In honor of a legend and one of my personal literary heroes, this week's challenge is inspired by the 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451.  Rise to the occasion, dear authors, and show off your skills!

The Judge

Michelle Smith is an author of young adult fiction, and currently lives in her home state of North Carolina with her husband. However, if you were to ask her, she would say, “Home is where the Coast Guard sends us.” She’s a stay-at-home mother to an exuberant toddler and a border collie mix, both of whom are never low on energy. While her days are filled with Mickey Mouse, crayons, and Play-Doh, she’s constantly writing a story in her mind.
Michelle is a self-proclaimed “lover of love and all things happy.” In short, she’s an eternal optimist that believes everyone has at least one chance at happiness, and that while the journey may be daunting, the destination makes the path worthwhile.

The Prompt

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire

The Rules


6/11/2012 01:08:29 am

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire. Actually, it had begun many years ago, but this was the first time the government was making it THIS official THIS publicly.

As they threw more copies of the book into the flames, the crowd cheered. Television crews all over the country were covering the story and new outbreaks of bonfires were beginning as people heard what was happening.

Public schools had already been prepared for the event and the teachers had instructed the children to bring copies of the book from home. To ensure total participation, as the fires were lit, the teachers handed out copies of the book to children who didn't have them.

In Hollywood, major stars contributed their time to show their support and to generate even more public interest and awareness. They even broadcast a special "The More You Know" segment.

City halls, state buildings, courthouses and other public, government-controlled venues hosted celebrations throughout the day as the smoke of all the paper, ink, binders and covers wafted everywhere.

The outcome of tomorrow's elections wouldn't really matter, anyway. Even though the paper copies were finally being reduced to ashes, it had been decades since America had started burning its Bibles.

207 Words

Miranda Kate
6/11/2012 08:02:19 am

Ooo, controversial - love! Look forward to the day! LOL

S Jayanth
6/12/2012 03:52:31 am

An intense backdrop! Great narration!

6/11/2012 01:46:09 am

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire.

We weren’t harming no one. We keep to ourselves, we do. We only sell our remedies to the people who seek us out. We never even bring our concoctions inta’ town.

But one potion goes wrong, one time, and before you know it, we’re being hunt’d down. The whole town is in an uproar.

“Hang ‘em!” they shout.

“Burn ‘em at the stake!” they chant.


They’d like’ta see us hang’d. And for what? Dorothy Walcott, that’s what. Head of the town council, and most influential of the bunch. She come’d to us in secret one day last fall. Said she want'd to punish her old husband Edmond, she did. For cheating on her with Mary Alice Young of all things.

"Sure," we say. "Punishin’ husbands is easy."

So we give her the potion. "Put this in his stew,” we say. “Whisper the words,” we say. Simple instructions for one so educated as she. But she come back. And she screamin’ and hollerin’ about us being witches and devil-women.

Edmond Walcott, see, he turned into a goat.

She should have been happy, really. We punished her old husband for his wrong-doin’s. I tell her it’s a good thing. All the milk and cheese you could ever need, I say.

We weren’t harming anyone, really.

Not until that old book hit the flames, of course. And I can say I warn’d ‘em all, I did.

Because when that old spell book flew back out of the fire, it hit one of the council women in the face. Right square in the nose.

The spirits of my ancestors’ didn’t take too kindly to the heat of that bonfire, no sir they didn’t.

You should have seen those townsfolk run.

298 Words

S Jayanth
6/12/2012 03:22:37 am

Aaah!! wonderful story! Loved how you narrated the small funny incident! Potionmaking! Aah!! loved it loved it!!

6/11/2012 03:23:13 am

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire. Jason stood with his brothers, watching the pages blacken and smoke drifting up the chimney. Being back here in the house where he grew up made him uneasy, itchy, like ants crawling beneath his skin.

"Nobody will ever know," the eldest, Joseph, said, brushing the dust off his hands.

Those words seemed so familiar. Jason was the baby, the butt of their jokes for years. Now that he was as tall and muscled as the others, they left him alone. But it wasn't his brother's voice he heard in his head.

Jason shook off his unease. "Do you think anyone read it?"

"It was in the trunk with the money," said John, the middle brother. "I doubt anyone's been up there in the thirty years since Mom died."

"Who'd have thought Dad..." Jason trailed off, thinking about the man that married their mother and took on her three young boys. He'd been father to them, and mother as well when she died the next year. They were lucky to have him, as he reminded them their whole lives.

