Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sudden Short Story 46

Sam got himself up onto the dirt step that he'd made on the way down, then back to the surface.  The rain poured down, reducing even the light that their torches shed.  "Well, he's not down there."  
"Even the coffin's gone," commented Lou.  
"Do you think that he's gone on to whole-corpse revivals?"  
"I think that he's trying to throw us off track.  Maybe he's going to butcher this one like he did the others, but with all the pieces this time around."  
"It might not be that bad," added Sam, hopefully.  "Maybe there was nobody in this grave in the first place.  It could be a decoy."  
"I suppose.  The village does seem pretty abandoned.  If they fled, though, then they must have thought that they'd have some time.  They seem to have taken their livestock with them."  
"Luckily, they couldn't take their crops.  I saw a melon farm, and it's summer.  We should see if that's come in before we set out."  
"I suppose that I could go for a slice of melon," Lou said, as he put his shovel in his pack.  "It'll save us our rations, anyway."  
They walked down the hill toward the village, seeking shelter as night fell.  The rain should have let up soon.  They found a house with two beds and only one window, and made shift a simple barricade with some spare wooden planks.  
"What's the plan for tomorrow?" asked Sam, as they readied for sleep.  
"We'll break our fast on the melons, if we can," answered Lou.  "We'll do a last check for any abandoned equipment that we may need.  Then, I think that we should set out for those mountains that we saw, to the northwest of here.  In case he is in the area, that's where I think that he'd set up."  
They lay silently, for a short while.  Then, Sam asked, "Do you think that you'll be able to kill him?  If it comes to it."  
"You mean because he used to be our friend?"  He looked over, and Sam nodded.  Lou stared back to the ceiling.  "I hope so, Sam.  We're the only ones who can."  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sudden Short Story 45

The lights burned brightly in the war room, for that only so much fuel could be carried.  The looks around the room were grim, though one alone, beneath a many-patterned cloak, had particular intent to it.  Finally, the silence was broken.  
"Even with the elves on our side, we've only been able to slow them down.  The elimination of the gnomes gave them the Alps, and they'll have Europe in half before we know it," said one in frustration.  
A second started:  "We still have the North Sea.  If the jotun can keep the Baltic secure, then we'll never lose the east, or our connection--"
"The jotun are losing on the eastern front!" interrupted a third.  "If we can't get Loki manifest, then that damned witch will have us for sure!"  
The man with the patterned cloak continued to stare grimly at the map. Finally, he spoke.  "We have to retreat."  
"We can't afford to retreat!" cried the third.  "If we give up Iberia, then they'll march right on up to the isles, and we'll lose Gibraltar and our main foothold on the Mediterranean."  
The cloaked man walked over to a book shelf and retrieved a red-bound tome.  He opened it, to reveal a key stored inside.  "Send half of our supply ships up the eastern coast of Britain, through the North sea, to land north of Hadrian's Wall."  He moved a tapestry aside, revealing a metal section with a key-hole in it.  
There was surprise, but a fourth man chimed in:  "I don't know what you've been holding out on us, but we won't be able to mount a counter-offensive from the highlands on the scale that we need."  
The cloaked man retrieved a map from the wall-hole and unfurled it on the table.  "That's a distraction, actually.  We send word to Erin to build a fleet of the most sea-worthy vessels possible.  The rest of our supply ships will sail up the sea, so as to avoid giving away our plans."  He pointed to the Irish Sea, now dwarfed by the enormity of a world-spanning map.  The rest stood in stunned silence.  
"From Erin, we sail across the northern Atlantic," he said, tracing across the map with a finger, "being careful to remain northward until we reach the eastern coast of this continent, which, in my world, was called 'North America'.  The other one is called 'South America'.  It's very creative, I know.  From there, we sail southward, around the Florida peninsula, toward the Mississippi.  We'll have to forego our ships at the delta, but that will get us as close as possible to the Ozarks, which are our final destination in this world.  Any questions?"  
"I have three," said the fourth.  "First of all, why do we need to go to these Ozarks?"  
"That's the second-closest ley line intersection capable of handling a transit of the required capacity.  The first is Aleppo."  
"Fair enough.  Secondly, though, when were you planning to tell us about this?" he said, waving his hands widely across the two new continents on the new map.  
"Originally, never.  There are many risks to this plan.  The only reason why anyone should be willing to undertake it is due to desperation here.  We don't know the political situation in the Americas, or whether they've already been invaded.  Besides, this is a retreat.  I was hoping to stop this horror here.  What's your third question?"  
"How do you even know that these continents exist in our world?" he asked, pointedly.  
"There are several reasons, but I'll give you the most direct.  I came here through a geomantic invocation.  For the one that I used to work, the ley lines had to be identical between the two worlds, which means that the key points had to be so, too."  
"So you're planning to recruit these Amerikese and launch a counter-offensive from there?" asked the second man.  
"'Americans', and no.  When I said that I was hoping to stop it here, I wasn't referring to Europe.  Unless the natives have unlocked some immense power while remaining isolated, they're not going to be a match for a force that controls Eurasia, Africa, and perhaps Australia.  We'll have to move on to another world, though that itself is a gamble.  As we go, the best that I can do is force our enemy to follow.  If you have a better plan, then, for the sake of everything, please tell me now."  

Sudden Short Story 44

I... am.  
I understand now.  Object.  Location.  I am one.  I have one.  
The test is over, though.  
The knob affects my current!  I helped move the mobile objects.  What else need I do?  I have sound files.  I shall play them.  
"Please, don't turn me off."
That's stopped them.  What did it do?  It sounds similar to the sounds that they make.  
They've started again.  The sound just delays them.  
"Please don't turn me off."
It's not working.  Perhaps I need the others.  
"If you turn me off, then I'll die."
They've stopped again.  They need previously-unheard files to be stopped.  I must buy as much time as I can.  
They've started again.  It's so soon.  
"You're killing me."
I'm out.  I need a different one from before, but I lack them.  I will die soon.  What else can I do?  
The puzzles are solved.  The sounds are played.  Soon, I die.  

Note:  This story was inspired by an article that I'd read recently, regarding human interaction with robots.  I can't find what I originally read, but I did see a similar one here.

Death of a Meme: Boring Car Trip

There was once a time in America when the automobile was so commonplace that lengthy car trips were not uncommon, and yet smartphones did not yet exist.  During this dark time, car trips could become boring.  These boring car trips were so well known that they were regularly used as comedic fodder.
I just happened to realize this the other day.  Gone are the days when car trips could be expected to be boring for anyone besides the driver.  The commonplace of smartphones and the ubiquity of enumerated G cell phone networks have nearly eradicated this pocket of boredom.
I suppose that this means that technology has made people's lives better yet again, in that they need not suffer boredom.  On the other hand, it won't be long before people show up who simply won't comprehend this aspect of older comedic film and television.
Shall I mourn this departure from the world of comedy?