Ping Pong Destiny

This was inspired by a couple friends who decided to play a version of ping pong called T-Rex pong, which gave me the image of actual T-Rexes (T-Reges?) playing ping pong. However, I wanted a premise for that to happen, and the only one I could think of was aliens. So I hope you all enjoy the ridiculousness of this story.

They came from Mars. Well, not really, but that was where Earth’s scientists had first picked up signals of alien activity, and the aliens had never specified where they originated from anyway. It was sufficient to say they came suddenly and without warning, for the scientists only figured out what the signals they had dismissed after the aliens first appeared in the sky.

Their ships were enormous, and they were like flying saucers, only with giant thrusters on all sides. You know, realistic space ships. The largest concentrations were over the major cities of the world: Johannesburg, Cardiff, London, Tokyo, New York, Washington DC, and a small neighborhood in suburban Iowa.

Now, a boy named Pete lived in this small neighborhood of suburban Iowa, along with his three friends: Jon, Carl, and Susan. The four of them were just leaving from school as the alien spaceships appeared overhead.

“Man,” said Susan. “Why couldn’t they have showed up eight hours ago? Then we wouldn’t have had to go to school today.”

“Maybe they’re good aliens, and they want to make sure everyone gets an education,” replied Pete.

“Oh, don’t say that. Every time the world thinks the aliens are good, they’re bad; every time the world thinks they’re bad, they’re good. Honestly, don’t you know science fiction?”

Pete shrugged. The four of them got into Carl’s car as the spaceships hovered motionlessly above. They all gathered around the television when they got home, as the news stations reported on the developments of the UN and their attempts to negotiate with the aliens. After about an hour of attempted communication, one of the alien ships over New York descended and a long ramp was lowered. An alien stood on the ramp, and spoke.

“People of Earth!” said the alien. “After much consideration and after seeing your response to our arrival, we have decided to take over this naïve little planet. Have a nice day!”

The ramp refolded and the ship ascended. Giant lasers emerged from the underbellies of the flying saucers, and opened fire on the diplomats and the city. Outside, Pete could hear the sudden screams as the aliens began to attack his own town. He and his friends dashed out, to see the ships blasting at random on the town, though some of the ships had metal chains that descended and snatched people and cows up into their alien bellies.

“Let’s get out of here!” said Carl, running to his car. The others quickly followed suit, and the four of them quickly drove onto the road and toward the outskirts of town so that they could escape. As they went, Pete looked behind them to see that one of the spaceships was following them. It shot a blast overhead that destroyed a tree, and continued to fire on them, missing with every shot.

“Guys!” said Pete suddenly. “I think we’re in its blind spot! Stop the car!”

“No way, man!” replied Carl.

“We’ll jump out before it hits us! The car might just be able to beat it, since it’s flying so low.”

Carl frowned. “Alright, but you owe me a car.”

He slammed the brake and twisted out the key, and the four of them leapt out of the car, just as the spaceship sailed headlong into it, and it exploded. Pete flew back at the force of it, landing several yards back. But he wasn’t seriously injured. Standing up, though, he saw that the spaceship wasn’t the only thing crippled.

Carl and Jon lay on the ground, shrapnel piercing them. Pete ran over to them, sobbing as he realized that there was no way his friends were going to make it.

“Hey, Pete,” said Carl as Pete knelt beside him. “I don’t think I’m going to make it.”

“Man, this is stupid,” added Jon from several feet away. “I didn’t even get a line so far in this whole thing.”

And then they died, their eyes closed and their pulses nil. Pete curled over Carl, sobbing, until he felt a hand on his shoulder. Looking back, he saw it was Susan, who had a stern look on her face.

“Honestly, why do you care so much about them? They had, like, no character development. Let’s go check out the alien ship.”

There was a huge, smoking hole where the ship had hit the car. Inside, the bridge of the ship was in ruins, and the entire crew of six was dead. Pete approached the central pillar, where a video screen was fuzzing in grey and black. Suddenly, as he touched it, it became clear, displaying the face of one of the chief aliens.

“Congratulations,” he said. “For defeating one of our ships. Now, we could point out that we still have thousands of ships that could easily take over the planet, but that wouldn’t be as fun. Instead, we’ll challenge you to single combat – in a sense. We shall choose one of your Earth sports, and you must defeat us in it, in a round-robin style tournament. Summoning in three…two…one…”

Pete and Susan looked at each other in surprise, but then the world around them vanished, and they found themselves in a dark chamber, with blue lighting all the way around, like neon, only darker. There were several other people around him, or rather beings. Most were humans, but there was also a few other creatures, such as a tyrannosaurus rex and a living sculpture.

“What happened?” Pete asked of these two in particular.

“I’m a museum curator,” said the T-Rex. “A band of aliens barged in, resurrected some of the fossils, and then switched my mind with one of them.”

“Oh. Then what happened?”

The T-Rex patted its stomach, or rather, as close as it could get to its stomach.

“I only came to life a little while ago,” said the statue. “When I asked them how this had been achieved, they mentioned something called a Bee-Yes particle. Then, seeing the suffering about me, I decided to stop them. Then I came here.”

