What are you bringing to the table?
Posted 21 May 2009 - 09:50 PM
This place, this empty room is where it would begin. There was already a great big world taking shape out there, all that one needed to do was open the door. First, however, one had to offer a sacrifice. It was the way of things.
"My name is Michael."
The first part of the sacrifice was always easy. His name. Names are important, but one thing can have many names. It had to be his true name. In the weeks and months to come he would assume a pseudonym; they all would. Names and nicknames are acquired, collected and discarded at various waypoints along the journey. In the beginning, though, we're given one true name. His was Michael.
The second part took some thought. It had to be something personal, something real, and it had to represent him as a person. It had to be something that was difficult to let go of, that exposed some specific vulnerability. His mind passed over a number of things: grandfather's cufflinks- stolen from his dad's drawer when he was sixteen, the note Melody had written him the summer after Ireland, the one song CD he had recorded with Gweedo in London just before he died. Just one thing to represent him.
His hand closed around a small, asymmetrical black cylinder. A Vintage Selmer C Star Tenor Sax Mouthpiece. It had cost $104 in the summer of 1999, straight out of highschool. It had followed him through three saxes, including his own custom black-lacquer Cannonball and Nartan's classic Selmer in Germany. It had spent summers up in Michigan with him, and winters at his side on the road. He had played it at DECA in Orange County in front of 13,000 screaming students; played in Lawton, Oklahoma for sixty three people; played it one lonely New Years Eve alone in his apartment in Corona. He played it on the CD with Gweedo.
As he set the mouthpiece on the table, the door opened for him.
Posted 21 May 2009 - 10:30 PM
It was something she'd come to enjoy watching. They'd never seen her, or if they did they never acknowledged her, which was just fine in her eyes. Although she did wonder what they would think if they could see her. She knew she'd see some of them again, occasionally, it was part and parcel of being a celebrity. Not that anyone would ever know.
At that thought a smile cracked her lips, breaking the illusion of a skull painted on her fair features even as another figure walked from the whiteness towards the table.
He'd been here before, he vaguely remembered that much. He also remembered what to do.
Gazing over the table his eyes only barely registered the Sax Mouthpeice at it's center. He snorted, he wasn't the first. He was almost tempted to wait, to see if anything else showed up.
So that he could be the Third.
He waited a long while, watching. This gave him time to ponder what to leave. He had numerous options, as most would.
He turned the well worn, soft-cover book over in his hands. The front appearing only as a mass of chains but, in the dark, the logo would glow. His first edition Wraith book. He shook his head, slipping it back into his pack. The rattling of dice filling the air as he did so.
Briefly he considered leaving a handful of dice on the table, but no single dice had that much meaning to him. They were a tool, and despite what most people thought of him he wasn't nearly as ritualistic about them as others he knew.
Then he decided. Seeing that no other objects had appeared while he waited he proceeded.
"My name is Joshua."
Pulling from his bag a long, worn, purple box. A box that contained cards. Cards that it had taken him five years to hunt down and purchase. Cards that he used when he was the most troubled, despite the fact that he still had trouble remembering all of the varied meanings. His Tarot Deck. Not just a Tarot Deck though. His MAGE Tarot Deck. The Deck that had started his 'geek' themed collection. The cornerstone to his more minor occult obsession. This he pulled from the box and spread upon the table, flipping the final card over.
He laughed as the door opened and he walked through.
On the table, the cards lay spread. At their head the Hanged Man stared up at the not-ceiling.
Posted 22 May 2009 - 06:13 PM
There wasn't much to say or do, scanning the table and seeing the mouthpiece and the condemned man. The fat man sat at the table, deciding that tables were for just that, and deposited the key to his truck, his most prized possession next to his wife and his dogs.
Muttering to himself about what sounded like an overdose of theatrics from the other two, he leaned back in his chair and kicked his feet up on the table, scattering the cards and toppling the mouthpiece.
He looked at the keys, the cards, and the mouthpiece, and was satisfied.
Posted 23 May 2009 - 05:24 AM
Not that anyone had actually informed him of such, but rather, it was a simple deduction. He could already see the mouthpiece, the tarot cards, and the set of keys resting on the table. Clearly, these items meant something to their owners.
