December 03, 2020, 11:17:01 AM

Author Topic: [NOV 2020] - Prejudice - Submission Thread  (Read 215 times)

Offline ScarletBea

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[NOV 2020] - Prejudice - Submission Thread
« on: November 04, 2020, 01:24:58 PM »
NOVEMBER: Prejudice



Pride and prejudice by Kleemass

Prejudice comes in many colours and flavours and your story can show us a way where it is overcome. Or not. After all it's the ruin of lots of things too and nobody said this is going to be a happy ever after story. In any case, you don't need to add Pride.

Rules:

1. This must be prose or poetry.
2. The story must be about Prejudice
3. Prose must be 500-2000 words long.
4. Poetry must be 100-750 words long.
5. One story per person or writing team (not per account).
6. You will be disqualified if you exceed the limits, full stop. That's why they're called limits.
7. Your entry can't be published somewhere else before.
8. This is a writing contest, not a "I have written something like this ten years ago" contest. So if you happen to have a story that fits one of the themes, I'd like it to have a mayor overhaul/edit. Work for it. ;)
9. Please add your story's word count and, if you have, your twitter handle.
10. Please put your story in [ spoiler ] tags to make the thread easier to handle. :) You can find them above the smileys under the B.
Bonus rule: We consider voting in a contest you're taking part in a given. Others take time and effort to read the stories - you should do the same. A small community like ours lives from reciprocity and this contest needs stories as much as votes. 


If you want so submit your story anonymously you can do so by sending it in a personal message to @xiagan.

Entry will close November 30th/December 1st, 2020 and voting will begin somewhere around the same time too.

All members are eligible to join. If you are not a member you can join here. Sign up is free and all are welcome! :)

The winner will have their piece displayed on the main Fantasy Faction website sometime in the next months.
Submitting a story counts as published. The author retains all rights to their work.

Remember that this thread is only for entries. Discussion or questions can be posted here
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Offline S P Oldham

Re: [Nov 2920] - Prejudice - Submission Thread
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2020, 06:31:26 PM »
Hi, this is my first ever submission to the monthly theme challenge. I hope I have followed the rules correctly and not posted in the wrong place. Please let me know if I have done anything wrong.

This is a poem of 350 words call 'Even Punk Rockers Fall in Love.'

My Twitter handle is @dogskidssmiles

Thank you,

S P Oldham

(Sue)


Even Punk Rockers Fall in Love
Spoiler for Hiden:
My clothes are torn because I want them to be
Don’t want anyone taking pity on me
My hair’s a rainbow; dependent on my mood
I call myself outspoken; you might call me rude
People with power want my compliance
Get angry when met with my stolid defiance
They take one look, think they know who I am
Think that I’m stupid or don’t give a damn


Try to belittle me, make me feel out of place
Sneer at the studs or the pins in my face
They’re scared of me, see; think that I’m trouble
When we’re out together, that fear becomes double
I see it in the faces of so many passers-by
Unmistakable contempt in the glint of their eye
They shake their heads, like they’re somehow superior
And I’m an aberration, unworthy and inferior


Next time you see us, in our leather and jeans
Remind yourself: it’s you who doesn’t know what it means
To face a world that hates you, just because you represent
A desire, no, a need, to defy the government
To stand up and be counted when others simply bow
To live each and every moment in the here and now
Test yourself; if all you see is the outer shell
Then perhaps it’s you who is the ne’er do well


We sit together, walk together, always side by side
Love’s like my own reflection; the thought fills me with pride
The tattoos are a story, etched on warm, living skin
The studs serve to punctuate the human being within
Like you, we deserve respect – maybe even more
You can’t accuse us of being the boss man’s whore
So we endure the dirty looks, we always Rise Above
Does it bother you, that even punk rockers fall in love?

S P Oldham
« Last Edit: November 16, 2020, 07:41:10 PM by ScarletBea »
S P Oldham

Offline Jake Baelish

Re: [NOV 2020] - Prejudice - Submission Thread
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2020, 08:59:02 AM »
The Baker's Apprentice

1998 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
“And don’t let me see you here again,” Granny barked, broom in hand. The boys scuttled out of the bakery like cockroaches, chuckling past the window. Pom could hear them prancing off outside, “Pom, Pom, the baker’s son…” and the rest, until their voices faded into the unseen streets. He dropped on his stool, let out a heavy sigh.

