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WCT - [COMPETITION OVERHAUL - NEED IDEAS] The Writing Competition Thread


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Contest Dates:
  • Submission: 12:00am UTC 1 January, 2009 - 11:59pm UTC 31 January, 2009
  • Voting: 12:00am UTC 1 February, 2009 - 11:59pm UTC 15 February, 2009
  • Judging: 12:00am UTC 16 February, 2009 - 11:59pm UTC 18 February, 2009

Basically, submissions are always open for at least the entirety of the first month of each round.

Good to see another new face around here.

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yes! it was the sig that lured me! although this is gonna be tough for me--about 99% of my writing thus far has been sexual...

Haha, that's fine; there are no real rules about whether or not your writing can be sexual. I just wrote it in the manner of a Viagra commercial, with some "expert" (someone horny, I suppose) sharing information with the audience.

"Like to write? It doesn't have to be a sexual thing, you know.."

meh lol.

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Here's my entry for freeform. I wrote it for Mephisto's project, but I'm not doing anything else with it.


By Jamil Ragland

That night, the moon was a silver cradle in the sky, turned upwards towards the heavens. Its light poured out like milk, white and pure. There were no stars, I remember that well. The only time I’d ever seen the sky so black. It drank up the moon, greedily, leaving the streets below shrouded like a funeral procession. The only light for us came from the staccato bursts of Walter’s phone, a blinking green that covered the hallway we were crouched in. I could see my sister’s face for only a moment, every few seconds. I see it even more clearly now than I did then; her long nose hanging over thin lips; fear reflected in her blueberry eyes. The contacts helped, but Walter could only do so much to make us look different. I’d almost cried when I looked down and at my sandy brown hair after he cut it. Our mother had babied me especially. She used to hold me against her large breasts and run her fingers through my hair, always circling my left ear. Alice would just stand there, watching. She was the stronger one, and I was ashamed of that. It only drove me deeper into our mother’s bosom.

She’d been dead for almost three years at that point. I can still see her body dangling from the Great Spire, her face purple and bloated from the beating she’d received. I prayed that she’d been dead before they strung her up, so that she wouldn’t see our father crowing before the television cameras below her, shaking hands with the Force’s commissioner for reporting the last unauthorized birth. Alice wanted to kill him. I made her swear on our mother’s body that she wouldn’t. Nothing would bring out the sleek, black sedans of the Force faster than silencing their golden canary. I still gave people too much credit then. It hadn’t occurred to me that a man would impregnate a woman just to report it years later. It took me even longer to understand why he hadn’t reported us immediately. Killing babies didn’t make for good television.

Walter took us in after that. He was a short, balding man with a charcoal beard that hang down to his protruding belly. Almost the exact opposite image of our father. He called his brother a real bastard. He said he was surprised that he didn’t go for triplets, just to impress the Force even more when he brought all of us in. I wish I’d been there to see the look on the commissioner’s ruddy face when he appeared with nothing. We never had the pleasure of seeing our father hang for public display like mother. By then, we were already being shuffled from safe house to safe house. But even among the indigent, the outcasts and the criminals who were trying to stay one step ahead of the Force, we stood out. Being the only twins born in over a century has that effect.

In the momentary green light, I could see all that through Alice’s contacts. I wondered what she saw when she looked at me. Her brother, of course, but beyond that? Did I make her feel safe? Did she believe me when I told her that I would never let anything happen to her? I wasn’t sure I did. If not for Walter, our public executions would have been years ago. He used his knowledge of the system to fight the Force, while our father used it to ingratiate himself to them. It’s funny how different siblings can be. Like me and Alice.

A flood light exploded through the cracked drywall of the safe house, tracing through the hall like slices of diamond. Walter nodded for us to move forward, slowly. The Force had been tipped off to us, probably by someone hoping to cop out of whatever trouble they’d gotten themselves into. Alice’s pigtails bounced awkwardly on her head as she walked forward, looking for a door to escape through. Nothing. The only exit was back in the direction of the floodlight. The Force would enter the building soon, and then the only choice would be whether to die there in a storm of automatic gunfire, or to wait and be made into trophies before our deaths. I didn’t want Alice to have to make that choice, so I made it for her.

