Monday, 11 March 2013

The disappointing crystal

Another week another challenge from Chuck Wendig. This week he chose a random sentence generator. Given some of them are pretty … well, random, he allowed you a few re-clicks until you got a sentence you liked.
I got the following:
The creative gate pokes the spoilt wreck.
An outcome clicks outside the amended premise.
The beard downs a lavatory.
The beard seemed eerily appropriate for Chuck, given that he sports a large reddish beard, but then I got:
The disappointing crystal approaches an empties concert.
Oh, now… that’ll work!
Less than 1,000 words - mine is 778.
The disappointing crystal.
Empties were, by their very nature, empty. But they were not void. They took their emotions and feelings from an annual concert. Like a lunar calendar that concert set the tone for the entire city for the whole of the coming year.
It was a pretty important event.
Past years had been affected by the dizzying wonder of empties filled with motivation and ambition. The year of happiness was one that everyone remembered fondly.
The empties were odd, jellyfish-like creatures that floated benignly through the city, spreading their inescapable emotion to all.
No one knew where they came from or how they even existed. There seemed to be a static number of them. They neither lived nor died but merely existed. They did not communicate other than by radiating the current yearly sentiment. They could not be avoided; they invaded your home, influenced your dreams and changed your life. The year of anger had decimated the population. The assault and murder rate had skyrocketed and it had taken the city years to rebuild and recover.
Visitors to the city were astonished to see them floating around. The locals had become so used to them that they no longer really took any notice of them. They just were.
The crystals on the other hand were secretive and rarely seen. They lived in a gigantic underground cavern. Each year one was chosen in a secret ritual that no one had ever witnessed. Each year that single crystal made the solitary walk to the concert.
Crystals were of the earth and empties of the sky. It was just the way things were.
It was thought that they had a symbiotic relationship; each could not exist without the other.
The city residents were not allowed to attend the concert. They lined the route from the cavern to the concert hall to get a glimpse of the shining crystal that would determine the fate of them all.
The empties seemed to know when it was concert day. They slowly bobbed and eddied towards the concert hall. By late afternoon, the hall was full of them. They waited for the crystal to enter. A crystal never left again after the ceremony. It was as if the empties completely consumed it.
The first people lining the route caught sight of this year’s crystal as it left the cavern. It was clear and transparent. The young, eager people always stood too close to the start. Older, wiser heads knew the colour of the crystal changed as it approached the concert hall. It was exciting to see it first, but more useful to see it later. Not that knowing what was coming helped you to prepare for it. It couldn't be avoided. The choice was made the second the crystal started that walk.
Small children moved, running from their earlier position to a later one to witness the colour change.
The crystal walked carefully, as if it could shatter if it set its foot down too hard. It looked humanoid with two arms and two legs. The hands were held carefully together in front of the body, not swung where they might brush against something and be damaged. The head with its glass face was covered in flat planes that resembled features. It looked down at the ground as it stepped delicately.
The crowd watched with bated breath for the first glimpse of colour. It looked slightly greenish. Some murmured hopefully. A year of growth would be a good thing.
But then a low moan came from one very old woman. Others asked what was wrong. She pointed her hand at the crystal as the hopeful green became tinged with an ugly brown shade. “Not again,” the old woman said.
The word scattered through the crowd like a rush of wind.
The crystal looked it now, as if it knew what it brought to the city.
One impetuous man lifted a rock and hefted it in his hand as it to throw it, before others wrestled him to the ground. It was wrong to harm the crystals. No one knew what happened in a year with no crystal. A cloud of empties filled with nothing might do untold damage.
Frustration and regret already tainted the crowd.
They watched as the crystal made the steps along the final part of the journey.
At the doorway it stopped.
It turned its face towards the crowd; seemingly remorseful before it turned and stepped inside the concert hall.
The crowd was silent for a minute. Then slowly, they started to peel away and make their way home.
It was going to be a very bad year.
© AM Gray 2013

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