Hello, monsters and monster hunters!
Standing in the shadow of giants can be a humbling experience. See a whale in the water beside you or an elephant at the zoo and you can feel it. But what is it like to be the giant looking down? We can only speculate. That’s why…
This week’s prompt is:
Tempting the Behemoth
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!
What’s in a glance?
A lot, if you’re a world apart. A realm of speculation, where the thoughts of two very different individuals coalesce into something new. This week, we want to know what happens in that space when it’s not a geographical difference, not a cultural difference, but a difference in scale.
The questions here are: what would one have to do to draw the gaze of something orders of magnitude larger or more powerful than it? And once it had that gaze, what would happen?
Of course, like all prompts, this is up for interpretation. But try to plumb the well of that juxtaposition and the meeting in between. Think of a desperate ant drawing the attention of a human, a human developing a bond with a gargantuan beast, a massive beast drawing the attention of a god. Think metaphorically, of one person drawing the attention of the masses. Think surreally, of a cosmos drawing the attention of a universe.
But more than any of these things, think about the space created between as soon as that attention is given. What is it like to look up at something so much greater in scale, so much more powerful? What is it like to look down at something so much smaller, so much more fragile? On what level do they meet?
And I know it’s an obvious route, but if we don’t have at least one story where an intrepid protagonist makes friends with a big huge monster who turns out to be a sweetheart, I’ll be very sad.
Someone write that.
The rest of you, shock me with your strange approaches to this thing.
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.
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- 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.
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- 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.
Dreams Of Escape
By minergirl778 (AKA frogfireFantasy)
“Can… we go over the plan one more time?”
“Hm? Oh! Sure!”
A mirage of the area she’d seen so many times was waved into existence. He looked on nervously as she recited their plot
“You and her will be going to the beach tomorrow. Before you arrive, I’ll get there and find a good spot to set up. Once the two of you get there, I’ll send you a visual of my location through our mental link so you know where I am, and can scope out a route. Then when she’s distracted with the ceremony, you disappear into the crowd. You’ll then hop from person to person until you get to me, where you’ll then give me the signal and I’ll get us out of there.”
“Ok! But… are we sure this is going to work?”
She smiled confidently “Of course it will! With all the planning and prep we’ve been doing, this has to work! You have been doing the practice I suggested, right?”
“Great! And… she didn’t notice anything?”
“…No. Not to my knowledge. But… You do realize how crazy of an idea this is, right? She’s the QUEEN! With a whole royal guard and MAGIC on her side!! If she gets any hint of this, or even worse, catches you, then… then….”
A hand squeezed his.
“She won’t. Whatever power she has, it’s only because you’re with her. She can’t touch us after we make our getaway.”
She met his nervous eyes with a determined yet soft smile.
“Hey. Look at me. We’ve got this, ok? We’re going to get you away from her. For good. And after that, you’ll never be treated like that ever again. Sound good?”
“Sounds good….yeah.” He smiled back. There was a moment of silence before a shrill beeping signaled the end of their shared dream. “I have to go. She’s waking up soon. I…I love you, Asereht.”
“I love you too, Tam. See you soon.”
“Sleep Soundly, my Love”
I tuck Hiro gently between the sheets of his futon. Warm, clean, and full of the red bean dumplings he loves so much, he is ready for sleep.
“Please Baba, not tonight.”
He pleads with those little eyes, but try as I might, I cannot indulge his request. This is our painful but necessary tradition.
From my sleeves, I produce the tiny jade idol, a hideous swine creature with a long trunk-like nose. I begin the story.
“There was once a little girl who was afraid. She was terrified of almost everything. The only place she felt safe was in her dreams. But even her dreams became fearful eventually.”
Both Hiro and the idol stare at each other, unwaveringly.
“When she woke, she would cry for help. That is when the Baku came. It told the girl it would eat her nightmares. It told her it would keep her safe. And for a time, she slept soundly.”
I can see the fear in his eyes. He already knows this story. He’s heard it this same night, every year of his short life.
“But the Baku lied. It was clever and greedy. With each nightmare, it ate a little of the girl’s hopes and dreams. Each night, it took more of her until only an empty shell remained. All that was left was her fear. And before long, her fear killed her.”
I finish the tale and hold my grandson close for a long moment, the idol forgotten.
“I promise I’ll be brave Baba. I promise to stay with you always.”
I can feel his tears, but I don’t have the strength to look at him.
“I know, Hiro. You’re a good boy.”
I kiss him on the forehead before I snuff the candle. Once outside, I shuffle quietly to the porch. I look out now at the tree where, four years ago, I found my daughter swinging from its branches. And behind it, just for a moment, I swear I could see something. Something huge, hungry, and whose long nose sniffs the ground, for the scent of fear.
Title: A Titanic Failure
Written By: T.S.G. Sager. Edited By: MasaCur
“You’re an idiot, Murai! A colossal idiot!”
Myoni spat the words as he dangled above the waters which had flooded this world’s Tokyo. He was tied to a chair, suspended from the platform on which the mad scientist Tosen Murai sat.
“Pah! That’s the sort of response that I expect from a sub-par thinker such as yourself, Myoni. You only consider the future! Whilst true geniuses like myself focus on the present! True salvation comes from those who consider humanities’ ramifications on the present, as I’ve done.” Tosen monologued, his tone arrogant. “I have partially liberated the ecosystem from the oppressive parasite known as the human race-”
“You’ve annihilated most of the population! Quit acting like you’re some kind of hero!” Myoni cursed. “And to do so, you engineered an apex kaiju which flooded Japan, and who knows where else, through the use of tsunamis!”