He stood still for some time. He knew what had to be done, but something was holding him back. It was his biggest vulnerability - something always held him back. Was it nerves? Fear? Excitement? He couldn't tell.
He exhaled, and steeled himself. He crossed his arms at chest height, and with a firm tug, ripped the two shoulder emblems off his blue shirt. He looked at the emblems fondly while thumbing over them. He always treated the Police emblem as a symbol of justice and service. He had almost resigned once, but then remembered that despite the crap being a law-enforcer can bring upon you, the feeling of knowing you have helped someone in need always trumped that of any negativity.
He placed the emblems on the table, and smiled. Just as he had served the public for so long, he was now willing to serve in a different manner.
"My name is Sam."
The door opened, and he stepped through.
Posted 23 May 2009 - 06:41 AM
He had a light blue tote bag slung over one shoulder and a black hoodie on, a t-shirt with some snarky message underneath. Both jeans and shoes were black and well worn. "My name is--name is Alex."
Damn! That would be just the way he'd introduce himself--with a stammer. Aggravatingly apropos, he thought.
He hadn't been sure what to put on the table, another thing that made him feel like it was some mistake bringing him here. He wasn't quite sure what did represent him. Some book? A childhood stuffed animal? The Nintendo DS which was running out of ability to hold a charge? His mind drifted--he thought about rearranging tarot cards, but realized there might be a reason they were scattered just so.
He shook his head. His decision was made. Removing a pair of orange-handled scissors from the bag, he reached back with his left hand and lifted his long, brown ponytail away from his back. He had been told girls would kill for his hair. With one snip, just above the binder, he severed the entire ponytail from his head. That was all he knew--what he was now. He barely knew his identity, but he knew that much.
He placed the ponytail next to the badges, and closed his eyes as he stepped through the door.
Posted 23 May 2009 - 05:40 PM
Posted 24 May 2009 - 04:01 AM
His voice was soft, although there was no need for it. Every man was alone in the room until he made the sacrifice. It was the gesture of connection, and it alone allowed one access to the world beyond the door. the other two had gone through the door, and John had made the sacrifice but was hesitating for some reason.
John turned, his eyes regarding the speaker with casual interest. There was something spectacular in his gaze, a spark of challenge, the threat of defiance for the sake of defiance. It was very human. The tall man continued.
"John, we're all gonna watch from upstairs as they arrive. It's better not to spend too much time around the table, people tend to end up making more sacrifice than is necessary."
John had not, until that moment, noticed another door, this one a good ten feet in the air.
"So what's that, the VIP Lounge?" John was interested. Good.
"In a manner of speaking. You should come see it. Josh is already making changes."
The spark welled up. This could go either way.
"I'll be damned if I'm gonna let that guy make all the good decisions here. C'mon Mike, how do we get up there?"
"The stairs exist when we need them to. Plus, check this out, they light up when you step on them."
To demonstrate, Mike lifted his leg and placed it solidly on a wide eight-inch step that hadn't been there a moment before. It was a solid black with gold inlay, with pale white light shining through patterned grooves. He ascended three more identical steps, each appearing just before his foot made contact and disappearing as he left them.
John shrugged. This whole thing was too theatrical, but apparently it toook some theatrical flair to get into The Loft. John lifted a single, heavy boot and brought it down. It met a full staircase; 16 steps of finished hardwood with a hand-carved bannister. John didn't like the idea of shit disappearing underneath him as he walked. John's stairs did not light up. At the halfway point he turned back to look at the table, and then back to Mike, who had reached the door.
"What about Sam and Alex?"
"They chose the direct route. To be honest I expected you to do the same."
"So what now?" John asked as he neared the top step.
"Now we watch and wait!"
Posted 24 May 2009 - 09:37 AM
Tarvius had received the invitation late the night before, and it's really no wonder that he had missed a lot of the details seeing as he was drunk out of his mind. The details were slim; he'd heard something about a meeting. He also might of heard something about something about a table, but he dismissed as an unimportant detail. All he was worried about right now was getting to that meeting before it was over.
