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Thread: Awesome Goddamn Short Stories

  1. #11
    Darth Small Macheath's Avatar
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    I don't know where this would be more appropriate. I randomly happened upon this guy's description of a recurring nightmare on Reddit, and it gave me chills.

    I had a recurring nightmare when I was a kid that I feel was pretty much terrifying, and it had a similar "resolution" one day out of the blue, then never came back. Interesting that that's apparently a phenomenon.

    The kite dreams started when I was 4 or 5, and continued until I was in my early 20s.

    It was a standard looking, diamond shaped, yellow kite. It had wooden support rods and a 6ft long string hanging from the bottom. At the end of the string were 3 bows. The top two were white and the bottom on was the darkest black you could imagine. It was never being flown by anyone. The black bow would always just barely touch the ground. For some reason, the sight of this kite terrified me. I had no idea why until almost 2 decades after the first dream.

    When I was young, I'd sometimes dream that I was in school and would happen to glance out the window and there would be the kite. Sometimes it would pass by the window. Sometimes it would just be in the middle of a large, grass field, all alone, with that black bow slightly fluttering on the ground. It always kept it's distance, but I could feel it always "looking" at me. It did not have eyes.

    As I got older, the kite showed up in almost every dream I had. Work dreams, driving dreams, flying dreams, bizarre dreams, and so on and so forth. Always in the distance, always watching me.

    The last year of the dream was the worst. The kite started getting closer. It seemed like it was finally getting comfortable enough to approach me. My fear of this kite was just as intense as it was when I was 5 and the fact that it was slowly getting closer and closer to me in my dreams terrified me even more. Eventually it got so close I could hear it. It made that fluttering sound that kites make from the wind, but it was NEVER windy in my dreams. That only spooked me even more.

    The last kite dream was the worse. In the dream I was in a large white room. There were no lights, but it was illuminated in the room. No doors or windows either. Nothing at all all, except me and the yellow kite. It was about 40 feet away and just floating there. I never was in an isolated situation with this kite before. This was completely new to me. I knew I was dreaming and screamed to the kite "what do you want!" I never spoke to the kite before, but I guess I had enough. Of course it didnt respond, so I just said to myself "fuck this, I'm yanking this thing to the ground". I was surprised by my courage and the closer I walked to to kite, the more powerful I felt, that is, until I got about 5 feet away.

    This was the closest i've ever been to this kite. 2 decades of dreams and here I was, 5 feet from my fear. I slowly walked up to it and as I reach for the string to yank this kite down, I look at the bows. The two white ones were perfectly tied. Easily the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I don't know why, but I got comfort from them. I followed the string down to the black bow. The thing is, it wasn't a bow. It was a jet black hand, almost like a shadow, coming out of the ground. I woke up screaming.

    That was my last kite dream. 20 fucking years this thing was with me. 20 years of me not knowing that "black bow" was a hand. I have no idea what it was or what it wanted or what it meant. But I haven't had a kite dream ever since. The sound of kites still send shivers up my spine though.

  2. #12
    Darth Small Macheath's Avatar
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    "They're Made Out of Meat" by Terry Bisson:

    "They're made out of meat."

    "Meat?"

    "Meat. They're made out of meat."

    "Meat?"

    "There's no doubt about it. We picked up several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, and probed them all the way through. They're completely meat."

    "That's impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars?"

    "They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don't come from them. The signals come from machines."

    "So who made the machines? That's who we want to contact."

    "They made the machines. That's what I'm trying to tell you. Meat made the machines."

    "That's ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You're asking me to believe in sentient meat."

    "I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in that sector and they're made out of meat."

    "Maybe they're like the orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that goes through a meat stage."

    "Nope. They're born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their life spans, which didn't take long. Do you have any idea what's the life span of meat?"

    "Spare me. Okay, maybe they're only part meat. You know, like the weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside."

    "Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads, like the weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They're meat all the way through."

    "No brain?"

    "Oh, there's a brain all right. It's just that the brain is made out of meat! That's what I've been trying to tell you."

    "So ... what does the thinking?"

    "You're not understanding, are you? You're refusing to deal with what I'm telling you. The brain does the thinking. The meat."

    "Thinking meat! You're asking me to believe in thinking meat!"

    "Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you beginning to get the picture or do I have to start all over?"

    "Omigod. You're serious then. They're made out of meat."

    "Thank you. Finally. Yes. They are indeed made out of meat. And they've been trying to get in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years."

    "Omigod. So what does this meat have in mind?"

    "First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the Universe, contact other sentiences, swap ideas and information. The usual."

    "We're supposed to talk to meat."