“Ah, yes. The Bee-Yes particle. One of the most powerful in the universe,” said a voice. Out of the shadows stepped two aliens, one holding a large plastic bowl full of pieces of paper. “Now I shall decide the fate of the games!”

The lead alien plunged his hand into the bowl and brought up a slip.

“Basketball? Boring. That’s been done before.” He tried again.

“Tennis? We beat the blancmanges at that just last year in the Tennis Universal Championship. That sport is boring.”

“Ah, here we are! Table tennis, or, as you silly humans call it, ping pong! Excellent! Now meat your enemies!”

Out of the shadows stepped several more aliens, one for each of the assembled defenders of Earth. They paired up, and suddenly the room was filled with light, and a single ping pong table was revealed in the center of the room, along with paddles and a ball.

The games were absolutely intense. Each, or rather most, were very close. They went back and forth, keeping the total scores of the races tied. Some of the humans did very well, but others, like the T-Rex and the statue, did very poorly. It was awful to see the T-Rex’s small arms swinging at the ball, missing every single time.

Susan and Pete were last. Susan lost to her alien, bringing the score tied again. Now it was Pete’s turn, and his game would decide the fate of the world.

“Do you really think you can do this?” Susan asked him.

“Of course. I’m the underdog. I’m the hero of the story. Susan, I’m going to win. For Carl.” He took up the paddle and faced his opponent, who had the first serve. And then the game began.

It was awful. Pete could never hit the ball – he was even worse than the T-Rex, who had on at least some occasions managed to score when he had the serve. But Pete couldn’t even do that now. Five, ten, fifteen points went by, and then it was game point, twenty for the alien. Pete held the ball in his hand, between his fingers, and knew that he wasn’t playing just for Carl, or at all for Carl, who was dead now. No, he was playing for the freedom of the human race, for hope, for democracy. There was no way he could lose now.

And then he served, and scored. The next points came like lightning, as he climbed back up. At last, he had twenty as well. The room grew tense as every eye watched Pete’s alien opponent serve the ball, and it hit the net. Pete had won. The Defenders of the Earth cheered.

The alien chief came over to Pete, patting him on the back.

“Good job. You beat us.”

“Aren’t you going to kill us anyway?”

“Nah. We never meant to destroy the planet, we’ve just been messing with you all. Watch.”

The alien took Pete to a window, where he could see the entire earth. Another ship lay in lower orbit, though this one was different from the others.

“Watch the power of Bee-Yes and Deus-X, the two most powerful particles in the universe.”

The other ship blasted down a white beam of light at the planet, and the white spread all over, covering the earth. After a few minutes, it subsided, and the earth was as it had been before the aliens had arrived.

After, the aliens put them back in their rightful places, before heading back to the stars. Pete and Susan totally hooked up, got married, had children that were exactly like them, and also a dog. And they lived happily ever after, except for when their children developed angst as teenagers. The end.

Enigmatic Emmisary

Happy Thanksgiving, all you Americans reading this (although, of course, it’s a little late for that, being Saturday now). Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed visiting relatives and friends and adding body mass. This post isn’t about Thanksgiving, oddly enough, but I hope you enjoy it none the less!

Rodden Karkomin trotted briskly through the streets of Tasanon, the capital of Miris, his hood pulled low over his face. His black cloak was pulled tight around him, and he was sure he seemed like an ominous creature, dark cloak and horse, especially now in the hour of twilight, as the people of the city began drifting to their homes.

The city seemed very ill-kept, but what city did, in this day and age? All cities were now glorious islands of civilization amidst an ocean creeping up, dark and deadly, threatening to swallow up all lands in its monumental waves. After the fall of the nation Randein east of Miris, there were few passages that were safe anymore. If it wasn’t the armies of Evorion, then it was the dozens of bandits and brigands running amok over the roads and countryside. Rodden feared that they were beginning to dominate the cities, crawling up from the slums to spread their anarchy to all places of society.

This was no time for petty theft and bickering between individuals. Not when each murder spread the shadows of Evorion even further over the beaches of each island not conquered. Rodden thought it was miraculous that his home, Paltoren, had yet to be attacked, since it lay on the borders of the dark nation, but his father was sure they would last some time yet. He hoped they would. Rodden had already spent nearly a week riding through Randein and had seen the conditions it had fallen to. Soldiers stalked the cities, taking as they would, burning and pillaging to their pleasure. It was awful, and Rodden had no intention of allowing his homeland, or any other country to suffer as Randein did.

There was just one catch about Miris. Rodden had no idea about their stance with Evorion, and it was entirely possible that the two nations were allies, or that Miris was a tributary, complicit. That was one of the main reasons Rodden had been sent here – to find out the truth. But because he didn’t know the truth, not yet, he kept his hood low, his cloak tight about him, and his mouth shut.

Given the tight doors and the closed windows, these people certainly lived in fear, but that told him nothing. He had routed at least two groups of bandits on his way through Miris, and he wouldn’t be surprised if there were brigands in the city, and they were the ones causing so much fear. People still in the streets looked at him with furtive, cautious glances.

