Posts Tagged ‘free fiction’

‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Blindfolded Woman

April 4, 2013

I’m serializing my fairy tale novel, Tickling Butterflies. A new fairy tale ‘episode’ is published every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

Here’s the story so far.

Enjoy the latest fairy tale:

The Blindfolded Woman

(Containing the impossible tale of King John the Cute’s impossible love.)

Once he had been banished from the Happily Ever After Home for the Married, King John the Cute returned to the clearing where he had left Chariot. There, sitting beside the king’s cloud, he saw a blindfolded woman with a broken heart.

The woman was wearing a strip of black cloth around her eyes, making her blind to the world. She did not see that she was sitting near a cloud. Nor did she see King John the Cute’s crown and royal garments.

“Woman,” King John the Cute approached her. “You seem sad. Would you like some water from my canteen?”

“I don’t need your pity,” replied the woman with anger.

“That is good, because I was not giving it,” replied the king. “My question was simple. Would you like some water from my canteen?”

“Why are you bothering me?”

“Nor was that an answer to my question,” replied King John the Cute. “Would you like some water from my canteen?”

She raised her hand. “Sure. I have cried for quite a while, and through my tears have lost a lot of water.”

The king offered her his canteen, while signaling for Chariot to remain silent. “This canteen is filled with fresh water. I have just filled it in the new river nearby.”

The woman took and one gulp and spat it out. “I know that taste. That river was not here last week. I have cried for six days and six nights and my tears have filled an entire river. This water tastes of sadness and misery.”

King John the Cute sat next to the woman.

“What is your name?” he asked. “Why is your heart broken into two pieces? Why are your eyes covered?”

The woman sighed. Yet seeing no reason not to confide in the stranger, she said, “My name is Sarah O’Connell. My heart is broken because I have loved and lost. My eyes are covered because I have sworn never to love again. Never again will I be tempted by what I see. Never again will I look at another man. Never again will my heart fall in love. Never again will my love be thwarted by Death. Never again will my heart break.”

“That is a sad story,” said the king.

“What is your name, stranger?” asked Sarah O’Connell. “Why have you found your way here?”

King John the Cute hesitated. By this time he had fallen completely in love with Sarah O’Connell. He did not want to say that he was king, lest it was the title that she would like.

King John the Cute began to say that his name was John the Cute, but he hesitated again. He feared that when she took off the blindfold from her eyes, she would be disappointed that he was no longer cute and beautiful.

“My name,” he said, “is John the No Longer Cute.”

“That is a strange and awkward name,” said Sarah O’Connell. “Is there a story behind it?”

“My name used to be John the Cute, but a troll on a bridge took away my looks.”

“Trolls will be trolls,” said Sarah O’Connell.

“Sarah O’Connell,” said King John the Cute. “Perhaps this is too fast, but I have fallen in love with you. Will you go back with me to my pa…” he hesitated again, then corrected himself, “to my home?”

“No, I shall not, John the No Longer Cute. Only two months ago did I still love a love beyond words. And my love was shattered for no reason I could perceive.”

“Sarah O’Connell, my love for you is genuine and true. Will you not even try to take off your blindfold and look at me?”

Sarah O’Connell’s answer came quickly, “Will you live forever?” she asked.

“No, I fear I shall not.”

“Will you at least live a long, long life?”

King John the Cute thought about the prophecy. “No, I fear I shall probably die within two years.”

“Will you spend the rest of your life, these two years, with me?”

Once more, King John the Cute knew that he would spend the rest of his life journeying and questing, trying to save the Land of All Legends. “No, I fear I will not.”

“Really? You will not?” Sarah O’Connell looked slightly disappointed. “You profess your True Love, and you will not spend the rest of your life with me? No more than five hundred paces from here is the Happily Ever After Home for the Married. All you have to do is take my hand and live there for the rest of your life. We would be in love, and nothing would break us apart.”

“Sarah O’Connell, there is truly nothing I would like more than this. But I cannot do that.”

“Then why,” said Sarah O’Connell, “should I take off my blindfold and risk falling in love with you? I do not want my heart to break to four pieces.”

King John the Cute thought about her question and realized she was right. He bowed his head in sadness and came to his feet.

“You are correct. There is nothing I can offer you. I regret this is my life, and I regret I shall not live happily ever after with you. Perhaps, in another story…” he took her hand and kissed it gently. “It was a pleasure to have met you, Sarah O’Connell.”

King John the Cute climbed aboard Chariot, and Chariot rose into the sky and quickly disappeared from sight.

Behind, in the forest, Sarah O’Connell felt that John the No Longer Cute had disappeared quite suddenly and without a rustle. And she was left with her sadness, never knowing that she had met a king, never knowing his true name.

This has been the impossible tale of King John the Cute’s impossible love.

(To be continued on Sunday…)

‘Tickling Butterflies’ – Death and Shadowy Secret

April 2, 2013

I’m serializing my fairy tale novel, Tickling Butterflies. A new fairy tale ‘episode’ is published every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

Here’s the story so far.

Enjoy the latest fairy tale:

Death and Shadowy Secret

(Containing the fearsome events that had taken place while Prince Charming the Fifth was doing other things.)

 

Once upon a time, in the land of the Land of All Legends, Shadowy Secret walked the land. Born of fury, frustration, and fear, Shadowy Secret was not a living thing. And yet, this not-a-living-thing had a clear purpose.

As is told elsewhere in this book of legends, Shadowy Secret had left Prince Charming the Fifth to battle the heat of the Lava Mountains for forty days and forty nights. Shadowy Secret needed forty days and forty nights because he knew this was the length of time it would take him to find Death and return.

And so, during Prince Charming the Fifth’s trial of fire, Death walked the land, taking souls from living creatures with the tips of the fingers of his right hand. Suddenly, Shadowy Secret stood in front of him.

Death did not recognize Shadowy Secret. Shadowy Secret was not a creature that could ever appear on Death’s list.

“Who are you?” asked Death.

“I am a riddle,” answered Shadowy Secret.

“I do not like riddles,” said Death, who did not like creatures who could not appear on his list. He reached out his right hand to touch Shadowy Secret.

Shadowy Secret felt Death’s cold hand, but did not die. “I am not alive and so Death cannot kill me,” said Shadowy Secret. “But let me show you something.”

