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1/26/23 - Trying

Spoiler

Beautiful horizon tonight. Jared rubbed his eyes. He needed some rest. It was good Mark was up now. Why had he gone outside? Not like there was gonna be anything. Maybe there was more wolves. Were there traps for wolves? Something he could set up to get rid of them without wasting ammo. Bloody wolves.

Jared made it around the cabin and was about to go in the door, but he heard something. He turned. Somewhere in the night, snow crunched. Jared froze. Oh no, please let that be a deer. It was too loud. Must be bigger than that. Could there be a herd of deer? Why would they get so close to a cabin? Jared hurried inside. "Mark. There's something out there," Jared hissed.

"Was it a butterfly?" Mark said. His grin vanished when he saw Jared's face, "What was it?"

"I don't know, so I'm not sure if it's dangerous. It sounded big though."

"Could it be wolves?"

Jared shrugged, "Let's be as quiet as possible. We don't want to attract whatever's out there."

Mark nodded, and went back to shaping his arrows. Jared went upstairs to look out the window. What was going on out there. To the north, where the front door faced, he could see conifers shaking. There was no wind, not that much. He tried to look through the scope on the rifle to see what was there, but it didn't work. He sat watching for some time. Eventually Mark came up behind him and handed him some arrows. "Here. I've finished these," Mark said. He'd fire-hardened the tips. Eight beautiful arrows.

"Almost a shame to ruin them," Jared said.

Mark laughed, "No it's not. Put them to good use."

Jared nodded and handed Mark the rifle, "Back me up?"

"Of course. I won't waste ammo like you." They went outside, Jared knocking an arrow. There better not be anything out here. We'll take it out.

They'd only sneaked ten feet from the door when a giant mess of fur and blood came barreling toward them. Mark swore.

"Bear!" Jared gasped. Mark fired. Jared drew back and loosed.

The monstrous black bear barely staggered. Mouth frothing and eyes glaring wildly, it tore across the ground. "Shoot it!" Jared screamed.

"I'm trying," Mark sounded terrified. They should have stayed inside. Jared cursed and shoved Mark back toward the cabin. 

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Storms, this looks fun. Hope it's not too late to join in.

1/26/23 - Trying

Spoiler

"Aaand that's 2,920. New milestone!" Leah announced happily.

Kim smiled at her. She thought it was silly, how Leah kept count, but it was important to her.

They had just finished breakfast, it was her ritual to do this every morning as she cleaned. Afterwards she packed up and prepared for the traveling they'd be doing that day. Every day was like this really. Kim was of the opinion that settling down would be best, if they chose the right place they could live comfortably, maybe forever. But Leah couldn't accept that, she couldn't give up. Not yet. Kim could only smile at that, resigned.

Despite their circumstances, Leah was starting to see beauty in the world that surrounded them. It was like one of those post-apocalyptic movies where the Earth reclaimed the world. Who knew she'd live to see the day cities actually looked like a jungle. Buildings were covered in green and abandoned cars had become home to flowers and mushrooms. Some streets had started to erode, slowly becoming streams with surprisingly clean water running through them. It was mesmerizing to look at.

"You know, maybe this isn't so bad after all. Who cares if the world ended if we get to live in a place like this, right?" Kim smiled in agreement. The place was beautiful.

It was time to move on though. They had spent a nice time in the city, but they were now at the edge, and what remained of a highway was calling to them. Leah wasn't looking forward to that. From experience she knew food wasn't really a problem, she could hunt and was now skilled at gathering, and they had stockpiled plenty of water. But highways were, long.

Day after day, only following the road, for weeks on end. It messed with her head. The city had been such a nice change of pace, like an oasis in the middle of the desert. She had marveled at the sights, giggled like a little girl as she had tried on some really old fancy clothes. She had explored a dark mall as a test of courage and risked climbing tall, crumbling buildings to take in the view. It had been their vacation.

But it was time to go back to the road.

"I'm scared." She said. Kim smiled comfortingly at that. Of course she did, it was the all she could do. It was the only picture she had of her after all. Who even carries physical photos anymore? Kim had said. Or had she? She couldn't really remember.

The picture was starting to fade after eight long years. The thought frightened Leah. Just remembering was a struggle as it was. Every day she kept desperately trying not to forget. The old world, the streets filled with people. Her favorite places and all the memories. Her family and friends and all the people she loved. Kim.

"Just one more day. I'll just try one more day and I'm sure I'll find more people." Leah said for the 2920th time. She steeled herself and carefully put the picture away, looking at it one last time before starting the journey, hoping to burn that smile into her memory. She picked up her backpack, and started walking. The road ahead endless, terrifying and, despite everything, full of hope.

