Apartment 51 - 2020 Spring Challenge
Hello, and welcome to Apartment 51!
Apartment 51 is the newly renovated space above the Cup & Platter, and it is meant for those of a literary bent. It is, quite literally, a "speak-easy", but of the more bookish sort. I've heard there's a secret room or two hidden in here, with an assortment of--ahem--banned books, if you are in the mood to explore. It will also be the permanent home of Ditto Town's Flash Fiction Challenges. Flash Fiction Challenges are designed to create very short, self-contained stories on a given theme or prompt, within a certain set of parameters. Once stories have been submitted, writers can provide each other with feedback, of the friendly sort.
As you explore, please note the following rules:
1. This thread is specifically for authors to post finished pieces and receive feedback. It is not for roleplays.
2. For the same reasons, please refrain from discussing tangent topics or plotting in this thread.
Flash Fiction Rules:
1. Keep all posts rated “G” or “PG” for the sake of our younger members.
2. Your story must be longer than 10 words and shorter than 1500 words. All stories must be on the prompt given, and all stories must be given a title to differentiate from stories written by other authors.
3. Members may only post one story per prompt.
4. All characters must be characters you have invented yourself, not taken from other authors. This means fan fiction is not allowed. You can use your characters from other Ditto Town stories, or ones made up just for this thread.
5. Remember again to post the title of your story at the top.
1. Always include the title of the story you are commenting on.
2. Remember to THINK—are your comments true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind?
3. Make your posts substantial. For example, if you want to say “Good job!” or “I really liked your story!” add some details (“I really liked your story because it highlighted the strong friendship between Cheddar the Chipmunk and his Talking Thimble without being overbearing and cheesy”).
4. Please keep in mind that all writers are at a different place in their writing journey. Thus, we ask that you focus on giving feedback, rather than editing pointers.
Without further ado, your prompt is as follows:
After a freak kitchen accident involving a coffee maker, a wooden spoon, and a rabid squirrel, your character emerges from cleaning to find Poseidon in the sitting room.
Feel free to revise this prompt to fit your individual storytelling style by changing the tense or changing any pronouns necessary to fit your characters. Also, keep in mind this event will come to a close on May 15th.
Now, sit back, relax, and perhaps have a nice cup of suitable beverage. I'll be back down in the C&P, if anyone needs me.
~ Read the Ditto Town Frequently Asked Questions ~
Allie stared at the wooden spoon in her hand. At least, it had once been a wooden spoon. Her favourite one, no less.
"When I get my hands on that Needles, I am going to give him whatfor!" she mumbled, wiping away the tears that would persist in running down her cheeks. "How many times have I told him that he is not to bring friends home with him?"
The large black bird on the windowsill croaked, "Nevermore!"
"You be quiet!" she commanded fiercely. "Any more smart-aleck comments from you, and I'll show you what a wooden spoon is good for--even a ruined one."
The morning had not begun well. When you wake up just like normal, get dressed just like normal, and begin preparing breakfast just like normal, it is not normal to be confronted with a very, very upset squirrel when you go to put the coffee on. Moreover, when you go to displace said squirrel from your one and only coffeemaker, wherein it has set up camp, it is quite shocking to have your best wooden spoon chewed to a frazzle. Especially when your eviction attempt failed anyway. To add insult to injury, the greedy beast had eaten the whole package of coffee beans. Maybe that was why it was so berserk--it had a super caffeine high.
So, coffeeless and grumpy, she headed across the courtyard to the office, pondering meanwhile just how she was going to get rid of that pesky squirrel. Starving it out might be an option--but what was she to do for coffee in the meantime? She unlocked the door to the waiting-room, and then paused, most astonished.
At first, Allie didn't even notice the state of the carpet, with sea-wrack spread across it. She was too busy taking in the rest of the scene in front of her. Seated in one of the chairs was an old man with a flowing beard and some sort of a spear in his hand. His clothing was decidedly old-style--what did they call those things?--a toga?--wrapped around his middle, and not much else. He looked about as grumpy as she herself felt.
"Oh, are you the exterminator?" said Allie, a sudden hope rising. "But no, you couldn't have come that quickly. Too bad!" with a sigh. "How can I help you?" resuming her professional manner.
"My brothers! Where are my brothers?" rasped the old man irritably, as he thumped his three-pronged spear on the floor.
Allie slipped on a piece of seaweed. She reached down and picked it up, turning it over in her hand. Where did this come from? she wondered. That and the flecks of foam scattered about. Most unusual!
"Um--can you tell me a bit more about yourself?" She tried to focus on her client, like a good businesswoman, although it was difficult, with so many other concerns. "How many brothers, and who are they?"
