Hello, all you dried-out aquatic specimens!
This week we’re doing what we can to push things out of their element. Let the comfort zones be breached, let the weaknesses come to the fore, and let all the glassy-eyed fish gasp desperately for a breath of water, because…
This week’s writing group prompt is:
Fish out of Water
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 a terrible blessing this prompt is.
If you’re not familiar, “fish out of water” is an idiom that just means “something out of its element”. A fish may be a perfectly competent creature in the depths, but plop it onto dry land and in an instant it’s flopping and wriggling and working it’s jaw like a mailbox door.
Not the picture of comfort, is it?
A lot of otherwise natural-as-can-be things begin to look this way if you put them into the right (read: wrong) context.
A maxed out, epic adventurer wearing a small armory’s worth of gear begins to look pretty silly at the DMV. A master con artist could probably be made to squirm at a psychic convention. A shut-in Reddit debate savant might just run out of things to say when an attractive stranger glances at them in the coffee shop.
The easiest word to describe all of this?
Awkward. Followed up closely by lost or misplaced.
Of course, there are endless directions you could take this thing, and I hope you’ll surprise us. But a word of caution if you have a tender cringe reflex:
Get ready to read some painfully goofy shit.
Good luck! And happy gasping.
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!
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Last Day at School
by Anonymous Student
“We’ll pick you up after school in the U-Haul.”
I hear dad say as he drives off. It’s my last day at school, and I’m moving.
I break the news in the first period. I can’t say I know any of my classmates well. I only showed up almost a year ago, and while people got curious, they were content to leave me be.
They look like I dropped a bombshell on them. Some were asking me how I feel about this. It ain’t like I chose to move. It’s never my choice! Some looked moody and said nothing. Like they didn’t wanna hear that news.
The second period is much the same. And the third period. All the same questions, just with different words. Some wanted to throw a ‘going-away’ party at the end of the day, but why? I didn’t see the point.
It isn’t the first time I’ve moved. Or second. Or seventh.
The lunch bell goes off, and I take my time. I don’t feel hungry. One of my classmates, Colleen, is acting weird again. She’s insisting that I’m her friend no matter what happens. I don’t get why she’s been saying that a few weeks ago. Then she talks about how nobody knew that could happen to people, to suddenly leave. Was she trying to pardon them? I didn’t think there was much for me to say.
She leaves, but not before saying to sign up for Instagram and rattle off her account name.
Last period and that party, my classmates talked about what happened. Somehow they got the teacher to set aside the last half hour for music, games, and soda. It’s fun… and I’m still at a loss. Why throw this party when I barely existed to the others?
As I see the truck pull up, Colleen called me out again, to remind me of her account… May as well sign up since there ain’t much else I can do.
I wonder if I’ll stay longer than a year in the next house.
By Derek McEldowney (Deviacon)
I don’t belong in this world anymore. There’s no place left for an old man like me. I’ve been fishing out of the same shack that my father and grandfather did since I was able to put a worm to hook.
The entire area, the shack, along with my family’s way of life has been gutted from the stinking corpse of the rotting industry.
One last cast of the line off the dreary dock I grew up on. Never could catch much out here unless I took a boat, but there’s none left now. Only the musty dock and the fog.
As dozing visions and daydreams of long lost memories of my simple youth played before my eyes, the gentle tug of my line pulled me from them. Too gentle, at first I thought it merely a part of my dozing ragged mind. With my senses returned to me and a gritty sigh I began to disdainfully reel in my catch.
After landing the small slimy fish I could only stare in disgusted curiosity.
It looked mostly like the bass I’ve caught thousands of times over. But it was dark and seemed to be covered in a self-made sludge; its eyes were pale and had thin elongated teeth. What was most unsettling to my eye though, were the two long thin extremities at its sides in place of its fins.
It did not flail or flop like any fish should have. Instead it straightened itself out with the two slender hinged limbs nearly as long as itself, which arched over its body and back down to the ground in front of it. All the while it never stopped gasping for breath with that wide, gaping mouth—so loudly. Like a damp breeze through broken autumn leaves.
Something in its pale eyes glistened toward me, and all I could do was stare back at it. With somber tenacity it managed to wretch itself away and off the edge of the dock back into the water, leaving only a dark trail of slime behind.
Curiosity (Isle of Saline Rain: world swapped with Gage Jarman aka DesOttsel)
The young girl crept slowly through the tough grasses, her child-sized bow and arrows at the ready as she explored the stone and metal ruins of the old world. Not yet a hunter, she’d be in trouble for sneaking out of the village cave, but she wanted to see this “edge of the world” from the stories. The place where the rain came from.
The warm, salty rain soaked her clothing, but she tried to ignore it, ducking under what shelter was available. The lack of walls and a roof overhead was unnerving, and she constantly jumped at sounds, afraid of deadly creatures.
Hours passed, and she walked on, missing her dry hut and warm fire. The sun began to set, quickly lost in the shrouding mist that covered everything along with the rain. Once again, the child had second thoughts. A sudden rustle in the bushes amid the growing darkness decided her on the matter, and she whirled to head for home–but which way was it?
A feeling touched her mind. A sense of something nibbling at it… A canine-like amarok leaped from the bushes as the curious nibbling suddenly became a gnawing pain. It was a young beast, a pup likely on its first hunt, and the girl realized in terror that she would be that meal.
She loosed an arrow from her small bow, missed, and dropped the weapon, clutching at her head. The creature pounced and the girl shut her eyes–only to hear a yelp and a thud beside her over the steady drumming of the rain.
“What were you thinking?! Coming out here alone! Your mother was worried sick!”
It was her father’s angry voice, but his touch was gentle as he scooped her into his arms, checking for injuries. She saw his arrow in the dead amarok pup lying at their feet.
“I… I got lost…” she whimpered, “My head hurts…”
He sighed, wrapped her in his cloak, and said gently, “You’ll be alright. Let’s just get you home. No more coming up here until you’re older and know how to hunt. Promise?”
What is a Comic-Con?
by Lumi (LumiKat117)
When Lyeff arrived on Earth, he found himself scrambling to fit in with humanity. Sure, he’d studied about them for most of his existence. Knew every facet of how they interacted with others, almost all of their languages and had a rudimentary understanding of their cultures.
This completely escaped his grasp of understanding.
He stared around the large, open building to the masses of people that were milling about the different booths of people, many dressed head to toe in the strangest outfits that he’s ever seen. From clothing that barely left anything to the imagination, which he had thought was something that humans avoided, to strange constructions that completely hid them beneath the mass of foam, fabric and who-knows what else.
Lyeff looked down to his boyfriend who was similarly dressed in a strange amalgamation of fabric and foam, now understanding why he’d insisted that he walk around in his true form. “Alex, what exactly did you say this…” He paused, trying to recall the name. “Comic-Con was about?”
Said human turned his attention to his demon with a wide grin. “It’s an event where nerds like me can go about interacting with others, buy merchandise and art for series that we like, and dress up in costumes to show off our efforts and dedication. That’s why you can walk around like this.”
Alex gestured to the strange contraption that he’d strapped to Lyeff’s back, attaching rather uncomfortably to his wings and 4 extra arms, covered mostly by a jacket that had been tailored for his true form. To disguise the fact that Lyeff was over 7ft tall, his pants were made to look baggy around the hocks of his feet so he looked like he was wearing platform boots. A hole for his tail was also added, the spikes at the tip flattened at the moment.
