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Nano 2011 - Day 01The Myth of Wings
Icarus fell in flames from the sky because he was not yet ready to fly. He plummeted to the ground like a meteor streaming in from the heavens. Perhaps his wings were blackened. Perhaps they fragmented and were left behind like the tail of a comet. Perhaps they rained to the earth as black ash, seeding sin and discord amongst men.
The scent of burning feathers became a sign of evil on the earth, of witchcraft or voodoo moving through the gathered crowds. Even as their eyes were still turned up toward heaven, Icarus had struck the ground, immutable evidence of human sin. He was Lucifer in another guise, the misfortunate one, the one weighted down with his choices in the world. And that was a beginning of the myth of wings.
Yesterday it began. Yesterday was the falling through the sky and then the ground below, deadly and level and made of earth and grass. The noise was a thrumming, a taut noise of hard air striking and shivering past wings that would no longe
More 100 Themes - 96-10096. Puppy
He was nothing but a ripple of movement, of sheets of thin muscle flexing beneath fur the colour of bracken. His front paws would not stay on the ground, his tongue would not stay in his mouth. He made Ed laugh, even when he was scraping mud onto his trousers and bouncing head-high in his excitement. He seemed to be part of these flat, swelling lands and the low, soft rivers and the darkness of the mud and the vibrancy of the grass. He belonged in this kind of place.
Ed ruffled his hand over the dog's head, feeling its skull sharp and fragile beneath his palm. There was a life in there that could not be denied.
In some ways this land reminded him of the land back home the way it was mostly flat and wide. But it was divided into small and ancient fields and scored by roads that had grown up over thousands of years. First they had been footpaths, maybe, or animal paths, dodging left past a slight swell in the ground, right past a rock, left again around a tree t
More 100 Themes - 91-9591. Orange
The image of the flames was on the insides of his eyelids. It was scraped and burned onto the inside of his mind. Angelo there on the grass, the blood a strange dark colour against the green. Danny scrambling and jerking himself free of some shard of metal that was piercing his flight suit. The sound of the fire making the metal creak and ping and the sound of moisture hissing from the grass, and the feel of the heat like a great, shimmering wall that could not be breached. Frankie there with no way out, with the underneath of the nose a crumpled mess and the knowledge that somewhere in that tangle of bitter metal and glass were his legs. There was a smell of meat cooking, and there was only one thing it could be. And out of all of them on board, there was Angelo and Danny outside. Al had never made it out of the ball turret. He couldn't have. The ball turret wasn't there any more. Perhaps some of the men had made it out the other side, were somewhere behind the plane where
More 100 Themes - 86-9086. Surprise
At first she thought she was quite alone. She stood looking about herself, at the endless, sun-baked grass and the brassy sky and the small worn trails on the ground and the silent house behind her. She thought that she was the only human thing in existence, and she didn't know whether to be scared or content.
And then the wooden door creaked and scraped behind her, and she spun, and a man came out of the house. He was tall and lean, so tall his head nearly touched the top of the frame. His hair was blond and bleached into lighter streaks by the sun, and his skin was tanned almost to redness, and his long arms and broad shoulders were strong and solid. He stood filling the doorway, and just looking at her. And then he said, as if he had come to water in a desert, 'Cassie.'
'I wondered if this were heaven,' she said.
He looked at her bleakly. 'I wondered if it were hell,' he said after a pause.
She almost laughed, but seeing his expression, she did not. 'W
More 100 Themes - 81-8581. Clone
To the left of him and to the right of him were planes just like his. To the left of him and the right of him were other waist gunners, standing over their own guns that were just like his gun, wearing the same uniform and the same heated gloves and the same heated shoes and fighting against the same twenty below cold. And there were fighter planes, ally and enemy, and they were all the same, and all the men in them were the same, and whether they flew back to England or Germany or to occupied France or Belgium they were all the same. They were men whose hearts beat hard in their ears when they were afraid, and who thought of hunger and cold and the warmth of women. They were all the same man.
His hands near frozen. His face that way too. The heating in his suit had failed forty minutes in. Twenty thousand feet and on oxygen just to protect himself from the empty air, and the cold was more than knives, more than ice. It was something that inhabited every part of hi
More 100 Themes - 76-8076. Insanity
He wondered sometimes about his own mind. He had heard about shellshock. Had read the poems. Of course, he didn't have that. Of course. He was not on the ground, knee-deep in mud and blood. There was no stench up here except for fuel and grease and the hot scent of gunfire. But he wondered when he felt his mind ticking through the silence, when he sat at a table with his hands before him but saw ack-ack punctuating the sky and saw the drifts of smoke and the wheeling Huns and the Spitfires snarling and biting back. He wondered when he lay in bed as night, straight as a coffin, his eyes staring into the dark and his chest full of dread. He wondered when he saw faces of men who had drifted away, and he just could not get them out of his mind.
There was a change coming in the land. Cold was creeping into the days. The grass was turning to swathes of soft browns and fawns. And one day she woke and the world was a sea of snow, unending, punctuated by nothing but the bui
More 100 Themes - 71-7571. Cute
It was his smile, or his nose, or maybe both. His face made her melt a little when she looked at him. Sometimes his eyes seemed to hide nothing. They just reflected the sky and the sun, and when he laughed his head tilted back and his nose creased a little, and she had the urge to laugh too.
When he turned away it was entirely different. She found herself lustful, looking at the firmness of his buttocks, the pleasing curves. She found herself gazing with no real reason as he bent to stack wood or pick up the axe, and sometimes he caught her, lost in appreciation, and he looked as if her expression were a familiar thing. She couldn't deny it. Whether or not she had ever known and loved him, she was falling in love with him now.
Half his life revolved around creatures of metal and grease. And they were creatures. Sometimes they were adorned by images of living things, of platinum blonde women in paint-tight clothes. And they lived and died like creatures, a
More 100 Themes - 66-7066. Fly Me to the Moon
They were above everything up here, so high it felt like they were skimming the surface of a great pool, and everything beneath was unreal. They flew in formation, wingtip to wingtip, it seemed, the engines making a constant drone that thrummed through every part of his body. The flying was slow and boring for the most part, and he stared out at the empty sky, his eyes falling out of focus, his hands loose on the gun. If a Hun appeared his hands would twitch and grab and shoot and his eyes would snap into clarity and his heart would begin to beat again. But for the most part it was just sitting and waiting, waiting until they drifted steadily into a pool of sharks.
She could see them there. Amriel and Ed, standing just beyond the stable, talking again. Arguing again. Amriel never argued with her, but with Ed that was all it seemed to be, arguing in low, secret tones where they thought they were alone. She edged closer, standing quiet against the wal
More 100 Themes - 61-6561. Bugs
Whether this was heaven or hell or purgatory or any level plain in between, the insects were real. The grasshoppers chafed in the grass, flies and butterflies flew up in clouds when she walked, mosquitoes sometimes buzzed high-pitched and menacing near her ear. When they bit her she knew they were real. Pain was real here, and the air tasted real, and the earth felt as if it went down for yards below her until it hit rock. This was real. It had to be. There were no aeroplane trails and no fences and no roads marked out by thick tyres. There were only the few wagon trails and her, and Ed, and Amriel. It was outside of her experience, but it was real.
Climbing out of the machine he always felt as if he were coming back to life. His arms and his legs and his spine felt wooden with the cold that had driven into him. He flexed his fingers with effort, moving across the concrete strip in slow, stiff steps. After a few yards things loosened. The blood began to flow again,
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