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Home is where the Hog(lin) is

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kimandjax avatar kimandjax
Level 51 : Grandmaster Lego Builder
252

Hey guys!

A long time builder of all things Minecraft, I have never in my entire life written a story - ever! Unless you count that one story I wrote in Year 11 English class that was actually a dream and my teacher pulled me aside and asked quietly "Uhhh, Kim - wtf?"

I'd say I would be pleased to present this but I am actually chewing my hands with nerves!

So, my first attempt at writing? Please drop a dime if you enjoyed it!

kimandjax







Home is where the Hog(lin) is



The shop was one she had never been into before.


Not because she didn't want to, oh no! Quite the opposite really.


It almost beckoned, with time-worn cobblestones guiding heedless feet right up to the entrance, warm light flooding out from under the rickety spruce door; it wanted to usher you in like an old woman calling in her children from playing out in the moonlight.


Patches of vibrant green were sown sporadically through the stones, with lush tall grasses waving welcome with their feathery arms. Delicate, hand crafted stained glass panes caught the sun rays that escaped from behind the clouds with their perfect imperfections, and winked sparkles back at your reflection.


In a dream-like state she opened that door, a golden bells song trilling above her head as she stepped over the threshold, dusting the crown of her russet brown hair with a shower of weightless rainbow music notes.


Shelves stacked upon shelves would greet her, stretching as high as she could see with slender rows of glistening glass bottles, the old corks arthritic and stubborn. Wooden bookshelves asymmetrically lined the walls, standing sentinel as if the building was the intruder and they were there first. Dusty cobwebs were slung, drooping almost as an afterthought by a lazy black spider that had wanted to reside in the heat of the rafters, but later changed his mind.


There were shimmering pinks and lavender liquids in the vials, pastel greens and muted daffodil yellows too, all streaked with the blue haze of blended enchantment. They’d hum quietly a private song between them that only they knew the words to, while they poised, regally looking down on any soul that dared displace the gravel dust carefully arranged at their feet.


A bubbling brewing stand burbled a brackish brew, strange golden rods lay parallel with the recipe books that were huddled on the bench tops like rows of rails waiting patiently for direction. Fragrant bonemeal, wheatmeal and fresh cornmeal tickle your nose in grainy creaking barrels alongside clay flower pots lining the windowsills with mysterious brown fungi that thrived from within. These all paid compliments to the fat slate gray cauldron that sat overfed and content with his permanent placement on the dark oak floorboards. Fermenting eyes could be seen steeping in a sweet, sugary broth.


A plethora of shades and scents overwhelmed her senses with contradictions. So many vials with so many letters and names all on tiny labels with neat italic print curling around and hugging each letter and calling out to her one by one, list upon list of things she wanted to have. Names proudly on display, advertising grand promises to the purchaser and stirring excitement in the minds of the purse holder.


Success!

Happiness!

Faith!

Freedom!

Confidence!


But her eyes passed over these despite the ache to have these things too. Her gaze skimmed neat rows until it rested on one in a far corner where the light was not very strong. He wasn't as bright as the others, no matter how loud he shouted he was still raucously drowned out and swamped by the louder more extravagant bottles. Balancing on her tippy toes she could almost make out the writing, the picture on the front a squid ink drawn rendition of a Crimson Forest.


This one knew her plight. This one knew her name.


Absently, she tugged the faded leathery bag falling apart at her hip, strap slung across her chest. Her eyes held captive - not daring to leave that one bottle even for a single tick. The flap moved aside easily as you expect from a piece of fabric so soft and worn, the airy motion second nature.


Fingers sifted through the contents, knowing what they touched just by the feeling. A piece of flint, a crust of bread two days old. The tiniest gold nugget, worthless to you but valuable to her. Grains of dirt and flakes of stone laced the bottom, grazing skin and moving aside, making way for the inquisitive digits, as a deep ocean would persuade its very own sediment to sway with the tidal rhythm. She knew there were no gems in there, but she looked down anyway.


