Feb 14 – A Ghost Carrying a Large Box for a Queen

As the Queen stepped out of her bedroom, she took a glance around. This was her antechamber; her place of quiet solitude. Completely soundproof, devoid of any cell signal or wireless capabilities, it was her place of peace that allowed her a moment unto herself, away from maids, butlers, friends, relatives, and any other outside distraction. Specially crafted frosted glass extended from floor to ceiling to her left and right, allowing the sun’s rays to penetrate the area. Numerous potted plants lined the windows, adding to the room’s relaxing properties.

She took another step into the room, and closed the door behind her, making sure to lock it. Isabel made her way to the room’s centre, seating herself in front of the sigil that marked the place. She waited silently, allowing her thoughts to fall away. A faint light began radiating from the centre of the sigil, drawing Isabel’s eyes to the spot. As she looked on, a figure began to emerge, headfirst, from the space on the floor. The first time this happened, she had been frightened; not many people have had the pleasure of meeting a ghost firsthand. Luckily for her, it was friendly. As it emerged completely from the floor, it began to take on a more solid form, the form of a young man wearing a well-tailored suit, eyes white as chalk. To everyone else of course, his eyes looked normal; anyone else would see deep brown eyes, the colour of freshly brewed coffee. In his hands he held a large box, roughly the size of a phonebook. Isabel knew what it contained; after today, the rest of the world would know as well.

“Hello Nathan,” she said, a smile spreading across her face. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen you, I was beginning to wonder if you had forgotten.”
Nathan looked into her eyes, not returning Isabel’s playful smile. “Of course I remembered, this day will mark a turning point in history, and the world will finally know the truth.”
“Well, let’s not keep them waiting any longer,” said Isabel, rising to her feet. As she stepped closer to him, she eyed the dark wooden box. It was affixed with a curious lock, a lock nobody else would have seen the shape of. The queen continued on and out of the room, Nathan trailing behind her.

Isabel opened the door and stepped out onto the balcony. As she approached the rail, she looked down to see a large crowd gathered below. They were awaiting her address, and they began to cheer as she came into view. She raised her hands for silence, and the crowd quieted expectantly. The Queen cleared her throat and gave Nathan a quick glance. He met her gaze, and nodded, almost imperceptibly.
“Citizens of Yuren, I have gathered you here today so that you may know the truth about one of the great mysteries of our world. I share this with you so that you will come to better understand the world, as well as your own place in it.”

She gestured Nathan forward and took a deep breath as she reached down, wrapping her fingers around the necklace that dangled there. Slowly lifting it over her head, she regarded it for a moment before proceeding. It was made of a strange material, something that looked like a cross between silver and cloth. It was harder than diamonds, and it was unknown when the piece had come into existence, or from where. It’s shape fit the lock on the box perfectly, and the queen slid it into the tumblers, producing a faint click as it turned. As she lifted the lid, she saw once more the contents of the long-forgotten chest…

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Feb 13 – A Janitor Writing a Biography of a Greek Demigod

As he stared at the words written on the page in front of him, it seemed as though the letters were sliding down the paper and beginning to pool on the floor in front of him. Matt rubbed his eyes to find his single, unfinished sentence staring solidly back at him, taunting him. It had been a long time since he had written, and he was clearly out of practice. His mind wandered to other things as he tried to form his thoughts into coherent sentences. He thought of his current client; mostly, Matt wondered why he had been selected for the job. The last time he had done any writing was in the 7th grade; he decided it was much more enjoyable to pay his classmates a few dollars to write his papers for him while he played video games.

Matt took a glance around his office. He still had some work to do before he left for the night, and maybe stepping away would clear his mind of the fuzziness he was feeling. He grabbed his mop and bucket and made his way into the hallway. His office was situated at the end of the only hallway; after tidying the dozen or so offices that pockmarked the corridor, he would methodically mop the floor, beginning with the northeast corner and working his way across the width of the hall, taking exactly ten strokes to reach the other wall. In this way, he would work his way down the entire length of the hallway, taking exactly forty-two minutes to complete the work; he would normally taking his things with him, stash his mop in the closet by the entrance, and make his way home for the night. On this night, however, he wouldn’t be going home, not right away at least.

As he made his way down the hall, he began to hear footsteps echoing behind him. He turned to see his client making his way down the hall to where he stood, mop in hand. “Nobody will believe this, not in a million years,” Matt thought bitterly.
As the figure approached, he was able to make out his features. A strong jaw, not delicate yet not brutish; Matt could see the cords of muscle outlined beneath the sharp grey suit, shifting as he continued to walk down the corridor. He slowed as he reached Matt, and gave him a beaming smile.
“How is your work coming along? Still on schedule, I hope?”