 

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1/27/23 - Poisoned Purple Fish

Spoiler

Sven wondered if he was lucky or unlucky. It was unusual for him to be thinking about those things, but he supposed everyone had moments like that. Easy answer was yes. He was well liked at work, had plenty of friends, and his job paid well.

On the other hand, he was the royal taster.

It was worth adding that he was the royal tester that had lasted the longest so far. That probably was an argument to say he was lucky, but again, could anyone in this job be considered lucky? Besides, luck wasn't really the reason he was alive.

He didn't really have a choice either. When you live on the streets any way out looks good, and as fate would have it, his way out had come from the royal family itself. Food, money, a roof over his head. All of that in exchange for risking his life once a day. An apology of sorts for when he inevitably died. A brief paradise. Nothing I don't do already he had thought. If he was going to risk his life anyway, he might as well do it surrounded by luxury.

Then on his very first week a bad batch of fish nearly killed him. The fever lasted a whole month before he was even allowed to do another tasting. But he survived, which was enough to give him a certain reputation. Tasters weren't supposed to last more than one poisoning. He had been lucky.

That's when he decided to study. Over the following months he learned all he could about poisons. Specifically how to identify them. He practiced during tastings, he'd test the food and once he determined it was clean, then he'd taste it. The servants were furious when they found out and brought the matter up to the king, expecting a swift execution. But by this point Sven had spent over a year serving at the castle. The king decided then that he could continue using his methods, under supervision. He gave him a chance to prove his loyalty.

Seven years later he was still alive, and even though he had started as little more than a sacrifice, he had become a respected staff member at the castle. But then, this was only possible thanks to his own conviction to stay alive and the hard work he put into it. Not to mention that even with all his knowledge, he could still encounter some unknown poison and die any day of the week. So was he lucky?

"Sven!" he heard the voices of three kids running up to him through the courtyard. Sophie, Edwin, and Claire, the royal princesses and prince. They seemed to be fond of him though he couldn't say why. And he was very fond of them.

"Kids! Hi, what are you up to today?"

"Nana was telling us a story!" replied Claire, the youngest one. "But Mama came and said we have to go to our lessons. I want to finish the story though."

"We have to obey Mother, we can finish the story later." interjected Sophie, the oldest.

"What was the story about?" asked Sven, steering the conversation to avoid a discussion among the kids.

"Nana said it was about a man like you." explained Edwin. "He was in the kitchen in a castle and he ate the food so he could see if it was bad."

"And then he ate an ugly purple fish and his tummy started hurting." said Claire.

Sven had to smile at that. It seemed the old lady had turned his fateful first week into a story.

"But then Mama came and now we don't know what happens later."

"Well I'm sure he'll be fine. Why don't you all go to your lessons so you can find out sooner?"

"Awww but we just found you." started Claire. But Sophie was already grabbing the two other kids by their wrists, dragging them to the study room.

"We have to go now. See you later, Sven."

"Bye, Sven!" said the other two in unison.

Sven waved to them until they were gone. That's right, it may have been about survival at first, but now, those kids had become the real reason he continued to be a taster. If he could make sure they were safe, then he'd consider himself to be the luckiest man in the world.

 

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1/27/23 - Poisoned Purple Fish

Lol, this'll be rough. Yes this is a ChatGPT AI created short story. :mellow:

Spoiler

Once upon a time, in a far-off kingdom, there lived a kind and generous king who ruled over his people with fairness and compassion. The kingdom was known for its beautiful lakes and rivers, which were teeming with all sorts of fish. The king loved to go fishing in his spare time, and he would often bring back the catch of the day to share with his subjects.

One day, while fishing in the lake, the king caught a strange and beautiful fish. The fish was purple in color, and it had a golden ring around its neck. The king was so taken with the fish that he decided to keep it as a pet and put it in a special tank in his palace.

However, soon after the fish was put in the tank, the king began to feel sick. He had headaches, nausea, and he felt weak and dizzy. The king's doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with him, and they were at a loss as to how to help him.

One day, a wise old man visited the king and told him that the purple fish was poisoned. The old man explained that the golden ring around the fish's neck was actually a symbol of a powerful curse. Whoever possessed the fish would be cursed with sickness and death.

The king was horrified and immediately released the fish back into the lake. To his relief, he began to feel better almost immediately. He realized the importance of being careful and not taking things at face value. From that day on, the king was more cautious and always listened to the wise advice of others. He lived long and happily, and his kingdom flourished.

The end.

 

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