Shadowy Secret turned around and produced the longest and sharpest sword the Land of All Legends had ever seen. With one quick swoop, he brought down the sword on Death’s outstretched hand.

Death’s hand fell to the ground, disconnected from its holder.

Death screamed in surprise and pain, and took two steps back as he grabbed what was left of his right arm.

Shadowy Secret picked up Death’s hand and looked at it. “Now I have the best weapon of all: Death’s hand. I can take anyone’s soul, while you can take none.” He put Death’s hand in his sack and said, “Thank you for this gift, Death.”

Death stared at Shadowy Secret and was too shocked to move. His deathly ability had just been stolen. His arm had been assaulted. No one had ever tried this. No one had thought it possible.

“Now I must leave you,” said Shadowy Secret. “I must teach a prince a few important lessons.”

“Stop!” Death shouted. Shadowy Secret looked at him.

“What am I,” cried Death, “without that arm? What am I to do without my abilities?”

Shadowy Secret shrugged. “You are going to have to find that out for yourself. I suppose you, too, have important lessons to learn.”

Once more, Shadowy Secret turned to leave. Once more, Death’s words stopped him: “You there,” said Death, holding his wounded arm. “You said that you are not alive and so Death cannot kill you.”

“That is true.”

“What can kill you, then?”

“That,” Shadowy Secret smiled, “is a shadowy secret.”

And with that, he turned around. And, Death’s arm peeking out of his bag, he walked quickly out of sight.

This has been the story of how the role of Death changed hands in the Land of All Legends.

A few days later, after Shadowy Secret shook Prince Charming the Fifth’s hand in a pact to slay King John the Cute, the prince asked Shadowy Secret, “What is that, poking out of your sack?”

“That?” answered Shadowy Secret. “That is a small weapon I picked up while I was waiting for you to learn your lesson. It is nothing you should concern yourself with.”

And that is the story of how Shadow Secret lied to Prince Charming the Fifth. And not for the first time.

(To be continued on Thursday…)

The Emoticon Generation by Guy Hasson

The Emoticon Generation

‘Tickling Butterflies’ – Forty Days and Forty Nights

March 31, 2013

I’m serializing my fairy tale novel, Tickling Butterflies. A new fairy tale ‘episode’ is published every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

Here’s the story so far.

Enjoy the latest fairy tale:

Forty Days and Forty Nights

(Containing the startling events that had taken place while Shadowy Secret was doing other things.)

 

Once upon a time, a long time before he became king of the Land of All Legends, Prince Charming the Fifth was left, abandoned by Shadowy Secret, in the Mountains of Lava. He was left there for forty days and forty nights, not able to rest, to sleep, to eat, or to drink. There, he had to constantly pour water on himself to keep his body from burning.

On the first day, he was frustrated, and believed he was too weak to last. With all that remained of his strength, he poured water on his body.

On the second day, he cried and cried out of desperation and helplessness. And yet he continued to pour water on himself.

On the third day, he had no strength left, and whimpered all day. And yet he continued to pour water on himself.

On the fourth day, his whimpering turned to anger.

On the fifth day, his anger turned to hate.

On the sixth day, his hate turned to hate against King John the Cute.

On the seventh day, his hate doubled. Half the hate was given to King John the Cute. The other half was given to the mysterious stranger that had put him there.

On the eighth day, his hate tripled. Now it was given equally to King John the Cute, to the mysterious stranger, and the rest was given to the whole world.

On the ninth day, his hate grew even vaster, and now included the dead. Prince Charming the Fifth now hated his father, King Charming the Fourth, who had died and abandoned him to this harsh world, leaving him in a bath that never ends.

On the tenth day, the prince began to hatch plans of revenge. And all through this time, he poured water on himself to keep from burning.

On the eleventh day, he hatched plans of revenge against the dead, against King John the Cute, and against the stranger.

On the twelfth day, he hatched even meaner plans.

On the thirteenth day, he hatched crueler plans of revenge.

On the fourteenth day, his head was so full of mean and cruel plans of revenge, that he knew that he would never need to hatch another plan: He would pick one he had already invented, since he had invented all of them by now.

On the fifteenth day, calm came over him. He knew that he would be able to avenge himself.

On the sixteenth day, calm was still upon him.

On the seventeenth day, he began to count the days until he was rescued.

On the eighteenth day, fear began to seep, as he realized that perhaps the stranger lied and no one would come to his rescue.

On the nineteenth day, he panicked and cried, thinking he would be left here forever.

On the twentieth day, he whined, and on the twenty-first day, he whimpered.

On the twenty-second day, he began to plan for the return of Shadowy Secret.

On the twenty-third day, he realized he had to learn to lie and to keep his thoughts to himself.

On the twenty-fourth day, he began to practice lying.

On the twenty-fifth day, he practiced inventing lies.

On the twenty-sixth day, he became an expert at lying and inventing lies.

On the twenty-seventh day, he vowed that he would kill King John the Cute, and immediately afterwards he would kill Shadowy Secret.

On the twenty-eighth day, he began to plan how to find and raise an army that would storm the palace of his childhood and kill King John the Ugly.

On the twenty-ninth day, he planned the first stage of training an army of soldiers and getting them angry.

On the thirtieth day, he planned the second stage of training an army, teaching them how to forget their lives and act as one.

On the thirty-first day, he planned the third stage of training an army, teaching them how to follow his orders blindly.

On the thirty-second day, he planned the army’s invasion of the palace.

On the thirty-third day, he planned how the army would then turn upon the mysterious stranger and kill him.

On the thirty-fourth day, he planned how the army would then travel to Death’s kingdom and destroy the door that keeps the living from entering and the dead from leaving.

On the thirty-fifth day, he planned the assault inside Death’s kingdom.

On the thirty-sixth day, he planned how he would find his dead father, and kill him again. And once the dead were killed, he was certain, they would surely be dead.

On the thirty-seventh day, he began to plan for the return of the mysterious stranger. He began to put on a mask of lies, and to seem as helpless and spoiled as he had always been.

On the thirty-eighth day, he cried all day, just to practice what it was like, so that he could fool the stranger.

On the thirty-ninth day, he whimpered all day, just to practice what it was like, so that he could fool the stranger.

On the fortieth day, the mysterious stranger reappeared, and dragged him out of the Mountains of Lava.

