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 Saturday 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.
This was surreal but did make me laugh. Doesn’t really fit the prompt but who cares. The “Better run, boy” line did feel very Deliverance but I genuinely sniggered at that. I also fully endorse your use of “taser” as a verb, it’s in dialogue and commonly used in the vernacular so that it completely justified.
We locked eyes as I strode across the space between us. Three years of a relationship, ended by lies and other people’s meddling. I poured enough of myself out trying to save “us”, I lost who I was in the process. I was no longer happy, nor was he. The flame between us had been snuffed out, and neither of us knew who was to blame, so we blamed each other.
I inhaled my cigarette, enjoying the taste as the smoke lingered in the air. My body shook, not quite out of fear but out of shock at seeing the man who I had called lover for so long. A man of whom, I would have changed my last name for; and I’ve been married previously. A man in which so much trust I had placed. This man had seen me at my lowest moments and at my happiest as well and had stayed…until now.
Our first fight in a three year relationship had ended ‘us’. I have a hot temper with a quick tongue to boot, and while he was slow to anger, his lies had caught up to him. I kicked him out, in a moment of anger. I gave him a week to return, only he didn’t. I went looking, to find him at a female ‘friend’s’ place. Another lie. It angered him when I sent him the image of his car in her parking lot.
Seeing him, standing across from me, he looked ashamed. Sad. Almost regretful. I threw it in his face, how I couldn’t trust him. How he had broken so much of my trust…he had broken me. He reminded me he has reactive attachment disorder and never to pursue men like him. A warning given far too late. I worried I wouldn’t know if anything bad happened to him and he responded coldly I am still his emergency contact. But he’s now changed that number.
The Last Moment Is The Longest, so cherish those you hold dear. Sometimes the lovers we came to know become strangers we come to miss.
This is even funnier the second time around! I love the characters. It is funnily disappointing. In all fairness, though, if she didn’t want sex, she could have made that more clear. Lol! Or maybe I misread it. Great writing either way!
The Event Horizon
They say that to see the edge of a black hole is to see infinity. Well I’m here to say that to live there is far, far worse.
Who I am and where I’m from doesn’t matter, or at least it doesn’t anymore. Why? Because I’m now forever teetering on the event horizon of a black hole, forever being stretched and torn apart molecule by molecule as the sheer gravitational pulls me into the depths of the void.
How am I speaking to you if I’m in such a state? Oh it’s simple, I am here and not. I’ve already long since been simultaneously crushed and pulled apart, but I’m also just being born, dying, going to school, on and on. I’m living my whole life repeatedly. Forever.
As is everyone else here, caught on the event horizon. Here, time is meaningless when space itself is crushed and warped by the collapsed body of one of its own children. Oh right, you wanted to know how I was speaking to you.
Turn around then, look, do you see it? That tiny black spec in the sky? That’s the black hole. You’ll be joining me soon, as does everyone who answers me.
Oh, so you’re beginning to panic? Don’t bother, it’s already too late, just sit back and be ready to experience your whole life again on loop. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn to love it as I do, you can do anything you want and it doesn’t matter.
After all, your death has already happened, stretched out in an infinite loop.
No Need to be Alarmed by Onye Okoro (ig @onyeokoro1)
It’s early Monday morning when Blank White, a brunette middle school student, is shifting in his messy bedroom. He’s waking from a dream to deep thought.
“Wait a minute, am I awake? Yeah, I must be since I just thought that. Oh shoot! Did I somehow sleep through my alarm? What time is it? It better not be past six!” He checks his phone.
“Ah no way! It’s 5:00 a.m.! I woke up early! What time did I go to sleep last night? Around 12, maybe? Oh well, that doesn’t matter. Feels good to be ahead of that stupid alarm for once, but-” He lets out a yawn.
“I’ve still got a little sleep left in me.”
A voice murmurs in Blank’s head. “You should probably start getting ready for school. You’re gonna have to do it one way or another, so might as well do it now.”
Blank recognizes the voice and brushes it off “Are you kidding me, Rational Blank? We’ve been given the rare opportunity to sleep TWICE in one night!”
“DOUBLE SLEEP!” Blank closes his eyes and quickly falls back to sleep.
Blank is waking up and in deep thought- again.
“Oh shoot! Now I done it! I slept through my alarm this time, didn’t I?” He checks his phone again.
