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Posts tagged “adventure

Card Challenge: Day 32

Card Day 32: A boy walks along rolling green hills at night, blowing bubbles into the sly. The bubbles take on the shape of planets, rings and all, as they float upwards.

Peter dreamed big, probably too big many times. His dreams had the nasty habit of shoving into the real world, pushing the daily necessities out of the way. Nevertheless, Peter was also resolved to never sacrifice his dreamer’s spirit, no matter what the costs. Right now, the costs were approximately $1976.15 in back rent and interest.

He had no idea where the money would come from, nor what he would do when his meager possessions—a ratty couch from the thrift store, a low-power microwave, and a collection of ratty t-shirts that he had collected in college—were kicked to the curb. His latest big plan had failed miserably, which would have been a devastating blow to many. But Peter’s terminal case of optimism painted everything with possibilities and new horizons. Who knows, he mused, perhaps the bout of homelessness would finally sate that hunger for adventure gnawing at him.

Hands in his pockets, Peter walked along the street, whistling with his hands in his pockets. Yes, there were massive problems looming, but he was utterly unable to do anything productive towards those at the moment, so it was best to focus on what he could do. Right now, he could whistle and trace the patterns in the clouds.

_____

The next night found Peter under the stars. He had opted to leave the couch for some other passing vagabond to use, mainly because it would not fit into his hatchback. The t-shirts, microwave, and an old lamp he had nearly forgotten about rattled in the trunk as he puttered along the highway. The eviction had gone through, so he was now free to see the world. Wanderlust tugged at his heart, pulling him out of the city. He was not sure where he was travelling to—the signs on the highway pointed to Wichita—but he was eager for the next great adventure. Peter dreamed of the stories he would hear and live out. Perhaps this would be his chance to write a book. Or, he pondered, maybe he should pick up odd jobs and pay his way around the country. He could do restaurant work in Wichita, clean some windows in Austin, sell newspaper in New York, and catch lobster in Maine. The world was open to him, and he was beholden to no person or thing.

The limitless freedom was exhilarating, if not also terrifying.

However, Peter had been on the road since 8am and the sun had long since disappeared from the horizon. The gas station coffee did little to keep him awake, and so he turned left off the highway, turning into a lonely exit promising a truck stop and a campground. Peter opted for the campground which, he thought, would be quieter than the hustle and bustle of an active travel center.

He pulled into the dirt lot and, seeing no one around, drove along towards one of the many abandoned camping spots. It seemed like the highway signs had not been updated since the place had closed down. Nevertheless, it would do for a place to snag a few hours of sleep. The car was stuffy with the scent of fast food French fries and summer heat, so Peter rolled the window down. The wind sung through the car, carrying a hint of highway exhaust and diesel fumes. The muter roar of the highway droned in the distance as Peter pushed his seat back and flipped his baseball cap down over his eyes. A smile on his face and not a worry in his mind, Peter fell asleep almost instantly.

The restful sleep, however, was not to be. While he was able to gain a few hours of relaxing snooze despite the best attempt from horns on the highway, it was a peculiar silence and electricity that woke him just past midnight. The crickets were silent, as was the highway, and the air hung heavy and still. As he struggled towards wakefulness, Peter was reminded of the huge storm that had blasted through town a couple years ago, predicted by a similar stillness. The air felt alive and electric, as if it were humming all around him. Peter peered out the windows into the inky blackness, lit by the silver disc of the moon. No clouds obscured it, meaning it probably wasn’t a storm on the horizon. The stars sat twinkling as brightly as ever, immune to the aura of unease permeating his setting.

Suddenly, there was light in the air. It was bright, as if all the electricity in the air suddenly became visible in that moment. The hum of energy returned, redoubled, and seemed to pulse with the strange light. In the light, Peter saw…things.

At first, his mind could not make sense of what he was seeing. Where the world had been black just inches from his window, now it was lit in cold white light. Shadows danced along it, his eyes unable to see through the brilliant light to make out more than the shape. They were squat htings, with appendages flailing about. They seemed to walk upright, with four other things—arms, perhaps?—moving in an almost swimming motion through the air. Finally, one drew closer, and he was able to see a being with tiny, dark eyes and a long antenna-like nose. It walked up to the door of the car, placing its hands on the edge of the window. Its fingers were webbed, splaying across the door in an impossibly wide span. Peter felt lightheaded, the world spinning in a haze of light, shadow, and that enduring hum.

As if aware of his overwhelmed sense, the creature turned towards the others, emitting a sharp series of squeaks and rumbles. The light overhead disappeared, the sound ceased, and the creatures vanished. And then, Peter vanished. His car sat, lonely and mostly empty in the abandoned campground, a monument to isolation and adventure.

