A quick amendment to the rules, you may go a little over or under the word limit, but please only a little!
A quick amendment to the rules, you may go a little over or under the word limit, but please only a little!
It was a dark and stormy night. I tossed and turned in bed until I finally fell asleep. Struggling to find my inner peace, I tried to think of all that was good before my eyes finally drifted shut. In my dream, I found myself approaching a statue of an angel. Did she once guard the area or did she welcome people with a feminine lift of the hand? I stared at her in my mind's eye, standing before her. I didn't believe she was a follower, this angel with wings built for war. They were not small. The feathers alone were wide and ready to evoke the feeling of inferiority in those who could not fly. In my mind, this angel was standing with one foot put ahead in approach, and her hand was gripping a sword pointed downward. Downward because, in keeping with her gentle stance, she was not afraid and was always on guard. The angel was master there, afraid of none but ready to stop whatever unrighteous intruder may dare siege her territory.
I looked at her face as I approached her in my mind, searching her seemingly hollowed eyes, just wondering what kind of angel she is. She did not wear armor. Her mouth curved in a slight, reassuring smile. Her brows did not frown over her eyes, but lent her a knowing look, warning that she knew my heart and its intentions. Upon touching the statue's charred black hand with the missing finger, I felt that she was made of stone, not marble like most of her kind. Inside, I wanted to name her.
In my mind, surrounded by whiteness where I could hear the echo of every footstep issued from beneath my cautious feet, I imagined her withstanding many winters. As I envisioned her in winter, I was stricken by the thought that it matches her demeanor. In likeness to snow, her heart was cold; hardened by every trial she must have faced before I ever knew her, but white because of the purity she represented as a host of heaven. As my fingers ran over her once white garment, flesh upon stone, I said with certainty, knowing there would be an echo of my words before I even said them, "You are Ewigen." Her name is pronounced Ay-Vi-Gen, with a hard "g" and means eternal in German. Could there have been any other name for what she was? She was the reason people used the expression "set in stone" when plans had been made permanent.
Ewigen had always watched, always listened. She was sentimental and forgiving but would stand her ground; I just knew it as I brushed her cheek with my thumb. She was a warrior, but Ewigen had never killed in injustice. No, in keeping with her menacing but cautionary poise, the notion that death had a rather odd smell and an unsettling guilt that made the heart ill afterwards was befitting to her. Ewigen would fight when she needed to, but defense was not a necessity, and the angel stood majestic and proud. She was a guardian more than a warrior. I could see it in the way she stood, welcoming the forsaken and fighting against the evil that trailed after the hungry hearts who sought the protection and solace of her Master.
As snow began to fall in the heart of my mind's eye where I could see her, I hesitated to realize that Ewigen was a lot like me. Feeling humble, I was afraid to even compare myself to the majestic creature that was burdened with the most dutiful task of guardian. However, I knew it to be true. What used to be white all around me was suddenly filled with wisps of every memory my mind could conjure at the moment; times when I had to be as strong and as cold as stone, just like Ewigen. Times when I stood up for myself or something I believed in, even when I knew it put my relationship with someone in jeopardy. Times when I was required to be the one to pick up the pieces of everything that was broken and put them back together again.
In my dream, the memories swirled around me, disappearing slowly, fading into a soft-edged smudge that was eventually swept away by a quick breeze. The wind swept snowflakes across Ewigen's perfectly shaped nose as the thoughts of her winter spun around me. I felt like I was in a snow globe with only the angel and I, curious about one another. When the memories and visions passed and the snowfall subsided, I found myself opening my eyes to her appearance again. I searched her wind-swept clothes and hair, suspended in time by whomever the artist was that made her. I saw that Ewigen's smile was like mine. I almost never smiled with my teeth showing. Hardly anything tickled me that much that I walked around with a big toothy grin on my face. Ewigen must have felt the same way. Her smile was more out of good-natured amusement than actually finding anything to be funny.
I was reminded by this stone warrior-angel that I was beautiful in my own way and that I did have a good heart, though I may have had to harden it at times. If she were a gargoyle, I could not identify with her, because she was beautiful and so was I, though there were instances in which I would deny it adamantly. Ewigen and I were alike in that we both anticipated a happy ending to everything, because if she did not, I didn't believe she would look as calm as she did. Her poise would be a feature no longer present. We both appeared solid on the outside. Inside, though, I was always calculating, sympathizing, finding a way to make it through something difficult. I whispered, "Well, who is to say that Ewigen isn't the same way?" I smiled and turned to go, for my time there with the angel no one knew was now spent. As I departed, I noticed a snowflake melt as it sat upon her cheek. I touched her hand and it was warmer than when I touched it last. Ewigen's lips curled into a small smile and that was all I remembered when my eyes opened and I woke up in bed.
