Friday, November 29, 2013

Mortimer's Undead Life

The visual prompt:
Our main characters are:
A Cerberus ~ It fetches lost souls and makes them play dead.
A Zombie ~ He's just looking for a little piece of mind.
The special object in this story is:
A Pumpkin Chariot ~ This wicked ride runs on midnight oil.
Our story takes place in:
High School ~ The enemies you make here will last you the rest of your life.
Mortimer Gorey pulled up to the graveyard in his orange car just as the clock on the dashboard hit midnight. He put it in park, got out, slammed the door, and with a loud POOF! of purple smoke, the whole vehicle became a pumpkin in the blink of an eye. He'd have to remember to return the Pumpkin Chariot to the car rental place tomorrow.
The slam of the car door and the purple smoke it sent up woke up Mortimer's three headed dog, Cerberus, or Cerby as Mortimer liked to call him. He was a mixed breed, two thirds Doberman and one third Corgi. All of Cerby's heads shot up at once at the sounds, his two Doberman heads with their ears perked and sniffing the air, his Corgi head panting happily and causing their collective tail to wag enthusiastically at the sight of his master. He bounded up to Mortimer and barked in greeting, welcoming him home.
With a green, decomposing hand, Mortimer patted Cerby on each of his heads absentmindedly, limping and dragging his tired body over to his grave bed. When he arrived in front of his humble little hole in the ground, the zombie groaned from exhaustion and collapsed right into it, falling headfirst and landing in what would be a very uncomfortable position for a human, but one that he didn't particularly mind.
Being a chaperon at the Plebeian High School Prom had been a much more demanding job than the substitute science teacher had expected it to be. Good thing he had the excuse of having to be home before midnight, before it turned into a pumpkin. He figured the students would be alright with Mr. Stein, the football coach, to watch them. Just as long as the band didn't play any popular ballads and they didn't start waving lighters around.
Senior Prom. It sure brought back memories. As he drifted off to sleep, snoring and drooling a little out of his dislocated jaw, Mortimer thought about what it had been like, back when he was their age.

"Mmm, braaaaains," Mortimer groaned as he enjoyed his Raisin Brains cereal, which was what he ate every day for breakfast. His puppy Cerby munched away at the 3 big bowls of dog food close by. He was sure a growing dog."Morty, sweety, you'd better hurry up or you'll be late for the bus," said his Mummy in a raspy, muffled voice from under all the bandages on her face.
"'Kayyyyy," he said, and he slowly got up from the table, bent down to pick up his backpack full of books, and staggered to the door.
"Wait! Don't forget your lunch. I made wraps," she said, handing him a brown paper bag.
He grunted, taking the bag from her and saying "Thaaaaanks."
"Do you need dad to drive you to school? He can drop you off on his way to work."
Teenaged Mortimer made an unintelligible sound as he walked out, waving his arm behind him to signal that she didn't have to bother herself doing that. So she stuck around and watched the last few minutes of her soap opera, hoping that Cleopatra would end up with Mark Antony and not that awful Caesar.
Meanwhile, Morty was doing his best to catch up with the school bus that was waiting at the corner. He hobbled along as fast as he could, but it was still much too slow.
The old werewolf bus driver didn't see anyone else coming on the bus, so he shut the doors and started driving to the next corner. He heard a strange sounding BUMP! outside, and some of his passengers shouted in surprise at the sudden bump in the road, but the old guy just scratched his hairy, pointy ears. He was sure it was nothing.
Poor Mortimer lay flat in the middle of the road, black tire track stains all over his clean white shirt and red tie, his leg broken with one of the bones sticking out of his jeans. He groaned in discomfort and carefully pulled himself off of the street to stand up again, snapping his leg back to normal with a sickening crack. All better.
He looked up and saw how far away the bus and reached his hands out to it. "Waaaaait!" the zombie called out, but the wolf man driver couldn't hear him.
It looked like it was another long walk to school. The principle would probably kill him for being tardy once again. Well, he would if Mortimer wasn't already dead, that is.

By the time he finally made it all the way to school, it was lunch time. So he slipped into the building and tried to blend in with the other students standing in line and ordering food, even if his mummy had already made him lunch. When he got to the end of the line, all he had to do was say "Braaaaains," and the lunch lady knew to give him spaghetti and meatballs. He moaned in thanks, and went to look for a table to sit at.
"Hey, Morty, over here!" Mortimer turned and saw one of his best friends, a giant jock named Frank, waving him over and inviting him to sit with him. He was eating a monster sub.
Staggering over and doing his best not to drop his lunch, Mortimer was eventually able to set his blue plastic tray down and hold up his hand for a fist bump. "Fraaaaank," he said.
"How's it going, pal?" said Frank, pounding it. "Where were you this morning?"
The zombie shrugged, picking up a messy handful of spaghetti with one hand and gesturing to his dirty shirt with the other.
His friend nodded in understanding. "I gotcha. Just having one of those days, huh?"
Mortimer grunted in the affirmative and stuffed the pasta he was holding into his mouth, staining his shirt even worse with chunky, blood red tomato sauce.
"You better watch your back, Morty," warned Frank, "I hear Mr. Wells isn't too happy with all your tardy days. If you're not careful, he might even suspend you from school!"
"Mr. Stein, Mr. Gorey," said a loud, disembodied voice.
The two friends jumped in their seats. Morty accidentally flung the spaghetti he'd just picked up in the air in his surprise, and it fell right on top of the head of the Invisible Principle, Mr. Wells. Unbeknownst to them, he had been standing right next to Frank the entire time.
"Would you two please see me in my office?" asked Mr. Wells, doing his best to remain calm as the sauce dripped down his face and showed the outline of his head.
Morty sank in his seat guiltily. He knew he was in big trouble now.

"This is most dreadfully unacceptable, Mr. Gorey. Plebeian High School's tardy policy clearly states that students may be tardy only a minimum of once every two weeks. But you, my friend, have been tardy ten times in the last two weeks alone. Ten days, Mortimer!"
The zombie winced as the principle shouted at him. It was so embarrassing, especially with Frank sitting right next to him and watching him helplessly.
The floating pair of eyeglasses paced around the room and stopped right in front of Mortimer's face. "I ought to suspend you right now for all the days you've been late. You're not giving this school any good credit at all either. Are you aware that you are failing all your classes, Mr. Gorey?"
"Aaaaas!" Mortimer protested.
"Yes, Mortimer, you're a surprisingly very smart student, and maybe you've been getting straight A's on your tests, but you don't attend enough classes. I'm sorry, but this is something I simply can not tolerate." Mr. Wells' glasses floated over to his desk, where he put them down and made the sound of his hands settling on top of his papers. "I'm afraid you leave me with no choice, but..."
Mortimer gave a rattling sigh and put his head in his hands in despair. He was going to be suspended, he knew it. How was he going to say to his parents?
"... To make you a proposition."
Removing his hands from his face, Mortimer looked up. Had he heard the principle right, or were his ears all stuffed up with dry congealed blood and pus again?
Mr. Wells' desk drawer opened and a cigarette and a little purple lighter floated out of it. The zombie watched Frank turn a pale green as the principal clicked on the lighter and made a tiny flame appear. As soon as he saw the fire, Frank screamed like a ghost and fell out of his chair, huddling in a corner.
As if he hadn't noticed the outburst, Mr. Wells lit up the cigarette and took a long puff. "As you know, Mr. Gorey, we have the big football game next week against the Angry Mob. As we discovered last year, the Mob fights dirty, and chances are pretty good that the visiting cheerleaders and spectators will bring their torches and pitchforks to the stadium. Your good friend Mr. Stein is unfortunately a big liability to the team, because while he is a fine athlete, he has a fear of fire."
Frank trembled next to the potted plant for a while before realizing that the fire from the lighter was gone, and he hesitantly returned back to his seat.
"Therefore, if you would like to help your friend and support your school, I propose that you replace Mr. Stein as part of the Plebeian Headless Knights. You join the football team, and I will look the other way regarding your tardiness and your grades."
Mortimer gulped. He knew that if he joined the team, he'd get even more beat up than usual. If not by the other jocks on his team, then most certainly by the Angry Mob players. But he couldn't let his friend embarrass the team on game day and freak out as soon as he saw a little fire, and he didn't want his parents to know about him failing classes.
"Do we have a deal?"
Mortimer sighed in defeat. "'Kaaaaay."

With a snort and a grunt, Mortimer suddenly woke up. It was morning, and Cerby was howling and whimpering at the same time, begging to be fed.
Goodness, what an awful dream that had been. The zombie untangled his arms and legs and sat up in his grave bed, giving a growly, raspy yawn. He climbed out of the hole and slowly trudged through the yard, finding the bag of dog food in a big closet with all the rakes and shovels. He poured the kibble into the three bowls and Cerberus' attacked his food hungrily with all his heads.
Mortimer went back to the closet and grabbed a box of cereal for his breakfast. He poured the flakes into his own bowl and sat cross-legged on the ground. Thank goodness he didn't have to go to work today. He could just take it nice and easy this morning.
"Braaaaains," he said, feeling perfectly content.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


The visual prompt:
Our main characters are:
The Frog Prince~ This heroic frog became royalty after being kissed by a princess with low self-esteem.
The Spider Queen ~ This giant spider became intelligent after she was bitten by a radioactive duchess.
The special object in this story is:
The Philosopher's Stone ~ Centuries of alchemical research led to this shiny rock that can transform stuff into other stuff.
Our story takes place in:
The Frozen Keep ~ This frozen fortress protects a place that nobody wants to go anyway.
"Dad, can you tell me a story?"
"Sure I can, son. What would you like me to tell you a story about?"
"Hmm. I don't know, a cool story."
"Ah, I see. Well, I think i can tell you a pretty cool fairy tale. Have I ever told you the one about The Frog Prince?"
"No. What happens in that story?"
"A wicked witch turns a handsome prince into a frog, and only true love's kiss will break the spell."
"Ew, he has to kiss a princess? That's no fun."
"Oh. Well, how would you make the story more fun? How is he supposed to turn back into a human prince again?"
"You should make him go on a big adventure, and fight a bad guy!"
"Hmm, I suppose I can do that... Okay son, I know how to tell make this story cooler."