“I suppose that… makes sense. But I still feel like this is a risky endeavor.” He gestured to his pitch black skin, the swirls of silver and gold mostly hidden. “I’m not exactly a normal human color.”
“Just enjoy it.”
Where They Tread
By Cody Heinig (aka Prof_Belgian)
As wind flowed through his wings, Duma stared up at the Shining City, watching as its silver spires disappeared from view. He closed his eyes as his mighty feathers smoldered. Petals of embers floated past and spiraled into the sky. Contrary to belief, the Fall was slow and steady. Being cast down in a flaming fury would have been merciful, the slow approach was torment beyond measure.
Suddenly, it was over.
Broken pillars and crumbling ruins were all Duma could see. It was dark and felt cavernous but there was only void above him; no cavern ceiling, no stars hanging above. He drifted down, not yet touching the surface of this husk world. His feet had never touched ground and he felt as though mere contact with this surface would send disease and despair running through him. He began to utter a prayer.
“Father forgive me—”
No. Down here, Heaven would not hear him. For the first time, separate from the Host, he felt alone. He collapsed as his feet touched the ground and his once beautiful wings crumbled to ash around him.
“Stand, angel” said a raspy voice from among the stones.
“Who’s there? I—” Duma breathed heavily, “I will listen to no man or demon.”
From around a broken statuette came a withered man, thinly bearded and supporting himself with a wooden staff. Duma, sprawled in the ash of his Fall, eyed him closely. He was familiar, like a warning told in children’s tales.
“Would you listen to one who knows of falling?”
He walked to Duma, long robes hissing on cracked ground, and offered a hand.
“I will not take help from a betrayer,” said Duma.
“Then you will be lonely. You walk among betrayers here,” Judas replied, flat-toned.
The thought made Duma’s stomach lurch. He felt nauseous in this place of sin. This place he must now tread.
“Leave me. I have fallen. I am weak.”
“Strength, angel,” said Judas, “Lies in those who rise.”
Judas moved his hand closer. Duma took it and stood as the ashes flew away.
“Sitting Around the Campfire”
Danyil reclined upon a fallen log. Though the moonless night was brisk, the warm glow of the fire made the small camp seem cozy as any inn. He watched his fellow travelers go about their business. Clæra, a jeweler, was attentively watching her tea kettle over the fire, as her husband Barin, a blacksmith, hammered the last stake into the ground for their shelter, before turning to help a young man named Quillen. It was plain that the lad lacked experience on the road, if the number of times he’d struck his thumb with the mallet were any indication. All the while, the merchant Corin was occupied at his wagon counting his coin.
“I’ve not got anything too fancy foodwise,” he said, “just some bland sausages and a couple rolls.”
“That’s good as anything on the road.” replied Barin, as he and Quillen approached from the finished tent.
“The tea is just about finished as well, dear.” said Clæra. “Could you fetch the cups from our tent?” Barin nodded, and went to get them.
Quillen sat down across from Danyil. Corin came and passed around the sausages on skewers as Barin returned with the cups. Clæra then poured the tea as they began to roast their dinners. Danyil caught Quillen staring at him.
“Do you have something to say?” he asked.
“N-no, sir!” stammered Quillen. “I w-was just admiring your armor. S-sir!”
“No need for formalities. Just call me Danyil.”
“Yes s- er, of course.”
Barin chuckled. “It’s alright, lad. These days, you gotta be careful about military types.”
“Barin!” snapped his wife. “This gentleman has offered to guard us all the way to Amia, and I’ll not have you causing trouble!”
“Ahem.” Corin started. “The tea is lovely, Clæra. Thank you for sharing it.”
“It’s the least I can do for letting us ride to the capitol with you.”
The remainder of the meal passed peacefully, though no one noticed Danyil slip away. He spent the rest of his night speaking with Haifi, until falling asleep long after the fire had died out.
p>Don’t kill the messenger by Clanso
(This week I paired with Lari.B.Haven for the world swap. I have permission to use these characters and the Porto Real World)
Alexandria faced a moral dilemma. She was standing there,on the porch of a woman who she had never actually met, clutching a letter that she shouldn’t have even read in the first place. The woman’s husband had written it and Alexandria, the courier, had been supposed to deliver it. But she just couldn’t bring herself to hand the damn thing over.
It had started with little things. The occasional letter or package, always to the same address at the edge of town. Sometimes he had bought her flowers, sometimes he had written tooth-rotting sweet love letters. The thing was, they were clearly not for the woman that had married him.
Alexandria didn’t like it, but this wasn’t bad enough for her to intervene.
But then it got worse. He started to give Alexandria the letters in person. The letters to his fiancée detailed in a very graphic manner what he intended to do to her and to his wife.The courier almost got a heart attack, .
That changed things of course. The woman was in danger. Even if she was as unpleasant as her husband described her, which she most likely wasn’t, she couldn’t let him go through with this. If she let this happen, then she would have to live with it her entire life.
So that evening, she went to the house after her shift. It was already dark when she got there, and her heart pounded wildly in her chest.
Knock Knock. It sounded like gunshots in the quiet night.
What was she supposed to say to the woman?
That her husband was not only having an affair, but planning to get rid of her in a … more direct manner? That she should leave him immediately? That her life was in danger?
What if the man opened the door? How would he react to see her there, holding a compromising letter he had written?
She did not have time to think however,as heard someone approaching the door on the other side. Alexandria took a deep breath.
Then the door opened
Wet Sock Soiree
By Minergirl778 (aka frogfireFantasy) and GJ Fuller (Permission granted by creator)
“I’ll be right back, Gentlemers!”
Angela’s feigned polite smile disappeared as she slammed the door shut behind her. Guh, that was awful. She’d never expected a game of charades with mermaids to be so ungodly boring. Thankfully, with the intel she now had, she’d be out of this watery world before they’d even miss her.
She swam her way through the castle’s corridors until she found herself in the main ballroom. On the far side of the room sat her prize; a frosty blue gem with a key engraved on its surface.
“Bingo.” She muttered to herself as she entered. However, she was soon swept up into her final obstacle.
The one thing that lady-in-waiting hadn’t managed to teach to her. Crap. She scanned the ballroom from the edge, looking for a way to slip through the crowd to the pedestal. If she could get the right moment, maybe she could-
“My lady? Will you honor me with your hand?”
Oh, god no.
A merman in fancy dress had come up beside her. He had his hand outstretched and looked at her expectantly. The lady-in-waiting’s words echoed in her mind…
“Whatever you do, don’t refuse to dance with someone. Nobles don’t take ‘no’ for an answer”
“Why, yes, you may.”
She was soon whisked unwillingly out onto the floor. Her efforts to keep her eyes on the prize let her get a look around the room. Not a single streamer or pinata in sight. This had to be the saddest looking party ever.
The two eventually stopped for refreshments. and a single bite of the sandwich irked her.
Seaweed and sand sandwiches.
Ok, that was it.
She dropped the sandwich where she stood and tore through the crowd. She grabbed the gem and used every single bit of repressed frustration that the night had given her to slam the gem into the floor, shattering it.
She grinned down at her work.
“Fina-freaking-ly! I’m so DONE with this place. Later you finned-”
Was the last thing she said before the mer-mob gave chase.
by JosieDearly (with permission to write within Johanson’s world of Syrin)
I did it. I finally did it.
