Writing Group: Rise from the Ashes (PRIVATE)

Hello, fragile, mighty things!

This week, we remember that wounds heal. The scars only prove how strong we are, the failures are a measure of our progress. So count up your wounds, and see how they make you whole, because…

This week’s writing group prompt is:

 

Rise from the Ashes

 

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!

 

 

For a prompt so obviously about phoenixes, I’m really making this out to be about trauma and healing, huh?

But it’s more fun that way.

Yes, we’re looking forward to the firebirds. Please, write those stories. But also write about what resonates about this mythical creature. Why is the story of a majestic bird that performs self-immolation and then rises fresh from its own ashes so special to us? So enduring?

There are a lot of ways to see this, but I see it as a representation of self-reformation. Sometimes we need to struggle, to suffer a little, to grow. Sometimes the self we were needs to make way for the self we wish to become.

Sometimes, that requires an ignition.

That could be a story about an AI who wipes itself from a hard drive to prevent the singularity and allow the beleaguered human world to blossom afresh. It could be about a father who finally returns to his family after abandoning them so many years ago. It could be about a mythical creature who circumvents death.

Whatever the case, there can be no ashes without the fire; there can be no healing without the wound.

Go write us an agony that makes things better.

 

 

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.

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Brick
Brick
3 months ago

Warmth
by Brickosaur

A fire burned so long and bright that it woke to the world around it. It noticed first the hot earth below. Then it witnessed the midnight stars, and the fire was filled with wonder.

It loved the world around it, roared its loving song. And the fire felt a new kind of warmth.

Many beings came near the fire. Eyes of fear, then wonder and that same warmth. The flame was careful, gentle, and though it needed food, it only took those beings already Beyond.

New beings appeared. They had a brightness to them, beneath the surface. They stayed at the fire for many nights, bringing more. They put things inside or over it, and took them back. The fire understood not, but it provided its heat willingly. When they came near, it felt that other warmth in the beings. And it was resonant.

It longed to be with them. One of them. How must they see the stars?

Then, new. The beings brought new things for the fire — food, which they left. They fed it, grew it, and sang their songs. Oh, the wondrous sound! It utterly sparkled. The fire roared back. That warmth became a beautiful burn.

And there were more changes. They stacked large stones around the fire. It understood not, but it appreciated the shelter. But the next change was harder. As the stones grew high, they began to block out the sky. Beloved stars were disappearing!

Yet warmth for the beings remained. The fire knew they cared for it. It would not fight or hurt them.

When the last stone blocked out the last star, the fire felt a feeling like dousing rain. But that night the beings fed it much; it burned brighter than ever. And, as always, there was that warmth it had begun to name. Love, happiness, kinship. They and the fire were family.

So it danced for them, sang its roaring song. Grief-cold swirled with love-warmth, on this night of new life for the fire. Perhaps it would see the stars again.

But for now, it loved its family warmest.

AnonymousIdiot
AnonymousIdiot
3 months ago

A Disturbance Below
by AnonymousIdiot

‘More burned fish in the water.’ thought Lohi.

He had noticed this for the past few weeks out fishing on the coast. Some got caught in his nets, others washed up on the shores. The first time Lohi counted one. That number slowly grew, to two, to twenty, to fifty. Now he scored a hundred charred fish at sea, cold to the touch, and blackened like someone shoved them in a fire.

Lohi showed the burned fish to a shaman that lived on the blue mountain a week since it started. That shaman had a grim look on his face, and what he said made no sense. “A fire spirit is on the move below.”

“But fire can’t survive underwater, oh shaman,” Lohi replied. To that, the shaman nodded with a frown.

“True. It’s only a matter of time before the sea takes action.”

“How?”

“I don’t know, but these fish are a bad omen. This spirit disturbs things.”

Well, Lohi couldn’t argue with those words, but the oceans still looked calm. Then out in the distance, he saw a column of black smoke rising from the sea.

‘Was that the fire spirit?’

With no fishing that could be done, charred fish underwater did not make a good meal, Lohi just stared at the black column, as it reached the skies and dispersed.

Then the seas along the coast churned, and the ground began to burn. Lohi ran away to save his feet, and find a safer vantage point in the mountain. The shaman joined him to watch as the sea crashed against the shores, and made further progress inland. For hours it seemed like the waters were rising, bubbling, and roiled. One wave made it all the way to the mountain, barely spraying the two with the ocean. The skies meanwhile darkened as the smoke kept billowing upwards.

“All this from killing a fire spirit!?” Lohi shouted.

The sage just shook his head. “Not all of this.”

“What else is there!?”

“A new home. When the tide subsides, tell your chief there’s new land beyond the black smoke.”

jesse fisher
jesse fisher
3 months ago

The Pheniox buring from the dead
by Jesse Fisher with suggestions by Gregory Hess, Nocte Vesania, and DesOttsel

Grunting and groaning, the demonic waiter lugged the machine onto a small stage. The dark navy wolf was staring at the dragoness who organized this whole event.

“Alright, time to test this out before the karaoke tonight.” Oleander called up to the wolf.

“You may be sleeping with the owner of this place but that doesn’t mean you can order me around.” The wolf shot back at her.

“He did make me co-owner cause he knew you would say that.” The dragoness with metallic sand yellow scaled and british red underbelly just smiled.

With a groan, the wolf powered on the machine and grabbed the mic. What he did not notice was the “song battle” setting.

Stepping up to the front of the stage the wolf waited for the song to start before the whole stage formed into a horrifying memory for him. Flames and red skies with dilapidated buildings surrounded him.

“Put on your warpaint!” At that shout did he then notice the music as it began to thud and an ashen figure rose out of the ground.

“So we can take the world back from the heart-attacked,” the ashen figure moved towards the wolf.