Prince Charming the Fifth looked at him with fire in his eyes, and whined, “Why did you do this to me?”

“Answer a question,” said Shadowy Secret. “Does revenge now seem as too hard?”

Prince Charming the Fifth pretended to think. Then he said, his voice less of a whine, “Nothing is harder than what I had just done. Revenge is easy.”

“Is amassing an army to attack King John the Cute’s army too much work in your eyes?”

“No. It is easy next to what I have just done.”

“Then you have learned your lesson well,” said Shadowy Secret. “Now answer another question: What do you want to do now?”

Prince Charming the Fifth answered immediately, “I will not sleep, I will not eat, I will not drink, until I have amassed and trained an army and killed King John the Ugly. He has taken my throne from me, and I will have it back!”

“Excellent. Shall we be partners?”

“Partners we are!” And the two shook hands. And Shadowy Secret did not know that Prince Charming the Fifth had grown to be a good liar and that he already had a plan. He did not know that part of this plan was to slay Shadowy Secret as soon as King John the Cute was dead.

This has been the startling tale of how Prince Charming the Fifth learned many lessons during forty days and forty nights.

(To be continued on Tuesday…)

The Emoticon Generation by Guy Hasson

The Emoticon Generation

‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Trials of Prince Charming the Fifth

March 28, 2013

I’m serializing my fairy tale novel, Tickling Butterflies. A new fairy tale ‘episode’ is published every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

Here’s the story so far.

Enjoy the latest fairy tale:

The Trials of Prince Charming the Fifth

(Containing the frightening events that had taken place while King John the Cute was doing other things.)

Once upon a time, during the reign of King John the Cute, Shadowy Secret walked the land. Born in the Deepest Crevice, born out of fury and secrets and frustration, born out of the mouth of Kate the Tigress, Shadowy Secret was a dark cloud of shadows and secrets.

Shadowy Secret walked the land with purpose. Aside from the king’s mother, he was the only one who knew the terrible things that would happen to King John the Cute after his death, and he knew that King John the Cute would be killed by Prince Charming the Fifth.

Shadowy Secret walked the land with a purpose: to find Prince Charming the Fifth.

Upon the seventh day of his search, Shadowy Secret found Prince Charming the Fifth at a bar, getting drunk.

Shadowy Secret introduced himself to the prince, then said, “What are you doing? Have you not promised revenge upon King John the Cute?”

“Revenge is too hard,” whined the prince. “Leave me alone.”

Without saying another word, Shadowy Secret grabbed Prince Charming the Fifth by the collar, and dragged him out of the bar. Shadowy Secret dragged the prince to the Mountains of Lava, the hottest place in the Land of All Legends. There, lava flowed freely and in a circle, heating up everything inside the circle. No person could stand close to the lava without catching fire. Shadowy Secret, however, was not a person. He could not die and he could not burn. He put Prince Charming the Fifth within the circle, near a well of water, surrounded by lava. There he released the prince from his hold.

Prince Charming the Fifth caught on fire. Shadowy Secret quickly pulled a bucket of water from the well, and poured it on the prince, dousing the fire.

“I will leave you in this place for forty days and forty nights,” said Shadowy Secret. “If you ever stop pouring water on yourself, you will catch fire and die.”

“No!” cried the prince.

“I must do this for your own good. You must not sleep. You must not rest. You must not stop for any reason. Or you will catch fire and die.”

“No!”

“I will return within forty days and forty nights,” said Shadowy Secret, walked through the lava, and vanished from sight.

Prince Charming the Fifth immediately caught on fire. He poured a bucket of water on himself and doused the fire. Then he quickly filled the bucket and poured it on himself again.

For forty days and forty nights, Prince Charming the Fifth did not rest, did not sleep, did not eat, and did not drink. For forty days and forty nights, Prince Charming the Fifth poured water on himself to stay alive.

At the end of forty days and forty nights, Shadowy Secret returned, grabbed the prince by the collar, and dragged him out of the Lava Mountains.

Prince Charming the Fifth looked at him with fire in his eyes. “Why did you do this to me?” he screamed.

“Answer a question,” said Shadowy Secret. “Does revenge now seem as too hard?”

Prince Charming the Fifth considered this. “Nothing is harder than what I had just done. Revenge is easy.”

“Is amassing an army to attack King John the Cute’s army too much work in your eyes?”

“No. It is easy next to what I have just done.”

“Then you have learned your lesson well,” said Shadowy Secret. “Now answer another question: What do you want to do now?”

Prince Charming the Fifth answered immediately, “I will not sleep, I will not eat, I will not drink, until I have amassed and trained an army and killed King John the Ugly. He has taken my throne from me, and I will have it back!”

“Excellent. Shall we be partners?”

“Partners we are!” And the two shook hands.

This has been the terrifying story of how a pact was formed to slay King John the Cute, and how Prince Charming the Fifth learned an important lesson in responsibility.

(To be continued on Sunday…)

The Emoticon Generation by Guy Hasson

The Emoticon Generation

‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Forever Wedding

March 26, 2013

I’m serializing my fairy tale novel, Tickling Butterflies. A new fairy tale ‘episode’ is published every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

Here’s the story so far.

Enjoy the latest fairy tale:

The Forever Wedding

(Containing the blissful tale of a joyful wedding.)

During the days of King John the Cute’s visit to the Happily Ever After Home for the Married, and soon after his meeting with Loyal Luke, the king noticed a wedding take place at the north side of one of the homes.

King John the Cute approached the wedding.

“Who is getting married?” he asked one of the visitors.

“The woman is called Scarlett Red and the man is called Cherry Burgundy,” answered an old woman, sipping on a cup of wine.

“Isn’t it strange to have a wedding at the Happily Ever After Home for the Married?” asked King John the Cute. “I thought people came here only after they were married.”

“That is true,” answered the old woman. “But this couple is different.”

“How? What is their story?”

“Their story is simple,” answered the old woman. “They met and they fell in love. But they did not want to live happily ever after. They wanted to live joyfully ever after. They wanted to live the happiest day of their lives forever. And so they came here, where the romantic magnetic powers are strongest. And here they are holding their wedding. This is a wedding that lasts forever. It is a wedding that never stops. This is the simple story of how they choose to live joyfully ever after.”

King John the Cute looked at the happy couple, as all their friends began to stand in a line to hug them.

