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Writer's Group 10: Ostranenie
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Tenshi



Joined: 18 Apr 2008
Posts: 2594
Location: Star Stuff

PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, ax, something like that. Except, in this case, you don't know where it comes from either. Therefor you must figure out it's properties. In the case of cheese, we would understand that it is smelly and somewhat soft when warm. It warms to the touch, and has a strange taste (tough not altogether unpleasant). If left alone for extended periods of time, it turns green. Now, is it soap? Was it a fragrance that the people enjoyed, and so rubbed on their bodies for the scent? Was it some sort of ward against pests? I mean, what could it be? Would you even WANT to try and taste it after smelling it? Maybe it's a form of wax, or a writing tool. Does it burn? Does it leave marks on other material? Does it have a color, therefore is it a dye?

If you didn't know what cheese was, and nobody was around to tell you, what would you think and what conclusions could you draw?
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Keeper of the Siderean Swords

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Talps



Joined: 26 May 2009
Posts: 134
Location: Merrie olde Englande

PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right, well, probably should have read through this at least once more before posting but I have a busy few weeks ahead, so...

I've got a fair bit of the 'de-familiarisation' I think, if not oodles of ostrichnanie (how many times can I make that joke before it gets old?)

Also, there are a couple of 'geek' jokes in here, but don't take offence :p The opinions expressed by these characters are not necessarily those of the author. Also, this does contain nudity, but not in a perverted way.

Oh yeah, PC World and Comet are large technology shops, and 'plaster' is to the English what I think 'band aid' is to the Americans.
This is a little over 3000 words long, so it's not exactly titchy.

Get ready for another very experimental title...



Objective (Adj):
1. Free of bias or prejudice
2. Based on facts, rather than thoughts or opinions
3. Observable to an outsider
4. Existing independently from the mind of the observer



She opened her eyes – which was strange. She had never done that before. Above her was the dark sky, speckled with pale stars and stained by red-orange ambience.

She sat up, then froze. Gosh, she had sat up! What was going on? She rocked back and forth, feeling her back curve; she wiggled her tummy and bounced her shoulders. Shoulders! She had shoulders! What on Earth… And she didn’t stop there; she had arms, hips, legs between her and her feet! Very slowly and very carefully she pulled her legs up beneath her and – holding her arms out stiff to help her balance – raised herself onto her feet. She wobbled, flung out her arms and found her balance. Then she stood very still for a long time until she was used to it.

She was so cold! She carefully tucked her elbows against her sides and then, when she was sure she wasn’t going to fall over, wrapped her arms around her chest. It was freezing! She was shaking; there was an odd clicky sound and it took a few seconds to realise that she had teeth and they were knocking together! She had teeth! She had teeth! SHE had teeth! She had lips, mouth, nose, and eyes! Of course, she could look up at the sky and the image had depth! Eyes weren’t as good as she had imagined. Things were dimmer and harder to see than she would have thought and she couldn’t see most of what was around her; just dark shapes against the sky.

She took a tentative step forward, rocked, took another to stop herself falling and then found her balance and stood still again. She stopped, breathing hard, and then found a new marvel. “I’m breathing,” She said aloud, just to see if she could, and the words were startlingly clear. It was amazing! She hadn’t even realised she was doing it! The effort it normally took to do anything, to wake up, to go to sleep, to cool herself down when she was working too hard… And now she was doing a million things without even thinking about it! She was breathing; she could faintly feel the solid sensation of something pumping in her chest and the thought that she had a heart and blood was…

Well, actually it was mildly disgusting but she pushed that thought aside and took another step, rubbing her hands on her naked arms. It was so cold!

Her sight seemed to be getting stronger. She stumbled towards a wall to her side and ran a stiff hand over it – fingers were just too much at the moment. The surface was rough and unpleasant, but keeping that hand pressed against the wall she staggered forwards. How were you supposed to stand on these stupid legs?! She thought about squirming along the ground on her arms but she felt it would be slower, and she wanted to escape the cold!

There was another wall close on her right, parallel to the one she was following. But above, behind and ahead she could see the sky. She staggered forwards. She was suddenly drawn to the feeling of her skin; smooth, slightly grippy and so… pliable, so elastic! It was like nothing she had felt or been before! She had skin; she had joints in weird places! She had a beating heart and lungs that breathed without being told! She was real; she was alive; she was– OW!

