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Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...
We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!
Story Three Hundred Thirty Six Ends September 14
Day 10 of the month of Gathering, Y9
Still no change.
It has been ten days since I set out to do this experiment, but my progress remains minimal. I had hoped there would be a breakthrough yesterday when I discovered an error in my calculations, but it has resolved few of my problems, if any at all.
I have not slept in more than two days, and I cannot remember the last time I ate. There are dark circles under my eyes, my fur is a mess, and my head swims if I stand up too quickly, but I cannot stop. Fascination -- no, obsession -- drives me even as frustration threatens to consume me. I will see this experiment through to its conclusion, whether good or bad.
Tomorrow I will try something new. I dare not write exactly what it shall be just yet; perhaps lack of sleep has heightened my paranoia, but I shall not record any part of the experiment until I have tried it.
I hope that I shall have something of more weight to write in this journal tomorrow. Until then, I must end this brief respite and return once more to my work...
Author: Mad Scientist|
Date: Sep 7th
Day 11 of the month of Gathering, Y9
My hands are shaking. I can barely read what I write. I have been such a fool. Such a fool.
I have had a breakthrough. At least, I believe I have. But the results were ephemeral. The evidence is gone, all but my memory. And my memory....
I am so tired. I can barely see. The shock of failure has cleared my head enough to realize my folly. A breakthrough, but a failure....
Exhaustion has dulled my senses, scrambled my memories. I know -- of all people I know how vital it is to keep a clear head and to write. Down. Every. Step. Everything that happens.
But no, like a fool I said I would record my progress after the experiment was done! And now, now I have accomplished the nearly unimaginable -- if only for a moment --
--And I cannot reproduce it.
I cannot remember what I did to achieve that one perfect moment. I know generalities, but not details. I have tried again and again, every combination of attempts I can think of, and painstakingly recorded them.
But that was after that one moment.
When I held a star in my hand....
Date: Sep 10th
Day 12 of the month of Gathering, Y9
I believe I achieved a modest success late last night, after recording my failure in my journal.
Ground Star Tree bark. How could I have been so stupid? Now I remember soaking it before adding it to my successful experiment -- in my later experiments I had added it dry. But what did I soak it in? My memory fails me. I remember its dark, damp texture. I remember the wet, woody smell, but not the solution I soaked it in. Or even if the solution was one liquid or several mixed together.
My hands shake when I measure, and my vision blurs as I try to read my notes. I am exhausted, and every fiber of my being cries for rest. Blissful sleep, the sweet darkness and dreams that bring inspiration, eludes me. I cannot sleep -- I shut my eyes and the memory of that brilliant white light in my trembling hands fills my mind. There is no sleep while the secret of the light escapes me; I must have it, I must finish my experiments. I can sleep after I have obtained success.
I have several dishes of ground Star Tree bark soaking in various solutions as I write. One is simply soaking in water, while another soaks in Starlight Potion, a third soaks in a small dish of Kauvara's Potion, and my final one soaks (in what was probably a burst of insanity more than brilliance) in a dish of Strange Potion.
I have learnt my lesson about secrecy. Records can be locked up, but they should always be kept.
My Star Tree bark has soaked long enough, I shall return to my experiments, and record my successes or failures here later...
Date: Sep 11th
Day 13 of the month of Gathering, Y9
Frustration, like a rank, dark cloud, overwhelms my fraying nerves. None of the soaked bark produced any effect whatsoever. It must have been a solvent I desired to keep so secret that I have secreted it away! Where? What am I looking for?
What have I done? If only I remembered... something, anything.
My temples are throbbing. My thoughts feel muddled somehow, like the feeling of waking up after too long of a nap and having not eaten yet.
I know I need to sleep, but I can't. Everything depends on this experiment, I know, somehow. This thing that eludes me is so important that I resisted sleep for days, resisted eating, fueled by the fumes of pure passion.
The star. I held it... why? Why Star Tree bark? Why soaking? Why, why, why.
I have turned my lab upside down. No solvent. I wonder...
* * * * *
What madness is this? An hour's respite from my journal and of a sudden there is a small vial in my front coat pocket that I could have sworn was not there before! I don't recognize the syrupy liquid inside, but I have more bark soaking as I write this. My excitement is high! I know that this is one of the missing pieces of my memory. My research continues!
Away now, I must... I must... AHA! OF COURSE!...
Date: Sep 11th
Day 14 on the month of Gathering, Y9
I have lost it...