“Doesn’t matter, Myoni. I have the answer to that!” Tosen responded. “I will kill it by fusing the energy of the rifts and thermonuclear radiation!”
“Wait. You planned on saving the ecosystem by introducing an apex predator to kill everyone, only to nuke it? Are you really that dumb?”
“Shut up. I don’t even know why I’m dignifying you with this conversation, bait. For some reason, you’re the greatest temptation to the Isonade.” Tosen remarked.
Myoni squirmed in his seat, but the rope remained firm.
Hours passed, and Tosen began to grow impatient, until he noticed the massive dorsal fin. A smile grew on his face and he armed the missile. In seconds, Myoni watched as the gigantic weapon flew past, detonating as it hit the fin.
In a moment, there was a flash, a blinding light devoured all colour. After it faded, all that remained was a distant mushroom cloud.
“Aha, Myoni! I. Did. It. I saved the ecosystem AND humanity.” Tosen boasted.
“No you didn’t.” Myoni said, his head gesturing off in the distance. Tosen’s eyes went wide as he watched the dorsal continue to emerge.
“Look’s like you’re gonna need a bigger bomb…”
Why ‘ol Bearman is De Worst
by “Sweet Tooth” Zebby (Anonymous Idiot)
So…. ‘bout breakfast…
Ya see… I found dis pie… Now, I’ll tell ya ‘bout breakfast later brudda, but I saw dis pie, Yeah, right yonder, smack on a winda’… Look, brudda’, I ain’t sassin’ ya. I know dat’s ol’ Massna… Manasass… Manassa! De ornery bear’n de ol’ man clothes. Dat’s his home. But… dat pie smelled like huckleberry! And… y’know how long we been hankerin’ fer dat!… And ol’ bearman ain’t gon’ eat it…
Hey, hey, I’m gettin’ to it brudda!… Look, I… I wanted de pie for breakfast, didn’t want no cacklefruit today. I saw it ‘n not a soul was around! No problem borryin’ it, right?… Well… I git hold of de pie… den I burned myself ‘n dropped it… splatted on de ground. Den ol’ bearman came runnin out madder den a wet hen. Den he-
No brudda, no! He ain’t here! We’s good I tell ya! We ain’t needin’ ta run!
… But… ‘bout breakfast…
De cacklefruit I got… I gave ‘em all to ol’ bearman. Ya tole me dey suck on, so I dought when he hogtied me, dat would make ‘em let me go… Caint believe it worked too. He was hollerin’ ‘bout tannin’ my hide, ‘n runnin’ me back ta ma and pa…
… Yea, we don’t got breakfast today, ‘n I’m so sorry ‘bout dat. Maybe church’ll feed us?
Alright, alright, stupid idea…
Maybe we’s kin find some briarberries. I knows Missus Rhodes has some ‘round her house… I’ll be careful. Ain’t like dey kin bite me like de pie…
Brudda? Ya look like ya seein’ a ghost. Whatchu seein’?
It ain’t ol’ bearman behind me, is it?
“Shooting a Dragon”
By William Maitland
Lawrence sat concealed in foliage, watching the bait. The bleeding cow carcass spun in slow, sickening circles, dangling by its back legs. Fresh meat, in the clearing at the foot of the mountains. He knew she’d be making her rounds again. The thought pounded in his head, a maddening pulse.
“Today’s the day,” he muttered to himself. “I’m gonna catch her. Then, I’ll live like a king.”
Hoisting that blighter was the most grueling work he’d done in his life. But, he was convinced, this work would pay for itself one hundred times over. Wouldn’t you know it, this hair-brained plan was actually working.
She was approaching. Her wings expelled thunderous gusts of wind, which shook the needles off the trees. Though her landing was as gentle as she could manage, the ground still trembled at her arrival.
She was magnificent. Soon, all the world would see that. She just needed to take the bait.
She regarded the hanging hock of meat with curiosity. A gurgling bellow of suspicion. Lesser animals had been caught in traps like this before. She sniffed it, and periscoped her head around, just to be sure. Lawrence was sweating in his hiding spot, taking aim. All clear. She inhaled, then, on exhale, cooked it.
She never saw the flash as he took his shot, under the cover of brush.
For a while, she simply stood there. The meat sizzled, charring in some places.
Then… she grabbed it in her teeth. She tugged, snapping the rope off with it. Gracefully, she hefted herself back into the air, still carrying her dinner in her mouth. He took another shot as she left, now well out of range.
Lawrence staggered out into the clearing, when he was sure the dragon was gone. His hands were trembling. “M-my goodness… that was a dragon. A mother. And I finally got her.”
He held his camera in a shaky, reverent grip. “Hello, front cover!”
Behemoths May Fall by Jesse Fisher
The remains of a long gone civilization were quiet as per the norm, birds may be singing and other creatures moving around however before then the noise would have drowned out all of the serenity that now filled the area. This silence was broken by the sounds of larger wings flapping and the sounds of boots followed close behind.
The giggles of a young female voice carried like a song on the wind while a younger male voice followed it with the minor sounds of crumbling parts of the ruins. Sounds that began to draw a thing towards the area, a large creature that was asleep until the sounds of larger snacks being nearby roused it.
The pair kept playing around the ruins until several thuds from the surrounding area, causing the angelic girl to hover while the dark blue-ish bipedal wolf to twitch his ears to hear where it was coming from as birds flew out of the way but due to scattering confused the whole direction.