She stumbled and fell in a heap on the ground, ow! Ow! OW! What was this feeling? She untangled her limbs and dragged one of her feet in front of her. There was something on her hand, sticky and warm. Investigation using her poor eyesight and her odd, wiggly fingers revealed that something had cut open the skin on the bottom of her foot and this warm, sticky liquid was leaking out; blood, she realised, fitting this experience with the information on her head, and shuddered. And this bad feeling was coming from the cut in her foot, and from her elbow and knee, where she had scraped herself falling over. She knew if you lost too much blood you died. But how did you stop it? She tried clasping the skin on her foot together but that made the bad feeling so much worse, and if anything made more blood come out. What was she going to do?

There seemed to be no choice. She pushed herself to her feet and staggered forwards, trying to stop the hurt foot touching the ground too much. The feeling was worse if you put weight on it. With all she had learnt about injury and bleeding, why hadn’t she learnt about making the bleeding stop? Maybe she needed bandages, she thought, grasping at vague information, barely understood at the time. Well she didn’t have them. She didn’t even have clothes, and that was probably trouble enough. She hobbled forwards and finally came out from the walls. She was standing now on the edge of a wide, flat stretch of what seemed to be rock stretching away on both sides, and on her side and the opposite side of the line were… houses. Houses where people lived, with clothes and bandages. She hobbled towards the nearest door.

* * * * *

Ben Davy was not happy to be woken by his doorbell at 4:13 in the morning, especially as he had intended to be in bed until at least midday. Come on; his morning lecture had been cancelled so surely it was his right to spend the entire morning in bed!

At 4:15 he began uttering curses against every person he could think of who might be hanging on his doorbell in the early hours of the morning. One of his friends, drunk, he guessed. Well they could go and ring someone else’s doorbell! He put his pillow over his head. He wished one of his housemates was in, but they’d all gone home early for Easter.

Finally, at 4:21 it was becoming depressingly clear that whoever they were, they weren’t going to go away, so he flopped out of bed, pulled on some jeans and a t-shirt and staggered down stairs. “Alright, I’m coming,” He muttered as the bell rang again. Getting ready to start yelling, he jerked open his front door. The rant collapsed in his throat; the woman on his doorstep was both a stranger and totally and utterly naked. “Huh?”

“You!” She declared.

His brain suddenly realised what his eyes were focussed on and they snapped up to her face. She was looking furious! “Wuh?”

“You!” She shouted again, louder.

Desperately trying to shake himself awake, he choked, “Uh, you’re naked.”

“That’s it?! That’s all you have to say?! You throw me out in the trash and that’s all you have to say!?”

His brain was cycling like mad. Who on Earth was this woman? Fearful that the neighbours would look out to see him being shouted at by this naked woman, he stepped back, “You better come in?”

She glowered at him but stepped through the door, stumbling as she did. She was drunk, he decided. She had to be!

“You want me to call the police or something?”

“Only for yourself!”

Why was she so angry at him? “Um, I mean, are you lost or something?”

“LOST! You’ve already forgotten who I am?!”

He closed the door behind her in a hurry. “Look,” He said desperately, keeping his eyes fixed on her face, “I don’t know who you are, but-”

“You have forgotten me!” She shouted, “All my life spent slaving away for you, night and day, and then you chuck me out and forget who I am!”

“Chuck you out? We’ve never even met before!”

“Hah!” She said, and now there were tears in her eyes, “I bet you’ve already replaced me!” She gave a sniff that was perhaps meant to be scornful but was more tearful, “Don’t think I wasn’t looking, all that time on PC World and Comet, looking at cover plans and RAM capacities! Well if I’d known you were going to forget about me so completely, I would’ve let myself burst into flames!”

“Hang on, hang on!” He said wildly, “I… But I didn’t take anyone with me to PC World, and I didn’t even go to Comet in the end!”

“I bet she’s Windows Seven, isn’t she? Out comes Seven, and Vista’s a thing of the past! Don’t act dumb with me!”

He raised his hands pleadingly, “I don’t! Know who! You arrrrre!” He rasped.
She looked at him scornfully, “What a thing to tell a girl!”

“I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE!” He roared, “We’ve never even met before! I think I’d remember! What did you do, stalk after me when I was shopping for a new laptop?”

