We’ve only got one or two more weeks of spooky themes left, and this week’s choice will not disappoint. There were a lot of good suggestions, but only one so monkey’s pawesomely faustian in its implications, that it had to be the winner.
This week’s prompt is:
They All Came Back
Read the Rules and Guidelines below to participate!
As I said before, this is a very, very open-ended prompt, but that’s a good thing! This could be about loved ones returning from the dead, changed. It could be about memories you thought you secreted away so far down they’d never resurface. It could even be about someone who doesn’t know how to turn away from a situation or a person they really ought to.
As long as you’re making us uncomfortable and spooked with this piece, you’ve done your job!
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Friday at 7:00pm to see if you made the cut!
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit, and get ready to help each other improve their confidence in their writing, as well as their skill with their craft!
Rules and Guidelines
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or song lyrics.
- One submission per participant.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- You must leave a review on two other submission to be eligible, and your reviews must be at least 50 words long.
- No more than 350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Include a story title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name).
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission live on stream and share it on our social media sites. You will always be credited as the author.
- Comments on this post that aren’t submission will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing entries
(“Family Jewels” continued)
More movement, clicking of stone on stone. She saw moonlight reflected off eyes that should not have seen her. The statues moved towards her. They spoke, “You will join us soon enough.”
“Never!” The vixen snarled, focusing her magic through that cursed paw, shifting the stone into a dagger blade. It was all she could do not to scream in pain, and without constant focus of her power on halting the spread…
They laughed, closing in, “Yes! Speed your fate along, cub! You will add to our beauty.”
But she was no cub.
She slashed, whole body jarring as emerald struck ruby. Her granddam or an uncle? No matter, she fought on as they grabbed with paws and jaws, to trap her with them. Her mother’s sapphire form offered comfort, “There is no fighting it. We failed our divine duty and were punished.”
“Then I will redeem us! I will not be another failure!” the vixen screamed, striking with all her might.
The vixen spun, leaped back, dagger missing her brother’s throat.
“What are you doing?!” Her brother, his canvid body a bluejay’s forehalf merged gracefully with jackal hindquarters. His demigod blood untainted.
She breathed hard, unharmed, surrounded by dead statues, mother’s sapphire head at her feet. She stormed past him, limping silently.
He examined the tomb, worried, smelling fear. What had she seen this time?
“Family Jewels” by Magan (349 words)
Dracora’s two moons shone into the cave, gleaming off facets of gemstone within. The vixen looked at them all, fox statues, frozen in agony and morbid beauty. Her ancestors. Her fate. She clenched her forepaw, the living emerald clicking together as bone and muscle moved beneath, the stone merging into fur further up her leg. A year, maybe less, the healer had said, but one could never tell with a curse flowing through a half-blood.
Movement caught the she-fox’s eye. She whirled, hackles up. Nothing but a trick of light. She rose to her hind legs, tail waving for balance, sniffing. No scent.
“You will join us soon enough…”
A whisper of wind through the cave. But there was no wind.
(Continued in 2nd post. Blame stupid character limit.)
by Benjamin Cook
In my dreams there is a carousel made of meat.
I think my mind means for it to be a menagerie of living things, a cabinet of fairy tale cryptids pinned in place with golden skewers. If that’s what it’s going for, it’s not doing a very good job. It always forgets to add the skin, can never seem to recall how things are supposed to be underneath. That it’s supposed to be mechanical. Muscles moving bones, nerves moving muscles, blood moving it all. Not this pink, pureed, bubblegum-smooth stuff, like blobs of displaced tissue sculpted into something new.
I never got the impression they were meant for riding, these carven, bubblegum-flesh meat beasts. But do impressions ever say no to impulses in the land of sleep? I find myself walking in circles around the thing, peering into the glazed pink eyes as they pass. I couldn’t tell you what I’m looking for in them, only that I always find it.
In a moment of transformative epiphany, the grotesque museum exhibit becomes a ride to me, and to it I am the rider. I cannot stop myself from boarding. And then my fingers are caressing the neck of my chosen beast, my arms wrapping about it, legs straddled over the sticky saddle. It’s soft, pliable. If I push, I can reach my hands into the viscid surface.
There, buried inside: a golden strand, the color of my mother’s hair. A single eye, the questioning blue of an ex lover’s. A nail my brother once chipped, trying to turn a bolt beneath a car.
Within each mount, the tiny fragments of what they once were.
Sometimes when I wake, after I’m sure there’s no sticky meat residue on my fingers, I go scrambling for a phone to call whoever’s twisted flesh-self I rode that night. And we’ll talk, and I’ll make sure everything is all right, and for a moment, undo some of the estrangement between us, banish their beast from the ride.
But always, it fades, and they come back, carved into the strange shapes I never knew I fancied.
“The Warning” by Exce
This is not a story. And it’s not a report. I write this as a warning to you, as I watch your magic being reborn with a new generation. Centuries since it was lost.
This Is a mistake I made myself, but also one I solved myself.
This is a warning of the restless Dead.