The Frog formerly known as The Prince trudged through the harsh blizzard winds, snow pelting him and swirling around him non-stop. Just another step, he kept telling himself. Just one more, you can do it. Just keep putting one webbed foot in front of the other.

"But Dad, what's the Frog Prince doing in the snow? I learned in school that frogs are supposed to hibernate when they get cold."
"Oh, I'm sorry. I wasn't aware of that. I was just trying to make the story cooler, like I promised you."
"Haha, I get it, Dad."

Oh, but he was so very cold, even all bundled up in furs as he was. He was also very exhausted. All his animal instincts were telling him to just bury himself in the snow and sleep until spring. But he couldn't do that. The still human part of his brain told him that he had to keep going.
The Frog formerly known as the Prince...

"You shouldn't have to keep calling him that. The name is too long!"
"Fine. What would you call him, son?"
"Uhhh... Froggy?"
"Hehe, sounds good enough to me. As I was saying..."

Froggy had tried everything to become The Prince again after that old witch had turned him into an amphibian. He'd taken medicines from doctors, potions from the best wizards, and even tried getting all the princesses in the land to kiss him, but nothing seemed to work.
He started traveling the world, hunting for the cure to his frogginess. One day in a bar, he overheard rumors saying that up in the Icy Mountains there was a frozen fortress that guarded the Philosopher's Stone, which had the power to transform anything into anything else you wanted. It could turn lead into gold. It could return the aged to their youth.
Froggy believed that it could turn him back into a human.
People warned him that it was a dangerous and foolish mission. Every brave soul who tried going to the Frost Keep never returned. But that little frog didn't care. He would heroically retrieve the Philosopher's Stone, return to his princely human form, and take up his rightful place on his father's throne. Plus after he got the Stone, he'd easily have all the riches he desired.

"But Dad, I thought the Philosopher's stone was hidden in the Mirror of Erised."
"Do you want to hear this story, or are you going to keep interrupting me?"
"Sorry... But one more thing. Froggy shouldn't be a greedy prince. Then people won't like him. He should use the Stone to help other people."
"That's smart thinking, son. May I continue?"
"Yes please."

It was much easier said than done to reach that fortress in the mountains though, as the Frog quickly found out. It took all the energy in his little green body just to keep moving and not stop until he reached his destination.
Finally he found an icy path as smooth as glass, which he knew would lead him to the Keep. Feeling some of his strength returning with this encouragement, he tried going on the path, but it was very difficult as it was slippery and smooth as glass. He made the most of it, but as the frog went farther along the path began to incline, and he couldn't walk or hop very far without sliding back down.
Well, it's a good thing he had his trusty sword and shield with him. He used his weapons like pickaxes, sticking them in the ice one at a time and pulling them out again to advance, so he didn't slip anymore.

"Where'd he get the sword and shield, Dad?"
"Behind his back, of course. The same place Bugs Bunny gets all his carrots."
"Oh. I guess that makes sense."

It was incredibly exhausting work. Froggy was constantly pulling the sword out of the ice and sticking it in farther ahead, tugging the sharp point of the shield out and shoving it back in again (the shield was always tougher to use than the sword.) Still, he climbed and climbed that mountain with his makeshift pickaxes, and the icy road got steeper and steeper, until finally the cold, weakening little green frog turned his little crowned head up, and there it was.
The Frost Keep.
He saw the great white fortress sitting at the top of a craggy mountain, built like a giant igloo and all surrounded by sharp and threatening icicle spears. That little frog wasn't afraid of anything though, and he didn't stop, even though he was so tired from all his climbing.
He was so excited that he didn't look up to notice that the icy path had a large gap in it up ahead. Instead of going all the way up to the Frost Keep, the path simply lead to the edge of a cliff.
With a strong tug, Froggy pulled out his sword and meant to stab it once again into the ice and pull himself forward, but all he stabbed at was the air in front of him. He slipped off the cliff and accidentally left his yellow shield behind, tumbling helplessly down.

"No! You can't let Froggy die! He's the hero! You're not supposed to kill of the main character in a fairy tale!"
"It's alright, son, relax. Froggy isn't going to croak in this story."
"But I thought 'croak' is what frogs say."
"No, no, I meant 'croak' as another word for die."
"Ohhh... So Froggy's really alright?"
"That's right, son."
"Alright. So what happened next?"

Well, Froggy fell down, down, down, screaming and croaking in his panic. But he didn't end up dying, because all of a sudden, something stopped his deadly plummet right before he hit the sharp rocks at the very bottom.
He landed right on his back in a giant, white lacy net, which was spread out below him like a large trampoline. He landed right on the net and it wobbled up and down for a while before finally settling.
Froggy croaked a big sigh of relief, thankful that he was still alive. Until he tried getting off of his back and realized that his sucker-fingered hands and his webbed feet were stuck in place. No matter how much he moved and tried to pull himself out, his arms and legs wouldn't budge. That's when it hit Froggy. He wasn't caught in a net. He was caught in the web of a giant spider.
He heard a gleeful clicking noise behind him, and he was able to turn his head enough to see something that made his big, round Froggy eyes widen with fear.
He hadn't landed in the web of just any giant spider. Oh no, this was the web of the Spider Queen herself.
She was the biggest, blackest, scariest spider you could possibly imagine, but she was also very elegant and regal. She had golden jewel-encrusted bracelets on each of her eight legs and wore a crown on her head just like the Frog formerly known as The Prince did.
She had just been taking a long royal nap, because all queens need and deserve lots of beauty rest, when Froggy came and shook the whole place up, waking her up from her slumber. When she saw that she had a guest in her web, the Spider Queen became delighted
"Well, well, well. What do we have here?" she asked Froggy

"Does the Spider Queen have a real name?"
"The Frog Prince's name is Froggy. What's her name?"
"I don't know. What do you think I should call her?"
"How about... Ariana."
"Ah, that's a lovely name, fit for a Spider Queen. It sounds so close to Aranea, which is latin for spider, you know."
"Yeah, and it's like the name of the girl who was mean to me today in class."
"Oh really? What did this Ariana do that was so mean?"
"I'll tell you later. Finish the story!"

"Well, well, well. What do we have here?" Ariana asked Froggy.
Froggy tried to play it cool, and he replied, "Oh, hello there! I sure hope I didn't bother you. Just thought I'd drop in. Clearly I've made a mistake. I'll be right on my way if you don't mind."
"Oh no, please, do stay for a while, won't you? It's been ages since I've had any visitors." Ariana walked all around the frog, watching him struggle helplessly in an attempt to escape her web. "Hardly anyone ever sticks around very long."
He noticed all the bones and skulls of men who had tried and failed to get to the Philosopher's Stone and got caught in the same trap he was in. Froggy gulped. "I can only imagine why."
The queen finally stood over him and clapped her satin gloved front pincers happily. "Oh yes, I think I would very much enjoy having you for dinner."
"Oh, come now, your Spider Highness, we've only just met. Well, then again, I suppose we do have a lot in common. You like to eat bugs, I like to eat bugs. You're royalty, I'm royalty."
"Don't be a fool, little Froggy. When I say I want you for dinner, I mean I want to eat you! Mwah ha ha ha ha ha!"

"No! Queen Ariana can't eat Prince Froggy!"
"Well son, how do you suggest he get out of this little mess?"
"He still has his sword, remember?"

Right you are. Just when he had the queen distracted, Froggy remembered his sword and twisted his hand in such a way that he was quickly able to cut his way through the web and get himself all untangled and unstuck.
The prince struck a heroic pose and pointed his sword at the giant black spider. "Sorry Ariana, I'd love to stay and chat, but like I said before, I must be on my way. Maybe we'll have dinner together some other time." With that, he used his powerful green legs to bounce from sharp rock to sharp rock, back upwards towards the Frost Keep at the top of the mountain to complete his quest.
"Noooo!" Ariana cried. The Spider Queen was furious. No one had ever escaped from her before, and she wasn't about to let a little frog get away with it now. She chased him up the side of the mountain as fast as her huge spider legs could carry her.
She caught up to Froggy just as he had entered the Frozen Fortress and found the shiny, scarlet Philosopher's Stone sitting on a pedestal in the middle of the room. He picked it up and Ariana ran at him, gnashing her pincers wildly in a rage.
Just in time, Froggy threw the Stone right at the Ariana and...
The next thing you know, the mighty and proud Spider Queen was nothing more than a little buzzing house fly wearing a teeny tiny crown on her head. The transformed Ariana tried to fly away, but something long, sticky and pink shot out and grabbed her.
Instead of eating our hero Froggy as she expected, Froggy ate her.

