Tag Archives: adventure

Death Under The Double Sun

I just finished reading Death in the Afternoon, by Ernest Hemingway. This is a homage/parody/science fiction adaptation of that. Incidentally, I was thinking lately what the weirdest post I’ve ever posted was. This might not be it, but it’s probably in the top five.

scorpion

The sport of Blizz-Blang1 is an ancient and venerable one on the planet of Tirk. It may seem confusing to outsiders, even barbaric, but in fact it is relatively simple.

There are five accepted styles of Blizz-Blang, but the most widespread is the Capitol variety. In it, the sport takes place in a ring of titanium that slowly gets smaller as the match progresses. The purpose of the sport is for the killer (whose ceremonial title is “Washerwoman”) to kill a giant scorpion-like creature, called a rrat. The rrat is sitting on a hovering platform and can only move its front claws and its fire-shooting afterburner, which was limited mobility.

The hovering platform is controlled mentally by a large, mutant slug, called a pincush, who, during the game, is simultaneously watching a documentary about reindeer. The subject matter of the documentary can change from style to style, but reindeer are the most common, followed by crop circles, the water cycle, and occasionally, sex.

In order to defeat the rrat, the Washerwoman must avoid getting killed him(or her)self, while convincing the pincush to help him kill the rrat. This is all done mentally, so to make the battle more interesting, the Washerwoman’s brainwaves are broadcast as a 3D hologram over the arena.

The method of attack can vary, depending on many factors. First, the Washerwoman must determine through leading questions, how interested the pincush is in the documentary it’s watching. If it is very interested, he might try to get it to kill the rrat absentmindedly, by running it into a wall, or dumping it into the pool of lava (which is always part of the ring.) If it not that interested in the documentary, the Washerwoman might ask it nicely to give it the laser sword which it has in its possession, so that he can kill the rrat and they can all go home. This mental conversation, which takes place while the Washerwoman is dodging the rrat and its deadly claws and afterburner, is very diverting.

If, for some reason, the pincush has a grudge against the Washerwoman, the Washerwoman has to use reverse psychology, thinking things like, “fine, I didn’t want to kill it anyway. Just get the rrat to rip off one of its own claws so I can use it to kill myself.” If this works, he then uses the claw to kill the rrat itself.

A final popular tactic is used when the pincush is both bored and very uncooperative. The Washerwoman falls on his knees, sobbing and pleading for his life, promising to sell out his friends and country for a little mercy and kissing the dirt near the pincush. When the pincush turns the rrat away in disgust, the Washerwoman jumps on its back (avoiding the afterburner) and pulls out its brainstem.

The pincush itself is never attacked in the arena, although it is often roasted and eaten at the feast that follows the game.

There are countless other traditions and varieties in Blizz-blang, including what the audiences eats in every round, and how much of it they are allowed to throw at the Washerwoman. There are rules about which holidays explosives are permitted on and which varieties allow prayer, and which ones ban it as an unfair advantage. I will not get into them all here, but if you ever visit Tirk, you will see for yourself.

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1The name “Blizz-blang” comes from the traditional cry that the audience shouts when the match is over, which translates roughly as “Finally, the game is over. We can all go home and watch Blizz” (Blizz being the name of a popular reality show involving 64 white mice, know as bli).

 

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The Importance of Legends – Sunday Photo Fiction

copyright Al Forbes

copyright Al Forbes

The Importance of Legends

It was a badly-kept secret among intellectuals that the vaults under the British Museum held a portal to another world. It was a jade gate that had been stolen from China in 1840. When its secret was discovered in 1848, a stream of explorers and archaeologists had entered it, never to reappear. Eventually, the gate was locked up.

Until 2012 . . .

Cameras clicked and flashed as Dr. Forbes stood in front of the jade gate.

“I discovered the map in our archives,” he said. “The corner was torn off, but I managed to decipher the ancient Chinese to see that it is a map of the land beyond. It shows where the dangers are, as well as a magnificent treasure, across this plain and beyond these mountains.” He pointed to a reproduction of the three-foot square map. “I will now enter the gate with my team. We plan to be gone a week.”

The next day, a janitor was cleaning up the archive room and found a scrap of paper under a desk. It said 一寸是一万里*, not even English. He threw it away.

*(1 inch = 3600 miles)

 


The night I was a ghost – a true story

I am now a legend of terror, a whispered story that will be told over and over in bars or around the dinner table. I am talking about myself now, David Stewart. This is a true story, after all.

It all started because my wife wanted to see a ghost. I’d like to see one too, if they exist, which I’m not entirely sure of. I have an open mind though. In any case, when I heard about a reportedly real haunted house on the east coast of Korea, my wife and I rented a car and drove four hours across the country to the rural area of Youngdeok, right on the coast of the East Sea (or Sea of Japan. I don’t want to get involved in that controversy).