The old man's long beard waggled in disdain.
"Three of us--don't you know anything? What do they teach them these days?"
Allie felt that the rebuke was called for. Of course, everything came in threes. She knew that. Then her face brightened.
"Ah, I know; you are come to pick up the self-propelling supersonic speed plough attachments? From the "Plough Deep, My Son" company; top of the line, ergonomically fitted, best on the market, guaranteed to produce treasure trove at least every other day. Yes, yes; I have those in the back room--they've been in for ages. I'll just get Needles to fetch the parcel."
A wave from his hand was like a dash of cold water. She sank back in disappointment. Fresh inspiration struck.
"Then you must be--are you the Marquis of Carabas? I'm so sorry--there was a bit of confusion over your order, but I'm sure that it's all sorted out now. We sent back the ten gallons of flea powder, and have a fresh case of Ogre-B-Gone, extra strength, just come in. By the way, the cobbler was hoping for an endorsement of his product, now that you are so wealthy. What was that you said? You're not the Marquis? Your name is what? Oh, oh, no need to shout, sir! Posed one, you said? Posed on what? You came on purpose? You ride on purpose? Oh, I am so confused. Your name is--oh, Neptune--I've heard of that before, I'm sure of it. Just give me a moment."
Allie clutched her head, thinking hard.
"Ah, that's it--that's it! 'Kittens of the Sea'--no, no--'Chicken of the Sea.' I knew I'd seen that funny fork before. On the shelf in every grocery store. Premium tuna, pink salmon, scallops, crab, oysters, lobster--and chewing gum." She looked at him intently. "But I still don't understand. If you're a fish salesman, why are you coming to me? My ordinary clients are past eating, and their sorrowing relatives don't like anything fishy. That side of it pays the bills around here, you see. The Bureau is only a side line, and most of these clients don't pay except in magic beans and such. You can only eat so many magic beans before you get tired of them, you know."
The old man was scowling harder and his face was beginning to work. Allie hurried on, as she caught a muttered word or two.
"By Zeus, you say, you want Pluto? Oh, oh; Neptune and Pluto--of course! You know, I agree with you; why can't they make up their collective minds? First they say it's a planet, then they say it's not. Tomorrow they'll be throwing out Venus and Jupiter, or some such nonsense. Most disconcerting. However, I'm afraid I can't help you with that. You'll have to apply to the Royal College of Astronomical Interplanetary Naming Protocols and Reductions Commission in person; perhaps they'll listen to you--they wouldn't listen to me. I was so annoyed, but as I said to Mrs White (she's my cleaning lady, you know)--I said to her just last week--Oh, are you going? You're not interested in planets? Or fish? Or ogre repellants? But then, what do you want? Oh, sir, that is rather rude of you, telling me to go to Hades. He's your brother? You were to meet them here? Oh, I understand at last! You've come to the wrong department altogether. This is the Bureau of Fairy Tale Management. You want the Bureau of Myths and Legends Management. I hear that they've got a new rep there--named Pallas Athene, I think--a bit of a know-it-all, in my opinion, but they say she's a crack agent. Why, she just had some stunning success in a contest--they even named a town after her, didn't they? and--Hey, why is he stomping off like that? He looks really cross."
Allie shook her head in puzzlement.
"That was odd; and what a pity he hurried off so fast--I really should have asked him if I could use his trident thingummy. Now how in the world am I going to get rid of that pesky squirrel?"
And from the windowsill she heard the raven squawk, "Nevermore!"
Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away ... my days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle
Questing, Undersea Gods, and Troublesome Corgis!
"Ah, Champion, so glad you could make it. I am Poseidon, God of the Sea and I have a quest for you, I have a trident...well normally I have a trident, it is lost you see and I need you to retrieve it. I will grant you the ability to breathe under water and also allow you use of my Orcas for mounts. Just take care for the seas are treacherous with the Lady Helya about, she has bewitched my people and taken over my lands, as you noticed the ruins below they are overrun with her ilk.
They might seem familiar to you as they were once a great civilization on land. Do not be disheartened I made it a great one below the waves but sadly they have since been invaded. Safe Travels, Hunter and return to me when you are finished."
The booming voice intoned to the shocked 13 year old, she had just cleaned up a mess created by three corgis, a squirrel, and now coffee was covering her favourite shirt.
Ayla Soleira was not sure of what to make of this, she knew her older sister had been studying the Greek and Roman myths maybe even norse for her papers but she did not think one would turn up in the sitting room.
"Is this some kind of prank?" she asked and poked the Sea God.
