A tiny fat man, wearing a dazzling top hat and tailcoat, levitated into the centre of the arena that stretched from horizon to horizon. “Tonight!” he said. “Tonight, is the night of nights! Tonight, we bear witness to the most fantastical feats of mind-warping, sense-dazzling, heart-pumping, and thought provoking holorumble combat this galaxy has ever seen!”
There was electricity in the air. Hushed whispers proliferated; bubbles of latent energy threatened to erupt.
“Welcome to the INAUGURAL IMAGINE-NATION GAMES!!”
Fireworks exploded, erupting across the great throng like hundreds of blooming flowers; fiery petals splashing, disintegrating, and reflecting off the bewildered faces below. Suddenly, a bright, intense purple streak speared down from high above, its prongs reaching down into the crowd like giant fingers.
The feeling of being zapped was a lukewarm tingling that sizzled in and out through the skin, eventually dissipating from the body through the spine.
“Papa!” Omran said, still buzzing. “That was amaaaazing!!”
“Yes, Omran,” his father replied, acknowledging the smiling faces that surrounded them. “It was delightful, wasn’t it?” He squeezed the small legs overhanging his shoulders.
“You’re having fun, yes?”
“I am, Papa. I am.”
“Good, and your legs?”
“Papa,” Omran said. “My legs are super-duper okay!”
“Alright. But you’ll tell me if they bother you, yes?”
“Yes, Papa. I will.”
“Come,” his father said a few moments later. “Let’s go down to the concourse. I’m told we might see some of the gladiators, yes?”
“Yes, Papa!” Omran punched the air. “That would be awesome!”
Half the planet had congregated in the concourse area. There were vendors of all sorts offering food, drink, holorumble merchandise, services, even subservients.
“The Quirky Quads!” Omran screamed when he spotted the famous quadruplets.
They were a colourful bunch. Literally.
Joy was usually at the front, donning her trademark yellow suit. Ea was always cowered behind one of his siblings like a green cloak. Ang was the fiercest of the lot, his burly biceps encircled by red dragon tattoos that extended all over his body. He was also Ea’s favourite hiding place. And lastly was, of course, Ness, who typically trailed behind the others in her purple hoodie, trying to be invisible.
“Ah,” Joy said as they approached the pair. “You must be Omran Daqneesh! Our special guest from Earth!”
Omran’s face lit up. “You know my name?”
“Of course we do!” She smiled. “We’re told you’ve come all the way from the Milky Way, just to watch the games. You must be a huge fan.”
Omran nodded profusely. “I am! I mean, I’m your biggest fan!”
“We are wasting time!” Ang suddenly said, then scowled. “We should be checking out the competition, or rehearsing formations, not talking to—”
“Ang!” Joy shot her brother a glare. “Don’t be rude.”
“I’m being honest,” he said indignantly.
“Well, Mr. Honest,” she replied, “How about you go somewhere else and practice?”
“Practice? By myself?” he asked, arms folded. “We’re a quartet, remember?”
“Come on, Ang,” Ness said and sighed. “I’ll practice with you.”
“Am I speaking Gargantuano here?” Ang said, throwing his hands in the air.
“I apologise, Mr. Daqneesh,” Joy said, turning back to Omran as Ness dragged Ang away.
“Mr. Daqneesh?” The young lady turned around and followed the blank stares of Omran and his father, as they converged on a lone figure making its way through the sea of onlookers.
“Omran Daqneesh,” a woman greeted them in a deep, eloquent voice. “I am Azuria, Queen of Enginium.” She was dressed in a layered ultramarine gown, split down the front, that glowed and sparkled in a jigsaw-like pattern. However, it was neither her attire nor her appearance that drew breaths away.
“I, we...” She gestured all round, then bowed. “...are honoured to be in your presence.”
Omran tapped his father's head, and was slowly lifted down. He faltered when his feet touched the ground, and he quickly held out an arm. “I got this,” he said.
“Lady Azuria,” Omran said, once he had found his legs. “The honour is mine.”
“Excellent,” she said. “I hope you’ll visit me in my spire before the games start, for good fortune.”
Omran looked up. “Papa, can I please?”
“Of course, my son,” said his father.
