Sunday February 5th, 2012

The exercise:

Let's see what you can do with: the underground.

Other than going out for coffee this morning, and a Skype chat with Kat's brother's family, I have done very little today. Oh, and a bit of reading as well. Just getting started on The Hunger Games. Enjoying it thus far.


Officer Bowen watched the crowd from his tower, the rifle in his hands at the ready. On the surface all seemed to be as it should. The citizens below kept their gazes downcast; voices were hushed in the rare moments when silence did not rule; and the displays and costumes were as drab as the state regulations required.

But Bowen still felt uneasy.

It was as though he could detect an undercurrent of rebellion. Like the crowds could rise up against Bowen and his fellow officers at any moment. But surely they would not dare.

Not unless the Underground had discovered the extent of the budget cutbacks.

Officer Bowen shifted the gun in his now sweaty grip, feeling how light it was with only one bullet inside.


Greg said...

Sounds like a very pleasant day to me! I wish I got some of them :) I'm getting a haircut today. Exactly the right thing to do when the snow's started....
I like the idea that the guards are down to a bullet each due to budget cuts, that made me laugh when I reached it. This reminds me of another piece you did a couple of months ago (a continuation piece, I think) – is an idea germinating somewhere for a longer story then?

The underground
The sign at the entrance was bleakly clear,
"Abandon all hope ye who enter here."
It was guarded by a three-headed hound,
It was the doorway to the underground.

The dog looked at me with six soulful eyes,
Thinking I'd go well with a side of fries.
I panicked a moment and then went home,
Leaving Eurydice all on her own.

Orpheus set his pen down and sighed. The ballad simply wasn't long enough or interesting enough. So, the question was: did he go back and get Eurydice after all? Get the material to turn this into an epic song?
His eye lit momentarily on Apollectra as her lithe form swayed past, on her way to the river to wash clothes, and his decision was made. He'd just make stuff up and pretend he'd been trying to rescue Eurydice.

A free read said...

marc ... tense piece. thanks for the follow btw.
greg ... great take, esp the interesting mix of characters of myth and a modern idiom.


It's been a developing theme of late. A city which seemed so fresh, so innocent through my younger eyes had become tainted in later years as those same eyes became clouded over with the facts at hand. There was an underbelly to this city of my youth which seethed in a hellish state of tension, ruled by those less savoury who thought themselves necessary to the status quo. I saw it as a weakness, this underground, but they, no doubt, see it as a strength. Maybe they are right ... it still exists. As one bad batch gets caught and indicted, another takes their place.
Maybe the underground is a foundation of sorts, however shaky, to the uppercrust which stumbles along up top...

Cathryn Leigh said...

I think I shall visit my childhood fantasy home for this prompt and start fleshing out some of the magical creatures who live there. :}

The Underground

Deep down in their underground lair the Pixies worked. They weren’t dwarves, not being stocky or short and they we’re elves either as they weren’t tall and lithe. They were Pixies and about the size of a ten year old child. It was their magic that helped them find and mine precious minerals and stones, metals too. Their magic help them to craft their treasures into fine things.

Princess Christalina didn’t know it, but her coronet had been crafter by them to be worn by the first Princess of Rainbow Island. There were a lot of things Christalina didn’t know. But that never stopped her from going bravely forward into the cave.

“Come on guys,” she called back to her four companions. “What’s the worst a Pixie could do?”

She lit her torch and continued down the tunnel oblivious to the watching eyes of the bats above. The Unicorn shook his head as the two boys went before him.

“Oh trap us inside the rocks...” the Unicorn muttered darkly.

“Would they dare do that to the Princess?” The girl who walked beside him whispered.

morganna said...

'Neath the ground you
Will find critters of all
Shapes and sizes -- worms and beetles,
Centipedes, nematodes, pill bugs, and more
All living together in a
Thriving community
Down underneath
Our feet.

Greg said...

@A free read: I like the grittiness of your piece, and the almost stream-of-conciousness writing you've got going on there. The narrator feels like they're building up to something. Great work!

@Cathryn: your story finishes too abruptly! The sudden swing from the child-like narration of the first paragraphs to the hints of darkness at the end needs a little something else to soften the blow for us poor readers. Even if it's just the Princess turning back and encouraging her entourage on :)
Your Pixies sound interesting though, and the comparison with the dwarves makes me wonder how else they differ, which draws me further in.

@Morgana: A very neatly done poem, with some lovely splits across the lines to prompt the eye and make the brain stop and think about how the words come together to make new meanings. I know it's going to sound a little weird, but the nematodes don't really work for me because everything else in the poem is so much better known. Perhaps 'millipedes' instead, to give you a rhythmic lead-in to pill-bugs?

Yeah, I know I don't normally manage to comment, but I found time today! Yay me!

Krystin Scott said...

A deep rumble grew in Darien’s chest. His face was contorted by fury and fire burned in his ever vigilant eyes. Curling lips displayed two rows of enormous yellow teeth only seconds before he turned on Oliana.

“Insolent Human! You will pay dearly for your arrogance.” Darien howled.

Oliana shrieked, “I am a Mage, a Mage! You over grown, mangy, green, flea-bag!