Jason shivered. Being here made it hard to breathe. He kept expecting... something.

"Do you think the money is marked?" asked John. "Or there's a record of serial numbers or something?"

"It was a long time ago," answered Joseph. "I don't know what the cops did back then, or the FBI, or whoever."

"Neither of you have said anything to anybody, right?" Jason probed. Unlikely. Like him, his brothers were unmarried, no women in their lives.

"Hell," Joseph said, "even if they come back at us, what's the worst that could happen? They'd just take the money. We're not doing anything wrong, just using the money we found in our father's attic after he died. He was the criminal, not us."

"Yeah." John nodded his agreement. "Without the diary, there's no way we could know the money was stolen. For all we know, Dad could have been saving his whole life and accumulated it up there."

"Let's get out of here," Jason said. "We can take it back to town to divide it."

Joseph narrowed his eyes at him. "Why such a hurry all of a sudden?"

"This place gives me the creeps." Jason started back up the stairs to the attic. "Come on, let's get the money and get the hell out of here."

He stood at the top of the stairs, waiting as his brothers passed by before drawing his gun.

"You knew, didn't you?"

They both turned, eyes widening. "Knew what?" Joseph said. "We didn't know about the money."

"Not the money." The ants under his skin were joined by bees buzzing in Jason's belly. "What he did to me."

"Jason, he did it to all of us." Joseph, always the reasonable one, the leader, started toward him, reaching out.

Jason shot them both, hefted the trunk of money onto his back and locked the door behind him. "He owes me," he muttered as he drove away.

Prompt plus 498 words

6/11/2012 03:24:02 am

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire, though it was hardly the catalyst for what was to come.
The book contained their plan, every single detail they’d spent years devising, and now it was all turned to ash.

They lost over a hundred people in the attack, and several more injured; luckily they’d gotten the children and most of the women into the crypts.

“I don’t understand it, they’ve never found us before,” Hyman said, and leaned back in the scrawny chair.

She shrugged and re-tied her dirty hair into a tight ponytail; she hated it when it was loose.

“What’s done is done, there’s nothing to do about it now,” she said.

They were the last of the resistance and their numbers were down to a couple of thousand. The new regime, the outsiders, had taken over. The resistance had found an old military facility far underground, and they’d been settled there for three years.

“I probably remember most of it,” she said, and narrowed her eyebrows.

It looked more a grimace, because of the diagonal scar across her face. Her eyebrow was divided in two, and the scar went deep enough into the tissue to form a cleft.

“It won’t help us, we need all of it. At least we got them before they called reinforcements,” Hyman said.

A force of thirty, probably a re-con party, had penetrated their fortress, but when they realized they’d been discovered; they’d made it to the archives and burned most of it.
Everyone knew reinforcements would come eventually, but relocating a couple of thousand people would take more time than they had.

The storage room was filled with a sticky blue substance, and it was starting to rot. They’d tried burning the bodies but it hadn’t worked, so for now –they had nowhere to place them.

“What do you suggest we do? Lie down and wait for death?” she stood up and kicked a rock, sending it flying.

He shook his head, he didn’t want that.

“Perhaps, if we…,” he didn’t get any further.

The alarm sounded through their underground complex, first one, then another – it wasn’t long until every single alarm was howling.

“They’re here,” she said as she stared at the door.

They heard the familiar sound of weapons being fired, muffled screams found their way through the ventilation system, and it was getting closer.

They were out of time.

Word count: 404

6/11/2012 03:34:17 am

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire; trouble for them, trouble for me, and plenty of extra trouble for anybody who wanted some. I ain’t saying I don’t believe in God. That’d be pretty stupid seeing as I’ve met Her a couple times now. What I am saying is that people do some pretty dumb things in Her name.

Yes the book was evil. We’re talking soul-sucking legions of the Ninth Circle evil here. So them priests got that call right. Thing is none of them stopped to think what made it that way, or whether that could possibly have any to-do with how it ought to be handled. When you’ve got a demon bound into each page of one of those big old on-a-pedestal books, the last thing you want is to let them all out at once.

Here I am in the fallen cathedral, probably the only person or thing within a mile what’s not possessed. I get to clean up the mess because they didn’t wait three days for me to walk here and take the book off their hands. Three days walking with no sleep and I arrive in hell on earth.

