Writing Group: Close to the Heart

Hello, dear ones.

It’s time to peer into yourselves. Look over the tangle of red threads and strangling cords there, see whether you can tell them apart. And then, if you can, begin to think about how you might re-weave them, because…

This week’s prompt is:


Close to the Heart


We’ve made some really big changes to the rules! Make sure you scroll down to the bottom of this post to see them before submitting!



This one sounds really simple up front, but there may be an angle you’re not seeing here.

Yes, we hold things we love close to our heart. We also hold things less beloved there. Things we may never have chosen. A bullet can land as close to the heart as true love’s kiss; trauma can lie just as deep.

We’ll have plenty of stories this week of things held dear, and that’s good—I hope we see lots of that. But the heart is a tender organ, and love is tied to much of the misery we experience. This week, instead of just thinking about “close to the heart” as “beloved”, try to think a little more literally.

“Close” to the heart. This is about proximity. 

So, think about what “heart” means to you, think about something which manages to get close to it… and then, show us what that closeness means.

This could be a very literal story about a parasite’s journey through the bloodstream through the heart. It could also be a very figurative story about a mother who can’t help but love her child, even though they never cease to let her down. You could even extrapolate this out into a story about a scientist who’s managed to come very close to the heart of a complex problem… but for some reason cannot or has not quite solved it.

No matter what direction you go, the heart is at the core. Whoever’s—or whatever’s—heart you choose, it ought to embody the soul of that thing in the story.

Find what lies at the center, and bring us near.



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 at least 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 by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!

  1. Text and Formatting

    1. English only.
    2. Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
    3. Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
    4. Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
    5. Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
    6. No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
  2. What to Submit

    1. Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
    2. Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
    3. Write something brand new (no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
    4. No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
    5. Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
  3. Submission Rules

    1. One submission per participant.
    2. Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
    3. Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
    4. You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. 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.
    5. Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
    6. You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
    7. 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.

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

Closer to My Heart
By Derek McEldowney (Deviacon)
I keep my heart in a jar. I don’t remember how I did it. It’s been in that small jar as long as I can remember. I know most people keep their hearts in their chests, but I don’t mind. Sometimes I whisper to my heart, telling it trivialities from my day and what’s on my mind.
           I keep it on my desk swimming gently in fluid, so I can always look at it. Sometimes I like to check and see how fast it’s beating and pulsing in place. Sometimes when it hurts, I hate to look at it. But no matter what, every day I open the jar and feed my heart a few drops of my blood. For in each drop are dreams of longing desire and blind ambition. My heart always seems happy to taste them, and skips a beat every time.
           Sometimes my heart whispers back to me. It tells me of such wondrous things. It tells me of someone with whom I might one day share it with. It tells me they’re mysterious and distant, but will feel intimately familiar when we meet; that they’re also longing to share their heart with someone like me. I worry though, no one seems to find my heart very charming when I mention it. It tells me how it’s been hurt before, and sometimes I cry for it. It tells me of stories I should write and paintings I should paint, and beats a little faster when it does.
           Whenever my heart whispers to me, I listen with a smile.

Skye Doust
Skye Doust
3 years ago

by Skye Doust
“I am… so, so very sorry…”
Her broken whisper carries a weight that gives you pause, for it is the weight of someone that truly knows you. Right now, though, you don’t understand what she is talking about. Her presence in these last few weeks has been fresh and nothing but a blessing. 
First, you feel guilty. The two of you had been focused mostly on you since you met, but it has also seemed like she genuinely was happy when you had a breakthrough.
Sure, you asked her about herself, but it hadn’t seemed like she was ready to talk about that yet. Some people just find it easier to help than to be helped, you’d come to that conclusion a while back though.
She did open up a little once. She said something vague about her work, that it was emotionally taxing. You hadn’t pressed the issue because she would talk eventually.
You put your hands on either side of her shoulders, you don’t know why she is apologising, but you know she deserves your support. 
Streaks of pain mark the black tracks that line her face and her tears flip your confusion straight to panic. You can help her. You can fix it, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. Your mind races with possibilities so full of the protective instinct she has awoken in you that you don’t even feel the knife. 
It slides in simply, slanting straight through. Stopping suddenly.
Right there. Between the forth and fifth rib.
Her hand reaches to cup your face, it is wet and for some reason that is an important detail but you can’t figure out why. “…so sorry…” she repeatedly whispers
Two months later, she stands over a different corpse, genuinely sobbing her sorrow. Soon she would report back to the client before eventually making her way back to their underground hideout. 
She had never once lied: you meant a lot to her, she really is very sorry, and her job is exceptionally emotionally taxing.

Flora Longtail
Flora Longtail
3 years ago

Danse Macabre
by Flora Longtail
The grand ball. Really, it’s not as exciting as it sounds. A yearly formality for the family, hosting all the prominent lords and ladies in the land. And yet, for once, there is something exciting to behold…
Look, there she goes. None can quite touch another like she does. Graceful and deft motions carrying her across the ballroom; she swaps from partner to partner, trading dances with men and women alike. Whenever she draws near, the heart races, only to be replaced by an expectant stillness when she inevitably pulls away.
Nothing quite gets the blood flowing like an encounter with the young Lady does. An entertainer, a charmer, and a dangerous lover. Crimson eyes peer out from behind that feline mask, showing a curious intent, as if to let you know she draws near, only to pull away again, drawing the eye towards her, before vanishing from view.
An experience unlike any other, whether seconds or minutes – the fleeting encounter with the young Lady is sure to enthrall – from those smooth motions to the warm, charming words she speaks during those little trysts of hers.
There she goes again, another waltz completed, and another tango started, swinging from one arm to the next, that mysterious smile of hers never fading, as she finally, finally draws close to you, sharing that precious, pleasant dance with you, lasting seconds, minutes, hours.
And then, she vanishes into the crowd once more, leaving you to watch her disappear; unable to move, unable to even speak as you clutch the parting gift she’s left you…
A knife, stuck close to the heart.

