It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


A Gift In The Dark [SEC2014]

page: 1
<<   2 >>

log in


posted on Nov, 11 2014 @ 05:15 PM
A Gift In The Dark

The sound came again, sending a wriggle of skin down her back in reaction. It was wild, and yet something in it moved the ‘anchi’ inside her; the place where her small self connected to the great whole of the world.

Norlu smeared beautiful blue and green lines of phosphorescent paint from the gill mushrooms and bulbous buds of voroo that spread their spores along her path. For protection, she drew the Drum of Daagun, and for help from the spirits that walked with her and her family, she made the rune-sign of Tet. She tied the straps of the woven sea-vine bag around her middle to keep the offering gift safe during the quick journey to Daalga’s house. She wanted Daalga’s blessing before the dangerous journey up to the cave mouths above, to seek out what made that haunted sound.

Diving into the cool heart of Mother Waters she spread her webbed limbs and caught the Mother’s embrace, reveling in the feel of currents swirling along her soft skin, pulling and kicking her way through the salty brine, brushing past curious dorefish. Her body rippled like the waters, flowing from the tips of her suctioned and webbed fingers down through to the tips of her nail-claws on her feet. She breathed in the sweet waters through her gills and reveled in the dance of phosphorus jelly worms, grabbing one to suck on as she went, pulling the sweet, lively treat into her mouth like a youngling.

A short swim it was to Daagla’s island where she pulled herself up from the deep with suctioned grasp and gimbaled her way on the vertical climb of strong sea vines woven with textured knots to guide her path, she glowed lilac and magenta, green and gold and blue against the black. The sound echoed again as she climbed to the top of Daalga’s sharp cliff. She scurried forward to place her offering in the bowl, and sat back on her haunches to wait admission.

Daalga stirred within and soon emerged to collect the gift. Daalga was beautiful, Norlu thought, with the shimmering paint of all the spirits dancing across her translucent body as she moved silkily to receive her into her home. Daalga hummed her pleasure at the gift of mushrooms and fish Norlu had brought in the little woven packet. She changed the tone of her hum to indicate Norlu should follow her back into her home.

The soft spongey carpet of fungus radiated a shimmering blue and purple pattern, intricate in its circles and loops and spirals, grown with great artistry. She stepped reverently across it, her nails retracted to avoid damaging the fungal nubs. Daalga bade her to sit in the comfortable cold moistness of a dollop plant, shaped as it had grown into a beautiful roundness perfect for resting.

Daalga pulled out her rattles made of whole shell egg sacs, and began her low chant of blessing, circling her with the love and protection of all the spirits through her sound-painting. She could see inside her the spirit-patterns Daalga drew from the air, through the sounds. They were soothing layers that resonated in her ‘anchi' and relaxed her into peace.

When it was done, Daalga spoke in the rich hums and clicks of her south-water accent. “You seek the source of the discordant sound, Norlu. You are Called by the Spirits to make this journey. They will protect you.”

Norlu swelled with joy - the Spirits had given her a Calling! She could feel them surrounding her - this was only her second Calling in her short life, then after this would be her Egg Time, she knew, and she would be fully grown. It thrilled her and she hummed respectfully in response.

Daalga spoke again. “I have performed a Listening and the Spirits have told me it is a creature from far away - it is lost, hear you. It is not of the Luminescence but from a far-off world, the mythical place, the place of Burning.”

Norlu, her heart beating fast within her, sat spellbound by the thought that she might meet one from the Burning Land. But those were ancient stories - surely they were only meant as symbols from the Spirits and cautionary tales? She remembered the stories and shuddered - this was not a safe Calling. She blinked her inner eyelid to show she understood Daalga, to show her caution and her fear. Then she hummed agreement - she would not be daunted!

“Is it a demon?,” she asked, a bit fearfully.

“No. We have stories of the demons of the Burning Lands but this creature has not shown itself to be one of them.” Norlu nodded, relieved.