I couldn’t believe that her tears were blue too. They must not have been very good contacts. Both she and Walter gave me no resistance. I guess when you live like how we did for so many years, you get used to being in crappy positions. They would just wait it out. He knew just how lazy the Force really was. They wouldn’t go through the trouble of securing the building if I surrendered. They were only hunting us so relentlessly because of the huge bounty on us. He and Alice would be safe; the Force would get at least one trophy. That’s about as close to a win-win as you find in this world.

When I stepped outside, I saw what looked like dozens of the Force, the blinding floodlight reflecting off their black visors. Even the commissioner was there. He wasn’t nearly as tall in person as he appeared on television. He muttered something into my ear, but all I remember is his voice being raspy and dry, like dead leaves blown across a fallow field. I was surprised at how well they treated me. They didn’t even handcuff me. And sure enough, they didn’t enter the building at all. Half of them were already gone before they placed me in the back of the commissioner’s limousine. I’ve had enough to eat since that night, a soft bed, a warm room. The producer of the Force’s nightly program told me that this was all just for sweeps week; a kinder, gentler Force. No torture or beatings; some criminals would be forgiven; all executions would be efficient and painless. At least I chose the right week to surrender.

They decided not to spare me. But they did agree that as long as I wrote this confession, they would drop all of the charges against Walter and Alice. I have no idea if they’ll keep their word or not. Probably not. By the time they’ve had their fun with me though, she’ll be so far gone that they’ll never find her. Every Force officer in the city will be at my execution, so she’ll have her run of the city. I guess it’s nice to be popular. She’s so beautiful and smart, just like mother was. And I’m a coward, just like father. I hope my death helps her to live. I really do.

I wanted this to be more than just a confession though. This is my history, our history. When you read this confession, I want you to know who you're killing. My last request is that you read this out loud at my execution. I know you won't, but it can't hurt to ask at this point.

My name is Brian, and I am guilty of the crime of being born. I will be sentenced to death in one week. It really sucks too; my hair is starting to grow back.

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Mm, perhaps I could clarify (HalcyonSpirit may need to correct me though :D)

This is a bi-monthly contest; each round has its own theme/specific kind of writings or whatever. You can't submit something under a specific category unless you're submitting it during the round of that category

...however! Right now is the Freeform submission round, meaning basically anything you write in the one month writing phase of the competition is acceptable. So a short story, a poem, an explanation of vapor lock - anything is fine. Really, this is probably the best time to join, because you can write whatever you feel comfortable with writing.

Just wanted to clear that up. Your submissions are looking good - real motivation for me, lol.

Working more on my poem. I think this will be my first submission I'm really proud of writing/I had a very serious interest behind making. woo.

edit: uh, is Rophell banned for real?

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Yeah, I know the rules, I've participated before. Thanks for the heads-up though.

Alright alright fair enough, you're right, I do remember reading some of your other stuff now that you mention it. But some others I think are new maybe kinda who knows oh God why am I still talking this is embarrassing like when you stick out your hand for a handshake among a big group of people and the person whose hand you wanted to shake decides not to shake your hand and all you're left with is your outstretched hand and people looking at you in awkwardness and you have a spontaneous moment of wondering "I hope they didn't see what a huge gaff I just made," and everybody really has and they're sorta snickering inside and quietly amongst one another and you have no choice but to resign yourself to a failure and move on and retract your outstretched hand...

Wellll, it's not that bad... not on the internets at least.

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I interpreted it as a response to Stove_Top, actually, since he maybe was thinking that all categories were running at once. That is who you were responding to, right SoulinEther? :wink:

As for Rophell... I'll ask one of the moderators about it in the morning. If he's gone for a time past the end of the competition, well... we'll deal with it as it happens.

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I interpreted it as a response to Stove_Top, actually, since he maybe was thinking that all categories were running at once. That is who you were responding to, right SoulinEther? :wink:
Yes, it was... I was just too lazy to quote.

Poem is coming along. I actually wrote something... I'll try to finish it this week before university kicks in again (and kicks my ass, to boot) (pun(s) intended).

