Sunday December 2nd, 2012

The exercise:

We haven't done the first line prompt in a while. Have we? Hold on, let me check.

October 3rd was the last time. That seems like a reasonable amount of time between uses.

So! The first line prompt it is. We all get the same opening line, then each of us takes it wherever we wish. Poetry, prose, whatever.

Here's our line: The children's safe haven was underground, in the winding tunnels that lurked beneath the city.

Ran out of decking, so until we get more we'll have about a four foot gap between the front section and side section of the deck. I imagine Greg will suggest to leave it as is, perhaps even cover it with sticks and leaves to turn it into a trap for unwanted visitors.


The children's safe haven was underground, in the winding tunnels that lurked beneath the city. It was only there that they felt safe. It was there that they could retreat to when the situation above ground became too dangerous. It was there that they hid from the Sunwalkers, each advance countered by a hasty withdrawal.

At first the combination of the stench of sewage and the lack of light caused them to linger near openings to the surface. The Sunwalkers did not take long to figure this out, and so the children retreated deeper.

Each child carries a map of the tunnels so that they may find their way back to the city streets, once it is safe to do so. Every intersection has been labelled in their secret code, so that no tiny foot should suffer a misstep.

No Sunwalker has ever held an accurate map in his hands, though they have discovered a multitude of inaccurate ones. The tunnels echo with laughter each time a Sunwalker is foolish enough to believe he has found a misplaced diagram. Most of them never see the sky again. It has reached the point now that they wouldn't trust an authentic map if one did fall into their clutches.

The Sunwalkers are aware of this. Meetings are being held, plans put in place. They know that if they can navigate the tunnels the children will have no hope of survival. They are intent on finding a solution and will not rest until they have one.

The children are equally aware of all this. So they watch. And they wait. And they make plans of their own.

And so the dance continues.


Greg said...

Sounds like you've got plenty of ideas of your own for the decking's gap. I would just have suggested a sign pointing into the gap reading "Here be Dragons" :)
I will stand in admiration of anyone who can turn an opening line that long into a (good) poem.
Your sunwalkers and the children they hate are rather interesting. I like the way the children have developed their own defences, playing on the Sunwalkers expectations!

The children's safe haven was underground, in the winding tunnels that lurked beneath the city. They had been dug out by the adults, who had been hunting for the Molemen. Sadly, when they found them the Molemen had hunted the adults in turn, and proved much more successful at it. For whatever reason, and none of the children knew it, the Molemen left the children alone.
Brassica, a little girl aged 7 who still cried herself to sleep missing her mother every night, was sat in the control room. The adults had built many systems to make the tunnels as safe as possible, and although they were slowly failing, the children continued to use them and hope that they would eventually be able to fix them. The computer screens in front of her were all working after she'd spent half-an-hour unplugging them and re-arranging them. She looked at the screens, and pondered the commands that the computer said were available to her.
"Ar-gon flood for e-vac-u-at-ion tunnel B?" she said, sounding out the words in front of her. "What does that mean?" Her fingers hovered on the keyboard as she tried to decide whether she should just tap it in and see what happened.

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

This is reminding me immensely of the series Tunnels I started last year. I've only read the first book, and it took a little time to get things set up, but once it started rolling it would not--and did not--stop. It's weird and claustrophobic and frustrating and awesome.

So yeah.

Also, I couldn't figure out how to end this one, but it's something.
- - - - - - - - - - -
"The children's safe haven was underground, in the winding tunnels that lurk beneath the city---"

"I'll stop you there, Martin. One, I thought I told you to cut the frilly chatter, and two, how come was?"

"Yes ma'am. The was was on purpose, ma'am. We scouted the area like to you told us, and there was evidence that they definitely were there, but it looked to be abandoned for some time."

"I take it you found an entrance, then?"

"Yes ma'am, we did. In a back corner of the library archives there's a hatch, like a submarine hatch. The ladder there led to a chamber going into the main tunnels---"

"And what were these tunnels for?"

"No one really knows for certain, ma'am. The most plausible guess is access to the sewer pipes, but that wouldn't explain why the system's so extensive, and they were there long before the oldest pipes were laid two hundred years ago."

"So what of the chamber?"

"Storage, probably, and shelters. But something happened to scare them off, or something, it's impossible to tell."

"Nothing's impossible, Martin. Where could they've gone, into the tunnels?"

"No ma'am, that part of the tunnels are sealed off. In one of the walls, though, there was a rather slap-dash hole, wide enough for a kid of about ten or eleven to get through. Of course none of us could fit---"

"Did you bother looking?"

"Of course, ma'am, we all had goes of sticking our heads in the hole and looking around with the NocBinocs, but it curves around too much to see anything. If I may be so bold as to suggest something---"

"A suggestion from Capt. Simon Martin? By all means, suggest."

"What about sending one of the robots down? I would've done it myself, but of course you have exclusive access to robotics controls, ma'am. Surely there's something small enough in storage that could get through. It could be a lure as well, I suppose. I mean, some kids quite like robots, some of the older ones probably had a small one as a companion when they were smaller."

"Alright Martin, let's give this plan of yours a try. Let's go see if we can't find something suitable in storage."

morganna said...

The children's safe haven was underground, in the winding tunnels that lurked beneath the city. Whenever the robot alarms sounded, the children would hurry to the manhole covers and the sewer gratings, like Pied Piper was calling them. And they would huddle in their dark, insulated room, while aboveground their parents battled the robots. They always feared the day when the all-clear wouldn't sound. Or worse, the day a robot sounded it.

Anonymous said...

The children's safe haven was underground, in the winding tunnels that lurked beneath the city. Where the subways loaded and unloaded the drones and the clones, so much less dangerous while in transit than when they were in their domains telling these kids how to look, how to act, and who to love. This is their freedom – hunkered down and disengaged.

Marc said...

Greg - ah, yes, I suppose that would be a challenging poem starter. I wrote the intro before I came up with the line, so that's my excuse for that.

Fascinating scenario you've come up with there. I could see a lot of fun being had with that one.

g2 - I like your access hatch being in the library archives. That appeals to me immensely.

And now I'm curious to find out if the robot manages to discover anything useful!

Morganna - love that you managed to pack so much into such a small space. Great setting and atmosphere.

I reckon I wouldn't want the robots to sound the all-clear either.

Anonymous - intriguing setting you've got there. Sounds like something I'd enjoy seeing expanded and explored :)