View Full Version : Short Story Contest #3 - I used to like this town, a long time ago

19-08-2003, 16:25:10
Welcome to the third CG short story contest!

For this contest, your story should start with the words 'I used to like this town, a long time ago', but from then on you are free to go wherever your imagination takes you!

Write as much or as little as you like, but please respect the fact that your peers will have to find the time to read your entry :)

As we've started a little later and it's a bank holiday weekend, submission deadline will be extended to next tuesday night (the 26th).

As always, only one entry per poster.

Comments on stories should be posted in a seperate thread, this thread is for STORIES ONLY.

20-08-2003, 09:36:34
I used to like this town, a long time ago
You wouldn't beleive it now but back then this was soooome place to live. Yeah, me an ol'Freddy, an Guppy an Sal... I can picture them now, an Dilbert an Tappy and ol'Uncle Jake. Yup... I can picture em now, we used to work a haaard days work down at the ol dustmine, an then go drinkin an whorin together, wholesome times. Yup, wholesome times.
Then they closed the dustmine, said the world didn't rightly have a use for high quality dust no more...
They went ahead an 'ree-stored' the place into a lake, an closed down the ol'whore-house, old Belle was real torn up about it, she an the girls moved away. They were that close to bein able to afford the full operation too, they'da been real women at last.
Then all them no good city folk started comin up here an sayin how nice the place was. What with all the trees an such.
Comin up here in their fancy cars...
Buildin all their no good fancy houses an such like.
I used to like this town, a long time ago, but now it sucks.

The End.

22-08-2003, 08:39:43
"I used to like this town, a long time ago" drückte ihm der winzige Lautsprecher des Radioweckers scheinbar verzweifelt ins Ohr. Sechs Uhr. Durch die grün-gelben Vorhänge im 70er Dekor kroch die obligatorische Morgendämmerung des Herbstmorgens. Er dachte über die Mitteilung dieses schwachen Leuchtens an ihn nach. Im stillen einigte er mit sich selbst sich auf "sowohl, als auch".

Heute war der Tag. DER Tag, der große Tag, an dem sich alles entscheiden würde. Alles! In wenigen Minuten würde er aufspringen, sich im Bad unter die kalte Dusche zwängen, den spärlichen grau-durchwirkten Bart zurechtstutzen und dann ... wäre es Zeit. Monate, fast Jahre hatte die Vorbereitung gedauert. Jedes einzelne Detail war er im Geiste hunderte Male durchgegangen - Nichts konnte ihn heute aufhalten!

Nur noch wenige Augenblicke, dann würde er anhand des genau festgelegten Zeitplanes alle notwendigen Schritte vollziehen. Er lächelte. Der perfekte Plan. Nichts konnte schieflaufen, er war sich sicher. Und dann: Auf nimmer Wiedersehen, triste Pensionszimmer, lauwarmer Kaffe und pappige Brötchen, verpackte Sandwiches. Und auch keine öffentlichen Verkehrsmittel mehr, deren Geräusche jetzt durch das halbgeöffnete Fenster drangen. Bald würde er im Cabrio durch die Straßen seiner Stadt kreuzen.Er würde sie rückerobern, jetzt, für alle Zeiten. Es war soweit.

"I used to like this town, a long time ago" dröhnte der Radiowecker noch immer. Mit einem entschlossenen Schwung schlug er mit der Faust auf den Ausschalter und drehte sich auf die Seite. Er schlief sofort ein.

23-08-2003, 16:14:58
I used to like this town, a long time ago.

Over there, is where I learned to ride a bike.

Right there, behind McPherson's garage, I learned to play doctor with Jennifer White. And later taught Ginger Spears that simple game.

That's where we used to go to church. Mom, Dad, and my sister.

And way over there, that's where I first went to school. Hard to imagine, it's been that long. But that's where I learned to read and write.

Over there, is where we used to hang out, after school. Friends forever. Yeah, right.