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Heaven in a Box -

Once, On a trip during a series of gloomy days

I sat in my seat; thus engaged - To ponder idle

thoughts of simple possibility.

For on the edge of these breaking clouds

lining brightly their misty shroud - were hints

bespeaking some infinite tranquility.

For who, here, could possibly come to know,

Whats behind those simple clouds, and glows

with such beauty, and potential-

...Such lambent fury!

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Heaven in a Box -

Once, On a trip during a series of gloomy days

I sat in my seat; thus engaged - To ponder idle

thoughts of simple possibility.

For on the edge of these breaking clouds

lining brightly their misty shroud - were hints

bespeaking some infinite tranquility.

For who, here, could possibly come to know,

Whats behind those simple clouds, and glows

with such beauty, and potential-

...Such lambent fury!

is skillfully quoting without reading...lol, you've got great poems, but i don't want to read yours before i go about finishing mine, to keep my eyes and brain virgin and chaste etc.

this round is exciting.

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I'm almost finished. I justed left off at 3846 and I think I'll close in around 5000 when finished, probably by tomorrow night, edited on Saturday, posted just before midnight deadline.

What a rush.

3846? As in, 3846 words?

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the current rules state that the maximum word count for an entry in Freeform is 3000 words flat.

Incidentally, there's only three days left for submission! I know I should've made an announcement at least a week in advance of the deadline, but I've been sorting through some personal issues and forgot. Speaking of which, said problems have been interfering with my ability to write, so I may not have anything ready for this round, unfortunately. (And if I do submit something, don't expect quality writing...)

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Let's try this. I'll just call it "Girl Stuff".


I was at the Kindergartener’s pen on the other side of the school. Éwa was volunteering to be with those kids again so their teacher wouldn’t have to.


“You, kid. Go get Éwa for me.”



“You’re gay! Go away!”

“I’ll give you a candy. Go get Éwa.”


All Kindergartener’s are stupid. I was a stupid Kindergartener too.

He came back tugging Éwa along and blurted “Where’s the candy?”, and he left after I gave him a gumdrops pack through the chain link fence the pen was made out of. He yelled “You’re still gay!” at me halfway gone.

“This whole ‘gay’ business is pretty new to me,” Éwa said, “I mean, when we were in Kindergarten, everyone was just all, ‘ew girls’. Remember, Ralt? You couldn’t hang out with other girls or people would make fun of you. That’s what got you in trouble, huh? Now you can’t hang out with other guys, or they’ll make fun of you too! Who are they gonna hang out with then?”

“Dunno. Everyone hates everything. Big guys got to be all unfeely, so no friends at all.”

“You’re sorta unfeely.”

“Yeah, but I’m not very big, so that makes me very feely.”

“Oh, that’s how it works?”

“Not sure,” I said.

“Why’d you come all the way over here, Ralt?”

“Why’d you come all the way over here, Éwa?”

“Huh? Don’t tell me he’s sick again.”

“Yeah. There’s nobody out here.”

“I’m starting to think he’s not sick at all. He's just skipping school. Or maybe his dad killed him? His dad would do that.”

“He’s not dead.”

“You’re eye is looking a little dark. Did -”

“No. I hit my head off something.”

“By accident?”

“Éwa, come out.”

“I can’t, Ralt. Mademoiselle Rousseau needs me to look after the kids.”

“There’s nobody out here.”

“I know, but…”

“Please?” I cupped my hand over hers on the chain link, “Pleeeease?”

“I know. There’s nobody out there. Nobody but a buncha guys claiming territory. That’s why I’m in here.”

“But, I’m out here…”

“I thought you’d be okay with him there, since he’s tougher than you, but I didn’t know he’d get killed.”

There is nothing out here. I have two friends at school, and we never see eachother outside of recess. They live too far away. There is nothing there too.

Kids in the city always live close together, so they see eachother a lot. TV shows on at seven and six always have a bunch of kids that look like grownups hide together in some secret place for everyone they know; where they hang out and do stupid things that would get them in trouble if it weren’t a secret place. Those things aren’t really all that cool since they’re not real. I mean, it seems nice, but I don’t know one place that’s really secret. I wish I did, but nothing’s secret because wherever you look, you know what’s there: corn and soy beans, all lined up.