“That is a strange story,” he said. “I have never heard of a wedding that lasts forever.”

The old woman nodded. “I hear that the couple come from the River Red Continent. They do things differently over there.”

“The River Red Continent? Then they have seen many strange things. I must speak with them.”

And so King John the Cute approached the happy couple and began to ask a question.

“You must stand in line like everyone else,” he was told.

And so King John the Cute stood in line, and waited patiently until his came turn. When it came, he said, “Congratulations for your marriage. My name is King John the Cute, and I seek to solve the mysteries that plague the Land of All Legends.”

“That sounds depressing,” said the bride. “I will have no depressing talk on my wedding day! Begone!”

King John the Cute turned to the husband.

“Please,” said the husband. “I will answer no questions on my wedding day. When the wedding is over, then we will talk!”

“But your wedding will never be over!”

“I will hear none of what you have to say on my wedding day,” answered the husband without listening. “When the wedding is over, then we will talk!”

King John the Cute felt frustrated, and turned to the bride once more. The bride told him to be gone. King John the Cute turned to the husband, who promised once more to speak to him when the wedding was over.

From one to another he turned, never getting an answer. From one to another he kept on turning, until the bride’s happiness was wounded.

At that exact moment, Ronald the Romantic appeared behind him. “You have marred the happiness of the couples living happily ever after, my king. You are now banned from this place forever.”

Before King John the Cute knew what was happening, he found himself back in the forest. He looked back, and saw the Happily Ever After Home for the Married shimmer and then disappeared from view. He understood that he will never set foot again in the Happily Ever After Home for the Married.

King John the Cute assessed his situation. He had learned a few facts, but not enough. He had gathered a few clues, but not enough. His quest must continue elsewhere. He began to walk towards the clearing where he had left Chariot. Thus he walked, unaware of the frightening events that have transpired elsewhere, during his days at the Happily Ever After Home for the Married.

This has been the ruinous tale of how King John the Cute had been banned forever from the Happily Ever After Home for the Married.

Now read on to discover the frightening events that have transpired while King John the Cute roamed the halls of The Happily Ever After Home for the Married.

(To be continued on Thursday…)

The Emoticon Generation by Guy Hasson

The Emoticon Generation

‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Perfect Couple

March 24, 2013

I’m serializing my fairy tale novel, Tickling Butterflies. A new fairy tale ‘episode’ is published every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

Here’s the story so far.

Enjoy the latest fairy tale:

The Perfect Couple

(Containing the flawless tale about the flaws of perfection.)

Once upon a time, during the travels of King John the Cute to the Happily Ever After Home for the Married, he came upon an old man, sitting alone. Almost everyone was old in the Happily Ever After Home for the Married, but hardly anyone was alone.

King John the Cute, his curiosity piqued, approached the lone man.

“Old Man,” said King John the Cute. “My name is King John the Cute. What is your name?”

The old man snapped out of his reverie, and looked at King John the Cute with excitement. “Eh?” Then, squinting his eyes, he saw the king, and trouble returned to his face. “I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else. What? Huh?” With a slight delay, he processed the king’s words. “You’re the king, you say? Hello, your highness. My name is Loyal Luke.”

“Loyal Luke, are you here with a wife or a love of some sort? You appear to be sitting alone.”

“Alone? Yes. I am sitting alone. I have no love, you see. I only have loyalty. My masters have gone. We have agreed to meet here. I wait for them loyally until they return.”

“Your masters? Where are they?”

“Dead, I fear. Still, they should return any day now.”

“I sense there is a story behind your words, Loyal Luke. Please tell me your masters’ story.”

It began with perfection, Loyal Luke began his tale. And it began a long, long time ago.

I believe it was exactly a thousand years and a thousand days ago, a man and a woman were born, and they were perfect in every way. Their beauty was perfect, their intelligence was perfect, their talent for anything they chose to do was perfect, their lives were blessed with perfect luck since everything they sought they eventually achieved.

The man was called Perfect Paul, and the woman was called Flawless Farah.

And on the day they met, their love was perfect and true.

Their courtship was perfect, their chemistry flawless. Everyone loved them. They loved themselves and each other.

Perfect Paul proposed marriage to Flawless Farah, and she agreed.

However, at the time Perfect Paul was obsessed with learning to fly. He was determined that a man as perfect as himself could learn to do anything, including fly.

Perfect Paul told Flawless Farah that as much as he wanted to marry her, he also wanted to be worthy of her flawless love. And so, they would only marry once he had conquered flight.

Flawless Farah told him that he was worthy of her love already, that she loved him now, as he was. But Perfect Paul knew that he could be even more perfect, that he could achieve complete perfection if he did the impossible and achieved flight. And so Perfect Paul would not listen to his beloved.

For three years he toiled and troubled, for three years he slaved and struggled, until finally he built a machine with wings that appeared just like a giant bird.

He invited all their families and loved ones to the top of a cliff, for after he would achieve flight, he planned to marry Flawless Farah immediately.

He sat in his machine, and the strongest men among those attending pushed the winged machine off the cliff.

The machine, however, was not as perfect as Perfect Paul, and it broke almost as soon as Perfect Paul was in the air. He and his machine fell down thousands of feet into the rocks below. That day, Perfect Paul was claimed by Death.

“But wait,” King John the Cute interrupted Loyal Luke. “Why are you waiting for someone who died more than a thousand years ago? And why here?”

“The story is not over, my liege,” said Loyal Luke. “You must have patience, like me. Now listen closely, please.”

Flawless Farah, Loyal Luke continued with his tale, was so distraught by the death of her True Love, that in her desperation she sought out the most powerful and most evil witch of all times.

She explained to her the events that had occurred, and asked if the witch could defeat Death and bring back Perfect Paul.

“None that I know can defeat Death,” answered the witch. “But Death need not be defeated. Your loved one is not yet in the Afterdeath and so not completely gone. His soul is still being carried by Death, and he is slowly making his way to Death’s Door. If Death reaches Death’s Door, he will place your loved one’s soul in the Afterdeath, and it will be too late for me to help you. But for now, there is a spell I could perform.”

“Please! Then perform it!” shouted Flawless Farah. “We have no time!”

“I must warn you,” the witch said. “That my spell is mean and evil.”

“I do not care. Bring him back!”

“I must also warn you that my spell has never been tried before. It can only work once, during the entire time span of the Land of All Legends.”

