The Transfiguration

everything is sacred

Archive for the ‘stories’ Category

Sign of the Day #2530

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Sign of the Day #2530

There is a world where the signmaker is an unfulfilled artist, given free reign of her domain but disappointed by the scope of her work. Every sign she creates – which is every sign the public needs, lining every road in the country – features these dejected faces. Children At Play, Road Work Ahead, Elderly Crossing, Wet Floor, Watch Your Head: hundreds of thousands of frowning stick figures playing out every facet of our lives, dejected.

The people in this world live out their lives much as we do, traveling to and fro, reasonably happy for the most part; but the tone there is a notch or two more melancholy than here, and the frowning signs have been around for so long that no one remembers it ever being different.

I wonder how much influence things like this can have on us.


Written by Umbrella Man

August 26, 2015 at 9:59 pm

Posted in found things, stories

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Crops of the Day #2439

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Crops of the Day #2439

Slim streams of pale grass are irrigating the brick farms here, pulling minerals from the earth to grow these heavy crops. Fresh-grown brick is a newly discovered delicacy for the golems, who have lived for so long on tasteless gravel and cinderblock.

From this far up it looks like a modest little overgrown patio, but these vast acres of brick will feed several golem cities, and the tireless muscle they lend in return is well worth the effort when winter comes.

the tiny desk blues

Written by Umbrella Man

May 27, 2015 at 11:42 pm

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Constellation of the Day #2087

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Constellation of the Day #2087

So, of course, there is in some place a planet where, by an astronomical coincidence the stars are aligned in just such a way that their constellations actually speak the truth about every citizen they shine upon. Their cosmic advice is manifold, providing guidance on everything, from the slightest minutiae of life – such as the number of teaspoons in a cup – to the steps an empress must take to prevent an outbreak of war. The language of this planet has adapted to take the form of constellations, and in every building, on every road, you will find the stars guiding you, and know that your path is steady and clear.

The people of this planet were astonished when they learned that the stars were more than a script written in the great canvas above, and they look up now wondering what advice their own sun gives to other life. They would be offended, most likely, if we told them our stars told us nothing but lies.

do not wander

Written by Umbrella Man

June 9, 2014 at 10:34 pm

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Caterpillar of the Day #1987

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Caterpillar of the Day #1987

Caterpillars are a clade endlessly hounded by birds, but this particular species has developed a means of disguise that hide it perfectly from those sharp-eyed predators. Their existence was only recorded very recently, as they’re only visible to the myopic and to those who consciously relax their eyes. In that softened perspective, these fuzzy caterpillars appear clearly as a chain of wriggling lights, but birds are far too attentive to stop and notice them.

The wings of the butterfly stage are painted with chaotic patterns, but unfocus your eyes and they’ll merge to form a hidden image.


Written by Umbrella Man

March 2, 2014 at 12:15 am

Posted in light, sources, stories

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Cherry of the Day #1950

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Cherry of the Day #1950

Making these silly little sprites has mostly been a reminder of how hard illustration actually is.

Recently the game company King, creator of Candy Crush Saga, has filed trademarks claiming the words “Candy” and “Saga” for anything game related. In response, indie game developers started a Candy Jam – an invitation for anyone interested to create their own candy-themed games as a demonstration of how ridiculous King’s trademark attempt is. Thinking over this, I imagined the story of a cherry’s journey to become the sweetest candy, and the many transformations he underwent along the way.

In stage 1, on the left, he’s a mere cherry, rolling about in the branches of the tree. At the level’s end he falls into a milkshake and magically becomes a maraschino cherry.

In stage 2 he discovers that his maraschino stickiness allows him to climb up walls, and he makes his way onward until he’s transformed yet again – this time into a gummi cherry.

In stage 3, with squishy gummi powers, our cherry hero learns to jump, and when he bounces into a candy factory he’s compressed like a diamond into hard candy.

In stage 4, hard-candy cherry ricochets around the factory like a pinball until he’s pulverized into pixy stix dust, the sweetest, most sugar-dense substance imaginable.

In stage 5 he is no longer recognizable as a cherry at all. Drifting on the wind in a cloud of sweetness, the once-cherry swirls out through the world until he finds himself back where he began, at the tree where he was born. Our candied protagonist realizes that he has forgotten himself through the course of all these transformations, and he hardly remembers what it was like to be part of a tree.

Sailing onward, the sugar-cloud finds a tiny cherry sapling. Grown from the pit he lost when he was maraschinoed, the sapling is sure to live a life he thought he’d abandoned entirely. Reassured, he floats away, perhaps to settle onto a distant cherry pie somewhere.

A slightly bittersweet ending, perhaps?


Written by Umbrella Man

January 24, 2014 at 1:24 am

Posted in pixels, stories

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Lid of the Day #1831

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Lid of the Day #1831

With a rumble and a low hum, the lid of our tiny box was lifted, revealing an unfathomable light burning beyond. It was far too bright to see who had pulled open the lid, but we could hear their susurrant voices coming through.

One said: “They aren’t quite done yet.”
Another replied: “Give them five or six more millennia.”

The lid was closed, the light faded, and our lives went on, but since then I’ve been aware of a constant, distant ticking sound – like an alarm clock, or an egg timer.

a feeling so startling

Written by Umbrella Man

September 27, 2013 at 2:23 am

Posted in friends, people, stories

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Story of the Day #1813

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Story of the Day #1813

Several years ago, at a picnic Alina had put on, we were marking our paper cups to claim them, as one does at these things. Emily and Alina made illustrations, but having no artistic inclination, I decided to write a story instead. It was inspired by a song, as the first line may indicate, so perhaps it was floating around in my head for quite a while, but I loved the feeling of having a little story grow in the moment like that, flowing almost as quickly as I could write.

The paper cup has survived with me for all those years, but I’ve meant to transcribe its story for a long time. The idea, perhaps, is that you can find meaning and beauty in even the most fundamental aspects of reality; with the right frame of thought, nothing is dull and everything is worth knowing, worth dedicating your life to. It’s something worth remembering.

It’s nice letting the ink flow again. I think I’ll make a habit of it.

looking up at that inverted compass

Written by Umbrella Man

September 9, 2013 at 12:11 am

Posted in scrawls, stories

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