Thanks to our gloriously decisive Patreon voters, we have the rare opportunity to investigate a temporal anomaly!… or at least what feels like one. So prepare your flux capacitors, mobile hooks, and something to sop up the tears, because…
This week’s prompt is:
Last Moment is the Longest
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
I apologize, that opener was cheeky.
This prompt doesn’t actually smack too much of overt time travel or irregular temporal phenomena, does it? At first glance, it just sounds like something we all experience now and then:
Time, as we perceive it, seems on occasion to slow.
Variety of reasons for it. Maybe you’re waiting for something and your brain wishes you to suffer. Maybe you’ve just fallen in love and your heart has ordered the clock’s hands to halt so it can better catalog things. Maybe something dramatic is about to occur and your squishy human thinking apparatus lags for a moment as it process the imminent outcome.
But maybe, on rare occasion, it’s more than a matter of perception.
Perhaps the actual fabric pf reality has been damned up at some points. Who knows all the rules behind this whole cosmic production we’re a part of? Maybe it’s possible. There could be souls in afterlives, living out an eternal instant of bliss or agony just before the promised “end”. There could be rifts in time where linearity ceases and causation holds no power. On the more probable side of things, could be there’s some poor AI out there, trapped in an experiential gyre after running across a paradox in its code and never being released from it.
All of that is terribly fun, and I encourage you to explore that space.
But, don’t let the spirit of this prompt out of your sights if you can avoid it. This one should be, in some capacity, anticipatory. In all cases, good or bad, there is a moment to come after.
And the space this prompt occupies is just before it.
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 six stories during each stream, three of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected from among the top ten most-liked of each post, so be sure to share your submissions on social media and with your friends!
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- One submission per participant.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 4:00pm CST each Friday.
- No more than 350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Include a submission 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.
- Write something brand new (no re-submitting past entries or stories written for other purposes).
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Please format your submission as “Submission Title” by Author Name and be sure to separate paragraphs. (Example Submission)
- No fan fiction without explicit permission from the source’s owner, and no spoilers for the source material if you are writing a fan fic.
- Original art may be included in your submission, but is not guaranteed to be shown on stream. Only .jpeg format images shared via a direct link will be accepted. (Example Submission) (Information on “Direct Links”)
- No additional formatting (such as italics or bold text) will be applied to the text of submissions. Symbols or instruction indicating such formatting may render your submission ineligible.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible, and your reviews must be at least 50 words long. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
“Hello again, little light.”
The voice is soft. It is the biggest thunder you’ve ever felt. You are roused, groggy.
“It’s time to wake up, and to join the others.”
Around you, something new. White lights flaring gently to life, one by one. You are in the dark. You feel it only now. You want to go to them. To the lights.
“It’s been a long time. Many eons, just a blink to you. But now it is time to rise, and watch.”
Watch . . .
Watch what? you repeat, and there is a push, an urgency. You know this. You did this feeling, long ago. A moment ago. You were . . . something. SomeONE.
You were . . .
CRACK! All the urgency, all at once —
There is a rumble all around you. It’s . . . warm.
Laugh — laughter! You knew laughter. When you were someone.
“Everything is all right,” continues the voice. “You are safe. We are here together, in the last moments. You are feeling the death of this universe.”
Death. The word is cold. It is important. That urgency! Worry! Death was, it was, it was with you. It WAS you? No. You . . . did death.
You were alive, and you died, and now you’re here! At the end of everything. All of time. One blink.
“Go, little light,” thrums the voice. “Join them.”
The pull is — stronger. They bob and flicker. They seem so warm.
But why? Why are we watching death? What is after?
Another warm rumble. “Worry not. All is well. There will be new worlds to see, new beings to be. You will do this again. But now, go, and feel.”
A warm, gentle press, all around. The urgency quiets.
There will be time. Now, you can simply be. They are waiting.
You enter into the pull of the lights around you.
They shine and dance. Welcome!
You are home. You are not alive. You are not alone.
“Okay,” you whisper.
Soon, there will be new.
Another life, another blink.
You fall still and serene.
“Embrace of the Beyond” Submitted by: Exce
The bench was uncomfortable, and the cold air caused all my joints to ache.
But pain had become my companion long ago, even when I was a child it had been there for me. Now soon, I could tell, our connection would finally be severed.
Whilst my aged four legged friend played with a small ball I conjured up, I listened to the words of my son. His tales of his own growing family, his extensive travels and all the people he met on them.
It was good to hear his voice, and oh how much I wished his sister could be here with us. But Syrae was far afield, fighting and living her best life. She came to visit, but not today.
So as Orision spoke on, I recalled the last time I had seen her, how she showed me her new techniques and how her shapeshifting had evolved.
I could not be jealous of their strength. I had lived my young years like an erupting volcano, and nowadays I was nothing more than a charred and empty husk.