“Then this is the perfect time to do it. Please! Do it now!”

“Within a minute, you will be given one last chance to change your mind. Now I will explain the nature of the spell. It will make sure that Perfect Paul will remain dead, but his soul will be reborn.”

“Reborn?” echoed Flawless Farah. “What does that mean?”

“It means that a baby will be born, with Perfect Paul’s soul. The baby will grow up with no memories of his previous life. Then the spell will make sure that when the baby is grown to adulthood, you two will meet and fall in love.”

“Good, good.”

“But he shall not remember who he was and who you were. Only when you die, will memories of his past life flood back. He will remember who he is and what had happened. But he will be forced to live without you.”

“What!”

“Yes. You will die. Only to be reborn, as well. And so will the two of you always be reborn throughout the ages. Always you will be born without memories. Always you will meet and fall in love. Always there will come a time when Death claims one of you. And upon that instant, and only upon that instant, the one who is alive will remember who he or she truly is and recall the lives you two have lived. And so it will be for ages and ages.”

“Is there no way to reverse the spell?”

“There is no way to reverse the spell. Flawless Farah, will you consent to the evil spell? Will you bring back Perfect Paul to life, even though you will never be able to be with him? Or will you allow him to remain dead?”

Flawless Farah’s answer was clear, “Bring him back to life, evil witch. Perform your spell!”

And the evil witch did, indeed, perform the spell.

Twenty years later, Flawless Farah, now old and alone, met a young man seeking to achieve a perfect way to control the wind. They fell in love. Flawless Farah wondered if it was possible that this young man could actually be Perfect Paul in a new body. But her wondering caused her to become distracted, and she fell in a pothole, slipped, and died. Death claimed her, but not for long. For she was reborn as well. The young man, who had fallen in love Flawless Farah, suddenly remembered the life of Perfect Paul and Flawless Farah and knew that he had missed his second chance to be with her.

He took his own life with despair. And so Death claimed him. But not for long.

Twenty five years after that, a couple met in Capital City, and fell in love. They were set to marry. But the man, determined to have the perfect wedding, invented the perfect cake with perfect fireworks. In a ceaseless effort to create the perfect fireworks he tested, retested, and retested again every explosive imaginable. During one of his more dangerous tests, he died. Memories flooded the woman, who despaired for the third loss of her love’s life.

And so it has been for more than a thousand years. It always ends with death. It always begins anew with rebirth. Perfect Paul is always trying to do something too perfectly and too well, and destroys his and Flawless Farah’s future together with his quest for utter perfection.

Forty years ago, I began my job as the loyal servant of Earl Perfect, the earl that sought to build a bridge into the Afterdeath. Twenty years ago, he met Duchess Precision. They fell in love. Earl Perfect was all ready to marry his Duchess, but only when he became worthy of her – by building a bridge to the kingdom of Death.

But in attempting to build the bridge, he was attacked by the man-killing plant that guards Death’s Door. Once news of his death arrived to the duchess, the memory of a thousand years of losses glutted her mind. She quickly recovered. This time, she was determined not to die before meeting Perfect Paul again, and to defeat the curse by knowing with whom she falls in love.

Duchess Precision told me to go to the Happily Ever After Home for the Married. She told me that next time, she will find a way to stop Perfect Paul from being perfect, and that the two of them will come to rest at the Happily Ever After Home for the Married.

And so here I sit. And here I wait. For my duchess and a man I’ve never seen. Or perhaps she has died as well, but surely she will find a way to defeat the curse the next time. And so perhaps I am waiting for a woman I have never seen with a man I have never seen.

And here I shall keep on sitting, until they come or until I die, waiting for Perfect Paul to realize that perfection is sometimes bad for you.

King John the Cute rose and put his hand on Loyal Luke’s shoulder. “Good luck to you, my loyal man. I hope that when next I come here, I will see you reunited with your masters.”

“Thank you, my liege.”

This has been the perfectly flawless story in which King John the Cute learned that even perfection has its flaws.

(To be continued on Tuesday…)

Meshuggener Smiley, by Refael Chalfine

Meshuggener Smiley, by Refael Chalfine

‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Heart on the Moon

March 21, 2013

I’m serializing my fairy tale novel, Tickling Butterflies. A new fairy tale ‘episode’ is published every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

Here’s the story so far.

Enjoy the latest fairy tale:

The Heart on the Moon

(Containing the idealistic tale of a true romantic.)

This is the story of how King John the Cute solved the mystery of the heart on the moon, a mystery he did not know was a mystery until he solved it.

Once upon a time, during King John the Cute’s journey to the Happily Ever After Home for the Married in his quest to save the Land of All Legends, King John the Cute came upon a couple that seemed deeply in love.

“What are your names?” he inquired.

“We are Martin and Amy,” said Martin.

“Martin and Amy?” King John the Cute echoed immediately. “Not Martin and Amy of the moon?”

“Yes. Martin and Amy of the moon,” answered Martin.

Ever since he had been born, King John the Cute had seen the moon at night. And ever since he had been born, there has been a heart shape in the middle of the moon, with an arrow running through it. On one side of the arrow was the name MARTIN, and on the other was the name AMY.

John the Cute had seen this message on the moon since he had been born, and so never gave it a second thought. It had never occurred to him – nor to anyone he knew – to ask if there was a story behind the message. Now that he stood in front of the famous Martin and Amy in the Happily Ever After Home for the Married, he realized that it told of a story of True Love.

“Please tell me your story,” the king asked.

“I have a very lovely life, but it does not make a good story,” replied Amy. “Martin fell in love with me. I was hesitant. I did not know if his love was real. So Martin climbed up to the moon with a great, tall ladder – the moon is a lot bigger on the moon than when you’re on the ground because it is far far away… So Martin climbed on the moon and drew on its great, big sands a wonderful picture that showed how much he loved me. He is a true romantic.

“When he came back to me and pointed at the moon, my knees became weak, my heart became soft, my tears became plenty, and I fell in love with him forever and ever. We have been married ever since, living happily ever after.”

“That is a very romantic story,” King John the Cute was about to say more, but out of the corner of his eye, he saw the Martin was behaving skittishly, as if he had a secret. “Thank you for telling it to me, Amy,” rose the king. “Martin, may I speak to you privately?”

