Writing Group: The Soul Industry (PRIVATE)

Hello, demons and debtors!

I’ve got a question for you. What is the worth of a soul? Can it be measured out? Because if the answer is yes, I’m already beginning to see all kinds of fun business opportunities. Apparently the rest of the community feels the same. That’s why…

This week’s prompt is:

 

The Soul Industry

 

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!

This week we’ve got a very strange question to ask ourselves: how do you industrialize the soul?

Well, that depends on the nature of the soul. Is it an actual, physical item that can be manipulated in time and space? Can you extract it and put it in a bottle? Or is it transcendental, a collection of thoughts and memories within a person? 

In one case, you’ve got a commodity. A good, to be traded, sold, manufactured, hoarded. And then you’ve got to think of the commodity’s purpose. Why are people interested in it? Is it a luxury item? Are there demons out there buying bottled soul to get drunk on at parties? Is it a necessity? Do hollow holes in space pay some astral currency to be filled with the essence of life? 

In the other case, you’ve got a service. An effort to exert on someone else’s behalf. Is there a factory somewhere out there in the void where nether-beings are paid some meager living wage to assemble thoughts and feelings into the seeds of human souls? Do psychopomps make tips, like cab drivers, for driving you over to the next life?

However you slice it, we’re finding a way to reduce that animating force behind consciousness into something a little less abstract, and then finding a method of traffic. Not as grand a task as it might seem. Some examples of this already exist, in fact. War, for instance, you could think of as an industry of souls. People selling off their ethics and humanity, for the greater good, or nationalism, or protection, or money.

As long as you’re exploring what happens to souls when they become a thing within an infrastructure of handling and exchange, you’re on the right track.

Now, go make some ethically-compromised business decisions.

 

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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Brick
Brick
4 months ago

Second Story
by Brickosaur, pizza-bribed by Exce

“How long have you been lost?” Talebot wondered aloud. He squinted gratefully at the two intrepid taleoids that had found a third one deep in the foundry, a-cobwebbed and totally inert.

He examined the deactivated taleoid. “It seems intact. Just out of power. I wonder . . . if we could revive you . . . ”

After several computational seconds, archived memories flew to the front of Talebot’s processor. “I know what to do! Will you go get some books for me? The oldest and best-loved you can find. Hurry, please!” he urged his helpers.

The taleoids exchanged a wide-eyed glance and sped off. Meanwhile, Talebot glided to the Great Press, the best surface in reach, and gently set his patient on top. Old dialogues in brown coveralls ran through his processor as he wiped dust off the little robot.

[“You’ve noticed their quirks, I’m sure. Each has a distinct personality, and a kitten’s enthusiasm.”

“Yes! It’s like they’re . . . human, almost. How does one program such life into a machine?”

“Program, one doesn’t.”]

The taleoids were back with a stack of books. Talebot set aside Frankenstein and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and picked up something so well-loved, the cover had fallen off its yellowed pages.

“Perfect, thank you. Would you like to see what comes next?” he offered.

They nodded and clambered onto the press, staring as Talebot placed the open book down.

“This is going to be . . . rather unscientific,” admitted Talebot. He put one hand on the book, the other on the unmoving taleoid.

“You just need . . . a little spark.”

[“Every book has a second story. Authors and bookbinders pouring their hearts in; all the hands it passes through. Over time, it gains a life of its own — a kind of soul.”

“Okay, and?”

“And that soul can be transferred.”]

Talebot willed an electric current through his arms. Who knew how the workers had done it? But he made himself believe — in something magical, something unreal, just as his favorite humans did. He sent life into the taleoid, and HOPED.

The little robot’s eyes blinked open.

jesse fisher
jesse fisher
4 months ago

Seller of Souls by Jesse Fisher

The sky was overcast as it always was, while the illumination did not change the chill in the air the fires in the shops kept that at bay. Here at a humble shop a bored child slumped at the counter, it had been three days since the last wander came in for any new items. Ever since his father left to open a second place a town over, and the child had been tired of the repetitiveness of it all.

Ding, Ding

“Welcome to The Hangman’s Son,” They said monotone and tired. “Fine traders of souls and the bereavements caused to them.”

Lifting up from the counter they saw the customer, they looked like an armored ranch hand with a pistol on their hip and a double barreled shotgun holster on their back. Their face was masked by a cloth that was also tucked into the undershirt beneath the duster. The gloved hand placed a bright glowing vial on the counter.

“I wish to have the sins and achievements of these monsters weighted and then crafted to improve my weapons.” The draw was deep and slow.

“Very well.” The child responded before touching the vial.

However the moment the glass met the child’s bones a shock shot through the arm to the skull. A yowl of pain came out with some clattering from falling to the ground. The child was shaking from that ordeal, but was unafraid as that seemed to excite it.

“That is a soul of near divinity, how did you conquer it?” It’s voice had gone from monotone to a chipper glee.

This change in tone did put the armored ranch hand off, and a minor blush began to grow under the mask. The shift in body language was not what the child expected as they calmed down a bit.