For his part, Peter was finally objectively terrified. He found himself in a corridor with steely walls. Light seemed to glow from the walls themselves, flooding the corridor with stark white light. It was too bright, pulsing behind his eyes. One of the creatures was at his side, taking his hand in its webbed fingers. It tugged at Peter, pulling him down the corridor to a large room where many others sat. He was directed to a chair, its dimensions clearly not made for his lanky human body, and dutifully sat. From behind him, someone fitted a small contraption to his ear, swatting at him harshly when he tried to remove it.

There was a flurry of voices in his mind, speaking languages he had heard and some he had never imagined. He was certain that he even tasted one of the languages, a gush of fresh strawberries filling his mouth. Then, the noise died down, giving way to stilted English.

“Inhabitant of Sphere 279. Welcome. We invite you hear to know you, to learn of you. We mean you no harm. You may return to your terrestrial location at any time you wish.”

All the eyes turned to him expectantly. Peter smiled, laughed with discomfort. He scratched at his head, his mouth flopping open and closed as he sought the words to speak. As soon as he took a breath to say something, one of the creatures thrust a pale blue sphere towards his face. Peter heard his voice in the sphere for a moment, then listened as it became the squeaks and growls of his hosts.

“Uh, think I can hitch a ride?” They laughed—at least, he heard them laugh in his head. In the room, it sounded like gears grinding to a sudden halt.

After a moment, the leader spoke. “Of course. Such is our quest. We will learn, you will learn.”

Peter smiled, finding his wanderlust growling hungrily in his mind. He could travel the galaxy, picking up odd jobs to pay his way. A bus boy on Neptune, interpreter on Pluto, landscaper in Alpha Centauri, a barista on……


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This work by Katherine C is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Card Challenge: Day 30

Card Day 30: A compass resting on top of a piece of a map.

“We said no cell phones,” snapped Teresa from the driver’s seat, shooting a sharp, disapproving look his direction.

Brian dropped the phone into his lap, exasperation in his movements and voice. “Babe, I was just going to use the GPS to figure out where we are.”

“That’s why I brought the map,” she replied, nodding her head toward the backseat where the paper map sat ungainly and unfolded.

“I don’t know how to read one of those.”

“How do you not know how to read a map? You just look at it, find the road we’re on, and find the one we want to be on. Then tell me where to go.” He was unconvinced at her description of the “simple” process, but it was not worth the inevitable fight to continue angling for his phone.

“If it means that much to you, fine, I’ll use the map. But we’re going to get way more lost before we find our way.”

“Do you want to drive and I’ll navigate?” she offered, glancing his way as wave after wave of corn fields flashed past the window. She raised one eyebrow, suggesting she already knew what his answer would be.

“You know I hate driving, and I already drove three hours this morning.”

“And I did not get you lost once. Everyone has to pull their weight in this car,” she chided with a smile, turning her attention back to the road.

“Well, if you had not insisted on packing your entire apartment into the trunk, there wouldn’t be so much weight to disperse, now would there?” His mischievous grin vanished as she swatted at him, laughing.

“Shut up.”

The rest of the trip was passed in companionable banter and inside jokes, with a reasonable break for scanning the radio waves. Teresa had the magic touch for finding just the right driving music, which was today a mix of late 80s and early 90s hits that both could sing along with. Eventually, under Brain’s careful guidance, they pulled into the turn off for the state park. Her eyes lit up with excitement as they descended beneath the heavy canopy, winding along the narrow pavement towards the camp grounds. Teresa rolled down her window, cranking it diligently, and let the wind whip through her long, wavy hair. It filled the car with the scent of soil, leaves, and fresh air. Brain smiled, watching the sunlight play across her face from the branches overhead, and rolled down his window in turn. The early spring breeze rippled through the car, the only sound the crunch of the tires over the pavement and the whistling of distant birds.

“I reserved number four,” he said after the brief drive, pointing to a small turn off. The campground was empty, probably because it was the middle of the week and early yet in the season.

Brian gave an exaggerated stretch as he exited the car, breathing deep and then yawning animatedly. “Glad we made here in one piece. You gave me some scares.”

“Ha-ha,” she deadpanned, tossing one of the duffle bags towards him. “Quit whining and help me set up so we can get some exploring in before dinner.”

“Yes ma’am,” he responded with a salute, pushing past her to grab the tent out. “I found a geocache not too far from here, thought we could look it up?” he offered as he began unpacking the tent.

“Uh, sure, but we don’t have a GPS, so that might be hard.”

