Ray Bradbury short story writing challenge 2022

I know there are a few writers of fiction around these parts, so please allow me to share a fun project that a couple of friends and I have pledged to work on this year.

The premise is extremely simple: Write (and complete!) a short piece of fiction every week for the whole of 2022. That's it! No limits on word count or anything of that nature.

Now there may be a little bit of broken telephone going on with the name of this challenge, because if you google "Ray Bradbury challenge," you get a bunch of results describing the Ray Bradbury _reading_ challenge (which is, “I'll give you a program to follow every night, a very simple program… one poem a night, one short story a night, one essay a night, for the next 1,000 nights."), which is also a very worthy pursuit!

[Here](https://www.eadeverell.com/short-story-sunday/) is a page that outlines the writing challenge. Bradbury is quoted here as saying

>

Write a new short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.

So! I'm going to attempt this. I'm nearly finished my first story. Sorry for not telling yall about this earlier in the year!

We can share our grievances and finished works here! It can be a source of fun and community-building.

What do you think?

I‘m interested! It sounds like a fun idea and having some feedback on stuff I write could be a nice change of pace.

I don’t know if I will be able to keep up with a short story a week, but I could definitely try.

That being said I probably won't be posting all of them because I'm sure will be embarrassed of some of them and it will require a little bit extra work for me to share them because I will have to translate them from Spanish (sometimes I write in English just for the heck of it (and because I feel like i have a different writing style in English) so those ones are going to be easier to share))

@“穴”#p52914 Awesome! Welcome aboard.

Definitely, no one should feel any pressure to finish a story every single week, and sharing is one thousand percent optional.

I'm just here to brag about the time I got to sing “Happy Birthday” to Ray Bradbury and wish you all good luck

@“tokucowboy”#p52928 I hope you sang it Marilyn Monroe style!

Going to try this one, at least as a training. I don't know if I will publish anything and I will try as much as I can but I need to put some work and some muscle into it.

@“xhekros”#p52940 I think we all do. This is going to be an endurance test as much as anything.

@“rejj”#p52934 Thank christ it was with a group of people, no solos for this man

(group striptease)

First story's finished!

I'd like to post it here, but copy-pasting is resulting in weird formatting that I don't know how to deal with.

Is there a way to make super-long posts collapsible or anything? Would anyone be kind enough to help me? @yeso? @Syzygy?

Craig Craig Craig. Craig likes to eat egg. Craig Craig Craig. Met a girl named Meg. Craig Craig Craig. Got a quiver and shake in his leg. Craig Craig Craig. His feet feel heavy as a keg. Craig Craig Craig. He‘s from Wisconsin so a sack is called a “Behg”. Craig Craig Craig. Starts meditating on the reg. Craig Craig Craig, now he’s flexible not a square peg. Craig Craig Craig. His journey in this song is getting vague. Craig Craig Craig. He's found what he needs so its time for a seg. ue.

Hey Hey Hey...

@“whatsarobot”#p52994 don't know about collapsible but I used this doc to markdown converter. You can at least wrangle paragraphs into something readable on flarum

https://word2md.com/

@“After that rat, another and another.”#p53003 Super helpful. Thank you!

https://twitter.com/DigitalisHomo/status/1478094074909540354?s=20

### Clean Up On Aisle 8000

As I entered the supermarket, I grabbed a pair of cheap cardboard lenses from the receptacle near the door. I walked down a short hallway and until I finally found a shopping room that wasn’t occupied. I began to awkwardly fit the cardboard lenses over my own prescription glasses as the shopping room door swing closed behind me, sealing me in a just-above-pitch-dark cubicle an arms breadth wide. The lenses kicked on, giving me a view into the store’s VR interior.

My prescription glasses had the ability to connect to the store network themselves, but after a few high profile customer personality data leaks, I decided it was more prudent to keep my system clean of the store’s app. Display technology had become so cheap that it was possible to put a screen or a lens on anything for fractions of a cent. Over my glasses, I adjusted the cardboard lenses again, and thought about my shopping list.

It was too dark in the shopping room to read a written list, but I was rarely the kind of person to make lists in the first place. I’d come here for a purpose: I was entertaining that night, a few friends were going to come over IRL to catch a stream. This was a weekly ritual between us, and I always enjoyed cooking for the occasion. With In Home Virtual Presence it felt like people were visiting each other IRL less, so it was nice to get some in-person socializing.