    "That's the idea. That's the message they're sending out by radio. 'Hello. Anyone out there. Anybody home.' That sort of thing."

    "They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?"

    "Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat."

    "I thought you just told me they used radio."

    "They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat, it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat."

    "Omigod. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. So what do you advise?"

    "Officially or unofficially?"

    "Both."

    "Officially, we are required to contact, welcome and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in this quadrant of the Universe, without prejudice, fear or favor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget the whole thing."

    "I was hoping you would say that."

    "It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact with meat?"

    "I agree one hundred percent. What's there to say? 'Hello, meat. How's it going?' But will this work? How many planets are we dealing with here?"

    "Just one. They can travel to other planets in special meat containers, but they can't live on them. And being meat, they can only travel through C space. Which limits them to the speed of light and makes the possibility of their ever making contact pretty slim. Infinitesimal, in fact."

    "So we just pretend there's no one home in the Universe."

    "That's it."

    "Cruel. But you said it yourself, who wants to meet meat? And the ones who have been aboard our vessels, the ones you probed? You're sure they won't remember?"

    "They'll be considered crackpots if they do. We went into their heads and smoothed out their meat so that we're just a dream to them."

    "A dream to meat! How strangely appropriate, that we should be meat's dream."

    "And we marked the entire sector unoccupied."

    "Good. Agreed, officially and unofficially. Case closed. Any others? Anyone interesting on that side of the galaxy?"

    "Yes, a rather shy but sweet hydrogen core cluster intelligence in a class nine star in G445 zone. Was in contact two galactic rotations ago, wants to be friendly again."

    "They always come around."

    "And why not? Imagine how unbearably, how unutterably cold the Universe would be if one were all alone ..."

  3. #13
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  4. #14
    Darth Small Macheath's Avatar
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    Somebody pasted this into a TIL on reddit, and it is apparently an excerpt from the book "Sled Driver" by former SR-71 pilot Brian Shul:

    I have taken the liberty to correct some punctuation, because I suspect it was typed in by hand by some idiot on the internet and I'm anal.

    There were a lot of things we couldn't do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact. People often asked us if, because of this fact, it was fun to fly the jet. Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane. Intense, maybe even cerebral. But there was one day in our Sled experience when we would have to say that it was pure fun to be the fastest guys out there, at least for a moment.

    It occurred when Walt and I were flying our final training sortie. We needed 100 hours in the jet to complete our training and attain Mission Ready status. Somewhere over Colorado we had passed the century mark. We had made the turn in Arizona and the jet was performing flawlessly. My gauges were wired in the front seat and we were starting to feel pretty good about ourselves, not only because we would soon be flying real missions but because we had gained a great deal of confidence in the plane in the past ten months. Ripping across the barren deserts 80,000 feet below us, I could already see the coast of California from the Arizona border. I was, finally, after many humbling months of simulators and study, ahead of the jet.

    I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for Walter in the back seat. There he was, with no really good view of the incredible sights before us and tasked with monitoring four different radios. This was good practice for him for when we began flying real missions and when a priority transmission from headquarters could be vital. It had been difficult, too, for me to relinquish control of the radios, as during my entire flying career I had controlled my own transmissions. But it was part of the division of duties in this plane and I had adjusted to it. I still insisted on talking on the radio while we were on the ground, however. Walt was so good at many things, but he couldn't match my expertise at sounding smooth on the radios, a skill that had been honed sharply with years in fighter squadrons where the slightest radio miscue was grounds for beheading. He understood that and allowed me that luxury. Just to get a sense of what Walt had to contend with, I pulled the radio toggle switches and monitored the frequencies along with him. The predominant radio chatter was from Los Angeles Center, far below us, controlling daily traffic in their sector. While they had us on their scope (albeit briefly), we were in uncontrolled airspace and normally would not talk to them unless we needed to descend into their airspace.

    We listened as the shaky voice of a lone Cessna pilot asked Center for a read-out of his ground speed. Center replied: "November Charlie 175, I'm showing you at ninety knots on the ground." Now the thing to understand about Center controllers was that whether they were talking to a rookie pilot in a Cessna, or to Air Force One, they always spoke in the exact same calm, deep, professional tone that made one feel important. I referred to it as the "Houston Center voice." I have always felt that after years of seeing documentaries on this country's space program and listening to the calm and distinct voice of the Houston controllers, that all other controllers since then wanted to sound like that and that they basically did. And it didn't matter what sector of the country we would be flying in, it always seemed like the same guy was talking. Over the years that tone of voice had become somewhat of a comforting sound to pilots everywhere. Conversely, over the years, pilots always wanted to ensure that, when transmitting, they sounded like Chuck Yeager, or at least like John Wayne. Better to die than sound bad on the radios.

