In an attempt to ring in Autumn rather than spookfest #5, we decided we’d look at a bunch of interesting prompt that have to do with the changing of the season this time. We had Autumnal Gloom, Before the Deep Sleep, and South for Winter among other contenders this week. But of course, only one could go on to have piles of microfiction spewed forth about it.
This week’s prompt is:
The Lengthening Night
RULES AND GUIDELINES HAVE CHANGED!
Read them below to participate! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
Because apparently we just can’t get enough darkness. Someday we’ll have an intrinsically pleasant prompt, but for now I’m not complaining. I do tend toward the macabre and the tragic anyway, and The Lengthening Night definitely fits that bill.
Like most of our prompts, this one has a blessed metaphorical richness. There’s all kinds of directions to take “night” and the process of it “lengthening”. Just think, “night” can represent any period of darkness one goes through, especially when contrasted with a period of light. It could be that one’s fortune is continuously diminishing, or a war is trudging on year after year, or a one still hasn’t recovered from some manner of comatose state. On the lighter side, night can also represent a period of peace, tranquility, quiet. This could be about coming to terms with something; recognizing, accepting, and learning to live in the darkness.
Wherever you take it, have fun in the dark! Here’s hoping you don’t stumble over too many things on your way to the bathroom.
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 CST 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
We read five stories during each stream, four of which are selected at random, and one of which is selected because it has the most likes.
- 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)
- You must include the text “Submitted by” immediately before your author name, or you will not be recognized by our sorting process and you will not be eligible for selection. (Example Submission)
- 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 submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
“The Cold Walk Home”
By William Maitland
Hard-packed snow crunched beneath Dmitri’s boots. His claw-tipped fingers, now clenched into fists, were covered with blood that wasn’t his own. The bitter wind sent torrential snowfall at his back, only to be stopped by great unfurled wings. He looked up at the full moon. Not even an hour had passed.
Somewhere deep in a frozen lake, a short walk away, the corpse of Sergei Kalnoky drifted. His whole neck and windpipe had been crushed under inhuman strength. Near the underwater gravesite, Kalnoky’s woodland hovel burned. All his weapons, too.
This, Dmitri knew as soon as it was done, was far from his finest hour. The mad artificer’s laughter still echoed in his head, as fixed in history as the snapping sound which concluded it. He shivered.
Half-ghosts whipped up from the snow around him, carried on the wind. In the wisps, he saw faces, casting their ethereal judgement. Mocking him with smiles and scowls.
His father looked down on him, eyes darkened in the candlelight of home. He recalled the shame in that voice, the night that the truth came out. The mother he never knew, incinerated at his birth. His father’s retirement in personal disgrace. The gleam of the shashka still in the display case… still thirsty for blood, after all those years.
Then came the crone. Baba Yaga, the profane babushka on cold bony legs. Her iron fangs gleamed in her grin, under the moonlight. He could still hear her shrill, mocking laughter. It would haunt him for all his life.
A trickle of hot blood seeped out from beneath his clenched fingers. He wound his eyes shut, trying to lock out the faces. It did nothing for him. After the blood came tears.
In his grief, he wondered if the night would be eternal. Home was far, far away. He was alone with his ghosts.
“Silver Blueberry”, Submitted by Erin Eclare
Dorcha was feeling down. Lys could tell. were wearing that happy mask again- a smile that screamed, “Everything’s fine!” It was lying. Something weighed on her, and Lys was determined to make her feel better. At first, Lys tried a gentle approach. He put his hand on Dorcha’s shoulder and smiled, ready to listen to any problem. Dorcha gave a light push and shook her head. “I’m okay. Really,” her mask said.
Lys rubbed his chin. He had to try harder.
“I know!” he cried. “I’ll show you all the wonders of the day!” With a snap of his fingers, light flooded the world around them! The sun popped into the sky. Flowers bloomed, people laughed and held parties, kites soared! Birds twittered joyously. Lys traced his hands through the air to make rainbows in the clouds.
Dorcha clung to her mask. She shied away from a dog that came barking at her feet. She tried to shield her eyes from the sun. Everything was too bright, too loud!
Lys froze. He rubbed his chin again. What could he do to make that mask go away? “I know!”
Dorcha’s veil crooked with apprehension.
With a sweep of his hand, the world grew dark. Suddenly, millions of silver beacons filled the sky! Fireflies twinkled softly. A fluffy bat came and landed on Dorcha’s arm and a cat rubbed happily against her leg. She lifted her mask, awestruck. Distant fireworks popped with tiny stars. Aurora borealis shimmered with waves of green and purple light. With a heave, Lys pressed all the beauty around them together. It condensed and disappeared into a seed. That seed grew into a bush. On that bush were silver blueberries.
