Original Fiction: The Ghosts of Contests Past

It’s been a long time since I posted any of my fiction. Writing is a personal business, and it’s always hard to share it with the world. But this is supposed to be a blog about my writing, and not just my freelancing, either.

Recently, I was looking through the old writing contests held by myself and a few other writers over at TrekUnited.com before the site essentially died. I found a lot of my stories there that I’d forgotten even existed, and I wanted to give them new life. Some of them might not be very good, but it was interesting to stretch myself as a writer, if nothing else.

Don’t worry; they’re not Star Trek stories. The contests just happened to take place on a Trek site.

Each contest would have a prompt — either a word, phrase, or a picture — and I’ve included the prompt for each story.

All stories are © Tyler F.M. Edwards.

Enjoy!

The Fall:

Prompt: “Crumble into chaos” plus the following picture:

A photo used as the prompt for my story, "The Fall"The distant screams faded away as he headed deeper into the park. It was quiet here, peaceful. Everything was neat and orderly, arranged into a harmonious union of nature and civilization. It was late autumn, and the bright flowers, emerald leaves, and lush grass of summer had faded, but they had only given way to a starker kind of beauty.

He headed down the white stone paths, admiring the gentle clatter of barren branches in the wind, the subtle play of mist along the ground, and and the refreshingly cold air. The day was overcast and grim, but still beautiful. He tried to savor it all without wasting too much time. There was little time left to waste.

He came to a steep stone bridge over a tranquil canal. He walked to its top and looked out. From here, he could see the order of the park spread out before him and gain an impression of the city beyond. And of the fires outside it. Out beyond the city, the bleak but pure gray clouds gave way to churning red-black skies.

He could hear the screaming again. The forces of chaos were closing in.

His gaze again swept the park, and a single tear rolled down his cheek. All this would soon pass away. All things must end, and soon, all things would. The fight was nearly over. The enemy had won.

But there was still one act of defiance left to him.

He looked down at the mirror surface of the canal. The bridge’s reflection seemed to link up to the actual structure, forming a perfect ring. It gave the place an uncanny quality–but there was more to that than an unusual reflection. This bridge was located at the exact center of the park — in fact, the very center of the city, the last bit of land unclaimed by chaos — and that gave it power. But even before that, it had been a place of significance, of wild energy never fully tamed. That was why the city had been built around it.

Once, his people had been great, and he had been among the greatest of them. He extended his hands, calling on the last vestiges of that power. A thin bubble formed between his palms, and images flickered within it. Some were images of nature: trees, grass, the sunrise, the flow of stars across the night sky. Others were of people: a laugh, a quite moment between two lovers, a child at play. It contained an echo of everything that had once been good in the world.

He separated his hands, and the bubble slowly drifted down until it disappeared into the water of the canal. The forces of chaos were about to destroy the last unclaimed holdout of order, but the future would hold more than the utter desolation they sought. One day, long in the future, the seed he had planted would sprout, and the world would begin anew. It would not be the same as it had once been, but it would be good in its own way.

The last of the city’s defenses had now failed. Flames licked the trees at the edge of the park. The sky churned maddeningly. The terrified screams of his people were giving way to the frenzied cries of a thousand thousand fallen souls, the darkest parts of history dredged up to bring about its end, the forces of chaos.

As the last bastion of order crumbled into chaos, he felt himself do the same. He at last gave way to grief within him, turning it into a searing rage. He tore the fires from his enemies’ control, swirling them into a vast whirlwind above his head. And then, as they closed in, he unleashed their own power against them, his furious howls mingling with the roar of the flame.

The Tale of the Sentient Solstice:

Prompt: “Sentient solstice.”

Come close, my boy, and I will tell you the tale of the Sentient Solstice.

Those in the cities will tell you it’s a myth, an old superstition. But it’s all too real, my boy.

In everything, there dwells a soul. In you and I, yes, but also in the trees and the grass, the stone and the water. For most things, that soul lies dormant. But once every few years, when the days are longest or shortest, those souls waken, and things come alive.

Lock your doors and seal the shutters on the Sentient Solstice, my boy, for it is a perilous time. Do not walk in the woods, or your bones will hang from the branches. Do not walk upon the fields, or your flesh will fertilize them. Do not swim in the waters, or you will never see the surface again. Do not walk upon the roads, or the soil will swallow you whole.

Some say it is punishment for man’s crimes against nature. Some say the other souls are envious of the fact we never go dormant. But all who are wise agree that the only safe spot on the Sentient Solstice is barricaded within your home, where you are outside the reach of the trees’ grasping branches and the hungry earth.

So remember the Sentient Solstice, my boy, and beware, for on that day, all things come alive, and man has no sway.

Remember:

Prompt:

Art used as a prompt for my story, "Remember"He still remembered the war. He remembered the sting of shrapnel and the screams of his friends. He remembered the thunder of artillery, and he remembered death.

He remembered the funerals. He remembered the grave markers, row on row, before the church, and he remembered the weeping of friends and family. He remembered, too, when the war had spread, and this place had been abandoned. He remembered watching the church fall into disrepair, and the graves of his friends go untended.

Now, alone on this mountaintop, he remembered, but no one else did. He knew not if the war had ended or if it continued still, but years had passed, and no one, friend or foe, had come in all that time. He alone of all the people in the world still kept to this place and remembered the sacrifices of the past.

He could not rest. To do so would be to betray the memory of his fallen friends. And so he stayed by their side, as he had in life, through the cold mountain winters and the bright summers, through rain and sleet and the passage of time. Alone on the mountain, he kept his endless vigil, and he remembered.

The Monkey:

Prompt: A monkey wearing a beret.

I’m home now, but I used to do a lot of traveling. Had some of that — what do you call it? — wanderlust, I guess. Never could stay put. Always wanted to keep moving on.

I went all over the world. I’ve been to more weirdo hangouts and forgotten towns than I can even remember. I’ve seen things you can’t imagine in places you’ve never heard of.

The weirdest place of all was this little bar on the bad side of nowhere. It was around sunset, and I was hoping they could get me a drink and maybe tell me someplace I could stay for the night.

Right away, I could tell it was a strange place. When you’ve seen as many as I have, you kinda get a sense for it. The decorations were just a little too far to the left of normal; the cigarette smoke was just a little too thick. I shoulda turned around then, but I was tired.

I shuffled up to the bar, looking around. They had this big pool table covered in purple felt — I mean, really, everyone knows pool tables are supposed to be green — and the jukebox was playing what sounded like Elvis songs covered by a teenage Russian girl. Just strange, man.

The clientele were damn strange too, though I don’t remember much about most of ‘em. A few had eye patches and other weird crap that made them look like cartoons. I remember they didn’t seem to like the look of me. Guess they didn’t get a lot of strangers around there. I can understand why.

I sat down at the bar and ordered a drink. They gave me something that I guess was supposed to be beer. I glanced over to my right, and I saw a monkey sitting at the end of the bar.

That’s right. A monkey.

He was old and shriveled up like a prune, and he was glaring at me like it was his stool I was sitting on. He was chompin’ this huge cigar, and he had a beret on.

Now just think about that for a minute. A monkey wearing a beret. Chomping a cigar and giving me the stink eye. Weirdest damn thing I ever saw.

Anyway, after that, I decided it was time to come home.

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