“You must travel up to where the moistness ends, Norlu. You must coat yourself in the jelly from the para plant bulb and wrap your body in sea vines so that you do not dry out. There is less and less water, so you must take both salt and clear with you, enough for you and to give the creature of the sweet water they drink.”

“You know this much of them, Daalga?”

“Yes, child, for I too was called to the caves above this glorious ocean of our hearts. I too found a creature from the Burning Lands. Until now, the Spirits have bade me keep silent, for it was too…” she made the sound of the stinging eel and Norlu understood. The secret would sting the people, freeze them up and eat their faith.

Daalga saw her understanding, and approved. “Be blessed on your journey, Norlu of the Daanaou - the Daanaou, your people, your ancestors, go with you.”

* *

After preparing her body as told, she left her home quickly, packed full with food and water and glow-plants to light her way and show her the return path. She chose the ones that could be found highest up and that grew on into the caves above, in the hopes that the dryness Daalga mentioned would not kill them and ruin her path markings.

She climbed the curving side of the Island known as Daagun’s Spear, its sharp ascent connected to the stone roof above them. The dangers she faced on this part of the journey were known, and she beat back a giant Gorum spider that tried to drop on her head as she heaved up with suction and claw, sending it spiraling into the waters below; the fish would thank her for that gift.

Norlu heard the sound again, a wail that pierced her being; whatever it was, it was in need of help.

Slowly she worked up to the top, where the shaft of the island became pocked and spread out, gracefully attaching to the ceiling above with many lesser fingers of dripping stone pointing down to the water’s below. The hidden entrance to the cave was here, and it was clearly marked with sigils of danger.

Taking a deep breath, and a sip of sweet water, Norlu rested at the top for a few moments before the sound, more desperate this time, ended in a wracking, cough. Her inner eyelids blinked in surprise and her long tongue flicked out thoughtfully. This was a living creature, most certainly, and it was not well; perhaps it was even dying.

Urgency filled her; the Spirit’s had Called her and now she felt another part to this Calling; Save This Creature If You Can. It hit her ‘anchi’ like the beat of a bowl drum and echoed through her body and spirit. Energy filled her, her phosphorescence pulsed to the surface of her skin with the excitement of her body; she ran, clawed, climbed and dodged through the spider filled entrance, finding speed in her thin limbs she had not known existed. She was strong, to be sure, but strength of the Spirits flowed in her, her ‘anchi’ activated and she glowed with the light of her mission.


posted on Nov, 11 2014 @ 05:15 PM
When she came to a fork she stopped and listened, feeling for echoes of the sound, tuning her fine hearing into her deepest listening, and she heard it; a ragged breath, a sigh.

She placed her glow plant down and kept running towards the voice. Through multiple twists and turns, past the boundaries of her people, into dryer and higher ground. It became cooler and she was grateful for the wrapping of leaves and jelly that kept her skin moist. Her bulbous eyes blinked more frequently, and she had to stop and bathe them in sea water. Her breath in this dry air seemed harder to take in.

Finally the sound was near. Strange coppery metallic smells, sharp ammonia scents and cloying, fetid stench hit her nostrils like an assault. She gagged for a moment and knew that the dying creature was near. She began throwing down the bulbous glow plants into the deep pitch dark of the cave world, where few of her people had ever journeyed. Finally she hit something soft and heard a grunt. She had hit the creature with her plant!

A moaning came from its lips. She approached until her large eyes could see it. It was roughly Daanou shaped, with strange dry skin covered in places in an odd, dark fringe of…something. It was broken and bleeding an odd red color, which frightened her. That was the source of the coppery scent.

The creature had noticed her and its arms began to flail - hisses, shrieks and guttural sounds came from it in patterns - she began to understand it was speaking to her. She hummed at it and it grew suddenly silent. Then it called out sharply, she could smell fear in it and hear the sound in its odd voice. The creature then dissolved into a wailing, snuffling sound, that again ended in a rattling cough.