And there's the old shortcut. A real shortcut, unlike most. Great for cutting off 5 minutes for the walk home from school. Except that one time, we found that old, dead donkey, rotting there. Imagine, a dead donkey, in the city!

Over there, that used to be the little convenience store we'd go to after school, and get a soda and a bag of chips. We'd split them, and fight over the spoils until they were "even".

Over there, that's where I first caught my aunt doing it with one of her boyfriends. After that, she didn't try to boss me around so much. I didn't realize why until now. I suppose something good did come from that after all.

That's where I learned to drive. Imagine! People, manually controlling their ground transport. Used to, that was the only way you could get from one point to another.

And over there, is where I we used to play horseshoes. Fun game. That place used to also have a bunch of little kid carnival rides. And over there, used to be a duck pond.

You used to be able to fish in that pond. Almost nothing but croppy was ever caught in it, but people had fun fishing anyways. I remember they had a wading pool that fed into the pond. You'd only try wading in that pond once, but the wading pool was a lot of fun and cool, in the summers.

We used to climb up the trees that used to be there. And play Tarzan. And spy on the neighborhood.

So much happened, in such little time.

Ah yes, there it is. The reason I've come this way. Back to where it all began.

They told us afterward that they'd crashed on our world. The impact itself wiped out everything around their ship for 5 miles. But we were just far enough out to survive that blast. Not very well though, nor very long.

They took us in, and fixed us up. For free. Or so we were told. Right. Free.

They messed up with so many of us. They had never seen such advanced mammalian life. Many mistakes were made. Some mistakes were not mistakes though. Although that was what they told us at the time. Those of us that survived their first help, and were not so repugnant as to drive our unhelped cousins mad, we became the Liaisons... those capable of living in their self contained world, and also of living in Man's world.

Some blessing that was. Sure, the trids make us out to be super men. Ha! So little do the simple, naked apes that used to be our own family understand.

We should have known better. But back then, we had just been happy to be alive. And we are not the only ones. All people forget: everything has a price.

"But you can bend steel with your hands!" Ah, but most that can, cannot handle an egg. Or feel anything less then steel against their hands.

"But you can fly!" Ah, but most of us that can fly, have to return to their world, to have our internal power systems recharged. Or else, our heart pumps will stop. What use is being able to fly, when you can never be more then 2 hours from your recharger?

"But you can see like a cat at night!" Ah, but if you can see like a cat, you cannot see the beauty of a rainbow.

"But you have perfect memories!" Ah, now that's something only the insane would desire. I can still recall all the smells of my grandfather's room, that day I first walked in and found his soul no longer dwelled in his body. The smell of our dead isn't nearly as bad as theirs, but it’s still something I would happily burn out of my memory, if there was any way possible. Not to mention all the tests that the government put us through for the first five years after we left the craft. And so many other things...

"But, you are immortal! You will live forever!" Ah, yes... their greatest carrot. They have so many, but this one carrot alone, would have delivered the world to them. They offer us so much. And this is the most sought after. Eternal life, just as you are... or at least, just as they want you to be. I can see the crowds of new supplicants now. Some wantabee supplicants have lived there entire lives, waiting in that line. I can see their faces, hopeful, eager, forlorn. All staring at my transport, hoping it will stop, and call them forward. Those people would sell anything, even their souls, for a mere taste of the "Gifts" granted to us.

Every day, the supplicants numbers swell. Every year, another government decides to join their "co-operative". With them senior partners with total control, total veto, of course. But noone significant in the surrendering governments care. They think they are going to be blessed. They think they will have eternal life. Some of them actually do. But they do not understand the price they must pay. And of course, noone will tell them, before they go to receive their ... "Gifts".

My eyes meet that of a young woman. She looks so much like Ginger Spears... when Ginger was her age. But that was more then two centuries ago. Ginger had nothing they were interested in, so they had no reason to wish to "Gift" her. Lucky bitch.

