CCC #68 - Voting Thread

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Smoulder, by Lois van Baarle
Smoulder, by Lois van Baarle

It's time to vote again, and this time the story had to be related to the picture "Smoulder," by Lois van Baarle of loish.net. One original character had to be created and named in the story. Let's get right to it:

Voting rules are simple:
  • Read the stories, pick your favorite one, and cast your vote.
  • If you wrote, you should vote.
  • No voting for yourself- it's just sporting.
  • Deadline is December 31st, @11:59PM, US Eastern time (click the link if you're unsure). That's 2:59pm on the 1st for your Sydney, Australia peeps! :^D

Happy reading!

BlueEcho - Amber

The acrid smell of smoke filled the air where there was once the smell of ferns and flowers. Ash littered the ground where pine needles had once fallen to lay for ages before the ground consumed them. The naked husks of trees were all that remainder to the gates of this forest and their skeletal remains served as now the only existence of the life that had been.

Amber floated above the ruins of what had been here home. She had learned in the past of the dangers of labeling this as an "enchanted forest." What had been meant as words of sanctuary had drawn the curious and the adventurous, looking to capture local fame or to document the magical aspect of what for her was just a natural cycle of life. Hers had been a small circle of faeries, and one that had been pushed out of their native land of England long ago, long before the faerie craze had captured the interest of British society in the early 20th century. It had meant a harder life, certainly, as the sometimes frigid forests of the Canadian north were not as welcoming as those of balmy England, but they had become home.

The cold months had meant hibernation just as with another creature of the forests, though here that meant a different breed of animal than in England. There were wolves that made European wolves look like pups, and the breeds of hoofed animals were ridiculous to the uninitiated, between the bison which had barely escaped decimation on the open plains, or the powering moose, perhaps clumsy looking but with antlers that could rend a body with ease. She reached out to sense their presence now, but could feel none. Those that had not succumbed to the smoke and flames had run away, and it meant that this part of the forest was dead, at least for now.

As a caretaker and denizen of the woods she knew that fire was a part of the natural life cycle. Fire wood come through and clear out the scrub and fallen trees that cluttered the forest. Heat resistant seeds would cause new trees to grow, and the life cycle would begin anew. This had not been the first time that fire had consumed her home, and she too knew that moving to a new hollow or weald was an inevitable condition of living in a forest. There was something else this time though. Amber was a being of magic, and was a guardian of good, and thus she could know when and where there had been an act of evil. She knew that this fire did not come from natural causes and had come from the hand of man. She furthermore knew who it had been. Living side by side to natural areas had meant that Amber knew that some men meant to take advantage of lands that might have been out of their reach for settlement but not exploitation. She had seen man fight man for the shiny metals that lay in the ground, whose purpose was not far beyond being shiny. The same was true with diamonds, but with the rise of modern society, Amber knew that man exploited not just for his own vanity, but also for his greed, and this greed had a name, an energy conglomerate known as Edsec.

Edsec had wanted to mine the land under this forest, but the local government had said no, as this stand of forest was old growth forest, with the oldest trees over two hundred years old. The local politicians had decided that mining would destroy this natural treasure, and so the mining company had taken matters into their own hands, simply burning the forest down, and starting the inferno under the auspices of an electrical storm that had passed through the area.

Faeriekind was by nature a seclusive one, hiding its presence from man though also living in its midst, but where man was unaware of faeries except as legends, faeries were very much aware of man. The faeries were in awe of how man had changed in the past centuries, from a group mostly like them, who lived very close to the land, to one whose dependence on technology was overwhelming. Another aspect of the rise of man, was the rise of the superhuman. Through variation in the genetic code or through experimentation which derailed the natural purpose of evolution, man had managed to create amongst themselves superhumans, some of whom had powers that even rivaled those of the magics of the faeries. This meant that if there was a time fore revenge that it was now. Amber would not like entering the society of man, but she would not be shunned, and she might even find allies among them to be this scourge of the land and its occupants.

RichGenX - Not just an event

Title: Not just an event.

