Sunday, April 27, 2014


Avatar Games - LEA8

He spent his whole life running away, from school colleagues, from girlfriends, even from his wife. However, nothing compared to that night when he woke up in a strange bedroom. The evening had been amazing, and filled with good conversation and plenty of alcohol. He met a few people from the old days, back when he listened to that song incessantly. Running Wild? Well, the bizarre fire, burning the curtains and the furniture did make him run fast. They could never explain what happened, but the time he spent in jail sure cured him of that unflinching need to run.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

#6 Flash Fiction B&W Challenge - Merry-Go-Round


#6 Flash Fiction B&W Challenge

“Merry-Go-Round in black and white, it spins a tale as old as time. It flies away and turns around. It haunts even the bravest of souls,” mortal silence invaded the room when Timmy started to speak. 

“The story goes, ladies and gentlemen, that a young lady sat on one of the horses of the merry-go-round for a spin or two. Merrily, anticipating the happiness of a fleeting fantasy feeling of freedom, she pulled her cape closer to her neck, lifting the collar to protect her from the cold. Spinning around is indeed chilling.

While others got ready as well, sitting here and there on the horses and unicorns and on all sorts of magical creatures, she looked around and smiled. She wasn’t smiling for any particular reason. She was just smiling a contented smile of approval. After all, the merry-go-round had been brought by her father to be gifted to the town and she kind of felt entitled to enjoy one free ride.

As the carousel started spinning, she could hear light giggles of enthusiasm that grew as the carousel sped up. In a few seconds only, they were spinning so fast that the giggles of enthusiasm gave place to anguished shrieks.

She tried to steady herself on her horse, but realized her scarf was trying to flee, so she turned half way backwards to grab its end. That’s when her long radiant blond wavy hair, the same hair that only a few seconds before shone in the sun and sparkled with delight, got loose and became entangled in the center pole.

It was horrendous. Everyone screamed. The children cried. Mothers and father ran to take them away from the merry-go-round as soon as it stopped, which fortunately to all present didn’t take long.

I’m not sure what happened to her…” That’s when he paused, in mid-sentence, aiming for an enhanced dramatic effect.

“Must you always tell us utterly grotesque stories each time we gather?” protested Molly, a petite spinster who took the opportunity to snuggle closer to Emery, the middle-aged wannabe Romeo who couldn’t believe his luck.

“My dear Molly, weren’t we supposed to tell scary stories?” asked Timmy.

“No, my dear fellow, we are supposed to tell ghost stories and that was definitely not a ghost story,” replied Emery instead.

Timmy stood up, pushed his chair back onto its place by the dining-table and walked away.

Everyone look at one another baffled by the abrupt unannounced departure. They did discuss it for a few minutes after which the next storyteller, who happened to be Emery, moved on with his tale.

Half-way through it, they heard a tremendous noise. The lights went out and a shadow crept into the room. It waltzed towards Molly and Emery without anyone noticing it.

Suddenly, a ghostly shriek reverberated through the room. When the lights came back, Timmy was standing, victorious, looking at those present still recovering from the dreadful fright. That meant everyone except petite Molly.

“Here it is. We finally have a real ghost. Well, at least we do hope our dear friend does her job and become one to haunt us at our eerie soirées,” concluded Timmy, wearing a silly old wig.

Needless is to say, these storytelling evenings never took place again. Timmy still holds on to that wig though, the one with long radiant blond wavy hair, which seemed to shine in the sun and sparkle with delight.

Sunday, April 20, 2014



Ronnie knew nothing about card games and his buddies made sure they let him know exactly that each time they met for beers and Poker.
So, one night, he tried to look cool and threw his cards on the table, solemnly saying “Here, the dead man’s hand.” 
His buddies roared laughing. “What a loser!”
He chuckled. “I was thinking… The fifth card is a two of clubs and not the nine of diamonds.”
His buddies saw Ronnie swinging something at them, but they never made out Ronnie’s new buddy from the gym, hiding in the darkest corner of the room.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

#5 Flash Fiction B&W Challenge - Piper

Guernica by London Junkers - LEA 6

#5 Flash Fiction B&W Challenge

The ballroom was empty, except for the curtains left behind. The door was closed. 