Is a simple success too much to ask for? I haven't slept since four days ago. Maybe I am getting unhealthy, tired - and becoming a failure. I thought the vial in my coat pocket from yesterday would improve this experiment massively.
When I pour the contents of the vial into each dish, the solution began bubbling and stopped. It did increase in temperature and changed colour too. But as I analysed the results of the solution, I knew I have failed.
The four solutions have become saturated. I can no longer go further with my studies using these. I could use some kind of desaturing formula, but I don't think such a thing exists.
The ground Star Tree bark in the water looked as if it was sizzling like sausages in a hot pan, while the other one in the other dishes turned pale, bubbling and melting.
What is happening? I have never seen anything like this before. I could record these straight away. This is an amazing new discovery!
The vial must have been absorbed into the ground Star Tree bark, and the saturation must have just been a side effect.
I am not a failure for now. Nor am I an expert either though. But a new discovery means I could go further along with my studies, I could learn more from my experiments.
I don't know what I should do next with the barks. One is in my hand...
Maybe I should wait until tomorrow to continue on with this. But I am too excited.
NO! I will continue with this discovery no matter what. And nothing will get in my way!
I want a proper result and I shall have it if I go further...
Date: Sep 12th
Day 15 of the month of Gathering, Y9
I might have hit on something... I cannot be sure. The legends say that Star Tree bark has properties that can affect many things... including time. But those are just stories.
And yet... it might be true. I remember, when I was little, having a horrible sickness. I can't recall any details, only the feeling of pain and fear. What if I have turned time and brought the sickness back to me? What if the Star Tree bark, when mixed with the right ingredients, will turn time?
Will I be able to go back and save Mother from her accident?
No. It is probably a myth, for only children's stories and the tales of crazed lunatics speak of the secret of the time-bending bark. There must be a scientific explanation!
But what if it is true? I will be marveled at for years to come! Even when I pass on, youngsters will hear my name!
I will try what I did again, only with a larger amount of Star Tree bark. But not right now. My illness wears on me too much.
We will see what happens tomorrow...
Date: Sep 12th
Day 16 of the month of Gathering, Y9
The potion… did not go as expected.
That’s not to say it was a failure however, I’m just not sure what exactly I’ve created.
During the night, as my potion brewed, I dozed off and slept for a whole five hours. I’m not sure what woke me -- though I suspect the lack of blood flow to my ears from my odd sleeping position had something to do with it. The unexpected sleep was good for me though, as I’m able to think and reason far more clearly now then I could yesterday.
But I digress. My potion, my bizarrely unique potion -- I’m not sure what I expected, but this wasn’t it. It’s dark. And I don’t mean that it’s dark colored, I mean it is quite literally, dark. It absorbs all light that touches it, such to the point that you can’t see what it is, only what it isn’t. There are no reflections on the smooth glass surface, because the potion hungrily swallows any light that touches the glass. It’s blacker than night -- and the exact opposite effect of what I was going for. I was attempting to create the purest, brightest light -- and I have the purest, darkest dark.
However, thanks to the respite of my sleeplessness, I’ve made an even more valuable breakthrough. I remember how I made that mysterious solution! I made it months and months ago for another experiment -- it’s a simple ratio of 1/3 Kauvara’s Potion, 1/3Fire Potion, and 1/3 Potion of Evil. I’d stuck it a pocket to keep it safe, and promptly forgotten about it. I shall have to make more before I continue.
I’m making progress; I’ve just got to figure out how to get from here to where I want to go.
And I shall have to rewrite some of my notes while I still remember them -- in my exhausted state my handwriting had gotten nearly unreadable...
Date: Sep 13th
Day 1(?) of the month of Gathering, Y9
This cannot be true. I am back to Day One!
I don’t know if I have turned back time… or is this all a nightmare, brought on by my terrible physical shape? I only know that I left a sample of that dark potion to simmer overnight, and next thing I knew, I was sitting up in bed, on the exact same morning I first started out to do all this!
The calendar clearly shows Day One. The bottles, vials, test-tubes… all are in the positions they were in on Day One. Nothing has happened… or rather, everything has happened… oh, what am I trying to say? I fear that I am losing my sanity, no longer able to form a coherent sentence!
The only believable thing I can cling on to is this diary, which has not changed at all. Without it I would be laughing and crying like some poor lost maniac. But already I am laughing and crying. Can this unreal circumstance be considered a success? Have I discovered the secret to time travel? Or will this experiment be caught up in a series of outrageous paradoxes, erasing what little I have accomplished and setting me further and further back…?