(A possible encounter in the Marvel Mayhem/Marvel Mayhem Alternate series)

The young red head had fled to the woods for safety sake. She had just returned home after a few months using her powers to try and better the world. Of course, when she returned to her home in Russia, she had hoped things might have changed. Sadly, they had not. People still viewed mutants as freaks, and given her other preferences, it was hard for her to remain calm.

When her anger flared up like it did, her powers would eventually go wild. For that reason, she made her way into the woods outside her home. She moved as fast as she could, momentarily harnessing what little control she currently had over her powers, to get as far a away from people as she could. Soon, she reached a quiet space, and fully released control.

In that instant, she was ground zero for a massive fire ball. She levitated into the air about twenty feet, and the fire her anger fueled fanned out. The resulting fireball incinerated trees within twenty feet of her, and if any life had been in the area, it would have been burned to a crisp. The first time this had happened, when her powers manifested, one of the people with her was so scared that they uttered one world that almost any Russian knew. It was a word that would become her alias: Tunguska.

Now that she had released it, she started to feel better, and she slowly lowered herself to the ground. The devastation caused by the eruption of her powers had caused an empty zone in the forest, and if anyone saw what had happened, they would know she was the cause. The locals would know better than to come out. In fact, she figured that she would have a few hours to herself to think about what she had done, and how people were just being foolish and closed-minded.

That thought got dashed, however, when she heard movement near by in the woods. This wasn’t the movement of animals either. This was human movement. She turned her head in the direction of the sound, and to her surprise, she saw two figures standing there. One was a young man, no doubt in her age range, and the other was a slightly younger girl, and she was a redhead like herself. Judging by the state of their clothes, she figured they had been out in the woods to have some sort of a tryst, but judging by the look of the redhead, she couldn’t blame the man. Hell, she thought there might be a chance for her with the redhead as well.

Once they were all over the shock of seeing one another, it was actually the redhead who spoke up, and when she spoke, the man next to her was rubbing her back, trying to comfort her. “What the hell was that? All the destruction you just caused?” This redhead was also angry, but Tunguska thought she knew why.

She responded to the girl’s question, trying to stay calm as she did so. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize anyone was out here. I needed to vent my powers. They go out of control when I get angry. Part of why I try to channel them into good uses.” While she kept her words calm, she noticed the redhead who asked the question didn’t appear to be calming down. In fact, the girl appeared to be a mutant as well, as her hair started forming red spikes, or spines.

The young man then spoke, and Tunguska felt he was also communicating with the young woman in some unspoken way. “You have to forgive Yvette. Not to long ago, we learned that her home was blown up in a similar fashion by someone who claimed to be her friend. It was done in a way to make her abduction by a very malevolent mutant to go unnoticed.” She then noticed the young man extended his free hand in a polite manner. “By they way, my name is Richard. Please excused our state. We were going to indulge ourselves, but we got interrupted by the very malevolent mutant that was stalking her. We had to swiftly flee the area.”

Tunguska nodded, but didn’t approach. The words had struck a cord in her. During the time she was away from home, she had done jobs for people, trying to target those who seemed above the law. One such job was to blow up the home of a suspected criminal boss in a small town in Yugoslavia, and something about the redhead made her think she was from that area. She bit her lip, and then asked, “What exactly happened?”

The young man, Richard, responded, still rubbing the girl named Yvette’s back. “Long story short, Yvette’s friend’s father, a man with the last name Montenegro, was a criminal mastermind. His daughter actually felt threatened by Yvette’s natural beauty, and wanted her gone. To that end, he had Yvette’s home blown up, leaving her an orphan. That’s when this malevolent mutant, Emplate, swooped in and abducted her.”

Tunguska started feeling sick to her stomach. She didn’t want to say it, but the man’s name was familiar because she was asked by that man to destroy that very house. Her mouth was going dry, but she felt herself asking a question she was sure she didn’t want to hear the answer to. “What did this Emplate do to her?”