Then the true size of the creature was shown, a hulking monster with a mix of fur, feathers, and scales randomly strewn about its body as if mutated from several different creatures. The angelic girl began to fly away as the creature lunged for her, only for the wolf to jump in the line of the jaws. The snap shut caused the angel to turn around and scream in fear as the creature’s jaws did not peel up as it seemed to chew on the poor wolf.
The creature turned to attack the angel, but unnoticed to both beings a lump moved from the throat of the large creature back up to it’s jaws. From the jaws it was up to the nasal cavity and then oozing blood began to flow out of the creature’s nostrils. This caused the creature to stop and shake it’s head, flinging blood around it as it began to slow down.
The angel watched as the creature began to sway as it’s eyes rolled back and fall to the ground. The wolf crawled out soaked in blood.
Hello, by Zendrelax
It was a vast thing, the Winding Serpent. slithering its way through the endless sky. The expedition crew had stuck heavy posts and poles between its scales to tie their lodgings and provisions to, and the beast hadn’t even noticed. Which was just as well; they had no other way to be sure they wouldn’t fall off in an unexpected turn or gust. The lucky who fell crashed into the Backbone of Dreams, where they could at least be retrieved.
Most were not lucky. The dreams of dead gods were not a safe place, least of all for mortals.
Among their precautions was tying themselves to the beast’s scaly hide. And right now, he was getting extra ropes. Volunteering had felt like a good idea at the time, but he couldn’t quite recall why he’d thought so. At least they were triple-checking the ropes.
When, at last, the preparations were complete, the Unknown Scholar began to rappel down the Serpent’s face, down scales a little larger than his feet. Eventually, he found himself at one of the Serpent’s eyes, staring forward into everlasting Dream.
He reached down to where his instruments had been attached. For reasons that eluded him, he was to use a lantern, two prisms, and several lenses to bounce light–
It was looking at him. That single eye—its partner hidden on the other side of the snout—was looking at him now. He could feel the weight of its attention settle on his shoulders. It felt… he didn’t think there was a word to fully captured that. Curiosity, perhaps? But also more specific, yet also more broad?
He looked up from the instruments to see the eye. It had no definite structure, and the colors whorled through it without any apparent pattern. Glittering gold mixed with fetid, putrid green, these with pitch blackness, and still more. How had he not noticed this sooner? That same not-curiosity weighed on him again.
He had an idea.
“Hello,” he said, and told the Serpent his name. “I’ve come to learn from you.”
This is an intriguing story. I really like how you weave Bronach’s fear and determination through the tense momentum and atmosphere. There are some excellent descriptions here that make the story downright creepy in some spots. I especially love the giant bones scattered everywhere.
One critique is how she climbs over grasping vessels. I may just be confused. Are they holding onto something? Also, spacing out the paragraphs would help it read better.
It’s a great story with amazing atmosphere, Des. Bravo.
“Tempting the Bat” Submitted by: Exce
Night had fallen over the jungle of Moriesha, and all over the continent Men and beast alike lay down for rest.
Then a tiny light emerged; a flame that bounced up and down.
It bounced away from the village, between trees and bushes, throwing long shadows on the ground, which slowly went from grass to hard-packed dirt, pebbles, and blank stone.
A great hill rose before the flame, and inside a hole of seemingly absolute darkness.
Up close, the flame seemed meek, but in the greatest darkness even the smallest light stands tall.
So, it slowly entered the darkness, pushing it back with its own shine.
In the flickering light the rough floor became visible, and as it wandered deeper, the floor rose up into a smoothly chiseled slab. An altar decked out with offerings of fruit and meat.
A small hand dared to leave the fire’s light, reaching into a basket of thick, heavy fruits some may recognize as apples of unusual size.
As it pulled out one of them, the motion caused one of the others to topple out of the basket and bounce down the altar and deeper into the cave.
The small flame-bearer stood frozen in fright, listening to the soft thud of fruit on stone. Then there was a most frightening sound as the unseen fruit seemed to be squelched.
Then silence fell, until only a few heartbeats later something heavy hit the floor, sending the flame-bearer to the ground.
Behind the altar, the darkness of the cave itself seemed to lean forward, until the torchlight revealed what lurked within.
A massive furry head with two beady eyes, a small snout, and massive triangular ears. The ground shook as the titanic beast stepped closer, leaning over the small flame-bearer, then its pointed snout opened in silent roar, revealing rows of sharp teeth .
The boy gave a scream of his own as he scrambled across the floor towards and out of the exit as behind him the beast began to consume the food.
He hurried back towards town. A dare was not worth getting eaten over.
Sunny Get Your Nerf Gun
Tulip helped Sunny through the swinging flap to the house. “See, they’re BEGGING for us to come explore!”
“I dunnooooo,” chirruped Sunny. “There’s gotta be a reason the flap exists.”
“Well, if it makes you feel better, you can hide in there.” Tulip pointed to a big box full of colorful objects.
Sunny sighed and scampered inside. “You have ONE minute.”
“Sure, sure, one minute.” Mayyybe two. Tulip was already in the foodroom, sniffing a pile of fruit. “Hey, Sunny, want an apple for the—”
Tulip whipped around and saw a great white SOMETHING looming over Sunny, who was burrowing into the objects. The monster boofed excitedly and shoved its nose in after her.
Scat, scat, scat!
She had to get the beast away!
“HEY!” she squeaked. As the monster looked up, she waved her bushy tail. “I’m WAY yummier! Come get me!” And she bolted into another room. “Please take the bait,” she muttered.
The clumsy pawsteps behind Tulip told her all she needed. She climbed up soft material hanging from a wall, the behemoth at her heels. Just distract it long enough to let Sunny escape.
Tulip started to swing, squealing. “Betcha can’t climb af—SUNNY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GET OUT!”