She glowered at him furiously. He could barely believe this was happening; he was having an argument with a strange, naked girl about whether he knew who she was or not. Of course he didn’t! He would remember that face; she was – not to put too fine a point on it – very attractive! (Man, he was such a geek.) But she seemed just as convinced that she knew him; how drunk was she?!

She was red faced, angry and hurt. “All that time I spent working for you, and this is what I get? It wasn’t even important stuff most of the time. Stupid forums with your weird friends, and webcomics!” She said it with much distain. “And reading frankly horrible Wikipedia articles! Ha! Complete waste of my life! Why did I have to get landed on you?”

He stared at her, “What do you have to do with that?”

“And signing up that poor twelve year old to those horrible sites, just because he didn’t know how to spell! I hope you’re ashamed of yourself!”

“But no one knows about that! Have you been hacking into my laptop or something?”

She swelled up furiously, “I AM your stupid laptop, idiot!”

“Oh, good grief.”

She glowered, “I am!”

“Oh come on. I can tell you for one thing, my old laptop didn’t have…” He waved a hand desperately, “Oh, good grief.”

She glared.

“Why do you have to be naked?” He wailed, rubbing a sleep-deprived hand over a sleep deprived face.

“I never asked for it!” She said. “And it never worried you before!”

He groaned, “Look, I’m gonna go and get you some clothes; just… stay here.” He started running upstairs.

“Hey!”

He stopped and turned back.

“Is she up there?” She asked dangerously.

He stared at her (her face, thank you) for a moment, then groaned and hurried away to his bedroom.

He returned a moment later with some clothes. “Sorry I’ve got no girl’s stuff,” He said automatically to the space above her head. “When you’re done, just come through here,” He stuffed some jeans, a belt, a t-shirt and underwear into her clothes and hurried through a door.

They were all too big for her but she figured out how a belt worked (why couldn’t he have at least once read the Wikipedia article on belts?) and did alright. The t-shirt had ‘GIVE QUICHE A CHANCE’ written across it and she smiled, remembering ordering that for him. Maybe there was hope, after all.

“Hey,” She said, coming through the door into the living room. He was sat on the sofa. “That’s our chair, isn’t it?” She said, pointing one out.

He stared at it, mystified. “It’s next to a plug socket,” He mumbled. “Is this real?”

She nodded numbly.

“How?” He choked.

“No idea. I was as shocked as you are, really.”

“That old laptop was broken for months! I was lucky to get all my files off before it cut out altogether!” Her eyes narrowed but he went on like a lemming. “Didn’t save everything, either. I was missing half an essay when I transferred the stuff over, and I couldn’t figure out how to save my internet favourites.”

“You gave her my memories?” She whispered venomously.

He looked up in surprise, “Uh, I never thought of it like that before,” He floundered.

“It doesn’t look like you thought about much at all!” She cried.

“Well, s-sorry! If I’d known you were going to… sprout legs and stuff, I wouldn’t’ve…”

“Wouldn’t have what?”

“Uh… chucked you out in the trash, for one thing… But come on; you were broken!”

“So? Would your mum chuck you out if you got the flu? You wouldn’t be working like you’re supposed to!”

“But people get better! You were out of warranty!”

She looked as if she had been slapped around the face. She stormed towards him furiously.

He noticed her hobbling, “Uh, are you alright? You hurt your foot?” He suddenly noticed the trail of blood she was leaving on the carpet and groaned; his landlord was going to kill him! How did you clean a carpet?

“Um,” She put her rage on hold, “Yeah. It doesn’t feel very good.”

“Let’s have a look.” He sat her down on the sofa and examined the bottom of her foot. “I’ll get you a plaster,” He said and ran out of the room again.

It was, she noticed, easier to see inside, and much, much better than she had been able to see with that webcam he had bought her. Humans had amazing vision! Why did they waste it on computer screens?

“Here,” He said, coming back into the room with some thin, pale square and a damp cloth. She was a little nervous of water but let him gently wipe the blood off of her foot, and then he stuck the square thing over the wound.

“What does that do?” She asked.

“Stops you bleeding on my carpet,” He muttered, then louder, “and stops it getting worse, and helps it heal, I guess.”

“Do I have to install a wound healer or something?” She asked obliviously, wondering how humans installed new programs.