I began to focus on my view of the virtual store: I was in the spawn point near the entrance, and I needed to make it to the butcher’s counter near the back of the store. I could do this two ways, I could take the safe route hugging the edge of the store, or I could head down one of the aisles. I checked my equipped items, decided I was well enough stocked to farm some EXP, and steered my cart toward the endless expanse of ailes.

When viewed from afar, the aisle section plays a trick on your eyes that makes the rows seem infinite,[ Book-of-Sand](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Sand)-esque. As I approached closer to the stacks a query asking me my destination aisle popped up. I ignored it and kept steering my cart towards the horizon-vanishing bank of aisles. I knew about a bug where if you entered from the right direction, it would send you to an aisle at random. The ailes looked like they were accelerating toward me rapidly, until I found myself standing in #268: Mustards. Part of the problem with there being no real limit on shelf space, is that now it’s feasible to get a whole aisle of mustards. Some mustard’s were grayed out, showing they weren't at the location I was shopping at, otherers promised 6 hour delivery. But I wasn't here for mustard, I began to work my cart down the aisle. I could see an NPC down at the end of the row, and it’s EXP was going to be mine.

I could attack the NPC by navigating my cart through it, if it survived my attack, it would also do damage back to me, but thankfully this enemy looked like a small moon jellyfish, meaning it was harmless to me. There were a number of game themes available for enemies and bonuses, and I’d settled on the “Aquatic” one back when I set up my account. I plowed through the jellyfish, which disappeared with a gushing sound of water. I slowed down. Maybe getting sent here was a sign. Maybe I did need mustard. I spied a group of minnows floating around an item up ahead, schooling around a bottle of horseradish djon. I added it to my cart.

I came out of the end of aisle #268 within sight of the butcher's counter. I used my fingers to spell out “Prime Rib Roast” on a keyboard floating above the meat display. When I purchased the item, a small animation of a piece of meat getting wrapped in paper played, and then the meat fell into my basket. A questionnaire popped up, asked my what side I was planning on making. I selected “Brussle Sprouts” from the three options, and a bonus bell like winning slot machine started to play. “New Quest Awarded!” flew across my vision, I checked my map and there was a new quest icon over in produce, with a 5 minute time limit. I’d have to be quick.

I knew the fastest way to produce was going to be through Aisle #1, so I dialed it up. As soon as I manifested there, I knew I was in trouble. Red, deep-sea-looking polyps standing as tall as me grew out of the floor, I wouldn’t make it down there alive and I’d lose my survival bonus at checkout if I rushed in too hasty. I pulled up my friend list.

I never used to like shopping, back in the old days. Pushing my cart around while some muzak played, each shopper like a listless ghost among a cornucopia of shopping choices. The new Virtual Markets didn’t even leave your fellow shoppers as a ghostly presence, though sometimes you might see an item disappear right before you grabbed it because someone somewhere else had beat you to it. Shopping made me feel like a hungry ghost, so I was glad when the new gamified version of shopping gave me something else to focus on when I had to go to the store. It also let me do this: I chose my friend Dave out of my freindlist and gave him a call. Dave was a thousand miles away in Denver, but he also happened to be shopping at the moment. I asked him for an assist.

A Gatling gun appeared on the front of my shopping cart, as dave remotely gunned down the angry looking polyps, (on Dave’s end, he was playing with the “Zombie Nazi’s” theme) and I started to make my way toward produce as speakers in the shopping room hammered with the sound of the machine gun.

I made it to the quest marker with a minute to spare. I didn't like the way the store tried to hustle you around sometimes with its timed deals, but I HAD already been planning to make brussel sprouts, anyway. I made my way to checkout, where the final boss waited. The Checkout Boss dropped some of the best rewards and coupons, but your damage was calculated in your ability to shop efficiently and take advantage of various in store deals. The checkout screen tallied up my purchases: it came to $100.21, which activated a perk I had unlocked that did massive damage whenever my total equaled exactly $100. The Checkout Boss, to me a Russian submarine, collapsed in on itself in defeat.

