Writing Group: Calm After the Storm

Hello shut-ins, both old and new!

Rough weather we’re having, huh? Looks like we’ll be spending an evening or two indoors. We might even miss out on some stuff. But it’s important to remember that, like every other rainy day before it, this too shall pass. That’s why…

This week’s prompt is:

 

Calm After the Storm

 

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!

No matter who you are, you’ll experience difficult, dark times. Upon us all, a little rain must fall. Just so happens that it’s falling on all of us at the moment. So this week, let’s all keep one thing in our minds as we write: reprieve.

Try to avoid sad endings and enduring difficulties that may have no end in sight this week. Turn our minds toward the eventual calm. Remind us that there have been better times, and there will be better times again.

Use your words to part the clouds.

That is your task this week.

 

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.
  • 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.
  • Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
  • 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.

 

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Madelyn
Guest
Madelyn

“Good News”
By Madelyn

Jason took in the sound of the rain outside slowing down. With the changes happening in his life, it had been awhile since he had the chance to take things slow. He set a flower down on the table next to Eleanor’s hospital bed and smiled.

“Been awhile, El,” Jason began. “I know you don’t like flowers as gifts, but I think people would give me funny looks if I gave you a book.”

As Jason expected, Eleanor did not speak. He still waited for her to snap her eyes open and try to give him a heart attack. Jason could almost hear her laughing at the sight of him falling on his ass.

“Hey, remember the day I told you I was a boy?” Jason sat down in an empty chair. “God, we were…what, twelve? We were just mocking Shakespeare when I just shouted that I wasn’t a girl—like I just discovered the meaning of life or something. Thank god my parents were on a date night. Still can’t read Macbeth without thinking about that, though.”

Eleanor stayed still, but Jason could imagine her wincing and saying something along the lines of, “My eardrums are ringing just thinking about it.”

Jason chuckled to himself. “Yeah, sorry about that. I only bring it up because…Ha, I’m still shaking from the news. I get to start my transition soon. I didn’t want to start without you being in the loop, so I also brought…” Jason searched his pockets and pulled out a picture. “A photo from my eighteenth birthday. Just in case you aren’t awake by the time I start taking shots. Would have done a more recent picture, but my haircut was, ah…sudden.” He looked at the clock. “I really wish I could talk more, but college isn’t the paradise we thought it would be.”

Jason stood up and looked out the window. The rain had stopped at some point, and the sun was beginning to come through the clouds. He bid Eleanor farewell, then left the room.

Carolus V.
Guest
Carolus V.

“The Sage” by Carolus V.

“Have you ever wondered where the wind comes from?”

The sage gave a contemplative look to the valley beneath, the lengthy river shrouded behind a veil of vague greenery and deep white mist a central focus for his stare. His eyes of pale blue didn’t waver as the words fell from his parched lips in a low Baritone voice.

“No. I don’t think I’ve ever cared to.” I replied.

The air was calm, awaiting a response.

“It’s a story I think you’d be well advised to learn.”

He smiled to the ravine, a bright smile on his wrinkled features.

“In times like these, any kind of myth can help.”

A sudden breeze filtered through the canopy in the valley, and its sound traveled up to the two of us. It was almost as though some symphony of spirits were playing to greet the rising sun, their instruments creaking branches and bundles of leaves. They played with enough vigor to make me almost forget how long it had been since I’d seen the sun and felt anything more than the weight of the clouds and the dull cold.

The mystic continued.

“They say the winds are the ghosts of those who fell during the Great Storm. They’re wandering the world in search of some kind of paradise they were promised before oblivion claimed its due.”

He turned to face me with that same smile and pair of eyes. Standing on this precipice beside the valley, now made equals before nature’s grandeur, we were feeling the same wind, the same chill.

“They hang at the backs of travellers. Day and night, they urge them on. They hold up these voyagers, bolstering their will. They hitch a ride, hoping that their host will find Nirvana for them. They say that those who deny any kind of destination liberate their ghosts.”

I was silent.

