Garden of Bubbles

It was to be their first time in the HealthBubble. Symon entered the airlock section first, ducking his head to avoid the rather low frame. Cilla however had no such issue, especially since removing her heels to avoid damaging the perspex flooring, though the company had assured them it would be fine. The flooring was cool on her feet so Cilla slipped passed Symon and into the main chamber with it’s rugs, whilst Symon closed the outer seal before following her through and closing the inner also. The moment the seal locked in the biofilters started up, but the faint hum faded quickly until it was barely a murmur.

“I guess we should just get into bed then?” suggested Cilla.

“Yeah, I guess so, not much else to do really.” Symon replied and smiled briefly.

They spent a couple of minutes undressing down to the company provided underwear and getting into the bed. Cilla started to laugh as she snuggled into Symons arm and lay her head on his chest. Symon looked down at her and started to laugh too.

“I guess the filters doing it’s job then.” Symon said, and laughed again.

“Yup” Cilla giggled “It doesn’t take long to get going. Very efficient”

They both cuddled and laughed as the outside world darkened through the dome above them

“So off to sleep we go, a nice big sleep.” Symon’s voice was beginning to slur a little. Cilla laughed all the more though her eyes were already heavy and remained closed.

The laughing subsided and the only sound above the filter was their breathing. Slowing with each breath. Heart beats fading away.

Outside the dome the sky was filled with stars. The moon hung low to the horizon, then over the next two minutes it rose to directly overhead it’s light glinting on the HealthBubbles that lined the gardens. The horizon too began to glow with the blue light of the interplanetary drives and the moon slipped away out of view, leaving only the glow and the darkness of deep space.

If Only I Had

She warned me to be careful. But then she always did, I’m not sure if it was that she didn’t trust me, or just knew how trouble seemed to seek me out. Either way I didn’t, and so it was I ended up here.

The worst part was the not being able to see, I’m sure my eyes are fine but no matter how hard I strain only inky blackness comes back. The sounds however, the sounds never stop. Scratches, growls, slithering of scales, they haunt my waking hours, or at least what feel like hours and torment my broken sleep. I tried walking one.. I’ll call it a day. My feet became sodden with something that was far from water, it oozed between my toes and sometimes seemed to try to pull me down. But I never felt the landscape change, nor did I walk into anything despite tiring my arms in some zombie like blind walk. An unrelenting plane of gooey ooze it would seem. And so since then have I sat, occasionally standing the stretch out my aching bones, but mostly just sat and listened.

She warned me. She knew, as I did, the dangers of the summoning. Without following the texts to the letter the gateway of Malodine is just as likely to pull you in as to spew forth a servant. A shadow slave. Perhaps now my fate is to await another’s summoning, and see again only as one bound by unseen shackles to serve another.

She warned me to be careful, she warned me. And I could have been, I could have checked one last time.

If only I had.

Gene Pool

Jennifer shuffled forward as another candidate entered the appraisal section, the frosted glass doors closing automatically behind them. She thought back to the past eighteen years of her short life, trying to calm her nerves that all would be well and the tests would come back positive. In all honestly she was feeling quite confident, all of her teachers had expressed little doubt in her abilities, but one could never be too sure. Add to that that this was her seventh revision, and revision 6 had been so close to success.

The doors opened again to admit the boy in front of her. She heard his deep intake of breath before he headed off into the chambers behind the doors. Jennifer went over her subjects, Physics and Chemistry she had always excelled in. Interplanetary Logistics had given her some trouble at first, until she had realised she was overthinking the whole thing. She always did that, but that wasn’t a fault to hold someone back. At least she hoped not. Mathematics, fine, not her strongest. She prefered more applied things but she knew enough to pass that. Genetic Optimisation… the door opened. Guess it was time to find out!

She stepped forward through the doors and listened for the gentle click of them closing. She realised she’d stopped breathing. A voice came from above, the faint strains of a synthesised vocal system apparent.

“Jennifer Albon, appraisal station 2491.”

The platform she stood on moved away and headed towards the indicated station. Jennifer felt her heart starting to race, her mouth had become dry, she heard a grumble in her stomach above the slight hum of the platform.

Within thirty seconds the platform arrived at station 2491 and Jennifer stepped into the appraisal room and sat in front of the screen. As she lent forward the screen lit with her test results, she scanned the overall score. A fail. She placed her elbows on the desk and cupped her forehead in her hands. What went wrong.. see flipped the screen over to the detailed results. All exams passed, she’d even scored a 21 in Mathematics. Next screen, Biological Appraisal. Ah here it was, Metabolic Requirement. She spoke to the room.

“Define metabolic requirement failure.”

“Metabolic rate was found to be too high. Such a requirement would place an unacceptable strain on nutritional resources when applied to full lifespan of an accepted candidate.”

Damn. It must have been all those extra points revision 6 had placed into accelerated cognitive function. Must have overdone it and increased the metabolics. She pulled up the charts and she had to agree with the assessment, there was a near exponential spike during prolonged stress tests. She slumped back into the chair.