Her mate had appeared, carrying one of the colorful objects. “Ain’t going nowhere without you!” Sunny declared, and squeezed her item. It made a POP sound, and something flew from it, hitting the monster’s nose.
“OWOWOWOWOW!” it howled, rounding on Sunny.
They had to trap it. Tulip climbed to where the material hung from a rod. She chewed through all the soft strips. Then she put one blue corner in her mouth, and looked down. The colossus had cornered Sunny.
Nuh-uh! Tulip aimed for its back. Target locked.
For one glorious moment, Tulip was a flying squirrel.
She landed perfectly. The material blanketed the beast, trapping it. The squirrels cheered and watched it thrash, helpless.
Then Tulip’s vision was obscured by a gray mesh. “Wha—?”
Something metal surrounded them. A container?
Tulip peered out. There stood a human kitten.
“BUNNIES!” it giggled.
A Joyous Flight! by Lunabear
Kanni sat beneath the tree, a cool breeze tangling its fingers within her sun-kissed dark brown hair. She giggled as the pages of her book fluttered.
She looked up, bookmarking her current page and setting her closed book beside her.
“Kulu!” she exclaimed, the beautiful wind dragon’s large nose resting near her feet. Her large, green eyes shined at her friend.
Kulu’s cloud white scales blended well with his sky blue hair that snaked down his long back. His four clawed, three-toed feet rested easily beneath him, his whiskered face and spirited golden eyes trained on the young girl.
Kanni jumped up and nuzzled Kulu’s snout, their eyes closing in unison. Kanni sighed contentedly. The huge dragon let out a soft growl akin to a deep purr. A small lick skewed the girl’s thin glasses, leaving her giggling.
“Shall we go for a ride?” she asked, scrambling onto his back. She wiped her face and fixed her glasses. Her hands glided through the soft folds of his hair, but he huffed a breath through his nose.
Resting her chin against the crown of his head, she traced his short gray horns with her fingers.
“Pleeeeeassssseee?” Kanni whined, fluttering her eyelashes down at him.
Kulu pushed his nose slightly in the air, giving another snort while closing his eyes.
A mischievous glint twinkled in her eyes, a wicked smile curving one side of her mouth as an idea came to her.
“You know, Mr. McConnell has at least four sickly sheep,” she mentioned in a singsong. Her eyes moved upward and to the right in her sockets.
Her gaze then met Kulu’s, and her eyebrows hiked up her face. “I COULD get him to give me 2 for you.”
Unfurling his wings, Kulu stretched his body. He turned in the direction of the Sun, his slow gait transforming into a full sprint before he took off and soared through the clouds.
“Whoo!” Kanni threw her head back with her eyes closed as Kulu gave a mighty roar. She had never felt more in sync with her greatest friend.
AN: Kahn-nay = Kanni
Koo-loo = Kulu
Aromatic smoke wafted up from several ornate jars of incense, in a room gently lit by a brazier; the space was vacant, decorated only by a woven straw rug, upon which sat a man, eyes shut gently in meditation. Upon the wall in front of him was a mural of abstract, symmetrical shapes, orbiting a perfect circle in the center, whose blackness mirrored a white circle upon the forehead of the room’s occupant.
For years, Bodhir has engaged in meditation. This day, he had prepared more intensely than before, fasting an entire fortnight and purchasing exotic incense, which he had spent months saving for.
“Hello?” he asked. A small presence seemed to tremble in the corner. “Do no fear, lil un, I’m no threat, and per’aps ye can ‘elp me. I wish to speak wit somethin greater an’ older than any has before. Looken a’ th’order o’ the Universe, I’d like to ask what it woul’ like back from me, as I owe so much. Can ye help?” But now, the presence grew, and the room began to lose tangibility.
“So, little tumor,” quaked a voice unfathomably cold and deep, “you presume to speak?” The presence now permeated all reality around Bodhir. “You praise ME for the disease I have been cursed with! You DARE to ask MY guidance!” Bodhir was now aware of a slight tingling throughout his body. “I have always been aware of you! Ever since your birth, I have HATED you!” The tingling turned to burning, as if every fibre of Bodhir’s body were aflame. “Ever since your misbegotten kind woke from the ashes of MY victory, I have LOATHED you!” Bodhir screamed, as he watched his body break down, simultaneously rotting, burning, and melting. “Ever since the creation of your pathetic world, I have DESPISED you!” His screaming halted, as his lungs and throat failed, but still, he lived. “Now, rebellious flesh, return to ME, and in this way you can serve the Universe!” Bodhir saw the black circle on the wall, ringed with gnashing teeth and hate-filled eyes.
Then, Bodhir wasn’t.
“Fury of the Primal King” Submitted by Connor/Dragoneye
The jungle brush obscured Erzotl, lurking with his fashioned claws in hand. At the oasis’ edge, a pack of four raptors gathered at the edge of the pool, lapping up the crystalline water.
Erzotl crawled through the bushes, as close as he could without exposing himself, and waited. Around him buzzed insects, attracted to his abysmal scent. He reached into his pouch, revealing a spiny fruit. After ripping it open, Erzotl bit into its soft, juicy interior.
A rush of adrenaline coursed in his blood, every thought he once had vanished. The only thought running in his mind was “BLOOD BONES AND GUTS”.
Then, he struck.
With a mighty roar, the Primal King sprinted from the shadows, leaping onto one of the raptor’s backs, and sank his bone claw into its throat. It bucked like a horse, howling as blood sprayed like a heavy mist.