She watched as Yvette managed to control her powers, and again, Tunguska noticed how Yvette seemed to be missing some key articles of clothing. “He kept me prisoner, and used me as food. Every day, he’d feed on my powers, and as he did, he channeled them to use for himself. He might have even broken me into being one of his thralls, had Richard not come along. Now he’s constantly hunting for both of us.”

Tunguska shuddered, and part of her wanted to apologize for her part in the girl’s predicament. Still, she didn’t want to end up making the redhead upset with her. Still, she felt she should apologize for the moment. “I’m sorry for what happened to you, and for almost burning you now. It might be wise, however, for you to make your way to the border. There is a small town there, but its guarded for some reason. If you approach the right way, they may be able to help you. The people in my town aren’t all that tolerant.”

She watched as both nodded, and started to head in the direction she stated. As they did, the redhead said, “Thank you…” Tunguska realized that she never told them her name. Obviously, she had been so startled by both their appearance, and how cute the redhead was, she forgot that bit of manners.

She smiled as sweetly as she could, especially now knowing her part in the redheads misfortune, and responded, “My friends call me Elouise. When I use my powers, people call me Tunguska.” She noticed a puzzled look on the redhead’s face, but the young man raised his eyebrows in a knowing way.

As they started into the woods, she saw him look back at her, and he responded. “I see. Well thank you Elouise, and if you want some advice from me, I suggest getting more control over your powers, and getting out of here as well. If Emplate is still following us, that fireball is going to be a homing beckon for him. And before you say anything about being ready for him, he has an ability to shift out of synch with reality.” The two then dashed off, and Eloise couldn’t help but stare after them for a moment.

When that moment passed, she realized she needed to get out of the area. She took flight, utilizing her powers, and didn’t return home. This time, she fled the area, seeking a different place. She didn’t want to chance going home, knowing about this Emplate. What she did plan to do, however, was find decent people, and try to help them. She needed to cleanse her soul after learning of the misfortune she caused. Once she did that, she hoped she would meet up with the two again. She had a debt to repay to them, once she cleansed her karma.

Batkevin74 - Smoulder
No Caption Provided

Continued from page 45

Sheriff Lois van Baarle stared through the windshield at the young girl floating in the air. “Jesus H Rap Dancing Christ!”

Her deputy, Leo Memberry, had his phone up recording the sight. There in a blackened corner of the Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest, small spot fires smouldering away, was a teenage girl in white lycra and a mess of peach coloured hair, hovering unconsciously thirty feet off the ground. Lois exited the jeep, shotgun in hand.

“LEO!” Lois snapped at him as he scurried out of the car. “Put that damn thing away before I throw it away, y’hear?”

“Sheriff, I swear I’m gonna go viral with…well whatever this is!” Leo gushed.

“LEO!”

Memberry put his phone away and both he and Lois slowly approached the girl.

“Hello? Miss? Y’hear me up there? Hello?” Lois called. “Leo, be useful and get the fire extinguisher.”

“Yes Sheriff.”

“HEY! YOU!” Lois yelled like only a middle-aged, divorced Nebraska woman with three kids could. She checked the sky before firing a shot from her gun into the air which only served to scare Leo and any remaining wildlife in the area.

“You should warn me when you do that,” Leo remarked as he held up his phone filming the girl.

“LEO! God dammit!” Lois snapped. “Try acting like a law enforcement officer and not a retarded monkey who got into a sugar bag!”

“Sorry Sheriff,” he muttered as he began spraying foam around as he’d been told too. Lois cautiously walked under the girl, looking up for a wire or magnet. The silent forest was soon invaded by the sounds of vehicles, Lois looked down the trail to see a stream of black vehicles heading towards them.

“Leo, stop what you’re doing and get your gun out.”

Six cars sped up the trail, almost running each other off the dirt trail, before skidding to a halt. A wave of suited men in aviator glasses leapt out, brandishing badges and yelling loudly soon commenced like an auction all for Lois and Leo.