"The sea welcomes you"
"Stop! you try my patience!"
"Do you wish to know life as a sea cucmber?"
"Ugh...will these interruptions never cease?! Begone with you!"
"May the currents guide your path"
Ayla stopped poking and prodding and mentally accepted this quest, as it seemed to be appearing in her head. She soon was transported to an undersea world of ruins, vibrant colours, and dangerous creatures.
She noticed she now had bow at her back and turtle by her side, this was strangely familiar to her but still odd. Why am I here?
Ayla swam to where this quest point was and was one shotted immediately as she realised she was on the opposing side. She saw the text above her head: RELEASE TO GRAVE YARD? She nodded and suddenly she was in a black and white sea realm with her ghostly body surveying her surroundings, an angelic being was before asking if she wanted to be resurrected: THERE WILL BE 25% DAMAGE AND RESURRECTION SICKNESS...CONTINUE?
The teen chose not to add to her damage and went to find her body, "Oh no..." she said to herself, "I am in my game?" her thoughts raced as she began to wonder just how this happened. She had seen an anime once where kids got trapped in a game and in that show dying in game meant you died in real life, was this the case? no...she thought it was not for she respawned.
"I do not remember Poseidon being in WoW," she said again as she called forth her turtle.
After calling her pet she felt for the pointed ears she thought she would have as her hunter was an elf. No such ears, she looked as she had in reality; human. "I guess I better deal with this quest then." she said and swam to the ruins, she saw serpentine figures and fired, they swam towards her now aggro'd she managed to take care of atleast four before more arrived. It took her a few tries but she finally got past them and this time she avoided the blue and gold flags of the alliance.
"For the horde," she murmured.
She did notice her Undercity tabard was on and smiled, yep atleast in this dream? Alternate reality? whatever it was, she was on the right side.
Ayla managed to complete the quest after several tries and the booming voice and figure of Poseidon appeared once more before her.
"Well done champion, but I am afraid your quest is far from over, you see some of my Orcas have been captured by the alliance, mind getting them back for me? After which I will tell you the next phase of your quest."
Rescue 20 orcas.
Defeat 10 alliance soldiers.
The quest showed up in her mind again and she accepted, this was getting weirder by the minute. She knew it would not end with retrieving the trident it never did with questing. You fulfill one another takes its place, so was the cycle of questing and leveling, wait...what level was she? Ayla looked for the level icon and saw it, 65?? thats it? she sighed and watched as the Sea God vanished again when she accepted.
"Anar'alah, Anar'alah..." Ayla sang to herself as the Orca mount took her to the next quest location, this time there was no bright coral, no ancient ruins but ships and and darkness, apparently one of the alliance ships had ventured towards the rift and lo and behold there was the orcas in question.
"Right, lets free these whales!" she said to her turtle she named: Shelley. The turtle did not respond but swam forward on her command, she fought off the alliance, sharks, and skeletal orcas that proved to be much harder as they were gold elites.
She discovered that the orcas were being used by a necromancer corrupted by helya, and the alliance were merely pawns in her game. Ayla spent a few hours trying to convince them of their folly by shooting them with her arrows. She found she was enjoying this dream somewhat and even picked up some quests along the way.
Once she finished this Poseidon showed up once more:
"Thank you, hunter. You have proven to be a trusted ally in this my reclamation of my lands and powers. I am most disturbed to learn my children are being corrupted by helya's machinations, the Goddess of the underworld must be stopped. I see you know this now more than ever.
I would not ask such things of a mortal but it seems that I must rely on your skills again. Please take my blessing so that you may defeat Helya and her minions, she will await you deep in the rift, take caution my champion, for you might be my last hope for my kingdom."
The quest read this time and she noticed another icon beside it: A dungeon? she had always liked those the most.
She queued for a dungeon and on her side was a Shaman Healer, a Paladin Tank, and a couple Mages for DPS, they all seemed automated to her which was odd. If she had somehow been pulled into her game would not others be with her? Or was this some sort of elaborate prank done by her sister? No...Hannah was clever but could not pull this off.
Ayla took a breath and drew her bow once the first string of adds spawned, she noticed the music in the background was different; it sounded more like the soundtrack to the Halls of Reflection dungeon. She ignored it and pressed on, noticing her health bar was getting low, "Whats wrong with you Shaman?!" she yelled at the healer. The healer did not respond and let her die...the two mages also died as did the tank..and eventually the healer. They all respawned and continued again breaking through the adds and approaching the first boss:
Larry the Lobster?
