Archive for the 'Aribella Lafleur' Category
Diving rapidly through the shimmering, folded moonlight towards certain death, I braced for the inevitable crash. Absorbed by my panic, I missed the spectacular view of the planet beneath; a rugged brocade, stained with the ochre-blood of the land. Jagged rust-tipped outcroppings interspersed between the gently sculpted plains broke the monotony of the dusty scene, which merged seamlessly into the birth of a coppery sunrise.
My head jerked alarmingly as the freighter clipped house-sized boulders like a frog evading the cleaver of a French chef. The impact left chunks of the container ship, akin to a breadcrumb trail, strewn across the planetscape, its cargo of EVA suits scattered like the clothing of young lovers.
Grinding to a halt amidst clouds of choking red dust, the remains of the ship teetered on the brink of a precipice. A held breath (one I had feared would be my final gasp) escaped my lungs as I checked myself over for compound fractures, broken nails and tears in my dress. Apart from whiplash and a skinned knee I had survived virtually unscathed. Had I been a cat, I would have been down to my ninth life…. Not feeling particularly feline, I considered buying a lottery ticket but discarded the idea since I had already used up a triple-helping of good fortune.
My luck held out long enough for the entire crew to drag themselves from the wreckage moments before the crumpled shell lurched and tipped over the rim to slide down the cliff, finally exploding in a ball of flames. We peered over the edge, watching in awe a scene which rivalled the special effects of a Hollywood cinematic experience.
The restless world, alive with distant deep rumblings, dragged us back from our silent gaping. We fled the onslaught of dust storms and twisters, giving a wide berth to abandoned vessels and space junk in which the local wildlife (human-sized reptilian creatures and giant goggle-eyed slug beasts) had taken up residence.
Tripping over each other as we scurried across the uneven ground, my comrades and I distractedly tumbled into a valley which housed a remote weather station. The commotion drew the attention of a sanitation droid who was busy washing clothes. For a nominal fee the robot cleaned my discoloured dress and gave us directions to the major mining outpost on the planet.
The droid also offered us fresh vegetables from his crop, but cautioned us against using the station’s vending machine which had not been restocked in the last decade. In true vandal style, my team set to tilting and rocking the machine until it yielded up an assortment of comestibles including a sludge-filled foam cup (smelling vaguely of coffee) and two suspiciously pulsating burritos which were instantly devoured by the ravenous horde.
I opted to sample some fresh hydroponically grown produce from the greenhouse as much to escape the burrito-induced methane expulsions of my lackeys as from any desire to dine.
We continued walking, the crunching of pebbles underfoot covering the sound (if not the disturbing odour) of my fellows as we marched towards the harsh afternoon sun. As the sun sank into bronzed twilight, drawing with it our depleted spirits, the fractious band of stranded pirates began throwing rocks. A challenge to pitch the farthest distance ensued, with boasts far exceeding the skill of the participants.
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Privateer Space: a Galactic Mistake… by Aribella Lafleur
For a select few, the thirst for adventure can never be slaked; whilst others are the unwilling victims of circumstance - dragged through Interesting Times with their designer sunglasses blinkering their eyes and iTunes filling their ears. Some choose to seize the day with gold-tipped tweezers or attempt to hurriedly capture it under a glass, lest it escape and bite them. Caught with both tweezers and glass in hand, I….
…Stirred to the disquieting awareness that I was trapped in the frigid confines of a space vessel, glazed eyes staring out through fogged breath and frosted portals into the swirling abyss. Wiping a trace of drool from my chin, I tried to comprehend how I could have been transported to the far reaches of the cosmos. Seeds of remembrance awakened slowly within the swirling miasma inside my skull. Replaying the scene in my mind, it became yet another tardy reminder about the hazards of drinking with a crowd of pirates in a seedy tavern.
It has been said that in the depths of the void no one can hear your scream. My crew heard. Far-reaching galaxies will hear, in millennia to come, that primal scream and the angry tirade that ensued…to no avail. I was caught like a hamster in a wheel, with nowhere to run. As asteroids whizzed past faster than I could say “Where’s the brake?” I closed my gaping mouth and reached for a seatbelt, assuming the increasingly familiar crash position.
Our route meandered through the treacherous asteroid field towards a giant hunk of rock which appeared to contain a drab and dreary refueling station. The promise of a chocolate bar was enough to add a mote of excitement, but the turbulent landing dampened my growing enthusiasm.
