On 21 February 2018, these three words were chosen:
And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!
I walked over the narrow plank that someone, years ago, had set across the slow river. No one was particular scared of crossing; the river was slow after all and truly it wasn’t a problem to get out if you did end up taking an unplanned swim. The real problem with the river was that it seemed to be endless. Our history books tell us that over hundreds of years, thousands of men had traversed down the river. Many came back after days, some came back after months and years and only the smallest amount came home decades later. But the one thing they all said, was that the river was endless.
There were small wonders along the way, other races with strangely colored skin, animals that you would never see near our village, fruits and vegetables that energize and taste of the god’s doing, but no end to the river. I was heading to the shaman’s hut for afternoon cake. I loved his stories. And I had one for him today. I was going to take my leave in a fortnight and find adventure on the endless river.
“You’re scaring him, Plank,” one of the other men spoke up. “Why don’t you put away the sharp killing instrument and maybe he’ll come. Hey boy,” he called to Jack. “Come on over. The fire’s warm, and we have bacon and corn cakes if you’re hungry.”
Jack was so hungry he couldn’t think straight, and his vision was going blurry. He would’t be able to eat though, because his teeth were clamped too tightly together, though his shivering still rattled his jaw, protesting the endless cold. The man with the bow lowered it slowly.
“Come out, boy. We aren’t going to hurt you.”
Jack may have decided to go to the fire, but before he could act on it, the world swam into blackness. Little by little, a sharp, pricking sensation wormed its way into his awareness, and he realized it was warmth returning to numb fingers and toes. Someone had built the fire up, and it danced and leaped in the stiff breeze. Three figures sat watching him, two with their hoods up, one with his face bared. That face was weathered, with three white scars slicing down the left side through the thick black beard on his cheek.
“You’re lucky, boy. You weren’t two minutes away from frost bite, but you can thank whatever gods look over you that you get to keep all your extremities.”
Jack sighed. “No gods watch over me. You should send me away now, before the things that hunt me come for you.”
“This is a cakewalk, Josie,” Star told her friend. “Come on!” she cajoled. “It’s not like she’s asking you to walk the plank or anything. All you have to do is talk to the kid.”
“The kid?” Josie echoed, disgust clear in her tone. “You say that like he’s some ten-year old I need to babysit.”
Her friend shrugged, “Well…” she let the word trail off, looking meaningfully across the room at Trevor, who sat as usual amid a pile of books stacked here and there on the table around him. “He doesn’t actually need a babysitter,” she commented. “Just leave him alone with a book.”
“Twelve books,” Josie sneered, thinking of the endless reasons why she should not be the one to show the new kid around the school. He was so weird. They didn’t even have him in regular classes yet, so he’d spent the day in the library–and he’d used that absolutely gloriously responsibility-free time to get himself books to read. Definitely a weirdo. He probably would want to talk to her about them, too.
Josie sighed. “This is so unfair,” she groaned. “I can’t believe I have to show him all of his classes tomorrow.”
“It’s fine,” Star insisted. “He’s in, like, all of your classes. So just go up to him, tell him to follow you, and you won’t have to think about it again.”
Josie frowned. “I bet he smells funny,” she griped, then sucked up her dignity and took the few steps across the room to face her punishment. The new kid didn’t look up at her approach, but the smell that wafted over the stack of books made Josie redefine her sense of scent.
Trevor didn’t stink; in fact, he wafted the most wonderful scent Josie had ever had the pleasure of experiencing. “Hi,” she breathed, suddenly wanting Trevor to stand near her all day long tomorrow.
The first man wished for a cake to eat. A shortsighted man, if ever there was one. The food was poisoned.
The second man wished for wood, for to construct a raft, and escape. He was given a lone plank, and thus was his wish squandered.
I thought carefully on my wish, the moments seemingly endless, while an impatient and frustrated djinn hovered over me. The “gift” would be poisoned fruit, surely, and so I would exercise the utmost caution.
Time counted itself away, unceasing, until suddenly I smiled.