Finally he reached the room. There was no door. The room was dimly lit, and the smoky atmosphere made it nearly impossible to see. In front of him was another door; behind that piece of wood some of the most powerful men in Khazan came together every ten years. Why? No one can really say for sure, and neither could Tarvius seeing as it was his first meeting. In fact he wasn't really sure if it was a meeting at all, maybe this was all just a surprise birthday party or something. Tarvius laughed at the thought, as he finished tucking his shirt in. With his head held high his strolled over to the close door, and attempted to open it. The door did not budge.
Baffled, Tarvius yelled out hoping that someone on the other side would hear him. It was a foolish attempt as his pleas were only met with the sound of silence. He banged his fist against the mahogany door; the pounding blows reverberated throughout the room before bouncing off his skull. At long last his eyes finally noticed a small table with various objects that were difficult to make out in the pale light. His initial thought was one synonymous with, “Who Cares?” However, as the possible symbolic meaning of each object began to formulate within his mind, Tarvius realized the true purpose of the table.
He needed something that would symbolize who he was, what he stood for, or something like that. Yet the question remained as it had his entire life, “What was it” For years, he had wondered about his purpose in life, and more importantly who he was. Not in name of course, but in the metaphorical sense. Why was he chosen to walk the earth? It was question that pondered many nights without any sort of revelation. So it was for this reason that he was without a material object of sentimental value.
It was becoming clear now that he could not enter through door, until he was able to recognize himself. With one final look at the table, and a quick glance to the door, he turned and walked out, with his head hung low, and his spirits crushed. He was to go on a journey, a journey that would reveal himself to whatever sources lay deep within his shadowed psyche.
Posted 01 June 2009 - 05:28 PM
Fri, May 22 8:44 pm
Fri, May 22 8:45 pm
GET IT NOW -> 5. Get Going
OPENING -> • VZ Navigator
N.I.M → Version 4.1.0
• Local Search
• Movies & Events
• Maps & Traffic
• My Places
My Places -> 2. Favorites -> Nexus
Options -> 1. Get Directions To...
Navigating to: Nexus
<null city>, <null zip>
Trip Settings: Fastest; Car/Motorcycle; Avoid: Toll Roads, HOV Lanes; Traffic: Alerts
Getting GPS: Requesting...
You are not on a road. Please travel to the nearest street or intersection.
Are you sure you want to stop navigation?
> 1. Yes
Options -> 1. Preferences -> 3. Navigation -> Trip Settings
Vehicle Type: Car/Motorcycle
Vehicle Type: Pedestrian
My Places -> 2. Favorites -> Nexus
Options -> 1. Get Directions To...
Navigating to: Nexus
<null city>, <null zip>
Trip Settings: Fastest; Pedestrian; Avoid: Toll Roads, HOV Lanes; Traffic: Alerts
Getting GPS: Requesting...
"Continue on... continue on..." The phone repeating itself was a bad sign.
"continue on... continue on... continue on..." The phone continuing to repeat itself, only to emit a crackle of static was also bad.
"...for 500 feet. Your destination is approaching on the..." Again with the burst of static, and then silence. Didn't mean it was broken, though, just having technical difficulties. The screen displayed what was presumably a tiny map, "presumably" because what was usually a criss-cross of yellow roads and orange highways was instead just a gray field with a single blue line pointing him straight ahead. 500 feet straight ahead? There wasn't anything straight ahead, he'd be able to see something.... He looked up from the screen, and saw a single vague building at the back of an indistinct yard. His gaze shot upward briefly, realizing he was standing under the ill-defined gate entrance to an indefinite fence. There was a light hazily illuminating what seemed to be a door, despite no visible light source.
"...Okay." He spoke aloud, reassuring no one but himself.
He'd been lost for awhile; he'd wandered across, through, and by various places for which he couldn't think of any word for description other than "vague" and the various synonyms thereof. Well, "vague" and "vaguely familiar". It'd been so long since he'd started that the sun was beginning to drop. Better he found it now, in a distantly unsettling fashion, than not at all or after the sun had set completely.
Closing the 500 feet, he reached for the door, swung it open, and stepped inside. It was a hallway, again dimly-lit despite the lack of an obvious light source. It led straight ahead, and there were lots of doors in between. So many doors. For every three feet of wall there was another door. And him with no floor plan map. There was a way. He didn't quite remember how it went, but that was okay. After some musing, he opened the first door to his right.
