Workshop Creations: Character Week – ‘Circus Act’ (by Ailsa et al)

“My character is: Georgie Hunter

She is a bartender and a stalker.

She has an unusual fetish (clowns and acrobats).

She is enthusiastic.

History:

She lives around Europe, moving a city every year or so. She follows various circuses around the countries, for she obsessed with them in terms of her fetishes and her loves.

She has met a lot of people in the circus, but things seem to focus on one in particular, where the rest of the characters have involvement.

She is addicted to stalking people, of finding out their secrets and organising strange orgies.

She is usually happy though, with an addictive personality.

Setting: An unknown European city. There is a ballet troupe nearby as well as the circus. The ballet dancers perform at the circus sometimes.

Connections and past:

Barbara, a Wax-Works exhibit curator for the circus, was once in love with Sneed.

Sneed is a plastic-surgeon who is grumpy as shit.

Barbara and Sneed had Gunther some time ago.

Gunther found out his father was a plastic surgeon, and left when he found his mother having a massive orgy with clowns, giving him clown-ophobia. He left to find his father, and though he decided not to tell Sneed their connection, trained under Sneed anyway.

Georgie was the one who organised the orgy.

Barbara went to Gunther later, not knowing she was her son, and got botched plastic surgery.

Now:

Georgie likes Harold, an old clown (retired grump).

Harold, though, likes Barbara.

Miles is a car salesman who was an up-market snob but was dejected by his parents. He has an obsession with vanity and preserving things. He likes Georgie as she is young and beautiful.

Miles also likes Lela, the ballet dancer though. She used to baby-sit him and he has an Oedipus complex with her.

Lela is friends with Barbara who wants to make Lela beautiful, like she once was, before Barbara’s botched surgery.

Lela goes to Gunther for the surgery, but Gunther likes her so makes it good. Lela likes him back.

Margot is Lela’s progidy in ballet dancing. She is the young elegant version of what Lela was when she just began dancing. Margot is friends with Barbara.

Gunther likes Georgie, as he sees her stalking the circus.

Story:

Georgie the stalker follows everyone and finds out their secrets and the truth of everything.

In a good mystery fashion she brings them all to the Wax-Works and reveals the truth. Sneed is shocked at the revalation he has a son.

Barbara decides to kill herself, throwing herself into a vat of wax, crying “I always loved you,” to Sneed.

Harold though, leaps in after her to save her, but because he is old he fails and falls in also. They die together as a couple, in each other’s arms.

Aftermath:

Harold and Barbara become the centre piece for the new circus.

Georgie starts a relationship with Miles, after her “true love” is now dead.

Lela becomes the new Barbara, takes over the Wax-Works, and Margot becomes the new Lela, excelling in dancing to high levels.

Gunther and Lela end up together.

Sneed drives away, the villain of the piece, in a car sold to him by Miles.”

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Workshop Creations: Character Week (by Maria et al)

“We thought the idea we had would work best as a screenplay or television series. A bit like Lost, in terms of a set of random characters coming together over an exceptional circumstance, but with faster pacing than Lost and it would be a self-contained series, maybe like six episodes. A bit cinematic, very visual.

My character was: Alfie, the obsessive architect who experiences prophetic dreams.

These dreams portray the collapse of the building he has most recently designed. The collapse occurs in various ways, but always involving some kind of impact, implosion or explosion. Through flashbacks we come to understand that these dreams originate from Alfie’s experience of witnessing 9/11 from his mother’s living room, staring at the television and thinking he was just watching a pretty brutal disaster movie. It was only in the ensuing weeks, with further reporting and a shaky lesson at school, that he came to understand that this thing had actually happened. Throughout the series, there will be stuff about the flimsy nature of reality, the slippery relation between fantasy and reality, representation and real life. In Alfie’s head, 9/11 still sears with this uncanny, filmic quality. He can’t help but design all his buildings in a very similar style to the Twin Towers. All his sketches bear traces of that primal trauma. He used to have dreams where the fall of the second tower would loop over and over again in his mind, and he’d wake up in cold sweats. Now the dreams are about his own creations. He was a very prolific architect and sailed through university, completing his degree in fewer years than the required seven. The dreams of collapsing creations started when he started uni.