“It's settled then,” she said. “We shall see you later.”
She turned to walk away when suddenly, a deathly chill precipitated the air, followed by an evil chuckle. A sinister figure emerged from the shadows; gooey puddles formed below its every step, sending pungent wafts everywhere.
“Awww, how disgustingly touching,” said the figure with a wry grin. “The Lady Azuria, it’s been a while.”
“Lord Dauthus!” Azuria said as she moved to shield Omran. “You’re not welcome here!”
“On the contrary, milady,” Dauthus said. “I’m a part of you, just as we’re all a part of this…” He gestured to his surroundings. “Theatre.”
“We’re nothing alike!” She glared at him.
Dauthus smiled, showing two rows of stained teeth. “Maybe not physically,” he said. “How could anyone match your beauty and grace?”
Ang and Ness returned, and together with the others, they arranged themselves in a defensive arc alongside Lady Azuria.
“Dauthus,” Joy said as she stood next to the taller woman. “Leave, now!”
“Yeah,” Ang said, cracking his knuckles. “While you can still walk!”
“The loathsome foursome,” Dauthus said, “and the Queen of Enginium, cohorts? Yes, yes,” he rubbed his chin, “I must stay now, this is just too intriguing.”
Everyone turned in the direction of the voice. There were more gasps at this, than when the harbinger of darkness had himself materialised. Ea was looking through his fingers, and upon receiving a nod of encouragement from Ness, he sucked in. “I said, back off, you, you… scumbag!”
Dauthus laughed. “The jumpy green one actually talks!”
“Leave him alone, you bully!” Ness said, her features steeled.
“And the suicidal purple one comes to his defense!” Dauthus exclaimed with a hand gesture. “This is so amu—”
An emerald wyvern, conjured from air, smashed into the Dark Lord’s face and sent him crashing into the stall behind.
All eyes turned to Ea again, mouths agape.
Ang rubbed his hands. “Yeah! Go, Green Machine! COME ON!”
“I suppose,” Joy said, “We were never really going to talk our way out of this, right?”
“This was inevitable,” Azuria said.
A gale started to blow, whipping up and depositing debris around the team of allies. Lightning flickered and rain drops began pelting down.
“Everyone,” Azuria said commandingly, “Take shelter now! Mr. Daqneesh,” she said without looking, “take your son to my chambers.”
“You insolent fool!” Dauthus said. A pair of wings protruded slowly from his back. Scales pushed out from his skin, swarming his arms and legs. White swirly vapour wisped out his mouth, nostrils, eyes, and ears.
“Go now!” Azuria said, glancing sideways. “We will hold him off as long as we can.”
“No, Papa!” Omran cried out. “I want to stay!”
“Omran, we must go,” his father said and scooped him off the ground, running towards the spires.
“Ang is our best chance,” Azuria said, focused on the behemoth that was Lord Dauthus. “Ness and Ea,” she directed her voice sideways. “Form a defensive barrier. I will attempt to distract the beast.” She closed her eyes for a few seconds, and as they popped open her clawed hands surged with energy. A pair of feathered wings stretched from her sides. She was there one minute, and then soaring the next.
“Mr. Daqneesh, please stand back.”
“Mr. Daqneesh, I’m afraid it doesn’t look good.”
“What are you saying? Is my son going to die?”
“Omran’s fighting the infection as hard as he can. But his physical injuries were severe, the loss of his body from the waist down…”
“But you said the machines would help!”
“The Imagine-Nation console was meant to simulate the presence of a full body, providing a holistic sense of well-being. It allows his immune system to focus; but as a 20-year old, his body has grown very attached to its limbs, making the integration harder.”
“So, what can we do?”
“The only thing we can do is wait, and hope for the best.”
“Omran, my son. Papa is right here. Just do your best to fight it!!”
Azuria slumped on the ground. One of her wings was battered, and blood trickled down her forehead.
“The Queen of Enginium,” said Dauthus. “At my mercy.” He knelt down beside the semi-conscious woman and sneered. “Oh, how the mighty have fallen.”
The Dark Lord rose and swung about. He smiled. “The one and only, Omran Daqneesh. Have you come to meet Allah?”