“It’s 5:58 a.m.!? Uh oh! The countdown to obnoxious alarm noise has begun!”
Rational Blank erupts in a panic. “QUICK! GET OUTTA BED! TURN OFF THE ALARM!”
“HUSH, YOU! We will wait.” Blank turns his head towards the alarm clock. It’s bright red “5:59” shines on his face like a beacon of doom instead of hope.
Blank speaks for the first time, giving his best impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Come ooon. Do it.”
The alarm ignores his order. Blank yells. “Do It! Wake me! I’m right here!”
Instantly, Blank’s younger brother, Walter, bursts open the door, flips on the light and yells. “BISCUITS!”
Blank flails wildly off his bed startled.
“You’re welcome.” Walter leaves to get ready for school.
Finally, the alarm clock blares. “*OBNOXIOUS NOISE!*, *OBNOXIOUS NOISE!*, *OBNOXIOUS NOISE!*”
I’m actually glad someone on this site knows how to have a little fun with their writing. Although this story doesn’t folly the prompt at all, I still found it entertaining. A few grammatical errors as well, but a fun read.
The Hit by feliciataylor_91
This isn’t personal for me, Mrs. Cole.
Those were the last words Katherine had heard before blackness enveloped her.
Now, she found herself gagged, bound at the wrists and ankles, a heated wind brushing across her skin. A grainy surface was beneath her.
Before she could explore more, the blindfold was ripped away, and the gag was removed. The Sun nearly blinded her, her eyes watering. A black-clad person blocked the light, and she craned her neck at a painful angle to see him fully. It was impossible to see his face through his mask.
Despite her near inability to swallow, she attempted to ask questions but only managed a throaty croak. Her eyes pleaded for him not to hurt her.
He disappeared behind her faster than she could see. Her restraints were severed. He was in front of her again, sheathing his knife.
Fire raced through Katherine’s limbs as the circulation returned, and she groaned. Through her grimace, she noticed a bulky black bag on the desert floor and a sunset whose beauty ironically contradicted her situation.
The man hefted her onto jelly legs, her stomach churning with nausea. Her breath caught in her throat at the gun pointed at her. A silencer. What information she knew of guns came from husband. She froze.
No. Marcus couldn’t have-
“Run,” he commanded while shoving her between the shoulder blades. She stumbled like a newborn colt on unsteady legs, righting herself to run at a jerky clip.
Blood surged, and her lungs burned. Each footfall felt like a precursor to the anticipated shot. How far away was he going to let her get?
I’m about to die.
The shot resounded, and she hit the ground from fear and instinct, the impact stealing her breath.
She lay there, waiting for the pain to register.
One thundering heartbeat.
Nothing beyond the pain she already felt washed over her. No second bullet was fired.
Shakily, Katherine sat, expecting a headshot. Turning, she saw she was alone, the black bag still set on the ground.
As the Sun finally set, Katherine wept.
Brothers By Domtron
“When is Dahon coming back?” The young dragon questioned as his mother groomed him. “Oh! Well, we don’t know yet, your father last saw him getting treatments from the mages but they told him that Dahon is better.” The Dragon mother assured her child before rubbing her claw gently along his head. “Don’t worry Flagin, your brother will be back soon from the treatment centre-I mean hospital!” Mother flinched at her words hoping that Flagin didn’t hear that but his confused look says it all.
“Treatment center? But he’s feeling better, why is he at a treatment center if he’s better? Did the mages found something wrong with his tummy? Is his stomach clogged up from the animals he’s eaten?” The mind of Flagin was moving at a rapid pace thinking up of all the possibilities in his mind.
Mother didn’t want to tell him this but she had to tell him sometime. “No, it’s not clogged in his stomach, the reason your brother is in that place because me and father found your brother eating chemicals, addicting ones.” Flagin’s eyes grew wide with shock “d-drugs? Dahon was taking drugs?” Flagin thought Dahon was stronger than that, Dahon was a smart dragon how could he have fallen to that. He felt as if the world came to a halt with this revelation, as if time has stopped to allow Flagin to process this. “We found him almost overdosing, he’s going to be gone for a while unfortunately but-“ Mother’s voice was shaky, a hint of sadness was there but she tried not to let her emotions affect her son. “But thankfully me and father caught him at the right time before it could’ve killed him.” Flagin let mother’s words enter his ears but it felt unreal. He and Dahon weren’t super close with each other but they still love each other as brothers and would always be there for each other, now Flagin has to really be there for Dahon in this dark time. Mother wrapped her claws around Flagin gently comforting him as Flagin tears up in his mother’s arms.