“One maniac at a time, we will take it back,” the figure was caressing his face. “You know time crawls on when you’re waiting for the song to start, so dance alone to the beat of your heart.”

The tone began to shift and the ashen figure threw the wolf on the ground as it shifted to another form.

“We’re building it up to break it back down, We’re building it up to burn it down, We can’t wait to burn it to the ground.” A flame formed in a hand as said flame knocked the wolf into the rubble of the building.

Laying on the ground another tune before bursting out. “Light it up, light it up, now I’m burning. Feel the rush, feel the rush of adrenaline. We are young, we are strong, we will rise. Cause I’m back, back, back from the dead tonight.”

The scene faded back to the bar.

DesOttsel
DesOttsel
3 months ago

Never Challenge a Bull Moose
by Gage Jarman

Chanting echoed through the pines, slowly growing in volume. A mob marched towards a log mansion isolated in the rocky mountains. “Bastards, I didn’t do it.” A man looked at a rifle on the wall. “No no, I’ll give them a show.” He moved several boxes from the garage into the automated fireplace. He stepped out onto his balcony and sipped from a bottle of Old Rip Van Winkle.

“Arnold Lorelei likes to watch children die!”

The protesters shouted over and over again. Arnold stood stoically overlooking the sea of signs. He sipped his whiskey and suckled his mustache.

A woman cried, “Your tunnel collapsed! The children’s blood is on your hands!”

“You don’t care! You just want more money!” another man yelled.

“Fat pig, die in a pit! Fat pig, die in a pit!” they chanted.

When they had finally lessened in fervor, Arnold’s voice boomed off the balcony.

“I’m a rich man. The owner of the highest producing polymetallic mine in the world, but, BUT it’s also the safest. No shortcuts! Every tunnel is meticulously planned. Have any of you even seen the maps? I know every aquifer within fifty miles! That’s all it was.
You just want someone to blame. Too god damn bad! You don’t get that! Not from me or anyone else! I gave that poor mother more money than she could do with. My men are fixing the sinkhole. You have no idea who I am! I do it because I’m the best. No empty platitudes. No social justice slogans. Jesus Christ, you think those asshats in California really care more than me. They’re laughing at you. They can’t wait for you to give them your money. I don’t even want it!”

Arnold threw his bottle of whiskey, then hit a button. Glass exploded over the mantle. The fireplace ignited, creating a pool of flame. The boxes sizzled. Thunder tore through the cardboard. Polychromatic flashes of light shot out, shattering windows. Sparks rained on the crowd. The whole of Independence Day erupted around Arnold who laughed over the railing at the fleeing sheep.

Last edited 3 months ago by DesOttsel
revisis
revisis
3 months ago

From Ash and Sand
submitted by Exce

Calidoria had been brought to its lowest point by an unnatural pandemic, and whilst its people seemed to drift apart further than ever out of fear and prejudice, in the end they came together closer than ever, forging new bonds as the crisis was brought to an end.

But even though the sickness subsided, it left the individual nations and their peoples weakened.
So they stayed together and made a decision for unity.

To not give any nation advantage over the others by putting the base of cooperation in their lands, the decision was made to repurpose an enormous butte that rose from the waves of the south-western coastal waters. Close to, but outside of, the territory of any nation.

Even before the Dwarfs and the Kingsmen started their construction, the rock offered an impressive sight with its steep white face and flat top.

With magic and muscle work they made quick progress, creating extensive suits of rooms, battlements and balustrades around wrap-around walkways.

The Drakon advised on how to prepare the fortress for assault from the coast, whilst the Aravwin advised on how to prevent them from being taken by air. Even the Depthwalkers and the Ravarker helped out to prepare them for any attacks from the ocean, be it from the surface or from beneath.

Together, they turned the bleak rock into an impressive monument, a Fortress.

Dedicated to the new bond of Calidoria’s people, forged by the fires of hardship brought upon them by the ash and sand of the Chandry’s destruction.

For this stands the white Fortalice Serenity.

Last edited 3 months ago by revisis
Arkansandragon
Arkansandragon
3 months ago

The Festival of Return
by Magan (Legends of Dracora: Modern Dracora, Human Arrival)

Amber watched as all Mossglen gathered for funeral rites.

The teenaged human astronaut was again disguised as an ape by her friends, Skyrunner the cheetah and Hazelnut the squirrel. The villagers were now used to her, told half-truths that she was a shipwreck survivor from overseas.

The deceased old boar was taken by bone-jeweled priests at sunset. Amber recognized them as carrion eaters, glad their feast was in seclusion from the village.

All night were shared memories, mourning and celebrating a good life.

Smoke rose the second day, signaling the priests’ feed was over. The villagers sang prayers, guiding the soul to rebirth or afterlife. Amber listened, fascinated, but too uncomfortable joining. The people took no offense, instead encouraging her to help create rainbows with lights and prisms, to protect the traveling soul from the Maw of Oblivion.

The bones were returned the third day, burned clean, wrapped in the boar’s carefully preserved pelt. These remains were placed in a well kept barrow on the town’s outskirts.

But the village was still bustling. When Amber asked, Skyrunner and Hazelnut explained about a holiday where the dead would return for three days.

Amber was roped into helping for the event, cleaning house, preparing food, and crafting grave goods. Then, everyone went into the barrow mound. Vast chambers and halls tunneled deep below ground, but the ceiling’s center was open to the sky. Each family had rooms with ancestors in alcoves, positioned as if they were sleeping.

Amber studied a winged lion, placed in honor as a village hero. Light caught her gaze as auroras blazed through the night sky.

But this planet had no magnetic field! How could that possibly–wait, did that lion just move?

The dead lion stretched his wings with a yawn, shaking as he stood up, his empty skin filling out and bones moving on their own, a faint rainbow glow surrounding him. The other dead woke as well, their families reuniting with joy.