“Um, no; your body heals itself.”

“Wow, that’s in your core software?”

“I guess… Is this real?” He asked again.

“I look real,” She replied.

“But you don’t look like my laptop.”

She immediately launched into a rendition of his ‘favourites’ folder, followed by a recital of the essay he had lost and rounding up by singing that awful song he’d written when he was 16 (she got the tune completely wrong).

“Alright, this is weird.”

“You mean this doesn’t happen a lot? I thought this was like, some sort of final program. Where else would new humans come from?”

“Oh, don’t even go there!”

“Look, this isn’t getting us anywhere,” She said. “Just accept it; I’m real.”

“And what am I supposed to do with you? People need an identity, a birth certificate and stuff. You don’t have any records; you don’t exist to the government, so you can’t get a job or anything.”

“Didn’t you keep my invoice?”

“That’s not quite what I meant.”

“Look,” She insisted, “Does that matter? We’ve got each other, right?”

“Whoa, hang on! Whoa! Where are you going with this?”

She looked puzzled. “What does that mean?”

“Come on,” He said, trying to laugh, “You’re a machine, apparently.”

“So?”

He stared at her. Good grief; his laptop had a crush on him. “Um, do all… all computers get a personality like this?” He’d never go near one again! Never!

She shrugged, “I’ve got a brain and a body. The rest just grew itself out of stray data. I don’t know if it happens to all of us. Does it matter?”

“So in five years’ time is this gonna happen to the other one?”

She gave him a deadly look.

“Because if it does, someone’s going to have a lot of explaining to do!” He said loudly. “Look, I didn’t ask for this to happen. Yesterday I didn’t know you could think. If I had known there was a person in you, I wouldn’t’ve thrown you in the rubbish and bought a new one. I’m not some psycho who thinks he can push people around like that!”

She bit her lip. “Alright, I believe you.”

He sagged with relief. “This is really weird.”

She smiled, but nodded. She had a pretty smile. “I know you’re nice to your friends; I’ve been reading your emails for five years.” Her smile turned into a grin. “I remember when you used to boast about how great I was!”

He found himself blushing, “Really, don’t you know why you changed?”

She shrugged again, and then rolled her shoulders a little, apparently enjoying the feeling. “Maybe you just have a way with things.”

“I hope not; the last thing I need is computers turning into naked girls when ever I walk past.”

And then she laughed, and suddenly he didn’t care that this was his laptop; she thought he was funny and she had a beautiful laugh.

“Good to see we share a sense of humour,” He said weakly.

“I’ve been reading your jokes all my life; I’ve gotten used to it.”

“Oh. Good.”

She smiled at him and stood up, holding her hands out to check her balance. He took one quickly, and helped her to her feet.

“You’re a nice boy, Ben.”

“You know my name?”

She nodded, “Ben Davy’s Home Computer. That’s who I am.” She added proudly.

“You’re gonna need a better name than ‘Home Computer’.”

“Maybe you can think of something. Didn’t you have that conversation once about names you liked?”

“Um,” She was moving slowly towards him. This was slightly awkward. “I guess. Don’t really remember it well, though.”

She smiled, her face inches from his, “I remember every word,” She breathed.

And then their lips met and his eyes closed and for a brief moment he was with her in Heaven. Then she pulled away and there was a loud clatter and he opened his eyes.

She had vanished! He looked around frantically, and then looked down. “Oh, bugger!”

His old laptop was on the floor at his feet beside a crumpled pair of jeans, half buried under his Red Dwarf t-shirt. Its top half was almost broken off, hanging feebly onto the keyboard half by one twisted hinge.

He scooped it up and shook it, “Hello?” He pushed the top back into line; he tried opening it without it falling to bits and jabbed at the power button, to no effect. He tried kissing the screen, the keyboard, the touchpad. “Damn, damn, damn!”

She was the girl of his dreams! And he’d turned her back into a machine!
“Damn it!”

Cursing profusely, he dumped the irreparable laptop on the table and stalked moodily upstairs. Just his luck! Just his stupid luck!

He burst into his bedroom and threw himself angrily onto his bed. Then he sat up again, very quickly, his eyes wide.

“Hey, watch where yo layin’ yo head, bruvva,” Grumbled his pillow, sleepily.