“No,” Omran said, clad in gleaming turquoise armour. He wielded a crimson sword and carried a golden shield. “I have come to conquer death.”
Dauthus chuckled. “You cannot defeat me. I am invincible.”
“You are anything but invincible.”
“How very sage, boy.” Dauthus wiped his nose.
“That boy is gone,” Omran said. “This is the real me.”
Dauthus snickered. “Boy or not, you underestimate the strength of my powers.”
“And you, my lord. Underestimate my will to live.”
(c) Vincent Lim, 2017
First published in Anthologies Askew: Volume 003
Retribution Or Modesty
For centuries, the world and its peoples have lived together. Their ambitions to find their purpose has often led to a clash in differences. The concept survival of the fittest has motivated some to take action to in some way balance their conquests. But what if I were to tell you that there was a concept which many people have seen, but have forgotten over time? That there was a manner to erase some of the hate in this world, and most humans have acquired it. Yet there are those that could be reminded.
The concept is......despite war, crime, sickness, and violence.....
We are all humans.
Created beings which have the same skeleton, organs, and veins.
People who have all made mistakes in the past.
Individuals who have loved, craved love, and have found love.
People who have families and have been orphans.
We all have shared emotions
and legacies we need to fulfill
duties which make us construct good.
I see that in this world, that the reason many people hate each other
could be because a fellow human has done them wrong in the past.
And because of those criticisms, punishments, and/or injustice,
they may overgeneralize that every category this asssailant may fall into
he or she may have been hurt deeply by someone else long ago.
The chains of hate may motivate this person to have dominance,
but I believe that they could need kindness from others.
Maybe I am too naive to see
that there will always be conflict.
But I'm sure that there is goodness in each and every one of us.
I cannot change a person.
A person may choose to change themselves.
And there are heroes who can help them
make peaceful choices.
Both the broken and strong could be understood.
If they share their story
And find forgiveness.
If they choose to hate,
then I forgive you.
It's a choice.
We are One
My new concept is that I think everyone that does something wrong, in our professional world of sports and politics, should pay a charity or a foundation, such St. Jude, Red Cross, Homeless Shelters, money for their negligence. I feel that if a football player does something wrong in a game and he is penalized, he should donate to a charity $1000 for every penalty.
When that adds up for all the players the whole season, that
will be a lot of money donated to charities around the world.
Help those that help others. Also, that will help them be more
productive and play correctly. I feel that for the politicians it should be the same.
I also feel that parents that allow their children to bully other
Children should be penalized for allowing their child to ruin education for a child that wants to learn. I think every school should start a teacher fund, that will be in place for the donation of $500 from the parents of bullying childen. That money would be split among the teachers of that school when the school goes on summer break. And maybe then the parents will know how important it is to discipline your children at home and teach them to respect other children and teachers in school.
We are One after all and we all need help not hurt.
Access To Media Content Creation For Everyday People In The 3rd World
The Philippines is a series of island in the China Sea. It has long been had the "island" mentality of waiting for things to wash up on its shores. It hasn't the natural resources or technology to support it's growing population. It depends heavily on tourism, OFW, and foreign dollars to drive its economy.
The Philippines has been named a leader in use of social media, averaging over 4 hours daily per capita, yet the Philippines sees very little in economic value from that involvement.
What if they could create content that could be a major export? The most interesting thing about the Philippines is the Pinoys themselves. I did a quick non- scientific look at documentary film production grants by country. In 2016, there were over $20 million in grants for documentaries in Africa awarded. The Philippines had 1 for around $20,000. There are many stories to be told here, but nobody is telling them.
My very basic concept is a small video/audio production company offering training in use of equipment and development of media content. Everything done there IS content for driving fundraising or programming to be streamed. A Fiscal Sponsor, such as Fractured Atlas would be retained as a fundraising funnel for US Tax Deductible Donations (even equipment donations) and Indigogo as a Crowd Funding vehicle (no fees, when partnered with Fractured Atlas).
Besides the burgeoning economic possibilities for Pinoy Internet TV Content for OFW and Pinoy expats around the world, content should be open to sharing the Filipino Culture through foreign eyes. For instance, a pinoy wouldn't think that the local Sari Sari Store would interest anyone. For us foreigners they are a unique quaint glimpse of a successful micro economy that disappeared from America upon the advent of the "supermarket".