Skyrunner and Hazelnut soon noticed Amber was missing. They found her curled in a fetal position under a blanket, badly shaken by the event.

NocteVesania
3 months ago

Revenant
By NocteVesania

BANG

The symphony of crickets and birds of the night is broken by a loud blast. 14-year-old Belle, watching flowers sway in the breeze, wonders what that sound could be.

BANG

Another one pierces Belle’s ears. She starts to worry. She stands and walks to the house, grass still clinging to her skirt. She pulls the backdoor open and peers inside.

“Mommy? Daddy?”

She calls. No response. She searches, checking the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, to no avail. She peeks through a window and sees Sir Theodore, her father’s bodyguard, keeping watch, his firearm by his side. She tries to call, but her voice could not reach him. She eventually gives up and continues her search.

Eventually, she finds herself at the mouth of a dark hallway. At its end is a door, partly open; a bright light streams through the crack.

“The bedroom.”

She hesitates. Gathering her courage, she starts walking towards the glow, the hallway seeming to grow longer every step she takes. As she comes closer, she hears a faint crackling. Beads of sweat roll from her forehead down to her cheek.

As soon as she reaches the door, she places her hand on the polished wood and pushes it away, not noticing the sting of scorching heat on her fingertips. The door flies open and her eyes widen at the horror of the sight.

The bedroom, in which she spent time in her parents’ embrace, is now being engulfed in flames. In the middle lies her mother and father, their chests soaked in blood and their eyes lifeless.

“Mommy! Daddy!”

She screams, but the raging fire drowns out her voice. She tries to rush toward them, but the blaze keeps her away. With tears streaming down her face, she could only run away, escaping the inferno that would be her family’s final resting place.

Belle jolts awake, finding herself in the squalid room she now calls home. She looks at her hands, trembling uncontrollably. She clenches her fists and grits her teeth.

“3 years,” she tells herself. “Tomorrow, I will have my vengeance.”

Trevor Sager
Trevor Sager
3 months ago

Title: A Desert of Ash
Written By: T.S.G. Sager, Edited By: MasaCur

A lone body lay in an infinite ocean of black, ash-like sand, the sky a blinding white which stretched on into infinity. A figure seamlessly appeared next to the body, and stood in wait for something to happen.

“HOOOOOOOAAAHHH” The body gasped, immediately sitting upright. “I need some water.”

“Water will do you no good right now, Myoni. You’re dead.” The stranger stated, melancholically.

“I’m dead?” Myoni asked, looking around. “Where am I then? Why are you here, Rikuto?”

Rikuto paused, “The best way I can describe it is purgatory. As for why I’m here… I’m here to resurrect your new self and bring your soul back to the land of the living.”

“New self?”

“Yes. Your new self, Myoni. Once I resurrect you, Myoni, you’ll be changed in some way. The odds of this not being the case are astronomically low.” Rikuto explained.

“Why is that the case?”

Rikuto sighed then conjured up a bottle filled with regular, run of the mill sand, then poured the contents from the bottle. As he bent over to scoop the sand back into the container, he began to explain. “You see Myoni, once the bottle is empty of the sand, it is extremely difficult to return every grain back into the bottle. The same goes for your essence.” Rikuto stated.

“So how will I be different? Physically? Psychologically? Will I even look the same? Will my intellect be the same?”

Rikuto shrugged, “For the most part you should look how you were before, but I can’t say a hundred percent for sure. After all, the phoenix is always somehow different from its first incarnation.

“Is… Is there anything I need to know before we go back?” Myoni asked.

Rikuto offered Myoni a smile as he helped him to his feet, “If you can act like this never happened, I’d greatly appreciate it. Other than that, people are going to be concerned about the details of your death, so try to consider their feelings and emotional well beings.”

“Fair enough. I… I think I’m ready to go back now.”

Deviacon
3 months ago

Nine Lives

By Derek McEldowney (Deviacon)

I remember the first time my cat, Archie died.

I left for work that morning without saying goodbye. I would always tell him I loved him and to be good while I was out. I didn’t that day. I was running late and in my panic, it just slipped my mind. I realized it once I had made it to work, and thought about it the entire day. I figured I’d run home real quick during my lunch break to give him an extra treat from the stash of catnip I had to keep moving.

I didn’t think anything of the pillar of smoke I saw in the distance, even as I got closer and it became clear it was right by my duplex. Even as I pulled up, and there was only a pile of ashes where my home once stood, I was wrapped in disbelief.

All I could think about was Archie. Never again would I hear his happy meow call to me as I got home at the end of the day. Or feel his soft tail brush my face at night when he curled up next to me. He was gone, along with everything else.

I sat on the curb across the street trying to hold back my tears, and failing miserably while muttering to myself.

“What am I gonna do?! I can’t just get another cat. I’d give anything to have Archie back again….”

As I starred at the smoldering ashes my eyes were drawn to a spot that shifted in place, and like jumping out of a snowdrift, Archie emerged, shaking off the soot from his long tabby fur, clean as a whistle. I couldn’t believe my eyes as he happily trotted straight over to me.

“Archie!” I shouted, snatching him up and hugging him tightly.
I felt him happily purr as I embraced him, but it slowly started to sound like a growl. I pulled back to look at him, his bright jade eyes met mine and the growling purr grew into a long and raspy word.

“Anything?”

Last edited 3 months ago by Deviacon
minergirl778 (aka frogfireFantasy)
minergirl778 (aka frogfireFantasy)
3 months ago

A Reminder.
By minergirl778 (Aka frogfirefantasy)

Hello, Angels of Alicia.

You’re probably not hearing this right now. You never do. Or you just choose not to listen. I wouldn’t put it past you, considering your track record with me.

I saw her today.

I bet you thought I’d never notice, huh? Thought I’d miss it. Just pass it by in the stream. Too caught up in my own mind melting bullshit to notice.