Lys wiped his brow and plucked a stem, handing it to Dorcha. Dorcha slowly took it, dropping her mask with a grateful smile. She chewed a berry and grinned. The wonders of the night filled her from head to toe, inside her very soul now. Somehow her friend had found a way to make that peace last forever, all in a single berry. And Dorcha was happy.
The Night, Lost
(Fog of Obscurity Series)
Submitted by MisterWorst
Sitting in the light of his campfire Adabrass contemplated what he was doing here sitting on this cursed piece of earth. It wasn’t the first time he had encountered the strange in his travels, but seldomly had the nights rattled him so in his “Adventures”.
He scoffed at the word.
Treasure hunting, grave robbing and finding riches in general was how he made his living.
Adventure it was only called by those romantics or those wanting to show off.
The fire sputtered, dimmed and Adabrass added piece of wood to it. Thankfully the strange nature of the fog that made it dry. Otherwise he would have run out of firewood long ago.
Looking down onto to book in his lap, he studied it and the loose sheets stuck between its pages.
Adding another mark to a tally, he frowned.
Marking down the firewood used each night might be imprecise, but with the fog covering the sky day and night, other methods of time keeping were denied to him.
The nights seemed to get longer the further into these lands he went. Darker too, now that he thought about it.
Going back over the book, he studied the notes he added into the margins. The book itself had been the result of an earlier excursion.
The Ledger of the Harbormaster, its study along with information costly bought from Colton had revealed one of the sources for these lands riches. An entrance into what the ledger called “The Land of what’s Lost” or “The Everlost”, supposedly it also had something to do with the ….
The fire sputtered. Again.
Adabrass looked up, the fire was dimming, the darkness closing in.
Ink black in its totality.
He cast about for the next piece of firewood.
He had run out.
The oppressive darkness came closer, as the fire dimmed.
Swallowing more light with each moment.
The colors bleed out of the world.
It was getting hard to see.
Was that a claw of a shadow detaching from the darkness and slithering along the ground?
“The Deeps” submitted by Seán Gray
A storm was rolling in. Distant clouds crowded over the horizon, a grey wall advancing north. Ronan had an hour at most. The boat rolled with the rising sea, and it was all he could do not to lose his lunch. Climbing into the suit, his mouth tasted of ash.
Diving had that effect on him. On all good men. The helmet slotted home neatly, a heavy weight on his shoulders. The world had collapsed into a circle of quartz, smoky and small. It was time.
Ronan fell back into the ocean. Black water swallowed him, hungry and empty. Breath rasping in his ears, he plummeted into the deep. A knight in makeshift armour tumbling over and over into the unknown. It was all he could do not to shut his eyes and wait till it was all over. It’d be a rookie mistake.
His feet touched something. A fist of stone jutting from the abyss, lonely and proud. Generations past had stood here, this land beneath the waves. Diving was an ancestral calling. It ran in the blood. Ronan thought it an old friend, now. He walked to the edge, each step a struggle. Momentous.
Time didn’t seem to matter down here. Cut off from the world, he could linger forever on this solid ground. The suit’s clock said otherwise, seconds ticking by one by one. Reluctant, Ronan roused himself.
He had a long ways to go. The chain binding him to the surface rattled as he shifted, prepared to leap. A lifeline, a slender tether. Lose it, and Ronan would be trapped below. The thought was terrifying. Enticing. That too, was a curse of the bloodline. The deeps always collected their debt. You could only plunder them for so long until it changed you.
Those were thoughts for the world above. Down here, focus was everything. Mustering his courage, Ronan bent his knees. Leapt. For a moment he was drifting upwards, towards the waning light.
Then Ronan was falling, down into the lengthening night.
“A Short Tale of the Sky”
The sun, as you may know, is a star. A ball of gas millions of miles away. That’s just how it is.
At least, that’s how it is in the physical world.
What is unseen by us, and cannot be seen by us, is the world where souls live. It’s been called heaven before, but this place isn’t quite the same as heaven is. In this place everything that has no soul in the physical world has complex feelings and emotions.
Take the sun, for example. In this world, he’s considered to be sort of a low-ranking noble. The more massive you are in the physical world, the higher rank you’d have in this one.
Following this pattern, the planets are the middle class, and moons, like our Moon, are little more than slaves.
Our Moon, who is the property of the Earth, who works for the Sun, has herself a problem. She’s been told by the Earth that since it was his winter time, she’d have to spend more time working. It wasn’t extremely difficult, all she had to do was keep things tidy and not let any asteroid scum get too close to Earth. Earth got very mad if that happened.
To do this, Earth told her, She’d have to get permission from The Sun to stay in the sky longer. She didn’t want to, as the sun was very intimidating, but she could get in a lot of trouble for disobeying a direct order.