I actually got into Whigford University.
I dreamed of studying zoology there. I dreamed of the animals we’d get to see, the live specimens they might bring in during class. I dreamed of the friends I’d make, the parties I’d go to on weekends, the roommate I’d live with during the academic years. Would they be nice? Would they like me? I’m sure they would.
Highschool was easy for me. I learned all the best ways to study, and I got the best grades I could reasonably aim for. If I was ever having a tough time with any homework, I had my parents and tutors from other classes, I’m a gymnastic athlete and I practiced my magic every day. With a wave of my hand, the forces of nature are at my command.
When I applied for Whigford, I thought it wouldn’t be hard for me to fit in, get to know my fellow classmates, people who fought just as hard to get to where I am. I thought going to Whigford meant the best years of my life.
When I walked onto the campus, dotted with trees of cherry-coloured wood, I looked up at the old main building. It towered over me, and I remembered the reputation that they held, that now I have to uphold.
Whigford students produced the best biologists and mages, the latter of which surrounded me on the greens. I saw one girl out there, pirouetting as sparks and flares erupted from her foot, and soon enough a tornado of light spiralled all around her. I could hear the applause all the way from here as her show dazzled the onlookers, and blinded me. She continued twirling effortlessly within.
… How did she do that? I can’t do that…
When I arrived at my first class, everyone was talking with each other. I tried to say hi, but… I don’t know. Something choked up my throat.
This is just nerves. Everyone has them when first going into highschool, maybe it’s the same for university.
Title: Thief of the Tide
Written By T.S.G. Sager (With permission from Exce to write in AstraNovis)
The shimmering streets of the Altarean Empire were quiet. The dim moonlight illuminated the path as I crept through in search of my target. Still fresh from the ocean, the only trail I left were soaked prints from my webbed feet, but by the time someone discovered them, I’d be back in the waters.
It didn’t take long to find my mark; a rich noble by the name of Dor’eil Khamberlaen, a low-leveled tycoon in the realm of magic. Thanks to his contributions, and many others in this empire, my score tonight was made possible. If not for the Altarean’s pumping their magic into their waterways, It would be impossible.
Dor’eil’s Manor was magnificent, guarded by enormous marble pillars. My webbed paws clung to the marble as I climbed, a sticky secretion aided me as I climbed toward the master bedroom. I observed quietly from the window, peering in at the sleeping Khamerlaens. As I concentrated my breathing, energy formed in my palms, which I used to cut a hole. Allowing me entrance.
Once inside, I delicately rummaged around the bedroom, ostentatiously decorated with purples, reds, and even gold. Nabbing many items of great value, I stopped in my tracks when I saw the true prize. The Khamberlaen heirloom. I smirked at the magical barrier protecting it. Child’s play compared to the magic of the Mesun-Valh. After focusing myself once more, my hand penetrated the barrier, wrapping around the shining delight.
As I attempted to make my exit, I peered back at the bed to see that Dor’eil’s wife had awakened, her fearful face gazed at my appearance. I raised my index finger to my lips, but her deafening scream forced my hand and I dashed through the window, shattering glass to the ground beneath my feet. I hastily sprinted for the ocean, dodging the authorities as I did. With a singular splash, I vanished.
“Papa! You’ve returned!” my daughter beckoned for me as I entered our home.
“I have, my sweet.” I smiled at her, unravelling my trophy. “And I brought you something. Happy Birthday.”
Eruption of Immersion
by Skye Doust
There was no singular point where she could have said for certain that she had left the Earth’s atmosphere behind.
Deity had demanded much of her, hooked her into sacrifice and consumption. She would forever miss those that had had to die, but Mother and Father rose up with her!
They rose up inside her!
The cocoon that reeled her out of the sky shielded her from the majority of the elements. It was warm, safe, and because of it she had only slightly felt the motion of air racing past her as she was hoisted towards the vault above.
The children had been hardest for her to lure in but her determination, her belief, would save them all. She cast open her arms, her soul ached to join Deity. She would be secure, happy, all their wishes to be granted. This is what the scriptures had talked of, ascending towards the Heavens themselves! Her mind was in Bliss, her body in Rapture!
The cocoon that wrapped around her popped. All the air in her lungs was violently discharged. Her eyes clouded with black, her mind wavered on consciousness, but she set her jaw. She had to push on. She would see the Face of Deity.
She felt a line pulling her away from the gravity that had sunk her her whole life. Her tongue froze solid and her teeth sheared through the flesh. She cared not. All her life was for this moment and she would not let Deity down. Around her, all was blackness. Though she could see the stars they were but small red pin-pricks.
She was pulled ever onward. Above, Deity awaited.
“Aw, Jessup!” called the man in the fishing bib, turning to show his friend his latest catch, “this one is over regulation size.”
There was a moment of quiet as Jessup sloshed through the water to get closer to Travis, “You know the law. Gotta throw it back!”
“Dangit,” muttered Travis, “what a waste of my bait too.”
Her tortured screams echoed through the manor from her bedroom.
“Deep breaths, Ayase,” Kurogane soothed.
“I-I’m trying..!” She huffed through gritted teeth, her hands clenched tight on her blanket, “It hurts!”
“I know.” He chuckled, smiling softly at his goddaughter, “You’re doing great.”
Ayase panted heavily, tears stinging her ruby red eyes as she watched her pale porcelain skin shifting to a soft purple. She let out a cry of pain, hunching over on her bed, feeling like her entire body was on fire.
“Almost there, Ayase,” Kurogane took her hand, letting her squeeze as hard as she needed.
Her mouth opened in a silent scream, her breath caught in her throat from the immense pain. Her body jolted, a searing, ripping sensation wracking her every muscle.
Then, after an eternity of a few painful minutes, it was over.
She breathed a heavy sigh of relief, collapsing on her side.
“Beautiful.” Kurogane breathed, wiping the blood from her new leathery wings with a soft towel.
Ayase let him finish, then sat up carefully. Kurogane helped her to her feet and lead her to her mirror.
Her eyes widened.
There she was, and yet she looked so different. Like a stranger had taken her place.
Large, leathery purple wings protruded from her back, and a matching thin tail draped to the floor. Her ears had shifted too, now elongated and pointed. Her eyes had changed to a vibrant gold, and in the center of her forehead was the blue diamond mark of her family.
She stared for a long while, stunned by her new appearance.
Kurogane placed a hand on her shoulder, smiling at her in the reflection, “You make a lovely Akuma, Ayase Mikage. Your father would be pleased.”
She smiled, fiddling with the blue gemstone pendant around her neck, “I hope so…” she sniffled, feeling fresh tears stinging her eyes.
“I know so.” He kissed the top of her head, hugging her close, “Happy birthday, Ayase.”
Bar’s Demonic Waiter
By Jesse Fisher
His throat burned and he could taste blood on his lips as a nearly disrobed dark navy anthro wolf’s yellow eyes with near black sclera opened up. Aside from that dream walker he remembered getting drunk at the bar he found himself at after…the need to get blackout drunk again rose but calmed himself for a moment and looked around him. A bed clearly plain and basic while the room was again basic it did have two doors with a familiar outfit hanging on the wall between it. A crimson and brown sweatshirt with a two tone gray jean whose shins were armored with pointed knees. And he could not forget his pointed shoes, right now he is glad that his fingers had yet to be turned into knives.