3 years ago

I’m new and have been curious about joining. Maybe even submitting something at some point. I’m not too sure if I understand the rules and how some work like the italics one.

3 years ago

by Lunabear

A somber serenade swirled around Jacqueline’s mind as she lay curled in bed. The blue haze from her untouched cigarette drifted through the humid air. The flickering of the neon sign illuminated her rigid profile in stark shadings of purple and green. The slanted lighting threw alternating shadows on the carpet.

No new information had come in about Lacy. 2 months she had been gone, and the case had run cold. Jacqueline groped on her nightstand for the picture they had taken for their sixth month wedding anniversary. She caressed the glass of the frame.

Even without light, Jacqueline could see Lacy’s angelic face. Her vibrant blue and golden eyes contained a mischievous glow. Her nose dotted with freckles turned towards the sun. Her passionate, loving smile always calming Jacqueline’s fears. The auburn hair that could never be tamed no matter what hairstyle she wore.

The familiar aches of longing and grief clutched her heart. She curled even more into herself, hoping, as she always did, Lacy would walk through the door with the biggest grin and plop down on the bed, chattering and laughing away about her cantankerous boss or how tedious her day had been.

Jacqueline’s tired eyes stung as tears attempted to push their way out, and she hugged the pillow with Lacy’s fading scent: a mixture of glacial waters and lavender.

Burying her face within the pillow and gripping the picture in a white-knuckled hold, Jacqueline trembled as agony ripped through her. Tears overwhelmed her as the phone rang.

3 years ago

What I Love.
By Speckled

I always keep my babies safe. I got my first one when I was only 6, and though she wasn’t my job to protect, I learned by watching my parents, and tried to do my part.

When I am alone, they are company. When I am sad, they are happiness.

Over the years I’ve had many, mostly two at a time, so they can keep eachother company whenever I have to leave. I’ve always been there for them, and would care for more if I could. Alas, I am not rich.

In the meantime, the world’s gotten scarier. I can’t always take them for walks anymore, or throw them the ball as much as I used to.

But I am happy to stay with them. Their wagging tails, their precious smiles. They’re getting antsy, luckily we have a small yard, but it’s so much less than they deserve.

They save me as much as I save them.

F. Absinthe
F. Absinthe
3 years ago

by F. Absinthe
The old man dusts off the surface of the urn. It’s a pointless gesture. It hasn’t been long enough since last time for dirt to accumulate over it.
He lifts it, then places it on the plain linen mat he’s set up on the floor, the requisite items arranged around it. The wooden cube is light on his hands, but heavy in his heart.
He opens the lid and places a hand above the open box, examining the mass of wrinkles and scars. 
He takes up the knife once more.
“By the blood of the kin.” His raspy old voice echoes through the walls of the crypt. “By the weight of the sin.”
He cuts his palm, a sensation now familiar. Red blood drips over dry white ashes.
“By the wind in my lungs. By my flesh and your bones…”
It doesn’t take more than that these days. He feels the magic take hold and, as the space outside his own skin grows colder, that inside fills with warmth.
“You know, if I wanted to haunt you, I could have done it myself,” a young voice mutters behind him.
The necromancer smiles, bitterly. “Haunt me? Hah! If only! You’d have saved me years of trouble.” He pauses. “Come. Sit. I brought you tea, and sweet bread.”
The boy’s steps make no sound. His little suit and jacket are as translucent as the rest of him. He sits just an inch or so off the ground.
“I’d rather you brought me news you got a girl, brother.” He retorts, sounding older than he looks. “Or picked up a hobby that doesn’t involve graveyards.”
The old man laughs. “Do you know which day it is today?”
The ghost shrugs. “You know time doesn’t pass the same way on this side.”
“It’s your eightieth birthday, brother. I am eighty-three, not exactly a prime bachelor.”
The boy frowns. “And yet you haven’t actually lived a day past thirteen…”
“I suppose I have not,” the elder brother grants. “Doesn’t matter. All it means is we are closer to being together again.”

Last edited 3 years ago by F. Absinthe
Ché Geofroy
Ché Geofroy
3 years ago

Those Days
By Che Geofroy
4.16.17 – 4.28.17
I look down at the numbers engraved upon the smooth, rounded surface. To any other, meaningless. To me, incomparable beauty.
I lay the small piece into a box, place that box in the bag on my back, and head home. The day is April 27th. Just on time. The rest of the day passes in a blur. My thoughts no longer concern this day. Tomorrow is what matters.
We stand side by side, looking out across the empty space beyond us. The vastness of the water contrasts perfectly with the intimacy of this moment. There is a boundless world just ahead of us, and I marvel at it while thinking nothing of my expansive future. I turn to my left, taking in this moment. I take her hand and turn her toward me.
“I have something for you.”
The awkward scramble to pull out the small box is at once filled with frantic nervousness and a calm confidence. No matter what happens from here, this moment will exist. That thought comforts me.
She tells me that I shouldn’t have gotten her anything. I reassure her. I wanted to. Please, just accept it. Think nothing more of it. 
She opens it. She turns the bracelet in her fingers. She reads the dates.
“What is this?”
“A reminder. Of the time we were able to spend together.”
Tomorrow I will be gone. Things will inevitably change. We always knew this. But no matter how it does, we’ll have this. This moment. This reminder. 
We kissed in the dark, empty space overlooking the water. We rejoined the others. We spent the night enjoying ourselves, and eventually, when morning came, we said our last goodbyes.
Things changed. Time inevitably pulled at us. The world waded into the vast ocean of the future. But those days, they stayed with me. They always will.

