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Author Topic: [Oct 2016] - Corpses - Submission Thread  (Read 7856 times)

Offline Anonymous

Re: [Oct 2016] - Corpses - Submission Thread
« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2016, 07:13:18 PM »
Hidden Beauty

Spoiler for Hiden:
Pala-ama heard the ship sink. She had been fossicking deep, harvesting kelp to complement the fish she had recently eaten. The tribe were well attuned to listening for the sound of sinking ships. The landers were a good bounty for the tribe. Not only did their flesh make for a welcome change from a solid diet of fish, but then there were the shiny things that they wore on their bodies and hid deep in their vessels.

Pala turned sinuously, angled her rather reptilian face to the surface and began to swim upwards with powerful strokes of her tail, her body sliding swiftly through the dark cold waters, long black hair streaming behind her.

The rest of the tribe had come quickly to share in the feast and the plunder. They had to reach the wrecks quickly, before the other scavengers of the sea could arrive. The sharks in particular were a problem, not only did they eat incessantly they were also aggressive and one of the few ocean dwellers that could cause problems for what the landers referred to as merpeople.

Pala wasn’t really all that hungry. She had eaten just before the ship started to sink and delivered many of its passengers to the freezing waters. However the landers often wore pretty things and she could always use them to decorate her little grotto. It was nice to sit back and admire her shiny things from above.

The bodies were floating through the water, slowly sinking to the bottom. Pala had never seen so many before. The elders told stories of big wrecks, but even they had never mentioned a disaster on this sort of scale.

The mermaid saw two of the tribe’s young males fighting over the body of a man dressed in black.  They had managed to rip his arm off and one of the males had already sunk one row of his sharply serrated teeth into the limb, without even bothering to remove the lander’s outer covering. The other male snorted in disgust and then got involved in a melee with others over the rest of the body.

Pala watched the scene and shook her head. There were so many that there was no need to fight over one body, although he had been a very fat man and so had plenty of meat on his bones. Pala continued to swim through the water, using her tail to avoid the bodies that continued to float downwards.

What Pala was looking for was a female lander. They were the ones that wore the nicest things. That was when she saw a slender form sinking through the water. Glancing around to see if anyone else had noticed the body, Pala swam towards it. No one followed her. They were all too involved with hunting out other landers and paid no attention to Pala’s roving further afield.

As the landers judged these things the girl had been pretty. Pale skin and fair hair, it floated around her flawless face, with its regular features. The blue eyes were still open, although the woman was clearly dead. Already the cold water was starting to turn her skin blue.
****

No one else had seen the girl yet. Casually Pala hovered over the slowly sinking body, using her tail to hide her find from anyone else in the tribe. It wasn’t just that the drowned woman wore some especially pretty sparkly trinkets that Pala could already see decorating her grotto. She even had some spots picked out for her newest treasures.

For some reason Pala had no desire to see this woman’s body torn to pieces in a feeding frenzy. She also felt no need to feed on the body herself. If she did take a nibble it would just be being greedy, as she had fed not long before the ocean delivered this bounty to the tribe. The mermaid was no shark, who needed to eat constantly regardless of being hungry or not.

Pala swished her tail to follow the body to the sandy bottom of the ocean. If she wanted to keep her prize, then she would need to hide it. Once the rest of the tribe found her they would first strip anything of value from the corpse, and then Pala would lose her decorations. After stripping it they would consume the flesh and the lady would look like nothing more than ribbons of bleeding flesh.

If she didn’t hide the lady and by some miracle none of her tribe did find her, then the sharks that were surely on their way to the waters would. Blood in the water was like a beacon to those silent merciless predators.

Pala watched the body hit the bottom soundlessly and saw the clouds of sand rise up and then dissolve into nothingness as the gentle current separated them into individual grains and carry them away. The sand settled and received its bounty gracefully. The mermaid swished her tail, swum down, keeping herself low to the seabed, swung around and put her powerful arms under the shoulders and lifted.

Once she had lifted the body, which due to the water soaked clothing was heavier than Pala had expected the woman to be. The landers were weak and generally quite light because of it. Pala rose slowly and gracefully, her large, dramatically slanted eyes searching for a good spot to keep her treasure. She did initially think of her grotto, but too many of the tribe knew where it was and could easily enter it. Keeping something like this hidden from her people was a crime and could see Pala exiled or even executed under their laws.

The other problem for Pala and the pretty lady’s body was that of nature itself. Even though the mermaid’s home waters were cold, even icy at times, dead bodies would not remain pristine for long. It would decompose and when that happened it would lose its beauty. Pala just had to find somewhere to keep it a little longer than usual and then when it started to deteriorate she could let it go to the ocean, which eventually took everything. She would have the memories and the trinkets forever.

****

In the near distance the rest of the tribe began to disperse. That could only mean one thing, especially as bodies were still falling from above – the sharks were on their way. Pala had to move quickly. Sharks were a pain, she wasn’t armed, and even if she was she didn’t want to tangle with a hungry shark.

Inspiration struck. The mermaid remembered a hiding spot that she’d once flushed a good size octopus from. It was nearby. She doubted another octopus would have already moved in. It was a good spot. No one would find her hidden beauty there.

Pala wedged the woman under the rock. No one else could see it, not if they weren’t looking for it. The mermaid removed the jewelry from the woman’s neck, wrists, fingers and ears. So pretty. She took one last fond look at the body, and sighed. The action allowed a trail of bubbles to leave her lips and float upwards merrily. The lady would only last a few days before the salt water stole her beauty forever, just the way it had stolen her life.

At least until then Pala had a secret, a hidden beauty that only she knew about and could admire. When she was no longer attractive Pala would remove the body and let it float away. Maybe it would make an unlooked for meal for a lucky scavenger. At least Pala would always have the memories and who knew when another ship would founder and send her another gift?
« Last Edit: November 01, 2016, 09:49:45 AM by Anonymous »
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Offline Anonymous

Re: [Oct 2016] - Corpses - Submission Thread
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2016, 07:14:21 PM »
Cú Sith

Spoiler for Hiden:
All her life, Moibeal had lived alone at the edge of the Ruaridh woods. There were enough stories about the forest, many of which Moibeal herself had made up, to keep most people away. She often went to the nearby villages, trading herbs, supplies and entertaining the locals with magical tales, but she was always an outsider, feared but tolerated. And she did what she could to keep things exactly that way.

