Forum Activity for @americymru

11/28/17 04:50:13PM
112 posts

Nuclear Spring by Dean Hardage

West Coast Eisteddfod Online Short Story Competition 2017

Will woke up at daybreak as usual. Something didn’t feel right but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Shaking his head to clear it, he began his morning ritual. Rising from his sleeping furs and quickly putting on his layers of insulating clothing was the first step, followed by a quick wash from the bucket near the cast iron stove. There was just enough coffee left for a single cup and his supply of foodstuff was also dwindling quickly. That meant a full day’s trek to what used to be a nearby village to raid the shopping center for supplies.

Will’s thoughts were projected backward by the thought of the village, backward to when he had gone on his first trek with Mother and Father. They’d bundled him up in a snowsuit and scarf, settled him into a nest of thick blankets on a sled, and taken turns pulling him along the frozen path that had once been a two-lane road. They talked as they walked.

“Remember how beautiful this place was in Spring,” Father had asked? 

“How could I forget? It’s where we met, down by the river.”

“Right, during the Spring Carnival.”

Father and Mother had both smiled for a moment. A moment was all it had lasted.

“2042. The year before the war.” The words were as cold as the wind that cut through the air and even partially penetrated all the protective layers in which they clothed him. 

The war had been what Father called a ‘nuclear exchange’ between nations. The survivors had begun to try and rebuild, then Winter came and never left. Temperatures had fallen, the ice from the far north and south had advanced further and further until most of the land mass was covered. Only a few hardy souls had been able to adapt quickly enough to survive.

Will hadn’t traveled far when he once again felt something was wrong. Not bad, just not normal. Trudging through the snow, focusing on staying on the nearly overgrown trail, he still wasn’t able to determine just what it was that troubled him and he didn’t really spend much time on it. He had to keep his attention on the trail.

It took most of the morning to reach the village and clear the door into the long-abandoned supermarket that served as his supply cache. Boxes of butter crackers, frozen blocks of cheese, even meat that had frozen before the power failed went into the sled. Before he donned his headgear again he heard a sound. It was familiar but he’d never heard it outside of the cave. Somewhere in the building, water was dripping.

Will wanted to investigate but he knew he had to get back home before dark. He buttoned up all of his gear, pulled on his hood, and dragged the sled out of the building. He put the heavy piece of sheet metal over the door to keep out unwanted visitors and turned toward the path to the cave. As he turned eastward something else startled him. 

He took a moment to realize that his shadow, foreshortened by the early afternoon sun, was clearly visible in front of him. Curiosity made him look up for the first time he could remember and he was surprised again. Through the once perpetual overcast there was a patch of blue and the sunlight burst through the opening unimpeded by clouds for the first time in his life.

Bewildered but unwilling to stop to figure it out at that moment, Will started again toward the cave. Shortly before he arrived something else caught his eye just off the path. It was a patch of bare ground, dark loam showing through the snow that had always covered everything. It was then he realized he was sweating and his clothing was actually keeping him too warm. 

The final clue came to his ears a second later, a sound he’d only been told about by Mother and Father. He pulled the hood from his head, yanked off the covering, and sought the source of the sound. 

In a nearby tree he spotted a small, feathered creature he recognized from stories his parents had told. It was called a ‘bird’. Will fell to his knees. Melting snow, blue skies, a bird chirping in the trees. It had come as they had said it would. His eyes filled with tears of both sorrow and joy.

“Mother! Father! Spring is here!”


updated by @americymru: 11/28/17 04:57:24PM
11/28/17 04:48:04PM
112 posts

Reluctant Hero by Dean Hardage

West Coast Eisteddfod Online Short Story Competition 2017

“Can he do it?” asked the black masked and caped figure sitting in front of the screen.

“He’s the only one who has a chance,” answered the other figure, also caped but clad in bright blue and red.

“Even you?” the rough voice of the first watcher asked with just a bit of incredulity.

“Even me,” said the other with no hint of any emotion. “I would cause more damage than I’d prevent if I even made the attempt.”

“Is he really that powerful? He’s never done anything like this.”