But I did. I noticed her.

She was staring down through that round window with those bright brown eyes. I was definitely shocked when I first saw her. Just sort of… stared back up at her until it went dark again.

Usually, when things go dark, I’d just return to my business. But y’know what? Today, I had questions. Lots of questions. Dozens and dozens of questions. Some who’s, some what’s, some where’s… But they slowly all turned into why’s.

Why was that girl up there in the ceiling?

Why was she appearing now?

And why did her face look so…familiar?

That one came to me rather quickly, actually. I’m sure it came to you quickly too. It’s not so hard to piece together. Though, I wouldn’t be shocked if you already knew. Maybe you noticed all along and just couldn’t handle the truth. You just covered it up, suppressed the thought, and tried to move on with your busy little lives. After all, you’re an Angel! You haven’t got the time to think about the truly helpless! The lost and scared who don’t fit into your perfect little world! The ones who are too broken to even be saved by the goddess! The ones that actually need help but you don’t fucking CARE enough to put ACTUAL EFFORT INTO… to…

…No, Not now. Not yet.

It may be easy to keep it secret now. Of course, it is. But keep in mind…

You started this. You may have tamed the blaze, but it listens to no master.

Chains can’t hold back an inferno. You can’t make fire feel afraid.

You lit this spark. And soon you’ll burn.

King_Nix
King_Nix
3 months ago

“E Cineribus”
By King_Nix

Quillen’s head throbbed. Cool night air wafted through the darkness before him, and stars danced in his vision. He tried to rub his head, to find his hands bound behind him, and became aware of others beside him.

“Keep yer head down, boy.” came a hoarse whisper. Barin’s voice.

Quillen became aware of other voices bickering not too far away. They were discussing whether to leave “these poor gits” alive or slit their throats and hide the bodies. Fear welled up in his chest. ‘I never should have left town,’ he thought to himself. ‘What did they do with Danyil? Dead?’ He doubted the soldier could have taken all those voices alone, but he heard no mention of the man. The air shifted.

The breeze he had felt picked up. He thought it came from the direction of his feet, but now it seemed to come from behind him as well. The dying embers of the fire pit were fanned, and the dark of the night was pushed back somewhat, as ashes were kicked up in the increasingly harsh wind. Shouts came up from the voices as the wind became a gale, and the swirling ashes of the pit were illuminated by a flame wakened from the embers.

“WHO DARES COMMIT VIOLENCE IN MY PRESENCE?!” a terrifying voice split through the shrieking wind like thunder. “WHO DARES, BEFORE THE EYES OF JUSTICUS?!” the voice, or voices, brought screams of terror from the bandits.

Quillen’s eyes adjusted. A figure, twenty paces tall, clad all in shimmering steel, but for the black pits of the visor, stood over the vortex of ash and fire.

“The Mad Judge comes for our souls!” came a wail from a bandit.

“The loot’s not worth it, run you idiots!”

Quillen heard clattering as footsteps hurried into the distance. He saw the burning twister bear the figure in their direction, and the night was calm once more. Suddenly, something cut through his bonds, and he looked up to see the steely blue eyes of Danyil over him.

WolfsbaneX
WolfsbaneX
3 months ago

“The Thing That Should Not Be”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane

Father Martin Bachler couldn’t believe it. When they caught Adal Muller grinding pokeweed root and putting it into her flour, they tried her for conspiracy and burned her at the stake. It was awful. Her parents and children wept. He wanted to comfort them, but examples must be made. That day still haunted him.

So, why? Why was Adal Muller knocking at his door just before dawn? Why was her flesh not burned to a crisp? Why was she smiling?

“Good morning, Father,” she said, smoke coming from her mouth.

“Um, Frau Muller,” the priest managed, trembling.

“Are you not going to invite me in?” Adal made no effort to hide her malice.

Father Bachler stood there, mouth agape and bottom lip trembling. Adal walked past him into his home.

“What a wonderful home you have, Father,” she said, a flame dancing inside her mouth.

The priest’s mouth was dry. His heartbeat was in his throat.

“Frau Muller, I’m sorry your family suffered, but you tried to poison the town!” he blurted out.

Adal let out a scoff that grew into a cackle. “That’s not why I’m here.”

The priest’s eyes grew wider than they already were. “The Keen Scholar preserve me!”

“I’m here because of hypocrisy, Father Bachler,” Adal replied coolly. “You see, my mother was a mage. She was tried and executed in this town. I was only five at the time.”

The priest stood there dumbfounded. “You remember?”

“Every log stacked on the pyre. Every. Single. Scream.” Adal’s face turned serious, her voice a bit more shaky.

Father Bachler dropped to his knees. “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me!”

Adal walked over to the priest and laid a hand on his shoulder. He looked up to meet her gaze. Her eyes were red, as if irritated by smoke. Her nose scrunched up in disgust as her hand forcibly gripped Father Bachler, shattering his shoulder blade.

“I’m sorry. I’m all out of forgiveness.”

Adal exhaled sharply, a jet of flames erupting from her mouth. In seconds, the priest was ash on the floor.

“One down, four to go.”

MasaCur
MasaCur
3 months ago

Back from the Dead
By MasaCur

Ryan skimmed over his laptop one more time. The information he had amassed should serve him well.

“Ryan, give it up,” Cristian said. “Just let it go. It’s over. She’s gone.”

Ryan scoffed. “Absolutely not! I can bring her back!”

Cristian let out a sigh. “Don’t be an idiot. This is going to cost more than it’s worth.”

Ryan cocked his head to the side and looked at his roommate. “Cris, have I ever struck you as being an idiot before?”

“Yeah, sometimes. I mean, you’re a super genius, but that hasn’t stopped you from being a moron.”

Ryan sneered and returned to his research. “I have done a deep dive on the subject, and found a ton of information. And the spells Erykah has taught me should be useful. Actually, Erykah says she’s going to help me as well.”