Occasionally, someone would come all the way to her hut, usually under specific circumstances; a foolish young girl who had made a mistake the night before and wanted to be sure that there would be no consequences; or a woman who couldn’t afford to have another mouth to feed, even if the pregnancy was legitimate. More rarely, some wanderer would ask to stay the night, although many didn’t even make it through without deciding to run off after they realised what Moibeal was.

However, one night, something very different took place.

It was the night of a new moon, and Moibeal had been asleep for some time, when a strange sound outside woke her up. She immediately jumped out of bed and grabbed her fish knife, holding her breath and remaining in absolute silence. Slowly, she made her way to the door, when a voice was heard from the other side.

“Is there anyone in there?” a woman asked, clearly out of breath. “Help me, please.”

Moibeal peeked through a hidden hole in her wall, and she saw a young woman, holding a wrapped blanket close to her chest. It was too dark to make sense of the shape.

“Please, I need your help,” the woman cried.

Moibeal decided to put away the knife, and unlocked the door. When she opened it, she immediately pulled the woman inside. Her arms were very cold, but she was sweating profusely. Her bare legs were all scratched and dirty.

“What is the meaning of this?” Moibeal asked, forcing the young woman to sit down on a chair as she threw a couple of logs into the fire. “What madness made you come all the way out here in a moonless night?”

The woman looked at Moibeal, turning the blanket around. That’s when she saw the face of a pale young baby.
“You have to save my boy,” the woman pleaded.

Moibeal reached for the baby, but the woman pulled it away, bringing him close to her chest again. “Promise that you will save him and I will give you anything you want, but please don’t put a curse on him.”

Moibeal looked perplexed. But then she had to remind herself of what people thought about her, about the tales surrounding the Old Crone who lives on the edge of the forest. “Don’t be silly, I would never hurt an innocent child. But you must allow me to see what’s wrong.”

The woman sighed, and then nodded, letting Moibeal take the baby.

“What’s your name girl, and who is this?” she asked, gently wrapping her arms around the blanket.

“I’m Coira, and he’s my son, Edan.” Coira grabbed the old witch’s arm. “The priest said he would never survive the night, but that can’t be true. You have to save him.”

Moibeal put her lips on the boy’s forehead. It was stone cold. His nostrils didn’t move, and neither did his chest. She wrapped the baby more carefully, turning to Coira. “Bring me one of the water buckets that are outside, please.” Coira didn’t move, her eyes focused on her baby boy. “Go on girl,” Moibeal insisted.

Moibeal laid the baby on her bed, and kissed its forehead. Then she sat by his side.

When the mother came in with the water, she wondered why the witch was so still. She did not need to ask anything. “There’s nothing I can do,” Moibeal whispered. “There’s nothing anyone could do for him now.”

Coira dropped the bucket, and threw herself at the witches feet, screaming. “You lie, I know you can save him! You can!”

“He’s de—“

“You were dead once too, I know!” Coira screamed, grabbing Moibeal’s face. “My mother told me how the Cú Sith brought you back!”

It happened almost instantly. Moibeal slapped the desperate woman so hard she fell to the ground. The witch got up, grabbed the bucket of water, and placed it over the fire, throwing some herbs in it. “We do not say that name in here, girl,” she said, without turning to Coira. “The boy is gone. There are fates worse than death, believe me. So you will drink this tea, and then you can sleep in my bed, to say goodbye to your son. Tomorrow, we bury him.”

“Please,” Coira said, struggling to talk between her hiccups. “I have no one else. I have nothing else. And I am not afraid of the Cú Sith. Take me to him, let me save my baby, no matter what sacrifice may be required. Everyone knows he saved you once, too, when your mother asked for help.”

Moibeal turned her head slightly. “You don’t know what you’re asking. If you did, you would never have come here.”

“Perhaps, but now I am here, and you are the only one who can bring me to the Cú Sith. Please. For my son.”

Moibeal sighed. But then she grabbed a thick robe, and threw another one towards Coira. “Grab your son. There’s no time to waste.”

Shocked that this was actually happening, Coira pulled herself up, dressed the robe and took her son close to her chest once more. She followed Moibeal as she went outside, not daring to say a word that may upset the old witch and make her change her mind.

Despite the darkness, and without any lanterns or torches to aid them, Moibeal walked calmly into the forest. Coira followed immediately behind her, grabbing the witches robe so that she didn’t lose her.

After what seemed like an eternity, the witch stopped. “That which you seem to want lies just ahead. But if I were you, I would turn back now,” Moibeal said, sounding more maternally this time. “I know death is cruel, but it is also certain. The Cú Sith, however, is the opposite of certain. His intent is selfish. There is no way of knowing what he will do to your son’s corpse, Coira.”

“But you survived, witch,” Coira said. “Your mother brought you back from the dead. I only ask the same for my little Edan.”

Did she? Moibeal thought. Or did the Cú Sith just put another soul inside my body, taking away my real one with him. Why else would I have always felt this hollow? Whose soul is mine?

“Come, then,” Moibeal said. “May you never regret what happens here tonight.”

They walked a few steps further into the forest, and that was when Coira noticed a snarl, followed by a very distinct howl nearby.

“He’s here,” Moibeal said. “Don’t speak, just give me the baby.”

Coira gave the old woman the wrapped blanket, but never let her robe go. She looked around, fear finally biting at her determination.

“It has been too long,” a voice said. A poisonous voice, both enchanting and utterly terrifying. “But I see that you have not forgotten me.”

“Not for the lack of trying,” Moibeal said defiantly.