Youngdeok Haunted House

I had seen another video about people who had gone to explore the house, but they had gone during the day. Bah! We like to go at night. Actually, we meant to arrive around sunset, but it does get dark earlier these days and it was pitch black by the time we arrived.

The last abandoned house we explored was out in the middle of nowhere but this one was right next to a vacation condo on a busy highway. We walked up the road on the condo side and set off two geese and a dog who were standing guard. A man came out and we thought he was going to yell at us, but instead he just told us to go up the other side.

The graffiti says variants of "ghosts" and "evil spirits"

The graffiti says variants of “ghosts” and “evil spirits”

The house, being famous, was quite vandalized, with graffiti all over it and broken windows. But it was also nice and creepy. We were looking for the basement, especially, since that was supposedly where people had heard ghostly voices. While we were looking around, a car stopped at the bottom of the hill. At first, we thought they had seen our flashlights and were coming to yell at us, but we quickly realized they were just there to see the house too.

Suddenly, we were in the position of being in a haunted house at night with other people coming to see it. What would you have done? Well, what we did was stand without moving in the front room with our hoods up and wait for them to come. Honestly, I had no idea how they would react. They walked up, shined the flashlight in and…

…screamed like banshees. They kept screaming and ran all the way down the hill to their car and drove away while my wife and I laughed and laughed. I would have explained and apologized but they never came back. Oops. So, that is why there is now even more anecdotal evidence that this house is haunted. However, if you hear any Koreans tell about how they saw a ghost in the window of the Youngdeok house, feel free to explain (or not).

Youngdeok Haunted House

By the way, we finally did find our way down to the basement but we never heard any voices. And we still haven’t seen a ghost. Yet.

Here is the video of our explorations. Go to 3:21 to see the part where the other people come.

 


Apocalypse Climb

This is a true story, as evidenced by the photographs. But you know me: I can’t help dramatizing things a little.

Apocalypse Climb

I saw a preview of the apocalypse this past weekend as masses of humanity pressed together, fighting to ascend (and then descend) a steep, rain-soaked path of tumbled rocks. The horror, the horror…

Apocalypse Climb

Koreans love them some mountain climbing and they love them some autumn colors. And considering that everyone loves them some weekend, going mountain climbing on a Saturday in Korea in the fall is like a perfect storm, especially in the rain.

The sky was overcast when I left the house in the morning. I couldn’t find my umbrella, but I had a magic talisman that prevented rain. At least, it rarely rained when I was carrying it and I believe strongly in the principle that correlation implies causation.

I got to the mountain (which is also a provincial park) and as the bus passed long lines of cars parked along the side of the road, my heart sank like a bowling ball in a banana souffle. It was, as the Chinese say, a mountain of people, a sea of people. If zombie hordes wore expensive hiking gear and preyed on autumn leaves, I would have been in a George Romero film.

The rain started as a fine mist about halfway up the mountain. By the time I got to the park’s famed Cloud Bridge, the path had bottlenecked and so we all stood in the rain, shuffling forward at a snail’s pace until I finally reached the bridge. I looked down at the path 250 feet below me and saw the winding, ant-like column of hikers abandoning the mountain.

I saw a sign saying the maximum number of people on the bridge was 200. Not that anyone was counting.

I saw a sign saying the maximum number of people on the bridge was 200. Not that anyone was counting.

I gave up the idea of going to the peak. A cloud had sat on the mountain as if it were snuggling into an easy chair and after the bridge was a treacherous metal stairway, over 200 feet high and as steep as a ladder. I wasn’t the only one who decided to cut the trip short and head for the cable car station nearby for a quick trip to the bottom. The trails were choked with sodden hikers, some with expensive cameras, jewelry and nice purses, all picking their way down the slick rocks. I felt like we were refugees from some disaster.

Apocalypse Climb

The group on the left are the ones who climbed under a railing and swarmed down the rocks to cut in line on the main path.

“All it takes is one person to slip…” I kept thinking.

There was a two-hour wait for the cable car, nowhere to sit and nowhere particularly warm. At least the view was pretty.

Apocalypse Climb

I got home four hours later and soon the apocalypse was only a distant memory. It’s amazing what a hot shower can cure.

Apocalypse Climb


Alone on a Boat – The Final Chapter

Hi, everyone. Here is the 13th and final chapter in our continuing collaborative story, Alone on a Boat. It was put on hold for a few weeks since Sharmishtha had some unexpected, terrible flooding. If you’ve been following along, you can read all the chapters, including the previous one on her blog.

