Joe2stories

Stories from a Dublin Scientist

Month: August, 2014

Picture it and Write: A World Without Wood

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write for Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine, it is by Yerin Do, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway Enjoy.

A World Without Wood

We’re not entirely sure where they came from. There are of course rumours. Government experiments, radiation releases from old bomb test sites, biotech companies screwing up again when playing god, no one is sure. We only know is that they are a big threat to our way of life.

An egg-head explained it to me. They are a form of moth, in your average species, the babies eat cotton, which is why you need mothballs to keep them off your suits. But in the case of this new species. They eat cellulose all the way to adulthood and they need more than just a few strands of cloth to keep satisfied.

They eat wood.

The reproduced like wildfire, munching their way through trees, poles, and eventually homes. They were known to eat their way through window frames then gradually consume all the wooden furniture. Many houses were completely destroyed, families left homeless, lives ruined.

We tried to fight back but it was all useless. They quickly evolved defences against out most powerful pesticides, natural predators couldn’t even make a dent in their populations. Fire could stop them, but that caused more damage than those creatures ever did.

We have already started to change in response. We build with metal and stone now. Plastic furniture is currently in vogue. We miss the trees, but perhaps some will survive, somewhere.

All in all we are coping, maybe even thriving.

But there have been disturbing rumours from the East.

Rumours that if true, turn my blood cold.

Some of them have started to eat meat.

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Renovations

I walked into the room, surveying the elegant degradation of a space filled with so many memories, of a childhood long passed, and family long gone.

“Well here we are.” I addressed the room in general “We have both seen better days. That is true. But you at least can be brought back, made new. To see new life again.”

I opened the door to let the first of the contractors in.

“Let the renovations begin.”

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Image courtesy of Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed and taken from Wiki Commons
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Written for the Light and Shade Challenge for Friday 29th of August 2014.

Report

Progress report: Cycle 12-18.56, Examining Agent: Number 93

Remote sensing of the implanted biomass shows that it has expanded in mass by three orders of magnitude since initial seeding. From observations it may be concluded that cellular differentiation has already occurred and we predict adaptive complex structures to form in approximately 0.2 millicycles. Based on experience contact with native intelligent lifeforms should commence at that time.

An additional report shall be made at the first death amongst the humans.

WILD LIFE

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Madison Woods

Written for Friday Fictioners.

The Mandate of Heaven

Shung Yu, the warlord, marched into the throne room, the blood of his defeated rival still splattered on his torn tunic. He climbed the steps towards the ornate throne and before he sat down, turned towards the frightened courtiers waiting in the eaves.

“I Shung Yu, have defeated your emperor in open combat. The Mandate of Heaven has passed to me. I am now your emperor. My word is law.”

One of the mean looking bodyguards raised his sword over his head and shouted “Long live the emperor!”

The rest of the soldiers did the same and the attendants, concubines, and other courtiers all went to their knees in suplication.

Shung Yu then sat down and thought for a second. He looked like he made a decision and addressed the room.

“These clothes are not suitable for an emperor. Get me something nice. Something red.”

But before anything happened there was a whoosh! And a tall, thin man in silk robes stood right beside him.

“Who are you?”

“Lord Wu! Your Chancellor my Lord. I am afraid you cannot wear red today.”

The new emperor was taken aback.

“What do you mean? Answer me!”

“I’m sorry my Lord. But the Gods write with stars, the stars are read by the astrologers and the astrologers tell me that the Gods decree that you cannot wear Red on a day of the new moon.”

“Are you serious! That is madness.”

“That is the Mandate of Heaven, that is how you keep your throne.”

Shung Yu was about to do something drastic when he thought better of it and acceded to Lord Wu.

“Very well. Whatever the Gods say.”

Several hours later, the emperor, in a nice green number, was listening to the fifth delegation from the city pledging eternal loyalty when he waved the supplicants quiet and said.

“I am hungry. Fetch me some roast horse meat.”

Whoosh! Lord Wu was beside him

“What now?”

“My Lord! The Gods control the birds, the birds are read by the augers and the augers tell me the Gods decree you should not eat the meat of a hoofed animal before sundown. You must do so in order too…”

“Yes! Yes! I know! Keep the mandate of heaven. Very well. Is chicken acceptable?”