Piper had the room all to herself. Well, to herself and a few of her friends. 

“Would you like to dance,” she asked Pea. 

And they swung from the chandelier for a long time, which made Peaches rather impatient. “Why do you always have to do this, each time we come here? There’s no music. Can you hear anything? Anything at all?”

Standing by the door, Poncho chewed his nails just to aggravate PJ while tapping on the wooden floor with the heel of his shoe.

“Stop that!” shouted Poncho.

“What?” replied PJ, still chewing his nails. “I’m just setting the rhythm here, so they can dance.”

“Not that! The nails thing.”

“That’s what I meant,” said PJ, happy to have achieved his goal in such a short period of time. He was getting better and better at it.

“Come down from there,” roared Peaches. “Right now, come down from there.”

Piper and Pea stopped the swinging rather abruptly, not because Peaches had ordered them to but because they heard an odd sound, a cracking kind of sound.

“Oh dear, the chandelier is going to crash on the floor, and we with it,” said Pea.

Piper laughed. “No, it won’t! And even if it does, we won’t get hurt.”

“You’ll get hurt, you’ll get hurt, you’ll get hurt…” yelled Princess, who had been silent till then, observing the curtains. Perhaps she could use them to swing from one window to the next, like Tarzan.

“Shut up!” shouted Poncho. “Just shut up, Princess, shut up!”

“Leave her alone,” said PJ. “She’s a Princess.”

PJ was such a gentleman, thought Princess, a soft toothless smile on her face. She was missing the upper central incisors. That gap only made her sound even less of a princess whenever she decided to yell, which was her natural way of talking to anyone.

Another cracking sound echoed throughout the room, this time louder.

“Oh, yes, we are going to die…” whispered Pea.

“No, we are not! Look, we can grab those vines and swing from window to window,” replied Piper.

“Those are not vines. Those are curtains. And they are mine,” yelled Princess, running towards them and squishing them as hard as she could.

“They are not yours at all,” protested Poncho.

“No, they are not,” seconded Peaches.

Princess ignored them and proceeded to squish and squish the dusty curtains. She squished them so hard that she started sneezing. This caused Pea to get startled and lean back. Piper tried to keep the balance and swung her legs. The ceiling cracked noisily. Poncho and Peaches ran towards to door of the ballroom. PJ grabbed Princess by the wrist and pulled her away from the windows.

Only a few seconds later, the chandelier, the ceiling, Pea and Piper tumbled down onto the floor. There was dust everywhere. 


Everyone was sneezing.


They couldn’t stop.


And they knew they’d be in trouble.



“Wake up. How do you feel?”

“We… We broke the chandelier…” replied Piper.

“I know. Don’t worry about that. It’ll get fixed. Now go back to your room.”

Piper stood up and walked away, waving her usual friendly wave of goodbye.

“See you,” she said.

“See you next week. Same place, same time.”

Piper nodded and as always, while she closed the door behind her, added, “… and same day.”

Note by Dr. Freud: Now they are five - Pea, Poncho, PJ, Peaches and Princess.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

#4 Flash Fiction B&W Challenge - Food, Food, Food!


#4 Flash Fiction B&W Challenge

“Now, muzzle your temper,” barked Joey, the restaurant owner.

The argument began as a cordial discussion about different teams amongst a large group of football friends during a birthday lunch. One thing lead to another and the meeting ended in chairs flying left and right, tables being flung to the sides and a serious session of wild boxing. In the end, no one really knew who was on which side.

Joey solved the issue the old fashion way, with a bat. He swung that devilish weapon in all directions. There were broken arms and legs, smashed fingers and bruised egos.

“I will have nothing of this ever again here,” he continued, pointing at the door. “If any of you wishes to carry on, that’s the way out.”

The bashed group, showing their black and blues quite clearly, paid for the meal, the damages, and left without the slightest complaint.

The next year, as soon as that same group booked the restaurant for their annual lunch, Joey closed the place to other customers. He set the table carefully and got ready.

The group arrived cheerfully, despite the horrid weather. It was as if they were totally oblivious of what had happened the year before.