It was another hallway. It seemed identical to the one he'd just been in. There was a single door ahead, a set of doors to the left, and a set of doors to the right. That last part was unsettling, as a door to the right would obviously lead right back outside. There had been no other doors at the front of the building besides the one he had come through. So naturally he opened the first door to his right.
It was another hallway. It seemed identical to the one he'd just been in. There was a single door ahead, a set of doors to the left, and a set of doors to the right. All of the doors would lead outside if the world made any sense, which it had been doing until recently. A chill shot up his spine. He closed the door.
Mind racing now. Door behind him should lead to a hallway. First door on the left would lead back to the entrance hallway. One right corrected by two lefts. He turned on his heel. Threw the door open. Turned left and threw that door open. Another hallway. Just like the last one. Door ahead and doors to the sides. Time to leave!
He didn't even bother closing the doors behind him this time. He just whipped around the corners, placed his hand on the first doorknob that would reasonably lead out, and threw it open. Beyond, it was dark. He could see the lot, the fence, and the gate. The air was cool. He stood rooted to the spot for a few moments, nausea clawing at his stomach. Alien geometry did that to him. He allowed himself some time to calm himself and think.
He found himself drawing conclusions.
First, this was definitely the place he spent his after-school hours before college, and occasionally his free time during college.
Second, while it was the place, it also fundamentally was not. Something had happened, and things had changed.
Third, he was looking for a room that had a dining table smack in the middle of it. It would have some knick-knacks on top of it, and they'd have little to no significance to him.
Fourth, he was to add something of significance to him if he was to get any further. Once he did, there would be a door, and he would go through it to join everyone else.
Fifth, he had to go straight ahead.
Sixth... these weren't his conclusions. Somebody was putting these things in his head.
Seventh, straight ahead.
Eighth, They weren't his thoughts, and he didn't know at all what would be straight ahead if he actually found his way through the building. How could he know about a table in any particular room straight ahead if the entire building had... had warped for whatever heretofore indefinable purpose? Were things straight ahead supposed to change like this? And who exactly was everyone....
Ninth, he was not paying enough attention.
He turned to look down the hall. There was still a door at the end, thankfully, and the amount of doors on either side hadn't changed either. Even the door to his right was still open. Even if the whole place had changed while he was gone, it wasn't obviously changing now. The place hadn't done him wrong before, and if the walls started closing in, literally or not, there was at least the option of running back into the darkness awaiting outside. He sucked it up, walked down the hall, and opened the door at the end.
Straight ahead through the threshold was a dining room table. It was adorned with knick-knacks of no particular significance to him. A pair of police patches. The mouthpiece to some kind of woodwind instrument. What appeared to be... a long coil of hair. A couple of other things. There was also a door straight ahead.
Grimacing, he unzipped a jacket pocket and slid out a small notebook. Green cover, spiral-bound, half-full of messy pen scribbling. There were names, phone numbers, addresses, the names of bands he heard over the radio or over a friend's house, but those were not the important parts. What mattered about this particular notebook was that it contained ideas. Ideas that occurred to him in brief moments of lucidity during sleep. Ideas that came to him on the road, ones that snuck up so suddenly that he'd have to pull over and get them down before they snuck off again. Plot points. Bits of dialogue. Character revisions. Always hasty, always written densely as to preserve space.
Without a second thought, he slapped it down on the table. Approached the door. Grasped the knob. Turned it. Met resistance. The door wasn't opening. His face flashed a snarl. He should've guessed, really, the personal value of the notebook plummeted whenever he got access to a computer with the Internet. His email account had a lot of saved drafts addressed to nobody. It was a paranoia thing.
He spoke authoritively to no one, at least apparently. "Listen, you probably know what's really, truly important to me. It's the kind of thing that would vocally object to being left on a table as an offering of some kind, and then would not speak to me ever again. This is the best you're getting."
He yanked on the door. "Let. Me. IN."
His head whirled around furiously, looking for someone to yell at. "C'mon! What IS it that you could possibly..."
A lightbulb went on in his head.
"Oh. Uh, right. Name's Doug. Open up."
There was a soft click. To most, it would've sounded like a door unlocking. To him, it sounded like a sigh of irritated resignation. The notion would make no sense when he would think about it later, and he'd chalk it up to someone putting things in his head again for the purpose of conveying a point.