His client, much to his initial shock, was none other than Achilles, the famed demigod himself. He had approached Matt a month prior, and petitioned him to write his biography. Matt had no idea how this man could even exist, but considering his heritage, he didn’t attempt to pry any further into the matter. Why he had chosen Matt, Achilles could not explain; the only justification he could give was that Matt was the right man for the job, and he would not allow anyone else to tell his story.
“I’ve made some progress, yeah. I was just taking a step away to clear my head.”
“Great, I look forward to reading it. I can barely contain my excitement! In three short weeks I’ll have the true story of Achilles, penned by none other than the infamous Matt Grayson. Finally, the world will truly understand my tale, and they will cease looking down on me for my supposed defeat.”

Matt still couldn’t believe it, no matter how hard he tried. He had to, of course, because failing the task given to him by Achilles was not an option; if he didn’t finish the story to the god’s liking, he would be struck down on the spot, head cleanly hewn from his neck. Matt wasn’t looking forward to finding out of it was a bluff or not. He turned back to his mop, splashed it into the bucket, wrung it slowly and slapped it against the linoleum tiles. As he looked up, he found himself alone in the hall, Achilles having disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. Matt let out a long sigh, and turned himself back to his task. He was not looking forward to what he knew would be long, sleepless nights.

Feb 12 – A Princess Losing a Hotdog-Eating Contest to an Indian Chef

She was already sweating, and she had just finished her first pushup.
“Not a good start to this training program”, she thought bitterly. The Contest was fast approaching, and somehow she had been selected to take part. The names were randomly drawn of course, but the population of Nuro was almost ten thousand, and she was far from prepared to be a part of the spectacle. Since it’s inception twelve years prior, the Contest had quickly become on of the island’s most prominent events, even gathering spectators from the other isles located thousands of miles away.

The princess shakily finished her third pushup before collapsing to the floor. Her breath laboured, she slowly sat up and noticed the disapproving look on her father’s face.
“How do you expect to compete when a few pushups is all it takes for you to collapse? At this rate you’ll never be ready.”
“I didn’t know my name would even be in the draw. You’d think being royalty would offer a few perks, but I guess not.”
Her father gave her an icy stare.
“Your name was included because you are a part of this community, and as such expected to participate. Even my own participation is possible, which is why I am always ready; a habit that would have helped you right about now.”
Yuna sighed heavily, trying to imagine the gruelling training regimen her father had in store for her. The other participant would surely be honing his skills for the upcoming trial. All she knew of him was his name, but she did not recognize it. As she gathered herself from the floor, she looked her father in the eyes and said, “well, we better get started then, shouldn’t we. I wouldn’t want to disappoint my fans.”

Twenty-six days later, she stood nervously behind the gate, her heart beating furiously in her chest. She had seen some improvement through her training, but she wasn’t sure it would be enough to vanquish her foe. Yuna looked out across the arena, trying to get a look at her opponent who waited behind the gate opposite her. She tried to imagine what sort of person he was, and if he was caught as unaware as she was by her entry into the Contest.
“Not likely,” she mused. “He’s probably been training all his life, just like everyone else on this island.”

As she pondered her adversary, she heard the low rumble of applause all around her as the King reached the platform in the centre of the arena.
“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen of Nuro! Welcome, as well, our friends who have come far and wide to witness this year’s Contest! Today, I have quite the surprise for you! The two combatants have spent the last month training, desperately honing their skills so they may come out victorious and bring glory to their names in the eyes of the gods!”

The crowd roared at this, and the ground shook beneath Yuna’s feet. She began to sweat, dreading the coming humiliation. She wasn’t ready, and she knew it. The gods would look down on her with shame for the pitiful show she was about to put on. She had seen gains, but not enough to best someone who had been training his entire life. She just hoped that it would be over quickly, and she could retire to the palace.

“Now, without further ado, I present to you our challengers! Our first contestant is a humble chef who’s speciality lies in creating the finest Indian cuisine imaginable. Some of you may know him, and others will come to know him as his reputation continues to grow.”
The gate began to rise, and Yuna looked up to finally see her adversary.
“I present to you Kyren!”
At this the crowd were on their feet, clapping and yelling as he approached the platform. He raised his hands in acknowledgement, and seated himself gracefully behind one of the tables. He was about Yuna’s age, strongly built with a well combed beard that framed his bald head. He certainly looked like he had been training his entire life, Yuna noticed with a sinking feeling in her gut. As he picked up the napkin and stuffed it into his collar, the king continued on, much to Yuna’s dismay.