“Lots of wine, keep it coming!” some said, while others shouted in a repetitive chorus, banging their forks on the table “Food, food, food!”

Joey mumbled and grumbled throughout the whole meal. This time, if they pulled the same stunt, he’d… he’d... He became increasingly angry as the voices thundered louder and louder, the food and the wine doing their part.

“Come on, old man, we need more food!”

Now, one thing he never accepted lightly was if someone destroyed his restaurant; that was a known fact. But someone calling him old was undeniably more than he could handle.

He trotted into the kitchen hastily and marched back to the dining-room with the last chunk of meat.

“My best dish,” he announced pompously.

They all ate. They all enjoyed it. They all went home.

The next day, Joey read in the paper “Football team members drown after adventurous swim in the park under huge storm.”

He sneered, looking at the lake across the road. “Yeah, call it a storm.”

Tucked away under the kitchen counter was that bottle of arsenic he had purchased, just in case.

#3 Flash Fiction B&W Challenge - The Right Key


#3 Flash Fiction B&W Challenge

Some say music heals. Not for Louise. While she was a child, music was a torment. Her mother, a piano teacher, set her mind on making of her daughter a renowned pianist.

The days would pass, sheepishly, between school in the morning and piano lessons in the afternoon. Louise had no friends, simply because she had no time to have friends. Her mother didn’t seem to worry about that. “A pianist doesn’t need friends,” she would hiss at her daughter.

One day, years later, Louise decided not to go home immediately after school. It was her senior year and she dreaded the day when she had to accept a destiny long chosen for her. She wandered all the way to the lake and sat on the ground, her feet in the water. 

As she looked to her right, she saw a piano in the middle of the field. She wondered what a piano was doing there. Her mother scolded her each time she placed something on the piano “You’ll ruin it,” she would snarl. Yet, this piano was not only out in the open, subjected to bad weather and changing temperatures, but it also had a pot with flowers on top of it.

It probably doesn’t work at all, thought Louise. She walked up to it and sat down. She didn’t really want to play. That’s why she decided to take this detour in the first place. However, something drew her to the black and white keys, something she could not explain.

Cautiously, she touched a key. The sound it made was perfect. Then she touched another key. Again, it was perfect. Finally, she played whatever came to her head; she just played and played for hours.

It was almost dark when she realized that she should head back home. Her mother was furious when she arrived. Louise had missed her piano lesson.

Although she tried to explain that it hadn’t been wasted time, because she did play during those hours she was away, her mother wouldn’t hear a word of it. “Sit yourself down at the piano right now, young lady, and you shall practice your scales for three hours.”

That night, Louise packed a bag and left. Her mother would never see her again, not even after Louise became a renowned jazz musician.

Curiously enough, the other piano is still sitting by the lake, playing crisp, fine tuned notes, despite the years, despite the weather and definitely despite the flowerpot on top of it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

#2 Flash Fiction B&W Challenge - Daisies

Tatty Soup
#2 Flash Fiction B&W Challenge

Lost in the woods, an elderly man lived alone. His name was Patrick. 

By the side of the pathway to his house, he grew white daisies, hundreds of them. He loved all sorts of daisies, but he had a special fondness for white ones. They reminded him of snow. 

During winter, he could see the orange dots on the snow and that always made him think of spring. He didn’t know why his daisies bloomed all year long, while others only bloomed during spring and summer. He didn’t know why he never had to replant them either. He wasn’t much of a gardener. However, he was sure that these plants wouldn’t last decades. His did. He would water them every day. He would look at them, smile at them, touch them softly and even talk to them. They never replied, of course, at least not with words. Yet, there they were, framing the pathway leading to his house.

One day, Patrick saw a young man walking up the path, coming from the woods. Now, that was strange. No one ever visited him. He didn’t think anyone cared, honestly. He had no family, no children and definitely no neighbors.

The young man wiped his feet on the rug and knocked. Patrick stood still behind the door, hardly breathing. Perhaps the young man would go away. But the young man went back on the path and walked around the house towards the back. Then, he knocked on the glass window of the kitchen.

This is all I needed, thought Patrick, someone snooping around.

