Tourney at the Hanging Gardens (finale)

Practice

The palm reader couldn’t find his friends. He knew he was their friend because he had read that information right off his own third hand, of the four that he had. How he got four was a mystery. One day the second pair was just there, one scratching his back while the rest stretched into the air with a morning yawn.

There was no one to mentor him in the skill of palm reading; it was just something he learned by immersion, like someone dumped into a foreign land adjusting to the language. Almost everyone had palms, so it seemed strange nobody else responded to that pressure the way he naturally did, by struggling to understand them. Continue reading

Tourney at the Hanging Gardens (part three)

Multitasking

Babylon’s sky was the only sight humanity would ever see that could truly convince them they had left their world of origin. Even the celestial ocean swimming with stars was still their world, despite being inhospitable. The hanging gardens themselves could be felt and thus understood, but they were just grit forced deep into a wound and healed over. The realm itself was foreign, and they were all immortal because they didn’t belong there.

As such the endless fields of orange and gold clouds, while breathtaking and sometimes even breathkeeping, eventually wore on the soul like the unblinking eyes of a disapproving parent. The only refuge was heading for the core of the gardens where there were walls on all sides and mindless chatter about nothing could bring them back to a sense of normalcy. Except the weather. They couldn’t make soothing small talk about that, as Babylon didn’t have any. Continue reading

Tourney at the Hanging Gardens (part one)

Atlantis wasn’t the only advanced civilization to suffer a sudden and precipitous fall; there was also Ys, Norumbega, Arcadia, and others… at least according to the lore of the hit video game Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Jenny Handerly (who goes by Handzy online) is also seeking her own path to paradise, through the game.  If her ragtag team of friends can win the next Hanging Gardens tournament she’ll be set toward the future of her dreams, but there are plenty of obstacles in the way, in the gardens and well beyond them in the ruthless, youth-obsessed, and often bigoted world of E-sports.

Tourney at the Hanging Gardens

by

Blaine Arcade

Tutorial

The party had journeyed deep into the caverns of the hanging gardens of Babylon. It was not a place that knew true darkness, so no matter how far down they went they would always be able to see their way. Still, it was as dim and cool as it ever got in their paradise, and it had them all on edge.

They hadn’t constructed the gardens, and they didn’t know any of those who had, so all of the small questions about its functioning were allowed to fester and grow into giant frightening shadows in the back of their minds. Continue reading

Mysterious Americana Catalog: ‘Seat D6’

M-A-C (4): ‘Seat D6’

Category: whatsit

Collection Date: (REDACTED), 1978

Collection location: (REDACTED), California

Collection Report: The initial incident occurred during a midnight showing of (REDACTED), when a young woman saw a different film than the one she purchased a ticket for.

This film starred one Harthrup Templeton, a person who does not exist in any publicly available records. Her confusion did not interrupt the showing, as the false movie she witnessed had an identical runtime to the one seen by those around her. It also had matching emotional beats, causing her to laugh at the same time as the other patrons; the same goes for gasping in awe. Continue reading

Mysterious Americana Catalog: ‘Rebirth Dunker’

M-A-C (3): ‘Rebirth Dunker’

Category: whatsit

Collection Date: March 13th, 1982

Collection location: (REDACTED), Iowa

Collection Report: Luckily the MAC was discovered just before what would have been a disastrous installation at a county fair. It is a combination item: wooden dunk tank, collapsing seat, target on metal lever, and a weighted ball. All sections must be present and used in conjunction for the anomalous effect.

During a ‘test dunk’, the nephew of (REDACTED) threw the ball and submerged his uncle completely in normal water taken from their well. When the 56 year old man emerged he displayed several unusual symptoms:

total amnesia including loss of language (thought full capacity returned by the next day), infantile crying, bloating, softening of the skin, general and extreme weakness, and recession of the teeth into the gums. Continue reading

Mysterious Americana Catalog: ‘Fishy Boot’

M-A-C (2): ‘fishy boot’

Category: doohickey

Collection Date: November 27th, 2000

Collection Location: (REDACTED), Mississippi

Collection Report: Initial instances of the MAC are likely not recorded. MAC is a left gray snakeskin laced boot with bluish trim that has a habit of being fished out of bodies of water by anglers.

When thrown back the boot seems capable of transporting to completely separate and disconnected bodies of water, but remains in the state of Mississippi. One angler reported catching the boot three times in a row even after moving significantly upstream. Continue reading

Mysterious Americana Catalog: ‘Brainy Baseball’

M-A-C (1): ‘brainy baseball’

Category: doohickey

Collection Date: August 3rd, 1975

Collection Location: (REDACTED), Arizona

Collection Report: A children’s baseball game was interrupted by the strange behavior of the ball used. Whenever thrown it veered unnaturally out of the way of the bat and into the catcher’s mitt.

The crowd gathered around it, which quickly devolved into destructive behavior. A volunteered handyman’s saw was used to cut the ball in half, resulting in a small puddle of amber leather-scented fluid.

The baseball’s interior was brain matter molded, or grown, into a spherical shape. After the splitting no other signs of life or intelligence were observed. One of our collectors was in attendance and, having worked as a high school science teacher, offered to take it in ‘for testing’. The game resumed with a spare ball. Continue reading

Blaine’s Trinovella Blurbs

Trinovella is a term of my own invention to describe trilogies of novellas, each of which tells a complete story, but which can be taken with the other two to form a novel of sorts.  Here are their descriptions and links:

The Justice Backers Series

Justice Backers, Justice Backers: Secret Shuffle, and Justice Backers: The Lichen Calls

It’s the mid 2010’s, justice systems grow ever more rigid as crime takes to the internet.  With a little help from a crowdfunding website, a newly forged team of superheroes is looking to fill in the gaps, and provide their backers with some cool merch along the way!

Get all the updates straight from each hero as they take on vicious trolls, a trading card blackmail ring, and an ancient fungal entity with its own world wide web in this trilogy of novellas that also work together as a book. Continue reading

Challenging Applause (finale)

(back to part one)

(reading time: 47 minutes)

Sneak the Applause

Little Wars was underway, and both Forward Commander Snaps and Lord Ludmenti were missing it. The Challenging Applause that they had worked so hard to assemble, and actually assembled at the last second, was now fully deployed upon the battle board, inspiring and commanding Zoukas’s volunteered myrmidons against Tarkower’s crystallized shards of wit and their pocket Atlases.

They’d had precious little time for recovery after their scuffle with the Wonderland expectoration. Felicity was promptly refilled with flower petals to replace missing wads of cotton and sewn back up. Hans accepted no treatment for his loss of quills, and Momotaro shrugged off the bruises in his fruity flesh. Root Beer and Nero had partaken of the ‘drink me’ concoction and returned to their normal proportions. Continue reading

Challenging Applause (part three)

(back to part one)

(reading time: 1 hour, 3 minutes)

Scatter the Applause

It wasn’t hard for her two lieutenants to guess where the Olympian went directly from under Formaldeheidi’s dress, as within the hour the entire country knew the situation. Minimil was put on lockdown. All traffic in and out that was not Foraging and Reconnaissance was ceased. The main overhead lantern was given special oil so it burned with a reddish alarm flame. All citizens were encouraged to get doubly indoors and pack their most essential belongings should they need to evacuate.

Their escape route was not mentioned however, so many of the citizens assumed they would be alright. Minimil was a country of refugees where not many were born who were not myrmidons, and all the ones who were came from Queen Zoukas alone. Confidence was not placed in parents, or even in the goddess, but in Forward Commander Snaps and Lord Gumbonero Ludmenti of the twin handfuls, of the freshly announced Challenging Applause. Continue reading