She approached bravely, carefully, and took out the extra bladder of clean sweet water she had in her pack. The creature moaned and trembled as she approached. It’s eyes were small and shone with comforting wetness. It was so strange! It had an angular nose that protruded out sharply from its face, and its face and head was surrounded by the strange soft, fringy substance that looked like sea-silk, now that she thought on it. She shook the liquid in the bladder and it seemed to calm the creature.

She opened the top and tipped a bit into what she figured was the fleshy mouth of the creature. It was dry, too, and licked with its odd blunt tongue to catch the drops. One of its arms was bent at an odd angle, but the other reached gingerly to take the bladder and pull it towards its mouth. She guided it and gently tipped it so the creature could drink. It drank greedily for a moment, then stopped to cough again. It whimpered then, and shifted in its stink.

Norlu realized that the creature had fallen and broken itself and was unable to take care of its bodily functions. Nor could it remove its clothes or clean itself. Norlu was distressed. This might be beyond her ability to heal, she feared, even with the blessing of the spirits and her ‘anchi.’

She wasn’t sure of the structure of this creature. She thought however, that in her belly, in her heart, there was certainly something that could resonate with this poor, wounded thing. Her humming seemed soothing to it, and it closed its wet eyes. Norlu sang of the Spirits, sang of healing, sang of the ‘anchi’ that connected all things and that connected her to the creature.

She reached and found its odd, dry, hand. The fingers were separated strangely, and this deformity was not the only oddness. She touched it lightly as it slept and discovered that it had no gills, nor any way to breath the waters as her people did. The Spirits had blessed the Daanaou with dominion over the air and the water but this was only an air people, she thought. How sad that must be for it, not knowing the bliss of the watery world. The curling fringe was soft and dark, smoother than dry sea silk. The skin was strangely cool and dry, and slick with a wet salty sheen in others. It was soft in a way she had never felt before. The saltiness comforted her - it could not be that strange if it, too, carried the sea within it.

She felt the wound at the arm where it twisted the wrong direction, and, taking a deep breath, she sang to the thick bones of the creature, she sang to them and softened them in the place where they were broken. Then gently, without waking it, she moved the arm back to match the other in symmetry, letting the bones knit and harden, numbing any pain. That done, she found the leaking wound of the leg, which was broken, she discovered, all the way through the skin, with a protruding white bone, jagged and sharp, and the red liquid of its life dripping and clogging and dripping some more.

Though the creature slept, it radiated the sound of pain - all the little tiny cells that her people knew made up their larger bodies were vibrating in distress and fear. She sang to them as well, sending her voice into deep registers to calm them and then, from her ‘anchi’ she sent the phosphorescent substance of her own life’s blood into her hands where it glowed with healing heat and light, green-gold in the dark of the creatures small eyes. They were open now, in little slits, and watching her, strangely calm, it was, as if it understood she was trying to help.


posted on Nov, 11 2014 @ 05:16 PM
A low moan, sounding of peace and relief, escaped its throat. She continued until its leg was ready to receive the bone again, which she had softened. She quieted the pain in his cells and slipped the bone back into his body to rejoin, then, she cut across her hand with her knife, and with a stream of luminous droplets of her own life fluid dripped into the wound, she let her own cells command the creature’s body into rapid healing, just as her own flesh could perform.

The wound sealed easily. The creature’s breath came in deep calm rhythms as it felt the gift of her blood. It flowed through him, connecting him to her ‘anchi’ directly, and she sang and hummed and healed in the comfort of the dark caves of the Mother.

Finally, its head, which also had the red metallic liquid clotted all around a swelling wound, received the same treatment.

When it was done, she found the creature staring at her, its small, flat eyes wide. She patted it, thinking to comfort it, and it grabbed her wrist with a quick, dangerous motion. She hissed and growled and it held her hand more gently. It explored in the dark, the trace of her webbed fingers, the outlines of her phosphorescence on her arm, the drawings on her skin there, the pads of the delicate suction cups on the ends of her fingers. The creature pulled something out of its bag, muttering, digging. It was a small boxy thing with strange, unnatural angles. He pointed it at her and it clicked.