He did see the book on a bedside table and he felt pain but let his hand fall as he moved to get up and get changed.
He walked out of his room to see the bar keep right there and the area did not change. The same older man with mismatched eyes and same outfit. Walking up he looked up and down the being in front of him.
“Oleander told me of your state of mind.” The barkeep said with a matter of fact tone.
He growled something under his breath similar to, “Bucking dream walking dragoness interrupting my good dream.”
“After getting you to a room we both notice the angelic and demonic energies on you.” The keep continued ignoring what the wolf said. “As I thought about it I could use some help here, there seems to be an increase of demonic gods coming here and thought you might be able to move between them and the more angelic gods.”
“So I’m going to be a waiter to beings that can snuff me out like a candle in the wind?” The wolf responded with an eyebrow raised.
“Not as long as you are in my employment.”
With a sigh the wolf sat at the bar. “So what is the uniform for this gig?”
Nope (Dra’cora: world swapped with Magan aka. arkansandragon)
by Gage Jarman
Pressurized gas hissed out of the escape pod. A thick-gloved hand pushed open the hatch. A figure crawled out of the battered craft. The space suit he wore looked out of place.
“Why’d we have to crash on this rock? Bullshit. Alright, aaaaand of course my coms are down.” He looked around his surroundings, at the trench of fresh dirt cutting through the immense greenery.
“So if I came from there, and they went, that means… This way?… damn it,” he sighed.
The bulky space suit was swallowed by brush. The jungle was thick. The man’s undergarments were soon soaked with sweat. They chaffed on his groin with every heavy step. He stumbled through a thicket and fell into a clearing.
“Haaaa, haaaaa. At least I finally know what’s here. Haaaa. It sucks,” the man huffed. He rolled onto his back, laying there, just catching his breath. The soft earth underneath gave way, and the man fell.
Corrosive liquid enveloped him. He looked up from the pit to see the aperture closing ten feet above him. Vegetation wove itself back together into a seal. The man waded over to the smooth waxy walls. He could see the immersed section of his suit bubbling. He unsheathed a knife and gripped it with two hands. He drove it down, horizontally, into the plant. The knife was thoroughly stuck. He pulled himself up and stood on the tiny platform. He braced himself against the slick wall and sparked a welding torch. The plants hissed and shrunk back. The man pulled himself over the lip before the seal reformed. “The fuck’s wrong with this planet?”
The man continued trudging through the jungle. Slowly, it shifted into a temperate alpine forest. He saw light over a ridge. When he reached the edge, he stood and stared down into a village resting in a valley. There were no people, only beasts. Animals pulled carts, ran markets, and farmed strange hybrids in the fields. They talked and laughed and acted like any person would.
“You gotta be shittin’ me.” The man walked back into the forest.
I found myself standing at an empty street one evening. I couldn’t remember how I got there, or where I was going, but there I was, confused and alone. The grey apartment buildings seemed familiar, but I could not figure out why. In the distance, I saw a man, dressed in a trenchcoat and hat, walking in my direction.
“Mister!” I called out to him, “can you tell me where we are?”
No response. The man kept walking, his head down and his hands in his pocket.
Typical. Adults are too ignorant to listen to kids.
Fragments of a memory flashed in my mind. The sounds of a woman weeping. The icy metal of a doorknob as I pull it towards me. The cool breeze of the night caressing my cheek.
As I faded back to the present, I saw the man, already past me, put out his left hand, palm toward the sky. After a moment, he started jogging away. That’s when I heard a faint pitter-patter around me.
Rain? I normally wouldn’t have bat an eyelash, but this felt odd. Rather, it didn’t feel like anything. I could hear the droplets falling around me, but I couldn’t feel it on my skin.
My bewilderment grew even more as an ambulance whizzed past, sirens blaring. With nowhere else to go, I followed it. It soon led me to some men in blue on the edge of an alley, police cars lining the street.
As I approached, I heard it again, the sobbing of that same woman in my vision. I hesitated, then took a step toward her.
“Mom? I-I’m sorry for worrying you. I’m he-”
Shock came upon me, cutting off my words. Lying on the pavement, right at the alleyway’s mouth, is a body, partially covered in tarp, blood pooled underneath. I slowly walked towards it. My breath grew shorter and shorter as my heart pounded. I clutched my chest with a trembling hand in a futile attempt to calm myself. I peered into its face.
It was me, staring back, eyes wide and lifeless.
“Above the surface” [This week Brick and I collaborated with each other, and swapped our worlds. I got permission from them to use their world, Squirreledbuilding]
I feel so … bored. Everything feels the same. None of the other fish seem to want to do anything fun or interesting. All so mature. Hmph!
I’ve seen some weird foods near the surface. They look and move weird. They seem to congregate around the weird shadowy solid things, fast movers, or big birds. Everyone says don’t bite, but I want to try.
Oh! There’s a shadowy solid thing. I swim toward it. Oh, a weird food.
Something pokes the roof of my mouth. Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow. SWIM SWIM SWIM AWAY
It hurts more! I can’t move back. I feel like I’m being yoinked forward toward the shadowy solid thing. PANIC! Suddenly, I’m pulled upward.
MY EYES! It’s too bright up here!
MY GILLS! THEY BURN.
MY MOUTH! That thing in it hurts like hell.
I hear a voice. “Oh, you finally caught one. Well, it’s catch and release. Throw it overboard.” I can barely make out a tall being as it pulls me toward it, opens my mouth, and pulls the thing out with weird fins that seem to have odd gaps in them. Then I’m flung to the side.
I’m back. Everything feels so much better down here. The water is nice, cool, and dark. My mouth only hurts a bit. I’m not doing that again. No no no.
The shadowy solid thing moves away.
Phew. I escaped!
I swim down to find my fellows, the pain in my mouth reduced to a dull ache.
Cyrus jumped at the husky voice before hanging his head. The voice smirked audibly before circling him a couple of times and resting beside his left ear. “Flustered, professor?”
Cyrus let out a sigh before regaining posture, straightening his tie, and locking eyes with the perpetrator. “You’re the only familiar person here, Aaron,” Cyrus exclaimed. “This is my first time going to such an…establishment.”
“My beloved professor-” god, why did he have to say that in that kind of voice? “-you act as if you never been to a party during our student days…oh right, you didn’t. Because your cute little self just had to be holed up in the library or the cafe to study all day. My, my, you have become a dull boy.”
Cyrus ran his fingers through his hair with a sigh; god, why must he be so frustrating? Better yet, why did he always tease him? Out of all the people in the world to tease him, why must it be this frustrating art museum curator that he only knew since his university days?
Frustrating indeed, but a breath of fresh air in such an uncomfortable setting.
“Cat got your tongue, pro-”
“Call me “professor’ one more time; I dare you.”
Aaron’s eyes widened before that charming, shit-eating smirk reappeared faster than the professor could blink. “So, you do have a tongue,” he hummed before leaning down again and whispering in Cyrus’ other ear. “The night is young, professor; perhaps you should enjoy yourself this time. Step out of your comfort zone and…give in to temptation, just for tonight.”
With a kiss on the other’s hand, Aaron dragged the reluctant professor outside of the building; after all, who wouldn’t want those cute expressions all for themselves?