“Federal Bure…”

“National Securi…”

“Department of Ex…”

“Bureau of Paran…”

“Department of Hom…”

“United States Marin…”

Lois watched them all bicker and yell, before she fired a shot into the air bringing the noise to a halt.

“Next one of you Men In Black morons speaks, they’ll get buckshot in their wife’s best friend, y’hear me? Now, something tells me you’re not here to partake in wonderful nature treks of the Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest, are you?”

The group was silent, possibly because they didn’t want to get a shot in the groin. Slowly, one of them raised their hand, Lois nodded at him.

“Ma’am, Special Agent Brown for the Department of Homeland Security. We have Presidential authority to take over this scene.”

Lois smiled. “Don’t call me ma’am, first and last warning. My name is Sheriff Lois van Baarle and this, whatever the hell this is, is mine until I say otherwise. You’re in my jurisdiction, in my forest, in my state!”

“Sorry Sheriff, but I’m with the National Security Agency and we supersede all local law enforcement under The Patriot Act. So, we’ll take it from here.”

Lois pumped her shotgun angrily. “Will you now? Son, I don’t know if this floating young lady needs medical attention, I don’t even know if the area is safe due to the fires that my idiot deputy was supposed to put out. I also think the Patriot Act is just an excuse for you to attempt to prove how big your Johnson is.”

“Okay Mrs Fife, you’ve had your fun,” said another man stepping forward with a badge. “But this is now a C.I.A matter on a need to know basis, and none of you need to know. So, get back in your cars and let the professionals handle it.”

Lois aimed her shotgun squarely at the rude agent’s head. “What did you call me?”

__

If you want Lois to shoot the C.I.A agent: turn to page 9

If you want Leo to start filming again: tune to page 161

If you want the girl to erupt into flames: turn to page 26

If you want this dealt with in a calm rational manner: turn to page 105

Johnjo719 - Kali

Fire. Smoke. The stench of burning flesh and wood. Those were the first sensations to assault Kali as she awoke. Her eyes widened in horror as they took in the destruction that had taken place. The destruction she had wrought. She fell to her knees, tears coming to her eyes.

She turned to look behind her and saw nothing but the forest that she was raised in, burning to the ground. Some of the trees were still on fire, flames still smoldering on some of the more healthy trees. Further in the distance were the mages that had been her teachers. Their bodies were burned and blackened as they had run in a futile attempt to escape the magic that was running wild in Kali. From a distance, the sound of an army could be heard approaching. The thundering of their hooves brought Kali back to reality.

She got back to her feet and started running. Away from the army that was coming to kill her. Away from the lives she had taken, away from the destruction she brought everywhere she went. Most of all she ran from the weight of the responsibility that was on her shoulders.

She ran, but she was not fast enough. Soon, the mages of the Radiant Empire were upon her. They moved impossibly quick, darting around the trees and jumping over fallen logs. When they got close enough, they loosened bolts of fire and lightning at her. Flashes of a fiery orange and dazzling blue blazed all around her, but they missed their mark. Craters created from the battle magic being flung at Kali smoked, throwing up an unintentional smoke screen for her, giving her a chance to widen the gap between them.

"Aaargh!" Kali cried out as a searing flash of pain shot through her left shoulder. She tumbled to the ground and rolled into the fall. When she came to a stop, she wasted no time getting back up and running. But it was too late. Kali had reached the end of the Great Forest and now stood at what seemed to be the beginning of the Green Plains. Far outside of the boundaries of the empire.

The mages had used their magic to outrun her and then surrounded her. Ten of the Empire's finest war mages had her in their sights. This was the end for her.

"Stop this! I am the Avatar of Flame! You must obey me!" Kali cried out with a fierceness she didn't really feel.

"That is inaccurate. You used to be the Avatar of Flame. But since you've failed to learn to control The Spark and killed some of our Order, you must be...removed from your role as Avatar." One of the mages said. He stepped forward, breaking away from the circle. He wore a very real looking masks that had the face of a wolf, fangs and all. He reached up and took off the mask slowly.

"Uncle!" Kali gasped. "Please!"

