Off-Topic Writing Contest #6 (Voting!)

Which story do you think is best?

Poll ended at May 12th, 2016, 6:45 am

Hibernum
2
100%
Wolf in Sheep's Disguise
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 2

Off-Topic Writing Contest #6 (Voting!)

Postby Carl » April 12th, 2016, 6:45 am

We have two stories in this time, yet again, and you will have a longer period to vote this time. I'm going to allow roughly a month to vote. At the conclusion of that time period, I will announce the winner, and then the contest will take a short break before recommencing a little further into the summer.

Without further ado, here are the entries we received this time:
Hibernum: show
The village grew quiet after dark; the men had come into the harbor, nets half-full of fish, and moored their boats, and lit the fires and hung up the day’s catch to smoke over them, and the women had done their laundry and had finished cooking and socializing for the day. The fields were fallow and the mules were being remunerated for their year of work with an evening bite of forage and grain, while the stable boys were lying upon the freshly-replenished stacks of hay and strumming on their lutes or talking or wondering what the future would bring.

Everything glowed with a soft luminescence and the icy, partially-frozen water sparkled with flecks of light that were scarcely disrupted by the few silent ripples that touched the otherwise glassy surface of the bay.

The weather was calm, but it was unlikely that the wintry atmosphere would remain quiescent for too much longer; a light dusting of powdery snow covered the slippery square of the town and the falling flakes glinted beneath the flickering lamps on the corners of the streets.

“Hey, hey!” a sharp cry echoed through the silent air, originating from one of the shops; there followed many small, quick footsteps. “Get out of here, you little rat!”

The back door swung open loudly, and the figure that emerged was so shrouded and waifish and tramp-like that its silhouette blended easily into the heaps of trash that littered the forgotten alleyways. A young boy scuffled between the buildings, narrowly missing a pot that had been flung at him in a fit of anger.

Not that he was unused to such a reaction. He merely ducked and fled like the scamp he was.

“And don’t you dare come back!”

It was lucky that the surroundings were quiet—otherwise he might’ve expected the Guard to be set on him. As it was, though, it was simply too sleepy and cold of a night for anyone to retaliate: everyone was too busy shutting themselves indoors and curling up by their fires to take any notice of what he’d done.

The door slammed; silence followed. He bolted quickly down a few more corners and promptly slowed himself once he realized that nobody was following him.

It was a lucky break, indeed. His heart thumped loudly, warm pools of blood rushing by his ears… but it did little to help. The youth shuddered and wrapped himself in his scant clothing, his frozen hands clutching at a meager scrap of bread with fingers that he couldn’t feel any longer. Every breath blew hot and steamy through his bony cheeks as he waded through lonely snowdrifts, on streets that led past parts of town long since neglected and left to decay.

Nobody really called him by his name; sometimes he pondered if it was even worth remembering. He was simply known as the blighter or the blonde urchin or the thief or any number of similar, less-kind epithets, usually hurled at him by well-to-do men from the comfort and safety of their homes and shops.

Why should he feel bad for snagging a little bit of their excess from them?

He didn’t know. And he wasn’t sure that he ever would.

The blonde moved swiftly, like a wraith, ever-paranoid that someone was studying him, that somebody would find out where he made his home. The giant stone wall that surrounded the town, giving their very society an air of impregnability and coldness, loomed before him, its stature vaguely menacing as it stood tall in the night. Millions of snowflakes pelted its frozen surface, and while there were normally supposed to be guards stationed at its posts, the events of the last few years had caused most of the nation’s troops to be elsewhere, ready to fight in the war. The northern border, comparatively desolate as it was, hardly presented itself as a priority.

There was the spot.

The supposedly indestructible wall had a weakness. It could be burrowed under—and while digging through permafrost was typically a laborious job, he’d been lucky enough once to find a spot where the rock had been imperfectly placed, leaving a gap that was just small enough to wriggle through.

Out of habit, he looked over his shoulder, once again checking that nobody was watching… and then promptly dropped to his belly, in order that his gaunt frame could squeeze underneath with a low crawl.