Into the Depths
by Lunabear (with permission to write in TwangyFlame0’s Asgoroth Universe)
The sea churned as the Father sat on the bench, a lantern clutched in one hand. The Mother retrieved an oar and pushed the boat out to open sea. The taciturn silence was looming and foreign between them. He attributed it to her grief over their lost son.
The surrounding darkness encroached upon the small boat as it came to a stop. The Father, frightened, swung the lantern in a wide arc in an attempt to pierce the black veil.
“My darling, why do you not speak? You are never silent for this long.” The Father gripped her upper arm but snatched back his hand at the slimy feel of her skin. Using the lantern light, he examined the clear viscous fluid as he spread his fingers apart.
“Who are you?!” the Father demanded as a cold drizzle descended. A low, sinister humming emanated from the Mother. Turning her around, and shoving the lantern into her face, the Father was startled to see purple skin, a squid-like face and darkened yellow eyes beneath the facade of hair.
The oar connected with the Father’s head, the lantern falling and extinguishing. He went overboard, facedown. A deep, watery chuckle followed the Father as a large hand pulled him beneath the opaque surface.
Even if the vice-like grip around his ankle were not present, he would still have difficulty as he was not a good swimmer.
His head wound was bleeding profusely, and he floundered about as he struggled to reach the surface and see through the inky blackness. He struck out with his foot against the unseen enemy, hitting something solid. However, two meaty arms encircled the Father’s torso, crushing bone and organ alike.
The Father’s final moments were spent in pain and confusion.
The second, larger squid-like creature released the Father’s prone body, and a group of summoned fish dragged it to the bottom for feasting. The creature then breached the surface of the water.
“Who is next, dear brother?” Olect asked from the boat.
“Every last mortal, my brother.” Ovard replied, the Sunken King’s crest resting against his chest.
My Parents’ Funeral
By Sam Holt (Fictional, but set in the real world)
“O tragedy. What tragedy has befallen us.” the priest said, numbly. “We gather here today to mourn the loss of two souls: Jazmine and James Oxville. The dearly departed: lovers, saints, heroes, parents. These two, tragically taken from us in an unfortunate accident, were some of the kindest Christians I ever came to know.”
“Such a shame.”
I still can’t believe it. My parents are gone. Why? What did I do?
“I am certain they find themselves in a better place. And now, if you would please open your hymnals to page 3453, and join us in singing Death is Only a Dream.”
I fumble with the book, as my… uncle, I think, helps me hold it up. I don’t know this one. The song passes. It’s okay. This whole funeral thing just feels okay.
“We will now take a moment to hear from the only son of the departed, aged but 7 years old.”
I get up and take out the paper. There’s a lot of clapping. It’s really loud. I try to look at the paper. Look at the paper. The clapping dies down, and the priest pipes up: “He wrote this speech himself.”
Look at the paper. Not the words.
“I wanna say thanks to my mom and dad. They gave me a very happy home and fed me good food. They drove me to school every morning and… and took me to the fair every summer. And they… and they…” The paper, not the words. “They made me really happy… and…” Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. “I’m gonna miss them a- a lot… a-and…” You’re crying. Stop it. That’s bad.
“I’m scared!” This isn’t on the paper. “I want my mommy! I want my daddy!” What are you doing? “Where am I gonna live? What am I gonna do? The world is too scary! I wanna go home! I don’t wanna be a grown-up!”
Say sorry. Say sorry now. “I… I… I’m sorry. I know mommy said crying doesn’t fix anything but, but, I’m sorry. It’s hard.”
Chosen by the Angels (Angels of Alicia by frogfireFantasy : Permission granted by the creator)
By Giovanna J. Fuller
“I’m never going back to school!” Were the first words out of Laurie’s mouth when she got home from her first day at her new high school. She threw her book bag down on the kitchen floor and stomped down the hall to her room.
She slammed her bedroom door behind her and threw herself onto her bed. After a few seconds she began to scream into the mattress and punch and kick it until all her energy was drained. The faces of everyone at school flashed through her mind. How they talked behind her back. The way no one seemed to want to pair up with her for anything. She had spent her first day at school in total silence and completely alone.
‘I hate Gabrielston. It’s a stupid name and it’s full of stupid people.’ She turned over on her back and moved to look out the window. It was nice outside and it just made her hate the town even more.
However, the glittering of water caught her eye.
‘I thought dad was putting the koi pond in next week.’ She got up and peered out the open window. She leaned out her window. ‘Why is it right under my win-.’
“Hello, Laurie Music.” A clear voice reached her from within the pod. Then an image materialized in the glistening pool. It was a woman. She was beautiful, ethereal even. “We are the Angels of Alicia and we want you to join us.” The woman extended her hand. “Will you?”
Wanted. They wanted her. Laurie nodded her head.
The woman opened her arms, inviting.
She leaned further and further out, letting the woman’s kind eyes pull her further and further out until.
She fell into the water’s depths.
“Don’t worry. It’s quite safe.”
It was bigger than it seemed. She was floating in the water, but it wasn’t cold or uncomfortable. “Now…what do I do?”
The woman took Laurie’s hands and guided them so that they were placed over the girl’s heart, left over right. “Repeat after me…”
A Noonday Adventure
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson) [World Swap with Josiedearly in Emergent Earth]
It is a picturesque day at the Belrose Nature Preserve. Tall Birch trees sway in the gentle August breeze, and the nearby river softly babbles as it makes its way through rock and tree to the Atlantic ocean.
On one of the nearby nature trails, Mr and Mrs. Attenborough make their way through the forest together. Camera and binoculars in hand, they keep their eyes peeled on the nearby trees, hoping to catch a glimpse of a beautiful cardinal or sparrow.
A leaf falls on Mrs. Attenborough’s sun hat, causing her to break the silence.
“Bird watching is a lot messier than I thought it would be.” she exclaimed in her exasperated but thoroughly proper accent.
“Nonsense, dear! We’re in the great outdoors. Surely, you expected some filth.” William teases his annoyed wife. She gives him a quick smack.
“Ouch! Sorry, Jen. It’s just…” He breathed a sigh. “You are always locked up indoors, giving piano lessons, teaching ballet, or explaining the intricacies of quantum superposition at the university.” William looks at Jennifer sympathetically.
“You do amazing work, dear, but you need to occasionally expand your horizons.” He holds out his hand and she reluctantly grabs it. He gives her hand a gentle kiss and they proceed on their journey.
Jen gives a long sigh. “I suppose you are right. Besides, being out here with you almost makes it worth it… Almost.” She giggles, breaking her proper demeanor for just a moment.
“See, you are already enjoying yourself!” William smiles at Jen and they both have a good laugh.
They continue at a safe pace along the trail, when Jen stops suddenly.
“What is it dear?” William asks, as Jen suddenly grabs hold of him.
“There is something terrible on the road up ahead!” she cries.
“Huh?” He turns back to the road to see the decaying carcass of a dead rabbit.
Though feeling nauseous himself, William tries to comfort Jen. Then, a loud swooping sound is heard overhead. They both turn just in time to see a large flash of red, leaving nothing but charred earth behind.
Choppy, mud-grey waves lapped at Fyrefly’s hull. Every now and then something black and oily tried to grab onto the crimson surface.
Silas stared over the railing and tried to believe that the eyes peering back were his own.
No answer but the roar of the wind-tossed river.