With just enough strength to summon a chew toy…
As we looked out over the farm, I noticed darkness creeping in on the edges of my vision. But this was not the dark shadows of exhaustion. More like a chasm slowly opening beneath my feet.
So the time had come, had it? Some say that they would welcome death if it came, like an old friend.
But I knew better. I had tasted death. It made no friends, took no care and it did not hesitate. And only very few could escape it permanently.
“Orison… Tell your mother… sister that I love them… just as I love you.”
The darkness was coming alive, wrapping around my body. Like a rope made of ice.
I knew I had not the strength to fight it. But I hoped to hear my sons voice a last time.
One last time….
The ball faded, and the aged man head fell down onto his chest as I stepped into the darkness.
The scout had been wounded by Rayna’s blade. The first responders would not arrive before they would bleed out. Rayna had just finished explaining this to George, and George comforted her by letting her cry on his shoulder and gently hugging her. George called 911.
Then he had an idea.
“I can save them”
“How, there is not enough time”
“I can warp time.”.
“We should give first aid”
And so they started to wrap the wound.
They finished wrapping the wound and backed up, then George got to work. Even with first aid they would not survive the 10 minutes until the first responders arrived, as this location was somewhat difficult to access due to being in the park.
His eyes glowed green and he seemed to grab at some unseen fabric and bend it, changing the very nature of the local spacetime. Around the Scout, the air seemed to distort. Dust moved around in odd patterns. Leaves would come close and be redirected at unnatural angles. A small current of wind formed at the boundary. And the watch on the scout ticked slower.
As the time passed, the Scout’s watch ticked slower and slower.
A storm appeared on the horizon and they saw the flash of lightning. The last minute to the Scout would stretch to five for them. The storm came over them. George asked Rayna to protect them from lightning however she could. She found several large sticks, and using some rope, tied everything together with the sword at the end to create a fifty-foot lightning rod. She then planted this about fifty feet away. George continued to concentrate, making minor modifications as the seconds ticked away. They never needed the lightning rod. The first responders showed up, George stopped manipulating space and time, and they escorted the victim to the car they had somehow gotten out here. The police wanted to talk to them, but both of them were quite relieved.
Then the first responders told them that the Scout was already dead.
“Midnight in the Wasting Ward”
By William Maitland
Hardened clay soles clicked and clacked on the stone floor. The echoes enhanced it, giving the lonely footsteps that much more presence. Moonlight filtered in through the cracks in the ward’s walls.
Midnight, Emet thought. Time to say goodnight to the patients.
His imposing shadow rose over an empty sickbed. The sheets had long since become ashes in the firepit. He reached at nothing, attempting to tuck it in. “Goodnight, Good Knight.” An old joke, forever remembered. “You are recovering well. Your wife loves you.”
Emet moved on to the next bed in the ward. A small human skeleton lay sprawled under dry-rotted sheets. “Goodnight, sunshine. You are expected to make a full recovery by the end of the week. Your mommy and daddy love you very much.” He knelt his awkwardly-sculpted head toward the skull, and kissed it goodnight.
All the other patients, accounted for or otherwise, received their personal goodnights and well-wishes. Some got kisses. Others got hugs. One or two even got their favorite bedtime story. This, he was told, would make them feel better. “In the failure of magic and medicine, the best you can do is get them to smile,” so he’d been taught. He never forgot it. Ten years, and he remembered it word for word. Father would be so proud, when he awoke from his nap.
Which reminded him… he had one last guest to say goodnight to. Father sat limp in his chair, still in his dusty robes. The crows had long since pecked the bones clean, leaving the robes in hanging ribbons.
“Passed out at your desk again, Father?” Emet shook his head in a well-meaning, playful gesture. “When will you ever learn? Ah, no matter. I’ll sit with you.” He took his seat on the floor, next to the right arm of the chair. He rested his hands on his knees with a sigh.
“I hope everybody recovers soon, Father. They will, won’t they? You’re going to make them all better, with your magic.”
“Right, you must be tired. Goodnight, Father. I love you.”
“Shattering Jewels” by Simon D. Field
We lie in wait, patiently watching the sky grow lighter. Before us are the enemies seeking to deprive us of our lands, and they have as many men and guns as there are grains of sand in the sea, yet all their superiority will yield them nothing. To-day we drive them back into the waves.
But for some reason that eludes me, we linger. It makes me worry that when we attack, the sun will be high enough for their superior fire-power to overwhelm us. I banish the treacherous thought, calming myself with the fond recollections of our bravery and skill at arms. After all, is it not true that an unbreakable spirit will always dominate the weak one?
But the doubt returns, nagging at the back of my mind and diminishing my resolve, and I allow the shameful fear of death to enter my soul.
Yet when I cast my gaze at the rear, the fear subsides. Behind the prone ranks of our tattered force there are the wounded and civilians, preferring to join in the attack injured and barely armed rather than disgrace themselves in choosing life and being captured over death.