His clothes became soaked and sullied with the cakes of frozen ice and dirt that the heat of his body quickly melted. He shuddered again, finding the cold progressively more intense as he continued walking. Few dared to come out to this place—even the lumberjacks and hunters and other such men of the forest were wary. The nights were cold and the wind whirled between the stands of old pines, and the air was so desolate and unsettling as to coerce every passing creature into a hushed silence so intense that one could hear their own heartbeat and breath and the crunching of snow underfoot much louder than anything else. Even the birds and crows scarcely entered, scarcely sang… and the occasional howl of a wolf was all that penetrated the engulfing quietude.

Up farther north, death itself was said to live. None entered there.

But this place, while still lively in comparison, was hardly a fitting home for most people.

Perhaps it was good that he wasn’t ‘most people’.

He wove between the scant, bare bushes and the lumbering, ancient conifers. These trees were huge and towering and one could hardly see the tops of them—especially not now, as their leaves were topped with a thick coating of white, wet powder and their very limbs sagged underneath the weight of mountains of freshly-dumped snow that were waiting to fall to the earth and create deep, impenetrable wells. The thin dirt paths and game trails that criss-crossed through the underbrush were long-since buried, and it was only through years of routine and instinct that he was able to guide himself home.

Home.

Whatever that meant to him.

There was a sparse sense of familiarity, and shelter, and security, but little else that it offered.

He recognized the figure of the girl, crumpled up by their meager fire, trying to warm her hands as she shuddered, frail body racked to the bone with a virulent sense of icy unwell. Her teeth were clattering so hard and so ferociously that it was no small wonder she had anything left to chew with at this point.

If he was surprised at seeing her like this, then he didn’t show it. It was hardly a rare occurrence for him to find his sister in such a state. She’d barely noticed his approach, preoccupied as she was with trying to thaw herself.

“Louhi,” he seized her attention. “I’m back.”

“Oh,” she stood up quickly, and this exacerbated the ferocity of her shuddering. “H-h-hey, U-u-u—”

“Sit down, you’re gonna freeze.” The blonde sidled up to the flames himself, more than grateful for the warmth. He hadn’t realized just how cold and wet he’d become, though the gradual loss of sensation in his fingertips over the years hadn’t helped much. “You watched the fire, huh?”

“Yeah,” her voice was soft and resigned.

“Good. Y’know, this thing goes out and we’re not too far behind.”

“I know.”

“I’m not sure I’d be able to start up another one. All the wood’s wet.”

“I said ‘I know’, Ukko,” she snapped and turned away from him moodily. “… I got some more.”

“More firewood?”

“Yeah, I did. It’s drying.”

The pile of wood was resting within the scant halo of thawed earth that surrounded their fire, a mishmash assortment of thin, sinuous branches clothed in a scant covering of moss. His expression grew sour after a moment, despite himself.

“You think that’s gonna be enough?” Ukko snapped. “I’ve been gone for hours, you couldn’t have chopped some more?”

I tried,” her voice resembled the stark hissing of an angered cat, but it wavered with a hidden and unrelenting emotion that he couldn’t pinpoint. “There’s not a whole lot I can do.”

“Maybe if you didn’t whine all the time you could make a better fire and I wouldn’t have to worry about us freezing and starving.”

Alright, I got it. Sorry.”

“Don’t say sorry. Just do better.”

There was a long silence. A few burning brambles crackled pitifully, hurt by the continuing snowfall. Louhi’s frail figure looked withdrawn and crushed and tiny within its shroud of patchy furs. The only thing protecting them from the elements was a taut piece of buckskin tied to some branches and hung overhead, as well as their wavering fire. Like everything else in their lives, it was just enough to keep them alive.

“… I’m trying, Ukko. I’m trying as hard as I can.” Her eyes were suddenly moist—she rubbed at them in annoyance and feigned that it was just the smoke. “I just don’t know if it’ll be enough.”

“… I know.” He moved a bit closer to her. “Sometimes I doubt it. But we’ll find a way.”

“Will we, Ukko? Truly?”

“Yeah. We will. Beg, borrow, or steal.”