Kaelan saw her right hand dive into her cloak and begin its desperate search for the wand she kept hidden within. He growled angrily allowing bulbous drops of saliva to fall from his lips, shaming the now drenched Lord Darslan even further.

Momentarily forgetting Seth Kaelan attempted to move; intent on assisting his brother in his upcoming battle. But Seth allowed the delight of his new found freedom to cloud his judgment; his flurry of movements attracted Kaelan’s attention. A huge paw shot out and smacked the fleeing Seth into the nearby stone wall, where he crumpled and unceremoniously fell in a heap on the floor.

Lysandra came to his aid, he was alive. Quick painful breaths escaped Seth’s mouth and nose and a steady stream of blood leaked from where his head made contact with the wall. The air was knocked out of him certainly, but he would live, the damage was not as bad as she’d expected.

Hearing the commotion from the courtyard, Zamira sent out a tendril of empathic power. The Great Hall was in chaos, a mixture of despair, fear, anger and immense hatred. With out taking down the walls and possibly crushing them all to death there was little she could do. She opted for the one thing she thought might help.

Zamira entered their minds and roared. Those in the Great Hall covered their ears to no avail and fell to their knees willing the sound to cease. She scolded them for their prejudices, but she soon fell silent.
When they rose to their feet the courtiers noticed the transparent form of Orion La Geor floating in the center of the room.

“The Eternal Life Belt has been dismantled and the Elemental Stones it once contained have been stolen. Without the stones, the abbey is helpless. We can not control the forces of this world. Soon the elements will turn their wrath upon the lands and once all life is decimated, our tiny planet will simply blink out and cease to exist.” Orion continued in his emotionless monotone voice.

“The Elemental Stones are strongest in their place of origin. The first, The Earth Stone is believed to be hidden in the underground caverns of the Traligill Caves. You must save our world. You have been summoned here to complete that task. You must put aside your differences. Each of you has a unique ability, not possessed by the others. You will require them all if you wish to be successful. Throughout your journey to restore the Elemental Stones others will seek to join your cause, be mindful of your decisions.”

Orion turned to face Lysandra. “The Cu Sith know the way to the Traligill Caves. They will act as your guide. You must ask Zamira to carry them to the cave entrance. Then once inside use their ability to see in the dark to your advantage. Allow them to freely navigate the tunnels of the underground but stay together or all is lost.” With his instructions given the ghostly form of the High Priest vanished before their eyes.

Anonymous said...

Water dripped from the ceiling intermittently and made muted splashes on the concrete floor.

Although it was quite cool Klaus wiped sweat from his forehead with one hand while keeping the machine-gun resting on his thigh. His grey woollen uniform was grimy from scrambling through small openings and dark passages that wound their way, seemingly endlessly, before him.

A short distance back he had passed one of the rare grates he had encountered that led to the streets above and judging from the dull light that had filtered down it was overcast again. As he brought his hand down to take up the weapon again a rumbling overhead grew louder and louder and eventually the walls and ceiling began to shake. The muffled sound of armour moving overhead shuddered into the darkness accompanied by the patter and crunch of debris falling from the ceiling.

Klaus fought a wave of panic which he understood at some level was ridiculous. It wasn't like they were going to sense him here, meters under the surface.Still, just the proximity of those tanks and half-tracks, from the sound of them, sent an involuntary shudder down his spine. It wasn't all that long before the vehicles above moved off into the distance leaving him, once again, in the cool, quiet, damp darkness.

Klaus pushed himself to his feet once more and thumbed his torch on. He needed to find the underground and soon, the information he had they needed.

Marc said...

Greg - I'd actually forgotten that continuation piece. So, I guess the answer is: not consciously :)

Orpheus strikes me as a wise man :)

Free Read - you're welcome (Writebite, I assume?).

Interesting concluding take on the underground, and there were some nice turns of phrases in there as well.

Cathryn - enjoyable scene, though I have to agree with Greg that it ends a touch too soon.

Morganna - very nicely put together. There's a whole world down there, isn't there?

Greg (again) - Hurray! Now you just have to find time to reply to my email :P

Krystin - fascinating scene. I found it a little hard to remember who was who, but I imagine reading all the bits of your story all together would solve that.

GZ - great, tense scene. Excellent descriptions and atmosphere really brought it to life for me.

Anonymous said...

marc, yep, that's me :)

Anonymous said...

greg, cheers!

Krystin Scott said...

Oi! I didn't think about that. I imagine it is getting a bit difficult. Funny thou, the whole story was created from your prompts. Isn't it? I shall keep it for Protag and try to introduce you to someone new today.

Cathryn Leigh said...

Sorry for the abrupt ending Marc and greg. It was written early int he morning and the alarm saying it's time to get the rest of the house was going to go off soon and I didn't really know what last line I was going to give... though it was probably along the lines of:

"Let's hope not," The Unicorn sighed.

*giggles* bit differnt from my usual light and airy stuff... :}

Marc said...

Krystin - I don't mind you sharing the gang with us here in the least! I quite enjoy those scenes.

But perhaps a hint here and there as to who everybody is would be helpful?

Cathryn - nothing to apologize for, we're all just practicing here :)