Worst of it is I can just imagine my cute little daughter begging me to help these poor souls. So I’m gonna miss out on just shooting them and try to find a way to take care of all the demons released from the book without harming their hosts.

One of these days I’m going to have to ask God to find another gunslinger.

264 words

6/11/2012 04:28:43 am

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire. Books held knowledge and all knowledge must be destroyed, so those in charge could control the people. Government officials out of touch with old technology, who still clung to the belief that nothing, had changed. Technology had been destroyed in the world war, which had taken place there were no Kindles Kobos or other reading devices. There were no computer screens available by just thinking about it. A tachyon blast had stunned everyone on Earth and wiped the imbedded devices ability to continue to work with their brain’s memory.
The people starved for knowledge many who had never seen a book except in museums, still knew that the books held what they hungered for the information of the past. This might lead them out of the horror they know faced. They did not even know how to grow nourishment without the machines, which had grown and gathered their food. Food came from automated factories and since they no longer worked the food supplies were dwindling. Government officials who had books raided from museums on their shelves wished to make us serfs and turfs.
We would serve them at their leisure and yet it was they who started the wars with petty grievances and greed. The people rebelled when they burnt the books. They took shots rang out, bombs burst in the air. I fled with my family to the mountains. We fish here, we plant crops and we farm animals. Life is good as we remember the old ways. Humans will live on and I will teach my children that their hands and brains are the best tools of survival not war. My children will learn government should be for the people and of the people, not someone so greedy for power that they take the world. My family is safe and happy, but the fireworks continue in the cities and all is turned to ash. We maybe the only ones left in the world, but life is idyllic for us we have found the Garden of Eden.
352 words

Miranda Kate
6/11/2012 08:03:28 am

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire.

“What the hell did you guys do that for?! How are we going to get her back now?” Jonas tried to get the book out using a thin stick, but it was wedged in between the logs.

Christian’s expression didn’t change. “I don’t care, man.”

“Neither do I.” Ronny seconded.

“What?! Are you guys crazy?! She’s the one with the power - don’t you guys get that?!”

Christian was still unmoved; Ronny looked a little worried.

The stick Jonas was using caught fire and he gave up. He stepped back out of the direct heat and smoke, which had increased with the arrival of the book. The wind was picking up, and in the desert at night that was not a good thing; it could carry their scent far and wide.

“So what are we going to do now?” Jonas couldn’t believe they were so indifferent.

“I say we blow this place, go back to my digs and get stoned.” Christian said.

“Good call.” Ronny backed him up again.

“But what about Marissa – she can’t get back here without us being here and reading the incantation.”

“Well we can’t do that now anyways, the books gone, dude.” Ronny had taken on Christian’s indifference.

“But what about her body? We can’t leave it here and let the wolves take it?”

Christian walked over to her and crouched down. He glanced at Ronny with a grin, and squeezed her breast. “I’ve got a good idea what we can do with her body!” Ronny laughed.

“No guys, no fucking way. That is NOT going to happen!”

Jonas marched over and pushed Christian so hard he fell backwards. He sprang back up to his feet and pushed his chest up against Jonas.

“You gonna fucking stop me, man?!” Christian had found an emotion.

“If I have to. You know I can Christian, so don’t make me!” Jonas pushed back, he’d wasn’t intimidated by Christian like so many others were.

“Dudes, come on, let’s not get silly here.” Ronny was always the pacifier.

“Not get silly Ronny? Throwing that book on the fire just made it get silly!”

“Calm down about the book already Jonas, it’s gone - burnt.”

The three of them stood there looking at Marissa’s body. A sudden gust of wind blew sand up into their faces, making them all step back. Then it started to spin round them in a pattern and they looked at each other. Ronny quickly crossed to the other side of her body, and Jonas stood at her head. They reached their arms out, and held hands over across body. Her body twitched twice and her eyes flew open.

“Christian, you bastard, don’t you EVER touch my body again!”

“You felt that?” Christian looked duly embarrassed.

“No, I SAW it! I was standing over there.” She pointed to the fire. “I was astral projecting not comatose! And I can’t believe you guys burnt my book!”

499 words

6/11/2012 09:08:18 am

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire; my signature in the back pages melted and blew away in the ashes.
Contracts are so fickle; after all the fine print only prevented me from destroying the commitment, not unsuspecting teen pyros. It felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
All of them left except one. He watched the flames lick at the thick binding with a smile on his face. Something about the scene touched my wasted soul and made me hungry.
“I’ll make your wish come true.” I cooed towards the boy. He turned around and just as swiftly I pressed my lips to his, consuming his screams. I could feel his soul warming my skin.
After all wasn’t it everyone’s wish to be touched by the immortal.
The world will learn to love trouble just as much as I do.