Eyes skimmed over what she had felt, as if she didn't trust her own flesh and bones to be truthful. Betrayal was an old friend, an uncomfortable midday shadow ever present in her life, so it really wouldn't come as a surprise if her mind had finally teamed up with providence and quietly begun to deceive her too. Defeat can't sting less, but resignation would remove the element of surprise. Plus, when you own so little you tend to know intimately what is inventorised.


As her hand came up empty, her mind raced forward allowing the stampeding disappointment to race up her body, hot and fast, like an iron giant rudely awoken from a deep slumber of millennia only to find it's still the same day. Heat waves blushed red against her throat, forcing her to swallow and swallow again to try control the emotional wave. It was a lump in her throat that made her chest constrict and her breath catch. It became an unbreakable cold chunk of bedrock in her chest.


She left the store feeling robbed. Robbed by poverty, by misfortune, by the town, by the winter that wouldn't shove off, robbed by the world! What kind of rubbish shop robs you?? She could feel herself getting madder, the hat on her head all at once uncomfortable and stifling. She had always worked hard! She was a good citizen and paid her way, she would help anyone that bothered to give her the time of day yet she could not afford to buy that one stupid bottle! The thoughts pounded out of her mind in time with her kicking any helpless pebble that crossed her path. Her stomach chose this moment to growl acidly, traitorous in it’s timing because she didn't even know where her next meal was coming from, let alone find a way to buy that potion.


A biting gust of wind nipped at her ears, stealing the warmth it had stored as she left the shop behind, demanding immediate attention and rudely snapping her back to the frigid reality. It was more than just being able to walk in and make a purchase- anyone could just walk in and only she would walk out with nothing. That store was for the wealthy, the curious, the shrewd. But she also knew this store was for those looking for what can't be found… and she had. The image of the blood-red forest wouldn’t leave her mind, it was like finding a photo of yourself from your childhood and feeling that uncomfortable moment of dissociation sweep over you because you can remember the picture but not remember being there.


Tears fell without permission, hot and angry - yet another thing unjustly being stripped from her against her will, blinding her momentarily. She pulled her scarf tighter around her neck, hunching her shoulders defensively against the cold like it would deter the droplets from trying to get under there. More emotions simmered to the surface, drawing deeper lines down her face, the overwhelming loneliness too strong to be contained and defiantly escaping her control.


There must be a way forward. There must be!


As she walked back to the fringes of the Birch forest, she allowed her mind to wander. The winter had held on dearly this year. Too long. Everything had been too long, but her memories felt longer, somehow made worse by the fact she had no one to share these small comforts with. Loneliness was a silent creeper, scheming and sly and always a few steps ahead just around a bend waiting to erupt and shatter any fortress you build around your heart. Defeat was heavy on her chest.



Trees still laid bare their spinal branches around her, naked without leaves to cover their modesty. Chrysalides hung from the coarse bark, cosy in the silk bedding cocooning them from the chill, the temperature telling time there is no reason to wake up, no reason to emerge.


A lone, dusty blue Cornflower stood rebelliously under the groaning Birch, bravely pushing up from the frozen ground through sparkling snow layers, short petals stretching to catch any God ray that completed the one way journey from the heavens. Life was patiently waiting to grow, ready and restless under the mist rolling over exposed roots. Spring thaw not yet been given the go ahead to march forward, an impossible stalemate between the natural and the unnatural was silently being battled between opposing teams that didn't know they couldn’t win.


Despite the fact that chaos has no order by definition, she found granting her thoughts permission to jumble freely somewhat soothing. They were like an animal you thought you could leave off the leash but instead they decided to take off in the opposite direction. Still, they always came back home, better for having run wild. No one moment could define this feeling, too many had occurred in the last few weeks to even begin prioritising them, disorganised like a dump chest - but subliminally she still felt a shift deep down, losing part of who you once were and feeling so heartbroken watching it sail away across a warm ocean never to be seen again.