“Our challenger is someone that I’m sure all of you are familiar with. She is the person that we have all held dear to our hearts from the moment she was born, and it brings me great pleasure to present her to you now. Here is Yuna!”
The crowd went wild at the mention of her name, and as she stepped timidly into the sunlight, she could feel their gaze, making the feeling in her gut sink even lower. She scrambled up the steps, seated herself at the table opposite Kyren, folder her napkin and placed in her lap. At this, the King began to walk off stage, and two attendants hurried out of the gates and took their places beside the large barbecues situated behind each table. They each tossed several hotdogs and buns onto their grills and fired them up, but the sounds were quickly drowned out by the crowds cheers.

“You may begin!” shouted the King as he stood beside the large scoreboard, two large zeros projected on the stadium’s many screens so that the entire crowd could view them.

The attendants hurried forward, placing a hotdog, dressed with ketchup and mustard, before both Karen and Yuna. She stared down at her plate and felt like she was on the verge of being sick, but quickly pushed her thoughts out of her mind as she picked up the hotdog. She glanced over at Kyren, and noticed that he had already started devouring his meal. Worried that she was already behind, she began stuffing the wiener into her mouth, trying to gulp it down as quickly as possible.

The crowd’s shouts were constant, and she could hear pockets of attendees chanting Kyren’s name as he scarfed down his sixth dog. She was still on her fifth, and was quickly losing steam. Yuna looked up at him, and was disappointed that he showed no signs of slowing down. Halfway through her next bite, she stopped and gazed around at all the spectators that had gathered for this event. It was her responsibility to give them a show, and she resolved to give the crowd what they wanted.

Hours later, she looked groggily up at the scoreboard, and considered the match. It read 47-44 in Kyren’s favour. The silence hung heavy in the air as the crowd waited, knowing the conclusion of the Contest was not far off. Yuna was at her limit; she couldn’t continue pushing the miserable sticks of meat into her stomach. As her attendant placed another hotdog in front of her, she suppressed her reflex to unload her hours of work onto her plate. She looked up, and across the gap Kyren smiled back at her, knowing that he had won his place in hall of champions. She grasped the napkin in her lap, and threw it in the air to signal her surrender. At this, the crowd jumped to their feet and roared, and the arena shook all around her.

The king made his way up to the platform, resting his hand on Yuna’s shoulder as he passed.
“You fought well, I know how hard you trained for this.”
He turned to the crowd, microphone in hand.
“The match is over! Yuna has conceded, leaving Kyren as our champion! I’m sure everyone here is as satisfied as I am with this battle, knowing how hard both of these individuals have fought here today.”
As he finished his address, he made his way over to Kyren’s table. Kyren slowly got to his feet, and Yuna could see the difficulty he had with the motion after enduring the Contest. Her father clasped his hand, and raised it into the air, drawing even more cheers from the crowd. As Yuna looked on, she sat back and turned her gaze to the sky, wondering if the gods would approve of her performance.

Feb 11 – A Mime Breaks into an Improvised Song and Dance with a Chicken

One day, in a land far far away, there lived a chicken. This chicken, however, was no ordinary chicken. For some reason, unbeknownst to his comrades, this chicken did not need to eat food to survive. Instead, it seemed as though he was able to continue living through the power of dance alone. He lived this way for his entire life. He had tried eating before, but whenever he did he became violently ill. And so, his days were filled with joy, for he was never worried about beating his hunger. Whenever he felt tired or weak, a dance would well up from deep inside his belly, work its way down to the tips of his talons and to the ends of his wings, until it consumed his very being.

However, not all that knew him were fond of his dancing. As he grew older, humans started to take notice of his abilities, and began getting annoyed at his raucous displays. One day, a woman nearly had a heart attack after witnessing the atrocious performance, and decided enough was enough. She grabbed the chicken by his neck, shook him hard and screamed in his face,
“Enough is enough! I’m sick and tired of your dancing, and I won’t stand for it any longer.”
She then found a nearby lamppost and began fishing through her purse with her hand that was not currently occupied strangling the poor chicken. After what seemed like a century to the dying chicken, she pulled out a length of rope, and began tying him tightly to the post.
“Bawk bawk bawk!” Shouted the chicken, trying to catch the eye of this mysterious woman who had decided to capture him. He had no way of explaining that he would starve to death without his dancing, for she could not understand his bawking.

So the chicken was left to rot, tied to the lamppost. He pleaded as other humans and chickens passed by, trying to get their attention; however, the sounds of the city overwhelmed his bawking, and nobody paid him any heed.

Early the next day, after a restless sleep, the chicken slowly opened one eye. After a few seconds had passed, he mustered enough strength to open the other. He saw the city dwellers rushing by, always seeming to be in a hurry. He was on the brink of starvation; he did not know how much longer he would last.