Granny placed her brush by the door. “Sorry I took so long, love. Had something –someone anyway – to pick up. Youngster, found in one of them old goblin caves out by Brakken. Reckon he’ll come in handy.”

Great… Last thing he wanted was some brat to look after. Granny called outside, “Come on in Gleb. Come say hello. Come on, don’t be shy.”

Gleb? What kind of stupid name was Gleb? Pom braced himself for the worst: Snotty. Smelly. Dumb. Dirty. Hopefully not all at once. Whoever came on in, he’d just have to grin and bear it.

And in they came. His effort of a grin disintegrated. Anything, he thought – he’d prepared for anything – and was still unpleasantly surprised.

Gleb was a goblin.

“Well…” Granny urged, “say hello, Gleb. This is Pom. Remember? The one I told you about?”

The ugly little thing stared at the floor between its knobbly, bent legs. “Hello Pom.”

Pom shot off his stool. “Granny, you brought a goblin to our shop!”

Granny’s face hardened. Not a look you wanted to see. “Yes, Pom. Yes, I did. And he will remain here as long as I say. How rude of you to have not even greeted him yet. Say hello, Pom. Say it now, please.”

Its head remained bowed. Its scruffy black hair at least hiding its ugly green face. “Hello,” Pom muttered.

“Hello Gleb,” said Granny. “Right, I’m off to have a lie down. You two take care of things this afternoon. Pom, see to it that Gleb can make himself useful. Gleb, make yourself at home and do as you’re told.”

Granny headed to the back, Pom stomped after her.

“Pom?” Granny had just dropped into her sofa and was glowering at him. “Are you just going to leave him alone back there?”

“He’s a goblin, Granny!”

“Really? Can’t say I’d noticed.”

Pom stalled, eyebrows stitched together moronically.

Granny rolled her eyes. “Oh, well, it hadn’t completely escaped my notice.”

“It’s not funny. The customers won’t like it.” His face burned at being made fun of, especially by Granny.

“I’m sure it will take some getting used to. Was there anything else obvious you’d like to tell me? You can lend him some of your clothes, he’ll grow into them.”

“He’s not staying!”

“Isn’t he? Do you decide who stays and who doesn’t now?”

“He’s a goblin!”

“A very lonely goblin at the minute, I’d wager. Yes, Gleb is a goblin. And you were a street urchin, once. Many a shop would’ve thrown you out as soon as look at you. And look at you now. A petulant, slightly spoilt but otherwise upstanding young baker, and as fine an assistant as I could ask for.” Pom’s posture stiffened at that, chin raised a little, but he clung to his anger – couldn’t let her win him over that easily. “And perhaps our friend back there can be the same.”

“But, he’s a goblin.”

A sigh. Not necessarily the best sign, but certainly in the right direction. “Alright. And if he bites anyone then we’ll see what we can do. Just help me with this, at least for today, please.”

It was all he needed.

*

Back in the shop, Pom found his new apprentice sniffing at some of the bread in the shelves. “Stop that!”

Gleb started and bonked the shelf above. “Ow!” He turned, rubbing his sore head, giving Pom a full view of that turned up nose – like a pig’s, Pom thought – and a gawping mouth of small but sharp crooked teeth.

“Don’t touch the food, you’ll make it dirty. And here, put these on.” He threw one of his oldest tunics at the creature, then gaped in horror as the thing made to take off its loincloth right then and there. “Behind the counter, for mercy’s sake!”

The tunic hung hopelessly loose but it would have to do. Pom started tying it round the waist with a bit of leather, close enough to smell the thing.

“It’s itchy,” Gleb complained.

“What? Would you rather go without?”

“It would be less itchy.”

He began tying a rough knot. “Well, you may run around as such where you’re from, but we are civilised here, so shut up moaning about it and try being grateful. You stink, too.” He stepped back and made a show of sucking air, though if he was honest the creature didn’t smell all that bad.