And now... the sheer amount of people here. If it wasn't for the ship's force screens, those people would be crushing each other to death against the ship's hull itself. Sigh. People used to compete like that for money. Now, they compete like that for life itself, and the power it brings.

The transport had been passed through the security screens. No threats to the ship or them detected inside this craft. Just what we left with, 67 hours ago.

I reached down and flipped the switch on the small package beside me. Seeing my hand on that switch, hearing the small sound of the click, brought up all the other times I've flipped a simple switch since I was... "Gifted". :shudder:

I could hear the tiny machine start powering up. It started making anti-matter, charging up the small anti-matter bottle I had hooked to it. Soon, it would all be ready. I had been sent out with an AM recharger, to fill the European continent's AM reserves back to full. The Union had long ago surrendered their souls to our world’s strangest immigrants. Just a few years after the USA and Canada had.

The transport slid up the ramp, into the crashed craft. The world thought that it wasn't capable yet of leaving, but I knew better. I'd helped restore it to full functionality many years ago. I could remember every task I'd been assigned, thanks to the "Gifts". They had decided that we were worthy of further study... and had stayed. And stayed. And stayed.

The AM charger chimed, and shut down. It was done charging the bottle. I reached down, and pulled the bottle free. Again, associated memories raced through my mind. I relived every moment I've pulled such a bottle off this charger. The worst by far was certainly recharging the heavy combat remotes down where Mecca used to be. The smell of roasted human flesh had hung so heavily to the remotes then. Bile rose up in my throat, but I managed not to vomit all over the transport's cabin at that memory. Or the others. So many others.

With skill born of the perfect recall of my mind, I over-rode the safeties on the bottle that kept it from being opened without being mated to an AM power chamber. The last time I did this was... at the Vatican. Right after it had decided our visitors were angels... fallen ones. At the time, I had thought they were mistaken. Now? I still disagree with the Pope’s decision. They are the tree of life and the tree of knowledge, tempting mankind... No serpent necessary.

That one, I had added a remote to. But not this one. Not this time.

One more switch. Just one more switch to flip, and I'll never remember another flipping a switch...

I used to like this town, a long time ago.

Scabrous Birdseed
23-08-2003, 18:21:18
“I used to like this… town a long time ago.”

By the general nodding of heads this produced, Jane realised she’d already caught the others’ attention. She was becoming quite good at this. God knows she’d done it often enough.

“It was so inviting at first. It was so big, so strong, so full of spirit; I used to let myself be caressed it its streets and tree-lined boulevards, gaze into its myriad of windows and desire it absolutely. It was so…”

Jane paused. Stacey in her usual nosy way interjected “big” but was shushed by all the other participants.

“No, no, not big. Urbane. It had all the glorious charm of the city. Every day it’d take me on an adventure, show me something new, little unexpected gestures of virility.”

Jane sighed. “But then, one day… I was walking in a part of its suburbs I’d never been through before. And they just went on and on until I realised the awful truth.” She had their undivided attention now. “It had conurbated! And not with a beautiful city either but with a dingy, smelly little uncultured hellhole built on a swamp.

“My world just… fell down. It was like a betrayal, like I could never face my city again. And then I realised how empty it all was, how meaningless my life had been. It was all dirt, crime and pigeon-droppings, so empty, so inhumane. And so I came here.”

The rest of the group applauded as Jane felled a final little tear. Mary put a hand up in an authoritative way. “Okay Jake, you go next. Take your time.”

As Jane felt the attention reluctantly turn away from her, she gave another, less audible sigh and glanced out the window at the lush village green. For an aching second, she imagined it all covered in lovely, lovely concrete.

As she turned back, Jake had already stood up and was beginning his statement.

“My name is Jake, and I’m a polisophile.”