I left the shopping room and walked back down the hallway toward the entrance. I could have had them delivered but I decided to have my items waiting for me at the door. I threw the cardboard lenses in the trash on my way out of the building.


___

This is my first time doing fiction in a long time so this is not something I'm practiced at. For my first one I just wanted to focus on getting SOMETHING out rather than getting something perfect.

Some ideas in the story are inspired by this ["Visions of The Gamepocalypse" talk](https://longnow.org/seminars/02010/jul/27/visions-gamepocalypse/)

https://twitter.com/Quinny898/status/1479114987968679938?t=Fr7bru-fta5X5ru00xfnHQ&s=19

https://twitter.com/tinywienerbabe/status/1479574186028777472?t=qUMym6mzS4XumFYO2znFYQ&s=19

### Aesop

When I was a kid, I begged my parents for a dog. It started when I was seven, I think, and continued until I was ten, when I gave up. By then, they’d made it clear that I wasn’t getting a dog. I still don’t have one. Never have, in fact. And I’m pushing forty now. No, I’ve only ever had one pet, and it was that rabbit.
You’ve never heard of a kid begging their parents for a rabbit, have you? I’m sure kids like that exist, but somehow, it seems to me that the type of kid who’d want a rabbit in the first place isn’t likely to be the kind of kid who’d muster up the courage to ask their parents for much of anything, especially with any level of tenacity. But maybe I’m conflating rabbit tendencies and rabbit-likers, and that wouldn’t be fair to either side of that equation.
But lots of kids hound their parents relentlessly for a dog, right? Plenty of parents relent, too, or are happy to oblige. Lots of parents are dog lovers. Some kids are even born into families where a dog’s already present—lucky them. For better or worse, dog ownership is just a trial run of child-rearing for many conscientious couples, and when they decide to take the plunge, the dog’s along for the ride. For a long time, I envied the kinds of kids who found themselves in those kinds of situations.
Anyway, long story short, I wanted a dog – the kind of big, beautiful golden retriever who always looked like he was smiling whenever his mouth hung open – but my parents didn’t see fit to indulge that dream of mine. My mother had allergies, they told me. And who would walk the damn thing every single day? Not my father, that was for damn sure.
For a brief spell, I tried to convince myself that maybe I’d settle for having a pet cat, but that felt like settling for a bowl of lukewarm soup when what you were really craving was a pizza with extra cheese. So I never outright suggested a cat to my parents, and to their credit, they never broached the subject either.
I just wish my dad had never bothered with that damn rabbit.

It was early in July. Summer vacation still felt brand new and full of possibility. The guy next door was washing his car and had the baseball game on the radio. I was sitting on the back porch, reading a comic book when my dad came home from work. He sold cars over at Pontino’s Ford, and worked unpredictable hours, but that day he came home around three in the afternoon.
“Hey Jamie,” he said, sounding like he had exciting news.
“Yeah?” I looked over my shoulder, wondering what the news could be.
“C’mere. I got something for you.”
This did not happen, as a general rule. My dad got me presents for my birthday and Christmas, and that was it. Aced a test at school? Came home with an A+ on my report card? All well and good, but met with nothing more than a hearty clap on the back, and a “good job,” or some such. So I got up from my seat on the porch feeling a heady rush of excitement shot through with a blue sliver of trepidation. I followed him along the side of the house to the driveway, where his forest green Taurus was parked.
He paused next to the car, and turned toward me, crouching down a bit so his eyes were level with mine.
“Now, you’re not obliged to keep it, okay? So if you don’t want it, that’s alright. Just let me know, and I’ll take it back.”
My reply was a slightly cocked head. He grinned and nodded.
“Yeah, best to show you, huh?” He opened the rear passenger door, reached in, and pulled out a sizable cardboard box—the kind used for transporting tomatoes in bulk. He pulled back the blanket that had been draped over top enough to reveal a white rabbit, no bigger than a football.
I blinked at the rabbit, and it blinked back, nose twitching.
“I know how badly you want a dog, son, but… Listen, one of the guys at work had a few of these rabbits to give away, and—”
“Why did a guy at work have rabbits to give away?” By now, a smile had spread across my face, and despite my mild confusion, I decided to leave it be.
My dad chuckled. “You know? I didn’t even think to ask. But I told him I’d take one, and here it is.”
A beat passed.
“So what do you think?” He asked.
I didn’t honestly know what I thought, but I was still high on the thrill of being surprised by my dad on a sunny afternoon with a pet to call my own. The first pet I’d ever had. (Also the last.)
“He’s great!” I said.
My dad stood up, satisfied. “How do you know it’s a he?”
“I don’t,” I said. “Just a guess.”
“Fair enough,” he said. “Let’s take this little fella inside.”