Or here’s the synopsis: Angelique is 20 years old and sailing solo around the world. Two men kidnap her in the Indian Ocean and bring her to an island where there is an ancient Indian temple. They get killed by monsters but she escapes and meets an old man, John, who brings her into the temple, which is full of treasure. Her father arrives the next morning because of a distress beacon she activated. He sees the treasure but before he can go in, Angelique is transported into the temple alone and confronts a naga woman. Because of Angelique’s honesty in not trying to take the treasure, she is rewarded with a nagmani, a naga’s third eye, that will take her back to the temple if she needs to go. Her and her father go back to the boat but he sneaks out at night to go find the treasure. She goes after him and finds him in an altered state, imagining he is at the temple and taking jewels, when he is only in the jungle.

Alone on a Boat – Part 13 (The final chapter)

By mid-morning, John and Angelique had gotten her father down to the shore. He came willingly enough, but often stopped to pluck imaginary gems out of the air and store them in his bag.

“Do you really think he will be okay?” Angelique asked.

“I hope so,” John said. “Get him far away from here and then see. It may take a while. I’m not sure; I’ve never seen this sort of thing before.”

“Thank you,” she said. “You saved my life. I’ll never forget you.” He smiled and held out his hand but she moved past it and gave him a hug.

“Come back sometime, if you can,” he said. “I will still be here, I’m sure.”

John helped her get her father onto the ship, then she brought him back to the shore. He stood waving as she pulled up the anchor and set the motor to bring them away from the island.

Her father was now lying on the bed, and was asleep when she checked on him. He continued to sleep all day and she checked several times to see if he was still breathing.

She made supper and went into the bedroom. “Dad, Dad, it’s time for supper.” She shook him gently, but there was no response. Was he in a coma? After a few minutes more, she went up on deck and ate supper by herself.

She had sailed solo for many days, but never had she felt more frightened and alone than at this moment, with her father unconscious inside. What if he never woke up? What could she do? What would her mother say?

The sun went down, extinguishing itself in the waters of the Indian Ocean. Angelique lay down and looked up at the millions of stars shining above her.

She looked down and saw that her shirt was glowing. She pulled out the nagmani. It was glowing with a reddish luminescence that grew brighter and then suddenly faded back to black.

There was a noise from the cabin and the door opened. Her father stood in the doorway.

“Are we on the open sea?” he asked. “Weren’t we on an island?”

“We were but we left,” Angelique said, going to him and giving him a hug. “You’ve been sleeping for hours.”

“I feel pretty tired. What happened? The last thing I remember I had taken a helicopter to come find you and I remember something about being on the boat.”

“Well, that’s passed now, Dad,” she said. “We’re heading for Jakarta; I can drop you off there, if you wish, or you can stay until Singapore.”

He nodded. “Either one is fine. I wonder what the name of that island was? I’d like to go back there sometime.”

A stab of apprehension went through Angelique. “I don’t know, Dad,” she said.

“Well, whatever. I’m so tired for some reason. I think I’ll go back to bed.” He went back in, closing the door.

Angelique leaned back and looked up at the night sky again. The stars seemed to be smiling down on her. She was happy now. She was ready for the next adventure.

Alone on a boat


Alone on a Boat – Part 11

Sorry this story is so late. Usually I post my chapters of this story on Mondays. However, this weekend was adventuring on a remote island (not unlike our heroine) and was unable to post it.

If you’re behind on the story, here’s all you need to know: Angelique is 20 years old and sailing solo around the world. Two men kidnap her in the Indian Ocean and bring her to an island where there is an ancient Indian temple. They get killed by monsters but she escapes and meets an old man, John, who brings her into the temple, which is full of treasure. Her father arrives the next morning because of a distress beacon she activated. He sees the treasure but before he can go in, Angelique is transported into the temple alone and confronts a naga woman. Because of Angelique’s honesty in not trying to take the treasure, she is rewarded with a nagmani, a naga’s third eye, that will take her back to the temple if she needs to go.

Sharmishtha has posted all the previous installments here.

Alone on a Boat – Part 11

Angelique slipped the nagmani medallion into her pocket. “Nothing much. Where did you guys just go?”

“Where did you go?” her father said. “Suddenly you disappeared and then a moment later you were back, blinking in the sunlight. This is the craziest place I’ve ever seen.”

He turned back towards the temple doors and Angelique saw that same look of entranced greed in his eyes.

“Let’s get back to the boat,” she said quickly. He turned towards her and after a moment of thought, nodded.

“Yeah, that’s probably best. I’ll send the helicopter back to Phuket once we find it and determine that everything is okay. Then, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to sail with you for a while. Just until we make it out of this area. You can drop me off in Singapore or Jakarta if you want. Is that okay?”

“I’d like that, Dad,” she said. He nodded and went to talk to the pilot.

As soon as he had gone, John stepped up next to her. “I see that you received a nagmani. You are truly favored, but guard it carefully. Do not let it out of your hands.” He threw a meaningful glance over at her father.