“Looks like it will be revision 8 that gets to see the solar system.” she spoke to the room, but no answer came back. She sat upright again and switched to the gene optimiser. Over the next two hours she tweaked her DNA to try and lower the metabolic requirements her predecessors improvements had given rise too. She did what she could to not impede the cognitive gains, but some fallout was bound to occur she just had to hope not too much.

Once it was done, she stood and headed to the doorway. She felt maybe she should be feeling more upset, even maybe scared. But more than anything she just wanted to succeed. To one day have her DNA out there and working for humanity. She stepped onto the platform as it arrived.

“Jennifer Albon” came the same voice as before “Proceeding to gene pool for genetic rehavesting. Revision 8 is slated for birth in eleven point two years.”

The platform slipped away towards the source.

Lonely Weir

The water felt the pull, the distant attractor, accelerating, enticing. The water continued to flow, as it always had running from it’s hundreds of tiny sources, growing into the torrents of streams and then rivers. Waterways channeled with a specific aim, granting the water more power than nature had ever managed. It’s destiny now written in crafted stone, occasionally trapped, but never for long. Serving masters it did not know or understand. And so it did, blindly, continually. Water coursed forth through rotten gates, and over well worn weir. Buildings which fed on it’s power still lined the banks, dark metal and glass carcasses of a once prosperous world. But those that had dwelt within, feeding from the water in so many and varied ways, had long since passed. Now the roar of water echoed unheard through hollow constructions of the extinct. But the water still flowed, slowly wiping away the traces, knowing that one day it would once again be free of it’s shackles and meander from source to salty sea.

Rocky Escape

Wan lowered himself carefully towards the cave’s opening. Brad crouched behind him following his every step, but also listening out for any signs of pursuit. Stones shifted under Wan’s feet and only the climbing stick prevented a nasty fall onto the rocks below.

“Can you find a path?” called Brad, as loudly as he dared.

“I think so.” replied Wan as he tested the ground ahead for stability. Around them the water shaped rocks lightly echoed the little breeze there was into an eerie whine. A warning perhaps, pondered Brad as he continued to track Wan’s decent. After a few laborious minutes, Wan turned back towards Brad with a smile on his face.

“This is definitely the way! I can see the sign of Tethys just ahead. Brad smiled back, but then the smile vanished. He turned towards the sounds of approaching boots. Quickly he slipped down the rocks desperately trying to remember the route Wan had taken. Wan had already disappeared from view, it wasn’t until Brad lowered himself over the edge he saw him again. Pausing Brad turned to peek back up the slope, greeting him were the silhouettes he’d feared. Fortunately it appeared they had not seen him descend, they talked for a moment before a few hand signals had them splitting up into two groups of two, neither of which headed down the innocent looking slope. Brad rejoined Wan as he dusted off some of the area around the sign he’d mentioned. Greek letters spiralled around and away from the sign. Figures of nymphs entwined with the letters, the daughters of Oceanus.

“What does it say?” Asked Brad

“Behold the chambers of Tethys, from which the gods of rivers themselves were born. Those who enter here will forever sleep in the oceans heart, at least I think that means heart in this use. Could also be depths, which sounds slightly less inviting!” Wan stood again and peered into the gloom ahead. Brad pulled out his Maglite and shone it around the caves, shadows shifting in and out of the curved walls which had once lain hundreds of feet beneath the sea. They moved on into the dark, still listening for those boots behind but thankfully hearing nothing. Suddenly Wan stopped and pressed his hand against Brad’s chest to catch him too. Brad swung the torch around to where Wan was looking. There, to one side stood a man, his beard flecked with grey, stony eyes twinkling in the strong light. His face seemed familiar to them but neither could quite recall from where exactly. Then Brad remembered.

“Mr Hansen?” He asked

“Yes, well done boys, you are the first team to reach me before the hunters caught them. Jolly well done, that’s fifty points each. Here take this sticker as proof and then head to the left there to start on the next challenge” Mr Hansen smiled broadly as he pointed out the direction. Brad and Wan gave a little ironic fist-bump before heading off towards the checkpoint.

Rascal Dance

This story was done for the writing thread on GonzoPlanet. The restrictions are max 500(ish) words and there is always a jumping off point of either a phrase or a picture. This entry was inspired by the phrase Rascal Dance:

Doran stumbled as the guards pushed him towards the large oak doorway ahead. His scuffed boots caught on the edge of a flagstone, it pained him to see them in such disrepair but he’d been captive for what must be almost a month now.

As the came to the arched doorway the guard to his right pulled him back by the shoulder.

“Wait scum” the guards fingers crushed into his muscles, weakened by being held in chains. Other footsteps approached from behind, the clink of more guards, and another leather clad sound. Mika appeared to his left, her hair matted and filthy. Is he looked at bad as she.. nope, worse, he always looked worse than Mika. She met his gaze and a slight twinkle in her tired eyes gave him hope.

