History Lesson (a short story)

Every Tuesday night, storytellers and poets gather in the Bardic Circle in Elven Glen of Second Life to exchange their own work and that of others that they like. Each week we have a voluntary “challenge” to include five words chosen at the last session in a new story or poem. I wrote the following story for last week’s meeting, incorporating the five words: WIND; ECLIPSE; STAR; COLD; LOST (P.S. Anyone is welcome to attend the Bardic Circle; you can come directly at 7 p.m. slt any Tuesday night by clicking here.)

a short story by Bay Sweetwater

One cold afternoon on the faraway star of Kith, 6-year-old Eep did what angry children often do: he packed a little bundle of his things — the milky sandwich drink, a small blanket, and a tube of superglue for unpredictable mishaps — then crept down the ramp to the loading chute, keeping his loud magnetic rollers off til the very last moment.

He had chosen the moment of the eclipse to run away, when all was dark and his parents would not see him. The wind stilled, the perfect moment for liftoff. He strapped himself in, took a deep breath, and hit the hyperdrive button.

The ship hurtled past galaxies, years compressed upon years, and Eep left his childhood behind him quickly. As he grew in years within a moment, he began to comprehend what he had done. Too late, he understood why his parents had always forbade him to touch the hypercar: without knowing how to configure powering algorithms, the time jumps, and especially the orientation drive, he was lost in spacetime immediately with no power to return.

Finally by chance, Eep thudded to the ground. Pulling on his rolling treads, he navigated carefully across what looked like a grid of sorts, molded into meadows and hills, paths and streets, even oceans and large islands. Around him he saw for the first time the creatures he had studied in his schoolbooks on ancient lore:  a fairy sitting on a mushroom, a dancing bunny, and a muscled humanoid talking to several other more curvy humanoids. Around his field of vision he saw what appeared to be a log-in screen. This at least was familiar.

He punched the log-in button and suddenly found himself staring at his real self out in space, still inside the hypercar hurtling through spacetime. Thunderstruck, Eep understood what had happened: he had fallen into a virtual world in a hyperjump, but because he had not configured the orientation drivw, his roles were reversed: the avatar he had become was now his real self, and what had been his real self was now an avatar, speeding out of control through unknown galaxies!

Quickly, Eep built a computer with a navigable media prim for a screen (this was child’s play on Kith) and got his avatarian self under control. But what next? Questions thundered through his brain: Would he be an avatar for the rest of his life? Would his real self always be under his avatar’s control? Would he always have to log in to live his real life? The whole thing made his brain hurt.

Finally he came up with a plan: he built a website on the media prim and uploaded a machinima video of his situation. He IM’d his parents and explained as best he could, and told them to watch the video. He asked them to create avatars for themselves and come visit him in Second Life. That way, he figured, they could at least all get together and have some sort of blended avatarian-“real” life.

Well, as you all know, that was the famous first instance of a blended “real”-avatar family. Of course, that was many years ago, and genetics has now blended avatarian and so-called “real” features quite seamlessly. We no longer distinguish between “avatar” and “real” any more than we distinguish between a man and a woman. And the boundary between online and offline is a quaint historical artifact that you can still see in some museums.

That’s all for today, students. There will be a quiz tomorrow.

I write like Stephen King!

Following Wagner Au’s tip, I went to the I Write Like site and pasted in a sample of my blog posts to see what writer I most resemble. And it came up . . . Stephen King! LOL.

I couldn’t be more pleased! I am a BIG fan of Stephen King. He is one of the writers I admire most. Seriously!

Try it yourself! It’s tons of fun. Just get a sample of your writing and paste it into the entry box on the site. In a couple seconds it will tell you what writer you resemble most.

OK now that I write like Stephen King, get ready for posts like these:

Nobody was really surprised when it happened, not really, not at the subconscious level where savage things grow . . .

(hahahahaha. Don’t I wish! This is the opener from Stephen King’s Carrie.)

But in the spirit of the eerie, I’m offering a contest, like Stephen King does all the time on his website (don’t miss his latest “Expand My Empire” photo contest!)

Below is a picture I snapped this morning on my Second Life neighbor Balpien Hammerer’s land where I was taken by surprise by (shudder)  . . . Herman (don’t miss his triple eyeballs!)

So the contest is:  write a story, poem, sentence, or whatever about what’s happening here. I’ll write something too. And then we can all see who is the best “Stephen King”. Not sure what the prize is yet. Probably just some good laughs (or screams, or eeeek’s, or squishy sounds in the night. . . )

P.S. I’ll forward this blog post to Stephen King (the real one) on his website. Wouldn’t it be a hoot if he’d compete too? LOL.

What's happening here (a la Stephen King)?

Whoosh. . . upon a dandelion

A wish upon a dandelion always comes true.

One of the events I enjoy most in Second Life is the weekly Bardic Circle gathering in the Elf lands. (Come visit! All welcome. Every 7 p.m. Tuesday, SLT – that’s Pacific time in the U.S.) Teleport directly by clicking here.) We listen to and read poems and stories that are funny, sad, touching, and … well, any adjective would apply here. I look forward to it all week. I have the immense honor of being Elf Circle’s Poet Laureate this year, and I usually write something new every week. A number of you have asked me to post some of these stories and poems – so here we go. This is the first one.

I call it “Gelid’s Wish” because that is the name of the little wizard here. He got his name because of a Bardic Circle tradition. Every week, the hostess Sairi Matova asks five of those attending to offer one word of the Five-Word Challenge. Then we all try to write a poem or story using those five words for the next week’s gathering. Well, one week one of the words was . . . you guessed it . . . “gelid.” It means icy or extremely cold. Well, I couldn’t fit it into my story, so I gave the wizard that name – LOL!


by Bay Sweetwater

Gelid the wizard took a deep breath, then exhaled with a little puff as he studied the gleaming spaceport in front of him. The spaceport dock was suddenly pulsing with activity. Whole squadrons of spaceships took off one after the other into the cloudless summer sky. None of the spaceships would ever return, but that was as it should be. This was, after all, an intergalactic space colonization mission.

Gelid gazed after the trail of departing spaceships and admired their brilliant design: perfectly aerodynamic, fuel-free, propelled by the wind captured in a hundred threadlike wings. The wings, shaped as an umbrella, also served to protect the precious pod cargo carried below.

Amid the echo of the tumultuous launch, Gelid heard the nightingale sing its song of hope for the spaceships. The song made him wonder briefly if the ships would truly succeed in their dangerous mission. Would they really make it safely to their destinations in unknown worlds, drop the pods, and sprout whole new generations—who would then build spaceports themselves in those farflung, unimagined homelands?

But in his next breath, Gelid knew they would succeed. He was certain of it. For hadn’t he wished for safe hands—a mother’s hands—cradling  those spaceships, wherever they may go in all the worlds of the universe?

And, as everyone knows, whatever you wish for when you blow upon a dandelion . . . and blow all the seedlings away in a single breath . .  that wish always comes true.