We carefully entered a dimly-lit teleport chamber, the walls slick from years of grease deposits. Abruptly and haphazardly transported in a jumbled huddle, we landed in a rather unexceptional galactic truck stop convenience store. Passing the reeking rest rooms (which were, of course, out of order; a mandatory feature of truck stops throughout the known universe and possibly beyond) my space-pirate crew followed their assaulted olfactory organs to the source of the fried, fatty cooking smells – the diner.
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Urban Underground Unloosed by Aribella Lafleur
With all my haute couture lost to the desert winds and my fashionably-challenged Sherpa crew looking like dishevelled vagrants, it was high time for a shopping expedition. To my shame, I was forced to don an outfit that had been (gasp!) worn once before. My enthusiastic attendants displayed their excitement for intensive retail therapy with loud groans, accompanied by the occasional moan and sullen expression.
Amid much dragging of heels we headed to a questionable store proposed by one of my team and warily descended to its suspicious underground location. Upon entering the warehouse nothing seemed amiss. However, while browsing through the clothing I suddenly felt the prickling sensation of being observed by an unseen eye, or several. I looked around for hidden surveillance cameras or IRS agents, but could not spy the cause of my unease…
Shrugging off my apprehension, I rejoined my band of bored bargain hunters.
With our usual luck, we found ourselves strolling directly into a thrashing throng of outstretched limbs connected to the drooling, fang-filled oral cavities of a beast which had obviously never heard of dental hygiene. Whilst writhing in the grip of the malformed organism (frightfully close to its rank, decaying incisors), I noticed the slivers of bone and flesh caught between its teeth. Immediately, I unlaced my boot and began using the cord to floss the detritus from the monster’s closest maw. Giving a sigh of obvious relief, it dropped my crew and leaned towards my ministrations. Choking back bile, I continued, cleaning a total of five rancid orifices of their accumulated debris.
After a stern lecture on oral care (to which the creature paid surprisingly rapt attention), we attempted to leave before the animal was reminded of his ravenous appetite. Our escape was foiled when he instead wished to share this new-found knowledge with his fellow mutants. As soon as he called out to the horde, we were rapidly surrounded by great numbers of eager misshapen entities.
The desire for shopping had been roundly quashed by the thoroughly unsettling experience with the monsters. We nervously feigned jovial faces as they took commemorative photos, then we made hasty excuses and fled without making any purchases, followed by echoes of pitiful pleadings for our return.
Copy and images (c) 2008, Aribella Lafleur. All Rights Reserved.
Produced with the editorial assistance of Must Packbiers.
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The Great Fissure: Falling Through the Cracks by Aribella Lafleur
We struggled against the inescapable tug of a howling wind as it grasped the barren terrain with scouring fingers, forcing sand into every crevasse. Stumbling upon some kind of shelter, we piled in and huddled together like a colony of bats, my luggage long-forsaken in our blind wandering.
As the wind died down, I gritted my teeth - and then choked as my lungs tried to expel an entire sandcastle. I calmly explained to my underlings that I had requested DESSERT (the chocolatey kind with lashings of cream and a cherry on top), not DESERT (with lashings of fine grit causing abrasions which would have removed years of wrinkles, had I any to begin with). I discreetly shook sand from my underwear and took stock of our surroundings.
Our refuge was a crudely constructed hut, with rotting animal skins stitched together and bound to the bleached bones of some (hopefully) long-extinct class of gargantuan beast. The scene outside the tent was equally unpleasant; my designer suitcases were nowhere to be found, and the rugged, empty landscape did not look like it would support a 7-Eleven or handy toothbrush-and-soap-selling drugstore.
With ever-increasing necessity to find decent amenities, I boldly strode across a very dubious looking bridge, towards the nearest habitation. My overconfidence nearly precipitated an abrupt and very messy demise as the rotten planks gave way beneath my feet. I prudently decided to test safety with more expendable lives than my own in the future.
With deluded intentions, my underlings bounded off towards a potentially salvageable space craft, doubtlessly discarded after it crash-landed in such an isolated location. When their vehicle procurement skills proved no match for the broken and neglected vessel, they quickly abandoned their mission, turning their attention to roasting an unidentifiable rodent over a hastily-built fire in a toxic waste drum. My innate sense of self preservation led me to decline the proffered portion of their meal and move further afield, upwind of the appalling odour.