29-08-2003, 08:10:35
‘I used to like this town, a long time ago’ Shirow-san said.
‘You don’t like it now?’ Miura asked.
‘What’s to like? It’s a shithole. No one comes here any more. Everyone gone off to the city. All the bars shut up, except this shithole.’ He looked up and both he and Miura took in for the thousandth time the surroundings of the Hawaian bar. The main neon sign was missing several letters, leaving ‘Hawa ar’. The few tables which were still out bore the graffiti of years of patrons. A small group of teenagers sat round one, drinking coke and looking bored. At the back of the bar, the booths with discreet lighting and weathered leather upholstery played host to a small number of silent old men. The bar side wall, once stacked with exotic drinks of all types and prices now bore only a few old and rather dusty bottles of some unspecified spirit and plenty of new, cheap whisky and sake.
The bar owner, Otomo, came over, waving a finger at Shirow-san.
‘Hey, what are you calling a shithole?’
‘I heard you! You can drink somewhere else if you like!’
Shirow leant over the bar and clipped Otomo round the ear. The heavy gold watch on his wrist caught Otomo painfully on the head.
‘No I can’t! There aren’t any other bars! We’re your best customers anyway, so who are you shouting at?!’
Otomo slunk back down to the other end of the bar and started washing glasses fervently. None of the other patrons looked round at the disturbance.
‘Maybe we should move on. Move back to the city.’ Miura said.
‘If Uncle says so.’
‘He’s a sensible man. We can’t make any money out here any more.’
‘If only they hadn’t opened that big indoor seaside resort in the city.’
Shirow took a packet of red Marlboro’s from the inside pocket of his loose-fitting suit. He placed one between his lips and then offered one to Miura. Then he pulled out a battered gold zippo and lit them both.
‘You want to go to the whorehouse?’
‘If you want.’
Shirow rose from the bar stool and began to walk towards the door. He shouted back over his shoulder ‘Hey Otomo, put these on the tab yeah?’
‘Hai.’ Otomo said resignedly. ‘Hey, where are you going?’ he shouted after them, but they only waved hands over their shoulders at him.

Outside the bar, it was light still, much brighter than inside the bar. The waves rolled gently up the beach on the sea front and a few seagulls soared lazily overhead. Miura chuckled.
‘Who was that guy, the one who bet you that you couldn’t hit one of those with your gun?’
‘Ono. He ran that bar on Shinjuke.’
‘Ono!’ he laughed again, ‘That old bastard! The look on his face when you hit it! Feathers and shit everywhere!’
‘I shoot better when I’m drunk.’
‘I don’t know if my gun is loaded or not.’
Shirow looked at him disapprovingly. ‘You should take more pride.’
They walked on a little further. Shirow stopped and turned to Miura.
‘Hey you should have driven, why do I have to fucking walk everywhere?’
‘The Mercedes is in the repair shop, you crashed it.’
Shirow stared at him for several seconds.
‘You can’t get another car? Call yourself a gangster?’

They walked down the front, past the boarded up shopfronts, eventually turning away from the sea and walking into the old town. They soon reached ‘Happy Memories’, the whorehouse. The old man on the door bowed his head as they walked past him and down the steps, out of the natural light and into the artificial light of the cellar bar.
The strains of ‘Fly me to the moon’ greeted them. Someone was singing karaoke.
‘Hey is that Minoko?’ Miura said, ‘she’s got a good voice!’
Happy Memories was decorated like a turn of the century parlour. A cheap one perhaps, but a far cry from the neon and palm trees look of the rest of the town. Several of the whores sat around looking bored. From one of the private rooms came the sound of conversation and drinking. In the corner of the lobby-cum-bar a karaoke machine was sitting and Minoko, a pretty young prostitute, sat singing along from a stool at the bar. Shirow and Miura were greeted by the madam, Miss Rei.
‘A room and some drinks gentlemen?’
‘Just drinks. We’ll watch the karaoke, eh Miura?’
They took a table in the corner of the bar and slid into the leather seats. Miss Rei came over with two tumblers of whiskey. ‘No ice for you Miura-san, ok?’
She set the tumblers down.
‘No girls tonight?’
‘Maybe later’ Miura said.
‘I can’t go on like this. I’m having to lay girls off.’
‘Same here. Nothing left for us in this town.’ Miura said.

