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The published piece this week is more of an essay than a story. But it interpreted the topic well For next week we have “Red Right Hand” as the topic. All submissions need to be sent in to ds.risingstars@gmail.com by Sunday noon. Word limit: 350-500 words. Good luck.

Descent of light

By Md. Wasif Akram Hussain

Hertzel had been on the run for years, he had forgotten how long. Clad in a drab cloak, the background of autumn redwoods proved perfect for him. He was running. All he could think about was running. He had grown wear. However, he must not give up; the only solace to his impatient mind was thinking it was all for the best - however he had his doubts?

Hertzel could hardly recall home; he remembered blinding whiteness. Shimmering and omnipresent. He resented it. His only tie to that place was the gleaming weapon on his back. It was a cross between a halberd and a sword: his one true friend - Zalazeal. It meant "the hierarchy of order" in his ancient tongues. How apt!

A flurry of wind kicked the crunching leaves at his feet, Hertzel could sense them; the air was befouled by their breath. Decay reeked in the air. It was not natural. Hertzel picked up his pace. But nothing shook those half-breeds off. Even as he breached his limits, he could sense those bodies - a cradle of filth and petulance. The cadavers had crept up on him slowly.

Hertzel saw a break in the line of trees. Unadulterated moonlight bathed the plains before him. He spun on his heels. Braced. They emerged. Hertzel remembered them well from the Palace. The shallow eyes stared back at him; the black bodies and lanky limbs had peeling skin and oozing crevices. Their voice rattled in the cold air. Hertzel knew what was coming next; he had seen it before at an execution. Seraphims - his race - were cruel.

Hertzel was stabbing in the dark, but he could do nothing else. He counted under his breath. One. Two. Three...

The cadavers pounced on him. A moment of hesitation gave those vile creatures an opening to sink their fangs into Hertzel's calves. How foolish - did they not know that of his race, he was the only one who did not bleed? A swing and one lay limp on the ground. Moving targets really. In frenzy, he blew past the ranks but the sheer numbers overwhelmed his tired limbs. In the distance he caught a glimpse of a flurry of wings. Hertzel could not hold back any longer. He uttered, "Zeit Weils!" A blinding light emanated from Hertzel's palm. A tower of light propelled to the heavens and dispersed the darkness of the night. Scorched earth remained.

Hertzel reached out from within the light and grasped the throat of the blithering fool. It was another Seraphim like him. Hertzel stared into those panicked eyes. "Who sent you? Was it father?" Hertzel demanded.

"Yes. You are a fool to abandon your kind, sir." the Seraphim croaked back as Hertzel clasped the throat firmly.

"Well, tell father that the heir is not coming back and this will be the last any of your kind sees me until I march to battle. He was a fool to have sent you." He rested Zalazeal on his back and stabbed the messenger's eyes. White, thick blood poured from the sockets as the winged fool shrieked in pain.

The swoosh of the dawn air stung his open wound as it healed itself. He was weak; he could not get far. He had to break and recuperate. After all, it had been a while since he last used his powers without basking in the morning stars. All he could think of was whether the council now knew to back off. "Damn them for this!"

Nerd Flirting

By Safieh Kabir

Idiocy got boring when Paris Hilton became the new Audrey Hepburn, and it became possible for men to gain divinity with empty heads, good aim and excellent calf muscles. Aeons have passed since then, Paris has been to jail and back, and now Miss Universe is required to have an opinion on current affairs. We've flown past the mid-ground of basic literacy and have arrived at the stage where the shepherded, ignorant masses have cover photos that say things like “Intelligence is sexy”, and everyone (everyone) wears nerd glasses.

Let us assume now that you are one of the masses (to the genuine brains, or hipster Neanderthals, we sincerely apologise), and therefore, must readjust your life skills and general knowledge to this new trend. Primary, or top-five-ary, on the list of vital life skills is the ability to attract mates, colloquially known as flirting. We recognise the problem this poses. It is not possible to convert, overnight, the carefully created wardrobes or biceps to a bottomless store of Shakespeare quotes, or to suddenly acquire the ability to solve complex mathematical formulae. What do you, the watchers of the Premier League and Gossip Girl, know of Boson particles, or the M-theory, or the Dada movement of the twentieth century? Nothing. Do you possess a poet's smoky eyes, or a librarian's clever hands, or the undulating tones of charisma? Are they, by any chance, selling genius in little parcels at the corner store?...................................................................................................................................................

We'll make it clear to you right now; you're going to have to resort to the oldest, most conventional, trick in the book: cheating. You're going to have to impersonate personalities, adopt mannerisms and imitate speech patterns. To begin with, you're going to have to use their lines. Observe the following scenarios, and take notes where possible.

Guy nerd 1: Baby, it must've taken thirteen generations to produce a specimen like you.
Girl: Huh? What? Why?
Guy nerd 1: Because you look like you're selectively bred.
Girl swoons.

Girl nerd 1: Hey, are you the square root of a negative number?
Boy: Whyd'ya say that?
Girl nerd 1: Well, you seem too good to be real.
Boy swoons.

Guy nerd 2: Honey, do they call you fovea?
Girl: Why the hell would they call me fovea?
Guy nerd 2: Because without you, my world would be colourless.
Girl swoons.

Girl nerd 2: Careful now, the lactic acid's building up in my muscles.
Boy: Lacta-whuh? Why?
Girl nerd 2: Because you just take my breath away.
Boy swoons.

Notice the common feature of the four scenes. The object of the nerd's affections swoons every time. What does that communicate to you? Should you remain the way you are, stay true to your essence and soul?

Of course not. Betray your unhappy, inferior mind. Churn out memorised conversations, affect strange moods and dreamy expressions, even smoke a pipe if need be; but under no circumstances reveal to the world that beneath the facade, you've retained the same stupidity that went out of fashion so long ago.

In defense of nerd-dom

“Why is being a nerd bad? Saying I notice you’re a nerd is like saying, ‘Hey, I notice that you’d rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you’d rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Linsey Lohan. Why is that?” -- John Green


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