Anyone who’s ever known a rabbit can tell you that they shit all the time, and at volume. Luckily it comes in the form of tiny compact balls, and it’s easy to scoop up and clean. I found out about rabbit shit minutes after introducing the little fella to our kitchen. Once I’d set his tomato box down on the linoleum, he poked his head over one edge of the cardboard, as if taking in his surroundings. Then, seemingly deciding it was safe to go exploring, he hopped out of the box and started making his way along the baseboard.
“Mom’s not home yet?” Dad asked.
“Nope, and Sarah’s at Renee’s house.” Sarah was my older sister, and Renee was her best friend. My mom worked at a junior high school, and had signed up to teach summer school classes. As a kid, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why she’d voluntarily choose to work in the summertime. She did it every year she was able, too. It wasn’t until I’d grown up a bit and gotten my own taste of the economy that the choice started to make a dreary kind of sense.
“Perfect.” Dad smiled conspiratorially.
“So I really get to keep this guy?” I picked the rabbit up to try and pet it, which he clearly wasn’t in favour of, but I had the size advantage.
“Assuming your mom doesn’t object.”
“Where will he stay?”
It wasn’t clear whether or not my dad had thought about that. He faltered, but recovered quickly. “In the backyard. You know that patch of garden where nothing’s planted.”
Our backyard was decently sized, with a big maple tree on the right side, green grass (which it had lately become my job to mow), and a garden off to the left. It had a shrub and cucumbers or mini tomatoes when my mom felt like it. Currently, it had a patch of dirt a few feet wide that no plant life had yet lay claim to. At first, that seemed like the ideal home for the rabbit. But only at first.
“He’ll escape,” I said.
“Not if we put up some chicken wire,” Dad said.
I considered for a moment. “What if it rains?” I said.
Dad frowned. “Rabbits don’t mind getting wet.”
“We can’t leave him outside in the rain!” There I was, indignant about the rights of an animal I’d known for seven minutes. “Or overnight!”
My father crossed his arms. “Alright,” he said. “Get in the car. We’ve got some shopping to do.”

By the time we pulled back into the driveway, we’d already agreed to a compromise we could both live with. The rabbit would live out in the yard during the daytime, and come into the house only at night, or when the weather was inclement. It would, of course, be my job to shuttle the rabbit back and forth accordingly, and if it got left out all night and some coyote came along, well, I’d only have myself to blame. I couldn’t recall ever having seen a coyote, but I told myself to be on the lookout for them.
The rabbit had been a fine passenger throughout the multiple stops on our shopping trip, as he evidently had also been when my dad brought him home from work. I’d sat next to him in the back seat, watching his little nose twitching constantly, and thanking my lucky stars that, even though his fur reminded me of freshly-fallen snow, he didn’t have those weird red eyes that so many white rabbits seemed to have.
My dad had gone first to the hardware store, then the mall (which didn’t have a pet store, it turned out), and finally the big box shopping center across town from the mall (which did). We’d come home with chicken wire, some rabbit food (brown pellets that smelled like the inside of a barn) and a cage, for indoors. And that first night passed without incident. My mom had barely commented on the rabbit when she saw the cage in my room, just told me to make sure it got fed. Sarah was more excited. She cuddled the rabbit for a little while, sitting on the floor in my room. It wasn’t until she asked me what his name was that I realized he didn’t have one yet.
“Aesop,” I told her. I didn’t know where that came from. Still don’t, to this day. But nobody ever questioned it, so Aesop it was.