"Yay! Froggy beat the bad guy!"
"That's right, son. Then The Frog formerly known as The Prince used the Philosopher's Stone to become just The Prince again, and he lived happily ever after. The end."
"But wait. How did he get down from the mountain? And how did he get home?"
"Oh, I don't know. How about you say how Froggy's story ends?"
"Hmm... Well, he turns the big icy path that led to the fortress into a giant slide with edges on the side, like the one I like at the playground. Then Froggy just slides all the way down, and when he gets to the bottom, he turns a horse and carriage into a pilot and an airplane, and he flies first class all the way back to his kingdom. Now it's the end."
"Very nice. Good job, son."
"Thanks Dad. That was a really cool story."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Magic of Libraries, part 3

I'm sorry, it seems I was again wrong in my estimating that this story would take 3 parts to tell. Anyway, it feels to me like I'm cheating, but I don't think I'm that motivated to finish this particular short story. So I won't. You can skip reading this post if you want, to save yourself from the dullness. Just keep in mind that I plan on editing most all the stories on this blog so that they're even better.
Perdu soon found that it was futile to keep on his feet in the giant's hand as she stomped her way across the forest, because he kept getting knocked down. So he gave up standing altogether and simply sat cross-legged, which was a much easier position to hold, though he still got shaken about.
He kept his hornbeam wand pointed to his mouth, continuing the spell that allowed him to speak as loud as the Great and Just Gigi could hear, and he told her of the imminent attack on the Great Library and why it was so important that they protect it.
"Many years ago, long before my time, the Great Library was started by the first wizard, Senex the Old. He wrote many books, but not just ordinary books, because every one contained the story of another world. He had constant, vivid visions of places that don't exist in this world, filled with strange inhabitants, usually in the form of man, though some places were populated by other classes of creatures. Every world's laws and customs and histories is contained in their own book, which constantly updates itself magically with more pages as the story of that world develops. Senex built the Great Library to contain all these books, and he cared for and protected them from any harm. He feared that if anything were to happen to the books, the worlds contained in them would be destroyed.
"Senex kept this library secret from the general population, only revealing it to his most trusted of wizard apprentices. They read the books he kept and, while they all believed him to be a most wonderful wizard, they were never sure what to make of the books, because they didn't know how the stories inside them could be true, that the worlds within them really existed. When he finally died, however, the wizards that succeeded him began having incredibly detailed visions of the worlds Senex had seen, in addition to some new ones. They decided these worlds must be as real as our own, and they started keeping even more books.
"For a long time, many wizards discovered more and more new worlds in this way, dozens of wizards working at the same time, and the Great Library kept growing and filling up with books. Eventually the wizards began having fewer visions of new worlds until they stopped altogether. An army of wizards was no longer needed to keep the library growing, so they only came to read of these magnificent other worlds whose stories were never ending
"Fewer and fewer wizards visited the library as the years passed, but there was always at least the Keeper of the Great Library, a wizard entrusted with the safety of these important books. It's their job to make sure that the books aren't stolen or fall into the wrong hands, as well as to make sure they are always handled with care when being read from.
"Now about a century ago, a rash and young wizard named Malum visited the Great Library and requested permission to read and learn about the different worlds. He was granted permission, but he had to be overseen by the Keeper at the time, Duros the Stern, for Malum showed no respect for books, handling them roughly and tossing them about. Duros kept the books from being harmed as best he could, and it soon became clear to him that Malum didn't want to pick out just any book and sit peacefully in a corner to read it. He was searching for a very particular book...
"Malum came back again the next day, and again, always under the stern eye of Duros, searching and searching for something. Finally the young wizard asked the Keeper why, in the whole of the Great Library, did there appear to be no book that contained our world, and our history? Duros didn't have an answer for him, and Malum concluded that if our world wasn't represented, then the whole library must be built on a lie. He didn't believe that other worlds could exist beyond our own, and wanted the Great Library destroyed. Duros wouldn't let that happen, and there was a great wizard's duel between the two, which Malum lost. Duros put a spell on him that prevented the young wizard from ever setting foot in the Great Library again, but Malum swore that even if it wasn't by his hand, the library would eventually fall.
"From then on, Duros let hardly anyone into the library, save for his apprentice, Verus the True, a good wizard he was confident would keep the library safe from harm. After Verus, that responsibility fell to Trux the Wild, my predecessor. Trux wasn't that interested in studying old books or very fond of keeping indoors, but Verus had little other choice in naming a Keeper to follow him. To keep himself from getting cabin fever, Trux made friends with the birds and forest animals and had them keep watch over the library for him whenever he went away on his frequent excursions.
"This is where I, Perdu, come into the story. I was a young and struggling wizard, not particularly skilled in magic and with no great title to my name, but Trux found me and took me under his wing and made me his apprentice. He helped me understand magic better and I swore to help him protect the Great Library. It's not been a particularly exciting or rewarding job, but I took it more seriously than Trux did, which he appreciated. Not long ago Trux disappeared, and he hasn't come back to the Great Library, which leaves me to assume that I am the sole Keeper of the library.
"Now this morning I got word from one of Trux's animal friends that a large group of men were approaching the library, calling themselves the army of Malum. I'm unfortunately still not the most talented wizard. I can hardly do any spell without having the Grimoire in front of me to read from. But for a long time I've been piecing together a spell of my own, putting together words from the ancient language that would bring me the help I need to defeat Malum's army, or at least keep them at bay.
"That, Great and Just Gigi, is how you came to be in this world, and now... Gigi? Gigi!"

Gigi couldn't help it. The wizard's story was so dull and boring that it just about put her to sleep. He didn't seem to have noticed, but she'd reached the Great Library ages ago, about halfway through Perdu's monologue, and had been sitting down next to the little model-sized building that just came up to her ankle. It didn't seem that great to her, but she supposed at the wizard's size it must be quite impressive.
It was like she was stuck back in class listening to a history lecture. Gigi held on for as long as she could, but all of a sudden her eyes just shut and her whole body fell backwards in a dead faint.

Perdu realized that her hand had gone all lax, that she'd suddenly fallen asleep. Quickly he took his wand away from his throat and waved it around himself, teleporting down to the ground safely near the Great Library (oh, they had arrived already?) just as her head hit the ground and caused the earth to tremble beneath him.
When the vibrations in the ground had finally stopped, Perdu teleported so that he was on the tip of the giant's nose. "Gigi?! Great and Just Gigi, are you alright?!" he asked, using his magically loud voice.
She didn't respond.
Disappointed and frustrated, the wizard looked all around to see if there was any large army approaching in the distance, like Trux the Wild's little bird had told him.
At first he didn't see anything, and he breathed a sigh of relief. But then, he saw something suddenly shoot up into the air and fall in a wide arc, flying straight towards the library and the giant.
It was an arrow tipped with fire.

Probably not to be continued...

But just so you know the rest of the story I had in my head, I'll spoil it for you. Malum's army shoots fire arrows at the Great Library, trying to burn it down, but Perdu manages to wake Gigi in time to scare them all off.
I'm not very clear on how she manages to get back home to her world, if I'm being honest, but I was aiming for this to be like an origin story for the Plot Holes, kind of explaining how that came to be...
If anyone wants to comment and give me ideas on how you think that would happen, I'd appreciate it. Or you can just tell me what kind of story you would have told using a giant, a wizard, a flame-bow and a library.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Magic of Libraries, part 2

So it took me a little while to get a handle in what this story was really about, but I think I have a good idea where I'm going now. This one might be a 3-parter.
Perdu the wizard gazed up in horror as a colossal sized woman, perhaps as tall as a castle, stepped through the giant portal he'd created with his magic. As soon as she was entirely through the portal, it disappeared behind her and winked out of existence. So now she was stuck in this world with no way of returning where she came from.
She was unusually dressed for a woman, at least in his world. Her yellow shirt was tight-fitting and revealed the skin of her arms and navel (how indecent!) and she wore pants of a strange blue material. Her hair was short and messy, her eyes brown and bleary, like she'd only woken up a few minutes ago. Most important of all, she was incredibly huge compared to him. So huge that he barely came up to half the size of her little toe. She could easily squash him just like a bug if she felt like it!
The wizard eventually decided that even though she looked very strange, she HAD answered his plea to the fates for assistance. Beggars couldn't be choosers.
Old Perdu cleared his throat. "Ahem, excuse me, fair giant lady?" he asked her, speaking as loud as he possibly could.
But the giant didn't hear him. She was too busy looking all around the forest in wide-eyed amazement and stomping about everywhere, causing a terrible earthquake that made his bones rattle.
Oh dear. How was he supposed to get her attention?