“You’ve seen the results of the tests. The ones he would let us perform, anyway. You even designed some of them. He could probably shift the Earth in its orbit if he let himself. He keeps it under such strict control both consciously and unconsciously that he only manifests a tiny portion of what he’s capable of.”

Despite his reputation of being unafraid of anything, masked observer shuddered inwardly. He’d seen some of what the object of their conversation had done with that tiny portion and that kind of power without limit could shatter the world.

“How did you convince him to try?” the blue and red suited figure asked.

“I showed him this,” replied the masked man and touched a control that changed the image on the screen.

The other figure was taken aback by the image but understood exactly why their comrade had agreed to attempt the impossible task before him.

“That was cruel.”

“It worked.”

The image was once again switched to the screen that graphically displayed the location of the only other entity besides the brightly clad person watching capable of flying through the vacuum of space without a suit even for a short time. The dot that indicated his position approached the upper atmosphere directly above the eye of the most massive hurricane in recorded history. His mission: stop it.


He called himself Mass because mass bends spacetime and that was his unique power. He could alter the very structure of spacetime with only a thought, allowing him to increase gravity, decrease it, or even reverse it. He’d learned how to use it as both a shield and a weapon but used it only as often as he had to to save lives.

He didn’t know how he had come to have it, this so-called superpower. His parents and their parents had been normal people so he had decided he must be some kind of mutant. He had realized early in life that he was different and could not only manipulate the fabric of reality but sense it directly as well. He knew things he shouldn’t know, could do things that he shouldn’t be able to do and he got a lot of sideways glances from those around him. He knew he had to make that stop so he learned to hide his abilities.

He’d lived like that for a long time, hiding in plain sight and occasionally using his abilities when he could be sure no one could possibly know it was him. He’d kept his powers to himself until something had happened that made it impossible for him to continue.

September 11, 2001. Hijacked airplanes flew into the World Trade Towers killing thousands while a stunned nation watched. He had seen it too, watched transfixed as first responders risked their lives to try to save every life possible. He realized that his powers could have saved not all, but many of those who perished that day. Out of abysmal shame and sadness had crystallized a purpose. He became something that he’d never pictured himself as, a ‘superhero’.

Using his abilities, he generated wealth in the form of gemstones created by the immense pressures he could generate on common materials like carbon and corundum. He’d discretely built a headquarters from which he could monitor news, emergency frequencies, and all other forms of media. His profession as an electronic technician had come in handy, making it unnecessary to hire people to install the complex equipment needed to turn the old warehouse into a base of operations. From this ordinary seeming group of buildings, he had launched a campaign to help. He didn’t fight crime. He left that to the blue-suited alien and Metropolis and the masked vigilante with all the gadgets and the fancy car in Gotham. He only intervened when criminal action threatened life.

He had tried to remain in the shadows but inevitably stories of the people he had saved began to leak out and spread on social media. A kind of urban legend had developed around him, a silent, somehow sad guardian angel that appeared from nowhere to help only to disappear just as quickly. This had suited him and it had been the norm until a couple of years later.

He’d returned to his base only to realize he wasn’t alone even before he’d touched down on the roof. No one was visible but his spatial senses told him two people were concealed in the maze of pipes and machinery remaining from the structure’s industrial past. One seemed to be human but the other was something different. They had revealed themselves and invited him to join them. He’d turned them down.

That was the first step to where he was now. While he had not become one of their group, he had been discovered and stayed on their radar. He’d met with them a few times, endured a few tests to try and quantify his power, offered to help when he could. Finally, just a few hours ago, he’d been summoned to their orbiting base.

“I’m not going to try to sugarcoat this. We need you,” stated the masked figure who’d first met him.

“Ok, what am I supposed to do? Let’s get at it so I can get back.”

“Not so fast. You need to know what you’re getting into. Follow me.”

Bemused and now concerned, Mass followed his host through the station’s passages to a large room with walls covered in screens and equipment, the far wall dominated by a giant screen showing an image of Earth. Near the bottom of the screen he could see the whirling image of a storm rampaging through the Caribbean.

“Irma,” he muttered.

“That’s right, and that’s why we need you.”

Shocked, Mass’ eyes snapped up to those behind the mask.