She looked down at her boots. They were several sizes too small and had begun to split open at the seams—her feet were soaked through, as there was little to keep out the damp, and her toes were a fiery red from the cold and the blisters. If it caused her pain, she bit her lip and ignored it, hoping that the presence of the warm, smoldering embers would ease whatever she was feeling.

“Here.” He handed her half of the bread he’d snagged. Louhi frowned and hunched over, snuggling into her disheveled clothes as she accepted the welcome morsel. It was all the food she’d seen that day so far; the berries that normally grew in this part of the forest were out of season, and the fields were utterly fallow. The only crop that sprung from the ground was a bitter frost that covered and killed off any new life.

“I… Is there any more?” she asked after a stiff pause, vaguely hopeful. Ukko sighed and promptly scoured his pockets for the rest of what he’d stolen—a fillet of salted cod, a hunk of cheese, another piece of bread, and several pieces of silver. The girl’s expression brightened.

“The cheese and fish’ll keep, so we should save it. Dunno when we’ll get lucky again.” His expression was sharp and it was enough to quiet her; regardless, it took immense willpower for the both of them to resist devouring it, in a likely-vain attempt to quell the vicious hunger that perennially gnawed at their hollow, grumbling bellies.

“So just the bread?”

He nodded, and after a second of hesitation split the last bit of bread in half to share. It took almost no time at all for his young sister to dig into it, her teeth fighting and gnawing with the stale crusts. Sometimes he wondered if she would take off her own fingers by accident.

Even if one of them did, would they feel it, through the cold? He wasn’t sure he would. More likely, he’d be excited over the prospect of finally getting to eat some meat. It’d been a long while since anything had wandered into their rudimentary traps; the game was scant and scarce this time of the year. Stale bread and the occasional smoked fish was their only repast, most of the time, and that alone wasn’t enough to keep them from growing thin and weak. Even though he tried to eat, the contours of his ribcage still showed through his hide, the individual bones like piano keys poking out beneath a taut, stretched canvas, and his limbs—once covered with scraps of sinew—had become tenuous and gaunt.

His sister, regardless of his efforts, looked scarcely better.

Predictably, Louhi whimpered once she’d finished. She was pining after more scraps, like a starved puppy, and hoping that her brother would relent and feed her out of pity… but he remained stony-faced. They hadn’t been able to store enough food during the summer, despite their hard work, and this was how they were repaid. The fact that they were burning through firewood at an alarming rate did little to help.

Ukko sighed after a long moment.

“I guess tomorrow I’ll use the axe and help you chop up some more wood.”

“… But… but Ukko, don’t you have to try to get more food?”

“We can live without that for days,” he quipped. “But the fire goes out and we’re dead in a couple hours. We’re chopping wood.”

“But Ukko—”

But what, Louhi?”

She was silent; her frown intensified, and she looked longingly at the fire for an extended length of time, her boot poking at a mound of earth next to where they’d kindled it.

And then, after a thoughtful moment:

“… Nothing. I’m just… I’m hungry, Ukko.” Her gaze, suddenly teary, was cast downwards in defeat. “I’m so hungry.”

“Yeah?” His voice was cold, and he unflinchingly poked the embers with his boot; it hid his disappointment in himself, for failing to provide for his sister as well as he wished to. “Well, so am I. Better toughen up.”

“… I guess.” She curled up in her furs, looking small and frail underneath the layers; her face was moist and red with cold and tears. In physical and emotional distress, Louhi sobbed. “… It just hurts. I feel empty.”

“What do you mean?”

“I dunno,” she wiped at her eyes passively with her sleeve. “Everything just feels pointless. I want to be somewhere else. With a… with a family.”

Well,” he snapped, his expression and tone tangibly bitter. “If I’m not good enough of a family for you, then you can leave, huh?”

“No, Ukko, please. It’s not like that.”

“It sure as heck sounded like it.” He showed his teeth. “How else was that supposed to come off?”

“I just meant parents.”

“Why? Like our father?” His voice was scarcely more than a coarse, grating growl. “And what’d he ever do for us? Who was it that always made sure you had something to eat, and something to keep ya warm? Sure wasn’t him!”

I know!”