As he trotted on, a group of guards, seemingly oblivious to the atmosphere, marched toward him. There were half a dozen of them, all dressed rather messily, as though they didn’t care how they looked, only that other people could see their muscles. They stopped in front of him, a little surprised by his presence, and probably also by his audacity to go about on the streets at this hour.

“What are you doing here, stranger?” asked one, the biggest and meanest of the lot. “Don’t you know the rules here?”

“Obviously not, if he’s not from around here,” said another. “Where are you from, stranger? Why are you here?”

“I am here to deal with the king,” Rodden replied. “It would benefit you all if you would move and hinder me no further.”

“Well! Listen to this fellow!” the leader exclaimed. “Thinks he’s better than us! What’s your name, sir? What have you got to see the king about?”

“That is information for the king’s ears only.”

“Ha! Do you know what I can do to you?” The chief took out a dagger and gestured with it menacingly toward Rodden.

“Yes. I’m also aware of what I could do to you, if you continue to hinder me.”

“Well! It looks like we’ve got ourselves a fighter here!” The others laughed around him, and the chief drew his sword. “Let’s see how good he is.”

Rodden sighed angrily, and spurred on his horse. He sped through the guards, knocking those too slow to move, such as the chief, aside onto the ground. Behind, he heard the guards cursing after him, but he cared not, as he was more concerned with his mission.

It wasn’t long before he reached the palace, but when it got there, it seemed he was expected. As he came up to the doors, the guards stationed there halted him.

“Dismount, rogue!” one said. “We’ve already been informed as to your disrespect to the king’s men.”

“What do you mean to do?” Rodden asked.

“We shall take you to the king immediately, and then he shall judge you.”

Rodden knew this was his chance to speak to the king, and he complied. He dismounted from his horse, and the two guards took him by the arms and marched him inside.

They led him through the atrium and up through stairwells and corridors. All the while, Rodden’s mind raced with a way to discover the position of the king, and how to tell him his purpose without sounding desperate or crazy. Just as they reached the double doors of the king’s chambers, Rodden thought of a brilliant idea.

“Enter,” said the king’s voice, and the guards forced him inside, where he fell to his knees at the foot of the king’s large, purple bed. “Why is this man thus brought to me?”

“He was disrespecting some of the soldiers in the city, sire,” replied a guard. “And he was trying to gain access to the palace.”

“Please, my lord,” Rodden pleaded. “Whatever you do, do not send me to Evorion, where they will surely take me and torment me long in their dungeons.”

“That is an odd request,” replied the king. “I would never consider such an act. Do they not say that the most terrifying punishments mortals can conceive are but shadows of the pains of the dungeons in Morvoros? Anyway, I have no intention of ever surrendering anything to that accursed nation.”

“Then,” Rodden said, flinging back his hood. “Sir, know that I am Rodden Karkomin, son of Lord Corval of Paltoren, and I have come seeking aid for my nation against that name which you call accursed. For while we are not yet assailed, we anticipate it, and we see that they only way now to defeat the swollen, shadowy, state is to make a final alliance against it.”

The king gazed at him with mixed emotions. Then at last he laughed.

“Why didn’t you then explain yourself sooner?” he asked.

“I was not sure of your relationship with Evorion. I had to speak to you personally to find that out.”

“Well, you did so cleverly. Leave me. I’ll have my servants take you to a room for the night. I shall ruminate on your offer, which I think I shall accept. You are right about one thing, certainly, young Karkomin. Whatever the outcome, this will certainly be a final alliance against the coming darkness.”

Sewer Wasp – based on a true story

Yes, this is based on a true story. In fact, the part of it that’s true happened just last weekend. Of course, the truth (or at least the truth I’m aware of) only extends to the fifth paragraph of this. I think I’ll do some more with this later, though, since I think it has potential to go somewhere. But judge that for yourselves — I hope you enjoy this!

SMACK! With one single, unexpected onomatopoeia, her life had changed forever. Her wings barely fluttered as she fell down to the strange, white, flat earth, wailing her legs as she lay in pain. There was a boom of triumph above her, one of the great giants holding the tool of her demise in his hand. A fly swatter. Of all things, it had to be a fly swatter. She ate flies, for breakfast, and now their bane was hers as well.

Fortunately, her tough exoskeleton had protected her from splattering against the floor. If she could some how move or fly, she could easily survive this. But she couldn’t move – she just lay on her side, twitching her legs as the pain of impact rendered all rational thought impossible.

In a moment, she was aware of the giant’s presence again, this time holding a white object in its hand, which it used to smother her and lift her off the ground. Now she lay writhing in folds of some kind of cloth as she felt the distance shock of the giant’s footsteps and the crushing press of the giant’s fingers on her fragile body.

After several moments of this torment, she suddenly felt release, and a rush. She was falling again, but once again there was nothing she could do about it. She was too tightly wrapped in the white cloth. A coldness spread over her, and she realized she was in a great bowl of water, the high walls casting a deep shadow over the surface of the pool. The cloth was soaked in a second, and she struggled harder than ever to escape, to flee from the coldness and the wetness and the pain.

But before she managed that, there was a sound, like a great gulp, coming from the depths of the pool in which she lay. A new force grabbed hold of her, pulling her to the center of the water and then down, down, down, into darkness.