She was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The irony was not lost on her that it was literally a rock and a hard place, and she was favoring the rock.
The sun was beating down on her and the air was dry and still. She could swear she could feel the air sucking the moisture out of her mouth – her tongue felt entirely too big, like a thick, rolled up piece of felt shoved into her mouth. She thought it would be hard to swallow, if she had anything to swallow. She’d stopped producing saliva a day ago. Her lips were chapped and peeling, but blood had stopped seeping from the cracks in them at least two and a half days before.
The rock in question might have been better described as a boulder. It was oddly shaped, formed by millennia of wind sweeping past it, slowly shaping it to an odd, twisting, crescent like form. It looked sort of like a big hipped woman, twisting in some wild, feral dance. She’d named the rock Hope. She’d had a cousin named Hope. Hope had died four years ago, her faced smashed in beyond recognition by her worthless lump of a husband. The same worthless lump she’d been promised to before Hope was even in the ground.
That was another piece of beautiful irony that had not been lost on her. Hope died.
She’d heard her aunts and cousins whisper all her life. They whispered so their husbands, fathers, and brothers wouldn’t hear, because the things they said would get them beat within an inch of their lives. They whispered that this wasn’t how it had always been. They whispered about the country that existed before the Last War, about how women had things called rights back then, about how if a man beat his wife, he’d be punished by the Law. But more importantly, they whispered about how there were other places, other towns, where women still had rights and the Law would protect them from a husband with an overeager fist. She’d heard her father and brothers complain about the women in the town where they went to trade salt from the mines for cloth and livestock and whiskey, about how they should be slapped for how they spoke but how no one could show them their place because of the Law.
She’d never been, her father would have found taking a daughter on a trading trip inappropriate at best, but she’d seen the direction they went and they were always back the next day. Granted, they had horses and wagons, two barrels of water from the well and Father’s years of experience navigating the way, when they went and all she had was an old wineskin that had run out far too quickly, a compass she’d stolen from her brother’s nightstand, her own two feet, and a ball of determination in her gut that was passing for plan.
She’d learned a few things in the four days since. The desert is frigid at night, and scorching by day. Walking long distances is hard and makes you very, very thirsty. It is hard to ration water when you cannot see how much you have left. A full-skirted dress is a poor choice for walking clothes. A compass is next to useless if you don’t know where you’re going. And finally, determination does not pass for a plan.
It’d been nearly two days since the last time she’d drank water. The pain of hunger in her stomach had faded to an aching numbness soon after. All that was left was a weak trembling in her limbs that made it hard to walk. That was when she’d found Hope, the prettiest reddish brown boulder she’d ever seen, casting a large shadow on the ground that climbed up a sheer bedrock face. She sat down between the boulder and the bedrock, leaning against the cool shadowed side of hope, and just tried to remember how to breathe. That had been at least two hours ago.
She’d begun to accept that she probably wasn’t getting up.
She was oddly at peace with that realization.
It was better, she decided. Better to die like this, having at least made a bid for freedom. It was better than being married to Hope’s widower, fat, ugly, alcoholic, stupid, lazy Joseph Washer. It was far better to die of dehydration and exposure than to be forced to let that animal bed her, get a child on her that, if it was a girl, was doomed to the same miserable fate at the hands of some other useless angry little man, or if it was a boy, would grow up being taught that it was his right to slap and beat his mother, sisters, and eventually wife and daughters. And most of all, it was better to die here, on her own terms in Hope’s shade, than to be the next wife Joseph Washer put in the ground after bashing her face in with an empty whiskey bottle so brutally that her head resembled ground beef with bits of bone mixed in.
It was her final act of defiance, denying her father the bride price she’d fetch, denying Joseph Washer his wedding night of raping her and the eventual satisfaction of killing her, denying every single man in that town the knowledge that yet another mouthy, selfish female had been put in her place. It was a final confirmation to herself, to her sisters and mother and aunts and cousins, that she was not a lesser being, she was not chattel, she was not a slave, she was not tradable, and she was not replaceable on the virtue of having been born female.
She had never been aware of how easy dying was.
It was hard to stay alive… everything hurt so much. It hurt when she was hit at home and treated like property. It hurt to abandon her little sisters to a fate that she’d decided she’d risk death to avoid. It hurt to breathe now that she’d been days without water in the vicious and unforgiving desert. And now, here, between a rock named Hope and the hard bedrock in a spot of precious shade, tongue swollen and mouth drier than the dirt she sat on, dying seemed like the easiest thing in the world. That would show them, wouldn’t it? That would show them all.
