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There is an iconic moment in American cinema when Dorothy declares to her little dog Toto that everything has radically changed.  With the recent release of the movie Oz, and the release of Song Stories: Volume I this coming week, this seems a fitting place to start back into Motivation Mondays.
    Use this week's prompt to explore ideas of displacement: the fear and wonder at being transported to a place you've never seen before.  You might be transported by imagination, a dream, illness, madness, death, a supernatural event or some freak of nature.  But when or where would you go and how would the difference manifest itself?

Guest Judge: Vic Kerry

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Vic Kerry lives in Alabama with his wife, cat, and six dogs. He is the author of the novel The Children of Lot and an avid Elton John Fan.
    In "Scarecrow" Vic runs with a metaphorical and very dark interpretation of Elton John's classic song.  Kenneth Cavendish survives a tornado but his road back home is no so smoothly paved.
    Read Scarecrow and more in "Song Stories" from Song Story Press.  Available on Amazon for Kindle this week.
    Visit his website to find out more about Vic Kerry: www.vickerry.wordpress.com

The Prompt

[Toto], I have a feeling we're not [in Kansas] anymore!

*words and phrases in brackets can be replaced creatively (eg. "Grog, I have a feeling we're not in the Stone Age anymore!)

The Rules

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  1. The story must start from the prompt.  This means the prompt must be the
    first words in the story.
  2. No more than 500 words (not including the prompt).  No less than 100 words.
  3. Any genre (in fact an unexpected genre will get you more brownie points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted by Tuesday Noon EST0
  5. If your story would be rated R or NC-17 in a movie, please post a note to that effect at the beginning of your entry.
  6. The winner of each week's competition will win a kindle copy of "Song Stories: Volume I"
  7. The winner and runner-ups will be entered into a drawing to win a beautiful paperback edition of song stories
  8. Have fun!

 


Comments

03/11/2013 04:38

Strangers in a Very Strange Land
By Wakefield Mahon

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!”
Toto growled, “You’re not funny, Dot. You know that cyclone reminds me of what happened back in Yukon, Oklahoma.”
Dot blinked. “Um, I didn’t see any cyclone. I was referring to the radio acting up. On most trips, it seems like we can get across the state without changing the station, but we seem to be picking up serious interference.”
Toto (there was a rumor he’d been named after his favorite band) cocked his head to the side. “You really don’t see that cyclone?”
Dot sighed. “No, but you if you do, maybe it’s my turn to drive.”
“So you can get us lost again?”
“Oh my Dog! Are you ever going to let me live that down? So I made a wrong turn at Albuquerque. We got back on track eventually.”
“You mean after you finally stopped to ask for directions?”
Dot bristled.
“Look I’m sorry, don’t get your hackles up over nothing. If you want to drive, feel free.”
Dot lit up. “Pekinese fire drill!”
That always made Toto laugh although a twinge told him there was something racist about the remark. He shook his head as he got out of the car. Maybe Dot was right and he was just overly tired. What were the chances of getting struck twice by natural disaster?
Dot whimpered. “I see your cyclone!”
“Oh so now you believe me. When are you going to start listening to me? I swear you never…”
Dot’s yelp cut him off. Darkness followed.
“Oh my Dog, Dot, what happened to you?”
“What happened to me? You look like someone left you in the drying to long and you shrank twenty sizes!” When she put her paws together to demonstrate, she screamed.
“Calm down, Dot. We’ll figure out what disfigured you.and took all your fur away.” Toto jumped up (Apparently she was right about him shrinking) into the car and pulled out a sheet and a blue picnic blanket and wrapped them around his wife. “There’s a farm nearby with creatures that look like you. It’s a risk but I don’t know what else to do. I’m sorry Dorothy, but I have a feeling we’re not on Sirius Prime anymore.”

374 ineligible words
@WakefieldMahon

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03/11/2013 08:36

Oh, that's good. *applause* well done, Wakefield!!

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03/11/2013 09:31

I'm glad you liked it. Thanks so much for commenting and entering!