-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

So yeah. What would your computer think of you from the way you use it? Razz That's really what I was aiming for.
Also, I really want that guy's t-shirt. Sad
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Asa



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Location: Grammar Police HQ. Watch your language, I'm armed with the NYTimes Style Book AND Strunk and White!

PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I... Don't know what I think, actually. I think it may be a bit long for the concept to be truly effective, for one, but it's certainly unusual. I'll have to think about it some more and let it settle, I think.

Ax, the thing I wrote in high school was about a pair of archeologists who find a strage footprint in the dirt. It's wider in front than in back, has smooth edges and no toes, and they're trying to figure out what kind of animal it could possibly belong to.

It's a shoe print, of course, but I can't remember if I hadthem figure that out or not.
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Keeper of the Library and the Gateway to Haven

Nem: "It's the sort of face you just know is getting ready to poke you with something sharp."
BS: "...then insist you eat a brownie."
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Maeniel



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just checking in and seeing how you guys were doing. Smile
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Asa



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We're not, but we may have found a new idea...
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Self-styled Forum Grandmother, because I hand out nicknames and hugs whether you want them or not. ^_^

Keeper of the Library and the Gateway to Haven

Nem: "It's the sort of face you just know is getting ready to poke you with something sharp."
BS: "...then insist you eat a brownie."
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If we shadows have offended,
Think but this and all is mended...
Give me your hands if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
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spellingmistax



Joined: 28 Jul 2009
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Location: Asa took this ^ I stole it ^_^

PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am hitting a giant cube shaped thing made out of frustration and ineptitude held together by a lack of imagination. For some reason it feels a lot like wood. What is that thing called? ah yes, writers block. I do not think I will have any thing for the deadline but then again I may be violently assaulted by inspiration, one can hope.
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while Udina asked the usual inane civilian things that came about while under attack: "What's happening? Who is shooting at us? I'm squishy and not wearing armor and I'm a liability, get me to safety, etc.
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Spellingmistax = mistax = ax = anthrax
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Tenshi



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm trying to avoid sci-fi, but if it comes to my self-made deadline and I can't come up with something else, that'll be it. I'm going to do my writing on Thursday, after my next dental visit. Gettin' those chompers fixed up nice and pretty-like! Very Happy
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. Dubbed "Usagi" by AsA .
Keeper of the Siderean Swords

"If by chance some day you're not feeling well, and you should remember some silly thing I've said or done, and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as your clown has been fulfilled."
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Asa



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was just struck by the thought that one of the classic examples of ostranenie is poetry, and I've been consistently turning poems into stories, changing the outlook of the reader in the process. Would it be cheating to change a story into a poem...?
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Keeper of the Library and the Gateway to Haven

Nem: "It's the sort of face you just know is getting ready to poke you with something sharp."
BS: "...then insist you eat a brownie."
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Think but this and all is mended...
Give me your hands if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
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Maeniel



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nope! Smile Feel free to include poetry! (You can actually submit anything in either poetry or prose anyways, unless the topic is specific to one or the other.)
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Tinu.



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Asa: Poetry is a really good example. Actually, there's a poem that fits the topic to a T called "South-bound on the Freeway." I can't remember who wrote it though . . . it's a funny and really thought-provoking poem though.

Also, if anyone's read Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury? There are several good examples in there too.

I guess it's a bit late to be giving examples though?

I think I have an idea for this - though it's going to be a more literal interpretation of the prompt . . . if that's allowed?
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm... I'm not sure how much more literal the prompt can get, but take a stab at whatever idea's cooking in your brain. Smile
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My original idea failed, but I had luck with another one!

Quote:
Kim heard the creature before she saw it. It droned and roared, an incessant sound that ebbed and flowed, never staying on a single pitch. The grumbling of the beast hurt her ears, so that she was forced to cover them. The creature rounded the corner and came bearing down towards her, far more terrible in appearance than it was in noise. It was as tall as her god-mother, and as wide, with an upraised tail like the stinging creatures that Kim had found behind the house she used to live in. It smelled of smoke and the dust in which it lived. Its eyes were bright and glaring, and they blinded her. Kim yelled and screamed at the creature, trying to frighten it like it was frightening her. She puffed up, as her mother once told her you were supposed to do when confronted with something that was hunting you. If you made yourself appear bigger than you were, you were less likely to get eaten. Still the beast came on; roaring louder, hissing longer, looming larger. Kim knew she had been beaten; so she hurled one last round of explicatives at the monster and ran off to the safety of the sun-couch before the monster could gobble her up as it did the dust and the bright, hard circles and pieces of play-things.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Will post tonight if it kills me.