149 words

6/11/2012 09:26:36 am

The trouble started when they threw the book on the fire, but forgot to take off the jacket. The putrid smell of melting plastic had the boys running away from the barrel. Anything could be burned in the barrel, they had been told. Josh had tested that by chucking a dead mouse in. The smell of burning fur hadn’t been much different than the smell of branding and the boys were unimpressed.

The next youngest, the middle boy, Jimmy, had thrown a handful of grain in, and all three had run away, covering their heads, as small fiery balls erupted from the barrel in every direction. The popping hadn’t stopped for hours and it had been the best yet. They’d had to step quickly to put out the tiny embers before the dry grass caught on fire.

The book had been the choice of Jack, the youngest. He hated reading, hated his mother making him read, hated the characters in the books. Mostly he hated the tiny letters on every page without a single picture among them. He loved to draw, loved photographs, a book was useless. So he tossed it in the barrel atop the already burning garbage.

“What are you doing?!” his mother yelled as they were still moving back from the acrid stench of molten plastic. As she approached, she found her book, her signed copy of Under the Dome, going up in flames. “What have you done?” she asked Jack, teeth gritted against her fury. It was easily as hot as the book in the barrel.

“No more books!” he shouted and then turned to run, knowing his mother would catch and punish him. He was wrong.

He’d nearly reached the end of the field before turning around to see her still at the barrel. Jack’s brothers stood beside where she sat in the dirt, her head in her hands.

Jack rushed back to find his mother crying. She never cried.

“I’m sorry, Mom.” He said, not sure what to do. His brothers didn’t help. Then he had an idea. Running into the house, he returned with a stained and torn stuffed rabbit. “Here, Mom, toss him in.”

His mother took the rabbit in surprise. She turned to Jack, puzzled.

“I burned your favourite thing,” he said.

She sniffed and wiped her face leaving dusty streaks on her face. “Thank you, Jack. I accept your apology, but burning Mr. Hop isn’t going to bring my book back, or make either of us feel better.” She hugged him tightly, then turned him away from her and made him face the barrel. The plastic smell continued to fill the air. “You will stay here and learn from your mistake, though.”

He nodded his head. Next time, a paperback.

460 words

S Jayanth
6/12/2012 03:51:33 am

*takes a bow*

a very very perfect blend of humor, personal interests, mother - kid relation and then again humor. I simply love this. :)

P.S: I've read 4 of the entries till now and i loved each one of them.

6/11/2012 11:44:36 am

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire. I'm not sure if history will see things that way, but that's what I saw. You could almost hear the click of the reset button being pushed as the flames curled it's pages into ash and sent glowing embers into the cold winter sky. It wasn't the fact that a book was being burned, it was the specific book they burned first.

I remember watching as that psychopath, perched on his scaffold over a sea of people, rambled on, “The old ways have brought this terror upon us! The old world has been carried on for too long. This is no longer our history, from now on we make our own! The future of this world will not just include a society of books, but a society of character!” He was some sort of political leader rallying the masses against some sort of injustice. I don't remember his name, but he did have nice hair. This had been brewing for months only to culminate in a book burning. To cleanse society of the old ways. I was only a teenager at the time, but I understand just how terrible this all would end.

“You do well this day to commit to flames the obsolete history of the old world, now long forgot. We are the new wave of humanity, the new history makers, and the majority. Erase the past with fire and let us build this world anew, in our image and to our liking!” He reached into a box at this right and pulled a book out at random. I vividly remember his thick gray fur coat and seeing his breath when he spoke, it seemed to emphasize his words in dramatic fashion.

“This, brothers and sisters” he said, hoisting the small paperback over his head and shaking it for emphasis, “is the beginning of their end and the first day of our new beginning!” With that he tossed the book into the fire. For one brief second, on the television monitors, I saw the cover of the book. Fahrenheit 451. An obscure Earth book, definitely part of the old world. Read by few, but given to me by chance as a random reading assignment for school. I was most likely one of a few hundred who had read it. Sadly, the irony of the whole thing would be lost on the mass of sheep now baaing approval at their new shepherds actions. Little did any of them know of the slaughter to which they would all be led in time.

