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Author Topic: December Writing Contest (Voting now open)  (Read 4895 times)

Offline Lor

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December Writing Contest (Voting now open)
« on: December 02, 2012, 11:27:43 AM »
“Don't wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good special effects.”  - Roger Zelazny




'Tis the season! Christmas is on its way, and the Western world at least is revving up to celebrate. However, there are whispers, little murmurs, that the Mayans believed the world would end just before we get to celebrate this year. And we can't have that without making a spectacle.

So that is your challenge this month; incorporate the Christmas season in to your apocalypse story, and if we are going to go up in a ball of fire on the 21st, this is your last chance to make it exciting!

Rules:
1. Must be prose
2. 1,500-3000 words (that's your Christmas present, an extension ;) )
3. Must involve Christmas and an apocalypse in some way

The closing date is 31st December 2012, should we all still be here, and voting will be open for the month after. Good luck!
« Last Edit: January 06, 2013, 09:27:05 PM by Lor »
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye." - Miss Piggy

Offline shep5377

Re: December Writing Contest
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2012, 06:24:23 PM »
Ok, here's my effort. It's the first time I've posted work here so be kind...  ;D

Symbol

Hooves pounded the packed snow in a frenzied staccato, frothy drool caking the pounding shoulders and chests of the terrified beasts as they ran for their lives. A black whip cracked like bones breaking above the ravaged antlers again and again, urging them onwards.

The fat man in red wept in fear as the sleigh slid out in a wide arc, great sobs wracking his torso like death throws, frozen snot matting his great white moustaches.
“Run boys!” he yelled between heaves, arm lashing out with the whip. “Just bloody run!”
He cried out as lightening bellowed from above and another reindeer fell. It was dragged limply along by his brothers, the harness snapping under the weight. The five remaining reindeers raised like a wave as their hooves tore ragged holes in what was now a bloody carcass. The sleigh tipped to one side as the ski buffeted off the skull, the last of the silver bells ripped tinkling away by a wiry bush, the blood red paintwork left with deep scars.

Squinting into the driving snow Kris blinked the white flecks from his eyes and looked around the wreckage of his sleigh. Wiping a baggy sleeve across his nose he risked a look behind him. Nothing. Just white darkness. He turned his head back to the flagging reindeer and licked the whip out again above their heads, anticipating the crack of strong leather.

The land just ahead of the team erupted instead, a shattering of frozen earth like a thunder bolt. The animals skittered and slid, but as inexorable as a glacier they approached the gaping hole as they failed to gain purchase. An almost human scream came from the lead beast as it plunged into the rent taking three companions tumbling with it. Kris dove from his seat and thudded, shoulder first into the cold ground like a sack of old meat.

The snow settled on his back as he lay awfully still. The soft crunch and mocking whinny of horses approaching seemed to stir him and he pushed weakly down, raising his bulk off the cold ground.
“Stay down old man,” drawled a croaky voice, “it’ll all go so much easier.” He punctuated this with a gob of sticky black tobacco spat onto the back of the rising man.
“I have my pride, War. If I’m to finally die I’ll die on my feet.” The voice still resonated as if they sat in a cathedral, despite the frozen desert they stood in. “You may have brought this world to its knees, but you won’t do the same to me.” His composure was back, at least on the outside.

Kris heaved himself to his feet and looked up at the quartet of horsemen arrayed around him. He stared into their complacent, sneering faces, seeing malice and mirth in equal measure. Only the white cloaked death showed no emotion.