Gleb sniffed at his armpits. “I don’t smell anything. You don’t smell either.”

“That’s cause I’m not a goblin. Right, wash your hands.”

“Do all goblins smell?”

“Of course!”

“How many have you smelled?”

Pom frowned. “Well, you are the first; and last, hopefully.”

“So how do you know what other goblins smell like?”

Pom threw a wet towel at him, it slapped soggily in Gleb’s face. “Everybody knows that. When you’re done, take that brush and sweep the floor.”

“What will you do?”

Pom took a seat. “Watch you don’t do anything bad, obviously. You lot can’t be trusted. You clean up, I’ll deal with customers. Understand?”

Gleb took up the brush without argument, Pom scowling at him. A minute into his sweeping he began humming a too familiar tune, then began chanting the words. Pom’s stomach turned. “Pom, Pom, the baker’s son…”

“Where’d you hear that?” Pom snapped.

“Those boys were singing it, when I arrived.”

“Well stop.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t like it. That’s why.”

The goblin resumed his work and Pom scowled all the more, invisible daggers stabbing the creature’s stupid head.

This really wasn’t turning out to be his day.

*

Gleb had just finished sweeping when a father and daughter stepped in. After greeting Pom, Gleb poked his head over the counter. There was a gasp.

“Wait outside, love,” the man said, arm brushing the girl back.

“Pom, get Granny, I’ll fetch the city guard.”

“No!” said Pom.

“Sorry?” the man paused at the door, gaze shifting from the young baker to the docile creature at the counter. “Pom? Care to explain? Where is Granny?”

“Resting. She told me to look after this one.”

The man relaxed. “Poor you. Is it your prisoner?”

Pom sneered. “Granny brought it to take care of for a while. Not for long, if we’re lucky. It’s a favour, for a friend.”

The man raised both eyebrows obscenely, while Gleb just stood looking dumb. “Well, rather you than me! Better watch he doesn’t put people off.”

“That’s what I said! He’s good for doing little jobs though; already had him sweep the place.”

A smile, at last. Granny better appreciate his customer relations! “And a fine job you’ve done, too. Look at you! I remember when you were almost as scruffy as this one yourself. Be running this place soon.” Pom winced a little but held his smile. The man took two loaves and a bun and was on his way. Before they left Pom watched them peer through the window, little girl’s eyes and mouth wide on eyeing Gleb from the safety of the glass.

“Why was the girl scared of me?” Gleb asked. “I didn’t do anything.”

Pom turned, fists clenched. “Because you’re a goblin! A dirty, smelly, nasty, people-eating goblin!”

Gleb looked confused. “I’ve never eaten people… I think.”

“Well you’re still the other things. And we’ve been fighting goblins for years. We’ve always been fighting. Because you stupid, ugly—” he almost said people, “…monsters, are jealous that we are better than you.”

Gleb glanced at his worn clothes, then eyed Pom up and down.

“See!”

Gleb shrugged. “I don’t know. I won’t hurt you though. What do you want me to do next?”

Pom huffed. “Just, sit down and be quiet.” How he wanted to call Granny and not deal with this nonsense anymore. But he couldn’t let Granny down. Had to show her he could do this.

*

There were other customers. Some with similar reactions to the first, others calmly accepting that since Pom was fine, it must be safe. Still, Pom seethed at the inconvenience, though Gleb voluntarily swept up whenever someone left crumbs or dirt from the streets. 

Near closing time Pom was readying to count up the day’s takings, when he heard that all too familiar song being piped outside: “Pom, Pom the baker’s son…”

He slid off his stool. “Gleb, be careful, some boys are coming and they aren’t nice people.”

Gleb spoke low, eyes glistening. “Are they worse than goblins? Like me?”

Pom’s mouth dropped. “What? No. Yes. I mean… Why would you say that?”

Gleb shrugged, clueless as always.

“Just keep your head down behind the counter and you’ll be alright. Understand?”

The goblin nodded.

Pom grabbed the brush right as the door swung inward.

