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The Enormous Dome of Despair

The dome stretches over a huge area and appears jet-black when viewed from the edge of the jungle. Jungle surrounds it, but no trees grow within twenty meters of it. The ground near the dome is completely barren save for countless skeletons of small animals.

The dome has to be two-kilometers across, but it only rises three-hundred meters above the tallest trees, giving it a flattened look. There are no obvious features visible from a distance, but up close there are faint patterns on its surface. Of what is it made? That is a great question, but no one knows. It is not made of anything natural, that is for certain. It gives the impression of being made of some otherworldly ceramic, but how would something that large be created without seams?

You should approach the dome from the South, as their old highway leads right to it and makes travel easier. There are paths from the East, but that will be harder going, and you will have to be careful not to get lost at forks. The jungle has reclaimed so much because it grows quickly, and it can be very dark under the canopy so you really should take the old highway.

I would suggest that you camp no closer than two or three kilometers from the dome. You can set up camp as close as one kilometer, but the hallucinations will be much worse. There are ruins on the left side of the highway that are about four kilometers South of the dome.  You should be able to find good water there, so stop to replenish your supplies even if you decide to camp closer. Most dome travelers camp at those ruins, so a permanent shelter and firewood might be available for you. Other travelers may have left messages, but you probably should not read anything you find, and please do not leave messages for others.

If you camp at the ruins, you should head to the dome two hours after first light. The effect happens at the solar zenith, and the highway gets more overgrown and rough as you approach the dome, so you will need time to get into position. If you are too early, I suggest backtracking and waiting at a safe distance before the close approach. Being too early means more exposure, but you cannot afford to miss the effect so try to be in place just a few minutes early.

The girl will need her feet cut free of course, but wait until she has been secured to the pole and blindfolded, so there is no risk of her escaping. You will know when it is time to leave the protection of the trees when the dome begins its low wailing. It is hard to describe the wailing it makes, perhaps impossible, but you will know it when it happens.

You will need to push the girl ahead of you, using the pole, but she will struggle and may fall if you push her too aggressively. What is important is that you push her against the dome before the wailing of the dome ends. She will be consumed, and you must back away and move to a distance of two or three kilometers as quickly as possible, or your fate will be the same as hers.

I will expect you back on the third day and will reward you then. Good travels.

 

Fun & Terrible Writing Exercises

Daily or weekly writing exercises can be a fun way to practice the art of writing and break out of writer's block. In my case, I use the Title-O-Tron to generate a random "Pulp Sci-Fi" story name and write a 500+ word story at least twice a week. These are intentionally rough and unedited because they are just a way to warm up for the "real" writing, and I probably should not share them with the public... but if you are thinking of becoming an author this kind of writing is fun and I hope sharing my process will help motivate you.

Stephen Hermer