The young man wouldn’t give up though. He walked back to the front of the house and sat on the steps, taking his coat off. Patrick waited. He waited for an hour, and for another hour. It was close to sunset when Patrick decided he wouldn’t wait anymore. He opened the door abruptly, startling the young man.

“What do you want?”

“My name is Patrick and I was walking about in the woods. I enjoy long walks, you see.”

“And…?” asked old Patrick impatiently.

“Well, I spotted the beginning of the path leading up to your house. It’s beautiful. All these daisies are absolutely…”

“Yes, yes, yes… What do you want?”

Young Patrick smiled. “I was wondering how you manage to keep them so beautiful.”

“You bother me for hours to ask me for gardening tips?”

“I just wanted to tell you what a wonderful job you’re making. I am sure you enjoy them much as you walk to town and back.”

“I never walk to town.”

“You should, you know. There are a few orange daisies at the edge of the path that are just the right color.”

“White daisies, you mean.”

“No, no, orange.”

“There are orange daisies on my path?” asked old Patrick perplexed. “That cannot be. That is wrong.” And he started pacing back and forth. He had to solve that. “I need to pluck them out.”

“No! They are amazing. Don’t do that.”

However, it was too late. Old Patrick walked in the house, grabbed his gardening tools and hurried away up the path. Young Patrick struggled to keep up.

When they arrived at the edge of the path, the woods opening up to a clearing where a road would take them to town, old Patrick looked at the daisies and he simply couldn’t see any orange ones.

“Where are they?”

“They are right here.” And the young man pointed towards the town. 

The first building he could see was the local pub. In the flower pots at the door grew dozens of orange daisies.

“Those are not mine,” replied old Patrick, ready to head back home.

“Wait. They are. I saw the white daisies every year, as I grew up, and I always wondered how we could bring you back to town. So, one day, I thought I could plant some daisies of a different color, something that would draw your attention when you reached the edge of the woods. But you never did notice. And today, I decided to go fetch you. You see, we have daisies too!”

At first, old Patrick became quite irritated. He didn’t understand what the young man was trying to say.

“This is nonsense. I’m going home.”

Young Patrick grabbed him by the sleeve and gently pulled him towards town.

“My parents told me about you. They told me how you decided to live away from everyone after your wife and daughter died in a terrible car accident in town, many years ago. They told me people tried invite you over, but that you never walked away from your daisies. I know why you chose daisies…”

“Let go of me.” Old Patrick desperately tried to free himself from a past the young man was forcing him to revisit. 

“We are here for you. Always were. Look.” Young Patrick pulled old Patrick farther into the main road of town.

That’s when old Patrick noticed it. All the houses, with no exception, had planters with daisies. White, orange, blue, pink, yellow, purple daisies, there were daisies of all colors. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

“Unlike yours, these daisies have to be replanted, but they never go to sleep at night. We kept planting them over and over again, as many as we had to, as often as we had to. We haven’t forgotten you, we didn’t go to sleep.” And the young man continued. “Do you know which day it is today?”

Old Patrick made an effort not to remember. He kept silent.

“It’s been 30 years since your wife Margaret and your daughter Daisy died, my parents told me. Today is also my birthday. It seemed like a good moment to let you know we thought of you every single day. Come.”

Inside the pub, young Patrick’s parents waited. The place was crowded. There were all the familiar faces old Patrick knew from back then, plus a crowd of new faces, their children and grandchildren. He was speechless.

Old Patrick couldn’t help noticing the daisy carved on a dark wood panel, hanging behind the bar; underneath, the pictures of his wife and daughter.

Since that day, he walked his path many times to enjoy the company of the town folk. 

And whenever old Patrick told young Patrick he had become a good friend, the young man would protest vigorously.

“We’ve always been friends. You just didn’t know it yet.”


Note: daisy (n.) Old English dægesege, from dæges eage "day's eye," because the petals open at dawn and close at dusk.

#1 Flash Fiction B&W Challenge - Crash

#1 Flash Fiction B&W Challenge

Event: 500 Word Snatch
Location: Book Island
Host: Harriet Gausman
Virtual Writer's Prompt: Your plane crashes into a frozen wasteland. There are few survivors.
Time: 30 mins

She sat at the table of the Italian café. Months had passed since the crash. She could still feel the cold under her bare feet. It seemed ridiculous to remember it, but kept thinking about her shoes lost in that wasteland forever.

