Yes indeed, my story for this contest is done and has just been emailed off. It turned out okay. My initial draft of it was over 2350 words…kind of a problem when the contest had a 2000 word limit. I managed to chop it down, and the final product was 2000 words dead bang on the nose.
In case you’ve forgotten how incredibly fantastic the theme picture is, here’s a refresher :
Overall, I’m fairly happy with it. In 2000 words I managed to pack in two massive location changes, and egotistically put myself in the story as a character. It probably could have been better, but with a deadline of the end of June looming and alterations probably necessitating a total rewrite of at least a portion of it, I just reached the point of saying “Fuck it.” and sent it off.
So here it is! Oh, the foul object that is the basis of the story NEEDS to be seen for you to truly appreciate how repugnant it really is. So I’ll grab a photo of it being worn and add it to the story where appropriate. It is GHASTLY.
Oh, I just got my ‘We’ve received your submission!” email. Judging won’t be over until sometime in August at the earliest. Not a surprise…I see A LOT of reading in the future of the Jury of Awesomeness (their name, not mine).
Anyway, with no further ado (of which there has already been far too much)…the tale :
It all started off so innocently. Wil and John and a couple of others were engaged in the mortal struggle against the forces of darkness and tyranny that was their usual Saturday evening game of Dungeons & Dragons. So far, nothing in the game had proved so much of a challenge as John’s usual insistence on wearing what he had deemed his ‘orc clothing’ to the game. It wasn’t so much the clothing that was bad but the stink pouring out of it, for they hadn’t been laundered in quite some time. It wouldn’t be ‘authentic’, apparently. Anyway, despite these odds before them, they had just entered the village to talk to a guild master when it happened.
“Bring forth my icon of evil! I will have it back!” the voice boomed. They all sat there in silence for a moment, trying to figure out how the normally mild mannered DM had managed to get all of that pure evil in to his voice. “I am not your pitiful Dungeon Master! I AM evil in the most pure of forms!” Okay, considering that the DM was hiding beneath the table and quite possibly soiling himself, it seemed unlikely that this voice was coming from him. “You have possession of the foulest of icons! It is mine!”
After a few moments of drinking in the fact that some otherworldly entity was establishing it’s presence in his dining room, Wil looked around at the contents of his living space. What could this thing be talking about?
“Could you maybe be a little more specific?” he asked.
“I refer to the object you keep hidden away! It brought shame to you once, and you made it your goal to take it and hide it from public view to help others avoid a similar fate. It was taken from me by one from your world…I will have it back!”
“Geez, he must mean that Wesley Crusher blow up doll you have in the back of the closet, eh?” John laughed. Wil didn’t join him in this moment of mirth, for he knew exactly what this thing wanted. It was the one object which he wished had never existed. He had worn it once in a photograph, and still couldn’t escape the ripples of shame that continued to expand across the Internet. It had taken over a year of searching, but Wil had finally found the monstrous thing and convinced the owner to hand it over. Sure, perhaps the law would call what he’d done armed robbery, but he preferred to think of it more as heated negotiation.
What he had never told anyone was that despite his numerous attempts, he couldn’t destroy it. It wouldn’t burn. It wouldn’t tear. It actually broke the wood chipper. Nothing could so much as dent this thing. In fact, it seemed to absorb the attempts to damage it and come out looking even more hideous and indescribably foul.
“Yesssss…yes, the Wheaton knows of which I speak. He knows all too well of the object I describe, for it is burned in to the darkest recesses of his mind.”
“I do know what you speak of.” Wil admitted. He wished he didn’t. He wished this monstrosity had never existed.
“Gooood. Bring it to me. I will create a passage between your world and mine, and you will pass it through.” Wil nodded before realizing that a faceless voice probably can’t see you. He sighed and headed up to his room. As he reached his closet, he paused for a moment. He breathed deeply, striking up enough courage to reach in and pull out the locked metal box he had kept the damned thing stuffed inside of for many moons now.
“Wil, what the Hell is going on? Some voice starts booming out of the walls, blathering about icons of evil and rifts and dimensions and all that, and you’re cool as a cucumber? What the Hell is this thing even looking for?” John asked from the entrance to the bedroom.
“Rifts, dimensions, extraterrestrial beings…honestly John, once you’ve done a series of Star Trek, you’re kind of over it. Anyway, I have what it wants.” Wil told his friend, patting the box as he fished the key for it out of his sock drawer.
“Great! So let’s give it to this dude and maybe we can get back to freeing the slaves of Argonis from the…okay, what is it now?” Wil had stopped himself halfway through the process of unlocking the strongbox. It wasn’t fear that had stilled him, it was a longing that he had ignored for too long.
“John, I’m all too aware of my geek significance on Earth. I’ve kind of covered the entire spectrum, and I’ve grown bored of it. But inter-dimensional travel and handing demonic artifacts over to some entity from another realm? The geek cred that comes with an undertaking like that isn’t going to be easily topped! Some rich dork flying in to space ain’t got NOTHIN’ on that!”
