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Edited:Help Britland Win Pulp Idol

 
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TheBritishInvasion



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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 2:07 pm    Post subject: Edited:Help Britland Win Pulp Idol Reply with quote

I uh...rewrote it. I think this version flows a little better. It's about eighty words under the limit and the deadline is 6 days away. Any have any opinions?

Sfx is hosting an annual writing competition called Pulp Idol. I've written a short story based off a dream Dark Mirf had a while ago. I'm not very experienced with writing short stories and I appreciate any help anyone can offer. (Please be gentle I bruise easily.) Without further ado:

Don't Touch the Pale Horse.

“Don’t touch the pale horse.” My grandmother had told me one night, she always told my siblings and I stories by the fireplace after dinner. I remember the one about the pale horse. She said it looked like moonlight shining off a still lake’s surface, but that it was a foul beast sent from the Netherworld. The pale horse would appear when people were about to die, she also said there were some who believed it caused their deaths. I asked her if she had ever seen the horse and she laughed and said that no matter what happened, you must never touch it.
As I wandered down the dirt track road I tried to remember all the stories she had told me, Mother had said they were old wives tales and nothing more than myths. Now I was not so certain. It had been a simple enough plan, I was due to be married soon and though my husband was a good man I’d decided I wanted to see the world a little before settling down to a life on the farm. I had left the village or Rurley in search of London, I was no where near London, I was not even in the same world any more.
Just a few days after leaving Rurley the road had led to a cobblestone bridge, a sign next to it said Safe passage to London and an arrow had pointed to the bridge, but though it still stood on either side, the middle had collapsed and the stones been washed away by the river. It didn’t look dangerous so I had just waded across. I’m still not certain whether or not that was a mistake. After I crossed the river, when I turned around, it was gone. Just gone, no river, nor bridge. I didn’t know what to do, I could see for miles around and there was no river at all. I didn’t have much choice, so I just kept walking. After some time I came to across roads, it was there I met two girls, sisters who offered to help me.
“Ah, you crossed the river.” Penelope, the elder sister, had said to me.
“I did, it said it was the way to London.”
“No, the bridge is the way to London.” Juliet said, she pronounced the word ‘London’ slowly, as if she were unfamiliar with it. “The river is the boundary of the worlds.”
“What?” At first I thought I had not heard her correctly.
“Abigail,” She said gently, “This is the Mirror Realm, the world of what might have been. It is a reflection of your world, and other worlds.”
I could feel my heart beating madly, this made no sense! Anger welled in me and I was ready to accuse the sisters of playing games with me, but in a strange way, it made sense. The river had just disappeared and these two girls were dressed rather oddly, I had never seen this fashion of clothing. “So where is the river now?” I asked, “I turned around after wading through, but it was gone.”
“That’s because in the Mirror Realm the River Eridanus is on the other side of the world.” Penelope replied.
“How is that possible?” I asked but the sisters only shrugged.
“Don’t worry.” Juliet reassured me, “you’ll be able to find your way home. In fact I bet our mother could help. She has maps, even a map of the river, so you’ll be able to find the bridge back to your world.”
I was so relieved, the thought of exploring this world enticed me and at the same time I was terrified that I might never go home but these two girls were kind and seemed genuine. So we walked together and as we walked I became certain this was indeed, the Mirror Realm. Certain things were just different. I don’t quite know how to describe it. After a while, Juliet and Penelope began to tell me common things that were important in this place.
“Don’t pick fruit from trees without leaving an offering.” Juliet said.
“For the tree?” That didn’t make sense.
Juliet and Penelope laughed. “No silly, for the fey, they live in the trees.” Juliet replied.
“Oh, and don’t sleep under a tree unless you’re prepared to have all your possessions disappear.” Penelope cautioned.
“They don’t sound very friendly.” I said.
“Oh they are.” Juliet replied, “They just really hate trespassers.”
I rather enjoyed the walk as we continued, they told me that they had been collecting star-stones that fell on a nearby mountain range, their mother made them into jewellery and sold them at a market in the town we would soon arrive at.
“Hrm.” Penelope said as she looked up at the sky, I think it was the sun that banished any fleeting thoughts I was still in my own world. The sky was a beautiful shade of purple; it was a wonderful sunset, in the south. “It’s getting late, I don’t think we’re going to make it to the town tonight.”
“What should we do?” Her sister asked, I was still staring, dumbfounded, at the sun setting.
“Find somewhere to spend the night.” Penelope replied and we continued walking. When the sun had set and the full moon hung low in the sky we were still walking, searching for a place to sleep. it seemed increasingly likely that we would be sleeping under the stars, until Juliet spotted the barn.
“A barn means a farmhouse.” She grinned, “We could ask to spend the night there.”
“Do you think they’ll let us?” I asked, and I began to wonder if everyone in this world was unquestioningly friendly.
“They will when they see what we can pay.” Penelope answered, “Star-stones are rare and valuable, one will be enough to rent a room for the night.”
We did not reach the farm. As we came closer a cold wind blew and I shuddered, the night seemed suddenly darker, colder. Juliet saw it first; she gasped and pointed at the creature. Beneath the moon, standing against the dark landscape was the most amazing animal I had ever seen. Grandmother was wrong. Was my first thought, it did not look like moonlight shining off a still lake’s surface, it looked as though it were made of water that had absorbed the moon’s light. I wondered if it truly was made of water, I had the urge to stroke it and find out.
Don’t touch the pale horse! The voice hissed in my mind. It shocked me almost as much as the horse’s appearance. That voice belonged to my grandmother, but she was dead, had been dead for many years. I wondered if it was just the memory of that story by the fire, but her voice in my mind had been so urgent, not like when she had told the tale at all. I brushed the thoughts aside and tried to catch up with the two sisters who close to the pale horse.
Don’t touch the pale horse! Grandmother’s voice hissed again. This time I knew it was no memory. “Stop!” I cried and turned to the sisters, Juliet was reaching out to stroke the animal. “Don’t touch it!” This time I screamed and swatted her hand away. “Penelope, Juliet! Stop!” They ignored me and it seemed they were hypnotised by the creature. I tried to push Penelope away but as I did Juliet stroked her hand against its flank. The beast’s body rippled and shone in the moonlight and it whinnied quietly, I took Juliet’s hand away and she did not fight me but as my back was turned, Penelope also stroked it.
I waited for something to happen, for the earth to shake, for the horse to rear and trample us, but nothing came. “Juliet, Penelope, are you alright?” I asked but neither responded.
“Are you alright?” I asked again, more sternly this time, I even shook Juliet by the shoulders but she was almost limp in my arms. “Penelope!” I cried but she didn’t seem to hear me. I thought of the things grandmother had said about the pale horse; it carried souls to the Netherworld, it caused deaths and was an omen of great evil but none of this made sense. I realised both were staring at nothing now, so I tried to look into their eyes and I saw nothing. There was no light there, no life, whatever the pale horse had done, it had taken a part of them.
I didn’t know what to do. The horse seemed to have disappeared and the sisters would no respond to anything I said or did. In the end their seemed little choice, I went to the farmhouse and hammered at the door, it swung open at my touch. Inside, the house was clearly abandoned; year’s worth of dirt and dust was kicked up by my feet, it sent me into a fit of sneezing but I pushed the sisters forward into the room. They didn’t seem to even notice that they were inside.
I didn’t think I’d sleep that night, but the day’s excitement had taken its toll on me and sleep came not long after I lay down on the bed. When I woke Juliet was still lying on the floor of the bedroom, Penelope was gone though. I rushed out of the bedroom, “Penelope!” There didn’t seem any reason in calling her, I knew she would not answer, yet I tried.
I found her in the barn. The door had been left open and I saw her as soon as I entered, she hung from the rafters, gently swinging back and forth in an almost peaceful manner.
The days afterwards were hard, Juliet would not eat or drink, I tried everything I could think of, I talked to her, I told her stories of my own world, I asked her questions about hers. At one point I lost my temper and told her Penelope was dead, but she continued to stare at nothing. I have to admit, I felt a guilty pang of relief when she died, I knew there was nothing I could have done, at least now it was over.
I burned the barn with Juliet in it, I had already cremated Penelope days before, so that the wind could carry whatever was left of them to their resting place. Though I feared all that was left were the ashes.
I moved on, away from the burning barn, away from the awful memories of the previous night. Towards the town, towards their mother, whom I now had to tell had lost her daughters. I arrived and the market was easy enough to find, it seemed everyone in the town was there, I tried to push my way through, looking for someone selling star-stones, there were just too many people, all crowded around the same thing.
Oh no. I knew what it was before I had even made my way through the crowd. The pale horse stood in the centre of the market. Don’t touch the pale horse! My grandmother’s voice hissed and I repeated her words aloud, I screamed at the top of my voice, I ran to the front and pushed people away but there were too many, they came from every angle, they completely ignored me. There was nothing I could do. One by one they touched the pale horse and moved away, lifelessly.
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Last edited by TheBritishInvasion on Fri May 30, 2008 5:52 am; edited 3 times in total
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Tinu.