Did you know that if a rabbit doesn’t have something to gnaw on constantly, its front teeth will just keep growing, like a fingernail, or a hair? Eventually the tooth might even start curling in on itself, sort of like a ram’s horn. Bugs Bunny taught millions of people that rabbits love carrots, and maybe that stereotype does have some roots in reality, but shortly after Aesop came into my life, I started doing research on rabbits, taking books out from the library. I started to get the feeling that the link between rabbits and carrots came from some farmer somewhere in history figuring out that when he gave his rabbits carrots to nibble at, their teeth stayed under control. Either that, or the reason rabbits snatched carrots out of undefended gardens was some nature-driven urge they had to maintain dental health. When I was really little, my mom read me all those Beatrix Potter stories, and half of them seemed to feature rabbits getting in trouble over carrots. At least, that’s how I remembered them.
Anyway, the point is, Aesop made me realize that, until he came along, all of my experience with rabbits had come through stories and cartoons. I had no idea how to care for a rabbit – luckily, it didn’t seem to be all that demanding a task – and, by extension, I didn’t really know what constituted what you’d call a normal rabbit.
After skimming through a book or two, and with a little trial and error, the caring-for half of the equation more or less took care of itself. It was even less challenging than it seemed at first, in fact. Make sure the rabbit’s got a steady supply of food, something to chomp on, and space to run around, and you’re ninety percent of the way there.
But the other half of the equation? Well, it wasn’t long before I started wondering whether there might be something off about Aesop.
See, everyone knows about the long ears, and the buck teeth. Everyone knows that, to folks of a certain persuasion, a rabbit’s foot is considered a lucky charm. Rabbits have a set number of physical characteristics that they’re known for. Their eyes, though? You don’t hear a lot about rabbits’ eyes.

For the rest of that summer, my daily interactions with Aesop went something like this: I’d get up in the morning, stumble out of bed, and go over to his cage to check on him. Not once did I ever catch him snoozing in the morning—he’d always be wide awake, munching on a food pellet, or pacing around in the wood shavings I’d lined his living quarters with.
He was an early riser, Aesop.
If the sun was shining (which it was, most mornings), I’d take him downstairs with me and out into his corner of the yard before pouring myself a bowl of cereal. Most days, my schedule was pretty much wide open, so I’d hang around for a while after breakfast, watching Aesop hop-stepping around his patch of dirt. Once I’d had my fill of that, and it seemed like he had everything under control, I’d get on my bike and ride over to the park, or to my buddy Andre’s place. Whatever that day called for, I’d see to it that it gone done, which meant that Aesop was generally on his own until I got home (which was always before the streetlights came on).
Occasionally, I’d spend the day at home, and check in on Aesop periodically. Over time, both the frequency and the duration of these check-ins began to dwindle. Aesop was predictable, and didn’t offer a lot in the way of entertainment. But like my mom told me to do, I made sure he always had food and water.

One evening, as my dad stood at the sink washing the after-dinner dishes, I heard him say to no one in particular, “Storm’s on its way tonight. Someone ought to bring that rabbit in before the rain starts.” I couldn’t tell if he’d intended for me to hear him, but I did, and since I had nothing better to do, I set aside the book I’d been reading and got up from my seat at the table.
As soon as I stepped outside, I could feel what he was talking about. The air had that edge to it—the smell that signals an oncoming summer storm. You’d never know it if old Aesop was your only barometer, though. He simply sat there in the dirt, nose twitching, a nibbled-at carrot stub by his side. I went to pick him up, but paused mid-crouch, letting out a gasp of revulsion. Aesop’s left eye was fine. But the right one – that shiny, dark marble – wasn’t level with the left. It was nearly a full inch higher up Aesop’s head than its opposite. Almost tucked away in the soft pink valley at the base of his right ear.
Placing one hand firmly on his back to ensure he wouldn’t hop away, I took his head in the other. Gently, so as not to hurt him, I turned it so he was facing me. And there was no mistaking it: his right eye had somehow crept up toward his ear. As I was examining him, he blinked – the right eye a split second after the left, like it was playing catch-up – and I let go of him like he was sandwich in which I’d discovered a live cockroach.
Had he always been this way—my little leporid Quasimodo? Surely I would have noticed by now. Was I feeling jittery because of the storm brewing? No, I’d long ago outgrown being afraid of a little thunder. This was… new.
Gritting my teeth, I snatched Aesop up and ran back into the house with him tucked under my arm like a football. Halfway up the stairs to my room, I stopped cold. The idea of letting Aesop spend the night at the foot of my bed suddenly didn’t sit right with me, even though that’s where he’d spent every night up until now.
Before going to sleep later that night, I moved Aesop’s cage into my closet and shut the door. But I didn’t have the heart to leave him that way, so I cracked the door back open, just a sliver. Enough to let in fresh air? I wasn’t sure. It simply felt less like locking him in solitary confinement that way.
Not a single drop of rain fell that night.