“Come on there must be a great story because this is rare.” The glee still clear in their voice.

“Would you believe that while they were pontificating, tripping and falling on their sword and I just shot them as a mercy killing?”

“Oh…neat.” The child replied.

Athens32
Athens32
4 months ago

The Devil’s Daughter
By Athens32

The man across forum me is shuffling the deck of cards, well his hands were focusing on the cards the woman in his lap feed him some cheap french fries. As much as the two looked like a copple something was greatly off.

“So, you boys are going to do this?” her voice rings trow the crowded bar.

“That is the plan,” I say sitting up in the hardback chair.

“It’s still early, I wonder what my fother would think if I brought home a new pet,” the seemingly random statement holds something, but she spoke comly feeding the man the last fry to the man. “I guess if you are going threw with this we should go over you reword in the unlikely chance you win,”

“Yes, what do you offer?” I ask the thin woman wondering what I can get.

“Oh my, no no no,” she laughs “What is it that you want?”

“I will have you as my prise then” I lean over the table to better see her eyes, red sparks lighting up the blue wash. She laughs, a laugh that echos a coll to all demons.

“Fine ill take that, but,” she slides off the mans lap taking a few steps away “If you louse”

“If I louse?” I want to know what she’s getting at. I can tell that she’ll be the death of me.

“You become my new pet, and when I tier of you, I’ll give you to daddy,” at that moment a ring of fire raps around the table. Are the legends of the devil’s daughter real?

I can see her through the flames toads us her short black hair now long and the collars, a match the flames. taking the cards out of the man’s hands, she shuffles them before laying out sixteen faces down and dealing out the rest.

“You boys know the rules?” she asks in a serious tone. Both the man and I nod. “Good, ist no fun in hell with no one new to play with”

minergirl778 (aka frogfireFantasy)
minergirl778 (aka frogfireFantasy)
4 months ago

A Book Pitch
By Minergirl778 (aka frogfirefantasy)

Hi, My name is Marge Tenacity! You may know me from my bestselling novels “Reincarnation and You” and “Past Lives, Past Wives!?”. I’ve been writing stuff about our lovely little trick of reincarnation ever since it was discovered! But now, I’ve decided to bring my quirky, lovable, and only slightly saccharine writing style to a whole new level of guidance!

Tell me something, Have you ever brought a seemingly normal child home… and they start reaching for your knife block? Have you ever looked out into the yard and saw your child burning the neighbor’s dog with a magnifying glass? Are they taking WAY TOO MUCH interest in tax loopholes? Ever wish you could have a guide on what to do if your kid’s just not right in the head? Well, do I have a book for you!

Introducing “Help! My Child’s a Felon!” A comprehensive guide on how to gently direct and guide your child away from the criminal lifestyle of their past lives! Featuring everything from Arson (Chapter 12) to murder (Chapter 3) to Tax Fraud! (Chapters 8-11). This handy dandy guide book will prepare you for all the bumps and slumps that raising a previous felon can bring!

Because as we all know, raising a child is tough! Nobody’s a perfect parent, plain and simple. And having a child with a predisposition for illegal weaponry certainly isn’t helping. It can be scary being all alone in this…

That’s why my book comes with a subscription to our exclusive Felony Parenting hotline! A Nice, cozy echo chamber for all the moms whose kids are slightly harder than others. The perfect place to complain about how hard YOUR life is, while your child struggles with the atrocities of their past lives!

So purchase your copy of “Help! My Child’s a Felon” Today! Because it isn’t a crime, to need a little bit of help!

AnonymousIdiot
AnonymousIdiot
4 months ago

Offsetting Oversaturation
By AnonymousIdiot, CFO

President Zagan had to fight off a sneeze. He hated office lounges, too close to watching how the sausage got made. It didn’t matter that everything inside was turned off and covered in dust; Zagan could still hear the cacophony of phones, computers, and the drones. Sure, the demons had prime pickings in these places, some desperate fools looking for an out, but nothing drove one to madness faster than the adjacent monotony. He wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for one problem:

Hell had too many souls. A Prince could ask a stockbroker for why that’s a big deal, or they could look at the sudden spike in their monthly rent.

As Zagan waited, the air finally got to his nose, and he sneezed three times.

“Bless you, Mr. President.”

He looked up, rubbing his eyes, and saw the demon that was supposed to meet him. The business suit he was wearing hung on his body, but barely.

“Alright, hope you’re ready for payday,” he said. The corporate demon flashed a wide grin.

“Oh, of course. Nobody checks Limbo. These days it’s easy to make it to purgatory. A few here, a few there…” He trailed off.

“You can send ’em to Heaven for all I care.” The two of them laughed at that. “But I need you to move a billion souls. Can you do that?”

The corporate demon’s eyes bugged out as the President said those words. Without even saying anything, Zagan could read the annoyance burning in his eyes; course, he still needed to say it, or something like it.

“… You serious?”

“Dead serious.”

“And everybody’s cool with a billion souls out of circulation?”