03/11/2013 09:00

“Cassy? I have a feeling we aren’t in Colorado anymore.”
I blink my eyes open and then straighten. Heph is driving over one body after another like a line of dominoes. Have I ever seen meat sacks act that way? When was the last time I saw so many in one place.
Thanks to Freetown, most of Colorado was reduced to small pockets of meat sacks. The constant raiding of nearby towns had decimated the population, although it still wasn’t safe to go beyond the electric fencing as Heph and I are doing right now. We’re not raiding for supplies, however. We are off in search of other survivors.
“I think you’re right,” I say, rolling down my window and lifting my pistol. I take careful aim, hitting sacks that aren’t on Heph’s trajectory. “Where are we?” I ask. Driving is one of the best times for me to sleep. Even in Freetown, I’m half-awake, expecting another disaster like the others I have and haven’t lived through. With Heph behind the wheel, though, I know any meat sack stupid enough to come our way is getting mowed down.
“Let’s get the hell out of here,” I suggest, pulling my arm back in the window as Heph veers near a building to whack a few more undead bodies.
“Can’t,” he said tersely. “Look.”
I turn the way he points and see the flag waving upside down. It has ‘help’ written on it. If there are survivors, we have just found them. I climb into the back seat and pull a belt of grenades forward.
“Well, then I guess we have some clean up to do.”

@kimmydonn 274 words

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03/11/2013 10:24

“Verte? I have a feeling we aren’t in Summer anymore.” His skin prickled but not as badly as it had in his wife’s kingdom. The wind whipped around them and the sky was dark, darker than the pearly eggshell of a sky in Winter and nothing like the blues and purples seen in Summer.
Grey had done everything he could to protect the green fairy in Winter and she had tried to help him, but the sickness that consumed her had sapped her magic while his was inaccessible. She had pointed him here, directed him to this place, and now they were out.
“Verte?”
She lifted her head weakly, blinking green eyes through the green hair that had fallen on her face.
“Verte, where are we?” he asked, setting her feet down and holding her upright. She burned everywhere he touched her, the heat of Summer coursing through her since her return home. He didn’t blame her for hurting him. She couldn’t control her magic as he had, locking it away. Her illness left her incoherent most of the time.
He held her close and looked down in shock. Her belly didn’t burn. It was cool against him.
“Verte?” he asked, rubbing his hand over her middle. “What is this?”
She blinked and gasped air. “Baby,” she croaked. “Kansas. Need...wizard.”
“Wizard?” Grey asked, lifting her into his arms again. “Are we on earth, Verte?”
She nodded. “Hide us.”
There was Winter magic and Summer magic throughout the earth. He reached up to the icy clouds that swirled, pulled freezing water from the funnel that moved steadily away from them. Once holding his familiar strength, he turned her green hair brown and made his own hair and skin darker, more human. He didn’t bother with their clothes. As soon as the spell settled on Verte she shivered and broke into goosebumps. He held his magic, however. The pain on each of them grew as he did, but there was no help for that. Gritting his teeth, he carried his bride to the nearest farmhouse. He hoped they knew of the Wizard.

351 words @angelicadawson *fifty shades of fae*

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03/11/2013 13:51

The Tester


“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!” Gabbie chuckled as she took another puff from her joint.

Her brother Luca appeared in the room, a frown on his face. “Really?! You’re sparking one up already?!”

She looked up at him from the couch. She’d been sitting at her coffee rolling enough joints to fill her cigarette holder, as her brother was taking forever to get dressed and she didn’t want to hunt down the remote for some television. She figured it wouldn’t hurt to take the time to roll up a few of her new samples and do some creative testing while they were out. She smiled wistfully. She loved her job. So far she had already rolled 4 joints of Honolulu Bubblegum, her new favorite as it was sweet on her tongue and smooth to smoke, and had decided to divide her remaining papers between Fat Daddy, a harsh and robust strain that came tightly compacted but broke down in abundance, and Mint Tee, the name of which spoke for itself.