Gigi could barely believe it. She had walked straight through the weird portal thing, and was now in another large field in clear, sunny daylight, the ground feeling prickly beneath her bare feet.
Hold on a minute, why was she barefoot all of a sudden? She distinctly remembered wearing flip-flops before... Oh right, the tornado. Her shoes must have flown right off her feet, and she hadn't even noticed it until she'd started walking on this sharp grass.
But wait. When she looked closely at the ground, it didn't look like grass at all. It seemed as if she were walking on top of tiny model pine trees.
Gigi crouched down and plucked one of the minuscule trees under her foot that she had just squashed to the ground. She examined it carefully, frowning. It wasn't just a model tree. It felt like a real plant, and smelled fresh and alive like one too. How could this be?
"Hello?! Hello now, can you hear me?!"
Gigi dropped the tree in her surprise, looking about wildly for the source of the sudden voice.
"Ah, very good, very good, yes! Now we are getting somewhere, now that I'm speaking loud enough for you!"
"Uh, I'm sorry, but..." Gigi started to ask who was speaking, but the voice interrupted her.
"No, no! Too loud! You speak much too loud, giant!"
Oh, so whoever was talking to her was very small? What was this, Horton Hears a Who? "Sorry," she whispered compliantly. "Who are you? And more importantly, *where* are you?"
"That's much better, m'lady! Er, if you would please take a few steps forward towards my voice?! And do take care to watch where you step, else you'll destroy the Fantazian Forest!"
For some reason, whomever was speaking to Gigi sounded pretty familiar. It almost sounded like the voice she'd heard just before that white portal had appeared, only this voice wasn't nearly as impressive.
She stood straight up and did as the voice asked her to, walking forward slowly and carefully. She tried her best to step in such a way that she didn't crush too many trees, though there was always one or two that just got unlucky.
"Alright, that's far enough! Halt!" the voice shouted just as she was about to put one of her feet down. "Don't come any closer! You'll flatten me!"
Gigi froze and kept good balance on her left leg as her right foot hovered over the ground. After a moment, she cautiously brought her foot backward and stood with her legs together, awaiting more instructions.
"Very good! Now I'm right down here, if you'll just bring your eyes down to my level and know me properly!"
Slowly Gigi backed up and went into a crouch, coming down on her hands and knees to peer into the miniature forest for the voice's owner. For a while she couldn't find anyone. It was like hunting for an ant in a green shag rug.
"Alright, now I'm right over here! No, no, look this way! Getting warmer... Come now, you just missed me!"
She searched and searched for the source of the voice, until finally her eyes caught sight of a tiny little man dressed entirely in blue robes. In fact, even his skin and hair had a slight blue tinge to it as well. Was he a Smurf? No, he was much too small, and he didn't have the white pants or funny hat for it.
"Yes! Very good! Greetings, and well done, Great Giant!"
It was difficult to see very well, but Gigi saw that the man was touching a little stick to his throat, which perhaps was what made him sound louder than he ever possibly could have been without it.
"My name isn't..." She saw the tiny blue man quickly cover his ears, and remembered to speak softer than normal. "My name isn't giant. It's just Gigi."
"Ah, forgive me, oh Great and Just Gigi the Giant!" said the wizard, making a low, polite bow to her. "Welcome, and thank you so much for coming to my aid! I am the wizard known as Perdu!"
Gigi blinked in surprise. So he was a little wizard? Like the one in Oz? No, that stick thing he was holding must be his wand. So he was a real, legitimate wizard, like in Harry Potter! How interesting... And how weird that she was so much bigger than him. She was sure the giants in the books couldn't have been this big... could they?
"You're a wizard? So... You're the one who brought me here?" whispered Gigi as quietly as possible.
The tiny blue Perdu nodded.
"But how come this world is so small? Uh... I mean, how come I'm so big?"
The wizard shook his head and lifted one of his arms in a confused shrug, keeping the other hand pointing the wand to his throat. "I'm not sure of the answer myself! I did not exactly expect someone of your size!"
"Huh." Gigi frowned. "Well, do you think you can maybe wave your wand and make me small, like you?"
"Ahh, I'm afraid I don't know any spell for that! I could try making a shrinking potion, but it would take too long to get the necessary ingredients together, and for a creature of your stature you'd need to drink an entire lake of potion before you became a proper size, and unfortunately we don't have very much time for that!"
Gigi rolled her eyes. "Alright, I get it. So what's the problem? Why am I even here?"
"Like I said, very little time! If you would, Great and Just Gigi, lower your hand so I may walk onto your palm, and you can take me back to The Great Library?!"
The library? But that's just where Gigi had come from. "Uh, sure, I guess. Hop on." If going to the library meant she could go back to where she came from and everything could go back to normal, she'd do as he asked. She lowered her hand carefully and slowly in between the trees to rest on the ground at the wizard Perdu's feet.
It turned out, however, that her fingers were too steep for him to climb up, so he stepped onto one of her nails (which were thankfully long) and she carefully lifted him up, putting her other hand beneath him so he could step down onto her wide open palm. He must have been only a millimeter or two. Carefully she stood up with him in her hand and was able to straighten up to her full height.
"Thank you, m'lady! Now go forth that way!" The wizard pointed out the direction she had to go in. "I shall explain everything as well as I can as we go! And please, take care of the forest as you go!"
"Well, I'll try," whispered Gigi, and she carefully started marching in the direction he'd gestured, hoping that everything would soon become clear.

To be continued...

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Magic of Libraries

The visual prompt:
Our main characters are:
A Giant ~ She thinks she's a normal-sized girl living in a tiny world. She is wrong.
A Wizard ~ He can cast every trick in the book as long as there's time for a spell check.
The special object in this story is:
A Flame Bow ~ For hot shots who want to fire fire.
Our story takes place in:
The Library ~ Shhh! The books are sleeping and waking them up would be a literal nightmare.
A library can be a very magical place. Anyone who is fond of reading knows this to be true. Large or small, scholarly or literary, thoroughly organized or eclectically random, every library offers the same magic, through its books.
Where does this magic stem from? Is it from the seeds in the imaginations of the authors? Those great minds who always strive to dig deep down the truth that is buried inside them and plant them in their writing?
Or does the magic stem from the readers? Those who pick up these fruits of knowledge and harvest the truths inside, to sow the magic seeds into their own minds?
Which comes first? The chicken, or the egg?
Let me clarify something, if you are questioning the claim that all writers speak the truth. Whether an author produces fiction or non-fiction, both types are still writing about the truth. Naturally, not everything you read should be taken as *literally* true, especially all the stories that are obviously completely made up! But at the heart of every well-written piece of work, there is a seed of truth, whether it be fact or history or moral or lesson. The reader only has to look for it.
Some people may believe that a library is a place that would be farthest from being described as anything like "magical." All they see are boring buildings that are stuffed with shelves upon shelves of books upon books. Most of these books will contain subjects or tales that you don't consider your interest or taste, books which you will never read or even touch in your entire life.
Only a *teeny* tiny fraction of these books will pique your curiosity and offer you the magical truth you were looking for. Sometimes the truth won't be what you expected it to be, but the magic is always there.
Do you believe that a library is full of magic? Because it's only true if you believe in it.
Let me tell you a story. You don't have to believe that it's a true story, as many events are exagerated, or even completely invented.
But... if you can suspend your disbelief for a little while...
If you can open yourself up to the possibility that some part of this story *might* be true...
If you believe in it, you may find a bit of magic.

All alone in the middle of the Fantazian forest, the wizard Perdu got ready to perform a very important spell. He wasn't sure that it would work at all, as the spell had never been attempted before, but times were desperate.
The Great Library was about to come under attack.
A little bird had told the wizard that the army of Malum was less than a day's march away from the library, with the intention of destroying it. The bird didn't say how many soldiers there were, or what weapons they had, but it was definitely scared. The wizard couldn't let anything or anyone harm the Great Library, as it was his sworn duty to protect its wealth of knowledge at all costs, like Trux the Wild and Verus the True before him.
But Perdu didn't feel powerful enough to stop an entire army all on his own. He needed outside help. So he had decided to teleport far away from the library and perform his spell in the privacy of the forest, so if there were any adverse effects to this never before tried magic, the library would come to no harm.
He laid the Wizard's Grimoire on a rock and opened it to the page where he'd written his carefully worded incantation. He rolled back his sleeves and held his hornbeam wand in the air like a conductor about to lead a full orchestra in the most important symphony of his career. Then he began waving his arms back and forth in a smooth, flowing motion, and started to chant in the ancient language:
Ignis, aqua, terra, aer,
Et elementariis quaeso
Ad borras et orientum, austri et occidens
Auxilia mittere.
Herba, bestia, homo,
Et non refert
Quod si potens solis
Aut luna ut suavis,
Et non refert.
In tempore necessitatis illius, et hoc vocat magus.

As Perdu spoke, the book began to levitate in front of him, and the surrounding area soon became charged with powerful magic. The air around him swirled in a fierce wind that threatened to knock him over, but he stood his ground, his long white beard whipping in different directions.
His wand began crackling with energy, spewing forth scarlet sparks, and his normally blue eyes glowed the same red color like he was being posessed. His arms began moving faster and faster, almost of their own accord, the spell nearly taking him over.
As he reached the end of his incantation, his wand arm shot up at an angle and pointed towards the bright, sunny sky. The wand shot out a beam of red light and, unable to control his own body, the wizard began to slowly and steadily draw a gigantic red circle in the air.
When the circle became complete, Perdu at last regained the use of his limbs and collapsed to the ground, exhausted from the great effort the magic had needed. The great circle started to glow and swirl and shine white, even brighter than the sun currently above him, forcing him to quickly cover his eyes with his arm.
Was his spell actually working? What was happening? What was this enormous thing that he had created?
Just then, squinting at the powerful light, Perdu thought he saw something step through the white circle. He gasped. He must have unknowingly created a portal between worlds! Someone was coming through it now. Someone really, really big.