“Well, you sure don’t act like it!” He kicked a pile of snow with his boot in his anger, and his ragged breath escaped as a billowing puff of steam. “All this time I’ve done nothing but try to take care of you and you don’t even have it in you to say thank you, you ungrateful whelp.”

His acerbic tone proved to be too much for her. She withdrew from him, tangibly upset, and a whimper escaped her lonely, battered figure. His words had hurt her more than he’d intended; it was a fairly common occurrence when they were hounded by cold weather and cold feelings.

“… I’m… I’m sorry, Ukko.” Her words sounded flat and defeated. “I didn’t mean that. I wouldn’t have made it this far without you.”

His sharp features softened palpably, and the aura around them, once sickeningly tense, eased; she felt less ill, and his fingertips felt a bit less frigid.

“… It’s nothing.”

It was an obvious lie, and the fire hissed and wheezed in protest. Passively, keeping his emotions furtive, he kicked another crackling bramble into it and slouched against a stump. His body appreciated the rest, and when he heaved a sigh, it was with an air of weariness befitting someone much older.

“I just wish we could live a different life.” She pressed her lips together. “Both of us.”

“I know.”

Ukko stood up and grabbed a handful of her firewood, heaping it on the coals with a subdued gesture. His expression was clouded and hidden; he burrowed into his furs and studied the lapping flames disinterestedly.

“… I shouldn’t’ve snapped at you,” he finally relented.

“… It’s fine.” She sniffed and rubbed her eyes again, trying to hide that she had been crying. Ukko felt an odd, rare prick of regret, and, after a moment’s hesitation, moved closer to his sister, cold fingers ruffling her scalp in an oddly-affectionate motion. There was a genuine smile on his face that eased her, even if such gestures were fleeting and infrequent.

“Don’t look so down.”

He set himself beside her, on her level; his warmth was reassuring, and she unconsciously let a soft chuckle escape as he doled out a curt pat on the back. And then, with an intensely serious tone:

“Don’t worry, Louhi… I’m not ever gonna make you leave. Not like our father did.”

The young girl bit her lip, light expression growing murky, and pawed at the earth again. Her toes dug in absently next to the flames, and she knew that while she may have been hungry and wet, her brother had done more for her than anyone else.

Louhi could never have forgotten the truth. Despite her pretenses, she knew—he was the only reason she was still alive.

“We… we’ll get through this, then?”

“I’ll see to it.” He gritted his teeth. “As long as I’m breathing, nothing bad’s gonna happen.”

“… Okay.” She yawned, the gradual fogginess of sleep rendering her placid—and vulnerable. “I trust you.”

The girl, frail and fragile as she was, sidled up to him, seeking whatever security he could offer her. The movement was sudden, and his hands withdrew back in brief surprise… but inevitably he came to accept her presence, his wiry arms closing around her in a reticent embrace as she snuggled into his furs.

Her shivering promptly died down, and her breathing grew quiet.

“There we go. Get to sleep.” His grip around her back tightened, and though she couldn’t see his expression, his icy blue gaze was piercing through the night with an odd sense of desperation and uncertainty. “… We… we’ve got a long road ahead.”

“Mmhmm.”

She didn’t respond further. Her face betrayed utter exhaustion, and her eyes were blank and sleepy. There was only a slight scrunch of her eyebrows as acknowledgement that she had heard him; it offered a small glimpse into the ever-present state of worry, of fear, and of doubt that she was forced to live with. The tranquil mask she wore in her sleep belied the hunger and the discomfort of bad dreams, and a reality that, despite her brother’s efforts, was only scarcely better.

“Ukko?”

“What is it?”

“Was our mom…” Louhi sighed, twirling a strand of long, flaxen hair around her finger, “was she… was she kind?”

“Louhi.” His expression was bitter. “Stop. You’re only gonna keep yourself up.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, voice timid. “I just wanted to know.”

“Well, I don’t really remember. Dead people can’t be kind.”

He hid his sense of distress in his morose tone; secretly, though, he wore a perturbed expression, haunted by the fact that he truly did have nobody—anyone who’d ever shown any mote of affection towards him had disappeared, and now only his sister remained: a thin, frail wreck of a girl who looked so much smaller and weaker than she should’ve been at her age.