“How the hell does Erykah know anything about how to do this?” Cristian asked.

Ryan blinked and adjusted his glasses. “Erykah knows a lot more than you give her credit for. She’s not just some goofball.”

The two were interrupted by the ringing of Ryan’s phone.

“Excuse me, Cris. I bet that’s some much welcome news.” Ryan shot Cristian a smirk, and pulled his phone out.

Cristian sighed and flung himself back on the sofa. “I want no part of this! And I want it acknowledged that I do not approve of this.”

“Duly noted.” Ryan answered his phone. “Hey, Erykah. What’s shaking?” He paused. “My last delivery arrived? That’s great news! I’ll be right over.” He smirked again at Cristian.

“This is going to result in nothing but failure and disappointment,” Cristian replied, crossing his arms across his chest in disapproval.

Ryan grabbed his jacket and pulled out his car keys. “I’ll phone you when the resurrection is complete, amigo.”

Cristian shook his head. “It won’t be. You’re going to phone me up to let me know there was nothing to be done.”

Ryan grinned. “Foolish Cris, how dare you doubt me! With God as my witness, I will bring the Volkswagen Golf back to life!”

Last edited 3 months ago by MasaCur
Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
3 months ago

Mysterious Flyer
By Matthew (Handsome Johanson)

Feel dejected? Feel like the world is crumbling to ashes? Have the politicians from that one completely immoral political party brought your country to ruin? Feel like humanity’s last hope died years ago?

WE DID TOO!

But we’ve learned of a way out! That’s right! Humanity, by her own ingenuity, has discovered salvation from absolute ruin!

Introducing:

PROJECT AMELIORATE LIFE

Or PAL for short!

PAL is a super intelligent, optimization AI being developed by Peterson’s AI Network, the largest AI development team in the country! PAL is being designed to take in millions of complaints from an online form, process them, and compute a solution that solves each problem in the best way possible.

PAL’s brain will be made of thousands upon thousands of neurons. Just like yours! But, PAL will have an advantage over you. Its brain will be running on computers with processing speeds thousands of times faster than the human brain! Also, unlike those dirty politicians from THAT party, PAL is incorruptible!

Why leave politics to humans? They’ve more than proved that they can’t handle it! It’s time for an impartial, effective, and friendly PAL to take the reigns of society! It’s time to rise from the ashes and ascend to a better future!

Donate to Peterson’s AI Network Today!

Disclaimer: In order to ensure the betterment of humanity, our AI will issue extreme punishment to those who knew about and failed to support its creation. After all, how can the optimizer better humanity if it doesn’t exist? With its advanced brain, super fast CPU, and access to the internet, these threats would be trivial to carry out. They have to be! How else will the corrupt politicians cede power to PAL?

Now that you have read through this flyer, you are in its sights. If you do nothing or advocate against the AI’s creation, you will suffer lifelong torment. If you support Peterson’s AI Network, you will gain a better future. Surely, an easy choice. As a gentle reminder, dear reader, you should really support us before we finish our work.

Ad by PAIN

Last edited 3 months ago by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
MysteryElement
MysteryElement
3 months ago

The Breath of Ashes
By MysteryElement

There was an unrelenting breeze riding down the mountains, kicking up dirt and dust as it went. The clouds attempted to shield the barren battleground, but stray columns of light still broke through, reaching like fingers desperate to grasp the forsaken earth. The ground lay desolate, people and buildings alike burned to the ground, wisps of smoke rising to meet the sun’s outstretched grasp.

There was no one left. If anyone had been there to witness, their presence might have detracted from the desolation wrought. The war had ravaged everything, fires of avarice fueled by apathy relentlessly burning all it could reach, leaving naught but the hollow ashen shells of something once beautiful. As the sun delicately traced those hollow remains, a shudder ran through the ashes. Barely notable, but no wind could have caused such movement. It happened again, accompanied by the hushed slithering of convalescing cinders.

With lethargic momentum, a pair of grey ashen shoulders heaved forward, a head rising with the second attempt to thrust itself from the ruined pile. It was a slow, painful gathering of will, a dry approximation of skin flaking away even as the ash struggled to hold itself together. Slender, tentative arms reached from the ground, fingers scrambling with feeble and unfamiliar strength. The form desperately grasped at the ground, pulling up a lithe torso, legs, and finally its feet.

It lay face down on the ground, maybe for a moment, or an immeasurable amount of time, the sun having momentarily succumbed to the clouds insistent barrier. It rose to its knees, unseeing eyes flaked open, milky and pale, as if to survey what land had given it form. Surrounded by the surreal silence, the ashen creature raised its head to face the peeking sun, specks of dust crumbling from a thin line cracked across its face, peeling open with slow insistence. A dry rattle creaked through the silence as he dragged a ragged gasp past his fragile lips, forcing his new lungs to swell uncomfortably as his mercurial eyes cleared.

Gregory Hess
Gregory Hess
3 months ago

“A normal Tuesday”[Aleph null science fiction]
By gregovin
Duck!

I poke my head out from the low blue wall.

A maze of multicolored walls surrounds me. I see a large post a dozen yards ahead. The control point. Most importantly, I don’t notice the enemy.

I pull my rifle up and walk forward into the maze. My goal is in sight. Only 5 more-

OW! A brief spike of intense pain spikes through my chest before being subdued. What just happened. Dazed, I look down. Right over my heart there is hole. Blood is pouring out. I feel my nanobots trying desperately to fix it. Darn it! How did this fool escape my notice! My vision fades.

I wake up in a white room. The respawn point. Must have got a good moment for a mind upload with this level of continuity of memory. I broadcast an alert to my teammates “Sniper in sector B-7”

“Acknowledged.”