Gigi Jones had fallen asleep in the library again.
She lifted her head off the table, stretched her arms out wide and yawned loudly. Gigi looked around blearily and scratched her head, slightly messing up her short black hair, and soon realized that the study room was almost completely dark. The only light she got was from the moonlight shining through window. But she remembered it being daylight just a minute ago.
"Oh no, not again," Gigi groaned. She must have been out of it for hours. The library workers mustn't have known she was in this study section and closed down the building with her inside.
She was at the library because she was struggling in her English Literature college class, but her school work often exhausted her, and she never knew when her narcolepsy would hit her. Normally she would have been in a study group with friends, who would be able to shake her awake after a while, or carry her and drive her home if she was particularly comatose. But this time all her friends had other plans, and she'd been forced to study on her own.
Well, this wasn't the first time this had happened. Of all the places to be locked up in for the night, she figured the library wasn't that bad of a place to be. She stood up and left the little study corner, wandering through the aisles of bookshelves in search of the children and young adult section. Their couches and beanbag chairs would much more comfortable places to sleep in than sitting at a hard mahogany desk.
It was really dark in the library, so it was pretty hard to see where she was going. She held out her hands and felt around for shelves so she didn't bump into them. After a minute she realized she was being dumb and pulled out her cellphone from her back jeans pocket so she could use the screen's light to see by. She noticed that she'd gotten a few texts and missed calls from her roommate Jeanie, asking if she was alright.
Gigi was about to respond to her texts when she heard something heavy THUMP! behind her, and she jumped in surprise.
It was a large book that had fallen off one of the shelves. She went back and picked it up.
"Once Upon a Time," she said, reading the title out loud by the cellphone's light. Taking a look at the back of the book, it seemed to be a large collection of short, updated fairy tales, including "The Banished Little Mermaid".
She looked up, saw the empty space where the book had slipped off its shelf, and placed it back. That was really weird, thought Gigi.
Then she heard another BUMP! and a FLOP! as a couple more books tumbled down and fell less than gracefully to the floor.
Something really strange was going on. Was someone in the library with her, or was she going crazy? "Hello? Is anyone there?"
Then something fantastic began to happen. Something so impossible that she wondered whether she wasn't still asleep and only dreaming.
She watched, amazed as books all around her started pulling themselves off the shelves, floating in mid-air and glowing a strange yellow light. Pages began flipping and turning of their own accord, and the books opened up to random pages. They floated forth and presented themselves to Gigi, one by one.
A slim book on American history for young readers flew in her face and opened up to an illustration of fireworks. She jumped back as little sparks flew out of the book and burst into miniature explosions right in front of her. "Whoa!" she said, eyes wide in awe.
Then another book took its place, this one probably about flowers, and she gasped as thorny vines sprouted out from the pages and bloomed into gorgeous roses.
An old floppy paperback that was next in line opened up and a golden ball with hummingbird wings flitted out of it, buzzed around Gigi's head and then hovered in place.
A Golden Snitch? Like from Harry Potter's Quidditch game?
She laughed in amazement and tried to grab the ball, but it dodged away from her hand. She lunged for it again, but it was just out of her reach.
Then she saw a very large green book float in front of her, distracting her from the Snitch. From its magical glow, she caught a glimpse of the title. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz".
Uh-oh. For some reason, Gigi had a bad feeling about what might come out of that story.
Sure enough, when the pages stopped flapping, it landed on the chapter where Dorothy's house gets caught in the twister. The deafening noise of wailing winds cried out from the book, and Gigi's short hair started whipping and flying in all directions. She saw a spinning tornado starting to rise out of the book. For the first time since these books began magically spewing out miracles, she was scared.
Gigi turned tail and tried to run away from it, but she was too late. The force was too strong, and she felt herself getting sucked into the vacuum of the twister. She screamed, but of course there was no one around to hear her.
"No!" Gigi cried. She hadn't been holding onto her phone tight enough and it had flown right out of her hand. She didn't know where it had gone, but there was no way she could stop and look for it. The force of the wind was so strong that it lifted her up off the ground, and she was helplessly pulled into the vortex, spinning and tumbling, not knowing which way was up or down.
The tornado sucked Gigi Jones right into the book and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz slammed itself shut. All the books that had been glowing and dancing in the air just a moment ago closed and fell to the ground in a great big mess, which would leave many librarians mystified in the morning.

Gigi finally landed on her back on soft, grassy, sweet smelling ground. She quickly sat up and found that she was outdoors in a wide open field, shining in bright sunny daylight. She blinked as her eyes tried to get used to all the sudden light.
Standing and looking around, Gigi had many questions flooding her mind. What the heck had happened in the library? Where was she now? Was she in Oz, or maybe Kansas? She had no idea.
Just then, Gigi heard a booming, ominous voice start speaking, and she couldn't tell what direction it was coming from. Frightened and confused, she spun around in search of the voice's source and heard it say:
By the power of fire, water, earth and air,
Elements, I command you.
To the north, east, south and west
Search for help.
Be it plant, animal or man,
it matters not.
Whether powerful as the sun,
Or gentle as the moon,
It matters not.
This humble wizard calls upon thee in our time of need

Whether the voice was speaking to her or someone else, Gigi couldn't tell, but the next moment she saw a big rip in the space right in front of her, a red laser beam of light burning a circle in the air.
When it finished, a milky white portal glowed and spun before her, almost seeming like it was inviting her to walk through.
Gigi was curious. That voice. It sounded like it was asking for help, and it didn't care who answered the call. Had some higher power greater than herself somehow summoned her to help someone in need?
There was only one way to find out.

To be continued...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Dagger in my Heart

The visual prompt:
Our main characters are:
A Doppelganger ~ A shape shifter with identity issues. It can be anything but itself.
A Vampire ~ This ageless teenager is popular with the ladies.
The special object in this story is:
Poison Dagger ~ This dagger is so poisonous that it makes you sick.
Our story takes place in:
The Sky Palace ~ The path to the heavens must be walked with a leap of faith, not a flight of fancy.
October 20, 2038 - Saturday
Dear Diary,
My name is Polly Diosk. I'm 16 years old today. I guess I should be happy that it's my birthday today, because birthdays are supposed to be happy. Only I'm not happy. I can't ever be happy on my birthday again.
I know my mother probably meant well when she got me this notebook as a present. I guess she thought it would do me good to talk to you, since I won't talk to anybody else. She says keeping diaries helped her deal with the sucky stuff as well as celebrate the happy stuff when she was my age.
I'll admit, it feels really weird using a pencil to write instead of a touchscreen. Sorry that my handwriting is so terrible... But wait, who am I apologizing to anyway? I'm not really talking to anyone except myself... Am I?
I guess if I were going to apologize to anyone, it would be to Cassie, my twin sister, as well as our father. Cas, I'm really sorry that you and Dad couldn't be here with me today, to celebrate our birthday together. I miss you both so much, more than I've ever missed anything, or anyone. I know you'll never be able to forgive me, but I hope you know how deeply sorry I am.
You see, Diary, it's my fault that they're gone. I don't care if Mom says I shouldn't keep blaming myself, because I know it's true.
I was the one who suggested we go to the Sky Palace.

This really isn't easy for me to talk about, but Mom says I've been quiet and internalizing my feelings for too long. I need to open up, even if it's only to myself. So let me start at the beginning.
It was summer break, and Mom and Dad asked us what we wanted to do or where we wanted to go for vacation. Cas wanted us to go and visit Mars, but I thought that was boring. I wanted us to go to the only collection of theme parks ever to be launched in Earth's atmosphere, Disney's Ludicrum Space Station. Ever since Cas and I were 10, we'd been asking our parents to take us there, and they always promised they'd take us next year, next year.
Cas gave them some slack and stopped asking so much, because she was the mature one (she was older than me by 5 minutes), but I never stopped begging for it, every chance I could. Well, at last our dad caved, since our sweet 16 was only a few months away, and it might be the last time we enjoyed something together as a family, before we turned into typical teenagers in high school and considered our parents embarrassing dorks. I doubt that ever would have happened anyway. Both Cas and I loved our parents.
So we went and rented a flying car for the week, a beautiful silver Ford Pegasus, put on OxySuits and we drove up to the L.S.S. Just being there was the coolest thing ever! They had a whole map of the different parks we could go to. There was Final Frontier Land, Sky Palace, Alien Kingdom, and Tomorrowland. I wanted to visit to the Sky Palace first, so that's what we bought passes for.
We went on as many rides as we could, though the lines for the really cool ones took forever. It was still fun, though. We ate Astronaut Ice Cream while we waited, and Dad even went on a couple roller coasters with us. Mom wasn't the type to go on scary rides, so she had to be super patient while she waited for us to be done.
You can't really tell what time it is in space, since it always looks like night, so when our parents said it was time to go back to our Space Hotel so we could go to sleep, Cas and I were genuinely surprised. We begged them to let us go on just one more really cool ride, and we wouldn't stop until they relented.
We wanted to go on The Dagger of Doom, which was basically this big silver and purple tower where you got strapped on and went all the way to the top really slowly, and then you were plunged down really fast, then up really fast and down again, repeatedly, like you were the handle of a dagger that was stabbing the planet. It. Looked. So. Freaking. Awesome!
Would you believe that, after all that waiting, when we got to the end of the line we found out I wasn't tall enough to go on the ride, but Cassie was? Geez, I never felt so angry at the fact that she was that one inch taller than me in my life. I was forced to stay down below with Mom while she went with Dad on the Dagger.
I can still remember Cas putting a comforting hand on my shoulder before they went on the ride.
"It's okay, Pol. We can come here again tomorrow, and we'll stuff your space boots with socks or something so you'll be taller. Then we can ride together."
I felt a little better at that idea, and didn't mind having to wait with Mom as much as I did before.
What happened next was... just terribly tragic. This is where it gets really tough for me, Diary.
I don't think anyone was ever sure what happened that day, whether it was the fault of the L.S.S employee controlling the ride or some part that came loose, or what. Mom and I watched as the Dagger of Doom came down once, twice, three times, both of us able to enjoy hearing my dad and sister's screams of delight, courtesy of the radio headsets inside our OxyHelmets.
On the fourth time the Dagger shot up, the "handle" part (where everyone was strapped in) somehow flew off the rail and was rocketed out into space at about a hundred miles an hour. I then heard my twin screaming in terror for a few seconds, before the ride with all those helpless people shot too far out of range for the headsets to pick up.
A rescue party was immediately sent out to rescue those people riding the Dagger, but they just weren't quick enough. The "handle" was too far gone for them to know exactly which direction it had flown in.
When mom heard all their sorry excuses, she pretty much flew off the handle herself. But I was too in shock to be angry.
Cas was gone.