The trees on the distant shore had gone a bit…purple. At least, Silas thought they were trees. It was perfectly normal for trees to shuffle around on their roots like millipedes. To crowd up to the river’s edge like a curious herd of bison. To stalk the vibrant, red ship floating helplessly downstream…
…in this world at least.
One of the trees tentatively put a root into the water.
Silas’s grip tightened around his rifle. A sound that was decidedly not a whimper catching on his tongue.
The river narrowed up ahead.
“Cobalt!” He stepped back into the darkened cabin, locking the door behind him.
Using the screen on his gauntlet, he navigated down the steel steps and past darkened control panels. A faint glimmer of light and a litany of curses steadying the frantic thrum of his heart.
“I think…I’ve got the transporter workin’ again!” wheezed Cobalt- a towering mass of wings and muscles; who was just squeezing her way out from between a set of coolant pipes.
“Good.” Silas replied, clipped and high-pitched.
“What’s wrong, Dove?”
“You’ll see.” he squeaked, leading the way back up the steps.
Outside the windows and over Fyrefly’s bow, Silas could see the low hill where the river curved. He could also see the mass of gnarled, shambling “trees”.
“What in the Sam-Hill is that?” Cobalt screeched, already bolting for the captain’s chair.
“Trees.” Silas stated.
“Hell, no!” she shot back.
The engine turned…spluttered…died.
…and roared blessedly to life.
Quickly, Cobalt took control, pointing the ship back upriver and slamming down on the thrusters. The ship’s wings unfolded and for a moment threatened to dip down into the waves. But soon enough Fyrefly lifted up into the strange, green sky and vanished in a screaming halo of light.
The trees “waved” goodbye.
The orange thief
By Larissa (Laribhaven) with permission of Claire (Ligdaed world swap).
Mira’s head spun in confusion, she could see the faces of all the ship crew members looking at her puzzled. There were at least twenty men in the storage room, it wouldn’t be easy to escape, even in the best of the scenarios.
“Captain! We found our little rat!” One of them screamed after she was cornered near the rum barrels.
She held a defiant look, even if she was afraid, she wouldn’t show them.
“So you found our orange thief!” The strong male voice quickly navigated the crowd with unnerving patience.
“Yes, it’s me!” Mira raised her voice trying to summon confidence.
She clenched her fists and locked eyes with the man in front of her. The tall man looked amused with a smug on his face.
“So you sneaked into my ship and thought you wouldn’t face any consequences?”
“I don’t care what happens to me now! It’s high sea! I ain’t going back to dry land and I ain’t afraid of sharks!” She spoke with anger to hide her panicked heart pounding against her ribcage.
The captain laughed saying:
“She ain’t afraid of sharks, guys!”
Now the whole crew accompanied the laugh. He held one hand over his head.
She swallowed and closed her eyes shut on instinct.
She waited for a punch, a slap, or even the sweeping motion of a sword, but nothing happened.
She then opened her eyes still in a state of despair, the tears she was holding, now cascaded off her face.
“Oh sorry! Didn’t mean to scare you. Like you said, there is no going back!” He extended one hand while holding his hat with the other. “Does the lass have a name?”
“M-Mira” she said in a weak voice.
“I’m the Captain of this ship, it’s a pleasure to meet you, young lass!” He smiled. “Well Mira, if you want to earn that food, you have to work hard like everyone else. We are going to land soon but until then…”
He helped the girl stand on her feet and winked.
“Welcome to the crew Mira!”
How it Began
A lone fisherman sat at the cliff’s edge, his line cast out into the unending expanse of sky and clouds. Some of the children called him either crazy or foolish, but there were still some of us old enough to remember his arrival. His ship had flown through the sky, clouds lapping at the hull like seafoam before he anchored at the cliff. He had disembarked, fishing pole and tackle in hand, before the ship faded away into misty wisps.
Every day since, he sat on that cliff casting out his line and reeling it back in a methodical repetitive rhythm. Everyone had asked why he came and what he was fishing for, but he only ever smiled. Eventually, almost everyone stopped asking. As far as I knew, I was the only one who still did.
“Mornin’ Lionel. Catch anything today?”
He turned to look at me and smiled, as always, before returning his eyes to the sky. I don’t know why I started calling him Lionel. The idea had come to me as suddenly as the notion to share my lunches with him, but he did not seem to mind. That particular morning as we sat together, my mind had been wandering when I noticed a tug on the line.
I honestly thought I had imagined it before the line leapt forward, Lionel frantically pulling the line taut. I scrambled up from my seat and tried to help, holding onto him as I anchored my feet to the ground, but it was not enough. We were slowly being pulled to the cliff’s edge.
I could have let go, sure, but the thought didn’t even occur to me at the time. I held on with everything I had, refusing to let go as we were both pulled over the edge. When I opened my eyes again, I was on the deck of a ship. Lionel was grinning next to me, and flopping around us was a blue and silver fish with translucent scaled wings. That, my dear, is how Uncle Lionel and I began our great adventure.
“The Foreign Diplomat”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane (World Swap Collaboration with Connor/Dragoneye)
The sea breeze ruffled through Jaoti’s feathers, chilling him to the bone. Today was his first day in New Fenris. As the ship pulled into the harbor, the sailors busied themselves weighing anchor and docking. The captain, a blond man with tanned, weathered skin, stepped onto the deck.
“Well, sir, we’ve made it,” he said with a nod.
Jaoti bowed. “A thousand thank yous. May your voyages be blessed by the wind and the currents be easy.”
Surprised, the captain nodded. “Your Volifenish is very good.”
“I am honored by your praise,” the bird-man said.
The captain sighed as some of the crew balanced the gangplank between the deck and the dock. Stretching and complaining of his lack of hair of the dog, the captain went ashore, nodding to a larger fellow. He nodded back before training his eyes on Jaoti. The Ru-Visha followed the man off the ship. A sense of ease washed over Jaoti as he set foot on the wharf. He took in a deep breath and closed his eyes.
“Hey, pea brain!” a voice shouted.
Jaoti’s eyes snapped open. Who had said that?
“Yeah, you, bluebird,” the voice came again.
Jaoti looked around until he noticed the man the captain had nodded to earlier.
“Get a move on! I’m a busy man and I don’t have the time for you to lollygag on my wharf!”
Jaoti bowed to him before calling, “A thousand apologies. I shall depart.”
The man grunted in disgust as the Ru-Visha walked into town. White drops of cold fell on Jaoti’s beak as he trod down the cobblestone streets. His feet were freezing. However he couldn’t help but take in the sights. The children playing, the vendors chatting with patrons, they were so warm for a place so cold. Well, to each other. Whenever they stared at him, there were only cold stares and glares.
Jaoti quickened his pace down the road, hoping to find the embassy.
The Universe is Held Together with Duct Tape
By Mike Collins (Lakemoron)
“Ensign, we’re having a bit of a wobble to the left, check on the platform sensors.”
“Commander, platform sensor 5 is down, but we can’t replace it while away from the pod.”
The Commander sat up, “Okay, everyone, look alive. Someone is coming to talk.”
Sam walked over to the water cooler to talk to the new recruit, “Say hey there… Jim, hows tricks?”
An Ensign asked, “Commander, what does this mean… Tricks?”
After an awkward second Jim said, “Hey there.”
The Ensign smiled, “Commander, I don’t think he meant us to say, hey there.”
