Sunday, August 7, 2011

Love, Romance, and Goldfish - Judge's Report by Tania Hutley

What a great bunch of stories this week! Romance was in the air on Fabo2, and I could tell you had as much fun as I did writing about it.

I was impressed by your brilliantly creative plots and funny lines. It was difficult to choose a winner, but Caroline Moratti has taken the prize. Caroline's story is quirky and funny, and contained my two favorite lines:

- "Donovan could smell the almond vanilla scent the earwax carried, and it
smelt like heaven."

- And, "Maybe love was like a goldfish tank, Donovan mused. You put two goldfish in there, and they fall in love. Take one goldfish away, and the other one eats its children. Simple!"

Special mention this week goes to Hayley's story, which I enjoyed very much. Hayley, I liked that your heroine was the one who knocked out the bad guy. I also liked that she "... called him a certain word that no one would put in a story."

William's story about a boy's ambition to join the circus was also very good, but William, you forgot to include Donovan in your story. I loved that your heroine could juggle three TV sets though!

Anyway, here's my attempt at a romance story. Click the WINNERS button at the top of the page to read Coroline’s winning story.

A Voice From The Caves

- By Tania Hutley

Donovan woke in the middle of the night, his heart beating fast. The mournful call that had woken him was still echoing through the cave. Everyone said the voice called out warnings about burgers, but Donovan knew better. Really it kept calling out his name; this time he was sure of it!

Donovan knew he shouldn't get up. His body was still repairing itself from the day before - his belly hadn't fully tightened and his beard hadn't yet disappeared. But, darn it, he couldn't just stay in bed! The cries had been waking him every night for weeks. What if the legends were true, and there really were ghosts in the caves?

Donovan sprang up and grabbed a light-stick. As he slipped silently past all the other sleeping-caves, the snores of the rest of his tribe followed him out. Most of them had gone through the pairing ceremony ages ago, before they'd reached 10 solar-orbits old. He and Flicka were the only two people still un-paired.

He and Flicka would pair at some point, Donovan supposed. The whole tribe assumed they would and were impatient for it to happen. The problem was, Donovan didn't love Flicka. Not like he'd once loved Aurora.

Aurora's eyes had been golden, and her hair a lovely mud-brown. Her smile still lingered in his memory - more beautiful than any girl he'd ever known.

Donovan sighed. If only Aurora hadn't been sucked into the black slime pits, suffocating in the sludge while her flesh was eaten by carnivorous slugs. After a love as strong as his and Aurora's had been, how could he possibly settle for pairing with Flicka?

His thoughts in turmoil, Donovan was hardly aware of how deep he was going into the labyrinth of caves. The long, sad cry sounded again, calling him. Urging him to go deeper into the caves than he'd ever been before.

It seemed like a different world this far down in the cave. Instead of the comforting dry grey stone of home, these rock walls were covered in slime and cave-worms inched blindly across the dampness.

Ahead of him, a ghostly light flicked. What could it be? His steps faltered and then stopped. His heart raced.

The voice he'd been hearing for weeks called out again, clear and strong instead of weak and distorted.

"Don-o-van. Don-o-vaaaaan."

Shock made his voice squeaky. "Aurora?"

The light came closer and now he could see a ghostly shape inside it. The shape of the woman he'd loved.

"Yes, it's me. Aurora. The strength of my love kept my soul here after I died, trapped in the cave underworld. Yearning for you. Every night I've been calling for you, calling your name, over and over. Didn't you hear me?"

"Something's been keeping me awake," he admitted. "But most of the tribe think the voice has been calling out, 'Beware the burgerrrrrrrrrrrrr'."

"Um," said the Aurora-ghost. "That was Fred."

The ghostly shape of a boy flickered from the darkness and glared at Donovan. "A pile of burgers fell on me," said the boy in a resentful voice. "Didn't know they'd be heavy enough to squash me flat."

Aurora's ghostly figure drifted forward and held out shadowy hands towards Donovan. "Now you are here, my love, and we can finally be together!"

Donovan blinked. "But, Aurora, you're a ghost, pale and insubstantial. I can see the cave walls through your body! How can we ever be together?"

"You must join me. Become like I am."

"Become a ghost? You mean, I have to die for us to be paired?" Donovan took a step backwards.

"My love, it's the only way."

Donovan hesitated, taking in her misty form that hung so weakly in the air. Through her ghostly shape, he could see the wet cave walls glistening and the blind cave-worms crawling. It almost looked like carnivorous slugs were still sucking the flesh off Aurora's long-dead bones.

He swallowed hard. Then he said, "Flicka expects me to pair with her. I must go and talk with her. I must explain."

Aurora nodded. Her smile filled with joy. "Hurry back to me, my love! Join me and we shall haunt these caves forever. I will call out for you every moment we are apart, until we are together once more."

Her voice followed him as he stumbled away from her, back towards the surface, thinking hard. He'd gone so deep into the caves that by the time he got home it was morning and all the tribe were stirring, but he could still hear Aurora's faint and mournful cries.

"Flicka," he called. "Where are you? I've something to tell you."

She came out of her sleeping-cave, yawning and stretching. "What is it, Donovan?"

"Last night I went deep into the caves. Deeper than anyone has ever gone before. And I made a decision." He hesitated, taking a deep breath. "I'm going to get paired."

A smile spread over her face. "Oh, Donovan! I've waited so long for you to ask me! I'm so happy."

Flicka threw her arms around Donovan, but instead of hugging her back, his hands stayed by his sides, clenched tight into fists. With a confused look on her face, she drew away from him.

Donovan lifted his gaze to meet hers. As he looked into her jewel-green eyes, he thought how lovely they were, sparkling with life. Her hair was limp and straggly, but maybe it just needed a good brushing. And her smile, although slightly crooked, was warm.

Best of all was the way her arms had felt when she hugged him. Solid and real. Not ghostly. Not in the least bit damp.

Slowly, he opened his hands. He was holding four small, rounded pieces of cave-worm. Although he had no imagination, desperation had driven him to create something entirely new.

"What are they, Donovan?"

"An invention."

"What's that?" She frowned.

"Dearest Flicka, they're a pairing present for us. I call them 'Ear Plugs'. I have a feeling they're going to come in very handy."

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