I’ve never seen a secret place for everyone. There aren’t any.

They tried. Everyone else thought that a city-like secret place would be cool, so they’re always deciding on places in the schoolyard to be “the spot”. Yard-duty teachers hate when kids hide from them, so they do all sorts of stuff to get back, like suddenly saying a buncha odd things like “the baseball diamond is off limits”, and yell at us whenever we go there. Then they get big guys with chainsaws that look like the ones from comic books to come and take down all the trees and shrubs that we all liked to sit around and soon the entire yard will be plain-lookin’ and bare, so all the secret hiding spots for everyone won’t be secret anymore.

And they were never for everyone. They weren’t for anyone. You can’t just pick any spot to go and chill out, because if the guys who claimed it didn’t like you, they get all rough and mean, and can bruise you up a bit.

Nobody liked me very much.

It was stupid. Real dumb. Maybe it was because everyone tried doing it in the schoolyard where everyone would be anyway, but… I dunno. It was still dumb; they’re a buncha ruggy farm kids hoppin’ to some grand idea because all the cool look-like-kids from the city on the TV do it. I don’t know why we liked their shows; nothing they did ever made any sense.

… but, it still would’ve been cool. Everyone except my two friends hates me and thinks I’m weird. My friends are nice, and I really wish we could always get together without any of the other kids there, or our parents trippin’ over us every moment, but between all our houses is nothing but walls of corn that grow taller than my dad. I would’a gave anything for a spot the three of us could reach and hang out together - a spot we could claim and keep all the other bad kids away from - but it just would never happen.

I hope he’s not dead. His dad is pretty bad.

“Nobody took up everywhere so it made nowhere,” Éwa said, “We don’t have anywhere to go in the schoolyard anymore. They took down the playground because the School Board said it wasn’t safe anymore to play on. But they didn’t have any money to give us a new one. Since then, everyone’s been all angry.

“I heard these kids here aren’t going to be safe from it much longer. I heard Mademoiselle Rousseau yelling at the principal in the staff room, and the principal threatened to fire her if she ever, ever, ever made a fuss about it again or told any kids. The Kindergartener’s stuff will be taken away next month for not being safe.”

“Huh? How?” I was befuddled. I mean… how are plastic boxes and a one foot slide too dangerous? I’m not very big, but I can still STEP onto one of them.

“It’s coming, Ralt. Soon the kids here won’t have anything at all, just like us. I need to help them get used to it, because they’ll never have a playground like we did until Grade Eight, and by then they’ll be too old for playgrounds. That’ll be awful, won’t it?”

Éwa, come out.

“We don’t have anywhere else to go, so this is where we must be.”

… Éwa, come out.

“You can help too. You can go to Mademoiselle Rousseau to come in and be here on recess. You just need to talk with her first.”

I looked behind her to all the kindergarterners inside the pen. Some of them looked trapped inside. Some of them looked happy inside.

“I’m trying to make them all as good of friends as I can. Then, when they go into Grade One and with the rest of the school, they won’t fight for any ‘cool spots’ that might be left.”

“Might be left?” I said, “There will be spots left in an empty yard?”

“At least they won’t fight for it.”

“Can they do it?”

“It’s too late for us, but they can do it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. I’m sure,” she said.

“But, what if something goes wrong?” I asked, “What if they can’t be friends because they all call eachother gay, or because one of them keeps stealing someone’s pencils? Or because one of them is weird? Or because they like to copy the grownups and be like them? Or because they like to copy us and be like us? Or because they like to copy some TV show and be like the TV show? Or because they like to copy us be like the TV show because they like to copy us being like the TV show? What then?”

“I’m still sure at least one of them can do it.”

“You… You need all of them to do it.”

“No I don’t. I can do it. Each one of them can possibly end this. It’s all in them.”

She looked back to them and said it again. “It’s all in them. It’s in all of them.”

One of the kids there saw me looking at him. Then he pointed out to me and called back.


“Éwa, come out.”

“I can’t, Ralt.”