The man, Kali's Uncle shook his head, tears falling from his eyes. "I cannot help you, Kali. Not this time." He slowly raised his arm, blue sparks crackling and wrapping around his hand. The other mages mirrored him. Kali backed away from her Uncle and the others.

"No! Wait!" Kali begged, The men started chanting and a circle of magic was raised, trapping Kali and her Uncle inside the center of the circle. They began chanting in low voices. The magic of the circle grew brighter and brighter.

"NO!!!!!!!!!!!" Kali cried. Her eyes glowed the color of magma and her hair started to float around her, as if she was swimming in the air. Her body slowly rose into the air and as she arose, she extended her arms outwards and closed her eyes.

She had spent most of her entire life training to control the power that laid within her. But the nature of that power was too destructive, too distant from her own nature. She never learned the keys to mastering her own power.

But now, when she needed it most, her power didn't fail her. It wasn't a question of learning, or memorizing chants and incantations, it was a matter of need. In order to to save herself, Kali dug deep down inside of herself and PUSHED

Power flowed out of Kali and surged across the field that she and the mages found themselves in. Magma materialized in the air before her, scorching everything in sight. The air was literally set on fire as the magma rolled through it.

Her uncle was gone in an instant, swallowed up by the flames. The mages that were reinforcing him died seconds after them.

With the threat gone, the power seemed to just shut off. Kali plunged towards the ground and her head bounced on the dirt. And then there was darkness.

Stumpy49er - Smoulder and the Strong

Smoulder and the Strong

Calistoga- Northern California- October 8

It began on a dry, windy day. Sparks flew through the wind, covering the dry grass that surrounded the area. Fire erupted. It crawled along the forest floor, consuming old, dead trees.

A glowing mane of red hair slithered out of the flames, pulling up a beautiful woman’s face. She burst forth from the fire, her body flowing in the strong wind.

Her body pulsed as she felt the euphoria and warmth of life. She looked up into the smoke filled sky and smiled.

**

Santa Rosa- Northern California

“Grandma Betty, I drew you a picture.” said a blonde haired, five year old girl. She handed her grandmother a crayon drawing.

Betty looked at the picture. There was a small, yellow haired girl with ‘ME’ written above it, a taller, red haired woman with ‘MOM’ written over it, a brown haired woman with ‘GraNdMa’ written over it and finally a stick figure in a chair with the word ‘Pappy’ written over that.

“Oh, it’s beautiful, Bella.” Betty said as she hugged her granddaughter. “You’re such a great artist.”

“I drew mom.” Bella said. “Do you think she would like it?”

“Of course she would, honey.”

**

Los Angeles- Southern California

A red haired woman walks the streets, wearing a mini skirt and risque blouse. She walks up to a black corvette, leaning into the window.

“Looking for a good time, babe?”

“What’s your name, honey?”

“Call me Rose, baby.”

**

Santa Rosa- 3 am

Perry ‘Pappy’ Strong sat up in bed. He looked over at his desk, which was covered with pictures of his old war buddies, his deceased wife Beatrice, his daughter Betty with his great granddaughter Belle and his granddaughter Rose. He sighed as he looked over at his wheelchair.

“Gotta piss.” He wished he could get up and use the bathroom but he didn’t want to wake his daughter.

After relieving himself he started to smell something. Smoke. He opened the window. It was suffocating.

“Get up!!” he screamed, grabbing his bell and ringing it. “Betty! Wake up. Get Belle.”

The fire was right outside his window.

**

Los Angeles- 6 am

Rose woke up next to her current boyfriend. She walked over to her cubby hole and pulled out a bag of coke. She poured some on the glass table, chopped it up and was about to snort some.

“Rose. Are you seeing this? I think that’s your hometown.” said a woman’s voice from the living room.

“Sheila? You still up, beautiful?” Rose yelled back. “You partying with that cute guy at work?”

“Come here.” Sheila yelled back. “Your hometown is on fire.”

Rose stood up, knocking over the coke. He ran into the living room to watch the news.

“Belle.” she whimpered.