The sun set and Shung Yu prepared to retire for bed. His predecessor has one of the largest harems in world and he looked at the long line of beauties before him, each more beautiful than the last. His eyes passed from girl to girl until his eyes settled on.

“You”

Whoosh!

Without looking Shung Yu swung his sword behind his back. Cutting Lord Wu in two. He looked back, seeing the chancellor’s face just as the life was going from his eyes.

“Your rules are beginning to annoy me.”

From then on Shung Yu ruled without considering the mandate from heaven, doing whatever he wanted.

He ruled long and successfully and very, very, contentedly.

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Image in the Public Domain and courtesy of Wiki Commons
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Written for The Light and Shade Challenge for Monday the 25th August 2014.

Dream Direction

Philip liked to dream. In dreams he had control. In dreams things made sense, at least when he was in them. In dreams all the unpalatable, misunderstood misfortunes that so plagued him were meaningless and he could tick his way through the lists of possibility, wherever that may take him.

He was free.

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Image by Ed Webster and sourced from Wiki Commons under Creative Commons
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Written for The Light And Shade Challenge for Friday 22nd August 2014

Hidden In Plain Sight

The door of the office opened.

“Good morning Minister!”

It was a young aide, weighed down with a pile of newspapers.

“Morning Humphrey. Is there anything there about what happened?”

“I can’t say. I didn’t find something immediately if that is what you mean. But it needs a closer look.”

“Ah! Alright! Lay them down on my desk and we’ll have a look.”

He glanced at the first headline

Foreign Footballer In Phenomenal Fight With Feisty Femme Fatal

“No that is not it.”

Bailed out Bankers Back Bungling Builders

“Not it either.”

Sexy Starlet Sleeps with Serving Soldiers

“Still not.”

Pompous Politicos in PC Pairings

“Still not it”

When they were done with the headlines they then checked the page twos, then threes and eventually, after several hours, the rest of the newspapers. It was Humphrey who finally found it.

“Minister! Here it is.”

Investigative Journalist found dead. Suspected suicide.

Humphrey read some of the article

“He had claimed to be working on something important and it is believed that the strain and lack of concrete leads that he had complained about had gotten to much for him.”

The minister had a grim smile to his face.

“You see Humphrey, I knew I shouldn’t have worried. As long as you keep the masses entertained you can hide the worse you do in plain sight and no one will notice.”

“Yes Minister. Of course Minister.”

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Lyssa Medana
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Written for the Light and Shade Challenge for Monday 18th August 2014

Picture it and Write: Gifts From the Sea

He there! This is my Offering for This week’s Picture it and write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway, Enjoy!

Gifts From The Sea

In West Coast of Hamdor, near the village of Greytown, the locals have a strange custom. Whenever there is a large storm at sea the stay awake, in each other’s houses and in the inns and public houses, drinking and singing until all hours. When asked about this strange custom they say that they are asking the gods for gifts from the sea and offering drinks and merriment in payment.

The next morning, after the storm had abate, and though usually all severely hungover, the entire population makes their way down to the long, sandy beach in swimming clothes and beach wear. Some of them walk along a beach collecting up any wood or other pieces of debris that has been washed up in the night. Others wade out into the water looking for anything that may be floating and sea creature that had been disorientated and rendered vulnerable by the storm.

Most times, the beach combers use the wood they find to light fires on which they cook any seafood the swimmers find, and everyone thanks the gods for the gifts the storm has brought.

Often enough however, there is a ship caught in the storm, and with the violence of the waves, it is wrought asunder, and its cargo splits into the sea.The next morning, the denizens of Greytown will find the beach and waves littered with all kinds of valuable goods and equipment. They make short work of whatever is there, Greytown’s economy it appears is made on such misfortune, they trade these cut-priced wares throughout Hamdor. 

The bodies of missing sailors are often found there too. They are treated with reverence, buried in special plots of unknown unfortunates, and toasts said in their honour in the evening barbecue on the beach.