“Éwa, come out.”

“I can’t, Ralt.”

“Éwa, come out.”

“I told you, I can’t.”

“Éwa, come -”

“I can’t.”

“… Éwa, come -”



“Don’t pout about me.”


“Even if I did come out, where would we go?”

“To the back hill.”

“We can’t go there anymore. They said it’s off limits.”

“To the side trees, next to the baseball diamond.”

“All the younger kids always sit there. The teachers don’t even like it when our age

group is on that side of the yard.”

“Near the backdoor.”

“I saw on my way here. The sixth graders’ claimed it.”

“By the…”



“We don’t have anywhere we can go.”

“Yes we do.”

“No we don’t.”

“Yes we do!”

“Not here, not in school…”

A kindergartener started tugging on the back of Éwa’s pants.

“Miss,” he said, “Miss, Miss. Those icky girls over there need an extra person to play jump rope with them.”

“Tell them I’ll be there in a moment.”

“No. Stop talking to that homosexual and go.”

“… You’re too young to know that word.”

“Psh. So’re you.”

He left.

I couldn’t feel my heart beating. I was trying too hard to feel if it was beating or not. It hurt. I was hurting myself without even moving.

“I’m sorry about that.”

“Éwa, come out.”

“Don’t worry. Things can change, I promise. The weedend’s tomorrow. Go see Mademoiselle Rousseau Monday morning if he’s still not here, okay? She’s always in her classroom during first recess.”

“Éwa, come out.”

“Recess is almost over. I have to get the kids ready to line up at the door. Don’t worry; because in the long run the adults won’t even matter! We can change things! We can!”

“Éwa, come out.”

“Éwa, come out.”

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...and here's my entry. I even snuck in a reference to SoulinEther's provocative sig. :wink:

To Be Human

Theirs was a simple relationship. He had cherished her eloquence and meticulous way of speaking. She fought very hard to conceal her wondrous smile, but it teasingly showed itself whenever he made a particularly poignant remark. He would try his best to make such remarks for her, often.

Shella was a somewhat timid and introverted woman, but could burst through that thick outer casing to settle a point. She felt she hadn’t much to offer a man physically; Shella wouldn’t be comfortable to be classified as anything more than “kinda cute” by a man. Yet the Stick gravitated toward her with unexpected speed and confidence, a reaction she had only previously witnessed as a small child. Over time she came to realize that he admired and adored her greatly.

Biologically speaking, the Stick had only been alive for a few months. Before this he existed as a fully mobile, talking and vaguely man-shaped piece of unbreakable metal. Possibly from an advanced civilization or a plane of existence mankind could never reach, the Stick became the subject of endless examinations, discussions and debates. In the end, he could only be identified as a “mysterious stick figure”. He was a celebrity among scientists, and yet he was no one in terms of classification.

One of those researchers would go on to become a good friend of the Stick. The eccentric professor Horkuff could easily thrust and parry his endless observations on science, logic and life in general. A vanguard of sorts, the inventor and his extravagant imagination complemented the Stick’s nature-defying form. Horkuff helped him cope with the impermeable nature of his body, though the desires of the Stick would ultimately grow to be too distressing for the professor to argue away. As a metallic being, the Stick had eventually reached an impasse in his existence; he wished to undergo the Pinocchio scenario. The Stick wanted to be a real man at last.

The day came when Horkuff was able to set up the miraculous machine. In a flash the Humanitizer transformed metal to flesh, impregnable mandantium to a beating heart. Even months after the Stick became human, he found it difficult to absorb the minute details of life. While it was hard for him, he treasured every moment, including the prospect of living the rest of his days with a female companion.

Throughout their meetings, dates and phone calls, one question gradually rose into Shella’s consciousness. The question hadn’t fully formed, but it nevertheless sat in shambles nagging. What was it that made the Stick so fascinating? Shella was oblivious to the truth; she knew him not as a shining, unusual form, but as a man named “Fred Stickly”. He approached everything in life as if it were new, as if every facet was a unique pleasure. Little did she realize that each sensation was strange and unknown to the Stick.