It takes time, they said, to heal. She knew that to be true. Yet, there she was, sitting at the table of the Italian café, staring at her phone, unsure of whether to call him or simply forget about it.

“Thank you, Luigi.”

“Prego, Signorina,” replied the owner’s son, after placing a fresh cup of coffee in front of her. He was in his late forties, as she was too. They had known each other since the beginning of time. His father, Don Amato, opened the place when he arrived from Sicily, back in the 50’s. “Can I get you anything else?”

“No, thank you. I’m good, Luigi. I’m not really that hungry today.”

Luigi stood next to her table for a few minutes. She knew he wouldn’t walk away as long as she didn’t explain what was happening to her. And she didn’t feel like explaining. She didn’t feel like talking. Paradoxically, she didn’t feel like being in silence either. She didn’t feel like staying or going home. 

“I’m ok, really.”

Luigi shifted the weight of his body to the other leg and tilted his head sideways.

“I am,” she tried to sound sincere, but the hesitation in her voice betrayed her.

“Is it still the crash?” he asked, pulling up a chair and sitting down.

It was. “I don’t know how to explain it, really… There is this sort of melancholy, you know, it takes over from inside. There’s no real reason to be sad. Nothing happened to make me feel discouraged about life. I survived a terrible accident. Many died. If anything, I should be happy to have missed such a close call.”

He nodded and slowly gathered the grains of sugar on the table onto a small mound.

“But here I am, feeling distraught and lonely. You know I have a wonderful family and an amazing group of friends. They have been there for me all along. However, that doesn’t help at all…”

“And how about… him?”

Luigi knew about the man who pulled her out of the plane, the screams of other passengers trapped at the back as the emergency doors got jammed by the impact; he knew about their feeble attempt to save each other and pull each other back towards a life that would feel normal. He knew about their failure.

“I haven’t talked to him in a long time.”

“Why not?”

“I…” She didn’t really know why not. They had drifted away as the months went on. “We stopped calling each other. I guess I reminded him of what happened.”

Luigi glanced at her. She had changed. She looked the same, but she had changed. As always, she was impeccably dressed with the latest fashion, but her eyes would get lost somewhere behind Luigi’s left shoulder, beyond the window of the café, beyond the building across the street. She was wearing a necklace that resembled a snake and that made Luigi feel terribly uncomfortable.

“Call him.”


“Call him.”

“No, no, Luigi. I thought about it just now, but… no.”

“Why not?” 

The other customers left to their own fortune were growing impatient. She pointed at them.

“Call him.”

She grabbed her phone and selected the number. “It’s ringing.” It rang for a long time until someone finally picked up.

“Could I speak to Logan, please?”

A long silence ensued during which her eyes got lost once more, beyond reality.

When she hung up, not another word uttered, she looked for the number in the phone’s agenda and deleted it.

“What did he say?” asked Luigi.

“He told me to leave him alone.”

Luigi stood up, put the chair back in place and walked away. Their relationship was based on the acceptance that there was absolutely no need for social politeness.

She stood up and followed him behind the counter. She felt like breaking their lifelong agreement. “Thank you, Luigi.”

He smiled and handed her a box.

“What’s this?”

“Open it when you get home.”

It was a cake, a birthday cake. The candle bore the number “1”. On the top of the cake, she could read “You need only yourself”.

She went to the drawer of her nightstand and grabbed the small plastic container. Then headed to the bathroom and emptied it in the toilet, flushing away weeks of planning and saving sleeping pills for that one last night she would never wake up from.

The next morning, she would sit down at the Italian café, have a cup of coffee and a slice of her cake. She would take one for Luigi as well. He would like that.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How to Write Something Saying Nothing

Machinima Open Studio Project - LEA 20

#1 Set your heart on blabbering randomly... I mean, writing serious stuff.
#2 Waste... aham, spend some time browsing for inspiration.
#3 Look outside the window while trying to come up with a story.
#4 Squander ... that is spend even more time checking your five email accounts, the ten thousand social networks you signed up to, and your cat.
#5 Brew coffee.
#6 Hash... Hash...
#7 Brew more coffee.
#8 Right, you do need to write something. Now, think.
#9 The cat's snoring. Perhaps a nap would help you as well.
#10 Ok, procrastinate indefinitely. All that coffee is begging for attention and you don't really want to take a nap at 10 am.