Three barged in, the ringleader getting in Pom’s face, paying no heed to the broom. “Pom, Pom, the baker’s son, belly as soft as a baker’s bun.” He cackled as if that were the funniest song ever sung and that was the first time he’d ever sung it. “Where’s your granny now, bread boy?”

“Please leave, Torian.”

“Ha! Please? You’ll have to do better than that.” He turned to his goons. “I’m hungry. Lory, Hick, you hungry?” He strutted to the shelf and started fingering the wares. His greasy paws settled on one crusted roll. “This’ll do.”
 
Pom grabbed his hand. “You have to pay.”

Torian pulled back. “Get him away from me.”

Pom stiffened as Lory and Hick prodded him against the counter.

“So stupid to get pushy over bread.” Torian stuffed the end of the roll in his mouth and ripped a chunk off. His chewing was the most obnoxious thing Pom had ever heard. He resisted the urge to call for Granny, but he couldn’t let them steal it.

“You should pay,” said Pom. “We know who you are.”

Torian stepped up in his face. “Are you threatening me, bread boy?” His breath reeked, even worse than the goblin’s. He spat and a plume of wet crumbs rolled down Pom’s shirt onto the floor.

“Get out,” Pom said. “Get out now!”

Laughing then. Pom tried to hold it together but he felt tears creeping up. “Bastards,” he moaned.

Torian slammed the counter – BANG! “Well, well, well. Looks like our Pom here has started using big boy words.”

Hick snickered. “You broke him, Tor.”

“Ha! I did, didn’t I. Only took us—”

“Leave him alone!” A new voice. Gleb. Oh no…

“What’s that!” Lory pointed across the counter at Gleb. “I’m out of here!” He disappeared through a flap of swinging door, Hick on his heels.

Torian gawped from the goblin to Pom and back again. “What’s going on here? Bloody guards will hear about this!”

And then he was gone too. Pom let out a second heavy sigh of the day. “Well, Gleb, that could’ve gone worse.”

“Want me to clean up?”

Pom grinned. “No. It’s my turn, don’t you think?”

Gleb shrugged.

On finishing the sweeping Pom locked the door and dropped into his stool once more.

“I’ve scared a few people today,” said the goblin. “Maybe you were right.”

“Hmm,” Pom started. “Maybe I was wrong.”

“Are you scared of me?”

Pom smiled. “No.”

“Why not?”

“Because I know you, I guess.”

Gleb smirked, Pom couldn’t tell if it was friendly or snarky. “Those boys were pretty scared.”

“Ha! Yes, they were. That’s because they are stupid… and nasty.”

Gleb frowned. “Like me?”

Pom felt a rush of shame. Actually, looking into those big round eyes and at that scruffy mop of hair, there might even have been something endearing there all along. “No, not like you, Gleb. You’re alright.”
« Last Edit: November 30, 2020, 03:40:09 AM by Jake Baelish »
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Offline Alex Hormann

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Re: [NOV 2020] - Prejudice - Submission Thread
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2020, 05:06:41 PM »
The Passage

1996 words


Spoiler for Hiden:

“The thing about the vree,” said Wesman, “Is that they can’t be trusted. They are, by their very nature, untrustworthy.”

“Slippery,” agreed Juro.

“Tricky,” concurred Harrik.

Pelic looked at the three of them, searching for some clue that they were deceiving him. He found none. “Are they really that bad?”

“Absolutely.”

“Undeniably.”

“Murderous bunch of savages,” concluded Wesman. “And that’s why I’ll have nowt to do with them. If the blueskins come after me, it’ll not be because I invited them in.”

Blueskins. Pelic had heard that name a lot since arriving in the New Land. Of course he had heard of the vree before emigrating, but no one back home had ever seen one. Not unless you counted the alleged body that had been pulled out of a shipwreck on the Loam Coast, and everyone agreed that, while it was a body, it was a regular man turned blue by drowning rather than one of the New Land’s mysterious natives. Even in the western townships, no one knew all that much about them. Blueskins, they called them, because that was what they looked like. Short, skinny and blue-skinned. Some said that their boots hid cloven hooves, or that there was no difference between their men and their women, but Pelic found those stories hard to credit. It was only at the foot of the Squander Peaks that he had laid eyes on a vree for himself.

