“We react to what is in front of our eyes, not what the other possibilities may be. Our survival mechanisms are designed that way perhaps, taking in and processing what needs to be dealt with in the waking world of the moment.
“Yet we are also designed in such a way that we can at least conceive of those greater realities. Curiosity, imagination, thoughts, hopes and dreams… through these we touch a different reality every day that has its own inner life for us…”
Just a snippet from the wonderful perspective of Sue Vincent.
It is snowing again as I write. Have you ever watched a snowstorm and wondered just how many snowflakes were falling? Or how many had ever fallen? A million snowflakes, apparently, will only cover a patch two feet square by ten inches deep. A quarter of the landmass of the planet gets snow every year and how many winters have come and gone since the first snowflake fell? The mind boggles at the sheer impossibility of the number.
Yet, if one could ignore space and time and be everywhere and every-when at once it would, theoretically at least, be possible to count them. Even taking all future snowfalls for the projected lifetime of our planet into consideration, it would be a finite number. There was, once upon a time, a very first snowflake to fall. There will be a last. There would come a point where there were no…
“Hey! Wait up!” Pal gasped out the request, to no avail. The strange boy turned the edge beyond his view, taking all sight and sound of his movement with his retreating form. Pal leaned over his knees in crouched, deep-breathing pain from the chase. His heavy gasps echoed inside his helmet.
He’d need to keep going, he knew. He only had a few tics until -too late. Before his ground-pointed eyes, everything shifted and morphed. If his headgear were not equipped with anti-vertigo software, Pal would have retched at the twisting, swarming, mixing colors and land forms. He had no idea how the boy he pursued, apparently unencumbered by gear, could continue on through these conditions. How the boy could move so quickly. How the boy even existed, really.
Pal looked up from the sky beneath his feet, noted the re-orientation of his surroundings, and promptly crashed to the surface above him. “Eurgh,” he groaned, feeling the sluggishness and some of the bruising while his suit’s systems kicked in. He rose as it mended; scouted around.
Before this last shift he had been skidding around contoured shapes that rose from sand-like material. The ambient light had been annoyingly bright, yet also a pleasant shade of pink. Now, Pal noted, he seemed to be in a city. This city was unlike any he’d been in before, but not unlike images he’d studied at elementary training. “These are buildings,” his memory heard an artificial instructor note. “Homo sapiens sapiens inhabited and busied itself within these structures.”
Keeping his feet moving forward, Pal tilted his head back. The buildings reached beyond his sight. What a miserable, backwards way to exist. He supposed all species must start somewhere, but could never understand why his ancestors’ timeline progressed from perfection to disaster. Why had his progenitors constantly sought what was worse?
He heard a sound and snapped to attention. A face with large, crescent eyes peered at him from around a building just ahead. The boy.
Pal sprinted without thought toward his quarry. The boy rushed from hiding and pulled ahead, as he had since Pal first materialized and saw him. Both ran down the middle space between the tall, tall structures to either side. The ground felt soft, appeared white. Pal could see his footfalls leaving imprints in the material, though the boy’s odd tread did not. The dark shapes to either side seemed to melt away from them as they passed; no, they were melting away. Pal glanced right and left as he ran, witnessing the anomaly.
He wondered, yet again, what this destination really was. Clearly, it was not merely a physical location. No location they’d researched had behaved as this place did; morphing, moving, and melting like a living optical illusion.
Pal knew he was nearly at the end of his exploratory tic and would dissolve back to Central soon. He set his jaw, determined to gather more information before that happened. Since the ever-changing location proved intangible for collection purposes, Pal sought to catch the one constant he had encountered: the boy.
His suit worked overtime to compensate for energy and nitrogen loss. At his current rate, he would exhaust both and need to rest as he had before. And before that. And, before that. Surely, this time, he could draw near enough to catch the boy. Surely, he could get answers to return with.
The atmosphere darkened. A sound similar to a loud clap came from ahead, from the boy. To Pal’s surprise, the sky in front of them both molded into a dark sphere upon the dark of the air. Totally black at first; an outline of winking light grew to shine from the base and sides of the sphere.
As they drew nearer, Pal felt himself drawn to the new anomaly. Literally. The sensation felt like the projection arm of a spacecraft. He fought a natural panic, but explorer training calmed his initial reactions. “Always act decisively within your means,” another memory of an artificial instructor intoned. Pal ran on.
His wrist beeped a warning: a mere moment till dissolvement.
He strove to move more quickly but his speed was no longer his own. The boy and he were being pulled inexorably toward the eclipsed horizon. The buildings melted faster. Pal’s treads in the groundstuff deepened and blurred. His visuals clouded somewhat at the edges as he tried to keep the boy in sight.
Another beep sounded, then another. It was time.
Just as Pal’s body began to piece to data for dissolving, he saw the most unusual illusion of them all: an inverted flip of boy, buildings, sphere, and sky. Where once he knew the dark outlines of running youth and landscape; Pal saw the whitespace image of a gaping, grinning face. A face that swallowed the boy. A face that looked at him.