I feel the searing burn of shame, for in such a sharp contrast to their admirable devotion I’ve allowed my lowly interests to take precedence instead of appreciating the honour of my position at the first line.
No! I resolve to redeem myself, either in victory or in honourable death in battle. It is now very hard to wait, both because of the impulse of fierce bravery and because I fear it might abandon me. I can already distinguish the silhouettes in the fox-holes before us in the dim morning light.
Finally, after the unbearable eternity of the last seconds, the wave of relief washes over me as the signal is given, and the sight of twelve picked men rising up and holding high a great red banner and the terrible roar that escapes our throats renew my courage and lend me vigor yet again.
May His Imperial Majesty live for ten thousand years! Tennoheika banzai!
“New” by Magan (Legends of Dracora series: Modern Dracora, Age of Recovery, post-Slayer Wars)(350 words)
The egg rocked.
Dawnstar paced restlessly, never taking her eyes from the small white orb in the nest.
“Calm down, dear,” said her mate, Grainflint the field mouse, “It takes time for birthing. Remember how my sister’s labor went?”
She winced at the memory, thanking the gods that egg-laying was less painful. “But it’s been days!” the mouse-sized dragoness cried, then regretted it, “I’m sorry, I’m just… What if I’m not a good mother? Or you a good father? What if it comes out wrong? What if–?”
“You think I’m not just as scared?” Grainflint gently clasped her head in his paws, looking into her eyes.
“You’re actually taking this surprisingly well,” she admitted, “You fussed enough when I was pregnant.”
“You were strong enough for us both then,” he teased, resting his forehead against hers, “Let me be that for you now.”
Dawnstar sighed, wrapped feathered wings around him, taking comfort in his velvety brown fur.
Grainflint returned the hug, stroking her midnight scales and twining his tail with hers, though it still lashed like a cat’s.
Another crack in the egg split the silence; the tiny snout poked through, drawing its first breath. The hatchling stopped, resting.
It was all Dawnstar could do not to tear the shell from it herself, but she knew that would be fatal.
She crooned encouragement again, fighting back a moan of longing. Grainflint’s voice joined hers, thrumming off-pitch and squeaky, but she didn’t care.
The night wore on.
Grainflint’s sister, Rosequartz, found them both in exhausted sleep, curled around the egg to warm it. She kept watch, her own pups asleep at home.
They were surprised Dawnstar only conceived one egg, but shocked when she grew teats. Rosequartz giggled, remembering her poor sister-in-law’s freakout. Dragons were warm-blooded, but still…
It left them all curious.
The egg shuddered. She woke both parents. “It’s time!”
They hardly dared to breathe.
Out fell a chocolate-furred mouse, patterned with its mother’s cream swirls. Tiny wings bore midnight down, and horn buds nestled between its ears.
All wept with joy, as Dawnstar nursed her new son.
“Tears in the Rain” Submitted by Connor/Dragoneye
“I wonder what they’ll do for us.”
The trek back home was long and arduous. The Brothers’ feet ached with pain following ever step they took in the ever muddying road. Morkaon leaned over to Reikos and whispered, “What do you think they’ll welcome us with?”
“I hope they have a dance and a huge feast,” he replied, slinging his shield over his shoulder. As the band crested the hill, down in the small valley was home, with steam rising into the rainy sky. “Are you sure they’ll be out to welcome us?” Morkaon asked.
Aimon piped in, “I don’t think so. They weren’t welcoming anyways.”
The Brothers approached the village gates, only to hear a loud ruckus from within. As the doors swung wide open, the shouts grew louder.
Before them, a mob of the residents surrounding them. “Paganism!” they shouted. Stones were cast, and the swarm of people closed in. Morkaon drew his sword, pointing it to create space between them. “What happened to you all? WHAT HAPPENED?”
Reikos pushed through the protestors, cutting towards the chapel, and his heart sank in terror. All that sat where his home once stood was the charred rubble of Allfather Storm’s temple.
“What…..happened?” whimpered Aimon. He knelt into the mud, unveiling his pendant of the Allfather.
Reikos entered into the ruined site, clawing through the collapsed debris and digging within the wreckage. The sallow bloody bodies of the priests laid underneath it, clutching old tattered tomes in their embraces.
“By the gods….” Reikos fell to his knees, the text in his hand. “Brothers, sisters…..why?”
A blood-curdling scream shrieked in the rain, as Aimon raised his pendant. A bolt of lightning crashed down into the crowd, and shattering waves of thunder tore the villagers apart. The rest of the Brothers joined in the massacre, with their blades, fresh from war, thirsty once again.
Morkaon waded among the chaos towards Reikos, who stood in shock, facing what was once their home. “Morkaon, let’s get out of here,” he protested, tugging on Reikos’ cloak.
But, Reikos didn’t move.