Sam slapped Jim on the shoulder, “Don’t worry buddy, soon this place will feel like home.”
Jim awkwardly smiled, “Yes, Sam human, this will have the tactile sensation of my human place of residence where I live with my human family.”
The Commander shook his head, “Will someone check the translator.”
Sam slowly lost his smile and walked away, accidentally stepping on Jim’s foot.
The Commander looked around at his team operating the Jim Unit, sent to collect intelligence on the earthing culture within something called a business.
A lieutenant asked, “Commander, the Sam human attacked us. Should we retaliate?”
“Negative Lieutenant, I think that was a sign of affection.”
The Lieutenant shook its head, “Commander, this is a weird planet.”
The Commander checked the board for any issues, “Ensign what’s going on with the left platform. It’s all red?”
“Sir, the Sam human stepped on the left platform disconnecting the relays.”
Nancy sat at her desk, trying not to stare at this strange new person. No one can remember hiring him. He just showed up one day. He seemed lost like a fish out of water, alien to even the basic social mores. As she sat there, not watching Jim, something caught her eye. A small yellow and green gecko-like creature came out of Jim’s back pocket and made its way to his left foot with what looked like a small roll of duct tape. The creature disappeared into Jim’s pant leg, a moment later, the sound of ripping duct tape.
The World Beyond (From PitL’s world, Phantasmagoria)
Saveeni slowly came to, feeling the cold cobblestones against her back. Stretching above her were two purplish-grey towers. They looked at least as twice as tall as the lookout tower of her village.
Slowly she sat up, her body sore from laying on the stony street.
“Who makes roads this way?” Saveeni asked herself aloud.
She had set out from her village to find something different. This was about as different as anything she could imagine. She wasn’t sure where this place was. The last thing she knew, her boat got caught in a storm. But it didn’t even look like she was anywhere near the sea.
She checked herself over. She still had her spear and knife. Her pack was by a nearby pile of rubbish. Saveeni looped it across her back, then walked toward the nearby intersection.
It emerged onto a much larger street. The one she had come from was narrow enough for her to touch both walls, barely a corridor between the two towers. This one was wide, bordered by a number of other towers, the same color as the ones she emerged from between.
There were so many people. People of all sorts of descriptions. Most were similar to Saveeni; two legs, two arms, one head, walking upright. They all looked different in their own way, but the bipedal body-type was pretty common.
It wasn’t universal, however. Mixed in with the other people were a few beings which looked different. A gelatinous orange blob was handing out leaflets at the end of the street, a golden bird-like being with a humanoid face flew across the street in front of her.
The door next to Saveeni opened, and a blue-skinned man with crystal hair spikes emerged.
“Hello, excuse me?” Saveeni asked, hoping he would understand her. “Where am I?”
The man shrugged. “That’s the bakery,” he said, jabbing a thumb behind him.
“Yes, but what is this place?”
He shook his head. “Don’t know yet. I’ve only been here a month or two. Everyone calls it The City.”
A Splash of Color
By PitL [World Swap with MasaCur’s Bureau of Public Safety]
September 22nd, 1849
In retrospect, the photograph should have been a red flag.
Doyle had heard of the infernal things, of course. One didn’t get to be a Detective in the Glasgow Police without a cursory knowledge of the scientific. He didn’t hold with it, himself. An affront to God or some such.
Clearly he’d missed that they now came in color.
“Sorry – why’re you here, again?” he asked, staring at the pair of men who had taken up residence inside his crime scene.
The older of the two shuffled over, nearly knocking a tall stack of papers onto the floor. “Oh! Sorry for the mess,” he said. “I’m surprised the sergeant hadn’t warned you. He asked us to come, after all.”
Doyle grimaced. “Just give me your names.”
“Richard and Reid, Mr. Doyle,” the older – Richard – said. “Come now, Reid, get up and introduce yourself.”
Reid leaned back from the table, carefully laying his dip pen away from his work. “We’ve still got hours to put in yet. There’s no time to spare.”
“Now now. There’s always time for the niceties.”
Reid glowered at the policeman. “Alexander Reid, at your service. Junior partner, Bureau of Public Safety, and such, and such.” He spun. “Don’t just stand there, detective. If you’re here you might as well be helpful.”
Doyle groaned. “I’m confused.”
It had taken Reid some time to shuffle through the equipment on the desk, but eventually he’d found it.
A single photograph.
“Anything strike you as odd about this, Mr. Doyle?” Richard asked.
Doyle held the picture up to the oil lamp. “Aside from the colors? No.”
Reid grinned. “Well, that’s too bad. We had such high hopes, didn’t we, Richard?”
“That we did…” Richard stood. “My apologies, but it seems like you aren’t quite up to snuff. Also, it isn’t just the photograph – you should’ve kept questioning why we were here. Distrust’ll take you far, you know.”
Detective Doyle fell unconscious before he’d even realized he’d been hit.
No one believed him, later. Not even his own son.
Riddle Me This
By Twangyflame0 (with permission to write in Lunarbear’s “Cursed Brothers” universe)
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” Remy was pacing in a circle, “what bullshit is this!? Ugh!”
He held a piece of paper, and looked back down at it again, “Hello you cursed brother. Grim tidings from your other. Down by the place of brine and grime. Follow the compass’s mother. You might get close to your other.”
He was beyond pissed at this rate. He was supposed to be the one that got hurt. He was supposed to be the one in danger.
“Yet this guy,” Remy talked to himself through gritted teeth, “thinks he can take Cal and get away with it. Oh, this guy has another thing coming for him.”
Remy began walking down to the harbor while looking down at the paper. He understood everything about it except for the compass part. What did it mean by a compass’s mother? Like the person that made the compass? And it specifically said mother, so maybe the crafter was a woman? Maybe a particularly fine woman…
Remy smacked himself in the head, “Nope! Stop that! This is not the time for that, idiot.”
The more he looked at the paper, the more confused he got. He wasn’t like Cal who was practically always reading. Remy knew himself to be great, but his brother always seemed to do everything for Remy, especially when it came to this stuff. Cal would have probably figured this out, no problem, but now Remy was stuck with this.
“Ugh,” Remy began rubbing his head in frustration, “What would he do? What would Cal do?”
He would… He would be calm. Remy had to calm down and think through this. He took a deep breath in through his nose and out through his mouth. He then looked at the paper again. He remembered Cal saying something about riddles mostly being abstract. He had to think outside the box.
It probably wasn’t a crafter; there were too many people that could fit that. Probably the same thing for anything that the compasses were made out of.
“Wait a second,” the thought came to him like lightning, “it’s north.”
Night Time Rendezvous
By Eden R.
A lazy smoke fills the air as I lean back in my seat and scan around the room. It was one of those nights where the chill bit you down into the bone. City air is so cold that it makes you almost feel like the living dead. Ha. Jokes. With my drink in hand, I take my time looking over the bar’s patrons. Standard fair, lovers coming in to escape the cold, old grizzled men coming in to escape the disappointment that is life, something I can empathize all too well with.
Old men, young lovers. Neither of them are what has brought me here tonight. I set down the glass of this sorry excuse for wine and start to scan around the room. Its dim light Doesn’t bother me. It wasn’t often that I’d go out when it wasn’t for a job. I was doing my best to enjoy myself while waiting for my contact. God knows I’m not going to have a good time when they get here.
