Tag Archives: other worlds

Spring Break with the Merry Maidens

FF178 Piya Singh

copyright Piya Singh

The sun sets on twenty drunken college students dancing in the cabin, with bass deep enough to shake the stone circle nearby.

It’s a great success. It’s my cabin after all, an inheritance from my grandmother, the one who gave me this old necklace.

The party spills outside around midnight. Dozens, then scores of men and women gyrate among the stones to the pounding music that is now coming from the ground itself.

The sun rises on me, naked except for Grandma’s old necklace. I’m alone in the stone circle, beer cans mingled with mead cups and carved drinking horns.

 

Read about the real Merry Maidens


First Week at the Nexus

I realize this is two letters home from children in a week, but they’re very different and apparently this is how my mind is thinking at the moment.

copyright Joe Owens

copyright Joe Owens


Dear Mum and Dad,

Greetings from the land of inter-dimensional hospitality! Well, my first week at the Nexus Hotel is over. It didn’t drive me insane but there were several points where I wished I’d never been born. Sorry Mum, you did your best and all.

It’s pretty brutal out here. I had a party of Neanderthals stumble in from some primitive dimension and demand the first floor suites. No credit card, of course, but I got half a gazelle as payment. They trashed the rooms and set fire to two of the beds. They also massacred half a Venusian furry convention that was meeting on the third floor. I comped the survivors their rooms. Hope that’s okay.

On Wednesday, we had a couple dark specters arrive. Didn’t pay, of course, just loitered around haunting the place. I got them exorcised finally. It’s fine now.

Some sort of space princess came two days ago. That’s when things started looking up. She’s pretty. I let her have the top two floors indefinitely. I’m redecorating for her, turning it into a castle.

Don’t worry about the hotel, I’m handling everything.

Your son,

Winky.


Winky’s father put down the letter. “Maybe I should go help him out. Just for a few days.”

“You’re retired,” his wife said. “You promised.”

Her husband noticed the way she was fingering her knife. “Right, right. I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

 


Any Suggestions?

copyright Joe Owen

copyright Joe Owen

Any suggestions?

“Next week is the midterm,” the computer ethics professor Dr. Bevin said. “There is no exam.” He cut off the collective sigh of relief with a sharp gesture. “No, instead you have to break your world.

“All of you have been observing your custom world simulators for eight weeks now, or 20,000 years in-program. Unless you have a world that is already a nuclear wasteland—Jared—I want you to write the inhabitants a message. From you. Ask for suggestions on how to make things better. Write an essay giving the results and what you think the impact of those changes might be.”

There was a stunned silence, then a phalanx of questioning hands. Dr. Bevin dismissed them all. “That’s all. You figure out the rest.”

That night, Ben opened the program and rewound to watch the last four centuries that had progressed during the day. A lot had happened; way more than he could take in. There were 12 billion people now in his little world, spinning through the cosmos that was the class’s shared universe. Some of his classmates wanted to help their people explore and find each other’s planets, except that Dr. Bevin forbade any interference.

Until now.

It took Ben five minutes of coding to set it up. He hated to do it. It would wreck everything, but in the end, this little world was just a Petri dish, a place to play around with issues in the safety of a computer. He sighed and hit Enter.

*        *        *

On the planet of Geral, a man named Hyerai was walking home from work when he looked up at the moon. Slowly, lines of fire appeared on its surface, forming into words. He gaped. They said, “HI, I’M BEN. ANY SUGGESTIONS?”


Out There – Friday Fictioneers

Happy very belated Thanksgiving to everyone! I was traveling for most of last week, visiting relatives in LOLIA (the Land Of Limited Internet Access). However, I did have a lot of driving to do: around 24 hours in a car with no radio or CD player. I made up one great story for this picture, but then needed more than 100 words to tell it properly. So I made up another one, but the same thing happened. So I made up a third, which is below. I’ll write the other ones down soon and post them as well.

This story is so late for the Fictioneers that the next week’s picture is due out in a few hours. But I wanted to do it, so as not to miss any.

copyright Randy Mazie

copyright Randy Mazie

Out There

“I just lose myself in the library!” my brother exclaimed once.

“You mean in the stories?” I asked.

“No, beyond them. In the worlds beyond paper and ink and words. Out there.”

I hugged him and thought: quirky.

*

Until the paranoia set in. He stopped going to the library unarmed and then stopped altogether. He changed his route to school to avoid it. Finally, he broke in and washed the shelves in gasoline. You could see the blaze for miles. The town was about to crucify him.

*

Until they found the partially-burned thing in the ashes of the horror section.


Standing Between Realities – Friday Fictioneers

Copyright Jennifer Pendergast

Copyright Jennifer Pendergast

 

Standing on the Edge of Realities

“I’m such an idiot! I walked through that arch, back to this world, and I find her sleeping with my co-worker. I came back—gave up paradise—all for her! Stupid! I can’t go back now—the magic’s all gone—and I’m stuck forever in this tepid modern world. I just want to belong somewhere: I’m only an outsider now.”