The books I had read gave me some sense of what was coming, so I hid and waited. Hoarding the old books and learning from them, I now wait for them to kill themselves off. Soon, this phoenix will rise from the ashes and help to world to restart. It's not always the victors that write history, sometimes it's the survivors too.

495 words

6/11/2012 01:09:02 pm

The trouble started when they threw the books in the fire. It hadn’t been just any fire, nor were they just any old books – if they had been their open defiance could have been overlooked. The books were old of course, thousands of years old, older – some said – than the recollection of all of mankind for they were the books of the Angels. And now the rebellious pair were looking at a punishment far worse than anything the two could have conceived even in their wildest dreams. Death, although simple, wasn’t even a consideration.

Lilith would have praised her children’s cunning if it wasn’t for the fact that the two of them sought to bring down the institutions that were Heaven and Hell. While the two sides didn’t get along they had existed for untold millennia side by side in a balance that while precarious at times was amicable toward one another. Maybe, because of that balance she’d been able to forgive Adam of his transgressions and need for control after all Eve seemed compliant enough and maybe it had been for the best.

Instead she was forced to side with the Angels – something she was loathe to do – despite her shared history with Samael. Then again, if it hadn’t been for their actions years ago the books would be safe as the twins wouldn’t have existed. It wasn’t solely their fault of course. Adam and Lucifer had all had their parts to play – Cain too – all before Samael had so much as stepped foot into her life. No, it wasn’t entirely their fault but they were to blame.

“So,” Adam said. “Anymore bright ideas?”

Ariel shook his head and chuckled, watching the flames lick at the pages of the books. “You know Sam, if it wasn’t for the fact that those two have brought the wrath of God down on their heads in one single stroke I’d almost see the irony in it.”

“I think Ariel that you’ve been living as one of them too long. God’s wrath is the least of their worries.”

“Oh, and whose is greater than God’s?”

“Mine,” Samael said.

In the end he reasoned that despite being the Angel of Death he hadn’t obtained the honorary title of Satan for nothing and his children or not Idris and Isabeau wouldn't escape his wrath anymore than they could escape God's own.

385 words

Rebekah Postupak
6/11/2012 01:49:49 pm

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire.

Such a lot of folks, to be so hot and bothered over such a little bitty book. But there they went, all shouting and raging like their noise was going to make it burn faster. It didn’t, of course. It burned slow, its edges blackening and curling backwards one page at a time, calmly melting and sparkling in the cool orange flames like it was its own idea, almost in defiance of the white hot mob anger staring it down.

And I don’t suppose it made anybody feel any better about themselves when I reached right into those flames and pulled it back out.

Or when I turned the sparks into teeny tiny gnats that stung at their arms and legs, I guess, as they packed up their screams in an awful hurry and headed home.

Silly people, to be so unhinged by such a little bitty granny.

159 words

6/11/2012 01:56:23 pm

The Light Of Truth

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire. It was on the day when over 200 refugees had streamed into the Pleasanton Community Library seeking shelter from the climactic changes that had plunged the world into its second Great Ice Age.
No one knew who’d kindled a small fire beneath the skylight in the ceiling but soon others scurried about, ferrying cartloads of books towards it. A small, bespectacled man in a tweed suit pushed his way through the mass of bodies, seeking, with minimal success, to be heard over them.

“Stop! Please, stop. You can’t do this. What you are doing is wrong, terribly wrong. Please, listen to me! You have to stop.”

One man detached himself from the crowd, a de facto leader perhaps, and strode purposefully over. It was plain, by his demeanor, he was accustomed to getting his way by dint of sheer size and intimidation.

“Now, you listen here. We got us a whole lot of real cold folks here. What we don’t have is no time to waste listenin’ to yer pansy-assed, philosophical arguments. If we gotta burn these books to stay warm than burn ‘em we will, ya hear me?”

The man looked confused. “Hello, I am Orville Quint, Chief Librarian of this facility, and I suspect you misunderstand me good sir. I don’t object to your actions on a philosophical but rather upon a practical basis. To whit, books will simply not burn in the manner you imagine.”

“The hell you say! I may not be no ivory-tower egghead like you but I ain’t no complete dumbass neither. We read us a book way back in 10th grade by some fella was all about burnin’ books! Said they burned at a good 450 degrees or so and that oughta go a powerful way towards warmin’ up these womenfolk and little ones.”