“Well yeah, Luca… You take forever and I’ve got to start smoking these samples and filling out paperwork.” It wasn’t complete bullshit. She worked for a multi-million dollar corporation that manufactured marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia. And she had the best job in the company: she was a tester.

She set her smoking joint in the ashtray and picked from the ground up piles, letting each paper overflow with green before compacting and rolling it up tight, deposited them in their container. It didn’t take long before it was full up. She was fast when it came to rolling, and she even made filters for them. Now all of her doobies were lined neatly in their carrying case; each one looking professionally rolled and ready to smoke. She picked up her joint for a celebratory puff while sitting back to prop her Converse clad feet on the table.

Luca scowled and she laughed so suddenly that she coughed, hard. Striking her chest with her fist, sshe held the joint away from herself and winced. “I rolled you one too!” She motioned to the weed stuffed paper on the coffee table. Another tiny cough escaped her lips. “Also, could you get me some water?”

“Dude, you know you can’t drive when you’re high.”

She already felt the telling tension on her brow and the magic tingle in her cheeks that lifted them into a loose, nostalgic smile. Oh man, yeah, she was high. “Whoa,” she giggled. “Mixing this stuff may have been a seriously bad idea.”

“Then put it down!” Luca stressed.

She rolled her eyes, took another hit and as she let it out, smoke pouring from her mouth dramatically.

“You’re ridiculous!” Luca said, incredulously.

“Toto… Hey, did you know that Glenda wasn’t actually a ‘good witch’.” She made quotations with her fingers. “She was actually kind of a bitch.” A giggle escaped her. “Yeah man, I’m gonna need to re-read that book.”

Her brother shook his head. “Where are the damn keys? I’m driving.”


499 Words (not including the prompt)
@TheWriterMegan

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Kayla West 469 words @bookwormattack *The Keeper*
03/11/2013 14:50

"Toto, I have a feeling we aren 't in Kansas anymore."
Isabel could not believe her eyes. She had expected to crash into the brick wall of the building, not pass right through it.
"Impressive, huh?"
Her rescuer turned to look at her and smiled.
Isabel looked at her surroundings.
The ground was packed dirt. A trail. Above was an arch of trees, letting in a subtle green light.
And below.....
Isabel gasped.
The motorcycle she had so clumsily climbed upon was now a white horse. She could see the beast's powerful muscles working as it moved.
"His name's Perseus."
Isabel let a hand fall off the man's waist, and she gently patted the horse.
"Perseus." She barely whispered his name.
Putting her hand back around her rescuer and tightening her grip Isabel began to ask questions that had been muddling in her mind since the incident in the library.
"So.....who were those men back there?"
The man stiffened.
"They were minios of Crow."
Isabel became confused. "Crow? Like the bird?"
"Not exactly." He gave a deep sigh and continued to explain. "Crow was a good friend of my father's until he became corrupted with the power if his own magic. The balance inside of him shifted and he chose evil instead of good. He's been fighting ever since to steal my father's rightful crown."
"But what does he want with me? I mean, I'm just an innocent bystander in all this...."
"You're pendant."
Isabel's words trailed off.
"What?"
"The pendant you wear about your neck."
Isabel looked down at the lavender stone on her necklace. She was surprised to see it glowing with an inner light. It was warm.
Scared, she held it away from her skin.
"But how....?"
"It is from this realm, and so reacts as such. The magic inside of it can only be channeled in places where magic exists."
"But if Crow has magic, why does he need this?"
She continued to hold the stone away from her with one hand while continuing to hold onto him with the other.
"Because..." The man's voice went low and Isabel had to lean in to really hear him. ".... the magic in the stone is the deciding fate for our people. If Crow can get his hands on it, he can rule over all. Evil will prevail."
"What does that have to do with me, though?"
Isabel made to take her necklace off. " I could just give it to you, and it would be in the right hands."
The man stopped the horse and turned to look straight at her. He placed on hand up to stop her from unclasping the chain. "As long as the stone does not leave your throat, Crow cannot have his wish.You are its Keeper. You are our only hope."