He tries to control this strange situation by designing elaborate architectural landscapes, ones with the sturdiest materials. It takes years to build them, but sure enough, the night before opening, he will dream of its destruction and awake to the fresh creation burnt to ashes, collapsed to rubble. After a while, people begin to be suspicious of him and he stops being hired by architect firms. Then, when word gets out about the slightly supernatural trail of bad luck that follows him, Alfie is hired by artists who are interested in the transience of the modern urban landscape. Everything he draws and builds is beautiful, but fleeting, they write on their website. They are planning to make a documentary film which will end up looping in the exhibition rooms of the Tate for the whole of winter. His crumbling towers capture the essence of contemporary consumer futility. In his spare time, he is designing a new hypermarket, in the American style, hoping for success on British shores. He has a hopeful sense about this one; that it won’t fall down, because its purpose is so insignificant. A place where people buy groceries, reduced tellies, own-brand shampoo. Surely it would not warrant the usual extravagant disaster.

Other characters:

  • 2 x TV executives
  • Spy
  • Hitman
  • Adult entertainer

Plot points:

  • People are drawn to the supermarket because it is advertised as an innovation in consumer experience, designed by a famous architect. They want to experience the surreal browsing wonderland of an American hypermarket.
  • Alfie waits for the customers to arrive, watching them from the roof as he nervously sips brandy. He has not had the prophetic dream yet; there is no telling what will happen to this particular building.
  • The spy is actually chasing the hitman, pursuing him through the supermarket?
  • The adult entertainer, Wendy/Gwendoline, is drawn to the hypermarket because it sells very rare health-giving berries (from a specific Australian wetland) at a precious price. This is what also draws the health-conscious (unhealthily addicted to being healthy) TV executive. Turns out Wendy knows a special recipe for unlocking the berries’ hallucinogenic properties.
  • There is a war going on outside – some kind of vague nuclear meltdown between nations. A lump of debris/plane crashes into the hypermarket, shattering half the building. All the characters have to make their way to the safe part, picking their way over collapsed shelves and bodies and bricks like they are trapped in a labyrinth.
  • Everyone is oblivious to the war.
  • There is a television broadcasting disaster on a loop (because the crash cut off the signal and so it got stuck on one particular scene) but they assume it’s just a movie. Deja vu – 9/11.
  • One of the TV execs (the deceitful one) is secretly filming everything as the characters work their way through the hypermarket, fending for survival and trying to work out how to reestablish their phone/internet signal to send for help.
  • It is all about questioning what we take as reality: we witness the hypermarket from each character’s perspective – the anxious architect battling with guilt, the hallucinating Wendy and Steve McNicol the TV exec., the mesmerised hitman staring at the telly, worrying about his cat who is pining at home without him.
  • There is an irony because we know about the war outside and they don’t; they think the supermarket is a sinister environment, but actually it’s providing domestic sanctuary from the war outside (e.g. have cute scenes where characters share Pop Tarts and cereal straight from the packet, chatting about how they miss their houses).
  • It ends with the discovery of a giant telly, and the revelation that the TV executive has been filming them all along; one of them hears their own voice repeating something they have said before and follows it along to discover the telly. The final scene, perhaps, will be the characters all staring up fearfully at this giant screen reflecting their own selves – and they are frozen into silence (a silence perhaps suggestive that even the world outside has ended?).”

The Letter

For the regard of Sir Havenly Chompsey,

My dear sir,

Many days have passed since our last encounter. Since then I cannot begin to speak of the thoughts that have entered and exited my head following on from our discussion from that momentous meeting. If you can cast your mind back you will remember that I said I am very eager in your area of expertise, and so with this in mind I would like to continue upon my thoughts in this letter.