She was afraid to acknowledge this haunting realisation, scared if she lent it too much thought it would somehow gain power and metastasize into a destructive reality and consume her pixel by pixel until she no longer knew who she was.


Breathe in. Call your thoughts home.


Breathe out. Anxiety dissolving in misty clouds.


Repeat.






A stinging sensation broke the spell.


She blinked away the moment and turned her attention to the berry bushes snagging her thighs. Short and rotund, even this hardy undergrowth struggled to present its tasteful, fruity treats this season. The soil was so tough no sustenance could be drawn from it and the daylight too diffused with shade to facilitate photosynthesis. Another food source would have to be found this day, ironically disappointment and hunger tasted the same.


Her cap was tight, like it knew her thoughts were leaking out and was trying to hem them in. Rearranging this, she glanced upwards to see the stars beginning to show through the frondescence, cobalt blues streaking the powder sky in graceful gradients, faint pinpricks peeking from behind the power of the setting sun, relieving the day of his shift and preparing to take watch themselves for the night. Dusk was a bewitching time for her, new and scary, something she had not quite adapted to yet. Twilight was very much a stranger, a disruptive activity out of routine that forces you to change course. And with a bitter twist of fate, the magic umbilical binding her to this feeling - was sympathy.


Dusk was an outsider, a trespasser alike.


There was an elderly shed leaning just inside the edge of these woods, only an arrows flight from Village and within sight of the Potion shop. Hobbled together by a random mosaic of patch work woods, the outbuilding brazenly proclaimed it was here before the town, proudly shaking his cane and showing it had the remnants of a starter house with fragments of crafting benches and cold furnaces still residing inside. He offers you somewhere you could be shielded from the night terrors and relentless guardians of the dark, a kind gesture from a forgotten build. A grass path had been pummelled into the ground with time and persistence, holding hands and leading the way to the entrance with the waxing moon.


A tremor injected alarm to her meanderings, a gentle rumble perceived by the soles of her feet. She looked down to a murky puddle and watched tiny water rings hopscotch over one another, each vying to get to the edge first. Strengthening, it climbed up her legs and in through her stomach where it sent her delicately held butterflies into a startled flutter. This had been happening every nightfall now for weeks without any warning but with menacing regularity. Birdsong had stilled, whether they had silenced for the night or were scared to sing, they knew something was fundamentally wrong and that alerted every living thing a withering danger was being released and making itself comfortable close by.


Urged by the events she knew were coming with the night and not wanting to see any of it, she quickened her steps. A deeper boom shook, reverberating in her teeth metallic and ghostly, adrenaline hastening her pulse she sprinted the last few blocks to the barn, slipping on the wet grass..






Silence.



Dust bunnies swirled in front of her, chased by her abrupt entrance, stretching out claws like a cat who had just woken from a nap. The door, where’s the door?! Crap, there’s no door! Heart beat loud in her temples, she snatched two chests from their reverie under the window and shakily stacked them in front of the opening she had stumbled through. She sure hoped that would hold, if anything tracked her into this refuge she'd be in some serious trouble!


The hairs on her arms prickled and stood to attention, electric tingles shooting to her shoulders and up the back of her neck as she shivered with the messages her brain was sending, fear close behind it bearing down on her. She had to try to calm down.


As her eyes adjusted to the dim light, she looked around. A slab of stone was drunkenly teetering on its side against the wall, the chests she removed had revealed the floor was made of rich planks of spruce and stone, a pressure plate table gathering silt in the corner barely raised its head in acknowledgement under the weight of dust as it sat beside a stone hearth, unused and soot cold. There were fence posts in place of windows, the glass long since busted out. Someone must have been here at some point, someone who cared enough to create an anonymous haven in this dormant clearing.


Sleep was calling, an irresistible tug that overrides panic and lingers just out of sight. Even the long shadows of sunset were laying down, resting their heads on fences and grass banks, wherever they fell, oblivious to the primeval noises choiring around them.