War spat again. His heavy frame shifting as his horse padded in circles around the now erect figure. Flames danced around the cuffs of his ragged black coat and from the soles of his bare feet. “I think we may be able to, y’know. We’ve had practice. We’re good at it.” He hissed the last, a snake like gleam in his molten red eyes.
“Heh, it’s practically my fucking speciality,” wheezed a horribly gaunt man, snow slicking off his bald head, “you’d be surprised at what a little hunger can do to a man!”
Kris felt a chuckle build it his tight chest. “Ho, you think you can starve me to death?” He rubbed his ample stomach mockingly. “You best be willing to wait a while, my skinny friend.”
This made Famine’s lip twitch and he plucked at the midnight blue velvet cape draped across his skeletal shoulders. He clacked his knuckles against the pommel of his plain grey sword. “There are other ways, if it comes to it.”
“Which it will, no doubt, no doubt.” Kris nodded sadly to himself, gathered snow falling from his brow. “Be a shame to so spectacularly ruin this world then simply starve poor fat Santa. Besides, I don’t think Pestilence could take it. He’d get hungry first.” Kris waved a mitt at an obese man in an opulent gold and black suit of armour, which made him look like a self satisfied queen bee. Pestilence made a quick bark like sound, which Kris took for laughter. “Too true, too true. I do appreciate a bit of sustenance every now and again. And I must admit, your little chase has quite tuckered me out and I feel in need of replenishment sooner rather than later. Let’s conclude things here shall we gentlemen?”

Death, sat astride a glimmering white stallion, said nothing. His steed stood a few paces from the circle of horses, black holes of eyes fixed on Kris.

Kris slipped his mitts off and let them drop wetly to the ground. He curled both old hands into fists and held them up to the mounted men, who snorted at his display of defiance. Unperturbed Kris blew gently into his fists, sending small shivers of blue prancing over the backs of his hands and onto his forearms.
“Enough of that, you carrot grubbing fuck, “ warned Pestilence, flies buzzing in agitation around him despite the falling snow, “or we’ll just slow things down and take our time.”
The three circling horses were brought to a halt, their feet stamping up small storms.
 
Death sat implacable. Kris eyed him nervously. Even when they were children he’d made Kris uncomfortable. Death shook his head ever so slightly at Kris’ gaze, his white hood a delayed echo of his movements.
Kris gritted his teeth and turned his eyes back to the other three. His arms were now shimmering blue up to the shoulders, snowflakes hissing into steam around him.
“I have no intention of just letting you destroy me. I’ve loved this world for centuries and I’ve seen what you’ve done. Cities razed to the ground, lakes drained. How many children have you killed this night?” His eyes bore into each of them, the pupils turning icy blue, the barest flicker of red as War’s fire reflected back at him.
“If I’m all there is left to fight you, I will. You don’t get to do what you’ve done without someone fighting you!” He thrust his right arm forward at War and blue fire spewed out, striking the large man square in the chest, knocking him backwards out of the saddle. At the same instant he slashed his left hand through the air sending a sharp blue streak snapping towards Famine. The pock marred man had already kicked his mottled mare into action, leaping into the air beyond the range of Kris’ attack. Pestilence had used the brief distraction to fling his chest plate wide, an army of locusts spilling out like guts from a slashed open belly. They buzzed and swarmed unerringly towards Kris, who kicked upwards and flew metres ahead of the storm of insects, a puff of blue fire spouting up from where he had stood.

War grunted with effort as he remounted and joined the chase. “That’s it you fat bastard!” He screamed, a maniacal look of pleasure on his eager face. He sliced at the air in front of him and orange fire sped after Kris’ disappearing form, knocking him spinning and smoking out of the air. As he spun the blue fire whirled out around him, like a Catherine Wheel loosed from its perch. As quick as his resistance started it was over.

As he hit the ground for the second time with a bone crunching thud he rolled, knowing, but not feeling, that his back was badly burned. It wasn’t until his back touched the cold snow that the pain hit him. He arched away from the floor as his vision blurred and then blackened. A large boot planted itself on his chest and pushed him back down. Kris screamed silently at the pain lancing across his back and through his shoulders and his eyes bloomed a brilliant white.