“As you said, it’s easy to get into purgatory these days.”

The corporate demon’s face began to pale. “The suits upstairs aren’t that charitable.”

“That’s their problem, and yours. Skim from the top if you like. Pocket the whole damn bundle and sell ’em to deadheads in the black market if you want. Hell can’t handle the surplus.”

The corporate demon’s jaw clenched, his eyes lit up. “Fine.”

Deviacon
Deviacon
4 months ago

Value of a Soul
By Derek McEldowney (Deviacon)

I pulled a dimly luminescent jar from the cluttered shelf of macabre oddities. The source of faint light inside of it was a pale blue orb. I carefully uncorked the old, dingy bottle and the orb gently floated and squeezed its way up and out of the bottle like thick smoke.

The orb was lighter than air, it floated and swayed gently in place. The top of it flickered and danced like a misty flame. I slowly cradled my hand under it. It was so soft its touch was hardly noticeable if it weren’t for its frigid temperature. Tenderly squeezing it, I could feel the cold offer liquid-like resistance, as if that were its sign of density.

Within the orb I could make out foggy, faded silhouettes dancing through the motions of the emotions and sensations they evoked and everything in between. The images and sensations pulled me in the longer I stared and I began to feel traces of the spectrum and intensity of emotions contained within.

“So how much are these things worth?” I called out to the shopkeeper.

“That depends on who’s asking.” The gruff voice answered back.

“Very funny.” I begrudgingly replied.

“Seriously. Worth is completely subjective to the buyer. Gods and Deities collect ‘em like a madman, but with such careless greed they’re not worth much to ‘em alone. ‘Sides, why buy what you can reap for yourself in bulk? Demons and necromancers find great value in a single one, they make good buyers. Some even consider ‘em a delicacy. Those are the second best buyers.”

“So who is it that make the best buyers?” I nervously asked. The shopkeeper gave a wide, toothy smile.

“Well, why are YOU here?”

Felicia Taylor
Felicia Taylor
4 months ago

Soul Management by Felicia (Lunabear)

An unremarkable man sat in a crowded bakery munching on his customary breakfast. He thumbed through his phone, looking at objectively funny video compilations. He guffawed, a chunk of pastry getting lodged in his throat.

His coughing fit morphed into choking, his phone clattering to the floor.

A small purple imp appeared next to the man’s shoulder, its gray eyes studiously checking its watch.

His gasping ended abruptly, a loud thunk sounding as he fell against the table.

The imp snatched the ascending multicolored wisp and tucked it into its large satchel. It disappeared in a puff of orange smoke as screams erupted.

***

Gamorith balanced the green soul with a feather on the golden scale. Such a vibrant, peaceful one this had been. The soul raised above the feather and was sent upwards through one of the seven gates spanning different shades of yellow, from the lightest to the darkest.

Another vibrant but blue soul was placed, the soul falling beneath the feather. Violent. It was sent below through one of nine gates ranging in color from the lightest red to the deepest crimson.

Hexal, the little imp, dumped some contents of its satchel on the angel’s cloud desk, sighing.

“Hell of a haul,” it stated in a croaky voice.

The angel placed the newest soul on the scale. The feather and soul balanced.

“Undecided, eh?” Hexal asked. The soul drifted beyond one of the two shifting gates, where it mixed with other milling souls.

A winged angel swooped low and dropped a blue-golden orb through one of the red gates. An orange-red firey marble shot upwards in return. Messages exchanged.

“Whadda say we go to Earth afterwards? Cause a little debauchery?” Hexal rested an elbow on the desk, eyebrows wiggling beneath stubby green horns. The imp’s black eyes were vivid and glowing.

A rumbling sounded from above as Gamorith quirked a golden brow.

“Fine.” Hexal raised its hands in surrender.

Hexal’s eyes glowed magenta, signaling another soul emergence.

“Aw, man. It’s a kid. I HATE these types of retrievals.”

Placing an encased black wisp on the desk, Hexal disappeared.

MasaCur
MasaCur
4 months ago

Van Nilsson’s New Invention
By MasaCur

“Agent Doyle, Agent Markham! Welcome!”

Cassidy snapped her rifle up to the catwalk above them. Proudly stroking his mustache stood Magnus Van Nilsson. Steam from the factory machinery billowed around him.

“Van Nilsson, by the authority of Her Majesty, we are placing you under arrest!” Andrew called out.

Van Nilsson laughed heartily. “You amuse me, Agent Doyle. I do not think that I’ll be going with you.”

“You can leave here in manacles or in the back of a hearse,” Cassidy retorted. “It makes no difference to me.”

Van Nilsson’s lips twitched with a grin. “I believe you shall find that harder than you think, Agent Markham.”

Suddenly, the brick wall beside Andrew exploded inward, knocking him to the floor. From the massive hole emerged a humanoid machine.

Andrew drew his revolver and fired, but the bullets ricocheted off its armor. He quickly rolled out of the way, barely avoiding getting stomped.

