Monday, July 30, 2012

[Moon-dæg] Words and Their Stories


{Shadows, mentioned and unmentioned, are a common element between today's two stories. Image found on via dimitridze.}

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Tonight's creative writing entry is something of a double feature. The exercise that these works came from asks you to take five words that are rarely used in everyday speech and to create meanings for them. They can be nonsensical meanings, serious meanings, or meanings that are just plain wrong. Then, as an additional part of the exercise, you write short stories using each set of words.

So, here are the words that I used and their real definitions:
  • quaquaversal: something that protrudes in every direction at once (a geological term).
  • adynaton: an impossibility.
  • petrichor: The scent of the air after it rains over an area that's been dry for a while.
  • auto-de-fe: A ceremony used by Inquisitors to affirm the faith of converts in South Western Europe; the destruction of something by mob; the destruction of something by fire.
  • millefleurs: a perfume made by mixing various flowers together; the pattern, as in tapestries, of various plants and flowers woven together.
  • ombrifuge: anything that protects a person or thing from percipitation (an umbrella).

And here are the words and the definitions that I made up:
  • quaquaversal: something commonly known among private school headmasters (because they all know Latin, right?)
  • adynaton: the Neo-French term for a particularly delicious cut of tuna, which is most often served at dinner.
  • petrichor: the fossilized form of a nuclear reactor's core.
  • auto-de-fe: the kind of car that the faeries use to get around.
  • millefleurs: extra large bouquets found in country shops in rural Europe. OR The mush that you get from mising flour and water
  • ombrifuge: a machine that spins things around so fast that it separates them from their shadows.

Curiously, both of these stories are about science in one way or another, and particularly about machines that move things at very high speeds.

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"Millicent, power up the grid. We need to run this test today."

"Today? But the instruments aren't ready. The necessary precautions..."

"We need to throw caution to the wind. Albert is coming to the lab this evening and he'll snap up our funding faster than a duchess snaps up millefleur on the high street if we don't have results."

The woman stiffened her shoulders and was about to cross her arms. But Jones' hand at her elbow made them go slack instead.

"Alright we've tested enough to know that hull fracture is an adynaton."

"Alright." Jones' look carried the scent of petrichor.

Maybe he's forgiven me? Millicent tried to catch a glimpse of Jones' eyes, but he had already turned back to his clipboard.

She walked over to the throw switch and turned the power loose on the control panel before her. She stood and waited while Jones stepped into the collider and pulled the rock into it behind him.

"This will crack the bastard open. I'm sure of it." He turned from the rock, set snugly into a ring raised in the collider's bottom.

"Sending particles flying at each other and putting rock between them isn't the usual way to crack a walnut."

"This isn't your usual walnut." Jones had climbed out of the collider and now stood beside the control panel. "Throw the switch Millicent." He must have sensed her hesitation through sound alone. He looked up from the controls. "You can relax. If this doesn't work nothing will reach us - like you said. The hull's defenses have tested positively. The worst to happen will be a little splatter that the ombrifuge will keep from hitting us - even if debris flies quaquaversally."

"I know, but I'm still concerned that this will all end in an auto-de-fe." She leaned onto the panel that housed the switch.

"Bah. There aren't any peasants around. Besides, what could we have done to have called on the wrath of a mob? We've done nothing wrong."

Millicent tried once more to get a look at Jones' eyes. She could see the same certainty in them that she had seen that night, weeks before. It churned her stomach, but she saw her hand reach for the power switch and pull it downwards, completing the circuit and powering up the collider.

As the machine wound up all of its sprockets and gears it roared behind them like some hideous animal struck with a rock.

Millicent's arms crossed. "No. Not yet."

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Alton struggled to keep his expression from changing as he muddled through his mind. Password. Password...what was the password?

"Come on, bub. It's quaquaversal. All your kind knows this."

"Alright. So then let me in." Alton leaned heavily on the hood of the auto-de-fe he'd stolen.

"I don't think so, mac. We need more than that if you're to get in here."

The man slid his eye slot shut, but Alton flung a stone into it before it closed completely. In the same second, the stone was caught in the slot, and the man's eye bulged and blinked.

"Hey! This is very un-headmaster like of youse!"

"Maybe so. But this stone's important."

The man made no move to loose his eye slot's cover. "It's just a stone. Get it outta here before I call up security."

"It's not just a stone. It's a piece of petrichor."

Alton could see the curiousity rising in the man's eyes.

Typical underclassman. Alton fought the smirk from his face.

"Petrichor? Where'd you ---"

"Don't ask questions of me here. I'd much rather discuss this over a nice adynaton - something more than the millefleur we get out here."

The man on the other side of the door was silent.

"Well? Can I come in now?"

"Uh." The man loosened his slot and the stone fell through. The absence of the sound of stone hitting stone assured Alton that the man had caught it. "Sure. But don't get loud. Just follow me."

Alton smiled to himself as the door's hinges protested their being moved. He knew they had an ombrifuge inside and that all of the petrichor he carried would be more than enough to convince them to change their minds. Just as long as he was far far away when they tried to extract the stones' shadows.

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To let me know what you thought about these stories you can leave a comment or check out my Contact page for other ways to reach me. And, don't miss tomorrow and Thursday's Annotated Links (Nos. 12 and 13), Wednesday's editorial, and Friday's movie review!

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