Firesong Arts

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September Writing Challenge! 2017

In September, I challenged my fellow writers to challenge each other!

The goal was to get people writing. Anything. Everything. Challenges were to be specific and include a word-count or a time-limit, genre, and premise. It was a bit of an experiment to see what we could come up with in just 30 short days.

Check out the winners of this years challenge below, and be sure to join in the fun next year, when we do it again!
 


THE CHALLENGE: WRITE A SHORT SHORT STORY WITH NATURE AS A THEME, THAT TAKES PLACE INDOORS.

by Alex Rowe

Metal

“She’s going to get us today,” said Krotom.

“I doubt that,” said Venus. “We’ve been over the ssp…specifications of this chamber one hundred and forty-seven times.”

“Your voice chip is malfunctioning again,” said Krotom. He stood from his small vestibule in the floor and began to clank across the metal floor. He reached

Venus’s wall terminal and began to type. “I’ll never survive in here if you can’t speak properly.”

“Krorr…Krotom, I don’t understand why we need to keep her awyaaa…away,” said Venus through her speaker. A soft purple light glowed in time with her words.

Krotom smiled underneath his metal helmet. “So innocent. That’s what I love about machines. She was the downfall of my family. She was the downfall of everyone. We spent so long trying to protect her when we should have been running.”

A low rumble echoed throughout the metal chamber. A red light flickered alive a few feet from Krotom. Venus’s screen filled with numbers. Krotom pensively raised his eyebrows under his helmet. “Was…was that seismic?” He stopped working on the voice synthesizer and switched to a different display.

“Nwadkk…Negative,” said Venus. “Scanners detect moisture activity and movement approvixshs…approximately 200 yards to the south.”

“Damn,” said Krotom. He closed the terminal and clanked back to the other side of the chamber. In one swift motion, he removed one of his gauntlets and swiped his hand against the wall. A panel slid away, revealing a stack of rifles. “Release the rifle lock.”

“Bubbhgg…but I don’t understand,” said Venus. “It’s her planet, isn’t it? She was the one who—“

“I don’t have time for this, Venus,” said Krotom. “Release the rifle lock, or I’ll erase your hard drive.”

A whirring sound came out of the wall and a small light next to the rifles turned green. Krotom grabbed one and checked its magazine. The rifle cabinet closed.

A second rumble shook the room, causing Krotom to lose his footing. He put his gauntlet back on, and crouched, pointing his rifle at the far wall. “Venus, how far away?”

“Eighty-Four yards,” said Venus. “Closing fast. You should aim about two meters lower, would be my gghsdh…guess.”

Krotom adjusted his aim. “I should never have trusted those damn programmers. ‘The desert is safe,’ they said. ‘Build your refuge there,’ they said. Shows what they knew.” Krotom tried to spit on the floor but it got stuck on the inside of his helmet.

A third rumble. Ping. Plorb. A dent appeared in the far wall that Krotom aimed his gun at.

“Here we g—“

With a loud clang, a large green thorny plant root tore through the wall. It wrapped around Krotom, crushed him, and pulled him into the desert before he could fire a shot. A rushing wall of water encircled the metal cube and it began to sink into the wet sand.

Venus’s light slowly dimmed and she uttered one last group of words.

“Misdhdh…mission complete.”


THE CHALLENGE: WRITE A SHORT POEM ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN

by Shawna Falvey

A Poem For My Children


Curious spectacles on the dimly lit door
Tiny fingers and beguiled eyes sweep across the floor
Hear the huff, puff of a spirit enthralled?
That’s only the sound of a jolly baby who just learned to crawl!
Jumped into the next dimension,
What will be his next direction?
Weaving thru imagination and reality,
This toddlers universe is changing constantly.
Scoopin’ and swoopin’ til limbs go numb
Small sacrifice for the price of fun
Days will come and days have gone,
The older one still snuggles his mom.
The little likes to be left alone,
Both still need the other one.
Forever young they are to me,
My children, my little dynasty.


THE CHALLENGE: WRITE A STORY ABOUT A BABY (less than 1-yr old) WHO CAN TALK.

by Sandra Johnson

The Legend of The Cookie Jar

Playtime was Baby’s favorite part of the day. It came after Food time, but before Sleep time. Most importantly, it was what came after Play; His daily quest.

All the toys were laid out in intricate rows, meant to delay and detour him from his goal. But he knew this terrain all too-well. This is the same mission he undertook every day for the two long months he had been crawling.

The patterns arrayed in the blocks and the pathways carved by blankets all spelled the way to the treasure. He could see it in his mind’s eye. He knew his goal as clearly as he knew the Mamma’s lullaby. The Legend was real, and it would be his. Oh, yes. Today, he would sojourn once more, and today, he would succeed.

The Cookie Jar would be his.

“Psst.” Baby looked across the dollhouse, gazing at his friend. “Pssst. Hey, Doggo!” He said.

Doggo slowly raised his head, turning a soft brown eye in Baby’s direction. “Is it time?” He asked the small human.

Baby crawled over to where Doggo lay, careful to avoid turning on any of the noisy toys. They couldn’t risk alerting Mamma so early in their quest, and they knew better than to wake The Sleeper. Baby suppressed a shiver. No, not again.

He placed on tiny hand on Doggo’s furry snout, and nodded. Doggo stood, and Baby stood with him, grasping handfuls of Doggo’s fur for purchase. Together, they slowly turned away from the tall seat where Mamma sat with her big book, and started the long trek across the toy-strewn floor. “Be careful, Doggo,” Baby said. “Remember what happened last time.” Doggo nodded; oh, he remembered.

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They came first to the Tower of Noises. The ‘Dults and other babies loved its nonsensical auditory chaos. Personally, Doggo found it distasteful, but Baby loved it. He sighed. Baby reached out, captivated by a brightly-colored button. No! Doggo thought. Not that!