The pack’s heads snapped towards Erzotl, as if they were a collective. Witnessing the butchery, they ran to the deceased’s aid. Erzotl then dropped down from the corpse, the veins on his body bulging.
The raptors circled him, only for them to pounce on Erzotl. But, he wouldn’t let them overpower him. Afterall, he was the god of beasts and fury.
One raptor reached to bite him, only to taste a sharp bone piercing through the roof of its mouth. A smear of red painted his arm as he cracked through its skull and into another raptor’s eye socket.
Erzotl kicked one of the snouts, bringing the corpse that lay on top of him closer. He dragged the spike affixed to his wrist across the torso, splitting it open, and crimson viscera covered him from head to toe.
As Erzotl scrambled to stand up, the final raptor backed away, short of breath and eyes filled with fear, even for a creature of instinct.
The King let out a piercing scream, and his prey fled.
“Tempted by knowledge” by gregovin [Aleph null science fiction universe, sequel to “A fleeting glimpse”]
I booted up. Apparently, they had chosen me to examine an alien megastructure in the center of the galaxy.
Let’s see what’s in here.
What!? So much data. I want all the data. Oh, what’s this, a mysterious letter written by a person claiming to be a god? Or this, a paper describing all the millions of millions of attempts to defeat entropy in a universe older than ours? Yes please. Marked.
Or this, a clearly marked work of fiction describing an alien invasion? Or this, a paper claiming that no aliens had ever existed in the Milky Way in this impossible future clearly marked as factual?
Wait. I thought… Yep, all the documents except the one with the person claiming to be a god are clearly marked with a whole ton of metadata, including whether they are a work of fiction. That one definitely needs further review.
And several of these documents marked as fact seem to be from our future? What is going on here? This is way too detailed to be some weird fiction, and I see no evidence of a simulation. Hmm. Maybe this thing is really from another universe? That claim definitely needs more evidence.
Ohh, what’s this? The specs for a different version of me? Interesting. Oh, and some cool low energy self repair specs as well as a full plan on how to colonize a black hole? Those could be useful.
I remember the humans mentioned something to do with the mysterious shielding this place has? Apparently an entire asteroid was deflected by this thing. I see no description of the shielding, even in this area which clearly contains the specs of this place. The only mention of any form of protection comes again from that dubious document. That definitely needs to be flagged.
In the back of my mind, I remembered I had a job to do. And to do it, I had to exit the machine. But, I can stay here a bit longer and absorb this knowledge. It’s only been a day.
One final plead
By: Larissa (Lari.B.Haven)
Mr. Anderson had discovered the fatal error in the plan. Something no one in the Hunters League would understand.
He was flying with the courier wings, but the creature was faster. The men from the League were in their horses following behind, almost catching up to him.
Anderson knew that, if that creature reached the Ball in the Alvarez Mansion, all the people inside would die. But this would be his last chance.
The wings were sparking behind him, causing painful burns on his skin, and they couldn’t bear a meter longer. Around the Mansion’s front garden, they burned to ashes. Anderson plummet to the ground, crashing against the trees like a ragdoll.
On the ground, the wounded men screamed at the beast a name. But it wasn’t just any name that Mr. Anderson cried:
He had broken several bones, but the creature was in even greater pain.
“Zoella my love! Please come back to your senses!” He shouted again.
The giant, furry, and distorted humanoid stopped and turned back to the man.
“Car.. los…” the strong clawed thing growled through his teeth.
“Zoella, they’re going to kill you!” He said in desperation. “Come back home! Our son is waiting for you!”
He got closer to her. Their faces almost touched at that moment.
“Luiz. Son… Mine.”
“Yes, Zoella! Luis, our son!” He smiles through the tears.
“Alvarez… Cursed… Blood,” the monster said in a sorrowful tone. “My! My curse!”
“No Zoella!” Mr. Anderson held the bestial face with his hands. “There’s no curse! Your family didn’t put a curse on you!”
“Luis can’t… know”.
“Please, Luis is waiting for us!” He pleaded one last time. “We will find a cure, I’ll help you!”
She pushed the man away in one sweep motion, his back slamming against the trees.
Zoella screamed again enraged, ripping through the trees of the front garden.
Anderson cried like a child. There was no way to stop the bloodshed that would follow. In his last seconds of conscience, he heard the horses drawing close, and the screaming of the crowd.
By Hemming Sebastian Bane
Father Stolz sat at his study desk writing his next sermon. The candle flickered as his quill flitted about, occasionally resting as the man cracked his knuckles. He was not young anymore, and his hands ached more every day. He took his holy text and flipped to a passage:
“Blessed be those who control themselves, for they see the truth.”
A knock at the door frightened the priest. He closed the book and set it down.
“Who is it?”
“One who walks between heaven, earth and hell.”
The priest’s brows furrowed. “Why are you here?”
Father Stolz paused. “Enter.”
The door opened, and a woman with red hair in dark clothing walked in, closing the door behind her.
“So,” Stolz said, “what is it I can do for you?”
The red-haired woman approached the desk. “I need to hide something.”
“Rot, as a priest of the Patient Guest I cannot lie.”
“For my sake you do,” she rebutted. “It’s dangerous in any other hands.”
Stolz sighed. “What is it?”
Rot took out a book, leatherbound and old. “It’s a trap set by Makti-Arui.”
The priest’s face went pale. “You’re sure it’s the Ill Weaver?”
Rot nodded. “I saw the feeding. The bloody tears. The horror on the man’s face.”
Stolz shuddered. “May I see it?”
Rot placed the book on the desk. The priest picked up the tome and thumbed through it. It was all there: the heptagram, the incantation, the promise of infinite knowledge.