Assassination I believe is necessary for the development of mankind. What sort of simple world would it be if we did not have change? Would beings have ever stepped out of Africa? Would they have had the gumption to slay the Neandrathal? Would they have ever have invented the wheel? I would dare say not, for without change they would never have chances and be forced to make choices which aided their development. Assassination is the organised removal of the blocks which do not allow for change to occur, of those in power who do not provide any sort of benefit for mankind – therefore it is a necessary fixture.

However, the printing press itself, dear sir, is not beyond its use. You claim, with the development of the new … typewriter as you call it that we will not need templates and ink, but I declare not. The press is a sure thing, a stable thing, that gives exact duplication of materials from one page to another, and through the production of such materials it can be passed to many a man and begin to change the world by enlightening them to the thoughts of the new world. I hope you understand, my good sir. Change is necessary, and the steady reliable printing press is needed to keep going. This typewriter is perhaps a method of writing, but not a method of duplication. It will not serve any problems we currently have with wet ink.

From black to strawberry red, the inks of the press are many in variety, and thus a variety of messages can be sent – from death threats to orders of assasinations. And, as mentioned above, assassinations in my mind, and in many of my scholarly colleagues, are essential for everything. As we face the new dawn of the new age it is clear that we will need a great new deal of people who can adapt easily to new change, and these sort of gentleman can be discovered through the aid of assassination – indeed, sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Tomorrow I travel west, beyond the waterfalls, and I hope that you, dear sir, will think on what I say. I know that from our discussion you believed that the time of the press was over and done with and that change was arbitrary, perhaps, when one considers the current fate of all man. But I say that mankind can be positive, that we can be positive and believe that mankind can change.

Once I am beyond the waterfalls I will be out of letter range and thus not able to be contacted for around a week. I plan to return with a small army of mercenaries whom I can introduce to you as possible new recruits for our world-domination army, if you remember the idea we discussed about the creation of such. Also, I hope to find a couple to train as my personal assassins, but there is no use to worry here as I swear they will never traget my close allies.

I hope you are well, and your family is all in good health.

Yours sincerely,

Lord Apple Hummings

by Ailsa Williamson
What were your prompts?: Printing press, Waterfall, Strawberry

The Preciousness of Water

A bright morning, something calling… though who knows what because for so long I’ve been alone, so long I’ve forgotten what it is to hear something – anything at all – that wasn’t my own two feet trudging upon soil. I was standing by the ocean’s edge, the sand etched in my toes, thinking how weak the sea looked; so still as if the moon had given up trying to pull it. It didn’t make the usual hush and shush that the sea is supposed to make. If it wasn’t for that distant pattering sound, I would think the accident had deafened me after all.

You get a kind of deja vu, standing here looking outwards with everything unfolding in the distance. Once these ashen lumps beneath my feet were tufts of grass and mounds of soft pink heather. There were sea-flowers and elegant sand dunes. Now the beach is blotched with the remains of fallout: blackish dust and fragments of rock that haven’t yet been swept away, like the tide’s lost its power to barter with the earth. The news told us that there could be more fallout to come, a shower of dark rain to fall in a few days or weeks or even months. That was before the screens flashed off and haven’t lit up again since. What I miss most are cigarettes and the smell of lemon shower-gel, the cry my baby made in its crib.