“Certainly.”

Martin and King John the Cute went to an unoccupied corridor. Once there, Martin said, “Your highness, the story she told you is the story everyone knows. But I did not want to lie to my king. It is not the complete story.”

“What is the complete story, then? Please, I am here seeking the truth. I seek any truth that comes my way.”

“The real story is this,” began Martin. “When I was young, around four or five years old, I realized that I was a romantic at heart. I always believed in big gestures to show people what I meant. I knew that when the day came and I would fall in love, I would want to perform a great big gesture, to show my love. Back then, I did not know who I would love, but I did know that I would love someone, and I did know that I would show her my love with a big, romantic gesture.

“So at the age of six I realized what that gesture should be: I would climb to the moon and in its vast sands, I would write a message of love.

“Until the age of ten I worked very hard to get a lot of money to buy the tallest ladder in the world. Once I had it, then for an hour every day, I climbed up to the moon and began etching my sketch in its sands. The moon is quite big from up close, as Amy said, it is deserts upon deserts, and mountains to boot.

“It took me ten years to sketch a heart on the moon. It took me two more years to sketch the arrow. It took me six months to sketch my name. And then I found Amy and fell in love. It took me only six months of climbing the ladder every night to sketch her name. And when I told her to look up at night, her knees became weak, her heart became soft, and her tears became plenty.

“But, you see, even though I sketched the big heart on the moon for her, I sketched it long before I met her or fell in love with her.

“And that is the true story of the heart on the moon.”

“Thank you, Martin, for telling me the truth. I have learned an important lesson.”

This has been the story of how King John the Cute learned that a romantic will be a romantic, even when he is alone.

(To be continued on Sunday…)

Meshuggener Smiley, by Refael Chalfine

Meshuggener Smiley, by Refael Chalfine

‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Soldier’s Gift

March 19, 2013

I’m serializing my fairy tale novel, Tickling Butterflies. A new fairy tale ‘episode’ is published every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

Here’s the story so far.

Enjoy the latest fairy tale:

The Soldier’s Gift

(Containing the respectful tale of a dutiful soldier’s gift.)

 

Once, during the days of King John the Cute’s quest to learn the secrets of the Land of All Legends, he had traveled to the Happily Ever After Home for the Married. There, desperately seeking to find people, creatures, or animals old enough to have seen the solution to mysteries, he approached anyone who seemed to possess answers to the mysteries that plagued the land.

On his second day at the Happily Ever After Home for the Married, King John the Cute saw a soldier eating breakfast with his wife. The soldier reminded King John the Cute of his trustworthy advisor, Colonel Stone, and so the king was drawn to the couple.

King John the Cute approached the couple. “My name is King John the Cute,” he introduced himself.

The woman and soldier bowed. Then, when the woman raised her eyes to and saw the king’s face, she said, “What a strange name. Why were you given that name?”

“That is a long story,” answered the king, “and my time is short. I am attempting to learn the secrets of the Land of All Legends. Could you tell me your story?”

The soldier obediently put down his fork and spoon and said, “Of course, your highness.”

Many years ago, began the soldier, back when we were both nineteen, I had met my beautiful wife and we had fallen in love. We were married and built a home for ourselves. But then a war broke out, and I was drafted into the service.

I went to war, and every three months I was allowed to return home for a weekend. We spent those weekends hugging each other and telling each other how much we missed our happy lives.

The war ended after two years, and my lovely wife believed that I would return forever. But my orders were different. I received a highly secret and highly important mission, which would require me to go into enemy land for a long, long time. I am not allowed, even today, to say what my mission was. And I was not allowed at the time to say how long I would be gone for.

And so, we spent our last weekend together for a long, long time.

When we said our goodbyes, I told my lovely wife, “I have left you a gift, a gift you will love. When my gift appears in its entirety, then and only then will I return.”

“What was that gift?” asked King John the Cute.

“I believe it is now my turn to tell the rest of the story,” said the wife.

A long, long time ago, a week after our last weekend together, I learned that there was a baby in my stomach. I knew there and then that this was the gift my brave husband had left me.

Although I was sad that my brave husband was gone, I was happy that I would soon have his child. And I believed that I understood his promise. When the baby came out, my brave husband would surely return.

Nine months later, I gave birth to a beautiful baby. As I nursed the baby, I waited for my husband to return. But he did not return. Then, seven days after I had given birth, I learned that there was another baby in my stomach.

My brave husband had left me quite a gift! He had left a slew of babies, waiting in line to grow in the stomach and be born.

In that way, I gave birth to a second baby, then nine months later to a third baby, and nine months later to a fourth baby. Years passed, and the gift my brave husband had left me kept coming and coming. And my husband was nowhere to be seen.

Then, after six years and exactly nine babies, my brave husband returned from his mission, saying that he has completed it successfully and that he has now been released from duty.

Ever since, we have raised our nine children. And now that they are all grown up, we have moved here to the Happily Ever After Home for the Married to live happily ever after.

This has been the surprising story, the wife said, of the wonderful gift my brave husband had left me.

King John the Cute said, “That is a wonderfully romantic story. Thank you for sharing it. I wonder if you know a man called Colonel Stone.”

“I can’t say that I have ever met the colonel,” said the dutiful soldier.

“Perhaps it was after your time,” said the King. “Have you perhaps heard of a place called Panache?”

“Yes, I have,” said the dutiful soldier. “The soldiers were saying it was a dangerous place.”

“Do you know where it is?” asked the king.

“I did once…” the dutiful soldier did his best to recall. “But try as I might right now, I cannot remember where it is, except… that it is somehow hidden from view in a most complex way. My king, I will take it upon myself to search my brain and rack my memories until I recall where Panache is. And I promise to you, that on the day you will most need to find Panache, I will be at your palace with the coordinates.”

King John the Cute put his hand on the soldier’s shoulder. “I can ask for no more than this. Thank you very much.”

This has been the dutiful tale of how a dutiful soldier made an important promise to King John the Cute.

 

(To be continued on Thursday…)

The Emoticon Generation by Guy Hasson

The Emoticon Generation

‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Flying Horses

March 17, 2013

I’m serializing my fairy tale novel, Tickling Butterflies. A new fairy tale ‘episode’ is published every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

Here’s the story so far.

Enjoy the latest fairy tale:

The Flying Horses

(Containing the sad and moving tale of the beginning of the end of the Land of All Legends.)