He watched in slow motion as Baby drew closer and closer to the trigger, hypnotized by it’s siren-call. Doggo knew he could waste no more time, and turned in to Baby, pushing him to the floor.

Baby fell with a thump. “Hey!” He looked up at Doggo, ready to lay into the pup for his rudeness, but all he saw were gentle eyes, pleading with him. Baby sighed. “I almost did it again, didn’t I?” Doggo nodded.

“Thank you.” Baby looked abashed, but brightened quickly. “Alright. Let’s go.” He patted Doggo on the nose, grateful to have such a friend.

The two turned away from the Tower of Noises and skirted around the pit of puzzle pieces. There was no real fear from the sanded wooden tiles, but Baby knew better than to let himself be distracted this time!

The path carried onward. They walked to the Blanket’s Edge; there was no end in sight to this journey. They didn’t even know where The Cookie Jar was. “Cheer up, Doggo.” Baby said, noticing his friend flagging. “Just imagine the sweet taste of victory. Like chocolate that melts on the tongue, or the soft cake crumbling on your belly.”

Doggo grinned, his tongue lolling. Baby always knew how to cheer him up. Onward, they pressed the prize fixed firmly in their imaginations. Eternities passed as they treaded along. Never ceasing, never faltering in their goal. They would have that Jar!

The came to a rest in the great shadow of Chair. Baby gulped audibly. Doggo huffed quietly. The two looked each other in the eye. They both knew what was to come. They knew they could afford no fear, regardless of what had happened before. Deep in Under Chair, lay The Sleeper.

“No turning back now, Doggo,” Baby said. Doggo knew that, but he also knew what lay, lurking in Under Chair. An almost certain death awaited them should they wake the fury of claws and teeth that dwelled within. Doggo was scared. For himself, but mostly for Baby. Should Baby fall to the Sleeper, their quest would be at an end.

Baby reached out and pulled Doggo’s ear, easily reading his friend’s thoughts. Doggo smiled. They had already come so far; Baby wouldn’t give up, and neither would Doggo!

They made their way into Under Chair. Doggo skirted forward on his belly, dragging himself along with his forepaws while Baby clung to his back. There, in the deepest shadows, a darker figure curled around itself. The Sleeper!

Creeping slowly, quietly, a micro-movement at a time, Doggo moved. Baby breathed as shallowly as possible. He swore his every heartbeat was echoing off the floor and ceiling. They were nearly past the Sleeper. The light of the far side beckoned them forward. They were almost there!

Just then, the Talk-To in the Food Room began to ring. Baby and Doggo froze. Baby looked frantically at Doggo. Oh no! His looked seemed to say. If Mamma finds us we are finished!

Don’t worry. Doggo’s face emoted. She will go to answer the Talk-To. If we hurry, can we still make it?

Baby thought that it might be possible, and lowered his head; just a fraction of a nod. A footstep pounded on the floor near them. Mamma rushed into the other room. She hadn’t seen them. Baby and Doggo breathed a sigh of relief. Time to get moving again!

A tail twitched. An ear flicked. Slowly, one golden-amber eye slit open and trained on them. Baby’s heart stopped. He let out a faint cry as the Sleeper unwound itself.

It was fast. So fast. One moment, Baby was clutching to Doggo’s back, quietly making their way through Under Chair, and the next there was a flash of fur, and roaring hiss, and Doggo lunged forward, placing himself in front of Baby.

Doggo looked back. “Run,” He barked his only order to Baby. Stunned, Baby watched in horror as The Sleeper’s claws sunk into Doggo’s chest.

Baby ran.

He scrambled as fast as he could out from Under Chair, the sounds of battle ringing in his ears.

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Tears stung his eyes as he scaled Doll Mountain. Every day, he and Doggo had made this trek. Every day, they fight against the odds in search of their treasure. Doggo had never made it this far. Slowly, one stuffed limb at a time, Baby climbed to the summit, and there, just as the fatigue and weariness of the quest threatened to break him, he saw it.

Just beyond the Expanse lay The Cookie Jar.

“We did it, my friend,” He said into the open air, once more wishing his beloved comrade was by his side. After all these months they had made it. The Jar was in sight, and this time it would be his.

“For Doggo!” He shouted and ran forward, the image of his heart’s desire within reach at last!

So excited was Baby, that he failed to see the one Raggedy Hand that protruded from the mountain’s zenith. He tripped, and watched as the world turned itself upside down.

Baby came tumbling down Doll Mountain. Faster and faster he tumbled, racing toward the floor so fast the world around him was nearly invisible. This was the end. He knew it. The dream of the Jar faded in the wind as he rushed toward his doom.

Just when he had accepted his fate, he was suddenly lifted high into the air.

“Is that you, God?” He whispered. “Have you sent a flight of angels to sing me to my rest?”

“Oops, there!” Said a cheery voice.

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Mamma looked down at her little Baby boy. He grinned and cooed, making tiny bubbles in his teething drool. It was gross, but she loved him anyway. It was always better when he was happy, after all.

Carrying the baby in her arms, she walked over to the table and grabbed the cookie jar. Reaching inside she produced two small treats. “One for you,” She said as she tapped her baby on his nose. He grabbed it with both hands and began gumming the oat-snack, making her laugh. “And one for...”

She looked around, and spotted a small patch of fur half hidden under her favorite armchair. “Ah,” she said and walked over. The dog poked his head out from under the chair, nearly knocking it over. Retrievers are really too big to be hiding under furniture, she thought, as he sat at her feet. “And one for you.” She stuck out her palm and he lapped up the cookie.

“Now,” She said, turning her gaze back to her son. “Nap Time.”