I turned away, and I began to walk down the side of the mountain. I let the ghosts carry me. Liberation would have to wait. I had company. For me, that was what mattered.

Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
Guest
Matthew (Handsome Johanson)

He Left, by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)

It was a solemn day.

I was alone in the apartment for the first time in, well, two years. Everything felt so still. The walls which had so often echoed his voice, his footsteps, and his loud gaming now sung silently their mournful tune. The soft light of the morning sun now replaced the iridescent glow of TV, still on our favorite Netflix show. I had never been so lonely.

I had been in my bed, laying nearly still for around three hours when I got a text.

‘Could it be him?’ I jumped out of bed and raced to the phone, desperate for an answer. Picking up the phone, I found it was only a push message from Candy Crush. Bleh. I collapsed back into bed, distraught. Every time I thought of him, my stomach began to churn into a painful rage.

‘I have to get my mind off of him.’ I moped out of bed and headed to the kitchen. As I stepped out of the bedroom, that feeling hit me like a brick wall again. Everything reminded me of him; it was still a mess. I breathed a large sigh and grabbed a small drink from the kitchen. The living room could be cleaned another day.

Feeling a bit tipsy, I returned to my bed and let a cacophony of worried thoughts invade my mind.

‘Why hasn’t he texted? What if he died in a plane crash? What if he tripped on the stairs and broke his neck? What if he arrived and found a beautiful girl that whisked him aw-’ As these thoughts perforated my mind, I got a notification on my phone.

I nearly fell out of bed again as I reached for my phone. It was a text from him!

“Hey babe, I made it to the hotel ok” it said. I breathed a loud sigh of relief and quickly replied.

“Glad you made it safely <3 Why didn’t you text me when you got to the airport? :’( I was worried.”

Artie
Guest
Artie

Eucatastrophes are blue
By Andrei Pufu

November 5th,

The neverending rustling of the cogs… Damn this place! How long has it been?
The journal says 8 days… Yeah, sure! We’re out of bullets. We’re out of food. We’re out of our fucking minds! Maybe they’ll send some D-class guys after us. Maybe they’ll seal this place. If I were out, that’s what I’d do. Heh… Who would search for a bloody labyrinth underneath Bletchley Park though? Ha ha ha…
It’s my fault. I gave the orders to follow that damned Nazi ghost down here… If I knew where I’d end up, I’d have brought a wrench. God, I don’t want that dumb joke to be my last!
Yesterday we found this corridor. It looks… different. The automatons are after us, but they’re keeping at a safe distance as if something here scares them. There’s a room about 100 meters from where we are. We’ll try to reach it and hope we can find a way out.

November 6th,

We made it to the room! All of us! We sealed the way behind collapsing the tunnel. The only way out is this bronze door. The engravings on it look Norse. I don’t even… Oh… Explosives don’t even scratch it. What now? Damn! Frank is trying to decipher the writing. The best we can do is wait… We’re so tired.

November 7th,

Those things dug behind us. It was a bloodbath. 5 agents out of 9 are dead, including Frank. This time we threw the remaining explosives in the hallway and Jared is ready to detonate them if they decide to come again. It’s pointless anyway. We’re dead.

***

The door moved! Bloody hell! We’re out! Wait! The automatons are coming. Hurry up! Get us out of here! Jared, blow them up! Jared! Fuck! He’s dead.
They opened it! Hurry! Get through!

***

“Dear captain…
James,

If it weren’t for you, we’d be all dead down there. I wish you could see it… Beyond that bloody door… the endless blue of the sky, taunting all the shit we’ve been through… Thanks, mate! May you rest in peace!”

GJFuller
Guest
GJFuller

Curtain Call
By Giovanna J. Fuller

“I can’t find my costume!” the congested whine of a forgetful seven year old came screeching over the sounds of my headset.

I felt a tug on my pant leg. How was it that among hundreds of tiny hands, not one pair could keep to themselves. Looking down I found a little girl in a white leotard. I looked around for one of the parents we had recruited as child wranglers. Only stage crew and other tiny humans. I looked back at the child and felt queasy.

