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Featured Stories, Week of April 15, 2018: "DAY ONE" and "HARRINGTON: ESCAPE FROM KOOP

Each week we feature a story written by one or two of our group members at one of our meetings. For this week's featured stories, the group was given a scenario to put one of their pre-existing characters into, to better explore characters we are working on. We had 20 minutes to write.


By Susan Lee

Prompt: Your character is on the first day of their hero's journey and they encounter woodland animals who can talk. What do they do?

Bastian Matthews sat on a rock, his face lifted to the sky. He loved the feel of the sun on his face after all the decades of living underground. He also loved the silence of the woods, since his life had been so filled with noise and sound.

He had been talking with God in his usual morning ritual. Matthews didn't really think of it as praying. To him, it was a conversation because he was sure he heard God's side of the dialogue, whether or not anybody else did.

This morning, Matthews spent a little more time in conversation with the Big Guy because he knew he had a lot to face today. He wanted to get as much support before he took the first step.

"So," Matthews spoke out loud to the entity, thinking sometimes that helped make the communication better, "I thank you for your profound word and for your guidance. I will bring all the praise to you, God."

Matthews felt something brush against his foot. He opened one eye and looked down to see a chipmunk sitting near his shoe. He thought the chipmunk waved at him but he couldn't be sure, so Matthew closed his eye and returned to his prior conversation.

"I trust you to guide me and to lead my footsteps..."

Again, the tap on the foot. This time, Matthews opened both eyes. And, yes, the chipmunk was indeed waving at him. Intrigued, Matthews leaned down to the little guy.

"Yes?" he asked, since it seemed the polite thing to do.

"Ummm..." the chipmunk began, "who you talking to, dude?"

Matthews thought it was interesting that the chipmunk used "dude" but figured maybe it was a casual sort of creature, so "dude" would make sense.

"Talking with the Almighty," Matthews responded, pointing to the sky.The chipmunk gazed skyward, frowning a bit.

"You mean Gus?" the chipmunk asked, puzzled. Then the chipmunk put his little chipmunk hands around his little chipmunk mouth and bellowed up to the sky. "Hey, Gus! You up there?"

Before Matthews could say anything, another little chipmunk stuck his head out of the tree above.

"Yeah, I'm up," Gus the chipmunk grumbled. "What's all the noise down there?"

Matthews stood up, speaking up to Gus. "I am a preacher and have come to commune with God this morning. I'm so sorry to have disturbed you both."

Matthews started to walk away but changed his mind. It wasn't every day that one encountered such creatures and he thought it might be valuable to further engage these two.

"Do you talk to everyone who comes by?" Matthews asked of his first chipmunk friend.

"Not really," the little furry guy responded. "In fact, I don't think I've ever talked to a human before. But today, it seemed like the right thing to do."

"Interesting," Matthews replied. "I am Bastian Matthews. You are...?"

"Fernando," the chipmunk answered.

"Pleasure." Matthews considered offering his hand but wasn't sure how to go about shaking a chipmunk's hand. Instead, he inclined his head in respect, which the chipmunk echoed.

"Why are you here, talking to Gus?" Fernando asked, sitting down on his little chipmunk butt.

"Well, I wasn't really talking with Gus, I was talking with God."

Fernando's little eyes got very large.

"Ooooooh," the little guy whispered with deep reverence. "I didn't realize that. I knew you were special."

"Why's that?" Matthews asked.

Fernando pointed to the amulet around Matthews' neck. "That thing said so."

Matthews' hand went to the amulet, feeling it pulse and breathe. He knew that this was where his power had come from. He had found this artifact hidden deep in the underground. His parents had retreated there when religion become maligned and ridiculed by the rest of the world in the old days. He had been born into the underground world and today was the first day of his new life above ground. The power in the amulet and in the messages that had been found with it had convinced Matthews that it was time to bring God back into the light.

And this conversation with Fernando, the talking chipmunk, seemed to indicate that he was going in the right direction.

"It has been a pleasure talking with you and with Mr. Gus, but I must leave now. I want to get to the city before the sun sets. There is much to be done before sun down."

Fernando scrambled up Matthews' body until he got to his shoulder. He reached his little chipmunk hand out and gently touched the amulet, which seemed to respond to the touch.

"Be careful out there in the world," the little guy cautioned as he skittered back down. "There isn't a place for God out there. There hasn't been for a long time."

"I know," Matthews stated as he stood, gathering his long coat around him. "I plan to make a place for God again, not matter what."

The man strode off into the world, leaving Fernando and Gus hoping he could accomplish his mission.


By Erik Engman

Prompt: Your character wakes up in a foreign land. They don't know the language. How do they get home?

Harrington reluctantly opened her eyes. Her eyes rebelled and closed back up again.

What happened again last night? Starliner. Alcohol. Gambling deck. Alcohol. Altainian roulette. Alcohol. And then... alcohol. Then nothing.

So if she was still on a spaceship, why was the ground beneath her wet and slimy? She didn't go to bed with a Deltonian again, did she? They always explode into goo after sex. Sure, they ultimately reconstitute themselves. But the only thing good about that was she got to leave in the morning without all that talking stuff. And she swore she wouldn't do that again after she couldn't get that stain out of her favorite pair of flight pants. She kept thinking it was part of an eyeball and he kept looking at her butt. Gross.

But this squelchiness felt different. She forced her eyes open again. Grass and mud lay before her as far as they eye can see. A crashed escape pod smoldered a few yards from her.

Dammit. Now she was going to be late to the "Enchantment Under the Sea Monster" dance that night on the lido deck.

She scavenged the escape capsule for nothing that could help her get off this rock. She saw a button marked "emergencies." She pressed it.

**Thank you! Your emergency has been noted in the flight log. Have a good day!**

Useless piece of junk. All she wanted was a distress button.

She scanned the horizon and spotted smoke. Civilization, she thought. Maybe. Let's hope they at least discovered the Bronze Age.

After about an hour she came to a small village. Maybe the word "village" was too generous. More like a smattering of lean-to, hut like structures that have a tenuous relationship with gravity.

"Helloooooo!" Harrington called out. "Hello, anyone! Some help here!"

A blue head popped out of an opening to one of the structures. It had large eyes, small mouth and gigantic cheeks.

Her expectations sank.

The blue creature scurried out on all fours.

"Hiiiiiii, I need some help."

"Gloob, gloob," it croaked.

Harrington rolled her eyes. "Well, so much for that." She turned back to the blue thing. "Do you at least have food? You know? Fooooooooood?"

She motioned with her hands movements that resembled eating.

The thing smiled.

"Gloob, gloob!" It said, then evacuated chewed mush from it's cheeks into her open hands.

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