A part of him worried that she was going to die, and that there was nothing he could do about it. It was one of his deepest fears, because he knew that he had no other way to find any companionship. Not with his cursed life.

Would he survive without his sister? Sure. But he didn’t think that he would be able to live with the guilt that that brought. Not truly.

Ukko had a hard time showing it—but he was deeply concerned for her safety.

He sighed, and suddenly held her close, arms wrapped tight and his head buried in the thin crook of her neck.

“… I guess that’s why we have to live. Nobody else is gonna be kind to us, so we have to be. We’re all we’ve got, alright?”

“… Yeah, I know.” She frowned and closed her eyes, still cuddled against his lean, resolute figure, trying to find any warmth that remained. Gently, Ukko set her down next to the fire on her side, and after another short moment had curled up behind her himself. The two lonely, restless kids huddled together, trying to stay warm enough, trying to ignore how hungry and tired and numb they were as they entered an uneasy and troubled sleep in the midst of a world that couldn’t have cared less about their fates.

Their fire was slowly dying, and the wind and the cold was beginning to resume its brutal streak. It chilled them to the bone, pierced through their furs and bit at their hides and gnawed at them, like the hunger did.

But they weren’t going to go out like a dying light. Not yet.


Wolf In Sheeps Disguise: show
I don’t know why I started talking to him.

I still hated the man, even now, years later… I reckoned I always would. I still hated my dad’s decision to spare his life—what was the point in being the so-called better person if we allowed murderers like him to live? Should he escape, he’d kill again. I knew he would, and he’d admitted it. I had wanted to kill him before and I still wanted to kill him now. I couldn’t say for sure what had stayed my hand. I guess it was as simple as respect for my father—even when I didn’t agree with his decisions. He was becoming a legend after all, and for a good reason; he was Rick Grimes… hell, I was becoming a bit of a legend myself. I guess that’s what happens.

Even so, the first time I’d gone down to his cell I hadn’t intended to leave him still breathing.

I avoided going there for a long time. I didn’t want to see the face of that killer. He’d murdered Glenn before our eyes… in front of Sophia and Maggie. I knew that if I went near him, I’d do what I’d tried to do twice before his imprisonment, I knew I’d kill him, that I would succeed—and that my dad would be displeased. I knew what he was trying to accomplish here, and I could understand why, too… but he was taking too big of a risk with sparing Negan, of all people. His new world, the one with a jail… that imprisonment should apply to our people who break established rules, not to outsiders like Negan who’d done so many horrible things. Especially considering that keeping him alive had meant my dad’s leg hadn’t been treated quickly enough to heal properly. I was very angry… so I’d avoided going near the jail for a very long time.

It had to be months, maybe even a year, I wasn’t sure, but one day… I decided I was going to do it anyway. I’d become quite good at traveling around unnoticed, and I’d learned quickly in this world we lived in now that I could get what needed done taken care of even when no one else would if I simply slipped out and took matters into my own hands. So that’s precisely what I’d intended to do. If I took care of him quietly in the night, there would be no one who could prove I had done it, and no one would be sad about his death, so it would all be over. That in mind, I’d waited until my father and Andrea had gone into their room (I’d started calling her “mom,” recently… in truth, my real mother seemed to belong to a different lifetime by this point, and she probably wouldn’t even recognize me anymore, were she still alive) and I’d slipped out.

I had fashioned a sort of short spear out of wood and had kept it hidden, not wanting to use a weapon that could be traced back to me. When I was relatively sure my parents were asleep, I got up, donned my hat and my sunglasses—I had popped out the left lens so that my eye could see unhindered, leaving the right one in to cover up the hole where my other eye used to be—and drew my makeshift weapon. Then, I’d simply gone out the window and dodged through the shadows to the jail. It, like every other building here in Alexandria, simply looked like another house. It was only once you went inside that its purpose became clear. I had entered silently and descended the stairs, but the lonely prisoner didn’t have much to look at, so he’d seen my approach in spite of the darkness, as I’d figured he would.