I was thinking about all these things when the noises grew louder. At first it sounded like the distant beginnings of rain, but then there was a clattery thumpiness to it and a rhythm you don’t get with rain drops. I waited and waited, hoping this wasn’t to be another explosion, though half wondering what it would be like to see that shattering of mushroom-cloud that first bloomed in America. A secret part of me longed for the shock, the cataclysm. I watched a storm breaking against the bay; handfuls of seconds being snatched from the world. The pounding got louder and louder and the ground was vibrating and I was about to turn round when the wind whipped past me with the force of so many bodies and there they all were: a band of wild horses torn from nowhere, galloping fast towards the water. It was all I could do to catch my breath, staggering backwards. They were magnificent creatures, all chestnutty-coloured and shining in the whiteish light. I hadn’t seen such beauty in so long. The horizon seemed almost to open to them, its silky jaws of melty yellow parting as they splashed into the ocean with their powerful legs. I couldn’t help but run closer to them; I ran and ran till I was touching the sea with my bare feet, knowing the water was full of radiation but still not stopping, not stopping till I was closer to those horses. One of them neighed like a wolf howling to the moon, and it shook its head dramatically like a proud actress. I was thinking how strange it was and wishing someone else was there to see it with me. I stood still watching the last of the horses bound deep into the ocean; they kept running through the delicate waves as easy as scissors ripping silk; they kept running till even their heads had dipped underwater. I wondered if horses could swim, but then I remembered that these days there’s no point doubting anything. It all could happen. All of it; anything. Maybe they had gills, and maybe there were other horses with wings. The water gathered in pools around my feet and already I was feeling the tingling.

You can see all the dead fish and crabs and other slimy things being tossed about underwater like any old rubbish. I leant down to pick up a starfish which was fossilised in a coating of ash. If you pull their limbs off, they grow back. I held it in my hand, the ash flaking off of it, a thing so precarious. Looking down, you could see the dull yellow glow coming from odd areas of the sea bed. I sighed and threw the starfish into the distance, watching it spin away like a frisbee. It made me feel a little freer.

I stood there with the radiated water churning its forgotten neutrons and fishy detritus and plastic litter; stood there until I felt the very sand below my feet begin to sink. As usual, the day would not come as it should. The storm’s aftermath of dark grey clouds bloomed in the distance and already I could smell the pungency of all their nothingness. The whole horizon was a plume of flowery mist.

I closed my eyes and remembered the time the baby and I were on this beach, making sandcastles out of soft bright sand and in the warm sun eating strawberries. I opened my eyes to blink. A veil of ash still covered the sky, cloaking the world with unnatural mortality. I closed them again, to stop the sting.

And now when I close my eyes, I think of the horses. I cry and cry, thinking of those horses; though water is too precious to waste, a memory of some ocean that’s light years away.

(Prompts: photograph of horses, mortality, fall-out)

by Maria Rose Sledmere

Of Agony and Ambience

The carnival was alive with all the coruscations of otherworldly sounds and playful particles of light. A dreamer from another world might be at home here in the terrible pleasures of fiddle litanies, fortune tellers and candy floss spun like the silk of some fantastic spider. Dancers whirled and threw about their lovely muscles upon the stage while children laughed and sang and played. All was a picturesque festival and the village and its people seemed at their happiest.

But happy to those immune to the allure of the magic booth. The sign outside was written in Old English lettering, embossed with gold leaf, and it said that the enchanter inside could read people’s auras. The children were forbidden from entering the booth: to know one’s aura was considered bad luck, and indeed a responsibility too great to be shouldered by the young. Typically, the only people who sought the knowledge of the aura-reader were those faced by some personal crisis: illness, a death in the family, a forbidden or forlorn love, a secret and implacable desire, or perhaps problems with coaxing the harvest to ripe.

They had expected the aura-reader to be some gnarled old woman, possibly wearing a witch’s hat, but certainly with a cat draped on one shoulder and a shimmering shawl of sorts on the other. They had certainly not expected the fresh-faced young man who sat up crossed-legged looking at a dream-catcher on the ceiling, a string of pearls around his neck.

“Welcome,” he murmured as a way of greeting. The villages were to come in two at a time, and leave their donations in a small pot by the tent’s entrance. The soft clink of silver in the pot chimed with the twinkle of metal slivers clicking together on the ends of the dream-catcher. Carefully, a couple took their place upon the rug in front of the aura-reader. They were not married, but in fact brother and sister.

“What is it you seek?” The boy’s voice had the uncanny bristle of a man much older. Yet as he spoke, no wrinkles betrayed his age, nor were there frown-lines to ripple his forehead. His face was as smooth as the skin of a ripe apple.

“Well, we came here because you can read auras,” the man said nervously.