Once upon a time, hundreds of years ago, began once more the good witch Linda of Galinda, the Land of All Legends was a land of joy and happiness. It was a land of romance, of True Love, and of magic. Every day new creatures, great and small, appeared at the Border of Nothing, shimmering into life. Every few weeks a new land, a new island, a new ocean, or some piece of real estate shimmered into existence at the Border of Nothing. And all creatures, great and small, had their own stories.

That has not happened in six hundred years.

I will tell you now my own story of the time I realized that something had happened to the Land of All Legends, that the Land of All Legends was sick.

Back then, even though I was an evil witch, whenever I had some free time from doing evil deeds, I would come to the Border of Nothing and watch new creatures appear. It was a magnificent sight. I could watch it for hours and even for days, and never be bored. At the Border of Nothing, something always came from nothing, and that something was always different from that which had come before. I used to sit as closely as possible to the border itself, so that I could smell the newness of the creatures.

Then, one day, something that looked like a cloud shimmered into existence in the very air above me, smelling of hay and freshness. It was a massive white cloud that shimmered and glimmered, that flickered and glittered, and all the time grew greater and greater. It was a cloud unlike any cloud, and it was as big as a town.

Something about that cloud seemed not cloudy at all. I squinted, but it was too far above me.

I activated my wand and flew up to get a closer look. At the same time, the glittering cloud flew down towards me.

I was not afraid. But as the cloud approached, I could see that it was not a cloud at all. Just as a cloud is created magically out of thousands and thousands of tiny drops of water, this massive cloud was created out of thousands and thousands of normal-sized flying horses. The sheer number of them caused them to appear like a single cloud. The fact that they all flapped their wings gave a glimmering appearance to the cloud.

The flying horses flew in my direction, and passed me. More and more horses were to my left, to my right, beneath me and above me, flying in the same direction. Then they began to swirl and twirl around me, hundreds of flying horses playing with me, having fun. These horses had just been born, and it seemed that they were born for fun’s sakes.

We played for hours in the air. In fact, it was the first time I realized I might not be an evil witch. The few hours I had spent with the horses had caused me to turn from an evil witch to a not-so-evil witch.

After hours of fun, the cloud of flying horses began to fly in another direction, towards the main land. For a moment, I could see them come down behind a mountain. I waited for them to climb out, but for many minutes they did not.

Curious, I flew over the ridge and looked down.

The flying horses all lay on the ground, a field of flying horses lying down. And all of them were dead. In the middle, I saw the Death stand there, gray and grim.

I flew down and asked Death, “Why, Death, why did you kill them?”

“I do not know,” said Death. “They were all on my list.”

“But they had only just been born! They still had no story to tell! They had not lived their lives yet!”

“I do not have an answer,” said Death. “I have never had a creature on my list that had just been born. And now thousands lay dead. I do not know why they were on my list.”

At that moment, I could see that Death was as confused and shocked as I was. Something strange had happened, something that had appalled even Death himself.

Death left the scene without further word. And I remained there, among that which remained of my new friends, and I cried for two days and two nights. That event had turned me from being a not-so-evil witch to a slightly good witch. A hundred years later, I would be a pretty good witch. And a hundred years after that, I would become a good witch.

But as far as my experience is concerned that has been the first incident which marked the sickness that has grabbed hold of the Land of All Legends. Ever since that time, no new creatures had come into being from the Border of Nothing. No new continents had formed. No new oceans, no new rivers, no new creatures have shimmered into existence from the nothing.

And ever since that day, Death has been claiming more and more souls, and the land is so much emptier today than it had been six hundred years ago. Once, there were creatures everywhere you turned. Now, there are many creatures in the cities, and only a few creatures in-between.

This has been the sad and moving tale of the day I realized that the Land of All Legends was sick.

Linda of Galinda looked down, and saw that King John the Cute was crying. She let him cry for twenty more minutes. Then, he stopped.

“Thank you for sharing that tale with me,” said King John the Cute. “It is a sad story indeed.”

“These are the only stories I had to tell that have anything to do with your quest.”

“Do you not even know the village of Panache? It is a village of evil witches.”

Linda of Galinda shook her head. “I have never heard of it. I am sorry.”

“Thank you,” King John the Cute rose to his feet. “Thank you very much.”

With that, King John the Cute wiped away his tears and continued on his quest.

 

(To be continued on Tuesday…)

The Emoticon Generation by Guy Hasson

The Emoticon Generation

Free Fiction: Googlenomics

April 15, 2012

I’m an SF author. I come up with ideas. Ideas about the next technology, where things might go in the next few years and how it will change the world. A while ago I came up with an idea called ‘Googlenomics’ that deals with how economy is going to look completely different in the next few years.

As much as I like getting published by SF magazines, I also like my stories to be relevant and influence conversation, and SF magazines have become irrelevant over the last few years, as far as influencing anything in the national zeitgeist. So rather than write a story about Googlenomics, I wrote a fake article, which I published on April Fools in my blog in Gamasutra, where it had a better chance of reaching the audience it was meant for.

So here is the piece, reprinted here.

Who knows, maybe the technology for Googlenomics is already being developed somewhere right now…

Googlenomics Is Coming

INTRODUCING GOOGLENOMICS

By Guy Hasson

I’ve wrestled with myself about whether I should write this post or not. I’ve written it three times, deleted it, emptied the recycle bin, rewrote it. Revealing secure information may get me sued, after all. Revealing this information may have much wider repercussions. But you know what? To hell with it. This is something that should be stopped. I’m not sure anything can stop it, but the first criteria for change is getting the information out there. I’m typing this, publishing it, and not looking back.

I consulted no one but my close friends before publishing it. I do it completely of my own accord and at no one’s behest. Small warning: You’re about to get very angry.

How I Got the Information

I received the information through one of my best friends. I won’t reveal his identity, I’ll just say that I know him for more than fifteen years and I trust him completely. Let’s call him Charley. Charley works for Tru$t, a Chicago-based start-up company you’ve probably never heard of unless you know someone who works there or who finances it.

Tru$t is situated in downtown Chicago, taking only half a floor in Aon Center, on the side overlooking Two Prudential Plaza. It has been around for the last two years, dealing mainly with research. It’s one of those companies that fly under the news radar, because it doesn’t offer the public anything, nor does it want to. In fact, it wishes to remain anonymous until it comes out with its final product.

