Saturday, January 14, 2012

Story a Week 42 - Candy Land 8

Man, it's been quite a week for my blog.  My last story has gotten 100+ views!  I'm amazed by all the great feedback that I've gotten on the story.  I hope that you all keep reading.

This week is a return to the Candy Land storyline.  It's wrapping up, with just one or two stories left.


Queen Frostine made me sleep while she ordered her fleet to sail for the Molasses Swamp.  It had been a very long time since I had slept; I immediately fell asleep when I got a chance to lie down.  It only seemed like I was asleep for a moment when I heard Queen Frostine calling my name to wake me.  Drowsily, I stretched and asked, "Are we there already?"

I sensed some alarm in Frostine's voice as she said, "Yes, and there's something you have to see."

She led me to the deck and it took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the light, but when they did I could see why Queen Frostine was alarmed.  My mouth dropped as I stared out over the ocean to the shore and saw a giant hardened mud wall running the entire length of the shore.  Along the wall I could see square shaped holes that looked like the holes on the gun decks of the ships.

I turned to Queen Frostine and said, "Are those what I think they are?"

She shrugged and said, "We're not sure.  We've never seen cannons in any of their camps."  She paused.  "So far, they've ignored our presence, but who knows how long that will last."

As if on cue, a loud and deep horn like sound came from behind the wall.  Right in front of us, the wall started to split near the bottom and I could see an opening appearing there.  After a few moments, the opening appeared to have completed and a Molasses Monster appeared there with a white flag on a stick.

I looked over to Queen Frostine and said, "Shall we parley with them?"

She nodded and ordered for a dingy and rower to bring us to shore.  A few minutes later, we were standing with the Molasses Monster on the shore.  It was the first time that I had ever met one and I was a little intimidated.  The creatures are at least seven feet tall and probably the same distance around their waists.  Their shape is somewhat fluid and not well defined, but still imposing.

The creature spoke first.  "What are you doing here?" it asked bluntly.

Queen Frostine and I glanced at each other.  She subtly indicated that I should speak, so I did.  "Well...uh, sir, I've heard a rumor that a castle has recently appeared near your swamp and I'd like to request..."

It interrupted me and roared, "What do you know of the castle?"

I fought the urge to look towards Queen Frostine.  I said, "Well, that castle was originally quite a ways away from here.  It was teleported..."

Once again, it interrupted me.  It said to Queen Frostine, "Why have you brought this one here?"

For the first time, I saw Queen Frostine raise her voice.  She was practically yelling when she said, "He wants to go through your swamp to the other side!  There is no reason not to allow this.  I will go with him."

The Molasses Monster looked down at Queen Frostine for a moment.  It looked over to me and blurted, "You may pass, but the ships must leave."

I looked over to the queen and she nodded.  She turned to the sailor who had rowed us to shore and gestured for him to leave.  He saluted and jumped into the boat.

"Follow me," the creature said.

It walked through the opening in the door and I could see that it immediately began to close.  Frostine and I ran through the opening.  "These guys are faster than they look," I said.  Queen Frostine grunted her agreement.

I took a moment to look around.  Behind me, I saw some sort of mud mortars on the walls sticking out the holes.  In front of me, I saw an apparently endless swamp.  Queen Frostine gave me a reassuring pat on the shoulder and followed the monster, carefully picking her way through the swamp.  I quickly followed.  Like I said, those Molasses Monsters are quicker than they look.

After a few hours of treading through the swamp, we finally came to the end.  The Molasses Monster stopped at the edge and waited for us to walk out onto the plain before wordlessly turning back.

I turned to Queen Frostine and asked, "So, where do we go from here?"

The question was answered for me when I heard a rumbling behind me.  I cautiously turned around and saw the largest creature that I've ever seen.  It was obviously a Molasses Monster, of sorts.  It was twice the size of the one that had led them out to the plains.  I stared at the creature for a few moments while it made a rumbling sound.  After a few moments, I realized that the creature was laughing.

After another moment of laughing, the creature spoke.  "You are looking for the castle that came out of nowhere?"

I didn't know what to make of this development, so I just mumbled, "Uh, yeah."

The monster laughed again.  "You'll never find it on your own.  The plains are vast."