A sudden burst of light wrenched a scream from her throat as her eyes burned and were blinded by the intensity of the burning world’s light. She cowered and withdrew to the dark, not seeing, not feeling anything but searing, tearing pain as her body reacted. She felt liquid drip down her face and felt her eyes - they were hurt. She screamed again and again, flailing to find her ‘anchi’ to calm herself.

The creature, startled, reacted and had scooted away from her with its now-usable limbs. Then it calmed and came for her gently, apology in the resonance of its voice when she was able to feel it. She crawled past it over to where her bag was and felt miserably for the sea water. She bent her ‘anchi’ to her own healing and hoped her eyes hadn’t burst entirely. She opened the bottle of sea water and dripped it over her eyes and washed her drying hands in it, refreshing the jelly on her skin.

It talked to her. She waved it away. Eventually, when she could see the soft glow of her plants again, she saw the creature standing up, feeling the walls and trying to climb up, blunt fingered as it was. She saw where it had fallen down; a long narrow shaft that split the ceiling. But the walls were too slick for it, without enough places for it to hold onto.

She could climb it rather easily, she thought, and use her tools to make it hand holds, and unwrap the strong sea vines that kept her skin moist to make ropes for it to climb. It pointed up with its strange finger and attempted to climb again, sliding back down without much progress. The creature in its filthy clothing slumped its body in defeat, then looked at her, pleading silently across the space between them, filling the space with need she could feel in her ‘anchi.’

She unwrapped her vines from her glowing skin, and she saw it startle back as more of her translucent, shimmering skin was revealed. She found herself getting tired more easily, and did not like how the air seemed odd and thin and didn’t fill her like she needed. She coughed dryly, and realized she would need to hurry to survive. Still, she was Called to help this creature get back up to the Burning Lands; it was clear it would not survive in her world. She did not know how she knew this, but it had to do with the harsh light - the light that fed him, would not feed her, she knew, and it went the other way as well.

She knotted the vines into a rope and easily sprung from the floor and scrabbled up the narrow, smoothly slick walls; they felt good to her - reminding her of the wetness she needed to return to soon. Breathing hard, she drilled a quick hole through a hand’s width of the limestone, using her tools, and a concoction of acidic plant jellies. It took a while, but she was fast at this kind of work - she sang to soften the stone just like the bones she had mended. She pulled the vine rope through the thick hole and knotted it firmly, then tossed the length of it down. She hummed and called to the creature, saying “Come. Come up. Come.”

It seemed to understand. It scrambled and pulled and slipped and slid and fought its way up using her rope and its poor hands and clothed feet. It was a very long climb. She watched and hoped and waited, wincing as it struggled, and sending encouraging chirps as it slowly succeeded in making the climb. When it came as far up the rope as it could, she reached down her hand and it caught hers and she pulled with her great strength.

The creature scurried up to her perch where she saw in the dark the shine of strange metallic shapes that she knew must belong to the creature. She reached in her pack and threw a glowing blob at the metal so it could see with its small eyes. Then, she realized, her skin began to hurt more and more and her lungs as well, her gills felt dry; she had little time, nearly naked as she was.

She reached in her pack for one last thing - a gift to the creature of several more glowing buds to help light its way. Then, it grabbed her hand again, but lightly. It’s other hand pulled something shiny from around its neck and placed it into her hand, with words that hissed and clacked and felt like gratitude. Then it slowly gathered its metal objects, and with a wave at her, headed up the way it had come. She waved back.

She touched the shiny metal gift - it was a pair of flat, strange, almost boxy shapes with rounded ends, and with odd boxy symbols embedded in them. Next to these was a metal shape of two lines that made more boxy angles, crossed in the middle. It was on a metal chain of little balls strung together. She had never seen anything like it. It still held a bit of the creatures warmth and she realized it was an ‘anchi’ gift - something dear to the person, yes, person, that wore it. That was the Spirit’s lesson. The Burning Lands held people, not simply the demons and monsters of old tales, and she was now connected to that greater part of the world.