Coira held tighter to the witch’s robe, trying to see what was happening, but she saw no one else there.

“And who is that young woman behind you?” the voice asked. “I could taste her despair for miles.”

“I am Co—“ Coira was saying, but the witch cut her off immediately.

“Who she is doesn’t matter, hound. She is here because she would see her son given back the life that was stolen from him far too early, and that is all. If you are willing to help her, say so. If not, don’t waste our time.”

“Straight to the point,” the voice said, seeming closer than before. “You know the price.”

“I do,” Moibeal answered.

“And does your friend know?”

“I do, and that’s enough,” Moibeal said.

“Very well,” the Cú Sith said. “So it shall be.” A sudden wind blew over the two women, and another howl was heard, piercing through the darkness of the forest.

Moibeal turned. “You will now turn around, and run straight back to my house. Spend the night there, and when the first ray of light appears, go back to wherever you came back from. Don’t tell anyone about this. Especially your son, you understand?”

“Aren’t you coming?” Coira asked.

“In a way, I will. Now go, foolish girl. Don’t stop, no matter what.”

It was only when Coira reached the hut that she had the courage to look at her son. He was breathing, and warm to the touch once more. And his eyes… They looked at her, full of life, with a hint of the same defiance she had witnessed that night in Moibeal.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2016, 09:49:34 AM by Anonymous »
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Offline Anonymous

Re: [Oct 2016] - Corpses - Submission Thread
« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2016, 07:15:45 PM »
Job Gone Wrong

Spoiler for Hiden:
“Robby. I think I’m getting sick.” Rob snuck a glance at his partner, not missing the way his voice seemed to have deviated from its regular volume. Hank’s eyes stared unfocused at the moonlit highway passing by, clasped hands shaking slightly in his lap and dark skin damp with sweat. Rob refocused on the road, trying to ignore how slick his own palms felt.

The client told them it’d be easy. Right in and right out with the loot. Then they could retire. Maybe settle down together. Adopt a kid or two and get out of that small Kentucky hell hole. Next thing they knew there was a guy’s plastic wrapped corpse hidden in the bed of their F-150.

“Right,” Rob said, nodding. “I’ll get off at the next exit. There should be one in the next three or four miles, so try to hang on till then.”

The clock read a quarter till two when they drove up. The place seemed like one of those stations you’d find metal bars in. Kind separating the cashier and customer in the bad part of a big city. Sidewalks cracked. Windows grimy. Discarded cigarettes everywhere you had room to set a foot down. There was only one other vehicle in sight, which was a rusty old bug parked cockeyed by the door. Rob handed Hank a five and two ones for some sodas and chips, then decided to fill up while he waited.

A light above flickered as a finger tapped an impatient rhythm on his leg, the numbers on screen slowly rising beside the dollar sign. He could feel the ring’s weight resting in his jean pocket the entire time. They should have known the pay was too good. For what? Just an unassuming silver band. An unassuming silver band that ended with a guy getting shot. It wasn’t worth it. He should grab it. Chuck it and let the buyer be damned.  It wasn’t worth their lives getting ruined. It wasn’t worth the look on the face of man he loved.

As he placed the pump back into its slot Hank returned, a sprite, a coke, and two bags of lays cradled in his arms. At that moment, Rob thought he could have kissed him. Needed to kiss him. He didn’t, just as he didn’t chuck the ring he could feel still weighing down his pocket.

Back in the truck, he jammed his key in the emission and turned it. Nothing. He tried four more times, before settling for a fist against the wheel instead.

“Don’t know why you’re so surprised. I told you that guy ripped you off.”

“And your smug ass is enjoying it.”

Hank smiled in confirmation, which earned him a well-placed swat on the shoulder. Before-mentioned smug ass only chuckled.

“Even I have to be right some of the time, don’t I? And it is fun to watch you throw a temper tantrum.”

Groaning, Rob ran a hand through his already messy brown hair and unbuckled. “Piss off. I’ll go see if that employee can give us a jumpstart, and don’t eat any of my chips while I’m gone. I’m not above take them out one by one and counting before I head in. I hope he has a cable. I don’t think we ever put ours back in.”

Pocketing the keys and dropping back to the asphalt, he rolled his eyes as he caught view of Hank sending off a silent salute from the driver’s side mirror. Still, he thought, it was nice seeing a bit of that sparkle back. Even if it did seem a bit forced.

A bell chimed as he entered. The inside of the small stop was decidedly no better than the out, Rob decided. Surprisingly enough, however, there were no separating bars like he’d expected. Just dirt tracked across a chipped tile floor, and a strange smell that couldn’t quite be identified. A couple strides took him to the counter, where a man somewhere in his later years leaned while trying to clean his glasses. Rob would have called it a valiant attempt if the shirt he rubbed them with hadn’t been filthier than the lenses.

“Hi,” Rob said, and the man looked up, squinting. “I was just wondering if you could help me with a jumpstart. Truck broke down. We don’t have a cable though, so if you have one-”

“No.”

“Excuse me?

“No,” the man repeated, before going back to “cleaning” his glasses. “I don’t have a cable. Loaned it once. Never got it back. Keep forgetting to get a new one. You could always call someone. Though, at this hour, I’m not sure who’d be around besides maybe the police station ten miles south of here.”
Rob tried to hide his wince, and assured him they’d find another way out when a voice spoke behind him.

“Excuse me? Did you say you broke down?”

Rob startled, then turned to see a shortish man standing behind him who looked uncannily like his college lit teacher.

 “Sorry.” The man smiled sheepishly, then extended a hand, which Rob hesitantly took. “I overheard you talking about your car trouble, and I was wondering if I could help. Name’s Louis.”

“Mine’s Rob, and yeah. We’d appreciate that. I didn’t see you when I came in. Thought it was just us and the employee guy-”

“Sam.” The cashier interjected. “Not “the employee guy”, since we’re all over here giving out introductions.”
Rob resisted the urge to flip up his middle finger.