That all happened back in July. For the last 3 months, I've had to get used to being an only child, and Mom had to get used to being a single parent. We've had to get used to it just being the two of us.
I love my mom, and I miss Dad every day. But let me tell you something, Diary.
It never gets easier. Knowing that I have lost my sister, my twin, my best friend in the world, forever. Knowing that I'm now forced to have to go through life without her living it with me. Knowing that she and Dad still might be here, if only we hadn't decided to go on the Dagger of Doom, or to the Sky Palace, or even to the Ludicrum Space Station in the first place.
That's why I can never be happy again on my own freaking birthday. Because all I hear is her screaming like she's been stabbed, and I’ll always feel like I’ve been stabbed too, and I'm holding the dagger that did the deed.

October 23, 2038 - Tuesday
Dear Diary,
Haven't had that much to write about during the weekend. I hardly ever go out or do anything fun anymore. I'll just stay in my room all day and play dumb HoloApp games, entertaining myself for hours. Sometimes I'll even pull out my mom's ancient iPad and play Angry Birds. Still a classic.
Monday at school was just that. A boring Monday. Nothing in particular to report.
This afternoon, however, gives me something to talk about, I guess. It's about this guy...
His name is Drake Ossum, and both Cas and I always used to admire him from afar. We both considered him to be a hot jock, with his red varsity jacket and grey hoodie, and his dreamy eyes. We would dare each other to call him, or go to his locker to talk to him, or ask him on a date, but then never go through with it.
We never said it, but I guess we'd mutually decided that if we both liked him, then neither of us had a right to him. If one of us had really dated him, it might've made the other one jealous. So we'd giggle and squeal like fangirls together if we thought we'd seen him wink at us from across the hall.
"Omg, Awesome Ossum just winked at you, Pol!"
"Nuh-uh, Cas, he totally winked at you!"
"No, you!"
I really miss doing that with her. Naturally, there were other guys we thought were attractive that the other twin didn't, and we went on dates with them, but Drake was that guy we'd silently agreed to look at, but not touch.
Well, today Drake came up to me during lunch break. I was sitting all on my own, poking a fork at my limp salad listlessly, when I heard someone approaching. I looked up, and there was Awesome Ossum, holding a tray of food and grinning at me.
"Hey there. Polly, right?"
I nodded at him, not sure what to say.
"You mind if I sit here with you?"
Slowly I shook my head, and so Drake sat himself down right across from me. He took a big bite out of his slice of pizza, and got a little sauce on the corner of his mouth.
Cas and I always used to laugh at what a messy eater he was, at how he never licked his lips until he was all done eating. Still, he managed to look cute doing it, because he was Drake Ossum.
I allowed myself a little smile at that fond memory.
Drake smiled back at me. "So how was your weekend? Do anything cool?" he asked.
I shrugged. "No, not really. How about you?" I wonder now, Diary, why he asked me about my weekend if Monday had already passed.
"Yeah, not much myself, I guess. Did a lot of grinding on Monster Quest, hunting for rare items."
"Oh yeah? That's cool, I guess. I don't play that game. Not a big RPG fan."
"Oh, sorry."
“It’s okay.”
We sat in silence for about a minute. He took another bite of pizza, I finally took a bite of my salad. Finally I asked him, “So why do you want to sit here and not hang out with your friends?”
Drake shrugged. “I don’t know. You just looked really lonely.”
Well, I guess that was sweet of him. “Thanks.”
He smiled. “Sure.”
We enjoyed each other’s company in silence, and then after a while he spoke again. “So Polly, I was um, just wondering. You have any plans for next weekend?”
I looked up at him. “Why?”
“Because there’s this big Halloween party at Alf Shooter’s house on Saturday, and I’m going to it.” He took a sip of soda and finally licked that pesky sauce off his lips. “I’m gonna dress as a vampire. Count Drake-ula.”
I chuckled at him. “That’s nice.”
“Yeah, and I was just wondering if uh… if you were planning on being there.”
I blinked at him in surprise. Drake Ossum was asking me out? “Um, I don’t know… I didn’t get any invitation from Shooter.”
“That’s okay. I’m inviting you,” said Drake, giving me a wink.
“Well, I haven’t thought of any costume.”
“You don’t? Well, in that case...” Drake picked up his tray and made as if he was going to get up and leave, but then he sat back down and grinned at me. “Just kidding! Don’t worry, you don’t have to get all dressed up if you don’t want to. It’s just supposed to be a pre-Halloween get together, that’s all. So, are you in?”
I looked down at my tray, deep in thought.
“What? Do you have another excuse?”
I bit my lip. “I just… I don’t know...”
He hesitated. And then, Dear Diary... then he actually reached his hand out across the table and gently touched mine. “Look, Polly? I know about what happened with your sister.”
Of course he did. Everyone in school knows about it. That’s why everybody leaves me alone, why I don’t talk to anyone, why I always eat lunch by myself now. I prefer being on my own. I’m still mourning Cassie.
“I’m really sorry that you have to go through this. I know I’ll probably never experience a loss quite like yours, since she was your twin and all… But Pol, you can still allow yourself to have a little fun. At least once in a while, right?”
I didn’t know what I could say. I was confused. I took my hand out from under his and put it in my lap, turning away from him.
He looked at me for a few seconds, then he stood up for real this time, carrying his tray. “I’ll let you think about it. Hit me up anytime, if you change your mind.” Then he was gone.
The bell rang soon after that, and so I had to get to my next class.

So Diary, I’m really not sure what I should do now. Obviously, I can barely believe that Drake Ossum, the guy Cas and I had the same crush on for forever, had straight up asked me out to a party. He could have had his pick of any of the girls at school, many of them a lot prettier than me. But he came and sat with me.
I think it would be fun to go to Alf’s party with him. I really do. I just feel conflicted for some reason, like I have this nagging feeling in the back of my mind. I guess I still don’t feel like it’s right for me to be with Drake, knowing that Cas can’t be with him. I feel like our unspoken rule should still apply, even though she’s gone.
But then again, it’s not like not being with Drake was going to bring her back. I know nothing can do that.
Diary, what should I do?