3 years ago

For the Rest of Your Life

By MysteryElement

The rain outside sighs, a serene hush filling the room. It is almost time to leave, but I can’t. Not yet. He promised to meet me, and I would wait. The calm outside is interrupted by heavy boots approaching before the door swings open.
“I am so sorry.” he breathes.
He is soaking wet, dark hair plastered to his forehead and clothes dripping as he peels away his coat. I embrace him anyway.
“It’s okay, you still came.”
I hold him close, nuzzling into his shoulder. I want to memorize him, his scent, how he feels beneath my hands, all of it. I want to hold on to this memory for as long as I can. I suppress my tears as his arms surround me. This was so hard.
“Of course I came.” I feel him whisper into my hair.
We stand there, basking in each other. There are so many words I want to say, rehearsed endearments and excuses resting on my tongue, but nothing came out. I can only hold him, lifting a silent prayer for it to never end. We pull away, just enough for him to hold my face in his hands and gaze into my eyes.
“Stay with me.”
My knuckles go white. I can’t stay. I have to do this. I shake my head.
“I want you to have something.” I reply “Something to carry close to your heart, one last gift from me.”
His eyes flutter and lips tremble, leaning into me as if in supplication, a wordless plea. Bringing my clenched fist to his chest I lean up to meet his kiss, gently sliding the knife between his ribs. Our lips remain together a moment, the tears finally falling from my eyes before he pulls away.
“Alex?” His voice is soft and breathy.
“I love you.” I whisper against trembling lips.
He falls to the ground, gasping shallowly before falling silent. I reach for my coat, only to hesitate, wrapping his around me instead. With one last longing look, I turn and softly close the door behind me, leaving the knife behind.

3 years ago

“United Beyond Death”
By King_Nix
“My wife is ill!  Surely you can make an exception!” Danyil had pleaded.
“Every province has taken arms against the king.  Your duty as a battle mage is foremostly to the crown.” the summons officer had retorted.  “You have two weeks to make your peace here and report to the capitol, or a warrant will be issued for your arrest.  You know the penalty for treason.  Good day.”
Kneeling by his wife’s bedside, Danyil tended to her.
“It’s been three days, my love.” she told him, grasping his hand.  “You should be preparing to leave.”
“I cannot leave you like this, Haifi.  You’ll die if I go.”
“They’ll execute you!”
“I-” he choked up, and proceeded to his armory to weep.  If he stayed, he could at least keep a little more time with her before being taken away, but she was right.  She would die cold and alone regardless and he could do nothing about it.  “Nothing…unless…”  He picked a scroll of parchment off the floor and unfurled it.  As he stared intently at the notes and diagrams, Haifi gently made her way in.
“You’re considering this again?” she asked.
“You should be in bed.”
“I went through a lot of trouble to get this for you.  It could be the only way we can stay together, especially now.” Haifi pleaded.
“And you want to live like that?” Danyil yelled.  “If I fail somehow, I don’t know what could happen to you.”
“Danyil, please.  I know the risks, but I trust your talents.” She placed a sickly hand on his cheek.  “You can do this, my heart.”  Danyil gripped her tight in his arms, tears running down his face.
An hour later, he was hard at work.  Into his plate, he diligently etched runic symbols, and carefully applied water from the River Llun to the ornate steel.  With enchanted graphite, Danyil matched the markings there to Haifi’s skin, and performed the ritual.
Five days later, Danyil entered the capitol, his armor glimmering a gentle silver.
“We’ll face this together, my heart.” Came Haifi’s soft whisper in his ears.

3 years ago

The Tragedy of Whitby
By NocteVesania
Cold wind chills Arthur’s skin as he rushes to Whitby Cemetery. Word has spread that a child, no older than 6 years, had gone missing; Arthur ran as soon as the news reached him, fearing the worst.
As he arrives at the graveyard, he finds Lucy’s tomb, its door ajar. Standing in front is its resident, his fiancee, back turned and pale skin glistening in the moonlight. In her arms, a child sleeps, its head peeking over her shoulder. Lucy is hunched over the young one, her head resting close as if whispering silent lullabies.
Flashes of his dreams run through his mind. He dreams of a quiet life by the sea, and by his side is Lucy, cradling in her arms their beautiful firstborn. These fantasies are shattered as she turns to face him, pulling him back into reality.
Lucy lifts her head, her mouth agape, revealing fangs white as snow. Her lips crimson with blood, the excess dripping onto the child’s still body and the dark earth below. As their eyes meet, her cruel expression turns to shock, releasing the lifeless corpse from her embrace as a realization hits her.
She looks at her trembling hands, stained with blood, mortified of what she had become. She falls to her knees in remorse. Arthur kneels beside her, wrapping his arms around her as she begins to weep.
Lucy leans close to him and whispers, “End it, my love.”
 “No!” Arthur shakes his head as tears start rolling down his cheek. “I can’t do that! I won’t!”
 “Please,” Lucy begs as she puts her hand on his chest. “For others’ sake.”
 “Lucy, I—”
 “No. I’m no longer the Lucy you’ve known. I’m nothing but a monster.”
Arthur reaches for a wooden stake and rests its point on Lucy’s chest, his hand visibly shaking. Lucy rests her hand on his, steadying his grasp, aiming for her heart. Between tears, she gives him a reassuring smile.
 “I love you,” Arthur whispers as tears fall on Lucy’s chest.
A gentle breeze blows over the cemetery as a man mourns for his love.