She let her eyes drift closed, imagining herself waving at the thought that she’d never open them again as it passed her by.
She woke what seemed like moments later to the rather rude smell of dog breath.
A mutt was licking her face, panting and slobbering all over her, tail wagging in nothing short of supreme elation. She tried to lift her hand to push the dog away, but all she managed was a limp-wristed wave in its general direction. She grimaced as the animal continued to slather affection on her, and as she did, she noticed its black fur and ghostly blue eyes. She wondered briefly if this dog was here to lead her to her afterlife. A dog like that would have ghost blue eyes, she decided.
The dog barked at her, darting away then back to her, licking her in encouragement before darting off again. She got the message after about four of these cycles, and after many failed attempts, managed to get her feet under herself. The dog hopped around in excitement, like it was dancing.
“ You’re a terrible dancer.” She told it, her voice hoarse. The dog barked in answer and trotted away, stopping and looking over its should to make sure she was following. She did, stumbling and teetering unsteadily, but soon they were covering distance. She hoped death wasn’t far.
It seemed like she stumbled after the dog for hours before she finally sank to her knees. The dog returned to her instantly, licking her face and hands again as though urging her on.
“ I can’t.” she told it quietly. “ I’m too tired.” The dog sat in front of her, regarding her sternly. She shook her head. “ Dumb dog.” She muttered, eyes fluttering closed. As she slumped to the ground, the dog barked, and she could have sworn she heard a voice.
She dreamed of a soft pillow. But then she woke, and it wasn’t a dream. She was in a room and there was a pitcher with water in it. She was sure it wasn’t for her. But the owner of the house the room was in came, a young, sort of handsome man who told her he’d found her in the desert thanks to his dog, Ghost, and said she could drink. She didn’t believe him for the longest time. When he brought in a platter with potatoes and a whole roasted chicken, she didn’t believe that could eat as much as she wanted. And when a doctor came to see her, he brought a Lawman, and she got so scared she started to cry, too afraid to beg them not to take her back.
It took several women three hours, a bath, a hair brushing, a pretty blue dress, and lots of comforting to coax her story out of her, and when it did, the Lawman listened quietly before promising that no one would make her go back. The owner of the house, who called himself Sean, said she was welcome to stay as long as she wanted. And she barely believed any of it.
It was years later before she went back, back to the town she’d been born in, and even then she could only do it with Sean at her side. The town was abandoned, and she led him through the place she’d grown up in, to the house her father had owned where he beat her and her mother and sisters, to the grave marked by a stone where Hope was buried. She talked about how it had been, the beatings and the fear and the ever-present threat of marriage and rape, and he listened like he always did. After they’d seen enough, Sean put her behind him on his horse and they rode out to the other Hope, the boulder Hope, and she sat between the rock and the hard place one last time.
A long time ago, Hope died. She ran away to a rock named Hope to die too but a dog named Ghost led her back to life. And now Hope was going to be reborn.
She figured she’d learned to love irony.
The Queen is back and rocking out.
Just finished my entry... and Gypsy Queen had the exact same idea as me. Oh well, time to start again
Didn't have time to finish :\
Last edited by Extraordinaire.; 04-29-2012 at 03:59 PM.
"The Vampire Queen"
It was a dark and stormy night. The rain fell at a constant pace as flashes of lightning lit up the sky and the following rumbles of thunder crashed and banged like ceremonial drums. The wind whipped and whistled as it sent trees and branches crashing down in the woods that surrounded a dark and mysterious castle. Every so often, a gust of wind found its way through a window of the castle, where it proceeded to push aside tapestries, blow out torches, or rattle a suit of armor, all of which would startle anyone who had the misfortune of being near the “chosen” window.
“Have mercy, Your Majesty,” a young man begged as he knelt on the cold, stone floor of the castle’s throne room. A brown haired, brown-eyed young woman stared down at the man from her throne. With an expressionless look on her face, she stood up and walked gracefully down the steps that led up to her throne, where she stopped and looked down at the man, who was now staring at her with a slight look of fear on his face as the two guards who had brought him in moved to put a hand on each of his shoulders. The young woman nodded her thanks to the guards, and then looked down at the man, who was still staring up at her in fear.
“Why should I have mercy on someone who tried to drive a stake into my heart as I slept?” The woman, who was known as the Queen of the Vampires, asked in a harsh voice that was filled with displeasure. The man thought for a moment and then he answered.