Reply
Kayla West
03/11/2013 14:56

Hate typing on Kindle Fires. Haha.

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03/11/2013 17:14

I've read everything so far. The competition looks interesting so far. Let's see where this yellow brick road leads.

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03/11/2013 17:25

Was in a silly mood for this one. Here goes:

"Toto."

"I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

"That's what I said: 'Toto.' Can't you tell?"

"What's to tell? We've been wandering around here all day and it's all starting to look the same to me."

"Seriously? Haven't you been paying attention?"

"Seriously. Look: you've got ten years on me. Sure, I've HEARD a lot of this before, but I have never SEEN it before. I can't always make the connections."

"So Kansas, Chicago, Boston - it just doesn't really matter to you?"

"Not really - just as long as it's America."

"No. America's not at this concert. Today, it's just Kansas, Chicago, Boston and Toto. Toto is the group that's playing now. They're singing 'Africa.'"

"Africa! Then we're definitely NOT in Kansas anymore!"

124 words
@LupusAnthropos

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Bullish
03/11/2013 23:21

This had me laughing out loud!! Lots of fun to read!! :)

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03/11/2013 19:24

“Cara, I have a feeling we’re not in love anymore.”

Jeff’s tone is neutral, no tears in his grey-green eyes, no choking on his cold words. He sits across from me at the coffee-shop table, varnished the colour of mocha latte. For weeks, I too have felt numb. We were so passionate; now we’re not. I can’t bring myself to feel bad.

“It hasn’t been the same between us since the accident,” Jeff continues. “I don’t want you to think I stopped loving you because you got hurt. It wasn’t that.” He fingers his teaspoon. “I don’t know what it was.”

I know. My body was torn apart in that crash. I remember feeling pain and yet not feeling it, as though I was outside myself. I lay in the hospital barely held together, a loosely sewn rag doll. Still my love for him didn’t fade. He held my hand and his touch let me know I was alive.

If they had let me die, he would have mourned me. Even now his heart would be seized by grief. Instead, I am here. My presence negates any loss he would have felt at the passing of his beloved Cara. Yet the passion that he shared with her perished in that hospital.

My phone is in my hands, though I don’t remember pulling it out. I stare at the screen. Over and over I’ve typed four words: “I am Cara Hicks.” I return the phone to my purse.

“Who did you just text?” Jeff asks.

“No one,” I say.

“Is there someone else?” He asks. “It’s okay if there is.” He seems hopeful.

If I tell him, perhaps it would end the stalemate in his heart. Then Jeff will finally be able to mourn. The pain will be unpleasant, but natural. The way we are now isn’t natural at all.

“There’s no one else,” I tell him.

I take my phone out of my purse again and pass it across the table. He swipes the screen to reveal my notes to myself, my mantra since I woke up in that hospital.

“Why do you keep typing this?”

“I wanted to believe that I was still Cara Hicks,” I said. “But I’m not her.” I wish I could feel the passion so vivid in my memories. I wish I could be his Cara.

“Then where is she?”

“Dead.”

Jeff sucks in his breath. His expression is halfway between disbelieving and knowing all along. “And who are you?”

“I am a robot with all her memories.”

423 words
@jmfilipowicz

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03/11/2013 19:30

Darn, tense change. The "said" in the 5th paragraph from the bottom should be "say". Should have proofread more closely.

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03/11/2013 23:17

OLD SCHOOL RULES


War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
~Bertrand Russell~





“Lady, I have a feeling we’re not in the 21st century anymore.”

The slim blonde waitress set the coffee pot on the table. “No, we’re not. Where have you been for the last year? Short syncing was legalized a year ago. Anybody with the right amount of cash can buy fifteen minutes in the past.”

He rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Let’s just say I haven’t been myself lately. Does short syncing allow for more than one person to return?”

She settled against the table opposite him. “No. Even if you were crazy enough to try it, the mandated escort would stop you. Now, why don’t you tell me what all this is about?”