Cassidy’s attention was briefly drawn to the automaton, but quickly snapped back to Van Nilsson. He gave a laugh and retreated, the steam swallowing him.

The automaton grabbed Andrew from the floor and flung him into the nearest cotton gin. He slumped back to the floor, his body in agony. The automaton raised a fist, preparing to squash Andrew’s life.

BANG!

Cassidy’s first shot cleaved through the armor, and shreds of gears and cogs sprayed from the exit hole. The automaton’s arm went limp, and it turned to look at the useless limb.

Cassidy’s second shot tore through the automaton’s knee, causing it to collapse. As it struggled to try to get back up, Cassidy walked over and shot through its other arm.

“You should have shot Van Nilsson,” Andrew groaned, pulling himself to his feet.

“You’re welcome, Andrew,” Cassidy replied. “Will you be okay?”

Andrew gave a nod.

“Hello?” came a weak voice.

The two agents looked around, unable to place it.

“Where am I?” The voice was hollow, as if from a speaking pipe. “I can’t feel my body.”

The source of the voice dawned on them, as Andrew and Cassidy looked at the automaton in horror.

WolfsbaneX
WolfsbaneX
4 months ago

“The Occult Shoppe”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane

The red haired woman hid the book under her cloak as she headed into the city of Byrhaufal. She wrapped a shawl around her nose and mouth to dull her sense of smell. The streets bustled with people going about their business, shoes clacking against cobblestone. Her shawl failed her; the horrid smell of wet ground and human excrement hit her like a sucker punch. She hurried along to the market district. Here the bright colors of the vendor’s stalls overtook the citizen’s drab clothes. Her pace increased before the cries of the merchants could overpower her ears.

“Fish! Getcha fish, here!”

“These are the finest fabrics in all the land!”

“Baked bread, fresh from the oven!”

The red haired woman ducked into an alleyway. Next to a rain barrel sat a disheveled man with an empty bottle of wine. There was a pause.

“Does anyone know where souls really go?” he asked.

The red haired woman faced him. “Only the gods and the devils.”

“So you are a customer,” he said with a grin.

He waved her further into the alley, leading her to a small shop dug into a hole in the wall. Along its shelves sat rows and rows of bottles, red, blue, and green.

“So, Miss…”

“Rot.”

“Right. Miss Rot, what can I do for you today?” He glimpsed along the shelves. “What type of soul are you looking for? I have Id’ssen if you need some information. Or maybe you want a vengeful R’gshion to haunt someone, eh?”

Rot pulled out the book. “Actually, I wanted to know about this.”

The man looked from his shelves to the book, and his face went pale.

“Where did you get this book?” he asked, his voice hushed and anxious.

“I found it in the forest,” Rot lied.

His eyes were like saucers. “This is bad. Miss, that book contains information about things man was never meant to know.”

“Oh that I know. I want to know why your scent is all over it.”

The man shrank away as Rot’s eyes turned yellow and her nails became claws.

LaribHaven
LaribHaven
4 months ago

The mechanical bird
By Larissa (Lari B. Haven)

She was on the rooftop of their cramped apartment cleaning her equipment. It wasn’t the first time Santine saw her new roommate talking to the mechanical wings. It was curious, to say at least.

“Do you really believe this thing can hear you?” Santine says curiously.

“When I lived in the orphanage I didn’t have many toys, but every time we went to school we passed in front of the toy shop. There was the most beautiful automaton I ever saw. A silver and porcelain doll that could draw. The toymaker itself would hold demonstrations sometimes. The kids used to say it was magical because if you put a golden coin on her table it would draw your deepest wish.”

Santine was confused. “And you believed?”

“Yes, I did! I always talked to the doll across the window, while I waited for the cable car outside. The toymaker would say she was enjoying it, you could tell by the way she moved.”

Alexandria put the wings down and took a small folded paper from her reliquary.

“Once I asked if she had a soul. I put a coin in her table and waited”

Alexandria gave her the paper. It was the drawing of a mechanical bird flying out its cage.

“Alexandria, what is the point?”

“Are those furnaces that bring us energy, alive? Is the ticking of the clock on my wrist that of a heart? Can my wings hear me talking to them?” She smiles.

“No, they are just machines Alexandria…” Santine was now tired of her nonsense. “Man-made, industrial, doing their jobs, inanimate, soulless.”

Alexandria opened her blouse and showed her one long vertical scar, a single wire protruding down from her chest to a small device on her hips.

“Inside, I have more machines then I have flesh. Do I have a soul?”

Santine just stared in shock.

“Is the only thing keeping me alive. Powered by the loving soul of those who made them. I might as well treat them as part of me, and they might as well have the capacity to listen.”

Gregory Hess
Gregory Hess
4 months ago

“A death” by gregovin [Lily’s Story, see the comments for a pronunciation guide]

The old man’s death had been sudden but peaceful.
Then, the will was read. Apparently, he asked for his soul to be … extracted. This practice was outlawed, until recently when the gods quite visibly stated that such things should be allowed.

I wonder why someone would go through with this willingly. Wouldn’t it prevent you from ascending to the afterlife?