“Watch those reins,” snapped Juro. “You want us to fall off the side?”

“No,” said Pelic meekly. “He gave the reigns a gentle tug, and the horse pulled his wagon to the left, skirting the edge of the path and sending a trickle of stones plummeting down, so far they disappeared from sight.

“The pass is dangerous. Keep your eyes where you’re going,” Juro said, only marginally more kindly.

The pass was indeed dangerous. Everything in the Squander Peaks was. Some said the Goddess had put them here to test humans, to see if they were worthy of entering the promised land on the far side. As their small caravan wound its way along roads that were little more than ridges in the mountainside, Pelic had no trouble believing that. All it would take was one driver to fall asleep at the reins, just one horse to spook, and they could easily go over the edge. At least, he thought numbly, there would be time for a prayer before you hit the ground.

There were other dangers too, if Wesman was to be believed. Pelic had no reason to doubt the seasoned caravaneer, even if his stories did seem outlandish at first. Rockfalls and landslips he could understand, but goats that tried to push you off ledges? Snakes that could swallow a horse? Voices on the wind that lured you into caves that no one would ever find? Pelic didn’t doubt that there were things beyond his understanding, but sometimes he wondered if these monsters were real, or if Wesman merely believed they were.

And then there were the vree. Pelic had seen one, for the first time, in the nameless caravenserai in the foothills. Only from a distance, because Wesman had kept his team away. The vree, so the clients of the dirty little tavern told him, sometimes came in to town to trade furs. What they wanted in return varied, but they were said to have a fondness for Old Land trinkets and knickknacks. Pelic himself wore an amulet he’d bought off a trader further south, even though Harrik had laughed at his superstition. No one knew why, but it was said to be good luck to carry one, in case you needed a guide out in the wilderness.

Guides. That was why people tolerated the vree in their town. No one knew the Squander peaks as well as they, for they had been here long before humans. Every traveller had their story of being attacked by creatures of the night, only for the vree to do drive them off. It was not a free service, but out there in the mountains, the price was always readily paid. These days, most caravans took a vree as a guide whenever it was possible. Better to part with a few heirlooms than to lose men to the wild.

Unless, that was, you were Wesman Temperance. Wesman had never liked the vree. He said they were bandits and murderers. On his more drunken rants, he even accused them of cannibalism. Pelic wasn’t sure why he hated the vree so much, but as an apprentice caravaneer, he was in no position to ask, not when everyone else agreed with the man. His job was to listen and learn, and with a little luck Wesman would take him on for another season.

Without a vree to guide them, Wesman had chosen his own route through the Squander Peaks. He had made the journey half a dozen times before, but never this late in the year. The snow was thick enough that most men would have turned back, and even Harrik had suggested it. Only the once though. Nobody suggested something twice if Wesman said no the first time. “We’re late enough already,” the caravan leader had said. “I’ll not sit in the forest for another four months just because you’ve got a cold crotch.”

They were carrying metal for the townships in the east, iron for smithing and bronze for home tools. There was no metal in the promised land, and a man could make his fortune even with a mere four wagons full. Wesman had been delayed by an accident in the mines, or else they would have crossed the mountains in the summer. Determined to press on, Wesman had driven them harder than Pelic had thought possible. They’d now been in the mountains for two days, and there was no end in sight. Not much food either.

“Hold. Hold!”

Harrik’s voice carried on the wind, and Pelic brought the wagon to a halt, soothing the horses with a whispered lullaby. He heard Harrik and Wesman conversing. Both men sounded angry, though not at each other. Eventually their conversation ended and Wesman strode back along the caravan.

“Track’s given out,” he said, spitting over the edge.

“How bad?” asked Juro.

“Bad enough the horses won’t go near.”

“Can we lead them on foot?”

Wesman shook his head sourly. “Even if we could there’s no way to get the cargo across.”

“There was a fork a few miles back,” ventured Pelic.