“Why?” He croaked, looking up through clouded eyes at a grinning Famine.
“Why kill you? You’re a symbol of hope,” Famine said, taking his boot from Kris’ chest and crouching down, “as long as there’s a chance of people uniting behind you, you’re a threat. And we just can’t risk that.”
Kris’ fingers twitched and a small glimmer of blue surrounded his digits, sputtered, and died away.
“Cut that blue shit out,” said War as he walked up, suppressing a smile, “what the hell is it anyway? It fucking stung when it hit me, but that’s about it.”
Kris tried to answer but coughed instead, great dry coughs which tore new shards of pain from his back.
“St Elmo’s Fire,” he said eventually, voice like the cracking of old paper, “we saints tend to help each other out.”
“Well, I’ve always believed in an eye for an eye,” War said, rubbing his sore chest, ”so I think you owe me a little suffering.” He leant down and took a few hairs from Kris’ soggy beard between his thumb and forefinger, flames jumping around his dirty nails. With a flash and a cry of pain the beard burned brightly but briefly, leaving charred stubble around Kris’ chin. “Brother!” He called.

Death didn’t move.

Famine crunched a toecap into Kris’ ribs with an audible snap. Pestilence’s locusts finally arrived and landed on the fallen man’s black boots. Kris cried again in pure fear. “My brother, help me!”

Death’s eyes flickered away from the savaging, down to the reins in his hand.

War and Famine were laughing like school yard bullies, standing over the flailing figure. His whole bottom half was now a buzzing green, covered in biting locusts. Pestilence joined the merriment as he waddled up to join them.
“Brother, please!” This last wail endured in the snow storm, a longer and louder sound than it had any right to be.
 
Death spurred his horse into a blur of motion, galloping towards the murderous scene. As he rode he took hold of the Greatsword that hung on his hip, the sheath melting away as he grasped it. The other three horsemen were still intent on the torture of Kris, unmindful of the violent charge approaching them.

Death swung his weapon down, wanting to put an end to the screaming, the sword trailing white smoke. The blade cut deep, puncturing through the fat body. The screaming ceased as the locusts evaporated, silence falling like snow.
“The fuck?” Asked Pestilence wetly as he fell forwards, slipping off the smoking blade.
As Pestilence fell, quite dead, War looked up in confusion just in time for his face to be rent apart, the question dying on either side of his lips. Famine had time to draw his old grey sword, but little time for anything else. Death ran him through the heart as calmly as a butcher preparing a steak for the pan.
Death wiped at the blood that had spouted onto his white cloak, mainly from when he sundered War’s head, but probably a little from each horseman. He made the mess worse, made the stark contrast of red and white even move horrifying.

He knelt by his brother and helped him to sit.

Kris looked at the crumpled bodies around him, at the gore that covered his legs. The locusts had not been kind, great rivulets of blood ran from hundreds of separate wounds. He picked up a handful of snow and rubbed it along his burned chin, wondering how long it would take to grow back, then wondering why, of all things, that was what he was wondering about.

Death cleared his throat, somewhat guiltily.

“Sorry.”

Kris turned his sad eyes to his brother. “For what? What you’ve done to me or what you’ve done to the world?”
“Oh, to you. I don’t give a rat’s shit about the world, but we didn’t really need to come after you. They were just so...adamant.” His gaze took in the dead bodies surrounding them. “The world will recover, they always do.”
“Why stop them, though? Why save me?” Kris was thoroughly confused, and sounding it.
“Well, there’s a few reasons. I never really thought about it before, but after the apocalypse, I’m pretty much out of a job. But mainly I’ve always like the dichotomy of you and me.”
“That I give many things freely...” Kris began
“And I take just one thing forcibly.” Death finished. He got to his feet and glided up onto his horse easily. “You’ll heal, the world will heal. I’ll find some new henchmen eventually. You will have to guide the world again, like you once did. Also, no one does that to my little brother. I’d always envied your beard. Farewell.”

Death turned his horse and walked slowly away, his white form fading into the snow.

Kris sat where he’d been left, his eyes glazed over in pain and confusion. He flinched when something cold and red nudged his cheek. Looking up, he smiled a terribly tired smile.

“At least you’re here, my old friend. Maybe we will survive all this.”
In the gathering dark man and beast limped their way back north, to home.