"What the? Larry?" Ayla was amazed and very confused, since when did dungeons in a medieval fantasy like MMO have a character named Larry the Lobster? maybe his full name was Larrilis the Decrepit? She didn't know and started the fight regardless as the tank seemed to be away from the keyboard. She was annoyed, this was becoming a nightmare, she was in the worst dungeon ever!
The Dungeon had other Bosses with strange names:
Dark Arcanist Merlin
The Twins of Sorrow
Atlas the Destroyer
King Crab Timmy
And finally the final Boss Helya; it took seven days to get to her and the lone teenaged hunter was exhausted and spent, her gear was beyond repair and she could not leave the dungeon, the healer could not heal to save their own lives and the nightborne mages kept repeating: "An illusion? what are you implying?" Over and Over and Over....The tank was worse he kept AFKing. She was going mad...she knew it...and when she finally approached the serpentine boss she was on her knees and in tears, this dream was now a torturous nightmare.
"What do I do now?" she asked herself, there is no way I am going to beat this boss, not with the team I have.
"What a King must do." the voice of Varian Wrynn echoed.
"I am no king and I am no man and I do not support the alliance!" Ayla spat, still in her characters mindset.
Still the voice of the former alliance king spoke but this time said something a ghost from Ayla's not to distant past used to say, "Little ranger, look at the level, this is an older dungeon remember?"
"Meg?" Her eyes widened, her other sister had died not long ago so she was unsure of why this dream or nightmare was featuring her. She looked at the level; 50. The thirteen year old smirked, this would be like soloing ICC at level 120 she had this. She engaged the boss and the fight started, she fired arrow after arrow and dodged each arcane attack with the skill of an expert gamer or as an expert archer. Once Helya was finally defeated she looted and a vision of Poseidon appeared but with a different voice: "What have they done to my beautiful city?"
"What?" Ayla said confused.
"You have complet---Ayla! wake up!" a familiar voice shouted.
No! I completed the dungeon and the neverending quest...I dont want to---"AYLA!"
Ayla's eyes fluttered open and her sister hannah was there looking concerned, "What happened?" she looked around and saw that she was now on the kitchen floor, the coffee maker by her head and three muddy corgis looking at her. The floor was covered in mud, the wooden spoon in her hand had been licked clean, and there was no sign of the demon squirrel that the puppies had chased into the kitchen.
"Well, you had a little fall and then started mumbling Death to the Alliance, and yes Lord Poseidon...is not Neptulon the Elemental of the sea in your game?" Hannah asked, World Of Warcraft was her little sister and late twin's game, she preferred real time strategy games like Civ 5 or Rise of the Empire.
Ayla nodded, "I think it has to do with you telling me about Poseidon last night, because I was underwater and questing and then I was in the worst dungeon ever with strange bosses..."
"Yes you mentioned your favourite toys larry and timmy," her older sister laughed and ruffled Ayla's hair. "You also seemed upset when I tried to rouse you, what else did you experience?" she asked propping her sister's head up with a pillow.
"I heard meg, and I won the dungeon, was it because I miss her?" Ayla asked.
"Possibly, or...you just remembered how impatient you get at other players when they won't work together and what she used to tell you." Hannah suggested.
"Probably," Ayla nodded then looked at the mess, "we should clean up, mom will be home soon."
The older girl pulled her sister to her feet and they began cleaning the mess and their three rambunctious corgis before heading to the sitting room, ayla looked ahead and made sure the God of the Sea was not there ready to give them both a quest. He wasn't instead there was a book that said Greek and Roman Myths....the very book that caused this mess in her mind. She took a step towards the table it sat on and picked it up, "What exactly happened?" she asked.
"Well you wanted to make cookies and coffee for mom for when she got home, I waited out here with my book. Next thing I know I hear you scream and when I enter I see a squirrel has leaped onto your head, Sylvy, ally, and vereesa are all jumping on you to get to their prey. Next thing I see is you trying to hit the squirrel with the wooden spoon which still had cookie dough on it, your arm knocks over the coffee maker and you go tumbling when little Sylvy trips you by trying to get the beastly little demon. I tried to catch it myself and ended up slipping on the mud tracked in by our lovely dogs. The squirrel ran back outside with our dogs following and you unconscious. If we start again we can remake the cookies and our mom's favourite coffee, lets just make sure the three trouble makers are inside." Hannah explained then made a little suggestion on how to salvage their mother's day surprise.
"Right lets do that then, after that lets go outside it looks nice out" Ayla said with a small grin, she rubbed the bump on her head and looked outside.
The two spent the rest of the day getting cookies and coffee made then they spent some much needed time outside where they did not notice the same squirrel above their heads with two acorns.
It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.