EDIT: I died. I got one of the two essays done and half the WG, but it's past 12 and I can't finish it tonight. I will post it tomorrow, I promise. I didn't get the idea for it until last night but at least I'm not the only one late!
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Self-styled Forum Grandmother, because I hand out nicknames and hugs whether you want them or not. ^_^

Keeper of the Library and the Gateway to Haven

Nem: "It's the sort of face you just know is getting ready to poke you with something sharp."
BS: "...then insist you eat a brownie."
__________________
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this and all is mended...
Give me your hands if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
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Tenshi



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't get home until 5AM. @_@ However, I too found inspiration last night! So, I'm writing now.
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Keeper of the Siderean Swords

"If by chance some day you're not feeling well, and you should remember some silly thing I've said or done, and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as your clown has been fulfilled."
Red Skelton
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Tenshi



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Edit: 60% of the inspiration from this story comes from Asa, the other 40% comes from Jack McDevitt's style and characters. "The Captain" lands somewhere in between, but I was using the story as a vehicle for the theme.

WG10 Story - Discovery Short Story wrote:
"Come!" called a firm, focused voice from nearby.

Jason turned from the piece of rock he was studying, letting his eyes adjust to the change in distance. After staring at the ground for hours, it was like everything had gone dim. Then he realized that it had been hours, and he sheepishly turned on his shoulder light. Illuminated in the soft white cone was "The captain", as all the other assistants had come to call her. She stood with one foot poised precariously on a jagged white rock, her other stretched to it's toes as she leaned in. Her fingertips supported her weight, her neck craning to peek into a small hollow part of the cliff face she was reaching around. The visual reminder of the constant water crashing into the rocks below brought back the noise to accompany it.

"Ma'am," he replied with a half grin. She couldn't see him through the shielded faceplate, a reflective piece of one-way glass that kept most of the harmful light out. He stood slowly from his rock, and headed over to her.
"Get a picture of this before I try to remove it," she continued. Already her small, fine brush and hand chisel were whisked from her belt, poised for action once he was finished.

Jason did as asked, having to reach far over her head to get any sort of angle on what she had found. It wasn't hard to spot, but it was impossible to identify. They had been digging at this cliff for a week, after a relic of the "Vrekalvas" turned up below. That one had been broken into a thousand pieces, this one was hole. He held his breath, willing steadyness into his hands and arms as each individual picture was collected.

"What is it?" he asked breathlessly.

As if his voice had set her in motion, the captain attacked the cliff face around the object. More of it was revealed with each stroke of the brush, each pick of the chisel. The first thing that became clear was it's color. Where it had been exposed to the air and the harsh light, it had been washed out to a near-dust hue. Now, beneath the ground cover, it was the strangest color he had ever seen. His eyes were wide, his camera returned to take pictures as she worked at it. There was no word for it, it was as if the crushed velvets back home had been transformed and caught by the harsh light, made to almost glow with the color of that same light.

"Breathe, Jason," she reminded him in an equally breathless whisper. He scarcely took the advice.

As more of the object came free of the cliff face, it's details became more clear. It was roughly the length of his forearm all the way around, it's surface curling inward for a full fingerlength before flattening again to form a smooth center. In the center was a small indentation, with some further coloration long since faded from anything but sky white.

"What is it?" Jason asked, his jaw remaining open.
"A bowl, maybe? Perhaps a plate. They ate their food on such things. The indentation in the center could hold another, smaller bowl. It would have been very decorative, perhaps reserved for the very wealthy," she replied softly, her focus never wavering from her work.

Jason had signed on for the dig specifically to work with her, or more correctly her experience. She was the foremost archeologist in the field today, and almost all notable discoveries had been made by her teams. There were some who even believed she was the best expert available on the growing picture of Vrekelvas life and culture. With insight like hers, it was easy to see why. Her mind was curious, and perhaps the best in the world at thinking of strange ways to see these strange objects. It was a winning combination.

"Look at the decorative markings along the outside edge, as it slopes upward," she urged, resting her pick against one of the lines.