Offline shep5377

Re: December Writing Contest
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012, 07:14:30 PM »
Come on everyone! I don't want to win by default on my very first time putting work up for other people to read!

Offline simonster

Re: December Writing Contest
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012, 10:12:53 PM »
Come on everyone! I don't want to win by default on my very first time putting work up for other people to read!

I'm typing as fast as I can. :)

Offline shep5377

Re: December Writing Contest
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 10:54:39 PM »
Come on everyone! I don't want to win by default on my very first time putting work up for other people to read!

I'm typing as fast as I can. :)

 ;D

Offline simonster

Re: December Writing Contest
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2012, 02:47:41 PM »
Here we go then.  This is short, scruffy, and definitely not written by Shakespeare. ;)


Twelfth Night

There was silence after the Angel had spoken.

"What does it mean?" asked Little Star.  "The Tree can't just end!"

"Not our Tree!" cried Rudolph.  "She can't mean our Tree!"

"She said it would end," said Silver Bell.  "In three days the Tree will end.  That's what she said!"

"But not our Tree!"

"The Angel knows things," said Santa.  "I don't know how, but she knew that presents would appear beneath us."

"And that the People would open them," said Silver Bell, "and take the things away."

"But she can't be right about the Tree," said Little Star, "can she?"

"Angel!" called Rudolph, who was closest to the top of the Tree.  "Angel!  What do you mean about the Tree?"

"Don't bother," said Santa.  "She never answers."

"Angel!  Please!  What do we do?"

"Ask her what happens to us when the Tree's gone," said Silver Bell.  "Ask her that."

"We'll get another Tree, won't we?" asked Little Star  "If this one goes away?"

"It's because of something we've done," said Mrs Snowman, "I know it is."

"Listen," said Santa.  "We need to keep calm.  If something's happening to the Tree then we'll do something about it.  But until the Angel tells us more, there's no point worrying.  It's probably not anything bad, so everyone just keep calm."

"It's something we've done," said Mrs Snowman.

* * *

"Shep?" whispered Little Star when he thought the others were asleep.  "Shep, do you think something's really going to happen to the Tree?"

"I think maybe the Angel sees things we can't," said the Shepherdess.  "She is higher up than the rest of us.  But I think she would help us if she thought something bad was going to happen."

The Shepherdess was at the back of the Tree, far from everyone except Little Star.  She'd told him once that she didn't mind, that she liked being by herself.  They often talked when the lights were out and they could pretend that they were the only ones on the Tree.

"I hope we stay on the Tree forever," said Little Star.  "Santa said that I might grow big one day if I'm a good Star.  Wouldn't that be great?  I'd be Big Star then!"

"That would be wonderful, Star!"

"I'm sure I could be a good Star.  I've been practising my twinkle, Shep.  Look!"

"Yes, Star.  I can see.  You do that very well!"

* * *

"Two days," said Silver Bell.  "She really means it then."

"I'd hoped she'd say more this time," said Santa.

"She's been quite clear," said Mrs Snowman.  "The Tree will end in two days.  And we must be ready!"

"What?" cried Rudolph.  "What can we do?"

"No, listen!" said Santa.  "We don't know that it's really the end.  We mustn't do anything stupid!  The Tree has always been here, and I don't see how that could ever change.  The Angel could just mean...  I don't know - that new presents are going to arrive."

"If she meant that she'd just say it!" said Mrs Snowman.

"What about the needles?" said Silver Bell.

"What?"

"The needles.  Haven't you seen how they're falling off the Tree?"

"Just... one or two" said Santa.  "I've seen one or two fall.  But... it's just where we've knocked them, that's all."

"It's more than that," said Rudolph.  "I've seen loads of them fall!"

"What does it mean?" asked Little Star.

"They're all over the floor below us," said Silver Bell.  "I can see them from here.  I remember the floor was clear once.  But now – it's covered in them!"

"It doesn't mean anything," said Santa.  "It's just... just..."

"Do you see?" said Mrs Snowman.  "Do you believe me now?  It's as I said!  The Tree is dying!"