We trudged onward across the scorching sand, encountering only crumbling ruins and rusting metallic towers, with no other living organisms anywhere in sight. This came as no surprise, since any sensible creature would have packed up and fled, and even the most unintelligent animal would have taken shelter from the blistering sun (which I deemed a wise plan in the absence of sunscreen and a parasol to protect my complexion)…
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Tongues loosened by ale tell strange tales, so I discovered, as the convoluted rumours of a mysterious but deadly jungle were whispered lecherously in my ear. Despite the drunkard’s foetid breath and leering glances, which caused me to recoil in horror, his compelling depiction of fantastic sights in a lethal landscape drew me in and held me in thrall.
Not in the habit of crediting gossip from the inebriated, I would have dismissed this yarn but for the mention of incalculable riches to be found in the crumbling ruins of an ancient civilisation swallowed up by noxious trailing vines. Designer gowns don’t come cheap, and Aribella Lafleur is too proud to resort to buying them second-hand off eBay. I needed financial security that didn’t involve marrying a wealthy coma patient, pyramid schemes or metal detectors.
After much diligent investigation, I unearthed the location of the underground entranceway to our treasure garden. With my crew assembled in the dimly lit enclosed chamber, we donned protective armbands filled with slow-release antitoxins. Oblivious to the risks and dangers of the two precarious and claustrophobic elevators, we avariciously relied on our certainty that they lead to great fortune above. We steeled ourselves, paired off, and rode topside.
Instantly assaulted by cloying scents, which hung in the moist air like monkeys on a bunch of bananas, we reeled and staggered into the clutches of a giant pulsating fleshy floral behemoth. I heard whispers of “Feed me, Seymour” as the hungry bloom attempted to ingest my motley crew. As a diversion to allow the remainder of us to escape I contemplated sacrificing at least one of my dysfunctional assistants, (preferably the boor who saw fit to hoard food amongst the costly garments in my suitcase) but, upon reflection, I recognised their continued value as human shields….
Feeling slightly over-pollinated, I brushed off sticky yellow residue as I headed my team in the direction of a derelict chapel. I hung back slightly, to determine whether the mass of throbbing, lashing vines, the dominant life form in this untamed ecosystem, would claim one of my minions as an unhealthy snack. After it became clear that none would be devoured, I boldly ventured into the eerie ruins, gazing in awe at the remnant of the once imposing structure, reduced to rubble by the strangling tendrils.
Following what appeared to be a path through the jungle, we glimpsed a glassy enclosed edifice, possibly one of the original laboratory structures housing the initial genetically mutated species of this unnatural environment. The enticing exotic fragrance trail from the greenhouse lulled us into an opiate stupor, from which we were caught totally unawares by giant cyborg ants which spat fountains of a formic-like acid towards us. Before we had even realised our peril, two of our number were down, writhing in agony as the acid steamed through flesh and bone alike.
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An Insurmountable Wall by Aribella Lafleur
Occasionally, in my nonchalant passage throughout the metaverse, I feel a need for a reflective hiatus, to contemplate the significant matters of subsistence. In that vein, I felt compelled to visit “the Wall”, a thought-provoking and inspirational virtual replica of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall.
The entry portal, an unblemished, pearlescent-paned dome, greeted our arrival with its bright aspect. Our eyes were drawn to the serene autumn vista beyond, and to a screen playing excerpts from the real-life counterpart to this subdued site.
A hushed silence descended over our number, as if we had been relocated to a time and place beyond our understanding. The dying leaves, dropping gently from the trees encircling us, took my heart with them on their graceful flight. No joyous laughter filled the air, yet the powerful and majestic sentiment pervading this location was palpable.
My habitually rowdy crew were uncharacteristically stilled by a respectful awe as they gazed upon a shining memorial to the men who rose to the challenge set by their country. The Three Servicemen statue stood proudly, as if safeguarding the location marking their lost and fallen comrades.
As I looked up, I wondered at the courage of these men, many still in their teens, thrust into the totally alien landscape of Vietnam, witnessing unimaginable horrors without respite. I was struck by the impression that, though not my land and not my war, simply by being here I was engulfed in a history that was far larger than my small existence.