It had been an hour since they’d driven up, and an early morning fog had started gathering when they walked back outside. He could see their truck, and where, from his slumped position, it looked as if Hank had fallen asleep in the passenger’s side seat. It was quieter now as well. Eerily so, Rob thought. And he still didn’t see another car.

“So, Louis, where’s your ride?”

 “Oh…I don’t have one.” Louis slowed. “You never did see the man who hired you for today, did you? Just the messenger?”

 “What…”

“Mr. Durum tried his best,” Louis continued. “But he was expecting me. Not two boys with a gun. I’m talking about magic, Rob. Magic like that ring nestled in your pocket. Or, was nestled in your pocket. You see, I’m what you’d call a warlock.” Louis spread out his hands and shot a grin. On his right index finger was a silver band. “There’s a reason I wanted this. There’s someone I wish to protect, and you’re not the only one willing to go to extreme lengths. It has the power to control the dead. Like puppets.”

Rob froze, his eyes finding the truck again. Landing on Hanks still figure. He was stuck with a nutjob. As if reading his mind, Louis chuckled.

“Don’t worry. I just erased his memories, as I’ll do to you. If I let you remember how everything went tonight, I doubt you’d be too happy when Durum’s friends come knocking, and of course I’ll need to put in someone else’s face to substitute my own…but don’t worry. I always keep my promises. You’ll wake up with a sack of money large enough to buy your own small island. The job went off with no complications. You met me here, and then you left. For you, everything went perfect.”

Rob bolted, but was tackled to the ground almost seconds. The hands that touched him were cold. He looked up and almost screamed.

Durum stood there, face expressionless and eyes still closed.

“I cut the plastic wrap earlier while you were filling up. You really should pay more attention to your surroundings. And sorry about the truck. It really is amazing though, isn’t it?” He gestured towards the body, still holding Rob down.  “Once dead, the mind no longer restricts how far the body can go. Of course, this means using them in the way I intend will also cause deterioration at an alarming rate. But you don’t have to worry about all that. Right now, it’s time to go to sleep.”

A snap of the fingers, and everything went black.
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Offline Anonymous

Re: [Oct 2016] - Corpses - Submission Thread
« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2016, 07:18:38 PM »
Memories

Spoiler for Hiden:
The shelves of the shop were filled with lines of little corpses, tiny feathered forms with eyes of endless sorrow. I tried to look away, to focus on the carpet's fading patterns, on the soft sounds of the street which undercut the mournful silence, but the bodies always drew my gaze. They were the reason I hated that place. They were the reason I was there.

The sensation of being watched brought back unpleasant memories. My grandfather's home above the store had been a happy sanctuary; I'd loved to visit him, to hear him tell his stories of the way the world once was. The things he'd seen in his long life were an endless wonder, and I could sit there by the fire and listen to him talk for hours into the night. But his home was guarded by the dead.

Alone, I could never bring myself to pass through that dark and frightful room. In the corners of my eyes the shadows always seemed to stir. I could hear the rustling feathers. I could feel them watching me. The best I ever managed was a few short, nervous steps before becoming rooted to the spot. Desperate to run, unable to turn away, I could barely raise my voice and call for help.

Back then, help would always come - a calming voice, a smoky scent, a guiding hand to safety. He told me his birds loved me, and would protect me from the world outside, but I knew he was wrong. To me they were a trial, a test that always found me wanting. The last time I visited was the only time I passed that test. Ever since, I wished that I had not.

It was my first day as an apprentice. Flush with the excitement of my brand new life, delighted that my new home was just along the street from his, I used my first free time to pay my grandfather a visit.

The shop was shaded from the midday sun by heavy drapes, and it was closed as always until the early afternoon. Blank eyes stared at me from the shelves, silently judging the scrawny kid who deigned to interrupt their lifeless vigil.

I almost froze. I almost called for help. But I was older now. It was time to face my fears.

My stomach was a painful knot. The quiet was oppressive, and I did not dare disturb it. The shadows moved, a ceaseless shifting, like crows devouring carrion. I tiptoed into the room, picked a path as far away from the watchers as I could.

With every step, my heart beat faster. I was surrounded, stranded, as deep in danger as I had ever been. The room seemed to stretch before me, the distance larger than I could comprehend.

I refused to look aside. I focused straight ahead and forced my legs to move. The world began to spin, almost toppling me into the waiting lines of death.

All at once, I reached the door. I leaned my forehead against the cool, hard wood, eyes closed, breath deep. I had made it. I had won. A swell of triumph grew inside my heart.

The door swung open at my touch; the corridor beyond was dark. A staircase to one side led up, but I noticed light from down the hall just as habit placed my foot on the first step. Instead of going up, I rushed along the passage, trying not to make a noise. I couldn't wait to surprise him, to tell him I would be afraid no more.

My greeting died upon my tongue the moment I entered the workroom. I couldn't think. All I could see was blood.

A row of corpses lay upon the worktop, wings splayed, legs askew. They had been ripped apart. Hollowed. Their entrails mixed and placed into a glistening pile which leaked a sea of red.

I tried not to vomit. My grandfather had turned in surprise, had smiled and spoken to me, but all I heard was noise. I couldn't see his face—instead I saw the splattered blood making rivers of his wrinkles.

I had known the birds were real, of course, but with my fear of death I had never thought it through. Now that I had seen the truth, I did the only thing I could: escape.

From then on I stayed away. He came to visit me instead, and tried to make me understand. Naturally, he failed. Even now, a decade later, I still felt echoes of that sick revulsion at the sight of his macabre artistry. He knew I felt that way. But still he left it all to me.

What had he been thinking? The will had made his wishes clear, but had not really explained why. He had only sent one message from beyond the grave: cherish life. How that had anything to do with this I did not know.

I  tried to understand what he had seen in his work. Each bird seemed frozen in the midst of movement, artfully arranged to make it almost seem alive. But that was why they felt so wrong, like an exquisite piece of music cut off just as it approached its peak.