“You’re insane. No one can stop that, not even your alien friend.”

“According to what we know, you can. You just have to use your power at the level you’re capable of.”

“I’m not capable of that, no matter what you think. There’s no telling what would happen if I tried. I destroyed an entire mountain doing that once before.”

“Exactly,” countered his guest. “You have untapped power you’ve never dreamed of. We know you could do this if you use it.”

“Just for the sake of argument, how? I couldn’t create a counter-vortex that size.”

“That would be a bad idea. What you can do is affect the gravity in and around the eye, increase the atmospheric pressure, cause it to collapse. It will still rain but the winds would die down and the storm would dissipate before it makes another landfall.”

“Why now? Why didn’t you call me before?” Mass demanded angrily. “I might have had a real shot if I’d gotten to it as a depression.”

“We didn’t know what it was going to do. Marvin was bad enough and when this thing went Category 5 we were contacted to see if we could do something. You’re our only chance.”

“No,” came the flat answer. “I’m not going to risk my own life and the lives of anyone in the area.”

An agonized expression twisted his features into a rictus of emotional agony.

“Don’t you see?” he plead, his voice nearly inaudible. “I could kill thousands.”

“Irma will kill thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, if you don’t try.”

His host paused, thinking for a moment as Mass stood paralyzed by the impossible choice before him. He turned to a nearby screen and keyboard, searching through images until he found the one he sought.

“You can do what you have always said you wanted to, save lives. Or you can do nothing and let more of this happen.”

Mass looked up at the screen and fell to his knees. Video of one of the islands the monster storm had already struck was playing. The island nation was already impoverished and had been unable to take any real measures and bodies of the dead lay strewn about along with the refuse that had been their homes. The camera zoomed in on one tableau and a cry of horrible anguish was wrenched from him. A child lay clinging to her parents, all three dead and wearing expressions of horror at what had taken their lives. No super villain, no alien invasion, not even another human being with a gun or knife. Wind, the ferociously whirling air of the storm had been the impersonal murderer of this small family.

“All right,” he muttered. “When do I go?”

“In an hour it will be over the water again. That’s the best place for you to work without risk of collateral damage.”

Mass nodded.

“You can rest until I take you in.”

“You won’t have to take me in. I can get there on my own.”

“Are you sure?”

“You don’t know everything about me. I can do it.”


Now he hovered several hundred feet above the ocean surface, the air deceptively calm and the sun shining through the clouds. He adjusted his personal gravity so he was moving in the same direction as the eye and would remain centered for several hours if necessary. Closing his eyes, he reached out with his spatial senses further and further, pushing them well beyond any point he’d ever attempted. His heart beat faster and his respiration grew rapid as his perceptions extended more and more and finally reached the eye wall and beyond.

He stretched his senses upward, sensing, grasping, and fully understanding the volume of space he was going to manipulate. He fought the surges in perception, the nearly overwhelming torrent of information he was trying to process and organize. He stabilized the model he had managed to build in his mind and made minor changes to test his control and effects of his touch on the continuum. A voice in his ear urged him to hurry. He ignored it, knowing just how much worse things could be if he failed. He became less and less aware of the world around him as he sank further and further into his mental construct.


The two individuals watching with deep concern from far above noted a change in some of their readings. The barometric pressure in the eye ticked slightly upward, a small but significant change that was repeated a moment later and kept repeating until it was near one atmosphere, normal for sea level. Wind speeds dropped in an incredibly short time and the storm began to disorganize.

“You’ve done it,” the brightly clad figure said into a transmitter.

There was no answer except a sigh of exhaustion and the sound of a body splashing into the water over the speakers before the signal dropped off. The blue clad figure left the station ‘faster than a speeding bullet’ and rocketed toward where Mass had last been detected. His own special abilities allowed him to find the man unconscious, submerged and drifting downward before pulling him from the surf and flying him to land at incredible speed.


Some weeks later Mass was back in his base when someone or something banged on the heavy steel door securing the entrance. A glance at one monitor revealed the identity of his visitors and he almost chose not to answer before realizing they could enter without his permission if they chose. He pressed the control that opened the thick portal and allowed them to walk in.