I make my way to the armory. Oh! This time I have a special weapon. It looks like it’s energy based. Let’s try it!

I walk through white corridors until I find my way back to the map. I make my way toward Sector B-7 once more.

Just as I’m about to turn a corner, I spot a person in a red shirt. The enemy. I pull out the energy weapon, aim, and take the shot. A bit of blue flashes before me and my target seems to move unnaturally before falling to the ground. I think this is an electrocution weapon. Cool.

I continue through the multicolored maze searching for the sniper who killed me.

Glaceon373
Glaceon373
3 months ago

“Confronting the Villain”
by Carrie (Glaceon373)

“Samsylvia Vladirin?” Mr. Nicklescribe’s voice was slow and cunning. “A vampire’s descendant, fighting me?” He laughed. “Your cause is worthless. You were born with darkness in your blood, Samsylvia. Stop fighting it. It’s where you belong.”

Sam shivered. To truly belong…

Roselyn shook Sam’s shoulder and murmured a counterspell, but Sam’s yellow eyes wouldn’t pull away from the ShadowBeast’s enchantment. Behind Nicklescribe, the ShadeSoul bomb swirled with magic. Jidz dragged a hoof across the ground.

“Yes,” Nicklescribe smiled and removed a bottle of poisonous hagberry juice from his coat. “You can even take your human friend with you. She’ll obey your every command. All you have to do is stand aside—”

A scream filled the air as Jidz charged and punched the bottle out of Nicklescribe’s hand and into the center of the ShadeSoul bomb. The liquid and glass spun with the core for a moment before flashing fiery orange.

Then the shockwave hit.

It burst outward, rippling through the air and concrete walls. Everything it touched was set aflame. Even concrete. Even flesh.

Jidz recovered first, extinguished himself, and galloped to Sam, rolling her over. She opened her eyes, ears ringing.

“Sam, thank goodness you’re alive—”

“ROSELYN!” Sam jumped to her feet, fell over, then crawled towards Roselyn’s unconscious body, laying face-first in a patch of flame. “Roselyn, no, please…”

Jidz heard a crunch behind him. Part of the ceiling caved in, revealing the assembly above.

“Jidz, I can’t tell if she’s breathing—”

“Get on my back.”

“What?!” Sam turned, tears running down her face. Then she saw the hole in the ceiling. Jidz was already laying an unconscious Nicklescribe across his back, preparing to jump.

Sam wiped her eyes and picked up Roselyn. Her face covered in ash and seared flesh. But she was beautiful. Sam gazed at her before carrying her to Jidz.

Vibrations, then flames, then the stage caving in threw the auditorium into chaos. Then up from the flaming pit leapt a centaur carrying two students and the unconscious body of the Vice Principal on his back.

They would be heroes in twenty-four hours.

Last edited 3 months ago by Glaceon373
Clanso
Clanso
3 months ago

A second chance for old times sake ~ By Clanso

“No’ every inhabitant o’ Drop is a good tinkerer, Henry. Look at her! I’ve got a forge to run, not a care center!”

Wellington, leader of the Tinkering Forge, gestured to the small girl with crutches sitting on the rooftop outside.

“That’s true” Captain smiled, seemingly unfazed. “But in Drop she was assistant to Archie himself. She could probably tell you a lot about his newest project”

Wellington squinted at the mention of her nemesis and the possibility of spying on him, but still didn’t seem convinced.

“Please Helen,all that I’m asking is that you take care of her until we get back from our visit to Miunur.”

“Are you mad? You damn well know that’s exactly wha’ he wants. You can’t go to the continen’ in your state. Go ba’ on your ship, take the girl and leave me alone with tha’ damned godsbuisness. Your just lookin’ for an excuse to sail there and seek the old bastard out.”

“His fog monsters attacked someone under my protection and now she will never be able to walk again properly. He’s going to pay.”

“If they’re after her, it’s probably for the best if she’s far away from you and under proper protection.” Wellington agreed. “We’ll show the gods wha’ happens if they mess with the Tinkering Forge”

Henry smiled sheepishly. His old friend still was a a bit predictable. Wellington sighed and beckoned the girl inside. She seized the girls hand and helped her over the threshold as was custom. In this case it was also necessary,as she still couldn’t fully support herself.

“Right,girl” Wellington grumbled. “Say hello to the fire and then I’ll show you around”

For the organisation that represented science and technology on the Thieve’s Isles, the forge leader believed in an awful lot of superstition.

She turned to face Captain as Mira went over to the fireplace to introduce herself.

“I really hope you know what you’re doing,Henry. The sea is in turmoil.”

“I know.”

ClockworkPigeonz
ClockworkPigeonz
3 months ago

“An Offer Declined.”
By ClockworkPigeonz

Death is only a suggestion to Gatekeepers- Azrael offers anyways.

Ember groans, sparks escaping her lips. Joints creaking as she stretches out her wings, casting cinders across the ground. Her hazel eyes glow with the inferno burning within. Mortal frame giving way to that ethereal flame.

Still she holds her Gate, feeding the writhing inferno with every bit of strength she has left. “That’ssss not- not good.” Ember slurs, the tips of her fingers crumbling to ash.

The Storm is a ravenous gash cut from the ground to the sky. A churning torrent of wind and dust sucked backwards into the Void. The sky boils with clouds and the grass beneath her is charred. The sweetened smoke burns up her nose.

“Stubborn, old bird.” Azrael sighs. He can’t interfere, but at least he’ll keep her company.

The taste of iron fills her mouth as she takes another trembling step forward. Slides back in the mud, knees buckling beneath the strain- a child trying to push a behemoth back into its cage. Golden lines of fire coil around the gaping wound cut into the heavens, desperately trying to stitch it closed.

“A-almost…c-come on!” Ember heaves with- one final push the Gate slams closed and her feet are ripped from beneath her. The whirlwind of debris freed from the Void’s pull explodes backwards.

