered that single drop of deliberation, of hardened resolve and cooled longing, before she had hidden the envelop in her bottom drawer.

She turned it over again and recited the words she had always known and dreaded may come true: Of all the things I have ever asked you in earnest or in jest, ignore them for this: Do not open this until you have forgotten what it is. She had forgotten, yet she had known as soon as she had her hands upon it. Hands that now trembled slightly at their discovery and an old wound uncovered.

The letter had been given to her by a man to which she had once been very close. Sarah had always found the notion of soulmates foolishly wishful and mathematically improbable, but for all that, he could have been one. They had shared something she had not recognized at the time and had not found since. In a way they were bound. The crumbling and dissolve of their romantic relationship had only made room for a sad friendship which neither was willing to relinquish. For years following they would find themselves falling into those familiar patterns when together and would part cursing themselves for having fallen into them and for having enjoyed it. They each made their efforts to move on, found other lovers, distanced themselves from each other, and still chance or fate would find them within each others company again.

That is, until one day Edison had arranged to meet with her and presented her the selfsame letter she now feared to open. He had seemed elsewhere and revealed that he would soon be moving elsewhere. She hadn't been able to pinpoint it then, but recalling that evening now she felt pained: not for having gone through it, but for something contained therein. She had known him better than any man before or since. She could trace the tracks of his mind and follow the paths of his heart as if they were her own, but that night she felt as if her every step had faltered. Only now, all these years later, having gone through it herself, could she recognize that pain. It was the wounded perseverance of a broken man.

Gooseflesh now prickled the back of Sarah's neck and she repressed a shudder, settling for a deep sigh of preparation as she made to open the envelope. She broke the seal and ran her thumbnail down the seam as delicately as handling a treasured artifact, for it might as well been given the history that surrounded it. She carefully removed the folded letter and placed the envelope aside, uncertain yet whether she'd want to keep it.

The letter was still as clear and crisp as it must have been the day he had written it. She found the paper strikingly white in comparison to the aged envelope and noted as she unfolded it that the creases had not been softened by time. Sarah hesitated a moment as she regarded the brief script, reminiscing of all those sweet letters he had given her before.

After an interminable moment, she shook herself from her fond memories, steadied her hands and began to read Edison's last unspoken words:
   
There is so much I shouldn't say, but for too long I've held my tongue, and while I will not say all, there are things I cannot let go unsaid. I learned more from you than you ever taught me. Because of you I've known heartbreak, and it's a beautiful thing. I discovered, too late, what it is, and how to feel passion. Yet still in the times of our meetings I cannot but feel that something is missing or yet happened. May those cold nights never find you Sarah.

   Tragically yours,
      Edison

P.S. I hope to hear from you in like kind. If I never receive a letter I'll take your silence as a salve in itself and think of you all the more bitter-sweetly.


Sarah couldn't say at what point in the letter she had stopped breathing, but having reached its conclusion she took in a breath as if drowning. Despite it, she felt empty. All these years his profession had sat collecting dust in her drawer. She felt once more her bitter resignation at his abrupt leaving, the angry determination required to overcome her unwillingness to forget him. She had forced herself to bury anything the two of them had had in a desperate attempt to move on; and here in her hands she held the truth that he had done the same, but had left her a shovel.

A single tear dropped like a feather to blot the paper between her hands, a hopeful echo to the weary mark that marred the envelope face. She couldn't have stopped it if she had tried. She smiled at the thought of that. Smiled at the thought of it all; the longing that had appeared to be ashes, but was revealed to be quiet coals. She wiped a second tear from her cheek before it could fall and gathered up the envelope and letter.

She crossed the room, opened the window, and resolutely tossed the two into the wanton breeze. After all, if she were to disappear, it simply would not do for her fiance to find them amongst her things.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2015, 07:46:54 pm by Camlost »

Camlost

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« Reply #44 on: August 26, 2015, 08:27:16 pm »
Scientists say as rare a phenomena as it is it has happened at least two other times in our past. That's what their projections tell them, and they tell us.

Around mid afternoon, a small, or so I'm told, object composed of rock and ice entered into an impossibly narrow corridor of space between the earth and the moon. By some miracle of astronomy or chance, this object has traced a path directly between and along the moon's orbit, obstructing all but a silver halo from the sky. They're calling it a Black Moon.

When the proximity of this celestial object was first brought to public attention, doomsday prophecies abounded, despite assurances of non-collision. I have little to say on those apocalyptic ramblings and the science is mostly above me, but one thing I can attest is that there is an empty hole where I buried my dog last year and the cemetery down the road is uncharacteristically loud.