I really don’t condone your use of salty language 2/10
What…. Is this? Not only does it completely break the profanity rules, its just… Really crude
Waiting for the end
The day was not improving for Anthony.
Rain drenched him, and his coat scratched him.
He held a newspaper over his head as a feeble attempt at shelter.
He hurried along the path, eager to find somewhere dry.
His eyes darted about, scanning the street like a radar.
Nowhere seemed to his liking.
His eyes quickened, desperate to find somewhere quickly as the newspaper turned to wet sludge in his fingers.
He turned a corner and began his assessment of this new street.
Anthony’s eyes suddenly stopped.
An empty bus shelter, across the road, not 10 yards from him.
He lengthened his strides and stepped off the sidewalk into the wet gutter.
Then he heard the horn.
A truck horn.
Anthony turned his head quickly.
The headlights lit up his face.
Then the truck stopped.
Suddenly, as though someone had pressed a pause button.
Anthony stared at the truck, then glanced around.
The rain didn’t fall, it hung there, suspended.
No, not suspended.
Anthony looked closer.
The rain was still falling.
Slowly, moving like a snail stuck in honey.
But this wasn’t right.
It was supposed to be quick and painless.
Anthony was a bit annoyed about that.
He began to sigh, then realised how long it would take.
He tried to occupy his thoughts, think of everyday things, but his thoughts always returned to the matter at hand.
He stared longingly at the truck, nearly begging it to move.
A long time passed, too long for Anthony to count, and there was no one else to do it for him.
Then he felt something.
The sensation of touch.
It started gently, then grew and evolved into a burning pain.
It spread as the contact area between him and the metal grill if the truck grew.
Longer still he waited.
The pain became a numbing sensation as he
stared at the truck trying to judge the remaining distance
Closer and still it crawled.
Just a little more.
Then Anthony felt the cold metal touch his forehead.
Then, he died.
The Auto Record
By T. A. Andrewson
Mera “Chikie” Corvan looked down at the dead body in the modified dream tube. The sight of it lying there, calm, still, peaceful, ruffled her feathers. Death shouldn’t phase her at this point, but this one did. They’d look like a sleeping babe, not even out of basic education, if not for the cauterized wound replacing the left eye. Very specifically the left eye, which their pictures showed was cybernetic.
“Where’d you say they died again?”
“They were at a Goblin rights rally,” the Detective in charge stated.
“I’m almost surprised the seccorp wants this investigated then,” she muttered as she opened the adjoining dream tube and slipped into the lounge chair inside. Laying her head back the chair connected to her cybernetics while a temporary inhibitor was placed over her brainstem. Then while the tube shut over her her visions went dark.
Then she was standing in a blank room with a grid on the floors and walls. She never customized her interpretation of the datastream, had to have a clear break between her experiences in the stream and in the world. It was part of the job.
“Computer access partner data. Find loss of visual input on the auto record. Rewind 1 hour and begin playback.”
Chikie watched from the rally from the perspective of the teen. She couldn’t hear the speeches or the cheering crowds but she could watch the reactions, the joy on their faces, the excitement. She could see the slogans written on the walls, the rallying cries to give rights to people grown in a lab then tossed away. And she saw the first flashes of lasers as they ripped through the crowd.
One of the shooters waved a hand at her. Then it all went dark.
It happened too fast for her to gather any useful information on the murderers unfortunately. She had a trick for this though.
“Computer normalize video speed to sync with synapse firing and begin play back at timestamp 3:14.”
After all, the last moment was always the longest.
The English Opening
Ritsu glanced across the chess board at his opponent, his stomach tight. He had started the match with the English Opening, but his opponent had managed to free his queen before Ritsu could finish. Now it was the chess equivalent of a melee.
He could feel the individual droplets of sweat trickle down the back of his neck. His opponent moved, sacrificing a pawn. Ritsu’s eyes darted across the board, and he spotted the trap. He ignored the ruse, moving an unrelated pawn.
His opponent seized on Ritsu’s move and took the pawn with his knight.
“Fuck!” Ritsu loudly cursed.
His opponent stared at him, and Ritsu flushed with embarrassment at his uncontrollable outburst.