**

Betty ran into Pappy’s room. “What is it, dad?”

“Fire. Get Belle out of here. Go now, Betty.” he yelled.

“I’m not going without you.” Betty said as she grabbed his wheelchair. She looked at the window and saw flames licking the pane. She thought she saw a woman floating towards the room.

Pappy pulled her down to look her in the face. “Not enough time, Betty Boo. It’s here. Take Belle and go. Now.”

Betty cried. “I love you, daddy.” she righted up and ran towards Belle’s room.

“Love you too, Boo.” Pappy said.

**

The woman floated in the sky. Fire spread around her as she looked into the two story house. She smiled as she felt the love inside. It was warm. She felt intoxicated by life.

Floating towards Pappy’s window as Betty ran out of the house with Belle. This made her feel sad. She wanted to meet Betty, so full of love, and her sweet little granddaughter, so scared.

“I want to comfort you, little one.”

Closing her eyes, she felt another in the house. The emotions coming from the room was something new to her.

Serenity.

She burst through Pappy’s window. He held a picture of his wife, Beatrice.

“What? Who are you?” he asked. “What do you want?”

“Who am I?” she asked. “I don’t know who I am. I know what I want. I want to feel you. All of you. I want to know life. To feel your emotions. I want to hold you in my arms. To smoulder you with love. Smoulder. I like that name. You can call me, Smoulder.”

Pappy reached out with his left arm, his other behind his back.

“Smolder, huh. Help me up.” he said. “I can’t walk. I miss my wife, Beatrice. Take me to her.”

She reached towards him, his bed began to burn around him. As his outreached arm began to burn, he swung his right arm around, holding his bedpan.

Throwing piss into her face, he yelled at her. “Get the hell out of my house, you witch.”

Smoulder screamed, her face turned monstrous as she erupted into flames, burning Pappy to ash.

**

Betty drove as fast as she could. Firetrucks drove past her to her neighborhood. Belle sat in the back, crying. “Where’s Pappy? Where’s mommy? Is mommy okay?”

“Your mom is fine, baby.” Betty said. As fine as a drug addict could be, she thought.

“What about Pappy?” Belle asked. “Pappy’s still at the house.”

“Pappy is going to be with Mammy, sweetie.” Betty explained as she drove past a wall of flames.

**

Smoulder flew out of the house. She was mad. She wanted to feel Betty and Belle’s love. She need it.

A fire truck drove up and blocked her path. A young man, volunteer firefighter Avery Foster sprayed Smoulder square in the chest with the hose.

Smoulder screamed as her face turned monstrous again. Why are these people stopping her from holding them. From loving them. How dare they?

**

Los Angeles

Rose got on her phone and called her mom, Betty. Her number was blocked. “Dammit. Sheila, let me borrow your phone. I need to call my mom. That’s my neighborhood on fire. My daughter lives there.”

She tried to reach her mother and her daughter. She felt a sickness in her stomach. Her mother had blocked her from seeing her daughter. Rose knew it was her own fault. If Belle had died and she wasn’t there for her. It was because she was a drug addict. She wished she knew what happened, wished she could be there for her daughter, for her mother, even her grandpappy.

Rose ran into her room, saw the bag of coke, grabbed it and ran into the bathroom.

“Hey, leave some for me.” yelled her boyfriend.

Rose flushed the coke down the toilet. He ran back out to her cubby hole and grabbed all the drugs.

“The hell are you doing?” yelled her boyfriend as she slammed the door shut. “Are you? Aw, no, are you flushing all that? Stop.”

**

Santa Rosa

More fire trucks started appearing. Smoulder screamed as more and more water streams were directed at her. She ran from it. They hurt her.

**

Petaluma- 7am

Betty drove to her friend Tammy’s house in Petaluma. Smoke filled the skies. Belle ran out of the car and ran up to Tammy’s door.

“I want to pet Nicky.” Belle said as Tammy opened the door, her dog Nicky, a Jack Russell Terrier ran up to Belle and licked her face.