A rope ladder reached down from a confined loft to her right, swaying elegantly in the draught of the gated windows, yawning with fatigue that fitted the age of the shack. This hideout was perfectly cosy, crinkly oat coloured hay bales lined the railing above making her nose twitch with dust and streams of straw strewn casually on the floor provided warmth and insulation from the rising damp. This would make an adequate bed, although at this point she didnt care what she slept on, as long as it was soon.


The ladder creaked in protest to her ambling ascent, her bones aching in unison as she climbed. There was barely enough room to turn around in, but only one way up or down so she could sleep safely, if not soundly. The audacious moonlight cast a watchful white glow on her face after dismissing the sun, and she closed her eyes and took a deep breath in basking, leather vest crackling with expansion, glitter from the day glimmering as it fell to the floor. Cross legged, she sat down in the middle. She was so tired - it numbed her mind, sat heavy on her heart, and suffocated her soul.


Sleep will bring weightless relief, for a few short hours at least - she knew she could always go home in her dreams.






Rustling whispers dredged her from the depths of restfulness, lucidity staying behind in the mysts of slumber, reluctant to surface with her consciousness. Opaque words came in on the breeze, through the cracks of the walls and around the eaves of the mossy roof, gathering in the crooks of the loft and swirling around each other. Indecipherable in their discord, they collected in the corner until they ran out of space and were piled on top of her.


One eye cracked open, her head tilted to hear better. This side of her coat was unpleasantly cold on her cheek; she must have fallen asleep instantly without moving. Nonsensical sounds tried to penetrate her dulled senses, breaking through one by one until they gathered enough force to make the other eye open. A crease appeared deep between her brows - what were they saying about tonight? More muttered murmurs mumbled. Too many had been lost already? Confused, she quietly sat upright and peered through the gap under the sill.


Statuesque figures rose from the ether of night, huddled in stark contrast to the glow of the village behind them. Close together, they were deep in serious debate with sentences filling the space between their heads, the odd word overflowing and flitting in her direction. Only one way? What was diseased? The tone carried to her was bleak and it triggered shivery goosebumps up her neck. Occasionally a head would pop up and a long, bulbous nose would point in the direction opposite the looker, toward the source of the turbulence.


Following his gaze, a portal contorted luminescent and phosphorescent, towering up behind the gossiping gathering like a colossal sea monster rising up and rupturing the oceans glass ceiling.


Blue-violet vibrated out, a palpable smolder that fell heavy on the ground, lethargic as if dragging the colour forward was a cumbersome chore. She could sense this portal was weak and it was most certainly the sickest she had seen so far. The heat resonating had regressed, declining to the point where you would likely only feel heat if you were standing close to it. Empathy pangs pierced her heart, hurting her as if she herself had been sliced by a razor, sharp and burning it lashed out at the dusk in agony with every cycle, unable to breach the divide that made it whole and maiming it's very fiber just trying to be complete.


The stray head folded back into the gathering, lost again amongst the others.


What had to be tonight? She wondered.


The midnight assembly abruptly broke apart, meeting clearly adjourned. An agreement must have been reached as they all nodded their heads and in unison a “hrrmphh” could be heard echoing off the tree trunks. Pairs of shadow broke away and shuffled back into the toasted halo embrace of the village, further discussing in duets what had been talked about as a group. Silhouettes redefined their edges under the lamp light exposing themselves as local folk - the Blacksmith and the Librarian, the Fletcher and the Shepherd. Other dwellers nudged back their hoods as they entered homes by the backdoors and revealed faces taught with concern while casting nervous looks at the gateway dying in their forest.


What was the meaning behind this unorthodox communion?


Sleep was long gone, she knew she wasn’t going to get any more this night. Her stomach fussed at being prematurely awoken and loudly reminded her of its distress at being empty. She still had that loaf of bread in her homespun satchel, stolen fresh and fragrant from a Farmers kitchen the day before. It disheartened her that she was reduced to taking food without trading, it went against every single thing she'd ever been taught growing up, and as a result somewhere down the line her actions would have a knock on effect where another soul would be without sustenance. But if she didn't pinch today, she wouldn't live tomorrow, the decision forced.