A brief smile lit his face. Time to go! He threw the door open, passed through, and shut it quietly behind himself.
[EDIT - Made a mistake. Graves pointed it out. Thanks Graves! Also, MS Word auto-correct punctuation does not translate onto IPBoard.]
Posted 16 June 2009 - 12:13 PM
A few moments later, she came back with his coffee. "Here ya go, sweetheart. Sugar?"
"Nah. Just cream, thanks."
"Feelin bitter today, eh?" The old woman smiled with a wink.
The man looked up into the waitress' smiling eyes and grinned back. His smile never quite reached his own eyes. "Just tired."
Scratching the side of her nose with a pencil, the waitress looked out the window quizzically. "Looks somethin' of a storm brewin' out there. Good thing you stopped before it got ugly. Gotta count your blessings, hun!"
In response to this, the beleaguered man glanced out the window towards the skies and slowly rubbed his temples with the tips of his middle fingers. "Can't wait to drive through the mountains in that."
The waitress laughed heartily, "We got coffee enough to last till the apocalypse, sweetie. You can bunker down here as long as you need to. Just don't forget the tip!"
"Shelter from the storm, eh?" The man finally allowed his smile to reach the rest of his face.
"Always, hun. So, what'll you have?"
He ordered breakfast because it didn't matter what time of day it was in real life; it was always breakfast time on the road. Hash browns and sausage always sounded good after hours of driving. Still, he had been driving, and moving, for what seemed hours and yet he didn't know where he was going. Before he had left, he had known exactly where he was heading: law school. It was the final step in a process of growing up that would put him squarely in the mundane world. It also felt like the final nail in the coffin. The undertaker had already prepared the body. There had been a wake. It was nice. His friends had come. They had even given him a diploma to take with him. But, now, the corpse of his youth and its eternal optimism was buried six feet under.
Now? Now, he wasn't sure where he was going. His mind was driving to law school, but his heart had driven him somewhere else. It looked like his heart had won because his GPS signal had dropped off the face of the planet a hundred miles or so back, and things were looking all too familiar at times.
A woman entered the diner, wind had whipped her hair out from beneath her doo rag and she was hastily trying to fix the tangled mess. Her clothing looked like it had been scrounged from Good Will, but it all seemed to fit her perfectly. She turned her head to peer around the empty diner, and his eyes caught hers for a brief moment. Both of the travelers looked away after a moment, but her eyes burned into the man's.
She had looked very familiar. In fact, all of the people in the nearly empty diner looked familiar to one extent or another. Yet, he couldn't place any of them. From the weathered looking man in the trench coat and the long blond ponytail to the dark haired man in the pitch black sunglasses; they all felt right to him like they had belonged.
Suddenly, the man hastily slapped a twenty dollar bill on the table. Gathering up his messenger bag, he stood to leave. He wasn't sure what was driving him, but apparently it wanted to leave right now. As he left, he could hear the elderly woman calling out behind him, "Go! Come back anytime! We're always right here!"
He didn't bother with the car. It was too close now. Roads would just get in the way. His pace quickly hastened until trees shot by him. As out of shape as he was, his chest was burning in scorching pain, but he ignored it. The room was too close. Then, he was there. It wasn't so much that he had approached the room so much as he had just suddenly stopped running and looked around to find himself in it. There was the table. As it should be. He knew now what he had to do, and the emotion was welling up inside of him threatening to break free.
He choked on the words. He thought this was done with. He thought he had hardened himself to the reality, but that wall was crashing down... hard.
"My name is Jonathan."
His hand reached into the breast pocket of his coat and clenched the object inside. Fingers tangled around the beads of his grandmother's rosary and he pulled it from its hiding place before sliding it to the table.
He heard himself say, "You don't need to sacrifice the past to live for the future. I'm home."
A smile lit up his face. He bit back tears and looked towards the door in expectation. With a small movement, it opened.
Posted 23 June 2009 - 12:40 PM
"Sorry I'm late fellas, but I've been too *vulgarity*ing busy, and vice versa."
He put a copy of Zen In The Art Of Archery on the table.
The door opened and he went through.