I have a job to do.
His body lays peacefully on the examiners table, appearing to rest. I only have a day to perform the ritual.

First I prepare a flask, using a wax pencil to draw an arcane symbol on the side

Then I take out my chalk and mark on top of the perfect circle I had engraved on the floor.

I filled in several other arcane symbols engraved around the edge with the chalk.

I then begin to chant

“Huala’ak Xiaja Lem. Pacharro’a Qua Lem. Ke’ilia Humu Lem.” As I continue to chant, my voice sounds more and more guttural to my ears.
“Huala’ak Xiaja Lem! Pacharro’a Qua Lem! Ke’ilia Humu Lem!
Huala’ak Xiaja Lem! Pacharro’a Qua Lem! Ke’ilia Humu Lem!”
Crack!
A deep cracking sound, like a strong rope being broken, echoes from the walls. I see a green essence flow from his body to the flask, and it fills it up.

I take out the hose, and clean the chalk off the floor
Now that that is over with, I must pass the body on to the crematorium.

Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
4 months ago

The Colour inside the Circuits
By Calliope Rannis

“Not far now.” Larsi thought, as they left the Mass Transit Elevator, a stocky rectangular column with a clean steel surface that stood in contrast with the gaudy lights and rusted metal around it. The Midnight Layer’s solutions to the perpetual night in the depths of the megacity varied from district to district, but drowning the walls in crude flashy designs, luminescent paint and an abundance of cheap lighting decorations was a painfully common one. Larsi looked forward to leaving already, thankful that the sellers were nearby.

Third right off the main causeway, a staircase down to the underdistrict, a small bridge between complexes where the abyss yawned below, and they were on the right street. Upon finding a nearby alley, Larsi took 20 strides into the narrow divide before stopping; with an abrupt, deliberate 180 turn, they made to go back the way they came – this was the signal. Barely two steps had been made before a party of three raggedy drones whirred down from the shadows above, their bodies already lighting up with flickering holographs of their products.

“YELLOW SOULCELL FOR A HAPPY AND MOTIVATED SYNTHETIC – LOW LOW PRICE OF 25 UNITS!” blurted the first, the illicit nature of this marketzone clearly making no difference to the saledrones’ speech volume.
“MELANCHOLIC SPECIAL – BLUE AND PURPLE SOULCELL DOUBLEPACK FOR ONLY 40 UNITS!” the second barged in with.
“GET A RED, YELLOW AND BLUE SOULCELL IN THE PRIMARY COLOUR DEAL WITH JUST 40 UNITS!” The second drone let off a string of angry beeps upon hearing the third’s undercutting offer, and left without waiting for Larsi’s response. The first drone stubbornly maintained its cheaper-for-one offer. And cheap they were, ten times cheaper than any offer in the Bright Layer, but none were what Larsi was looking for. These were block-colour soulcells – emotional systems with a single emotional tone, with no life experience inscribed into those coloured sticks of silicon, sealed within a capsule of nanoadaptive fluid.

Larsi wasn’t looking for a flat holo-cutout personality, but for a complicated soul instead. What Larsi was looking for, was a friend.

Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
4 months ago

The Late Experiment, by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)

The hour had grown very late. The biomedical branch of Whigford University had put a curfew on lab usage, much to the dismay of procrastinating grad-students, to help prevent any further acts of arson on university grounds and to protect the valuable research held on-site.

The molecular biology lab was quiet. The last intrepid investigator had been gone for hours when the silence was broken by the turning of a key. In stepped Flavia, who quietly closed the door behind him and slipped into the shadows.

If he was lucky, he had almost forty-five minutes before the next guard patrol inspected the building. Using his pristine night vision, he quickly gathered the supplies needed for the experiment. From the box labeled “Soulwood samples,” he took out several pieces of red-purple bark he had cut earlier and splayed them out under a fume hood.

“Lasair” was whispered, and a small flame gracefully landed on the first sample. It immediately caught alight and a stream of red-blue embers began to rise off the bark. Flavia took out a microscope slide and carefully caught a sample. Quickly, he put the ember under the microscope and began to closely examine the specimen.

He was blinded by the bright red light of the burning bark, but as it started to cool, a dimmer blue glow began to reveal itself. As it came into focus, he could see the dim outline of a face staring back at him.

“W-what??” Flavia stammered as he took a step back. Regaining his composure, he quickly wrote down the observation on his notepad. Fascinated, he peered back into the microscope and saw the clear outline of a human face forming in the glow.

It was screaming.

As the light of the ember died down, the image began to fade, but as it did so, a flash of realization shined on Flavia’s face.

“No!” he screamed out as he finally recognized the face. Flavia collapsed to the ground in tears.

“It can’t be.” he whimpered as the door to the lab door burst open and three guards rushed in.

GJFuller
GJFuller
5 months ago

A Devil’s Friend
By Giovanna J. Fuller

A being beyond man or woman, mankind or animal, stood next to a teenage boy. It was a being so beautiful it hurt to look at, for what mortal could comprehend pure spirit? However, for the sake of human sensibilities, instead picture a man. His name, in reality being a series of sounds incomprehensible to human ears, is simplified to Vito. He stood, watching the world bend around him and the boy.

