Much snark has exchanged lips over Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of a "new world".  One thing, however, remains unquestionable.  The human mind is always pushing the boundaries,  We speculate about what might be out there beyond the limits of our vision. If we went on a journey, across space, or time or other dimensions, what might we find on the other side?

The Judge

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A regular fixture on the Flash Fiction Circuit and a veteran of NaNoWriMo challenge, Robin Abess also known as @Angelique_Rider on Twitter has graced us with champion stories before and will once again be this week's judge.

The Prompt

When we started this journey, we never thought we'd find...

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 points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted
    by Tuesday Noon EST
  5. The winner of each week's competition will be
    invited to judge the following week and post the winner's badge similar to the
    one shown here.
  6. If your story contains graphic language, please post a note to that effect at the beginning of your entry.
  7. Have fun!

10/8/2012 12:06:40 am

When we started this journey, we never thought we'd find ninjas. Because, duh, ninjas. The whole point is that you don't find them, you just find the body they made yappen.

Also, we were in New Orleans, which, despite its numerous charms, was not exactly a hotbed of ninja action.

All of which, of course, meant that we were beset by about six hundred of the pajama-clad bastards as soon as we left the bed and breakfast where we'd spent the night in the Garden District.

Running street battles before third cup of coffee? Do not want. The only saving grace was that, much like some monsters can't step onto holy ground, the ninjas were reluctant to chase us into Cafe du Monde; all that powdered sugar on the beignets might as well have been raw anthrax dust.

So, here we are at a caffeinated detente. The ninjas are out there, wafting through the colorful crowds of tourists like ash through confetti, and we're in here, getting increasingly wired on sugar and chicory.

I hope that when they make a movie of our escape, they don't set what happens next to "Yakety Sax," but I have a bad feeling that it'll be appropriate.

#190
@etcet

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Robin Abess
10/8/2012 05:21:03 am

The Cave

When we started this journey, we never thought we’d find the door to the monster’s world. Tommy, Billy, Jeannie and me were out playin’ in the woods like we usually did, pretending to be great adventurers. Tommy was the oldest, so he always got to be the leader of the expedition. The rest of us followed along, pretty much doin’ whatever he told us to. This time we kept goin’ and goin’, even though we were gettin’ into unknown territory. Billy was the youngest and he started getting’ scared when the kudzu was gettin’ so thick on the old trees. He wanted to go back, but Tommy teased him about bein’ a baby, so Jeannie and me did too. We shoulda listened to him, but we thought we knew more.

Seemed like the woods went on forever. The trees were thicker and less sunlight crept through ‘em the further we went. Then suddenly, there was a cave. We knew for sure now that we’d never been anywhere around here.

“C’mon,” Tommy said. “Let’s explore it.”

This time Jeannie shook her head. “My momma’ll kill me if I get lost in some dirty ole cave.”

“Besides,” I said, “We don’t have any lights to see with.”

“Fine. I’ll go a little ways in, and let you guys know what I see.” Tommy knew better than to mess with me, and he knew Billy wasn’t going in if we weren’t.

“I don’t think you should do that, Tommy. There could be snakes or somethin’…” Billy trailed off at the look he got.

Tommy puffed out his chest and stepped into the inky blackness. He kept up a running commentary for awhile, then suddenly there was an awful choked sound and we didn’t hear him anymore. We looked at each other, wide-eyed, then I called out “Tommy?”

No answer. None of us liked that very much. We sat on the ground for a bit to see if he came out, but he didn’t. Finally, since I was next oldest, I said I’d better go look for him. The other two didn’t want me to go, but I told ‘em he might be hurt and needin’ help. Finally they agreed, and I went into the cave. I didn’t go far before I found Tommy…or what was left of him.

I had no idea what the thing was that was hunched over him. It was big and hairy and its sharp teeth made crunching sounds as they bit into him. Most of him was gone by then. The thing must’ve heard me, ‘cause it turned and grinned at me while it gripped Tommy’s head in its claws. It hissed at me, a long forked tongue slithering out of its mouth. I heard words form.

“Thank you human, for sending a sacrifice so that the door can be opened again.”

I could now see behind it a….portal I guess…that opened into even deeper darkness. A tentacle quested forward. I screamed as it closed around my ankle.

500 totally ineligible words {without title}
@Angelique_Rider

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10/8/2012 07:17:38 am

Not to illicit any snarky comments about history, but this was truly what first came to mind. More personal than prolific. I hope you enjoy it in spite of the obvious.