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Cat o' Nine Tales

The visual prompt:
Our main characters are:
Puss in Boots ~ This world famous criminal cat has already served nine life sentences.
A Witch ~ She can brew anything from a deadly poison to a strong punch.
The special object in this story is:
A Mythril Tux ~ This flashy suit is totally impenetrable. It's cut so well it fits ANY body type.
Our story takes place in:
Pirate Cove ~ This traitor's trading post imports treasure and exports theft.
The Island of Impii was a lawless place. There were no kings or presidents, no guards or soldiers, no rule makers or law keepers of any kind. Nothing was illegal. Every man was out for himself, making and keeping his own business, and making and keeping his own rules. So really, you could get away with just about anything, even murder! So anyone who spent any time on this island, whether they lived there, did business there or were simply passing through, should have known the universal rules: always be on the alert, mind your own business, trust no one.
That isn't to say that everyone you met on this island were bad people. Just because anyone could do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted, it didn't mean that there was chaos all the time. On the contrary, the island was, for the most part, quiet and peaceful, despite its lawlessness. Most of the residents were genuinely good, friendly characters,. So long as you kept your wits about you, didn't make or cross too many enemies, and kept one eye open at night, you could be sure that no one was going to try and murder you in your sleep.
On a sunny and salty-aired afternoon, the Catus Carina sailed smoothly into Pirate Cove, a surprisingly quiet little harbor. The great thing about it was that there was no Harbor Master to enforce any regulations and ask about your business on the island, but it also meant that there were no naval officers to help guide the ship into port or keep tabs on the cargo, so the Carina's crew would have to lay anchor themselves and carry off their own loot.
The only other people in the Cove were a couple of old fishermen sitting with their lines on a neighboring dock. When the two of them noticed the big impressive ship approaching, bearing the universal sign of skull and cross-bone on their sails and their flag, they didn't think anything of it.
"Looks like we got us some pirates down in Pirate Cove," said one of them, just as casually as if he had observed it was going to rain that day.
"Yup," agreed the other man, scratching his scraggly salt white beard.
The first old man reeled in his fishing line and, seeing nothing had bitten yet, threw his line back out. "Say, is that a cat I see, walkin' about in a fancy hat and boots?"
His friend squinted at the figure he pointed out, strutting towards them. "Yup."
This cat wasn't just wearing a hat and boots. He wore the full pirate's suit, with a red and blue striped shirt and matching red pants with a hole in the back for his tail. He wore gold bracelets on his front paws and cheap little hoop earrings that had cost him a buck an ear. He carried a cutlass in a belt around his waist, though he hardly needed it, as his sharp extendable claws were weapon enough.
This dapper, black and white sea-faring feline was none other Felix P. Bootzin, more popularly known around town as Puss in Boots. He was a cool cat that was always on the run. For a while he'd dabbled in cat burglary, but he found his true calling when he took a job as the captain's cat (which didn't pay a lot, though he did get to have all the rats and fish he could eat).
He swaggered up to the fishermen and gave them a salute. "Ahoy there, me hearties. Lovely weather for fishing, eh?"
The two men exchanged a look with each other, then ignored the walking, talking cat and kept on fishing.
Puss put his paws on his hips and took a deep, healthy breath of sea air. "Ahhh, yes, that's the stuff." Casually, while their backs were turned to him, he used one of his boots to nudge one of the men's fish buckets closer to him and plucked out a large trout. "Anyway, I just came here to ask you fine gentlemen if either of you could tell me where I could find someone."
Without even turning around, the first man grabbed the fish out of the cat's paws before he could bite into it. "That depends. Who are ya lookin' for, cat?"
"Amata Striga, the witch," said Puss, trying not to look too disappointed about losing the fish. "You wouldn't happen to know if she still lives on the island, would you?"
The first man started to shake his head, but then the bearded man said "Yup."
"Really? Excellent." Puss in Boots rubbed his paws happily together. "Where can I find her?"
The more talkative fishermen sighed. "Most likely, you'll find Amata at the Salty Dog Inn on Bilge-Rat Boulevard. She lives on the floor right above it. Ya can't miss it."

Puss eventually found the street the fishermen had described, and stood in front of the Salty Dog.
He laughed at the name. Years ago he and Amata had talked about opening a bar together and calling it the Cat O' Nine Tails. The fact that she'd named her place of business The Salty Dog left a bitter taste in his mouth.
He pushed open the door and found himself in a sparsely populated bar room. A couple of men playing cards looked up and stared at him, having never seen a cat that looked and acted so human before, but other than that no one paid Puss any mind.
He walked up to the bar and lifted up his tail as he perched on one of the empty stools, eyeing the other patrons suspiciously. “A glass of milk, if you please, warm and low-fat,” said the cat. He turned to face the bartender, and nearly fell off of his stool in surprise.
The bartender was sharply dressed in a gorgeous tuxedo. In fact, the bartender was a tuxedo, completely headless. Even though he didn’t have any visible mouth, it didn’t stop him from remarking, “Hello, kitty.”
Puss looked about the bar, but no one else seemed to be particularly alarmed that an empty suit was serving them drinks, so he calmed down. A little. “Hey, matey. Been running this joint long?”
“Oh no, I don’t run anything, Madam Striga does all that. I just work behind the bar.” The tux reached down and pulled out a carton of milk and a glass.
“I see. So where would I find this Madam Striga? I’d like to see her about a room, and a possible proposition.”
The tuxedo used one of his sleeves to pour out the milk (he didn’t have any hands either), careful not to splash it or spill any on himself. “Sure, we have plenty of rooms available. May I ask what kind of proposition you have?”
Puss took the glass of milk, still staring at the strange bartender. “Sorry tux, but that’s my business. Leave the carton,” he added before the tuxedo could put it back down.
At that moment the bar door opened again, and the cat’s feline ears twitched as he heard a beautiful familiar voice.
“Mythril, would you be a dear and come out to unload these crates of bananas and melons outside?” A young woman asked the bartender. Then she gasped when she realized who was sitting at the bar, nursing a glass of warm milk.
Puss in Boots smiled and turned to face the woman who used to be his dearest friend. He saw that her hair was now a short, pixie haircut dyed fiery red. She wore a long skirt that matched her hair in color, and she was barefoot. “Hey Amata. You miss me?”
“Felix Bootzin?"
“Wow, it’s real nice to hear you say my name again.”
The woman stared at him for a while, looking like she couldn’t decide whether to be happy to see him or furious.
“What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?” he laughed. “If you need any extra help, I’ll be happy to carry your melons,” he offered.
When he said that, Amata chose to look furious. “Mythril, let me know if you find any big spiders in the banana crates so I can use their hairy legs in one of my poison potions.” She stormed through the bar, walking right past Puss and through the door next to the bar, which led upstairs to the floor above.
“Will do, Madam Striga!” said the tuxedo bartender cheerfully. Then he heard Puss jump up off of the bar stool and sensed that he was leaving. “Hey, you’ve gotta pay for the milk, you know!”
“Hey Mythril, what did my hat say to your bow-tie?” the cat asked, removing his blue tricorn hat.
“Huh, I don’t know.”
“You stay here, I’ll go on a head.” Puss shoved the pointy end of his hat through the top of the suit, effectively making it stuck inside the neck hole. “Oh, sorry, guess you don’t have one.” He ran to catch up with Amata as Mythril frantically tried to get the hat out with his floppy sleeve arms, making choking noises.
“Hey, come on, what’s Amata with you?” he asked his old friend, trying to appeal to her good humor.
She turned and glared at him before slamming the door to her room right in his face.
Well, guess I must have caught her at a bad time, thought Puss. He turned around in place before settling on the ground right next to the door, curling up in a ball on the floor. He’d be patient and wait for her until she came out, so he could have a little chat with her about turning him human again.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Facing Azura, part 2

Sorry for this late posting. I took the longest time working out the ending. I'm not entirely happy with how it turned out, but it's a lot better than I had it last night, I feel. :P
I stood in front of the cave of Tarturus, wondering how I should proceed.
3 days ago I had left my family a note, explaining that I had to go on an errand for a friend and would be going away for some time. Then I had packed myself a bag with enough food to last me a few days, and then I set off to find the infamous cavern.
Now that I had finally made it here, I began to have a few second thoughts...
Maybe I should just go back and forget about the whole thing. I should return to my family, never mind about the witch Lamia and her old book. What good was it to learn how to do Majik anyway?
But when I seriously thought about it, I knew that I just couldn't live with myself, knowing that I had let down my good friend and hadn't done my absolute best to put things right.
On the other hand, I knew that my quest was probably not going to be a picnic in the park. I had no idea what dangers awaited me in the dark, black Cave of the Underworld, besides Azura Belua herself. The unknown of it frightened me greatly, and I shook as I stood there at the wide, gaping mouth of the cavern, imagining the terrors that might await me (though it could easily have just been the winter breeze that was making me shiver). The stalactites hanging from the ceiling of the cave opening made me think of long sharp teeth. I felt like I was literally walking straight into the mouth of a great beast, and once it had swallowed me I would be unable to return.
I began wishing that I had written a better, less vague note to my parents, explaining to them the exact nature of the quest I was going on, and my reasons why I had to go on it. Then at least, if something awful happened to me and I didn't come home, they would have some idea of what had become of me.
Well, it was too late to worry about that and turn back now. I just had to go ahead and do what I had come here to do, before I changed my mind and turned into a coward.
I lit myself a torch so I'd be able to see in the darkness of the cave, then took a few deep breaths, bracing myself. "You can do this, Trixie. You can do this," I told myself, trying to believe in my own words. Finally I pushed myself forward and stepped into the gaping maw of the monster.