The question was finally asked. He played the voice mail over and over, marveling at her smooth voice and yet forcing himself to digest the thought of revealing his true nature to Shella. It was a feeling the Stick had never sensed before, but somehow it felt instinctual. The emotion managed to settle after a while, and he decided to contact Horkuff to better understand the impulses driving him. He attempted to call, but received an automated notice stating that the number was disconnected. Horkuff would never let a line detach. Something was wrong.


Another unusual sensation came to the Stick as he arrived at Horkuff’s apartment – he was out of breath. He looked to the right of the entrance and noticed a thin seam where the plaster covered what was once a large hole. At that moment the Stick remembered that he hadn’t seen Horkuff in quite a long time. How… inconsiderate, he felt. It seemed as if he no longer needed the professor as a confidant after the transformation occurred. Was the relationship he considered friendship really just the Stick attempting to connect with humanity?

After knocking several times, he forced the door open with his shoulder. If the Stick had realized how much this would bruise his arm, he probably would have tried an alternative approach. Immediately he saw that the apartment was a mess: The phone lay on its side against the wall, unplugged. Horkuff’s wardrobe spilled past the closet and onto scattered documents. His vanity mirror had been cracked. “Horkuff? Are you here?” The Stick felt tension building in his neck, the dull pain in his shoulder quickening its pulse. “Horkuff!” He maneuvered around an upturned desk and headed for the bathroom.

Peering in, he saw another broken mirror and more clothing strewn about. Through the shower door the Stick could see the vague outline of a head. “Professor…” He stepped forward and onto the shards of glass on the linoleum. “Stop!” said a voice harshly. “Don’t get any closer.” The slight crushing sound of his footsteps apparently alerted the person in the shower. The Stick didn’t recognize the voice at first; it was arid and cold. “I… Leave me alone.”

“Horkuff, it’s me. The Stick.”

The shadow shifted abruptly in the enclosed bathtub. “Stick? Yes, I know that name. My mind’s not gone yet.” His warmth rose as he spoke. “I tried to call, tried to contact you, but my hands – my hands…” The Stick saw an impossibly thin silhouette reaching up for the handle. Fingerless mitts gripped the edge of the translucent door. With a groan it slid open, revealing the being once known as Horkuff.

The Stick put a hand to the scientist’s smooth, hardened chest. He gasped; it felt icy. “Wow. I wasn’t aware that my body had been so brisk.” His fingers slowly ran up Horkuff’s rigid arm and onto the glistening sphere of his head. A bellbottomed calf gently struck the side of the shower and made a CLONK sound. “What happened to you, professor? Why didn’t you get help?”

“I’ve told you - my hands!” Horkuff raised his arms limply. “Could you have imagined? The most handsome scientist of his age reduced to an overblown lollipop with limbs!” He let out a strange mixture of cackling and a chuckle. “I couldn’t go out in public! My reputation! My image!” He then slapped himself several times, each hit emitting what sounded like billiard balls bouncing against each other. Somehow, the Stick assumed, a bizarre accident caused Horkuff to become Stick-like. His sanity was going.

“So,” said the professor, trying to change the subject. “How’s Shella?”

The Stick’s jaw dropped, but his lips remained pressed until he spoke. “She’s... Well, she’s the reason I came here. But if I had known that you were in this condition—”

“Hah.” It was unclear whether he had given a laugh or a weak cough. “Never mind that now. Let’s talk about 6A.”

The exasperated expression of the Stick resembled that of his earlier form. “Excuse me?”

“Experiment 6A. The experiment that made you human, remember?” He grinned. “Part of the result was the relationship you began and continued with Shella. To make my complete assessment I need a full testament of your connection to the female.” After all that had happened to Horkuff, he still had an analytical head working. Rather than risk compounding the dilemma, the Stick humored him.

“Well, she’s a wonderful woman…” He smiled faintly. “Turns out her father was this peculiar poet laureate who wrote works exploring the components of existence. He received a great amount of attention, but Shella didn’t really want any of that – being a famous poet’s daughter, scrutinized for her dad’s views. She’s very articulate, a bit shy.”

“Yes, and did you… Engage in intercourse?”