Calm down, he thought. He inhaled deeply and scanned the board. The buzzing on the time clock echoed in his ears.
Ritsu advanced his knight. His opponent countered with his bishop. He positioned his rook. His rook was taken by his opponent’s queen.
“Goddammit!” Ritsu swore. His opponent had countered his move. Perspiration built above his lip.
The clock is ticking, but you have time, Ritsu told himself. He shut his eyes, counted to five, and opened them again. There it was.
Ritsu moved a pawn into place, and his opponent paused. Ritsu looked at the clock, watching the seconds tick away. Finally his opponent took the pawn with his queen.
Ritsu paused, but he knew his move. He moved the knight back to block the queen.
His opponent took the knight. “Check.”
Ritsu slid his bishop back and captured his opponent’s queen. Hard fought, but victory was in hand.
His opponent blanched.
Ristu attacked. “Check.” he declared.
His opponent stared down at the board, looking it over. He hovered his fingers above his king, and Ritsu waited intently for the next move.
The silence in the room was deafening. Ritsu could hear the blood thundering in his own ears. Do it! Ritsu screamed in his mind.
He placed his king on its side. “Congratulations, Tobose-san,” He reached across the table, offering his hand. “Checkmate in two moves, and I cannot stop you.”
First things first: nitpicks.
1. ” in front of a tv”. TV should be capitalized.
2. “He threw the controller down on the couch, which bounced to spite him”. So he throws the controller on the couch. And the couch bounces. This is one weird couch. He threw […] couch, and it bounced […] would look more appropriately. It is still ambiguous, but at least allows a proper interpretation. Current phrasing does not.
3. “Calm down princess”. Technically, when you address someone, you ought to add a comma. If I recall correctly, it is palatable to omit the comma in cases such as this, but it is still grammatically suboptimal.
4. “I’ll taser your nuts”. I had my doubts, so referred to the Merriam-Webster dictionary for guidance. It has confirmed my assumption. Taser is a noun only. The verb for its usage is “to tase”. Thus you are employing an incorrect word.
5. “Better run boy.” Same as nr. 3
6. “He grabbed his jacket, sprinting out the door. He heard a deep belly laugh from the open door.”. You are repeating the word “door”, and it feels a tad excessive.
There are no more nitpicks. Although I cannot fully condone the premise, it is rather soundly written and uses appropriate in a given context language. I fully endorse it. You usually write well. You have written well this time, too.
“See You Soon” by Carrie
“So, you’re going back to the elven lands?” Ethan asked, sitting across from me.
“Yeah, back with my mom. I spend the school year there, and the summers out here.”
“So, you’ll be back? Next year?”
“I hope.” I played with my ivory braids. “The elven lands are nice, but that doesn’t mean I like them.”
“Why’s that? They seem perfect from what I’ve heard.”
“Sure, if your idea of perfect is a bunch of ageless, pompous, snooty adult brats you only have half in common with.”
He laughed. I couldn’t help but smile.
“Hey, Naela?” Ethan looked up at me.
“Can we keep in touch while you’re over there? I know elves don’t use phones, but—”
I giggled. “Phones are expensive. Magic is not.”
“Well, for you, but—”
I showed him the paper and ink in my satchel. “Letters. Like the olden days.”
“But I can’t use magic to send them to you.” He started picking at the grass.
“Oh. Right.” I put my bag away. “Well, I can give you my address. There’s always the Raven Network.”
“Really?” His eyes lit up.
“Yes. It’s real.”
We laughed. Then we heard a long whistle echo between the trees.
“That’s your cue, isn’t it?”
“Yeah…” I slowly got up.
“Um,” Ethan also stood up, “I’m going to miss you, Naela. This was the best summer I’ve ever had. Really.”
“Yeah. Me too.” I’d spent the last week trying not to think about today, or how I wouldn’t be able to explore the forest with Ethan anymore, or play at the creek together, or even devour my dad’s pastries together, the kinds that elves thought were inferior to those bitter flower monstrosities. My mom was right to marry a baker, despite those stupid elf-human restriction laws…
“Oh, right.” We traded slips of paper. “I guess this is goodbye, huh?”
“Yeah. Goodbye, Naela.”
“See you soon, Ethan.” I headed out of the forest. I tried not to look back, but I couldn’t help myself.
He waved at me the whole way home.