As she hurried back down into the blessed dark, into the wet and cool world that was hers, she pondered this, and thrummed a spirit song in thanks for this Calling…they were connected now, through blood and ‘anchi’ and she would always have its song connected to her own…


posted on Nov, 11 2014 @ 05:17 PM

Mark sat in the barracks bathroom, finally feeling clean after the luxury of a second scrub down. He did not show his CO the picture of the strange creature that had saved him - no, it was not a creature he wanted to give his fellow human beings a chance to exploit. He had downloaded it to a private flash drive and scrubbed it off the camera. He would protect the creature, whatever it was, he thought, with its strange luminous skin and bulbous eyes. Looking into the mirror, he shaved off the short growth of beard from his many days lost in the tunnel.

Sometimes, late at night, when he was lying in the dark of his barracks in the underground nowhere, further down than man should live, where they watched the world’s secrets and dug out their massive hidey-hole for when, not if, the next big war came, he felt the strange thrumming of the creature’s voice, as if it vibrated in his own soul, and somehow, he knew, that the creature felt him too.

At those moments, something in him awakened and he was connected to the earth, the rock, the water - especially the water, the air and to every living thing spiraling through the universe. It was an experience he’d only dreamed of having, and he knew it was the creature’s blood in him, its gift. That is why he would not tell. He couldn’t bear to bring down the dark heart of man that he knew would come to explore, to seek and find and take, should he ever speak of it.

He had replaced his dog-tags and cross after claiming they had been lost in the depths, and told everyone it was his faith that had kept him alive, to which they nodded and clasped his arm in understanding.

But he knew, in the thrum and deep and dark, there were oceans, and creatures, and beauty, and Life that developed intelligently and grew and lived and loved without the sun’s warmth and heat. It was the Earth’s secret, his secret, he thought, and one that he would keep.

In the following months, the upper tunnels crumbled into dust, as the caves shook from megatons of artillery above, and the massive metal doors of their Command Center remained locked shut. The surface world blew itself to oblivion. It ripped through him with loss, and grief, and made his job one of fighting his own pain. Eventually, they relieved him of duty and he had a lot of time to stare at blank walls, or into the dark.

And in the dark, the sweet and quiet dark, in his dreams, he could still hear it sing, and he knew he could slip out of the Base and head down into the deep and follow that song forever, into whatever strange and midnight world lived below. And someday, he thought to the creature below and to his heart and to that which bound them like the vines it had worn and turned to rope, he would.


Thank you for reading if you managed to make it this far!!


posted on Nov, 11 2014 @ 05:40 PM
I liked it

lost military saved my kind creature

S and F

good work

PS.. not a criticism but a note with the tags on link

Yours in the post leading here from the contest link
Leads to the last post

it is an easy fix
down to

in the hyperlink (of the URL)
and it will go to the top of the story

I read part of the bathtub thing and realised I was not at the top of the story

Great story still

posted on Nov, 11 2014 @ 06:00 PM
a reply to: ripcontrol
Oops! Well, I'm always having to fix something or other!! Thank you!!!

I really appreciate you taking the time to read it!


posted on Nov, 11 2014 @ 07:22 PM
a reply to: AboveBoard

That was fantastic Aboveboard! So engaging, and left me chomping at the bit for another chapter! Bloody good job!