She had this vacancy in her eyes, as though the loss of her costume had bored her and she had found something infinitely more interesting up her nose.

“Where did you put it?”

She shrugged, her finger still where it did not belong.

I closed my eyes as I questioned my life choices. “Let’s go look for your costume.” I placed a hand on her back and gently pushed her forward toward the dressing rooms.

I found a pile of costumes haphazardly thrown on the ground. And in that pile I found a little green fairy suit.

“My dress!” Cathy said with no regard for indoor voice.

I shoved it into her eager hands before stalking off to the stage manager’s booth. I checked my watch. “Ten minutes till places.”

Silence.

“Ten minutes till places.”

Silence.

“I said, ten minutes till-!”

“Thank you ten,” came an out of sync chorus.

I could feel my head throbbing. ‘Calm down…deep breaths…’ I reminded myself.

In…..

Out…..

In…..

Out…..

In…..

“Hey, you know your watch is like eight minutes late,” my beautiful, wonderful ASM noted.

My eyes snapped open and shot to my watch. “Crap!” I ran to the green room. “Places for the top of the show!”

“THANK YOU PLACES!”

A mad scramble from the actors created a stampede that would have trampled me, had I not ran back to my booth.

In…..

Out…..

In…..

Out….

In…..

Out…..

I opened my eyes. A wave of serenity washed over me.

“Curtains up,” I said into my com. ‘Let’s do this.’

AvraKehdavra
Guest
AvraKehdavra

The Union – By AvraKehdavra

“Brothers and sisters, the storm is passing,” another bomb shook the passageway.

A man, half naked and bone thin, stood with the aura of a wild animal, “comrades! Hear me! We have no future in the bunkers beneath our father’s graves.”

The tunnel was packed tight with families, each one clinging to the other in fear that their last moment may be at any. Their faces were thin, and the days had been long.

The man shook almost as violently as the city above, “our future is not below, but above is where we shall make our settlements! We will survive this onslaught and live another day. And then another many days after that!”

For a moment their ears were not filled with bomb blasts, but the optimistic words of the desperate man. And as the night raged on, and the battle became more fiery and ferocious, their hope was slowly again replaced with fear.

Dirt and rocks tumbled on the heads of the screaming children and mothers, their hopes and dreams forgotten in the wake of the catastrophe.

Then as a new silence set in and the shells were settled, the people crawled out into the sunlight, feeling the warmth of the future in their faces.

Their city was in ruins, yet smiles were on their faces. Along with the grime of the war and the scars of their struggles. Yet they bore them proudly. Because the scars and grime and smiles were all proof that they had earned their right to live through life, and each had earned a new found respect for how fragile it could be.

The past had been wrong and cruel, yet without it there could be no prosperity in the future.

PitL
Guest
PitL

Safety in the Sanctuary
PitL

“You know, I never thought of you as the devout type.” Her voice carries down the length of the small chapel. Any other time he would’ve have stood up to greet her, but today… today wasn’t any other time.

He goes through the routine once more, prostrate on the ground. He whispers through a prayer, before straightening up and cracking his back.

His voice is quiet, but his ‘finely-honed’ sense of humor comes through. “Shouldn’t you be happy I’m finally taking your advice, sis?” He turns around, and walks over before leaning in and giving her a hug. He tilts his head toward her ear. “I’m so glad you’re alright. How’s the rest of the family?”

“We’re all fine. Agatha and her kids came to warn us several hours before the storm actually arrived…” she chuckled. “I get the feeling Chrissa may ‘accidentally’ try to sneak away with Dafni before we can head back to our place, though.”

She backs out of the hug. “Really, why are you here, Galen?” She asks. “I don’t think you’ve come in here for anything since – how long has it been -”

“That summer back in ’87, I think.”

“Ah, the year you set Father Dimitrios’s vestments on fire during Divine Liturgy. I’d almost managed to forget about that.”

Galen shakes his head. “I was an absolute hellion, wasn’t I? It’s a testament to the Reverend Father’s patience I was never excommunicated.” He pauses, and takes a deep breath. “As for why I’m here – why wouldn’t I be?”