Several hours later both men were still at the corner table. They sat, slouched, smoking.
Shirow turned his head slightly towards Miura.
‘I’m going to phone Uncle. Give me your phone.’
‘What’s wrong with your phone?’
‘I forgot it. Give me yours.’
He handed Shirow his mobile. Shirow held the phone close to his face and stared at it for a minute or so.
‘How do you work this thing?’
‘Let me do it, I’ll show you.’
‘Just dial the number and let me speak to him.’
Miura dialled and handed the ringing phone to Shirow.
Shirow held the phone loosely against his ear.
‘Who is this? Is Uncle there? Well where is he? Tell him it’s Shirow, calling from Kamegawa. Hai.’
There was a pause of two or three minutes. Shirow stayed utterly still, clutching the phone to hs ear.
‘Ukkyo-san, it’s Shirow, from Kamegawa. Well, we’re just doing this and that. We want to come back. There’s no business here any more. Hai’
He took the phone away from his ear and looked at it for a second or two before handing it back to Miura.
‘How do you turn that off?’
‘Don’t worry about that, I’ll do it. What did he say?’
‘He said “what are you fucking around there for, do you think you’re on holiday?”’
‘Then he wants us to come back?’
Shirow nodded.
‘The car doesn’t come out of the shop ‘til Tuesday,’ Miura said.
‘Forget it, we’ll get another one.’

31-08-2003, 02:32:31
(better late than never)

“I used to like this town, a long time ago. My home is where I hated and was hated the most. But this town was for me a galaxy far away from home, where people could be forgotten like shooting stars and thus be free. Be someone else, themselves.” He took a sip from his ice coffee.
«Oh cut the crap Jason! I’ve been hearing this little piece recited over and over from you ever since I’ve met you. I must have heard this little tear-dripping nostalgic lame ass poem of yours with your, oh so pathetically subtle, variations over a thousand times. Well you can forget it. If you go back, you lose me and that’s it».
He tried to tell if it was anger or concern that darkened her pretty face. At least she was being honest.
«I’ve never owned you» he replied and it could be mistaken for pretentiousness if it wasn’t for the obvious pain in his voice.
«Oh for Christ’s sake, Jason. Grow up! For once in your life grow up!» Irene sprung up so fast that only divine intervention can possibly explain the little round table holding its ground after balancing precariously right and left. A grandiose turn around, her hair drawing an autumn half moon in the air, a snake like quick reach for her little elegant handbag and she was gone. Damn she was beautiful. «Even more so when she’s sad» he thought and the thought scared him.
The sun was setting across the sky, painting the nearby white ancient temple ruins with an eerie dark red colour. «The colour of sacrifice» he whispered to himself and he gave a bitter chuckle.
He got up and paid the waiter. Making his way between the closely placed little tables he nodded goodbye to another patron he had borrowed a lighter from earlier. He nodded back with a face full of irony and mocking sympathy giving him a crooked smile.
«Wanker» he thought off handily as he deliberately scratched his right eyebrow with only his middle finger giving the other guy ample time to read his mind.
The dark streets swallowed him.


