Water Striders

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Skri water walks over to me. “Lookit – those things are on the island again.”

The short-limbed creatures watch me from the shores. I do not bounce as if to play, do not acknowledge them. Instead I reach below the surface to grab a chunk of algae. “I thought nothing lived on land.”

“You know what the elder says?” Skri leaned in close. “She thinks they’re monsters.”

The materially-rich monsters move as if to avoid scaring us. There’s something knowing about them, something intelligent, but they’re absent the holiness of water.

I shudder. Nothing with a soul walks on land.

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This sci-fi flash was written for the November 7th Flash Fiction Challenge on the Carrot Ranch. Water Walkers was the theme this week, and that made me think of water strider bugs. I invented an alien that is bigger, intelligent, and walks on water. The land creatures are supposed to be us treating the aliens like animals on a National Geographic.

Though I guess you could just read this as from the viewpoint of actual water striders, lol.

***Edit: I realized this also fit the prompt for D. Wallace Peach’s November Writing Challenge. Perhaps I will get off my lazy bum and write something special for it – but perhaps I will just let this one linger as my response. 🙂

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Arecibo

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“Well, it’s definitely a message. It’s binary, very clear, quite ordered.”

The head of the agency tapped the desk.  “You have a translation of it?”

“Yes sir, we think it’s decoded.” She handed him a block. “There were 1,679 blips. If the message was purposefully sent, the number probably means something. Since it’s semiprime, we set the message onto a 23 by 73 grid and raised the grid spaces that were ‘on.’ The patterns clearly indicate a message.”

He swept a tentacle across the braille. “We really aren’t alone in the universe! It has the numbers one through 10, then a code of sorts. What’s it say?”

“Get your FREE bottle of male enhancement pills from Crazy Joe’s NOW.”

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This was written for the Sammi Cox Weekend Writing Prompt #111, translation. The original Arecibo Message was a 23 by 73 binary message launched from the Arecibo Observatory as part of its opening ceremony in 1974. Intended to be a publicity stunt more than anything, the message was nevertheless an informative thing indicating the presence of life on Earth for anyone who might be around to receive it. But, knowing us, we’ll send another in a few years advertising penis pills, ’cause that’s the way we do.

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Interstellar Cargo

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The computer hitched the wagon to the back of my train. I brushed my finger against my moustache, then handed my electronic clipboard to the customer. “Your wagon will be delivered two Earth days from now at Elysia. Sign here, here, and here.”

The customer scrutinized the contract. “Says here you’re not liable for pirate attacks.”

“For cargo shipped out there, ma’am, I doubt anyone would insure the goods. I’m driving my tug out to Elysia, and you can either hitch your wagon or not. Simple as that.”

She pursed her lips and scrawled her mark on my board. “This is important medicine.  You must make sure it arrives at Elysia.”

I closed my board. Medicine – almost always code for drugs. “I’ll do my best, ma’am.  The Interdimensional Roads are a treacherous place, but the law’s cleaned them up some recently. Maybe it’ll be an easy drive.”

“Thank you, sir.”

I harrumphed.  Easiest way to be a good pirate was to also be a good deliveryman.

***

This Wednesday, I chose to feature the prompt #FOWC, Fandango’s One Word Challenge. A daily prompt with astounding participation rates, thus is a great one to check out if you don’t have a set schedule for your blog. Today’s word was Wagon.

Video Game Review: To The Moon

I don’t do many video game reviews, just reviews of games that I think have a great story and might be relevant to a story-writing, book-reading blog.

To The Moon is an indie RPG from Freebird Games.  It’s usually $9.99 on Steam, and that’s not a bad price for it.  However, I’d put it on your wishlist and let Steam email you when it goes on sale; $5 is definitely worth it.  Also keep an eye out for a Humble Bundle including it (this is where my copy came from).

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Non-Spoiler Review

Now, before you get super hype, you video-game lover you, I first must warn you: this is almost exclusively a short story with a tiny bit of video-game and puzzle.  The story is linear, and nothing you do will change it; hell, there’s barely even any score, and any scoring functions you perform are all in your head.

Here’s a pretty good image of what the game will look like:

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You play as a pair of scientists whose job is to alter the memories of dying people so they head off into the wild blue yonder with the belief that they fulfilled all their life’s hopes and dreams.  This means you get to hop through ol’ geezer Johnny’s head and see his past as part of your effort to get him to the moon.  The problem is that he doesn’t – and never has – recalled why he wants to go to the moon in the first place.

There are twists, and I think they’re well done (if a bit sappy).  It reminded me a lot of Citizen Kane (though, I must admit, Citizen Kane is a f*cking masterpiece).

Overall, good game.  Great game?  No.  But definitely worth the time and money I put into it.  It takes about 4-5 hours to play all the way through.

Spoilerific Review

Beware – I will be spoiling both the main twist and the ending before I get through this review.

Anyway, the front end of the game focuses on Johnny and how he had a fulfilling if pretty normal life married to a woman named River.  River is non-neurotypical, and I get the game was going for autistic (though I’m not sure and it never says for sure).  In an atypical fashion, however, you can’t access his earlier childhood memories, and this makes your main characters fail at their objectives… at first.

Then, after some creative thinking, you come up with a way to solve the problem and access his childhood memories in order to instill the desire to go to space into him.  You find out *twist spoiler ahead* that his twin brother died and the resulting ‘blank spots’ in his memory caused him to forget that he promised River to visit the moon.

The twist contained all the elements I like in a twist: 1) I didn’t see it coming and 2) There was evidence for it that you didn’t quite put together before it was told to you.  It was great.

My problem with the twist is that it came with the result that the twin brother, which you didn’t hear about for most of the game, ended up being more important than the wife.  It made her part of the story feel like a red herring, and I was slightly disappointed that she wasn’t part of the problem/solution.

However, the ending did work out well.  It was happy despite some worrying bits in the third act, and you get to see Johnny launch to the Moon with River by his side.

Give the game a try.  It’s a good indie game, after all!

When to Cry Over Spilt Milk

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Beep.  Boop.

“This is Niunai. Come in, Naicha.”

“Naicha here.  Have you made the drop point?”

“10-4.  Drop point reached.  Identifying information within sight.”

“You have permission to engage.”

“Scanning now.”  Beep.  Boop.  Bzzzzzt.  “My… my god, Naicha!  This poor sot is flat broke.”

“Broke?”

“Yes!  Their water is about to be cut off.  Electricity too.  Bank accounts are empty, they’re only getting denials for jobs or entry to school.  There’s nothing for us to steal here.”

“But we spent so much money on these milk carton drones!”

“I told you we should have done a fancy wine drone instead.”

“No.  They’d seen right through to us.”  Le sigh.  “What were we thinking…  identity theft through milk cartons in China… do the Chinese even like milk?  I don’t know.  Self destruct the drone and pack it in.”

“10-4.”

KERPLOW!

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This was for my first venture into the FFfAW Challenges. This was challenge 185, and the picture was provided by Yinglan.  I don’t know quite enough Chinese to be able to read the stuff on the letter, and I don’t know why “Glutinous Rice” is on there at all.  There’s also something about advertising, but I couldn’t determine everything.  So I made it up. 🙂

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this tale!