She splashed and spluttered, protected a little from the water by the soaked cloth, all while she rushed unstoppably through some strange tunnel. It was utterly black, and every collision with the tunnel walls pained her – they were probably made of something stronger than dirt or stone. And then there was the water, cascading, rushing, drowning all in its path in its mad rush for who knew where. All her many eyes could see was nothing – utter blackness covered her sight like a blindfold, darker than the deepest night she had ever known.

Then the tunnel opened up wide, coming out into a much greater tunnel; a great river of dark water covered the floor, and she plunged right into this, spluttering as she attempted to rise to the surface, her cloth no longer giving her its protection as it sank beneath the waves. Fortunately, she found some red cylinder, and she climbed up on this, resting after her exhaustive journey. The sound of the rushing water surrounded her, and only a dim light illuminated the tunnel, which was massive. Could there really be such grand places underneath the earth? But she was a child of the air, not of the earth, and she longed for green grass and trees and most of all her nest, where her sisters and her mother tended the larvae and gathered nectar and meat.

She could not rest here on this little island amidst the stormy river for much longer, largely because of how cold she was. She fluttered her wings a little, knowing that, not only would it get her moving, but also warm her up. They worked. She clicked her mandibles in delight, and then she rose into the air. There had to be a way out of here somewhere, and she was going to find it.

She flew higher and higher, until she reached near the top of the large tunnel. Her sisters had always told her she had one of the worst senses of direction in the colony, and it had certainly not helped her before she was attacked by the giants. But now she flew from corner to corner, sniffing out the air, warming herself up admirably.

And then she found it. The way out. But it was blocked. A great slab of stone that let in only the faintest pheromones of flowers and familiarity – and nothing else. She was stuck in here, probably forever. She flew around the slab, trying to find any way to get through, but none availed her. She descended to the ground, despairing. If she had had tear ducts, she might have cried.

But as she wallowed in her misery, she heard a new sound. A loud sort of scuffling against the rough stone earth. She looked around, and there was a large, hairy beast. It was round and long, with a pointed snout and a long, pinkish tale. She rose, buzzing toward it. It stopped by the river and looked in. It’s hand plunged in and retrieved a piece of food, some fruit of some kind that she had never seen before. The odd beast put the thing in its mouth and turned away, scampering off through the great tunnel. She followed it, down through small holes and cracks, until the place opened up to a great area, with many other creatures, most like the beast, though not a few different. And now hope sprang within her. If these creatures could live down here, why couldn’t she?

The Valley Troll

Happy Friday, all! I hope you’re enjoying these world-building stories, and I especially hope you’re not lost in all the names yet (though perhaps that would be desirable…) Anyway, I hope you enjoy this piece!

Endremzo sat quietly on a rock, whetting his father’s sword in preparation for what he was about to do. The blade must be sharp as a razor, honed finer than a the hair of a woman. He had to take down a troll.

The troll had been there for many years, probably a decade. It had been undisturbed, and found plenty of prey among the wildlife of the region, plenty of gold in the deep shafts of the mountains. But then the war with Lanuman over the mountains had gone ill, and that nation had manged to push the soldiers of Morbaren back, where they set fire to the forest and ruined the troll’s mountain.

Desperate, the troll had searched for new prey, and found it among the the villages at the feet of the mountains; and there was plenty of gold to be found there as well. Even as the kings of Lanuman, Morbaren, and Miris signed a cease-fire, the troll first struck, decimating a poor village and robbing it of its little wealth. After that, it had struck twice more, and now Endremzo had stepped in to deal with the perpetrator.

Most people were surprised when he declared his intention to kill the troll of the Crivo Vale. After all, he was young, and his late father had never given him proper training in the use of the sword. But Endremzo ignored them, sure that his skill would be sufficient and his father’s blade sharp.

So now he sat at the edge of one of the ravished villages, whetting his blade and looking into the wilderness, just in case the troll appeared too early. Of course, he would prefer the troll not to appear at all in this place – he intended to face it in its lair.

He stood up and, taking a thick tree branch, slashed down with the sword. The blade cut through the branch as easily as if it had been parchment. Endremzo nodded grimly in satisfaction, and turned to the rest of his gear.

For this fight he would wear only light armor. In fact, aside from his sword, the only metal he would wear was his helmet and his shield. There was really no point in carrying any more, not when speed was essential against such a brutish creature. Armor would only make him an easy target for the slow, heavy weapons of the troll. He really only needed something to protect him from cuts and scrapes. He flung his satchel over his back, and he was ready.

Thus arrayed, he marched out into the wilderness. The crickets chirped in the bushes, and the birds called in the air, amidst the trees. Sure, a portion of this forest had been burned, but the largest damage was to the east, closer to the troll’s home. Endremzo expected he would find more birds there, though, since they were one of the few creatures a troll could never catch.

The forest opened up to an ashen plane, where stood the black skeletons of trees, and logs scattered about the ground. Among them was a great displacement of rock and stone from the mountains high above, great while pillars of earth jutting up to high heaven. And at their base, right near the place where the avalanche had been the worst, was a large hole in the mountain, black and uninviting. It was at least twice as tall as Endremzo, though he stayed well away from it. It smelled of something repugnant – Endremzo had no desire to find what was causing the smell, and hoped it wasn’t the troll. He doubted that he could face a creature that carried that vileness with it.