A new feeling exploded inside the Stick. Possibly embarrassment, but with unmistakable tinges of anger. “I… I really don’t think this is appropriate—”

Horkuff suddenly grabbed the sides of his own head and twisted it, as if attempting to snap his neck. “Third base, huh? I think I’ve forgotten what that feels like.” The sound he made this time was definitely laughter. “Maybe she’s too shy for your purposes.”

The spots of irritation within the Stick erupted into a mild rage. “Professor, please. You can’t be thinking clearly. Surely there must be a way of turning you back to what you were.” He looked back to the living room. “The machine, the Humanitizer - where is it?”

“I gutted it a while back, Stick. I really did need a new refrigerator.”

“Then you can rebuild it – I can rebuild it, and you can tell me how to get it in working order.”

“Don’t you think I would have thought of that? The situation is much more complicated than you might have guessed.” Horkuff’s mind appeared to straighten again. “When I used the device to make you human, your internal mandantium initiated some sort of transfer process. Without realizing it, I had caused the flesh-converted element to dissolve and flow into my body, where it settled and gradually made me into – well, into something like you used to be.” For a minute his thoughts overtook him.

An emotion the Stick precisely knew to be guilt swelled. “It’s all my fault. If I hadn’t been on some crusade to be more than I was, you would be well and good and I—”

“You would be on a faraway planet, utilizing your immortality to visit the outer reaches of the universe.” Horkuff let out a sigh. “The things you’ve seen, Stick. I could scarcely perceive what you have explored, what you can explore… and now I know why you wished to be human. To you, it really is the final frontier.” He sat up and took on a serene gaze. “For me to revert to my previous state, well… There’s bit of a catch to that. If my calculations are correct – and they usually are – the only way to reverse the process is to transfer the mandantium to its original host.”

“You mean to say…” and the Stick’s stomach sank. For months he had taken the first steps toward the rest of his life, but he now understood that it could not be. Being a man was not as important as saving a friend.


Shella became somewhat anxious, lying in bed with increasing concern. Fred usually calls me back when I leave voice mail, she thought to herself. She dialed again, but changed her mind and put the receiver down. Looking to the ceiling, she let the soft yellow glow calm her before snuffing the lamp out for the night. At the desk near her bed lay an old, leather-bound journal. She picked it up and felt the uneven grain of the cover. In the moonlight Shella could hardly see the notes her father had written so many years ago. Even the embossed lettering on the front was obscured through the glare of her glasses. Instead she thumbed the pages, causing the musty smell to fall onto her face. For a few seconds her inhibitions fell away, and she smiled the grandest of smiles.

“You are so beautiful,” spoke the voice of Fred.

Shella reached out for the lamp, but it had been moved out of sight. “Fred, what’s going on? Did you let yourself in? I’ve been so worried.” She squinted in the near-darkness and saw his shape in the corner. “I thought I had scared you away when I asked you weird things about your background. That’s the problem with me – I think I pry too much.”

“You have every right to be curious. There is something I’ve been keeping from you.”

Shella leaned forward, straining to see in the dim light as her eyes began to adjust. He backed into the shadows slightly in response. “What is it that you insist on hiding, Fred? Why are you so afraid to tell me?”

“Well,” his voice jumped. “I… I guess I feared that your questioning would lead to the end of our relationship. I thought that once you knew of the predicament, knew what I am, that it would be too odd to continue being with me.”

As she shook her head, brief luminosity reflected off of her spectacles. “Don’t you understand? I want to know more about you because I care about you. I want – I just have this need to unlock the secrets of the man whom I… whom I love.”

It all seemed to come together. “Yes, those are the two main points. For one, I don’t think the word ‘man’ applies anymore.” The room fell silent as he searched for the right phrasing. “The other point is… something else, something I hadn’t expected – love. My initial intent was to find a partner with whom to propagate and live out a mortal existence. The actual when and where of the steps would of course be of her preference. The thing I hadn’t factored was the connection, the strength of love, and how it would inevitably bring out the truth of the situation.” Silence enveloped the room again, and in a few moments the words came to him. “I love you, Shella.”

Then her eyes finally adapted to the murky night, and Shella could see everything.

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