Despite holding a branch of fire to light my way, the Cave of the Underworld was still very hard to see in. It hadn't looked very big on the outside, but the inside felt enormous, and the torch didn't reveal very much of my surroundings.
I kept to the edge of the cave, brushing my fingers along the cool, smooth walls as I moved forward. I could feel the wall curve slightly, so it felt like I was going in a circle, and I sensed that the passage dipped, and I was being lead down, down, down. How far down, only time would tell.
After a long time of walking, I grew somewhat accustomed to the dark, and began to calm down. So far this quest wasn't turning out to be so bad. The more time that passed where I didn't encounter anything that would do me harm, the better I felt, and I began to be quite optimistic about the whole thing. Lady Lamia's book had described the Blue Dragon as a "cold intellectual". Perhaps I would be able to reason with the creature, and make her see why I had to have the Majik spell book back. Maybe she would be understanding... Or maybe she'd just freeze me in a block of ice with her breath.
I kept walking and walking, when I suddenly felt my hand brush against something besides the slick, stony wall. It was bumpy and rubbery, and I jumped back from the wall in surprise, shining the firelight in front of me to see what I had just touched.
Thankfully it had only been a mushroom. A little cluster of mushrooms, actually, growing out of the wall, gray and umbrella-like, though I noticed that the mushroom in particular that I had touched was faintly glowing blue.
Examining the walls further on, I realized that the mushrooms were growing practically everywhere, even out of some places in the floor! I would have to watch where I was going now, so I wouldn't trip.
My foot brushed against one of the little stalks, and it began glowing just as my boot came into contact with it. "Oh," I said in surprise. Curious, I tapped another of the caps, and it shone blue as well. I grinned in awe.
I began touching all the mushrooms I could, and the cave glowed around me so prettily that I hardly needed the torch. I touched so many that the mushrooms started lighting by themselves, brightening my way forward. I laughed and tried to catch up to the lit mushrooms, as if I were in a race against fairies.
Just then I saw what seemed to be an underground river ahead, and I stopped right at its edge. I slowly spun around and saw that the entire cavern had been lit up by the gentle blue glows of the fungus. It was like I was surrounded by diamonds, or gazing at stars in the night sky.
I could have stayed there forever, bathed in their comforting light, but I remembered my mission and had to press on. I examined the river, and noticed that the water was actually frozen. Without a doubt, this had to be Azura's doing. I stepped lightly onto the shining, solid surface of the river, praying that I wasn't walking on thin ice.
I continued on, all the time going deeper and deeper into the cavern. At last, I got proof that I wasn't alone in the Cave of Tarturus. I began hearing a low, growling echo bouncing off the cave walls. The further I walked, the louder it got. The mushroom lights kept turning on all around me, and then, up ahead, I saw it.
The tip of a long, scaly blue tail lay twitching every so often on the ground, almost like a sleeping cat's tail. The rest of the body was hidden as the cave turned sharply to the left.
This must be it. The Blue Dragon's lair.
I barely breathed as I crept closer and closer to where Azura was resting. Ever so carefully, I stepped over her tail and slowly tip-toed into her den, staying well away from her sleeping body. Her belly rose and fell in long, deep breaths, and I realized the rumbling sounds were just Azura's peaceful snores.
She was even more beautiful in sleep, her blues scales shining in varying shades and hues like she'd been sculpted out of glass. In this form, she hardly seemed to be a monster. I almost couldn't see why I had been so scared of her...
Until she began shifting her position. She lifted her long, swan-like neck to move her arms into a more comfortable position, and opened her giant mouth in a sleepy, growling yawn that thundered in her throat. I just crouched down and froze in place, praying that she wouldn't wake up and see me. All her rows of big, needle-like teeth alarmed me greatly.
Finally the Wyvern seemed to relax again. Still trying not to breath too loud, I looked around her lair, and saw that it was overflowing with books. Piles and piles of them, some going all the way up to the stalactite covered ceiling. The dragon seemed to have sorted her books by the color of their covers, clearly showing more favor to the blue ones. There was a mess of them on the floor, half open and dogeared all over the place. Many of the others were hardly touched.
I nearly despaired. The cover of Lady Lamia's Majik Book of Spells was midnight blue. It would take forever to go through Azura's favorite books, and if I wasn't careful and made a book fall or something, she would surely awaken and catch me in the act.
I turned around to make sure she was still asleep, and I couldn't believe my eyes when I spotted the book that I was looking for lying right underneath one of her claws. Goodness. So close and yet so far away. How was I possibly going to escape with the spell book now?
Okay, Trixie. You're going to have to be extremely clever about this, I thought to myself. I had an idea that I could perhaps switch Lamia's book for another one to slip under the beast's claws, but that would be much too risky. I could attempt to wake her up and ask her kindly to take the blue book she had fallen asleep trying to read, but who knew what kind of mood she would be in upon a stranger awakening her?
I didn't see that I had much choice in the matter. I wasn't brave enough to go for the book directly, and so I decided that the safest thing for me to do would be to simply sit and wait for her to move her claws off of the book in her own time. Carefully I lowered myself down to sit on the cold, icy ground and gently picked up the sea green book closest to me. I examined the title, but it was written in a messy, chicken scratch alphabet that I didn't understand. I placed it back down and crawled about on the ice, looking for a book I could actually read. I found a large red leather-bound tome that said "Dragon Wars and Other Beastly Battles Through the Centuries."
Lifting the heavy thing onto my lap, I opened it up to a few random pages. I found illustrations of entire armies marching against wyrms and wyverns, battle ships attacking sea serpents, and other such pictures of men fighting monsters. In a different chapter, it had records and stories of different creatures battling each other for the rights to own different territories.
I soon became lost in the book. All I could hear were the clangs of swords on scales, the yelling of battle cries and the roars of giant beasts in my head as I read the different accounts.
This was far from being the most interesting book I'd ever read, but it kept me quite entertained, and it nearly made me forget all about the cold dampness of the cave floor and Azura's snoring.
Turning the page, I found a picture of a whole herd of dragons teasing a slightly smaller blue wyvern, who cowered in deference to their growling and hissing at her. I could tell immediately that it was Azura Belua, getting turned away from her kind, just for being different. I felt somewhat sorry for her.
All of a sudden, I remembered my mission, and my current situation. I realized I had let my guard down for too long, and I quickly looked up from my book.
Oh no. The Blue Dragon was no longer sleeping there! I hadn't heard her get up and walk away, just like when I hadn't heard her approaching when she'd frightened me the first time.
I got the strange sense just then that someone was reading over my shoulder. Turning my head around slowly up, I was faced with a pair of large lapis lazuli eyes.
My heart sank like a stone.
Azura purposely blew light, icy breath in my face, just enough to freeze my nose and make my eyes water. She seemed to be smiling a reptilian smile at me, showing me all of her needle teeth.
Hello, human.
I was alarmed for a second, because I heard a voice in my mind that wasn't my own. It was mighty, regal voice, amused, but with a cold edge to the words. The Blue Dragon was speaking to me telepathically.
She stared unblinkingly at me, watching as I slowly stood up and made my most respectful curtsy for her, trying to keep a calm as I possibly could. "H-hello, Azura Belua. I-I hope I haven't d-disturbed you." I couldn't help stuttering. My voice echoed strangely in the cave.
The regal voice chuckled in my head. Well, no one has addressed me by my true name in quite an age. No, thank you for letting me awaken to the gentle sound of turning pages. It is infinitely better than the sound of screams and battle cries. She brought her head closer to my book of monsters and their battles, her long snout just inches next to my face. May I ask, what is it you are reading?
I gulped, feeling too scared to speak. I let her see the page I was on, and I heard her begin to growl.
Oh yes, I remember this volume. The Dragon Wars. That particular war you are reading about was entirely unfair, as you can tell. Dozens of full-grown dragons against one young Wyvern. Oh, how she wished she could belong to the dragon clan, but she was too different. All of them called her weak, just because she didn't breathe fire or see the value of gold.
She turned her head away from me and gave a powerful, mighty roar, the sound of it bouncing every which way so as to make it deafening, breathing blue frost onto a pile of books, freezing it into an icy tower in seconds. Now that I am all grown, my cold can burn just as much as their flames, and I have found a treasure worth protecting, in my books.
Azura lumbered slowly to the tower she'd just created, climbing up to perch on it. I find, as a rule, that when I pillage kingdoms for their books, none of the humans care so much about their leather bound pages of parchment and papyrus to come retrieve them. They are only glad to still be alive, and that I didn't go directly for their stores of gold. Better that books be kept by those who truly value them.
I watched her in silence as she made her whole speech inside my head, the sensation of it feeling very strange. Then, remembering Lamia's book, I saw it still lying on the ground right where the Blue Dragon had been sleeping before. I didn't rush over to get it, not wanting to make any sudden movements, but made my way there slowly and calmly bent to pick it up, still keeping my eyes on Azura.
She rested her head on her arms. You're still here, human child? I am impressed. Most grown men would flee from my very presence. Tell me, who are you, and why have you come all the way down to my cave? It wasn't just to sit and read like you're in a public library, I am certain.
I shook my head at her, hoping I didn't look too scared. "N-no, Azura, of course I didn't. I... My name is Trixie, and I am here because you... Maybe you don't remember, but 3 days ago you stole a book from me. A very important book too." I held up the Majik Book of Spells for her to see.
She lifted her head in interest. Oh really? Tell me, Trixie, what makes your book so important?
Quickly I explained to her about how the book belonged to my friend Lady Lamia, how the witch had spent her whole life compiling the book, and how I had intended to study it to make Majik myself before Azura had taken it from me. I explained that there were no copies of the book anywhere, and Lamia never wanted to see me again unless I retrieved the book for her.
Azura Belua watched me carefully and listened to what I had to say. When I was finished, she had a thoughtful expression on her dragon face. Her lapis lazuli eyes seemed to soften. You really do care about this book, don't you?
I nodded.
Little human, Trixie, I'm not sure what it is about you, but in a way you remind me of myself. On the outside you seem very small and weak, but you also seem to possess a secret strength. You were brave to come down here and face me, and you didn't come in to steal your treasure back by force. You were respectful and polite, you came to understand my view, and now you have made me see yours. She rested her head on her arms from the top of her frozen book tower. I'll tell you what. I will let you take your book back to your friend the witch, if you promise to make a copy of it for me. You make Majik sound like such a fascinating subject, and in writing it over again yourself you will probably learn even faster than simply reading it.
I could barely believe what I was hearing in my mind. "You really mean it? Oh, thank you, Azura. Yes, I promise I'll come back." I bowed to her and started to leave, but felt like saying something more. "You know, when I first saw you, I thought you were only a monster. But I don't think that anymore. You're beautiful, kind and fair. I wish more people could know that."
The Blue Dragon smiled at me lazily. Yes, and you aren't what I expected either, little one. I guess it just goes to show, she said in my head as she curled up to resume her nap, that you can't judge a book by its cover.