    Just moments after the Cessna's inquiry, a Twin Beech piped up on frequency, in a rather superior tone, asking for his ground speed in the Beech. "I have you at one hundred and twenty-five knots of ground speed." Boy, I thought, the Beechcraft really must think he is dazzling his Cessna brethren.

    Then out of the blue, a navy F-18 pilot out of NAS Lemoore came up on frequency. You knew right away it was a Navy jock because he sounded very cool on the radios. "Center, Dusty 52 ground speed check." Before Center could reply, I'm thinking to myself, hey, Dusty 52 has a ground speed indicator in that million-dollar cockpit, so why is he asking Center for a read-out? Then I got it, ol' Dusty here is making sure that every bug smasher from Mount Whitney to the Mojave knows what true speed is. He's the fastest dude in the valley today, and he just wants everyone to know how much fun he is having in his new Hornet. And the reply, always with that same, calm, voice, with more distinct alliteration than emotion: "Dusty 52, Center, we have you at 620 on the ground." And I thought to myself, is this a ripe situation, or what? As my hand instinctively reached for the mic button, I had to remind myself that Walt was in control of the radios. Still, I thought, it must be done in mere seconds we'll be out of the sector and the opportunity will be lost. That Hornet must die, and die now. I thought about all of our Sim training and how important it was that we developed well as a crew and knew that to jump in on the radios now would destroy the integrity of all that we had worked toward becoming. I was torn.

    Somewhere, 13 miles above Arizona, there was a pilot screaming inside his space helmet. Then, I heard it: the click of the mic button from the back seat. That was the very moment that I knew Walter and I had become a crew. Very professionally, and with no emotion, Walter spoke: "Los Angeles Center, Aspen 20, can you give us a ground speed check?" There was no hesitation, and the reply came as if it was an everyday request.

    "Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots across the ground." I think it was the forty-two knots that I liked the best, so accurate and proud was Center to deliver that information without hesitation, and you just knew he was smiling. But the precise point at which I knew that Walt and I were going to be really good friends for a long time was when he keyed the mic once again to say, in his most fighter-pilot-like voice: "Ah, Center, much thanks, we're showing closer to nineteen hundred on the money."

    For a moment Walter was a god. And we finally heard a little crack in the armor of the Houston Center voice when L.A. came back with, "Roger that Aspen. Your equipment is probably more accurate than ours. You boys have a good one." It all had lasted for just moments, but in that short, memorable sprint across the southwest the Navy had been flamed, all mortal airplanes on frequency were forced to bow before the King of Speed, and more importantly, Walter and I had crossed the threshold of being a crew. A fine day's work. We never heard another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast. For just one day, it truly was fun being the fastest guys out there.

  5. #15
    Tiny Dancer Drewbie's Avatar
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    I've seen that copy/pasted on Reddit half a dozen times and I read it every single time.

  6. #16
    Darth Small Macheath's Avatar
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    First time I'd ever seen it. There's this one, too, from the same book:

    As a former SR-71 pilot, and a professional keynote speaker, the question I'm most often asked is "How fast would that SR-71 fly?" I can be assured of hearing that question several times at any event I attend. It's an interesting question, given the aircraft's proclivity for speed, but there really isn't one number to give, as the jet would always give you a little more speed if you wanted it to. It was common to see 35 miles a minute. Because we flew a programmed Mach number on most missions, and never wanted to harm the plane in any way, we never let it run out to any limits of temperature or speed. Thus, each SR-71 pilot had his own individual “high” speed that he saw at some point on some mission. I saw mine over Libya when Khadafy fired two missiles my way, and max power was in order. Let’s just say that the plane truly loved speed and effortlessly took us to Mach numbers we hadn’t previously seen.

    So it was with great surprise, when at the end of one of my presentations, someone asked, “what was the slowest you ever flew the Blackbird?” This was a first. After giving it some thought, I was reminded of a story that I had never shared before, and relayed the following.

    I was flying the SR-71 out of RAF Mildenhall, England , with my back-seater, Walt Watson; we were returning from a mission over Europe and the Iron Curtain when we received a radio transmission from home base. As we scooted across Denmark in three minutes, we learned that a small RAF base in the English countryside had requested an SR-71 fly-past. The air cadet commander there was a former Blackbird pilot, and thought it would be a motivating moment for the young lads to see the mighty SR-71 perform a low approach. No problem, we were happy to do it. After a quick aerial refueling over the North Sea , we proceeded to find the small airfield.