FOR THE LAST TIME —
[By Teague (Not Teagan) Ricks]
The last day of school. That is crazy. For about 1019 hours, 52 minutes, and (give or take a few) 27 seconds. And now 28. You get the point. Freedom is so close! I can practically taste it! I look around the room. A couple friends are whispering in the back. I recognize everyone in the room. There’s the guy who drew a (CENSORED) on the bathroom wall, there’s Dwayne, one of my few very close friends, there’s my crushes boyfriend– dangit. There’s the smart girl, that one quiet dude, all these people I’ve been with all year, and I won’t see most of them for a few months! And the room itself, my homeroom, with all the little familiar things I’ll probably never see again. It’s really crazy. Next year, I’ll have to relearn so many things and remember so much new stuff. I wonder what my schedule will be like–
“FOR THE LAST TIME, CARLOS, ARE YOU EVER GOING TO START LISTENING IN CLASS?” My teacher Mrs. Retneprac yells, jolting me out of my daydream. “We’re going over how next year is going to go, and I expect everyone to listen!” As if the last minutes of this year aren’t long enough.
“Witching Hour” By AvraKehdabra
A scream eclipses the midnight air as sparks and embers make their way to the moon. Houses burn, skin burns, possessions burn. They make their way forward, one house after another. I hear their yells and signals.
“We know you are here! The Lord will cleanse these streets through our hands, and the Devil shall be cast out!” The singe of flesh as another girl is thrown into the bonfire. Her cries carry on for far too long.
They call us witches: people of the occult. Yet none of us accused have ever done anything as brutal and sanguinary as the sins these so called men of God commit on this night. I hear them outside my door and I tighten my grip on the whimpering child at my hip. He’s only a boy, but he is my blood, so I fear he will be cast into the flames as well. More screams echo through the town, and I know Salem shall never be the same.
I know they are coming for me. I know the hour approaches. My only hope is to be overlooked, but when I hear the men making their way towards my hiding place, this possibility becomes an impossibility. All life has been taken for granted, I know I was guilty of it as well. But in my last moment I am washed of fear, and the thought of death is forgotten. I only hope my child would forgive me for not being able to provide a fulfilling life. A thousand memories choke my mind, and was replaced with regret.
The love for my child overwhelmed my soul and mind while just as many flames engulf our bodies. The night ends in silence alongside the crackle of the fire. All is forgotten, but nothing is forgiven. My last moments last long enough for me to hear the sound of my child die.
My last moments last far too long.
“The Chamber” by R J Chapman
Shivering and naked, he looks at those around him. A family next to him are huddled together. He stares at the woman, her arms wrapped around both children, pulling them into her bare breasts. The father’s skeletal frame is crouched just behind and he whispers words of comfort. Soon, the words swell in his throat. He fights, trying to overcome the despair. Uncontrollable sobs follow.
A teenage girl stands alone. He wonders about her parents. Her only company is that of her swollen belly. She strokes it, whispering. He looks away; it’s too much.
An old rabbi sits in front of him. The old man is not strong enough to stand. He has a look of resignation on his face as he looks at those surrounding him. They are praying. The rabbi does not. God isn’t listening. God isn’t here.
He hears a noise from above. Everyone else looks up in synchronicity. It sounds like something is on top of the chamber. There is a collective hope that it’s a sign the showers are starting. He looks at their eyes; they look like cattle.
The dim lights fade to black. The hushed tones of doubt and worry have become deafening wails and howls.
He tries to remember something good. He can’t. He tries to remember before the camp. He can’t. He tries to remember the faces of his parents, his sisters, his wife…his son. He can’t. His mind is as hopelessly imprisoned in the present as his body is in this abattoir.
The sounds of panic are now mixed with those of bodily functions. His nostrils burn with vomit and defecation. He barely notices he is standing in piss. It might be his own. It doesn’t matter.
A hand squeezes his. It is as rough and calloused as his own. He can tell neither the age nor the gender. It doesn’t matter. He squeezes back.
Coughing and spluttering begins. The air is foul with more than human excrement.
The wait is over.
Last of the Friends by Jesse Fisher
The sun rises as the morning dew glistening in the light as it rolled off of a lone figure on a bench in a place where it could only be seen as a statue if not for the moments of fingers twitching or the quiet hum of the lights and motors allowing its movement.