I woke with a squawk-gasp and sat up in bed, hair stuck to my sweaty forehead. My heart was thrumming in my chest. I must have had a nightmare, though I didn’t remember any of the details. It felt like it must have been a bad one.
Looking to the window, I could see that the sun had only just begun rising. Then my eyes darted to the closet. Jumpy as I was, I’d forgotten momentarily why it was ajar. It didn’t take long for the memory to kick in, but even once it had, I had a hard time convincing myself to get over the childlike suspicion that, as long as I stayed in my bed, I’d be safe.
I threw back the thin sheet which was all I slept with in the summertime, and set one tentative foot on the floor. My eyes trained on the closet door the entire time, I lowered my other foot, and slowly stood up. Ignoring the morning urge to go to the toilet and take a leak, I did my best ninja impression all the way over to the closet, and once I got there, yanked the door open with what I hoped look like authority. At the same time, I switched on my bedroom light.
And there was Aesop, in his usual static pose, wide awake. If he’d had any reaction to my opening the door, he didn’t show it. He simply sat, body perfectly parallel to the space created by the open door. It was not lost on me that his left side faced my now exposed room, while his right side faced toward the back of the closet. His left eye was open, and where I remembered it last being located on his head.
“Turn around,” I said aloud, surprising myself. I regretted it instantly. What if my parents – or more likely Sarah – heard? I cursed myself under my breath.
Unflappable Aesop remained still, except for the minute movements of his nose.
On a normal morning, I’d take Aesop out of his cage, and give him a little cuddle to start the day. But this morning, I was loathe to touch him. Still, I had to see his right eye. I had to know. So I grabbed hold of his cage, and started rotating it. As I did, he rotated himself in the opposite direction, keeping his left side facing me, his claws making tiny skritch-skritch sounds as he compensated.
“Fucker,” I hissed at him. Under other circumstances, that utterance might have elicited a thrill.
I turned the cage with more urgency, but Aesop matched my pace. So I gave up that tactic, opened up the cage, and reached for him. To my surprise, he offered no resistance. I whipped him around and my stomach leaped up into my throat — his right eye had grown overnight. To four times its former size, at least. It seemed to occupy the entire right side of his face. It looked like a greased steel ball. It rotated in its socket, and blinked. I dropped Aesop to the floor. He didn’t move. For a second, I thought he’d been catastrophically injured, but no, he was just sitting, calmly as before.
I stared down at him, positioned between and just in front of my feet. Resisting every instinct in me, I bent at the knees and slowly started getting down for a better look. And then, another eye opened. A hideously milky, dark grey eye, right in the center of his back. It stared back up at me, as if with recognition.
Without pausing to think about my next move, I ran back to my bed, tore the pillowcase off my pillow, and used it to scoop Aesop up from the floor. He didn’t protest. Just hung there limply like dead weight as I held the pillowcase at arm’s length.
The house was still silent. If I could get down the stairs and into the garage without waking anyone, then I had a chance. That’s where my bike was waiting. The plan formulated itself in my head, mercifully without seeming to need any input from me.
Pedaling back home, I started thinking up explanations for my early-morning bike ride. I had a feeling everyone would be awake by the time I got back, and I’d need an alibi. It was only a mild concern, because I was so full of adrenaline and relief that my body barely had room for anything else. I’d also have to explain my missing pillowcase to my mother. That would be a trickier proposition.
My mind kept replaying the scene that had played out only moments ago. There was a park across town that edged onto a small, forested area. If you walked through the trees for a while, you’d wind up at a chain link fence, beyond which was a steep drop, more trees, and untended vegetation. Every kid I talked to on a regular basis knew this spot like the back of their hand, despite all of our parents warning us never to go there. And it was over this chain link fence that I chucked the pillowcase containing Aesop. Swung it over my head once for good measure, and to give it some extra momentum, and just let it fly. I didn’t even watch to see where it landed.