Tammy looked at her best friend. “Oh, Betty. I’m so sorry.”

The two friends hugged as Betty began crying.

**

Smoulder flew as far from the fire trucks as she could. She fell to the ash covered ground and began crawling through the ashes.

The fires still raged around her. She would find life again.

**

Santa Rosa- 2 weeks later

-Betty and Belle sat as in church as the priest gave an eulogy for Pappy.

-Betty cried. Belle talked about Nicky, her favorite dog.

-Rose sat in the back. She was going to counseling. It would be hard but she vowed to stay sober. She would hold her baby again.

One day.

**

Santa Rosa- 3 weeks later

It began to rain. Smoulder crawled through the forest, her body sizzling with each rain drop.

A green woman walked over to her.

“It’s time, sister.”

“No. I don’t want to die. Not yet. There’s so much life for me to experience.”

“You are a part of me, little sister. Fire is necessary. You clear away the old, the dead, so that new life can emerge. But yours will always be a short life, little one. It is time.”

The rain began pouring now.

Smoulder stood up and embraced her fate.

**

The End

Cbishop - Flaming Angel: Xibalban Avatar on Earth

Flaming Angel: Xibalban Avatar on Earth

Guatemala

...that Mayan loony-bird, Fallayershnozl.
...that Mayan loony-bird, Fallayershnozl.

My name is Cali Jente, but most people in Guatemala call me Red-Hot. I'm trying to get the press to accept a name change to Flaming Angel, but I'm having little success. Ever since my parents brought me here from the States, I've had a love of the rainforest. It's quiet compared to the city, although the animals sound unusually agitated today. Still, it's one of the few places I can avoid that Mayan loony-bird, Fallayershnozl. I know right? That's a mouthful. We just call him Toucan the Terrible. Silly bird thinks I'm destined to be his avatar on earth, or something, and dogs my heels at every turn. So here I am in the rainforest again, hiding from a naked red bird-god with four eyes and a giant beak- embarrassing.

As usual, my path through the forest is taking me to the canopy of the Fire Monkeys; a group of spider monkeys that have been bonded with Superbugs- the Hyper-Parasites that seem to have appeared at just about every major meteor crater on Earth. The ones that bonded with these monkeys are thought to have come from the Chicxulub crater, underneath the Yucatan Peninsula. They have enhanced strength, are nearly invulnerable, can fly, and can breathe fire, just like the human Dragon Men that have bonded to the bugs. They have been known to catch sections of the forest on fire with their breath, which they must have done today, because the smell of smoke is wafting through the trees. I know, I know, I sound like a nature show. My parents have had me studying up on everything Guatemala, so sue me.

I like the Fire Monkeys though. Thanks to my fire powers, I'm one of the few people in the area that can get close to them without getting burned. I can also put out the fires they cause, which I suppose I'll have to do today. Since my powers were inherited from my mom- one of the Dragon Men herself- the monkeys seem to recognize me, and let me hang out with them without attacking me. One of them has even taken a shine to me, never hesitating to jump right in my arms when he sees me. I call him Klepto, because he likes to steal things that don't belong to him. Like my jewelry, which I quit wearing because of him.

As I get closer to their canopy, the smoke gets thicker, but seems to be dying down. I enter their domain, and I'm completely shocked to see nothing but burned out trees, and piles of burning undergrowth. I can hear the Fire Monkeys screaming excitedly from somewhere beyond the burned out area, and then I see why. There in the middle of the smoldering section of forest hovers...

"Klepto!" I scream.

"Did you really think I didn't know about these creatures?" asks a familiar voice.

"Toucan the Terrible! Let him go!" I shout frantically.

"No, child," says the red god, "I think I'll use him to burn down all of the rainforest. That would have quite the impact on this pitiful planet, wouldn't it? And when the humans finally have their weapon to destroy the so-called 'Dragon Men,' these Fire Monkeys will be the first they test those weapons on. It won't be pretty," he sneered. "It will kill them."

I was horrified. "If you do that, you'll kill off a major part of the human race! Less people for you to rule! Do you want that?"