These niceties are required it is said for they keep the gods happy and it is through the grace of the gods that storms happen. Without them, the people of Greytown would have very much less than they do now, for the gifts from the sea would no longer come, and a unique part of the world, though built on sorrow yet good it its own way would no longer be,

picture-it-write

Misbehaving

James, effects artist extraordinaire, was hours setting up the equipment on for the big storm scene in the place they told him. There were flash bulbs, speakers, and industrial fans, all very heavy.

On queue he turned all his machinery, the lightning flashed, the wind blew, and the thunder crashed. There was a cry from the window and a head stuck out

“No wind from the left! Prince Harry’s papers have been blown all over. Put it somewhere else please!”

And he did. But not before turning it to full blast for a second.

Sometimes you just need to misbehave.  

Image courtesy of the British Library and taken from page 115 of ‘A round of days described in original poems

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Written for the light and Shade Challenge of Friday August 15th 2014

Peace Talks

Susan walked along the chairs, placing nametags on each one. John looked at her imploringly. He did not like where they were going. Some of the parties being placed together were pretty cool, if they were together for longer than an hour there would bound to be war, it was not a risk he wanted to keep.

Susan persisted however. Instead of spending hours trying to decide who goes with who, her system would have the benefit of being essentially beyond her control. If there were complaints about who was with whom, Susan need only point out that that was how the names came out and they need not blame her more than blame fate.

It might just work, thought John, in the alphabetical order that Susan was using for the seating may lie the secret to the peace that had so far eluded them.

Their wedding reception may yet go without a hitch.

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Image courtesy of the Wiki collection of Commons Images
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Written for the Light and Shade Challenge for August 11th 2014.

Picture it and write: Leavings

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write for Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway enjoy.

Leavings

Contrary to many popular beliefs, when the gods curse you the curse is eternal, lasting forever, as do you, in your misery for all time.

This is what happened to Medusa. She was once a mortal woman, possessing such beauty that Poseidon took her in the temple of Athena. Outraged by this grave sacrilege, the goddess transformed the maiden into a monster so horrible that to look upon her was to turn a man to stone. With her once beautiful hair was changed to venomous snakes, and unable to look again on any man, Medusa was forced to hide away, where no wise man would dare to look.

Of course, there are many men who are not that wise in the world and a lot of them decided to try their luck against the horrible gorgon and they all ended up as life-like statues in Medusa’s backyard. She developed a reputation for being unbeatable and for that reason there was almost a steady stream of would be heroes who beat a track to her door and who all met the same fate.

That was until Perseus came along who, with a little help from the gods, managed to cut poor Medusa’s head off and take it away with him to have a little fun. But that was not the end of her tale.

For you see; Medusa was cursed forever, and though her body was vulnerable to swords and the like, it did not die, and in the end when Perseus was done playing with her head and handed it to Athena. The Goddess brought it back to Medusa who stuck it back on without difficulty.

Needless to say; with Perseus claiming the credit for her demise the queue of heroes quickly dried up. But that was ok. Medusa only wanted to be alone anyway. And save for the occasional unlucky lost traveler, few met their fate by her face.

Time passed and even Athena in her vengeance mellowed a bit, she provided Medusa with magic enough to conceal her true features amongst the world of men. She was able to rejoin society, in a fashion, and live like she once had. But a curse is still a curse and a Goddess’ vengeance is never fully spent.

Whenever Medusa, got emotional, angry, scared, or most tragically, filled with passion, the magic could no longer hide her true form. Many an impassioned suitor ended up a shocked statue,  as did burglars, jealous neighbours and one particularly insistent Jehovah’s Witness. Medusa, though protected from assault by heroes, was left truly alone in life, more truly cursed than ever.

And she also had to deal with the leavings. Even in this logical modern age, people would ask questions if they saw a new life-like statue of their neighbour in the backyard the very day they went missing. Medusa got good at burying them, fast and effectively. And should a given piece of ground, the immortal never get too attached to property, she would just move on.

So; if you are out digging a patio one Summer’s day and you happen to find buried in the Earth a statue of unparalleled accuracy. Do not be troubled. Just know that a woman of great misfortune had once lived there. A woman who through no fault of her own joined that most hopeless fraternity.

Those cursed by the Gods.

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