    Walter had a myriad of sophisticated navigation equipment in the back seat, and began to vector me toward the field. Descending to subsonic speeds, we found ourselves over a densely wooded area in a slight haze. Like most former WWII British airfields, the one we were looking for had a small tower and little surrounding infrastructure. Walter told me we were close and that I should be able to see the field, but I saw nothing.

    Nothing but trees as far as I could see in the haze. We got a little lower, and I pulled the throttles back from 325 knots we were at. With the gear up, anything under 275 was just uncomfortable. Walt said we were practically over the field—yet; there was nothing in my windscreen. I banked the jet and started a gentle circling maneuver in hopes of picking up anything that looked like a field. Meanwhile, below, the cadet commander had taken the cadets up on the catwalk of the tower in order to get a prime view of the fly-past. It was a quiet, still day with no wind and partial gray overcast.

    Walter continued to give me indications that the field should be below us but in the overcast and haze, I couldn't see it.. The longer we continued to peer out the window and circle, the slower we got. With our power back, the awaiting cadets heard nothing. I must have had good instructors in my flying career, as something told me I better cross-check the gauges. As I noticed the airspeed indicator slide below 160 knots, my heart stopped and my adrenalin-filled left hand pushed two throttles full forward. At this point we weren't really flying, but were falling in a slight bank. Just at the moment that both afterburners lit with a thunderous roar of flame (and what a joyous feeling that was) the aircraft fell into full view of the shocked observers on the tower.

    Shattering the still quiet of that morning, they now had 107 feet of fire-breathing titanium in their face as the plane leveled and accelerated, in full burner, on the tower side of the infield, closer than expected, maintaining what could only be described as some sort of ultimate knife-edge pass. Quickly reaching the field boundary, we proceeded back to Mildenhall without incident. We didn't say a word for those next 14 minutes.

    After landing, our commander greeted us, and we were both certain he was reaching for our wings. Instead, he heartily shook our hands and said the commander had told him it was the greatest SR-71 fly-past he had ever seen, especially how we had surprised them with such a precise maneuver that could only be described as breathtaking. He said that some of the cadet’s hats were blown off and the sight of the plan form of the plane in full afterburner dropping right in front of them was unbelievable. Walt and I both understood the concept of “breathtaking” very well that morning, and sheepishly replied that they were just excited to see our low approach.

    As we retired to the equipment room to change from space suits to flight suits, we just sat there-we hadn't spoken a word since “the pass.” Finally, Walter looked at me and said, “One hundred fifty-six knots. What did you see?” Trying to find my voice, I stammered, “One hundred fifty-two.” We sat in silence for a moment. Then Walt said, “Don’t ever do that to me again!” And I never did.

    A year later, Walter and I were having lunch in the Mildenhall Officer’s club, and overheard an officer talking to some cadets about an SR-71 fly-past that he had seen one day. Of course, by now the story included kids falling off the tower and screaming as the heat of the jet singed their eyebrows. Noticing our HABU patches, as we stood there with lunch trays in our hands, he asked us to verify to the cadets that such a thing had occurred. Walt just shook his head and said, “It was probably just a routine low approach; they're pretty impressive in that plane.” Impressive indeed.

    Little did I realize after relaying this experience to my audience that day that it would become one of the most popular and most requested stories. It’s ironic that people are interested in how slow the world’s fastest jet can fly. Regardless of your speed, however, it’s always a good idea to keep that cross-check up…and keep your Mach up, too.

  7. #17
    Tiny Dancer Drewbie's Avatar
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    Seen that one a few times as well. Both are just amazing. I love when I story can actually accelerate your heart a bit.

  8. #18
    Tiny Dancer Drewbie's Avatar
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    Also, did you notice the first story was posted by "SR71bot"? Since it gets posted and upvoted each time an SR71 story hits, someone got smart to steal that sweet, sweet karma.

  9. #19
    Darth Small Macheath's Avatar
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    "All You Zombies," written by Robert Heinlein after right around four tabs of acid.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  10. #20
    Darth Small Macheath's Avatar
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    This is a creepypasta that I just read and found interesting, entitled "Barricade":

    I’m about to do a very stupid thing.

    I know it’s stupid. I know it. But I don’t think I have a choice anymore. And I have to do it now, while I have the nerve and the will and while my hands are still steady.

    I’m sick. I’ve always been sick. Some days are better than others. When I was young my parents prayed that it might just be a precursor of the onset of epilepsy, but the seizures never came. I just… can’t trust myself.