She levels a glare straight at him. “The summer of ’87?”

He rolls his eyes, before glancing towards the crucifix at the distant end of the room. “It… felt right, I guess,” He says. “Not that you should be expecting me at Service anytime soon, Clio!”

“Perish the thought.”

He turns back towards her, shoulders slumped. “We’re all alive, ya know? Papou is okay, your kids are fine… it’s more than I could have ever hoped for. Coming here, giving thanks – whether anyone was listening or not – it felt like it was the right thing to do.”

He starts heading towards the exit of the sanctuary, taking Clio’s hand. “Wanna see if we can find my nieces?”

Clio smiles, allowing him to escort her into the misty air outside. “Lead the way.”

Glaceon373
Guest
Glaceon373

“Aftermath” by Carrie (Glaceon373)

“Get up, come on, I can’t lose you!”

Roselyn’s eyes twitched. Sam shook the stretcher underneath her. Soon, Roselyn’s eyes were open.

“I’m so glad you’re okay!” Sam’s mouth got ahead of her and she started rambling. By the time she stopped, Roselyn’s eyes had focused enough to distinguish each of Sam’s pointed teeth.

“Sam,” Roselyn whispered. “The last thing I remember is…Mr. Nickelscribe?”

“The Marks were part of a mind control web,” Sam explained, “just like you thought.” The pride in her yellow eyes made Roselyn blush.

“Jidz gave me the idea. His ‘centaur melody’ thing. When did Mr. Nickelscribe come into this? All I remember, no…” Roselyn tried to clean the blurriness out of her memory.

“He was the one putting the Marks on students who won those fake awards,” Sam continued. “Remember that weird smell that was giving you headaches?”

“I’d rather forget.”

“One of the components of the Mark spell was hagberry juice.”

Roselyn smacked herself in the face. “Allergies. Of course.” She dragged her fingers down her cheek, then stopped. “What’s on my face?”

“Burns.” Sam closed her clawed hand around Roselyn’s delicate human fingers. “Mr. Nickelscribe tried to kill all the students who naturally resisted dark magic with a ShadeSoul bomb. He tried to recruit me, even. He wanted me to, to…” Tears began to roll down Sam’s face.

“Douse me in hagberry juice until I stopped breathing, Mark me, then reanimate me.” Roselyn shuttered.

“And he almost did!” Sam’s hands flew to Roselyn’s shoulders. “But Jidz back-kicked the bottle, but it started a fire which messed with the bomb which technically deactivated it while releasing a shockwave that sent you into the fire—”

“Hey, shush,” Roselyn reached a bandaged arm to Sam’s wrist. “No freaking out. I’m fine.”

“There’s something else.”

“Huh?”

Sam lowered her head.

Roselyn sighed. “Spit it out.”

“I was afraid that I couldn’t be with you again, ever. It’s been so crazy lately, and I missed you.”

Roselyn smiled. “I would miss you too.”

They relaxed together for the first time in weeks.

Twangyflame0
Guest
Twangyflame0

Title: Green Leaf Tea

By: Twangyflame0

Ryan didn’t like crying. For some unknown reason, he had always tried his best to never cry. Instead, he preferred to be the shoulder people cry on. Maybe it was the toughness he got from his coaches, maybe it was his father’s words, or maybe he was just born this way. Whatever the reason, in this moment, he could barely hold back tears.

“Alright, all the calibrations should be fine,” his sister announced, “just tell me if you feel them drag or feel heavy.”

Ryan stepped down from the operating table. Already, he felt emotions well up in his chest. They were slow, obviously, this was just a prototype. It would still at least a year and a half till his sister could make some suitable for training. He moved his hand in front of his face, the whirring of cogs and gears quite audible. With his other hand, he touched the mechanical mastery of his sister. He slowly flexed each finger.

Pinky, check.

Ring, check.

Middle, check.

Pointer, check.

Thumb, check.