The Sun, seeing her approach, greeted her and asked what she needed. The people on Earth, in the physical world, would consider this a solar eclipse. The Moon, taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, told the sun that she was going to need more time in the Earth’s sky. The sun, who had to be in many skies for a very long time, agreed. He’d get a bit more time off, so it was a win-win. For Earth and The Sun. The Moon didn’t care much, since there wasn’t a choice.
And so the nights were longer in the winter.
Dusk of Rage Submitted by: Exce
A lone man stood on a mountain top, a cloak as black as the night billowing behind it.
There was a beautiful view, especially with the sky being painted in the deep red of a looming dusk.
Except for the enormous black sphere which was so prominent in the sky.
Its enormous body covered part of the sun, creating this pretty illusion of dusk throughout the entire day.
But as if in spite of this natural spectacle the young man’s face was dark with emotions, red hair falling over his eyes.
Soon, in about a week, it would cover the sun creating a seemingly unending night…
Through long darkness the old year would die, only to be reborn in a month of dawn.
And with the end of the year, something else was fast approaching.
Accounts of it were rare, but more than four centuries ago, during the height of the darkness, the War of Light had been fought.
In less than a week, the nations of Calidoria were conquered or destabilized.
At the thought of all the death and suffering that had been inflicted on LumenOrbis since that war, Excelsius could not keep down his rage and wisps of fiery energy curled around him as a veil of red fell over his vision.
He would end this reign of oppression, if he had to track them down one by one.
Through the rage, memories welled up. Of pain and darkness, the overwhelming feeling of helplessness. But Excelsius wasn’t helpless anymore, and these emotions were only more fuel to his rage.
For a moment the red flooded his entire eye, and his body tensed with pent-up anger as he threw his head back in an inhuman roar.
Around him, energy spiked and with a thunderclap it exploded in conjunction with his emotions.
Smoke and dust were blown apart by the beats of black wings, as his cloak seemed to have come alive. Excelsius breathed heavily, red still in his eyes as darkness slowly came over the world.
He would make them pay.
Last entry Submitted by Domtron
Well this very well be my last entry in..”Bridget’s super awesome diary” hopefully she doesn’t mind me writing on it. It’s been 6 hours since Cooper enterprises gotten taken over by people claiming to “stop the corruption of the company” I don’t like the company as much as the next guy but forcefully taking people hostage and firing guns in the air isn’t a good way to go about it. Now three of their members are dead thanks to me and their leader has my wife Carolina hostage. I’m tired, haven’t slept since I got here, got glass on my foot because I decided to take off my shoes before this whole mess happened, and just want this night to be over. I told Carol to not be in big businesses but she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps, now look what happened! We’re definitely moving to a small town after this. I barely survived that last fight, big guy almost crushed my windpipe thankfully I-
A tooth just fell out GREAT!
At least I’ve still got some ammo left from my gun but the leader will probably expect it and would try to make me drop it in exchange for Carol’s life unless if he doesn’t see it. That could be a good idea, make small talk then BAM he’ll be gone, Carol will be safe and we can go back home drinking hot coco in the morning. Now how to hide a 60 pound weapon. Pants? Could be good but the leader would see and I would be shot before I even get the chance, shirt? Well last time we met the leader saw me with a flat chest and is going to wonder why my chest size grew so no. Maybe he won’t see it on my back, just hide the gun and do movements to not let him see the gun then when he’s distracted I grab the gun from my back and save the day! Need to find duct tape to tape the gun. Hopefully this works.
Ellipsis, Submitted by Lily/Spiderlily
The moon was bright. She perched in the sky, like the watchful eye of a sympathetic god looking down on me, her unwavering gaze caught somewhere between a comfort and a persecution.
I felt judged.
Everything was quiet now. The only sound to be heard was the chirping of crickets and croaks of frogs. Fireflies blinked in the air like living Christmas lights.
The stillness of it all soothed me, and I couldn’t hold back any longer. Tears spilled from my eyes freely, my chest heaved with sobs. When had everything gotten so hard? I held on for so long. It was far from easy, but I had thought it was balanced. Then suddenly the dam breaks, and I’m drowning in my own ineptitude. I can’t breath, choking on the anxiety flooding my throat. The concrete is hard on my knees as I collapse to it, gasping for a life that I don’t even want.
But I will survived.
This has happened before.
I rise from the pressure pulling me down and force myself back on to me feet. I ground myself in my own strength. It may not be much, but it is there, and it is accessible. I reach for it, and suck in the night air, filling my lungs and holding the ladder of scars decorating my arms up to the moon above me. I’m healing well. The air is sweet.
I count my breaths like I count my scars, each one a chapter of the same story. The scars, an finished sentence, the breaths a ellipsis of hope. The tears continue to spill from my eyes, and the moon cries with me, her tears sparkling around her in an endless sea of silver dots, lighting the path before me. There is so much shown by the light of the stars, and I choose to see hope in my extended life.