I love the way you described the Daanaou species so vividly, despite the fact that you only utilised two characters from that species in order to do so. That takes real class and finesse to do, without the effect being too clunky, but you knocked it right out of the park!
edit on 11-11-2014 by TrueBrit because: Added clarification.

posted on Nov, 11 2014 @ 08:00 PM
Very interesting story! I really enjoyed this!!

posted on Nov, 11 2014 @ 09:07 PM
a reply to: AboveBoard

Hi AB!!! Awesome Story!!! I gave a Flag and Star here for You!! I wish I could do some multiple S+F's, This deserves more than ATS will allow me to Give!!!
Later, Syx.

posted on Nov, 12 2014 @ 06:57 AM
Wish I could say something useful but was just a real nice comfy read. I'm happy.

posted on Nov, 12 2014 @ 06:20 PM
a reply to: AboveBoard

It's a fine tale, this competition sort of reminded me of when i was about 8 years old and on the way home from school with my friend through a horrible muddy field were houses had been quite recently demolished so it sort of resembled the Battlefield of the Somme and tried to suck the shoes right off your poor little feet as you walked through it, but anyway even there on a raised muddy mound for some strange reason i invited my friend to stop and listen what was going on in the underground world below which i described and explained in full detail, i'm not sure who i was trying to convince myself or my friend, it was just intuition as the moment took me, an odd memory but one i'm fond of, always a bit wrong in the head i guess.

posted on Nov, 13 2014 @ 01:53 PM
a reply to: Kantzveldt

Wrong in the head? Hm. I remember being a girl and weaving fantasy worlds that were utterly true, like myths and legends are true in their way. I remember Feeling that that were real and true because, in some sense, they were; they spoke of my soul and my fears, my hopes, my dreams, my connection to things, all wrapped up in a child's sense of the world. Those stories were as True as anything else in the world, even if they were not real, and even if they meant nothing outside of my own self. I do not think that is 'wrong in the head' - I think that is simply and beautifully human.



posted on Nov, 14 2014 @ 03:12 AM
a reply to: AboveBoard


Just wow...

Such a fantastic story, I can honestly say I have not read such a deftly crafted work of fiction in quite some time! Just superb!

posted on Nov, 14 2014 @ 05:26 PM
OK, I'm giving up!!!

Jayzus AB!! That was just awesome.

There comes a point where you reolise that your own efforts are mere dust in the shadow of the Great Pyramid.
...and for me... this is it!

Wonderful, wonderful story. Great characters, imaginative, descriptive, evocative.

Thank You!


posted on Nov, 16 2014 @ 10:18 AM
a reply to: Gordi The Drummer

Oh come now, none of that!!! I appreciate your creativity, humor, and your writing skills, so I'll pretend you didn't say that and look eagerly for your next submission. (Lalalalalalalalalala *sticks fingers in ears* Lalalalalalala)

Now on the other hand, I appreciate your compliment on my writing, though Great Pyramid it is not. When I read it I cringe at my typos and the sentence that accidentally turned into word-salad because I forgot the one word that would make sense of it...

Thanks SO MUCH for reading!


posted on Nov, 17 2014 @ 12:07 PM
Wonderfully written story. Very imaginative.

It was very 'paganesque', which really called to my own "anchi". I could have easily read more!



posted on Nov, 18 2014 @ 05:26 PM
a reply to: CirqueDeTruth

Thank you, Cirque!! I appreciate you reading it - and wanting more is among the highest of compliments!


posted on Nov, 22 2014 @ 01:52 PM
Well written, and very entrancing tale. I love a good story that manages to whisk me away to another world, if only for a brief moment. S&F and keep up the fantastic work!

posted on Jan, 4 2015 @ 04:58 PM
a reply to: AboveBoard

I have just started reading this forum, so I'm a little late to the party.

Your story is just wonderful. I could see Norlu and Daalga so clearly in my mind's eye. Your imagery was fantastic and I really liked the way you described Norlu's impressions of Mark as a completely alien creature.

Well done, I thoroughly enjoyed your story.

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 09:21 PM
a reply to: Scallywwagg

Thank you so much for dropping by to read my story, Scallywwagg! I really do appreciate the feedback, and I'm so glad you discovered this forum.

Are you a writer? If so, I look forward to seeing what you might contribute!


top topics

<<   2 >>

log in