“Seriously?” he asked, freezing in the task and giving her an incredulous stare.

“What? I’m serious, no phone—“

“No, you, the geo-expert, and you don’t even know how to do it without your fancy GPS. Psh.” He reached into his back pocket. “I printed off the map, and brushed up on how to do this sort of thing old school. It’s just reading a map, right? Can’t be too hard.”

She laughed, her eyes beaming with appreciation. “Ok, Mr. Wilderness, sounds like a plan. After we have a place to sleep tonight,” she finished, pointing at the assorted pieces of the tent.

“I’ll have it done in a flash,” Brain replied with a smile and a wink. Teresa busied herself with sorting through the remainder of their baggage, dragging the heavy cooler near the front of the trunk and sliding the clothes towards the back. She tugged the battered red sleeping bag from the bag, where it had been crushed in their haste.

“When you get that thing ready, I’ve got the bed.”

“Almost there,” called Brian from behind the now open tent. “Did you find the fire starter?” he asked, brushing his hands against his pants and leaving dirty brown streaks.

Without a word, she tossed him the bundle of wood and lighter fluid from the trunk.

“Sweet! Hotdogs tonight!” He dropped the log into the ashen fire pit, and turned towards her excitedly. “Now, on to the main event.” He again produced the folded map from his back pocket, thrusting it out towards Teresa. “Lead the way, captain.”

“I thought you were the one who knew how to do all this? She responded, shoving it back towards him, but he was persistent.

“Come on, it’s just a map. Any idiot can use a map. Just find where we are, find where we want to be, and lead the way,” he echoed, a sly glimmer in his eye. Rising to the bait, Teresa snatched the paper from his hand.

“You’re terrible, you know that?”

“But you love me,” he replied, giving her a quick peck on the cheek as she studied the map.

“Okay, towards the lake.”

The two set off with the late afternoon sun falling behind them, casting long shadows under the limbs of the trees. Teresa pointed out directions, examining the map carefully, always moving closer to Brain’s hastily marked ‘X.’

“Did the poster say anything? Any clues about if it’s underground, in a tree, anything?”

“Nope, nothing special. I’m guessing we’ll know it when we see it.”

“I hope we aren’t on a wild goose chase,” she said, laughing and smiling over the map at him.

He smiled back. “I’ve got a good feeling about it. And I’m guessing we’re pretty close?”

She turned the map towards him, pointing to a spot just southeast of the penciled ‘X.’ “Should be closing in.”

“Good, cause I’m getting hungry, and those hotdogs won’t cook themselves.”

It was only one or two more landmarks and consultations of the map before Teresa led them into a clearing, a grey metal box patiently waiting beneath the roots of a gnarled oak. The two rushed over, the air heavy with the anticipation of discovery.

“Do you want to do the honors?” suggested Teresa, nudging the box towards him. “You did choose it, after all.”

“Hey, you were the fearless leader. You take first look.”

Teresa’s smile widened, grinning like a kid unwrapping the last—and biggest—birthday present. Carefully she lifted the lid to reveal another small, black box.

“Geo-ception,” she chuckled, lifting out the box.

She eagerly opened this, awaiting her final prize. Inside, sat a ring, glistening with diamond and gold, accompanied by a crumpled piece of paper and familiar handwriting.

“I found the one. Say yes?” it asked. She looked at Brian, his face smug and pleased with the plan. Her head bobbed a quick and decisive yes, one of the few times he had successfully left her speechless.

“Told you I had a good feeling about this one.”


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This work by Katherine C is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Card Challenge: Day 26

Card Day 26: A girl stands atop a stack of books, bent to dive off of them and into an open one below. Standing on the open book is a woman—or fairy—in a ball gown, waiting for the girl to dive.

Lose yourself in a good book, he said. Reading will transport you, he said. Myra would have rolled her eyes if she had not been more focused on evading the screeching, fire-breathing dragon charging relentlessly after her. Every flap of its wings was another wall of air slamming against her back, pushing her forward just enough to evade its jagged claws.

Her sides ached and her lungs burned with the constant pursuit, and she gasped for air with shaky breaths as her feet drove inexhaustibly towards some imagined relief. She had not known there was a sleeping dragon in the middle of the forest; in fact, she did not think a forest was a particularly suitable home for a dragon. However, none of that mattered when the behemoth stretched its wings and took flight, eyeing its next meal with murderous glee.

The gale forces against her back began to abate, and she dared hope that she might be outrunning the predator. She risked a glance behind her to see the great lizard rising slowly into the air, its wings blocking out the sun as if it were a massive thundercloud. Then, its head reared back, thin streams of smoke snaking from the upturned nostrils. Her eyes widened in panic, and she flung herself towards the small outcropping of rocks to her side.