At least I feel well-rested now. Well, I was well-rested on the first day of my experiments. I am making no sense again… but I must continue with this. It is too late, I mean, too early, to stop now.
I will leave the same mixture to simmer overnight and see what happens…
Date: Sep 13th
...but it won't take all day to make it. Meanwhile, I shall try to make wise use of the time that has been restored to me.
In other words, I'm going out for groceries, fresh air, and maybe a new pillow. Perhaps if I take care of myself properly and write everything down, I won't find myself suffering from paranoia and memory lapses this time.
I'm just glad I wrote down a few notes in this diary. Much to my frustration, my laboratory notebooks -- with all the details I had previously recorded -- were reset along with the test tubes, the calendar, and the quantities of my supplies.
This is a strange inconsistency indeed, and it raises the question of what actually happened to me. I remember everything (or, well, I remember it as well as I think I did last night).
Was I spared from the change in time? But my body feels refreshed. Is that because it was taken back to its condition before my experiments began, somehow leaving my memories intact? Or was I spared altogether, like the diary? And why?
Did I really begin my experiments with this little food in the house? No wonder my state of mind has been less than its best.
I have recorded the initial steps of my research both in the laboratory notebook and in the later pages of this diary. I hope the redundancy will preserve at least one copy.
It is hard to believe that my sleep-deprived fancies about time travel have turned out to be true. Though I'm still no closer to regenerating that star.
* * * * *
Day 17 and 1 of the month of Gathering, Year 9
Well, my trip out of doors turned out to shed unexpected light on my research. Unfortunately, that doesn't put me any closer to a palmful of starlight -- which was awe-inspiring and, to the best of my knowledge, carried no risk to the fabric of the universe. On the other hand, it does have implications for applying the strange dark potion.
Wait. Wait, that seems somehow familiar.... No, I've lost it.
I had better explain. Even now, my thoughts seem entirely too scattered. Let me try to put this down in an orderly way.
When I left my laboratory, I discovered that everywhere else I went, it remained Day 16. At first I feared (again) that the whole thing was some madness, a hallucination. To put it mildly, I was disheartened and afraid.
I returned to the laboratory and found that everything was as I had left it. Baffled, I began a more systematic survey of the laboratory and, after thinking about the food question, the house.
The effect of the simmering dark potion has a radius. I have not been able to measure it exactly, but I have an estimate -- the foot of my bed is nearer to the place I left it than the head. A small cut to my foot is healed as if it had never been, no sign of the scab or of fur having been cut away to clean it. A burn on my hand, however, remains intact. And I took the diary to bed with me, whereas the laboratory notebook was "safely" on its shelf near the potion.
So: an approximate radius. And a ratio of nine hours simmering to fifteen days back in time -- though, of course, that is also an approximate measure, and the ratio may or may not change with longer simmering, higher heat... the dark potion itself seems unchanged, although it's hard to tell. At any rate, it didn't unmake itself.
While the properties of Star Tree bark are the stuff of legend, time travel itself is well documented in Neopia, though it is usually the product of faerie magic. The dangers of it -- some are recorded, other speculated.
If I try to save my mother, will it work? Will time snap back and prevent me? Will I save her but harm the universe?
How could I do it? I would have to simmer the dark potion for a long time. It would have to be very near the precise site of her accident, since the area of effect is so limited.
I would have to stay outside the area so as to remember what I was doing. But I would want to be able to see what she was doing.
I would also have to make sure not to put the potion in her way. It would be horrible to reach the correct time and find that I had, for instance, caused her to trip and fall, or that my potion had interfered with her experiment and caused it to become fatal.
I will have to judge the time very carefully, as it happened all too quickly. I do not have the data for that yet.
* * * * *
I have divided up several aliquots of the dark potion, with clocks near the burner as well as outside. I have begun heating them, one at a time, and comparing the effects. I must find out:
effect of volume (hypothesis: changes radius of effect)
effect of time (hypothesis: changes length of time turned back)
effect of temperature (hypothesis: no idea, except that I don't think the cold potion is changing time)
I have taken the laboratory notebook out of the laboratory. This did not reverse the effects, but
* * * * *
Day 18 of the month of gathering, Y9
That was embarrassing. The first aliquot turned back time... to before I had placed a clock next to it. (I am somewhat at a loss as to where exactly the clock went. It was removed from the area of effect, but it was not restored to its place outside the area.)
After leaving the clocks in place for a longer period of time, I was able to get sensible measurements.