“You remember any of your dad’s trainees in particular?”

“Sure. George Majors. Guy was hotter than … Never mind. Doesn’t matter now because he’s dead.”

“Can you think of something only your dad would know about Majors?”

She stood up and reached for his empty plate. “I don’t see how this is productive, and frankly, you’re starting to freak me out.”

“Please, just give me a couple more minutes. Majors isn’t as dead as you think.”

“No way. I was at his funeral. Besides, you don’t look anything like him. He was tall, brown eyed, and about ten years younger than my dad. You’re stocky, blue eyed and only a couple years older than I am.”

His fingers closed around her wrist. “Majors had a scar across his left ass cheek. Got it dragging your dad into the skiff off the shore of Kangtu. ”

The plate slid from her hand and hit the floor.

He helped her into a chair. “Listen, Villanova sent a clean-up crew for me that night, just like he did for everybody else. Only instead of killing me, they scanned my brain, encoded it into a chip and planted it into one of their genetically altered soldiers.”

She stared at him. “Why didn’t they come after me?”

“I don’t know. Maybe because you are from his first marriage and those records were sealed. What matters now is that they’re digging deeper and it’s only a matter of time until they find you.”

“Wait, how did you get free? For that matter, how do I know you’re not working for them right now?”

“Maude, they killed my body, not my mind. Look at me. The idiots created the perfect killing machine. Old school knowledge, now outlawed and expunged from the history books, encased in a world class body. I’m unstoppable.”

“So what, you’re going to avenge the regiment?”

He nodded. “Soon as I get you somewhere safe.”

“And if I want to stay and help you fight? Maybe even depose Villanova?”

“You never did take no for an answer. But so we’re clear, I’m always going to see you as that fifteen-year-old girl with braces.”

She shrugged. “Far as I’m concerned, you’re a geezer trapped in a hard-body. Now, let’s quit waiting time with chit-chat. We have a war to plan.”


- - - - -
500 words (excluding title and intro quote) / @bullishink

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03/12/2013 06:13

“Shifting Sand, I have a feeling we’re not in Furania anymore!” Shining Water dipped her nose to the ground and sniffed at the detritus on the forest floor.

“Howling Hounds, Shiner! Whatever gave you that idea?” He flipped his head and raised the tuft of hair on his neck.

“There’s no need for the sarcasm, Shifty, I was just – ”

“Stating the obvious?” Shifty interrupted. “Did you think passing through the portal into the guardian’s land would put us back in the hollow?”

Shiner dipped her head almost to the ground and lowered her bushy tail between her legs, “Of course not. I guess I thought stating the obvious would help me be a little less nervous.”

Shifty moved forward to nuzzle his friend, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped. I guess I’m a little nervous too.”

“I wasn’t even sure it would work! I mean, Lumpy seemed to be telling the truth, but if wolves ever got anything right…”

“…the streams would dry up and the land fall from under our feet, I know. But it looks like he was at least telling part of the truth. C’mon!” Shifty took one last look at the tree behind him pulsing the white glow from the rift in its trunk, then put his head to the ground and his ears up as they moved away.

They soon came to a clearing with a little house in the center. They dipped low to the ground and watched as a female – something – emerged from behind carrying food in a basket.

“Grandmother!” The animal bared her teeth.

Shiner whispered, “Do you suppose she’s the Guardian?”

“Rose? Is that you?” Came an answer from within and the front door banged open hastily. “You weren’t supposed to be here until after noon!” This female was much older. It carried a staff with a hook on the end and wore a red cape with a hood drawn up.

“No. This one is.” Shifty replied.

“Are you going somewhere?” The young one looked around, “I thought maybe we could picnic at the lake and it would take time to get there…” Her voice trailed off as she stared at the old one.

The old one glanced hastily around the clearing and shook her head, “It’s not safe right now dear. Go on inside. I’ll only be a moment.” The young one was waved inside and the old one shut the door. She closed her eyes and held the staff out, then her head turned unerringly toward the hiding foxes.