"I don't care how many people are on this planet, girl. Just that they bow to me. However," said the red god, "you could save them."

I was taken aback. "Me? What do you w--"

My powers flare involuntarily...
My powers flare involuntarily...

"You know what I want girl! Do not waste my time!" he shouted, and then concentrated on Klepto, which made the monkey scream and breathe fire at the same time.

I don't see another choice. "Okay, Toucan," I say nervously. "You win. I'll do it."

"Do what?" he asks snidely. "I want to hear you say it."

"I'll be your avatar on earth," I say quietly, tears rolling down my cheeks.

"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!" shouts the bird. "At long last! No longer confined to this Mayan territory! Fallayershnozl shall walk the earth again!"

Toucan the Terrible's top set of eyes glow brightly, and just like that, I am his. I hover in the air as if held in some invisible fist, rising to the tops of the trees. My powers flare involuntarily, making the treetops glow red, and then explode. I want to scream, but I can't. My powers, my body, everything now belongs to Fallayershnozl.

As the explosions die down, Klepto settles on my shoulder, also in the grip of the mad, red god. "At last, you are mine!" he shouts. "My avatar on earth! And as you've wished, all will know you as my FLAMING ANGEL!" My body spewed fire in every direction at his proclamation, Klepto let out another blast with a roar, and Toucan the Terrible seemed to laugh endlessly. If I were able, I would weep for this planet. Instead, all I can do is laugh along with him.

Remember: Votes due byDecember 31st, @11:59PM, US Eastern time.

Thanks for reading! -cb :^D

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cbishop

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#1  Edited By cbishop

Voting Table:

Writer:Votes:
BlueEcho-
RichGenX
  1. cbishop
  2. batkevin74
  3. jhazzroucher
Batkevin74
  1. johnjo719
Johnjo719
  1. 4donkeyjohnson
  2. stumpy49er
Stumpy49er-
Cbishop
  1. RichGenX
  2. DanteKesha

I'll add 'em as I see 'em. -cb

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cbishop

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@wildvine or @bumpyboo: Will one of you dear ladies please pin this voting thread, and unpin the contest thread? Thank you so much. Last time I'll ask this year, I promise. ;)

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BumpyBoo

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#3 BumpyBoo  Moderator
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cbishop

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#4  Edited By cbishop

@bumpyboo: Woot! Thanks, Bumpy'! Great to see your digital face! :)

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#5  Edited By BumpyBoo  Moderator

@cbishop: And yourself, mate. Always good to see you around these parts. Especially deep in the dark of loooooong December night/morning! ;)

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johnjo719

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@4donkeyjohnson: hey I didnt see your comment before but thanks for the vote man!

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cbishop

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RichGenX

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I've read them all (well, almost all since I couldn't vote for my own), and I cast my vote for @cbishop.

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RichGenX

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@cbishop:

Why, thank you. Me, you, @wildvine, and a couple others are like friends who debate, argue, have fun, and use logic and debate. Pretty fun. Am I right?

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@dantekesha: @cbishop would like you read and vote for one of these stories to help make a winner

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I vote flaming angel

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My vote goes to @johnjo719. Not only did you create a good character but a very interesting universe surrounding that character. Good job.

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#18  Edited By cbishop

@johnjo719: I have you down as voting for Batkevin', but now I don't see your vote. Comment 7 is missing. Was that you? Did you un-vote? :/

@dantekesha: Thanks for the vote. :)

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@cbishop: Im not sure, but my vote is still for batkevin's story.

@stumpy49er: thanks man, I appreciate it. I was inspired by the picture.

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cbishop

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Hey, this is cbishop! I was busy trying to catch the Times Square ball drop! Happy New Year! And congrats to @richgenx for winning the last contest of the year. And for getting to pick the first contest of 2018! Make it soon, Rich'! :)

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@richgenx: Well done. Rack'em up let's go again, your choice :)

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Already working on it. It's my first one, so I'm seeking a little advice on it. Hopefully, I'll have it up before the end of the day.