I have also remembered how to achieve the star. "The strange dark potion," indeed. To reverse its properties, I tried mixing equal portions of the dark potion with Strange Potion.
I spent all night with very bright dreams, for beside my bed was a bottle of glorious white-hot light.
The next three days should, I think, be enough to confirm the temporal effects. I am impatient -- maddeningly impatient -- but it will do me no good to rush, and then turn back to the wrong point in time.
* * * * *
Day 21 of the month of Gathering, Y9
Today is the day. I have opened the door to my mother's laboratory for the first time since we cleaned it out after her death. I have set the potion at the far side of the laboratory from the door, so that the door will not be opening and shutting in its effects.
The dark potion is at the correct heat. I am waiting. It is nearly ti--
Date: Sep 13th
Day ? of the month of ?, Y?
Something has gone wrong. Something has gone terribly, horribly, frighteningly wrong.
I don't know where I am. I don't know what time period I'm in. I know I've gone back, yes, but how far? It had happened too soon, too suddenly, without me doing anything at all. All I know is that I'm in the dark, scribbling these probably illegible notes. All I know is that there's shards of glass and a tiny bit of residue I've found common to my bottled stars -- can I assume the one I've brought with me everywhere shattered? I don't know, but all around I can hear my mother's voice, and my father's, and the voice of everyone I've ever seen and ever known.
I don't understand it. I'm afraid, confused, and yet at the same time excited. I want to call out or move, or do something besides move a pen across the surface of a piece of paper. I want to, but I know I shouldn't. Who can say if this is some sort of trap conjured up by... oh, I don't know. The Darkest Faerie? Sloth? A rival scientist?
What I need first is to shed some light on the situation. Find out where I am, definitely, that would certainly help in the whole trap or no trap thing. But light -- where am I to find light?
In my pocket, I can feel something small and round -- two somethings, actually. The dark potion and Strange potion. Stars. Light. I am so glad I've taken to carrying them both around.
But to mix them, half and half. I have no clue how much is left in either bottle. And my hand is unsteady, at best. Can I dump them both together, and hope that for once something good will happen?
Do I have any other option?
Forget science. Forget discoveries. Forget logic, and rules, and structure, and notes and equations and goodness knows what other clutter that's been taking over my life. Right now, I'm a trembling Neopet, sitting in the dark, reduced to the behavior of a child. Feeling like a child. Children don't ever know what to do, and I don't know what to do either.
Just dump and hope. All I can do, right?
Dump and hope. See what happens.
Dump... and light.
There is a brilliant flash in the never ending blackness that lights up everything around me. But it only lasts for less than half a second -- one fleeting moment, and it is gone. Replaced. Or swallowed. Swallowed by the same inky darkness around me. And two things are becoming very, very clear to me -- or, rather, one thing I suddenly knew, and the other was the one becoming much clearer.
One, my mother was here. I saw her face, her form, making her way towards me.
Two, I am inside, or at least surrounded by the dark potion...
Date: Sep 14th
...it is strange, that now I realize what is causing all these strange things, I am no longer afraid of it. It is just another experiment, just another long shot to scientific fame... who am I trying to kid? I am petrified, but at the same time, I feel more alive than I have felt for days... months, even; maybe years, because I feel like a child once more. Afraid of the dark, waiting for my mother to come home and tell me everything’s all right, but a part of me knows that it is, that everything will be fine, even if my mother never comes back. For I know that she will not. She had a fine life, and her end was hard, but it is over now. I should leave her to rest in peace, without meddling in time with cheap tricks. She would not be proud of me, I think; but she will be proud of me now, for I am ready at last to leave her behind. This place, it is not so bad; the inside of a star. It is beautiful. If I know my mother, she loves it here, surrounded by fragments of her memories and life. The inside of the star is different for each person, I think, although I cannot know for certain. When I go back, I will destroy all traces of my experiments save for this journal, which anyone would discount as the ravings of a madman, and thus ignore. Time is a dangerous thing to play with, and as for stars… they are wondrous things, but I do not deserve to see them. Not yet. But one day… who knows?
I know how to leave. It is simple, really. I must concentrate on the light, on that simple moment of clarity, and I will go back. I clutch this journal to me as I prepare my mind, for it is the only proof I will have that these last few weeks are not a dream or a raving delusion. When I go back, I will leave it in the store cupboard, right at the back. And maybe, someday, a young aspiring scientist will reach to the back of the cupboard, and dust off the cover. They will read it… and they will wonder.
Now I will leave.
Date: Sep 14th
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