“That I can do.”

“Y-yes.” The smell of incense wafted up from a corner of the boot, filling their heads with the dreamy airiness of distant promises.

“But why do you wish me to read your aura?”

“It sounds exciting,” the woman piped in, pulling back a strand of her ashen hair.

“Perhaps it is.” The boy closed his eyes and hummed gently, the sound seeming to illuminate his translucent skin. The man fidgeted and the woman stared at the boy’s long butterfly lashes and wished she’d been blessed with such an asset.

They waited a good hour or so for the boy to speak again. Time was a wispy thing; a silk-sliver dangling upon the streams his dream-catcher. The boy seemed caught in a trance and it would be a sin to wake him. When he opened his eyes, he stared first at the man and then the woman. He sighed deeply. He closed his eyes, then opened them to look one by one at the couple again, his gaze meeting theirs’ in ephemeral recognition.

“One of you will die a most horrific death,” he said after a pause. They waited with bated breath for him to continue.

“I see it in the after-image. Black: little snivelling swirls of it. It catches at your eyes and ears and makes a fool of your lovely soul. Soon you’ll be deep in the ground, cold.” His slow, emphatic tone savoured every word he spoke.

“But which one of us are you referring to?” the man asked with some desperation. Ignoring this inquest, the boy spoke again. It was just then that the couple noticed the shining bead of light emanating from the centre of his forehead. They tried to ignore it, looking up at the dream catcher as his words filled the tight space.

“The other has a most wonderful aura…such a rich, potent red… you are alive with carnal desires, so urgent and so lusty that I would love myself to reach out and touch you…but it would break the spell. You will live long and powerful and have many children, it is certain. Your body gives spark to the vivacity of your spiritual flesh.” He beamed, but his gaze was directed at the space between the man and the woman: the dark velvet of the curtain behind them.

“So one of us will live pleasantly whilst the other shall die?”

“It is perhaps so, as the colours tell me.”

They looked at each other and sorrow filled their souls as they thought of how the sibling bond between them was bound to inevitably burst. The thought of this sadness kindled a flame of rage and frustration, and it was all they could do to prevent themselves ripping at the boy’s throat; for how dare he cast such wicked slander upon their family? How could it be fair that one should live while the other perish in a most unpleasant death? It seemed a knowledge beyond all reason.

And so mania sizzled through their veins as they crawled from the tent, and once again faced the bright darkness, the fairy lights and lively music, the people and their bodies bumping and dancing and spinning.

“We must lose ourselves,” the man said. “It is the only way.” The sister swore to him that she agreed and so they took themselves off into the woods, stopping by at a seedy-looking stall to pick up the necessary paraphernalia. The needle would be sharp and sweet, as such things are destined always to be.

When they were found, dead, the next day, their bodies were swollen with staggering amounts of morphine. Black pocks marked their skin and already hoards of ants and maggots had begun feasting upon the cloth of their bodies. When the boy was called upon to witness them, he buried his head in his hands in a strained display of emotion.

“What a gorgeous aura – such passion and anguish! – and did they not know that an aura is but transience?”

So under the cherry glacé of a summer’s dawn the boy wept until all the sins crawled out of his soul like impatient worms; until he was a crumple upon the undergrowth, his aura black as a midnight sky or the ore of darkest coal. The ooze and cloud came out of every pore until his body joined his soul – so shrivelled and sad and old.

(Prompts: manic, paraphernalia, booth)

by Maria Rose Sledmere

Yesterday

Sirens fall all around us. This is the place we were when it happened, when it began to happen. Where the roses bloom full under the unnatural moon, and stray dogs sniff about in the shattered concrete. The place where all was once safe and calm. I walk with you, not because you are a stranger but because you are the one that knows me better than I know myself.