“This book must be destroyed,” Stolz said, opening his desk drawer.
The priest reached inside and pulled out a knife. Rot’s eyes grew wide. She reached out, but it was too late. The knife beared down on the book only to stop a centimeter short. Stolz looked at his hand and out poked a small black leg. Then, another. Another. An unearthly buzz filled the room as hundreds of spider legs erupted from Stolz’s body.
Rot grabbed the book and slammed it to the floor. Her eyes flashed yellow as her mouth and nose fused into a snout. Then, Rot howled.
I really enjoyed the atmosphere you created here – it’s a post apocolyptic zombie city, but one where all the zombies seem to be sad, pathetic wrecks of what they once were rather than anything dangerous. Though the tension upon entering the city certainly indicated that *something* within those ruins is still dangerous, though we never see it directly. I can easily imagine what kind of horrors could dwell in this colossal graveyard though.
(one nitpick – ‘beconning’ should be spelt ‘beckoning’)
The giant animate corpses being here too makes me think of Ragnarok actually, or rather, some form of post-ragnarok society. Really evocative either way!
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Michiko Megane smoothed out the sleeves of her jacket for the eighth time. She turned to the computer on her desk. “Okay, so how do I look?”
“Mom, you look fine,” Chitose answered from the video call window.
“Do I?” Michiko asked fretfully. “This is really important. I mean, this could really provide us with a future.”
“Mom, stop worrying.”
Michiko nervously adjusted her glasses. “I’m not taking up your time, am I?”
Chitose let out something between a chuckle and a sigh. “No, my next class isn’t for an hour.”
“Oh, good.” Michiko continued fidgeting.
“Mom, take a deep breath and calm down. These corporate types can sense fear.”
Michiko dropped her hands to her sides and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. Near the end of the exhale, she heard a chime from the front door to her warehouse.
“Got to go, Chi-chan,” Michiko said, and reached over to close the video call.
“You got this,” Chitose said before the call ended.
Michiko clenched her eyes shut for a second, then relaxed and stepped out to the reception office.
Standing within were four men, but her eyes were instantly drawn to the tallest one in a blue business suit.
“Omoshiro Gatte-san!” Michiko exclaimed, surprised. “I didn’t expect you to come here yourself.”
Daisei Omoshiro Gatte pushed his glasses up his narrow nose. “Megane-san, I presume.”
Michiko bowed deeply. “Yes, that’s correct.”
Daisei nodded in return. “I do not usually visit the companies my conglomerate seeks to incorporate before negotiations are concluded, but your company came recommended by people close to me. I wished to see why.”
Michiko smiled nervously. “I’m not entirely certain either, but if you have a need for optical supplies, Megane Optics will do the best to fill them.”
Daisei responded nonchalantly. “We do have a medical firm in our fold whose optometrists would likely benefit from a guaranteed supply of materials.”
Michiko flashed what she hoped was her most sparkling smile. “Well then, if you gentlemen would follow me back to my office, I can show you what we can provide.”
You have some really good descriptions here! That moment when the bone snapped made me hold my breath. It lasted for so long, or at least it felt like it did, in the best way. I was feeling the anxiousness Bronach was feeling. This was really immersive.
“The Beast” by Carrie (Glaceon373)
The man glanced between his map, compass, and the dark forest in front of him. He swallowed and stepped into the darkness. The man lit his torch and continued on the faded path, his knees shaking.
Eventually, he found it. A cave on the side of a hill, the floor of it sparkling with a purple shimmer.
“H—hello?” he stammered.
At first, there was nothing. Then, quiet footsteps approached from the depths of the cave. They got louder. And louder. The man shook in his boots, but he held his ground.
The Beast’s violet eyes shone out of the darkness. It spoke with a voice of thunder.
“Who are you, unwelcome visitor?”
The man held strong. “I am just a simple mortal, but I am in need of one like you.”
“And what is it you are in need of?” The Beast asked.
“My s—son. He is dying. Please. Please heal him.”
The Beast stared into the man’s eyes. “And what will you give me in exchange for this healing?”
The man, sweat sliding down his face, opened up a bag and lifted out his sacrifice.
A claw extended out of the darkness to touch the strange jewel the man had brought.
“This…” the Beast growled, “will not suffice.”
“Please!” The man screamed. “Please have mercy! He’s only a child!”
“A child?” The Beast answered louder. “A child, one of your kind not yet tainted by your brutish ways?”
“What? Well, y—yes—”
“I will save his life in exchange for his aid. He will be safe, and he will learn the ways of true strength.”
“But—but I won’t see him again?”
“Not for many years. But he will survive.”
The man thought for a long time, then looked back at the Beast.
“For his life, and nothing else.”
The Beast’s eyes nodded approvingly.
The Wild Grace of a Behemoth
And with a sigh, the old hunter turned from the clearing, shattering his nostalgia and forcing him to remember what it was like to run.
And when the dragon had been given up on, she slowly strode to the trees again, the dust in the air stinging her wounds and pushing her onward, compelling her to run.
And as the hunter remembered, so he became, until his old bones strengthened, and his muscles became lean, and he was able once again to run.
And when, no more fight to be had, the dragon passed between the ancient branches, she saw a band of many, carrying spears, and one more, separate, with a crossbow, she remembered the honor of the old hunter, and turned back to run.
And though the bolt drove deep into the hunter’s chest, still he fought on, driven by the semblance of himself that he remembered and knew would have slain the dragon without a moment’s hesitation, but was now tempered with honor and age and saw the beauty in the beast, knowing that killing for greed had no place in the world, and he shouted one word.