Orville sighed with the infinite patience of an educated man confronted by misassumption. “A fine book of Mr. Bradbury’s, indeed, albeit one based on a flawed premise. You see, the 451 degrees the book spoke of did not, as you’ve surmised, refer to the heat a burning book might well generate. That number is the flash point at which paper would spontaneously combust without the application of flame to it. In practice, due to their condensed nature and the lack of air flow between the pages, a book is quite unlikely to burn without some accelerant added. Smolder yes, burn no.”

The leader, as well as many others, did not want to hear any such thing and Orville found himself pushed aside as they continued in their ultimately hopeless endeavor. He huddled in an alcove, secure in the knowledge the coming night temperatures would see most of them dead of hypothermia long before any sunlight might, otherwise, succor them.

He spent his final hours reflecting that while the light of Truth could not be forever extinguished, neither, it seemed, could the angry heat of ignorance be banished easily.

500 words @klingorengi My corrected entry. Thanks for the assist.

S Jayanth
6/12/2012 03:41:18 am

Aahh!! wonderful!!! "while the light of Truth could not be forever extinguished, neither, it seemed, could the angry heat of ignorance be banished easily." it summed it all up...

Jeff Tsuruoka
6/11/2012 03:36:18 pm

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire.
Old man Wilkens howled and wriggled to get free but Buck and Carter had a good hold on him.
“You fools!” he roared. “You don't know what you're doing!”
“Oh, I think we do,” said Barrows. He was the justice of the peace in those otherwise lawless parts and he relished the chance to take charge.
“It something we shoulda done a long time ago,” he said.
The fire was in a deep pit dug within sight of Wilkens' own shack near the edge of the woods and the smoke was billowing out in a thick, acrid cloud.
Old Man Wilkens was the spitting image of his father, a family trait that went back centuries.
He looked every bit the crazy old man of the woods with his knotty gray beard, his too-wide eyes, and those gnarled hands.
He roared again and glared at the handful of townspeople who had gathered to watch the burning of the Wilkens Book.
Barrows watched the fire until the book was burned beyond saving and then signaled Buck and Carter to let the old man go.
Wilkens ran right to Barrows and grabbed him by the front of his shirt.
The justice of the peace tried in vain to pry the old man's hands away.
“Why?” demanded Wilkens. “Why would you do it? You know what it means, what that book means to this community.”
Barrows pulled free of Wilkens' grasp and waved off any offers of assistance.
“That book, Wilkens, holds secrets. Dark secrets. Terrible things man ought not be privy to.”
“Idiot! The book contains wisdom! Wisdom and knowledge!” He looked to the assembled townspeople. “Are these things so terrible? So forbidden? Yes, there is power in the book but it is a power that has protected all of us! All of us!”
Barrows reared up in anger but choked back the snarl. Throttling an old man in front of witnesses just wouldn't do.
when the sky turned from a pale blue to a reddish black. There was no moon. No stars. Everything sight glowed in the firelight.
Noises were heard in the trees. They can only be noises because human ears had not heard them in centuries and even if they had they could not have described them in any intelligent way.
The ground rumbled and the air was permeated by a foul odor.
Barrows looked to Wilkens.
“It's true...” he said.”
Wilkens stood at the edge of the fire and grinned.
“Don't just stand there,” barked Barrows. “Do something!”
“There's nothing to be done,” said Wilkens. “The power to keep them at bay?” He put head back and laughed. “It was in that book you burned!”
The old man pushed past Barrows and laughed all the way to his shack.
He shut the door behind him as the screaming began.

496 words

6/11/2012 05:17:10 pm

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire.

See, what they didn’t count on was the Book Worms. Nobody ever does. What? You thought they were imaginary? Hah! Think again. Those suckers are nothing to scoff about.

And yeah, wiseacre, I've seen one. It was about six foot six, balanced on its tail, and their setae are hairy, not slimy like you’d expect. Oh, but their teeth are terrible, like gnashing jagged rocks.

Nah, it didn’t try to bite me. That’s because I’m an Ink Slinger. Book Worms and Ink Slingers are natural allies. Purveyors and protectors of the written word. That’s what we are. That's how the Founding Fathers set it up.

You ever seen a book burning? Nothing else tears at your senses like that will. The sight of the flames licking paper, the smell of singed ink, the sound of binding screeching, the taste of death in the air, the palpable feeling of agony.

You might think that pain is coming from the books, but it’s not. It’s the echo of the Book Worms waking each other up and arming for battle. That sound will haunt you. It’ll get in your bones and whittle you down to nothing.

