Another entry in the 100 x 100 project, I’m coming up on nearly one quarter of the way through Bradbury’s 100 stories.
I was struck by the image of someone weeping alone, but not realizing why they are crying. This was the result.
This is a story in four parts. It’s kind of an obvious metaphor, but that’s half the fun. a metaphor (it’s been pointed out that it actually isn’t that obvious).
Part One – 12 feet tall (@ Scrawlers)
There was no sense of motion, but I knew I was gathering speed and falling toward the planet. With foreboding, I noticed the strength of the gravitational field. I worried about being torn in half as the pain of my joints being stretched beyond their capacity passed from discomfort to excruciating.
The force was too strong; the planet pulled me in before it pulled me apart. Its only effect was to stretch me into a 12-foot giant. Significant time would pass before I adjusted to limbs too long and weak to combat the constantly crushing constraint of the amplified gravity.
Part Two – 9 feet tall (@ Scrawlers)
The others here have shown me their plan to get off this planet. A tunnel boring through the entire world. Once complete, the insane gravitational force will slingshot something (or someone) through the tunnel, generating enough velocity to escape.
Days I slave with them to elongate the tunnel. I outwork them easily; gravity hasn’t had time to crush me yet. Towering over them at nine feet tall, I still have hope. Nights are spent staring into the bottomless darkness, wondering how much work can be squeezed out of me before I’m like them? How far left to go?
Part Three – 6 feet tall (@ Scrawlers)
This is the last of the vessels. They are the interstellar version of messages in bottles, potential tickets off this demented desert island. The vessel drops into the tunnel, whistling terribly as it accelerates toward the center of the planet. I immediately scan the horizon. Other spotters are better situated than I am to confirm successful launch, but, stretching to my full six-foot height, I can see our final hope shoot across the sky, emerging from the other side of the planet as a tiny meteor.
None of the other vessels have come back. That should give me hope.
Part Four – 3 feet tall (@ Scrawlers)
I don’t know how long I have been here, I can only mark the passing of time by my diminishing height. Based on the others, at three feet tall it’s essentially over for me. Soon the compression will progress to the point where my internal organs are crushed and the planet will finally be victorious over the last of its inhabitants.
This is no sure thing, but I know I cannot stay here. My muscles, mangled by stretches and compressions, are too weak to achieve any kind of jump, so I awkwardly tumble forward into the bottomless pit.
The latest entry in the 100 x 100 series.
Legacy Sleep and Stay (@ Scrawlers)
The hotel’s old neon sign had been there for decades.
Flashing four words in sequence with a directing arrow
arriving late at the bottom of the sign.
“He was old. It was his time.” she says.
Her eyes are red because she’s been crying,
My eyes burn because I won’t.
We stare at lights changing in front of us,
commanding and shepherding our movements.
We take a left and drive toward the cemetery.
“Stay” I whisper.
A ghost story. Brothers can be cruel.
Followers (@ Scrawlers)
My brother told me there were many kinds of ghosts.
“The only one you need to worry about are the Followers. You know when you’re standing in a dark room convinced there’s something behind you? Followers.”
His voice trailed off. When it came back it was fainter.
“They’re usually harmless, but if you’re stuck with them for too long you go crazy.”
“Some people claw all the skin off the back of their neck trying to get rid of them.”
Silence. Then the lights went off and he locked the door behind him.
Caffeine Withdrawl (@ Scrawlers)
It’s Wednesday, I should be crawling out of bed, shuffling through the morning toward the office, bleary-eyed and sleepy, until I get to the dark steaming center of my ritual.
“No, thanks, Mom.”
As much as I need it, I won’t take coffee from my parents. They drink coffee all day, every day, their authority seemingly derived from the dark roast. Accepting their offer would come with a tacit understanding that I have passed some threshold into adulthood and maturity.
“Are you sure? You look tired.”
“I’m still adjusting to being back home.”
Called On The Carpet (@ Scrawlers)
The door was nearly ripped from its hinges. Rushing down the steps, I take the last five in a single leap and hit the ground running. Behind me I can hear my pursuers slowly gaining.