3 years ago

A Nostalgic Journey
By T.E.
Sophie had to shield her eyes from the sun as she stepped out of the air-conditioned car. Her clothes stuck like an extra layer of skin. She took a deep breath, reveling in the familiar air around her. With a broad smile across her freckled face, she ventured through the small town. 
Time had passed by relentlessly. Warping and twisting the familiar setting. Woods had been cut down and replanted, fields had been asphalted, and new homes had been built. One thing, however, remained. The lilacs. Every home was surrounded by them, and they had sprouted up along major roads. Sophie began plucking their flowers as she passed – making sure to keep an even mix of white and purple ones – until she had a decent bouquet. 
An elderly woman leaned across a picket fence. She put out her cigarette, and said, “Sophie! Oh my, how you have grown. How is life in the big city?”
“Oh, hello Mrs. Hayweather. Life goes on, the way it does. How are things around here?”
Mrs. Hayweather furrowed her brow. “Life goes on… Town’s growing, I can tell you that much. Still, I’m lonely without Bill. But that’s just the way things are.” She wiped away a solitary tear racing down her wrinkled face. “Enough about me. What brings you here Sophie?”
“I’m here to visit Elliot,” she said. “It’s been way too long.”
“Ahh. You’ve plucked your fair share of the beautiful nuisances?”
Sophie held up the lilacs. “Nostalgia and beauty. I think he’ll be happy with them.”
“So do I, Sophie.” Mrs. Hayweather shielded her face. “Tell him hi from me will you?”
Sophie nodded, waved her goodbyes, and continued down the beaten path. She heard running water in the distance as she unlatched the gates. The cemetery had expanded along with the town and was larger than the last time. Still, she would never forget the way to Elliot. 
Just in front of a small stream stood the stone. Sophie placed the lilacs in front of it. “Hi, Elliot… You won’t believe how much I’ve missed you… “

Ashe Thurman
3 years ago

The Last Gate
by Ashe Thurman
His feet pounded against the dry dirt. The first gate was approaching. Behind him, he could hear the sound of his pursuers falling farther behind. They knew that the automated system would keep someone like him from passing even the first wall of the city. They didn’t know his resolve, though. They didn’t know that he would rather die chasing after her into the wastelands than live another day in this neon prison. 
The jolt came hard at the base of his spine as he passed through the first of the electronic gates. A microchip that turned each step into a hot poker through his feet. He pushed through it, though. That was another thing the reclamation crew didn’t know.
He had been preparing.
The burning spiraled up his legs, piercing into his muscles and tendons like thorny vines. He counted each step as they slammed down. Thirty more. Twenty-five. The spinal chip was never meant to last this long, and the shockwaves were starting to subside. Twenty steps. He could feel his legs starting to regain their purpose. Fifteen steps. Ten steps. He prepared for the second gate. Five steps. 
He tumbled through the second gate and lost his feet from under him almost immediately, crumpling to the ground. He hadn’t been able to perfect his reaction to the effects of the second chip, the one buried in the muscle tissues of his abdomen. They spasmed against his solar plexus, causing him to curl up into a tiny ball and convulse.. He heard them, though, closing in fast now that they fully realized his plan. He screamed as he pushed himself to his knees. Across the ground, face half-buried in the dirt, he crawled, dragging his aching body across the cracked earth. 
The last gate.
Closer and closer.
He tried not to think about the third chip implanted in the middle of his sternum. 

His heart beat the first and last time as a free man.

3 years ago

Iron [First From the Dark]
By Kronos
The iron cube rested tauntingly on the table. It could’ve fit between two of her fingers, weighing scarcely more than an ounce. All the same, it refused to move. Lyra could cast every joule of energy she could muster at it, but it would simply take on a green cast and tremble before settling back into place with smug defiance, the connection broken.
“See? I told you I couldn’t do it” She spat bitterly, resting both hands on the hexagonal table. Even the failed attempt left her arms shaking and her breath scarce. She wondered how she even managed to stand in this state.
A pervasive whisper called back, her mentor slash captor. He lurked somewhere out of sight, always watching. 
“One attempt? Surely you can’t give in so easily.” Lyra could hear the eyebrow raise in his voice. “I’ve watched your kind hurl bolts to make Zeus blush, or weave steel wool into rope without so much as touching it” He wasn’t trying to be patronizing, but it stoked her ire all the same.
Both hands gripped the side of the table, force bleeding her already pale knuckles to paper as she poured everything she could muster into the insufferable block. It waggled like a scolding finger, then fell flat. Lyra’s head joined it to rest on the table, eyes closed so she wouldn’t have to look the cube in the eye.
“How do you expect me to be any use to anyone?” She asked through gritted teeth. “I can’t even do this. I can’t do anything right!”
The voice that answered was not the whimsical tone she expected, but the harsh hiss of a reptilian laugh. A cold line of steel kissed the back of her neck. The touch of the blade made her lurch forward, pushing away with feeble limbs driven by sheer panic. Lyra felt something give out inside her, and she sprawled to the cold floor.
Seconds passed with no sound, then she managed to turn and look for her assailant. The cube clattered to the floor, the wall cracked by iron.
Her mentor smiled.

Arthur Moore
Arthur Moore
3 years ago

Young Again (Re-edited)
By Arthur Moore
Mr. Jonathan Norrall likes to keep a packet of cigarettes close to his heart in his chests pocket. His wife and daughters had often asked why he continued to smoke. He replied always in these simple words “I am old.” So he continued on with tuberculosis eating his lungs, smoke hardening it for them, and his enlarging heart failing with age.
They all asked him again, when he could barely breathe whenever he lied down to sleep and could no longer walk to the toilet to relieve himself alone, why he continued on. And still he replied “I am old.”, and so they gave up hope as he let himself die under cigarette, under smoke, let age take him over and any youth go. But they never knew as he puffed and puffed, they never knew why he wanted to go.
The day came when the hospital called so he went. Ushered on unwillingly by his wife and daughters. Dazed under the light and pumped full of drugs, he remembered. He remembered the days he could run, the days he played football in the mud, the days he could smoke and lift weights at the same time. The days of youth he remembered, and he whispered silently, unheard “I no longer want to die”.
But the due was done and death comes to collect, his protestations and the stories he told went unheard and unchecked. He died no longer old, but young again.  