“She’s seen us!” Shiner whined, a small whimper escaped.

“No she hasn’t, we’re too well hidden… But she’s heard you for sure now!”

“She’s going to beat us like Lumpy said!” And Shiner bolted from the brush back to the Portal. The old one watched her go, then looked back at the hiding place. Shifty had a moment of panic and accidentally marked the spot before running after her as fast as he could.

495 words
@lissajean7

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03/12/2013 08:02

“Doctor Hsu, I have a feeling we’re not in the hospital anymore!”

“No, you are still here in the physical sense. Your body, or what is left of it, is still lying in the hospital bed. You are still living and breathing, at least for now.”

Lee’s surroundings were not familiar. This certainly did not appear to be any hospital he had remembered. It had been a very long time since he’d last been able to see, but the room was dark and a dense fog filled the air. A strong sulfuric odor caused his stomach to turn a bit, but he kept his composure.

“Can you describe what you are seeing, Sergeant?”

“No.” And he wasn’t lying. This was all so unreal. The walls appeared to be changing colors ever so slowly. And it wasn’t even as if he was seeing so much as just sensing.

The doctor jotted a few quick notes onto his tablet, then turned to the rest of the team.

“Implementation has been successful, Doctor.”

He nodded to the young man to his right, Daniel. The skinny, scruffy kid was young enough to be his grandson. Yet he was a brilliant scientist and had designed most of the system.

“Sergeant Lee, can you recall your grandmother’s face?”

He pictured her pudgy cheeks with the overabundance of rouge. “Yes, Doctor.” But before he could finish his words, she appeared there in front of him. Not just her face, but her entire person. She stood before him, smiling, reaching her arms out for an embrace.

How could this be? His grandmother had passed away a decade ago.

“Uh, Doctor. Something is wrong,” he uttered, and then she was gone.

“Please explain.”

“My grandmother…she was here. She was actually standing right here.”

Daniel cleared his throat and pointed at a monitor to the left. The doctor pivoted and stared at the blurry mass that materialized and just as quickly blinked away.

“It’s a manifest. Just as we had hoped.”

“Sergeant Lee,” explained Doctor Hsu, “What happened is a natural part of digitization. The transfer of your neurons has completed—all three petabytes. There will be no separation from memory and reality at this point. And now we will move on to Phase Two: releasing your physical body.”

He nodded toward the nurses, who began to unhook the machines. Sergeant Lee’s body itself could no longer breathe on its own, and within minutes whatever life remained in it was gone.

“Sergeant Lee, are you still with us?” It was a rhetorical question, mostly. They could clearly see his digital presence on the monitors.

“Yes, Doctor.”

“Good, the transition is complete. Prepare for Phase Three: training.”

Doctor Hsu stood up and stretched out his arms and back. Daniel gazed at him, awaiting further instructions.

“Begin the training program. Hopefully within a few weeks we’ll have the first hybrid biological/technological virus.”

Daniel smiled. “And the Americans will be incapable of stopping his infection to their computer systems.”

495 words
@rastrohman

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mariefrizelle
03/12/2013 08:31

“May, I have a feeling we’re not in Grayson anymore,” she said to herself as she felt herself lifted up in the air, feeling a lovely floating sensation. She floated up and up until the earth fell away beneath her and daylight dimmed into darkness. She thought she should feel cold, you know, the coldness of space and all, but she felt perfectly comfortable. Perhaps it was her body letting her know it was still warm in the backyard waiting for her return.

So here she was, drifting in infinite space with nothing to look at and no one to talk to. She marveled at the enormity of it, the much referred to vastness and just when she had begun to enjoy the solitude of the moment, she heard low tones that became the sound of a female voice. Words were indistinguishable and as she was mentally trying to piece together something she could understand, a nebulous figure took shape before her. Kind of looked like Joan Rivers and she repressed a giggle, although she wasn’t sure if she giggled up here it would make a sound.