“Well, look who the hell it is!” he’d said cheerily, wearing a big smile. I’d stopped in the shadows before the cell, but hadn’t answered. Negan had approached the bars, grabbing them as he’d peered out at me, “Well, that’s just damn rude, Carl. You should talk to me. You came the hell down here, after all.”

I had remained quiet, not wanting to talk to him. I wasn’t sure why I was hesitating. Killing him was something I’d thought about doing a lot ever since we’d first encountered him. I was there, with a weapon, and no one else was around. I’d had my opening.

“I thought we talked about not covering up your badass gross scar,” he’d said after a drawn out silence.

“Shut up, asshole,” I’d spat, gripping the makeshift spear.

“Damn, I was starting to think you’d lost your voice, kid. That’s closer to the badass I remember,” he’d laughed, “If you don’t want to talk… why are you here?”

“I came here to kill you.”

He had burst into a hearty fit of laughter at this. I’d narrowed my eyes, taking a step toward the bars, holding the stake forth slightly. Negan had continued to guffaw for a moment, then he’d wiped at his eyes as if drying mirthful tears. My features had proceeded to harden into a deeper scowl almost of their own accord. I really hated this guy.

“You shouldn’t laugh,” I’d informed him, “I’m serious. And you know I’m capable of it.”

“Of course you’re capable of it, but look at your-damn-self, Carl! If you were actually going to freaking kill me, you would have already!” he’d chortled.

“Maybe I’m trying to figure out how to make sure you suffer without risking you getting out,” I’d countered. He’d simply shaken his head.

“You’re a smart kid. You’d have that figured out in advance.”

I’d gritted my teeth. My father, Rick Grimes, had spared this man. The same Rick Grimes who’d killed so many people in the past to keep me, and the group, safe. The same Rick Grimes who’d killed one of the Hilltop’s people for attacking their asshole of a leader at the time. I couldn’t fathom why he’d made the decision to spare this asshole… after all he’d done… but my dad had always led us right. He was my father, and I respected him, and his new world would be jeopardized, especially at this point in its formation, should someone kill Negan now. We should have killed him before we started fixing civilization.

Knowing that, I’d decided not to do this… at least not yet.

“Maybe you’re right. I should do it, though, and we both know it.”

“We sure as hell do.”

“You’re a monster. I should have killed you when you were unconscious at the Hilltop.”

“But you didn’t. I spared you, you spared me.”

“Shut up, asshole. I didn’t agree with my father’s choice to keep you alive, but I respect it.”

He’d smiled broadly, “Not like you to let your dad’s calls stop you.”

“Shut up.”

After that, he'd laughed some more, and I’d stalked away, splintering the weapon on my way home. I’d never told anyone about the incident, nor had Negan. It was our little secret. From that day on, I’d begun making occasional trips down there to stare daggers at him… eventually I began to actually talk to him. We began to get to know one another better, but all the same, I still hated him.

I shook my head, clearing way the memories of that day. It had been a few years now, and I still remembered the details very vividly. I remembered a lot vividly. I remembered losing people, I remembered killing Ben; I remembered it all. I recalled the first time I’d tried to fight Roamers after having lost my eye… Getting used to my blind spot had been challenging, to say the least. It’s harder to remember to turn your head and look to the side at first than one might think. I had long ago adjusted, of course, by this point, but I remembered a handful of dangerous situations in which I’d come frightfully close to being bitten on account of it. As a result, I’d been much less involved in any excursions beyond the walls.

For that matter, I hadn’t even been on many visits to the Hilltop, despite the relative safety of such a trip these days. We had become pretty self-sufficient in the past few years, with lots of crops and more and more people coming in. We had trade agreements with the Kingdom, the Hilltop, and the people Negan had once led who were now being led by Dwight. This means that we rarely made supply runs, as we took care of most things ourselves. People could make things, school had been reinstated, and most people were happy. It was hard not to be in better spirits than in the past, I’d give them that, but the world hadn’t become much less dangerous. The dead were still beyond our walls, and we still encountered crazies from time to time. Our society had shifted from tight-knit groups to more populous communities, and a lot of people seemed to have forgotten that this isn’t the way things had always been.

