At the beginning of every month we we issue a writing challenge to all our friends and fans.
this was the stimulus for this months challenge!
this month I tried to write something that wasn’t just a vehicle for my love of violence. It was a joy to write, and you can read it below. if you’d like to share your own attempts at the challenge, feel free to post a link in our comment section. Or if you want you can email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Farewell from the past, I’m Raymond.
the Gardner’s trip to market
in a sea of sea of hills, thick with a mossy red grass, loomed a towering, sparse, great rock. it curled in on itself like a crashing wave, and had managed to resist the encroaching crimson that covered the surrounding hills. nestled in the pipeline of the stone wave sat a small cottage; the shape of an octagonal egg. the odd little home seemed to be made of a mixture of plastic panels and wooden supports. around its outsides grew bushes of flowers, and shrubs of herbs, all in their own pots and planter boxes, irregular shapes and sizes. the plants were all bursting with colour, which seemed to be all they had in common with each other. some looked like they belonged in shallow tropical water, while others had leaves and stems of crystal and metal.
tending to the alien plants was a golden skinned young man with black wire hair. his under clothes were scratched chrome armour plates attached without bindings to smoke grey cloth. Over this hung a heavy brown hooded cloak, rated with burn holes, and tears. His gold flesh bounced the bright green light of the sun around his yard. his was more worn than it should be for a man of his age, wear you’d see on someone fresh from a 32 hour work shift, or a week of nightmare sleep. his eyes glowed a soft dark red as he bent over a s planter. it was full plants with scaled snake like trunks at seemed to sway and pulse as he came close. he held out his hand near a bulb on the the end of one’s stalk, it flared with silver shimmering thread that caught his gilded skin drawing out a purple blood from his knuckle. he flinched back shaking his hand before exclaiming in a soft voice.
“I think you might be ill little friends.” He glanced out towards the horizon, where the green sun of this world hung a hand and a half above the hills. “Might have enough time to pop to the market before bedtime.” he sucked on his finger before dashing inside his home.
inside the walls were more smooth than the geometric outside, though very cluttered. the floor was a mosaic of warm glowing tiles, and in the centre sunk into the floor was a bath of blue milky liquid serving as a bed. hanging from the the apex of the egg was nest of pulsing LED lights, constantly shifting through soft cool colours, with the occasional flash of red. the white walls were littered with multitude of masks, no two the same; with only one ancient looking brass wardrobe to break up the collection.
The masks were of hundreds of different styles. some were quite plain while others were so intricate and complex they must have cost a small fortune. there were masks the looked like alien creatures or monsters from nightmare. some looking like diving masks, or the faceplates from some kind of space suit. it one of those masks he picked from the wall. it cover his was mostly a rigid plate of orange rusted metal; but hanging from the cheeks were 2 clear vials filled with swirling blue dust. there were there eye holes, 2 in the regular place, and one above the nose; there wire covered by a silvered glass that obscured the wearer’s eyes from outside viewers. as he lifted the mask to his face an animated black rubber grew from the edges of the mask to engulf his head, hair and all.
he pulled the brown hood of his cloak up over his head so only the mask could be seen. he then reached for pouch that hung at the back of his armour uniform and plucked out a pair of old black leather gloves. he tugged the gloves over his hands as he padded towards the doorway. resting by the exit was a slender black wood staff. embedded in the swelled timber head of the staff was a rainbow of polished, glass spheres. when the gardner clutched the staff the orbs started to glow with an internal light. he took a deep breath, as did the staff then exhaled. as the air left his mouth the staff burst with light and the gardner and his staff disappeared from the red hills of Phow’klarsh.
A few moments he reappeared in a puff of random light and silver mist. His cloak was slick with moisture. He took a slow survey of the alley he stood in. the place was dry and cold. a city rose up around him to hang from the sky…the true sky could not be seen from this level of the city, unless you were at it’s edge. The Gardner sucked in the light from his staff to quiet its glow, before plucking a small pen like device. blue laser shot out from the end of the thing as he burnt symbols into the wall to mark his entrance. as he turned to leave the alley he saw similar markings on the opposite wall…had he used this alley before? probably.
He walked with purpose, stepping on to the busy street, clogged with humans and grime covered machines; both groups fixated on their own tasks and lives. The Gardner quickly stole a glance at the at the mega structure that hung in the sky. one city literally resting on the shoulders of another. He’d only seen a handful of examples. most of the people in this city lived in the apartments in the sky, while the ground floor was mostly industry and markets. a spider legged robot rushed past the gardner almost knocking him over. he wondered where it was going? was it looking for groceries like himself? perhaps it need parts or repairs? maybe it had a hot date to get to? He smiled under his mask as he moved towards the rich scent of food.
sadly his destination was just outside the boundary of the food market. It was a pristine building of polished faux-stone, and steel. a neon sign hung outside in a language He still couldn’t read. a curtain of light marked the entrance. he step in and was greeted by an aroma of spice and medicine. a tall lanky human in a poncho of red heavy fabric stood watching him.
“Ahhhh! a Skreyen customer! not many of you come here!” the human exclaimed, excitedly. the Skreyen travelled the stars here. 3 eyed beings that could only breath human atmospheres when they diluted the air with a blue mist.
“perhaps i’m just posing as one” the gardner chuckled, he could breathe oxygen just fine. though the nitrogen content of this world’s air did scratch at his throat.
the shop keep paused before grinning and shaking a finger “classic Skreyen humour!” he jested. “what can i get for you traveller?”
the keeper puzzled at the wooden staff his new customer was holding. The gardener looked around the room before he was interrupted. “you know i think i’ve seen on of those before…what’s your name guest?”
the Gardner went back to his search before calling back. “Siorus.”
he paused before saying anymore. he wasn’t one for secrets, but he couldn’t reveal anything else about himself. he plucked up small jar of coffee grounds before looking back at the storeman.
“was this grown in a greenhouse or a field?” he asked the clerk. greenhouse would be ideal for his needs.
the clerk swiftly answered. “i wish i could say field so i could charge you more, but that is just greenhouse stock.” Siorus sighed with relief as he walked to the counter and placed the grounds on the counter.
“I have an alien plant that needs something similar to cold pressed coffee in order to solve it’s wilting problem. you have saved me human!” The gardner exclaimed pulling a credit disk from his pocket and handing it to the native in front of him.
“well i’m glad i could help you. wish i knew where i’d seen that staff before mastling Siorus.” remarked the clerk as he waved the disk through a credit gate. Mastling was an honorific used by Skreyen, usually used to refer to someone above you in class.
The Gardner strolled from the shop chipper that he found what he needed. he glanced towards his staff as a few dim lights flickered. “Shoot!” he exclaimed, as he realised it was almost sunset at home. He broke into a sprint, armoured boots clanging on the steel street underfoot as he rushed to his entrance. peeled round the corner into his alley, where two robed figures stood waiting for him.
they wore armour not unlike his own under their immaculate brown robes, in their hands were beautiful straight edged white staffs. the glass globes of light that adorned the staffs were arranged in symmetrical spiralling pattern. “Siorus, you are wanted for the illegal use of ‘verse skipping technology, the abandonment of you post, and…” they paused for a moment, their heavy stern voices still echoing faintly in the alley. “…and violation of inter-dimensional customs. surrender your staff and come with us!”
Siorus glared under his mask before holding his staff aloft and shouting. “you are my keep no longer!” he slammed his staff on the ground, vanishing in a violent burst of rainbow light.