“Moments” Submitted by: elisabethwise
The baby had been born minutes after midnight. So much labor on Esther’s part, fourteen hours of agonizing torture as her body churned and bled to bring forth their little one, nine months of carrying a growing life in her belly while maintaining the state of The Order and fulfilling her god’s demands, thirty years of paralyzing fear that she would meet the same fate as her mother, and now… It was here, and it was so quiet. The world had grown still then, seeing her baby’s face, and she wanted nothing more than to sit inside of that moment for as long as she could. But sleep had begun to heavy her limbs and slur her words, and she needed rest.
Randall had moved the rocking chair from the nursery to their bedroom, and he watched his wife snore peacefully as he cradled his newborn daughter. He had dreamt of his little girl, seen her in his visions, walked with her along the streets of his subconscious, and she was even more beautiful in reality. He and his wife had been on the run for nearly two decades, soaking the American highway system in blood, calling upon ancient beings and unlocking knowledge no human soul could ever comprehend, and none of it mattered anymore. Nothing had ever belonged to him in his life, but her life? The glowing soul in his arms, the tiny baby swaddled in pink cotton, weighing a little less than a bag of sugar? That was his. That mattered to him. The blinding light of hatred, of insecurity, had long since passed, and the swaying, tranquil blue-dark night now lay before him.
“I thought only babies cried,” Esther chuckled weakly.
Randall sniffled, wiped his eyes with his sleeve. “Did I wake you up, sweetheart? I’m sorry.”
“No, I wasn’t asleep.” After several minutes of silence, she smiled. “I love you, Randy, you know that?”
“And I love you.” He looked down at the baby, pressed a kiss to her small head. “And I love this one, too.”
“Aurora Borealis”, Submitted by Matthew
Moving to Iceland as a young boy was difficult. For starters, I couldn’t speak the local language. Luckily, the other kids my age were well versed in a variety of languages including English, Danish, and even French. This surface level linguistic barrier mirrored the more subtle and more potent cultural barrier. Most everyone was friendly, but meaningful connections were slow to form.
The first time I felt included as a part of the community was when several of the boys I knew from school decided it would be fun to try and show me the Northern Lights for the first time. I grew up in Cincinnati, so it was rare to even see stars in the night sky. With a big smile, I agreed to go, and we began making plans.
You couldn’t see the Lights from the capital city, where we lived, so we needed to make the journey to the darker national parks. By this time, it was mid-December, and the nights had grown to nearly 19 hours long. The park was about an hour’s drive outside of the city. By the time we arrived, night had fallen. Brimming with excitement, I jumped out of the car.
After my eyes adjusted, I was greeted by innumerable specks of light. It was more stars than my city brain thought there could be in the night sky! Poking out through the branches of hibernating birch trees, I could see the cloudy visage of a bright band leading out from the horizon. Far from the majestic ribbons of green light I expected, I asked my friends if the Lights were supposed to be so broken.
“No, silly!” They said with a chuckle, “That’s the milky way galaxy!” My eyes widened as I tried to take in the spender of the night. It was gorgeous and the main event hadn’t even arrived.
We waited for around five hours, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Lights. They evaded us that night, but what I lost that night in beauty, I more than made up for in friendship.
“Peace” Submitted by Samantha Realynn
Everything was silence.
I reveled in it. Hell, I could have cried at how silent everything had become. The tumultuous chaos had finally gone quiet and my world no longer spun like an out-of-control Mary-go-round. There was a sense of peace at long last. It had been so long that I had forgotten what it felt like. A weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I could finally rest.
It wouldn’t last.
That was life, wasn’t it? Full of chaos and turmoil, the only true peace came in death. But even then, who knew if something came afterward? Was the peace of death a lie? I didn’t know, I wasn’t there yet. With luck, I wouldn’t be for quite a while. But for now, I had peace. I could shut out the world with its screaming voices and constant demands, and I could simply rest.
I curled up, burrowing in the warmth that surrounded me. It was dark, but I didn’t mind. The night could go on for as long as it wished as far as I cared. The longer it did, the longer I could recuperate. My days before had taken all that I could give, then demanded more. They had blended at some point, a seemingly endless cycle of work and exhaustion. I was sure that I was going to collapse completely as the energy and strength were drained from me, as I worked myself to the breaking point and back again.
But then the night had come. It was finally over, for now anyway. The night wouldn’t last forever, and the cycle would start again. I knew that even as I collapsed and curled into my little nest. But all that meant was that I cherished what rest I could get. When it finally came, it welcomed me with open arms like an old friend, embracing me and letting me sink into its presence. It patiently waited for me even after I left it again and again, each time comforting me and chasing my worries away. My dearest friend, my safest haven.