How could the average Filipino make money from this? Ad royalties. For instance, for a content creator You Tube pays about $2000 for 1 million views. More if you create the other parts of the video (songwriter, artist, master owner etc.). In the US $2000 goes nowhere. In the Philippines, that $2000 is two years rent.
Yes, some of the students of this program could find good jobs with this training, but the idea is to give them skills to work independently with the foundation as support.
Arts Donations would be necessary for funding the facility, but $100,000 would go a long way here.
Content also would be offered by subscription via live streaming.
The Pinoy people are great mimics, if one program is created and is successful, others will follow and a new micro economy will develop a new export not owned by the 5 families of the Philippines.
Interactive Holographic LIVE ACTION Fight Scenes!
Think about it.
Walking into a massive indoor stadium, the lights dim, spotlights go haywire in search for the Master of Ceromonies and a realistic, but completely holographic display of Iron man comes floating down to the mic (I guess he wouldn't need a mic with his techy stuff).
"Ladies, Gent's and everything in between, I give you the match you've all been waiting for..."
Then next thing you know an all out DC Vs. Marvel battle royale is unleashed before and behind and beside your very eyes.
Spiderman vs Batman
Wonder Woman vs Vision
Thor vs Cyborg vs Hades
The entire Justice League in a Hunger games style death (no, not death, don't kill my loves) match against the Avengers. It wouldn't stop in the DC/Marvel universe, why not make Katniss fight Hawkeye, Ip man fight Matrix's Neo. Jack frost facing off against Elsa as a christmas special!
Gandalf VS Dumbledore?!?! I cannot possibly be the only person on the planet who has always wanted to see that.
Whose to say video game characters can't join in. Haven't you ever wanted to take place in a live action Smash bros brawl? Can you imagine seeing Link walk into a pit before your feet, take out his legendary sword from a holy rock and turn around to see Final fantasy's Cloud unclipping his mighty claymore off his back! What about watching Wander fight and take down a stadium sized Collossus!!!!!!
What if, as an intermission show, they bring down some people in the audience and make them fight the Tekken/dead or alive/street fighter player of their choosing!
The best thing about this idea is that it would be 110% holographic, so what human/and not-so-human actors can't do, these virtual displays can. Simba (the lion) could come barreling down Row F to attack Tarzan in Row E. Narnia's Ice Queen could be sending a blast of frost down aisle 4 and Goku could be Kamehameha-ing through all the frightened audience members on the northern side of the stadium where Darth Vader was secretly lurking.
I would pay half of my yearly income to see this show at least once in my life.
We stand there, eyes downcast and
an ocean between us.
His steaming breath draws in and out rapidly,
an endless sound that denotes his fury.
I'm seeing red,
the anger he births in me is unlike any I have
We are passion, flames that warm
on cold winter days
but can burn and erupt
to wildfire when strife
a barrier in our marital bonds.
The words that flew from his mouth
like a bird escaping a predator
cannot be pulled back and swallowed
to hide in the pits of his stomach once more,
as much as I wish I could unhear them.
We've cut each other to the core in
our fiery fury and now
a scorched, barren land lies silent between us.
The silence scares me more than anything.
Is that what our marriage has come to?
Is there really no more to say?
Suddenly, his gaze meets mine again.
"The gloves," he chokes out hoarsely.
We are almost a team again,
haphazardly rummaging through the spare closet
until we happen upon that
half-smushed, forgotten square box
tucked away in a corner.
There, amongst our old clothes
each of us places one soft, velvet glove upon
the others hand...
A bridge appears in the ocean between us,
and we shakily take the first steps to understanding.
Giving Meals to the Hungry
Every night, you save a portion of your meal and ship it to an assigned far-away, food-deprived county based on where your neighborhood is.
It would all be funded by the government, so you wouldn’t have to pay money to ship anything.
The boxes would be special, like mini refridgerators/coolers, so your food wouldn’t spoil.
All the workers who help ship the boxes are paid extra.
I think I just solved world hunger.