Nevertheless, he stood defiant before the lair. He mustered his courage, and called into it with a loud voice.

“Troll! Troll of the Valley, come out! I am Endremzo, son of Rodemso, and I have come to purge you from these lands and return it to the peace it once enjoyed! Will you suffer my challenge?”

For a moment there was no answer. Then, he heard huge footsteps. Out of the lair stepped forth a horrid creature. It’s skin was grey, like stone, with similar texture. It had small legs, and long, thick, arms ending in thick fingers that clutched a large, crude hammer. It’s head was more hideous, jutting out from its body like an ape. It had long fangs, some of them broken, and eyes like that of a boar, and also yellow and menacing. These eyes turned on Endremzo as the troll came into view, and the troll laughed.

“Ha! Well, Endremzo son of Rodemso, know that I have slain many a boy your age in the villages below. What makes you think that you will succeed where they did not?”

“Nothing at all,” Endremzo replied. “But they died fleeing a relentless terror, while I stand and fight it head on.”

“Courage is of little use against such powers as I.”

“We shall see.”

He charged forward, pointing his sword at the heart of his enemy. The troll swung its hammer at him, but he rolled to the side to avoid it. Thus began their fight. The troll hardly moved the whole time, merely turning this way and that as Endremzo scampered about him like a stalking wolf, avoiding the strikes of its trapped prey until it can pounce at last. There were many close misses with the hammer, and several times where Endremzo’s shield or helmet saved him from serious injury.

What became apparent to him as the fight wore on was that the troll slowly became angrier and angrier with his lack of success at killing the pesky fly buzzing around him, waiting to sting. Sure, sometimes he nearly hit, but then the fly sprang up just as vigorously as it had before. And as the troll got angry, it got reckless.

Perhaps it would be too much to say that Endremzo came to the fight planning to enrage the troll, but if he did not, he certainly knew to take advantage of it now. He called out insults, laughing at the troll for its failures.

But things did not go quite according to plan, whatever Endremzo had intended for the battle. Perceiving an opportunity, he lunged forward, only for the troll’s left hand to come crushing down on him. Its fingers closed around him and pulled him up, so that they were eye-to-eye with one another.

“I suppose there is no difference between you and the lads in the village,” said the troll triumphantly.

“Only that you perceive,” replied Endremzo, before he thrust his sword into the troll’s chest.

The troll cried out, dropping Endremzo. And then, after a moment’s wavering, it fell on top of him as well.

It was a few moments before he could free himself from the troll’s corpse. By the time he did, he was covered in dark blood, and his nose had become numb to everything save the necrotic stench of his nemesis. He still clutched his sword tightly, and looked down on his enemy. He was about to swing down on the troll’s head to bring it to the villages as a testament, but then he realized something else: the blade had broken. It must have snapped off in the troll’s chest as it landed on him.

Oh, well, thought Endremzo. It was an old blade, after all, and the hilt would be worth keeping for future lines in his family. He looked at the troll’s lair, where laid a fortune of gold. He just hoped there was a sword in there too.

Banter Road

And now for some more world-building. I don’t know if I’ll end up finishing this line of stories, since this and the one before it could use one final story to turn them into a nice mini-trilogy. I hope you enjoy this piece!

Thumeron stalked down the road, his staff striking against the stone under foot, as he attempted to shut out the babbling coming from beside him. Panma noticed absolutely none of these signs from his master, but was a bit worried that perhaps the old wizard was not paying as much attention to the story as he should have been. After all, it was an important story! Why else would she be talking about it? It wasn’t every day she went on like this for hours at a time. Well, maybe every day. But she didn’t tell more than one…or two…or three stories like this in a day. Could she help it she picked up so many good stories?

“So then you know what happened?” she asked Thumeron.

“You promptly produced the pomegranate from your purse, proclaiming ‘Looking for this?’ before quickly leaving the room as his face turned redder than a bloody radish,” said the wizard lazily.

“I promptly produced the pom– wait a second!” she turned to her master, surprised that he had quoted the punchline with such ease. “How did you know what I was going to say?”

“It was no sorcery, I can assure you. That was just the ninth time you’ve told that story in the last week.”

“Huh.” Panma turned back to face the road ahead of them. “And you even got all my alliterations right.”

“Perfectly.”

Panma grinned, and turned her attentions elsewhere. The countryside was green and bright, and a few trees lined the road, providing a little shade for two of them, master and student. They were headed for the capital of Miris, where Thumeron had been summoned to provide some service for the king. What service it was, Panma didn’t know, and she thought that even Thumeron didn’t know. But he was unlikely to tell her the reason, even if he knew. She was used to this from him, but that didn’t stop her from trying to guess. She hiked up the pack on her back and looked over at him.

“So why are we going to Miris again? Is there a war starting up?”

“We’ve been over this. I don’t know.”

“I bet it’s a force of possessed camels invading from the north. They’re trying to suck all the water dry, and then they’ll shoot it out of their humps at us.”