A day or two later, my dad asked me what had happened to Aesop.
“Haven’t seen him in the yard lately. Have you been keeping him up in your room, son?”
“Nope,” I said.
“Did he escape somehow? Burrow under the fence or something?”
“I dunno, Dad. Maybe a coyote got him.”
He arched his eyebrows at that. “Coyote, huh?”
I shrugged. “Maybe.”
And we left it at that.

I’m still to this day grappling with how exactly one wrangles a jumbled bunch of abstract feelings, images and tableaux into the structure of a “story”. I really wish I knew because the frustration of attempting it kills me every time but I know there’s something I want to express in me. I’m incredibly jealous of people who manage it, which is no good.

@“2501”#p53150 I’d say that it’s not NO good, because it’s pushing you toward trying to write something, in a way. Let those words fly, and forget that the delete key on your keyboard exists.

@“whatsarobot”#p53206 Try to find a post of mine on this forum that doesn’t have “(Edited)” next to it to see just how anxious I get about words.

But really though, what I find happens when I try to write fiction is that I’ll deeply inhabit a single place or moment or image to a degree I like, but then I have no clue how to make it _move_. It ends up rich and stillborn. Action - the A>B structure and chronological order it implies - is the confounding part for me.

This post inspired me to write something on my blog, which you can also read here: https://hellojed.neocities.org/posts/2022-01-10-The-Visitor.html

**The Visitor**

I was set to meet the Sorcerer Roderick just before the full moon of the month. Roderick had a small house in the southern valley, and after a few days of travel I had made my way to his residence.

“Welcome, Felix” Roderick said bursting out the door. I hadn’t knocked on the door, and I walk lightly, and so his sudden appearance startled me.

I walked in, greeting Roderick. The reason I was to see him was because of some spices that were required for a number of charms that he specialized in. I had brought samples in but in transit had lost my vial of Beurgamout., which I felt especially terrible about. “Ah, never mind the Beurgamout” Roderick said as I walked in.

“The what?” I asked “How did you know?”

“Nevermind that” Roderick said “I know you’re hungry”, he then presented me a dish of different sweets and rolls. I looked over at this, and then at Roderick, who seemed oddly fascinated at what I was about to choose. I felt that something was off, and perhaps Roderick, for whatever reason, meant to end me. But I reasoned that his business was in charm making, and making enemies in the magic business meant bad ends. I took a plain bagel.

“Interesting” Roderick said “Fascinating, you’ve never done that before”

“I simply sometimes choose to have a bagel” I retorted “thank you”

“Come, sit” Roderick said as I put my bagel over the open grill. “You wanted to show me your samples, that is, after all, the reason for this meeting” he said, in a overly exaggerated manner.

“Right” I said. i went to get the sample spices out of my ruck sack, and in the process of going through the samples I thought to ask how Roderick knew I didn’t have the Beurgaout.

“I’ll tell you later” He said suddenly. I paused and wondered if he had gained the power of telepathy. Some sorcerers will spend lifetimes learning telepathy, but you could get much better work than a charm maker with that kind of power. And if he had…

“I’m not telepathic either” Roderick replied suddenly. As if he was reading my own thoughts.

“Roderick” I said “What is going on?”

Roderick began smiling, as if he was anticipating this moment “Have you figured it out yet? I know you haven’t, but I wanted to ask”

I set my samples down, having prepared a long sales pitch for each of them during my long track into the southern valley, but now found the situation had changed dramatically, but Roderick didn’t mean to tell me just yet.

“Your sales pitch would be well thought out, but ultimately unconvincing” Roderick replied “And the Xerxex you sourced contains far too much salt for my needs”

Perhaps Roderick developed foresight. Another sorcerer practice that looks years to perfect, but a special foresight ritual, done in this particular moon phase, could be an explanation. I thought. But, the bagel…

“A Foresight Ritual” Roderick said “You’re about to ask me about that, and I would reply that while I could pull a few favors for one, you know that Foresight without The Skill would carry a heavy cost.”

“Enough of this nonsense” I said “If you don’t wish to have my wares, but seem to know everything else about this visit, I will simply be on my way. I spent three days traveling to your residence”

Roderick raised his hand, which summoned his staff, and in a swift motion cast a barrier spell, trapping the both of us within the confines of the house. My blood ran cold as all of the windows and doors slammed shut in one big clap.