Most of the other teenagers my age had begun showing interest in apprenticing under masters of one trade or another. Here in Alexandria, that mostly equated to farming, unfortunately. Sure some people could learn to make bullets under Eugene’s instruction, and others were planning on learning to be teachers or to guide herds away from our civilizations, but none of that really interested me. Those trades weren’t the kind of thing I wanted to do. On our periodic trips to the Hilltop, I’d always been drawn to Earl Sutton’s smithy. He forged weapons and tools and made it look easy. He was very useful to all of the communities and there weren’t many blacksmiths. In fact, Alexandria had none. That’s what I figured I’d want to do, but I’d wait about bringing it up. My dad had made it pretty obvious that he wanted me here, and in truth, I didn’t know that I wanted to leave just yet anyway.

Well, not permanently.

Today I took a candle and descended to Negan’s cell. His face lit up.

“You’re back! Haven’t seen you in a few days,” he said. I pulled up the chair nearer to the bars and sat down before his confinement.

“I was busy,” I said simply.

“Is that so? Doing what?” he asked. I’d noticed his swearing had gone down since his imprisonment. I figured he must be losing his fight. What a pathetic creature he’d become without his precious Lucille and his minions.

“I went outside a few times,” I said softly.

“What’s so great about that?”

“Outside the walls.”

“I don’t suppose your dad knows about this.”

“He doesn’t.”

Negan chortled, “Your secret’s safe with me.”

“Whatever.”

“Why’d you do it?”

I thought for a moment, gazing into the dancing flame on the candle in my grasp. It wasn’t like I was trying to break rules or anything, nor was it like I was forbidden to leave our town. It also wasn’t as if I weren’t capable of taking care of myself. I’d been fighting off Roamers and people who tried to mess with me alike since I was just a kid. I knew how to defend myself, and there was no reason I had to be inside the walls at all times—it was just what was expected of me. It was kind of funny that people still expected me to stay put; they knew I wouldn’t be caged, that I’d go where I pleased when I pleased—it was the way I’d always been. Yet it continued to surprise people if I happened to wander off. I kept it from my dad only because he’d be needlessly worried if he knew. Not because I’d be in trouble, or anything.

“I don’t wanna forget what it’s like out there,” I said finally, “This life is peaceful, it’s everything you thought we could never have, and it’s exactly what my dad has always wanted to build. But staying inside makes people soft, and we still can’t afford to let that happen. Some of us have to be strong and ready to take on this world. I don’t want to become weak.”

“You? Become weak? You were shot in the eye and you’re still here!” Negan exclaimed, an enormous smile parting his beard. I stared down into the flame instead of looking at him. Ever since we’d first encountered him, he’d made a big deal about how tough I was, how cool my scar looked. In truth, however, it’s gross and looks absolutely disgusting. When I don’t have it covered up, people cringe looking at me. Sometimes, they still do, just seeing the scarring that’s visible beneath the glasses. I let my hair grow long, and my bangs cover up the scarring above the glasses, but this is the best I can do. I can’t help feeling like a freak sometimes, though I never say so to my peers, or to Negan.

"Yeah,” I said matter-of-factly after a moment, standing. I pushed the chair back into the darkness and began to ascend the stairs to leave.

“Going so soon? Was it something I said?” Negan called after me, but I didn’t answer him. Not this time.
Carl

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Re: Off-Topic Writing Contest #6 (Voting!)

Postby Gemini » April 14th, 2016, 11:30 pm

Had no idea this was up. :D Gonna read now.
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Re: Off-Topic Writing Contest #6 (Voting!)

Postby Ninaroja » April 16th, 2016, 6:37 pm

I voted :D really enjoyed these - hopefully I'll quit my procrastination and actually ENTER one of these dags
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Re: Off-Topic Writing Contest #6 (Voting!)

Postby Carl » April 16th, 2016, 6:53 pm

We will definitely need more people to enter in the future. I'm hoping summer is a good time for peeps!
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Re: Off-Topic Writing Contest #6 (Voting!)

Postby Gemini » May 12th, 2016, 7:31 pm

Sweet! Nice contest, everyone! :D

And by everyone, I mean me and Jules. lmao
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