No Way Out

The mountains do not own the stage. Deep in the valley, a forgotten race prepares for the harvest with a gory ritual that offers no compromise to a demanding deity. Shek Mola has until sunrise to escape.
Hola Valley, Norway
Jón Ragnarsson via Compfight
Bound between two saplings, the brave young man barely has enough freedom to twist his limbs. Yet, possessed of a strength born of desperation, he pulls the trees together until he can grasp the thick vines around his left arm with the spindly fingers of his right hand. The fingers become a unified claw – there won’t be a second chance at this.

Shek pulls the vines to his teeth. His muscles protest – they are more used to throwing rocks and chasing girls. His strong jaw gnashes the bitter vegetation. Too late, he realizes that the elders have foreseen this; his mouth begins to burn from the sap of poison ivy.

Still, with fierce determination, he chews through his bindings until, at last, they break away. He is left with the trivial task of freeing his other three limbs, while drawing harsh breaths through swollen lips and itching tongue.

As the last vine drops to the valley floor, the sun peeks over the rim. Shek fears he has lost the race against time, for an actual apparition solidifies before him. She is dressed in white. Henna fangs are drawn on her chin. Incongruously, she holds a clutch of wildflowers.

Embarrassed by his nakedness, Shek strains to recognize this person. Praying to another god, he hopes that she is from the far village. His prayer is answered. The lovely stranger glides up to him and presents the wildflowers. It is the universal romantic gesture of a wedding proposal.

He is to be a sacrifice, after all.


The vignette above is based on a writing prompt from LissThomas.com

I chose these five words: sacrifice actual person romantic compromise

Dark and Stormy

It was a dark, stormy night and the roads were deserted. I had just pulled up to a red light when I heard it. Lucy gurgled painfully and exhaled with a deep finality.

“Well, that’s that,” thought I. I called the emergency room to cancel our unscheduled visit. I would never forget how easily my mind slipped gears, almost in tune with the death mobile. For that’s what it had become, a stark, rolling reminder that the light is not always green on the other side of the street.

Indeed, that night, the stupid light had chosen that moment to malfunction. I sat for ten minutes, as the last echoes of eternal hope sprang away into the mist. I had finally stopped listening for a resumption of Lucy’s ragged breathing and, only then, focused as I was on “the arrangements”, did I realize that the light hadn’t changed.

Funny thing, that light. Years later, I rolled through that same part of town, as a police officer. I no longer cared about such pedestrian conventions as red means stop. A flick of a switch and I would be rolling. So, yes, I was rolling through that intersection when I heard it.

The phantom echo of my true love’s final breath.


The vignette above is based on a writing prompt from Girl Who Reads .

Reapers

Total brightness, like a television with a broken contrast knob, beckoned the passengers of the Wingohocking Cruise Lines flagship, Rainbow Fairy. At first, everyone thought it was part of the evening’s entertainment. But, as the light continued to float around their heads, a collective consciousness began to echo throughout the ballroom.

The ripples translated to panic, anxiety and an overwhelming urge to be alone. Somebody wondered aloud, “nerve gas?” Others, less inclined to introspective navel gazing, shot out of chairs, grabbed husbands or wives and made a beeline for the exits. The ripples intensified into a visible ribbon that seem to glisten and flow like a translucent ground fog.

The curious speculator put a finger to his lip. This view, noted by no one, actually changed the course of events. The fog, not used to being questioned, tried to share a sense of urgency with the mesmerized individual. This backfired into pandemonium for the already fleeing passengers; they suddenly got the nauseating sensation that the ship was beginning to list.

The fog was pissed off. That one fool caused the reaper to lose most of its harvest.
All in.. Now all out! kenjonbro via Compfight


Copyright © 2013 by Mitchell Allen

Originally appeared on CreativeCopyChallenge #309.

This is for my Friend, Jace Daniels. Congratulations on winning the 2012 First Look Project for best Horror / Thriller screenplay!

Time Out of Mind

February 1, 2237
Aura shed her number. She had finally reached the Mount! The thin air made her head spin. This was it? Where were her friends and family?

January 31, 2237
Hark 44 opened his eyes slowly, fearful that his malfunctioning contacts would admit too much sunlight. As consciousness flooded his brain, he shook off the heavy mantle of artificially induced sleep. He rolled off the bed, seconds before he would remember that he and two other social misfits had camped on a ledge. He fell to his death at 9.8 meters per second squared. Good – he remembered his lessons.

January 30, 2237
Hark 45 politely declined the joint. Gawk 13 would pester him all night but, if Hark 45 wanted to get to the True Nirvana, it wouldn’t do to go tumbling off the edge of the cliff tomorrow. Gawk 13 was on the verge of reaching the Twelve Steps – he should know better than to lead others astray.

January 29, 2237
Jaw 89 tried to poke her head through her mother’s navel. Oops, wrong way.

January 28, 2237
Gawk 14 said a prayer over the stillborn child. He recorded the name on a disposable chip: Jaw 90, baby girl. He took the joint from the mother. The drained woman did not even put up a fuss. Too bad Aura 2 did not have this attitude before she went into labor. She’d be dead by the end of the month.

Alone: In the Wild Dave Morrow via Compfight


Copyright © 2013 by Mitchell Allen

Originally appeared on CreativeCopyChallenge #304.

Shall We Dance?

Fraudulent use of the Clinton, Ohio Wormhole for last-minute shopping trips to Hoboken, New Jersey created a minor economic maelstrom in both cities. When word got out that Clintonians had found a way to beat the teleportation tax, thousands of consumers converged on Clinton – some from as far as twenty miles away!

Sadly, most folks didn’t realize that the loop-hole was simply a super-slick Möbius March along the inner wall of the wormhole. Since a march took twice as long as a tunneling, the effective savings from not paying the tax came to about ten cents per hour. The shoppers wouldn’t have cared, anyway. Society was at the point where people were not satisfied until they could violate at least one policy before breakfast.

Despite the minuscule effect on individual pocketbooks, the macroscopic calamity of the collective caused the closure of the Main Street Variety Store in Clinton, and the sharp rise of top hat prices in Hoboken. Abigail Higginbotham rolled up the awning one last time before she Möbius Marched to Hoboken to buy vanilla-scented pyjamas for her grandchildren. Yes, the irony was lost on her. Perhaps she was too set in her pecuniary ways to see the teeth marks on her hands.

Fred Gingham closed the report. As he handed it back to the eager reporter, he declared, “The Beacon Journal has no use for such fluff pieces. Why don’t you go cover the mayor’s emergency plan for the impending heat wave?”

Roger Alistair snorted. He would not be put off so easily. “Look, Fred. You have plenty of flacks who can follow the fleet or cover the story of Vernon and Irene Castle. Those reporters are carefree. Me? I got a degree in economics and I have a responsibility to the citizens of Akron!”

Fred laughed. “Um, you do know that people buy our paper for the coupons, right? They’re not interested in your information products or your clever interpretation of the Las Vegas Hookers Guild vs. the Mann Act!” With uncharacteristic rudeness, Fred shoved Roger toward the exit.

“Hey, that was some of my best work!” Roger stumbled over the threshold clumsily. As he walked away, defeated, he noticed a top hat rolling along the pavement. As there was no owner in sight, he picked it up, dusted it off and plopped it on his head. A merry tune intruded on his dark thoughts and he sauntered down the street, humming Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off!
I Found a Wormhole! Steve Schroeder via Compfight


Copyright © 2013 by Mitchell Allen

Originally appeared on CreativeCopyChallenge #303.