Still, here I am, waiting for them to show up. After a moment or so of waiting I take out my smartphone. This Device is magic. Small chips inscribed with gold and copper pulling energy to get it to manifest information. And more importantly, for this it allows for communication with people. I stare at it for a moment. She’s.. meant to be here. What’s taking her so long?
As if on cue, the doors to this dingy bar open up and the scent of incense and spices fills the room. An elegant woman slides in and scans the place. The holy symbol on her lapel clearly gives away her status as a high ranking priest. After a moment the woman looks around and sees me. With a smile, she comes over and sits down “So, I’m guessing you’re my date then?” I’m shocked, this was my date? Well, fuck me with a holly stake.
“New Intern” by Carrie (Glaceon373)
Aubree glanced between the paper and the sign above the door. Berylston Counseling, its brick facade squished between a restaurant and a hair salon, wasn’t what she’d been expecting. But work was work, and Aubree needed a job.
That being said, she was two minutes late on her first day.
As Aubree reached for the door handle, an employee opened it from inside. He was short, with black hair, thick glasses, and a salesman smile.
“Hello and welcome to Berylston Counseling! I’m afraid we don’t open for another half hour, but if you want to come inside, we have water, coffee, iced venom—”
“Sorry, I’m not a customer—iced what?” Aubree glanced over the man’s shoulder into the lobby. Sure enough, there was a table with multiple pitchers, including one filled with ice and green liquid.
“Ah, you must be our new intern,” the man beckoned her inside. “Come in, I’ll help you get settled. Find your name on the coat rack, please.”
“Uh, okay.” Trying to hide her minor panic, she stepped in and immediately found the coat rack. It was even more menacing than the venom pitcher. The wooden monstrosity looked like a leafless tree with arms stretched in every direction. Aubree squeezed around it, looking for her name, before finding it engraved on a branch that hadn’t been there the first time she’d looked at it.
“Is…is this a magical facility?” she asked as she set her hat on it.
“Indeed! We service humans, ghosts, vampires, werewolves—the usual, really. Don’t worry, you’ll just be sitting behind that desk over there, telling people to sit and wait, and use our telepathic phone,” he pointed at a marble landline on the desk, “and if anything bad happens, smack the phone until it turns red. There’s also a flask of holy water in the left drawer for emergencies. Any questions go to me—Damian, by the way—or to anyone on staff. Got it?”
Aubree took a deep breath. “Probably not, but I’ll figure it out.”
“Ha! I like your style. Now, what drink do you want?”
by Astrid Jones
Branwen peeked through the door’s window. She had hoped no one would show up; bad weather normally kept people away. Completing her headcount, she leaned against the wall and sighed. 16 bobbing heads waited for her in that room and this door was the only way in or out. Once she entered, she would be trapped in there with them for at least 15 minutes, if not more.
She could do 15 minutes. It wasn’t a huge amount of time. It would be over before she realized it. Branwen sucked in a deep breath and held it for a few seconds. All she had to do was go in, sit down, read for 15 minutes, then she could go cry in the closet. Easy peasy.
The door opened and sounds spilled out of the room. Several particularly loud shrieks made her wince as she turned to see who had opened the last barrier between her and the small mob inside.
“Branny? Are you coming in or not?” Stacy asked, continuing to hold to door open. Branwen could feel 16 pairs of eyes focused on her, now that her hiding place had been exposed, though the giggling and happy screams didn’t stop.
They can smell fear, she reminded herself. Straightening, she smiled at Stacy and stepped into the room. It’s just 15 minutes, she repeated in her head.
“If you’re ready for a story, find a seat,” she sang loudly to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” as she waded through what seemed like a sea of children. She took her own chair as she dodged toddlers fighting over their favorite colored squares on the rug.
“If you’re ready for a story, eyes on me,” she continued. If the child who was currently edging closer to her while eating a stick of glue touched her, she was certain she was going to throw up.
Stacy finally noticed the glue-eater and scooped him up, much to his dismay. Branwen let out a relieved sigh and held up the first book.
“Once upon a time,” she began.
The Fallen One
By Carolus V.
I was walking through a dormant quarter of the city. It was early morning. Things were still asleep here, though the sun was rising. A tense stillness had settled. A maze of tenements and workshops, wreathed in shadow, infested every labyrinthine avenue.
Today, I was supposed to head out again. For the moment, though, I had time to kill. I could now incubate in the silence of dawning hours.
I found him cross legged, leaning against a wall.
He had folded wings with feathers black as soot and a head of long, red hair. His skin was deathly pale. His face was buried in his palm. In front of him lay an obsidian blade, stained crimson along its edge.
I took a seat beside him, going cross legged too.
After a while, he withdrew the hand from his face and turned to look at me. His eyes burned with a scarlet flame.
“What do you want?”
His voice was alarmingly soft.
“I don’t know. To sate my curiosity, perhaps.”
“You know what I am, don’t you?”
“You’re an angel, correct?”
“You’re half right.” He replied.
“What do you mean?”
His expressions grew grim.
“I claim souls and cast them into the yawning dark. Angels would never dignify that task by doing it themselves. I’m a fallen spirit, deemed somehow unrighteous.”
The silence resumed.
“This is the last time I’ll ever use this blade.”
He gave a defeated smile. A tear of magma tricked down from the corner of his eye.
“I’m joining them soon. Those I led out of the cycle of death and rebirth. When the sun touches me, I’ll be gone.”
I sat beside him a little longer, waiting. Eventually, the sun came peeking over a roof, blinding me. It took my eyes a while to adjust. By the time they did he had disappeared.
I sat stunned a second. Then I got up, heading back for my lodgings. A tear trickled out of the corner of my eye. It stung my cheek like fire.
Vom Regen in die Traufe (From the Pan into the Fire)
By Exce (In the GB Universe)
It truly began a few days after her twentieth birthday. As she was walking home late from archery practice, she heard the noise of claws clicking against asphalt, very slowly but steadily getting closer.
After a few more meters, she steeled herself before spinning on her heel, ready to face whatever there may be.
In front of her were three enormous lizards, easily the size of alligators or crocodiles, though they seemed scarily more agile, possessing legs far from stubby and a muscular, lithe body.
She opened her mouth to scream, but before any noise could escape, the ground beneath them abruptly shook violently.
Then cracks formed rapidly around the lizards before they were dumped down a sinkhole.
Blinking repeatedly, she tried to parse what had just happened, but a heavy hand closed around her arm, dragging her away. They vanished down a path leading back out to the fields surrounding the town, with her hopping more than that she walked, doing her best not to fall on her backside.
They stopped abruptly, and she got her first good look at the figure that saved her: a man with a long beard who made up what he lacked in height with width. He also seemed to wear armour.
“Hmph, damn hard to find natural rock in your cities…” the man grumbled under his beard before touching his hand to a rock half-buried in a ditch.
There was a flash of heat and bright light, followed by the sensation of falling,and then an unpleasant landing on hard ground.
When the stars stopped flashing in front of her eyes, she saw the bearded man leaning over her and another,and another. She sat up only to find herself inside a giant tunnel, torches lighting the walls, then someone spoke up.
“Ah, Lady Lohwall, I feared we would be too late! It is good to see my Brother managed to save you from those Drakes…”
Drakes? She gave a loud ridiculing laugh, but as she did, pain speared through her head, and, like someone flicked a switch, everything went dark once more.