“I…didn’t want to, I s-swear,” the man stuttered as the woman’s eyes stared at him in a manner that made him feel as though she was looking into his soul.
“Oh really? Then if you didn’t want to, how did you manage to find my room without being caught by my guards? And why did you curse me as my guards were taking you to the dungeon?” The young Queen asked, her voice still filled with harshness.
“Someone t-told me where your r-room was. And I…I panicked,” the man stuttered nervously.
“Liar!” The Queen hissed as a flash of lightning filled the room with an eerie light that illuminated her face and gave her pale skin a slightly unearthly glow as she looked at the man with a cruel smile on her pale lips. A few seconds later, a rumble of thunder was heard, and the young woman spoke again.
“Normally I’d execute you in my usual manner, but a human like you doesn’t deserve to drink even a drop of my blood in order to become a vampire that will immediately have a stake driven through your heart, so I will simply have a stake driven through your heart so there will be absolutely no chance of you becoming a vampire through any other means,” the Queen said as the man’s eyes grew wide in fear.
“Get up,” one of the guards ordered as he and his companion pulled the man to his feet.
“I assume you’ll be coming to the execution chamber, Your Majesty. Am I right in such an assumption?” The other guard asked as he and the other guard led the man towards one of the staircases that led to the dungeon.
“You are correct, Vladimir. I will be down in a few minutes,” the woman responded with a bloodthirsty smile that revealed her two pointed fangs. Neither guard responded as they led the man through the door to the staircase and disappeared. Once the guards had left, the young woman went to her room, where she changed out of her black and red gown and donned a hooded black dress in its place before walking down to the execution chamber in the castle’s dungeon.
By the time she had arrived in the execution chamber, the guards had already chained the man to the marble “execution table” that was used to hold condemned prisoners (human and vampire) down while she stabbed them in the heart with a wooden stake. By now, the intensity of the storm had increased and the flashes of lightning could be seen from the execution chamber, which was partially located underground.
“Here’s the stake, My Lady,” Vladimir said as he handed the non-pointed end of the stake to the Queen as a bright flash of lightning illuminated the chamber.
“Thank you Vladimir,” the young woman replied as she took the stake and walked over to the table where the man lay with chains around his ankles and wrists. As she switched the stake from her left hand to her right hand, the floor of the chamber shook as a loud clap of thunder was heard from outside. Once the floor stopped shaking and the thunder died, the Queen of the Vampires raised the stake over her head and drove it into the man’s heart. She let go of the stake and let it sit in his chest for several minutes before she grabbed it again and pulled it out, sending a few drops of blood flying onto her hands.
She looked at the bloody stake and carefully licked some of the blood off of its tip. She smiled as she tasted the sweetness of the man’s blood. She licked a few more drops off of the tip of the stake, then she handed it to Vladimir, who took it and placed it on a small marble table that was stained red from the blood of many previous executed criminals who had been dispatched by the hand of the Queen of the Vampires. She turned to her two guards and spoke.
“I’m going to return to my room to get ready for bed. Drain his blood and bring a cup of it to me when you’re done,” she said as she turned and walked up the stairs to her room.
Several minutes later, the Queen had changed out of her robe and put on a long, dark red nightgown and a warm black robe with a belt that had been dyed in the blood of some unfortunate people and vampires who had been executed near the end of her father’s reign. She had been sitting in front of the large window of her room and watching the storm when she heard a knock on her door.
“Come in,” she said.
One or two seconds later, the door opened and Vladimir entered, carrying a magnificent goblet that was made of red gold and decorated with several black gemstones. He walked over to her and handed her the goblet, careful not to spill even a single drop of the blood that had come from the recently executed man. The Queen smiled at Vladimir as she took the goblet and raised it to her lips, tasting and savoring the flavor of the man’s blood.
“Delicious,” she said as she lowered the goblet and stared intently at the large bolt of lightning that flashed in the distant sky.
“I’m sure it is, my queen,” Vladimir responded as the sound of a loud crash of thunder made him flinch. The Queen smiled at his flinch, and she held out the goblet, which still was about halfway full.
“Would you like to try a sip?” She asked sweetly.
“So the Queen of the Vampires is finally going to let me drink from her special goblet?” He asked with hint of teasing suspicion in his voice.
“So it seems,” the young woman answered with a flirty smile.
“It certainly took you a while,” Vladimir responded before he gently took the goblet and drank from it, savoring the taste of the blood and the coldness of the goblet on his lips.
“How did it taste?” The young woman answered as Vladimir lowered the goblet and held it out to her.