When we started this journey, we never thought we would find another land. Our goal was to plot the safest, most direct route to the land of spices and silk. My captain knew the waters well – or so he said. The crewmen told tales of sea dragons and mermaids. I almost expected to find those. But a place as lush and green as this – with people as dark as the earth, draped in colors brighter than Noah’s rainbow – well, that was unexpected.
In truth, this place was perhaps my journey’s Mt. Ararat. I did not expect to land here at this point in our journey. I almost feel compelled to build an altar, thanking God above for providence and provision, but amongst such pagans, a dance about the fires of camp would seem more appropriate.
You would enjoy exploring this place with me, Diego. It is inspiring. Thank God for the curiosity of the king and queen. I believe the resources and riches here will please their majesties greatly – perhaps allowing me to return.
For now, though, I must think only of rest. My days are full but I still miss you and your brother, in spite of such activity. Till we see each other again.
Your affectionate father,
C. Columbus

(211 words - minus starting commentary)
@sampsonwriter

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10/8/2012 07:40:58 am

The Scenic Route
By Lisa McCourt Hollar

“When we started this journey, we never thought we'd find ourselves fighting for our lives,” Hank said. Looking around their accommodations, he couldn’t help but think this wasn’t the southern hospitality Martha had been looking for when they’d decided to visit relatives in Georgia.

“You just had to insist on taking the scenic route,” Hank grumbled.

“You’re the one that got us lost when you decided to take a detour,” Martha said, tired of hearing her husband complain. He had no sense of adventure.

“Sure, blame me. You’re the horny old biddy that wanted me to find a motel. Do you think the gas attendant knew where he was sending us?”

Hank thought back to the pale man and his damning words.

“We don’t have no motel here, but the old asylum sometimes takes in guests. It’s kind of a tourist trap now… when we get tourists. Just follow the road a few miles, it takes you out of town a mile or so and you can’t miss the turn off up Crane Hill. Blackstone Manor is the only place on the road, you can’t miss it.”

“The man creeped me out,” Hank said. “I should have followed my instincts and turned around, not driven up to Hotel Transylvania.”

Following his directions, the couple had found themselves pulling up to the largest home they’d ever seen. The man answering the door was handsome… rugged. Martha’s heart beat a bit faster, feeling a surge of sexual energy. If only she were thirty years younger.

“We’ve been expecting you,” the man said, smiling.

Hank’s eyes narrowed. “You have?”

“Frank called to say you were coming. My name is Lucas Blackstone, this is Linda.”

“Oh look, elderly people” a young girl said. Martha didn’t much like the way Hank looked at her like she was a piece of meat. She half expected his teeth to fall out of his mouth, the way he was gaping.
Later, under the blanket, she was reminding him why he married her when she felt a rise in him she hadn’t seen for a while. Feeing a cold hand on her back, she looked up, shocked to see Linda and Lucas joining them. Linda already had her lips on Hank and Martha felt a thrill when Lucas came towards her, nearly peeing herself... until she saw his teeth. Still, as far as Vampires went, Martha thought she could have done worse.

“I wonder when Lucas will be back,” Martha said, looking around the medieval torture chamber.

“Does it really matter?” Hank asked. “It’s not like they’re on a time schedule. We’re food, plain and simple.”

Martha knew he was right; Lucas and Linda came down every now and then… others too. Martha could hear one of them coming now, a familiar thrill surging at the sound of his feet. It was Lucas and even though he would kill her, the pleasure she felt every time he touched her made her glad she’d insisted on taking the scenic route.

Word Count: 500
@jezri1

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10/8/2012 11:38:21 am

Corp Fleet

When we started this journey, we never thought we'd find a viable colony this far outside of the mainstream of Corporation space. To be perfectly honest, we couldn’t begin to understand why they even sent us to look. The Corp had a lot of very well-defined objectives, but looking out for the general health and well-being of individuals had never been paramount. Of course, we should have known they were up to something; they were The Corp.

Now, life onboard a Corp ship wasn’t all that bad. We got fed, got decent living space and got a regular paycheck deposited into an account we seldom had either the opportunity or the need to access. On the down side, we hadn’t seen Earth in almost five years, we had no say in where we were headed next or what exactly we’d be doing when we got there. Everything we did wind up doing pretty much ensured there wouldn’t be as many of us in the mess hall the next day as the day before.

That pretty much sums up life on a Corp ship. It still beat the dickens out of living on a home world so overcrowded, polluted, and hopeless that existence there was more a cruel joke than something to be treasured. It sure as hell beat signing away whatever you had to live on a Colony world.

At last count, The Corp had colonized over 250 different worlds and those numbers weren’t held to be 100% accurate. Though Corp tried their best to put a positive spin on everything, it was known life wasn’t exactly ducky on the vast majority of worlds. Supply lines were stretched to their limits and beyond so most Colony worlds were expected to be as self-sustaining as possible.

That much we could agree made sense…mostly. But when you’re new home doesn’t have things like an intrinsic water supply that’s safe to drink or an entirely breathable atmosphere, certain resupply items are more important for you than for some less challenging worlds. That didn’t mean you were going to get the things you needed, it just meant you had a more pressing need.

That was where those of us in the Corp Fleet came in. We shunted from one pesthole to the next using the considerable fabrication and repair facilities of the ship to assist in whatever way we could. It was a job, you’d suspect, likely to leave one with a sense of accomplishment and pride for doing good and noble things to aid your fellow sentient beings with whom you shared a common species and point of origin. It didn’t.

We never seemed to be able to do quite as much as needed done and it never seemed to be enough for those that needed it. We should have known when they sent us this far out things would end up being even more cocked up than usual…but that’s a story for another time. Trust me, it won't have a happy ending.