"So when are we gonna get this party started?"
Posted 09 November 2009 - 05:35 PM
He had retreated to the one place he knew was still free of the spite and ego, even his own. The room was cold and dark, and had a familiar purity of those who loved the game more than themselves. It was comfortable.
He sat in silence for a couple minutes, in the lone chair at the lone table. There was the motley collection of things whose sentimental value had paid the First Door's price of admission. It made him smile. He heard a small sound in the corner. In a more onomatopoetic environment, it might've looked like this:
He looked over. A small shape sat in a darkened corner. A familiar shape. Something he'd held a few times before, if only briefly. Her breathing was labored. Poor thing. Was she sick? No... he looked closer. She was pregnant.
Elswehere, across the unfinished New City, six others found themselves quietly laughing without quite understanding why...
Posted 12 November 2009 - 08:52 PM
"I think you're doing a great job, keep it up." Josh nodded, succinctly.
Mike glared up at Josh for a moment, then gestured to the small but gravid creature laying on the towel that had been placed in said corner. "I mean about her"
"I do too! What do you expect me to say? You're right, she looks pregnant."
"Well, do you think we should find her something to eat? I mean... what does she eat?"
"Um, I want to say ballots but I don't think that's right. Maybe flying carrots? Or maybe just put a domino mask on a cabbage?"
The creature's long ears twitched, seemingly amused.
Posted 13 May 2010 - 01:04 AM
He appeared from one of those very pits. Covered in oil, dirt, grime, and a little blood, he was something of a mess as he pulled himself to the surface. He pointed a flashlight back down and muttered something about remembering to build stairs next time. Standing up, he looked around until he could see the small points of light that represented his destination and began walking. The light in the distance did nothing to illuminate his path, and even with a flashlight, the pits were barely discernible from solid ground, but he'd taken this route before and needed no sight to find his way safely. His main concern was that he'd been away too long; time down there was difficult to keep track of, and his work had taken far longer than anticipated. Surveillance of the surface showed there was still activity, but it also showed settling dust on unfinished construction and he wasn't sure if he simply hadn't seen a few recognizable faces around, or if they had long since departed.
Once the light was close, he could make out the objects of the room; a table with various objects scattered about, an empty chair, and what appeared to be a small box with something alive moving around in it. It made him both depressed and relieved simultaneously; he was a lousy caretaker, but fortunately the right people were around to pick up the slack in his absence. He approached the box first, regarding the mother-to-be resting in it with a warming heart. Her ears fluttered as he bent down, holding out a small cheese cracker he'd been keeping in a clean container. "Easy girl... sorry I've been away. It's almost time though, right?" She cheerfully nibbled on the cracker; technically such food wouldn't be a healthy choice for a pregnant rabbit, but somehow he knew that she'd be just fine.
His attention turned to the table. No one was around at the moment; he walked up to the table, placing one hand on the chair. He hesitated for just a moment to catch his breath, then with both hands he slowly unbuttoned his jacket and sloughed it from his frame. Without it he was noticeably smaller, although perhaps not as much as he once was. The jacket had borne flames and dirt and sweat and hard labor, and though it was still wearable it was becoming thread-barren in places. It was armor and warmth in the tunnels; above ground it was a shell, almost a second skin. He draped the jacket over the back of the chair and pushed the chair to the table so that the jacket's collar just barely rested on the table's edge; with so much work left to be done, there was little time for sitting around.
One of these days he would get around to making it recognize him by his other name. It was his name, in a sense, and one that had been with him since the Beginning. This place was finicky about details, however, and this one point he would concede. For now.
With the work down below being wrapped up by the master engineer, he had been able to return to the surface. As the door opened, however, he knew that his job was far from over.
Posted 13 May 2010 - 03:59 PM
Then, suddenly the time was up. A single note reverberated through time and space and like all aspiring writers Magnus needed to heed the call. Gathering the vortex within him he spread his dragon-like wings and headed off into the oblivion.
If the storm of images had been confusing before, it was nothing compared to what he was seeing now. As he flew trails of ideas from other writers lingered, sorting through them could wait for later. Right now he had a date with destiny.
Posted 14 May 2010 - 02:44 PM
Posted 16 May 2010 - 05:48 PM
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