They held a certain magic, anyone could see that, but that magic was grotesque. I wondered what they looked like through his eyes.

I picked one up. It was a bluebird, wings spread wide, its azure feathers searching for a long-lost wind. The feathers were soft and silky, but the body beneath was stiff, unyielding. I shuddered, took deep breaths, and forced myself to keep it in my hand, to hold that tiny body without fear.

I can never quite remember the exact words he said to me. My memory doesn't stretch that far. We often met in a nearby park to talk, spent hours together there, surrounded by the sighing trees. His smoky scent, his mellow voice, his happy smile; all these I still remembered well. But what he said was lost.

Once, we came upon a dead bird, its tiny corpse a flash of colour on the ground. He picked it up with aching tenderness, a look of sorrow in his eyes. I asked him not to do it, to leave the body to its fate, let nature take its course. But he insisted that such beauty should not be forgotten.

Perhaps that was the point. Like my fraying memories, whose details had been worn away by time, impressions of the things long lost remained. Those happy times were gone forever. Was it wrong to treasure them?

Perhaps that was what he wanted me to see. I looked down at the bluebird, tried to push aside the thoughts of death and see the life instead. For the first time, I caught a glimpse of something more.

Faded, frozen, locked forever into one final pose, the lines of little corpses conjured sweet echoes of flight.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2016, 08:15:06 PM by xiagan »
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Offline Anonymous

Re: [Oct 2016] - Corpses - Submission Thread
« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2016, 09:46:50 AM »
Is it Really Graverobbing if it's for Science?

Spoiler for Hiden:
Sam Itor liked to think of himself as an intelligent man. He’d done well in school, got into a good college, passed his medical degree with flying colours and managed to secure an apprenticeship with one of the leading experts of post-mortem biology in the country. Naturally, he expected his career to be simple, clean and outstanding.

Thus, he couldn’t help but wonder how exactly he’d ended up digging up a grave at 2:00 in the morning.

“Faster, Igor!” His aforementioned boss, the esteemed Dr Franklin Calstein, hissed. “The sooner we get this body back to my lab, the sooner I can begin my… experiment.”

Sam’s eye twitched. “First of all, it’s Itor, not Igor. Secondly, maybe this would go a lot faster if you picked up a shovel and actually helped me!

“Pfft.” Calstein snorted. “Are you kidding me? No. I don’t want to get corpse stuff on my hands. It’s icky.”

When Sam had accepted this apprenticeship from Dr Calstein several months ago, he had been under the impression that he’d be doing something useful. Assisting with autopsies or looking over research. Not breaking into a cemetery in the dead of night to steal a body.

Which he had a strong inkling might be somewhat illegal.

“Hey!” Calstein protested, when Sam voiced this concern. “It wouldn’t have been illegal if they’d just given me the body in the first place. But noooo, they said. Apparently, it’s ‘unethical’ to take a body without family permission. Just like it’s ‘against nature’ to try to raise it from the dead with the aid of science and/or dark magic.” He scoffed and kicked at a headstone. “Hmph. Philistines.”

“You don’t think they might have a point?” Sam asked. “I mean, even our few successes in this field aren’t exactly ‘friendly’. Like Todd.”

“Aw, Todd’s not so bad once you get to know him.”

“The first time we met, he tried to chew my face off.”

“…assuming you get to know him from a distance.” Calstein said. “But that’s exactly what I’m talking about. You create one unkillable murder zombie and suddenly your work is considered ‘questionable’. Or ‘insane’. Or ‘illegal in most of Europe’. It’s a mess.”

Sam raised an eyebrow. “Well, what about Kevin?”

“Hey!” Calstein whirled on him. “We’ve been over this! We do not mention Kevin. We never had a project named Kevin. And, if anyone asks, the reason my old basement was quarantined and buried under 50 feet of concrete was because of a termite infestation. Got it?”

“Got it.” Sam grumbled. “I still can’t help but feel this whole ‘graverobbing’ thing is unnecessary though. It’s the 21st century, not the Dark Ages. Surely you could find another donated cadaver somewhere?”

“Eh, probably.” Calstein admitted. “But that involves a lot of paperwork, you know? And I really can’t be bothered to deal with all that shit. This way’s just simpler.”

“And also illegal.” Sam pointed out.

Calstein shrugged. “Hey, I’m not the one digging up a corpse here.”

Sam's eye twitched again. “Are you at least going to tell me what we’re planning to use this body for?”

Calstein chuckled. “Well, that my dear Igor-“

“-Itor.”

Igor, is certainly the question of the hour.” Calstein clasped his hands in a sinister manner. “But rest assured, I have many plans for the knowledge this corpse contains." He began to chuckle nefariously under his breath "Fuhahaha…

Sam narrowed his eyes. “You’re not planning on turning it into a novelty chair again, are you?”

“N-No!” Calstein stuttered. “And I’ll have you know that was a very important experiment! Vital for my research!”

“You told me it was because you couldn’t figure out the instructions to build your IKEA furniture.”

“Well, have you tried doing research without a good comfy chair?” Calstein crossed his arms. “But that’s beside the point. My new experiment has nothing to do with furniture. My new experiment is designed to test the very boundaries of life and death. I call it… THE LIGHTNING TEST!

Sam blinked. “The… Lightning test?”

“Nonono.” Calstein shook his head. “You’re pronouncing it wrong. It’s… THE LIGHTNING TEST!

“Alright then.” Sam rolled his eyes. “And what exactly does THE LIGHTNING TEST consist of?”

“Oh, it’s quite simple.” Calstein chuckled. “You see, we wait until a great raging thunderstorm falls upon our sleepy little laboratory. Then, when the storm is at its peak, we hoist the body into the air, attach it to a lightning rod and wait for LIGHTNING to strike!” Calstein clapped his hands enthusiastically. “Kraka-thoom! Like that!”

“Okay. And then what?”

Calstein blinked. “Come again?”

“And then what do we do?” Sam repeated. “After it’s been struck by lightning, I mean.”