Milk Wood
Hash can be a few things, and sure enough, it can be a lot more than I thought at first. Between cryptographic hash functions, fragment identifiers, spatial data structures, a sports mark of some sort, even a military decoration and a running club, it was a bit difficult to choose one direction for this week's story. So, after procrastinating the whole week, rattling on aimlessly seemed like a tempting option, considering that I, for some reason, didn’t want to write about hashish. Wait a second… What? A hundred? Really? Already? Well then, more next week! Where's the delete button again?

(Prompt: Hash) 100 Word Stories

Prelude To a Novel

Event: 500 Word Snatch
Location: Milk Wood, Second Life 
Host: Lizzie Gudkov
Prompt: Write a short prelude to your novel.
Time: 30 mins

Time corrodes even the most resilient relationships. Routine, boredom, money problems, children are but a few of the reasons behind an inevitable outcome. The middle-aged couple, Jenny and Blake, was no exception.
They couldn’t really pinpoint the exact moment when their lives became practically separate. It was a slow process. At first, it seemed to be an effective way of dealing with the overbearing every-day-life problems. Dividing tasks amongst the two made it easier to survive the hustle and bustle of a busy family life. Then, each took on their own tasks over and over again, becoming totally independent from the other, making decisions without the need to ask for the other’s opinion. And without even noticing, they had a separate life.
Jenny went to work and dealt with being the money maker of the household and Blake, after leaving a job that made him miserably unhappy, became responsible for the kids and the house.
This apparently successful strategy paved the way to flexible schedules, additional hours they could manage on their own, and more room for lies.
Inevitably, the couple drifted away from each other and it was only a matter of months, and the right set of circumstances, until both found someone else who made them feel special.
Jenny’s lover, Lucas, was a bright young man with a shady past and a history of trickery, whose strangely charming manipulative ways found a safe haven in the needy, still very attractive, middle-aged woman. In his mind, this relationship was a business deal. On one hand, he would make her feel sexy and wanted. On the other, she would accept his mysterious and often seemingly eccentric rules.
Blake’s lover, Chrystal, who was recovering from a messy divorce and had recently moved to a house across the street, became the perfect addition to his life. She was young, fresh, bubbly and full of life. She was her own boss and had no one to answer to. Moreover, she was the ideal person to make her wife jealous. Blake wasn’t sure why his wife still hadn’t reacted to the hints he threw in here and there about a certain Chris, but he believed she would eventually notice them.
So, this was a recipe for disaster. And disaster did happen.
Detectives Michelle Bisset and Vic Klein had a plateful of inexplicable evidence to sort through in search of answers, especially because local thugs, a gang from out of town and a sweet elderly lady were determined to be as unaccommodating as they could possibly be.
The local thugs seemed to be unwavering in solving things on their own. The gang from out of town caused a commotion and took off as quickly as they could. And the sweet elderly lady, who knew everyone and everything about everyone, single handedly managed to confuse everyone with her nosy ways.
Who did what? When and how? These are only a few of the answers brought to you by the novel Obscure Connections.
(This novel was written for NaNoWriMo and is in the process of being edited at the moment)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Kipling’s Study Group

Whispering Wind
That dreadful day at the Kipling’s study group, composed of an eclectic group of people, was rife with unexpected events and Timmy, the host, was beside himself. The Egyptologist blabbered something about fish, a net and stockings and everyone understood he was wearing fishnet stockings. A drunken Jesus showed up claiming to be able to find the alien sparrows. Suddenly, someone hit the switch. Total darkness. As the light got back on, Timmy’s face bore suspicious shades of blue while his morally conservative socks were wrapped around his neck. “Well, why not?” added the ventriloquist. “This is better than cable.”
100 Word Stories

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Story Waiting To Happen...


... Hazardous (click here for full text).