A series of lines, three in all, traversed the entire outside surface of the bowl-thing. They were close to one another, about identical in their width and depth. They formed a band that stretched around the entire outside without interruption, and never straying their perfectly symmetrical distance from the curved edge. Such mastery of geometry was common in decorations, especially the brightly colored ones.

"This material is impressive. We only have a few samples like this," she continued to speak as she worked. With the brush handle, she pushed down on the center of the bowl. It depressed fully to meet the same depth of the outside curve, stretching just as it must have when it was first created. As she drew the handle back, nothing happened for a moment. Both of them held their breath, waiting for the charactaristic...

*BWOING*

They both giggled when the object took it's original shape once more. The noise was one of the small delights only archaeologists had the chance to experience in person. Once these relics were transferred to research facilities and museums, there would be no more time for fun and games. The Captain reached out, scraping and brushing away the final bits of muck from the surface of the bowl. She gently removed it, stepping down from her precarious perch and back toward solid ground. Jason readily followed, not much of a fan of heights.

"It's lightweight," she said, testing the object by shaking it slowly in her hand.

She wrapped her fingers around the edge, tossing it gently up in the air. With the edge forward, it cut the air like a wing. It flew straight up for almost a dozen feet, rotating in the same direction her hand had released it with. As it reached the height of it's flight, it cut the air back downward with equal ease. As it plummeted toward back toward the ground, she shrieked in fear and ducked away from it's trajectory. The object smashed into the ground, bouncing on it's edge. It came back up, maybe only up to Jason's knees this time, though his keen eyes could see the entire surface wobbling from the impact. It dropped again, resting with the hollow portion down, and lay still.

Neither of them spoke for a few moments, stunned or frightened by what had happened. Jason stood there in silence, his hands wrapped around his camera. The captain was sprawled out where she had fallen, her arms supporting her as she leaned back, her legs drawn up toward her chest and to the side. Finally the neurons in his mind fired in the proper order, and Jason rose the camera to take a single picture of the now fallen object. The flash from the camera seemed to breathe life into the both of them.

"That was..." she began, but Jason cut her off.
"Some kind of weapon? A booby-trap, maybe?" He asked, now glaring at the bright bowl. It had attacked her, that much he felt to be true.
"No, nonsense. It's too bright to be a weapon, Jason," she chided. Now she stood slowly, brushing the dust and muck off of her slate gray jumpsuit. After a quick check to make sure there were no pressure leaks, she returned to the object to inspect it.
"Too bright? But you saw how it moved through the air!"
"Of course it did. It must not be a bowl at all, it must be a beacon or a warning signal of some kind. There are other dig sites wihch we have been pushed out of due to the trace amounts of radiation in the soil. The Vrekalvas were a very war-like people, they would have required some means of telling one another of impending attacks at great distances."

Jason was silent now, digesting this new information. The captain picked up the warning beacon, bowl, or whatever it was in both hands. She turned it along her fingers slowly, as if by her willpower alone it's secrets would unlock for her. Without a word, she turned her head back toward the vehicle they had driven out here in. In a sudden motion, she cocked her arm back over her opposite shoulder, the bowl in one hand.

"What are you-" Jason nearly yelled.

Before he could even finish the sentence, she flung her arm forward. Her fingers slid out of the bowl's curve mid-throw, and the bowl was free to the air. I continued forward as if she were still holding it, it's surface gliding perfectly through the air on an invisible line. Captain stood there, her body still contorted in an odd angle from her throw, as they both watched it fly forward. It sailed for nearly a hundred yards in a straight line, before one side dipped. As soon as it did, the object seemed to slide off of whatever shelf carried it, and it dropped back to the ground. There it rolled for another few dozen feet, before again coming to a rest with the hollow portion beneath it.

"Amazing," she whispered.

He couldn't see her face through the reflective glass on her visor, but he had to agree. He raised up his camera, again far too late for the shot, and took a picture of the world before him. She, with her body contorted and twisted halfway around, the warning beacon just over a hundred meters away, and slightly more distantly the rover vehicle.

_________________
. Dubbed "Usagi" by AsA .
Keeper of the Siderean Swords

"If by chance some day you're not feeling well, and you should remember some silly thing I've said or done, and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as your clown has been fulfilled."
Red Skelton
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