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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Writing challenge

Over at the Absolute Write Sci-Fi Forum there is a monthly challenge to write a scene (around 1,000 words) based on given topics. One of July's topics was "blood spell" so I wrote up the following just to see if I could do it.


Blood spells were rare. So rare in fact that most of the literature was no longer available either in hardcopy or online. Still, Naila remembered the words her M'dear had spoken on nights of moons and harvests, when the will-o-wisp hovered over Hangman's marsh casting a ghoulish pale that lit the darkness. That lit the way for her and M'dear, her grandmother, those nights ago as they walked toward the bog and M'dear told tales of the Meades, Naila's bloodline.

Witch. Sorceress. Nacromancer. These were words seared into her brain, her blood. Words considered archaic now, even somewhat pedestrian in a world where technology had opened paths to other worlds, to other dimensions. What was the need of old-timey religious beliefs when the gods had been proven passé?

Tonight, as Naila rediscovered the old path M'dear walked once upon a time, once upon a way, the bodies of lichens and other grasses crushed beneath her feet, sending up long remembered smells. Familiar odors that comforted. Her destination, her destiny, was only a few feet ahead – if she'd remembered correctly.

The pitch of the night was punctuated by the pinpoint flames of fireflies and her own aura, activated and set at mid-beam. The aura not only projected light but enveloped her with a shield that protected against unseen predators. Snake bites were common to the folk around here. Folk who did not venture to the city where the grown Naila now lived and worked. At least, until several days ago. The convo between her and Madley Humes played out like a holopic in her head. Like a glitch that rewound over and over.

"Naila, your numbers have been extraordinary. Out of this world, in fact. Pun intended."

He'd laughed sheepishly at his lame joke.

"The project has stalled and we just do not have a continued place for a spatial analyst right now. You see where I'm going with this? We overestimated the FEM rates, coming in much lower than anticipated."

FEM was the acronym for Frequency Equivalency Metrics which measured the gamma, alpha and various waves emanating from recently discovered planets, worm holes and universes. This latest universe discovery was believed to contain thousands of planets and billions of stars. Most important, there were signs of life. Or so they'd thought. In the end, the numbers had been wrong. Her numbers in particular. Or so she'd thought.

If she hadn't run into Davis on her last day, after she'd packed up her desk and microboxed her items into the 1x4 capsule, she'd never known the truth. That her numbers had been dead on. That Madley had lied. Had re-diverted credit from her work to his own stats. And stupidly, she'd allowed him to have all of the data so that she had nothing to verify her claim since her contributions were to have been on the hush. She'd allowed this arrangement based on some tacit agreement that she would be allowed full involvement with more important future assignments. But Madley had obviously been less than forthcoming.

The sounds were deep here in the swamp, lyrics in a symphonic composition – hissing toads, chirping crickets, other nocturnal fauna who cried out to one another. Who warned each other that a human was in their midst. Eons ago, and even now, the belief was that animals, insects and other non-humes communicated on a basic level, evincing nothing more important than messages about food, mating and danger. M'dear had long ago taught her that this was not particularly so.

M'dear had also taught her the language of the earth. Something left over from the old ways, now supplanted by technological advances.

"Neeeeee…." a toad yelled out to her. One word. "Human."

She answered with a collection of clicks created by her tongue hitting the roof of her mouth. This was followed by a series of vocal vibratos that told her tale to the animals, the insects, the non-humes.

In the end, an alligator gave up the missing piece of her puzzle. It fit nicely with the words from her M'dear that was filed away into her memories.

M'dear had warned her to never believe that the humans ran this world.

"We're here by their graciousness. Y'see the Bible had it all wrong. Man was not the ultimate creation. He was nothing more than just a thread in the fabric. We've allowed our egos to rewrite history, to push our way up the hierarchy. And now we have the nerve to believe that we are the captains of this universe. Truly, though, if the animals were ever to rise up and reclaim what is theirs, humans would not be long for this earth. Just the numbers alone would put us at a disadvantage."

M'dear had been considered a relic from the past. But in reality, even as she'd held on to the beliefs of the ancients, she'd been efficiently self-taught in the sciences, old and new. M'dear had been smarter than most. Even about death. Especially about death.

M'dear hadn't died per se. She'd merely transitioned into another form. A form that now gave her the missing piece. The alligator smile told much. Maybe certain religious tenets would have her believe that her grandmother had been demoted somehow. But she knew the truth. M'dear was part of the ultimate creation now. Heaven existed only for those who did not know the truth. Who refused to believe.

Blood spells were tricky. The spill of human blood had only so much strength. But when soaked up into the mire, when added with the mucus of…say…a frog…or the sputum of a gator…the droppings of several marsh birds…well that blood had the power of creation.

And creation could always destroy.

And Madley Humes would soon discover that all the technological strides in this universe – and beyond - were no match against the ancient, the old-timey beliefs of this world.

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