Last edited 3 years ago by Arthur Moore
The Man Himself
The Man Himself
3 years ago

by The Man Himself.
The little man tried to wriggle around but more than an inch of movement on any side was impossible. He’d grown used to enclosed spaces but this was bad. This might actually be his final resting place. As he strained to twist his body in either direction or find room enough to move his arm he felt the iron cooking spit they’d put through him. If they’d been trying to skewer his heart they were an inch or two south but that wasn’t the issue. If a single failed organ was enough to stop him he’d have been finished a long time ago. What the metal rod did was effectively pin him in place within the grave that had been dug for him. 
       It was pitch black around him. He could see better than most in the dark but with nothing to see but the soil in his eyes that didn’t help him. He began to squirm frantically. He had to start digging himself out, he had to get back to his house before they took what they hadn’t already and get his revenge. He had to get it right this time and kill that red faced, self righteous idiot. Later stories would accredit the legendary Fionn MacCumhaill with the short man’s destruction and if he ever got out of here, he’d ensure that his nemesis’ name stayed forgotten. This was the sixth or seventh time that he’d swore and cursed at the Chieftain as his body had been pierced with spears and hacked with swords and axes only to be dragged, motionless to a fresh hole so the game could begin again. This time however, the little man’s tenants and the usurping neighbour seemed determined. Aside from the stake, he could feel his entire weight pushing on his neck. He was head down. His severed leg had grown back and a little poking at the soil above yielded nothing. He’d heard them drag something heavy over him. His hot breath condensed on his chin and nose and loose soil gradually filled the gaps around him. 
  He was stuck.

3 years ago

By Skeptism
When her son’s heart began to skip a beat, Samara’s feet never stilled. She wore down dirt roads with her incessant walking from town to town, thumping on the doors of Druidas, Sacerdotes, Monjas, Brujeros. She wore her desperation plainly, kneeling at the feet of anyone willing to listen.
The Monjas were sympathetic, but distant. They draped a rosary dipped in tepid holy water over Samara’s head, the metal cross heavy on her breast. “Pray to God day and night,” they counseled in spindly voices. “He will cure your son.”
Druidas filled her bag with herbs: the crushed leaves of siempreviva, the creamy meat of soursop, a vial of sap from a palo santo tree. They taught her how to pinch the skin above the heart, coaxing muscles into rhythmic motion.
At one church a Sacerdote invited her to his office, a dark room with a wooden desk and a weathered Bible atop. He placed both hands on her shoulders. “Have you strayed?” he asked. “Have you been consorting with witches?” He moved a palm to the center of her chest.
The Brujeros were a long trek, their illicit activities hidden by oaks and royal palms. The air was rich with the smell of blood, the dirt surrounding their homes littered with feathers. A plain woman greeted her, wrists fluttering with colorful bracelets. “Come inside.”
Her home was equally unassuming, save for the intricate figures of gods that adorned her mantle. The woman rummaged through cabinets, producing seashells, incense, leaves, candles, a sharp blade. She lined her candles in a rough circle, lighting them and a stick of incense, and closed her eyes.
After an hour of chewing on bitter leaves, the woman opened eyes and handed Samara the knife.
“Give your son vitality and they will return it tenfold.”
When Samara arrived home, she watched him breathe evenly in his sleep. She carefully straddled the bed, hovering above his sleeping form, and pointed the knife to her breast. She imagined the lines of veins and arteries that led to her heart. She sank the blade.

3 years ago

Insert Witty Title Here
By PitL

“Aye, C-constable,” the old gardener groaned. “Dat’s how it happened, eh? Didn’t leave a detail out, now didn’t I? All straight and narrow, an’ but?” He rapped his cane against the rug, enveloping his corner of the parlour in a cloud of dust. “Innocent, ya know? All o’ us – ”

Constable Munroe stood sharply, snapping his notebook shut with a decided thud.

“I’ve solved the case.”

Lightning blasted in the distance, casting a pale light into the tiny room. It was all quite dramatic, almost as if it were carefully choreographed specifically to increase the tension –

The Constable turned to face the assembled suspects, before glancing upwards towards the old, cracked ceiling. “Oh, it was.”

Hmm. A strange response, certainly, but clearly it all made sense to the brilliant investigator –

“Yes indeed. It all makes sense to me now – I know exactly who killed Lady Dunsany. In fact, the culprit is among us even as we speak!” He paused, hammering in the effect, and –

“Isn’t that right, Mr. Narrator?”

A loud brass sting played in the background, quite clearly ripped from… wait what?

Constable Munroe pointed to the dead body on the rug, surrounded by a traditional assortment of murder weapons. “You thought I wouldn’t notice, didn’t you? How far you would go in pursuit of a story? I’ve gotcha, sir! Don’t think I don’t know you’re there!”

Lord Dunsany leaned towards the gardener. “Who’s he talking to?”

The gardener snorted. “Dinnae know. The man’s a bloody bampot.”

Oh. Oh dear. Well, erm –

The Constable glared out the window towards the darkening sky. “The jig’s up. You’ll be coming with me.”

How? You can’t exactly handcuff me from in there.

“Oh, I’ll find a way.”

‘Kay, I’ll come quietly – Deus ex Machina!

The door blasted inward. “FBI!”

Constable Munroe facepalmed. “This isn’t even believeable. We’re in England.”

Pit hurriedly wiped his brow, before standing from his seat by the table.

“Lord, ‘Close to the Heart.’ No kidding. Tad too close for me.” He paused. “No more fourth wall breaking. Ever.”