The two large doors swung open by unseen hands. Light seared into their dark-ready eyes blinding them as the guards once again pushed them forward into the unseen room. Slowly the scene ahead of them emerged from the whiteout. Bondal sat at his throne, flanked by two more guards, and Ciren. Of course he was there, always advising, keeping a tighter grip on power than even his king beside him for kings came and went, but Ciren always remained.

“So here are the two who would dethrone me!” Bondal spat “Two lowlanders with not the first idea of how to behave.” Over his shoulder Ciren chuckled to himself before coughing stopped him. Bondal rose from his throne, his crown casting colourful shards of light down on the stone floors of the room. “Perhaps we should teach you some of these manners you so lack, eh?” he signaled up to a balcony behind them, Doran winced at first ready for some strike but what came was music.

“Come now, fools, dance for me! Take each other by the hands and dance!”

Doran turned to Mika, eyes wide. Mika shrugged and took Dorans hands. They began to step around in circles.

“Yes, that’s it, dance for me you fools. Show me the dance of your pathetic people, this Rascal Dance you care so much for” Mika looked straight into Dorans eyes, the tiredness had fled and she tightened her grip on Dorans hands. They began to spin faster, turning left and right from each other in the dance they had done since children, the dance which had taught them so much more than just dancing.

Bonal began to laugh.

“Dancing you call this! Ha! Like two dogs sniffing at each other.” Faster they span, Doran began to smile. He felt the heat of Mika’s grip, energy flowing into him as his feet left the floor. First in just small leaps but each leap lasting longer.

“Enough fools, I care no longer for this peasant dance.” Bondal turned to sit again.

Doran nodded to Mika, and she increased speed. Doran began to blur before the eyes of the guards then without warning Mika released Doran straight towards Ciren, his feet slammed into Ciren’s chest crushing ribs as blood spluttered from his mouth. The closest guard turned to attack, finding his sword gone. Doran arose sword in hand, brought up the hilt to crack into the jaw of the distracted guard before swinging the blade around, cutting the approach of the second guard who fell upon the steps clutching his tattered throat. The two guards on the main floor rushed past Mika to get to Doran before he could strike at their king, but both also stuttered in their runs turning only to see Mika holding their blades in hand one raised, the other low, both pointed in their direction. Doran turned to Bondal.

“Now, my king, you will lead us out of here. And not by the main routes.”

“Follow us and he dies.” ordered Mika, as she circled round the guards towards Doran.

The three disappeared into the kings private chambers, from which Bodan would never return.


Lacrimae & Dolor

This story was done for the writing thread on GonzoPlanet. The restrictions are max 500(ish) words and there is always a jumping off point of either a phrase or a picture. This entry was inspired by the following image:

Click picture for link to source

Dolor seeped through the city streets, his open maw seeking the scents he knew Lacrimae needed. None would see his passing, the minds of humans refused to acknowledge such things, they continued on their way to work, home, to meet with friends. But this did not matter for those Dolor sought were also largely unseen by their fellow humans. Dolor slunk to a halt, his large head turned on it’s side as a scent grew in odur. Eyes focused on the source as Lacrimae stirred upon his back sensing their goal. On the street below, lost in the forest of legs that walked by a man hunkered down, arms wrapped about himself in an attempt to keep out the cold. It had been two days since his last real drink, returning him to the crystal clarity of sobriety. His mind flailed to avoid the memories that sought to surface, his head twitching with each attempt to dodge a synaptic surge. Lacrimae stood up on Dolor’s back and turned her attention upon the man, her eyes grew dark as her mind reached out to him. The man below suddenly stopped his twitching, a calmness drew across him, his mind clearing of all thought save one. The one memory he always fought hardest to bury became his reality. He saw her smile, heard the laughter of his children, days of sunshine rushed by, warmth filled his soul as all the possibilities of a future surged through him. Then he stood in the rain, looking down upon the three fresh graves as friends and family drifted away. Then came the tears mixing with the rain drops on his face bringing their salty taste to his dry cracked lips. Lacrimae shivered atop Dolor the sorrow filling her, her skin becoming luminous,  fires began to burn in the darkness of her eyes. The man’s memories flooded into reality as new tears began to flow into his scragged beard, he buried his face into the tattered arm of his thick overcoat the tears mixing with the dirt and the grease of the past years. The pain drained his body of energy, he felt the cold seeping further and further into his bones his mind reducing to a single thought, a thought of sorrow. Finally his body slumped back against the wall he had been huddled against, a final breath wheezed between his lips.

Lacrimae relaxed in her stance, both fire and darkness left her eyes. She settled back down onto Dolors back her eyes closed as if to sleep as single tear ran down her left cheek and dripped onto Dolor’s back. Dolor grunted as he set off, the faintest of scents reached out to him and he began the hunt again to serve his mistress.