“We’ve been trying to reach you,” said the masked figure.”

“I turned off my cell.”

“There are some people who would like to thank you,” interjected his companion, the one that had plucked him from the ocean and taken him for medical assistance.

“Tell them they’re welcome. Anything else?”

“We want to run some tests. What you did was nothing short of a miracle.”

“Nope. We’ve already been through that.”

“Alright, I guess there’s just one more thing.”

“What’s that?” Mass asked when the masked figure handed him something.

“Just a little token of someone’s gratitude.”

Mass looked at what he’d been handed. It was a watercolor drawing of a figure in silver floating in the air telling a storm cloud with an angry face to go away. Attached to the bottom of the sheet was a small photo of a group of children, smiling at the camera.

“Their school was just about to be washed away when the rain stopped. Someone on the island got a glimpse of you before you fell. They sent this to us, thinking it was a member.”

Mass’s eyes filled with tears, his emotions dissolving and uncoiling in his chest for the first time since he’d returned.

“Thanks. Now can you please go away and let me get on with my job?”

The visitors exchanged a look and turned to leave. Once they were out the door the blue-clad man said, “Do you think he’ll ever help us out again?”

“Yes, he will. He can’t help himself.”

“What do you mean?”

“He’s a hero.”


updated by @americymru: 11/28/17 04:56:59PM
11/28/17 04:27:33PM
112 posts

Lighting the Stove by Peter Jordan

West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry Competition 2017

Stepping out, on my walk, because of the cold,

my spirits low, I think of a young foreigner

who, always ailing, took himself in hand

and lived by rule, an object of amusement.

He met the world with goodwill, and if

his heart never starved on memory’s sucked orange,

in body and mind aren’t I his debtor?

And don’t I recall that, for him, at once

to forget the cold, feel his spirits rise,

of a raw morning, it was enough to see

that blue medusa when he lit the stove?


updated by @americymru: 11/28/17 04:29:32PM
11/28/17 04:26:05PM
112 posts

March Morning by Peter Jordan

West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry Competition 2017

Useless pity and fondness unreturned

befooled me so in a dream, I’m glad

to open my eyes, in this camera obscura

with its eye of fire and shadow-trees upside down,

and tell myself the best isn’t past.

The south wind has filled the dim space

with African air. Soon it will bring,

not yet that yellow trumpet-shout,

but, blended by distance, children’s voices

like a harmony of Debussy’s.—Not past, no.

And this found, or given, may I let go the rest.

The rest already taken! So that I’d learn

the worth of this, of a true mind?

Well, I do know it. May I realize it, then,

and let the dead bury their dead.

updated by @americymru: 11/28/17 04:30:21PM
11/28/17 04:24:27PM
112 posts

Tenants of the Grove by Peter Jordan

West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry Competition 2017


Your month. Lingering heat. No sound

from the harsh worldnothing to tear

the slumberous air but cawing, at times.

Stillness, except where a leaf hangs high

from a spider-thread. And nearer than the mossed floor,

though more distant too than a Baghdad pavement

all over blood, that russet heath

with three picnickers under a low sun.

Even your smile then spoke a bruised mind,

still I could feel you'd found there, not joy, no

October in your heart from a boy, but something

like calm. As now I might do, only

the thought of you, this livid leaf, jigs on.



A footfall on the litter behind me? So light

not the ogre Care's then, for all these thistle thoughts.

And why think, turning, to see you here? Well,

it was at this faded time of the season's fag-end,

in the calm before what must come, I found

pity rooting where fondness couldn't,

and might have asked what I'd ask you now.

The day turns its page. How to read it, light curdling,

life so laconic! A patter of mast?

updated by @americymru: 11/28/17 04:29:15PM
11/28/17 04:23:17PM
112 posts

Kanovium by Peter Jordan

West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry Competition 2017

Not time that parts us now?

What parted us then, even that,

had I understood then, finding

your home then couldn’t be mine?

In other summers we’d excursioned

far up that valley. From the coast

I’d followed the auxiliaries’ way

through the pass and down to those ramparts

on the adverse bank. This place

with its grass-grown halt, this crook

of the river, I hadn’t known.