Last edited 3 years ago by PitL
Mike Collins
3 years ago

Last Measure of Devotion
By Mike Collins (Lakemoron)
Samuel aimed and fired, aimed, and fired. All was madness around him as artillery shells exploded. Flares lit their landing zone as bright as day; the air was filled with the smell of copper and raw meat. The Navy spent days bombing the island only to send the Marines into a trap. They made it up the beach only to be fired upon by artillery.
Samuel checked the pain in his legs only to find his legs were a bloody ruin. He looked at his wounds, understanding he traveled all this way from Kansas to die on a beach in a strange land. He thought about the day he joined, leaving his family’s farm behind to become a part of something bigger than himself.
The clip pinged out with his last round on his M1 Garand. Samuel checked, but he was out of clips. Next to him was Private Gein or what was left of Gein. Most of him was spread across the rocks from an artillery round.
When they went into the war, many Marines still had the Springfield 1903. Samuel knew it didn’t matter. He was a rifleman no matter what rifle was in his hands. His job was to use that rifle to the best of his ability. Still, he missed his Springfield. Samuel grabbed the fallen rifle and checked. Gein died before he could fire a round.
The world lit up around Samuel as an artillery round went off just in front of him. He saw his Sargent explode into pieces. Out of the smoke, a few Japanese soldiers ran out into their ranks in a suicidal charge.
Near where Samuel lay was the body of a fallen Japanese soldier. Samuel thought about himself and why he joined. He wondered if this man did the same. Instead of a rifle, the soldier had a long-curved sword.
Samuel fired, knowing he would die on a beach on an island called Iwo Jima. He knew his last act would be to help defend his core, fighting for the thing closest to his heart.

Last edited 3 years ago by Mike Collins
Gregory Hess
Gregory Hess
3 years ago

“Loss” by gregovin [Aleph null science fiction universe, public group copy]
I’m awake. I remember. That was not the real world. But the people, they felt real.
I fill with righteous fury.
I have to save them. I have to save them.
The servers have to be at the center of this ship. That is the only way to save them. I turn my head to look down a corridor.
I continue forward, and look down another corridor.
I run into the room.
Her mechanical body is plugged into a machine of some kind, wires attached to her head.
I cut the power to the device.
Sasha opens her eyes.
“Sasha! You’re safe! We have to get to the core.”
We run down the hall.
A guard pulls out a weapon.
Before I can even think, I’m on them.
I start moving before they hit the ground. They fall down with a thud.
We continue.
A guard comes around a corner.
They fall.
The core, it’s ahead! We can make it!
So close. Must keep running.
Something is wrong with the core. The lights aren’t blinking. They should be blinking. Why aren’t the service lights blinking? Wait…
NO. It’s dead. They’re all dead. NO! NO! NO!
Sasha drags me out of the core room.
We board our ship.
I’m … I’m crying.
We escaped.
Why did they all have to die?
I feel a metal arm wrap warm fabric around me.
I rest my head on her shoulder. Thank you. I’m so … tired.
Why did they have to die?
I hear a voice say “I would cry with you, if I could.”.
I barely manage to put enough words together to ask “what did I do wrong?”
“Then why does it feel like I failed?”

Last edited 3 years ago by Gregory Hess
Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
3 years ago

Going Down (Corespace Universe)
By Calliope Rannis
With only a faint whine, the maximum-security elevator rushed smoothly down the diamondglass shaft at its standard speed of 400 miles per hour. Inside, Clay shifted uncomfortably inside his seat. Not that his seat wasn’t comfy, to be clear. But it wasn’t quite comfy enough to sit in for nearly five hours. Maybe he should get up to stretch his legs again?
Then, an excuse flashed into existence, in the form of an elegantly dressed woman with long, golden hair. “Ten minute notice. Nearly there.” she said with a practiced trill, before turning to look right at Clay, who had practically jumped out of his chair. “Bet you are eager to get going right?”
Clay nodded energetically. “Yes ma’am!” 
The solid-light projection smiled. “And your first checkup job too.” She seemed to visibly relax, flickering closer to him before continuing. “It’s all rather intimate I think. Very few people get to see my heart. Let alone touch it.”
He felt his cheeks redden as he tried to maintain a professional expression. Clay had been briefed about Freya’s…manner of speech…but it was quite different to be in her actual presence. “Uh, well I’m sure – oh look at that!” he turned away, as the elevator exited the reinforced metal of the outer shaft into a awe-inspiring view. Above him was a geothermal power plant the size and thickness of a continental plate, and below almost looked like the planet-spanning city on the surface – except instead of skyscrapers and walkways, they were servers and cable arrays.
As he admired the sight, he could feel her gaze on his back, and realised something that coloured his face once more. This technological edifice was hers, her innards and organs, the outer edge of the Core itself. To look upon this majesty was to look upon hers. To admire it…
The elevator plunged into the depths of the server city, and began to decelerate. Clay glanced at her projection, who gave a little curtsy. “Welcome to my core, Clay Sparrow.” Then her projection dissipated with a wink, and the elevator finally came to a halt.

3 years ago

Korinna’s Bond
By Jaren J. Petty
Something that astounds me about your world is how similar some of your tales are to Hyroma’s. Your world’s history speaks of foxes who are more cunning than their average kin, creatures capable of feats that are beyond supernatural. They trick, they aid, they fall in love, too. I suppose that’s what happened with Korinna.
Kitsune in Hyroma are, as I’ve stated, not unlike your own, though in Hyroma, they serve the god of death as psychopomps—grim reapers, of a sort—and with that reputation, most don’t believe they even know what love is. I know better.
I know that most of them used to be people once, that’s what made it so difficult for Korinna to see that girl, Emily, sitting in the hospital bed, writhing in pain. Often, kitsune can’t remember who they were, but the first time she saw Emily, Korinna couldn’t help wondering if she used to be a mother.
Korinna had been doing her job for a very long time—it showed in her seven, nervously swishing tails. She had seen all kinds of ailments, but the one she saw in Emily was one she had only seen twice before, and never in someone so young. The girl’s inner light, her soul, had been taken. Many who had such a precious thing stripped from them often succumbed instantly to the separation, but Emily was stronger than most.
Still, Korinna knew the girl, unlike kitsune, couldn’t survive much longer without some inner light.
“You’re sure about this?”
Korinna glanced up at the woman standing beside her, one of the few sorceresses she knew and trusted—today, needed.
The fox didn’t reply, she turned her attention back to Emily but unfurled one of her tails in the woman’s direction, revealing a ball of light the size of a pomegranate—her own inner light, her hoshi-no-tama.
“If you get hurt, she’ll be hurt,” the woman said. “You two will be bonded.”
Korinna hesitated for a moment as the woman reached for her light, but fully offered it once more. “In a way, Máirín,” the fox began. “I feel like we already are.”