The fire rushed past her, its heat stinging her skin, but fortunately leaving it uncharred. It seemed like innumerable waves of fire crashed around her, lashing against the rocks but ultimately unable to overwhelm them. Myra felt sweat pour from her body in response to the heat, only to have it immediately evaporate. Eventually, it abated, leaving the world feeling icy with its absence. She peeked from her hiding spot in time to see the great creature toddle off into the sunset with its leathery wings and bloated body.

She sank against the rocks, feeling them cold against her irritated skin. It might not have burnt her to a crisp, but the exposure left her nerves feeling raw and weathered. Her lungs filled with gulping breathes of the acrid air, enjoying the sweet relief of oxygen despite the lingering haze that filled each mouthful. She tried not to think about it, or about the ridiculous circumstances that had brought her here.

Once her breathing returned to mostly normal, she stood gingerly on aching legs. She must have run for miles trying to escape, or at least it certainly felt that way to her unaccustomed body. Her feet pounded, and she could see blood tinging her socks from the raw blister that had formed and burst in her haste. Myra groaned and considered dropping back to the ground, letting this world spin on without her in the hopes that it somehow left her behind. But as she saw the sun glistening on the horizon, she found the courage to seek some sort of shelter. If dragons roamed the woods during the day, there was no telling what the night might hold.

A dirt path wound through the countryside towards some rolling hills. She could not see any people or structures nearby, and so set off in a direction, hoping something would appear. “Stupid book,” she muttered as she walked, still no refuge in sight.

She had sat down, begrudgingly, to read the book her teacher had offered her. She did not want to read it, but he had been so good intentioned recommending it that she felt she had to. That, and he had a dreamy smile. Myra could not help but feel a flutter in her heart at the memory of that smile. But, one moment she had been reading, and the next she was asleep. It was the moment after that which baffled her. She had awoken outside, wandered around the woods, stumbled upon a dragon, and fled for her life. If her body did not ache so profoundly, she would have sworn it was a nightmare.

The heat burn on her skin left her chilled as night descended. The stars poked out from the sky, pinpricks of icy light in a navy curtain. She did not recognize a single one, though she also knew she would not have recognized one if it had been outside her bedroom window at home. Stars were just not that interesting to her, though she suddenly wished they had been. Instead, her tired feet dragged her protesting body along the path and through the hills.

Eventually, she spotted a small cave. It was, she was certain, unsafe, but it was the only thing resembling shelter she had found. And she was about to collapse after the long, impossible day. The inside of the cave was dark, unlit by the moon or stars. She felt along the walls, leading herself just into the mouth of it, but strictly attuned to the slightest sounds. There were, after all, probably werewolves in there. Or some other equally unbelievable creature. Finally, her legs gave out, and she fell against the sandy floor. There was silence in the cave, silence in the world.

And then, there was light.

The man holding the light was your traditional wizard; long grey hair, messy grey beard, blue cloak, and gnarled staff. The tip of the staff glowed with a silver light, pouring into the cave from his position at the entrance. Myra shielded her eyes from it and tried to edge back into the dark of the cave, but he gave a shout of recognition.

“Ah! There’s where you wandered off to!” He shuffled over to her, and Myra found a wall against her back.

“Who are you?” she queried warily. Hopefully, not a dragon.

“I have a book for you!” he crowed, holding out a faded leather book. Myra eyed it with disgust.

“I’ve had enough of books,” she grumbled.

“Come now, I think you’ll like this one.” He shoved the book under her nose, so close she could smell the old leather.

“I don’t-“

“Here!” He quickly flipped the book open so that she had to see the first page.

“Myra sat in her room,” it began. She looked up at him, only to see her teacher’s warm eyes smiling back.

“What is this? Some kind of joke?” she asked, anger rising in her voice.

“Read.”

Seeing no give in his argument, she complied.

Myra sat in her room, the book forgotten on her lap as she slumbered.” As she read, she noticed the cave walls began to grow thin around her, giving way to the pale turquoise of her bedroom. She continued reading, watching her surroundings shift slowly back into her world until she found herself seated on her bed, reading diligently about a land of wizards and dragons.

Myra leapt from the bed, slamming the book shut. She could see herself in the mirror, her skin reddened, her hair a mess of dirt, soot, and leaves. She gingerly touched her arms and legs, feeling their realness, but aghast at their condition. Without a word, she scooped the book off her bed, and promptly threw it out her window, slamming the glass shut hard enough to shake it in the frame. No smile was worth that.


Creative Commons License
This work by Katherine C is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.