And that to me was time past,

and this was time lost.

Yes, but that afternoon,

pea-green before the thunder,

when you took me into the garden,

that evening, old-gold, we watched

tower over the estuary,

if only as spectroscoped now

in memory do they reveal their nature,

if only now from the future

I was impatient for then

does that time appear as it was,

now I see too, not time—

time, which takes since from till-then,

and taking you away, brings me after—,

not time, no, but what’s between

my now and your nowhen.

Well, did those Roman miles

divide childhood from youth, or rather

join youth to childhood?

updated by @americymru: 11/28/17 04:29:46PM
11/28/17 04:20:53PM
112 posts

Duettino by Peter Jordan

West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry Competition 2017

And at my grandparents’ in Migennes—such peace!
I felt I’d seen it, that frozen countryside.
Delicious tête-à-têtes!
Had met your Krakow friends.
Our annual get-together, in Lausanne
(your parents not yet quite estranged)
—no lack of wine, thank God!
Yes, and to me then, ready to find
in easy manners a responsive heart,
our times together seemed a bond.
Now though, Pop wants a transfer, he expects
a coup. Already when I was out there
(six weeks, Paul, in which I lived),
bombs, arson, killings—
as dangerous as hunting jaguars
when you can’t point a gun!
Though I might say, not more exciting
to me than Maya ruins. Then
the scents, the tastes, the colours, are sheer joy.
And to take in from all this
its mestizo essence—the blend
of city and jungle, politics
and mythology, present and past
(like Brecht at the puppet-theatre)—
made me absurdly happy.
But the illusion once seen through
—when once you see that what you found
you brought—, it’s seen through once for all.
Only this keeps the charm,
as of light opera, your life had then.
The baron and his wife I like immensely,
although I never see them—
he’s always giving singing-lessons,
she fishes an old gravel-pit for trout
—‘the only fish’ (she’s English) ‘that really fight.’
My room there’s large enough, the apartment
(very elegant)’s in the Habsburgergasse
—in the old city, with its atmosphere
(which I adore) of decadent Empire days,
The world of yesterday in memory,
each walking the other home in turn,
Thursborough nights stained orange.

updated by @americymru: 11/28/17 04:28:57PM
10/12/17 10:47:21PM
112 posts

Woman by Nicolenya Caltman

West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry Competition 2017

My love is overwhelming-

because I am woman

you have birthed me

turned me so…

now I birth you.

I take a deep breath-

I push

even though it is hard

sometimes gut wrenching

I continue because…

YOU are worthy of being loved

marveled at…

because you are beautiful-

in all your beautiful, imperfection.

I adore you with all parts of my person-

all ten fingers; all ten toes

I sit back in total amazement

at what I created and birthed

from my heart…

the YOU.

I wrap you lovingly-

hold you at my breast

and nurture you…

feed you…

even when I myself am tired…

because I am woman-

so, my love will overwhelm.

updated by @americymru: 10/12/17 10:47:41PM
10/12/17 10:42:23PM
112 posts

The Wineskin-(Based on Matthew 9:17) by Nicolenya Caltman

West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry Competition 2017

I look at you, and my heart beats still...

How can this be so?

A love, as fresh and new as when it was first born-                                        

A love that never dies...

A love that grows in adversity-



At night, it's as if the heart dies; to make room for the new-

For a love, so big; it outgrows itself over and over...

It needs new space; new skin-

For a love that supersedes what was before...

Again, it falls recurrently-

Moon and stars on the earth; meadow filled skies...

For a beauty, such as yours.

updated by @americymru: 10/12/17 10:42:59PM
10/12/17 10:40:44PM
112 posts

The Giver by Nicolenya Caltman

West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry Competition 2017

I, gifted; my most prized, to you

No one’s, touched; no one’s, seen

Buried, deep; within my forest

I, allowed you; to dig at me

Retrieve; my most prized

I, allowed you; to take it with you

Though; I had just, an empty space

I, kept right on giving; to you

From the deepest, innermost; sacred place

     and now you have that too.

updated by @americymru: 10/12/17 10:43:14PM