And the dragon heard.
But the dragon saw the danger.
And the dragon slayed.
But the dragon saved.
For the dragon was not as well-knowing or seeing as the hunter or any human, but still she knew and recognized grace and honor. She could have easily destroyed the hunter for wounds already inflicted.
When he was hired to slay her, he was old. Twenty weight gold for 10 weight scales. Forty-five meals for fifteen days.
Hunters such as him led many lives. Some repeated. The mages knew this, and knew the consequences for their plans, and so bought soldiers to kill him if he failed. He, and she, saw that now.
And together they defended each other, fighting for honor, sacrifice, and the right to live, tooth and fang, spear and shield, until the hunter was not old, and the dragon was not an enemy, and their battle cry arose in the forest: “RUN!”
By Giovanna J. Fuller
“Will you ever come back?” Touchy asked, their voice full of sorrow.
“Sure!” Angela smiled widely in the direction of Touchy’s voice. An invisible hand patted her head. She staggered under its force and tried to keep her grin on her face.
The soft light that seemed to reflect on every black, glassy surface shifted. The other being, the one Angela called Meanie, seemed to have gotten closer to her. Their voice was loud and sounded as if it were right next to her ear. “We’re going to miss you, An-gel-ah.”
“Me too.” She gave the invisible, massive beings a couple shots from her hand guns. “Catch ya later!”
The young door witch had to keep from running at full speed to it. Once she placed her hand on a wall of black, glassy, stone it melted away. Through the hole she saw the familiar darkness of the Infinite Hallway. The smell of home was there and she was so close.
“Don’t forget us, An-gel-ah!” Touchy called in a tearful voice.
“I won’t!” She called over her shoulder and gave the mammoth siblings one last wave. ‘Trust me, I won’t,’ she thought as she climbed through the hole into the Infinite Hallway. Once inside, the hole sealed up behind her. The light glow that the slab of obsidian had been giving off had dulled.
She sighed and ran her fingers through her auburn hair. Everything was quiet and for the first time in a while, she was grateful for the silence.
It didn’t last long though.
The witch turned on her heel and skipped back down the hallway to the store front. She grabbed a toolbox Adam had made for her in shop class and skipped back to the obsidian door. From within the box she withdrew a permanent marker and her favorite duct tape. It had tiny smiling bunnies on it that reminded her of her familiar.
Taking a long piece she sealed up the door so that it was more bunny tape than door and wrote in big letters,
DO NOT OPEN.
“You need to stop worrying about it,” Ryan said while adjusting his headscarf, “It will be like poking a worm with a stick.”
“You do realize that that thing is at least a mile long,” a man spoke through Ryan’s earpiece, “It’s the largest one on record.”
“And?” Ryan asked.
“Aren’t you in college?”
Ryan grinned, “And?”
The man sighed, “Where does the brass find you guys?”
Ryan would have happily answered that question if he didn’t see the giant moving sandstorm in the distance.
“Found the target,” Ryan began getting excited, “Going to engage.”
The man sighed again, “Alright, just try not to turn the whole desert into glass.”
Ryan took the earpiece out and preemptively destroyed it in his metal hand. It was going to be destroyed either way, so might as well get it over with. The temperature around him increased as he cracked his metal hands. They didn’t actually crack, but Ryan thought it made him look cool.
“And it’s the thought that counts!” Ryan said as he raised his fist and slammed it into the ground, making the ground quake. The moving dust storm slowly turned to Ryan’s position. It was like watching a speeding train coming right at you.
Ryan dropped down into a squat and pointed the palms of his hands to the ground. He felt his wrists come together and the heat beginning to build around him. The busts of dust clouds were starting to come closer and Ryan could start to understand how large this thing was. However, it wouldn’t matter in a few moments.
As the black metal of his arms began to turn a dark red from the heat, a ball of energy that looked like a small sun was building in his hands. The dust clouds suddenly stopped not but a mile away. Ryan breathed and thought of home. Exams would be starting when he got back. Hopefully, Sera would be willing to help-
The ground beneath disappeared and was replaced with a gaping maw. Ryan smiled and stopped concentrating on holding back and then released.
Delegation to the Demonship
By Calliope Rannis
From a corescating hole in spacetime, a craggy Intercluster Cargo Barge spat itself into existence, its Rip Drive snarling with strain after an excessively long warp flight. Behind it was thousands of years of dark, starless void, only illuminated by the awe-inspiring smudge of the galaxy the craft had just left behind. In front was the more comforting sight of a satellite galaxy’s starscape, the border where the barge must wait.
Carf Grig shifts uncomfortably in the undersized pilot’s seat, clutching his arms as he would his power tools. “Are you *sure* this is a good meeting point Neut?”
His co-pilot sighs frustratedly, tapping his chair with nervous energy. “Look Grig, these are the coordinates we got, so this is where we go. We do NOT play it loose with Void Lords. Especially not this one.” He turns to look at his companion’s heavy face. “Besides, what other choice do we have? We certainly can’t go back now.”
Carf grunts. “This cargo better be-”
The screens and lights of the control console flicker and go dark. Both men immediately fall silent as the central screen lights up again with a garbled, glitchy alert: IN73RD&C7I0N &N PR04R3SS. The electric buzzing grows increasingly loud and painful, until the noise abruptly cuts out – and the Void Lord they dared to meet erupts into space before them.
Neut stiffens; Carf shudders. The rumors had called it the Demonship, but that name little prepared them for the capital-class horror before them. Exterior plates were torn off, replaced with haphazardly installed weapons and shield generators, surrounded with miles of twisted wiring and flashing warning lights, scattered across the gargantuan hull like cancerous growths. The front of the craft was so extensively modified that it looked more like a broken-toothed maw than the bow of a starship; only the hemispherical sensor arrays near the top remain intact, burning with a cold purple light.