* * *

"Shep?  Do you remember before?  Before you were on the Tree?  Rudolph said he doesn't think there was a before, that he just woke up and he was on the Tree.  But I remember!"

"Yes.  Yes, I think I do remember something.  I remember being in darkness, and coming out of the darkness and seeing tissue paper and boxes and bubble wrap.  And one of the People carrying me to the Tree..."

"Oh.  That's like what Mrs Snowman said.  About the darkness.  I don't remember that at all.  But I remember being in a place with other Stars - thousands of them! - all just like me.  And we were all twinkling, and so happy!  And then the People came and... they took me away from there."

"Oh, I'd love to see that, Star!  The place with all the Stars.  It sounds so beautiful!  I wish I remembered that and not the darkness.  Star?  Could you twinkle for me?  I want to see you twinkling.  I don't want to think of the darkness any more.  It scares me to think of it."

* * *

"The Angel has spoken!  Tomorrow the Tree ends!"

Mrs Snowman did most of the talking now.  If any of the others disagreed with what she said, they kept their thoughts to themselves.

"We have brought this end upon ourselves.  The Tree is dying because we have poisoned it with our sins!  We have killed the Tree by the bad things we have done!"

"What things?"

"The Tree had rules.  And we've broken them!  Again and again!  We were not permitted to talk when the lights were out.  But some of us have broken that rule every night, talking to each other in the darkness!  It's their fault!  The Tree has judged them, and because of them the end is coming for us all!"

"What we can do?  Tell us what to do!"

"Tomorrow the People will come.  The People will take away the Tree!  For each of us, our fate will be decided!  Pray to them!  If you don't want to be destroyed when the Tree is destroyed, pray to the People to show you mercy!"

* * *

"Star?"

In the darkness, the Shepherdess's quiet voice went unanswered.

"Star, please!  I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow.  I'm scared, Star!  Please talk to me!"

Some time later, there was a rustling sound in the Tree, followed by the brief tinkle of breaking porcelain.

* * *

"She fell?"

"She got the fate she deserved!" said Mrs Snowman.  "It was her sins that killed the Tree!"

"I never knew her.  She was on the other side of the Tree.  I never knew she was bad."

"We must pray together now," said Mrs Snowman.  "Pray to the People!  With the sinner gone, maybe they -"

"The end is here!"  The voice of the Angel brought a moment of silence.

"Pray!  Pray to the People!  They are coming!  Pray for them to spare us!  Oh, mighty People, creators of the Tree..."

Little Star tried to repeat the words that Mrs Snowman said, but they lost all meaning as he saw one of the People carry away the remains of the Shepherdess.  He thought about the place he remembered with a thousand Stars just like him, and wished the Shepherdess could have seen it.

The People brought boxes and tissue paper and bubble wrap.  The prayers became louder, and then turned to screams as hands reached towards the Tree.

Little Star stopped watching.  As the Tree began to shake, he concentrated and, as the hands closed around him, he twinkled more brightly than he ever had before.

Offline shep5377

Re: December Writing Contest
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2012, 03:46:45 PM »
Wow, that's good. Really clever.


And thanks for the shout out, but I'm a Shepherd, there's no 'ess' about me!  ;)

Offline simonster

Re: December Writing Contest
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2012, 04:07:30 PM »
And thanks for the shout out, but I'm a Shepherd, there's no 'ess' about me!  ;)

Coincidence, honest! ;D  ('Shepherdess' just has too many damn letters to type out in full every time.)

Still a few hours left.  Any more stories still to come?

Offline Jian

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Re: December Writing Contest
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2012, 10:44:12 PM »
I was planning on writing an entry today, but I woke up sick this morning. Forced to bed rest. And forbidden to read!

Managed to read a hundred pages, though, before the book was taken away.  :D
Oh, I have a blog. http://dullboredom.wordpress.com/

Check it out, if you've got the time. Much appreciated.

Writer. Read my free, serialized story Radio Silence and vote to keep it free and serialized!