But not me. Nope, I’m impervious to all of it. It’s all right there in black and white. Book Worms don’t just protect the books, they safeguard the Ink Slingers too.

How? Well, I’m afraid that information falls under Trade Secrets and I’m not about to jeopardize my position with the ISU (Ink Slinger’s Union).

Let’s just say that I know which side of the bread my butter is on – or is that which side of the page my ink is on – and I do my damnedest to keep the peace between the Book Worms and Ink Slingers.

As for you, all I can suggest is that you read the fine print in your Book Owner's Manual and figure out real quick which side of the war you're on. And just to be safe, you might want to invest in a good Worm Casualty Policy.

@bullishink / 349 words

6/11/2012 11:22:00 pm

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire. I gave it to them. Was that stupid? It didn’t seem so at the time. They started tossing it around and laughing. The bonfire blazed – light and shadow sending mixed messages I didn’t have time to figure out. I still didn’t know whether it was an accident or if it was all part of some plan. There was one of those moments when time stood still, the world holding its breath, and then the pop of the casing cracking.

It happened so fast! No time to fish it out. No time to do anything but run.

Run I did. They had to know what would happen to me. I had bragged that I could live outside the city just fine. That I knew how to survive. That I didn’t need Father telling me what to do.

I had lied. Or, at least, I thought I had.

I was lucky. I picked the right direction. I passed over a dry riverbed and found an entrance to a cave before the hovercars could detect me. Okay, I fell into it, but it was lucky all the same.

Was this an amusing joke they played on all the stupid kids they wanted to get rid of, or was this a test? If I assumed the former, then I should make my way back to the city and explain to the guard what happened. He might take pity on me. Maybe. No. No, he wouldn’t. I didn’t have my book anymore. How could I prove who I was? Plus, I ran.

However, if I assumed the latter, then I should – What? What did they want me to do? This was all Addy’s fault. If she hadn’t shown me how to cloak my movements from Father, I never would have found them. I never would have known that I didn’t have to have the surgery. That there was another way. When she didn’t come back, I thought she had joined them.

I was wrong. Or, at least, she wasn’t around the fire.

So now what? There were still years before I was old enough to get the implant. I could have another chance before then. I could go back and plan and learn so that I could make another attempt…

Who was I kidding? If I went back – and if they didn’t kill me, which was a big if – then I would be put under constant surveillance. I would be in lockdown. Solitary for who knew how long. Father wouldn’t take that chance.

So this was it. My one chance. Was it that important to me?


I looked around. Caves were supposed to have water, right? Maybe if I went deeper I’d get lucky again.

Word Count: 462

6/12/2012 12:59:00 am

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire. The Jester sat on top of the church and watched as the pile of books were set up in the center of the courtyard. Books that contained the old laws, laws that gave voice to the people. Laws that had given them freedoms that the Church now deemed a sin. Once the sun rose over the Eastern Wall, they would set fire to it, making a big deal about how the Church was protecting them like a mother. A large, overbearing mother.
The dark clothing he wore let him blend in with the shingles on the roof of the mill. It gave him the perfect view of the balcony where the Grand Meister would make his speech about the evils of the past and how they were trying to save the souls of everyone.
More they were trying to keep the hold on everyone by claiming the souls would sit in a brimstone fire because humanity has collapsed and the government failed them. But the church would always be there. With their police bots and their lack of control over their own corruption as it continued to grow and grasp more and more.
The city had been lovely once. There had been a park full of trees but now it was all razed for a new temple. Because the one that currently blocked the view of anything wasn’t enough.
A small sniff as the mask was adjusted before setting up the crossbow. There would be some grandstanding, all right. A signal that would go out to all of the church. There were those who saw it as a new corrupt government and they would do anything to stop it.
They had their own message to show.

297 words

6/12/2012 02:03:38 am

Title: The Burning Words

The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire. The group of boys had taunted and dared one another to do the deed until finally one got up enough nerve. With a look of determination on his face, Tommy Thompson snatched the book from the bookbag that sat in the middle of them.

Without a pause, he chucked the old, hardbound book into the hungry flames. The edges began to burn even before the book landed at the bottom of the firepit. The flames eagerly licked the sides of the book, the stiff leather of the cover cracking and melting.

Tommy swore he thought he heard something as soon as the book began to burn, but he shrugged it off. The stories about the book were just that, stories. It wasn’t possible for the book to be haunted or to be the only physical entity that held back the Maligni.