They had reached Crossroads.

“Oh, young Jeremy. What have you gotten yourself into this time?”

“I didn’t mean to get here. It just kinda, happened…”

Vito slapped a hand over his mouth. He hadn’t meant to ask the boy that. This meant that the enemy got a turn to speak. He had wasted his first move.

Around them, the picture settled on a group of boys similar in age to Jeremy, one of which Vito recognized. “Oh my!” Vito covered his eyes and cleared his throat. “Obviously we must leave this place. Mom and dad wouldn’t be pleased if we stay.”

Jeremy nodded. “Right, but…Daniel…” He looked to his friend who was having fun. The enemy was at work.

“So that’s your play, huh?” Vito scowled. He spoke to Jeremy. “Just because Daniel falls to sin, doesn’t mean we have…to…stay…with…him…” His mouth snapped shut.

All of a sudden, Daniel wasn’t Daniel. He was Atu. A being as opposite to Vito as salt to sugar.

Atu, the fallen angel, who took great glee in all the acts Vito found abhorrent. Yet, somehow, the two could sit down and eat together. They could talk, argue, laugh and yet…

It was his turn again. His mind was torn. “Maybe you should-.”

“I’m leaving.” Jeremy decided.

The human boy stood up and walked over to Daniel. Patting his friend on the shoulder, he indicated the exit. The two boys left and the illusion broke. The glass wall separating spirit and flesh was back. In its reflective atmosphere, Vito saw a being somewhere between a goat, a man, and a snake. He spun quickly around.

“Atu?”

“Vito?”

PitL
PitL
5 months ago

An Angel’s Charge
By PitL

Atu strode towards the hellmouth.

“Heading out again, Atu?” a deskdevil looked up from his papers. “Busy charge, huh?”

Atu paused, head cocked. “No kidding. I dunno who Heaven put on top o’ this kid, but I’ve been working my rear off keeping up. This is the third call this week, ya know.”

“Might wanna hurry then.”

Atu glared. “Whaddya think I’m doin’? If you’ll stop interrupting me, I’ll be on my way!” He huffed, before resuming his leisurely pace. “Be back in about an hour. Then I’ll go find Vito. Don’t wait up.”

It was about ten second’s flight to find the kid. Atu grinned. Showdown, as usual – maybe it would be something interesting this time. He flipped open his casefile –

“Basic ethical quandary. Nevermind, then.” Atu glanced down.

The kid was already talking. Figured.

“… didn’t mean to get here. It just kinda happened – ”

Atu glanced over towards the mostly-metaphorical crossroads. It was the kid’s friend, big party, the works. This was going to be easy. Just a quick suggestion, then he’d be done…

He adopted his most coaxing voice. “Jeremy, he’s your friend. You guys should stick together, right?”

The kid nodded. “Right… but – Daniel – ”

Atu smirked. Already on the back foot. This was gonna be a good day. He was definitely gonna plaster this one in Vito’s face later. The angel would be pissed at whoever let a mark get away so easy.

Vito. Huh. That kid kinda reminded him of Vito, honestly. Atu was the friend then, he supposed, luring him into the depths.

Ay. Was that how Vito thought of him? A responsibility? Atu shook his head. He needed to concentrate. Think. “Don’t get distracted, you got this one in the bag…”

“Hey, kid, maybe you should – ”

Jeremy looked up. “I’m leaving.”

What. The. Literal –

The boy grabbed his friend, and indicated the exit, heading a completely seperate direction. Home.

The crossroads disappeared, and the illusion broke.

An angel stood exactly where Jeremy had been.

“Atu?”

“Vito?”

revisis
revisis
5 months ago

“The Soul Industry” Submitted by: Exce

Thick white clouds rose from the tall stacks to both sides of the street.
A stark difference to the industry quarters of many other cities, where the stacks spew black smoke and soot.

The Kingsmen and the Ravarkers may burn coal, but not the Chandry.

Four army recruits made their way down one of the wide, busy streets, great iron gates of factories and warehouses to both sides and clean air in their lungs, despite the heavy industry.

As the squad passed one of these open doors, they were able to peer inside.

In the middle of a great room there was a rough rock resting on a massive metal plinth. Around it stood a few men with bare chests. All of it was illuminated in a bluish mist that seemed to fall down from a set of crystals suspended from the ceiling, just below a great fan and the lower end of a chimney.

As they watched, one of the men seemed to grab the blue mist around him, pressing it into a denser form before sending it into the rock. The other men around the plinth followed his example, sending glowing mist on their own into it.

They worked their arms and fingers, making pulling motions with closed eyes, as if they were threading something out.
Under the watchful eyes of the squad, the stone began to glow a dull red, pieces breaking off it as it shook back and forth.