As I write this there is a place in the solar system where a planet bursts like sunlight on the old town green, scattering fire and debris for millions and millions of miles; each tiny star of matter expanding outwards, growing huge with weight and heat, its surface coruscating with the white flicker of its infinity. I remember a time when the world was small, and it was an age to walk to the garden wall, where ecosystems flourished under my child’s paws. Snails with shells cracked by the boots of adults, woodlice hiding under bark, worms squirming after the rain. I think this must be the most beautiful world, almost as beautiful as the world of microbes, with their bubbles and tiny fibres swaying as if to some cosmic beat, inaudible to human ears; but pulsing, pulsing beneath the surface. Every particle surrounds me now, leaves me to my own unravelled being, my own devices. There is a story to what has happened. I wish in your pride you might tell me, O Stranger who has come here. What has happened? Why have I happened? The wailing remains in the cries of the night and I am frightened to admit that I am frightened.

I pass the school and then the fire station, where black chars cover the signs of what once might have been called architecture. Or maybe not architecture; maybe just a building with a roof and walls, a place to sleep. I find nourishment nowhere. Every step that I walk wastes my body away; I feel the flesh melt as a person feels their room melt when they fall into sleep. I have forgotten what sleep might be. There is just this darkness, this ever-enduring reality.

You hold me in the dark and for the first time I look to the sky. I am a child again and the vast depths of velvet smother me; I want to touch every diamond that offers me its sparkle; its sparkle growing closer and bigger, but I can’t, I can’t.  The sky holds its sway over me, just as I feel you fall away and crumple like the dust from whence you came. I look to the sky that is not my mother, nor my father; nor the brush of a whisper – these words that I pray. The roar of thunder comes and I know that it is happening; happening with the sad hour that hangs as a snowflake clinging to some precious tree branch that overlooks the edge of the universe… a final crystal cold, a final light with which to play. I close my eyes, I am awake. And this is yesterday.

Prompt: *choose a music lyric*

And I stare at the sky / And it leaves me blind / I close my eyes / And this is yesterday

(Manic Street Preachers, ‘This is Yesterday’)

by Maria Rose Sledmere

Anna Shelton

Anna Shelton by Dominic Spencer

Israeli soldier picture.

How long have we been doing this now? It can’t be a month. It really can’t. That idiot Daniel dragged me into this. I should never have told him I wanted to see Africa. He only wanted me in case some lion attacked. I told him just because I work in London Zoo does not mean I can easily protect us. Daniel was the explorer. He heard about this Mask of Zambezi. Apparently the legend says if you wear this Mask you will be granted your heart’s desire. I don’t believe it, you cannot get something for nothing.

“But if you aren’t pure of heart then you die.”

I just laughed at him. What normal being is or could ever be pure? Not even that Tracey he dragged along. She is the most annoying person I have met. And even worse we have to share a tent. She has this annoying snore-whinny thing. Just because she is “pure.” Pure my arse. How can he not see her flirting with him. It’s disgusting. And of course I have to be the person who keeps watch most of the time. Daniel has to study that map of his and Tracey can’t “break a nail.” Kihika is the only person who will stay with me when guarding. He tells me stories and traditions of the local area. Kihika doesn’t know about this mask and that worries me. So many stories and this mask is not mentioned once. Where has this come from? Oh Daniel what have you gotten into now.

Interior choice Roman Baths

I finally surfaced grasping for any air that I could find. Kihika and Daniel were dragging Tracey out of the water. I just started treading water to get an idea of my surroundings. It was strange, but it felt like the waters had not taken us deeper into an African cave but to some Roman ruins. Columns had fallen, some into the water. I swam over to one and grabbed hold. The marble was cold and smooth to touch. This place was too defined to be natural. The tops of the columns had swirls and designs fit for an emperor. On the walls of this cavern were symbols and drawings like the other African designs we had already seen t. This place was wrong on all accounts.

I swam over to where Daniel was hugging Tracey.

“He says it’s for warmth.” Kihika said giving me a look which to me said “Like I believe that.”

“Kihika, what is with this place?”

“I do not know. I am as blind as you on this journey.”

“We are in the right place,” Daniel stood up. I was surprisingly happy to see Tracey had recovered and was breathing normally again. “My sources say that the Romans ventured here and hid the mask.”