“Okay, calm down man. You’re talking crazy! You’re going to go through space and time as we know it to some place where…who knows what’s there? Is there even air to breathe…or decent sci-fi programming?” John asked, desperately trying to reason with his friend. But Wil’s mind was made up. He opened the box and pulled out the cursed woolen nightmare within. John nearly fainted as he looked at it, the bile rising in his throat as it did every time he was exposed to this ghastly knit horror. During this moment of weakness, the blood rushing to his head drowned out the sound of Wil calling out to the creature who had demanded the sweater earlier. It opened a swirling vortex of light that one would suppose was a portal. As John started to regain his senses, Wil began moving towards the vortex.
“You have to take me too! I’m wearing it!” he shrieked. He had indeed donned the foul item as he walked towards the opening. He had nearly reached the gateway when John grabbed hold of his arm.
“Dammit Wil, I can’t let you do this! You have a family to think of!”
“That’s who I’m thinking of, John! I need an adventure if I’m to maintain my cool geek nature! Without that, what sort of husband or father can I be? Now let me go!” John couldn’t. It wasn’t so much any impulse of friendship or bravery…the sweater wouldn’t let him. It seemed that it was holding him. And a moment later, the vortex seemed to grow bored with waiting for Wil to step in to it and reached out to swallow him, as well as John, who was unfortunately stuck with him for the ride.
Okay, a quick interruption here. This is the sweat I’m talking about :
Once you’re done vomiting or gouging your eyes out, continue reading. Well…if you gouged your eyes out, I guess find someone else to read the remainder to you or something.
Wil was sweating profusely. Butt ugly clown sweaters are bad enough, but sweaters of any type are not a good choice of clothing when one finds himself in a Hellish volcano-riddled wasteland. He decided that it was time to take the sweater off, and tugged at it. Not only would it not budge at all, but it actually hurt to pull at it. It felt as though he was clawing at a piece of himself…
“NOOOOOO!” Wil screamed, realizing that the beast who resided here had made he and the sweater one. He heard two other noises…the cackling glee of the demon who lived here enjoying what he had wrought, and a similar scream from John. Wil hadn’t previously realized John was there, and turned to see…
“I’m a fucking orc!” Indeed, John did look remarkably orc-like, right down to the axe and wooden shield he was now carrying.
“Nice look, Shrek.” Wil chided him.
“You’re one to talk, clown face.” John responded. It was then that the voice of he who had brought them here interrupted this brilliant discourse.
“ENOUGH! Though your pain amuses me, I cannot stand to hear human beings speak to each other…it disgusts me! I suspect that both of you wish to return? You may at any time…but only in your current form.” Both Wil and John gasped at the thought of trying to live their lives as they were right now. “Or, you may fight. The one who slays the other will be returned to Earth as he was.”
“Okay, cool.” John said, then started forward towards Wil.
“Wait…you…you’re okay with this?” the voice stammered.
“Really, it was pretty much inevitable.” Wil replied, “I would love a weapon of some sort, though, voice dude.” Nothing happened. John chuckled darkly and continued forward, axe ready for some geek chopping action.
“You expect fairness from a demon?” John asked. Wil started to reply but had nothing to say. He slowly backed away as John approached, ready to hack at him like he was nothing more than a piece of potential firewood. It looked to be the end. As Wil tried to prepare himself, he thought he heard a faint rumble behind him…
…as he opened his eyes, wondering why John still hadn’t killed him, he saw that orc Skalzi had in fact started to retreat, eyes open wide in incredulity. And the rumbling he had heard was in fact the purring of an enormous and winged horned kitten arriving behind him. As soon as Wil looked at it, it bowed it’s head as if to indicate that it was there as a steed. He climbed aboard and found the spear strapped to the side of it, taking it in hand as he took off and launched towards Skalzi upon the creature.
“As you said, John…demons aren’t fair.” Wil replied with mockery thick enough to pierce flesh, then let loose a battle cry that would make Conan proud and launched the most bad ass Hello Kitty ever towards John.
“AUGH!” Wil screamed as he awoke. What the…he was home, in his bed. Could it be? Had it all been a dream? What a terrible, hackneyed cliché! “Well, if this really is such a lame ending to the story, I’ll be wearing…” he started, then looked down to see the face of a clown smiling cruelly back up at him.
“Okay, what the fuck?” John asked, waking up next to his friend. He wasn’t an orc anymore, though he still had a bit of a green tint to him.
“This is seriously how this is ending? Seriously? Come ON!” Wil protested, truly angry at the ridiculous way this was all going down. John snarled, then punched the wall behind the bed in anger. It shattered. Both men jumped up in surprise and looked through to see another room…one occupied by another pasty fellow sitting in the glow of a computer monitor. He seemed as surprised to see them as they were to see him.
“Who the Hell are you?” Wil asked.
“I…uhhh…I’m the author…” the man stammered nervously. “How…?” John was already rolling his sleeves up and striding purposefully towards him.
“I don’t give a shit how…this whole disaster of a tale is YOUR doing.” he snarled.
“Hey, guys, I was just having fun…” the author protested, trying to back away and ending up awkwardly falling from his chair to the floor as John and Wil approached fast.
“You know what would be fun? Kicking his ass.” Wil suggested. John immediately started in, pouncing upon the defenseless bastard like a jungle predator. Wil stood back and watched, content to wait. He was more of a ‘kick him when he’s already beaten’ kind of guy. And somewhere in the realm where such entities reside, karma laughed his ass off, for this pounding was richly deserved.
“And that’s how I got these scars.” the old man told his grandson, pointing to his wounds and shuddering at the memory of that horrible and fateful day.