The cop was having a heck of a first day on the job. “That’s terrible, sir. Really. If you’ll just step back from the edge of the bridge, I’ll buy you a coffee and you can tell me more about it.”


Xerxes’ War (Part 1)

After the disastrous dinner with the Hendersons, Xerxes didn’t see them anymore. Even Obsequious Otter didn’t come by anymore, although Xerxes’ Prescient Pigeon said it saw the otter around sometimes. Penelope, Xerxes’ ex-girlfriend and current laundry room wall, didn’t mention if his trip to the Hendersons’ had affected her relationship with their dining room wall Bumble and he didn’t ask. He just wanted to be left alone.

One morning, Xerxes was eating cereal over the kitchen sink and staring blearily out into the eternal, empty grey, when a huge parrot landed on his windowsill.

“Awwk! Can I borrow a cup of sugar?” it asked.

“I don’t have any sugar,” Xerxes said automatically, wondering if he could kill a parrot with one punch.

“Liar! Liar!” the parrot shrieked. “You have at least four cups left.”

“But I’m going to make a cake today and I need it all.”

“Liar! Liar!” the bird yelled again. “You’ve never made a cake in your life.”

“Let me guess, you’re Polygraph Parrot,” Xerxes said. He had dealt with novelty pets enough to know how things worked.

“My owners call me Polygraph Polly,” it said. Xerxes ended up giving it some sugar, just to make it go away.

It wasn’t just Polly either. Over the next few weeks, other animals appeared at the house, sometimes just to say hello and sometimes to ask for things. There was Gregarious Goat, who always wanted to talk for hours; Haranguing Hamster, who squeaked up at him about the lack of hamster representation in politics; and then there was Malicious Marmoset. Xerxes found the marmoset chasing his ShyPhone 4 around his bedroom. It hissed at him, then stole the book he was reading off his table, tore the cover, and threw it in the toilet.

That night, Xerxes pulled out the house manual and figured out how to lock the doors and windows, something he’d never done before. After an hour, he got them all locked, ending with the kitchen window, which was how Prescient Pigeon usually came and went.

“You don’t have a ceiling,” Mr. Pettyevil, Xerxes’ kitchen wall, whispered.

“What?”

“You don’t have a ceiling,” Mr. Pettyevil repeated, and smirked as only a wall can. Xerxes looked up. Dang, he was right. He had forgotten there was no ceiling. It had cost extra and Xerxes had just assumed he wouldn’t need one in an empty dimension where his house was the only thing in the whole universe. Plus, he liked the idea of his walls appearing to go up and up into infinity.

The next day, Prescient Pigeon arrived with a gun, just as Xerxes decided that one might be necessary. He wasn’t sure what kind he wanted, so he was curious what kind the pigeon had brought.

“It shoots gummy worms,” Prescient Pigeon said proudly.

“What?”

“That’s not all,” the pigeon said quickly. “There’s a selector knob here. Let’s see . . . It also shoots gummy bears, gummy spiders, gummy amoeba, and gummy Ten Commandments. See?” The pigeon aimed the gun at the wall and fired with his foot. There was a bang and Mr. Pettyevil shouted in irritation. Xerxes picked up a tiny, gummy copy of the Ten Commandments. It was perfectly readable, or would have been if Xerxes could speak ancient Hebrew.

“Nice,” he said. “I wish I had a porch, so I could sit out there with this and shout, ‘Get off my lawn!’”

“You’d need a lawn too,” Prescient Pigeon said, “but I’m not carrying that here for you.”

That night, Xerxes woke up in darkness to hear something crawling down his wall. It must be that Malicious Marmoset! he thought. Slowly, he reached over and picked up his gummy gun. He flicked on the lights and there was the marmoset, dumping melted lemon sherbet into his sock drawer. Xerxes fired a burst of gummy amoebas at it and it dropped the bucket and darted to the far wall. Xerxes flicked the selector switch and strafed the fleeing marmoset with gummy worms. It screeched as it was hit and finally fled back up into darkness.

Minimalism

The next day, Xerxes coaxed his ShyPhone 4 out from under the bed and called Conrad, his real estate agent.

“Conrad, this is insane. When I moved here, you promised me total isolation. Now I’ve got marmosets dumping lemon sherbet into my sock drawer in the middle of the night.”

“Just wash them. The washing machine still works, right?” Conrad said.

“Well, it turns out the Cereal Python really loves sherbet,” Xerxes said. “He ate it all. Unfortunately, he ate all my socks too.” At that moment, Prescient Pigeon arrived, gasping and clutching a 12-pack of socks. Xerxes took them with a nod.

There was a knock at the door. “And now there’s a knock at my door!” Xerxes shouted over the phone. “In a dimension where I’m the only person, I should not have people knocking on my door.” He hung up and flung the door open.

There was no one there. Instead, there was a note taped to the door. It said:

How dare you attack our cutsey-wootsey marmoset! You, sir, are no gentleman. This means WAR!

For some reason, this cheered Xerxes up. No one had to be polite or make small talk during a war.

house

(to be continued)


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)

 


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