As more and more red-hot pieces of stone shattered off the main body, a sprinkler system was activated, drenching the men and their quarry. Thick clouds of steam filled the room, but through it the recruits could see the men hold ingots of gleaming purified metal in their calloused hands.

The squad began to move on, but one of them remained, staring at the magically produced metal.

“RECRUIT VERITAS, RIGHT WHEEL!”

With a small jump, the last recruit turned, falling into a quick march to catch up with the rest of his squad.

No, the Chandry of Change does not use Coal.

It uses Souls.

Twangyflame0
Twangyflame0
5 months ago

Title: Life is a Game, Death is a Business
By: Twangyflame0

“Is living too hard for you?” The announcer on the screen was a zombie wearing a tuxedo and a top hat, “Have an incurable disease? Afraid of your impending your mortality? Never fear! Come to the Soul Industry! We will thwart your mortal woes with state-of-the-art necromancy, provided by thousand-year-old Liches and Vampires.”

The screen switched to the image of a skeleton, “I tell you, I was honestly afraid of dying. But thanks to the Soul Industry, I get to see my Great Great Great Great Grandkids. It’s wonderful.”

“So come on down to the Soul Industry! Our consultants are waiting to hear your situation out, and our operators will give you a new life unlike any you’ve ever lived.” The announcer laughed with a group of undead behind him, before a short blurb of text crossed the screen, “SoulInudstryisnotresponsibleforactualdeathorfailedprocedures.Pleaseconsideryourwishesbeforecoming.”

The dark chamber went quiet, the only sound was that of the cold wind blowing in through the opened window. Four figures sat at the table, thinking about the new commercial they just saw.

“Well,” said the vampiric woman through a heavy accent, “it was a little bit cheesy, but I think it served its purpose.”

The ratman turned around in his seat, his tie hanging loose from his suit, “Did you guys really enjoy that?”

The Giant Ghoul sitting in between the vampiress and ratman was picking some of his skin off, “I didn’t really feel anything from it. It feels… too generic. Like we’re just repeating what everyone else is doing.”

“I can’t help but have similar feelings also,” The vampire admitted.

“Listen,” the ratman held out his hands, “my statistics show that the average person likes these kinds of commercials.”

“Where exactly do you get these statistics?” The Giant Ghoul glared down at the ratman.

The ratman quickly swiveled his seat to the head of the table “Hey, Boss, what do you think of it?”

The Liche that had been sitting silently stared ahead. Balefire came out of his eyes, his skeletal fingers were clasped together, “We’ll run it, but I will expect better.”

T4COG4M3
T4COG4M3
5 months ago

“A Soul’s Echo” by T4COG4M3
[revised by dukki]

“d—–i’–j-st-o-e—s-t—-b-lo——su—-f—-e”

“bl—-a—-th–e—w-o’——–c—to—w—th-i’—-p—-p-se”

Those were the last scribbles on Saint Alevik’s journal, a crucial, but distrusted member of the kingdom’s institutes. He led the research in soul manipulation, and was disliked for that very reason.

Despite being royalty, Haskeried volunteered to find him. Alevik taught her through her youth to control her supernatural abilities. Through this bond she got to know him, or what he let her know, at least. With this knowledge, she had a certainty as to where and what to look for to find his potential end over his obsession with souls and immortality.

So she ventured towards the wilderness, beyond unexplored lands that some deemed as cursed, finding long trails of many footsteps leading towards a dark cave. She hesitated for a moment, then entered.

Another entry in his journal spelled, “sing to what’s behind your reflection” and “their ritual is wrong” over and over, the quality of the writing deteriorating as it progressed. At the end of the cave she stumbled upon traces of tools and materials, wooden planks thrown around as pathways that lead over a grand hollowed out formation which housed a village. In the middle rested a giant lake, the whole place now a humid, run down deteriorating mess. It seemed her search had fallen into a dead end.

“Sing to what’s behind your reflection,” she thought, repeating the sentence in her mind. Suddenly rushing for the journal’s last entry, trying to decipher what seemingly was Alevik’s last grasp on reality.

She leaned over the edge of the lake. Looking down at her reflection, she timidly sang.

“Death is just one step below the surface,”

A female’s voice echoed from around the cave, “and I’m looking up from the bottom.”

Surprised and shaken, she gathered courage and continued.

“Blessed are those who’ve come to know their purpose,”

The voice responds, “into the depths you’ll be swallowed.”

Suddenly she saw the lake’s still water curve around the walls, absorbing the village, then her, taking her to end’s end, and beyond anything her mind was able to grasp.

Samantha Realynn
Samantha Realynn
5 months ago

“Well Paid”
by Samantha Realynn

There was a fragile, haunting beauty to it, really.

I sat at my workstation, decked out in my thick, protective gear. My instruments were carefully splayed out, even deep into the work my need for tidiness reigned supreme. In the middle of the table was an apparatus I had designed myself, carefully calibrated and glowing with runes. Cradled within the apparatus was a glowing…thing. There are no right words for what it looked like, really. Even I couldn’t think of one for all the years I had worked with them.