Like an oyster covering a speck of grit, modern society strives to hide death, camouflaging it with the mundane. Shielded by the closed coffin, as if we have disguised the inevitable, we forget that life is a gift, and sometimes hard-won by the sacrifice of others. This “pearl”, now mirrored in two worlds, yields the beauty of remembrance grown around, and become a part of, the history that bore so much pain of loss and sacrifice. Gazing upon the extensive expanse of polished black granite, inscribed with the names of men and women whose service helped keep this dream of freedom alive, I could almost glimpse the faces peering out from the smooth, cold surface.
We set off in search of the name of one of my team’s relatives who had fallen in combat. Using a directory terminal we easily located the correct wall panel (after a false start with the incorrect name), and all joined in the quest with surprising enthusiasm.
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By Aribella Lafleur
Gasping for air, chest heaving, lungs a burning inferno, and totally heedless of my surroundings, I lay beside the train tracks, incapacitated by violent paroxysms which seized my body. As the convulsions diminished, my soul shrank in dread from the sounds of demented laughter filling the air. I was jolted into consciousness by the depraved noise, realising in that instant, that my companions were possessed by some form of madness that had infused this land of horrors….
I was mystified as to how I had once more evaded a tragic conclusion. Roused by a superfluous burst of adrenaline, my eyesight barely cleared in time to witness my deranged comrades collapsing to the ground like marionettes released from the puppeteer’s dominating cords. No trace of the furtive black-caped rogue remained. Was he a figment of my spooked imagination, or did he have some malevolent purpose in shadowing our passage?
With my puzzled, unnerved attendants in tow, I struggled across the threshold of a ramshackle hovel, heedless of the warning signs hanging precariously from the shabby, peeling picket fence enclosing the perimeter of the creepy property.
Pushing open the rickety door, I was overcome by the sensation of being watched by ever-present prying eyes, like visiting the pristine residence of one’s mother-in-law. Strange flickering and shifting assaulted the edges of my vision, but when I turned all was unchanged. Leaning against the hearth to steady myself I was startled by a curious creaking and shuddering. Glancing through the flames to the origin of this commotion I found myself peeking into a hidden sanctuary of chronicles and archives, dust-covered and crumbling into antiquity.
Slightly scorched, I gaped in awe at the great store of sinister knowledge now in front of me, until I realised my team had continued into the darkened passageways beyond. I followed hesitantly, unearthly whispers swirling over me as decades of arachnoids’ threads attached themselves to my exposed skin.
Stumbling blindly through the darkened corridors in pursuit, calling out to my cohorts, my howl resembling a toddler in the throes of a tantrum, I staggered into rooms filled with torture devices which were still encrusted with the blood of hapless victims. Caught in an unyielding cage, I was obliged to rely on the felonious skills of my delinquent crew to secure my liberation. In retrospect, however, the barred enclosure may have proven safer quarters…
Drifting through a maze of never-ending and indistinguishable rooms for countless hours, we became irritable and cantankerous, saved only from a violent and macabre bloodbath by a lucky break, as someone chanced upon the exit.
The interminable strain proved too great for one of my followers, who swooned like a wallflower finally asked to dance. We laid him to rest in a convenient sarcophagus, but he stubbornly refused to die quietly…
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By Aribella Lafleur
Octoberville: Things That Go Bump in the Night…
Landing at an eerie crossroads in the autumn twilight, we stopped to decipher the aged and dilapidated sign posts. The wide, dusty streets were reminiscent of a Western spoof, and I half expected John Wayne to jump out with his six-guns blazing. As I glanced at my mismatched and inept team, I suddenly realised a resurrected Mr. Wayne would not look at all out of place lumbering about in a body which had been mouldering for the previous 30 years.
Bleached, ghoulish skins and weirdly altered attire adorned my comrades, and, upon closer inspection, myself also. I later discovered this disturbing metamorphosis had occurred to others entering the land, as we encountered many gruesome, cadaverous souls. These strangers happily conversed with us while the spoiled flesh tore from their bodies and pustules ruptured in leprous profusion.
Our eyes alighted on a cluster of bright, shiny pumpkins- the perfect spot to pause and examine our altered state while planning our exploration strategies. My band of miscreants quickly deserted me for mouth-watering apples bobbing within a half-barrel in a nearby rotunda.