“It tasted divine,” he answered as she took the goblet from him and drank the small amount of blood that remained in the goblet.
“It certainly did. I assume you have already drained the rest of the blood and have stored it for future use, am I correct?”
“Yes you are, Your Majesty. Would you like another goblet of it?” Vladimir replied.
“No thank you, Vladimir. I believe I’ll be going to bed soon.”
“Ok, Your Majesty,” Vladimir replied as he bowed and took the goblet out of the Queen’s hand. Without a word, he turned and began to walk out of the room. Just as he left the room and rested his hand on the doorknob, the Queen spoke.
“Goodnight, Your Majesty,” Vladimir responded as he gently closed the door, leaving the young Queen of the Vampires alone in her room, where she sat and watched the storm that was raging outside her castle.
Avatar and signature made by me.
(New set coming soon!)
12/14/2012- Never forget
It had been an eternity since the incident. That's possible on the internet. Something can be an "eternity" ago. Time's different online, between posts, between forums, between "ages".
Old forum code, old HTML websites, URLs that go nowhere now, or domains that no longer exist.
The incident happened an "eternity" ago. It was one single incident that happened on a single forum, but it didn't happen on a single day. These things never do. See, even though time flies by faster than dog years, and I'm a lich by that measure, these things, they always last.
They go on for days when there's drama involved. Anyone on Facebook can tell you this. Nothing is ever so simple, especially on the internet.
"Here today, gone tomorrow," I used to say (how cliche!) but honestly, even though that's true, nothing's ever over in a single day when it comes to the internet. Forums especially. People will actually perform resurrections on threads that are years in the grave.
Computers remember everything. Everything on record. Google-bytes of information all stored, all filed away, for employers to look at, P.I.'s to dig up, hell, anyone wanting to get dirt on you can grab something you said in a moment of passion ten years ago (god forbid) and throw it back in your face as though it happened yesterday.
If only McCarthy had the internet. God, he would've loved it. He would've found all those fucking communist pinko scumbags and blackbagged their sorry asses for ever having any affiliation with the Party. And the internet would've helped him do it if it was around during the forties when the Ruskies were on our side.
You know, before the Cold War was a thing.
Funny how things change. Like the internet, here today, gone tomorrow, but somebody's always keeping track somewhere...
Maybe forgiving goes along with forgetting. Maybe you can't do one without the other.
But what am I talking about? I've already forgotten.
Go check for me. Look it up. Or look up. Whatever you prefer.
Ah, right, the "incident" that happened an "eternity" ago.
What forum was that on? God. I can't even remember, and if I did would it still be the same?
Probably not. I'd have to explain the whole thing again to you and because you weren't there...
... well that's like expecting you to know what it was like to watch Kennedy get shot. I mean, actually standing there.
You know. Or 9/11. You can't explain these things to people. You can tell them sure, but which version you tellin'?
You saw smoke from the knoll. You saw plane wreckage at the Pentagon. Go back.
It's not there, is it.
But someone's always keepin' track. Fucking archivists.
I know what I said. No, I didn't mean it that way at the time. Hell, I don't mean it that way now. I'm not even sure why it still matters. It's there, isn't it. Fuck, I'm sure I thought that domain got re-registered, but someone's always keeping track. Yep.
Some fucking archivist.
The story they want. The evidence they leave, and what is it to you? Really.
A case, now, you want to make it something because it matters now to you.
It happened an eternity ago! Fuck, man!
Let it fucking go!
Someone's always keepin' track. So what. So I said it. What did I say? I don't even remember and besides, if I did, and you have it then why are you talking to me anyway?
What's your question? Because you've already read it, right? You've already made up your mind what I said. How I meant it.
What's it matter.
Time doesn't mean a thing, does it? May as well have said it yesterday. Today. Five minutes ago. To your face. Right now.
After all, it was recorded right? Some thing. Ten years ago. Twenty years ago. A hundred years ago.
Someone's always keepin' track.
You never forget. You never forgive.
You never change your mind. Change your mind. Change...
Nothing ever changes. Except the internet. Here today...
... here tomorrow
... and tomorrow
... and tomorrow
... and tomorrow
"Eternity" means nothing when you're keeping track.
WOOOOHOOOOO!!!! It's finally, finally, finally time!
We got some absolutely amazing entries for this contest, all of them an absolute delight to read. Thank you everyone, and congratulations!
But now, it's time to announce our winner for A Dark and Stormy Cliche, and the winner is....
The Gypsy Queen!!
WOOOOOT *throws confetti*
Congrats! Good job, everyone!