    I see things. On some days, I can hear them and smell them too. I should say that I used to see them. After being on every possible combination of pills three doctors could come up with, I thought we’d finally found the right chemical key for my misfiring brain. It’s been six years of stability and relative normalcy, trading a halfway house for a tiny studio apartment, a collection of mostly tolerable side-effects, and a steady job. I realize this probably sounds dull for most people, but I cherished every moment of that achingly simple monotony.

    It went bad all at once

    Friday morning. I awake from the first dream I’ve had in years, a vivid phantasmagoria of colors and sounds, and begrudgingly leave my perfect and sterile clean apartment for the short walk to work.

    I notice it as soon as the elevator opens, the unearthly stillness and silence in the heavy air. The front door of the complex is hanging open, unlocked and swinging gently, the faintest trace of smoke drifting inward in the damp breeze. Outside, the wide streets are empty and bare. My mouth is suddenly dry and I rock back on my heels, cresting a crippling wave of panic and déjà vu.

    This particular hallucination, the quiet and the smoke and the emptiness, was always my most frequent; I haven’t had it in six years but the familiarity of it stings. I shut my eyes tightly, and jab my hand at the panels of chipped buttons. Moments later I am on the top floor, walking half blind the path to my door with practiced familiarity. Once inside I sit on my bed, gripping tight the handle of my cane, eyes closed, breathing slow and steady. Focused. Calm. Clear. I open my eyes.

    I can’t be outside like this, I know this. I was hit by a car when I was homeless, wandering dazed into the street, while my fevered mind saw only emptiness. I’ll need a replacement hip before I’m forty. I can hear the slivers of bone grind a little with every labored step. I call my boss, and leave a terse message, apologizing for being too ill to work today.

    I hold my breath as I open the one tiny window in my studio. It’s so close to the building next to me, I can almost touch its brick wall and I can’t see the street from this height and angle: but as I strain to lean out the window, sounds of yelling and a few whining engines drift up to me. The pall of unearthly quiet is broken, and I feel a great sense of relief, knowing that my episode is over.

    I am counting the pills in orderly columns on the table, proving a fifth time to myself that I have taken my daily regimen, when I start to hear the screaming. It builds from far below; riding the struts and supports of the tower until it seems to emanate from the bones of the building.

    An hour later the sounds seem like they are right outside; horrid, terrified, inchoate clumps of half formed words and pleas, punctuated by wet, ragged shrieks and heavy muffled thudding. The breathing and relaxation exercises aren’t helping, and I’m gripping the edge of my bed, soaked in sweat. The idea appears fully formed in my mind: I need to barricade the door. I struggle to suppress it. It would be like- giving up, all progress I’ve made would be for naught if I entertain the notion that the episode is real.

    But the screaming… this is a new one for me.

    There’s the shuffle of movement outside, and the knob of the door twists violently and shudders against the deadbolt. I try to cry out, but my throat is parched and only a dry croak comes out. The door starts flex slightly as heavy blows land on the outside, and a mad, gibbering chorus of voices spits out a strange nonsense of broken syllables.

    It only takes me a moment to decide now. I burst to my feet and throw all my weight into the bookshelf, crashing into it with bright white bolt of pain. It topples slowly, leaning at first like a tree and then smashing to the ground. On top of the bookshelf goes my desk and chairs, my hip screaming with each step. I collapse again on the floor, grasping for breath, and listen to the pounding subside and the horrid voices retreat.

    That was two days ago.

    They come back every day and scratch at the door, whispering in that vile gibberish. Sometimes I allow myself to think I can recognize the voices. The phone is dead, and the power is out. When I lean out the window and yell for help, the only answer I get is the occasional shriek or ululating babble.

    When I was younger, when I was at my worst, my episodes would last for hours, at most. I am at a loss. I have very little food left and the water pressure has already dropped.

    Lying in bed in the late summer heat, in a moment of near total silence, the inevitability of it occurs to me. If I stay, I’ll starve. What happens to me on the other side of the barricade only depends on how sick I really am.

    I want to believe with a sudden desire I am just ill, simply and profoundly ill. The sureness of it wells up in me, and I feel suddenly awake and lucid. I need a doctor, surely, but soon the hallucination will lift and my mind will heal. I just need to break through this.

    I need to go outside.

    I remove the bookshelf slowly, rotating it away from the door gently to rest with the other furniture. This is right, I assure myself. This is healthy. I turn the deadbolt, put my hand on the handle, and try to suppress the rising terror in my guts. I give it a little pressure.

    Outside, I hear a dry shuffling and a low rising murmur of unfathomable voices, and my surety drains from me, leaving only cold and naked horror in its place.

    My hand is on the door.

    I’m about to do a very stupid thing.

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