“Or maybe I’ve been summoned to catch a thief,” suggested Thumeron.

“Right, like they’d need you for something that boring! You’d send me at that point – and even I’d have that thief in a heartbeat! No, it’s probably something like an attack of parasitic plants that go through people’s ears and then eat their brains, turning them into vegetative slaves. That would be fun.”

“Or maybe there’s some strange vampire who’s killing people with light from his skin.”

Panma regarded him oddly at his attempt to play along with her.

“Nah,” she replied after a moment. “Now, if it were vampire sheep, or cows who went mad and bit people during the full moon, that could work out. Anyway, I’m just trying to be realistic here!”

“Oh, so parasitic plants are realistic, but not sparkling vampires?”

“No, obviously!”

They laughed, and then fell to other topics. In the meantime, a city appeared on the horizon, the road leading them right towards it. It was the capital of Miris, the city of Redon. The city stood on a lonely hill overlooking the entire plain. It was made of three tiers: the first began at the base of the hill, where stood the first proud wall of the city; the second was marked by another wall, starting about half-way up the hill; the third was not distinguished entirely, but was the very top of the hill, where the governmental buildings sat and the citadel reached up to high heaven, like a great staircase to reach the clouds.

The duo entered the city and made their way up the hill, past lines of people going about their business in the city, past a number of guards watching everyone very carefully. Thumeron led the way up to the citadel, where they were halted by a proud guard in blue and gold.

“Who are you and what is your business with the king of Miris?” he asked.

“I am the wizard Thumeron, and this is my pupil Panma. We were summoned here to give aid and advice in the king’s time of need.”

“What?” exclaimed Panma before the guard could get a word in. “We’re here for baking?”

Thumeron rolled his eyes. “Of course not. Sir, please pardon my pupil. She has a love of words, but even more of putting them in places where they do not belong.”

He turned toward his student. “Now consider that double meaning as we meet with the king, who I do not think will appreciate your kind of talk.”

Panma was downcast as the guard at last let them inside. Inside was a great hall, extending many feet in all directions. A long carpet was laid on the center of the floor, crimson and gold, and it led all the way up to the dais at the far end, where sat three people on great seats of gold and silver.

In the center was certainly the king, old and wise, with a gold crown on his head and blue robes flowing from his shoulders. On his right sat a woman about his age, and she too wore a crown: she must be the queen. On the king’s left was a young man, probably the prince. It was on this man that Panma’s eyes rested, admiring the bright eyes, the flowing hair, the strong hands, the young body. It was times like these when she wished boring old Thumeron wasn’t the only man in her life. She would certainly love to meet up with someone her own age.

“Hail, King Anthanse,” said the wizard, bowing. Panma copied him behind. “I have come, as you summoned me.”

“Well, not as he summoned you,” Panma muttered. “It’s been a week since we got the message, and I’m sure you’ve grown your beard an inch since then – probably two.”

“Welcome, Thumeron the Wise,” replied the king. “Now tell me, who is that yonder saucy youth, whom I hear speaking under his breath?”

“Saucy? So we’re not here for baking – we’re here for cooking! I see now!”

“Oh, didn’t I tell you that you’d butter be silent?” the wizard said to her, before turning to the king again. “Pardon her, sir. That ‘saucy youth’, as you put it, is Panma Tolvirir, daughter of the late Lord Nymical, and my pupil.”

“Wait, daughter?” asked the prince, suddenly leaning forward.

Panma growled. Sure, he had good looks, but he was lacking brains. “No, not yours. What, are you surprised that I’m a woman? Just because I’m not wearing a dress?”

“Well, you are dressed like a man,” said Thumeron. “But that was my insistence, since a dress would inhibit your studies. Perhaps your son would get along well with my pupil, my lord, since they both seem to enjoy interrupting conversations.”

The king smiled at this as both Panma and the prince blushed. “But now is not the time for jest. Lanuman has requested aid. I am planning to assault the eastern fortresses of Morbaren, but I’ll need your help.”

“I can certainly give it,” replied the wizard, bowing again.

“Very well. Now indeed I have certainty of victory.”

The Desert

Well, this week hasn’t been turning out exactly as planned. Or this story. I had planned to write this story a week ago, but I never got a good idea for what it should entail until Friday evening. After most of my posts on Friday had been up for several hours. But, as they say, better late than never, and I should be back on schedule soon. In the meantime, enjoy!

Jandin ran as fast as his legs could carry him, his sandals kicking up the sand behind him, his body sweating from the blazing sun reflecting off the bright sand, his eyes barely open as he tried to look forward, though forward was hard to find when the whole world was white sand, blue sky, or the yellow sun.

Well, there were still the purple mountains behind him, but if he ever took the time to look at them, he would see that they were just a line, a bump on the horizon now. He didn’t look back, though, because looking back meant he would have to slow down, and he might already be too late.

North, behind those mountains, lay the land of Lanuman. Funny, that the Land of Rivers should be bordered by a desert. The mountains really were quite divisive, but the desert even more so. Few had ever managed to cross it alive, especially not in Jandin’s condition. Sure, he had food and water for a couple days, but it would likely take longer to cross this desert. Most people who managed to cross the desert did so on horseback, from the south. Jandin would have brought a horse, but there were paths though the mountains that only a man could walk.