“Did you hear that?” one of the younger boys asked, his eyes darting back and forth.

“Hear what, Gerald? Your knees knocking together?” Chris taunted. He was the bully of the group, always willing to ridicule anyone and everyone.

Gerald’s lip trembled as the other boys laughed. Tommy shook his head and huffed with disgust. He was tired of Chris’ taunts.

“Leave him alone, Chris,” Tommy said firmly. “It was probably just the wind.” Tommy hoped it was just the wind.

The bully turned to the taller boy. “You scared too, Tommy? I didn’t figure you for a chicken.”

Tommy chuckled but it was without humor. “Yet, I didn’t see you throwing the book in the fire, did I? That was me. So shut up.”

“Why don’t you make me, tough guy?” Chris continued to taunt. He picked up a large stick as he walked to the edge of the fire. As he continued to speak, he prodded the burning book with the dead wood. “Nothing but a stupid book anyway.”

As soon as he poked the book, a screeching wail surrounded them. The fire leapt up the length of the wood and wrapped around Chris’s body. Chris began screaming but couldn’t seem to let go of the stick.

The rest of the boy stood in shock, frozen in fear. The fire enveloped their friend, but didn’t seem to be burning him.

“I HAVE BEEN RELEASED!” a voice boomed, coming from Chris but much deeper and older than what the teenaged boy’s voice sounded like.

Gerald wet himself as the rest of the boys ran in every direction, whatever it took to get away from the hell they unleashed.

Tommy knew it was a bad idea to mess with the supernatural, even if it was supposed to only be a story. Chris was evidence that it was no story at all. Tommy ran until he reached a church. He threw the doors open and hid under a pew until he thought it was safe.

Too bad for him, no one was safe now.

495 Words

S Jayanth
6/12/2012 03:16:39 am

The Revealation
by S Jayanth
The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire, not knowing the innate magical potencies of it. As soon as the first wisps of flame touched the book, the entire fire in the fireplace changed hue into a deep sapphire blue colour. The light it emitted never dulled, but now the hall has turned into something like a human dwelling built underwater. With the change in its colour tone, the flame grew fiercer by second, spreading light longer down into the lengthy hallway.

“Jack-k-k”, Lucy whispered, a chill running through her back, “are you seeing this?”

“Talk sense, Lucy. I am beside you and I am not blind. And yes, I am seeing this. Should we be running?”, Jack replied, his tone showing he was actually amused at what is happening, unlike his elder sister who is freaking out.

“Shouldn’t we be running already?”, she fearfully whispered, instinctively keeping her voice low as if the fire is alive and hearing.

“Calm down, Lucy”, he said, “Look into the fire more closely”.
Lucy holds his hand and puts her right foot forward and leans over, trying to catch a sight of what his brother was talking about.

“Good lord, Jack!”, she exclaimed, springing back and pulling Jack to her front so that she can hide behind him. Though he was younger to her, he was taller and sturdier. “The book isn’t burning! What sorcery is this, Jack?”

“Calm down your jumpy feet and fumbling tongue. I’ll go pick up the book again”, Jack shook free from her and walked to the blue flame.

“Careful, Jack. Now, I hate the stories inside that book even more. That is why we thought of burning the book in the first place. Isn’t it?”, she said, her voice trembling.

“Well. We now know we can’t lose the book since THAT BOOK IS NOT NORMAL! IT DOESN’T CATCH THE GODDDAM FIRE! I too hate the stories in that book, Lucy. I still am wondering why Mother has to give this book with such lame bedtime stories to us”, Jack replied without turning back.

“Mom said that the book was an ancient one, remember? She said, it was as a tradition and custom that this book was passed onto the next generation in our family.”, Lucy trying to remember more about the day when their mother gave them this book.

“ ‘Tales of Gardens, Goats and Gnomes’ “, Jack spelled, making up a face of repulsion, “ what lame stories it had, seriously.”

He took up the forceps used to put wood into the fire and took the book out. As soon as the book was out, the fire turned back to blazing red.

“Lucy, come here. Look”, taking the book into his left hand and carelessly throwing away the forceps, Jack motioned to his sister to come near him.

She slowly walked behind him and crept over his shoulder to look at the book.

The book now read: “ Witchcraft and Wizardry “
500 words

Late entry but deadlines don't stop writers. do they? ;) Good luck everyone.! :)


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