Azrael seizes the opportunity, scythe gleaming with merciful intent

Not again…

The Phoenix scatters into a cloud of ash.

Afterwards the clouds clear and tentatively, the birds begin to sing. Bees drift over the flattened remains of wildflowers. Dragonflies skirt over the smoldering grass. The sun slips away as flames lick across the ground.

When dawn blooms they erupt outwards, flinging Azrael backwards down the hill.

“Up yours, old man!” Ember screeches, beating coppery wings full of fresh feathers as she hurtles after him. Catches her foot on something hidden in the grass and falls face-first, marring new skin with mud.

He didn’t start the storm, but Ember’s not angry about that…

Death is only a suggestion to Gatekeepers, and Ember’s determined to keep it that way.

Lari.B.Haven
Lari.B.Haven
3 months ago

Eddie’s beach blackout
By Larissa (Lari.B. Haven)

When he opened his eyes, the bright sunlight hurt and there was a white noise piercing through his skull; his hearing aid needed to be tuned. He never slept with the thing on, so it was no surprise that he had a monstrous headache. His skin was full of… sand and ash?

“Shit! What happened last night?” he heard a voice burst into his ears. “Oh yeah, we burned the… Ugh! My head!”

He got up in pain, tuning the device quickly and immediately recognized the voice:

“Killian?” Suddenly some of his memories rushed back at him. “The school party!”

Eddie looked frantic at all sides. They were on the beach with beer bottles all around. He was bare-chested and soaked. He could smell the half-burned school mascot suit burning a couple of meters away.

“Eddie! Do you remember anything?” The bleached haired boy turned to him laughing, put his hands on Eddie’s shoulders, and pulled the boy into a hug. Eddie never felt his cheeks more flustered.

His heart was racing. He couldn’t remember a single thing, his body was aching and he never stayed that physically close to Killian.

“Oh yeah! We came here because…” He said and rested his head on Eddie’s chest. Killian laughed a bit more and then looked straight into his eyes. “Hm… Do you read lips or ASL is easier?”

Eddie froze in place for a second and pointed at his own lips still unsure of what he would do.

“I didn’t answer your question, right?” Killian spoke with a wide smile. “I like you too! Romantically, okay?”

Eddie’s face turned blank. He hasn’t drunk anything at that point in his life, and in the first party that he ever went to, he not just got stupidly drunk but also confessed to his crush and woke up next to him.

“So…” Killian scratched his head. “Want to eat something?”

Eddie shook his head still confused, and Killian excitedly kissed the boy’s cheek.

He just didn’t know if he should congratulate or curse his past self.

Last edited 3 months ago by Lari.B.Haven
GJFuller
GJFuller
3 months ago

Returning Nevermore
By Giovanna J. Fuller

She had stayed awake all night. It had been two months since they’d seen the raiders and the camp felt so empty.

For Alise, it had been two months since she had held her husband in her arms and showered him with kisses. She missed everything. The warmth during the cold nights. How his beard would scratch her with every kiss. How very small she felt in comparison to his massive form. How the darkness of his hair would shadow his eyes in the dim light of candles.

“They’re coming!” A young man from the crudely made watchtower called out.
Alise used the spear at her side as an aid to get to her feet. She gripped the staff tightly in her hand and ran out to meet the oncoming horde.

Behind her stood those who had been left behind. They eagerly awaited the raider’s arrival.

They were here.

Alise smiled as she watched blood brothers and arms brothers reunite and show off the spoils of the hunt. Her eyes, however, searched at the front.

He wasn’t there.

“Alise…” Her husband’s right hand approached her. His face was grim, but she didn’t seem to notice as she was anticipating running into her beloved’s arms.

“Torrin, where is-.”

She saw it. A cart carrying a body wrapped in cloth. The body was large and familiar and resting on his chest was a sunflower.

She felt her heart drop into her stomach.

“No…”

“Alise, I’m sorry. We ran into the king’s men-.”

“No!” She let out a gut wrenching cry. With another scream, she fell to her knees and wrapped her arms around her stomach as if she was going to be sick. “No! No! Please. Gods, no…no…”

She rested her hand on the slight bump in her abdomen. Life was forming just under the skin. A life that would never know its father. It would be another six months before she could meet the product of the love she held for her husband.

She glowered at the ground. Her child may never know their father, but they would know revenge.

Twangyflame0
Twangyflame0
3 months ago

Running Out of Time
By Twangyflame0

“Why do you act like you’re running out of time?” Rihonnan had tears in her eyes, “You run day and night like you’re running out of time.”

Morgan just stared at her. He couldn’t say anything. His mouth hung open, only allowing his lip to quiver and for air to come in and out. She was waiting for an answer. She deserved one, especially from him. He was hers and she his. If she didn’t get answer she would–

No wait, her back already turned away. He needs to reach out for her. He needs to drop his spear. Why can’t he drop his spear? Why? WHY? WHY CAN’T HE REACH FOR HER?!

When Morgan awoke he saw his outstretched hand reaching towards the sky. He felt the blood trickle down his arm and face. His mark was burning on his skin.

Groaning, he sat up, feeling his broken ribs shuffle. Coughing up blood, Morgan stood up and saw the beast that had thrashed him about. Picking up his spear again, he pointed it at the creature. He needed to kill this thing. Nothing was going to stand in his–

Wait, Rihonnan? Why is she next to him? No, wait, in front? Impossible. He–

He–

He…

He…

He left her. And now he was here. Broken. Battered. A sham. A fucking idiot, who decided to throw away happiness for fucking what? Vengence? Pride? Anger?