Here a blue palleted bot held it’s visored head as it traveled back like it did every night for what seemed years. Voices of those that laid at its feet, those that had long been silent to the outside world. In a moment it began again first was the boss, he had a wild ride and in the end left with peace. Then was the empty headed one, he would have smacked the figure for thinking of that name, he and his wife left on a trip and did not return.
The dew seemed to form tears that it could not cry, it could not feel physical pain but the learned emotional hurt. For the moment he was back on those late nights chatting and the games they played, the horrible jokes that they made and laugh/groaned at them. The sound of the gates opening brought it out of that old recording.
The site keepers ignored it more so due to it being there for so long that they just had it as a routine, both parties nodded as the figure moved out of the site. Back to a rather well kept building that was the only thing standing after the others were either torn down or crumbled away with time.
Once more memories played as it crossed the threshold, with a half hearted fake sigh it began to get ready for the old timers that still came here. Children that once grew up around this place would have a moment where the bot will miss. At times the bot wonders was this happening now or was it reliving this memory on a starless night waiting for the sun to rise and wake it from this long moment.
By Giovanna J. Fuller
“Warning. Warning. Contact with Adephagia VII imminent,” the unpanicked voice came over the ship’s speakers, drowning out the sirens.
“Captain Jenny!” the com was crackling. “Do you copy?”
The woman in the blue uniform torn, stained with grease, and singed from small electrical fires sat in the cockpit staring at the sparking controls. No matter how many times she pushed buttons or slammed her fists against the console, she couldn’t respond. She was all alone in her little, silver ship, slowly being pulled like a dog on a leash.
“Wa-wa-warning. Wa-wa-warning. Contact-.”
“Ca-Ca-Ca- Captain Jenny! Ca-ca-ca- Cauuuuuuu.” The speaker dissolved into a low, garbled noise as it was stuck on one word.
Captain Jenny leaned forward and switched off everything.
All was quiet. All was still.
Her breathing still labored from her work, she pried the metal shields open. There it was. A Christmas tree of tiny lights and a thick ring of warped space surrounding black void. No tiny dots of light to give comfort. There was nothing. All that was separating her from it was the high-temperature quartz glass. With a sense of emptiness, she fell into her chair.
She ran her fingers through her hair, matted down from sweat, and wiped the frustrated tears that still lingered on her cheeks. Underneath the folds of blue cloth and, once, white tank top, she pulled out a small silver pocket watch about the size of a half dollar.
Inside was, of course, a watch and, on the other half, a small picture of a man and a woman. They held a baby boy. “I’m sorry, boys,” she murmured before setting the watch on the console. She leaned forward, resting her body on the desk. With her eye on both the picture and the window, Jenny waited.
The black void got bigger and bigger, faster and faster. Not like it was growing, but like it was eating the world around it.
“Captain Jenny! Do you copy? Captain Jenny! Captain Jenny!” A man in a white button up turned his head to address his superior. “I’m afraid we’ve lost Captain Jenny.”
15,000 Miles Above
Audio Log – September 13th, 2193
Sophie Belot, Engineer ICSC Starlight
We’re 15,000 miles from Edge. Less than a single jump away (audible laughter). I can honestly say that I didn’t expect this to be the way I’d die, though I haven’t given it much thought until now anyway. I assumed it’d be more… well… flashy I guess. Ya know, maybe I go down protecting the passengers against some mysterious assassins, or while keeping the slipcore from destabilizing. There’s this adventurous – mystique? Yeah, this adventurous mystique to the Fleet, even the civilian side.
One jump away. (Light laughter.)
The captain’s dead, I know, and Kahua too – he was the first to go. I might be the last. We came so close – so close. I believed we were gonna make it. Tight scrapes happen every once in a while, right? It’s just a fuel leak. How bad could it be? “It’ll be fine, Kahua,” I said. “we’ve been through worse than this.” I’m glad he hasn’t had to wait here to die with the rest of us. Small mercies, I suppose.
We were so close.
The oxygen’s starting to run really low. Any minute now the computer should be warning me – (beeping followed by more laughter) – and there it goes.
I wish you could see the planet. I mean, It’s a recording, so I could try to describe it I guess? I’m from Mars, so I’m gonna be biased in my description – you’ll have to forgive me for that. It is really beautiful though. The sun is lined up at an angle from the planet right now, and you can see a tiny bit illuminated, and the rest is still dark – the cities and domes are still lit up. It’s striking. I don’t want to say it’s beautiful again, but it is.