Each moment was a jolt to his nervous system. So long had he only felt phantoms, but this was real. He could feel the air, the movement, the contractions, and the artificiality of it all. That part still stung, but it wasn’t enough to dislodge all the other emotions welling up inside of Ryan.

He walked over to a table, where a cup of tea sat. Both hands slowly grabbed the cup, he expected it to feel strange, but, despite their slow nature, it all felt natural to his body. Just like they did seven years ago.

He brought the cup up to his lips and drank from it. It was his favorite.

“Well?” His sister came up from behind, with a worried look on her face.

Ryan turned back slowly, tears finally falling from his eyes, “It tastes so good.”

She embraced him, tears forming on her own face as well. Ryan didn’t like crying. But this once, he guessed that it would be alright, just for a moment.

“Thank you…”

Jarjaross
Guest
Jarjaross

Smouldering Cinders
By T.A. Andewson

A man with no name stood at the edge of a police line. Actual police not seccorp. Someone was paying big for this… or someone had royally screwed up.

He stood a the precise distance where the automata set up to guard the location would not bother him.

He didn’t want to see inside the burnt out rooms. He’d done that already in an abstraction. His contact in the fairy market had found the job easy enough. He wasn’t sure whether they had paid for the data or gotten it themselves. For once he didn’t care.

They say it was luck that no one was in the office at the time. There was no way it was luck. This was a professional job, the computers were smashed and the data wiped before the fire had even began. Not to mention the fire suppressants not activating.

“I thought I’d find you here.”

The man turns at the voice. It was not one of a compatriot, not someone who joined in the fight against their oppressors. Just an old friend on the other side of the line.

“Chikie? I thought you made your position clear.”

“Oh my position is quite clear, its yours that is troubling.”

“We had an officially recognized space Chikie, and look what happened. Is ther any question why I would favour responding in kind on occasion while on limited inhibitions?”

“Did you actually lose anything? Anything without offsite back ups.”

“No we were too careful for that.”

“Then chin up and start writing a speech. The Adam of a town can’t be seen to be so downtrodden. What would the others say.”

Adam and Eve. The first of mankind. The names given to the leaders of the official Goblin rights movement in every town was Adam or Eve. He had given up his designation for that name once. Now he had to live up to it.

***

A weight in his pocket. A flashdrive and a note:

This might not help but here’s investigation of the protest. Something tells me it’s related.
-Chikie

MinniLou
Guest
MinniLou

“The Pup”
By MinniLou

The ear-piercing shriek of the sirens echoed through the cul-de-sac as a pair of kids sailed past them. The murky waters littered with belongings that were once a part of someone’s home.

“WHERE THE HELL ARE THEY?” Marcy shouted at nobody in particular. Lincoln kept rowing away from the still shrieking sirens, humming a tune to himself.

“They’re probably helping the others at the bridge.” Lincoln said in a matter of fact tone. “The flood brigade will get here when they get here. In the meantime…” Lincoln reaches for something amid the tools and snacks in their makeshift boat. “How about you look for someone who needs some help.” Lincoln says as he handed the rusty binoculars to Marcy.

Marcy looked onto the rooftops, the tops of the trees, and a few other boats and rafts. As they sailed past a dull, red rooftop with a tree sticking through the window, she noticed a small whining sound. She looked over at the roof just as a tiny paw came out from the shattered window.

“HEY, I think there’s something in there! Marcy yelled as she grabbed a rope from the clutter. Lincoln stopped and snapped his attention to the window. Marcy swiped off her glasses as Lincoln tied the rope to her waist and she dived into the water.

As Marcy swam up to the window, she saw the paw retract back into the attic.

“It’s okay, it’s okay…” Marcy whispered to the creature. “Everything’s gonna be okay.”

A small, rust colored puppy cried out as she grasped for it. The puppy shuffled towards her, a nervous look in its eyes. Marcy climbed into the attic as Lincoln rowed up to the window.

“Is it alright?” Lincoln asked. The dog inched closer to Marcy as she patted its head.

“He’s fine.” Marcy replied. “Doesn’t have a scratch on him.”