Whilst they crunched audibly on fresh fruit, my attention was drawn to a mystical fountain, spraying stars into the heavens. My eyes shining with the mysterious swirling lights, I stepped gracefully into the glittering array and…
…I awoke on an examination bed in the physician’s rooms, beneath an imposing, antiquated hulk of machinery. Clearly medical in nature, I could not fathom its exact function, but was convinced the apparatus was intended for a diabolical purpose… Dazed and disoriented, fearing myself in certain danger of being subsumed into Frankenstein’s monstrous creation, I leapt off the table and fled the room.
Outside the gruesome surgery, my rogue comrades were chortling at my horrified expression. With the intent to strike dread into their spirits, I marched them all into a nearby schoolroom, where they were duly castigated and saw the error of their wicked ways…. for a split second. I feared I had yoked myself to a troop of buffoons with the attention span of amoebae.
Stoically labouring on, I dragged my chastened crew along, stopping to survey a decrepit single-roomed house. One by one we succumbed to the lure of the powerfully and seductively hypnotic television flickering in the corner, as it rolled though countless hours of bad black-and-white monster flicks. Somehow regaining my faculties before being permanently ensnared, I wandered back out onto the roadway in a glazed trance.
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By Aribella Lafleur
The heady scent of frangipane clung in the air, dismissing all our mundane cares with the strength of its perfume. Submerged in the rugged wilderness, my merry band attacked the undergrowth with cutlasses, long knives, scimitars and… a spoon. At this juncture I felt an explanation of the correct usage of cutlery was required, and proceeded to lecture them on matters of table etiquette, after first confiscating the spoon.
The rainforest of Tzopelic Chantli yielded reluctantly to our fevered slashing, although after an hour we had made enough progress to see glimpses of red peeking through the foliage. Within a short space of time we broke through to a picturesque clearing overshadowed by a sweeping mountain range. We stepped out of the trees, heading towards a whimsical toadstool house, adjacent a droll little leaf swing, which was swaying gently in the faint breeze. Perched upon seats of bright fungi in the shade of the quaint dwelling, we supped on tea and crumpets….
With weapons in hand, we forged upward to the zenith. Reaching the summit, my drowsy company of marauders would go no further. Feeling no desire to weary myself with flogging them, I wandered around the peak, searching for a cool spot to stretch out my legs and rest. Without warning the ground beneath my feet caved way and I collapsed into a vast, cool cavern, splashing into an underground lake. Leaf litter, soil and debris fell atop me, muddying the crystal-clear, frigid water. The once-sweet liquid increased in turbidity as my eager crew plunged in around me. Scouting around the hollow we found signs of previous habitation behind the waterfall which supplied the mountain lake.
Green glowing rocks in the cavern walls and floor gave off an eerie glow, making my companions look fiendish as they dove off the rocks to break through the surface, showering me with a fine mist. Fishing my sodden luggage out of the pool, we followed the light out through the gaping mouth of the grotto to the balmy jungle beyond.
Traversing rivers by tenuous bridges and entangling ourselves in root systems of majestic arboreal giants, we slowly hiked through the untamed wilds until we encountered a staircase reaching up to the heavens….
With much trepidation I ascended the treacherous steps. Loud complaints from my fellows, as they ported my baggage up the slope, began to set my head throbbing. I would have ordered one of my crew to carry me to the top, were it not for the likelihood their clumsiness would cause my rapid descent to the bottom….
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By Aribella Lafleur
I awoke to a soothing, yet strangely perturbing, humming noise emanating from my surroundings. Without opening my eyes I lay, basking in the comfort of the luxurious silken bed linen on the bed I had appropriated for the night. Like Goldilocks, I had made myself totally at ease within someone else’s home, but as no one had come to claim my haven in the night I had slept the full measure in stately affluence.
A disquieting thought suddenly dawned on me…. I could no longer hear the rustling of the leaves as the wind danced over the treetops. I pried open my lids and beheld a truly astonishing sight.
Surrounded by an alien landscape of lofty purple spires I was utterly dumbfounded (yes, Aribella Lafleur, queen of verbal diarrhoea, caught speechless; a truly rare sight indeed!). I gathered my senses and bellowed for my disloyal crew who appeared to have vanished in the night, along with my former lodgings.