The third of a series of monthly articles about sims in Second Life that could be inspiring for writers. My goal is to trigger ideas for new stories, new characters and new settings.

Note: One of the characteristics of Second Life is the fact that it's constantly and rapidly changing. Sims come and go; others look quite different, as time goes by. Do take that into consideration when using the links provided. 



Hazardous is a familiar sim where I have spent countless hours, a few months ago, falling upon its richness. The end result was a short story called “The Piano Player”. I have decided to revisit this sim with you, dear reader, because I think you’d enjoy the untold stories it evokes.

Mandingo Quan, the owner of the sim, tells the visitor to “Dream infinitely… Remain fearless… Seek Hazardous adventures” and this is definitely advice worth bearing in mind as we explore the surroundings.

The landing point is a vivid reminder of how fragile life is, how bits and pieces of our selves fly away, reshaping our reality. A vintage radio on the floor, chairs tumbling over, a coat hanger, lit windows exuding beams of light upon our fragility, and a tub. I imagine choosing a radio station for a bit of music, a recurrent theme at Hazardous, while I get in the tub, immersing myself in a world both comfortingly familiar and hopefully new.

For some reason, the main character of my short-story would like to be our tour guide. He’s a famous performer who sought refuge in this remote village, away from the city lights and the media attention, after the death of his wife. Those of you who read my story know that he found a new life here. So, let’s see what he has to show us.

The grounds present a countryside landscape. The ambiance is tranquil and somewhat decaying. Surprisingly, this gives the sim a fascinating feel to it. Although not too palpable, music and sounds of all kinds surround us. A record player invites us to dance at the swift reverberation of fluttering rugs drying in the late afternoon sun.

The old wooden shack is where the piano player lives. “My home,” he whispers, a smile lingering on his eyes while an old newspaper lays forgotten on the floor.

I walk back outside, making an effort to see the place through his eyes. He stayed. He didn’t go back to the city, to the life of fame and glamour he once had. No, he stayed.

The wind wheezes in between the blades of the broken windmill, relentless, as we walk past it along the telephone lines. The cables have been cut or perhaps simply discarded. No one really worries about this. “They lead a content life,” the piano player explains.

Now, where to, asks the road sign. There? Somewhere? Anywhere? Are we lost? Being lost is delightfully tempting! We decide to walk farther, all the way up to some trees. A painting leans against one of them, providing the backdrop for a sit-down area lit by an oil lamp. Three seats announce the presence of three imaginary villagers. What do they see, apart from the fishing boat at the bottom of the cliff? What are they talking about?

The piano player shrugs and pushes me towards the lake. Its water rotates in a slow blurry dance entangled in the silhouette of two leafy trees. We sit at the edge of the wooden deck. I wonder what this water hides. What mysteries, what secrets, what magic beings live underneath this mirror.

The piano player has his own mirror. He will take me there. It’s a mirror of keys and sounds on which he once saw his own reflection.

And that’s when we come across a well, half covered by a few planks. “Dare to jump?” says the piano player amused, echoing the words of the sign standing guard close by. Of course, I do!

In the blink of an eye, we are transported to a gallery of recollections, a room full of stories untold. A windmill in the dark, a young woman by the pond, an abandoned rusted old car by the fallen phone lines, a swing, the old gas pump and the checkered floor crumbling apart, all framed, living underground, buried as if they were a well-kept secret.

One of the pictures shows a house, its doors wide open, inviting and bright, surrounded by a thick wall of rock. I wonder where it is and who lives there. Above the entrance, the word Hazardous awakens mixed feelings, though. I decide to go back to the surface, through the water pipe, and continue the tour.

A deteriorating truck is parked by the gas pump. At the back, there’s a crate that looks a lot more recent than the truck. In my wild imagination, that is a box full of smuggled guns. The piano player laughs. He cannot possibly think of anyone from around here being an arms’ dealer. I insist, but he dismisses my nonsense and drags me over to the tree with the tire swing.

“Look,” he says. The lighthouse rests at the bottom of the cliff. Weeds grow at its base and a half-sunk dinghy rocks next to it, desperately trying to stay afloat. The lighthouse is still working. I look up. Its fixed whiteness points to the moon where our checkered and hazardous hesitations made us realize our inescapable fragility.