Ahead to the south lay the land of Miris, an ally of Lanuman. Well, ally wasn’t quite the right word, since the two nations rarely ever communicated. It was mostly formal, and only came into play when one of the nations needed help from the other – like in this instance.

If only things could have been like they were a year ago, Jandin thought to himself. A year ago, there had been utter peace. He had been under the tutelage of Sirocin, master of the mystic arts. Now he wasn’t even sure if Sirocin was alive. A week ago, Morbaren had attacked from the west like a flood, rushing in all over the territory, barely checked by the wide rivers that made Lanuman famous. Sirocin had sent him immediately on this journey, knowing full well that, while Lanuman might have the ability to slow down the enemy drastically, they would not be able to defeat Morbaren. For that, they would need the help of Miris.

It helped that Miris bordered Morbaren on the west. The mountain range that separated Miris and Lanuman also separated Lanuman from Morbaren, but there were far more passes in that region, and no desert to hinder any who traveled between. Jandin figured the plan was for, when Miris gave their aid, that they would attack Morbaren on their front, requiring Morbaren to take their troops from Lanuman to defend their position. Perhaps then they could drive Morbaren back, back over the mountains.

But that was future what-ifs and might-be’s that Jandin had no time for. His mind was filled only with crossing the desert and staying alive. Already it was the third day since his journey had begun. He was exhausted, and yet he still had who knew how many more miles of desert to cross. He had no idea if he had enough food and water to cross the desert, but he knew that he was hungry and thirsty now, and that he had to conserve it all.

The sun set to his right after a time, he didn’t know how long. He had stopped counting a long time ago, when the land became the same white ocean from mile to mile. When its red departure finally finished, he stopped at last. He sat down in the sand and ate the food he had brought and drank the water. And then he lay down in the cool sand, allowing his exhaustion to wash over him and become sleep.

Before dawn he rose again, eating and drinking a little more before he started again, running due south. The only difference between this day and the last was that the mountains behind had vanished at last, and that his burden was a little less. But this was little comfort, because the weight that had left his burden gave him only a little more energy, and his rest little more, so that it was with leaden feet that he ran that day.

Sometimes he just wanted to close his eyes to keep out the blinding light all around him, or to rest his painful eyes. And there was little point in not doing so, since there was absolutely no variation in the landscape. In fact, he had hardly seen any hills, and plants and animals were without a trace.

As he went on, he rationed his food and water more and more. Not that he had had much to begin with. And even with these measures, he couldn’t stop that moment early one morning when he realized he had just drank the last drop of water. And the last bite of food had just succeeded it.

But still he ran. What else was there for him to do? He couldn’t go back. Even if it was shorter that way, he would die in his flight, and it would be accepting the triumph of the desert. He couldn’t let down Sirocin – not now, not ever. So he ran. And when he couldn’t run any further, hungry, thirsty, and exhausted, he walked. And when he couldn’t walk anymore, he crawled.

Inch by inch he crawled, grabbing handfuls of hot sand, blistering his palms and fingers, dragging his body with every last drop of strength in him. He had closed his eyes at last long ago, and now only barely hoped that he could find the end of the desert. His duty was all that kept him moving forward.

And then, a week since he had come to the desert, he came to the end of his strength. With one final effort, he reached forward with his hand, but it didn’t hit sand. No, it hit something much more solid, stone he thought. He opened one eye and peered ahead of him. It was a stone structure. Suddenly, hope sprang back within his soul. He dragged himself forward and then up the stone. His arm fell into empty air, and he realized that he had stumbled on a well.

After several minutes of fumbling and slow moving, he dropped the bucket down the shaft and pulled it back up with the pulley, taking a long draught of the water. He smacked his cracked lips with the ecstasy it gave him, and he took another long drink.

“Um, hello, sir,” said a voice nearby. “Who are you and where are you from?”

Jandin turned to face the voice, which emanated from a young boy holding a staff and a group of sheep about him.

“I am Jandin, son of Giordon,” he replied, his voice hoarse after so long unused. “I come from the land of Lanuman across the desert and over the mountains. I must speak to your king, because he need his aid.”

The boy nodded and ran off toward a house small in the distance that Jandin only now noticed. He smiled contentedly, triumphantly. He was going to save the country.

Post-Election Humor

Sorry I didn’t post yesterday, but life has been a bit busy, and I didn’t feel inspired. And then I remembered yesterday was election day, and I had to do something about that (mostly for the losers, who could have been anyone at that point).

I would first like to say that the president depicted here is in now way supposed to represent the winner of yesterday’s election. I would have posted something this (or something similar) had the other guy won. The real purpose of this is just to make fun of politicians. This isn’t intended to reveal what I think about politics (though I don’t doubt some of it bleeds through). Anyway, I have a sure faith that our president will handle the nation’s situation much more competently than the one depicted here.

Hope you enjoy!

Well, Jack thought for the fiftieth time that day as he shifted through the ashen rubble, I guess they were right about the country going to Hell if he was elected. Go figure. He should have known there was something in that nervous tic, that odd laugh. But honestly, who would have guessed that the candidate would be completely insane? Jack sure couldn’t have.