Carefully she climbed the ladder backwards, toes searching for the next rung unsure of the gap between them. One hand steadied her sleepy body while the other held a hastily torn off crust that would taste as buttery as it smelled. The ground was damp underfoot, she could smell its clammy touch before her feet touched it, muscles tensing in shock as the cold permeated her bed warmed skin. She tucked her hair behind her pink ears, pulling a stowaway piece of straw from the lock. She smiled at this small novelty, it was not a common commodity at home but it was everywhere here. Holding it to her nose she could smell farm animals and soil, earthy and solid. It was still night so the moon had removed the golden hue from the thin fibre, beyond that the room around her appeared even colder for the lack of colour.


The corners of her eyes were still crinkled with peacefulness that the straw gifted her as she softly shifted weight from one foot to another, toes digging into the loose gravel as she made her way over to the chests barring the door. She tore off a generous bit of bread and her mouth burst into rain, tastebuds rejoicing with the gift of food.


As her eyes adjusted to the light outside, she began to listen while she quietly chewed. The breeze that had touched her face in the loft was playing in the grass outside, whispering between the blades as it chased an ethereal ribbon. A mother bird delicately shifted in her burrow, brush stirring awake as she stood up, stretching her spindly legs then resettled protectively on her freckled treasure. A baby's cry floated faintly across the silence and a sizzling fireplace crackled and sacrificed expired embers up to the sky. Night bugs chittered good morning to each other and a beady eyed Possum crouched ready on a branch, tail balanced and nose twitching trying to smell which direction his supper was coming from.


The clearing was empty.


Sliding the stacked chests sideways, she wandered over to the hushed portal, quiet and defeated like a boxer would be after 20 rounds in the ring. Vibrations still pulsed sonorously, but they were subterranean and subdued. It was a deep purple-black stone that formed a crusted arch, irregular facets reflecting in every direction like a cut emerald. It was warm to the touch, like the way a footpath feels being stood upon in the evening after a bright summer day. It spoke of being sober and drunk all at the same time, erratic and static - but very much conscious and the potion needed to cure this suffering Shapeshifter was not even 40 blocks away. This was a familiar rock that was framing the swirling liquid glass, violet and dynamic concentric coils circled inwardly until they ate their own tail and started over again.


It did not feel right to her to see it here, the bluish-black obsidian in harsh contrast to the greens and browns of this over world. An outlander like herself, she ran her palm down the side of the burnished behemoth feeling a strong sense of belonging to the same time and place as this thing. If two strangers meet, are they then still strangers?


A sharp crack made her jolt, pupils narrowing with the impact as it seared red paths through her flesh. The concussion of being disturbed made her hand falter, instantly forgetting the rough feel of fired glass under her fingertips. It is an unusual phenomenon, when your body knows you’re not alone before your brain registers a presence. Fight or flight is a natural instinct for any creature and when the world is unfamiliar, you lean towards the familiar.


Energy sped through her body, adrenaline right behind it ignoring all personal borders as she spun on her heels. Wisps of hair sprung about her neck and eyes darted left, right and left again as fight mode kicked in. With feet bare, a chunk of bread in her hand and no weapon on her, she had little options at her disposal - clenching her fists tight she prepared to go down swinging, nails digging vicious ravines into her soft palms.


Something crunched theatrically in the bushes, her head snapping back to the portal, arms tense and shaking with pent up nervousness. She fast realised the noises were coming from behind the portal just out of sight. A muffled grunt, this time clearly laced with pain made her pause, yeah something really wasn't quite right here. For starters, if she thought about it, she wasn't scared, only startled. She let out her breath that she had been holding for goodness knows how long and allowed her shoulders to slump. Whatever was being held captive by the shadows was small and clearly not happy.


The furious thrashing angered the wildlife, birds tittering with displeasure of being disturbed and a brown rabbit perked his ears, his frantic burrowing staccato startled out of time.