«Oh you broke up? Well now I’m free to tell you this: She – Was - A – Bitch, mate!»
Peter was staring straight into Jason’s eyes, his head moving slightly up and down in a reassuring motion, a teasingly broad smile on his face. The city traffic noise was barely held outside the café’s imposing front glass walls.
«What are you talking about?» Jason replied, mildly surprised.
_«Well, haven’t the others told you anything?» Peter insisted.
_«No one’s said anything to me!»
_«I guess they were just being discreet then» Peter concluded and looked away, dully.
On second thought, he didn’t have much trouble believing it after all. She was a bit opinionated. And strong willed. And wanted everything to be done her way, if possible. That’s probably one of the things he loved about her. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, to state her desires out and wasn’t particularly concerned whether other people disagreed or were inconvenienced. When the gang was planning where to go, she’d most often than not be the first to propose a place and then stick to her suggestion, politely but firmly. Jason would just sit back and enjoy the show. Most of the time she’d have her way. «The Princess’ demands» he thought sweetly and smiled. She also had a tender side, that she kept just for him. He felt privileged for that and he also knew her very vulnerable side as well, nights drawn in fearful tears. But it was over. The sacrifice was she. He had to go back to the town of his youth. It didn’t matter if he actually did. But he needed to have and cherish this thought of escape. Without that perspective, he’d suffocate. It was the only thing that kept him going and he was running forward at full speed. To stop now would mean to crush and burn. He was a drifter at heart; that much he knew about himself. And Irene was a builder. Growing roots, a secure, stable unmoving suffocating life built on pretences; exactly the life the others are expecting from you to live. A life “comme il fault”. «Naturally. This is the normal thing for someone to want» he spat, his irony eclipsed only by his disdain at that – and her – way of thinking. This was her world. To travel and stay somewhere else would be like asking a goldfish to bear a few days in the open air. He hated his past here even if it wasn’t his own doing, she loved her own. He could hardly wait for his future to come, she felt threatened by the prospect. This place hated him and he hated it back. She couldn’t imagine living somewhere else.
So that was it. Back to that distant old town, alone and content, far away from home to the place he can really call his own.


He opened the window wide and the cold and humid air lashed hungrily at his face. He welcomed it filling his lungs with it. Outside the pine trees stood tall in the morning dew creating the scene for a glorious new day. A never before feeling that nothing’s impossible overwhelmed his body and soul as he let his eyes wander to the small forest and its morning mist in front of him. He hurried downstairs to the hotel’s restaurant to catch an early breakfast.
«From California?»
«The US»
«South Korea»
«Italia, si»

Above the buzz the tides of single words were sent through the air, people introducing themselves, as he entered the spartan dining room. He sat down on one of the few remaining empty chairs. Short dark hair and a mischievous baby face. Spain, Greece…
«Have you found a place to stay yet?»
«No, will start looking today.»
«Mind if we go looking together?»
The town that noone owns, belongs to everyone and the past can’t reach. He was, finally, back.

01-09-2003, 05:44:23
I used to like this town, a long time ago. But now I don't. Go figure.

03-09-2003, 13:42:26
“I used to like this town, a long time ago.” His face turned dark when he said it, looking out the window. Peter had seen it coming when he had asked him to be moved to the window. “It really was a nice town, you know. Far better than that other place. Old houses, canals, little streets, the old cinema and the dance club, it had everything. The place was so full of life, innocent. But it all vanished in a second when the bombers came. Just like that. Well, the fires lasted a few days of course. That really finished it off.” He paused, lying motionless in his bed. Peter couldn’t even see him breath.
He had heard the story many times before. His grandfather had always been a grumpy character, but these days it seemed to get worse.
“Everything was different after that. The heart of the city was gone, it had lost its soul. People weren’t the same either. The innocence was gone. You could see it in the eyes, the scars on the soul.”
“And then the city had to become a ‘modern’ place. Ugly buildings, no more canals, big open streets so the cars could come in and ruin everything with their noise and their stench.” His face had grown tense, angry. Softly he said, “Everything was better before the bombs.”
Peter knew that he also meant people. His grandfather’s second wife never was more than a substitute for the grandmother Peter had never known. Maybe it was better to ask the warden to take away the wheelchair that stood unused in the room. The wheelchair that had moved his granddad for almost 60 years. He never had wanted another one.
“I have to go now, granddad.”, Peter said.
“Yes, that’s fine, boy. Tell your father that he should come visit me more often. You know he’s all I have. All I ever had, really.”
“I will, granddad.”
Standing by the door, Peter looked back at his granddad, looking out the window. A 85 year old man who had died at age 20.