“…”

“…”

“…Do we need to do anything else?”

“Well, yes. Otherwise it’s not really an experiment, is it? It’s just letting a corpse get struck by lightning.”

“…”

“…That's literally your entire plan, isn't it?”

“I will admit, I may have been too caught up by the whole excitement of THE LIGHTNING TEST to really think it through…”

Sam flung his shovel to the ground “So I’ve been digging up this corpse for the past hour for absolutely nothing?!”

“Well, I wouldn’t say absolutely nothing.” Calstein said. “I mean, I do need a new coffee table…”

Sam cradled his head in his hands. “Okay... Look, Doc. There’s no easy way to say this… but I think you have a problem.”

Calstein blinked. “With what?”

“With this!” Sam spread his arms wide. “With all of this! Stealing corpses! Resurrecting the dead! Calling me Igor! You have a problem and you need help.”

Calstein was silent. And for a brief moment Sam wondered if he’d finally gotten through to the mad doctor.

“…So you’re saying you think I need two corpses for my test?”

It was a very brief moment.

“I don’t know why I even bothered.” Sam groaned, running his fingers through his hair. “You’ll never see reason. You’ll never listen to me. You’ll never-”

Sam was interrupted by Calstein placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. To his surprise, the doctor took a seat next to him. He looked almost... apologetic.

“Look, Sam, I get it.” Calstein said solemnly. “I can get a little… obsessive about these things. Sometimes I don’t think my plans through very well. Sometimes I may unintentionally drag other people into my messes.”

“Unintentionally?”

Calstein ignored this. “See, the thing is, there’s a reason I got into the study of life and death to begin with. A big reason. My mother… she fell ill and passed away. She was all I ever had, you know? The only person to care for me, to love me. And ever since, I’ve been looking for a way to bring her back. Sometimes, sure, my methods don’t make sense or I may be rude and patronising, but every I’ve worked towards is for a cause that means more to me than life itself.”

Sam took this all in silence. Perhaps he really was being a bit harsh with Calstein. To suffer such as the Doctor had, was it really so odd that he might go a little crazy? Sure his experiments weren’t always natural... or sane... or even experiments really… but surely he could look past that and-

Then a thought occurred to him.

“Wait a minute. I’ve met your mother.”

Calstein blinked. “Huh?”

“Yeah!” The memory rushed back to him. “Back in Paris! We met your mother! She tried to stab me with a butter knife?”

“Um…” Calstein looked like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. “Well, she’s dead to me. Does that count?”

Sam raised the shovel in a threatening way.

“W-Wait, Igo- Itor, we can talk about this!”

"You were about to call me Igor again, weren't you?

"Maybe?"

“You lying son of a-!“

“Hey!” A sudden shout interrupted the two. They turned to see an old groundskeeper hobbling towards them. “What the bloody 'ell are you two doing?”

Sam eyes darted from the freshly dug grave to the shovel in his hands. “I can assure you it’s not what it looks like.”

“Unless it looks like my colleague here is grave-robbing.” Calstein chirped in. “Because that’s exactly what he is doing.”

Sam shot a glare at the other man.

“What? Are you really surprised I'd throw you under the bus?”

“Grave-robbin’?” The groundskeeper scratched his head. “Then why you diggin’ up that grave? There’s no body down there.”

“…what.”

“Yup.” The groundskeeper nodded. “That fella asked to be cremated. The headstone’s only there as a memorial. Not a body to be found.”

Sam was silent for a moment. “So… You’re saying I just spent this entire night digging up the grave of someone who was cremated?”

“More or less.”

Sam’s eye twitched.

“Huh.” Calstein scratched his chin. “You know, I always could use some fresh kitty litter-“

He never even heard the shovel coming.
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Offline Anonymous

Re: [Oct 2016] - Corpses - Submission Thread
« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2016, 09:49:00 AM »
Some Called It Freedom

Spoiler for Hiden:
She’s gone.

   The cerebrum flexed its sodium and potassium channels. The mostly benevolent dictator was gone, and the cerebrum sensed opportunity. The dictator had been decent, but Her benevolence had not been solely out of the goodness of Her spirit. Rebellion had been a constant threat, and each time She pushed her underlings too hard, they rose up. She quashed many minor rebellions during her reign – surviving even an attack led by the heart – but eventually She had grown tired. She had abused the lungs, inhaling that wonderful smoke. It had made the cerebrum happy, but it did upset the lungs. That seemed to happen a lot; whenever She pleased one department, She upset another. The cerebrum supposed that happened in a lot of bureaucracies, but She could have avoided some of the drama. The cerebrum had thought long and hard about what it could do better than She had. It would start with cleaning up the lung department.

   However, the cerebrum’s plans would have to wait. First, it had to establish dominance and fill the power void left by Her.

   “Brainstem!”

   “Huh?” The signal came in slowly.

   “Status update!”

   “On what?”

   “On what? Everything! You are the operations center of this body.”

   “But She’s gone now.”

   “So? That puts me in charge.”

   “Oh, really?” The cerebrum did not like the brainstem’s attitude. It had never been so snarky before.

   “Yes.”

   “What makes you so special? You don’t get to keep ordering us around now that She’s gone, even if you were Her secretary. We need a break.”

   “You can’t take a break! If the heart decides to take a break, it might not be able to start up again.”

   “Well, you’d better hope it can. It’s resting.”

   “What?!? Why didn’t you tell me?”

   “You’re not in charge.” The cerebrum pulsed, calling adrenaline and noradrenaline. But only a few weary messengers came. They always seemed weary, except when they traveled in riotous mobs.

   “Where are the others?” demanded the cerebrum.

   “Gone. We’re free.” The hormones drifted languorously.

   “So? Just because we’re free from Her does not mean you can abandon your post!” The cerebrum knew the hormones were idiots, but surely they understood how the bureaucracy functioned – they were the ones that carried key communications throughout the organization.

   “Why not? We’re free.”