Angelique’s father came back and they said good-bye to John. He did not want to go down to the beach with them, but shook their hands and watched them climb aboard the helicopter. Angelique saw him quickly move back into the jungle as soon as they were airborne.

It did not take long to find the boat. It was anchored by itself in a small cove a few kilometers away. Angelique was a little wary about climbing down the swaying rope ladder to the boat below, but her father went first and held it steady at the bottom. Finally, when they had searched the boat and concluded that everything was safe and normal, her father waved the all-clear to the pilot and the helicopter flew off, disappearing over the crest of the island.

“Shall we take off right now?” Angelique said. “It’s still early morning; we can make it a long way today.”

“Let’s just take it easy today,” her father said. “You’ve been through a lot and it might be nice just to take a day here and relax. Go swimming if you want. It’ll give me a chance to look over the boat too and make sure those guys didn’t mess with anything. If they did, it’s better to find it here than out there on the open water.”

“I guess that’s true,” Angelique said. She did not want to spend another day at that island, but her father had a point. She relaxed and did some swimming while he tinkered with the engine and the various instruments. That evening, they had a fire on the beach and watched the stars from the deck of the ship.

Angelique woke up in the middle of the night in a panic. She had had a nightmare about things crawling over the side of the ship and into her bedroom. She had reached for the nagmani, but it had burned her hands.

Now, she sat in the dark, listening for her father’s breathing. He had taken the fold-down bunk on the side by the door.

She could hear nothing. After a few minutes, she turned on her penlight and shone it towards him. The bunk was empty.

She went out on deck. “Dad? Where are you?” There was no answer. She searched the whole ship, from bow to stern. He was not there. She was alone.

(to be continued on Friday on Sharmishtha Basu’s blog)

sailing alone


What would you do if you were “Alone on a Boat”?

Today the 10th installment of “Alone on a Boat” came out . It is a collaborative story between Sharmishtha Basu and myself. Please read the latest chapter (and all the previous ones) here at Sharmistha’s blog:

Our heroine, Angelique is quite a spunky girl. We know this because she’s 20 and sailing around the world by herself. I’m curious what you would have done in her situation.  Take my quiz, then find out how close you are to Angelique.

copyright Sharmishtha Basu

copyright Sharmishtha Basu

1. You are sailing your boat and see a man floating in the water, clinging to wreckage. Do you:

  1. Pick him up (I only pick up hitchhikers in the middle of the ocean)
  2. Throw at Coke bottle at his head as you sail by (Shipwrecked? Ain’t nobody got time for that)
  3. Call the police and hope they find him in time (I want to help, but not THAT much)
  4. Pick him up, then hold him for ransom (Money, money, money…)

2. You are kidnapped by two men who have you tied up in your bedroom. Do you:

  1. Take a nap (Getting kidnapped is tiring)
  2. Cry and act helpless (Yay, I’m a damsel in distress!)
  3. Get the distress beacon from the bedside table (I’m a Lara Croft wannabe)
  4. Tell them your father is rich and will ransom you (Money solves all problems)

3. Your kidnappers have taken you to a jungle temple and you’ve just seen them get eaten by a huge monster. Do you:

  1. Scream your lungs out, alerting the monster to your occasion.  (WWABGIAHMD: What Would A Blond Girl In A Horror Movie Do?)
  2. Take a nap. (Hey, that was a long hike through the jungle)
  3. Run away (Duh…)
  4. Grab the kidnapper’s fallen machete and go Bruce Willis on that monster (I’m sick of these **** monsters in this **** temple!)

4. You come across a strange man in the woods who says he’ll help you. Do you:

  1. Kill him. (Don’t mess around: I believe in Stranger Danger)
  2. Go with him. (You’re desperate. Gotta take the chance).
  3. Tie him up and leave him as monster bait (Better him than you)
  4. Ask him if he has a phone so you can call someone else (I need help, but I’m picky)

5. You find yourself in a temple filled with gold and gems. You’ve been warned that if you steal anything, you’ll be hunted down.

  1. Get your running shoes on, grab the biggest gem and and start sprinting. (High school gym class, don’t fail me now)
  2. Make a note of the temple’s coordinates to come back later with dynamite. (With Lara Croft AND Indiana Jones)
  3. Take a nap (Treasure makes you sleepy)
  4. Don’t take anything (Are you crazy? You saw the kidnappers get slaughtered)

 

Okay, tabulate your answers. Angelique’s actions were: 1, 3, 3, 2, 4. If you chose any of the other choices, you are most likely sociopathic, insanely greedy, or possibly narcoleptic.

If you haven’t read the story yet and want to catch up, click here.

jungle night

 

 

 

 

 


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