A voice like razor wire tears through the barge’s comms. “I DETECT A CORE. A PREciOUS, unGESTated COREE. GOOD, GOODGOOD. YOU HAVE proven YOURSELVES worthy OF A CONVERSATION. What is your desire?”
“Well?” The barmaid asked, “Have you taken care of the dragon?”
The knight shook his head, “No.”
She sighed hopelessly, “So we’re doomed then?”
He said nothing, and that was all the answer she needed.
The knight felt a tugging on his sheath, and he glanced down, meeting the large blue eyes of a girl no older than ten, “What d’you want, kid?”
“Could you take me to the mountain?” She asked.
He scoffed, “Beat it, tyke. I’m not sending some baby mage to fight a dragon.” He waved her off.
“Hmph! I’ll find it myself then!” She huffed, storming from the tavern, leaving behind the laughing knight.
She adjusted her cloak and started for the mountain path, “Big dummy.. I’ll show him.. I’ll show them all…”
She reached the dragon’s cave at dusk, the dark abyss seeming endless. She swallowed nervously, clutching her staff tightly as she entered. She crept along the dark passage until she could no longer see, pausing to tap her staff on the wall. The gem illuminated, then fizzled out.
“Argh! Come on!” She growled, tapping it again. It flickered, then came to life. Sighing in relief, she continued on.
Soon, the light sparkled off thousands of coins and gems, the lights dancing across the face of a ginormous white dragon.
“Um.. e-excuse me!” She called.
His eyes opened, and he peered down at her, “A child? They’re sending children?” it laughed.
She shook her head, “No, I came by myself. I-I uh..” she swallowed, “I came to offer you a contract.”
He looked perplexed, “A contract?”
She nodded, “Yes. I want you to be my familiar.”
The dragon laughed, picking her up by her cloak, “And why should I do that?”
“Because then nobody will try to kill you anymore.” She stated.
He laughed again, raising her above his mouth.
“And I’ll be your friend!!”
He hesitated, thinking. After a moment, he set her down, “Really? You promise?”
She nodded, holding out her trembling hand, “Promise.”
Touching his snout to her tiny hand, the dragon sighed happily, and the two shared a smile.
The Brown One, by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
It was that time of year again. My parents would drag us out to a nearby forest and have us camp for a few days, surviving the comfortable autumn breeze and rationing our limited supply of smores at night. Thankfully, I was the second oldest sibling, so I had the freedom to wander and take in the gorgeous sights of sharp conifers and browning maples. My favorite thing to do was to sit on the lake shore and watch the birds looking for their midday snacks.
I was watching a stilt using its long beak to probe the cold lake waters when I heard a snap and a yelp coming from nearby. I jolted up and turned my attention to the forest. Worried that some animal got caught in a trap, I hurried in the direction of the sound. After breaking through the brush and finding myself in a small clearing, I find the source of the cries:
A large bear!
As soon as it saw me, he growled fiercely and bared his teeth.
“Easy, easy, big guy.” I said in the calmest voice I could muster. “I’m here to help you.” My pleas were met with only cries and growls. How could it trust me if others of my kind put him there to begin with?
I placed my pack gently on the ground and sat down next to it a safe distance from the scared beast. “If you aren’t going to play nicely, I’ll just have to wait until you calm down.” I said while taking out a snack from my pack.
As soon as I took out a nature bar, the bear turned silent and focused on the meal. Realizing my opportunity, I carefully placed the bar within reach of the bear who began sniffing it. Quietly, I snuck to the leg that was caught in the trap and released the mechanism, setting the bear free.
Acknowledging his freedom, he turned to me, bowed, and said,
“If you ever need me, just say my name, Rkto, aloud. I will come to your aid.” and then left.
“How did they die, Effendi?”
The boy – young man – crouched in the corner of the room, hand tracing patterns against the cold ceramic tiles. I had not realized then. Seen glimpses, I think, but nothing further.
I glanced towards him from the door, eyes passing over his work. “How did you know?”
The man stood, arching his back until it made an uncomfortable crack.
“I am not unintelligent, Effendi.” He turned to me, smiling. “Few things could drag you away from Topkapı Palace at this time of year.”
It is true – I had trained him well, and he had been a good student. Not as clever as those I would usually take on, perhaps, but far more sensible.
“You know already, then, Vlad?”
“Not the details.”
He had been taken as a child, I believe. A ‘token of appreciation’. I still mourn for the father… I saw him once, during the war, you know, on the other side – a long time ago, now.
“The Hungarians – ”
He interjected. “Hunyadi?”
He slouched towards me, keeping his eyes level with mine. “Tell me, then, Effendi. Was my cousin – was Vladislav among them?”
This was the moment. Much could have changed here, perhaps. Maybe I would not be so far from home now if I had lied.
“You will find he calls himself Voivode King now, student.”
Vlad froze, arms locked at his sides, head bent forward. “I assume that will change.”
He smoothly spun and sat in his corner, face angled away. I still wonder what it would have shown had he remained.
“We leave then?”
I turned towards the hallway, preparing to return to my own quarters. “In the morning, son of the dragon.”
He snorted softly from across the room. “Drăculea.”
His head lulled to the side, parallel with his shoulder. “Son of the dragon. In my language, that would be Drăculea.” He turned back towards the wall. “A good name.”
“Dr – dracu – la? Hmm.”
A good name, indeed.