“Oh so on the way to hide this powerful artefact they stop and create this wonderful piece of architecture.” I replied not even attempting to hide my sarcasm.  Tracey coughed and Daniel went over.

“My hair! Was that really the only way her.” Her high-pitched voice echoed around the columns giving me the terrible idea of multiple Traceys.

“Yes and now you’re awake we can go on.”

“Oh can’t we rest here for a bit.”

“We had to leave the majority of our supplies behind. We will not have long before we have to go back.” Tracey’s lips started to quiver in that now familiar sign, but even she knew we had to press on. There was only one exit with a small marble archway. Using some rocks and a piece of wood found in the cavern. Kihika lit a torch and we strode onwards.

Aspro Monologue

Aspro Monologue – by Emily Grenfell

You think you know bravery? You know nothing of bravery because you’ve never faced an

enemy who was stronger than you. You build your muscles because you’re a coward. No,

i’m not saying i’m brave, but I do know bravery. And strength. Strength is when you reach

safety un-harmed through gun-fire and smoke – bravery is when you turn around, go back

and get your children too.

Strength is being able to take blows. Bravery is knowing when not to hit back. Bravery…

well I know it and it’s not you. You are the kind of man who spends his youth killing women

and children and his old age drinking the guilt away.

My father… well he used to hit my mother, and when he was done he’d move onto me.

Then he’d drink to drown the memory of our screams… and then when he was drunk he’d

do it again. My mother was brave. Until she wasn’t. I wasn’t brave, I was strong, and I

have to live with my failing every day.

I heard you the other day, talking about that woman like she was a toy… you, boasting…

she couldn’t resist “a big brave soldier”!

I nearly threw up.

Bravery is being able to love someone… cowardice is doing everything but.

I’ll put it in battle terms. It’s like surrounding a fortress with all troops, cutting off any

method of retreat and then pulling back for fear of the defensive spears. The goal is to

conquer and occupy the fortress right? What you do is poke the outside and then run

away.

See? Cowardice.

Aspro in Place:

We made our way silently through the closely intertwining tunnels, torches in hand with

dancing shadows on the walls all around. Our small company looked like many due to the

dark shapes flickering to and fro, in front, behind and far onwards into the gloom. Our body

doubles made of dark. This whole city seemed asleep, an ancient civilization plucked out

of existence millennia ago by plague or cholera or the common cold… now a haven for

enemy soldiers hiding out awaiting munitions.

“How did people do it?” Grayson croaked from behind, breaking the pervasive stillness.

“Do what?” I snapped in a taught whisper.

“Live like rats in these tunnels?”

“Shut up, prick, there’s light ahead.” Burns’s voice rasped out ahead.

“The first we’ve seen in an hour.” Grayson muttered to no one in particular.

It hadn’t been an hour, it just felt like it. I checked the illuminated dial on my watch – we’d

been going half that time.

Presently we emerged into a sunbathed clearing in the dense tunneled metropolis. A

courtyard, pillars around the edge with a pool of opaque green water in the middle, about

the size of a tennis court.

“One of the city baths.” Musk stated, pushing his glasses up his nose. “They were

communal and very important. Everyone used to bathe in the mornings and then work in

the afternoons – I can’t believe I get to see this!” With that he brought out his camera and

started capturing the scene with the tiny lens.

“I wonder how far off the women’s bath was.” Burns mused, leaning against one of the

pillars.

“They were communal.” Said Musk from behind his camera, laying prostrate on the

flagstones, photographing the water.

“What? Men and women all together? Naked?” Burns sounded almost wistful.

“Most likely.” Musk confirmed indifferently.

There was a pause. Burns approached me, taking off his t-shirt as he did. His muscles

tensed artificially, apparently for my tittilation.

“How would you like that, Aspro? Being naked and wet in the company of men?”

I sneered at him as I always did – how did he have the energy to keep this up?

“As long as they weren’t like you, i’m sure it would be lovely.” I replied.