Written in response to D. Wallace Peach‘s extremely popular prompt. She just might get all 300 daily responses posted before she decides that April would be a good time for a vacation…
I’m a bit late in posting this, but I wanted to write my final love poem of the (last) week to my favorite holiday in February, Half-Price Chocolate Day (February 15).
I also write this in response to Carrot Ranch‘s weekly writing prompt.*
Excuse me, ma’am, I know it’s bright, My coming here at break of light; Yet, may I guess you’re here to mark Down hearts and cards within this cart? ‘Yes,’ you say? You’ve made my day! -But, wait! What of the wall this way? The bags and boxes here, you know, Are why I woke up, braved the snow. They’re why, my diet I’ll ignore; Why, really, I came to this store; And why, no joke, my world still turns For what my beating heart still yearns: My meaning, purpose, lifetime vice Is V Day choc’late, sold half price.
*Carrot Ranch’s official rules: February 14, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about valentines. It can be Valentine’s Day, the exchange, love for another, romance, or friendship. Have a heart and go where the prompt leads!
Respond by February 19, 2019. Use the comment section [on the site] to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. Rules & Guidelines.
Why does I freeze in Maine year round?
Shouldn’t I be Florida bound?
Palm trees, iced tea, flickering fleas,
And green pies made with limes of key!
Unless, of course, my ship runs aground.
Congratulations, Molly! You are the most terrible poet of the week!
Admittedly, Molly’s ‘B’ lines of her limerick were longer than is traditional, but I could only see how much that added to the terrible nature of her construction. I also liked her near-rhymes, her references that somewhat-related to a theme, and that she kept to a limerick format (in general).
I had so much fun reading through the other entries, even if the writers did not read all the directions. Or, to their credit, maybe they felt too shy to write a limerick. For the others, great work! So funny!
Speaking of the others, here they are in submission order:
“Just past The Swamp of Misery,” Alvin huffed. “Just past The Swamp of Misery…”
Though his whisper was barely audible in the frigid air, the man just ahead stopped and looked back. An icicle-crusted cloth obscured most of his face, yet he still managed to scowl. “I swear,” he said, his speech muffled, “If ye dunnae stop, ye’ll shortly be asking yer ANCESTORS about The Swamp of Misery!” He faced forward again and continued walking.
Alvin hadn’t even the breath to sigh. Given that, he doubted the other man’s threat had much clout behind it. They were all worn out, cold, and on edge. They’d been at this quest for the longest fortnight of any man’s life: rising in the dark, stopping after the next night’s dark, and sleeping round a sorry excuse for a campfire. And the weather was always, always cold.
If not for a small supply of bottled ale, Alvin felt sure he’d be as frozen a man as that statue up ahead.
Statue? Statue?! “STATUE!!” he yelled, stopping so suddenly he was hit from behind by the next man. Alvin fell to the ground but scrabbled up again. Snow flew from his waving arms and dusted back. “Giant! Statue! We made it!” Pointing and almost hopping, he shouted through his own mouth scarf.
His neighbors to front and back looked where he motioned in a comically slow fashion and blinked their frosted lashes. They pointed, they shouted, they turned to men near them and relayed the message. Soon a chorus of muffled male voices was crying out in disarrayed joy. Arms waved, mittened hands gestured, and petrified limbs found life.
Hope renewed, the company trudged onward with greater speed. Alvin’s feet crunched in time to the rest: Frosted. Giant. Frosted. Giant. It was just as The Druid had described -albeit much farther a walking distance than they had all anticipated from her, “…just beyond The Swamp of Misery” direction.
Up the whitefold hill they trudged; and up, and up. Alvin’s sweating breath exhaled cloudy puffs with the beat of his boots. Though still excited, the men’s synchronized hike faltered on icy rocks and the powder-coated trail. After a half day’s exertions, however, all managed to clamber to the great, gaping base of The Frosted Giant.
Alvin and his companions stared at the dragonlike mouth carved before them, traced its mouth to a pair of nostrils, followed the nostrils to the upper part of a bearded man, then ended at the sunset-glinted, shaggy head of the giant himself.
“The Frosted Giant,” Alvin whispered, and was promptly punched in the arm. “Ow!”
“Told ye I’d teach ye,” a familiar, cloth-wrapped voice said. The man behind it ambled off behind a few others, whom Alvin could see were setting up camp. He followed, rubbing at his arm. Soon the whole company of men were warming themselves around their usual, ineffective fire.
“Right,” grunted the leader, shifting his scarf to below his bearded chin and smiling. Given the frozen state of his facial hair, the friendly expression was more of a grimace. “We made it.”
Eighteen heads bearing varying levels of frost nodded ascent. A few grunted as well.
Alvin could hardly contain his excitement. Forgetting his sore arm and what caused it, he blurted, “Now, we’ve only another fortnight or so till the next destination: The Scorching Phoenix!”
Beside learning the awfulness that is terrible poetry construction, I feel a lesson is in order regarding limericks. A limerick follows a rhyming pattern (AABBA). It follows a specific meter; the Lords of Wikipedia say that is an anapaest meter.