With a burst of leaves and twigs showering the ground at her feet, a bristly, stubby boulder thundered out into the glow cast by the ether, plumes of grit particles mixing with scattered detritus, petite black hooves teetering under the mass they precariously supported, limbs tripping each other up with crosseyed disarray. A furry pink mess tumbled into a heap at her feet, a victorious snort escaping the snout buried half into the coarse dirt.



A weak laugh escaped her mouth as a slow grin spread across her face transforming the worry in an instant to pure relief, crushed bread falling forgotten to the ground.


“How did you get here?” She uttered, her voice unfamiliar even to herself.


Hope had heard her broken heart and crossed the divide from the Crimson Underworld to where she was found stumbling blindly, lost in the vast alien universe and desperately alone.


Big brown eyes looked up at her through thick black delicate eyelashes.


Hope was her pet baby Hoglin.


*****




Love has no borders. It is timeless. It is immortal. Love is dimensionless and it will always find you, even if you're a displaced Piglin in her darkest hour.

Home is where the Hog(lin) is - A short story by kimandjax








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1
03/27/2020 10:27 am
Level 31 : Artisan Loremaster
Rogue64
Rogue64 avatar
Nice story! Good luck! (Even though I've also entered) ;)
1
04/02/2020 3:27 am
Level 51 : Grandmaster Lego Builder
kimandjax
kimandjax avatar
And good luck to you too, friend!
1
03/23/2020 10:18 pm
Level 1 : New Miner
0_Chameleon_0
0_Chameleon_0 avatar
Well done Kim :-)
1
03/24/2020 5:46 pm
Level 51 : Grandmaster Lego Builder
kimandjax
kimandjax avatar
Hey thanks Daz! You're a great friend to me and I value your support x
2
03/23/2020 5:39 pm
Level 15 : Journeyman Engineer
Mr_Nobody1166
Mr_Nobody1166 avatar
This was an amazing read! You expertly used a lot of words to weave your tale into a wonderful tapestry of Minecraft. I wrote my own story, but it is only half as long, and it pales in comparison to yours. Thank you for sharing your talent with the Planet Minecraft community, and, although I want to win desperately, you are my second choice. Thanks!
1
03/23/2020 7:16 pm
Level 51 : Grandmaster Lego Builder
kimandjax
kimandjax avatar
Hey! Thank you for your comment - and I totally get it haha :) I read your story too! I love how you incorporated the server/game frezing while it updates/saves - very thoughtful. Well done!
1
03/29/2020 9:40 am
Level 15 : Journeyman Engineer
Mr_Nobody1166
Mr_Nobody1166 avatar
Thank you very much! I wasn't sure about that portion, but thanks for reassuring me! I hope you enjoyed my story as much as I enjoyed yours.
2
03/22/2020 9:54 am
Level 53 : Grandmaster Musician
Punkamoar
Punkamoar avatar
This is really good. Good luck!
1
03/23/2020 12:53 am
Level 51 : Grandmaster Lego Builder
kimandjax
kimandjax avatar
Thank you very much! ♥
2
03/20/2020 7:01 pm
Level 21 : Expert Ninja
Atlantiz
Atlantiz avatar
Very nice story!
1
03/22/2020 4:53 pm
Level 51 : Grandmaster Lego Builder
kimandjax
kimandjax avatar
Thanks, friend! ^_^
3
03/20/2020 12:01 pm
Level 1 : New Miner
MultipleMean150
MultipleMean150 avatar
Great work kimmy. Kept me wanting to read on until the end. <3
1
03/22/2020 4:53 pm
Level 51 : Grandmaster Lego Builder
kimandjax
kimandjax avatar
Thank you Meanie, I appreciate your encouragement! x
3
03/20/2020 11:23 am
Level 1 : New Miner
TreeMarie
TreeMarie avatar
Love this!!! Such a good story <3
1
03/22/2020 4:53 pm
Level 51 : Grandmaster Lego Builder
kimandjax
kimandjax avatar
Thank you, Tree <3
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