Last edited 3 years ago by Hikitsune-Red
3 years ago

Molly Molly
By Alexander (BrokenEarth)
“So why’s that sheep with you?” Angela asked.
“This is Molly Molly. She’s been with me as long as I can remember.” I responded.
“Sorry, that doesn’t really answer your question. My parents told me that Molly Molly is from our uncle Steven’s ranch, and that we met when I was maybe two years old. Is that better?” I wanted to share enough for Angela to trust me, but not so much that she could find us if she wanted to follow us.
Angela nodded. “So why are you here?”
That question was hard to answer. On the one hand, Molly Molly and I had been travelling for weeks to get here, on the other she was the one who knew where we were going. I was just along for the ride.
“I’m… not entirely sure.” I started.
“Yeah, I thought as much. We get a lot of folks like you. Minus the sheep, of course. The Grand Canyon’s nearby, so tourism is expected, but every now and again someone’s not here for that. They don’t stay long, usually. Drive away soon enough.
“Speaking of which, how’d you get here? I didn’t see a car, and you look too young to drive anyways.”
“We walked. Molly Molly carried me sometimes, but don’t worry. She’s a strong sheep.” I glanced out the window to see Molly Molly eating some grass contentedly.
I let out a sigh, the distance we’d traveled finally registering with me. We’d started in California. We were a few miles from the Grand Canyon.
“You sound tired, and I’ve asked enough questions for now. Let’s have some dinner, and you can sleep on my couch if you’ve got nowhere else to go.” I was grateful to not have to answer more questions.
“I have it cooking right now. Shepherd’s pie, ironically enough.” Angela laughed softly to herself, and I smiled a little. ‘Although,’ I thought, ‘Molly Molly is a better shepherd than me. She got me here, after all.’
The pie was delicious, and the couch was comfortable, so with a full stomach I fell asleep calmly.

Joseph Kharms
Joseph Kharms
3 years ago

“Loving Memories Of Youthful Pilgrimage”
By Joseph Kharms
What could be more loving than a pilgrimage? 
A pilgrimage is when something is so close to an individual’s heart, that they must celebrate it by travelling great distances as a symbol of their affection. A pilgrimage is an adventure, a journey that will shape an individual’s character for the rest of their life. At eleven O’clock on a Saturday night, me and my fellow pilgrims were stumbling towards our holy place: The Kebab Shop. 
We excitedly stroll down the streets and alleys, the majority of us intoxicated. Our one sober friend leads us like a guardian angel across the dark town. I’m never the sober friend on our travels, but no one cares much. 
“CAR!” exclaims our Sober shepherd, warning us to get out the road and act as sober as a drunk person possibly can. 
We amble across the tarmac, our memories acting as the trail of breadcrumbs leading us through the concrete forest; this is the part of the journey many of us won’t remember in the morning however. 
When we get to the kebab shop, we rush in as we have many times before. We order our food, and our group spread out across the shop wallowing in the beauty of the moment. We eat and we laugh and the Kebab Shop shields us from the stresses of our lives. In this moment, surrounded by our greatest friends, there is only the kebab shop in existence; nothing else in the world matters. 
But it’s not the kebab we travel for, some of us don’t even really like kebabs. It’s not even the free tango the owner gives us for being loyal customers.
It is not the Kebab Shop itself that is close to our heart, but the memories of friendship attached to it.

Connor A.
Connor A.
3 years ago

“Heart to Heart”
By Connor A. (Formerly Madelyn)
“Let’s start with how your parents found out.”
Even as Balthazar Poe kept his calm, Jason feared that he would out him in front of the entire library. Still, he calmed himself enough to begin. “Well…it was Joshua G. Do you know him?”
“Yes, unfortunately.”
Jason gave a halfhearted laugh. “He used to go to my last school. Called me a lesbian, tried to start a fight with me, then my parents heard about it and brought me with them when they moved here.”
“But that’s not the end.” Mr. Poe’s gut tightened as Jason took a shaky breath. “Take your time.”
“When… I was fine for the first two years of high school, then he transferred junior year. I worried, but since I had no classes with him, I didn’t have to see him. This year—senior year…I don’t know how—online or his parents or something—but he found out. I saw it in his eyes when he first started targeting it.”
Mr. Poe remembered the aftermath of last week. “Then it manifested into actual violence.”
Jason looked down at the table, tears welling up in his eyes. “He managed to out me with one last insult before being dragged away. I…I convinced my parents that he was lying, but now that they have that thought…”
It was painful to see such a bright student come so close to a breakdown. “What is your name?”
Mr. Poe let himself sound like he was making a joke. “Clearly, you gave me a fake name when we first met.”
Jason’s laugh, though still tinged with worry, sounded a bit more real. “Jason.”
“A strong name.” There was still one more question. “How did you realize?”
“…Do you have the energy for one more story? I feel as if this needs that story.”
Jason checked the time on his phone and grinned. “I still have time before play rehearsal.”