I am from a foreign place, I don’t expect you to recognize the names of my home and my people. But let this recounting be a lesson.
My people the Dracul used to be in what seemed like an eternal war with our sister species, the Fīfrildi and over many years there were countless battles. Many battlegrounds were flooded with blood more than once. It was a merciless existence on a merciless planet.
Until one day, whatever comes after death….failed. And with it came the potential end of both our species.
The emotions of hundreds of thousands fallen in battles served as a connection between their remains and their souls. Rage, Sorrow, Pride and Envy. Mostly Rage…Wrath.
It began in one of the oldest battlegrounds, its name lost to time now, a storm of light and energy. It formed out of thin air, rushing to fill the limp bodies of the fresh battle….and the dry bones of many more past.
In this energy was filled with raw emotion, twisting the souls into something monstrous.
The fallen of countless battles rose, no matter which side they used to belong to they were united in their intend to kill.
They call came back.
And the worst was, depending if the fallen used to be a Dracul or an Fīfrildi, they were immune to the magic of their own people.
An army of the undead, which was somewhat limited in its magic, but utterly unlimited in physical strengths.
Age-old enemies had to unite in order to bring down this threat, and they were lucky there were only two types of magic.
LumenOrbis variety would be its downfall should events repeat themselves.
Keep the peace, do not use your magic for war.
Written by Excelsius Cerell
Reborn by Grey
The figure stood against the creeping fog as the carriage drove off. Clutched in his hands where the patient files of the deceased Dr. Emmanual Bende. The rusted iron gates still open from all those years ago. The grass choked the path to the entrance, the door of which lay broken to the side. However, the mansion had stood the tests of time.
Stepping past the threshold, the wood groaned beneath his feet. The entryway had been covered in dust and grime. He never thought he’d come back here. But if his work were to ever be finished, he needed to collect a few things.
There had been rumors that the place was now haunted. Thankfully, he didn’t believe in ghosts. The only ghosts where his memories as he carefully made his way up the spiral staircase. Each step coughing up more dust into the air.
The study was on the second floor, most of the books had grown mold or fallen apart, but he didn’t care. He could always clear them out and start a new collection. His heart was racing as he collected the patient files. He crossed off “Deceased” and wrote “Reborn” on the page.
“It feels good to be back.” Dr. Emmanual Bende said as he leaned back in his old chair.
Return By Network_Overseer
I am a captive. For my whole life I have been.
Every day when I wake up I am alone. There is food, I have water, and if a threat occurs there are plenty of places for me to hide if I can’t fight it off.
My feet echo through my prison as I take steps, soft and quiet beneath my padding.
To say I need anything in life is false thankfully.
But I am lonely.
When my captors return I hear them long before they enter my prison, loud bangs of machinery and wood. Their giant forms looming at the entrance and that is when it happens.
The smallest ones rush after me as if I am a plaything, grasping me and stroking me speaking words towards me that I can’t comprehend. The larger ones are more peaceful, avoiding me as they walk, careful to not step on my frail body in comparison to theirs.
They always return near the same moment in the day and I dread it. My cell is turned into chaos and even my best hiding places offer me no peace.
Pulling at my hair and chasing me throughout the halls they reach out for me, bruising my skin as they pick me up. The wounds I gain every day are countless.
As the day continues I find myself exhausted, wishing for nothing but sleep. At this time the larger of my captors approach me, pick me up, and carry me to their quarters.
Even though the large ones captured me so long ago, I am fond of them.
Laying on one I sigh, content with my life in this small moment.
Then I purr.
By William Maitland
In the pale blue expanse of the snow-caked forest, the glow of Hagar’s fire pit was a singular beacon of orange light. He sat with his back against a log, his axe resting across his lap. Perturbed by a nocturnal vision, he jolted awake.
His fingers, by instinct, curled around the handle of his weapon, and the beginnings of a warrior’s yell boiled warm in his throat. A quick glance around, eyes blazing with crazed fury, revealed his nightmare to be just that.
“Hel’s winds, that was vivid,” he muttered. Slackening his shoulders and the grip on his weapon, he couldn’t find himself returning to sleep. The faces were still fresh in his memory. The faces of the fallen.
Hagar shook off the memory (some snow with it), and fumbled his hands on his sides until he found the horn, still strapped around him, still full of wine. He pulled it loose of his body, snapping the strap with the force of his yank. He drank deep, hoping in his heart it would help him forget them and move on.
Then came the call from the wind itself.
He dropped the horn, spilling it into a black-violet pool at his feet. Swiveling, weapon at the ready, he caught sight of the solitary shadow drifting toward him.
“You abandoned us…”
Several more. The leaders of the pack drew closer. Their accusing whispers grew louder, practically hoarse shouts in dead throats, passing through cold lips.
“We were to die together…”
He pivoted around. More were closing in from all angles. He cried out in defiance.
“Stay back, you devils! Back!”
“Atone, brother…” One of them stepped into the slowly-failing firelight.
