M.O. Round 5 - Gabriel Thomson vs. Leda Kat . . Link to the MocOlympics homepage
Link to the round 5 entry of my extremely talented opposite number, Leda Kat: The Day the Canary Died
For this round, the catagory Leda Kat and I were given was: The last word: Build us a story, any story you wish but here’s the catch...
The first line of your story MUST read:
"After the canary died the mine was shut down, but that wasn't the end, only the begining."
And the last line of your story MUST read:
"And to this day, I still cry whenever I see a mocha frappuccino."
We don't care how you get from point A to point B... just that you have the lines make sense within the story. This category will be judged on both building AND story telling.
Ok, first up, i have a confession to make - this will be my last round in the MocOlympics, as in 10 days i have to go interstate to have long overdue surgery. It's nothing serious, but it means i will be out of action for a few weeks afterward, so i am unable to continue. I always knew this was coming up, but assumed that i'd get knocked out before now. Anyway, i'm very pleased to give Leda a boost through to round 6, but as this will be my last build for a month or more, i still wanted to put up some decent competition! ;)
So when I got the category for round 5, I have to say I groaned inwardly a tiny bit. I’m not much of a writer or a storyteller, and I really wanted to go out with a bang this round. Still, I had a few ideas. I also saw it as a chance to try a change of pace – my round 3 entry was a humorous cracky fic kind of story, so I thought I would attempt something a bit more moving and dramatic. Of course, I leave it to you to judge how successful I have been!
Another note on the story: for the character of Kgarnath, i have used the pronoun "hir", as opposed to his/her. this is because Kgarnath is supposed to be of indeterminate gender, so i have stuck to gender neutral pronouns. It is a deliberate word choice, not a typo! :)
Ok, onto the story. Since I’m not allowed to begin with “Once upon a time”, or “It was a dark and stormy night”…
After the Canary died the mine was shut down, but that wasn’t the end, only the beginning. I was pulled from the wreckage of our company’s advance survey craft by the stange creatures who had shot it down and so fatally crippled it. I went screaming, trying to fight them off, but I was too weak from the blast and they were in their element. I felt my life leaving me and my eyes began to darken.
When I awoke, it took a while for me to recognise anything – it was if I was swimming through molasses in some nightmarish, sickly-sweet dream.
Once my eyes and brain began to to work together again, I began to see that I was in some kind of strange house. It was clearly very old, even ancient. It was hard to breathe, and I felt weak and strange. Bizarre humanoid creatures, like the one that had pulled me from the Canary, looked down at me from my bedside. I couldn’t seem to move my legs, and when I looked down to see what the matter was, what I saw horrified me. In the place where my legs had been, I now sported a large fishes tail! I tried to raise up, but the tenticled creature by my side restrained me with a touch of its hand.
At its touch, I suddenly felt a great wave of peace wash over me, and a depth of connection with its being that was both comforting and profoundly shocking. In the depths of my mind, I heard it speaking to me: “Lay still now. You are still weak and need time to recover. I am Kgarnath, and you have been entrusted into my care. Have no fear, in time you will recover and be strong again.”
“But my legs! Where are my legs!” my mind screamed.
“They were too badly damaged in your craft’s crash” I heard Kgarnath saying. “We had to… improvise in order to save your life, and also to ensure that you had a life worth living in Atlantis.”
A life worth living in Atlantis, I thought hazily to myself. I wasn’t quite sure what I thought about that, but thinking was beginning to feel more and more difficult anyway. I did as Kgarnath bade and slept.
In the following weeks (or was it months? Time quickly lost it’s meaning in this new, watery world) I slowly regained strength, and began to explore what my new, changed body was capable of. Kgarnath was as good as hir word, most tenderly nursing me back to health, teaching me how to breathe slowly underwater and showing me how to use my new tail to move around.
I learned that the Atlantean doctors had modeled me on the now extinct race of mermen, and had released me into Kgarnath’s care to show me the best way to intergrate myself into Atlantean society. All Atlantean’s communicated by telepathy, but in Kgarnath’s and my case the link was especially strong.
I learned much from Kgarnath of the customs of this strange new underwater world, which was now my world. I learned how thier advanced technology lived side by side with respect for the old ways.