I wonder if I could spot my settlement from up here? Might be a little too small to see, but if you look up North there’s Titus, and Peake is up to the left, so if we go, if we go, go down… from…
At the End
Not all stories have the luxury of a happy ending. I just hoped that Koming’s would somehow surprise me.
As I held him in my arms, I tried my best not to cry. He didn’t need to see that. But the wound in his chest… I knew he was beyond repair.
“You did it, Koming.” I said, with a slight hitch. “You stopped Fissure, you saved us from the old magic.” But I couldn’t save you.
He looked at me with a smile. Scarcely any pain in his expression. How could he smile with such calm? How could he look so happy with a gaping hole in his chest?
He looked away, I assumed he was trying to glimpse the remains of the battle that he had ended. Why couldn’t he just lie still?
“Loyal, I’m sorry I… I made you and your troops come all this way,” He said through labored breaths.
I couldn’t stop the flood of tears. Why was it never about him? “Don’t you ever say that again.” I croaked out. “You are always worth fighting for.”
He coughed and winced. “I have to check on Fissure.” He slid out of my arms.
“No, you can’t!”
He got shakily to his feet but was on hands and knees in an instant.
I ran to him and held him down. “You can’t, he betrayed you. He betrayed us all.”
He coughed again. Holding his chest, he stood again. “He… wanted his family back. You can’t blame him for that.”
I watched him stumble his way towards the still body of Fissure. Unwilling to stop him from reuniting with his old friend. When Koming fell over, however, I raced over calling his name.
He was shaking. “Loyal,” he whispered when I pulled him into my lap again.
“Loyal, you, can’t, let anyone, take it.”
“I won’t, I promise.” I didn’t ask what It was. I didn’t want to make him suffer more.
He looked relieved. And with one final glance at Fissure, he went limp.
I closed his eye and kissed his forehead. “I’m sorry, Koming.”
Balthazar was used to close calls. Though, as he sat on the makeshift operating table while Avi mended the last of his wounds, Balthazar remembered that it was not so common to others.
“Avi—” Balthazar tried to explain himself.
“I told you to wait.” Avi finished cleaning the cut on Balthazar’s arm and moved on to the bandage.
“And what? Let more people get hurt?”
“This was an underground battle arena that’s been around since—” Avi made sure the bandage was secure before he threw one hand up near his face. “Ancient Rome, possibly. You could have died.”
Balthazar rested a hand on Avi’s own. “I wish I knew what to tell you.”
If Avi heard what Balthazar said, he did not acknowledge it, “You don’t have to risk your life like this. You have people that care about you. How would they react?”
Balthazar’s grip tightened around Avi’s hand, but made sure he did not crush it. “I can’t promise to stop nearly dying. But I can tell you that my days of seeking death are over.”
Avi made eye contact for a moment, but looked down. Balthazar worried that he said something wrong before Avi asked, “What are they like?”
“Those last moments before death.”
Balthazar took a moment to think, then gave the best answer he could. “It’s…long, I suppose. I tend to look back on my life, so that probably doesn’t help.”
Avi considered the answer before he sat down next to Balthazar. “You better not try to teach with those wounds.”
Balthazar chuckled as best as he could before leaning on Avi. “I’m not that dumb.”
Avi managed a weak smile before pushing on Balthazar. “I have to finish up a few things.” He stood up and walked to the door. “No sudden movements.”
Balthazar sat in silence after Avi left. He made a mental note to do something for Avi to make up for the scare and pushed himself off the table so he could at least find a chair comfortable enough for a nap.
THE END OF THE WORLD
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
Life is confusing for children. They are propped into a world they don’t understand and are told to make sense of the damned thing. Your parents can only do so much in helping you learn. You have to figure out the details yourself.
At five, I didn’t quite understand time zones. They were perplexing to me; how could two different places have entirely different times? To solve this paradox, I decided that each time zone represented a new present. Times ahead of us would be in the future and times behind us would be in the past.
My family didn’t go on many trips except my dad who would go on long business trips. When I asked him about how it felt to cross into a new time zone, he said that he would get a bit sick if he crossed too many. I was glad that we didn’t take many trips then. If my father, a beast of a man, could get sick, what would happen to a small girl like me when I crossed the line?