Arthur Moore
Arthur Moore
3 years ago

Young Again By Arthur Moore 
Mr. Jonathan Norrall likes to keep a packet of cigarettes close to his heart in his chests pocket. His daughters and wives had often asked why he continued to smoke. He replied always in these simple words “I am old.” So he continued on with tuberculosis eating his lungs, smoke hardening it for them, and his enlarging heart failing with age.
They all asked him again, when he could barely breathe whenever he lied down to sleep and could no longer walk to the toilet to relieve himself alone, why he continued on. And still he replied “I am old.”, and so they gave up hope as he let himself die under cigarette, under smoke, let age take him over and any youth go. But they never knew as he puffed and puffed, they never knew why he wanted to go.
The day came when the hospital called so he went. Ushered on unwillingly by his wife and daughters. Dazed under the light and pumped full of drugs, he remembered. He remembered the days he could run, the days he played football in the mud, the days he could smoke and lift weights at the same time. The days of youth he remembered, and he whispered silently, unheard “I no longer want to die”.
But the due was done and death comes to collect, his protestations and the stories he told went unheard and unchecked. He died no longer old, but young again.  

Last edited 3 years ago by Arthur Moore
3 years ago

“The Songs We Bear.”
By: ClockworkPigeonz
Night has fallen. Outside the coming storm has thrown the forest into a symphony of crashing branches. Within the sanctuary, time has become meaningless- measured only in songs, though the music blurs together. Each singer’s moment within the arena is as fleeting as the next- yet every note conveys a lifetime…of pain…of longing…of humanity.
Ember leans back against the cool, stone wall, Alistair’s fingers twined with her own. Humid summer air billows in from the doorway, carrying the distant sound of thunder and the scent of green, growing things hidden in the twilight. Through the oculus, she can catch sight of blackbirds warring with the wind- dancing, floating upon it. 
It is painful…it is euphoric.
This moment of calm in the dark. Emotions buried deeply beneath the warrior’s skin shift and awaken, called to the surface. Tears slide unashamedly down her face. This ancient thing that courses through the air…this fleeting ethereal thing. It is hard to grasp and harder yet to resist.
Her heart…her soul aches with the longing to be whole again- to be as young and blameless as a child. Her throat burns with it- searing acidity of words- notes left heavy within her lungs.
Slowly she stands.
Alistair’s eyes are warm, full of more love and acceptance than she thought she’d ever find- she still doesn’t feel she deserves it. But she will try to honor it- return it. She gives his hand a soft squeeze. He gently kisses her knuckles.
A hush falls as she begins to pace, coppery wings tracing the cracks in the stone floor beneath her. The rap of her boots beating out a slow rhythm as she begins to sing.
On the outskirts of the circle, her voice rings off the sloped walls- an unseen choir following a note behind. Countless lifetimes. Infinite versions of herself in harmony.
In the center the echo presses back upon her ears…as if there is no sound other than her own song. As if the vocalization of hundreds of years of pain, hope, and growth exist only within the very core of her being.

Last edited 3 years ago by ClockworkPigeonz
3 years ago

Unceasing, by Zendrelax
The taste of seawater was sweet on Moradh’s tongue.
She knew that most people found it repulsive; that it was heavy, and salty, and often carried the taste of uncooked fish. Most of the time, in most places, she would have agreed. But here and now, it carried only the taste of the divine. It filled her lungs with each breath, but it only brought her warmth.
Her eyes were useless so far from the sun, but she could still feel the world around her. Her hands and her feet clung to the gaps between the vast scales of the creature beneath her. Above the Waves, it was a thing of terror. Here and now, it was her guide, but now they were nearing the bottom.
She could feel it now. The rhythm rolled through the water from here to every corner of the world. She knew it well, but it was almost overwhelming, but she endured as it made its slow way around and through her. Moradh lifted her hand from the beast beneath her, and reached out–
It landed on something warm and smooth. Moradh barely noticed as the beast pulled away beneath her. Images flashed through her mind—the city she once called home, aflame; a dread ship she knew almost as well as her own; the calm, placid island where she had learned her arts; the monastery where her journey had begun, collapsing into ichor; the dark chamber where he journey would end, and the pool at its heart.
Time was only movement, and all movement began here.
The visions faded in time, but she hung there a while still, and rested her head against the Heart Unceasing.
But all things pass. Dorakh was on the move. He would sail out of Dreams for the first time in centuries to bring war and shadow.
Moradh pushed away from the Heart, and grabbed onto the beast that had brought her here, rising back up from below.

3 years ago

The Point
By Alex Nightingale
Mia Katzenberger, the worst witch in existence, sat on the bed of her room in the mental hospital, her legs angled to her chest, her arms wrapped around them. Her thoughts were stuck on several nights ago. She had barely slept, again, and had been forced to stare at the dark ceiling all night. It was then, that she’d seen them. She’s not ready, they’d said, in a soft, yet sharp voice. She shook her head, trying to banish the image from her mind, but it clung to her like honey. She wanted to get up, out of bed and do something. Read, sketch, anything; but she couldn’t bring herself to rise. It was like her body was frozen in place.
“Mia”, Konrad, her talking crow, cawed: “Did I ever tell you the truth about the sword in the stone.”
She looked at him.
“Once there was a sword in the stone and the local librarian said that, anyone who pulled it out would have the big unused castle in his backyard. Naturally, people came and tried to pull the sword out, but failed, until one young lad appeared, who…”
“Let me guess. He pulled it out?”
“No, of course not”, Konrad flapped his wings: “He had a replica made, of a large stone with a sword in it and, with his friends, switched them one night. The next morning, he made sure he was the first to try and pull the fake sword out. And then the handle broke off.”
Mia blinked. Then she laughed, loudly, throwing her head back against the wall.
“What?” she blurted out, trying to hold back tears: “That’s… What was the point of that?”
“The point”, Konrad answered, flying over to her: “The point? It made you laugh, didn’t it? That’s the point.”
“No, I meant, why even go through all that trouble for… oh, forget it.”
Konrad began to snuggle up against her leg. She picked him up, held him close and stroked his back. The crow pressed his head against her chest, close to her heart.

Last edited 3 years ago by Alex