As his life began to flash before his eyes, a large shadow enveloped him. He squinted towards the sky, lifting his head with what little strength he had left. At first the figure was blurry, but as his vision cleared he could make out a pale, almost deathly looking face, framed by a scarf around his neck and a beret on his head. Mimes were common in Transylvania; not as common as gypsies, but common nonetheless. The mime bent down to look the chicken in the eye. He studied the chicken from head to talon, cocking his head to the side and rubbing his chin.

He seemed to have come to a decision. He walked around to the back of the lamppost, and untied the intricate knots that were keeping the chicken imprisoned. The chicken immediately stretched out his feathers, which had cramped from staying still for so long. After he finished limbering up, he broke into the most wonderful dance of his life; he could feel his tired body filling with energy. The mime regarded the chicken with fascination, as he had never seen another dance quite like this one. He then decided he did not like this life of silence that had been callously thrust upon him by his peers, and broke into a song that rivalled the passion displayed by his new winged companion. Onlookers began to gather, and began to throw coins to the duo, impressed by the song that had been inspired by the chicken’s whirling feathers. The pair danced late into the night, and from that point on traveled together wherever they went, entertaining the masses that followed in their wake.

Feb 10 – Zorillon – Interplanet Janet

Interplanet Janet

It’s probably a planet you haven’t heard of, mostly because of the fact that it’s in a parallel dimension. The only reason I can actually tell you about it now, assuming this message survives the frigid journey through the ever-expanding universe, is because I am its creator, as well as its leader. The reason I am reaching out to you now is that I want you to understand of our existence, and hope that you may be able to travel here yourself and carry this knowledge with you, so you may better know me and my people.

My planet, in certain ways, is like yours; however, many things are very different from the place you know as home. Here on Zorillon we have seasons, like yours, yet vastly different all at once.  You see, our planet is something of a “nomad”, to use your term. What I mean to say is that the size of our planet is not rigid or constant; it fluctuates greatly from year to year, causing it’s gravitational pull to increase and diminish accordingly.  Because of this, every so often, when it is at its smallest, it falls out of orbit from our neighbouring star, and we revolve through the cosmos, endlessly until we latch onto another.

The cold and darkness this traveling creates is harsh and unbearable, yet I have provided what is necessary for my people, the Zenfilim, to survive.  Here our dwellings come directly from nature; Zorillon is pockmarked with sizeable holes which lead directly down into the planet’s crust. It is here that my people have made their homes.  They have created airlocks that allow them to stave off the bitter cold and rely on the warmth coming from the planet’s core.

During the times when we orbit a star, the inhabitants cherish their time above ground. They hold festivals and celebration in my praise, even though I do not dictate the turning of this world. The Zenfilim are a kind race; although there are drastic differences in appearance among them, they accept and love one another without judgement. While the differences are many, certain features unite them all. The eyes the posses would be strange to you; while they are similarly shaped, the entire surface is coloured a peaceful blue. The Zenfilim also share markings the slowly cover their body as they age. From birth, they are marked on the base of the neck, and as they age the marks spread across their skin, warping like ivy and enveloping their bodies.

My planet may seem to be a strange one to you, who live on a planet with a fixed size and place in the universe. However, I hope that you have the opportunity to visit my home and expand your horizons, and drink in the beauty of my creation.

Feb 9 – Childhood revisited

When I think about my childhood, I have quite a few different competing emotions, which in itself is frustrating enough. Because of that, I tend not to think about my formative years too often.

There are a lot of things I would change, had I the power to go back and change them. However, at the same time, there are parts of my life now that I am absolutely thrilled with, and after watching ‘The Butterfly Effect’, I don’t know if I want to change my past substantially enough to lose some of the things that I enjoy now.

Assuming the things I enjoy wouldn’t be wrenched from my grasp, there are definitely things I would change. I would push myself to learn more, to engage with the world like I try to do now.  I spent most of my time playing video games, or slamming my head against my desk in school. Something that I wish teachers cultivated in their students is the interest to explore; instead, we sit there placidly while the curriculum is drilled into our heads, gaining recognition for being a good robot.

If I could go back, I would try to learn more about everything that interests me, which is quite a lot. I would rather have spent my time learning to be creative; furthering my drawing skill, learning an instrument, or even learning to write well.

If and when I have children of my own, I want them to learn one thing from me, and one thing alone. If I fail them in every other aspect, I would be content with myself for having taught them to explore, to question, and to learn about the world we live in. I would teach them that not all learning comes from books as our schools would have us believe,  but that it comes with doing, with failing, and with picking yourself up after losing everything.