Hagar dropped his axe. “Hakon…”
The dagger was still buried deep in Hakon’s neck. Wulf followed, eye still skewered by the arrow. One by one, his fallen friends stepped out of the shadows.
One by one, they bore down on him, and made things right.
by Samantha Realynn
I fought to keep my face expressionless, professional and distant as I escorted the pair to the door. The one I had tended to, my patron, had to be held up by their friend as they stumbled and swayed. I stood on the porch, watching as my patron was lifted and settled into the carriage by their friend. They slumped against their seats, staring out of the window. I wish I could say that the distance, the childlike blankness in their eyes didn’t bother me, that I had seen so many such eyes that I could bear it.
The carriage door closed and the other turned to face me. Now, this I could more easily bear; lips pressed in disapproval and anger, eyes hard in judgment and shame. I raised an eyebrow, silent. Their friend had come to me. My services had been begged for, as they always were. I couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit of triumph as they turned away, deliberately avoiding my gaze as my payment was fetched and the carriage rolled away.
I waited until the carriage was out of sight and I was back inside before finally letting go. I slumped against the door, my eyes closed as I steadied myself. I tossed the payment aside in a pile with so many others and headed back down into my workspace. I set to cleaning up the remains of my work. I gathered up bottles of elixir, setting them aside to be scrubbed and refilled. The crystals I cleaned and set back in their cases. Tools to focus the mind, potions to bring memories to the surface.
My hands shook as I picked up pages of black ink, of writing that was not mine. Filled with a memory that had not been mine, but one I had seen and felt as I watched eyes become blank and distant. Soon it would join thousands I already collected. So many judged me for what I do, what I took. But just as many came to me, and more came back.
They always would.
Those Who Returned
By David Wiseman
The ground had been shaking for days now, when the village elders decided The Goddess, again, demanded a sacrifice. Eno’on was not satisfied by the sacrifice of the weaver’s daughter days prior. Chieftain, High Priest Ra’il, and High Spear decided The Goddess craved three virgins. Ra’il burned the sacred leaves inducing the sight journey to discover the chosen.
High Priest emerged from his hut chanting the names of the virgins Eno’on had chosen. As their names were spoken, daughters of the obsidian knapper, hut builder, and elder fisherman were slowly, proudly, brought forth.
Dressed in the traditional dress of the sacrifice, the virgins were escorted, by Ra’il, to The Mouth of The Goddess. They shed their ritual dress, perform the traditional dance, and they fall to The Goddess.
The ground became still, and the sky became dark.
Fearful, villagers ran to their hovels; the High Three clamored inside their huts. The villagers heard the wailing of the spirits approaching the center of the village.
Clutching his weapon, High Spear saw them first. Fire wreathed, the phantoms approached him. He helplessly swung his practiced technique, to no avail. His scream rang throughout the village.
Chieftain, hiding helplessly behind his throne, is easily claimed by the spirits.
High Priest gathered all his artifices invoking The Goddess as he had learned from the oral tradition. The flaming specters laugh in a disconcerting drone as they approach him in his futile circle. Completing his last ritual, he looked upon the faces of the virgins he had sacrificed, whose nakedness he had delighted in, and had cast to their doom. With flaming eyes and wailing voices they gather upon him until he, his feeble holy symbols, and his opulent hut are consumed in flames of retribution.
“Settled” by Connor/Dragoneye
“Oh, you won’t believe what he told me after that.”
Richter leaned in onto the counter towards Eilise as she continued to share her story, with curiosity swirling in his eyes. “He told me ‘Eilise, don’t ya ever give this place away to anyone. It’s yours, and I’ll be damned if you allow somebody else to run it,'” she quoted, imitating a thick Volian accent.
“Oh, you better not. You make fine small talk. Always tellin’ me or somebody else a good story. And plus, you’ve done so much for this little town. I don’t know what some of us would have done without ya,” replied the young man, his deep voice slightly slurring.
The barkeeper let out a sigh of flattery. “I do like to think I’ve done my fair share of good here, but that validated me even more. Thanks, Richie.”
“Anytime, El. You haven’t aged a day, besides that hair of yours. Still look fine, though.”
“Well, aren’t you the kindest soul?” she said with a nearly straight face before cracking into laughter. Despite the bandages covering half of her face, the two were enraptured in nomral banter.
“So, what exactly were you doing before you met Tadhg?” he asked, bringing it back to their prior discussion.
Eilise froze for a moment, as if processing how to phrase her next sentence. “Well… I was, uh, looking… for some people. They had…” Eilise paused as she thought back to her past. To the first night she entered that very inn. The soldiers. The bloodshed. The tears.
Eilise stumbled back a bit as a searing pain rushed into her head. Her legs buckled and her hands violently shook. Richter stood himself up, mildly sobered by her abrupt staggering. “You alright, El?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” she protested as she dragged herself further behind the bar and closed a door behind herself. From a bucket, Eilise cupped water into her hands and splashed it across her face. She inhaled and exhaled, inhaled and exhaled, repeatedly, staring at her reflection. “Please, stop.”