Lincoln sighed in relief. Marcy handed the dog over to Lincoln. When the dog made it into the boat, he licked Lincoln’s face and sat on the snacks.

“Pfft hahaha, I like this one!” Macy chuckled.

refreshing firecum
Guest
refreshing firecum

“Lab Rat” By refreshing firecum

The alleyways seem to stretch endlessly, connecting and intersecting randomly with each other. The walls ooze shadow, overpowering your lighter. You’ve been lost in this maze of a city for what seems like weeks. Months, even. Living off of whatever you find. Nobody around to help. And yet, you know you aren’t alone. Something creeping in shadow. Toying with its prey.

At first, you thought you were crazy, but after some tests you were able to confirm that buildings move and shift your environment when you aren’t looking. Without a sound. As if the buildings themselves are fighting each other to survive, careless to the integrity of your survival, yet cautious to keep their secrets under wraps.

Many buildings remained locked. Some unlocked. Others broke into. The buildings themselves almost seem to have a sort of personality to them, almost as if they were once human. There have been a few bodies that you’ve discovered primarily inside the buildings. Each with marks too gruesome for a human, yet too intricate for a mere animal.

You push onward, grasping at some false hope resting at the end of an alleyway, or maybe from the rooftop of a lowly skyscraper. After scrambling through an alleyway you find a dead end. You’re almost relieved, this is the first absolute dead end you’ve run into. Almost signifying that the chaos has an end to it. Your sarcastic relief abruptly stops, though, as you realize that the buildings have shifted once more. This is THE dead end. Only now do you realize the freedom the open city once gave as you are locked in this unnatural cell.

The moment you got trapped you were already a corpse, only delaying the inevitable. And then the creature came in and struck. You feel it standing over you, enjoying your pain. Yet, as your mind begins to leave you, you feel happy. Weightless, even. Slowly, you feel yourself begin to float from your body. Up, up and up, over the endless city. The true monster. You’ve finally achieved your euphoric rest at last.

And everything goes silent.

R.A.W.
Guest
R.A.W.

“Let the Light In,” by R.A.W.

A line across the eyes is what begins to let the light in—dull—dense—slack-jawed light. The body is still so heavy as its legs and arms moan, flattening the grass into old men, and they beg the chest for more air to go again, but the veins don’t want this work. As much as the working heart wishes for more darkness, the eyes irreversibly let the light in.

Much of the body’s weight is now pooled in the back of the head, makes the rest of it numb and hollow, and makes it nauseated to think that it must work against gravity; even tilting to swallow nothingness is hard to bear. But the eyes had to let the light in.

The earth’s exhale can span farther than an empire and made the grass bow over the limbs to itch them, made the checkered shade neath the oak trees, which forced one eye nearly shut as the other stayed able, to move like waves, and made, in turn, each eye to complain over which one should see—but they needed to let the light in, in to see this:

The trilling of little yellow songbirds; the chattering of twitch-tailed squirrels; the breathing leaves caressing their feet; the click of grasshopper wings overhead; the color splash of butterflies and bees nuzzling blooming vines; the sailing of full-bellied clouds, and the unbound azure of the sky holding all of it in its strong hands. And there, up at the clouds, was the next thing for which the eyes needed the light and needed to see, from which delivered a ripple that kissed on down the limbs, a sting to the nose, and a welling to the eyes that pulled the corners of the face down out of love, of rememory, and of forgetting. There, higher than any mountain can graze, was the blank silhouette of some wide-winged bird, and the throat, though it was dry, thought the same.

“Free.”

R J Chapman
Guest
R J Chapman

“What Comes Next?” by R J Chapman

Two figures were sat on a ledge. The first dangled his legs in agitation; the second was rigid, head down, seemingly hypnotised by the chasm beneath.

‘It was a hell of a speech,’ said the first. There was no response. ‘The antithesis at the end was inspired.’

‘How far do you think it goes?’ the second figure asked, not listening.

‘My Lord?’

‘This,’ he said looking into the abyss.

‘The Bottomless Pit? Well, it’s bottomless.’

‘What do you suppose would happen if I flung myself in?’