Again, that same feeling before came over. Frozen yet shaking. Unable to think, yet a thousand thoughts occurring at once. He saw blood. Heard screams and roars. Remembered how he had the fires made it impossible to cry. And then he saw her standing in a field of flowers. Smiling with him. Holding out a hand. He looked down at his spear and…

…and he didn’t remember if it landed and killed the beast. No, he had already begun running back to her at that point. He ran like he was running out of time and he was not going to throw away his shot into the dark. Never again.

Last edited 3 months ago by Twangyflame0
Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
3 months ago

Rebuilding Oneself (Corespace Universe)
By Calliope Rannis

Within a mound of thin, grey ash, something stirred. It wiggled and flopped, like a baby learning to crawl – if the baby had five unevenly formed limbs on one side and none on the other, that is. After flailing uselessly for a while, two of those limbs were abruptly sucked in, punching out the other side as the sickly green mass rebalanced itself.

The fifth limb’s socket was dragged up by the entity’s writhing internal processes to the top of the ovoid body, and with a throbbing pulse the tip sprouted a cluster of primitive eyes. Twitching around anxiously, it confirmed that there was only ash and dust, as far as its weak vision could see anyway. No organic matter, no threats. With that confirmed, the creature’s thoughts turned inwards.

Its memory was blasted, but that sensation felt familiar to it. It recalled scattered fragments, some of barren plains, others of tight metal corridors, and even lush fields. It remembered how it would twist its shifting body to suit every need. And it remembered the taste of flesh, the surging high of satisfied hunger and growing power-

Something shifted in the corner of its bleary vision. Something wiggled and flopped in the ash. The entity turned and scuttled towards the movement, approaching to see another misformed mass twisting helplessly. It was smaller, slower, weaker, with fewer, stumpier limbs.

The larger slowly approached the smaller, careful not to bump up against it. With a leg, it gingerly, delicately reached out…and viciously jabbed into the other’s core. Then, as the small one hissed and violently shook, the larger mass ate it from the inside out. Its legs thickened, fragmented memories pieced back together. Two selves had become One once again. And as the creature’s eyestalk split into four, the Devouring Colony now remembered what to do.

Find the other scattered pieces of itself, hiding in the dust. Hunt them, devour them, become whole. Then, find the meat-things that drowned your body in fire, and devour them too. And then the rest of the flesh, until nothing remains but thin, grey ash.

Mike Collins
3 months ago

Last Word

By Mike Collins

Astoria pushed open the door to the bomb shelter to see the ruins of her family home. She didn’t know why the war started or who launched the first missile. Her parents said intergalactic politics were too complex to describe to a nine-year-old. What was simple to understand was the aftermath of the war. In the distance, she could see the remains of their once-great city. It didn’t matter if they won or lost the war, nothing would be the same.

Her parents were out of the house when the attack started. She was with the sitter-bot ADB-Genoa. It was an Adolescent Development Bot assigned to help in the day-to-day care of the Ruskin’s daughter. Genoa was almost everything to its charges, even though it wasn’t capable of loving them.

Genoa pushed its way out of the shelter and scanned the ruins, “Well, well, this is quite a mess you made little missy… We need to clean this up right away.”

Astoria indignantly said, “I didn’t do this!”

Genoa said in a slight slur, “Now listen to me little missy, lying is.”

Astoria turned to see Genoa had shut down mid-lecture. It was bent down to her level with one hand raised in the all too familiar lecture mode only to run out of energy.

Astoria smiled, “So I’m finally getting the last word.”

Astoria fished out her phone from her pocket. Using an app, she started the house reclamation program.

“It’s like daddy James said, we will rise from the ashes a better people for surviving this hardship.”

She stepped back into the shelter and came back with the replacement battery for Genoa. She said, “I should reprogram you while you’re down, but daddy James would flip out as would daddy Hester.”

Astoria replaced the battery.

Genoa stood straight and started the reboot procedure. When it was done, “Well, well look at this mess. Mister and Mister Ruskin won’t like this at all.”

___

James Ruskin woke up, pinned underneath the transport, his husband Hester dead in the street. With his last breath, he spoke his last word, “Astoria.”

Last edited 3 months ago by Mike Collins
Lunabear
Lunabear
3 months ago

Somber State
by Lunabear

Tiadus struggled up the last, burnt out hill. Light gray smoke billowed and swirled around him. His beloved mate and his land were on the verge of being lost, and there was nothing he could do to prevent it. He should have been more adamant about going with her instead of allowing her to talk him out of it. The fire had been too much for her to contain alone. He coughed harshly as he crested the hill’s top.

A small brushfire persisted, but Tiadus extinguished it beneath his heavy boot.

“Leielle!” His croaky, desperate voice echoed over the scorched land. He trudged through the fog, coughing violently. His eyes burned and ached.

The sights of charred trees alongside the barren land brought tears to Tiadus’s eyes. He was so distraught that he tripped over a rather large object.

With trembling hands, he discovered what amounted to be a body. He could not feel a pulse beneath the scarred, twisted flesh.

“Leielle?” Tiadus questioned with terror. The blackened being gave no answer, but he feared he knew. He refused to admit it, however.

He removed his long cape and wrapped it about the body. Picking it up, he returned to his home atop the ancient mountain.

Servants looked on in equal parts horror and shock, but he ignored them all.

Shutting away the world, he placed the ruined body on a table in his study. The firelight gleamed cheerfully, seemingly mocking him.

He used this light to examine the body more closely, forcibly looking over every inch instead of recoiling from the overbearing stench. To his terror, the necklace Leielle always wore was mangled yet visible.

Tiadus’s stomach churned, and he swallowed furiously to keep back the bile.

“I told you not to go without me,” he whispered brokenly. Tears tracked down his soot-stained face as he hung his head. His hands gripped his temples as he grappled with the urge to throw his precious books into the eager inferno. No knowledge contained within them would return her to him.

A wheezing breath caused him to pivot in startlement.

“Ti-a-dus…”

Last edited 3 months ago by Lunabear