As time went on I perceived that Kgarnath cared deeply for me, and slowly I realized that I also began to care for hir also. I no longer saw a terrifying alien visage when I looked at hir, only the familiar lines of one that I loved. I began to feel that I could no longer envisage a life without my guide and soulmate.
In due time I discovered another shock, which Kgarnath had to explain. I had been pregnant! One morning, after feeling heavier and hungrier than usual for a few weeks, I ejected a large quantity of eggs. Apparently it is common knowledge that mermen carry the eggs of their young, but still, I was disturbed that Kgarnath had not thought to warn me that this might happen. We gently gathered the eggs and placed them on the bed, nestling them in a soft blanket of seaweed. Kgarnath seemed elated, and though I tried to share hir joy, I couldn’t help but be concerned about what might hatch from them.
At last the fateful day arrived... the eggs began to hatch! Small spider like creatures, swimming and scampering around as soon as they emerged!
Our neighbours came to congratulate us on our new arrivals. Despite my misgivings, I felt almost stupidly proud of this new life that I had created, and I basked in the glow of my acceptance into Atlantean society.
Our hatchlings grew quickly, and I marvelled at how they developed. All grew new legs and arms, and some changed colour. I had assumed that I would be able to communicate with my offspring as readily as I could with Kgarnath, but here I was mistaken. Thier minds were like polished obsidean to me, closed and with no crack in thier facade that I could discern. They were alien and I grieved for I could not know them.
However, when Kgarnath told me that they would soon leave us when they were fully grown, and that this was right and natural, I was horrified! They were my children! Where would they go? Why didn't they need me, even to communicate to?
One by one they left. When the last two decided to swim away, I could no longer help myself - I followed them wanting to see where they would go. Kgarnath and I followed them to the hole that the Canary had drilled into Atlantis, it seemed all that had happened an age ago. To my surprise, the hatchlings swam into the tunnel, heading up toward the open ocean and the surface.
"Do not follow them!" warned Kgarnath. "They have thier task and thier duty, and we cannot interfere."
"What task?" I asked, surprised. "What do you mean?" But he was silent and would not tell me.
Then suddenly, I began to hear it. A dozen minds all opening at once - the hatchlings were singing! A siren call, full of love and longing, calling to all humans everywhere to return to the bosom of the sea. I was now merman, but a deep human part of me heard it, and I could not resist. I swam upward towards my children, away from my beloved.
"Come back, please! You will only find pain on the surface, and I cannot follow you beyond this point!" Kgarnath cried. But I only had ears for the terrible, beautiful singing.
I swam and swam, always following the singing, but the hatchlings swam much faster than I and eventually I lost them. The singing faded and at last died. Wearied, I made for the shore, wishing to at least find people and look upon what I had once been. I came upon a small jetty and pulled myself up onto its railings.
The jetty had a small cafe on it, but I couldn't see anyone around, despite the fact that the cafe door was wide open and food and drink still stood on the tables. In fact, I couldn't see anyone on the beach either. The whole place had an eerily desolate feeling.
Slowly it dawned on me - the people here, the one's eating this food, drinking thier coffee's, sitting on the beach - they had heard the singing too. And what would they have done? I knew, they would have followed it, just as I did. They would have swum out to sea, going as far as thier strength would take them, and then they would have surely drowned. The hatchlings - my children - were responsible for this, as was I. I contemplated the cold coffe on the table in front of me. Who sat here, sipping thier mocha frappuccino, when they heard the call? How far did they get? Was the singing still ringing in thier ears by the time they succumbed to the waves?
Since that day, I have swum all the oceans of the world, following the coasts, looking for signs that someone has survived. Surely I can't be the only person left on the planet, even if I am not exactly human any longer? Eveywhere I go the story is the same - deserted beaches, abandoned ports, ghost ships on the open ocean. I have given up hope, but still I search. And to this day, I still cry whenever I see a mocha frappuccino.
That's it folks, thanks for looking and reading! Thankyou also to all the wonderful judges and orginisers for this comp, i've had an absolute blast and i feel that it's really helped me stretch myself with my builds. Best of luck too to Leda Kat in round 6, i really hope you make it all the way! :)
Bonus shot of the "Atlantis Defence Unit" and thier vehicles. :)