The Information

The information I received is in the form of emails, leaked to me by Charley, containing inside discussions as well as ongoing negotiations between Tru$t and Google.

What Tru$t wants from Google is to buy the data it has accumulated and is still accumulating about our daily and minutely habits. Google said ‘no’, but when they heard what Tru$t was about, they did not close the door, but kept on listening. Just to be clear: they hadn’t said ‘yes’ yet, but they hadn’t told them to go jump in the river, either. Now bear with me, because that is the least maddening part of the story.

What Tru$t wants from Google is all information about our habits: what we click on, what we don’t click on, what we search for, what we buy, some of the content of our emails, what videos we see and search for on YouTube, who our friends are, what we find important, what we like, and more.. Now the reason Tru$t wants this information is also the reason this deal might just happen. Tru$t wants to revolutionize commerce, first in the internet and then outside it. Tru$t has a long-term plan and the experts and research to pull it off. Having read hundreds of emails on the subject, as well as the documents attached, my mind keeps calling it only one thing: Googlenomics.

The Path to Googlenomics

Stage #1: Tru$t is going to use Google’s data (or someone else’s if the deal falls through, but Google is their first choice) to create social algorithms that will tell Tru$t exactly how much certain products are worth to each of us.

What does this mean? It means that if I’m an artist and I want to buy a Photoshop license, it’s worth more to me than it is to my neighbor who would just like to have the same program for fun. So I would be willing to pay $5,000 in order to be able to work as a freelancer, while my neighbor would only spend $100 on it or he just wouldn’t buy it. Although today we pay the same prices for most products, every product is actually worth something different to different people. It’s also worth something different to the same person at different times (For example: I’m willing to pay a lot more for a tire for my car if I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat and there’s only one shop that’s milking me dry). ‘Worth’ in this case is defined as the maximum price one would actually pay for a product at a certain moment in time.

Stage #2: Tru$t introduces its product to monopolies. For example, Microsoft. Microsoft has products only it sells, and it sells them at a fixed price to everyone, regardless of how much they’re actually worth to the buyers.

Tru$t’s product will make sure that if you buy a Microsoft product (for example), the price you see is the price that product is worth to you. This means that when I try to buy a certain product, I’ll see price X, and when my friend tries to buy the same product, he’ll see a totally different price. We each see the price we’re willing to pay for that product. And since we can’t get this product elsewhere (it’s a monopoly, after all), we either pay the price it’s worth to us, or we don’t get the product. There’s no shopping around. Another example: Do you really want to play Mass Effect 3 (or, more realistically, when this product comes out, Mass Effect 4)? You just might pay $2,000 or $3,000 for it. Just because you want it badly.

A different price for each customer is so outside our realm of understanding that Tru$t has prepared a document that explains its value. Here is an excerpt, from the document they sent to Google (although they decided to rewrite it afterwards). Here’s how they explain the value of what they offer:

The current system of fixed prices hurts the suppliers financially. With the new system of personality-based prices, our research shows that any supplier can, at the very least, triple their revenues.

Two cases fall under personality-based prices.

Case #1: A customer is willing to pay more than the asked-for price.

Under the current fixed-prices system, the supplier is hurt financially, because he loses the difference between the asked-for price and what the customer is actually willing to pay. With personality-based prices, the customer pays exactly as much as s/he believes the product is worth.

Case #2: A customer is unwilling to pay the asked-for price.

In this case, the customer would like to use the supplier’s product, but does not wish to invest the entire asked-for price. Under the current fixed-prices system, the supplier loses that customer and his money. With personality-based prices, the customer is offered exactly the price he would be willing to pay in order to buy the product. In this case, the customer pays the supplier a sum that in the current, outdated system he would not have paid.

Any supplier using our service will gain additional profits in both instances, and see his/her income skyrocket.

So: We’re going to pay more for things we really want and less for things we don’t. The companies using Tru$t’s products will see their profits “skyrocket”, while Tru$t will get a certain percentage of the income.

(A small note: What did they mean by personality-based pricing. Sometimes how much you’re willing to pay for something isn’t just determined by how much you need it, but by your personality, as well. Are you a haggler who will only pay when prices are down? You’ll pay less under their system. Are you a person who lets other people walk over him? You’ll pay more.)

This by itself will change our entire economy (anything from the way we buy games, monetization in social games, prices in online shops, to prices in actual shops, where you have to identify yourself to buy a product). There are monopolies all around us giving us products we like but don’t really need (Apple anyone?), but there are also monopolies that give us things we can’t do without (water, electricity). How much are water and electricity worth to you? How much will you really pay to have them in your home?

Which brings us to the next stage:

Stage #3: Tru$t is already preparing for the time in which competing companies will appear in the market.

Suppose Tru$t is first on the market with this type of product. Its success and economic potential will mean that other companies will no doubt crop up, creating their own social algorithms and coming up with similar products. So a few years after Tru$t’s initial arrival at the market, it expects to see more such companies appear.

Tru$t is preparing itself for that occasion. Its economists have recommended that when there is more than one such company, Tru$t should expand its product to companies that do not have a monopoly. For example, if Tru$t is alone in the market and works only with McDonald’s, its algorithm will say a lunch is worth $40 to a certain customer on a certain day. But that same customer can cross the street to a Burger King and get the same product for a cheaper price. But if McDonald’s is working with Tru$t and Burger King is working with another social algorithm company, the two products will cost practically the same for the same person on that same day. It’s not worth it for that person to cross the street in search of a better price. So you see, everyone earns more: both companies working with the social algorithm companies as well as both competing social algorithm companies who earn a percentage of said income. Who loses? You know who.

A Massive Game Changer

This is a global game changer. Every aspect of our economy will be transformed, and in a few years will never be the same. Our economy is based on fixed prices with small fluctuations here and there. The new economy will have prices that fluctuate from person to person – a person based economy, or even a personality-based economy. The social algorithm companies will have a hand in (and profit from) almost every economic transaction in the computerized world.

Like I said, I’m not sure this train can be stopped. Even though I’ve released the information ahead of time, Charlie and I differ about whether this knowledge will help change things in any way. I guess we’ll see.

So. Now you know. Googlenomics is coming. What are you going to do about it?


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