Ever so gently I poked and prodded at it, my tools carefully siphoning and redirecting. Wires were attached and moved around as I slowly but surely built the specially designed circuit board that would be powered. It was tricky, but by now I had it down to a neat little process. With what my patrons paid for the wonders I created I had no lack of motivation.

Turning souls into new inventions wasn’t easy, but boy, was it profitable.

I’m not sure when or how it was first started, but the moment it was realized that souls could power machines, create things only imagined before, the profession of “harvesting” souls had sprouted seemingly overnight. New legislations had to quickly be put into practice, and they were always being revised. You couldn’t harvest every soul after all. Not if they had the money to buy these new wonders.

I put down my tools and stepped away from my bench, taking off my gear and pushing back my long, sweaty hair. To one side of my workshop was a carefully crafted shelf full of special containers. In each was a soul I had paid handsomely for, a myriad of shifting colors. I suppose I should be mortified by what I had gotten into, what society had become. I should be appalled that it was only my skill in creation that protected me from harvesters. Terrified that with each law revision that even that safety could be taken away.

But the trade-off, the wonders, were worth it. And it paid ridiculously well.

Glaceon373
Glaceon373
5 months ago

“Running Low on Souls” by Carrie (Glaceon373)

The human way to phrase it was “making bank.” Well, that wasn’t entirely true. It was more like “death” and “destruction,” but they served the same purpose. To a demon, at least.

War was the most efficient way Mulminor had found to get souls. Plagues? Too messy. Plus, those pesky humans always found cures. There was no cure for war.

Mulminor could almost hear their conflicts all the way from his lair, the banging, the bloodshed, the madness. Or had he just left the TV on in the living room?

He groaned and stood up to check. The TV was on, but it wasn’t displaying war.

“Conflict Resolved in Just Two Days,” it read, with a peace treaty ceremony in the background while a reporter talked over it, describing just how easy it had been for the two sides to get along.

Mulminor growled, his month-long plans swirling down the drain.

“Hey honey, I’m—” His wife, Vulvitha, entered the room. “Oh. Not going so well, huh?”

Mulminor adjusted his wire-framed glasses. “I should really start firing people.”

“Honey,” Vulvitha set down her coffee. “The world’s not even overpopulated yet—”

“That’s not the point! Look at this!” He ran back to his desk, grabbed the chart, and handed it to her. “The warehouses are running empty. Fast.”

“So, you either limit demand, or—”

“Increase supply.”

Vulvitha sat down on the couch and patted the cushion next to her. Mulminor reluctantly sat down.

“There has to be a way to limit demand,” Vulvitha stared at the chart.

“How? At this rate, we’ll be bankrupt in four months.”

Vulvitha snapped her fingers. “That’s it!”

“Being bankrupt?”

“No, human words! They’re all about ‘conservation of natural resources.’ Everything from water to plants to metal? I bet we could do the same down here, but with souls. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’ll work for now, right?”

A smile crept along Mulminor’s face. “You just might be on to something.”

Vulvitha smiled. “I’ll start designing posters.”

Connor/Dragoneye
Connor/Dragoneye
5 months ago

“LHexD” Submitted by Connor/Dragoneye

Knock knock.

Cal stood at the iron door, twiddling her thumbs and chewing her bubble gum. “Hello?”

A gravelly voice called out. “Who is it?” Within seconds, a small peephole revealed a large eye scanning the outside until it landed on Cal.

“Oh, Demonsbane? Please, please, come in.”

The door swung open with a loud creak, and Calliope stepped into the grungy bunker, where the old man stood.

He appeared puzzled, looking at the leather-clad punk at his doorstep. “You’re… not who I was expecting.”

“Lemme guess. Tall, domineering man with about four guns on his hip and a sword on his back?”

“That’s what the flyers showed.”

“Yeah, that’s my dad. He retired a while back.”

The old man put the pieces together. “Oh. Has he settled down?”

“Yeah, in a grave,” she said, spitting out her gum behind herself. “Show me where the kid is.”

The muffled sound of screams and giggles drew the duo to a small bedroom. A boy, no older than fifteen, lay ratchet-strapped to a table. His voice, inhumanly deep and chilling, kept muttering, “Hail the Lords of Hell, Hail the Four, six to six to six.”

“It looks like a possession,” spoke the old man.

“No shit, sherlock. The question is, how,” said Cal as she examined the possessed child. On his forearm was a small stab, presumably from a needle.

“Of course. LHexD.”

“The hell is that?”

“LSD, but cursed. Demons invade your brain and take your soul when you trip balls on it.” Cal then unveiled a small vial containing a shriveled finger. “Give me some space, will you?”

The man exited the room, leaving Cal inside.

The boy’s demonic voice chattered, “Demonsbane, face the truth. You cannot stop us all. The seventh gate will open, and every soul on Earth will be ours.”

When Cal then lifted the reliquary to his eye level, he fell silent.

“No, please! Spare us, Demonsbane! Spare us lowly imps!”

“Just who the hell do you think I am? Demonsfriend? You dumbass!”