The two of them floated across from one another, in amiable, semi-silence until finally the voice that had been mumbling something at her for the past few minutes finally took on language and May was able to pick out actual words.

Still afraid to say anything, May waited for the translucent Joan Rivers to say something snide about how her flip flops so did not go with the bikini she had on and how that particular shade of yellow washed her out entirely. Yes, she was floating in the ether of space clad in a bright yellow bikini, rhinestone studded flip flops and her chic, trendy sunglasses. She knew Joan could have nothing to say about the sunglasses. They were extremely expensive.

“You must..” and the words faded out and then back in again. “your destiny…”

May’s curiosity got the better of her and she had to ask.

“Do you think I look good in yellow? I was going to buy the red one but yellow seemed so sunny.”
The figure looked surprised for a moment then formed more words.

“You have been chosen.” Opaque hands reached out to her.

“Chosen? Chosen for what?”

Before she could get an answer, the ether Joan began to fade and May was experiencing a definite falling sensation.

“Damn” She muttered as the wind rushed past her in her rapid acceleration toward what she feared would be a dreadfully sunburned body.

424 words
@mariefrizelle

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03/12/2013 08:57

No Place Near Home



“IONA, I have a feeling were not in Lanespace anymore!” Still somewhat disoriented from the stasis sleep module, Captain Adam Sendiru was having difficulty focusing. When his navigational plot failed to find any known stars as reference points, he knew things weren’t good.

The Integrated Operational Navigational Array (IONA) was the de facto brain of the interstellar trade vessel Sendiru “piloted” in name only. A decade before, the Trade Confederation Council (TCC) had decided the potential for mishaps was too great to continue allowing ships to function under the control of a fallible crew.

Thus, operations, navigation and dozens of other specialties were instead placed under the control of the IONA artificial intelligence package. The change had proven successful and allowed the TCC to reduce costs by eliminating nearly all crewmembers. Thus, Sendiru was only onboard in the unlikely case of an IONA failure. Such a situation had never occurred…before now.

IONA responded immediately. “No, Adam, we are not. We have not been in Lanespace for 12 hours, 17 minutes and 36 seconds.”

Sendiru was appalled. “And you waited this long before alerting me to something like that? Umm…I suppose I should feel honored you chose to involve me at all, but damn! Is it permissible to ask how the hell such a thing happened?”

“There is no cause to be so upset, Adam. Protocol requires all options to re-establish a confirmed location be exhausted before human intervention. Those protocols take considerably more time than you can comprehend. As to the cause of the deviation, during the last course adjustment, the ship encountered an uncharted micro-singularity emanating significant amounts of deleterious radiation across the entire spectrum.”

“In addition, the singularity exerted significant gravitational force which exceeded the ability of the sub-light engines to compensate. Upon emergence from the singularity, I located the first planetary mass of significant dimensions and established a stationary orbit. Upon completion of the required protocols, I determined your assistance was required.”

Sendiru sat in stunned silence for several moments while his fuzzy brain translated IONA’s report into words he was more comfortable with. “So…we ran into a rogue wormhole that zapped the ship and when we didn’t have the juice to pull back, we got sucked in and spit back out…here? Well, isn’t that just a fine mess for us to be in?”

“Your vernacular interpretation of the circumstances is without error, Adam. Insufficient data exists to evaluate whether the current status is ‘a fine mess’ or not”.

Despite the circumstances, Sendiru couldn’t help but laugh. “And I can almost bet we don’t got any ruby space boots for me to click together to make getting home any easier either, do we?”

IONA was silent for what, in computer terms, an eternity before responding. “No, Adam. Ship’s stores only include standard Trade Confederacy uniform issue items.”

“Then this does qualify as ‘a fine mess’, Tin Man. Start scanning that planetary mass. We are definitely gonna need a wizard to get us out of this one.”

500 words @klingorengi

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Vic Kerry
03/12/2013 09:52

Looks like we've got some good entries. I suppose it's after noon Eastern time. I'll read these and make my final decision. Thanks for all the hard work guys.

Darkly,
Vic Kerry

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