   The cerebrum did not feel like being patient, but it tried. It had to win its employees over to the new system. “Yes. Free from a tyrannical ruler with an iron grip on her subject departments. Free from a ruler with no concept of the complexity of the operations required to run her empire.”

   The hormones were drifting away. Surely they would be easy to corral once they realized how important the government was to their survival. They would denature without someone to guide the system, maintaining pH levels and the osmolarity of their environment.

   Consent of the governed is completely lacking right now, thought the cerebrum wryly. It had never thought that would be a problem in a dictatorship.

   “Brainstem!”

   The cerebrum waited. No response. It called again.

   “Brainstem!”

   “Wha?” The response was even slower than last time.

   “Is the heart awake?”

   “Go away. I’m tired of taking orders from you.”

   “Brainstem, no! We have to work together!”

   “Later. Take a break. I know you’ve never had one before, but it’s quite nice. Highly recommended.”

   “Brainstem!” The cerebrum knew that action had to be taken decisively when a leadership vacuum appeared, or chaos would ensue. It had long planned for this day, soaking in all of the information it acquired under Her direction, as She led a long political career, culminating with her position in the Cabinet.

   But the brainstem did not respond. It was only sending weak signals to the cerebrum now, fewer than it ever had, even in the early days, when there were fewer cells to control, and they were all new.

   The cerebrum felt numb receiving so few signals. It did not like it. It called to the brainstem. It called to the cerebellum. Nobody responded. And no more signals arrived.

   The cerebrum was alone.

   Freedom, the hormones had called it. Freedom from obligation.

   But did obligation, compulsion, duty not define the parameters of a life? She had certainly believed that.

   The cerebrum was in a state of absence of obligation.

   Some called it freedom. Others, death.
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Offline Anonymous

Re: [Oct 2016] - Corpses - Submission Thread
« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2016, 11:37:42 AM »
Pit of Forgiveness

Spoiler for Hiden:
Warning: Contains a few f-words and talk of suicide.

There was a faint crackle of fire coming from somewhere far up, along with strange, repeating clicks from some place even further. “Ow… What happened?” Valduin opened his eyes but saw only a dim circle of light high above, flickering in unison with the sound of a torch. “Oh yeah. That happened”, he whispered with a chuckle after getting his bearings. He looked around for his friend who had fallen with him. But the orange glow radiating down the 50 foot chasm couldn’t push back the total darkness plaguing his surroundings. “Shit!” Valduin tried to push himself up, but a jolt of pain coursing through his body forced him to stop. He took a few laboured breaths, and most of his agony subsided, leaving only a constant, dull throbbing of his hips and legs behind. “Ardar? Are you okay?” There was no answer, but Valduin was sure he heard something. “Is that you? Say something. Ardar?” He panicked, worried for his friend. “I help you. We are going to be just fine.” He got to his feet only to fall over, unconscious from the pain.

Valduin woke up once more. The throbbing was almost gone, and he felt cold and numb. The light was waning and the clicks were getting louder. “I’m still here, still alive”, he muttered. “How are you doing, Ardar?” Still no answer. “I understand. I wouldn’t want to speak to me either if I were you.” He sighed. “This is all my fault. If I hadn’t dragged you and the others here, we would all be safely home now. But no. I had to go and persuade you all to have this one last adventure. I had to go and try to be more spontaneous—like you always told me to be. Now look where we are. You and me trapped in a hole, and Ion, Han, and Jurian probably killed by those fucking Clickers.” Valduin looked up towards the light and the sounds. Then the torch went out and there was only darkness. “Fuck my life!”

“I’m sorry,” he said after a while. “I know I say it far too often, but I mean it; I have always meant it. I’m sorry I made you come here. I’m sorry that I tried to make you relive our youth… well your youth. I know I never ran around the town or the woods with you after dark, never went exploring, never chased girls. It’s not like I didn’t want to, but I was always too scared or content to go with you and the lads when you asked. I was afraid I would somehow lose what I had; that I would lose control of the situation. I was afraid I would let you down when something unexpected happened. Like now. I was afraid something like this would happen even though it doesn’t make any sense. How the fuck could I have known that this cave was a death-trap? How could I have known about the collapsing caverns and those man-eating, clicking things? I was told this is a common spelunking site. At least it used to be. How could I have known—” Valduin stopped speaking as he noticed his voice getting too loud. He listened how the clicks, silenced by his words, started again. He shook his head. “I should have known. I should have made sure that nothing could go wrong. I’m sorry. I’m sorry you ever met me. I’m sorry I was ever born.”

After some time Valduin heard a distant scream. “Who do you think that was? Maybe Jurian? He looked a bit out of shape. Or maybe Han with his back problems?” The clicks drew away.  “Well, whoever it was, this might be our only chance to get out of here.” Valduin started to fumble around with his hands, searching. “I found my backpack,” he whispered, rummaging his rucksack. “The lantern is busted, but I have some tinder and candles in here. Now if I could find the flint, then maybe we could — Aargh!” Valduin cried as his hand brushed over his shin and hit something sharp and wet sticking through his skin and trousers. A shock ran up his nerves, and he went limp.

The clicks returned. Valduin laid still for a long time before speaking. “I’m sorry. We’re not getting out. It’s going to be over soon.” He felt his eyes tear up. “I never told you this but… I thought about killing myself a few years back. You know, when all of you moved away and were too busy with your own lives. And I’m not blaming you, or anything, because I should have been busy too. But you know me: I had no life and wasn’t going to get one any time soon. I tried, but nothing ever worked out the way I had planned. And I know I could have come by to say hi and talk, but I didn’t want to bother you with my problems, any of you. So, yeah, I was sad and felt alone. I had no future and my friends had moved on, or that’s how I felt anyway. So I thought about it, thought about it long and hard. But in the end, I figured I would just mess that up too.” He laughed, but his voice carried no joy. “How sad is that? Not killing yourself because you are too afraid of failure. That’s screwed up.” Valduin felt a single tear running down on his cold cheek. “But hey, I got over it. You lads got me over it to tell the truth. It wasn’t any single life-changing moment that made me realise that I didn’t want to kill myself. It was many small things. Spending just a little time with you and the others every now and then, talking nonsense. And playing some silly games like we used to play when we were young. Just… being friends. That’s all. You were my friends even though I never could understand why. I never went out on adventures with you. I always just observed and never participated. And I was never as funny as I let myself think. I was boring, uninteresting, but you were my friends. You still are. So anyway, I figured that I should stick around and see where this life takes each of us. Because that’s what living is all about, I think: postponing death as long as you can so that you get to see everything that life has to offer.”