From out of the depths below reverberated the welcome voices of my trusty pirate band. Pretending I had never thought evil and slightly murderous thoughts about them for allowing such a fate to befall me, I called down for assistance. Peering over the edge, I felt a wave of dizziness envelop me and I swooned like a victim of Dracula, toppling off the parapet in my stupor. My fall was broken by the soft bodies of my pirate company, who had thankfully been well fed. I silently praised my own foresight for ensuring their wellbeing, and thus giving myself a well-cushioned landing spot.
After dusting ourselves off, my swashbucklers proudly informed me they had found us trusty steeds on which to continue our passage.
We viewed many strange sights including a shiny, twisted green tunnel, which looked reminiscent of a diseased bowel, an imposing train which loomed over us (although we could find no tracks) and a gigantic Van de Graaff generator, which made the atmosphere come alive with the tingling of electric charge. We viewed a wind turbine farm, powered by twisters which threatened to catch us up in their vortices and send us out of Kansas….. I wondered if there were any flying cows trapped in the whirling air tunnels, but my desire for safety outweighed my curiosity.
We became repeatedly further mired in the quicksand of several sim crossings (a sensation all who have spent time exploring in this land would be accustomed to) and struggled to free our horses from the morass….
Finding ourselves beside a familiar bouncy castle (although this one had lost its bounce) we again met Good2 Go, the extremely talented creator of the marvels we had encountered earlier in Ponderama.
He convinced us (against my better judgement) to test his Rolling Thunder ride, but did not inform me until after I had fallen from a great height that he had no public liability insurance, so there was no possibility of suing for injuries to my avatar (or my pride). Stuck in a bottleneck halfway down the ride, I was sickened by the sight of the ground hundreds of metres below (or above?) me.
Extricated by the quick thinking of one of my band, I reached the ground unscathed, although mentally scarred….
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By Aribella Lafleur
The onerous task of firing my new Sherpa team was simplified by the fact that I now had a much lighter load of luggage. My remaining porters had abandoned all semblance of civility and become the pirates that I knew them to be. One had even found a very seedy looking stuffed parrot, which was perched precariously upon his shoulder in a ridiculous manner.
We found ourselves standing in the shadow of the towering wooden effigy of a man. Enthralled, I stared up at this icon which symbolized the festival’s transience. I knew that in a few days hence the man would be set alight and the land would be returned to its former barren state. After a last glance up at this overshadowing presence, I maturely resisted the urge to get out a blowtorch or flick a few matches, and we moved off into the wild world of Burning Life to further our explorations.
Our next alien encounter was with a giant simian who bore an uncanny resemblance to King Kong. The dark monster looked down upon me, and reading the glint in his eye, I could tell he was sizing me up as his latest Ann Darrow….
After a slightly tricky extrication from the giant ape’s clutches we found an abandoned space pirate vessel, which my pirate gang immediately assimilated as their own. Armed, and slightly less than harmless, the pirates stood guard over their new spaceship like a pack of slathering hounds…
In disgust, I wandered off, leaving my luggage in the clutches of my unscrupulous band…. and found myself in a Narnian enchanted realm, full of fir trees and crisp white snowflakes. Within this chilled forest I was startled to encounter a penguin, who appeared to have lost his way and meandered out of the desert wasteland into the frigid woods. I vaguely wondered why a penguin would be in a desert, but after seeing many weird and a few wonderful sights I did not offer the matter a great deal of speculation.
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We finally arrived at Burning Life 2007, at the end of a lengthy and exhausting journey. After such a difficult passage I was satisfied with the acceptable loss of only one Sherpa (the singed patches on the back of the bear notwithstanding…). However, following a strenuous recruitment drive, I found myself with ample untrained yet willing vassals. My new followers settled at my feet for a brief training session, although I feared their grasp of concepts such as “stay close by” and “don’t put everything you see in your mouth” was sorely lacking…
On arrival at the information pavilion, my troop of luggage bearers scattered in all directions, as if a puffball had released its spores. Unfortunately, I had not checked credentials of my new porters, and I found my load of luggage lightened dramatically as they happily sold off my designer dresses to the unwashed masses teeming through the festival grounds.
A futile attempt at chasing a shifty-looking cloaked man who ran off with one of my suitcases left me breathless, but still empty-handed….
With a lightened load, my remaining Sherpas and I headed out to explore the bright, pulsating, surreal experience of Burning Life. Our first encounter was with a bulging-eyed pink alien creature which, on closer inspection, tried to devour us. Caught by a giant tongue and dragged slowly into its gaping maw, I wondered if I had left the oven on….
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