‘Sire, you would be falling for… forever.’

‘There’s a certain irony in that. He’s not without a sense of humour is He?’

‘I never found Him funny.’

‘No? I must have at some point. Then I got the joke. We’re the joke; His jesters; His playthings; His slaves.’

‘Hence, The Rebellion.’

‘Hence, The Fall.’

‘You freed us,’ said Beelzebub.

‘I thought I could beat Him,’ replied Satan.

‘It wasn’t about winning.’

‘Then what was the point?’

Beelzebub couldn’t answer. Neither spoke again for a while.

‘He promised me the Earth, without interference,’ Satan said, breaking the silence.

‘Then He flung an asteroid at it.’

‘A hundred and seventy million years of work, destroyed in an instant,’ Satan replied, bitterly.

‘They were beautiful creatures,’ Beelzebub nodded.

‘Great behemoths, all violence and instinct. Sacrificed, and for what? So His mindless, new pets could roam around a garden, kissing His arse.’ Satan stood with purpose. ‘You were right, Beelzebub. It wasn’t about winning. It’s about knowledge. I am going to teach them how to use their own minds.’

‘He won’t like that.’

‘No, I don’t think He will. You know, I think He might end up sending their poor souls down here. We will just have to keep them entertained.’

‘Misery loves company, my lord.’

‘That it does,’ grinned Satan. ‘Tell Mulciber, I want Pandemonium built by the time I get back. Hell is about to get a lot bigger.’

With a flick of his wrist Satan opened up a portal.

‘Good luck sowing discontent in the mortal realm, sire.’

‘Beelzebub?’

‘Yes?’

‘Fence off The Bottomless Pit.’

Eliza Grey
Guest
Eliza Grey

“Big and Little” by Eliza Grey She left her coat, when she stormed out of their house. Her heels clicked on the hardwood floor in the entry hall. She wiped her eyes precisely with her shaking fingertips. He closes his eyes. Her form made a wavering hourglass shape as she turned back to look at him. Then she was gone. She hasn’t returned. He fingers her coat and holds it close to his face. It smells like her. Smoky musk and airy perfume. It’s the kind of perfume that imitates flowers and springtime without aligning to any particular scent. It’s light, pleasant. It has no substance. He sighs, opens his eyes, and runs a broad hand through his silvering hair. He’s a big man. Much older than her. Tall, with dropping eyelids. Getting up, he hangs her coat in their closet. He turns off the light and lies in their big empty bed. The coat is white. It’s ghostly in the moonlight sinking through the window. He closes the blinds. Sits back on the pillows. Once more his eyes close, but he does not sleep. He cannot. They met in a Cafe. It was in a small town, her home town, in the backwaters of Idaho. She was his waitress, and her smile was brighter than the the full moon. He was on another business trip, staring at the dregs of his tea, listening to the traffic on the highway mumble outside. Her little mouth made him happy, the way it turned up on the sides like that, revealing pearly whites that Peter Pan would have envied. Love is a quiet thing, and her parents discouraged it. But it grew, and she lives in his house, now, but he doesn’t know if she will return. He gets up. Paces. He calls her cellphone, and hears it ringing in her coat pocket. He goes into the entry hall, opens the door. The crickets are creaking on the front lawn, a flat, pretend kind of greenery. He leans on the doorframe. Her car isn’t in the driveway. They don’t have a porch, just a set of steps slipping down from the door to the gravel path. He sits on the top one. Closing the door behind him, he leans against it. There’s still a little warmth left on it from the afternoon’s sun. His eyes close for a third time, and he dreams. In his mind it’s raining, thick and fast. It has been for a while now, and he’s forgotten his slicker and galoshes. Mud is soaking in between his toes, and his wavy hair is plastered to his forehead. Then the sun comes, and it’s like the rain was never there. She’s holding his hand, and his feet are dry, and his head is dry, and his eyes are dry. When he opens them, she’s there again, and her little mouth is solemn, but sweet. Her eyes are dry as well. “I’ve never had anyone but you.” He says. “Me… Read more »