I glanced over at Queen Frostine and she just shrugged.  I said, "Do you know where it is?"

The creature shook in a way that I took as a nod, but it didn't say anything.  I asked, "Will you tell us, or take us there?"

It shook in a different way that looked more like a no.  "Well, what use are you then?"

The monster laughed again.  "I like you, man.  If you give me a gift, I will take you to the castle.  What say you?"

I looked at Frostine again and shrugged.  I whispered to her, "Do you have anything to give the monster?  I don't..."

Suddenly I remembered what Mr. Mint had given to me.  I reached into my inside pocket and pulled out the Chocolate Peppermint Flute.  I said, "Well, Mr. Monster..."

The monster interrupted me.  "My name is Gloppy!"

I hesitated for a moment, and then continued,"Um... Gloppy, then.  Will you take this flute in exchange for showing us where the castle is?"

Gloppy gasped.  "What a beautiful flute!  That will indeed be sufficient payment for this task."

He strode forward and plucked the flute out of my hand.  He continued moving without a break and walked westward out into the plain.  He went so fast that Frostine and I had trouble keeping up at a walking pace.

We walked for what seemed like hours.  I was having a little trouble keeping up the pace when we came to a steep hill.  Gloppy and Frostine reached the top of the hill first and I heard Frostine gasp.  I shook my exhaustion away and ran to the top of the hill.  The sight I saw was breathtaking.  Candy Land Castle was there on the plain below us.  Beautiful, fertile fields surrounded the castle for as far as the eye could see.

It struck me then that what Lord Licorice had done.  He'd solved one of the kingdom's greatest troubles.  Here in front of us was the vast farmland that our kingdom needed to continue to prosper.  Who would have guessed that the kingdom's greatest villain would ultimately be its savior?  All of the worry and dread of the last few days washed away as I passed Gloppy and Frostine in a sprint down the hill to the castle.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Story a Week 41 - What I've Done

Hello everyone!  This week's Story a Week is a flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig.  Basically, you hit shuffle in a media player and take the song title and write a story based on it.  I got "What I've Done" by Linkin Park.  I think that made it easier, since the title is pretty generic and kind of thought provoking in itself.  He put a 500 word limit on it and I'm coming in at 484 words.  I hope that you enjoy it.


"Truth be told, I'm not proud of it.  They say that people do what they need to do to survive, but I don't know if I can live with this.  Sometimes I think that it might have been better to have just lost everything than to do what I've done.  I don't even want to talk about it, but I feel like if I keep it bottled up any longer that I'll explode.

"There are times, of course, that I forget about it.  There are times that, when I look at how my family is thriving after the crisis, that I think that it may have been worth it.  Those times are rare.  When I lay in bed at night, next to my beautiful wife... even the warmth of her body next to me isn't enough to keep those feelings away.

"Sometimes I get so angry at myself for it.  Sometimes, while I'm driving alone in the car, I'll yell, 'You would have lost everything, you fool!  You have to do this to keep your house and your family together!'

"I know that I'm not the only one who has done the same thing that I have.  I know that I'm not alone, but that doesn't console me either.  I don't know that anything can console me.  Being a part of that group shouldn't make anyone proud.

"My family doesn't know about it, of course.  My wife doesn't ask where I go, or where the money comes from.  I don't think that she wants to know.  I'm afraid that if I tell them that they would leave.  I did it for them, to have them leave now would be the end of me.  It would have been all for nothing.  They can't know about this.

"Maybe that's why I'm telling you all of this.  You're a stranger to me.  It can't hurt to have someone else know.  Someone has to know.  I just can't keep it to myself any longer.

"You won't judge me, right?  You can't judge me.  You don't even know me."

The man stood there for a moment.  He just looked at me with desperation, anger and fear in his eyes.  I said, "Um, I just wanted a coffee, man, not your life story."

He looked confused for a moment, then down at his clothes.  He sounded sorrowful as he said, "I still can't believe that I got a second job as a barista."  He sighed, then blurted out, "That will be $4.55."

I handed him a fiver and told him to keep the change.  After I got my coffee, I hurried back to my car.  My wife asked me, "What took you so long?"

I replied, "I just heard the saddest story.  I feel bad for him, but I think he did the right thing."

My wife was obviously confused, but I just shook my head and we drove away.