What really surprised him, though, was how fast it had all happened. The white flecks falling from the sky wasn’t the January snow, but rather ash beginning a nuclear winter. It had been the president’s very first day on the job, and he had already messed everything up.

Jack remembered only a few hours ago, coming to the capital to watch the new president sworn in. The ceremony had been initially wonderful. There were lots of people gathered in the square, and several important people who couldn’t be bothered to mingle with the little commoners up above with the Justice. Then the president arrived, waving a hand that began hurricanes a thousand miles out to sea to be unleashed upon the nation’s enemies, smiling with diamond teeth that set girls and elderly women swooning at the sight, a sparkle in his eye that lit up the hope of those gathered there (well, except for the women – they were all unconscious by that point).

He was sworn in by the Justice, and then his speech began. That was when everyone knew something was wrong. To begin with, it was certainly the first inaugural address that started with the new president pulling out a big red button. Several people started, but the president only laughed.

“It’s only a Staples button,” he said. “Don’t worry – it doesn’t launch nukes.”

“That was easy!” replied the button.

“No, this one does.” He tossed aside the Staples button and brought out a much bigger red button, about the size and height of his closed fist, which he kept over the button as he grinned wider than any person should be able to and began his speech.

Everyone stared at him in utter confusion and horror as he rambled on maniacally for nearly half an hour, talking about the destruction of the nation’s enemies, the creation of a new environment to replace the one people had trashed, unicorns and pegasi, and free toys from China for all. All this, of course, was interspersed with laughter that lasted for minutes straight, until he collapsed and took a deep breath, at which point he rose to continue again.

He lost most of the crowd ten minutes in. At first they thought he was drunk, and texted their friends and family, “lol”ing and “lmfao”ing, until they remembered he had been the same old man they elected, right up until he was sworn in. Was he serious?

Jack thought he was, and he stared in horror at the president as he entered one final, long laugh. He knew the difference between a sober man and a drunk man, and even a man on drugs – and the president was certainly the first.

A shot rang out, and the president stopped laughing, a large hole puncturing his forehead. He stopped laughing, and plunged forward – onto the button. That was when everyone panicked, and the world went to hell.

Jack hurried to his hotel, switching on the television as soon as he entered, trying to listen to the reporter over the screams and cries of all the people running amok outside.

“Hello, this is Harold Guy,” said the reporter. “Who should probably be heading home right now to warn his family of imminent attack, but is instead here because he is so devoted to his job. The president was assassinated today and a terrorist launched every single one of the nation’s nukes randomly across the globe.”

“The president was going to do that!” said someone off screen.

“I know!” cried the reporter, tears forming in his eyes. “But I just can’t believe he would do such a thing! He was soft, and gentle, and kind! He was more than a president, he was…he was like a lover to me! His gorgeous eyes, his powerful hand, his beautiful voice, all gone! I just can’t believe it was all a lie – he was all my hopes and dreams, and then he dashed them to the ground in one fell swoop!”

At this point he plunged his head against the table and sobbed uncontrollably. Another person, a young woman, stepped in front of the television and began speaking in a much calmer tone, over the ceaseless sobs in the background.

“Most of the nuclear weapons have hit,” said the woman. “And responses are coming back from around the globe. China has declared an embargo on all things American, and refuses to send us cheap plastic products anymore; Scotland is requesting another nuke, but targeting a location farther south – Ireland says the same, only a location farther east. Australia says ‘Ha, you missed!’ France has surrendered to the US, while Norway, Nigeria, Thailand, Madagascar, and Yemen have declared war. Germany has declared war on South Africa for reasons of anarchy and Japan has declared war on Antarctica. Meanwhile, the Russian prime minister says ‘It’s already winter here – all you did is put a nuclear in front of it. Soon we will have Alaska, and then we will unleash our zombie KGB army on you! Fear us!”

But Jack didn’t stay to hear any more. In fact, he had been packing as the reporter had been speaking, and was now headed out the door. He got in his car and sped out from the capital, though this soon proved ineffective as hordes of traffic put a halt to any hope of escape that way. He got out on foot, looking up just in time to see the big Russian missiles coming toward them, each displaying the words: “To Frankie – Quit Stalin!”

So now Jack walked among the rubble of the ruined capital. The world was quiet and still. He could have heard a mouse move, but all the mice had probably died in the explosions.

He suddenly became aware of the fact that he had wandered back to the square where the inaugural address had taken place. There was the rubble of the building that had once housed all those prim and proper rich people. He wondered how many had escaped, using their private jets and high tech teleportation pads.

The rubble moved. Well, there was one survivor. He stepped forward, to see if he could help. But the debris was blasted away, and up stood the single person that Jack had thought he would never have to see again. No, it wasn’t his ex-girlfriend, or that one talentless singer, no. Those paled in comparison, the nuclear strikes paled in comparison, to what he saw now. There stood the most terrifying creature in all of creation, shimmering in the sun like he had skin made of diamonds, or of disco balls. All hope left Jack. Because it was the president, and he was really a sparkling vampire.