Caught, I find myself counting my steps as I climb the stairs. Normally, I would take them two at a time but my feet are insistent on providing me more time to imagine the upcoming humiliation. If I had taken that approach when I started on this mission of mayhem I probably wouldn’t be five steps away from that foreboding door.
This one was difficult, mostly because Bradbury’s story (on the surface) is about an old guy’s erection. Sorry, that just didn’t really inspire me. I eventually landed on laughter as the theme for the story.
Lena’s Last Request Was To Be Buried At Sea (@ Scrawlers)
Living with someone for an extended period of time, one starts to develop an awareness of an internal scale of transgressions. I know, depending on the stoniness of the silence, how long it will take you to let me off the hook. Although at times it can be a bit of a risk, if I can make you laugh, I know there’s a chance that it will all be forgotten by bedtime.
With that in mind, I have prepared for you an interpretive dance entitled, “I Didn’t Know Your Mother Found Ole and Lena Jokes Offensive”. Please enjoy.
Oh, and the punchline is that Ole drowned trying to dig her grave.
Nothing but dialogue in this one, I toyed with making the digger dig something specific (a big pit, graves, etc.) but I left it a little more open ended. If I were to lengthen this one, the setting would be pretty bleak, like the landscapes in The Assassination of Jesse James. Saw part of that movie again this weekend, I forgot how beautiful and haunting it was.
Winter (@ Scrawlers)
“What’s he doing out there?”
“Search me. Looks like he’s digging.”
“He’s dedicated. He started clear over there last week.”
“Someone should go talk to him, find out what’s going on.”
“I’ll be the one, once he finishes putting holes in his yard he’ll probably start in on mine.”
“This is quite the project you’ve got here, what’s the occasion?”
“Are you crazy? It’s May! You’re standing there in shorts. Take a break, winter isn’t for six months yet.”
“Winter is always coming.”
This one is about stories. It started as a weird reversal of my own story-telling style, but then veered off in this direction. So I’m not quite sure what to make of it, I’m not even sure if it’s complete right now, I may have to revisit this.
Teller of Terrible Tales (@ Scrawlers)
She’s wearing this hooded thing, almost a wrap. With a little more daring it could be a superhero-length cape waving nobly in the breeze. Instead it’s a short red cloak with a drawstring tied under her chin.
There was something odd in the way the string was tied. It was tangled in an intricate knot that would require hours to correctly navigate the twists and turns necessary to recreate the same snarl.
She made some excuse (sick grandmother) when I offered my company. I’m not her type; turns out she goes for the big, bad boy types.
I read this one shortly after spending an awful long time in an airport, so I wasn’t really feeling the miracle of flight. So here’s my take on a particularly frustrating day at the airport:
Carry On (@ Scrawlers)
The muffled, artificially cheerful voice came on over the loudspeaker, startling the miniature dog across the aisle. A head poked out from a pink plush prison, alert and searching. Ears cocked, it listened attentively to the newest update.
I had read somewhere that some animals have no sense of the passage of time. To them, a flight delayed two hours would be no different from one that departed on time.
Among the rolled eyes and exhaled sighs, the tiny head retreated. We both settled in to wait until freedom was granted again.
I was struck by the description of the beggar’s face, so I went for a story revolving around striking features.
The Oracle (@ Scrawlers)
As I stood, stationary for the first time in days, all the miles that had chased me here finally ran me down and struck me with a physical force. I steeled myself, struggling to remain upright as I waited for the caretakers.
Legends were told about people with faces like these. In each retelling, the gray eyes would grow more piercing, thin lips would pull tighter as they regarded me. To faces like these, speech was unnecessary, my thoughts were already known and shared among them.
Their words should not have surprised me.
“Why have you come all this way?”
On the eve of battle, both the general and the drummer boy know the next day will have enormous consequences for both of them. That was my inspiration here, although it’s pretty clear I also had Bradbury’s “Sound of Thunder” in mind as well.
Time Traveller (@ Scrawlers)
I sit on the balcony watching the lightning on the horizon.
I had changed something. Even after all the training and all the dire warnings, I broke the rules. When I came out of the machine, everyone was flush with the excitement of success. I was ashamed to admit that I had let them down. Dire consequences had been promised for the slightest error, but two hours after I returned, the present remained unchanged to my eyes.
I sit on the balcony and wait for the rolls of thunder.