“Roderick” I said

“Now this is what I look forward to the most” Roderick replied “You’re never able to successfully guess how I know what I know, but because you chose that bagel, which I’ve never seen you do before, well, I’ll give you one more hint, I am so intensely curious”

Roderick stepped towards me, his eyes an intense stare, his mouth fixed into a grin, before he simply uttered

“Basil”

How…how did he know about Basil? At the first utterance of His Name, I was flooded with my memories with them. We had an intense and deep love for one another. I was in the spice clan, and Basil was a traveler, and it was forbidden for us to be together. So forbidden I had never told anyone about this, I would be expelled from the clan. My heart had ached for him ever since. I would have dreams where we were together again, only to wake up alone, and in those dreams I knew they were dreams, and accepted the small moments of being reunited with the sadness that was returning to reality. It was sweeter than any wine.

“How…” I said “...I would never tell anyone about him”

“Felix I have come to know everything about you, about your samples, about your life, one way or another” Roderick replied “But as you have surmised I do not have foresight, nor clairvoyance, or telepathy. I simply remember it all”

“Remember?” I asked. But then it suddenly dawned on me how he could know everything. My reaction to things, my thoughts, when I would appear. Almost as if he had done so countless times.

“A time loop!!” Roderick said with anger and excitement.

“Your samples, what you eat, I’ve learned from observing you come into my home thousands upon thousands of times. At first I tried to gain your help to break the loop, once I realized I was in one, and you were unable to help. So then I tried experimenting with the loop, trying to find a way out. Perhaps if the transaction had gone perfectly. I agreed to the order. I agreed to ten times the order. Over and over again. And at last I realized that, in my prison, I had quite the gift. A visitor who would always appear, but never remember anything. And so I began to learn all about you, your life story, all of your secrets, every person you have met. As much as you can remember, at least. I can no longer live my life, and so, I must do so through you. At first I enjoyed this, but slowly i began to resent you, you and your infinite ignorance, and then this turned to hatred.”

“I would never tell anyone about Basil” I said “much less someone in Charms, I know what that would mean for me, exile”

“My dear Felix” Roderick said “It’s only under torture that you relent”

My mind began to reel at this. If Roderick was stuck in a time loop, and had been long enough to know everything about me, then he had gone completely mad, perhaps several times over. Not only this, but i had experienced countless ends at the hands of Roderick, and perhaps would do so unknowingly, forever.

“How did you get stuck in a time loop?” I asked Roderick, hoping sympathy would perhaps make this loop end better for me.

“Ah, it was that hag witch from the north peak!” Roderick bellowed “She has trapped me in this, as if it happened this morning. I remember my whole life up to that moment, how I wish I could have been somewhere else!!”

A time loop is one thing, but a witch loop is another. Witches’ magic carries a personal cost, but isn’t god like either. To send someone in a loop like this would only be under extreme circumstances.

“Why?” I asked. And dear reader, Roderick did tell me, but for your sake I will not repeat what he said to me.

It was long ago in my travels that I saved a witch from a mob, and she told me the secret to escaping a witch’s loop. She said I was worthy of the secret, and that it was impossible for a non-witch to ever reveal how it works. It’s like falling off a log. In all of the loops Roderick had with me, he would never know the secret to leaving it. It is within this small fold in time that Roderick also breaks out of the loop, but he won’t remember it. In that moment you can see centuries of regret and anguish wash over his face as I step out of his home and into the night. When I look back his house is an empty ruin.

That night I say at an inn, mulling over what has happened, and the infinite trauma my many copies have possibly endured that I would never know about, and what may have happened had I not saved that witch all those years ago.

“Best not think about it, love” the bartender said.

@“Moon”#p53069 This is really funny, I think my favorite part of this is the disposable VR Glasses. Thrift store bins are full of discarded VR headsets for phones (I found at least 4 of them in one yesterday) so that tracks.

@"whatsarobot"#p53122 I like this a lot! Very spooky/creepy! I cannot help but feel bad for the rabbit, even if it's cursed

@“marlfuchs2”#p53370 Thanks for reading, and for replying. There‘s just something about rabbits, isn’t there? They're hard not to feel bad for.