500 words @klingorengi

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10/8/2012 07:39:33 pm

“When we started this journey, we never thought we’d find-”

Marcus interrupted, “Oh, shut up, Martha! You couldn’t have thought anything after we found that shiny door thing! Who has any way to guess what could have been in there?”

Martha did her very best impression of their Momma. She lifted her chin and pursed her lips and raised her eyebrows – trying to look supercilious (a word that would have been her favorite had she only known of its existence) and fully ready to chastise him. “Daddy has read the Narnia books to me. I know what to expect when you go through portals like that…Or, at least, I thought I did.” Her face fell at the realization that the wood she had been expecting was, in fact, not there.

“Whatever. You didn’t know we’d find-”

“No, but I knew it would be special because-”

“Oh, please, I knew it would be special too! I’m not stupid! Besides, I found it.”

“By running off after Momma specifically said-”

“She did not! She said go play. I was exploring the new backyard!”

“That was not in our backyard, and you know it! Momma probably doesn’t even know that cave exists-”

“What she doesn’t know, won’t kill her.”

“No?” Martha gestured wildly around them, “You don’t think she’d be a bit concerned? Especially when we don’t come home for supper?”

“Well…” Marcus looked around again and bit his lip, “I still don’t think she’d die from it…”

“Well I do! I think she’d fall down dead of a heart attack right now if she knew where we were.”

“Exactly, but since she doesn’t know, it won’t kill her! See, I was right!” He stuck his tongue out at her.

“No, I’m right, because if we never get back, she’ll die from not knowing!” She stuck her tongue out as well, it was hard to remain mature and *supercilious* when the ‘I’m right’ wars began.

“Ahem.” The sound had a lot more gurgle to it than a normal throat clearing. Both Martha and Marcus froze and stared at each other for a moment with wide eyes before turning toward the sound, silent in a way they had never been. “It is clear now. Wipe their memory. Put them at the entrance to the caves. They’ll be found. Then fix that damn cloaking device. Go.”

391 words
@lissajean7

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10/9/2012 12:01:36 am

When we started this journey, we never thought we’d find the Golden Palace of Wei Fung. Many of us had doubts that we’d even locate the city hiding the mysterious palace deep beneath in its labyrinths of underground tunnels. We were chasing rumors really, going on nothing more than ancient tales of the palace being a breeding ground for dragons and tigers and mystical wizards.

And they were right. We didn’t exactly find the Golden Palace. We didn’t even quite make it to Xinjiang province, as we had set out to do. Or China, for that matter. We knew we were out of India, and we believed we were now somewhere in the northern area of Kashmir, but Arjun swore up and down that we were now in the Afghani state of Badakhshan. Which would make sense, considering that the training camp we stumbled upon, populated with what we could only assume to be al-Qaeda soldiers, would soon be our doom.

The masked, angry men had captured our troop, locking us away in cells built into the mountain side. We’d been here for days, and two of our men had been taken out into the flat a mere fifty yards in front of us and slaughtered on site. Their bodies still lay in the sun, swarms of insects feasting on their remains. Our Arabic-speaking interpreters had tried to reason with our captors, but it was no use. We were doomed.

“Professor, you know the western Han Dynasty stretched into these parts two thousand years ago.”

Arjun didn’t seem to reflect much on the calamity of our current situation. He was like a child in some ways, brazenly or idiotically ignoring the threats before him.

“Yes, Arjun. I’ve studied the dynasties all my life.”

“So perhaps Wei Fung’s palace is in these mountains.”

I scoff at his naivety. While it was very remotely possible, all signs from western Chinese literature pointed to an area 200 miles northeast. Besides, it was buried beneath a city. It could not be here in these mountains.

“Professor, these hostiles are frightened. They believe Americans have found them. Some of their people have gone missing.”

This was welcoming news. Had the American Army located their camp? Of course, if it had, a drone would most likely be on its way to blast it off the face of the earth. Death would come either way.

“They are frightened for the wrong reason though, Professor. Americans do not leave claw marks on their victims.”

“Excuse me, Arjun? Claw marks?”

“Yes, professor. Only animals leave claw marks. Big animals. Like tigers. Or dragons.”

434 words
@rastrohman

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Nellie
10/9/2012 01:46:23 am

“When we started this journey, we never thought we’d find the location of the bandits, did we, Sarah?” Ben glanced at her before using the spy goggles to stare down at the landscape and the scattering of tents. “I’m surprised that they are willing to take the chance. I heard the boogies had taken over this area.”

Sarah pushed down the bellows, the light balloons keeping the small two man air basket moving. “A little help would be appreciated. I don’t want to be caught here when the sun goes down. You know that bad things come out at night. Why do you want to sight see over a bandit compound. It’s going to get us killed and I like breathing.”

“It’s the adventure. Do you know how much the government will pay us for location of any camps?”

“Not even to be marked as a target. They do more than hang out with each other you know.” She gave him a wry grin, using her foot to keep pumping the billows. “And we don’t want to hang around. We’ve probably been noticed by now. Let’s get out of here before we suddenly plummet down.”

“Killjoy.”

“It’s the killing part that I’m trying to avoid.”

205 words
@solimond

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