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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, It's good, but I found it to be really choppy and confusing as well. There are somethings that you need to expand upon a little more, such as the fact that there was a gorge in the first place. The pacing was rushed as well. Slow down, take your time to explain some things. I really do love the idea though, good luck!
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TheBritishInvasion



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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, I should have mentioned, it has a word limit of 2000 and this is pretty close, maybe I should just cut a few things out. I'm not sure.
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Tinu.



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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ah, ok, that makes more sense. Hmm, I dunno, that's going to have to be your call. Darned limit.
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horsin'around



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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, limits stink. It certainly has promise Britty, and I must say I love the idea. Wink
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TheBritishInvasion



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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Huh, I didn't expect you to like something where the horsey is evil. =P
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horsin'around



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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

*protest* A) It's fictional. B) Do you recall Faenor? C) It was intriguing.
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Allicat



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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2008 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I liiiike! I read the first but didn't feel I could add to what was already said, but here I have some input!
I liked your original idea of bringing it full circle to the grandmother telling stories. It gave it more of a sense of closure than this seems to have. If you can manage to do that in 80 words it would finish it nicely.

Quote:
I had left the village or Rurley in search of London, I was no where near London, I was not even in the same world any more.


If you put a full stop and new paragraph in here it would flow better and have more dramatic effect.

Quote:
I had left the village or Rurley in search of London.
I was no where near London. I was not even in the same world any more.


Slightly pernickety, but then that's just me! ^_^;;
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