Then I learned about daylight savings time. I begged my parents to ask the government to stop the time switch. Confused, they figured I just wanted more playtime. They didn’t know I was expecting my own death.
The night of the time switch, I bundled up into bed. I told my parents I loved them dearly and embraced my teddy bear tightly. They nonchalantly wished me sweet dreams and turned off the lights. Maybe they were unaware of the danger? Nervously, I stared at the clock and watched my impending doom approach.
The next morning, I woke up with a start. I must’ve fallen asleep staring at the clock. Confused, I ran downstairs to find my mom. With tears running down my face, I hugged her tightly and thanked her profusely for preventing daylight savings time.
Her loving arms embraced me as she calmed me down and explained how time actually works. I have never been more grateful to be wrong in my entire life.
Time to kill
God, the last moment is always the longest. I never really thought about what that meant. The last moment of what? Now I know.
I’m in a bed, a hospital bed, I’m dying I think, it’s hard to tell. Tick, tock, tick, tock goes the clock, I’m breathing right? 1 breath, 2 breaths, 3 breaths, 4, breathing, I’m breathing, when was breathing so hard? This is taking a while, everything’s still bright, I’m breathing, 5, 6, 7, I suppose this is what they mean by your life flashing before your eyes, it doesn’t, your just given time to think.
I’m thinking, I’m breathing, 8, 9, 10, I’m remembering my life, when I was young and I lived on that farm, when I went to school and the strange change between the two wildly different worlds kept the days short and me young. When I left school I took over my parents farm, after they got too old to work on it themselves of course, I hated it.
Without school, all I had was the farm, all I had was the farm, that’s it, my entire world was summarised in such a small piece of land that I knew so well I could accurately draw out an unnecessarily detailed map of all the trees, the fields, the house and so on and so on. It was horrid, it was disorientating, the days merged into one long year, one after the other. This aged me, before I knew it I was too old to work, 11, 12, 13, I’m still breathing, how much longer will this take? I’ve come so far and achieved so little, how long until it’s all over? Tick, tick, tick, tick, the clock’s taunting me, it’s hands working harder than mine did, moving in a steady rhythm, tick, tock, tick, tock, 14, 15…16, 17, my breathing has slowed, the end draws near, the end has been drawn out just to tease me, the clock moving forward further than I ever did, 18…19…20, I’m gone.
A Kiss Goodbye
(I doubt it will, but if my number comes up, I’d like to give my place to R J Chapman)
“I don’t want you to go.” Amber sniffled.
Leilan wiped the tears staining her wife’s cheeks, “I know, darling. But I have to.”
Amber broke into sobs, burying her face in her hands, “Lei-lei, we haven’t even had our honeymoon yet! This isn’t fair!”
Leilan wrapped her arms around Amber, trying her best to comfort her.
“Please don’t cry, my love.” Leilan begged softly, her own heart breaking.
Amber clung to the taller woman, her face hidden in Leilan’s shoulder, her tears staining the olive camouflage jacket.
Leilan hugged her tighter. Despite her best efforts, her own tears escaped into Amber’s caramel hair.
“I’ll write every chance I get.” Leilan promised.
“But what if the letters stop?”
“But what if-”
Amber took a breath and nodded, “You have to come home. I won’t forgive you if you don’t.”
A hint of a smile formed on Leilan’s face, “I know you won’t.”
An announcement was made, calling all troops to the plane for departure.
She kissed her wife on the forehead as she pried Amber’s fingers from her jacket. Picking up her bag and steeling her expression, she walked across the tarmac. She shuffled in line with her platoon, and was boarded within minutes. Dread filled her with every step towards her seat.
She shoved her bag into the storage compartment, but didn’t sit. Amber’s tearful face was burned in her mind.
“Please find your seats. We will be departing in two minutes.” A voice called through the aircraft.
Just enough time.
Leilan rushed up the aisle, shoving past people with an urgency she’d never felt. She practically jumped the stairs, instantly spotting her wife among the crowd.
“Amber!” Leilan called desperately. She closed the gap fast, embracing her love and kissing her deeply. She knew she only had a minute, and she had to make it count.
She broke the kiss after their eternity together, meeting Amber’s emerald eyes, “I’ll come back to you. I promise.”
Amber nodded, smiling at last, “I know. I love you, Lei-lei.”
Leilan returned the smile, “I love you too.”