While I lose myself in existential considerations, my piano player motions me to approach two chairs and a telescope. “This could be a story right here,” he says. “Two people, perhaps a man and his son, waiting for a ship to arrive and scanning the horizon carefully.” I am tempted to ask if that ship will bring in smuggled weapons, but I withhold from doing that. I wouldn’t want to cross a character of one of my own stories, would I?

And what is this behind us? The only intact wall of a ruined cottage holds the screen where photos are shown. These are photos of Hazardous, transporting us to a myriad of unforeseen wonders and perils, just like dreams seasoned with a pinch of nightmare.

We continue our walk along the coastline, yet when we’re about to reach a bridge, I spot a wooden dance floor built around a tree. An incomparable feeling of joy is conveyed by the delicate stream of white lights surrounding the area and growing around the tree as ivy. I can almost hear the merry laughter of the villagers, dancing till the early morning.

“We must go,” says the piano player. He is eager to show me something, perhaps the area at the bottom of the cliff where a flock of black birds circles the air. But no, it’s not that.

We cross the bridge and walk towards a hidden line of steps, hugging the side of a massive rock. He points down. I recognize the place. This is where he played himself back to life, sitting at the piano, a key at a time, the entire village bearing witness to the wonder, and the music score flying away, free. “Just breathe,” he said. I remember that. We sit at the piano for a while, in silence. There’s a lot to be said about apparently trivial moments.

A seagull caws in the wind while the water splashes under the plank walkway and we move onwards. I wonder why a few framed pictures float on the surface of the water. I look closer. They portray moments and locations in Hazardous, a vivid reminder of the cycles our lives often go through.

Reluctantly, I’m drawn to a shed where a crow voices pressing warnings of a sullen future. The piano player corrects me immediately. “Why must you always think the worst? They reflect the past, not the future!” I don’t agree with him, obviously. Unlike many other less fortunate characters in my stories, he is very much alive, because I didn’t think the worst. So, there. Moving on!

We walk around the rocks for a long time, going over story plots to be written, past a fishing boat and a chorus of enthusiastic seagulls, until we arrive at the hidden entrance of the area we spotted from above, the one with the black birds.

As we approach, we see an airboat. The engine is fuming profusely. Was it an accident or merely a mechanical failure? Where’s the driver? Is he hurt? I decide to venture into this secret universe, dragging my piano player with me. Surprisingly, our guide seems to be unwilling to accompany me now. I wonder why.

A statue of Buddha sits under a waterfall, right next to the swing. Oh! And that is the house! I hasten my pace. It’s so peaceful and inviting here. There’s plenty of room to sit down and even music, again music. A few pictures rest against the wall, behind a globe. I remember that one of the photos of the slide show portrayed someone sitting by the telescope, looking at a map, most likely sketching wondrous travels across never ending oceans. Interesting.

Coffee is served. I invite the piano player to join me. He is still standing outside. After a moment of silence, he shakes his head. I have the feeling he knows more about the place than I do. Perhaps there is a darker side to this idyllic canyon where the birds chirp and the waterfalls cradle our essence, drawing mesmerizing circles on the water surface.

So, we don’t linger on too long. Instead, we walk back up and through the fields.

I bid farewell to my piano player. It was nice sharing some writing time with him once more. He goes his way, waving goodbye and smiling again. I can’t help but think that he is actually relieved to get rid of me!

It’s time to depart. This sim is enticing and mysterious, beautifully simple and complexly inspiring. It evokes both beauty and the darkest meanders of our existence, and it quickly becomes a rich source of motivation for any storyteller.

Close to the end of this article, I repeat the quote we came across at the beginning of our visit. “Dream infinitely… Remain fearless… Seek Hazardous adventures.” An idiosyncratic chorus of crows and seagulls builds momentum until I see the road sign once more. Confused? Lost? Here? There? Where? Anywhere?

I say anywhere in this sim, because… there’s a story waiting to happen at Hazardous.



Disclaimer: Virtual Writers and I are in no way affiliated with any shop located in the sims featured in this column nor do we intend to promote them.