Juro pulled a face at the thought of backtracking that far, but Wesman said, “The boy’s right. Space enough to turn the wagons here if we do it by hand. Juro, go help Harrik. Pelic, you take the horse down a ways and get ready to hitch them. Keep an eye out for blueskins. Broken road stinks of their work.”

Pelic did as he was told, taking the horses by the reins, leading them back down the path. No wonder the horses complained. Every rock here was sharp, every stone loose. He stood shivering as he listened to the three older men grunting as they rotated each wagon in turn. He played with the amulet around his neck while he waited, and it was then he felt the eyes on him.

Looking up sharply, he saw a jutting overhang in the face of the mountain, sheltering him from the wind. For a moment he thought he saw movement, but then it was gone.

Turning back to the horses, he came eye to eye with a vree. Startled, he fell back with a gasp.

The vree looked at him, a curious expression on its blue face. Had it been a human, he would have interpreted its soft features as feminine, but with a vree who could tell? It was shorter than him by a head, even standing on its toes. Dressed in furs that obscured only parts of its pale body, his eyes were drawn to the many rings and armbands it was decorated with. It placed a two-thumbed hand to its own naked throat then extended that same hand towards Pelic.

His hand went to the amulet, and the vree reached again. Gingerly, Pelic lifted the amulet over his head, holding it by the string. “You want this?”

The vree said nothing, and he reflected that it might not understand him. No one knew if the vree had a language. If they even understood the concept. “Do you want this?” he said slowly, holding the amulet aloft.

The vree cocked its head, and its ears pivoted to face him. Moving at the shoulders, it dipped its head twice in a motion that might have been a nod.

“You can have it,” Pelic said. He placed the amulet on the track ans stepped away, pulling the horses back with him.

The vree dropped into a crouch, looking first at him, then at the amulet. On all four limbs, it crawled quickly forward and seized the amulet. Then it looked up with a sharp hiss, exposing twin rows of cat-like teeth.

“Get gone!” shouted Wesman, appearing out of the mist by Pelic’s side. He hurled a stone at the vree, missed, and reached for another.

The vree hissed again, threw a parting look to Pelic, made that odd nodding motion again, and sprinted off down the path.

“I told you to keep an eye out,” said Wesman. Pelic couldn’t tell if the man’s look of disgust was for him or the vree.

Pelic mumbled an apology, but Wesman was already marching off.

They managed to turn the wagons without any difficulty, though it was almost dark by the time they had finished. Pelic helped hitch up the horses once more, and walked by their side as the group re-trod the familiar path.

“We’ll find flatter ground and set up camp,” said Wesman. “I don’t want to travel further by moonlight than we have to. And I want to see that vree coming if it tries to sneak up on us again.”

Returning to the junction, they took the other path offered them. This one was more level, snaking along the base of a mountain rather than along the edge. It was also twice as long as Wesman’s planned route, and the going was even tougher than before. Their goods rattled around as wagon wheel rolled over rocks the size of a man’s head. Throughout the journey, Pelic kept his eyes open for any sign of the vree, but in the near-darkness it was a hopeless search.

“This is as good as any place for a camp,” said Juro. They had reached a point where the path widened, and as long as you didn’t go wandering at night, there was little chance of falling to your death. They set up camp, bedrolls unfurled beneath wagons for shelter. There was no wood for a fire, and Pelic was forced to be content with the thin strip of jerky Harrik passed him.

“You’re on first watch,” were the words accompanying the meat.

As the others slept, Pelic stayed awake. There was enough moonlight to see a few yards beyond the camp, but no further than that. He sat on one of the larger rocks and strained his eyes against the darkness.

The shifting of pebbles announced the arrival of the vree. It was the same one as before, and now it wore his amulet. Pelic opened his mouth to cry out, but the vree placed a hand over its mouth in a clear plea for silence. Wordlessly, the vree reached into its furs and flung something at Pelic’s feet. A dead rabbit. The most meat he’d seen in days.

The vree made a fist, flattened that hand into a palm, and disappeared into the night.

Pelic whispered a word of thanks, but the vree was already gone. Maybe, he thought, Wesman was wrong. Maybe vree could be trusted, if you only knew how to treat them.


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