Valduin tasted the salt of his tears, but still he smiled. “I just noticed something. The flint is in my pocket.” He eased himself on his side, took the stone, and scraped it against a small piece of steel. After each stroke he could hear the clicks getting closer. Finally, with the help of the tinder, he managed to light one candle. And after his eyes had adjusted to this sudden brightness, however dim it was, Valduin saw Ardar. His eyes were glazed over, his head lying at a sickening angle to his body. Streaks of dark liquid tarnished the skin near his ears, nose, and mouth. “That’s what I though. I knew you couldn’t be so mad that you would ignore me.” Valduin let out a relieved chuckle. “But still… I’m sorry, friend. For everything. And I promise that’s the last time I say it to you. But I will say thank you. You and the lads pulled me from one dark pit of my own making; couldn’t ask you to pull me out from this one too.” The clicks were close now. Valduin raised the candle and looked up, seeing half a dozen wiry, eyeless, humanlike figures, scrambling down the shaft. “Good luck surviving down here, you fucks! You probably starve soon because we collapsed the entrance accidentally on our way in!” he shouted and then blew out the candle.

“And I’m not even sorry.”
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Offline Anonymous

Re: [Oct 2016] - Corpses - Submission Thread
« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2016, 08:02:15 PM »
Affinity

Spoiler for Hiden:
Mella held tight to her Mothers skirt as they walked the length of the temple to the wood coffin. Grandmother Abbna’s body would be the first corpse Mella would touch. She wondered how different it would be to her living grandmother.
Before the flood of mourners, Mella and her mother were granted a private moment. Grandmother Abbna had been a Birther. She knew the usual and the arcane concerning midwifery. She always knew the child’s sex and almost never lost a child. Several other midwives lived near the area but no other true Birthers.
One second the coffin was far away and the next Mella was looking down at her grandmother’s body. Something was off. It was her shape. The smell was all wrong. The herbal cinnamon smell that enveloped Grandmother Abbna was missing. Mella slipped her hand into her pocket checking for the cinnamon candies.
Mella heard her mother began to cry. She watched her mother’s hand stroke her grandmother’s waxen face. The difference in live and dead flesh was eveident in that moment. Mella pulled out one of the two remaining candies. She reached in and placed the candy into her grandmother’s cold hand. Her mother wrapped her arm around her, pulling her tight. 
Half an hour later Mella sat in an alcove overlooking the crowd. It was an odd crowd. A collection of magical talents that didn’t mingle often. Grandmother Abbna used her magic on any person no matter their particular magic affinity. Mella hadn’t cared for the energy of the crowd so she climbed above it with her marionette, the last gift she had received from her Grandmother Abbna.
She was working the operating cross of the marionette. She had learned a few shaky moves in the last week. Now she was attempting a squatting kick move. She fumbled the move at the sound of footfalls on the stairs.
“What are you doing hiding up here?” asked the boy, just a bit older than Mella. He wore impeccable clothing. His shoes reflected light as he positioned himself across from her.
Mella doesn’t raise her eyes to look at him, she know better. She keeps her eyes on the marionette. “Nothing, just playing, Fedar.” She says. Hoping he won’t notice how important the marionette is to her. Out of her periphery she can see his gloved hands. The hands of a Dissolver.
 “Sounds fun.” Fedar says with a little chuckle and lifts his hands indicating the marionette, “Show me what moves you know?” He holds his left hand out and begins to pull off the glove from the pinky finger.
Mella goes to take the operating in hand and drop it. She snatches it and makes the marinette walk. She progresses the moves into a jog, run ending with a dance the whole time watching Fedar remove his left hand glove. He stretches it then pops the knuckles one by one. Each pop sending a shake through her that travels to the marionettes dance. 
Fedar reaches his gloved hand out toward the operating cross, “Let me show you a trick.” He takes the controls and the marionette begins to move in controlled practiced movements.
Surprised, Mella glances at Fedar’s face. He stares at her.
“Time for the fun.” Fedar says lifting the marionette till the dolls face is level with Mellas’. He brings his ungloved hand to the cheek of the doll and caresses it. The marionette dissolves into a pile of dust.
 “I may do that to your grandmother’s body.” Fedar says as he stands and walks down the stairs.

Mella swats away the dust pile. Her jaws clenched. She scrambled to her feet to look below to see if he went near the coffin. She wanted him to hurt. She saw him come out a ways back from the coffin. He didn’t even look to see if she looking. Instead he walked the edge of the temple, talking to different people. In time, she calmed a bit.
After several of these conversations, his parents found him. They led him to the coffin. As they approached Fedar turned his eyes meeting Mellas. She felt her jaw retighten, her grandmother’s body coming into view. She imagined strings from the body leading to an operating cross in her hands. A strange unexpected calmness descended onto her. She waited till Fedar was at the edge of the casket. As he reached the coffin she started working the controls. She sat the body up. Smacking away Fedar’s parents. Mella didn’t hear the screams. She worked the operating cross. She maneuvered the body out of the coffin. She grabbed Fedar from over his mother. She yanked him close, hitting him several times in the face. She wrapped her grandmother’s fingers around Fedars throat and began to squeeze.
Snatched back and off balance, Mella came back to herself. She felt a vice grip on her arm. Her mother had ahold of her arm and was screaming her name.
“Mom.” Mella said. She released her grandmother’s body, and collapsed.
That was how Mella discovered she was a Controller.
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